Monday, February 8, 2016

The Pastor's Corner...

* Article was published in the February edition of The Herald; a monthly publication of Green Hill Baptist Church.

“…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Ephesians 6:17 (NASB)

Air Force One is one of my all-time favorite Harrison Ford movies. Of course, Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark occupies the number one spot. There is one scene near the end of Air Force One where Ford and the lead terrorist who hijacked the plane, are wrestling on the opened parachute ramp. During the struggle, Ford manages to get a cord wrapped around the terrorists’ neck, and then manually releases the parachute. Just before this drama comes to an end, Harrison looks him in the eye and says, “Get off my plane!” I love that scene. It reminds me of the confidence and authority we’ve been given in Christ to stand against the enemy of our souls.

You see, the Holy Spirit through the pen of Paul told the Ephesians (and us), to daily put on the armor of God so that we could stand triumphantly against the schemes of the devil; 
Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one, and take the helmet of salvation…” (vv. 14-17).
Each piece of armor is designed to protect against the enemy’s attacks. The armor is for defensive purposes, while “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” is for offensive purposes. The word is a powerful weapon that we have at all times. When its truth is wielded, the enemy has no other option but to flee. Therefore, when the enemy tries to tempt us or hinder us from faithfully serving and living for the Lord, we can look him in the eye and say, “Leave me alone!” Each week as I preach and teach the Word, there is an image that often comes to mind. I imagine holding my Bible in the devil’s face and saying, “In Jesus’ name, leave His church alone!”

Green Hill, I love you and I am committed to praying the Word over you and preaching the Word to you – that’s what Jesus has called me to do. My desire is to lead us to put on the armor daily and wield, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” boldly. Let us understand the power of God’s Word. Let us study it and hide it in our heart, so that we may stand upon it and speak it out when confronted by the enemy. Never shy away from telling him, “In Jesus’ name, get off my back!”

Serving Together,
Pastor Brett

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Pastor's Corner...

* Article was published in the January edition of The Herald; a monthly publication of Green Hill Baptist Church.

When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:43-44 NASB)

Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that we’re standing on the threshold of a new year. I’ve often said that time seems to speed up with age. As a child, years look like mile markers; as an adult, they look more like pickets on a fence! It seems like yesterday that we were shopping, wrapping and exchanging gifts for last Christmas. Time truly is a commodity that we don’t want to waste or take for granted. Perhaps, that’s one of the more prominent thoughts occupying my mind as we start a new year. I want to encourage us to take advantage of every moment that God gives to us – making sure that we are following Him obediently and serving Him faithfully.

There is often a lot of excitement and anticipation as a new year begins. In a sense, we get to hit the reset button and look ahead to new opportunities and adventures. The story of Lazarus comes to mind when I think of a new year – a new beginning. In a sense, we need to wrap up and bury the past. It’s helpful to remember and learn from it, but we should avoid allowing it to bind us and hold us back from experiencing the new things God has for us. This reminds us of the transforming work of the gospel, whereby we die to sin, but are resurrected to new life in Christ. Lazarus went from resting in the tomb in John 11, to reclining at the table with Jesus in John 12. The gospel is the good news of Jesus, who came so that sinners could go from the tomb to the table.

Friends, God has set the table for us in 2016. He is a good God and He much in store for us individually and corporately. Let me note several things that I believe God wants to do within the hearts and lives of His Church at Green Hill.
  • He wants us to grow in our wisdom and knowledge of His Word; to be more committed to corporate worship and Bible Study.
  •  He wants to cultivate within us a deeper hunger and thirst for righteousness; to be more intentional in living holy and pure lives before Him.
  • He wants us to give more sacrificially and cheerfully of our time, talents and treasures for the purpose of advancing His kingdom. For some, tithing and giving regularly will be a new commitment. For the Christian, giving is not a dutiful option but a loving obligation. We give as unto the Lord and He is worthy of everything! 

Church, let’s unbind our lives. Let’s free them from the past, so that we can receive the new things that are coming forth in the future. Again, Happy New Year!

Loving and Serving Him Together,
Pastor Brett

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Pastor's Corner...

* Article was published in the December edition of The Herald; a monthly publication of Green Hill Baptist Church.

I enjoy traditions at Christmastime. Growing up our family would always take a drive down Reindeer Lane, which was a street transformed into a winter wonderland. Turning the corner you would see a giant sleigh and nine tiny reindeer suspended across the front yard of a home. Rudolph and his shiny red nose always led the way. The decorations were so large that they stretched from the front porch to the street. The decorations were also mechanical, so it was convincingly realistic – especially to a 5 year-old! As the reindeer’s legs moved and Santa’s hand waved, it appeared as if they were actually soaring through the night sky. Bright colored lights adorned the yard and carols played over a loud speaker. What wonderful memories!

Traditions are often part of the memory-making process. Certain foods or aromas are associated with experiences of old. Familiar smells or tastes trigger memories that vicariously carry us off into another dimension. The aroma of mom’s hot-baked cinnamon rolls rising upstairs to my bedroom still lingers in my mind. I remember ripping open presents while licking icing from my sticky fingers.

What traditions do you enjoy at Christmastime? I’ve heard of some dressing up into biblical attire and displaying a live nativity or trekking out into the woods and cutting down a family tree. While others look forward to watching a traditional Christmas classic. For me, it’s always been It’s a Wonderful Life, with Jimmy Stewart. Arguably, that’s the greatest movie of all time! Of course, Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol is a close second.

Whether it’s gathering with family and friends, opening a single gift on Christmas Eve, baking cookies, drinking spiced cider, volunteering at a soup kitchen or reading the Christmas story, traditions can create warm memories that remind us of God’s gracious blessing of family and friends. Traditions can serve to remind us of the goodness of God.

Traditions can be good, but Christmas is not about tradition. Christmas is about truth. It’s not about Santa and nine tiny reindeer, but a baby who came as the Savior of the world. Luke tells us “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Like 2:11 NASB)

Christmas is about God’s Son who grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Christmas is about a baby who would later be suspended on a cross, and through the shedding of his own innocent blood bring peace and forgiveness of sins. Christmas is about the Christ who alone is the Way to salvation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NASB) Christmas is about God giving to us the greatest gift of all, Himself.

Church, as we gather with family and friends and celebrate Christmas; as we drive down our own “Reindeer Lane” of traditions; let us celebrate the truth of Christ. Merry Christmas!

In the Love of Our Savior,
Pastor Brett