Appreciation

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.

I am a blessed pastor that gets to serve in one of God’s greatest churches.  WSBC has been an encouraging church for sixteen years of service.  But I am concerned about churches and the work of the kingdom for the future.  One of the simple things that all churches can afford, but many are simply going bankrupt on, is “appreciation.”

One of the troubling problems that are facing the church is a shortage of qualified leadership.  There are fewer men desiring to go into the pastorate.  One would think it has something to do with low pay with high educational qualifications.  But this is not the root of the problem.

The trend in churches has been for the church to make the pastor and staff a servant of the people instead of a servant for the Lord.  Spiritual entitlement is the problem with an entitled generation.  Consequently, pastors and staff have been made to carry an impossible spiritual burden that causes many to be burned out, fired, or just quit.  It seems that I know of more sad stories than good ones across Southern Baptist Convention.

It is true that some pastors and staff act like lazy hirelings.  The Lord will judge.   But when church members allow themselves to gripe and complain about the service they are getting out of “their” staff the energy is zapped right out of them.  One complaint can be magnified a thousand times by the enemy.  Instead of things getting better, the churches start to flounder.

Appreciate your Sunday School teacher, a greeter, staff member, a volunteer, and etc.  You will be the better for it and your church will be enriched by it.

I personally need to be better at making the people around me feel more appreciated.

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

Convenience Christianity

Acts 14:21-22 After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22  strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

A man was talking to a committed Christian one day and said, “I don’t go to church anymore because it got to the point where it was not fun.”  The response was quick and sharp:  “Who told you it was supposed to be fun!”

One of my greatest privileges in my journey of faith was to serve with my preaching hero Dr. Adrian Rogers.  He was the greatest communicator of the gospel in the 20th and 21st centuries with no one close to claiming that honor, in my opinion.  Dr. Rogers said to me one day, “I have never really had to suffer for Jesus.”  I questioned him on that fact, but for him to say this made me realize that I had paid a very small price in Christ’s service.  In fact, I have avoided trouble like the plague.  American freedom has provided a shell of protection for Christians.

The problem that has occurred is a convenience Christianity has become the norm.  It makes prosperity preachers prosperous.  Entitlement is the attitude.  Carelessness becomes the path.  Self-fulfillment becomes the name of the game.  If it is not fun, I am done.

Paul had been worshiped like a god and then stoned and left for dead.  He could have hindered the kingdom of God by accepting either as his fate.  When the conclusion was “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God,” it surmised what really happens when there is real Christianity.  Convenience Christianity is not a real deal for the kingdom.  Work, struggle, sacrifice, burden, persecution, and sweat are all in the tribulations Christians have to endure.

So if you are not comfortable in your service for Christ, you are right where you need to be.

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

Endurance

 

Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I was in the seventh grade at Bellevue Jr. High in Memphis, Tennessee when I had to run track.  John F. Kennedy had started physical fitness programs for us youngsters.  It was not in my awareness that I needed to run long distances.  I figured I would just stand and fight if it came down to it.  Neither was it in the coaches’ mind that you were to stay hydrated when you were running.

My first run out of the box, for some strange reason, was the 880.  Out of shape and with no training, I took off running with the best of them.  I was not known for being the best athlete in my class, but in the beginning of this glorious race, I looked like I could have been a top ten star.  But something happened!  My legs developed sharp pains and the air went out of my lungs before the race got to the second turn.  The slow snails behind me started passing me, and it wasn’t long before I was relegated to somewhere in the back of the pack.

An athlete has to train for endurance.  If you do not have endurance, there will be no victory because races are won with endurance.

The Christian life is about endurance also.  The Bible repeatedly talks about enduring to the end.  The Christian has to lay aside sin and focus on Jesus.  If he doesn’t, it can start out like a flash in a pan and fizzle like a two cent rocket.

Be like Jesus and do not grow weary and lose heart.

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

After Easter

Acts 1:1-3 The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.

Easter brings in a flurry of shopping for clothes, decorations, and foods. Every year there are more arrays of colors than one can imagine. Peeps (I have no idea why.) are stacked to the ceiling in some stores. Chocolate bunnies take every form and size. I guess retailers can thank the Christians for another boost in the economy.

For churches, Easter brings a large attendance day. In the Jonesboro area, our churches seem to bring in record crowds every year. The excitement level for the church is at its highest at Easter. It always seems to be a great family reunion with the sweetest spirit of worship.

The question for today is about the happenings after Easter. The clothes will be back in the closet and the food will be gone soon. Is it true that the church will lose its excitement and go back to the everyday churn of ministry?

After the resurrection, Jesus kept deepening the faith of His disciples. He wanted to prepare them for their mission in life. The central theme of what He taught was the kingdom of God. This message of the kingdom was what He started His ministry. The kingdom of God was “at hand” meaning it was already here.

Many people who celebrate Easter miss what Jesus wants for them. This victory over the grave meant something personally for each of us:

Romans 1:4 Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

Since Jesus is alive and He is Lord, we can respond to His Lordship. For the kingdom of God is the rule and reign of Jesus Christ in our hearts. We can know God, obey God, and live for God because He lives. He is risen! Has He been elevated to Lord of your life? He is risen indeed!

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

Crucified

 

John 19:16-18 So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. 17 They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. 18 There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between.

 In the State of Arkansas, we are now awaiting the decision on the execution dates of seven convicted men by lethal injection. One has been delayed because of a lawsuit that says one of the lethal substances injected to cause death seems to be inhumane.

Several years ago I preached a revival outside of Parchman Prison in Mississippi. Three of the wardens attended the church and they gave me a tour of the prison. I went to infamous gas chamber that John Grisham wrote his book about. Being rather curious, I sat down in that chair and one of the guys turned on the exhaust fan. This preacher sort of had an out of body experience because I got out of the gas chamber so quickly. I never will forget how that young warden said he hoped he would never see such a terrible sight like an execution was in that gas chamber.

In the Roman rule, being humane was not in their ethics book. Crucifixion was the most horrifying death one could think of. The death was to terrify the public into submission. Even Pilate did not want to see Jesus crucified. Paul says:

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”—

It was one of the most obscene things one could imagine. Yet for you and me, “He who knew no sin became sin that we might know the righteousness of God.”

Friday will be Good Friday. The name of the day probably has been polluted by a language mix up from the early church. It might be better to say God’s Friday or Holy Friday. One thing for sure, it ought to be a day we think about what Jesus did for us.

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

Measure of Love

 

John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (NASU)

One day a wife walked into the den and found her husband focused on a football game. Surveying the room, everything she had straightened up hours before looked like a war zone. When she spoke to her husband, there was only a weak acknowledgment of her presence. Consequently, she had a meltdown. She cried, “You love football more than you love me!” Her husband giving careful attention now to what she said contemplated for a brief moment. In his thoughtful response, he concluded, “Honey, I do love football more than you, but I do love you more than basketball.”

Everyone, if they are sane, wants to be loved. Love has to be authentic and genuinely from the heart. This love is more than words. It is experienced both in actions and sacrifice. Shallow emotions will end up in shallow relationships. The greater the love one has the deeper their relationships will be.

The supreme sacrifice of Jesus laying His life down on Calvary’s cross is the expression of the greatest love of all. If you doubt God’s love for you, please spend some time reading the last chapters of the gospels. He laid down His life for His friends. There is no greater love than God’s love.

There is no question about God’s love for us. The question is do we really love God.

How are you answering that question?

I love you all (more than soccer for sure),
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

Surveillance

Proverbs 5:21  For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, And He watches all his paths.
Proverbs 5:21  Mark well that GOD doesn’t miss a move you make; he’s aware of every step you take. (The Message)

Have you heard the news lately about someone surveilling the President and his cabinet as he was running for office and then after he was elected?  Oh, the accusations are flying!  Was there wiretapping?  Did the perpetrators bug Trump tower?  Could it have been that emails were compromised?

Surely not!  This is America, and if there is one freedom people demand today is their right to privacy.  When a terrorist’s attack has taken place, companies like Apple are so careful to protect people’s private domain, they will not open their phones for fear of breaking a privacy code.

My beef with this privacy thing is that public safety should come first.  It is true that I do not want the government knowing all of my business, but it is also the government’s place to protect my business from criminal activity.  I certainly think it is horrendous if the government is surveilling someone for political gain.  That thought takes me all the way back to the Watergate years.

But all of us need to recognize we are constantly under surveillance by the Lord Himself.  If you think there is a dark closet you can find to hide from God, you are wrong in your thinking.  Every move you make, every path you take, and every decision you make are seen by God.  This relationship with the Creator is very personal.  Both good and bad are seen and known by God.

So, I am not really concerned about what people might find out about me as long as I am living my life rightly before Him.  Some One is watching, listening, and knowing about you.

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

Putting Together the Puzzle of Prophecy

 

John 2:18-22 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

 Before the electronic toys of today, we had puzzles that would have up to 1000 pieces to put together. I remember having them on the dining room table for months at a time (We didn’t use that table except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and visiting preachers.). There would be an array of pieces coming together day by day that left you “puzzled” about what it was going to be. But finally, the puzzle would start to make sense as the more pieces came together. On that last day, when every piece was placed, the whole picture was easily identified. Mom generally left it out for weeks as a memento of the family’s brilliance for putting it all together.

When you study your Bible you find prophecies that are much like the pieces of a puzzle that give us the whole revelation of God. When Jesus started His earthly ministry, He gave a prophecy about His death, burial, and resurrection. Three years before Calvary and an empty tomb, He told what was going to happen. The Jews wanted a guard over the tomb because they knew of this prophecy of resurrection. Their insolent disbelief drove them hard to bring the cruelest ending to Jesus they could. They tore the temple down. But the resurrection was beyond rebuilding a temple in three days that had taken forty-six years to build. This feat was bringing a man that had been publicly crucified back to life after three days.

The picture was perfect: “and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.” The puzzle has been solved. Do you see the picture?

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

Facing the Court of Judgment

 

2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

Today, March 20th, Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation for the Supreme Court is underway in the Senate. It is interesting that the judge is judged. Senators will overturn every incident they can find to bring charges that would make him unfit to be a Supreme Court justice. Not all of the Senators are pure in their judgment. Some will decide purely on political bases whether he will fit the bill. For those of us who are Christian, we would hope that he could be the justice that brings a halt to the ungodly practice of abortion. Nevertheless, the judge is being judged.

Most of us would not like to be under such scrutiny. Every decision brought into the limelight of the world’s opinion would cause most of us to have consternation. Yet, in the light of God’s Word, the Bible teaches us that we face a judgment at the end of our lives. Here are some points we might think about in our day of judgment:

  • In Christ, we have the forgiveness of sin. Romans 8:1
  • The judgment seat of Christ is a time when Christians will be judged.
  • The judgment will be over the deeds we did in our body. (God knows our heart and we can know how we are judged by what we did in our body.)
  • Judgment will be over what we did both good and bad in our lives.
  • The fear of the Lord should be a motivator for us to live for Him.
  • The love of the Lord should be our greatest motivator serve to Him.

Don’t be weary in well doing and live for Him. It is worth it all.

I Love all of you!
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

Living It Up

2 Timothy 1:10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

Years ago there was a television series about the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  The show often talked about how these people “lived it up.”  From the mansions they possessed, the exotic cars they drove, and the food and recreation they enjoyed, the program wanted you to see what a great life they had.  If stuff made a life, these people had it.

Having Christ is where life truly is.  Someone might think I could start a religion like Christianity.  Only if you could fulfill prophecies written about you over hundreds of years, live a life without sin, speak truth to a world that loves lies, love the world so much you would die a criminal’s death, and then be resurrected on the third day.

Paul, the skeptic who persecuted the church, met the resurrected Christ.  He concluded in a quick statement to young Timothy that Jesus had abolished death and brought life and immortality. Paul was living it up in Jesus from a jail cell in Rome.  You may never obtain the lifestyle of the rich and famous, but you can be enriched with life, abundant life, and eternal life in Jesus.  Believe in Him and you will be living!

Leading into Easter, Grey and I will be preaching a series entitled “About Real Life.”  The series will be taken from John’s gospel.  If you want to study ahead, these are the passages we will be using:

  • March 19: John 3 … “Born Again”
  • March 26: John 4 … “When Life is Given”
  • April 2: John 5:18-31 … “Two Resurrections and Judgment”
  • April 9: John 11 … Grey will be preaching
  • April 16: John 21 … “When Death Doesn’t Matter”

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor