Monthly Archives: April 2015

30 Great Secret Church Tweets

Friday night FBCBR was a host site for Secret Church 2015. It was an incredible night full of some great teaching and powerful prayer time. Dr. David Platt led the time, with this year’s theme being “Christ, culture, and a call to action.”

Over 50,000 people around the nation took part in the 6+ hour event that stretched past midnight. Part of what makes Secret Church so cool is that most everyone is experiencing the event and praying at the same time. This is especially cool when you go on social media and connect with others participating and see what parts touched their hearts the most.

In case you couldn’t make it, or in case you were too busy filling in the blanks on the study guide to go online, here are some tweets that I retweeted and favored during the event.

Of course, you can’t have a late night event without going a little silly! Here are some of the funny tweets!

Maybe we’ll see you next year!

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Jesus is alive! Now What?

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Longtime pastor of FBC Baton Rouge, Dr. J. Norris Palmer once preached a sermon on Easter Sunday entitled “The Resurrection Obligation”, in which he proclaimed from God’s Word that as those who have been raised with Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:1), Christian believers now have a “fixed and definite” obligation to live as Christ has called us. This particular passage in Colossians is a non-traditional Easter scripture, and the message itself isn’t exactly one which many people get excited about. We love to hear about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and what he has done for us; but we are not so keen on hearing what he expects of his people.

Yet that is exactly what the resurrection of Christ calls for: a serious and deep heart-searching evaluation of our priorities and affections, focused on how we live in light of the reality that Jesus is the living and reigning King of Kings. Colossians 3:1-4 calls every believer in the risen Christ to set our minds on things above, because our lives are already hidden with Christ in God forever and ever. We have nothing to lose by living for God’s glory in obedience to Jesus Christ because we already have what he has promised – eternal life.

The resurrection of Jesus should affect every part of your life. Why? Well, if Jesus was telling us the truth when he said he would be crucified and raised from the dead (Matt. 16:21, 20:18, Mark 10:34, Luke 9:22) then everything else he said has to be true as well. How outlandish and ridiculous is it that a man can predict that he will be raised from the dead? No one does that because no one is capable of doing that. But, Jesus not only said it would happen, but he proved it did happen when he walked out of the tomb that bright Easter morning. So, if his most “unbelievable” miracle actually occurred in the exact way he described, then every other commandment, rebuke, warning, and prophecy must be true as well. What this means for those who believe in the resurrection is that we must pay close attention to what Jesus said about those who are his true followers.

While you may not deny the resurrection, and in fact you may rejoice in it, the reality quickly sets in that we can easily drift from this joyous good news into apathy, complacency, and unawareness of the living Christ. This has a deep and corrupting effect on our hearts because part of being raised with Christ is the challenge to accept the change of heart that comes with faith in Jesus. To be a new creature in Christ means to be a NEW KIND OF PERSON– the old person has to be dead because he died with Christ on the cross (Galatians 2:20). To set our minds on the things that are above is only possible for those whose minds are transformed by the power of God and his gospel (Romans 12:1). You MUST change because that is God’s design for your new life in Christ. Keep in mind that this change is glorious. We cannot lose sight of or ignore this great reality for all Christians: God is making us more and more like his Son Jesus, which is why he saved you and will one day glorify you (Romans 8:29-30). We cannot live any longer HOWEVER we want; we are now set apart for live for God’s glory and now our own. Pastor Kevin DeYoung says it this way:

When you first got interested in Christianity it was new and exciting. It gave purpose and order to your life. You liked the fellowship and the people. But then you found out how you were supposed to change. You learned that God, because he loves you, didn’t want you to have to be a sexaholic, a workaholic, an alcoholic. You realized that following Jesus meant you couldn’t live any which you pleased. You belonged to God, and the God of the Bible is not an anything goes kind of God.

When we do not acknowledge the risen Christ in the monotony of every-day life we sell short our experience as those who have been “raised with Christ.” While the truth of the gospel, culminating in the resurrection, is what brought us to faith in Jesus to begin with, it is also what sustains us each and every day. So when the apostle Paul tells us to set our mind on things above, that includes setting our minds on the One who is seated above, at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for us and fighting for our joy in this life. You don’t HAVE TO LIVE IN SIN, because Jesus defeated its power over you (Rom. 6:6).

This was Paul’s warning to the Colossians: “Hey Christians, temptation is all around you! Set your mind on things above, NOT on the things of this earth.” This does not mean that we do not think about what’s for dinner, or how to get all the laundry done, or how do I discipline my children, or what kind of job am I to pursue, or who to vote for, or where to go on vacation, or which tie to wear on Sunday morning, etc. All of this ordinary stuff is actually within the framework of living new lives in Christ. How can we live in this world while doing all the stuff we MUST do each day just to survive? The answer: Set your mind on things above. There are a couple of practical, “everyday ways” to do this:

  • Think about Jesus. Just stop for a moment and think about all you know about Christ. His holiness, his perfection, his unconditional love and mercy, his abundant grace, his patience, and his expectations for his followers. This is where we can all find common ground to set our minds on things that are above.
  • Read the Bible! This sounds so easy and cliché’, but it is the primary way in which we “hear” from God. Do you want to hear God speak to you? Read your bible. And study your bible. To set your mind on things above means to fill your mind with truths of God. So read Colossians 3:5-17, Philippians 4:4-11, Galatians 5:16-26, John 14, and 1 Corinthians 2. Read ALL of the Psalms and Proverbs. Read the Word and set your mind on what you are reading.

May God bless you and sustain you by His Spirit as you read and believe His Word and trust more in the risen Jesus Christ. He is alive and he is working in you for the glory of His name and for your eternal joy.

In My Place He Stood Condemned

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He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will. – Luke 23:25

Since that dark day when the Lord and Master of all life (Colossians 1:15-19), Jesus Christ, was crucified on a Roman cross, we’ve tried to subtly pass the blame for the death of Jesus onto the whole of humanity rather than on ourselves. I know that may sound strange, but the reality is that we don’t allow ourselves to linger on the thought of Jesus suffering and dying a brutal and excruciating death FOR ME and BECAUSE OF ME. It’s much more bearable to think about Jesus dying for “people”, or for sinners (in which we include ourselves). But to stop for a significant amount of time and consider the depth of what Jesus endured; he was mocked, beaten, scourged, and crucified all for ME, it is almost too much to bear.

When I say “me”, I’m talking about the real person that I know the best; the person that I see in the mirror and who knows he has sins deeply rooted in his heart and who spends a great deal of time trying to cover it up and hide it behind religious behaviors and a nice smile. It is because of me and it is for me that Jesus died. While the death of Christ Jesus purchased my pardon and set me free to know God and to love God, I shudder to think that it was because of my sins that Jesus was nailed to the cross (Colossians 2:14). When I hear the words “Jesus died for sinners”, I say to that “Yes” and “Amen”, because it is true and because I find such deep and abiding joy in those words. But there are times when hearing the words “For he [God] made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”, I grow hauntingly quiet. It is a somber, convicting, and piercing truth (2 Corinthians 5:21). God made Jesus to suffer for me and because of me so that I could know life in him. This is the message that transforms lives and the message we boldly proclaim.

As we enter the month of April, I was reading through the passion narratives that document the events of Jesus final hours, this verse in Luke 23:25 jumped off of the page at me. I’ve known for most of my life that Jesus was crucified and Barabbas the criminal was let go by Pilate. By Pilate’s authority and by the urging of the Jews, the man who had been convicted and sentenced to prison and death for insurrection and murder was released by Pilate. And in the place of the murderous rebel, Jesus Christ stood condemned and was sent to Calvary to die.

This “trade” that the Jewish leaders made with Pilate was not an isolated event outside of the sovereign will of God (Isaiah 53:10). Nor is it unconnected to the impact of the crucifixion on my own life. See, Jesus took the place of a condemned man. One who was obviously guilty and deserving of death according to law was pardoned (or set free!) while the blameless and perfect Son of God was sentenced to die. My propensity to pass the blame for Jesus’ death onto all of humanity comes quickly to an end when I realize that I am Barabbas. No, I have not been convicted or even accused of murder and insurrection according to our civil laws; but according to the law of God, I am a murderer and an insolent rebel against God’s moral law of perfection (1 Timothy 1:13-15). I have transgressed against his holiness too many times to count, and I am deserving of the most terrible kind of death.

But God saw fit according to his perfect and sovereign will to make provision for my sin wrecked soul. Instead of giving me over to eternal death, he extended mercy to me and gave me life (1 Timothy 1:15-16, Ephesians 2:4-5). This life comes by the death of his perfect Son Jesus. I was guilty and Jesus was innocent, but Jesus was crucified as a guilty criminal (Isaiah 53:3). I was to blame for my wretched sin and Jesus was completely blameless, but Jesus died taking my blame upon himself. I was a murderer who harbored hatred in his heart (Matthew 5:21-22), but Jesus was hated in my place (John 15:25).  I was on the path of death, but Jesus died in my place, for me and because of me, so that I could be set free to know life abundantly. Just like Barabbas, Jesus was delivered over to be crucified and I was set free.

This Easter, would you consider the cross deeply? Will you spend significant amount of time thinking on what Jesus did for you by dying in your place and absorbing the wrath of God that you greatly deserved? Would you just stop for a few moments and ponder the depth of God’s grace and mercy to save your soul? I pray that your worship, prayers, and fellowship with believers will be greatly encouraged as you think deeply on the implications of what Jesus has done to give you life eternal. We will be celebrating on Easter Sunday the glorious and miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Lord, Master, and King of all creation. But to get to the empty tomb, we must first go to the cross. You and I are sinners in need of a savior. But praise be to God for he has given us the mightiest of saviors (Philippians 2:5-11)!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Philip Bliss penned these words in 1875 as he thought on the powerful verse in Isaiah 53:3 – He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Walk With Jesus

What an event! On March 29th (Palm Sunday) we hosted Walk With Jesus, an Easter event for families. Together, families walked through Jesus’ last days to His resurrection. It was an incredible time, and I want to thank all involved. It was a team effort and I’m truly grateful for my church home. Like we told the our guests, remember: Jesus loves us! We follow Jesus!

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