Rockport Sermon

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Desiring God

Desiring God

Oh to be swallowed up in God,
To swim in the rivers of his delights
To bask in the radiance of His sweet presence
And enjoy the fullness of His companionship.

Oh to look up in the face of Jesus,
To be caught up in His arms,
To be refreshed with a sense of His love
And rest in the comforts of His smile.

Oh to glory in the presence of My Savior,
To yield to His unending power,
To see through the fog, His wisdom,
And find myself sitting at His feet.

Oh to cast away all idols and worship the one and only True God,
To let God be God, and me be me, fulfilling His perfect will,
To honor and esteem His name, in every thought and deed,
And rest beneath His sheltering wings and on His manna feed.

Oh to be swallowed up in God,
To bathe in the glory of His embrace,
To know the fullness of His delights, his Joys, his loves,
And to behold His wondrous face.

Oh to lose myself in Jesus and be finished with the flesh,
To cross the chilly Jordan and to enter in that rest,
To say goodbye to all held dear in vanity and charm,
And finally be without the sin that so long worked its harm.

Oh to rest in His sweet radiance and blessed countenance,
To finally flee this world of woe and lose my self in Him;
He all my thoughts and dreams consume for in Him is my life,
While here below I dwell mid tears in vanity and strife.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Preaching Repentance.

And they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.
Mark 6:12

The Christian message begins with a call for sinners to repent of their sin and turn to God by faith. That’s always been the case. When Jesus began his ministry after being baptized by John, he began by commanding repentance. He said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:15). Without repentance there is no Gospel.

Sadly, much of today’s preaching skips over repentance as if it were an unnecessary addition to the Gospel. Since Christ came to save people, so the thinking goes, let’s just tell them about Christ and his love, and urge them to put their trust in Him. “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” they say, “so pray this prayer and ask Jesus into your heart and you can be saved.”

The problem with such a message is that it falls far short of the biblical Gospel, and thus it cannot save. ‘Salvation’ you see, implies rescue from something. I’m in danger of some terrible fate. I need to be rescued from it. But what does the modern gospel offer, to save me from missing “God’s wonderful plan for my life?” Maybe I have plans of my own? Is that all there is to it? I think most people would be willing to take their chances if there is nothing more to the Gospel than that!

But the biblical Gospel begins with a warning. “You have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, and “the wages of your sin is death.” It’s not just that you might “miss God’s best.” You are a rebel sinner who’s sin has put you under the wrath of God. You’ve set ourselves against God and His right to rule over this universe. Thus the danger you are in is that you will perish under His righteous wrath when He pours it out against all who stand against Him. No, your only hope is to turn from your sin and embrace by faith the Savior God has sent to bear His wrath for you – Jesus Christ His only Son. So repent and believe the good news that God saves sinners who turn and trust in Him!

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, October 16, 2008

'Talladega Nights' Theology

For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached,
or you receive a different spirit which you have not received,
or a different gospel which you have not accepted . . .
2 Corinthians 11:4

I recently saw a clip on You Tube of a scene from the movie Talladega Nights that was as funny as it was blasphemous. Certainly I don’t condone this movie or encourage anyone to watch it, but this scene did make what I thought was a very insightful theological point. In the movie, the main character, a goofy race car driver played by Will Ferrell, is asked to say grace before the family meal and insists on praying to“the baby Jesus.” When his wife objects that Jesus "has grown up now" so it’s not appropriate to pray to him as a baby anymore, an argument breaks out. Soon every person at the table is giving their opinion about the kind of Jesus they like to think about – whether a teenaged Jesus, adult Jesus, casual or formal Jesus, even Ninja Jesus. As I say, the whole thing is quite blasphemous and frankly a little hard to watch as a believer, since they toss the Name I love best around so casually. But that’s just my point.

Here's my question. Why did this seem funny to those who made this movie? Could it be they have seen us as Christians carelessly tossing Jesus’ name around as we've tried to “market him” to the world? Could it be that we are the ones who first gave them the idea that Jesus can be made into anything you’d like Him to be when we attempted to make him seem “cool” and “relevant” to them? Aren’t we the ones who put his name and his supposed likeness on T-shirts and caps and posters and yard signs, and treated him more like a brand name to be sold than the Name above every Name to whom every knee should bow and every tongue confess that ‘Jesus is Lord?’ I think that’s the most important theological message behind this scene in Talladega Nights.

It makes me wonder just how the world perceives Him, based on what they see in us. What will our children think of Jesus, based on what they've see us doing and heard us saying about Him? And are we really preaching the Gospel, or just marketing a product called "Jesus"? I hope you who honor His Name as I do, will join me in thinking this through.

Do not profane my holy name. I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites.
I am the LORD, who makes you holy
Leviticus 22:32

"But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went. "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.
Ezekiel 36:21-22

"My holy name I will make known in the midst of My people Israel;
and I will not let My holy name be profaned anymore.
And the nations will know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
Ezekiel 39:7

"It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy.
And He shall be your fear, And He shall be your dread.
Isaiah 8:13


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why Vote? A Biblical Perspective for Disillusioned Voters & Non-Voters

(An excellent article from a friend and fellow worshiper at Rockport I thought would be worth sharing)

By Tren E. Groat

It always bothers me deeply when I hear people say they don’t vote or don’t plan to vote. I’m not always sure what to tell them. After all, is it necessary for Christians to vote, or is that just something important to me? These questions have caused me to search the Scriptures.

So does Scripture have anything to say about voting? For believers, Scripture should be our ultimate authority for all we do and the first place we look for answers.

Paul writes in Romans 13:1-2, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

Scripture says all authority that exists was instituted by God and He is sovereign over it. This includes government, which is God’s means to maintain order, regardless of whether it is a democracy or a dictatorship.

Romans 13 says all governments that exist in the world exist because God ordained them too exist. “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:2). The United States of America has a democratic republic because God ordained it to occur in 1787 when our Constitution was enacted.

Where does voting fit in this? Paul writes in Romans 13:7, “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” These are some of the duties of each citizen under government to ensure it functions in an orderly way. If everyone stops paying taxes or does not respect laws and authorities, the society erodes into chaos and government cannot function.

In America, the government God has established (Rom. 13:1) requires elections in order to continue to exist and function. “We the people” are given the responsibility (and privilege) to choose our leaders through elections. If God has instituted our government in the United States, then voting and elections are also something that have been instituted by God as the means for our form of government to exist. Scripture makes it clear that we are not to live in rebellion to the government God has established and to not vote undermines our form of government.
God commands us in Scripture to “Pay to all what is owed to them…” (Rom. 13:7). Not voting ignores our responsibility and does not give to our government what is required of citizens by Scripture.

Not voting also shows a careless attitude about government and what happens in our nation. This ignores Jesus’ command: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31)
I’ve heard disillusioned people say, “It will do no good to vote.” That is fatalism. God determines what will occur, and that includes the means (events) He will use to bring everything about as He wills it to be. In our government, God has chosen elections to bring into power those He desires. If we don’t vote, we are rejecting the means God will use to bring about His will for us and our nation. Perhaps our vote may be what God uses for change.

Let me be clear. We do not trust in the election process. We trust in the Lord to do His will. Our prayer should always be, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:9-11).

Certainly, there is much to be displeased about in our government and a long list of politicians that are unworthy of their offices. Yet, we are not free of our responsibility because some politicians are crooked. We would be prideful to think we are above the fray by not voting. If you don’t vote, you are guilty of replacing the “complexity of voting with the simplicity of gloating.” (Why Vote If You Are Disillusioned, John Piper, October 27, 2004.)

Scripture tells us, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9). We know from Scripture government will never be the solution to our problems since sinful people lead us. But they are the only kind of politicians that will ever exist. Giving in to cynicism is not the answer. Hoping in politicians is idolatry. Let’s trust in God’s sovereignty to use voting and elections as one of His many means for bringing about His will on earth. May His will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bob Schembre: Football Playin' Preacher?

For those who may not have heard, our old friend -- and supposedly one of the contributors to this blog -- Bob Schembre's been a bit busy these days 'living the dream' of playing college football. Check out this interview that aired on Foxnews this morning (Oct 10, 2008). And keep our brother in prayer, that he not break anything. We're all ready for him to get back home so he can fellowship with us again.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hopless Situations and the Glory of God

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Hopeless situations must be some of God’s favorite things, for he always seems to show up in the middle of them. Think of all the hopeless places in the Bible where God has made his presence known.
  • Abram is over a hundred years old with a post-menopausal wife who’s never been able to get pregnant. But God says, “I’m going to give you a son.”
  • The children of Israel have their backs to the wall – the Red Sea in front of them, Pharaoh’s army behind them – with no place to run either left or right. There’s no way out of this jam. But God tells Moses, “Stand back and you will see the salvation of the Lord”
  • Gideon’s army is whittled down to 600 men, when God tells him to defeat a Midianite hoard of thousands.
  • And who could forget David the shepherd boy sent out to face the Giant; or Daniel in the Lion’s Den; or the young virgin girl who’s told she will bear God’s Son even though she’s never been intimate with any man.
  • And then there is Christ, God’s Messiah, hanging on a cross, despised and rejected by the very people He came to save. What hope could there be in such a Man? Or what hope is there for the ragamuffin band of disciples He sends out to evangelize the world.
God, it seems, does his best work when he puts us in impossible places. That theme, of God’s strength made perfect in our weakness, is what drives the action in Mark 5. Here Jesus steps in to rescue three different people who are drowning in despair: A man controlled by evil, a woman afflicted with an incurable illness, and a father grieving the death of his only child. In each case, it seems like a hopeless situation! But then, that’s just where God’s grace shines best.

I was thinking about this chapter the other day, when it occurred to me, that the real miracle here is not just what Jesus did for these individuals, but who He shows Himself to be in each case.

One man is possessed by demons – Satan has taken over His life! Jesus comes and sets him free. But that's not all. 1 John 3:8 says, “the Son of God has come to destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus not only has power to set this man free. He came to purify all His people from sin and it’s terrible consequences

The woman is suffering under the crushing weight of a terrible affliction. And Jesus heals her of her affliction. But Isaiah 53:4 goes on to say “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; . . .by his stripes we are healed. Christ came to take upon Himself our wounds and our sins and bear them away to the cross!

A child was dead! Beyond all hope of recover. And Jesus raises her from the dead. But even more, in John 11:25 Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in me will live, even though He dies.” He Himself is our source of Life! Eternal Life comes to us by trusting in Him!

In each one of these cases, Jesus not only gives what each one needs! He Himself is what they need! He is our victory over sin! He is our healing righteousness! He is our resurrection life! In other words, we don’t come to Him for what He gives! We come to Him, by faith trusting Who He is!

My prayer is that thought will give you hope in a lot of "hopeless situations" as you look by faith to Him


Friday, October 3, 2008

Christless Christianity

For several years now I've been an avid listener of "The Whitehorse Inn." I've found its biblical and historical perspective refreshing in light of the continuing downgrade of contemporary Christianity. Somewhere along the line we have fallen it to our culture's insane fascination with the "new" and "novel" and it's rejection of that which is "faithful to the old paths" (Jeremiah 6:16). Here in this short clip, Whitehorse Inn host, Michael Horton, gives what I believe is a vital insight into "what is wrong with the church today." Take a moment and listen to what he has to day. I hope to most more on this subject later.

If after watching this you'd like to learn more about "Christless Christianty" you can go to Michael Horton's new website

Soli Deo Gloria