Monthly Archives: August 2014

Thank You, First Baptist.

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First Baptist Family,

I don’t know of a better way to communicate to all of you en masse than this medium. So, when you receive this, please share it with other members of FBC when you can.

This week the IMB elected a new President. As you know, I was on the search team that recommended David Platt for the position. It was an incredible time for me, personally, to be able to serve on this team and do this work.

However, it meant your pastor being gone A LOT more than usual. Over the last 6 months, I travelled 6 additional times my normal schedule. I also had more reading and conference calls on my schedule here than normal. It meant, in other words, that I gave a lot of my attention to this. No one asked you if it was okay if I did this. No one told you ahead of time, “Hey, Pastor Matt is going to be out a lot over the first 6-8 months of 2014.” It just “happened.”

But not one of you complained to me about being away. No one expressed anger. No one expressed concern. For all I know, you were thrilled that I was gone!!!!

If anything, several of you shared with me of your prayers for me and our committee in this process.

THANK YOU.

Thank you for allowing me to be gone in order to participate in this very important matter. It means so much to me that you all understood and were supportive of what I have been privileged to be a part of.

In addition, many – if not most – of you know that I will be gone again this week. Tomorrow morning, I am taking my family to Disney World. This is something that has been scheduled and planned for a LONG time. It just happens to be at the end of me being gone a lot for the IMB meetings. For us as a family, it comes at a perfect time. The person who has worked the hardest during my travels this year has been my incredible wife. It has also meant me being away from my kids more than I prefer. Due to my schedule and this upcoming Disney trip, we were unable to get away “just the 5 of us” this summer. So, this week at Disney World is going to be wonderful for our family.

But I wanted you to know why and where your pastor was “again” when he isn’t around next week. Unknown

I don’t have to tell you this, but we have a tremendous staff who, quite literally, work with excellence whether I am here or on the road. They are awesome.

Brady Canright will be filling in for me this Sunday morning. YOU WILL NOT WANT TO MISS being here. He is incredibly gifted behind the pulpit and with the Word of God.

Again, thank you for your prayerful and verbal support of me being a part of the Presidential Search process for the IMB. Thank you for the understanding of your pastor being away more than usual. And thank you, in advance, for your prayers for my family as we spend some concentrated time together this week with Goofy and friends.

I am already about to bust to get behind the pulpit on Sunday, September 7th. Right now, we have 4 baptisms scheduled, we will share in the Lord’s Supper together, and I will be continuing in Philippians 1 on what it means to say “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

I can’t wait!

With sincere appreciation for you,

Pastor Matt

Hell is Trembling

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Everyone knows by now that David Platt is the newly elected President of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). You can read about his election here and here. By God’s amazing grace, I was able to serve on the search team that brought his name before the trustees this week in Richmond, Virginia. It was a consuming 6 months – but a time period in my life I will treasure and always look back on with joy.

I could not be more thrilled that Platt is the IMB President. I literally do not have words to express my joy and excitement. I am more excited about the IMB than ever before. I am more excited about the SBC than ever before. I am more excited about the Cooperative Program (CP) than ever before.

Others much smarter than I have written of their excitement and they express my emotions well.

I encourage to read what Hershael York wrote about this here.

I encourage you to read what Russell Moore wrote here.

I encourage you to read what J.D. Greear said about it here.

These articles literally capture my heart in words and express the same emotions and thoughts I have about this election.

However, I still have more reasons why I am overwhelmed with tear-filled excitement that David Platt is the new President of the IMB.

Next week I will share with you 5 additional reasons I am hopeful beyond words. I will share one on Monday, one Tuesday, another on Wednesday, one Thursday, and a final reason on Friday.

Let me give you a bit of a clue to these reasons with a story.

Tuesday night of this week, the trustees finished our time together on our knees before the Lord asking Him to move and have His way with the vote that would take place the following morning. Any trustee who felt led to pray could do so. It was a sweet and powerful time of prayer for the IMB, the SBC, missionaries on the field, and the nations. One prayer that stood out was the closing prayer by David Uth (chairman of the Presidential Search Team). He asked God to make the news of the election of the new IMB President to cause shockwaves of fear to run throughout hell. He wanted the result of the vote to cause hell to tremble. It was a powerful moment that brought a “holy reality” to the room.

The next morning, just before the trustees voted, David Uth stood up to inform us of some troubling news. Someone, during the night, hacked the IMB website and prematurely announced David Platt’s election as President. We had not even voted and people all over the world were reading this, including members of the church where Platt pastored – The Church at Brook Hills. For a brief moment, all of us in the room were sick at the news. However, David Uth stood up and reminded us, “Trustees, hell is already trembling with fear.” I was struck with chills all over my body.

I am more excited and hopeful than I have ever been about the election of David Platt. Next week, I will share with you five reasons why . . . they are reasons I believe hell is scared to death.

Taste and See

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 18, Lamentations 3, Romans 16, Psalm 34.

“Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” Psalm 34:8a

Could you commend this to someone?

Could you – really and truly – urge someone to experience the goodness of the LORD?

I mean, for that to happen, you (me, us, we) would have to had experienced Him in a good and “tasteful” way.

I can plead with others to “taste and see” how good my grandmother’s chocolate pie is because I have experienced its glory (don’t judge me for using “glory” to describe my grandmother’s chocolate pie. . . you would say the same thing). I can urge others to get a slice because I know what it will do to their taste buds. It will – physically and mentally – enrich their lives!images

But what about God?

I know about Him.

I know truths about Him.

I can recite some stuff that makes me sound like I know Him.

But when was the last time I really tasted His goodness? Do I really experience Him in a way where my life exhorts others to “taste and see” how good He really is? And, if I don’t, why not? What’s the point of the Gospel – and my faith and hope in it – if it doesn’t lead me to enjoy the greatness and goodness of God?

Could it be that the world doesn’t want our God because we don’t enjoy Him?

Could it be that we don’t enjoy Him because we really don’t know Him?

Could it be that we really just do the “God thing” because we are supposed to?

The Gospel is not a banner to wave to declare to everyone “I’m good. . .I believe in this, this, this and this.” No – at the end of the day – the Gospel is our means by which we can, by abundant grace and lavish mercy, enjoy the pleasure of being in the presence of God (1 Peter 3:18, Psalm 16:11). The Gospel is not for us to say, “I’m okay because I believe in these truths.” It is, rather, for us to be able to say, “I’m full of joy because I taste and see God due to what was accomplished by Jesus for me in the Gospel.”

King David could commend us to “taste and see” how good God is.

Can you?

 

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 15, Jeremiah 52, Romans 13, Psalm 31.

1 Samuel 15:22 – ““Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”

God told Saul to destroy everything (1 Samuel 15:3).

Saul destroyed everything BUT the best . . . in order to sacrifice the best as an offering to the Lord (1 Samuel 15:15).

Did you catch that? Unknown

God told Saul to destroy everything. Saul destroyed everything . . . EXCEPT the best in order to worship the Lord.

Hmmmmmm.

Was what Saul did wrong?

Was it not commendable for Saul to offer to the Lord the best animals as a sacrifice and offering to the Lord?

Would those watching not think, “What an honorable thing to offer to the Lord the best of the best as a means of worship”?

Does not the Lord require this kind of thing in other places throughout Scripture?

This act of sacrifice and offering would have been good and right and honorable . . . had God NOT said to destroy everything.

But He did. God told Saul to leave NOTHING. Saul left SOMETHING – even though it was left as an offering. To God, that is disobedience and worthy of massive punishment (1 Samuel 15:23).

Here’s the thing: The whole point of God demanding the best as a a sacrificial offering in other places is to demonstrate that He is supreme and He is worthy of all worship, praise, and obedience. So, disobeying Him in order to do that defeats the whole purpose!

What is more, the reason God has great delight in our obedience and our listening is because He delights in communicating with His people. He delights in relationship. He takes great joy in conversing with His children!

It is a GLORIOUS thing that God didn’t accept Saul’s offering. Why? Because if He had accepted it, He would have approved of going through the motions of worship – without us REALLY worshipping! Had God said to Saul, “Okay, that’s good. I’ll take that,” He would have suggested that it is okay NOT to listen and obey and simply go through a religious ritual.

But God doesn’t want that! He doesn’t want some religious duty. He wants US! He wants relationship with US! He wants to converse with US! He delights in having discussions with you and me.

THE most loving thing God could do is be furious at Saul for disobeying. Why? Because God doesn’t want our religious junk. He wants US. In fact, He sent His Son to be with us (Immanuel) so that we could – forever – be with Him.

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What religious thing are you doing that is preventing relationship with you and the Lord?

When was the last time you actually conversed with Him?

How are you at obeying and listening rather than jumping through religious hoops?

Please remember: The Lord has GREAT DELIGHT in our listening and obedience. Why? Because He delights in US.

Stop doing your “stuff” to get others to talk about how religious you are or to get God to like you. Listen and obey – for there’s no other way – to be happy in Jesus.

How Can You Be So Sure?

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 14, Jeremiah 51, Romans 12, Psalm 29 – 30.

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How can you be so sure?

1 Samuel 14:6 –  “Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, ‘Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.'”

How can Jonathan be so sure that the Lord would work for him? How did he know that nothing could hinder the Lord?

Jeremiah 51:5a – “For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord of hosts . . .”

How can Jeremiah know this? How could he possibly say such a thing during a time when Israel and Judah were in captivity under Babylonian control? How can he be so sure?

How can Paul be so sure about God’s will?

Romans 12:2  – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

How can you be transformed in your mind and be so confident that you know the mind and will of God?

How can a sad person start dancing?

Psalm 30:11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.” 

How did that happen for this guy? How does God do this for a person?

Jonathan knew God would work for them.

Jeremiah knew God had not forsaken His people (when all circumstances pointed otherwise).

Paul knew one could know the will of God.

David danced instead of mourning – though things hadn’t been going so hot.

How? How can these things be? How does one have this kind of confidence? Where does one get this kind of hope? How can one – really and truly – know God’s will? How can someone be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing?

Is it magic? Is it pixy dust? Is it hoping to wake up in a good mood? Is it when the stars finally align? Is it when Chick-Fil-A finally comes to El Dorado? Is it something we just have to sit and wait for, hoping one day it will come?

Or can anyone have this same sort of bizarre confidence?

Psalm 29 is helpful here. Consider:

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.Unknown
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
    and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth
    and strips the forests bare,
    and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

The voice of the Lord has ZERO limits. It makes the impossible, possible. It makes something from nothing. It causes the miraculous. It transforms circumstances and situations.

Jonathan and Jeremiah and Paul and David had this bizarre confidence due to the fact that they knew the Lord. How did they know the Lord? Through the means by which the Lord has chosen to make Himself known – His Word. God reveals Himself to us from His Word. His Voice. His Word isn’t like any other word or voice. It thunders. It is full of majesty. It breaks cedar trees and causes nations to skip like newborn calfs. It has the power to do to forests what tornadoes do – except He does it to our hearts.

You can approach life like Jonathan did.

You can have peace in horrific circumstances like Jeremiah did.

You can break out into dancing when it seems as you should mourn like David (even as a Southern Baptist!).

You can discern God’s will like Paul said you could.

How? Knowing God from His Word.

Don’t just read the Bible today so you can say you did. Read it to find more of God. Read it so you can trust in Him and His ways. Read it so that in your heart you can walk toward your day and cry, “Glory!”

Look Full in His Wonderful Face

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Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 13, Jeremiah 50, Romans 11, Psalm 27-28.

Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”

Of all the things to ask God for, David chose this one. In my heart, I know it is right and good to do so. But I have to ask “WHY?” Why would David ask that as THE ONE thing?

I mean, obviously David had an issue with lust. Why not ask God to take that away?

We know David had family issues. Why not ask for intervention there? What parent doesn’t want their kids to get along?

We know David had his share of enemies. How about asking God for more people to like him?

Or, what about world peace?

Or, how about asking God to rescue all the orphans?

Why not racial integration?

He could have at least asked God to help El Dorado get a Chick-Fil-A or Starbucks! I mean, geez, how selfish can a guy be?

He asks for this one thing: to dwell in the presence of God, gazing upon His beauty. 

Wasn’t David gonna do that in heaven anyway? I mean, he had FOREVER to do that post-death. Why not ask for something a little more . . . ummm. . . practical?

I think we get a small hint in the very next chapter. Psalm 28:8 says, “The Lord is the strength of his people; he is the saving refuge of his anointed.”

Could it be that David knew something we desperately need to know? 

Dwelling in God’s presence, beholding His majesty is ultimate. It is the highest privilege and final aim for any human being. It doesn’t mean the other requests we have don’t go away or that we don’t want them answered. But it does mean when we are beholding the glory of the Lord the other things are put in their proper perspective. David knew that the Lord is the strength of His people. THE LORD is the strength of His people . . . not more stuff or power or wealth or family harmony. 

David asking God this one thing did not mean David didn’t want God to ignore his other issues. It just meant he knew he needed the other issues to be put in a different and better perspective.

Or, to quote a song I heard once: “And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glorious face.”

Or even the prayer by Jesus. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? “Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your Name.” Ever wondered why Jesus told us to start our prayers with the “Hallowing” of God’s great Name? 

It’s not wrong to ask God for other “stuff” (okay, perhaps the Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks things is taking it a bit too far, but . . . nah – it’s not), but perhaps we simply are wasting our time when we forget the massively important task and privilege to behold the glory and power and beauty and majesty of God. HE is the strength of His people. His splendor gives His children unbelievable confidence and joy and peace and life and satisfaction. 

What is your ONE desire today? In Jesus you have access – 24/7 – to God. 

Let’s be a people who long for and yearn – above all else – to dwell in the presence of our God, gazing upon His beauty, all the days of our lives. 

And then? The things of earth will grow strangely dim. 

 

 

A Prayer for My Kids on the First Day of School

Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 11, Jeremiah 48, Romans 9, and Psalm 25.

(Using Psalm 25 as a guide)photo

Father – as this new school year begins, may You teach my children what it means to lift up their soul to You and trust You in all circumstances (vs. 1-2). As they learn numerous academic “ways,” I ask that You would – first and foremost – make them to know Your ways . . . You be the One teaching them Your paths. Lead them into what is true – real truth – and may they not waver from You or Your ways (vs. 4-5).

May they process even more so the depth of Your mercy, the height of Your steadfast love, Your way of grace, and how You work all of it for Your glory alone (vs. 6-7).

Teach my children what humility is, what it looks like, and the way of those who are humble. Make them aware of their sin, their need of You, and how – were it not for You – they would have zero hope. In addition, may these truths cause them to be burdened and broken for their classmates (vs. 8-9).

Give them, please, a healthy fear of You and an eagerness to keep Your commands and testimonies. May they know and rest in the fact that walking in Your ways brings their souls well-being. And allow them to be enamored by the reality that they can actually be called Your friends (vs. 10-14).

Father, the evil one desires to have them. He wants them to fall into the trap of “fitting in.” He wants them to hear of sinful things and have their sinfully inclined heart to be drawn ever more to them. He wants them to be ridiculed for being Your followers. He is their enemy, he hates them, and he wants them to be ensnared under his “trance.” He is brilliant at what he does and so crafty in His ways. Turn to them, Lord, and be gracious to them! Keep their eyes ever toward You! Bring them out of their distresses. Watch over them in their affliction and trouble. Consider the one – the evil one – who seeks to devour them. Guard their soul, Lord! Watch over them, Lord! May You – YOU – be their refuge. Redeem them, Your children, out of all of their troubles (vs. 15-22).

This I pray because of and for Jesus.

Amen.