Monday, November 25, 2013

"Christmas 2.0: What the Second Advent of Jesus Means Now and Then"

“Christmas 2.0” What the Second Advent of Jesus Means Now and Then
We schedule our life’s activities by some type of calendar: civic, school, family, etc. Advent, and Christmas are part of the Christian Church Year which is actually a calendar for the worship life of the church. This historical calendar has been used as a way for the church to remember “the story of Jesus” by marking time around Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. For instance, we celebrate Christ’s birth on Christmas, remember Christ’s death on Good Friday, sing of the resurrection on Easter Sunday, and speak of the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost.

The church year begins with The Season of Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas. Advent means “coming.” In the season of Advent, we focus on the coming of Christ into the world (past), in our hearts (present), and the “second coming” (future). That’s why we can sing, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” Joy to the World! The Lord Is Come,” and “Soon and Very Soon,” all during Advent.

In this series of sermons titled, “Christmas 2.0” we will focus on the second advent or coming of Jesus. What does that mean for us now and what will it mean then? We will look at the second advent of Jesus from the following perspectives:

December 1 -- How Will Jesus Come Again? Matthew 24:29-31
December 8 -- When Will Jesus Come Again? Matthew 24:36-44
December 15 -- What Will Happen When Jesus Comes Again? Matthew 25:31-46
December 22 -- Why Will Jesus Come Again? Revelation 21:1-7

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sunday's Sermon Text, November 10, 2013 (Ephesians 6:10-18)

 This Sunday I will conclude a series of messages from the book of Ephesians. Join us for life-changing worship!

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

This week's text is . . .
Ephesians 6:10-18, New International Version (NIV)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013 Sermon Text (Ephesians 5:21-6:9)

Our Sunday morning study of the book of Ephesians will soon be coming to a close. There are two passages of Scripture remaining that we will look at. This Sunday we will be examining our relationships in light of the Christian life. I can think of nothing more important for us to study for life is all about relationships. Come discover what God has to say that will help you in your relationships at home and at work.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Ephesians 5:21-6:9, New International Version (NIV)

Instructions for Christian Households

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Reformation Sunday, October 27, 2013!

This Sunday, October 27, 2013 is Reformation Sunday!
On this day we commemorate one of the most important days in church history. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses (or statements of faith) on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, sparking the Protestant Reformation. The Protestant Reformation has had a tremendous impact on our beliefs and convictions today. Our belief that the Bible alone is our sole authority, that salvation is by faith alone by grace alone, that our worship should be governed by Scripture and not by tradition, that God alone should be glorified for He alone is worthy of worship, these are just a few of the important beliefs that men and woman fought for and died for during the Protestant Reformation.

Of the major leaders of the Protestant Reformation (e.g., Luther, Calvin, and Knox), Huldrych Zwingli may be the least famous, yet Zwingli played a very influential role in the beginning of the Reformation in Zurich, Switzerland. A courageous reformer, he confronted falsehood and superstition and challenged people to give their total allegiance to God by forsaking worthless idols and being undivided in their loyalty to God.

This Sunday I will provide a brief sketch of Zwingli's life and contribution to the Protestant Reformation, and I will share some thoughts from 2 Timothy 2:1-4, On Being Bold Soldiers for the Lord.

2 Timothy 2:1-4, New King James Version (NKJV)

1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013 Sermon Text (Ephesians 5:15-20)

Ephesians 5:15-20, English Standard Version (ESV)
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013 Sermon Text (Ephesians 4:17-5:2)

Ephesians 4:17-5:2, New International Version (NIV)

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned

21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;

23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;

24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

5 :1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children

2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sunday, October 6, 2013 Sermon Text (Ephesians 4:1-16)

Ephesians 4:1-16, New International Version (NIV)

1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;

5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;

6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

8 This is why it says:

“When he ascended on high,
    he took many captives
    and gave gifts to his people.”

9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?

10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,

12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sunday, September 29, 2013 Sermon Text (Ephesians 3:14-21)

Ephesians 3:14-21, New International Version (NIV)

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father,

15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,

18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sunday, September 22, 2013 Scripture Reading (Ephesians 2:11-22)

Ephesians 2:11-22, New International Version (NIV)

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—

12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,

15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace,

16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,

20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013 Sermon Text (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Ephesians 2:1-10, New International Version (NIV)

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,

2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,

5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,

7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013 Scripture Reading (Ephesians 1:15-23)

This Sunday I will continue in a series of messages from the book of Ephesians. This week's text is
Ephesians 1:15-23, New International Version (NIV)

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people,

16I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit
of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,

19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength

20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,

21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,

23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.


For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Recognizing Who You Are in Christ (Ephesians)

To coincide with our Sunday Night "Life Groups" (beginning Septemeber 15th), I will begin this Sunday (Sept. 1st) a series of messages from the book of Ephesians. For more information about our "Life Groups" and to register, go to Come discover who you are in Christ.

This Week's Scripture Reading:
Ephesians 1:1-14, New International Version (NIV)

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:

2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love

5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—

6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,

9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,

10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sunday, August 11, 2013

From the Pastor (week of August 12th)

Pray for Rhonda and I as we will be traveling and out-of-town Monday, August 12th through Monday, August 19th. If you have a need for a minister, please contact either Bro. Destry or Danny. Our deacons are also available to minister to you. In my absence, Bro. Danny will be preaching on Sunday, August 18th. We will also hear a testimony in worship from the Gideons.  A love offering will be received for the Gideons International at the conclusion of both morning services.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sermon Text for Sunday, July 14, 2013

Following is the sermon text for this Sunday, July 14, 2013. Hope to see you Sunday for a great day of worship!

Pastor Joe

Acts 9:1-19a, New International Version (NIV)

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"

5 "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.

"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6 "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."

7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!"

"Yes, Lord," he answered.

11 The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."

13 "Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sermon Text for Sunday, July 7, 2013

 Following is the sermon text for this Sunday's service:

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Acts 8:26-40, New International Version (NIV)

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
    and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
    Who can speak of his descendants?
    For his life was taken from the earth.”

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.

36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” [37] [a] 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

a. Acts 8:37 Some manuscripts include here Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thoughts on the Recent Southern Baptist Convention Meeting in Houston, Texas

June 17, 2013

First, I feel as if I need to preface my report by saying that the report represents my thoughts and opinions alone and does not necessarily represent the church I pastor, Hebron Baptist Church. While undoubtedly many of my members would agree with my impressions and conclusions, being good Baptists many would probably disagree with me as well. Having said that, let me jump right in with my thoughts on this year’s convention.

My general impression of the 2013 SBC this year was that it was uneventful. I’ve never seen so many “scheduled business” sessions cancelled for lack of business. This convention also marked some troubling trends. The final messenger count tallied 5,103 messengers. I’m sure this ranks as one of the least attended conventions in modern times, certainly well below the last Houston convention. I think there are a variety of reasons why people are choosing not to attend conventions as they maybe once did. First, the increasing costs to attend conventions make it feasible mainly for pastors and staff or for denominational employees who have church-budgeted or convention-budgeted monies to attend. My guess is that very few families are making convention cities their family vacation destination, Orlando being the exception. In most cities where the meetings are held, it’s difficult to find a decent hotel room under $150 per night! It’s not unreasonable to spend $1,200 to $1,500 for a pastor and his spouse to attend a convention, and that’s one in the South.

Second, many people like myself feel that the business has already been conducted before the meeting ever begins. Yes, messengers do have opportunities to speak, but you have to really be aware of what’s going on to take advantage of this and very little time is given to messenger input. Furthermore, there is the feeling that any opinion presented that does not generally agree with the status quo will be considered “unfriendly” and not accepted by the group. I’m increasingly finding myself in the position of voting in the minority. If everything is pretty much decided, why not just watch the proceedings online, an option I’m sure many are doing. Or worse, they are not paying attention at all.

Third, sad to say it takes a real controversy to get people out to a business meeting. Aside from the Boy Scout controversy that never really happened (thankfully), and a mental health resolution that got passionately bounced around some,  there was little discussion of the issues facing our churches. The Calvinism report barely garnered a yawn.

Fourth, hearing reports is not always that exciting and after you’ve been to a few of these meetings, everything starts sounding the same. Many program reports sound like this: “Everything’s great, enrollment is up, we’re instituting new programs, and you can read our report in the Book of Reports.” Ok, why don’t you just send me the Book of Reports then. Maybe there is a better way to communicate what’s happening. I am thankful though that we were not treated to dozens of annoying and useless videos during the convention.

It seems to me that The Executive Committee’s reluctance to host both bi-annual meetings and meetings in smaller markets is becoming less tenable all the time. The reality is, we don’t need a meeting every year and there are many smaller markets that could sufficiently host a meeting. It no longer makes sense to spend “who knows how much” hosting a convention of 5-6,000 in a convention center the size of the George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, Texas. You know the feeling when you look out on Sunday morning and half the congregation decided to take the day off? That’s the feeling I had as I looked around at all the empty chairs. At one point on Wednesday morning, while voting on the 2nd Vice President, there were 674 messengers voting! Now, I know that this position is largely symbolic, but it just goes to show you how indifferent people are to what’s going on.

Speaking of indifferent, I believe it was at the conclusion of the IMB report that many messengers left during a special prayer time. Danny Decker (who should be applauded) closed the session in prayer and voiced his displeasure at the people who were leaving during prayer, noting that this kind of indifference was symptomatic of a greater problem that we as Southern Baptists have.

While I’m pontificating, one more thing I noted was the general sense that the convention meeting has become a platform for Lifeway and others to simply “sell” messengers on the supposedly latest and greatest in church life. I’m kind of weary of Lifeway’s latest “launches.” Lifeway rebooting Sunday School material, that’s news! Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not that Lifeway’s topics and ideas are bad, it’s the way the material is written. To me, that’s always been the issue. I still use Nav Press material that was written 20 years ago. It was good then, it’s good now. I don’t understand why Lifeway doesn’t get it. Everything they touch they complicate, they make too many steps, and I could go on and on. I long for the days when Southern Baptists published periodical materials that were simple, straightforward, and that you wanted to teach and hold on to. I still have commentaries and Sunday School lessons written by Hershel Hobbs and other godly Baptists that puts to shame the material being published now.

Aside from complicating the material, the literature that is being published violates the most serious hermeneutical principle that I teach to my students. Never, never, never make the text fit what you want it to say. Too often our literature begins with a theme and the rest of the lesson is a forced interpretation of the text to fit the theme. This drives me crazy as you can tell.

On the positive side, I would like to commend our re-elected President, Fred Luter, Jr. How he moderated the meeting and carried out his responsibilities was refreshing. He did it in an orderly fashion yet he didn’t take himself too seriously in the process. He seemed very real and in tune with the messengers. I also greatly appreciated the convention worship leader, Charles Billingsley. His worship leading style and choice of songs was inspiring, I just wish more people were there to experience what I did.

I want to highlight a few of the things that we did discuss at the meeting. I’ll begin with the resolutions since this seems to be the area that had the most discussion. I’m not a huge fan of resolutions because they don’t really mean much to Southern Baptists as a whole, and they can actually hurt us on the national stage. Resolutions are not binding upon autonomous Baptist churches, but the world at large sees them as expressions of “All” Southern Baptists. The truth is, resolutions speak for the few thousand out of millions. But the national media doesn’t understand that, or at least does not want to understand that.

* The original Boy Scout Resolution was amended at least 3 or 4 times, I lost track. Thankfully, attempts to outright call for disassociating with the Boy Scouts were soundly defeated. While the resolution strongly disapproves of the actions of the Boy Scouts, it leaves the decision of associating with the Scouts up to the churches. What most people forget is that it’s entirely up to the churches anyway, regardless of what the resolution says. I have written a detailed response concerning the recent Scout Resolution. You can find a copy of my thoughts in the church foyers or soon online at

* The resolution “On Mental Health Concerns and the Heart of God” received a surprising amount of attention. Ronnie Floyd of Arkansas spoke several times concerning the mental health issues we are increasingly facing in our culture and churches today.

* Another resolution addressing “Sexual Abuse of Children” was passed with various amendments. Behind this resolution, there have been some high profile Christian ministries in the national spotlight. Some Christians have questioned how serious these ministries are in confronting allegations of sexual abuse within their organizations. Without mentioning names, there were several speakers who hinted at this background.

* Other resolutions passed with little to no debate including resolutions affirming the Billy Graham evangelistic organization, human trafficking, tithing and the cooperative program, recognizing the 125th anniversary of the WMU, praying for the President and other leaders, on violations of religious freedom, on the danger of age discrimination in healthcare rationing, and on America’s growing prison population. I plan to post copies of these resolutions in the church foyers over the next few weeks.

In Other Business
* The Crossover reports are always encouraging to hear. This year over 500 decisions were made for Christ. Crossover essentially consists of a concentrated effort by Southern Baptists to impact the cities in which the conventions are held. Events usually conclude the weekend before the convention begins.

* The North American Mission Board’s focus will be on what they have termed “Send Cities,” comprising of 32 major cities in the United States. This sounds like a great plan. I just hope they don’t forget the small and forgotten places that need help too. We just returned from New Mexico where NAMB support has ceased with the missionaries that we work with. There are just some places and works that are never going to be self-supporting. I hope that we don’t become only concerned about numbers and the bottom line. Oh wait, we’re already there!

NAMB is also working on and envisioning a future where the current field of 600 Summer missionaries will be increased to the needed 6,000 Summer missionaries, many of whom will continue on and fill the missionary ranks of service effectively impacting our nation for Christ. Anything we can do to get our students and young people plugged into missions is a good thing. 

* Frank Page discussed the much-anticipated “Calvinism Report.” After reading the report, I was impressed that both sides could come together and craft such a document. You can read a copy online at I feel that this document could be a great teaching tool for our churches.

* Long time leader Richard Land has retired from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He was honored at various times during the convention. Russell Moore, the new head of the commission presented a fiery report to the convention outlining his heart and direction. Some have suggested that the tone of Moore’s administration may be a little more open to working with other Christians. This is positive news. As one person has said, “there are not enough of us to not work together with other Christians.” We can no longer go it alone as Southern Baptists, especially when there is not that much that separates us.

* A change in Guidestone’s ministry statement will now allow them to offer investments and insurance to “other evangelical ministry organizations and like-minded individuals.” While this may sound like a positive development, I’m concerned that we will now have a SBC entity soliciting investment monies from church members. Other denominations have seen the ethical problems associated with profiting and/or losing monies from their own members and have rejected similar types of changes. David Miller, past 1st Vice President has written an excellent blog on this subject outlining why this is not a good idea. The recommendation passed without even a comment, probably because so few people understood it or even knew that it was going to be presented.

* The following officers of the convention were elected:
    President: Fred Luter, Jr
    1st Vice President: Bart Barber
    2nd Vice President: Jerry Moore
    Recording Secretary: John Yeats
    Registration Secretary: Jim Wells

“For His Glory!”

Pastor, Joe Alain

On Our Way to Athens! Sunday's Sermon Text (June 23, 2013)

This Sunday we will be journeying to Athens! Well, not literally, but we will be looking at Paul's journey to Athens in Acts 17:16-34. What we're going to discover is that ancient Athens looks a whole lot like our world today. Seeing how Paul communicated the Gospel in Athens is helpful to us for reaching our present culture. By the way, Paul in Athens is the theme of our Vacation Bible School which begins Monday, June 24th. There's still time for you to be involved in this tremendous ministry to the children and families of our community. You can encourage your friends to register their children online at

See you Sunday for life-changing worship as we exalt our God who is worthy of worship!

"For His Glory!"
Pastor Joe

Acts 17:16-34, New International Version (NIV)

16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.

17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.

18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.

19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?

20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.”

21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.

23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.

25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.

26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.

30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”

33 At that, Paul left the Council.

34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Praise for Our Food Bank Ministry!

This past Wednesday (June 5th) Hebron’s Food Bank kicked off an exciting new partnership with the Baton Rouge Food Bank. What an amazing blessing to see so many of our people helping out, from youth to our senior adults. Our men picked up nearly 3,000 pounds of food, and we served over 100 people. One of the remarkable things to note was the diversity of kinds of ministry that were all going on at once. We had people greeting and working the registration process, stocking food, praying and counseling with people, distributing clothing, and there was even a Bible study for the children who came. Church, you are to be commended and I’m very proud to be your Pastor! Meeting needs and sharing Christ is the church being the church! To God be the glory!

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sunday, May 12, 2013 Sermon Text (Acts 9:36-43)

 Following is the text for Sunday, May 12, 2013:

Acts 9:36-43, HCSB

36 In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. She was always doing good works and acts of charity.

37 In those days she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs.

38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples heard that Peter was there and sent two men to him who begged him, “Don’t delay in coming with us.”

39 So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs. And all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them.

40 Then Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up.

41 He gave her his hand and helped her stand up. Then he called the saints and widows and presented her alive.

42 This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.

43 And Peter stayed on many days in Joppa with Simon, a leather tanner.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, April 29, 2013

This Week at Hebron!

Hebron Baptist Church Homecoming
Sunday, May 5, 2013
9:15 a.m. Bible Study
10:30 a.m. Combined Worship in the Sanctuary
Dinner on the Grounds to Follow Service
Please bring enough food for your family and to share.

Hebron Blood Drive
Sunday, May 5 from 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Sign up in the church foyer or online at Enter sponsor code: HEBRONBC

"Pure Water, Pure Love" is a ministry that our WMU is sponsoring to assist our missionaries with clean drinking water. Bring your empty water bottles filled with your change this Sunday, May 5th.

Parent/Child Dedication will be held on Mother's Day, May 12th. If you would like to participate in this dedication, please call the church office at 665-6278 by May 7th.

"Unglued," Ladies Spring Bible Study begins May 6th. To sign up or for more information, call the church office or email Fallon Heintz at

See you Sunday for a great day of worship!

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hebron Happenings This Week!

Amy Morrow, Missionary to Zambia will be sharing with us in both morning worship services this Sunday, April 14th. Tom and Amy Morrow founded and operate the Kazembe Orphanage and will be providing some exciting updates about their ministry. A mission's love offering will be received at the conclusion of both services.

Essentials for Shepherding
"And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them." Psalm 78:72

This single verse sheds light on two essentials to effective shepherding: Character and Competence. Throughout Scripture, God places a significant emphasis on the character of leaders. Effective leaders must be people of integrity. If a person fails to be a person of character, they will lose the trust of the people they are leading and their ability to shepherd will be greatly diminished. Aside from character (the core essential to shepherding), shepherds must lead competently, "with skillful hands." The Bible says that David not only was a man of integrity, but he led the people with skill, he knew what to do and how to do it. Competency in shepherding means knowing "what" to do, but also knowing the "how" and "when" of doing. Shepherds who lead with character and competence are greatly needed today.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Baptism Celebration Service, April 7, 2013!

Sunday, April 7th at Hebron Baptist Church we will have a special baptism celebration service during our second worship service at 10:30 a.m.! If you have trusted Christ and have yet to profess faith in Him through baptism, now would be a great time to follow through with your commitment. If you would like to be included in this week's service, drop me a private email at

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Second Sunday of Easter, April 7, 2013

It's still Easter! 
Easter Sunday is the beginning of the season, not the end. The focus of this season is Christian formation through teaching Christian doctrine and preparing God's people to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. The focus of our Scripture readings today is that Jesus is Lord, we are called to make Him known, and we are a kingdom of priests who serve in Christ's name. As we carry out the Lord's mission, we do so in confidence knowing that Christ is coming. 

See You Sunday!
For His Glory
Pastor Joe

Acts 5:27-32, NIV
27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest.
28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!
30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.
31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Revelation 1:4-8, NIV
4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,
5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Monday, March 25, 2013

Holy Week Worship Opportunities

Make Holy Week meaningful through participating in worship and celebration! 

Wednesday, March 27th at 6:00 p.m., "A Night of Remembrance" (Communion Service), featuring part II of the musical, "Grace."

Easter Sunday, March 31st at 10:30 a.m., "Resurrection Sunday," featuring part III of the musical, "Grace." Prior to worship, our Sunday School/Bible Study classes will meet at 9:15 a.m. 

Both Wednesday and Sunday services will be in the CAC (gym).

I hope to see you this week!

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

"He is not here; He has risen!" (Luke 24:6)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Revival! Guest Speaker: Dr. David Hankins

Hebron Baptist Church will be hosting a Revival/Bible Conference beginning Sunday, March 17th through Wednesday, March 20th. 

Following is a schedule of the services:

Sunday 8:00 a.m.; 10:30 a.m.; 6:00 p.m. (Fellowship after the evening service)

Monday-Wednesday, 7:00 p.m.

There will be special worship music each service and childcare will be provided for all services.

Dinner will be served each week night from 5:45-6:45 p.m.

Join us and bring a friend for a time of worship and exploring God's Word!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday, March 10, 2013 Sermon Text (John 15:1-8)

Jesus, the Great "I Am"
This Sunday I will continue in a sermon series on selected "I am" statements that Jesus made during His ministry. This week's "I am" statement is found in John 15: 5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me." Let me encourage you to use this evangelistic sermon series to invite a friend to worship who needs Christ.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

John 15:1-8, Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper.

2 Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.

3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.

6 If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

7 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.

8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be[a] My disciples.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday, March 3rd Sermon Text (John 10:9)

Jesus, the Great "I Am"
This Sunday I will continue in a sermon series on selected "I am" statements that Jesus made during His ministry. This week's "I am" statement is found in John 10:9, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.” Use this evangelistic sermon series to invite a friend to worship who needs Christ.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

John 10:1-10, HCSB
1 “I assure you: Anyone who doesn’t enter the sheep pen by the door but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber.

2 The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

3 The doorkeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

4 When he has brought all his own outside, he goes ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.

5 They will never follow a stranger; instead they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize the voice of strangers.”

6 Jesus gave them this illustration, but they did not understand what He was telling them.
The Good Shepherd

7 So Jesus said again, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep.

8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them.

9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.

10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hebron Happenings Sunday, February 24, 2013

This Sunday I will continue in a sermon series on selected "I am" statements that Jesus made during His ministry. This week's "I am" statement is found in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Use this evangelistic sermon series to invite a friend to worship who needs Christ.

Sunday at 5:00 p.m. there will be an Ordination Council called for the purpose of ordaining Danny Mann to the Gospel Ministry. Danny is our Student Pastor. The Ordination Service will be held at 6:00 p.m. Both the council and the service will be held in the Church Sanctuary. Bring your favorite finger foods and snacks for a time of fellowship following the service.

See you Sunday for life-changing worship and study of God's Word!
Pastor Joe
"Phil. 1:3"

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hebron Happenings, Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Sermon Series, "The I Am's of Jesus"
Sunday, February 17th I will begin a new series of messages covering some of the great "I Am" statements that Jesus made in the Gospel of John. Some scholars have claimed that Jesus never intended to identify Himself as God, but it is difficult to read the Bible and not see that Jesus clearly identified Himself as divine. When Jesus said "I Am," it was not a coincidence and not without a specific purpose. Certainly, Jesus' hearers knew what He meant by using the expression first found in Exodus 3:14. In that passage God disclosed His name to Moses as "I Am," meaning "I will be what I will be," a designation of deity.

Because Jesus is Lord, only He can satisfy the hunger and thirst that we instinctively have. Only Jesus can reconcile us to the Father, feed our Spirit, quench our thirst, and bring light to our darkened existence. I hope that you will join us on Sundays for this Easter season series of messages that will help us to see Jesus for all that He is, for when we know Him as He is, we will also discover that the living Christ is truly the one who makes us complete!

The first message in the series will be based on John 6:35, "I am the bread of life, Jesus told them. No one who come to Me will ever be hungry, and not one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.

The Church Prioritizing Renewal
Our first CPR meeting will be held Sunday, February 17th at 5:00 p.m. in the church sanctuary. Here is some information about CPR.

What Is CPR?
Cardio means "of the heart" and Pulmonary means "of the lungs." Resuscitation is a medical word that means “to revive” — or “bring back to life.” The acronym, CPR is being used to express our desire as a church to prayerfully evaluate our ministry and to form strategies for renewing and achieving our mission. Thus, CPR for us means, The Church Prioritizing Renewal.
Essentially there are four steps to this renewal process:
1. Understanding. Where are we as a church in terms of how we are carrying out our mission?

2. Evaluating. What are our strengths and challenges? What needs to change in order for us to fulfill our mission?

3. Strategizing. What do we believe God wants to do this year, five years from now? What are our goals?

4. Implementing. What specific steps will we take to see church renewal?

Hoped-For Outcomes of the CPR Process?

1. Bringing the church together to talk about our mission in a constructive way.
2. Allowing us as a church to identify both our strengths and challenges.
3. Providing concrete plans for moving forward and carrying out our mission.

Who and When?

Although our Church Council members and Deacons will be a part of this team, every church member that is concerned about the health of HBC and has a heart for renewal is encouraged to participate. The first CPR strategy meeting will take place on February 17th at 5:00 p.m.

Hope House, Sunday, February 17th at 6:00 p.m. 
Jimmy and Glenda Bell will be sharing with us how God is opening doors in our Parish to minister to people who have been caught up in Human Trafficking. 

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe



Monday, February 4, 2013

Evangelist Kenny Evans, Sunday, February 10, 2013

Evangelist Kenny Evans will be sharing in both the 8:00 & 10:30 AM services this Sunday, February 10th. Kenny regularly performs in Pigeon Forge, TN and has a powerful ministry of proclaiming God's Word and singing His praises. Join us for this special event and bring a friend! A love offering will be received.

Other Hebron Happenings

New Mexico Mission Trip Meeting, Sunday, February 10th at 4:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall.

Happy Bunch Lunch, Tuesday, February 5th at 11:30 a.m. Special Guest: Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Upward Basketball and Cheerleading: Due to the Mardi Gras Holidays, games will be this week, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday (Feb. 4, 5, 7).

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe

Monday, January 28, 2013

"Living the Lord's Prayer" Continues This Sunday, February 3, 2013

Living the Lord’s Prayer Jesus' disciples once asked, "Lord, teach us to pray." Jesus responded to their request in what we know as The Lord's Prayer. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, did He intend for them to merely recite His prayer on a daily basis? Or, did He intend for them to live it?

Join us Sunday, February 3rd during the Sunday morning services, as we continue discovering the life-changing principles of prayer contained in Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Part I of this message is now available online at

For His Glory
Pastor Joe

Matthew 6:9-13, Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) The Model Prayer
9 "Therefore, you should pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,

Your name be honored as holy.

10 Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And do not bring us into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power

and the glory forever. Amen.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Living The Lord's Prayer," Message for Sunday, Januar 27, 2013

Living the Lord’s Prayer
Jesus' disciples once asked, "Lord, teach us to pray." Jesus responded to their request in what we know as The Lord's Prayer. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, did He intend for them to merely recite His prayer on a daily basis? Or, did He intend for them to live it? Join us January 27th and February 3rd during the Sunday morning services, as we discover the life-changing principles of prayer contained in Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.

For His Glory

Pastor Joe

Matthew 6:9-13, Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) The Model Prayer
9 "Therefore, you should pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,

Your name be honored as holy.

10 Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And do not bring us into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power

and the glory forever. Amen.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Reflections on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged

Reflections on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged

Review: January 8, 2013

Dr. Joe Alain

Atlas fainted! Ok, Atlas didn’t faint, but I almost did a few times as I spent many an evening and morning wading through Ayn Rand’s massive 1168 page work, Atlas Shrugged. This makes my last two reads over 1,000 pages. I think my next book will be something light, maybe the Avengers VS X-Men or perhaps some Max Lucado.

Atlas Shrugged is a novel, but don’t let that fool you, this is a philosophy book written in the form of a novel. This is both a strength and a weakness. A strength in that Rand flesh’s out her philosophy (known as "Objectivism") through a number of characters in the book. This however is a weakness at times because you get the feeling that she’s trying to say a little bit too much through the characters. It’s a little trying at times to imagine that every industrialist is as pure (philosophically) and thoughtful as Rand makes them out to be. Similarly, every altruistic person in the novel is thoroughly depraved. This makes her "heroic" characters come off as a little "preachy." This is especially true in John Galt’s radio address (I would call it a "sermon" or "manifesto") near the end of the book.

Admittedly, Ayn Rand was no Christian and at times she openly mocked Christianity, proclaiming it anathema to reason. So what compelled me to read this book by a noted atheist? First, aside from Rand’s name popping up in discussions with one of my favorite bands, Rush, her philosophy has been associated regularly with conservative Republicans and Independents the last few years, for example, Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Rand Paul. Ryan, the once GOP Vice Presidential nominee even called Rand’s works the inspiration for his government career. Second, I’m one of those individuals that actually enjoys reading theology and philosophy, so knowing that this was a work of philosophy sparked my interest.

Essentially, in Atlas Shrugged there is the epic struggle between the people who produce (the people of reason, the people of mind) and those who spend their days trying to figure out how to obtain what the thinkers have produced (sound familiar?). Rand calls the latter group appropriately, the "looters." By the way, the looters are the ones in the story who live conflicted, miserable, fake lives. The heroes in the story are the industrialists who produce what their minds have conceived, they make the world as we know it work, they are the ones who are virtuous because they live their lives consistently by reason, the mind.

Led by the mysterious figure John Galt ("Who is John Galt," the question repeatedly asked throughout the book), the industrialists of the nation decide that the only way to defeat the looters (the government sanctioned system of plundering the producers) is to deprive them of further loot; thus they go on strike, a strike of the mind. What happens when the thinking people, the people who are the motor of the world, go on strike? Atlas shrugs! And the consequences are devastating for the looters soon realize they need the people of the mind. However, the thinkers will only come back on their terms, terms that will prove to be unacceptable to the looters; thus, hastening the society’s demise and preparing the country to once again accept the industrialists on their terms. "Whew!" I did say it was 1168 pages didn’t I?

There are many things that Rand says that make perfect logical sense, especially some of her thoughts on limited government, capitalism, and the freedom of the individual. For example, one of her characters Dr. Askton makes a profound statement concerning the nature of the world that we chose to live in. He says, "Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to chose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice. If he abdicates his power, he abdicates the status of man, and the grinding chaos of the irrational is what he achieves as his sphere of existence – by his own choice" (791). This is brilliant and theologically correct! To live in a rational (and I would add God-centered) world is a choice. In refusing to choose, you still have made a choice.

The dystopian setting of the novel is eerily prophetic. What happens if the people who invent, who produce go on strike, a strike of the mind? What happens to a society when that which is produced is plundered? And what happens when a government sanctions the looting through regulation? A society that exalts mediocrity will soon despise everyone and everything that is excellent. Likewise, a society cannot last long when looters with government sanction plunder the productive, the people of thinking. Similarly, there is a warning to any state, you cannot force men of the mind to produce at the point of a gun to continue producing for the looters. I found Rand’s argument on why governments make endless and restrictive laws insightful.

Of course, there are many criticisms that I have both of the book and its philosophy. Rand’s insistence on the ethic of self interest as the human goal and her rejection of altruism oppose the very basic tenants of the Christian faith. This is why some prominent conservatives who are Christian have cautioned against adopting Rand’s philosophy. The late Charles Colson denounced Rand’s philosophy warning his fellow Republicans saying, "It’s hard to imagine a world view more antithetical to Christianity."

Even Rand’s economic views would be considered extreme by many conservative Christians who take seriously the call to follow Jesus and to live sacrificially, a term and concept that Rand abhorred. Cynthia Tucker writes, "In Rand’s philosophy, the brilliant, the well-born and the lucky have no obligation to the struggling stiffs whose jobs don’t guarantee riches. Indeed she believed altruism was foolish." The title to one of her works, "The Virtue of Selfishness" pretty much sums up her philosophy.

Rand’s most distasteful anti-Christian views are on full display in the chapter where John Galt addresses the nation. It is in this chapter that the virtue of selfishness is fully explored as well as Rand’s rejection of the idea of sacrifice. For Rand, production and wealth is the barometer of a society’s virtue, not how people treat one another. Reason and logic are the utmost guides to man. According to Rand, faith, compassion, altruism, all of these are weaknesses and lead to the death of man and society.

As mentioned, the book is massive in length, about 500 pages too long in my estimation. The plot develops slowly and the real action unfolds in the last fourth of the book. Rand’s writing has been criticized at times as being not unlike a bad romance novel and this style does come through occasionally. This is especially prominent when Rand’s female hero Dagny Taggart (one wonders if this is not Rand herself personified) has an affair with each of the three heroic men of the story, Francisco d’ Anconia, Hank Rearden, and eventually John Galt himself. But even in these mild scenes, philosophy is being taught. Interestingly, when the looters who lack virtue make love, it’s portrayed merely as animal lustful passion. However, when the heroes of Atlas Shrugged make love, it’s always seen as pure and virtuous, no matter the fact that in every instance each person is married to someone else and they are committing adultery. However, in Rand’s thinking there is no contradiction here because her characters are living by their own standard, their own ethic, the virtue of selfishness.

While we may glean some helpful material from Rand’s works in making a case for limited government, capitalism, and the freedom of the individual, Christians would do well to read her works and her philosophy in light of Scripture and our Lord who lived a life that was antithetical to selfishness, and who commands his followers to do the same. "For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk. 10:45). And "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you (Jn. 20:21).






Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hebron Happenings Sunday, January 13, 2012

Nicaraguan Mission Team
This Sunday, January 13th we will hear from our Nicaraguan Mission Team about their recent mission trip to Nicaragua. Plan to join us as you will want to hear of the great things that God is doing in the country of Nicaragua!

21 Days of Prayer
January 14th -- February 15th
What opportunities and open doors does God have for us this new year? What better way to see what God wants to do in and through us then to begin the year in a focused time of prayer. 21 Days of Prayer is a prayer emphasis that we will begin together as a church body. I hope that you will be joining us for this exciting journey of entering into God's holy and transforming presence. 21 Days of Prayer devotional booklets will be available next Sunday, January 13th. 
Go with GROW!
As we go we grow! God designed us to be conduits of blessing to our world. GROW is the regularly scheduled outreach ministry of HBC. It's based on the simple premise that God Rewards Our Work. Each Sunday afternoon we pray, write letters, and make visits in our neighborhood, all for the express purpose of sharing the love of God in Christ. Every believer can participate in this outreach ministry at some level. Could you commit to 1 hour each month, 12 hours each year, to participate in this life-changing outreach? God does reward our work -- as we go we will grow, both personally and as a church body. Sign up today for one Sunday a month in the glassed-foyer. The Pastor will soon be leading some basic GROW training. 
Last week's sermon, "Living Wisely in the New Year" is now online at 
For His Glory!
Pastor Joe
"Phil. 1:3"  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Read the Bible This Year

Read The Bible This Year

There are many great plans for reading the Bible and an array of resources to help you. Shown below are some web sites that will help you get the new year started off right. Great helps are just a click away. For your convenience, The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan may be picked up in the church's foyer.

Bible Reading Resources Web Sites
This is the premier site to read the Bible online in the Bible translation of your choice. Includes a link to a one year Bible blog. This excellent resource includes historical background of the day’s passages and elaborates on the Scriptures that you are reading.
Indispensable for Bible study! Access thirty (30) complete English versions of the Bible. Search the Bible, print Scripture, and find links to other resources.
Five complete reading plans (Chronological, Historical, Old and New Testament Together, Beginning to End, and Blended). Includes other Bible study resources as well.
A favorite devotional, now online! Listen or read “Our Daily Bread” daily devotionals.
Thirteen (13) different Bible reading plans to choose from.
The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan. Begin at any point during the year.

For His Glory!
Pastor Joe