|For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. Luke 1:49
|Fillmore Baptist Church
6304 Highway 80 - Princeton, LA 71067
Articles are MS Word format
The Tiger the Rabbit
the Grace of God
A Perfect Picture of
Life in Christ
Reflections on the Christmas Season
I am somewhat amazed at the level of participation in the observance of Christmas in our
increasingly secularized society. Why do people who want little or nothing to do with Christianity
still celebrate this Christian holiday?
Ironies abound during this special season. 2012 was no exception. Duringh December I read an
article about an atheist organization renting a billboard in Times Square in New York which reads
“Keep the MERRY – Dump the MYTH.” Interestingly, the billboard features two pictures; one of
Santa Clause above the phrase “Keep the Merry” and one of Jesus (at least the traditional
representation) above the phrase “Dump the Myth.” Santa fittingly represents the materialistic,
secularized aspect of Christmas and Jesus represents the religious aspect – the “myth” – which the
atheists abhor and hope to liberate us from. Maybe I’m missing something here but isn’t Santa a
myth? If their motive is truly to rid our society of myths, why don’t they trash Santa as well? And
besides, the “Merry” in “Merry Christmas” is void of any meaning apart from the “good tidings of
great joy” heralded by the angelic host (Luke 2:10), that of “God and sinners reconciled” in the
person and work of Jesus, the babe born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. The reality is that they
are not simply concerned with truth over myth; they simply do not like Jesus.
The holy aspect of Christmas however is inescapable. You can say “Happy Holidays” instead of
“Merry Christmas” but the term holiday itself is derived from the phrase “holy day”. You can put
an X in place of the name “Christ” but, since the Greek letter X was traditionally used by
Christians to represent Jesus, you have not succeeded in removing Christ from Christmas. Even
the tradition of gift giving serves as a reminder of God’s grace in giving the greatest Gift of all, His
only Son, Jesus (John 3:16 & 4:2).
So why do non-Christians celebrate Christmas at all? Everyone from Richard Dawkins to Schulz’s
Linus knows what Christmas is really about. It’s about God incarnate – Jesus of Nazareth. A little
intellectual honesty would go a long way here. Without Christ, there is no Christmas. Jesus is no
myth! There is no shortage of testimony to the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth and a “Christmas”
void of the person and work of Jesus leaves no basis for merriment. So if you do not celebrate
Jesus, then why celebrate at all?
I do not write these comments as a complaint but as an invitation. I do not wish that people cease
celebrating, but to see all people join in meaningful Christ-centered celebration. Jesus is the eternal
Son of God who laid aside His glory, became a man and entered space and time to rescue rebels
from the consequences of our rebellion against our Creator. He came to bear the wrath of God in
the place of His people. He came so that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have
eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV). Now that’s a reason to celebrate!
An Important Question for Southern Baptists and Every Christian
In recent weeks the old soteriological controversy between Calvinism and non-Calvinism has
surfaced again in the Southern Baptist Convention. I’m providing links here to the document
produced by some non-Calvinists (or anti-Calvinists) that kicked-off the current controversy and
to a few of the responses to it. As for my own position, I am among those who, in these articles,
are being referred to as “Calvinists” or “New Calvinists.” The view represented by the term
“Calvinism” is, in my opinion, the biblical view.
This is a link to the document that started the current debate.
“A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation”
Here is a response by Albert Mohler. Dr. Mohler is the current president of the Southern
Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
Southern Baptists And Salvation: It's Time To Talk
Here is a response by Dr. Tom Ascol. This is Part One of a series. You may link to the other
parts from this site.
Response to "A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God's Plan of
Salvation," Pt. 1
I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. (Psalm 34:1)
So often we think in terms of what we should not do. For example, we are told in Ephesians 4:29a,
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth…” So we do not curse (or, cuss in Southern
lingo); we refrain from gossip, and we try not to mummer and complain or be overly critical. This
is all good of course; but sometimes the best defense is a good offense. In other words, we must
also be aware of what we should do. It is just as important to be resolved to obey the dos of
Scripture as it is the don’ts.
The passage above was penned by David at a particularly difficult time in his life when he was
fleeing for his life from King Saul. Even in such adversity, David determined in his heart to
continually offer praise to God. God is worthy of our praise at all times. As you go through the
day, and the week, let praise to God flow from your heart and lips. There is nothing more
edifying; no better way to impart grace to our hearers (Eph. 4:29).
In short, the best way to avoid saying wrong things is to make a conscience effort to say right
things. Give God glory!
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our
lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15 NKJV)
The Singing God
Have you ever thought of God as rejoicing and singing? This is not how we often think of Him.
But we should. As God's people through faith in Jesus Christ, we can have the amazing pleasure
of knowing that God is full of joy over us. He is "well pleased" with Jesus and with us because we
are in Jesus. The beauty of Christ is seen upon us because His perfection is imputed to us. Rejoice
and be exceeding glad for God Himself is rejoicing over you. In Zephaniah 3:17 we read, “The
LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (NKJV).
Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Instead, rejoice in the
joy-producing knowledge that God rejoices over you.
Free to Worship
What prevents us from doing good? Why do we not love God as we should? What hinders us
from worshipping Him as we ought? The answer to these questions can be stated in two words –
our sin. It is true that we are attacked continuously and mercilessly by forces outside of us such as
Satan and his demons. But these attacks would be to no avail were it not for the sin which dwells
within us. Paul writes in Romans that, apart from Christ, we are slaves to sin (6:16-20).
The children of Israel were slaves of the Egyptians. In Exodus 5:1 Moses approaches Pharaoh with
this demand from God, “Let my people go that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.”
They were in bondage to the Egyptians and therefore unable to fulfill the acts of worship required
by God. Obedience to the Egyptians meant disobedience to God for “No one can serve two
masters…” (Mt. 6:24). In order to worship God they must be set free from their oppressor. You
know the rest of the story. God showed His strength conquering the Egyptians and freeing the
children of Israel. They were free – free to worship!
Now God, in Christ, has done this for us. We were slaves to the corruption of our own hearts.
Again, God has made His power known by conquering our oppressor and setting us free. As the
waters of the Red Sea washed away Pharaoh’s army, so the blood of Christ has taken away our
sin. “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:14
NKJV) We are free! Free to worship the One who has shown His strength in redeeming us from
the oppression of the enemy.
Mixed Emotions and a Call to Prayer
36th Aniversary of Roe v. Wade
We have all heard the phrase “mixed emotions”. That is a good way of describing my feelings
about the inauguration of our 44th President. While I rejoice in the now proven fact that skin color
will not keep one from high office (a fact which I have believed to be true for a long time now), I
am also greatly troubled by thoughts of what most likely lies ahead in terms of decision making
by our new president. It is ironic that one event could speak so loudly for and against human
rights at the same time. It speaks for them in the sense that I have already mentioned – proof that
equal opportunity in the public square is a reality in our country regardless of ethnicity. America
has elected a bi-racial man with dark skin to her highest office for the first time. This truly is cause
for rejoicing. On the other hand, this event could prove to be tragic for the unwanted unborn of
our nation. President Obama has vowed to defend the “rights”, not of unborn babes, but of those
who would kill them at will. Shouldn’t one who stands himself as a living testimony to the
importance of respecting the rights of others lead the charge in respecting the right to live for all
To say that slavery was a “black eye” in our nation’s history is a gross understatement. A deadly
cancer would be a more fitting analogy. God created human beings in His own image (Genesis 1:
27). This fact is the basis for our worth. We are God’s image-bearers, created to mirror His glory.
It’s true that the fall of Adam and Eve marred the image but it did not eliminate it. Even today all
human beings bear the image of God, faintly but truly. This is what sets us apart form all of the
rest of God’s creation. We are “fearfully [and] wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14 NKJV)”.
It was common for proponents of slavery to defend their practice by claiming that the victims of it
were not human. They were considered to be non-human or, at best, “sub-human” (whatever that
means). Using this rationale the victims of slavery were devalued and the cruelty inflicted upon
them was elevated from a crime against humanity to a “right” of choice in handling one’s own
Thank God the evil practice of slavery has been banned in our nation and there seems to be a
consensus now among Americans that this kind of thinking was wrong. Regardless of culture or
ethnicity we are all human beings. We all have worth. Again, thanks be to God, the atrocities of
slavery are behind us and we have made much progress in overcoming racial divides.
Yet, despite progress made in this area, many in our nation still employ the same rationale to
justify the murder of millions of innocent babies. The killing is justified by the same absurd claim
that the victims are not human. Though there is no basis for this scientifically or biologically and,
in fact, much evidence to the contrary, it is the only hope of abortion proponents for retaining the
current categorization of this evil as a “right” of choice rather than what it truly is, a crime against
humanity (murder). The same warped thinking which provided the grounds for the abuse and
murder of multitudes of African-Americans early in our nation’s history is now used to approve
the slaughter of millions of unborn and partially born babies.
Abortion is a crime against human beings. Let us pray for the day when abortion, like slavery, is
recognized as the evil that it is and outlawed. Let us pray for our new president. Let’s pray that
his heart and thinking regarding this issue will change and that he will prove to be a defender of
life rather than of bogus “rights”. Let us pray that this day will come soon.
May God have mercy on us!
This is an article by Dr. Russell Moore at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY.
Click on the title and it will take you to the article posted on his blog.
Why I Hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday
Reconciled to God
Every person enters this world alienated from God. The essence of biblical salvation is
reconciliation to God. In the salvation that God has provided through the substitutionary life and
death of Jesus Christ believers are restored to right relationship with God. Our hope then is not a
place (heaven) but a person, Jesus. The treasure laid up for us does not consist of valuable things
(streets of gold, etc.) but of knowing and fellowshipping with the supremely valuable One, God.
In fact, this is how Jesus defines eternal life, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3 NKJV).
As we start the New Year let us be mindful of the New Life we have in Christ. We were rebels,
estranged from God. But God – having made peace through the blood of His cross (Col. 1:20) –
has reconciled us to Himself.
yet now He has reconciled”
Colossians 1:21 (NKJV)
To Him be the glory!
The Real Reason for the Season
“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS,
for He will save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21 (NKJV)
Names once had meaning. Parents would give their child a name because of what it meant. It
would often be a reminder of an esteemed ancestor or perhaps representative of some attribute or
quality the parents hoped the child would posses. Sometimes names reflected life experiences.
Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth, changed her own name to Mara, which meant bitter, following
the deaths of her husband and sons. At times God Himself would change a person’s name, not
based on who they were but who He would make them become. Abram was called Abraham,
father of nations, a prophecy concerning his posterity. Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter, rock,
an appropriate characterization for Peter following his conversion.
In this special season we celebrate the birth of a babe who is called by the name above all names,
Jesus. As we see in the verse above, Joseph was visited by an angel of the Lord which told him
what the child should be called. He is given the name and the reason behind it. Jesus is the Greek
form of the Hebrew name Jehoshua, meaning Jehovah our Salvation. It’ meaning therefore is
expressed it the term savior. Why would this child be called Savior? The angel explains, “for He
will save His people from their sins.” He has come into this world with a mission and the very
name he bears reveals the nature of it.
This child is no ordinary child. His life did not begin at conception. In fact it did not begin at all.
He always was! In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was
God (John 1:1). Christmas is not the celebration of His beginning but of His becoming. He became
a man. In putting on flesh He emptied Himself of His glory and took on the form of a servant. He
humbled Himself in perfect obedience to His Father’s will, even to the point of death, even the
death of the cross (Phil. 2:5-8).
The cross was a shameful, brutal form of execution designed for thieves, murderers and
seditionists. But He in whom no fault was found, He who knew no sin, He who lived in perfect
obedience to the law of God, would suffer this death, though He did nothing to deserve it. He
must! It was necessary to fulfill the purpose for which He came (John 12:27).
His suffering was like that of no other. For it was not limited to the shame of a rebel’s death or
even the unimaginable physical pain of beatings and tearings and piercings in His body. He
suffered something on that cross which no other shall ever equal. He bore the full measure of the
wrath of God for the sins of His people. For the first time in eternity He experienced some form of
separation from His Father. It’s probably not possible to adequately describe that experience in
human language but we are told of some of the effects of it.
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"
that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"” (Matthew 27:46 NKJV)
Others will experience separation from God, but not after having been perfectly united to Him.
Others will be punished for their own sin, but not for those belonging to someone else. And others
will face the wrath of God, but not in its fullest measure. All of this Christ endured for the
salvation of His people. This is why He came. The sins of all His people were put to His account
and He paid the penalty for them. And His righteousness was put to the accounts of those who
believe on Him, and they bear the fullness of the blessings that flow from it. In this way He has
saved His people from their sin. He took the wrath of God that we earned upon Himself. That’s
what He came for. That’s why we celebrate His coming. That’s the reason for this season!
Thankful for the Saints
“We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
praying always for you,”
Colossians 1:3 (NKJV)
Have you given thanks for your brothers and sisters in Christ today? This is a common theme in
Paul’s letters. He is thankful to God for all those who trust in Christ. It’s comforting to know that
we are not alone. The citizens of this world inflict much persecution upon the citizens of heaven.
We are ambassadors in a foreign country. Knowing that there are fellow citizens serving here with
us and enjoying sweet fellowship with them reminds us of our native land. The fact that they
share our trials provides strength and encouragement for us as we engage in the present battles.
Also, we glory in the Lord when we hear of others who have known the grace of God in truth
(Col. 1:6). We marvel at His life-changing, yea life-giving power. He is the God who raises the
dead (2 Cor. 1:9). Every Christian we meet or hear about is another testimony of His grace and
power. Fire from heaven would not provide greater proof of the reality of Christ than one person
born of the Spirit. We cry with those of Elijah’s day “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”
(1 Kings 18:39).
Finally, we are a family. We are a covenant community. We share experiences of grace. The
children of Israel partook of the paschal lamb in Egypt and were spared by the application of its
blood to the door posts. Together they left Egypt and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud
and in the sea (1 Cor. 10:2). They all ate of the manna in the wilderness and all drank the same
spiritual drink. They were God’s people, and He their God. And now, we who trust in Christ,
though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread (1 Cor. 10:17). We
are all justified by His blood and, in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body (Rom. 5:9; 1
May we be like Paul and give thanks for those who walk with us in this pilgrimage and pray for
“Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.
And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"
So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests."
And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was
returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him
And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed?
But where are the nine?
"Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?"
And He said to him, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well."”
(Luke 17:12-19 NKJV)
Apparently all ten of the lepers mentioned here lifted up their voices to beg Jesus for mercy but
only one was heard expressing thankfulness to Him. We should be like this Samaritan - as loud in
thanksgiving now as we were before in our cry for help. Christ has wrought a great miracle in us.
He has cleansed us from the deadly effects of sin. We were pining away when Jesus came. He
spoke. We are healed.
To give God thanks is to glorify Him. We can not repay Him for what He has done for us nor
should we try to. We should, however, glorify Him for His mercy toward us. The Samaritan
glorified Christ by thanking Him. May we do the same. He has delivered us from the power of
darkness (Col. 1:13); by His power we have passed from death to life (1John 3:14)! Let’s not
neglect to give Him glory by giving Him thanks.
|From the Pastor's Study