24 Mar

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I’m guilty!

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I’m guilty!  Pastors may actually be the guiltiest of all.  We don’t intend to do it.  We preach against it.  But we do it sometimes anyway.  At times, we’re guilty of substituting knowledge about God for a vital and intimate walk with God.

Paul opened his brief letter to Titus with these words, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness…” (1:1).  He mentioned three things in a specific order that he was concerned about in the lives of those he was called to lead: faith, knowledge, and godliness.  Faith to believe in Jesus is a gift from God that is intended to open our eyes to a deeper knowledge of the truth.  This knowledge of the truth, an understanding of the gospel and the teachings of the Bible, is then intended to lead us to godliness.  

Unfortunately, Christians sometimes either disregard the importance of a deeper knowledge of the truth, or they substitute that knowledge for godliness.  I have known people who are unconcerned with doctrine.  They just want to love God and worship Him.  They are content with the knowledge they have about the Bible already.  They think they know plenty.  This kind of attitude leads to a shallow walk with Jesus.  Although they love Him, they don’t really know Him.  I have known others who long for greater knowledge about God so much that they are consumed.  They have read it all.  They know the Bible.  They believe the study of the Scripture is the most important thing they can do, and they can argue the finer points of theology.  The problem here is that all the knowledge in the world does not equal godliness.  A person can have a deep knowledge of the truth but miss the point of all that knowledge.  Knowledge of the truth is intended to lead us to greater godliness.     

Since pastors are called to shepherd the flock of God by preaching the gospel, it comes natural to them to spend hours grappling with the Word of God.  We study the Bible and we commit ourselves to know more about it than our church members.  We depend on a deeper knowledge of the truth in order to lead others to know Jesus.  Knowledge of the truth is a good thing, not just for pastors, but for all Christians.  God’s people cannot walk with God unless we treasure the truth about God.  We can’t walk with a God we don’t know.  And the more we know Him, the deeper our walk with Him can be.  But, Paul said he was deeply concerned that God’s people have a knowledge of the truth that LEADS to godliness, not substitutes for it.  I am guilty at times of being content with knowing about Him more than walking with Him. Paul expands this thought in Titus 2:11-13.  “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  The grace of God that saves us is the same grace that teaches us the truth, and it’s that truth that leads us to deny godlessness and to live godly lives while we wait for Jesus to return.  We cannot be content with knowledge.  We are exhorted to deepen our understanding of the truth in a way that leads us to pursue godliness.  When Jesus returns, may He find Christians who don’t just know about Him, but are walking with him.

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25 Feb

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Skeletons and Dead People

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It is becoming more evident how important it is to be precise in our intentions and our use of language.  On certain metropolitan interstates there is something called a high-occupancy vehicle lane (HOV).  You may be familiar with how this particular lane is supposed to work.  If you have multiple people in the vehicle with you, you are allowed to use the HOV lane.  It’s a bit of a privilege afforded those who make the choice to save fuel by carpooling.  Self-explanatory right?  Not quite.  According to a recent quick take in World Magazine, Arizona transportation officials recently cited a 62-year old man for driving in the HOV lane with a skeleton in the passenger’s seat.  Of course he knew cameras would be monitoring travelers, so he put a coat and hat on the skeleton and put a small cooler in it’s lap.  This is definitely a person who appreciates the fine art of deception!  So it has become necessary for the Arizona transportation department to be precise in its wording:  “Human passengers only.”  That should do it right?  Not quite.  In July of last year, Nevada state troopers ticketed a hearse driver who claimed the dead person in the back should make him qualify for the HOV lane.  So, maybe “Human passengers only,” should be changed to “Alive human passengers only.” No doubt there will be others who will push the limits and necessitate greater precision with the laws of the road.  

This illustrates a great truth about our responsibility as God’s people to be precise in our intentions and our use of language, especially when it comes to what we believe.  We live in a culture that is changing rapidly, and that change not only applies to technology.  Religion is shifting in our country and it is necessary for the church of Jesus to say more precisely what we believe.  In recent days, one of the political candidates who is vying for the Democratic party nomination is Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  He has unashamedly announced that he is gay and is “happily married” to his male partner.  For most of us, since we live in the 21st century, this is not shocking anymore.  But, he has also unashamedly claimed that he is a Christian.  He attends an Episcopal church in South Bend, Indiana, the town he serves as Mayor.  In recent months, in response to Vice President Pence’s negative views on homosexuality, Buttigieg said, “Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”  I’m certain they could argue whether each of them is referring to the same “creator,” but the Mayor is definitely a religious man, and he has taken advantage of opportunities on the campaign trail to speak of his faith in God.  His willingness to do so has earned him a certain amount of trust with those who are also religious.             

This is no small moment for Christians as we encounter again the need to be precise when it comes to our religious beliefs.  Most Christians that I know quickly recoil when they hear someone like Mayor Pete say he is gay and a Christian in the same breath.  Some people I know applaud Mayor Pete and are thankful for his fresh and more inclusive perspective on religion.  The clearly opposing viewpoints of those who claim to be religious demand that we tighten up our language and precisely say what we believe.  It is no longer enough to claim a belief in God and the golden rule and be happy when others agree, assuming that we all share a common theology.  These times demand that Christians be clear about who this God is that we worship and what we think about the Words He has spoken.  If we choose to be content with just getting along and not worry about precision, we will soon find that someone has hijacked the HOV lane claiming that one person’s belief in God is just as good as another’s.  If precise language doesn’t matter, then skeletons and dead people count as passengers.

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11 Feb

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Baptist Faith & Message Pt. 7

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Micah and Matt continue their discussion on Article 4 in the Baptist Faith and Message on the subject of salvation. What is Regeneration? What is Justification? What do these things mean, and how are they appropriated by a believer in Jesus Christ?

12 Dec

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New Logo for Gospel Reign!

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Starting a new “season” of podcasting and writing, Matt and I wanted to rebrand Gospel Reign a bit. Part of that process meant the creation of a new logo. Our original logo was created by our mutual friend Nancy Nanney, and it served us well! We are so grateful for her help and skill getting us underway.

The new logo and look was designed by an artist/illustrator friend of mine, Tristan Cabral. You can see more of his work here on Instagram. His style appealed to both Matt and me as we thought about a new look, so we reached out and he agreed to tackle this project!

Tristan produced two looks for us, one white and one black. After receiving feedback from our listeners and friends, although it was a VERY close margin, we landed on the black one. Thank you! Here it is:

Some insights about the logo. Did you notice the flowers in the corners? Those are magnolia leaves/flowers, which reflect our Mississippi context. The cross and the crown are prominent and intentional as identifiers for the person and work of Christ. So, Gospel Reign = the good news (cross/resurrection) of the kingdom (crown).

Tristan also added more elements to the logo as well. After a couple revisions, he said, “The only new piece that I added was the water around the cross. I wanted to do a nod to the passing through the Red Sea and the salvation of the Israelites from the Egyptians. I kept both symbols (crown and cross) the same color scheme (blue and marigold) to symbolize that they are from one and the same God but different parts of the story. The Old Testament (the exodus) and the New Testament (the crowning of the true king, Jesus).”

We hope you like it. We do! And we are thankful for God’s good gifts of friendship and skill to help us communicate who we are and what we are about at Gospel Reign. Pray for us as we seek to serve our churches and our listeners through gospel-centered discussions and content. Blessings to you!

~Micah

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10 Dec

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Baptist Faith & Message Pt. 3

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How does the Bible describe God? What do Southern Baptists believe and teach about God? Join Matt and Micah as they discuss the second article of the Baptist Faith and Message. http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp

07 Dec

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Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me

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One of the things I find encouraging in modern Christian songwriting is the desire to provide biblically and theologically rich worship songs for the church, not just writing songs for airtime on Christian radio. There are many individuals (i.e., Andrew Peterson) and groups (i.e., Indelible Grace) doing this well. CityAlight is doing it well, too!

Who is CityAlight? They are a music ministry from an Anglican church in Castle Hill, Sydney, Australia, called St. Paul’s Castle Hill. The vision of CityAlight is to write songs with biblically rich lyrics and simple melodies for the Christian church to sing. They have three albums: Yours Alone (2014), Only a Holy God (2016), and Yet Not I (2018).

This song/hymn, “Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me” is outstanding. It is deep, rich, encouraging, hopeful, and Christ-honoring. I pray it blesses you as it has me! You can listen to CityAlight sing this song here.

What gift of grace is Jesus my redeemer
There is no more for heaven now to give
He is my joy, my righteousness, and freedom
My steadfast love, my deep and boundless peace

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
For my life is wholly bound to his
Oh how strange and divine, I can sing: all is mine!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

The night is dark but I am not forsaken
For by my side, the Saviour He will stay
I labour on in weakness and rejoicing
For in my need, His power is displayed

To this I hold, my Shepherd will defend me
Through the deepest valley He will lead
Oh the night has been won, and I shall overcome!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

No fate I dread, I know I am forgiven
The future sure, the price it has been paid
For Jesus bled and suffered for my pardon
And He was raised to overthrow the grave

To this I hold, my sin has been defeated
Jesus now and ever is my plea
Oh the chains are released, I can sing: I am free!
Yet not I, but through Christ in me

With every breath I long to follow Jesus
For He has said that He will bring me home
And day by day I know He will renew me
Until I stand with joy before the throne

To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat:
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!

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