Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sharing Your Faith, by Evangelist Bill Fay

Bill Fay is an evangelist. He is author of Share Jesus without Fear, a great, brief, simple book on sharing Jesus’ salvation with others (I think there is a small group study edition by LifeWay and a regular book by Broadman & Holman). There is a link to his website in the right margin of this blog, under Sites I Mainly Agree With.

Few people know how to get to the heart of the issue of evangelism like Fay. If you read the following short article; it will be time well spent. Any time you see a Baptist Press article by Bill Fay, know it is worth reading.

Sharing Your Faith During Easter

FORT MYERS, Fla. (BP)--With Easter just days away, wouldn't it be wonderful to see the Lord enter the hearts of family and friends and people that we love?

There is not a conversation that you cannot turn into a spiritual test-point to see if God is at work. Let me give you a simple example.

You could be talking with someone about sports and simply say, "What is your favorite sport?" They may reply, "football." Just say, "I am just curious: Did you ever notice that so many pro athletes destroy their lives no matter how much money they're making? I'm just curious, do you think there's a heaven and hell?" You can go from football to heaven in one simple question.

I was in a restaurant the other day and a server came to my table. I simply said, "I love the cross you're wearing. Have you figured out when you die, where you're going?" She broke down crying. She had lost her 21 year old son to cancer and her mother had died. She was in church with me the next day.

One of my favorite questions is, "Do you have any kind of spiritual belief?" I don't ask someone if they believe in God. The second question I like asking is, "To you, who is Jesus?" If they have a relationship with Christ, they'll say, "My Lord, My Savior."

I really like asking someone, "When you die where will you go?" Most people will say, "I hope heaven." I then ask, "Why would God let you in?" If they give a works answer -- for instance, "I'm a really wonderful person" -- I ask, "If what you're believing is not true, do you want to know?"

I want to give you a challenge before your family and friends arrive at your home for Easter. Start to pray and think about one person you could go to and just ask these questions. You will experience how open people are. A lost person doesn't have any answers in this world of chaos, but the Christian does. If you're a born-again Christian, you have the only answer that's possible, and that is the risen Christ.
by Bill Fay, posted on Mar 29, 2010; bpnews.net (published by permission).

Note:  You may also be interested in The Roman Road of Salvation, and other articles under Evangelism listed in right margin below Gulf Coast Pastor Articles (Labels). 

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, March 30, AD 2010.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Commentaries and Bible Study

So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.
-Nehemiah 8:8

What is a commentary? It is simply a book that attempts to explain what a book in the Bible has to say.

It will give a basic introduction to the Bible book. Things like the author of the book, time of writing, who it was first written to, the basic theme or purpose of the book.

A commentary will then go verse by verse, or chapter by chapter and explain the meaning of the text of the Bible. The commentary author will sometimes refer to the original biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew. It may give several possible interpretations of a passage, especially if that passage is controversial or hard to understand. I like a commentary that then gives the author’s view of which is the right interpretation.

Some commentaries are very lengthy and detailed. Some skip over many verses and just hit the high points. Some are very technical and scholarly. Some so scholarly that you need to know Greek and Hebrew and maybe another language or two to keep up with it. Other commentaries are more expositional and devotional in nature.

Some of the best commentaries are by pastors who have preached through that book in the Bible. They include the meaning of the passage, doctrine, as well as illustrations and practical application of Scripture. These are sometimes called expositional commentaries.

For laymen, Sunday School teachers, and most pastors, I think good expositional commentaries are the most helpful. Two or three expositional commentaries, along with a more scholarly, technical commentary or two can be a good combination. You can buy them yourself or check out your church library. You don’t have to buy all the commentaries; you can start out by getting two or three on a particular Bible book.

Below are some of my recommendations. But I’d advise you to check them out for yourself to see if they are a good fit for you. Even if we believe the same basic things, my favorite commentator may not be yours. Remember that some commentators are better with one book than the next. Also, some book editors have edited out the illustrations and personal stories to condense the book; in my opinion this seriously diminishes the book.

A set of commentaries cost more at first, but the set is usually cheaper than over time buying all the individual volumes. Will you always agree with the commentary author? Of course not, but the authors listed below are conservative and believe in the divine inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible. Not all are Baptist, but all are conservative, evangelical, and helpful.

Some of my favorite expositional commentaries and authors:
The first commentaries I would recommend would be the Bible Exposition Commentary by Warren Weirsbe; Thru the Bible Series by J. Vernon McGee; and the volumes by H. A. Ironside. These are a great place to begin.

While they are not in a set, I would also highly recommend the commentaries on individual books in the Bible by John Phillips, R. L. Sumner, Paige Patterson, W. A. Criswell, Jerry Vines, Adrian Rogers.

Other popular commentaries you may want to check out:
Holman Bible Commentary, Herschel Hobbs, John MacArthur, James T. Draper, John F. Walvoord, Albert Barnes, James M. Boice.

A more scholarly, technical set of commentaries:
The New American Commentary by Broadman & Holman. While these are scholarly, they are fairly easy to understand. The entire set is expensive, but they can be purchased one at a time. Or, talk your church into buying these, as well as some of the above, for the church library.

For the study of LifeWay Sunday School lessons, the Advanced Bible Study; Herschel Hobbs, and some of their other lesson study tools are very helpful. Check out what LifeWay has to offer.

The above commentaries can be ordered through a local Christian Bookstore, LifeWay, Amazon.com, etc. There is no end to commentaries, even the good ones, but these can get you started.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, March 23, AD 2010.

Related Articles:
Bibles and Bible Study
Scofield Bible, First 100 Years

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Alcohol and the Church, (BP) Peter Lumpkins

This week (3-15-2010), Baptist Press began publishing a three part series on Alcohol and the Church by Peter Lumpkins. They are well worth your time to read. That is especially true considering the world in which we live. You can click the articles below to read them.

Peter Lumpkins is a Southern Baptist minister who lives in West Georgia. He is the author of Alcohol Today: Abstinence in an Age of Indulgence, Hannibal Books. It can be ordered from any bookstore or at hannibalbooks.com or amazon.com.

Baptist Press (BP) is the news agency of the Southern Baptist Convention. You can click the Baptist Press icon in the right margin of this blog (under Sites I Mainly Agree With) anytime to see their most recent articles. I appreciate Morris Chapman, the SBC Executive Board, and Baptist Press dealing with this issue. I thank God Southern Baptists still stand strong in their conviction against the mind altering, recreational drug we call beverage alcohol; the drug that has destroyed the lives of so many.

Alcohol and the Church, Part 1 (alcohol problem and statistics)

Alcohol and the Church, Part 2 (wine in Bible times)

Alcohol and the Church, Part 3 (reasons for abstinence)

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, March 17, AD 2010.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Obituary - Dr. Donald R. Potts (AD 1930-2010)

Therefore my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. -Philippians 4:1

Dr. Donald R. Potts passed away January 16, 2010 in Marshall, TX. Born in St. Louis, Missouri June 10, 1930, he was a graduate of: Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri; Southwest Baptist College, Bolivar, MO; Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, OK; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and studied at Oxford sponsored by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Dr. Potts pastored in Missouri; Lawton and Norman, Oklahoma; First Baptist Church, Groves, TX; and served as Chair of the Religion Department at East Texas Baptist University from 1976-2001. Dr. Potts also served many churches as interim pastor. He served in a number of areas in the state convention.

Donald Potts wrote articles for Proclaim, Church Administration, and the Baptist Standard. He was an adjunct professor for New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He had taught at Cameron College, Lawton, OK, Lamar University, Beaumont, TX; and in Foshan, China and Lome, Togo.

He was married to Jeanne and had two children, Cindy and Donald Mark. His Funeral Service was January 21, 2010 at ETBU with Dane Fowlkes, Mark Chamberlin, Kevin Hall and Franklin Atkinson officiating.

During the Memorial Service Dr. Potts’ son spoke, his daughter spoke briefly and played a special arrangement of a favorite song. Dr. Potts had asked Dr. Franklin Atkinson to read the Scripture that Dane Fowlkes would use for the message; Philippians 4:1-8. His daughter asked Dr. Atkinson to give “A Tribute to a Friend.” His library will go to First Baptist Church, Groves, TX. They had a special day last year to dedicate this library. Interment was at Colonial Gardens Cemetery in Marshall.

Six years ago Dr. Potts was told he had approximately two weeks to live. He obviously had serious health problems yet continued to teach a Sunday School Class at First Baptist Church, Marshall, TX.

Somehow, word got out back then that Dr. Potts had already died. When a photo of him at an event, appeared in the Marshall newspaper a lady wrote in and said she was so happy to see it, she thought he had died. ETBU alumni were also confused and thought he had died. I confirmed with Dr. Atkinson, another retired ETBU religion professor, that Dr. Potts was still alive and relatively well.

Sherree Murray, ETBU graduate, was doing an alumni newsletter for those who attended ETBU in the 1970s and 1980s (then it was ETBC). In 2008 we included an updated article about Dr. Potts. There was the same response from several alumni, “We thought he was dead.” Dr. Potts was aware of these rumors and graciously, and with his characteristic humor, took it in stride.

I sent Dr. Potts a copy of my book in 2008 along with a note telling how much he had meant to me at ETBU. Dr. Potts sent a very gracious card in reply speaking of how he had enjoyed getting to know my dad through reading the book about him.

During his struggles with bad health, Dr. Potts said he was ready to go be with the Lord. He would then add, “Don’t pray against me.”

At ETBU I had Dr. Potts for a number of Bible courses. This was during the early stages of the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC and I was very impressed with his conservative theology. In the 1970s if all our SBC professors had believed like Dr. Potts, there would never have been a reason for the Conservative Resurgence.

He was theologically conservative, knowledgeable, gracious, and humorous. He made his classes interesting and worthwhile. He dealt with the theological as well as the practical side of ministry. Sundays young preachers would preach in churches throughout East Texas and quote Dr. Potts; sometimes accurately :-) . He was a Christian gentleman who treated his young ministerial students with respect. He in turn, certainly had our respect.

On one occasion, when a speaker canceled at the very last minute, Dr. Potts, stood and spoke some very helpful words of advice to a large group of young preachers. He saved the program from being a total disaster. By the way, I attended college with his wife and daughter and we all graduated in the same class.

We would ask him how far we should go in our education; he would say you should be educated to the full extent of your ability. I have a Master’s but not a Doctoral degree. I’ve often said that in this regard, I did exactly what Dr. Potts told me to do.

The good things about my life and ministry are partly due to the teaching and testimony of Dr. Donald R. Potts. He is one of the ones I’ve looked up to through the years. Many other preachers would say the same.

Thank you Dr. Potts, for your influence on my life, and the lives of so many others. This world is a better place because you followed the Lord.

Note: An obituary about Dr. Potts was printed in the Baptist Standard and the Southern Baptist Texan.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, March 15, AD 2010.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Saint Patrick of Ireland

“I share in the work of those whom He called and predestinated to preach the Gospel among grave persecutions to the end of the earth.” -Saint Patrick

St. Patrick and his holiday are filled with legends. St. Patrick did not drive snakes out of Ireland. He was not a Roman Catholic emissary to Ireland. He wasn’t even Irish, rather, British. Yes, he was a saint, but according to the Bible, all believers are saints (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; etc.).

St. Patrick was born into a Christian home in Britain. There are a number of interesting facts about the British church of Patrick's day. They had bishops, but they were pastors, overseers, of local churches. In the Bible the terms bishop, pastor, elder, are used synonymously to refer to the office of the leader in a local church (Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:1-3). Their bishops married and had families (1 Timothy 3:2). They looked to the Bible as their supreme authority. They referred to monasteries, but a little investigation reveals a monastery was just their version of a Bible school or seminary. They had monks, but many monks were married, had children and preached throughout the countryside. A monk was simply a seminary student. They spoke of baptism by immersion. These are some of the reasons the great preacher, W. A. Criswell, preached his 1958 sermon, St. Patrick was a Baptist preacher (see W. A. Criswell in this blog’s right sidebar).

Whatever happened to these ancient British followers of Christ? The Romans withdrew their legions from Britain in the middle AD 400s. The British had not learned warfare and had no ability to protect their country. With the Romans gone, thousands of these British Christians were killed by invaders in the late AD 400s and 500s.

Patrick was born about AD 360 into a Christian home in Britain. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a pastor. He, however, had not yet accepted Christ. In this day, the Celtic tribes of Ireland were uncivilized barbarians. During one of their raids on Britain, 16 year old Patrick was taken captive.

For six long years Patrick was a slave in Ireland. During his slavery, Patrick accepted Christ and his faith was strengthened. He wrote in his Confessions, “I would pray constantly during the daylight hours…the love of God…surrounded me more and more.”

God spoke to Patrick in a dream, “Your hungers are rewarded. You are going home. Look, your ship is ready.” As a fugitive slave, he walked over 100 miles to the Irish coast where he escaped on a ship and returned to Britain.

Back in Britain he entered into Christian ministry and in time became a bishop (pastor). Patrick developed a love for the pagan people of Ireland and sensed a call to take the Gospel to them. So years after he returned home, he voluntarily went back to Ireland as a missionary from Britain.

Patrick lived among the Irish, learned their culture, and gradually began to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Results were slow, but he was patient and faithful. Over time, thousands came to know Christ as their Saviour. He preached the Gospel throughout Ireland and established churches and monasteries (seminaries). Later Irish Christians followed Patrick’s example and spread the Gospel in Scotland, Britain, and Europe.

St. Patrick is one of the heroes of the Christian faith. He shows how growing up in a Christian family does not automatically mean you are a Christian, it must come by personal faith. He is an example of adversity strengthening personal faith. He reveals much about love for the lost, cross-cultural evangelism, and self sacrifice.

A few things to consider next week on St. Patrick’s Day.

Read more about it: St. Patrick was a Baptist Preacher, by W. A. Criswell, wacriswell.com; several Baptist Press articles on St. Patrick, bpnews.net; The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George G. Hunter III.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, March 11, AD 2010.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I Knew You Would Come

In ancient days there lived a great nobleman. His only child was a daughter who was of age to be married. So the nobleman decided to throw a great celebration in his castle that would last for days. He would invite all the young noblemen of the entire area to participate in this grand festival. Surely during this time a suitable husband could be found for his daughter.

The appointed day came and the guests began to arrive. Eligible young men began to enjoy the merriment and the great feasts. They did the things young men do to impress a young woman.

A beggar in an old cloak appeared at the door of the castle and began to knock. At first they paid him no mind. He persisted so someone threw him a few crumbs of bread. Still he would not go away. Someone cried, “Throw him a few coins. That will get rid of him for sure.” This was done to no effect. The beggar kept knocking.

“Go away,” they threatened, “or we’ll unleash the dogs on you.” But he continued to knock with his crutches.

They opened the door and asked, “What is it you want?” “Is this not the day for guests to come to seek the nobleman’s daughter? I have come to ask for her hand.”

The beggar edged into the courtyard as word spread throughout the castle. Guests gathered to mock and laugh at this poor deluded vagrant.

The daughter soon heard the talk and the laughter and asked what the commotion was all about. “It’s just a poor, crippled beggar who wants to marry you.” “I’ll go and see him,” she said.

The young woman approached the beggar, “What is it you want?”
“I’ve seen you while I myself was unnoticed. I love you deeply and want to marry you.”
She paused, looked into his face, and, barely heard above the laughter she replied, “Yes, I will marry you.”

“When,” he asked.
“In a year and a day.”
“Very good, I will return for you,” and he limped away.

“You are smarter than we thought,” her friends said. “You sure knew how to get rid of him.”
She quietly insisted, “But I meant what I said.”

Knowing she could not be serious, the crowd continued their laughter and celebration. The festival resumed but the young woman gave them no encouragement. It finally came to an end on a note of gloom.

The nobleman was a good man but greatly disappointed. He counseled his daughter to no avail. He explained how all his money spent for the party had now been a waste. “My wonderful daughter marry a beggar? You know he will never return for you.”

A long, cruel year ensued. There was much derision. The daughter would only smile and say, “I’ve made my choice and he will return.”

The year slowly passed. The next day arrived uneventful. But at noon something happened. Peals of music and trumpets were heard in the distance. An imperial messenger rode with fury to the castle gate announcing the arrival of the king’s son, the royal prince.

There was no time to prepare. The nobleman, with his daughter, barely had time to reach the castle gate. What a sight they saw. As far as the eye could see were rows of knights and servants of the king. The great prince rode a majestic white horse, and was dressed in the finest clothing and armor. His face shined like the sun.

The prince stepped down from the horse, “My love, I’ve come back for you just as I promised.” Through tears she whispered, “I knew you would come.”

The prince took his bride to his kingdom in a far country. As they left, one of her maids barely had time to ask, “How did you ever know that the beggar was a prince in disguise?” The bride replied, “I looked deeply into his eyes. There was something special in his voice. Deep within, I knew he was the son of the king.”

Many of you have been the laughing stock of the world. Some feel sympathy for you in your delusion. How could you give your heart to One who came in humility and was despised by men? You are mocked and misunderstood. But there was something in His eyes, His words, His deeds. Your heart was strangely warmed. You knew He was the Prince of Peace.

One day soon, Jesus will return for you, His bride.

Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” -1 Peter 2:7
Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! -Revelation 19:9

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, March 2, AD 2010.