Archive for February, 2009

28
Feb
09

Habitat for Humanity update

For the next few weekends, we will be sharing updates from the Habitat for Humanity build that CrossPoint is a part of.  If you would like to help with the build and still haven’t signed up, please contact the church office.

Last Friday morning, about 20 men were blessed by God with the opportunity to serve both Him and one of our neighbors.  Crosspoint began construction of the Habitat for Humanity home for Ms. Underwood.

The Lord gave us a beautiful day for work, and we were able to finish everything that we had scheduled for that day.  We started with a blank concrete slab in the morning, and by the end of the day, all of the walls for the house were built and ready for the construction of the roof framing the next day.

As with all construction projects, there were a few minor glitches that had to be worked out, but each potential problem was handled quickly by the men that God sent for this project.  God has given Crosspoint a group of willing servants who gladly gave of their time and skills to build a home for a deserving member of our community.

Although we enjoyed the work and the time spent together, the high point of the day was watching the reaction of Ms. Underwood when she came to the site that afternoon and saw what had been accomplished that day.  As always, God’s word is true in that it is better to give than receive.

Please continue to pray for this project as God through Crosspoint gives back to our community.

–Buddy Whitley

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27
Feb
09

Jesus, our Great High Priest

I want to apologize to all the CrossPointers, in advance, for publishing part of my message for next Sunday.  Let me also apologize for the length of this blog.  I am so fired up, however, by what I have been studying throughout the week that I am compelled to include it in today’s blog.

For those of you who are not CrossPointers, we have been studying the temptation experience Jesus encountered in the wilderness while fasting 40 days and 40 nights.  This Sunday we will conclude the series by talking plainly about that fact that Jesus Himself is the answer to our temptation.  Yes, He serves as a model in Matthew 4:1-11.  But the account also teaches that He serves as the victory over temptation.

Our text for Sunday is found in Hebrews 4:14-16, where the Bible reads:

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16

Early in my message I must explore the role and purpose of the high priest.  My explanation, which follows, is derived from Hebrews 5:1-10.  Let’s drop into my message at midstream, where I am using the ten verses to explain our Jesus Christ as our Great High Priest.

First, let’s consider verse 1 -4:

1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

From this we learn three facts about the high priest:

1. He was chosen by God – 1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed – Hebrews 5:1a
2. He served as a mediator between man and God – to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. – Hebrews 5:1b
3. He was a sinner himself, and therefore obligated to offer sacrifices for his own sin – 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. – Hebrews 5:2-4

In the next two verses we learn that, just like Aaron and his sons who served as priests, Jesus was appointed by God to serve as our High Priest

5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; 6 as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

Hebrews 5:5-6

Now, from verses 7 & 8, we learn how Jesus identified Himself with humans:

7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

Hebrews 5:7-8

Do not be alarmed by the phrase “he learned obedience”.  Do not be alarmed by it, learn from it.

The phrase “he learned obedience” reminds us of the humanity of Jesus.  This is speaking of the human side of Jesus’ nature.

Let’s remember some theology at this point.  The humanity and deity of Jesus is called the hypostatic union – where Jesus is both God and man, simultaneously.  That is why He is called “Son of God” referring to His divine nature, His deity; and He is called “Son of man”, referring to His human nature, His manhood.  Jesus was both fully God and fully man, concurrently.

When the Bible speaks of how “he learned obedience” it is a good reminder for us that Jesus was human, and that as a human He was tempted to sin.  Yet Jesus did not sin because He obeyed His Father by living according to faith.

Sure, as the Son of God, Jesus could resist sin.  But as the Son of Man, His human side, Jesus had to learn obedience by living by faith; just like we should.  Here is the reality: Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, was tempted and resisted that temptation by faith.

And finally, we learn this about Jesus: He became the source of our eternal salvation:

9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 5:9-10

Jesus did not need to offer a sacrifice for His own sins because He had no sin.  But He became the once-and-for-all-sacrifice for sin by being made perfect.  And He did all this in the order of Melchizedek.

Now Melchizedek is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament.  The first time is in Genesis 14, when Abraham offers him a tithe offering, and again in Psalm 110, which is a Messianic reference used here in Hebrew.

Melchizedek’s name means two things – “King of Righteousness” and “King of Salem” (peace).  Melchizedek is different from Aaron in that he was both a priest and a king.

Two kings in the Old Testament tried to take on the role of king and priest – Saul and Uzziah, and God brought judgment on both of them for their actions.  Only one in God’s kingdom shall serve as both priest and king – Jesus Christ.

Jesus is in the order of Melchizedek because He holds two offices as our Savior: He is both Priest and King.

And now for the summary:  there are two things you must take away from this brief teaching on the order of our great High Priest.

First, Jesus is our High Priest forever.

9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 5:9-10 (bold underline added for emphasis)

The entire sacrificial system was abolished by the death of Christ.  All the Law and the Prophets, in other words, all of the Old Testament was fulfilled by Jesus Christ.  Every requirement of the Law was met by Christ.  What He did means that none of the ceremonies, feasts, festivals and seasons of the Old Testament has to ever be recognized or repeated again.

Through His life, death, burial, and resurrection Jesus made the complete and final atonement for our sins.  So, first, Jesus is our Great High Priest forever.

Second, our salvation is eternal.

9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 5:9-10 (bold underline added for emphasis)

Our belief, our faith, our security, our salvation, our hope, our forgiveness, our justification, our regeneration, our redemption, our adoption, our sanctification and our glorification is signed, sealed and delivered, paid in full in Jesus Christ.  Thus, our salvation is eternal.

Make sure you note that – Jesus is our Great High Priest forever and our salvation is eternal.

Note what the write of Hebrews instructed earlier:

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 2:17

26
Feb
09

the valley of vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
Let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.

Reprinted from The Valley of Vision

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25
Feb
09

try God

churchsign1Early in January I drove past three different churches within a five or six mile stretch that had marquee signs that caused me some consternation.

The first marquee said, “Make Jesus first this year.”

A mile or two down the road the next sign read, “Give God more time in 09”

The final over the hill declared, “Try God.”

Now I know what they meant, at least I think I do.  Yet I still have trouble with each message.

“Make Jesus first this year” – we don’t make Jesus first.  Jesus is first.  We submit to Him as our only priority.  By the way, since He is first, there is nothing else that matters.  So try to avoid the order of priorities: Jesus first, spouse second, kids third and job fourth.  If Jesus is first in your life, all other priorities fall in place as they should.

“Give God more time on in 09” – you don’t give God more time.  We should be thankful God gave us time.  Therefore we should submit to Him in order to “number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

“Try God” – Trying God sounds like taking Him for a test drive.  Trying God is like a “90 Days Same as Cash” offer.  If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase, return it for a full refund, no questions asked.  You do not try God.  You serve God.

Is it just me, or does anyone see the irritable rub of these messages?

The messages are humanistic.  The messages are man-centered.  They sound like Oprah Winfrey sermons – syrupy, spiritual, human-oriented and insipid.

I am concerned that the church has become too pragmatic in her theology.  The idea of “you doing this, so God will do that” permeates many of our churches.  That is manipulation, and God will not be manipulated.

What was it that Jesus said in the wilderness?

Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Matthew 4:4

You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.

Matthew 4:7

You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.

Matthew 4:10

Now there are three marquee signs worth posting.

Oops! I better be careful.  If I use too much Scripture I might become irrelevant.

24
Feb
09

experiencing the goodness of God

prayGod’s goodness is expressed to us in many ways.  One of the ways we can learn about the goodness of God is through prayer.

God uses prayer to express His goodness to us in at least two ways.

One, God reveals His goodness when we pray.

The Bible says, “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known” (Jeremiah 33:3).

Two, God reveals His goodness to us when He answers our prayers.

The Bible says, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7-8).

I learned about God’s goodness both by praying and having a prayer answered recently.  As many of you know, I pray over, through and for every member of CrossPoint.  Some days I pray generally.  On other occasions I pray specifically.  A few months ago, I began praying specifically for a CrossPoint family.  I was specific in my prayer in that the family informed me how to pray for their need.

I received an email today informing me their prayer, and mine, had been answered.  Thus, I experienced part of God’s goodness.

I am glad the CrossPoint family took me at my word when I reminded them I pray for them.  I am equally glad they informed me how to pray for them.  And, I am glad I prayed.  Today, when I received their email I rejoiced.  I whispered, “Father, thank you for answering their prayer.  You are good.”

When was the last time you prayed?  When was the last time the Lord answered one of your requests?  Pray today, and experience the goodness of God. You may experience more of His goodness tomorrow, when He answers that prayer.

22
Feb
09

part three: six non-negotiables you need to survive in today’s economy

There are six non-negotiables you need to survive in today’s economy.

Let’s remind ourselves of the first four:

1.  You need a SAVIOR
2.  You need a NAME
3.  You need a PASSION
4.  You need a COACH

And now for non-negotiables # 5 & 6:

5.  You need a DIVERSION

I learned about diversions when I invested three of my years of ministry studying a business model called TQM – total quality management.  Yes, pastors must know a few things about business practices in order to lead a church.

The distinctive qualities of TQM are:

1. Synergistic relationships
2. A commitment to excellence
3. Continuous improvement
4. Become a lifelong learner

Developing synergistic relationships, committing to excellence, continuously improving, and being a lifelong learner are extreme demands.  To pursue those realities I needed diversions to clear my mind, distractions that enabled me to rethink my situation.

Most of us will admit the daily grind wears us down.  Most of us will acknowledge the routine of a job does not give you much room for improvement or growth.  It is what you do outside of that environment that fosters growth and personal discipline.

My diversions are quite simple: I like to run, I like to read, and I like to play golf.

I like to run, especially long distances, to clear my mind.  I am able to solve problems, understand situations, and preach sermons when I run.

I like to read, because it is in reading l learn.  It is in reading I grow.  If I can give someone $15 or $20 for them to learn from their expertise and research, then I think that is a great investment.

I like to play golf because it is something I can always improve.  Plus it helps me manage my temperament.

6.  You need a SIGNATURE

I have a friend of mine who has the most beautiful signature you have ever seen.  It is very large.  He writes with a flowing script.  It is most distinct.  He says he practiced signing his name because he knew in his career he would be signing many of documents, so he wanted a distinctive signature.

My 19 year-old-son, on the other hand, has an illegible signature.  When we were applying for passports a few years ago I made him write a more readable signature because I did not want some foreign police arresting him because of his terrible handwriting.  And the funny thing is: he thinks his signature is cool.  Go figure.

That is not the kind of signature I am describing, however. I am not talking about the way you sign your name.  Instead, I am talking about the way you do your job.

I imagine the climate in which you work is highly competitive.  I am sure the profit margin is slim, and there is probably not much difference between your product and the product of your competitor.  So, how do you make the sale?  It is you.

You are the difference.

In the competitive market in which you work, how are you different, what makes you distinct, what makes you unique?  That is your signature.

Laurie Beth Jones, in her book Jesus: CEO writes about when she spoke for a small grocery story.  During the talk she encouraged every employee to find a way to leave their mark, to put their signature on their job.

A few weeks later, the manager of the grocery store called to tell her about how one employee, a young man with Downs-Syndrome had developed his signature.  He placed Bible verses and other motivational statements written slips of paper in each bag of groceries he bagged.  As people checked out, he would place the encouraging note in their grocery bag.

His signature was such a success, that people would stand only in his life.  Many people did this even though other lines were open, just to receive one of his notes.

What is your signature?  What separates you from the others sales people in this room?  What makes you memorable or distinct to your customers?

There are six non-negotiables you need to survive in today’s economy:

1. You need a Savior
2. You need a name
3. You need a passion
4. You need a coach
5. You need a diversion
6. You need a signature

21
Feb
09

part two: six non-negotiables you need to survive in today’s economy

Last Thursday I spoke at the annual sales meeting for a local business.  I spoke on the subject of six non-neogtiables you need to survive in today’s economy.

Yesterday I shared with you non-negotiables #1 & 2.  Today, I reveal the next two non-negotiables.

For review, non-negotiables # 1 & 2 are:

1.  You need a SAVIOR.
2.  You need a NAME.

Now let’s discuss non-negotiables #3 & 4.

3.  You need a PASSION.

What is it that drives you?  What is it that motivates you?  What is that wakes you in the morning?  What is it that keeps you going when times are tough?  Whatever that is, that is your passion.

Some people are passionate about being the best.
Some people are passionate about making money.
Some people are passionate about being #1 in the sales force.
Some people are passionate about being successful.
Some people are passionate about living in a big house.
Some people are passionate about owning an expensive car.

Those things, in and of themselves, are not evil.  Getting rich or driving an expensive car or being rich are not necessarily immoral.  Actually, none of those things are either moral or immoral.  It is the use of those things that makes them moral or immoral.

What are you passionate about?

Several years ago, God introduced me to a passion that revolutionized my life.  Several years ago, I learned of a passion that kept me going when I was tired, that kept me motivated when everything else around me was falling apart, that woke me each morning.  In fact, I am more enthused about this passion today as I have ever been, and that same passion gives me more fuel each morning I rise.

In the Latin, that passion is SOLI DEO GLORIA.  In the English, it is GLORY TO GOD ALONE. God’s glory is my passion.

The Bible says this about God’s glory:

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory.”

Romans 11:36

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31

This is what is so great about making the glory of God your passion, you never run out of motivation.  Actually, your motivation increases with each waking day.

So, non-negotiable #3, you need a passion.

4.  You need a COACH

Every successful person has at least one coach, one mentor, one leader in their life.  If you plan to be successful in this economy, you need a coach.

Most people do not want a boss, they want a coach.  You need a coach to thrive in today’s economy.

I have had the great fortune of having four coaches in my life.  Three of the coaches are retired from actively coaching me, yet I stay in touch in each one.  One of them I speak to everyday, in fact, I spoke to that coach during my drive here tonight.

The first coach in my life was my father.  My father coached me in the basics of life.  He taught me what it meant to be a Christian.  He taught me to be a gentleman.  He taught me to remember I had a name to live up to – Whitley.

The next coach was my pastor when I was in college.  His name is Bob Barnes.  He taught me how to study the Bible, and how to practice the presence of God.  I am forever indebted to that man.  

The next coach was a pastor I served with on a church staff. Dr. Harry Lucenay taught me the basics – how to marry them, how to bury them, how to cry with them, how to laugh with them. 

He taught me how to preach and how to teach.  He taught me how to lead.  He taught me how to lead a church, a staff, and, most importantly, he taught me how to lead myself.

Thankfully, all of those coaches are still alive today, and I can still call them periodically when I need them.

There is a fourth coach I have with me at all times.  He guides me.  He directs me.  He helps me make decisions.  This coach has made me a better husband, a better father, a better friend, a better pastor.  I spoke to this coach on the way over here tonight.  This Coach is the Holy Spirit.
Jesus promised His Coach to every believer.  Jesus said that He was leaving this earth after His resurrection, so that He could send the Holy Spirit (Coach) to be our Counselor.

Non-negotiable #4, you need a coach.

So, let’s review the first four non-negotiables:

#1, you need a Savior
#2, you need a name
#3, you need a passion
#4, you need a coach

What else do you need?  Tomorrow, we consider non-negotiables # 5 & 6.