death

October Sermon Series to Focus on Life after Death

If the Dead Could SpeakIf our existence ended upon our last breath, what would be the point of salvation? If we ceased to live, feel, think, and exist after death, what would be the point to pleasing God, and living according to scripture? The Apostle Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians 15:32:

If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

In other words, if there are no ramifications to our life on Earth after we die, what’s the point? We might as well eat, drink, and be merry. We might as well live it up. Without life after death, there is no point to living in holiness, worship, morality, self-sacrifice, charity, God or country.

However, the Bible plainly states that there is life after death. When that preacher reads 1 Thessalonians 4, and they lower your body into the ground, your story doesn’t end there. In fact, it has only begun, because at that moment, you will have begun your life in eternity.

The Bible says in Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” When you close your eyes in death, your eyes will re-open before the judgment seat of Christ. At that moment, you will be judged according to your actions, and found guilty of sinning against God. The question is whether your sentence of death for your sins will have been paid. The Bible teaches that Jesus endured that sentence when He died on the cross for your sins, however, has that payment been credited to your account? It has, if you have repented of your sins, and trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

In Grace Pointe’s October sermon series, “If the Dead Could Speak,” we’ll take a look at life on the other side of death from the perspective of those (in scripture) who have been there, and also from God’s perspective. We will discuss Heaven, and we will discuss Hell, and most importantly, we’ll discuss how to go to Heaven and how to avoid Hell. We’d be glad to have you come visit with us during this riveting series. Grace Pointe Missionary Baptist Church meets Sundays for morning worship at 11 a.m. at the Early Chamber of Commerce Small Business Incubator Facility, 104 E. Industrial, Early, Texas, 76802.

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In Honor of Truett Cathy…

Truett_CathyThere are two types of Christians in the world today… those whose faith is part of their overall character, and those whose faith shapes their character. Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy fell into the latter category. Before you knew him as the founder of the top chicken restaurant in America, Cathy taught Sunday school at the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, Georgia, where he often said that the Bible was his guide-book for life. 

While many people acknowledge that the Bible is God’s Word and His instructions for living, few actually put it into practice. Cathy not only taught Biblical concepts to his Sunday school class, he demonstrated them in how he lived, and how he conducted business. 

One of the hallmarks of Cathy’s Chick-fil-A restaurants is that they are closed on Sundays, thus allowing employees a day of rest, and a day to worship. This practice is a demonstration of Cathy’s faith, as Sundays tend to be the biggest day of the week for most restaurant chains. Yet, God blessed Chick-fil-A’s yielding of the most profitable day to His worship. Chick-fil-A sells more fried chicken products than most fried chicken chains. 

The benefits of closing on Sunday cannot be overstated. For a full day, crew members need not worry about being called in, management need not worry if the store is property operating, and maintenance personnel need not worry if the fry vats are working. For one full day, every single employee is able to take the load off of their shoulders and rest. Cathy afforded his employees the opportunity to take a day of rest, to worship, and to relax in God’s grace.

Yet, Cathy’s faith is expressed far and above his decision to close his restaurants on Sundays. In his personal life, Cathy was a foster parent for more than 30 years, and took in more than 200 foster children through his WinShape Homes. His WinShape Foundation also provided college scholarships, and supported marriage seminars to help the younger generation achieve success, and new couples to have strong marriages.

Cathy’s faith wasn’t about personal piety. It was about helping others walk worthy of the Lord. Cathy’s books not only taught business success, they taught readers to inspire others and raise Godly children. It was about reaching out and impacting those around him.

So, here’s honoring a man who personified a life of faith. Cathy allowed God to shape his character by applying the principles taught in the Bible to his life. He truly was a doer of the word, and not a hearer only. As a result, modern Christianity had a witness, that you could serve God and prosper, and that there is more to life than the next quarter’s earnings. Along the way, he impacted the lives of countless foster kids and at-risk youth, inspired Christians to live better, and provided us with the most delicious chicken sandwiches ever.

We can’t all be Truett Cathy. We can’t all build a national franchise, and achieve business success. We can, however, build our foundation out of a faith in Jesus Christ, and build on that foundation by applying God’s Word to our lives. And, while we all can’t create multi-million-dollar foundations and pay for hundreds of kids to go to college, we can all inspire the people around us to look to the Lord, and live a better life. 

Truett Cathy was laid to rest today, and I guarantee you that at some point, the preacher referenced how he “didn’t invent the chicken, just the chicken sandwich.” I am thankful that’s not all he will be remembered for. When your life is over, what will you be remembered for? Your business or financial success? Your personality? Or how you impacted people’s lives for the better?

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.