Month: August 2014

Dirty Clothes? Welcome to God’s Washateria!

Joshua the high priest must have been feeling an unbelievable amount of embarrassment and humiliation as he stood before God in Zechariah 3. The prophet Zechariah records that Joshua stood before the Lord, wearing filthy garments, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist (accuse and berate) him.

Now this filth that was on Joshua’s clothes was not incidental filth. It wasn’t that his clothes were dirty from walking down a desert road, or having worked with the animal sacrifices. Joshua’s filth was the type one would associate with rolling around in a pig pen. He was dirty, nasty and stinky, and there he was standing before God, and drawing insults from Satan. 

The high priest was to represent the people before God, and in a way, Joshua was an accurate representation of his people that day. The nation of Israel was in the process of returning home after a 70-year captivity in Babylon… a captivity that was brought on by generations of sin, idolatry, and rebellion against God. After generations rejected God, swore their allegiance to make-believe gods, and engaged in sinful behavior that was so outlandish that even the heathen nations were taken aback, God allowed the Babylonians to conquer Israel (the northern and southern kingdoms.) That moment was the lowest point in Israel’s history. 

Yet, in a way, Joshua’s story is bigger than Israel, and bigger than Old Testament history, because to some degree, we can all relate to Joshua. You see, in Zechariah 3, Joshua was at a low point in his life. Perhaps you’ve been in a low point in your life as well. Perhaps you’ve seen sinful choices destroy your life, rob your dreams, and drop you to a new low. Perhaps you’ve been in a place where you’ve wondered if you would ever recover.

Then comes Satan, who stands next to you to resist (or accuse) you. He inflicts pain, guilt, and doubt on you. Sometimes, he plants the thoughts of what happened into your head, making you relive it over and over. Sometimes, he speaks to you through those around you… and you hear what a low-life loser people think you are. 

Yet, Joshua’s story in Zechariah 3 doesn’t end there. The Lord looked down on Joshua, and saw Satan resisting him, and the Lord rebuked Satan in Zechariah 3:2, “And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?”

The Lord rebuked Satan by telling him that He had chosen Jerusalem, (Joshua’s people), and that Joshua was a brand plucked out of the fire… meaning that God would both rescue Joshua from the destructive flames, and that God would use Joshua’s experience for his good.

Then, God ordered a change of clothes for Joshua, and told him that He (God) had caused his (Joshua’s) iniquity to pass from him. In essence, God cleansed and forgave Joshua of his sins that day. The message here is that God will do the same for you.

If you find yourself in that place where you have hit rock bottom, constantly reliving the downfall, and others are piling on, turn to the Lord. Just like with Joshua, He will forgive you of your sins, clean up your life, and rebuke those who rebuke you as you continue to trust Him. And the kicker of the whole thing is that God wants to do that for you. John 3:16 does not say that God so put up with the world that He sent Jesus… John 3:16 says “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

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Hitting the Reset Button on Life

Toward the end of The Shawshank Redemption, Red, portrayed by Morgan Freeman, gave the following speech at a parole hearing when asked if he had been rehabilitated:

There’s not a day goes by I don’t feel regret. Not because I’m in here, because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try to talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone, and this old man is all that’s left. I got to live with that.

Who can relate to looking back on one’s younger self, and wishing they could relate the consequences of their actions? The problem is, when we’re young, we lack the wisdom to foresee the consequences of our choices, and actions. Many people find themselves in a place today where they never intended to be, nor did they desire to be.

While some people made good choices in their youth, they placed their faith in Jesus Christ, went to college, graduated from law school, built a career, stayed away from drugs/alcohol, and were faithful to their spouses, many made poor choices, and as a result, have seen their lives torn to shambles. Such hopelessness has some contemplating suicide, others contemplating running away. Oh, if there was just a reset button on life? Such as the one on the old Nintendo Entertainment System…. if the game wasn’t going well, just hit the reset button, and start over.

The good news of the Gospel is that such a reset button exists, although the results may not be as instantaneous as the NES reset button.

In Matthew 8, scripture records the cleansing of the leper. Now, leprosy in Bible times was a horrible debilitating disease. It formed lesions on the skin that would get infected, scar, and leave the victim disfigured. It also killed the nerve endings in the skin, leading to injuries to the body’s extremities and face.

In many ways, leprosy was like sin. It destroyed, scarred, spread, and left one disfigured. Also, just like ancient leprosy, one can’t heal himself from sin, or the sin-curse. 

In Matthew 8, a leper came to Jesus and said, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus replied, “I will, be thou clean.” The Bible says that immediately, the leper was made clean. This means that not only was he healed of his leprosy, but the sores, scars and injuries were gone. Christ had removed the disease from him, and healed him from the effects of the disease. The leper was now a new man. In essence, he hit the reset button on life. He had a new lease on life.

Now, in every miracle Jesus performed, there are two meanings… the physical meaning, and the Spiritual meaning. The physical meaning of the healing of the leper is obvious. Christ has the power over disease, and the power to heal. If you are suffering from a physical disease, Christ can heal you, and often times will, if you trust Him and turn to Him in prayer.

However, the Spiritual application is much better than the physical, because by cleansing the leper, Christ showed us how he cleanses us from sin. As mentioned earlier, sin and leprosy are a lot alike… except sin is a spiritual disease, and leprosy is a physical disease. Our sin destroys us, and scars us, and we cannot cleanse ourselves from sin, or its effects. Just like that leper, we have to turn to Jesus for salvation, forgiveness, healing, cleansing and restoration. And just like that leper’s cleansing was immediate, our salvation and forgiveness is immediate as well.

However, Christ does not stop with just saving our souls. He goes on to clean up our lives, and restore us to a place where we can serve God, and have a positive impact on others. He places us in situations where God can bless us. He begins that work in us, and continues it until the day we die. Thus, the day we repent of our sins and trust Jesus Christ as our personal savior, we effectively “hit the reset button” on life, and the Lord puts us on a new course. 

Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that my life before I accepted Christ was destined for destruction. Since Christ saved me, He has worked in my life, building me, remolding me, and placing me in situations where I can see Him work, and He blesses me. It’s a great place to be.

So, if you are trapped in your current situation, and feeling hopeless, remember, there is a reset button on life… and his name is Jesus Christ.

May God bless you, guide you, and keep you…

-Leland Acker

Carpe Diem vs. Redeeming the Time

The passing of Robin Williams this week may have you re-thinking your bucket list, as well as ways to “carpe diem,” or “seize the day.” Indeed, you may very well be thinking of ways to “seize the day” after watching the clip of Williams giving the “carpe diem” speech during the movie, “The Dead Poets Society.”

Seizing the day means making the most of every opportunity, and enjoying life while you can. This is a concept that goes back centuries, as poets and philosophers encouraged people to try new things, scale new heights, and conquer new obstacles. In most cases, seizing the day is a good thing, whether it be skydiving for the first time, or accepting one’s dream job, or going back to college. 

Times I’ve personally seized the day include the time I rented a Cessna aircraft and hired a pilot to give us an aerial tour of our hometown on the day I proposed to my wife, the day I took the family to the top of Pike’s Peak, and the time I snuck onto the set of Denzel Washington’s “The Great Debaters” to get a picture of the actor himself. (I didn’t get my Denzel Washington pic, his security team intercepted me, but I got 15 minutes worth of pictures on the set, which were published in the local newspaper. I will never be able to watch the depot scene of that movie without thinking of that day).

Life is an adventure you only get to take once, so I encourage you to visit New York, see the Grand Canyon, do something that scares you, push your limits, try new things, and visit the Sequoya National Park in California.

While you seize the day, however, don’t forget to redeem the time. Ephesians 5:16 says we are to be “redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The word to “redeem” means to buy back, or to save from loss. While we know that we cannot buy back time (once a day is gone, it’s gone,) we do know that we can save the time from loss. Another words, there is no reason we should waste our lives.

Now if you look at the context of the Bible verses that encourage us to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5), you’ll notice that the context is to redeem the time while you serve the Lord. In other words, make your life count for something. This will happen if you redeem the time, not necessarily if you seize the day.

Seizing the day is like a roller-coaster ride. It’s fun, exciting, eventful, and you’ll never forget it. However, that roller-coaster ride did not change your life, nor did it change anyone else’s. It may have well been worth the price of admission, and it was a fun thing to do, but it lacks any lasting impact. Redeeming the time involves using your life to impact others for good. Whether it be spreading the message of salvation, ministering to those in need, feeding the hungry, providing healthcare to those without, or anything else that glorifies God and advances His Kingdom. 

So, as you go through life, Sieze the day! Carpe Diem! Enjoy life, take opportunities, make the most of them. But don’t forget to redeem the time… because when this life is over, you don’t want to stand in the judgment with nothing to show for your time here on Earth.

How are some ways you’ve seized the day? What are you doing to redeem the time?

May God bless you,

Leland Acker

On the Passing of Robin Williams…

In the 1998 song, “Everyone’s Free to Wear Sunscreen,” Baz Luhrmann said, “Don’t worry about the future. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.” Things happen that catch us unprepared, like learning that a celebrity that you looked up to passed away suddenly, without warning.

As I type these words, the world is coming to grips with the passing of Robin Williams, who brought Mork (from Mork and Mindy), Mrs. Doubtfire, and Genie (from Aladdin) to life. His stand-up comedy was as raunchy as it was funny. His on-screen roles could have you rolling on the floor, laughing, or could have you wiping away tears from your eyes. 

This is a man, who, legend has it, was kicked out of Julliard for being too brilliant. Right now, the social media sphere is mixed with mourning for Williams, and remembrances of his performances. In times like this, sadness can overtake a person.

Yet, it’s in times like these that we are reminded of the hope we have as Christians. The mind of Robin Williams was brilliant, a testament to the animation that God has given us. Some say that the world evolved to what it is today by the slow progression of evolution, yet that explanation cannot explain the animation of the human spirit. No other species is creative, nor does any other species build upon past accomplishments. This animation is unique to mankind, because the Bible teaches us that God created us in His image. The mind of God is brilliant and creative, and He blessed us with that same quality when He created us. Genesis Chapter 2 records that God breathed the breath of life into man… unlike the animals, which were merely spoken into existence. 

God created us for His honor and glory, a glory that will be fully realized when we enter into His Kingdom. It’s true. One day, all who know Christ as Savior will enter into His Kingdom and live forever.  It has to be true, otherwise there is no hope, no point to life. 1 Corinthians 15:16-19 say:

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:  And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

But 1 Corinthians 15 goes on to say that Christ is indeed risen from the grave, and we have hope that one day we will be reunited with Him in His Kingdom. 2 Corinthians 5 tells us that to be absent from the body (dead, or asleep in Christ) is to be present with the Lord. This is the hope that we have as Christians, and this is what keeps us going. 

Therefore, in times like these, we need to have faith in the place… Heaven.

Furthermore, in times like these, we need to have faith in the man. Jesus Christ died for our sins, taking the punishment we deserved, erasing our guilt, and then rose again so that we can live with Him eternally in His Kingdom. 1 John 2:1-2 tell us that Jesus Christ is the propitiation (payment) for our sins. Romans 5 tells us that we access that salvation by faith in Christ. Those who wish to be saved, and to be received into Heaven must give up the notion that they can somehow live up to a standard, and be welcomed into Heaven based on their merit as a good person. The Apostle Paul (the greatest missionary in history) wrote in Romans 7 that “in me dwells no good thing.” If the Apostle Paul couldn’t be classified as a good person and be received into Heaven on his merit, the rest of us don’t stand a chance.

To go to Heaven, you need to look to the Lord Jesus Christ. He paid your way into Heaven, and He’ll gladly receive you into Heaven, you just have to trust Him. Isaiah 45:22 says “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”  That’s all the Lord wants… you’re repentance, and your faith. He wants you to trust Him. All who believe will be saved, and will be received into His Kingdom forever.

Now this assurance for our own salvation, and our hope for things to come is all well and good, but our mind often drifts back to the current situation in which we find ourselves… mourning the loss of a friend, mentor, family member, or celebrity hero. To cope with this, we must have faith in the plan. God has set the events of human history into motion, and did so long before any of us walked on the face of the planet. Everything He is bringing about in our lives is setting the stage for His Kingdom coming to this Earth, and for us to live with Him in that Kingdom eternally. So, as these things happen, we need to remember that God is working all things to our good (Romans 8:28) and the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to God’s glory (Romans 8:18). 

It’s okay to mourn, it’s okay to cry, but as you do, remember that God has a plan, He is working that plan, and He holds you in the palm of His hand… if you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

If you don’t know Christ as your Savior, then you haven’t accessed this hope that God has made available. Turn from your sins, and trust Jesus Christ to save you based on his death on the cross, and you will be saved. If you have any questions, you can email me at GracePointeMBC@gmail.com.

May God bless you, and comfort you this evening.

Sincerely, 

Leland Acker, pastor of Grace Pointe MBC.

Where Did Heaven Go?

Whether you sing the hymns and choruses in church, listen to the pastor, or tune into radio and TV programs, you may have noticed that modern theology has gotten away from teaching about Heaven. While there is some great preaching and teaching on salvation, repentance, family life, Jesus Christ, and the attributes of God, it seems that modern teachers have gotten away from the topic of Heaven. 

One of the primary reasons for this is the hectic pace of today’s lifestyle. Competent preachers and teachers realize that they only have their congregation’s attention for a short amount of time. Seeing the limited opportunity, the preacher will focus on salvation, discipleship, and issues that the Christian and seeker will need to see their lives changed.

However, to overlook Heaven is to overlook one of the main reasons for our hope. You see, Christianity is not just about being saved from God’s wrath. Christianity is about being welcomed into God’s Kingdom. The promise of salvation is that we will not only be delivered from the condemnation of sin, but that we will also see our pain and suffering ended, and will see the glories of Heaven that will erase the memory of any pain we had here on Earth.

How often do you think about life after death? Do you know what eternity holds for you after this life is over?

Sweet Fellowship…

WP_20140713_007Today was potluck Sunday at Grace Pointe. Every second Sunday, we eat a potluck meal following morning services. Each member brings their favorite dish to share with the rest of the congregation. Sometimes, we even set themes for the lunches, and everyone brings something centered around that theme. Themes we’ve used in the past include Tex-Mex and Southern cooking.

At Grace Pointe, we enjoy potluck Sunday because it builds fellowship. Fellowship is a close association, an intimate partnership where people share a common background and are going in a common direction. It’s an extremely close friendship. The potluck lunches provide another opportunity for us to get to know each other, share in each others’ struggles and victories, and encourage each other as we live for the Lord. As we do this, our fellowship grows… and that’s why Baptists call meals at church “fellowships.”

Did you fellowship with anyone this week?

What Do You Really Believe?

During a recent trip up the Pike’s Peak Highway, park rangers warned me to use caution on the way back down the mountain. Downhill mountain roadways propel vehicles to higher speeds, and place additional strain on brakes as drivers try to slow down for the hair-pin turns. Too much reliance on brakes will overheat the brakes, and overheated brakes fail, resulting in traffic accidents.

To avoid overheated brakes, the park rangers advised me to down-shift to 1st gear, and let my transmission regulate my downhill speed. Seeing the high-altitude drop-off to the side of my vehicle, I decided to follow the rangers’ advice. Several minutes later, I safely arrived to the bottom of the mountain.

I believed what the rangers told me, therefore I obeyed their advice. Consider another example…

As a child, I was always told that if I made funny faces, my face would freeze in whatever contorted shape I made it. Disregarding this advice, I continued to make funny faces, and to my knowledge, my face never froze. I did not believe my parents’ warning about frozen faces.

In both cases, what I believed, and what I didn’t believe, guided my actions. With that in mind, consider the following….

Suppose a man goes to church on Sunday, listens to the preacher, then spends the rest of the week going to the bars, getting drunk, womanizing, and using foul language. Did he believe the word that was preached Sunday? Probably not.

You see, what you believe will guide your actions. If you believe that sin destroys lives, you will steer away from sin. If you believe that God blesses obedience, you’ll follow Biblical principles in your life. Taking these two concepts into consideration, we learn that we can gauge our faith by observing our own lives. The Bible teaches that we should examine ourselves.

What does your life say about your faith? What do you believe?

Sunday morning (8/10/14) at Grace Pointe, we will see that where we walk shows what we believe. We will learn what it means to be “in Christ,” and the blessings that come with salvation. The study will be from Romans 8, and morning worship begins at 11 a.m. at the Early Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Incubator at 104 E. Industrial, Early, TX, 76802. Sunday School starts at 10 a.m.