Author Archives: Bob Rogers
Accepted by the believers
“Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, that the gift I am bringing to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints,” Romans 15:31 (HCSB)
Language study can be difficult, but it’s vital to be accepted among the believers, and fit in. If the missionary isn’t accepted by the believers, he won’t be able to reach the unbelievers.
Unfortunately, believers aren’t perfect, and can have conflict in churches on the mission field, just as churches here can have conflict. So pray for unity between the missionaries and the local believers.
Bold in sharing the gospel
“Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.” Ephesians 6:19-20 (HCSB)
Dr. Cal Guy was a missions professor who was asked to preach a revival. Members were concerned about one man, “Fine Old Mr. Crenshaw,” who was known to be a fine man, but saw no need for Christ. The pastor took Dr. Guy to meet him, and said, “Mr. Crenshaw, I’ve been telling Dr. Guy what a fine man you are.” Dr. Guy retorted, “I don’t believe it. If you’re a man as I’m a man, then you’re a rotten sinner, headed to hell.” After a long pause, Mr. Crenshaw smiled and said, “You’re right. Let’s talk.” And he accepted Christ.
Missionaries cannot be timid about sharing their faith. They need wisdom about when to be bold.
Clear in sharing the gospel
“…that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” Col 4:4 (ESV)
The gospel can often be misunderstood. Hindus want to add Jesus to their other gods, and need to hear that Jesus is the only way. Muslims often think that when we say Jesus is the “Son” of God, that we are talking about a literal, crude sexual relationship between God the Father and Mary. So pray that missionaries will make the message clear in the culture where they serve.
Delivered from unbelievers
“Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, that the gift I am bringing to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints,” Romans 15:31 (HCSB)
Persecution is very real in many places around the world. Missionaries have been expelled from countries on trumped-up charges. Pray for them to be rescued.
Enter open doors
“At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah, for which I am in prison,” Colossians 4:3 (HCSB)
“After they arrived and gathered the church together, they reported everything God had done with them and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” Acts 14:27 (HCSB)
Steven Gillum, IMB missionary in Curitiba, Brazil, prayed and prayed to discover an area of his city without a church, and then it was shown to him.
Missionaries are always looking for unreached areas. Pray those doors will open for them to go in.
“Now I want you to know, brothers, that I often planned to come to you (but was prevented until now ) in order that I might have a fruitful ministry among you, just as among the rest of the Gentiles.” Romans 1:13 (HCSB)
“You have already heard about this hope in the message of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world,” Colossians 1:5-6 (HCSB)
William Carey labored in India for seven years without a single convert. One North American missionary befriended 60 families among an unreached people group, but has not yet seen one of them convert to faith. The work can be hard. Pray that they will be fruitful, as Carey was, when eventually God sent a revival. Today there are over a million Baptists in India who consider William Carey their spiritual forefather.
“Dear friend, I pray that you may prosper in every way and be in good health physically just as you are spiritually.” 3 John 2 (HCSB)
Anytime you go to a different country, you may be exposed to different diseases. When I went on a short-term mission trip to Villa Berthet, Argentina, I noticed trees painted white halfway up, and certain markings on houses. When I asked what it meant, they said that it meant the “chagas” disease from an insect had infected those trees and houses.
In Africa and Asia, missionaries often have to confront malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, typhoid fever, cholera, and hepatitis A, among other diseases. Pray for their health.
Missionaries serve in many different circumstances and different places around the world. Carlton Walker is a missionary reaching out to some of the 24 million senior adults in Japan. A retired man, Mr. S, takes Carlton around and introduces him to people, and he boldly shares his faith when people who have been Buddhist all of their lives. Pray for missionaries like Carlton Walker and others in the United States and around the world.
Recently, TV talk-show host Bill Maher said, “God in the Old Testament is a psychotic mass murderer.”
Is this true? Many people think so, because of passages in the Old Testament where God allows people to be destroyed, such as Noah and the flood, the plagues on Egypt, and the many wars that Israel fought with their enemies.
There are three things we need to understand, in order to understand the God in the Old Testament.
I. We need to understand what actually happened
Many people are disturbed by the command of God for the destruction of people and cities in the Old Testament, but they are unaware of the culture and history of the time and the Hebrew words used to describe what actually happened. When one takes a closer look at all this, a completely different picture comes to light.
In some cases, the Old Testament is merely reporting what people did, not saying that God commanded that it be done. For example, King Jehu destroyed all of the worshipers of Baal (2 Kings 10:18-27), but the prophet Hosea said that God would punish King Jehu for this act of brutality (Hosea 1:4). So don’t assume that just because the Bible reports acts of cruelty that it means God endorsed those actions.
But the conquest of Canaan was clearly commanded by God. So how do we justify that?
The Canaanites were not innocent. They defiled the land with detestable practices that included incest, pedophilia, bestiality and homosexuality. (Leviticus 18:24-25)
Deuteronomy 20:16-18 gives the invasion policy for when Joshua was to conquer the land of Canaan. God commanded their destruction (herem, devotion to the ban), because of their wickedness. However, when we study the events of conquest of Canaan more closely, we see that it was not the kind of genocide some have made it out to be.
The word translated “city” in Deuteronomy 20:16 and in Joshua is ‘ir, which can mean a walled fortress, like Jerusalem was when David attacked it in 2 Samuel 5:7, 9. We know from history that in ancient times, the ‘ir was like a walled fort. It was an agricultural society, in which the people lived on farms around the ‘ir, but the military stayed in the ‘ir, which was primarily a military citadel, not an urban city as we think of it today. So when the Book of Joshua says that they conquered city after city, they were actually destroying the walled cities, or forts, of the Canaanites. They were taking military targets.
So when Deuteronomy 20:16 says not to let any living thing survive among each “city,” or ‘ir, of the land, God was ordering a military conquest of an evil empire, not a genocide of an innocent people.
II. We need to understand God’s mercy
Notice how the Old Testament describes God’s mercy.
God waited 100 years in Noah’s day for the people to repent. (Genesis 5:32; 7:6)
God waited 400 years to judge Canaan because “the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” (Genesis 15:16)
God waited for generations for Israel to repent, sending them prophets to warn them. “But Yahweh, the God of their ancestors sent word against them by the hand of His messengers, sending them time and time again, for He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place.” (2 Chronicles 36:15) It was only after they failed to repent that God allowed the Jews to be taken into exile in Babylon.
God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. (Ezekiel 33:11) God is patient, not wanting any to perish. (2 Peter 3:9)
Romans 2:4 turns the question on our own generation: “Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
III. We need to understand God’s justice
We just read 2 Chronicles 36:15, which said that God had compassion on His people “time and time again.” But the next verse, 2 Chronicles 36:16, says, “But they kept ridiculing God’s messengers, despising His words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the LORD’s wrath was so stirred up against His people that there was no remedy.”
The other thing we need to understand about God in the Old Testament is that while He is a God of mercy and grace, He is also a God of justice.
Leviticus 18:24-25 explains that God drove the Canaanites out of the land because they had defiled the land with their sinful lifestyles, and God said, “the land will vomit out its inhabitants.” God is a God of mercy, but eventually if we do not repent, His patience will run out, and His moral stomach will be turned against sin until He can hold it back no longer.
In Genesis 6:3, the LORD said, “My Spirit will not remain with mankind forever, because they are corrupt.” God is merciful, but when mankind continues to reject God’s mercy, God will judge.
As we have seen already, the punishment of the Canaanites was anticipated by God long before it happened, as God told Abraham in Genesis 15:16 that the sin of the Amorites had not reached its full measure. The implication was that when it did reach its full measure, it would then be too late. Throughout the Old and New Testament, we see this pattern: God is a God of grace and mercy who does not wish to punish. But if we continue in rebellion and refuse to repent, eventually God’s patience will run out, and He will execute His justice. We see this with Noah and the flood: God waited 100 years for them to repent, but when they refused, God sent the flood. God waited 400 years for the people in Canaan to repent, but when they refused, He sent Israel to conquer the land. God waited hundreds of years for Israel to repent, but when they refused to listen to the prophets, He allowed them to go into exile. The conquest of Canaan by Joshua and all of the other stories of punishment are not only history, they are also prophecy. It points to the final judgment that we all must face. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment.” But God has also provided a way to escape Judgment Day, by sending Jesus as a personal sacrifice for our sins.
God is not a bloodthirsty bully at all. God is a blood-giving Savior, who gave the blood of His own Son Jesus on the cross that we might be saved from judgment and spend eternity with Him in Heaven. This is the God of the Bible, both Old and New Testament.
As a pastor, I visit people who are in the hospital for all kinds of reasons: surgeries, childbirths, injuries and sickness. I have learned to always knock before entering a hospital room, because one never knows what might be behind that door. Hospital gowns are not designed for fashion or full covering, and I certainly don’t want to invade somebody’s privacy.
But one man who goes to my church saw something that he never dreamed he would see in a hospital room.
His wife, who was about 45 years old, went to the hospital for surgery. After a few hours, a nurse came to the waiting room and called the husband’s name. He stood, and she took him by the arm and said, “Come with me. We’re going to see your wife.”
Imagine his surprise when the nurse opened the door to a recovery room, and he saw a beautiful, 22-year-old blond in a hospital bed. Immediately he said, “Wow! I like that surgery!” Later, the man told me, “I’m just glad the young lady was asleep and didn’t hear the nurse tell her that I was her husband!”
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who go through wrong doors.
Some go through wrong decision doors, rushing into poor choices about important matters such as marrying a spouse or buying a house without stopping to pray for God’s guidance first. Others get sucked into trap doors, as they are enticed into bad habits and unhealthy addictions that leave them feeling like the door was locked behind them and the key thrown away.
But Jesus said, “I am the door” (John 10:7, 9). He didn’t say it would be easy to enter that door. It requires heart surgery—a changed heart by repenting of our sin and trusting in Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross for our salvation. But the end result is worth it. If we will enter by His door, we will find abundant life here on earth and eternal life in heaven. Like my church member said, “Wow! I like that surgery!”
Sunday, August 11, is “Back to Church Sunday” at the church where I pastor, First Baptist Church of Rincon, Georgia. Thousands of churches across America will observe “Back to Church Sunday” sometime this fall.
We know that many people get out of the habit of going to church during the summer, and many have dropped out altogether. But we want to encourage you to come back! This is a good time, as the church begins its fall activities. Take my poll above, feel free to leave your comments, and watch for more posts about reasons to get back in church.
I am giving away a free copy of Thom Rainer’s book, I Am a Church Member, this week on my blog. Here’s what you need to do to win:
1. Follow my blog. If you are not already following, click on the link at the right and sign up.
2. Leave a comment below telling me what your church does, or what you wish it would do, to disciple new members. You must leave me an email address in the comment, so that I can contact the winner.
I will select a winner based on the comments (the person must also be a follower of my blog), and I will announce the winner on Friday afternoon. LifeWay will mail the book directly to you. (By the way, the winner must live in the United States or Canada.)
I WILL BE GIVING AWAY A FREE BOOK NEXT WEEK TO SOMEBODY WHO VISITS MY BLOG.
WATCH FOR DETAILS ON MONDAY!
On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, allowing federal benefits for same-sex marriage partners in States that already have legalized same-sex marriage.
How should we respond to this? Here are a some brief thoughts of my own, and links to what other Christian bloggers are saying:
1) We must respond with Christ-like love. Ranting and raving on Facebook and Twitter and angry words to our friends and family will only confirm the unbeliever’s preconceived notion that Christians are judgmental and narrow-minded.
LifeWay researcher and Southern Baptist author Ed Stetzer calls for gracious, Christ-like responses in his blog: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2013/june/prop-8-doma-and-christian-response.html.
2) We must prepare to live in a non-Christian culture. Our parents lived in a generation where Judeo-Christian values were the norm. That is no longer the case. We will need to stand by Christian values that are at odds with our culture, and be prepared to graciously endure persecution, if needed, when submission to anti-Biblical standards are demanded of us. Do not conform to this world, but be transformed (Romans 12:1-2).
Sylvania, Georgia youth pastor Steve Dresen reminds us of how the early church responded in a culture that did not share our values: http://stevendresen.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/scotus-same-sex-marriage-and-the-churchs-identity
3) We must not give up. Don’t forget that the majority of States still do not allow same-sex “marriage.” In many nations around the world, such as Africa and Eastern Europe, homosexuality is still considered sinful by the overwhelming majority of people. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament boldy spoke truth to their culture, we too must proclaim the truth, rather than concede defeat. Last year I preached a sermon entitled, “What the Bible teaches about homosexuality may surprise you.” You can read it here: http://bobrogers.me/2012/07/09/what-the-bible-says-about-homosexuality-may-surprise-you/
Roman Catholic scholars make some good points about how the Supreme Court decision does not end the debate and that “gay marriage” is not inevitable. Here is the report from the Catholic News Agency: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/gay-marriage-is-not-inevitable-analysts-say/.
4) We must remember that God is on His throne. God was still on His throne when Noah built the ark, when Moses fled from Pharaoh, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians, and when Jesus died on the cross. The demise of God and godliness has been overstated many times before, and God always turns it around for good. Rather than despair, Christian, let us get on our needs and pray for a new movement of God that is totally dependent upon the power of God, not the power of politics.
If you are looking for a resource for your church’s new member class, this is a book you will want to read.
Thom Rainer, CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, has written I Am a Church Member: Discovering the Attitude that Makes the Difference. It is a short book that can easily be read in one sitting, but it has the potential of making a big impact in local churches.
The book opens with a story about two members of the same church with completely opposite attitudes about church. Then he zooms in on the Biblical attitude members should have in six short chapters, based on Rainer’s extensive research in attitudes among church members. These chapters teach members to be active, bring unity, avoid the tendency to insist on personal preferences, pray for leaders, lead their own families to be involved, and to treasure church membership as a gift. The main point of the book is that church membership is not like a country-club membership with perks and privileges.
There are some churches that reject the term “membership,” saying it is an unbiblical modern term. Rainer disagrees, pointing out that 1 Corinthians 12:27-28 speaks of the “individual members” of the church. Rather than reject the term, Rainer seeks to give a Biblical definition of the term “membership.” He emphasizes that Biblical church membership is a treasured gift, just as our salvation is a gift, and thus we should serve in our churches gladly, not begrudgingly.
One of the strengths of this little book is that each chapter includes a pledge of loyalty for members to make. This requires the reader to respond to the challenge of the book. Each chapter also includes discussion questions, making this book an outstanding resource for small group or one-on-one study for church members, both new and old.
(Below is a guest blog by Dr. John Waters, pastor of First Baptist Church, Statesboro, Georgia, and president of the Georgia Baptist Convention. He shares his personal observations about the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention, which met last week in Houston, Texas.)
Southern Baptists gathered in Houston, Texas, this month for our annual convention meeting. Controversy or unsettled issues often marked previous conventions, so the annual meetings usually morphed into an annual show down, with messengers already having made up their minds regarding a particular issue weeks before their arrival.
This year’s Southern Baptist Convention, however, seemed to mark a course correction. With a shockingly low attendance barely breaking the 5,000 mark, not many Southern Baptists made the trek to the Lone Star state for this annual meeting, but those who attended participated in a well-planned and effective event.
Having attended this year’s annual gathering, I offer the following four observations about this year’s Southern Baptist Convention:
1. Baptists are beginning to favor cooperation over conflict.
With several potentially divisive issues before us, Baptists chose to respond with wisdom, grace, and a plea for unity. The theme of “Revive Us: That We May Be One” set the stage for a spirit of cooperation that sadly has been absent in many of the previous conventions. The report regarding Calvinism and the resolution about Boys Scouts of America were characterized more by their thoughtfulness than their abrasiveness, and messengers seem to be resisting the urge to fight, choosing instead to make strong statements tempered by love and the spirit of Christ.
2. Previous “hot issues” seemed noticeably absent.
With the commotion caused in recent conventions about the Great Commission Resurgence (Orlando, 2010) and the descriptor name of “Great Commission Baptists” (New Orleans, 2012), it was remarkable how these hot topics seemed to be long forgotten. Even though these issues were passionately debated and subsequently approved, Southern Baptists seemed to have put them in the past, relegating them to the historical archives of the Convention for anyone who wants to search for them. But did the adoption of these quasi-controversial matters substantively change the make up and DNA of Southern Baptists? Given the deafening silence about these issues only a few years after their acceptance, they apparently were forgotten as quickly as they were adopted.
3. The call for global missions has been re-ignited among Baptists.
It was difficult to miss the mandate to get the Gospel to the nations, and rightly so. Over the past 30 years or so, Southern Baptists privately swelled with pride when talking about our global mission strategies and our thousands of fully funded missionaries around the globe. But the growing statistics of lostness among the nations and the fatness among Southern Baptist churches have been a wake up call. Danny Akin’s closing sermon was particularly insightful, as he reminded messengers that they could be parachuted into places on the globe and walk for weeks on end without ever meeting a single believer or seeing a single church. They would find, instead, countless people groups representing millions of souls that have never once heard the name of Jesus. In an over-saturated America with churches on every proverbial street corner, maybe it is time we managed with less at home so that we can poke deeper and wider holes in the darkness in parts of the world that don’t even have access to the Gospel.
4. Fred Luter’s genuine spirit set the right temperature for Baptists.
Noticeably uncomfortable in certain settings requiring parliamentary finesse, president Fred Luter displayed an affable and infectious spirit that endeared him even more to Baptists, if that is even possible. He capably handled all of the business required of any SBC president, but his love for churches and pastors was apparent and set a gracious tone for the entire meeting. His gregarious manner was perhaps best displayed after he struck the gavel for the close of the annual meeting and then looked into the crowd and shouted, “Love y’all!” With men like Fred Luter leading the Southern Baptist Convention, the days ahead will be good ones indeed.
Copyright 2013 by Bob Rogers
What are the top ten gifts NOT to give on Father’s Day?
Here’s my list:
9. “World’s Best Dad” coffee mug
8. “World’s Best Dad” t-shirt with a picture of Darth Vader
7. “World’s Best Dad” certificate signed by a Lazy Son or Daughter
6. The book, Fatherhood for Dummies.
5. A text message saying “Happy Father’s Day.”
4. Nose and ear hair trimmer
3. Big Mouth Billy the Bass singing fish
2. Book a cruise and charge it to Dad’s credit card.
Yep. Nothing. The worst gift of all is to forget Father’s Day and fail to call or say anything about it. Even a text message is better than nothing at all.
“Honor your father and your mother so that you may have a long life in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12, HCSB)