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Masters of Divinity Graduation

As many of you may know, the close of a season occurred last Friday afternoon as I graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (@SWBTS) with a Master degree in Divinity and a concentration in Evangelism. This has been a long time coming and a long journey to get here. Even though I was able to get through the program faster than Kristen and I expected, it has been 3 full years of long nights full of homework and papers along with the financial pressures that come with going back to school.

Although this journey has been a long one, it has been a great one. I have made friends in seminary that I would not have connected with other wise, I have grown in the Lord personally, and I have watched the Lord do things that are simply unexplainable. The Lord has been faithful in providing when He called me to seminary.

At this point, many people have wondered what is on the plate for Kristen and I in ministry and life.

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Well this last Sunday I began a pastorate at First Baptist Church Jewett, TX. Kristen and I felt called to Jewett last April and I accepted a call to be the lead pastor of this loving family of faith. We are now in transition to move to the city of Jewett over the next month as Kristen is still finishing the school year. As you can understand, this is a crazy time of excitement and joy, watching dreams and calling come to reality. It is a real adventure!

 In the near future I will post more pictures of the church and give some more details about the community we will be ministering to.

Please be in prayer for FBC Jewett, the community of Jewett, Kristen and I as we press forward to see what the Lord has in store for our family.

 

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Baptism – What We Believe and Why?

I was thinking through the ordinance of Baptism the other day and collected a few thoughts that may be helpful.

Where is Baptism Found in the Bible? 

  • All Over The New Testament
  • Romans 6:4-5 = the Foundation for Baptism (Where Theology Merges with Methodology)

What is Baptism?

  • Baptism is a symbol of our faithBaptism is a symbol of Spiritual Rebirth = Matt 3:11; John 3:3-8
    • 1 Peter 3:18-22 = Baptism is a symbol of our faith in Christ as the person to save us from God’s judgment for sin through faith, as Noah obeyed God’s plan for his salvation in faith to avoid God’s judgment for sin

What is Baptism Not?

  • Baptism is Not a Sacrament (means of grace)
    • But is an Ordinance (command of Christ)
    • Matt 3:13If Baptism is a means of Grace, why was Christ baptized when He is the author of grace?
  • Baptism is Not a covenant with God
    • Salvation comes by an individuals faith, not a covenant
  • Baptism is Not a means for Spiritual Gifts
    • Acts 19:1-7 = The Spirit and the gifts came on these believers only after they believed Christ and were baptized in His name

Who Should Be Baptized?

  • Only those who believe = Acts 2:38-41; 8:12; 8:34-40

What if I was baptized but I did not believe?

  • You should be baptized as a believer = Acts 19:1-7

What does Baptism do for believers?

  • Makes them a part of the body of Christ = 1 Corinthians 12:13
  • Gives them equality before God in Christ = Galatians 3:23-29
  • Unifies them in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection = Colossians 2:10-14

What does baptism do for those after death?

  • Nothing Hebrews 9:27; 1 Corinthians 15:29-31 

If you have a question or thought, Post it in the comments.

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Today was bitter sweet.

Today, I started the last semester I will have as a Master of Divinity Student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

This endeavor started almost 3years ago and has been a time of growth and exploration in ministry and education.

The day was quite nostalgic as the day progressed. I often found myself looking back on all the great times I have had and all of the hard situations I have endured while attending seminary. While also thinking how crazy it will be for this season of life to be complete. It is surreal to say the least.

As I was working through these thoughts, I found one thought to be above them all.

The thought was of the reality that God was present through all of it. He was present through the hard times, and through the good times. He was present with me as I was taking exams and writing papers, as well as with the professors as they are teaching future ministry leaders.

Because of this we owe Him all the glory.

My prayer as I embark on this final semester of my M.Div. is that I am able remember that God is present when I dont see Him and that I am able to honor Him by finishing well.

GradApp

Today brought and unexpected blessing! I turned in my graduation application to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

This is truly bitter-sweet.

I am so happy to be finished with the arduous work that comes with seminary life. The late nights of Hebrew home work and paper writing will finally come to an end. 😀

However I am truly going to miss this season of life. I have seen God do some unexplainable things in ministry and I have experienced God change me in all sorts of ways over these past three years. 🙁

Please be in prayer for me as we see what God would have for us in the next season of life.

 

“The norm of our worship must be the Word of God, the Word that He Himself has spoken. As we turn to this Word, we see a pattern of acceptable worship, a pattern that is repeated throughout the fabric of Scripture from beginning to end. Scripture is, as the Reformers confessed, norma ormans non normata, “the norm of norms which cannot be normed.” That is what we mean when we say “sola scriptura”— that Scripture is the norm of our worship. There is nothing external to Scripture that can “norm” or correct it.”

– Albert Mohler, He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Post Modern World

Authority of The Word in Worship @AlbertMohler

People warned Spurgeon that he would break down physically and emotionally under the stress of such expansive preaching. Spurgeon replied: “If I have done so, I am glad of it. I would do the same again. If I had fifty constitutions I would rejoice to break them down in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He added: “We find ourselves able to preach ten or twelve times a week, and we find we are the stronger for it…. ‘Oh,’ said one of the members, ‘our minister will kill himself.’ … That is the kind of work that will kill no man. It is preaching to sleepy congregations that kills good ministers.” Spurgeon found strength in preaching.

-Steven Lawson, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon

The Work of a Preacher according to @CharlesSpurgeon

Back to School at SWBTSSWBTS

I just finished my first day of my last year as an Master of Divinity student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I must say that coming to this school and experiencing the enthusiasm of the students and faculty to share the gospel is inspiring and exciting.

It truly is a blessing.

To all my fellow students, I hope and pray you have a great year and that God would use this time to prepare you.

To all my professors, I hope and pray you teach the students well and be willing to give grace as the students need.

Preach the Word! Reach The World!

CampusNews  Thorough Gospel presentations bear fruit

I just received an email from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and I was in an article with one of my favorite professors, Dr. Matt Queen (@DrMattQueen).

As you would think, I am pretty stoked. I was very encouraged by the kind words of Dr. Queen and his wise words of instruction. I hope that it is an inspiration for others to go and intentionally seek the lost.

Luke 19:10 – “For the Son of man came to Seek and Save the Lost”

You Can Read the Article Here!

 Or Download the PDF Here CampusNews Thorough Gospel presentations bear fruit

 

Paul gives some wise advice to the church in Ephesus from his experiences in ministry as he is saying his last goodbye before heading to Jerusalem that all believers can profit from. Read the Scripture below and see how you are imitating Paul’s example in ministry to the Ephesians.

Paul Speaks to the Ephesian Elders
Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. And when they came to him, he said to them:
“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities
and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
(Acts 20:17-35 ESV)

 

  • Do Not Shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God.

As believers, we must be willing to share and discuss everything according to God’s word. In our culture it is not always the popular thing to proclaim what the word of God has to say on a certain topic. But Christians must be willing to proclaim God’s desires and be willing to act in a fashion that would bring those to reality.

How can you be better at giving the full counsel of God?

  • Pay Careful Attention to Yourself and to the Flock God has entrusted you with.

Believers must pay careful attention to their spiritual walk and the spiritual walk of those around them. Every believer is both a sheep and a shepherd. They are first a sheep under the authority of the true shepherd which is Christ and we are to seek His will and conform to it. The second they are a shepherd to those around them, prodding and pushing others to grow closer to Jesus. This may be through witnessing to friends who do not know the Lord or encouraging other believers to leave their sin and get serious about their spiritual walk with God.

What can you do to guard yourself spiritually? Who do you need to help get closer to God?

  • Value the Church because God has obtained it with His own blood.

Believers must also value what the Lord values and that is His church which He set up and purchased through His work on the cross. Therefore believers must respect and honor the church as the future bride of Christ. This would include honoring other believers within the church even when you have disagreements and defending the church when others are speaking against it.

How do you value the church that God loves?

  • Be Alert. Wolves will come in among you

Christians will always be under persecution whether at this current moment or in the near future. Therefore, when it comes do not be surprised. “Be Alert” as Paul says and be ready for it mentally and spiritually. Determine for yourself now what you will do.

Will you stay in the fight and not give up or will you collapse under the pressure?

  • Pray for and Admonish the Church even through tears

All believers should be in constant prayer. Not only for ourselves but also for those around them. This would include praying for those who are going through a hard time and those about to go through a hard time. Believers should even be in the midst of prayer for others when they are going through a hard time themselves.

Who can you pray for and admonish today?

  • Do Not Covet the Worldly things of life.

One of the most covertly destructive things a believer can do is start to covet worldly things. This is a big one in our consumer culture because we can even tie these worldly things to our spiritual walk. Such as a new iPad for Bible study or the new super expensive study Bible or whatever it may be. The point it is, is that when we start to place our trust more in the new, hip, & trendy thing, we lose sight of the true savior, Jesus.

What do you need to let go of in order to place Jesus at the top of your mind and heart?

In my devotional this morning I was inspired by the content that Oswald Chambers put forth. He addresses an issue that is not discussed as much as it should be in the Christian world today. Chambers addressed the topic of how to get more connected with God. I paraphrased a few of my thoughts while reading it below. (you can read the entire devotional for yourself at www.utmost.org)

My vision of God is dependent on the condition of my character. If my character is flawed, so will my vision be. My character determines whether God’s truth can be revealed to me. 

Before you can claim to see the Lord, there must be something that is conformed to the likeness of God in you. This requires you to put God first in all circumstances before we can be in continual communion with Him.

As I was reading and thinking through this I couldn’t help but thinking of my life and those around me seeking a deeper relationship with God without knowing really how to get there. It would seem that in the midst of all the easy-going self-help / motivational sermons and bible studies that we have lost our understanding of what it takes to have a correct relationship with God.

[Side Note:  I say this because I listen to a lot of podcasts from across the nation and I read a lot of books and recently it seems that we shy away from the root problem of sin and the value of living a holy life. To be honest, it is troubling to me that the only place I seem to find any illusion to a commitment to holiness is found in the Scripture and in the writings of older theologians such as Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitfield, Moody, etc. or ones that are not as old such as Oswald Chambers or Bill Graham.]

Let us not be fooled friends, the Lord gave you grace for salvation to cover your sins and deliver you from the perils of torment. But He now expects you as Lord to follow Him and be holy unto Him.

“[13] Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. [14] As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, [15] but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, [16] since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV)

I am not saying that you will or are immediately perfect or sinless. Because we all still fall short of God and even Paul dealt with the struggles of sin in the flesh. (Romans 7) But even Paul while struggling in his sin knew that he could not keep sinning and be in right relationship with God.

“[6:1] What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? [2] By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? [3] Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? [4] We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

[5] For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. [6] We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. [7] For one who has died has been set free from sin. [8] Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. [9] We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. [10] For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. [11] So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
[12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. [13] Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. [14] For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:1-14 ESV)

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must realize that the Lord desires for you to be in correct relationship with him and that in order for this to happen we must stop sinning and replace that sin with His presence in our lives. It is the only way we can become closer to him.

Lord, correct my character so I can see you faithfully and you can reveal your truth to me. Lord remove my sin from me so that I can walk more faithfully to you.

Quotes on Living Holy Lives

Spurgeon – “Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”(read more here)

D.L. Moody – “Lord make me as holy as a sinner saved by grace can be”

Billy Graham – “holiness is God’s priority for our earthly lives. A disciple of Christ should always be careful not to place a higher value on being “happy” than on being holy. Yes, it gives our heavenly Father pleasure for us to have happiness, but not at the cost of our personal holiness.” (read more here)

John Brown – “Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills.”

AW Tozer – “The holy man is not one who cannot sin. A holy man is one who will not sin.

The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.

The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of God. To accomplish this He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon.

The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.

No man should desire to be happy who is not at the same time holy. He should spend his efforts in seeking to know and do the will of God, leaving to Christ the matter of how happy he shall be.”

What have you dedicated more time to this week? Your happiness or your holiness?

Do you have any scriptures or quotes that inspire you to be more holy in your walk with Christ? Post them as a comment for all to see.