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September 10, 2019, 11:48 AM

Waiting for Othniel


The last few years I have been fortunate to be able to take a group of pre-teen students to camp. One of my favorite things to do during free time is fishing in the pond. I enjoy fishing but seldom get the chance to do it. Since I don’t fish very often, I’m not that good at it. Not only do I not catch very many fish, I usually spend more time making a mess of the line than actually fishing. There was a time this past summer when we were fishing at camp that I somehow created what is known as a “bird’s nest” in the fishing line. Now, this wasn’t the first time I had done this but this time I was determined to fix it on my own. It was so hot that day and I was sweating profusely and swatting at mosquitos the size of half-dollars all while trying most unsuccessfully to untangle the mess I had created. Finally, after spending a good 30-45 minutes in my vain attempt, I called out to my friend Ronnie who is an avid fisherman. See, I was determined to not ask for help because I didn’t want anyone to know I had messed up and my pride said I could fix it on my own. As he approached me, he jokingly scolding me for making such a big mess and lovingly laughed at my ineptitude. So much for my pride. He showed me grace and took time away from his fishing to help me. To add to my shame and frustration, it took Ronnie all of about 37 seconds to fix what I had spent nearly an hour working on and had only seemed to make worse. Before he went back to fishing he told me next time to let him know so I wouldn’t have to spend so much time suffering with it.

I was reminded of that principle recently while studying in the Book of Judges. The Israelites had started well in the journey of conquering the Promised Land, but not long after Joshua died, the people began to drift away from the Lord. Judges 3:7 tells us that they had begun doing evil in the eyes of the Lord and turn to worship other gods. Because of their sin God sent an oppressor to punish them. Verse 8 says that the king of Aram Naharaim ruled over them for eight years. It was at this point the Israelites cried out to God and He sent them a deliverer, Othniel, to save them from this oppression.

I wondered, why the term of eight years? I thought of many scenarios that might be plausible, but in the end, one struck me in the heart. They didn’t cry out to God until after eight years. For whatever reason, they endured the consequences of their sin and broken relationship with God for eight years. This draws to my mind the prodigal son who, after a season of suffering because of poor choices, came to his senses and headed back toward his father. Too many times people try to fix things on their own or get caught up in worry about what other people may say. This causes them to forget about the grace of God that is waiting for the cry for help.

If this is you, simply stop right now and cry out to God for help. God uses circumstances to accomplish His purpose in the lives of people and sometimes that purpose is to drive them back to Him. Don’t keep trying to fix things on your own, you’ll only wind up making them worse. Confess your sin, repent, and cry out to God for your deliverer to come and set you free from the oppression of sin. Othniel set the people free for a period of 40 years, Jesus can set you free for eternity.

Robert

https://youtu.be/9JXl1czvh7g




September 3, 2019, 7:12 PM

Cleaning the clutter


In an attempt to declutter this tab, I have taken down all blogs over a year old.  Please contact me if you would like any of the blog entries that are no longer listed.  Also, there are extended versions of many of these entries that dig deeper into the Scriptures and include other real life events available upon request.  You can reach me at pastor.beallchapel@gmail.com.  Thank you for reading these blogs.




September 3, 2019, 7:05 PM

Identity Crisis


It seems like over the last few years our nation and society have entered into a severe identity crisis. To an extent, even the Church has struggled with this as well. I believe this has occurred in part because we have forgotten who we are. By forgotten I mean that we have willfully neglected the truth and put it out of our minds. A person who identifies as a different gender than how they were born has chosen to willfully forget the truth of how they were created. A nation that applauds and encourages sinful lifestyles while aggressively attacking Christian beliefs has turned its back on the Biblical principles it was founded upon. A Church that is more interested in creating an “experience” by attempting to make the Gospel fit with the theme of Spiderman or anything else that doesn’t place God at the center of our worship has, like the Israelites long ago, forgotten who He is and begun to chase after pleasing people rather than honoring God. The danger isn’t that the Church will completely turn away from God, but that it will try to incorporate just enough of the Gospel with aspects of secularism and will be left with nothing but a watered-down version of the truth. The remedy for this identity crisis is found in Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans begins by declaring who he is. I don’t mean that he tells them his name, he says that he is a slave to Christ. To Paul, being a follower of Christ wasn’t something he did when it was easy or convenient. He said, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,” as a declaration of who he was, not what he did. Too many people see Christianity as something they do rather than who they are. Another common problem is that the submissive role of a being a slave to Christ is rejected due to a desire for self-notoriety. Paul informed the people of his name and his identity and that they were not one in the same.

Secondly, Paul informs his audience of his role in the ministry of the Gospel. Remember, Paul was a tentmaker by trade, but an Apostle by calling. Regardless of your vocation, as a Christian you have a calling on your life. A coach may be an evangelist, a nurse can be a minister, the retired person can be an intercessory prayer warrior. So often we forget that who we are isn’t predicated by what we do. A secular job may just be an opportunity for you to exercise the Spiritual gifts God has equipped you with in order to fulfill your calling.

Thirdly, Paul says he exercises his calling as an apostle for two main reasons. The first being to call people to obedience to God through faith in Jesus by declaring the Good News. The second, the crescendo of all that Paul did as a servant to Christ, that as an Apostle called by God to share the Gospel with the gentiles was that it would be done for the sake of Christ’s name and for His glory. He knew why he was doing what he was doing.

Paul had no identity crisis. He knew who he was and who he served, what he was created for, and why he was to do it. There are only two identities in this life, either you’re saved or not. If you’re saved, then you are equipped with Spiritual gifts to exercise in your calling regardless of your vocation. Finally, if you’re saved and living out your calling, you know it’s not for your glory, but for the glory of the Lord. If this process isn’t happening in your life then you might need to seek God and examine yourself as to why it isn’t. If you have never confessed your sin and placed your faith in Jesus Christ alone, that is where you need to start today.

Robert




August 27, 2019, 9:00 AM

Back-row Baptists


 

It has been a running joke as long as I can remember that in the Baptist church not only do people have their spot, but also, the back rows seem to be filled well more than those at the front of the sanctuary. Thus, the catchy little nickname. However, this is probably the same situation on most other churches regardless of denomination. It’s not just churches either, classrooms seem to have the same disproportion. It seems like nobody wants to get to close to the preacher or teacher. I know at my church people stay a couple of rows back because I, unfortunately, spit a little when I get excited while I’m preaching. The front row is justifiably known as the splash zone. Now, I know that’s not really the reason our front row serves the purpose of a lost and found better than a place for people to sit. I think it’s because people simply want to be comfortable. In school, the furthest I could get from the teacher, the better. I sure didn’t want to be called on to answer a question. I just wanted to come in, be seen and counted as present, listen to what the teacher said and go about my merry way. I am of the opinion it is the same way at church. People want to come in and be seen from a distance so someone will know they were there and not harass them about not coming. They want to simply sit and be a part of the congregation, and when it’s time, go home and live their best life now. I’m not trying to make introverts feel bad about how they are, I’m actually more of an introvert myself. The problem with this mentality and behavior is that it overflows into a person’s spiritual walk outside of the church. It’s like Peter warming himself by the fire as told by Mark in chapter 14:66-72 of his recording of the Gospel. Peter’s heart was passionate and his commitment to the Gospel is well recorded, but this moment in his walk found him choosing comfort over commitment. He was just close enough to Jesus to be aware of what was taking place, but not too close. He stayed back by the fire to warm himself. When he was rightfully accused being a Jesus follower, he vehemently denied it. He chose self-preservation over the risk of suffering the same outcome as Jesus. Now contrast that with the behavior of Joseph after the crucifixion of Christ. Mark 15:43 says that he went boldly to Pilate and requested the body of Jesus. The Greek word translated “boldly” implies that there was a great risk involved with Joseph’s actions, but he went before Pilate anyway. Because Jesus was condemned as an insurrectionist guilty of treason, anyone found to be an associate or accomplice would be at risk to suffer the same punishment. This didn’t seem to faze Joseph. The argument could be made that Joseph was a member of the council, why didn’t he speak on behalf of Jesus before? Or that the only reason he wanted the body of Christ was in order to adhere to Jewish law and customs. Either way, he took on a certain risk to make a bold statement amount his faith. Mark also tells us Joseph was a man who was waiting and watching, anxiously anticipating, the coming Kingdom of God through the Messiah. So the question left to be answered today is where are you in your faith walk? Are you staying just close enough to Jesus to be accounted as one of his followers but not too close as to have to suffer any hardships for it? Or are you willing to boldly follow Christ with every aspect of your life knowing full well that the reward far outweighs the risk? Is it time for you to move up from that back row in your spiritual walk?

Robert




August 20, 2019, 11:35 AM

Playing Dress-up with Jesus


In the not too distant past, my son had a box of costumes in his closet. Every now and then he would go into that box and pull out one of those costumes and run through the house pretending he was that particular character. Some days it would be Ironman, and other days Woody or Buzz Lightyear. And I would be remiss if I somehow left out the Ninja Turtles. He had even got to the point of acting like Raphael so much that he would run around the bases at his baseball games the way that the ninja turtles ran in the cartoon. It didn’t matter to him that it slowed him down and resulted in him getting out some of the time. It was cute for a season, but if he continued to do it as he got older it would just be awkward. It’s fun to imagine and play dress up. In fact, many adults still do it at the Comic-con events. (I’m not judging, I’m just saying.) Halloween is another time when some grownups play dress-up and act like children. There is a time and place for relishing in the splendor of our imagination, but when it comes to the worship of our Lord, we should leave the dress-up out of it. I’m not accusing anyone of going to church dressed as a princess or super-hero, but I believe there are plenty of people simply playing dress-up with Jesus. Mark 15:16-20 and the parallel passage in Matthew 27:27-31 tell the story of roman soldiers dressing Jesus as a king in a purple robe and mockingly giving Him praise. They even put a crown upon His head and a staff in His hand. Next, they knelt in front of Him and declared, “Hail, king of the Jews!” The reality of the condition of their heart was revealed in the way they treated Him after this mockery. They beat Him, spit on Him, and paid false homage to Him. Unfortunately, this is how many worship Jesus. They say He’s the King of their life and even act like it from time to time but in reality, they give Him no authority and even their acts of worship and submission are a farce. Their worship is a game of dress-up that allows them to be the central focus of the “experience.” Worship of the King of Kings isn’t an experience that you’re a part of once a week, it is a way of life. It’s not about simply going through the motions of giving adoration to some make-believe god created in the minds of those who worship him. It requires that we approach Him, the one true God as the God who is a consuming fire but allows us to draw near Him through the blood of Jesus. Does your walk with God include true worship or are you simply playing dress-up with Jesus?

Robert

https://youtu.be/ZUg9qE_KjLg


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