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Jesus Changes Everything

The Gospel is the story of Jesus.

Jesus is the whole point of the Gospel. Rather than a message of self-help or religious structure, the Gospel is the story of a real historical person. Who He is and what He did (and does) is the essence of the Good News.

This news, however, is not just something we add to the overabundance of news we receive every day. No, this news changes everything… Jesus changes everything.

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Why talk about SIN?

Some of the best attended “churches” in America are led by “preachers” who either avoid or minimize the topic of Sin. 
So, if there are many people who decide not to address the subject, and if there are many more who do not want to hear about it, then why in the world would anyone bring it up? Well, that is a good question…

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Do You have Right Relationship with God?

How can any sinful human experience right relationship with God?

This question is of supreme importance, though it is not likely on the front of most people’s mind at the moment. There are numerous assumptions in such a question. Here are just some of them: (1) There is a God; (2) God is holy or morally pure; (3) humans are sinful or morally corrupt; (4) God is just; and (5) God is gracious. While many may not regularly consider this question, all people presume at least some of these assumptions. In fact, the Bible argues that all people everywhere are accountable to God precisely because all conscious people know the first four assumptions to be true (Romans 1:18-2:11).

Arguing for the statements here is not within to scope of this brief article, but if the first four assumptions are true, then the question above becomes exceedingly important. If God is pure and just, and humans are morally corrupt, then God must deliver proper justice for all immoral thoughts, words, and deeds. While this reality is unsettling, not everyone sees fit to answer the question the same.

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Pastor Marc’s Review: “From Eden to the new Jerusalem”

Alexander makes no difficult task of discovering his thesis in this book. He states at the outset that he seeks to answer two of the biggest questions of all time, namely “Why does the earth exist?” and “What is the purpose of human life?” The author provides answers to these questions by walking through the metanarrative of holy Scripture and helping his reader see the major themes that run straight through the entire story. In my own estimation, Alexander’s work was a delight; I believe he was successful at proposing a biblical and interesting answer to each of these questions. The purpose for human existence is a familiar question and answer to me, but the divine intent in creating planet earth is a concept that hasn’t been given much time in my own mind. This book added quality and content to both of these concepts for me. Alexander’s book is a marvelous and accessible text that brings the reader from Eden to the New Jerusalem by briskly walking through the Scriptures in a remarkable way.

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The Exemplary Courage of Obediah Holmes

 

In 1651, in Lynn, Massachusetts, Obediah Holmes and several others gathered in a man’s home for a small worship service. Even though European immigrants were fleeing religious persecution by coming to North America, they still brought with them much of the established expectations of Church/state relations. Obediah and his friends were Baptists, and this put them at odds with the established Church. Their worship service was private but it was not secret, and it was illegal.

Not long into their service, constables broke in and arrested three of the men…

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Why You Shouldn’t Neglect the Word of God

Chances are fair that you have some inclination to value the Bible. While not all people affirm that the Bible is the “Word of God,” and even some professing Christians would balk at the notion, many people still have at least the residue of this kind of thinking on their minds. Whether you believe the Bible is the Word of God or not, consider a few passages from the Bible as they speak directly to the subject of “God’s Word.” You may find that the Bible is actually quite consistent on the subject, and your neglect of its words will only hurt you more as time goes on.
 
It is a fact that wherever God’s Words may be found, those words are worth your significant time investment.

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What might we learn from Paul Tripp and Tullian Tchividjian?

 

I recently read a very brief statement from Paul Tripp concerning the very public sinful expressions of Tullian Tchividjian (see an article on the matter in Christianity Today HERE). The whole thing is a painful reminder that even the best of men are men at best. However, I think there might be something worth observing here.

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What is Biblical Theology? | A Book Review

 

Introduction

What is Biblical Theology?[1] is a short and well-written book that introduces readers to the Bible’s big picture. Drawing attention to themes, common images, and typological examples, the author helps readers see the brushstrokes made upon the canvass of redemptive history in all of their marvelous display. James M. Hamilton, Jr. holds a PhD from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), and he is currently the Professor of Biblical Theology at SBTS. Hamilton is also the author of a lengthier book on the subject of biblical theology, God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment.[2] His familiarity with the topic is obvious as Hamilton walks the path of biblical theology through the grand narrative of the Bible itself, all the while holding the reader’s hand and pointing out all of the important cites along the way.


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A Statement concerning the Supreme Court decision on Same-sex Marriage

On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision declaring the right of same-sex couples to possess the same marital classification as that of a heterosexual solemn union.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, saying, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.” Justice Kennedy’s statement was accompanied by a sweeping alteration of the very foundation of this admittedly profound union.

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Do you know the Gospel?

This question represents the most important topic of all time, and the answer to this question is assumed by most who might be confronted by it. Think for a moment… What would you say if someone walked up to you while you stood in line at the grocery store and asked you, “What is the Gospel?” Well? Would you tell them that Jesus has made your life better? Would you start to tell them about your church? Would you confuse them with several unfamiliar words and look down on them for not understanding what you’ve vaguely communicated? Would you tell them to say a special prayer?
 
While there may be many ideas flying around about what to say or how to say it, I’d like to help provide a simple way to remember what to say in any context. That’s right, I said you can be prepared to share the Gospel in any context, with any person from any culture, and even with those you know best. Four words that will help you remember the Gospel and share it well are these: God, Man, Christ, and Response.

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Personal Bible Study Tips

When anyone first begins to read the Bible it immediately becomes obvious that the Bible is different than any other book. It originates in God Himself, for these are the very words of God. It also comes from authors who wrote in ancient days (1400 BC through 70 AD), and it deals with the heaviest subjects of all time (God, creation, morality, life’s purpose, human depravity, gracious redemption, and humanity’s ultimate end). The Bible can be intimidating and confusing in some areas.

However, it is also true that the Bible is quite similar to other books.


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Mother’s Day

How is one to speak of motherhood? Should I say something funny about the incessant troubles of rearing unappreciative and naïve children? Should I mention a note of gratitude for all of the mothers who have sacrificed themselves through a life of tireless nurturing and care? Should I applaud those mothers who have raised exemplary children to adulthood, and maybe even celebrate the motherhood of the one who was once their little girl?

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Why I no longer use the NIV…

I began my Christian journey as I was reading through “The Student Bible” New International Version, which was published in 1996 by Zondervan. It was given to me at some point during my teen years, but I never had any time for the Bible until I was miraculously converted in my college dorm room. One afternoon I noticed that I was just sitting on my bunk bed, reading the Bible, and this had been a regular occurrence for several days. This was totally unusual for me, and so I began to notice other changes in my affections too. God saved me from my sin, from myself, and from His wrath.


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What does the Bible really teach about Homosexuality?

From beginning to end, DeYoung’s book “What does the Bible really teach about Homosexuality?” was engaging, accessible, and Gospel-focused. He rightly reminds readers that homosexuality, just like all other experiences that a human may have, is not removed from a larger story or narrative. DeYoung also helps Christians and non-Christians to understand the nature of what we are talking about as well as what is at stake in such a discussion. The book is great mix of scholarly research, logical reasoning, and pastoral candor. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Everyone can and should read this book.

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Is the Bible the Word of God?

It would not be an overstatement to say that God’s revealed word has been a source of controversy from nearly the beginning of time. The serpent of old asked Eve, “Did God actually say…” (Gen. 3:1), and that question has been an incessant refrain ever since. One of the central topics of the conversation, especially during the last 150 years, is inspiration. What do we mean when we say that God inspired the Bible? How has God inspired the texts we understand to have been written by various authors over the course of about 1,500 years? There are many more questions that arise in this kind of conversation, but it is helpful to begin by asking, “Is the Bible the Word of God?” Of course even this question will require some explanation, but here is a constructive starting point. Basil Manly has written a fantastic work on exactly this topic, and I found it to be extremely productive. Surprisingly, it was also food for my soul.

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An encouragement as we face death in Diana, TX

 

Coach Keith McKinley (a coach in the New Diana school district) died on Tuesday, April 7. The story in the Longview News Journal was very brief, and heart breaking.[1] A young man, seemingly in good health, simply dies without warning. Adding to the tragedy, Keith has left a wife and three children behind to grieve their loss.

In times like this, it is inevitable that we begin to ask questions like “How does something like this happen?” or “Why would God allow such a terrible thing?” These are serious questions that should not be passed by too quickly or answered too carelessly. When we face the most difficult pains of mortal life, it is always beneficial for us to consider what God has revealed in His word. We cannot know the answer to every question, but we can answer many of the tough questions of life because God has graciously told us what is true.

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Pastor Marc to FBC Diana Family (March 2015)

 

It is certainly exciting to be part of this church family during times like these. As I type these words our attendance is slowly and steadily increasing, financial giving is outpacing our spending, Life Group participation is growing, missions efforts are taking shape, local evangelism plans are forming, the worship of God through Christ is the main focus of our worship gatherings, and many are voicing their excitement about all that is happening among our congregation. These are exciting times indeed! During times like these, however, it is always good to observe a bit of caution and recommit ourselves to keeping the proper focus.

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Hell or no Hell in the Apostles’ Creed?

Anyone who has spent any amount of time thinking through the affirmations contained in the Apostles’ Creed has probably had some struggle over what to do with one peculiar phrase. The phrase, of course, is “he descended into hell.” This phrase is a statement about the work of Christ, and it is vexing to any biblical student. What does it mean? Why was it included? How many Christians have affirmed this belief? Is it biblical? Should I affirm such a thing?

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Pastor Marc to FBC Diana Family (Jan 2015)

Happy New Year! I pray that you have been able to enjoy the Christmas season and that you have found solid ground beneath you as you have reestablished your daily routine. There is so much that seems naturally tied to the ending of one year and the beginning of another. The previous year’s experiences are usually inventoried and assessed, annual tax preparations begin, and New Year resolutions are made. This can be both disappointing and exciting. If last year wasn’t so wonderful for us, then we are able to see new possibilities and opportunities in the year ahead. If we find ourselves less advanced in one way or another than we had hoped to be at this time in life, then we may plan to make a more diligent attempt to achieve thoughtful goals over the next 12 months.


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Pastor Marc to FBC Diana Family (Feb 2015)

2015 is off and running, and FBC Diana is too. You may have noticed already, but our church family has grown recently. We are very glad to have welcomed 2 new families and one soon-to-be family to our membership. We are also glad to welcome Mark Jonah as a faithful leader in our musical worship. As you likely know, Mark Jonah has voluntarily spent many weeks with us, and his leadership in musical worship is marvelous. Our congregation is truly grateful for Mark’s willingness to serve as Minister of Music.

In all that we have seen and experienced recently, we are wise to look again to the Scriptures in order to remember who we are and what we are to do. Throughout 2015 we will be asking the question, “Who is FBC Diana?”

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A Familiar Refrain and A Stark Reminder

On December 7, 2014 I preached a message entitled, “Do you really trust the Bible?”[1]  This message was part of a series of presentations, which I planned and delivered on the first Sunday of each month during my time as pastor of FBC Diana in 2014, that were designed to provide a Christian (and more particularly a biblical) response to some contemporary cultural issues.  While some might imagine that the Bible is hardly a contemporary cultural concern, a Newsweek article made it clear that there are at least some in our contemporary culture who still find it necessary to launch assaults upon the Holy Scriptures.


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Why do we have a “Membership Process?”

Why do we have a “Membership Process?”

The topic of Church Membership has garnered great interest in recent years, and a discussion of the meaning and value of Church Membership can be a rewarding in the context of any local church. Biblical investigation, historical study, and personal introspection are all in order when addressing Church Membership.

We are able to look to the Scriptures, as well as church history, for our understanding of every aspect of the Christian faith and the practice thereof. When church history agrees with Scripture, we may gain insight from the application of biblical truth in a context that is not our own. When church history diverges from the teaching of the Bible, we are better equipped to learn how we may avoid the trap ourselves and learn from the mistakes of others.

Because First Baptist Church of Diana is a biblically faithful church, the Bible authoritatively instructs us, and we must implement our understanding of the Scriptures accordingly. This means that we are also free from pragmatic or humanistic governing. No tradition, strong feelings, or prideful impulse may cause us to abdicate our responsibility before God.

In fact, it is our great joy and heavy burden to be faithful to God in leadership over the sheep God has placed under our care. This is a task that we all are inadequate to accomplish apart from the work of God in and through us.


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The Synoptic Problem

The so-called Synoptic Problem does not seem to be a problem at all, in the useful sense of the word.  It seems to me that a better title for this issue would be the Synoptic Production or the Synoptic Compilation.  Yet, the Synoptic Problem it remains, and Clements describes the matter by saying, “Even a quick reading of the four Gospels reveals that three of them (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are alike, especially when contrasted with John.“ He goes on to say that these similar three are called “synoptic” for the very reason that they share a common view of the life, ministry, sayings, works, death and resurrection of Christ.  “A more detailed comparison, however,” says Clements, “reveals a wide variety of differences as well as similarities… From a literary point of view, these facts raise difficult questions. How did the Gospels originate? Did their authors use each other’s work, and did they have other materials available to them?”[1]
 

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Strength in Suffering

In his devotional “Mornings and Evenings,” Charles Spurgeon wrote his own commentary on the passing of Christians from security and strength to further stability and power. This progression is contrary to much of our natural experience, and Spurgeon acknowledges the same. A runner, for instance, begins with full energy and ends with none; and the wrestler finishes his long match with much less vigor than he had at the start. But Christians are anchored and empowered by someone who is unnatural, and their advancement from strength to strength is observable as well as biblical.

The Bible speaks of a God who is not merely a passive all-observing eye. No, the biblical God is the creator and sustainer of every aspect of His creation; He is the ever-active, sovereign king of the universe (Acts 17:24-25).

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The death of Death in Jesus Christ

While a young mother was changing her two-year-old daughter’s clothes, she heard Bella’s tiny voice.  Pointing to herself, Bella asked, “I cansoo?”  Leslie, Bella’s mother, was used to interpreting her daughter’s attempts at communication, but this word was new.  “Say it again,” Leslie said.  She needed to hear it again in order to make a good translation.  “I cansoo?”  Bella tried the question once more, but still the word was not clear.  Then Bella pointed to the scar on her tiny body that was left when her chemotherapy port had been removed, and said “Port.  Out.  I cansoo?”

Leslie was overcome with the stark reality of the whole situation, but she was able to maintain her composure for the moment.  Leslie said to her little girl, “Bella, are you saying cancer?”  Bella’s eyes widened and she responded, “YeahI cansoo?”  With a lump in her throat, Leslie said, “Yes baby, you have cancer.”


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CHURCH – The Only Sanctifying Community

If the doctrine of justification is the Article upon which the Church stands or falls, then sanctification may be the doctrine which either provides her clothes or leaves her standing there naked. The Church of Jesus Christ is His bride, adorned with His own righteousness and set apart for His intimate affection and care. This truth is the comfort of all who understand themselves to be included among the household of God. Yet, Christ does not merely call the prostituting adulterous bride to wear new labels (justified and sanctified), He also calls her to live accordingly (Eph 4:1; 1 Thess 2:12). Living in light of her new status, the Church of Jesus Christ is declared to be holy and Christ is making her holy by the washing of His word “so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor” (Eph 5:25-27). This loving reconciliation and renewal is challenged by the fact that the visible Church is made up of believers who are still desirous towards sin, and therein lies the difficulty of understanding just how the visible Church may be clothed with righteousness as she stands justified before the watching world. However, a visible Church, full of sanctified believers, arrayed in magnificence and clothed in righteousness for all the world to see is exactly what God has intended the Church do be.


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If God, then why evil?

The Christian Faith has had many antagonists over the centuries, but it seems that the boldest and noisiest adversaries of Christianity in recent decades have been those from an atheistic position. From this vantage point (though atheism is certainly no belvedere), some have postulated the finding of Christianity’s death knell. Feinberg describes the theistic conundrum by citing the philosopher David Hume.

“The problem of evil as traditionally understood in philosophical discussion and debate is stated succinctly in David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion: Is he [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is he [God] able, but not willing? then is he malevolent. Is he [God] both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”[1]


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What is a church?

Some might think this is a silly question.  “Of course,” they might say, “everyone knows what a church is…”  If you Google this question you will read that a church is “a building used for public Christian worship.”  In a sense, it is true that a “church” can be considered a building, but it is certainly more than just a building.

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Motivated for Evangelism

When is the right time to witness to someone?  What does a Christian need to know before witnessing or evangelizing?  Must a Christian wait to witness to someone until he or she is burdened or compelled by some inward sensation?  This question may be phrased in numerous ways and yet ask basically the same thing.  I think asking and answering three larger questions will help us answer these and others more definitively, as well as guide our understanding of evangelism or witnessing in general.


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What does it mean to be Lost?

What does it mean to be Lost?   Usually, in the context of Christianity, one is not speaking of location confusion when using the term lost. To say, “he is lost,” is to say something other than, “he does not know how to make his way from his home to the church building.” The term lost is commonly used in the salvific sense, or regarding a person’s present spiritual condition and eternal destination. Much like a traveler needs to know his or her locale, destination and route in order to make a successful journey, every spiritual pilgrim needs to know his or her spiritual whereabouts, objective and way in order to enjoy the benefits of spiritual triumph.

This question concerning ‘lostness’ may be one of the most important in order to have a better understanding of what it means to be ‘found’ or ‘saved’ in the spiritual sense (i.e. what it means to be a Christian). Essentially, this question is seeking to understand a major difference between those who are Christians and those who are not. There are real distinctions between those who are lost and those who are found, but it is vitally important to know what the actual distinctions are in order to have an appropriate posture towards those in each group. 


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