Let’s see…

Last time I posted was from Puerto Morelos Mexico. My wife Joan and I had a fantastic vacation in that beautiful little town. We have such a good time that we did not want to come home. I don’t know what you like to do on vacation, as for me, I like to read and rest. In that order, and I did lots of both during our time there. Some people have asked for photos of Puerto Morelos; I will try to post some in the near future.

So, I just wanted to stop by and welcome you to 2011. My son Jesse and I ended the year at Rustic Hills Baptist Church in Gastonia, NC preaching in a Watch Night service along with Wes Hammer and Robbie Stinson. The service was excellent! Pastor Jason Dowdell and his church organized a wonderful worship experience. So, 2011 began well, I would like to see it play out well, to the glory of God.

Last year was a horrendous year on many levels. Yet, amid the difficulties, it was a great year. For one thing, the Lord demonstrated His sufficient grace and unfailing presence on many occasions. For another, I discovered who my real friends were; that is always a blessing, and sometimes, it can even be somewhat of a surprise. All in all, I can look back on the past year with gratitude to God for His faithfulness, to my wife for her love and companionship, for my friends for their support, and you for continuing to visit The Sermon Notebook after all these years. As 2011 begins let us determine in our hearts that whatever this year may bring to pass in our lives, we will faithfully serve our God until Jesus comes.

There is much to do in our Lord’s Kingdom work. Let’s get to and make 2011 count for the glory of God.

Alan

2010 Bible Conference Audio

Several people have asked me about posting the audio from the 2010 Bible Conference at Calvary Baptist, and they are finally up. Here is a link to the 2010 Bible Conference page. I hope you enjoy the powerful preaching that was presented at our meeting this year. That’s all for today.

Alan

El Bethel

We had another great service last night at the El Bethel Baptist Assembly. The choir from Casey Creek Baptist Church in Chesnee, SC provided the music for the service. They did a great job. Brother Gary Adkins is the Pastor of Casey Creek. He is a great man of God. I would appreciate it if you would continue to pray for the meeting. I would love to see the Lord move in power for His glory during the meeting. Well, I’ve got to get busy preparing for this evening’s service.

Alan

El Bethel Baptist Assembly

I am preaching this week at the El Bethel Baptist Assembly in Spartanburg, SC. We had a great service last night. A group of young people from a church in the area, who go by the name Blood Bought, did an excellent job with the music. I preached from Matthew 17, and the Lord blessed His Word. The El Bethel Baptist Assembly is a camp meeting comprised of several local churches. It has been going on some 60 years. It is a wonderful meeting and well worth attending. The people are very open to the things of the Lord and the Pastors who are involved are good, godly men. I am looking forward to a great week in the Lord. Please help us pray for the meeting as we seek the Lord and His touch. Pray for also as we travel back and forth each day. It is a little over 100 miles each way, so I leave early and get in late. At any rate, please pray for the meeting!

Alan

The Lord’s Day Is Here Again

It’s another Lord’s Day morning here in Lenoir, NC. I am getting ready to go to Calvary Baptist to preach again today. I am still a little road weary from my trip back from Alabama. I left there Friday night around 10:00 PM and arrived home around 5:00 AM. I slept a few hours, but once your internal clock is reset it takes a while for things to get back to normal. That is my experience, your mileage may vary. We had a good week in Alabama last week. I got to visit with nearly all my aunts and uncles. I even saw a few cousins I hadn’t seen in a coon’s age. (If you are not from the south, that means “in a long time”.) Now, back to today.

I have begun a journey through the book of Ephesians at Calvary Baptist. I am looking forward to preaching this amazing and wonderful book. It details the riches of grace that have been given to the body of Christ. Ephesians reveals the great spiritual wealth that has been handed to the believer, then the book tells us how to spend what we have been given for the glory of God. I am having a great time studying the book, and preparing and preaching the sermons. Right now, I am dealing with the issues of election, predestination and God’s sovereignty in salvation. I am discovering that there is a resistance in the human heart to these great doctrines.

Most people seem to think that salvation is synergistic in nature. That is, most people have been conditioned to believe that we cooperate with God to bring about our salvation. In truth, biblical salvation is monergistic. That is, God worked out our salvation in eternity past, then He comes to us in time, through the agency of the Holy Spirit, and brings us to a place of faith. We could never believe if He didn’t first supply the faith necessary to believe, Eph. 2:8. We could never get to Him unless He first came to us, Eph. 2:1. I will articulate what I believe the Bible teaches about salvation in the sermons I will prepare and post over the next few weeks. Most people who visit this blog, read the sermons I post, and who hear me preach them will; not agree with my statements. That doesn’t bother me! I would rather be biblical in my theology than I had to please the brethren. I say, with Paul, “let God be true and every man a liar”, Rom. 3:4.

I pray that your day in the Father’s house goes well. May He bless you as you hear His Word expounded. If you are the one who expounds that Word, preach it like it is Brother and let the chips fall where they may!

Alan

Another Good Night Of Meeting In Vilas

The Lord blessed the second night of the tent meeting in Vilas, NC. The crowd was a bit smaller than it was on Monday, but that can be attributed to showers that were moving through the area. By the time we started the service, the sun was shining. We had a great service and the Lord moved in power, speaking to hearts and doing His eternal work in lives. I praise Him for His faithfulness to His Word and to His people! I suppose we will head that way again later today for night number three. Please pray for the meeting, if you will. Also, pray for my throat. Preaching in the great outdoors is taking a toll on my ability to speak. I would appreciate your prayers.

A bluegrass group sang in the service last night. They did a good job, but the first song they sang bothered me a bit. It was a song about an old preacher. The chorus went something like this: “He didn’t have any education, but he had what it takes.” The emphasis being that education was a bad thing. I am sure the folks singing the song did not mean it in a negative way. But, I felt like I needed to address the issue. In our part of the world there are some people who think that a preacher who goes to school is a liberal. I personally believe that the call to preach is the call to prepare oneself for the ministry. There are some schools and some professors who think it is there responsibility to undermine every student’s faith in the things of God. Those schools and those professors need to be avoided like the plague. Not all schools and not all teachers are like that. I have been privileged to get a little education. My path through Bible school was a little nontraditional, to say the least, but I am thankful for the twelve years or so spent in the classroom after I graduated from high school. For the past ten years I have been an instructor in a Bible Institute. So, I do have some experience in the matter. I can say that a good, biblical education helps far more than it hinders. If you have bought into the lie that a preacher does not need school, I would advise you to look at that matter again. If memory serves me correctly, Paul spent three years in the wilderness after his call, shut away with the Word of God, preparing himself for the ministry that lay ahead of him. You may not be able to go to a traditional college and seminary, but there are many opportunities to get a good Bible education. I can recommend West Lenoir Baptist School of Ministry without reservation. Every instructor, save yours truly, is a genuine, Spirit-filled, man of God. Every instructor is a Bible-believing Pastor. Every instructor, save your truly, is a great preacher of the Word. Here is the web site: www.wlbsm.net, and the first day of class this year will be August 24 at 8:30 AM. Come join us, if you are a God called man. If you do, you will get an education that will help you develop the gifts and calling the Lord has placed in and on your life.

Emotion in Preaching

I have been listening to various preachers on the Internet, and as you know, there are all kinds of them out there. There are loud ones and quiet ones and ones that fall everywhere on the spectrum in between. I have no problem with a man being either quiet or loud, but I do have a problem with a preacher being dull and boring. Some preachers tend to deliver their sermons devoid of any emotions. I am sure they think they are trying to avoid the possibility of influencing people with the emotions. So, they deliver their exegesis of a Bible passage with no emotion. Their delivery is stiff, wooden and dry as cracker juice. Just between me and you, I have a problem with that kind of preaching. It may be a geographical thing, but I don’t call that preaching. Teaching maybe, but not preaching. Preaching screams passion!

Now, I am not in favor of manipulation. I do not believe that people should be pulled and tugged to make a decision based on some emotional gymnastics in the pulpit. However, when I read the Bible, I see the preachers in its pages preaching with intense passion. Hear what Paul said in Acts 20:31, “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Sounds like emotional preaching to me! Can you imagine Peter preaching his sermon on the Day of Pentecost without fervency and power? I can’t imagine him standing there delivering some dry lecture before those people. I personally believe that Peter was passionate in his delivery that day.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that preaching is logic on fire. He went on to say, “It is theology on fire. And a theology which does not take fire, I maintain, is a defective theology; or at least the man’s understanding of it is defective.” That is what I am talking about! There is no room in the pulpit for dead, dry rhetoric and stuffy boring delivery. The pulpit is a place for passion, fire and excitement. Charles H. Spurgeon said this, “I would say that a “dull preacher” is a contradiction in terms; if he is dull he is not a preacher. He may stand in a pulpit and talk, but he is certainly not a preacher. With the grand theme and message of the Bible dullness is impossible. This is the most interesting, most thrilling, the most absorbing subject in the universe; and the idea that this can be presented in a dull manner makes me seriously doubt whether the men who are guilty of this dullness have ever really understood the doctrine they claim to believe, and which they advocate. We often betray ourselves by our manner.

That is a statement that modern preachers need to read and reread, until the truth of it breaks upon our hearts. We are charged with preaching the Word of God! We are charged with preaching the Gospel of God’s saving grace. We are charged with telling this world that Jesus Christ gave Himself on the cross to redeem His people from their sins. We are charged with telluing them that He rose from the dead, ascended back to Heaven and will return one day in glory and power to reign. How can we possess such a message and deliver it with anything less than “sanctified madness”?

We are called to “preach the Word“. The word “preach” translates the word “kerusso“. It refers to a herald, one who carried the king’s message to the people. That herald would stand before the people, lift up his voice and clearly and distinctly deliver the king’s message to the people. I cannot imagine one of those ancient heralds standing there delivering his message with a lackadaisical, boring, disinterested attitude. To do so would have been an affront to the king and his message to the people. That same is true when to comes to our preaching.

Preacher, preach the Word! If you are a loud preacher, preach loud. If you are a quiet preacher, then preach quiet. If you walk around or stand in your tracks, be the man God saved and called you to be. But, never, never, never, preach the Gospel with anything less than a burning passion for that message in your heart and on your lips. 

Alan

It’s A New Day

We had a good service last night at Solid Rock Baptist Church in Potter’s Hill, NC. I preached about Jesus feeding the 5,000 and I felt that some folks got some help from the Lord. I did not, however, feel that my preaching was the best I had ever done. Still, we had a good service and I enjoyed great liberty to preach. Keep praying for the meeting. I will go back and try to do better tonight!

Preaching is a strange thing. If you are a preacher, I am sure you will agree with me. I mean, you pray and your prepare then you step into that pulpit and nothing is as you think it will be. When you read your text and begin to speak strange things begin to take place. It’s as if the sermon becomes a living thing. It really does take on a life of its own. It evolves and changes as you preach it. As the Spirit of God leads the mind in new directions, and gives fresh insights in the text as you preach, the sermon often ends up being something other than you thought it would be.If you are sensitive to the Spirit of God, the sermon becomes what He wants it to be, and that is always better!

Then, there is the mind of the preacher. While you are preaching, you are thinking about what you are saying, what you have already said, what you will say in a few minutes, and all the while, you are observing the goings on in the congregation while you preach. It boggles my mind that I am even able to speak a clearly articulated sentence when I preach. Preaching really is an amazing experience.

Another aspect of preaching that affects the process and the outcome is the congregational dynamic. When the people are receptive to what you are preaching, it seems to make the preaching moment easier. When they are resistant to your message, it makes things far more difficult. I am convinced that the people who are in attendance make a difference as well. When folk come to church they bring with them all the baggage of their lives. They bring their prejudices, their fears, their sins and even their demons. All of those things have an impact on the outcome of the service. Maybe I am exaggerating, but I really believe that the presence of certain people in a service can have a negative impact on that service. Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, that’s what is on my mind this morning. Let me know what you think about it.

Alan