Posted by: pastortimmaynard | July 9, 2014

Nones

We live in a post-Christian culture. Christianity is no longer the motivating center of the Western world. We are irreligious at best. We are secular, which is a Latin word for one who is divorce from religious sentiment or sensibility. We live in a nation where the most dominant growing religious group on our recent census is a group called the “nones.” (see The Rise of the Nones by James E White)

Imagine this. Many of us grew up in a culture in America where everyone identified with a church, even if you never went. If you wanted to lead someone to faith in Jesus it was like they were already at the five yard line. In the seventies, church was still on the radar for many but inviting someone to attend or leading someone to faith was now like moving them from the fifty yard line to the goal. Today the reality is if you want to invite somebody to church or invite them to know Jesus it’s like they are not even in the stadium.

Nones just don’t think about it

Faith in our culture is now forced into privitization. As Ray Croc, founder of
MacDonald’s put it, “I believe in God, family, and McDonald’s, but when I’m in the
office the order’s reversed.” You can now talk about lesbian politics in public, but
God is no longer an acceptable topic of conversation. The pressure that is forcing our faith underground is turning into outright persecution in many places around the planet. It’s coming here….not a matter of if but of when.

Moral relativism rules America today. Our rule for right and wrong is basically set this way: Right is what you feel good after you’ve done it. Wrong is what you feel bad after you’ve done it. There is no standard apart from how you feel when you’re finished. By that rule a student on a mission trip to work with orphaned children in Haiti could be as right in what they do as a child abuser who molests children.

That’s just a bit of where our culture lies today. And our job is to proclaim an
unchanging Gospel to a constantly changing world in a compelling way. Methods that used to work to do this don’t work in this present age.

My question is….not only for you but for me as your pastor….how do we do this?
We have an unfinished task of reaching the culture and community around us with
the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It’s a God-sized task, and the time is short.

Posted by: pastortimmaynard | March 31, 2014

Uncoupling

We live in an interesting day in American culture.  Officially we are now a “post”-postmodern culture.  The postmodern movement, and it has been just that….a movement… has now dominated our thought and swept our country, our government, our educational institutions, our churches, our entertainment industry, our media outlets and in fact our daily lives.  Like a wildfire that burns, postmodern thought is a “deconstructionist” movement that was first imagined by renowned atheist Fredrick Nietzche.  The sole purpose of postmodernism is to tear down existing structures and to attack and eradicate traditional thought.  Again, like a wildfire, it has the power to burn down….but not the power to rebuild.  It leaves a charred landscape that becomes the habitat of weeds and unhealthy growth.  One by one we see structures that have long stood the test of time torn down.  One of the casualties of the “fire” has been the institution of marriage.

 

Christian marriage, once the dominant model of marriage in our culture, has been “burned down.”  The weeds and unhealthy growth that take the place of this once healthy institution have proliferated to include cohabitation, homosexual marriage, and what has recently been termed “conscious coupling.”  The concept of “conscious coupling” has gained traction in the past week with the public and intentional “conscious Uncoupling” (emphasis mine) demonstrated by rocker Chris Martin (of Coldplay) and actress Gwenyth Paltrow (aka “Pepper Pots” of Iron Man fame).  Martin and Paltrow “uncoupled” after multiple attempts to return their marriage (now with children) to its original “blissful” state.  While remaining friends, they are now officially “un-coupled.”  It’s interesting that, since the institution of marriage has been redefined in our culture the concept of divorce had to be also.

The belief underpinning conscious coupling is the understanding that, since people are living so long, “til death do us part” is no longer practical.  It’s one thing to commit to someone who might live, at the most, 65 or 70 years.  But to commit to a lifetime with someone, when one may have multiple partners to enjoy life with in the same period of time, is unrealistic at best….barbaric at worst.  And so couples are now being “coached” by marriage/coupling experts to find happiness in multiple relationships and abandon the archaic concept of a lifelong partnership which can bring no joy.

Maybe they should tell that to the couple I saw the other day while at a rest stop of I-10.  I was coming out as they were coming in….the woman on a walker moving ever so slowly…..the man, in his 80’s…walking caringly alongside her.  They looked at me for a moment as I passed them and smiled.  Then the husband’s gaze returned to his bride of who knows how many years….60?….with a look of love and care that would make a newlywed blush.  Conscious uncoupling?

Uncouple THAT.

Posted by: pastortimmaynard | March 5, 2014

Worshipers

Somehow we’ve confused this “worship” thing we do.  Somewhere along the way, we have turned the whole thing on its head, made it about us and not about the Lord.  Service has become serve…US.  Praise has become a concert; music about the Lord is now evaluated on its entertainment value.

Maybe it’s our architecture.
The great cathedrals of Europe were built around a central altar.  The very design of the building forced your eyes upward and great artists were employed to paint murals and designs on the highest part of the ceiling where human eyes would never gaze.  They did it for their Creator, not for the people below.
Catholic churches located an altar in the center of their edifices because, each Sunday, the body and blood of Christ would be offered to the gathered congregants and the priests were there to crucify the Son of God afresh and offer His body and blood as a sacrifice on the altar each week. There was no mistaking what these churches believed they were about.
In the Reformation, the central focus was on large, ornate pulpits.  Often these pulpits were so elevated that it was necessary for the preacher to mount them by walking up a series of stairs.  He then stood high above the congregation and brought down from above the “Word of God.”  There was no question what those churches believed they were about.  WE are here to bring you God’s Word!
But somewhere, Christians lost their flair for architecture and began disdaining art in their sanctuaries.  And so the building became plain, lined with pews, and the pulpits were no longer elevated but were replaced by simple or no stand and the platform in the 70’s began to mimic the concert arenas of the day.  And now?  Now, the focus of most modern sanctuaries is….a stage.  And there is no question what we are about.  We are here to entertain you!
Now does art imitate life or define it?  Do we expect to be entertained when we come to church because everything about our sanctuary intimates that’s what we are here for….or have we come so to believe that worship is about what we prefer and what we desire, and our sanctuaries just model that attitude?  Hard to answer.
But how many times have you walked away from a worship service disappointed perhaps….because you got “nothing” out of it?  Our reviews of worship experiences are similar to newspaper reviews of concerts (“the group really got their groove on but the lights were weak”…..”I loved the new concert set offered by the band but wish they would have sung some of the old classics”).
I really don’t want to sound like the church curmudgeon here.  Some of you have already covered that role for us. (You know who you are!!)   I think it’s important that we ask hard questions about the most important thing we do…and that’s worship.
But the deeper question….the most penetrating one….is this:  How is your “internal” architecture focused?  Is it focused toward you….or toward God?  Is worship coming out of you “in spirit and in truth” or is it mixed with a healthy dose of self enthronement?  Maybe its time, to quote the words of Ross King, to “clear the stage.”  To come to Jesus again with a heart fully focused on Him, and not on our needs, and to be a true worshiper.
And then everyone will know what we are about.
Posted by: pastortimmaynard | February 24, 2014

Soulquakes

Dr Frank Page, Executive Director of the Southern Baptist Convention, recently identified four fault lines threatening the Southern Baptist Convention.  They are, in no order of impact, a “societal” verses “cooperative” giving strategy; a “reformed” verses “Arminian” emphasis in our view of salvation; a “contemporary” verses “traditional” stylization in worship; and “young” verses “old” demographic issues.  Any one of these has enough explosive impact to blow a hole in the side of the Southern Baptist ship and lead to its ultimate sinking.

But the reality is each of these dynamic shifts are impacting churches individually as well.  Any one is enough to split a church.  Combinations are probably deadly.  Obviously, some of these issues float to the surface more than others.  But the seeds of each are alive and well in Fruit Cove.  We are not immune from the threat that, if not properly faced, will sink this ministry “ship.”

The enemy has come to “steal, kill, and destroy.”  His greatest work is the destruction of churches that clearly proclaim the Gospel of a crucified and risen and returning Savior.  As we preach the truth of the Gospel, there is a big red target painted on us!  As your pastor, I am not sounding an alarm about any one particular issue.  But I am aware enough of the seedbed of each of these to sound a warning that, if we do not stay alert, we will fall prey to the one who wants to “steal, kill, and destroy” the work that Christ has begun.  May I ask you to join me in doing the following:

1)      Pray for your church….daily.  Some do that now; some when they think about it; others not at all.  Please pray for the unity of our church to continue.  “Maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”

2)      Pray for people to be willing to listen, accept, and tolerate positions that may be unlike their own.   Of course we should never tolerate that which is unbiblical, wicked or wrong or sinful.   But that is not the issue in any of the above mentioned fault lines.  These are mostly methodological issues.

3)      Pray that the Gospel will continue to go forth from your church unhindered.  Ministries literally around the world are dependent upon Fruit Cove Baptist Church continuing to do what we do.  The Devil hates that, and will not cease to try and stop it.

I am not asking with this for anything unusual or beyond the ordinary in expectations of us.  We should be doing these things constantly…praying without ceasing!  But as the return of Christ draws nearer, the battlelines are becoming clearer.  Let’s stay on the alert…watching and praying for the hour is near and our redemption is drawing nigh.

Posted by: pastortimmaynard | February 1, 2014

Praise

What role does praise play in your daily life?  Are you a person of praise?  Does your face show that you personally know the Creator of the Universe?  Do you live under your circumstances or in victory? 

Praise is the missing link in the conversation.  Are you a praise-er of Almighty God?  Praise for some is an activity relegated to one day a week for twenty or thirty minutes.  Praise is like oxygen.  You don’t just drive to the oxygen tank once a week and breathe in all the air you need for a week.  You breath every day….in every situation.  Many believers, unfortunately, are living oxygen-deprived lives. 

And we are dying as a result.  This week, can you build ONE new discipline, ONE new practice into your life that will become an oxygen hose to the place where God dwells?  Trying singing a song you’ve heard on the radio or learned in worship last week.  You sing it.  Out loud.  Or begin the discipline of praising God through memorizing Scripture.  Memorize Revelation 4 or Psalm 100.  Pay attention to things that are praise-worthy around you.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote this little sonnet:

            All the earth is crammed with Heaven

            And every common bush afire with God.

            But only he who sees, takes off his shoes

            The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

We have a choice.  Do we see the works of God and praise Him for it, or are we going to be content sitting around being “berry pickers?” 

Let’s be people of praise.

Posted by: pastortimmaynard | September 4, 2013

ENGAGE

One of the most challenging aspects of doing ministry in America in the 21st Century is learning how to genuinely engage the culture around us.

One of the three dimensions of our mission statement at Fruit Cove is that we are here to “engage the culture with God’s truth.”  Again, doing that is tricky.  How are we, as the people of God, to understand and speak into the issues of homosexuality and same sex marriage; rampant materialism and the idolatry this entails; our government’s over reaching into religious freedom (recently  a church in Missouri was REQUIRED to get a permit to do an outdoor baptism in a public park); the issues of addiction and substance abuse;  the misuse of the internet in areas of pornography and gambling, the pervasive problem of sexual trafficking, and on and on the list grows.  As our culture poses more and more challenges to Biblical morality and ethics, do we ATTACK or do we sit passively and do NOTHING?

 

IN an engaging (pun intended) book called Center Church, author and pastor Tim Keller gives this metaphor.  In mining, there are two ways to get through an impasse: drilling or blasting.  As any miner knows, you don’t blast when you should drill, and you can’t effectively drill when you should blast.  Choosing methodology appropriate for the situation is essential.  Therefore, in some situations the delicate process of drilling is involved.  This may take longer, but in the long run it may prevent a cave in.  Other times, we need to blast.  We need to roll out the heavy guns and fire at will.  To do less means to fail in our mission.  Keller ends the metaphor here but I would take it a step further.  In every church, we have drillers and blasters.  The drillers are necessary for those situations requiring finesse and a “light” touch.  The blasters can roll through a boulder and never blink twice.  We all can think of people who fit each category, can’t we? 

 

What we can’t do is….nothing.  Jesus did not put us here, or LEAVE us here to just “let sleeping dogs lie.”  We HAVE to engage; we HAVE to strive to understand, approach and communicate with the culture.  We HAVE to be “in the world” without selling out and being “of the world.”  We have to be more concerned with seeing God’s Kingdom come than with whether or not the world likes us.   How we do this is as important as THAT we do this. 

 

But sitting on the front porch, watching the world go by, is NOT an option.  

Posted by: pastortimmaynard | August 27, 2013

Compromise

In the Books of Kings, we read time and again of a king designated a “good” king who ascends to the throne, eager to tear down the altars of false gods and places devoted to the worship of Baal and other pagan deities.  Ironically, we read that these same kings did not eliminate the “high places” where the people of God would frequently go and practice immorality with the people of the land.  (1 Kings 15:14; 22;43 & 2 Kings 12:3, 14:4, 15:4, 35)  These “high places” where the people of God went to compromise with the world had become such a routine part of their lives….and expected part of their lives….that even the reform of a good king did not “take them away.”

While we make shake our head at such a state of affairs, we must admit that we, too, have our own “high places” that have become a routine…even an expected….part of our lives.  How many times have we gone to compromise with the world through our inappropriate use of the internet, of music and other entertainment, of chat rooms and pornographic literature?  How many times have we gone to the “high places” and participated in casual sexual encounters or compromising sexual conversations?  How many times have the “high places” called us to lay down our testimony for a dalliance with the world around us?

And how often do we just expect it to happen? A king could not eradicate these places.  That’s because it was not his place to do so.  It’s ours.  It’s the people’s place.  We must make the decision to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.”  It is our role to love God more than compromise, to passionately love our Savior more than the high place.

Where is the place in your life that you must never go again?  Maybe it’s a physical location.  Maybe it’s an internet site or chat room.  Perhaps it’s a bar, or a place where you meet someone you shouldn’t be with.

One thing is certain.  Wherever the high place is….whatever it entails….whatever we have done there….God knows and calls us to tear the high places down.

And He will give you the strength to do it.

Posted by: pastortimmaynard | June 30, 2013

DOMA

The past few weeks have seen sweeping changes in how the church relates to the culture of the United States.  The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional was, if nothing else, an overt rejection of the long-standing Biblical position on marriage and male/female relationships.  In other words, it brings into stark relief a reality we MUST accept:
We are no longer the majority in this country.
President Obama was correct when he said in a speech earlier in his presidency that America is no longer a Christian nation.  Pragmatically, it is not.  That does not change the reality, in spite of the work of revisionist historians, that America was founded upon the bedrock of Biblical principles that have defined us as a people nor that 34 percent of the contents of our founding documents were quotes from the Bible.  Our view and valuing of life, our disdain of sexual immorality, our protection of property rights…all of these have flowed from our Judeo-Christian value system that, as of last week, is once and for all rejected by a culture that bows to political correctness more than to a Sovereign God.
So with the Psalmist we ask this question:   “If the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  
This question is no longer an academic or archaic one.  The foundations that were laid in the founding of the greatest country on earth are being torn up,  plank by plank, and used as fuel for the funeral pyre that is burning our country down.  As Americans, the future of what we will become as a nation may be bleak.  As Christians, however, we have the answer to the ills of our land.  And we must live in hope, not despair!  The church that Jesus founded is ALIVE AND WELL!  And whether America turns ultimately from a Constitutional Republic to a totalitarian state does not change the fact that we have a mission, we have a calling, and we have a responsibility to live out.  Let me suggest the following five actions that we can take as a MINORITY voice in America today:
   Live distinctively:              Be a courageous people. 
   Teach diligently:               Be a learning people
   Pray desperately:               Be a yielded people
   Witness determinedly:    Be a transformed people
   Repent daily:                      Be a holy people
As Christ-followers, we must begin to rethink our role as a dominant social force in America to living as a missionary would live in a foreign land.  We obviously no longer have an overwhelming voice in either social issues or political ones.  We must change our culture by acting as leaven, as salt, and as light.  And let me say again:  We must not despair, even when elections don’t go our way or Supreme Court justices pass activist laws.  And we must remember the promise of Jesus:
“I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”  
The church is alive….and well.  And even if the foundations are destroyed, the righteous will stand.  
He promised.
Posted by: pastortimmaynard | June 17, 2013

FATHERS

Statistics can be skewed, as we all know.  However, some statistics are so overwhelming that, even tweaking a few points here or there, they must be acknowledged.  One such statistic concerns the percentage of household members who become believers after the conversion of one of the members.  The statistics are:

 

3.5% become Christ followers if a child becomes a believer

 

17% become Christ followers if the mother becomes a believer

 

93% become Christ followers if the FATHER becomes a believer.

 

Those numbers are not to minimize the impact of reaching children or the impact that a single Mom can have if there is no father in the family picture.  But the numbers don’t lie.  The influence of a FATHER on reaching members of his household are significantly higher if HE leads the way to faith.  If a child sees his or her father disregard the things of God, the likelihood is far greater that they will do the same as they grow up.  However, if a child sees his father lead the family to church, read his Bible, and pray for his family somewhere besides mealtime the statistics grow exponentially that the children will follow his lead.

 

Perhaps that helps us understand the verses in Acts where a jailor in Phillipi prayed to receive Christ and the Bible says, “He was baptized…and his household.”  A father’s influence on the faith of his family is profound.  Further, it is a point of leverage that we as father’s don’t want to squander.  Dad, you’re leading your family toward something.  Just one important question:

 

What is it?

Posted by: pastortimmaynard | June 4, 2013

BSA

As I shared with you two weeks ago, our church leadership has been faced with a difficult but necessary decision regarding our ongoing relationship with the Boy Scouts of America.  Following the recent vote by the Boy Scouts of America’s  official leadership body, it was officially and overwhelmingly approved to lift the ban on openly homosexual young men participating in the Scouts.

Many have hailed their decision as refreshing and open-minded and a victory for the gay rights movement in our country.  Others see it as portending the collapse of the organization that has boasted thousands of wonderful participants through the years.  Which it will ultimately be only history will show.  But it forces the hand of every sponsoring organization to determine whether we will continue to show support to, or end support of, the BSA.

In session this past week, our Deacon body moved the recommendation that our relationship and our standing charter with the Boy Scouts be terminated.  While we understand that everyone will not agree with and applaud this decision, the ministry of Fruit Cove Baptist Church cannot continue to affiliate with this organization as it will be in January of 2014.  The Bible is clear that we are not to be in partnership with that which is incompatible with our values and our mission.  (see 2 Corinthians 6:14 ff)  And in the Old Testament, we are asked, “How can two walk together unless they are in agreement.”  (Amos 3:3)

This decision is not motivated by homophobia, or a desire to slam the door in the face of homosexual people.  Our policy has always been and continues to be that people of any sexual orientation have the right to worship in this church, and to attend the activities and ministries offered here.  On a certain level, the sin of homosexuality is no different than any other sin the Bible condemns.

On a deeper level, however, this issue is not about rejecting homosexuals but instead about our resisting the normalizing of homosexual behavior.  This is a philosophical and worldview issue in which our church has firmly positioned itself in the past.  We reject the notion now popularly accepted in our culture that homosexuality is a normal behavior that cannot and should not be controlled.

This vote by the Scouts is also one step away from moving toward a wholesale acceptance of gay adult leaders in the organization.  The agenda is very clear, and it won’t be long until the organization rests firmly in the control of those who would mandate that gay Scout leaders be accepted alongside other openly homosexual participants.

In short, with this vote the Boy Scouts of America have left the moral foundation on which their organization was founded and has flourished since their inception.  This foundation, I believe, has served them….and us…well.  We have benefitted on many levels from our investment in this organization.  They have left not only the moorings and morality that have identified them from the beginning of their work with boys across our nation.  They have left, in my opinion, that which is of most importance to them:  Their commitment to Biblically defined conscience and morality.

And in doing so, they have left us.

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