Monthly Archives: May 2011

Preparing Your Own Funeral Sermon

You do this by the faith that you profess and the godly life that flows from it.  In the past as I have dealt with certain biblical figures in preaching I have been left to construct an argument that would favor their entrance into heaven (think of men like Samson and Solomon).  I have often urged people to live in such a way that the one conducting your funeral does not have to labor to convince themselves that there is reason to be hopeful.  Not surprisingly, J. C. Ryle said it before I did and much, much better than I could.  So, here are his words from the book, Holiness.

When we have carried you to your narrow bed, let us not have to hunt up stray words, and scraps of religion, in order to make out that you were a true believer. Let us not have to say in a hesitating way one to another, “I trust he is happy; he talked so nicely one day; and he seemed so please with a chapter in the Bible on anther occasion; and he liked such a person, who is a good man.” Let us be able to speak decidedly as to your condition. Let us have some solid proof of your repentance, your faith, and your holiness, so that none shall be able for a moment to question your state.

Depend on it, without this, those you leave behind can feel no solid comfort about your soul. We may use the form of religion at your burial, and express charitable hopes. We may meet you at the churchyard gate, and say, “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.” But this will not alter your condition! If you die without conversion to God, without repentance, and without faith–your funeral will only be the funeral of a lost soul; you had better never have been born.”


Have you said your prayers?

When our children were very young we would have a time of family prayer following devotions during which each child would be expected to take their turn in prayer.  It was common to hear them recite a standard list of things to pray for which would go something like this: “…and please bless Mommy and Daddy, and please help me to be good, and please help us all to stay well … etc.”  I called this “grocery list” praying; checking off a routine list of acceptable things to remember to say during family prayer.

How interesting it was for my wife and me to notice the change which occurred in the prayers of each of our children following their conversion.  They transitioned from “saying prayers” to “praying”.  Rather than checking off a list of things to ask the Lord to give them they began to speak directly to their Lord and unburden their hearts to Him who loved them and heard them as they poured out their hearts to Him.

It has since occurred to me that as grownups (parents, grandparents, etc.) we can still default into a formality in our approach to God.  What I am referring to is the state of hearts and minds when we gather together with the saints in the Lord’s house on His day.  How often might we say to others or think to ourselves when we arrive home that we had a good Lord’s Day because we “went to church” or that we “attended services” or perhaps that we “heard a good sermon?”

What if someone probed a little further and, looking us in the eyes, asked us __I realize that you were at church; that you heard preaching …but you didn’t tell me is whether or not you worshipped your God?  What I am interested to know is that while you were in God’s House, did you worship Him?  Did you give your heart unreservedly to Him in adoration and wonder?  Were you engaged in personal and passionate devotion to the Lord?

As we are leaving God’s house having “heard a sermon” is the Lord saying “My son, or My daughter gave to me sincere worship, heart-felt devotion, and glory?”

If God’s house is a house of prayer, did we pray or did we merely say prayers?

Do we travel to church fully expecting to meet God there and to commune with Him?  If, peradventure, God was not there –would we even notice?  Would we return home and report as usual that we “attended services”, or that we “heard preaching?”  Would we feel a sense of loss?  Would we have an aching void in our soul that yearned for intimacy and communion with the living God?

Brethren we surely are right to desire good preaching and singing in the assembly of the gathered people of God.  May we never surrender that.  But whether the preaching is sub-par or the singing is off key let us nevertheless eagerly seek Him for whom we came.

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” John 4:23

Pastor Bob Brown

It Turns Out That May 21st WAS The Day of Judgment!!!

According to the best estimates and averages just under 152,000 people slip into eternity every day.  The writer to the Hebrews tell us that it is appointed to men to die once and after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).  For tens of thousands of men, women, and children May 21, 2011 was the day that they stood before the God with whom we all  have to do.    The books were opened and each was judged according to the deeds done in the body.  Thankfully some of  these had an advocate with the Father.  Their day of judgment issued in their entering into the joy of their Lord.  Others were cast out.  Some fearful people around the world  may have breathed a sigh of relief that the threatened day of  judgment came and went.   May 21st was not the universal day of judgment but it was a private day of judgment.   So was May 20 and every day until that great and final day of the Lord.

I Wish All False Teaching Came With A Calendar

When noted heretic Harold Camping led untold thousands into a fear-rooted frenzy with his ‘guarantee’ that the day of judgment was coming on May 21, 2011 he did the world a favor.  He gave a date.  A specific time  that we could get to and get past.  We can then look at some as simple as our calendar and say, he was wrong.  Over and done.  Move on, nothing to see here!    He will now officially join the long list of  others who have either birthed false religions (the Jehovah’s Witnesses for example) or lost all credibility.  He has cost his followers their confidence in God, their money, their family relationships, and their reputations.  In so doing he has been exposed for the huckster that he is to any reasonable person.     Other false teachings are sadly more nebulous to many.  The damage that they do to souls and to churches sometimes take decades to see.  The denial of the Lordship of Christ, the subtle  attacks on the sufficiency of scripture, the wedding of the Church with the world will not garner headlines and their leadership will not be so easily dismissed by discerning multitudes.  But the time of their exposure will come and sadly it will be after the damage has long been done.

This Ain’t Rocket Science

All day, every day, we are inundated with information.  The internet keeps us up to date, every second.   Virtually any subject can be studied, in depth, with a few well chosen key strokes.  This is not to say that every subject is easy, but it can be easily found and studied.   What is true in the secular realm is true in the spiritual as well.   We have the capacity to study any theological subject and any and every verse in the Bible with books or over the internet.  We are not lacking for information about how to be a good churchman, how to live a godly life, how to pray, how to witness, how to forgive, how to be modest or humble, how to be more assertive or less assertive, how to eat right, how and why we ought to be at rest and how and why we ought to be up and fighting the good fight.   The answers to many of these things are fairly simple.  They are not overly deep or mysterious.  Be humble, pray, give it God, rest in His perfect plan, think well of the other person, think little of yourself, live with eternity in view, believe the promise, heed the threats, turn from evil and do good.  That’s fairly simple isn’t it?  I have found in my own life and in the lives of  others that rarely is our problem information.  Rarely is it that we simply did not know.   Our problem is the all to easy self deception which comes from being hearers of the word and not doers.  It is not the one who knows God’s will, but the one who does God’s will who is blessed.  But you knew that already!

Nothing Left Undone

I have a sad confession to make…I do not always finish what I begin.  Sometimes I start and book and do not finish it, I start to put something away, and get distracted. I begin sentences and cannot complete them!  What a joy to read afresh this morning of God’s commitment to finish what He starts in us!  He began the work by the Spirit and He will complete the work by the Spirit!  Here is Winslow’s devotional thought for the day based on Phil. 1:6

The doctrine of the Spirit’s personal dignity affords a pledge that the work thus commenced shall be carried forward to a final and glorious completion. Because He is God, He will finish what He has begun. And let it not be forgotten, that the growth of the believer in the experience of the truth is as much the work of the eternal Spirit as was the first production of divine life in the soul. The dependence of the believer on the Spirit by no means ceases in conversion. There are after-stages along which it is his office to conduct the believing soul. Deeper views of sin’s exceeding sinfulness- a more thorough knowledge of self, more enlarged discoveries of Christ- a more simple and habitual resting upon His finished work, increasing conformity to the Divine image- the daily victory over indwelling sin, and a constant fitting for the inheritance of the saints in light- all these works the one and the self-same Spirit, who first breathed into his soul the breath of spiritual life. Not a step can the believer advance without the Spirit- not a victory can he achieve without the Spirit- not a moment can he exist without the Spirit. As he needed Him at the first, so he needs Him all his journey through. And so he will have Him, until the soul passes over Jordan. To the last ebbing of life, the blessed Spirit will be his Teacher, his Comforter, and his Guide. To the last, He will testify of Jesus; to the last, He will apply the atoning blood; and to the very entrance of the happy saint into glory, the eternal Spirit of God- faithful, loving to the last- will be present to whisper words of pardon, assurance, and peace. Holy Spirit! Build us up in the infinite dignity of Your person, and in the surpassing greatness and glory of Your work!

Octavius Winslow, Morning Thoughts for May 11

The Evil that Men Do

In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar the character of Mark Antony says, “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones”. This statement is sad and I believe accurate. As the date of May 21, 2011 draws near the attention of certain folks within Christendom will be riveted upon the prophecies of a man named Harold Camping. Mr. Camping’s organization, Family Radio is sponsoring ads all over the country announcing that Judgment Day is coming on May 21—the Bible guarantees it! Camping’s disciples are so confident that one has asserted that if the world is still here on May 22 then the Bible is wrong! It may be easy to lump Camping along with other harmless crackpots who has made false predictions throughout history. We may hope that his followers will awake the next day and grieve that they ever fell for such nonsense. But history tells us that cults often arise from such deceivers. The harm that Camping has already brought to numerous churches around the world does not allow us to call him harmless or merely duped. He is an evil man propogating evil things and sadly that evil will linger in this world long after he faces judgment.