Eternally Lost

The Bible speaks of an awful, coming judgment. Every prophecy of judgment in the Bible climaxes in a terrifying paragraph in Revelation 20:11-15. This vivid scene of the Great White Throne Judgment is not shared to inform us, but to warn us. The language of this text invites us to stand in the scene and see it for ourselves.

In contrast to this awful judgment is an inspiring scene of triumphant salvation shared in Revelation 21. Every reader has a choice to make before it is too late.

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Past Posts:

How to love your family when they become your enemy.

How pornography short-circuits intimacy.

How to Get to Church and Get Over It – Worship Mindset #4 Faithful

When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools.

Getting to church on Sunday morning can be such a hassle that we get very little out of the experience and begin to wonder, “what’s the point?” This week I am showing you from Ecclesiastes, how we can get to church, get over the hassle, and get to something great! Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s dissertation on how to avoid a meaningless life. In Ecclesiastes 5 Solomon shows us how to avoid meaningless worship. To see the introduction to this week’s series of posts, see Worship Mindset #1, Careful.

Faithful

In Ecclesiastes 5:4-7, Solomon says that God takes no pleasure in a fool who makes a vow but never follows through. He then makes a curious statement. “Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake (v. 6).” What does that mean? Who is the messenger?

The messenger is someone who holds you accountable. This could be any number of people in your church. It could be your pastor, a teacher, a ministry leader, a member of a study group. The messenger is anyone to whom you make a commitment or to whom you have an obligation.

To go before the messenger and say “that it was a mistake” describes the actions of a person who apologizes, but really never does what they committed to do. They hate that they missed, but they had a good excuse. You can’t count on them. They lack faithfulness.

The Washington Post reported that according to CareerBuilder.com, Americans are great at making excuses. In explaining why workers were late to work, 51% of late arrivals blame traffic, 31% say they overslept, and 28% blame the weather. Some of the most ridiculous excuses include, “I was here, but I fell asleep in the parking lot.” “My fake eyelashes were stuck together.” And here is a great excuse, “I had morning sickness.” Morning sickness sounds like a reasonable excuse. The problem, that excuse was made by a male employee!

College students are killing off family members with their excuses. A professor noted that there seemed to be a rash of family deaths amongst students when papers were due and then just before final exams. The relative most likely to die during exams; grandma!

According to this professor’s investigation, grandmas were 10x more likely to die at midterm and 19x more likely to die during final exams. Students who were failing were 50x more likely to lose their grandmas! It seems that the key indicator of mortality amongst senior citizens who have grandchildren in college is GPA! It seems that if you have grandchildren in college, you may want to invest in a tutor.

Sometimes when it comes to getting to church, it’s a lot easier to just make excuses. That is especially true if you have positions of service or leadership. Sometimes a long week, coupled with that Sunday morning hassle makes it much harder to get there and much easier to make excuses.

Motivate out of gratitude, not guilt.

So how do you get there and get over it? Try motivating out of an attitude of gratitude rather than guilt. Instead of thinking, “I’ve got to do this” have the mentality that “I get to do this.” I don’t have to get to church. I get to go to church. I don’t have to listen to a sermon. I get to listen to God’s Word faithfully preached. I don’t have to go to worship. I get to go to worship!

As sinners there should be a sense of guilt as we realize we stand condemned before a holy God. But if we know Christ as Savior, there should be an overwhelming sense of gratitude. How do you get to church and get over it? Be faithful. Fuel your faithfulness with gratitude. You don’t have to go. You get to go.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

We have all experienced disagreement and disunity. Those seasons of life are stressful. There is a great blessing God gives in connected, unified community. When the people of God “dwell” together in unity it is refreshing and encouraging. In this episode of Back Porch Psalms we look at three critical relationships every person needs.

Why Can’t We Be Friends? Psalm 133. #BackPorchPsalms

Posted by Brian Branam on Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Watch any past episode of Back Porch Psalms on the archive page.

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Back Porch Psalms – Season 4

IMG_3512Back Porch Psalms Season 4 begins on Facebook Live, Tuesday, May 29 at 7:30 a.m.

Back Porch Psalms is a daily, summer, morning broadcast in which we read a Psalm from the Bible, explain it, seek ways to live it, and use it as a guide for daily prayer. And yes, our setting is the ever-changing, balmy, southern summer, outdoor studio of my back porch :).

If you would like to view any of the 112 episodes from the previous 3 seasons, they are ALL available here! To watch a live broadcast, follow my page on Facebook and indicate that you want to be notified of live broadcasts that originate from the page.

I hope to see you tomorrow morning on Back Porch Psalms!

Shoot Them All!

My apologies for not posting in awhile, but I am pleased to report that we finished our big move!

The church I serve as Pastor, Liberty Baptist Church, purchased and dedicated 17 acres of land as the site for a new campus. I came to Liberty in 2012 and at the time the project was pretty much a hole in the ground. We spent the next few years raising money and preparing ourselves as a church to be in a better place to take on this project. Needless to say, it has been a long road that required a lot of sacrifice, volunteer hours, and answered prayers to make it happen – but it happened!

Liberty dedicated the land on April 12, 2009. Our first Sunday in the new campus was April 15, 2018 – 9 years, almost to the day of the original dedication. God has a way of working in the details to remind us that it is unmistakably Him.

Here is our first service in 2 minutes!

time lapse celebration dedication service from Liberty Baptist Church on Vimeo.

With this project behind us I hope to be return to regularly sharing Biblical content with you. Thanks for your patience.

Here is the sermon I shared that first Sunday! Shoot Them All!

Shoot Them All from Liberty Baptist Church on Vimeo.

 

What If?

I had the opportunity to speak to the high school students and faculty at Christian Heritage School this morning. I love the way CHS gives students the opportunity to lead and prepares them for what God has for them.

This morning we looked at the life of the Samson from the Bible’s Book of Judges. From the story of Samson we are asked the question, “What if?”

“What if?” is a short question that is asked in the beginning of big dreams as well as after tragic ends. Unfortunately for Samson it was a tragic end (Judges 16:28) that mourns a life that could have been. God answered his prayer in the end, but what if he had been as committed in life as he was in death? What if every moment had been as surrendered, prayerful, and effective as his final moment?

If your manner of life doesn’t match your mission you are headed for a meltdown.

Samson:

  1. Deceived his parents.
  2. Despised the restrictions.
  3. Demanded his way.
  4. Destroyed his opportunity.

Much like Samson it is a story too often repeated as students become adults.

In Christ we find a new “what if?” We find new life that turns what could be our tragic end into a life of enormous purpose and tremendous opportunity.

What if?

How Not To Lose Your Mind in Our Final Week on the Planet

“Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.  For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. . . But you are not in darkness, brothers, for the day to surprise you like a thief. . . So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.”  2 Thessalonians 5:1-6

According to the Mayans and Nostradamus, the world is scheduled to conclude one week from today.  The prospects of finality bring several critical questions to the forefront.  What should we do with our final seven days?  What will I wear next Friday?  Will I have enough Double Stuffed Oreos to get me through my final week on the planet?  Should I do any Christmas shopping?  Does this mean I have to shave or can I let myself go?  I am supposed to finish a root canal on Tuesday, why?

I have too much to do for the world to end in a week!

As a Christian our response to doomsday should be the same as our response to everyday, sobriety balanced with watchfulness.  Here are a few things to consider, from a Christian perspective, to keep us from losing our minds in our last week on the planet.

The Mayans Don’t Know

The curious thing to me about the Mayan prediction is that they somehow knew when the rest of us would disappear, but they had no idea that they were about to disappear.  The truth of the whole matter is that they didn’t know.  The Mayans, Nostradamus, nor any man has ever been entrusted with the information necessary to know when the world will end (Matthew 24:36).

Followers of Christ are Not To Live in Light of One Day, but Any Day

Doomsday predictions inevitably lead to anxious countdowns, a day of holding our breath, and then waking up the next morning wondering what will we do today?  The Bible teaches that any day could inaugurate the end.  As a follower of Christ we should be sober about existence.  No day is guaranteed and everyday is to be lived in the fullness of Christ (Matthew 24:44).

Its not About Prediction, but Preparedness

When it comes to the end of days, many Christians have become as goofy about the whole thing as the Mayans, Nostradamus, or as Edgar Whisenant’s classic 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.  We turn the end times into a game of charting, decoding, and predicting.  The interesting thing about the Bible is that we miss the forest for the trees.  When it comes to the end times the Bible is intentionally ambiguous and abundantly clear.  What is abundantly clear is that Jesus will come again and set the world back to right.  What is intentionally ambiguous is when and for the most part how.  In what order will things unfold.  I have my ideas, you may have yours, but it doesn’t matter. The one message Jesus had in all of this is respond to the gospel and be ready whenever it happens.  When we think about the end of days as a day for our prediction we ignore the Biblical message, be prepared whenever it should come (Luke 12:40).

Its Not About the End of a Calendar, Its About The End of a Story

The end of days is not about the exhaustion of the environment, the collapse of an economy, or the end of chronology on a calendar.  The end of days is about a return and a reckoning.  The world will not end because we have choked ourselves to death on diesel fumes.  It will not end because the polar ice caps have flooded the world due to global warming.  The world will not end because the Mayans quit counting.  The end will come as an intentional move by a sovereign God who is just.  The end of days is not a cataclysmic accident, but an intentional act of a loving God to complete His plan of redemption.  It is not the end of human history, but of salvation history, the story of God to redeem and make all things new (Rev. 21:5).

For Those Who Follow Christ then End is Not Doom but Blessedness

Dec. 21 is doomsday, they say.  Whether or not the world ends next Friday, true followers of Christ have no reason to look at the end of days with fear, but with anticipation.  Many people read the Book of Revelation as if it is a dreaded day.  It is, if you do not know Christ as Savior.  But for the believer the end is not a dreaded day, but a blessed one.  Titus 2:13 actually calls all of this, “our blessed hope.” For those who were suffering terribly under the cruelty of Roman persecution, the Book of Revelation was not bad news, but great news.  No matter how evil or powerful the world becomes, Christ will be the victor of all and He will make all things right.  If you want hope in the end, follow the victor now.  Repent of sin and receive eternal life in Christ (John 3).

Balance Soberness with Watchfulness

December 21, 2012 will fade into the night and December 22, 2012 will awaken us with another day full of life and responsibility.  No matter what happens we need to shave, eat Oreos in moderation, and by all means buy Christmas presents.  We need to be sober – which means don’t lose your mind over the end!  We need to be watchful – which means we don’t need to lose sight that there is an end.  Paul’s message to the Thessalonians in 2 Thess. 5:1-6 was about holding these two truths in balance.  The Thessalonians had an unbiblical view of the end and because of it, they lost their mind.  Let’s be biblical about the end and whether or not this be our last week on the planet, let’s keep it in perspective and not lose our minds as well!