Monday, December 21, 2009

Beginning Again in 2010

(From the January, 2010 Vision, Newsletter)

If you are reading this, God’s grace has been faithful to bring you through this past year and you have much to praise God for. In spite of the down turn in the economy and the tanking of the stock market, we still worshiped the Lord in 2009, we still shared the love of God with our community and our world, we still met needs in the name of Jesus, and we still made disciples. Aren’t you glad God doesn’t pay any attention to the news! Amazingly, this past year Hebron received a record number of total receipts, receiving over 1 million dollars for the first time in HBC’s history, and we have a long one. How could that be? It was a “God thing!” It also goes to prove that you receive what you expect and what you put your time and effort into. Because of our capital fund campaign, we worked and prayed for the finances to come in and you – the people of God responded! However, the down side of the year was that our baptisms were almost half of the previous year, not good. Now our challenge is to put the same fervor we did in our capital fund campaign into sharing the love of Christ with our community. And with a new year before us God has graciously given us an opportunity to begin again.

That’s why it’s a good idea at the beginning of a new year to remind ourselves of why we are here. So what is my prayer and desire for 2010? It is that we would make the main thing the main thing. Our mission – worship, evangelism, making disciples, ministering to needs – this is what should captivate our attention, our passion. Our mission should permeate every event we undertake, every committee meeting we sit in, and every Bible study and Sunday School class we attend. So how are we doing? And what will we do different this year to align ourselves more fully with Christ’s mission? By God’s grace we do have the opportunity to “Begin Again in 2010.” Let’s walk together through the open doors that God has placed before us.

Looking forward to serving our gracious Lord together with you!

Pastor Joe
“Phil. 1:3”

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sermon Text for Sunday, December 20, 2009

Luke 3:1-6

(New International Version)

John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. 3He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
"A voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
5Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.
6And all mankind will see God's salvation.' "

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sermon Text for Sunday, December 13, 2009 (3rd Sunday of Advent)

Luke 1:18-25 (New King James Version)

18 And Zacharias said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years.”

19 And the angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.

20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time.”

21 And the people waited for Zacharias, and marveled that he lingered so long in the temple.

22 But when he came out, he could not speak to them; and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple, for he beckoned to them and remained speechless.

23 So it was, as soon as the days of his service were completed, that he departed to his own house.

24 Now after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived; and she hid herself five months, saying,

25 “Thus the Lord has dealt with me, in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Birth of John the Baptist

57 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son.

58 When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

Circumcision of John the Baptist

59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias.

60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”

61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.”

62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called.

63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled.

64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God.

65 Then fear came on all who dwelt around them; and all these sayings were discussed throughout all the hill country of Judea.

66 And all those who heard them kept them in their hearts, saying, “What kind of child will this be?” And the hand of the Lord was with him.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sermon Text for Sunday, December 6, 2009 (2nd Sunday of Advent)

Luke 1:5-17, NIV

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. 7 But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years.

8 Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Don't Miss the Party!" Sermon Text for Sunday, November 29, 2009, Luke 15:25-32

This week's sermon text is Luke 15:25-32, the conclusion to the larger passage of Luke 15. Last week we saw a picture of a God who is infinitely greater in His display of grace than we could have ever imagined. The Prodigal Son discovered that he could come home again and that his father would welcome him. It was a Thanksgiving to Remember. The dutiful older brother had never left home, but in our passage this week, we discover that his heart too was in the far country. There is hope for the embittered and the angry. The cross of Jesus brings the sweetness of God's grace into our lives. This Sunday we will also be sharing together in the Lord's Supper. I hope that you are planning on joining us. "Don't Miss the Party!"

25 "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'

28 "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'

31 " 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' "

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Thanksgiving to Remember, Luke 15:11-24

The Sunday prior to Thanksgiving Day is an appropriate time to reflect upon our blessings and to give gratitude to God for all of His good gifts. Join us this Sunday as we corporately express our thanks to God. Sunday's message, "A Thanksgiving to Remember" will be based on the beloved redemption story known as the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-24.

11 Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.

13 "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17"When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20 So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' 22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Based on my conversation, October 21, 2009 at First Indian Baptist Church, Gallup, New Mexico, by Joe Alain

Lorenzo, or Juan as I was introduced to him is a traditional Navajo Medicine Man who lives with his wife Kathleen on the Navaho reservation at Church Rock just outside the city of Gallup. Juan is probably in his early 50s and has a warm and likeable personality. Kathleen is a little bit more reserved but she too warms up to you once she gets to know you. The Navajo in general are a little hesitant at first to open up to Anglos. This is understandable as there is a long history of mistrust between the Native Americans and the Anglos. Two shirts for sale in the Gallup Flea Market intimated the cultural divide between Native Americans and Anglos. One shirt had a rendering of an Indian in traditional dress and stated, “Sure you can trust the government. Ask an Indian.” The other shirt had renderings of various Indians with traditional weapons, some standing and some on horses, with the slogan, “Homeland Security . . . Fighting Terrorism Since 1492.”

During our brief stay, I observed that it would take a substantial investment in building relationships to really make a lasting impact among the Navajo people. Mark and Beverly Chandler have been doing just that, working with Juan and Kathleen for some time now and have developed a wonderful relationship with them. Juan and Kathleen are one of the main families that they work their ministry through on the reservation. This in itself is quite a miracle considering Juan’s religious upbringing and traditions. Juan and Kathleen live in a one-room Hogan, an octagonal-shaped ceremonial home. The Hogan is considered sacred to those who practice the Navajo religion. The doorways of the Hogans always face east. Juan attempted to describe to me the story behind the Hogan in this way. A baby was brought forth and dropped through the center of the roof (which is circular at the top) and the woman of the house threw the baby out the Eastern door. I really didn’t quite understand this origin story and did not find anything like this in my research. However, I did discover that according to Navajo legend, Talking God instructed First Man and First Woman on how to construct and build a Hogan. All Navajo ceremonies and sings for curing the sick are conducted in Hogans.

Next to their one entrance is a lone wood stove which provides their heat and a cooking source. In this one room Hogan is a bed, a small kitchen area and a work table where Juan and Kathleen make handcrafted jewelry from silver, turquoise, and other precious gems. They make their jewelry under contract. From speaking with them, we learned that the contractor had threatened to let them go for some apparent reason. Juan and Kathleen probably make very little for their jewelry. I’m sure they could do much better if they would market their jewelry in another way, but maybe they do not know any better or do not desire to do things differently. It was sad to see this couple making this beautiful jewelry working almost as indentured servants or slave laborers. Fortunately, some of our team was able to purchase some beautiful pieces from them, offering them substantially more money than they receive under their contract work.

On Wednesday, Robert Fontenot (a young man from Louisiana who is working with Pastor Mark) and Beverly (Mark’s wife) brought Juan and Kathleen to the church for lunch. After lunch, Juan asked me to play some music for him. He pulled up a chair right next to me and observed my music book from which I was playing. He especially liked the song, “Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone,” singing along with me the best that he could do. He asked me to send him a recording of me singing this song and other songs that I would like to include which I plan on doing. In between songs Juan really opened up to me in a way that was truly amazing. He told me that he felt comfortable around me and that God was speaking through me. This surprised and humbled me, especially since I had not spoken that much to him up to this point. I sensed that this was a special moment and I felt honored that here was this Navajo man who I barely knew that was so open with me about the Navajo ways and spiritual matters, which in the Navajo tradition are inextricably intertwined. I just knew that this was a special “God moment” and I prayed for wisdom as I listened to and spoke with him.

Juan enjoyed my music and he said that it soothed him. I felt as if I were David gently plucking the strings of my guitar for Saul. Juan actually speaks English fairly well, but that does not necessarily mean that you can understand everything he is trying to say. The Native American world view is so different from our Western world view. Navajo time, sequences, stories, and concepts do not always find a parallel in Western thought. Mark, the Pastor of First Indian told me that there are a good number of words in English that simply have no Navajo equivalent. This makes understanding the Navajo culture a real challenge.

As we sat together, Juan explained to me his journey of faith. He said that once he held the Navajo ways (religion) very high, while he held the Bible in low regard. He illustrated the difference by holding his right hand up very high which stood for the Navajo ways and his left hand very low which stood for the Bible. He then told me that now the Bible and the Navajo ways are about even for him. He held his hands out and even to illustrate to me how far he had progressed in his appreciation for the Bible. I complimented his openness to the truth of the Bible and encouraged him to continue discovering what the Bible has to say to him. I told Juan that the Bible was God’s truth and that Jesus Himself had said that if we continue in the Word of God, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free.

During our conversation, Juan shared with me a vision that he recently had. Through my reading about Native American culture, I have discovered that Native Americans place a great value and importance in visions and dreams. They are an accepted way for God, the Great Spirit, to speak to people. Juan related the story of his vision in a very tangible way. Even though he did not fully understand what took place physically, there was no doubting in his mind that this was an actual spiritual occurrence that had happened to him.

I will try to restate as accurately as I remember what Juan said he witnessed in his vision. Juan said that he was in his home with his eyes closed for some time. Suddenly he was transported and was standing in front of a large door in Bethlehem. He entered through the door into a large temple-like area. He noticed a bright ray or beam of light. He did not speak in the vision. I can not recall if Juan said he did not speak or that he could not speak. This ray of light was very bright and beautiful. There were specks of dust visible in the light and He reached out to touch the light. This went on for several minutes. As he stood in the light, there were orbs (that’s the best way that I can describe how Juan described them to me) that were like fuzzy balls that were varied in color. These colored orbs were bouncing around the temple area. They eventually came into contact with Juan as he stood there in the room. Juan said that these round lights that came upon him made him feel very peaceful, happy, and full of joy.

About this time, Juan heard a voice that was at first almost like the hum of the Navajo as they hum a sacred song. Juan hummed a traditional Navajo tune for me to illustrate what the sound was like to him. He said that the humming became louder and clearer all the time that he was experiencing the round orbs that came upon him making him feel loved and joyful. The voice finally spoke from the light telling Juan that all of things he was experiencing (the orbs of joy and love and peace) were being experienced because Jesus died and gave his life for him. As Juan was telling me this, tears came to my eyes. Here was a Navajo Medicine Man who was telling me about an experience that the best I could tell was a direct revelation from God Himself.

I’ve always known that God does some amazing “out of the box” things in cultures where there is none or very little Christian influence. I could not help but think that God had come down in that little remote Hogan and chosen Juan to salvation in a way similar to the way He chose Saul on the road to Damascus. Maybe God knew that the only way a Navajo Medicine Man would be completely convinced was to make a divine personal visitation to him. I had no doubt that Juan had received a message from the Lord in that trance, vision, or dream. Juan told me that not long after this vision some people from Georgia (a mission team) came to minister at the reservation. Apparently, one of their team members led Juan to a deeper understanding of Christ and salvation. Juan spoke very fondly of this person from Georgia who helped him understand the Lord. Obviously, this man from Georgia was Juan’s Ananias.

Juan recounted that he had a similar type of vision experience when he was five (5) years old. At that time, he was present at a healing ceremony. During the occasion, one of the elders at that ceremony prophetically pronounced that Juan would one day become a medicine man. I told Juan that God obviously had something very special for him to do, that God wanted to use him for His glory. I again seized this opportunity to encourage Juan to continue in Christ so that he could discover what God wanted him to do.

Mark and Beverly tell me that Juan and Kathleen are attending Bible studies at the reservation and are encouraging others to do so as well. Juan even wants to be baptized this upcoming Good Friday! God is definitely at work in this small remote Navajo community. Who could imagine that a Navaho Medicine Man living on the reservation would be used by God to bring salvation to the Navajo people? But that is exactly what God is doing! Because of the tight-knit communities the Navajo live in, Mark and Beverly have been praying that God would raise up a key person in each area of the reservation who could reach out to the community. God is answering that prayer!

There were several other stories that Juan shared with me during my conversation with him. He briefly told me about the four (4) Sacred Mountains that serve as the boundary markers for the Navajo nation. As I researched this, I discovered that these four mountains are (1) Mount Blanca, the sacred mountain of the East near Alamosa in San Luis Valley, Colorado (Sacred stone: White shell stone), (2) Mount Taylor, the sacred mountain of the South east of Grants, New Mexico (Sacred stone: Turquoise), (3) San Francisco Peaks, the sacred mountain of the West near Flagstaff, Arizona (Sacred stone: Abalone and Coral), and (4) Mount Hesperus, the sacred mountain of the North at La Plata Mountains, Colorado (Sacred stone: Black Jet stone). Juan told me that according to Navajo tradition, at the end of time only the land within the four Sacred Mountains will be left. Our ministering took place closest to the Mount Taylor area. Not surprisingly, there were many places where you could purchase all kinds of beautiful turquoise and silver jewelry. I believe the area that we were in is considered the capital for Navajo handcrafted jewelry.

Juan also told me the Navajo creation story. The Navajo, or Diné as they prefer to be called (which means “The People”) believe that the great Mesas North of Gallup and that extend for many, maybe hundreds of miles burst open in the beginning and a great flood came out of the earth. It is said that the Navajo were birthed out from the earth and flood when the Mesas split open. As I researched this story, I discovered a wide range of details related to the Navajo creation story. According to one source, the Diné emerged from three previous underworlds into this, the fourth or “Glittering World,” through a magic reed. Once in the “Glittering World” the First people lived in a Hogan made exactly as the Talking God had prescribed. In this Hogan, the people began to arrange their world, naming the four sacred mountains surrounding the land and designating sacred stones that would become the boundaries of their homeland.

In their creation story, the birth of Ever Changing Woman saved the Earth People from the evil monsters that appeared. Changing Woman married the Sun and bore two sons, twins, and heroes to the Navajo people. They were known as “Monster Slayer” and “Child-Born-of-Water.” Later on, even though the Sun visited her every evening, Changing Woman was lonely during the day and she decided to make four clans of people. These were known as the Near Water People, Mud People, Salt Water People, and Bitter Water People. These four clans heard that there were people to the east who shared their heritage and they wanted to go meet them. Changing Woman gave them permission to travel from the western sea to the San Francisco Peaks. They traveled through the Hopi mesas and continued on to Mount Taylor. Finally, the people arrived at Dinetah, the Diné traditional homeland, and joined the other clans already living there. Dinetah is located in the many canyons that drain the San Juan River about 30 miles east of Farmington, New Mexico (Compiled by Glenn Welker, 2009).

The above creation account bears some similarities to the creation account that Juan shared with me. Farmington is about an hour north of Gallup which would coincide with the Mesas north of the city. The “Child-Born-of-Water” and the fact that the names of the four clans are all associated with water also shares some parallels with Juan’s account of creation. There is no difficulty in the fact that there are multiple accounts of Navajo origin stories. The Navajo are not concerned with the historicity of their creation accounts as we are in the Christian West. The Navajo are an oral culture and traditions and stories are passed down from one generation of elders to another who might freely add to, subtract, and/or embellish accounts. Even within the Navajo tribe, there are many clans with their own unique traditions. This too would explain the wide variation in accounts even from one clan to another.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Mexico Mission Trip October 18-21

We are just about to embark on our mission trip to Gallup, New Mexico. Please pray for your mission team, the churches that we will be working with, and the people of Gallup.

Hebron Baptist Church's New Mexico Mission Team

Joe Alain
Rhonda Alain
Joe Averett
Melissa Averett
Don Breaux
Janis Breaux
Elaina Breaux
Nathan Breaux
Hope Johnson
Destry McFearin

Ministry Dates: October 18-21 (Sunday-Wednesday)

Location: First Indian Church, Gallup, New Mexico

Tribe: Navaho, Multicultural

Ministry Activities: Conducting worship/revival services on Sunday and each evening through Wednesday.

Other Possible Ministries: Feeding ministry, Bible clubs, prayer walking, etc. ?

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thoughts On Our New Building Project

Following are some notes that relate to a recent church business meeting and report from your Steering Committee. I will be expanding upon these thoughts in my upcoming message this Sunday, October 11th.

Yes, business meetings can be exciting! Our recent business meeting, Sunday, September 13th was a blessing! Aside from taking care of our regular business, the Steering Committee (Jerry Harris, Chairman) gave a report of their work followed by a good amount of discussion. The spirit of the meeting including the comments and suggestions was overwhelmingly positive. At the risk of sounding cliche, I do believe this was a kind of “breakthrough” moment for us. As a result of the meeting, people left encouraged and with renewed passion to move forward with God by faith!

After providing a brief historical overview of our building campaign, Jerry reported that (1) A topographical survey has been completed, (2) Soil boring tests have been performed, (3) Building plans are being finalized, and (4) The committee has met with Livingston Parish officials.

It was reported that “Estimate of Giving” cards have been received totaling – $736,000. Our Building Fund now stands at $216,552.78. The Steering Committee has met with a financial institution representative, and based on our current estimates of giving, we could borrow in the area of two (2) million dollars, approximately two (2) million dollars less than is needed to build our original project. The committee has met with Allen Construction to develop several cost-reducing options, one option came in at 3.5 million and the other at 2.5 million. Conceptual drawings of the two options were shown to the congregation at the recent business meeting.

After much discussion about the various options, their was unanimous support for continuing with our original plans, even if it might take a little longer to see them fulfilled. Several key areas came out of the comments presented at our meeting that we will be pursuing.

1. A renewed emphasis on securing “Estimate of Giving” cards.

Many people were not aware how important the “Estimate of Giving” cards are in securing funds from a financial institution. Because this is essential to our borrowing funds, more information about this needs to be shared with the church. Some people are giving to the building program but have not completed an “Estimate of Giving” card. We will be sending out a letter to the church explaining the importance of the “Estimate of Giving” cards to our campaign and asking for people to prayerfully considering completing one if they have not.

2. Increased communication of the work the project.
I will be asking the Steering Committee to make a brief report (3-5 min.) and offer a prayer for God’s blessing and direction once per month on a Sunday morning. In this way, the project will be kept before the congregation not only as a matter of information but also for prayer. Continued efforts will be made at publishing building program updates in the newsletter, bulletin, and online.

3. Using visuals to communicate our giving status and goals.
We will work on creating some type of visual that will easily communicate to the church each Sunday where we stand in reaching our various financial goals.

One more thought. It is easy to become impatient in a project like the one that we are undertaking. One of Satan’s tactics to keep us from seeing our dreams fulfilled is that he gets us to doubt the dreams. One of his greatest allies is our impatience, along with fear, worry, anxiety, second-guessing, and frustration that usually accompany it. Remember, God’s timing usually differs from our expectations. Delay of a dream does not necessarily mean denial, it just means we keep working and waiting on God.

Even though we have been working in earnest for about two years, let me assure you that this really is not that long of a period of time, neither is this uncommon in a project of this scope. When I was in Port Allen it took probably a total of six years to go from dream to fulfillment. I’m not suggesting it will take anywhere near that time; however, I do not want you to get discouraged if we hit a few speed bumps along the way. After all, if it was easy, every church in Livingston Parish would be building new facilities! When you look at the big picture, we are progressing very well. Building plans are almost complete, survey work has been completed, and we have almost a third of our pledged amount, $216,000 in the bank.

So what do we need to do?
1. Pray that as a church we will stay focused on our mission of sharing the Good News of Christ with our community. We must not forget what we’re here for and it is not to build a building, but to see God build His kingdom. Pray that we will have God’s heart for people. Pray for the work of the steering committee. Pray that God would supply all our needs.

2. If you haven’t already done so, we would ask you to prayerfully complete an “Estimate of Giving” card so that we can include your contributions in our pledged totals.

3. Talk up the good things that are happening at Hebron – God-centered worship, relevant Bible studies, Family friendly Upward Soccer and Kids Time, just to name a few.

4. Be a part of what makes Hebron a great church. Be positive, welcoming, and mission-minded. Invite your neighbors, co-workers, and friends to join us. What makes Hebron a great church is its people who love God and love others. Find your place in the church body, serve faithfully, and be a blessing!

For His Glory!

Pastor Joe
“Phil. 1:3”

Monday, September 28, 2009

KNOWING GOD'S WILL Proverbs 3:5-6

This Week's Study: Week #5: The Assurance of Guidance

Focal Verse: Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

Join us this week at Hebron Baptist Church for the final message in our "Foundations" series.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, September 21, 2009

FOUNDATIONS: Lessons On Assurance Continues!

This Week's Study: Week #4: Assurance of Forgiveness

Focal Verse: 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

Join us each week at Hebron Baptist Church as we study God's life-changing Word together.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What About Those Who Have Never Heard?

Romans 1:18-25 Sermon Follow-Up
Several weeks ago I merely scratched the surface of the topic of general revelation in my message from Romans chapter one. The following article (from the excellent work of Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 171-174) goes into much more detail on this subject. Erickson details how general revelation makes all people guilty before God. Particularly interesting are Erickson’s thoughts concerning general revelation and the possibility of salvation for those who have never heard the full Gospel. To the question, “What about those who have never heard?” Erickson provides an insightful look into the nature of salvation using the Old Testament as a model for understanding.

General Revelation and Human Responsibility
All Are Guilty before God
But what of the judgment of man, spoken of by Paul in Romans 1 and 2? If it is just for God to condemn man, and if man can become guilty without having known God’s special revelation, does that mean that man without special revelation can do what will enable him to avoid the condemnation of God? In Romans 2:14 Paul says; “when Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.” Is Paul suggesting that they could have fulfilled the requirements of the law? But that is not possible even for those who have the law (see Gal. 3:10-11 as well as Rom. 3). Paul also makes clear in Galatians 3:23-24 that the law was not a means of justifying us, but a to make us aware of our sin and to lead us to faith by bringing us to Christ.

Now the internal law which the unbeliever has performs much the same function as does the law which the Jew has. From the revelation in nature (Rom. 1), man ought to conclude that there exists a powerful eternal God. And from the revelation within (Rom. 2), man should realize that he does not live up to the standard. While the content of the moral code will vary in different cultural situations, everyone has an inner compulsion that there is something to which he ought to adhere. And everyone should reach the conclusion that he is not fulfilling that standard. In other words, the knowledge of God which all men have, if they do not suppress it, should bring them to the conclusion that they are guilty in relationship to God.

What about Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel?
What if someone then were to throw himself upon the mercy of God, not knowing upon what basis that mercy was provided? Would he not in a sense be in the same situation as the Old Testament believers? The doctrine of Christ and his atoning work had not been fully revealed to these people Yet they knew that there was provision for the forgiveness of sins, and that they could not be accepted on the merits of any works of their own. They had the form of the gospel without its full content. And they were saved. Now if the god known in nature is the same as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (as Paul seems to assert in Acts 17:23), then it would seem that a person who comes to a belief in a single powerful God, who despairs of any works-righteousness to please this holy God, and who throws himself upon the mercy of this good God, would be accepted as were the Old Testament believers. The basis of acceptance would be the work of Jesus Christ, even though the person involved is not conscious that this is how provision has been made for his salvation. We should note that the basis of salvation was apparently the same in the Old Testament as in the New. Salvation has always been appropriated by faith (Gal. 3:6-9); this salvation rests upon Christ’s deliverance of us from the law (vv. 10-14, 19-29). Nothing has been changed in that respect.

What inference are we to draw, then, from Paul’s statement in Romans 2:1-16? Is it conceivable that one can be saved by faith without having the special revelation? Paul seems to be laying open this theoretical possibility. Yet it is merely a theoretical possibility. It is highly questionable how many, if any, actually experience salvation without having special revelation. Paul suggests in Romans 3 that no one does. And in chapter 10 he urges the necessity of preaching the gospel (the special revelation) so that men may believe. Thus it is apparent that in failing to respond to the light of general revelation which they have, men are fully responsible, for they have truly known God, but have willfully suppressed that truth. Thus in effect the general revelation serves, as does the law, merely to make guilty, not to make righteous.

Implications of General Revelation
1. There is a common ground or a point of contact between the believer and the nonbeliever, or between the gospel and the thinking of the unbeliever. All persons have a knowledge of God. Although it may be suppressed to the extent of being unconscious or unrecognizable, it is nonetheless there, and there will be areas of sensitivity to which the message may be effectively directed as a starting point. These areas of sensitivity will vary from one person to another, but they will be there. There are features of the creation to which the believer may point, features which will enable the unbeliever to recognize something of the truth of the message. It is therefore neither necessary nor desirable to fire the message at the hearer in an indiscriminate fashion.

2. There is possibility of some knowledge of divine truth outside the special revelation. We may understand more about the specially revealed truth by examining the general revelation. We understand in more complete detail the greatness of God, we comprehend more fully the image of God in man, when we attend to the general revelation. This should be considered a supplement to, not a substitute for, special revelation. Sin’s distortion of man’s understanding of the general revelation is greater the closer one gets to the relationship between God and man. Thus, sin produces relatively little obscuring effect upon the understanding of matters of physics, but a great deal with respect to matters of psychology and sociology. Yet it is at those places where the potential for distortion is greatest that the most complete understanding is possible.

3. God is just in condemning those who have never heard the gospel in the full and formal sense. No one is completely without opportunity. All have known God; if they have not effectually perceived him, it is because they have suppressed the truth. Thus all are responsible. This increases the motivation of missionary endeavor; for no one is innocent. All need to believe in God’s offer of grace, and the message needs to be taken to them.

4. General revelation serves to explain the worldwide phenomenon of religion and religions. All persons are religious, because all have a type of knowledge of God. From this indistinct and perhaps even unrecognizable revelation have been constructed religions which unfortunately are distortions of the true biblical religion.

5. Since both creation and the gospel are intelligible and coherent revelations of God, there is harmony between the two, and mutual reinforcement of one by the other. The biblical revelation is not totally distinct from what is known of the natural realm.

6. Genuine knowledge and genuine morality in unbelieving (as well as believing) man are not his own accomplishment. Truth arrived at apart from special revelation is still God’s truth. Knowledge and morality are not so much discovery as they are “uncovery” of the truth God has structured into his entire universe, both physical and moral.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

FOUNDATIONS: Lessons On Assurance Continues!

This Week's Study: Assurance of Answered Prayer

Focal Verse: John 16:24, "Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete."

Join us each week at Hebron Baptist Church as we study God's life-changing Word together.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, August 31, 2009

FOUNDATIONS: Lessons On Assurance

On Sunday, September 6th we will begin "Foundations," a church-wide emphasis that combines the resources of both the Sunday School and the morning worship services. Our purpose will be to teach and review the basic Christian teachings that are essential for believers to grow into healthy followers of Jesus. I believe this emphasis has the opportunity to be a life-transforming event for all of us. I hope that you plan on joining us each week. If you're not involved in a Sunday morning Bible study, this would be a great time to join us.

Week One: Assurance of Salvation

This week's message is "Assurance of Salvation," based on 1 John 5:11-12.
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

See you Sunday!
Pastor Joe

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sermon Text for Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday, August 30th we will observe the Lord's Supper in both of our morning worship services. The focal text for this week is the Gospel Lection, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23, taken from the Lectionary. For context, the entire passage is printed below.

Mark 7:1-23 (New International Version)

1 The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and 2 saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were "unclean," that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.

5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?"

6 He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
" 'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
7 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men.' 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."

9 And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' 11 But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."

14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. 15 Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean.' "

17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? 19 For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")

20 He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' 21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'"

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sermon Text for Sunday, August 23, 2009

Romans 1:26-32 (New International Version)

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sermon Text for Sunday, August 9, 2009

Continuing our study of the first three chapters in Romans, this week we will be dealing with Romans 1:18-25.

Romans 1:18-25 (NIV)

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

See you Sunday as we worship our great God and Savior!

Pastor Joe

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Gospel, God's Power to Save! Romans 1:1-17

Beginning this Sunday, August 2, I will be sharing some messages from Romans 1:1-3:20. In this section of the book of Romans, Paul goes into great detail as to why all people need God's righteousness which comes to us in Christ through faith.

This week our text is Romans 1:1-17 (NIV)

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6 And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. 7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul's Longing to Visit Rome
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you. 11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. 14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.

The Theme of the Gospel: The Righteousness of God Revealed

16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

See you this Sunday as we worship the living God.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Toward a Great Commission Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention

In view of the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention, Johnny Hunt is promoting a document that has generated quite a bit of interest. You can access the document at

For articles related to the document, check out Baptist Press.

Let me know what you think about the article. I will publish my thoughts about it soon.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

"In Remembrance" The Lord's Supper Sunday, May 24th

Sunday, May 24th we will be observing The Lord's Supper during both of our morning worship services. This is the traditional Memorial Day weekend when we are reminded that freedom isn't free. The Lord's Supper reminds us that our salvation also came at great cost -- God giving us His Son -- Jesus!

The Gospel Text for Sunday, the Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 24, 2009 Is
John 17:6-19

6 "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, May 11, 2009

May 17th -- Missionary to Zambia, Thomas Morrow to Share!

This Sunday, Thomas Morrow will be sharing in both morning worship services. Thomas and Amy along with their children are missionaries to Zambia, Africa. For more information about their ministry, check out

Scripture Readings
May 17, 2009 The Sixth Sunday of Easter

Psalm 98:2-3 (NIV)
2 The LORD has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.

3 He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to the house of Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.

Acts 10:44-48 (NIV)
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sermon Text for Mother's Day, May 10, 2009

The Gospel sermon text for the 5th Sunday of Easter is John 15:1-8 (NIV).

1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Home Coming Sunday, May 3, 2009

This Sunday, May 3rd Hebron is celebrating our annual "Home Coming." Plan on joining us for this special day of worship and fellowship.

Sunday's Sermon Text: Psalm 23 (NIV)

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

1 John 3:1-7, Sermon Text for Sunday, April 19, 2009

March and April have been quite hectic. My preaching schedule should be a little more normal now that our Capital Fund Campaign is completed. The dramatic monologues that I preached during the Easter season were challenging but also a blessing. This week I am picking up the lectionary epistle selection for the week, 1 John 3:1-7. Here is a tremendous passage that communicates the love of the Father and the reality that we are now God's children. Believers are works in progress; nevertheless, when Christ appears we will be like Him. This hope motivates us to live pure lives that are evidencing victory over sin.

I hope that you plan on joining us Sunday for Bible study and worship. Invite someone to worship or better yet, bring them with you. Let's be sure to let people know about the love of the Father and the good things that God is doing through His people at Hebron.

1 John 3:1-7 (NIV)
1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. 7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

For His Glory!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Welcoming Jesus, Palm Sunday First-Person Sermon

Scripture Background: Matthew 20:20-28; 21:1-11
Today’s first-person sermon (dramatic monologue) seeks to vividly retell the biblical story from the vantage point of John, the Apostle. John and his brother James earned the anger of their fellow disciples by asking if they could sit on Jesus’ right and left hands in glory. Jesus used this occasion to teach on the meaning and importance of serving others (Matt. 20:20-28). Greatness in the kingdom comes through serving, not being served. Jesus Himself modeled the life of a servant in life and in death by offering His life as a sacrifice for sins.

Afterward, Jesus sent two of His disciples (John included) to prepare the way for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1-11). Jesus’ public and triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a colt occurred on what is called Palm Sunday and marks the beginning of the Passion week, the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

John, the Apostle
Along with his brother James, John was called by Jesus to be one of the twelve (Matt. 4:21-22) while they were fishing. John, the son of Zebedee (his mother was probably Salome) along with his brother James received from Jesus the nickname “Boanerges,” meaning “Sons of Thunder (Mk. 3:17). Their nickname was fitting. On one occasion, James and John requested that the unresponsive Samaritan village be destroyed by fire called down from heaven (Lk. 9:51-54)!

Everything in Scripture suggests that John, “the beloved disciple” (Jn. 13:23) was very close to Jesus. His prominence among the Twelve is indicated by his presence, along with James and Peter, at the raising of Jairus’s daughter by Jesus (Mk. 5:37), at the transfiguration of Jesus (Matt. 17:1), and with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:37). Along with Peter, John was entrusted by Jesus with preparations for the Passover supper (Lk, 22:8).

Five New Testament writings are attributed to John, the Apostle (Gospel of John; 1, 2, 3 John; and Revelation). Tradition states that John moved to Asia Minor, and that from there he was banished to the Island of Patmos (during Domitian’s reign, A. D. 81-96). Later, he returned to Ephesus, where he died some time after Trajan became emperor in A. D. 98.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sermon Text for Sunday, March 29, 2009

Join us this Sunday for the culmination of our "Praise for the Past, Faith for the Future" campaign. The day begins with a Breakfast Buffet in the CAC from 9:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m., followed by a Combined Celebration Service in the Sanctuary at 10:30.

Following is the main sermon text for Sunday: Matthew 26:6-13 (NIV)
[6] While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, [7] a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. [8] When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. [9] "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor." [10] Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. [11] The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. [12] When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. [13] I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Following God's Financial Plan Sunday, March 22, 2009

To coincide with our capital fund campaign, "Praise for the Past, Faith for the Future," we have been emphasizing the theme of stewardship in our worship services.
In this Sunday's sermon, "Following God's Financial Plan," we will explore five biblical principles for experiencing financial freedom from the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. God has a word for us that if practiced will not only bring great stress relief in tough economic times, but will give us an incredible sense of joy as we serve Him and build up His kingdom.

Join us Sunday and bring a friend.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sermon Text for Sunday, March 8, 2009

"Praise for the Past, Faith for the Future," our church stewardship emphasis continues. This Sunday's message text is shown below:

2 Samuel 24:18-25 (NKJV)

18 And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded. 20 Now Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming toward him. So Araunah went out and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 21 Then Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” And David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.” 22 Now Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever seems good to him. Look, here are oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood. 23 All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king.”
And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.” 24 Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25 And David built there an altar to the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sermon Text for Sunday, March 1, 2009

This Sunday and continuing through March we will be conducting a stewardship emphasis. In both our small groups and worship times we will focus on "Lifestyle Stewardship" as we give "Praise for the Past, Faith for the Future."

Exodus 35:4-9, 20-29 (NKJV)

4 And Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying: 5 ‘Take from among you an offering to the LORD. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze; 6 blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats’ hair; 7 ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; 8 oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; 9 onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate.

20 And all the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. 21 Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the LORD’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. 22 They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who made an offering of gold to the LORD. 23 And every man, with whom was found blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, goats’ hair, red skins of rams, and badger skins, brought them. 24 Everyone who offered an offering of silver or bronze brought the LORD’s offering. And everyone with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, brought it. 25 All the women who were gifted artisans spun yarn with their hands, and brought what they had spun, of blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen. 26 And all the women whose hearts stirred with wisdom spun yarn of goats’ hair. 27 The rulers brought onyx stones, and the stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate, 28 and spices and oil for the light, for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense. 29 The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to the LORD, all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which the LORD, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sermon Text for Sunday, February 22, 2009

Revelation 3:7-13 (NKJV)

To the Church in Philadelphia

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. 13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sermon Text for Sunday, February 15, 2009

Revelation 3:1-6 (NKJV)
To the Church in Sardis

1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bible Translations and Hermeneutics, Worship Workshop

Following are the notes from the most recent "Worship Workshop."

Bible Translations and Hermeneutics
Februay, 2009
Early English Translations
A complete translation of the Bible in English did not appear until the fourteenth century. The Latin Vulgate was the principle Bible used in the English church. John Wycliffe along with two associates produced an English version of the Bible which was based on the Latin.

During the sixteenth century there was an explosion of Bible translations. There are several factors that led to this proliferation of translations:
(1) The Renaissance with its recovery of classical learning (especially Greek).

(2) The fall of Constantinople and the westward movement of Greek scholars.

(3) The Hebrew renaissance (Hebrew editions of the Bible by 1448).

(4) The development of Gutenberg’s printing press (ca. 1540).

(5) The Protestant reformation with its emphasis on vernacular versions and theological emphasis upon Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), provided a catalyst for new translations.

William Tyndale (1484-1536) stands above all the rest concerning English translations in the sixteenth century. His New Testament translation was based on the Greek text established by Erasmus in 1516. He never finished the complete Bible. He was strangled and burned because of his work in 1536.

The first complete English Bible was produced in 1535 by Miles Coverdale. This work utilized Tyndale’s NT and completed the OT in consultation with German and Latin sources. Coverdale’s Bible was the first to remove the apocryphal books (that were in the Vulgate).

The Authorized Version or King James Bible capped the series of translations begun by Tyndale (1611). Produced by a team of 54 scholars, the KJV became the Bible for English-speaking peoples for generations and a monument of the English language.

Why Is There a Need for Fresh Translations?
(1) Advancements in textual criticism.
Today we have many more early manuscripts that were simply not available before. For example, Codex Sinaiticus, early Greek papyri of NT documents, Dead Sea Scrolls, etc.

(2) Our knowledge of biblical languages has increased.

(3) The English language is continually changing. Updating translations to reflect contemporary usage of any language makes it easier to understand the Bible’s timeless message.

Modern English Versions Fall into Two Categories
(1) Revisions – based on a previous version.

(2) Translations – preserve the best of an earlier version while improving the work in light of new insight. They attempt to translate the original languages anew.

Another Consideration:
Some English translations are the work of a single person. For example, J.B. Phillip’s New Testament in Modern English and Eugene Peterson’s The Message.

Evaluating Translations
Criteria for Evaluation of a Translation
1. The Identity and Qualification of the Translators.
A committee offers a higher concentration of skills than one person.

2. The Underlying Textual Basis of the Translation.
Most modern translations opt for what is called a critical Greek text, reflecting an eclectic approach to textual questions. Usually this means some translations differ on the point of variations that are found in a text. A good translation will explain some of these variants.

3. The Theory of Translation Used by the Translators.
There is a “hermeneutic” to translation. The act of translation means that translator will make judgements based on his or her understanding of the original languages, the receptor language, culture, etc. Translators must overcome all these barriers while remaining faithful to the message of the original text.

Our English Bibles are translations from the original biblical languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Among the things that a translator must be concerned with are what is known as “historical distance” and the “receptor language” in our case English

Historical Distance has to do with the differences that exist between the original language and the receptor language both in words, grammar, and idioms (or expressions) as well as in matters of culture and history.

Theory of Translation Each translator or team of translators must make a choice concerning how they will bridge the gap (the historical distance) between the two languages. It is usually a question of “degrees.” For example, should “lamp” be translated “flashlight” or “torch” in cultures where these serve the purpose that a lamp once did?

Three Theories of translation have been generally followed in bridging the gap between the original languages and the receptor language.

Literal or Formal Equivalency (“Word Correspondence”). The attempt to translate by keeping as close as possible to the exact words (Word Correspondence) and phrasing in the original language, yet still make sense in the receptor language. A formal equivalent translation will keep the historical distance intact at all points. This makes for a sometimes disjointed sounding and awkward translation as any interlinear Bible will show. The ASV and the NASB best represent this theory of translation.

Dynamic Equivalency (“Functional”). The attempt to translate words, idioms, and grammatical constructions of the original language into precise equivalents in the receptive language. A thought-for-thought translation. Such a translation keeps historical distance on all historical and most factual matters, but “updates” matters of language, grammar, and style. Meaning takes precedence over matters of structure and style. The question is, “how far can the translator go to achieve the equivalent effect yet still remain faithful to the text? The NIV and NLT are examples of this theory of translation.

Free (Paraphrases). The attempt to translate the ideas from one language to another, with less concern about using the exact words of the original. A free translation, sometimes also called a paraphrase, tries to eliminate as much of the historical distance as possible. Paraphrases are not translations and should not be treated as such. The Living Bible and The Message are representative of paraphrases.

What are some of the dangers of a paraphrase?
(1) May be taken as a translation by the person who does not know the difference.

(2) May reflect the theology of the person who did the paraphrase.
In evaluating modern translations know the theological perspective of the translators. Usually, it is best to use a translation from a team rather than an individual. Of course, it goes without saying that the Bible text is inspired not someone’s commentary about the text!

(3) Is not tied to the text. Goes back to our view of the text. If we are people who have a high view of the Bible and believe that God has revealed His will in His Word, then we want to know exactly what he said, not just a paraphrase of what he might have said.

Examples of Modern Translations and their Theory of Translation


Dynamic Equivalent

Phillips LB
The Message

Note: HCSB is called an “Optimal Equivalent: Seeks to combine the best elements of both formal and dynamic equivalence.

Tensions to Keep in Mind
Note: The following words are simply illustrative of each theory of translation. For example, because I have used the word "Commentary" to describe a paraphrase does not mean that it has no value as "Text." The two words are used to show that the farther one moves from a "Formal Equivalent" to a "Free" translation, the more one allows interpretation to color the translation.

"Dynamic" translations attempt to strike a balance between faithfulness to the biblical text on the one hand, while at the same time updating words into modern language.
Literal/Formal Equivalent


Practical Considerations
For Study, use several well-chosen translations. A good formal equivalency Bible is a must but supplement with a modern translation like the NIV. Use translations that differ for the same reason that you use commentaries that may differ from what you are used to.

For Daily Use and study you would do well to have a good literal or formal equivalent or dynamic translation with notes in the margin that reflect modern scholarship.

In Preaching and Teaching
(1) use one primary translation. Which one?
i. Personal preference

ii. Congregational expectations

(2) You may use different translations for different groups of people and for different occasions. If you provide an outline, print versions that are particularly useful.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, February 2, 2009


Below are the notes from the last "Worship Workshop" that was conducted on January 28, 2009.

January 28, 2009


Two primary ways:
1. Select a Scripture Passage
(1) You can usually determine the paragraph or thought divisions in your Bible. For help, use a study Bible or Bible commentary.

(2) It is usually best to choose a brief passage of Scripture that can be treated in a few minutes.

(3) You may find that even one verse of Scripture is adequate for a devotion. This is especially true of well know promises or Bible verses.
Examples: John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Galatians 2:21; Philippians 4:13

2. Select a Topic
(1) You might choose a particular topic of interest to you, then select a Scripture that supports your chosen topic or theme.
Examples: Love, Joy, Peace, Salvation, Heaven, Christian Fellowship, The Resurrection, The Cross, etc.

(2) A Concordance is especially helpful to discover Scriptures that deal with your topic.

(3) It is best to narrow or limit your topic. This will allow you to find supporting Scripture more easily and will give you a more manageable topic to present.
Example: The topic of “Peace” would be to broad to tackle in a few minutes. But the topic, “Peace in Times of Suffering” narrows the subject and makes it more presentable.


1. Find the main idea of the passage of Scripture you have selected.
The main theme of the text will reflect both the original meaning of the text and be stated in a way that speaks to contemporary audiences.
John 3:16 – “The Depth of God’s Love for Us”
Psalm 46:1-11 – “God Is Our Refuge in every Circumstance of Life.”
Galatians 6:1-5 – “Bear One Another’s Burdens!”
Philippians 4:6-7 – “How We Can Experience Freedom from Anxiety”

2. Test the validity of your main idea by examining the verses before and after your passage.
Resist taking a verse out of its original context. A text without context is pretext.
Example: Philippians 4:13 is found in the context of suffering.

3. Jot down your initial observations about the passage.
A helpful tool is to conduct an inductive Bible study of your passage. By asking questions (Who? What? Why? Where? When? How?) about your text, you will discover the particulars (induction) which will suggest truths (deductions) to share.

4. Use Bible commentaries, Bible dictionaries, and other tools to help give you insight into the passage.
There are a variety of Bible study tools in our church library.

5. Decide what truths you will share during your devotion.
Think in term of sharing thoughts that will help to explain and apply the passage.


1. Introduce and Read Your Scripture Passage
Example: Philippians 4:6-7

2. Introduce Your Topic or Theme
Example: “How We Can Experience Freedom from Anxiety”

3. Make Your Observations and Insights about the Passage
(1) All of us worry at times (provide examples).

(2) God wants us to pray about whatever causes us to worry.

(3) We are to thank God in advance for answering our prayer.

(4) The result of our bringing to God our worries is that we will experience God’s peace, peace that “transcends” (NIV) all understanding.

(5) I want to encourage you to bring to God whatever you are anxious about.

4. You may want to close with either a specific challenge and/or prayer of commitment, praise, or thanksgiving.
Example: “Close your eyes and think of one thing that is worrying you right now. Give that worry to God in prayer.” Close with a prayer thanking God for His peace.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sermon Text for Sunday, February 8, 2009

Revelation 2:18-19 (NKJV)

The Message to the Church in Thyatira

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: 19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

24 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations— 27 ‘ He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ — as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star. 29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

Monday, January 26, 2009

"WORSHIP WORKSHOPS," The Public Reading of Scripture

On Wednesday evenings I am conducting a variety of "Worship Workshops," the past two Wednesdays devoted to "Oral Interpretation" or "The Public Reading of Scripture." The latest workshop material is presented below. Future workshops will be posted as they become available.

The Public Reading of Scripture(Oral Interpretation)

There is an important difference between oral reading and silent reading. Any person can benefit from practice in the correct way to read aloud. Just being able to pronounce the words is not good reading, and fast reading is not necessarily good reading when we are attempting to interpret the meaning of a passage for an audience. In order to read effectively the reader must feel deeply and convey the feelings through skillful use of the voice and body.

ORAL INTERPRETATION is reading aloud from the printed page with the purpose of interpreting what is read so that its meaning is conveyed to the listeners. For our purposes, Oral Interpretation and Public Reading of Scripture are used interchangeably.

Successful Oral Reading demands that the speaker know his or her material well enough that he or she can interpret fully and accurately the ideas, meanings, and beauties placed in the Scripture by the author. To do this capably, a burden of careful, almost meticulous preparation is placed on the reader. Much attention must be given to understanding what the author is saying; the reader assumes the responsibility of discovering the author’s meaning. When the reader starts to voice the author’s ideas, he or she still faces the difficult problem of imparting accurate meanings and moods by properly using his or her voice, expressions and actions. (Gail C. Hartzog, Voice and Diction Workshop, 1990)


Preparing the Reading
1. You may want to type the reading using double spacing and leave wide margins. Another option is to mimeograph an enlarged copy of the text.

2. Read the passage silently, then read it aloud several times. This will help you get the “feel” of the passage. You will also discover any problems with pronunciation.

3. Study the emotional content, the mood of the passage. Is it joyful? Is it somber? Is it instructive? Is it written as poetry? Decide on the tone of the reading. The emotional content will dictate the tone of the reading.

4. Study the biblical meaning of the passage. Understanding of a biblical passage is essential to a proper oral reading.

5. Check the pronunciation of any word that you are not sure of. If you are not sure, look it up.

6. Let the tone of the reading dictate rate, pitch, volume.
Rate refers to the speed at which a person speaks.

Pitch refers to the tonal qualities produced in vocalization.

Volume refers to the amount of force needed in speaking for the message to be heard and for the emotional message of the reading to be conveyed. Speak naturally, but do let the tone and content of the reading dictate vocal variety.

7. Let the meaning dictate force, emphasis, and volume.

8. Mark the reading in a way that will assist you in emphasizing the tone and meaning.

9. Pay close attention to punctuation marks.

10. Let your facial expressions correlate with the meaning. Use gestures when possible; however, do not allow gestures to detract from the meaning.

The Actual Reading
1. Give a Brief Introduction
(1) Make it brief and in your own words.

(2) Include the book, chapter, verse of Scripture, and Bible translation. Including the author is also beneficial.

2. The Actual Reading
(1) Stand erect with both feet slightly apart. Do not lean on the podium or pulpit.

(2) Hold the Bible as you read. You can use your other hand to keep your place in the Bible.

(3) If you have typed your reading or mimeographed it, be sure it is firmly secured in your Bible.

(4) Be so familiar with the Scripture reading that it is practically memorized.

(5) Maintain eye contact as much as is possible during the reading. Familiarity with the Scripture reading and holding your Bible will aid you in maintaining eye contact.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe
January 14, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sermon Text for Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Pastor's Sunday morning series, "Christ Speaks to His Church" continues this Sunday with the message to the church in Pergamos.

Revelation 2:12-17 (NKJV)
12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,
‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’

For His Glory!

Pastor Joe