Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Light in Darkness

It is Halloween and this morning I donned a rainbow afro wig and stood at my daughter's school giving high fives to the students as they entered school, many with their costumes on. This was a bit uncomfortable for me but after a while it became fun. The students laughed at me and smiled as they entered and in a small way I was able to brighten their day as they brightened mine.

Halloween is a day that is frowned upon by many Christians. They see it as a day that celebrates darkness and in contrary to their beliefs and I would partially agree with that. I am not much of a fan of Halloween however on this day we are given an unbelievable opportunity.

This day is also a very special day for believers in Jesus. Today marks the 500th year of what many believe was the beginning of the Reformation. It was a rediscovery of the beauty and truth of the Gospel that had been hidden and abused by the Roman Catholic Church. It began by a German Monk nailing some arguments to the church door in Wittenberg Germany in order to spark discussion over the Word of God. Out of that came what we know today as the Protestant Church. The time prior to this was a very dark time in history but like Luther and many others they took advantage of an opportunity to be light in darkness. In fact one of the great Latin chants that came from the Reformation was Post Tenebras Lux, meaning After Darkness Light.

We as believers have the same opportunity as the Reformers did. Maybe not to the same scale as them but we have the same opportunity. On a day meant for darkness we have an unbelievable opening to be Light. This is the day when we do not have to go to the world but they come to our door and knock. We have a choice. We can either turn our porch light off and isolate ourselves or we can turn it on, bring out the candy, sit on our porch, meet our neighbors, engage them and build relationships, love them and in a small way show them Jesus.

I am reminded of Matthew 5:14-16 where Jesus says "You area the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do my people light a lamp and put it under a basket., but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven."

We have a choice tonight. We can turn out the porch light and essentially put the light of the Gospel that saved us under a basket or we can turn on our porch light, make some coffee and hot chocolate and greet the world with the light and love of Jesus. I encourage you oh Christian, seize this opportunity on a day meant for darkness, be Light.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Leaving Well

As most know yesterday was my last day as a Tyler Police Officer. I retired 20 years to the day I was sworn in by Chief Bob Bond. I certainly have some mixed emotions because during my career I have acquired some great relationships and had the opportunity to do some really cool stuff.  There is very little I regret about my career. It has been great to say the least. From foot chases and pursuits down railroad tracks (twice), to rolling 5 deep with the Bike Unit to get ice cream.

There have also been tough times as well that I will never forget and that have had tremendous impacts on my life. Times of dealing with the sickness and loss of our son and having my brothers in blue just show up to sit for days in a hospital waiting room and grieve, praying together as another one's wife goes into brain surgery, preaching the funeral of another ones wife who passed away and being scared to death as we wait to hear the status of one that was shot by a fleeing suspect right before our eyes. These are memories that will always be burned in my mind and heart.

Months before yesterday I began to really think about what I wanted to say to these men and women that I have gone to battle with and that I consider more than friends but a special kind of family. There was one thing I did not want to leave un said. Here is a summary of what I wanted to convey to those that hold a dear place in my heart.

To my Brother and Sisters in Blue,

I have few regrets in my 20 year career and I don't want to end with one so I want to share something with you that I feel I must say. I believe it was John Piper that said the greatest of men and all their great deeds will be all but a tiny footnote in history in all of eternity. I know and realize that my presence will soon be a faint memory as a Tyler Police Officer and I am perfectly ok with that. It is just life. However I do pray that what follows is something that will not soon be a distant memory.

Many of us began in this line of work because we see the brokenness of this world. We see injustice and we are constantly faced with the obvious depravity of mankind. We see it more than the average citizen and we cannot deny this is a fallen world. We see unspeakable things that people do to each other and is proof that this world is fallen. We also began this line of work because we believe in justice. We believe that when the laws of our great state and our nation are broken we are to strive to bring justice. It is an oath we swore to uphold and we risk our lives to seek it because it is that important.

However there is a greater law than the laws of our state and country and that is the Law of God. A law that we all have broken. God's Word is clear that we all have sinned and fall short of His glory. And if we believe in justice we have to see the truth here. If we have broken the law then justice must be pursued just like the laws of our state and country. The justice that God requirers is death, eternal death. God's Word also tells us that the wages of sin is death. We have to understand the God's justice is perfect and the breaking of His law has severe consequences that apply to us all.

However the good news is that God is not only a God of Justice but He is one of Grace as well. And His grace is manifested in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, His one and only Son. Because God is a God of Justice and grace He does not simply overlook sin, He demands punishment for it but for those that repent and believe in Him that punishment is placed on Christ. God's perfect justice is satisfied in one of two ways; either by unrepentant sinners being condemned to hell for all eternity or God's justice is satisfied by Christ going to the Cross and taking God's full wrath so that those that believe in Him will never taste eternal death.

God's Word tells us also that He that knew no sin became sin so that we could be reconciled to God. What great love that God has for us that He would do such a thing for those that have willingly broken His law. The Cross of Christ is a beautiful thing and is where the perfect justice of God intersects with the perfect Grace of God. What He requires in return is belief. This is not just seeing Jesus as a savior but seeing Him as your Lord.

I pray that if you remember nothing else, you remember this and that you believe in Christ.

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness
and to walk humbly with your God?

Be Warriors, keep your eyes on the King of kings.
No regrets! Your brother,

Josh Green

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Commitment?



Pastoring is not easy and I have heard many times that if a man can do anything else but be a pastor he should do it, but if not do it with all he has. The Great Preacher Charles Spurgeon said "Do not enter the ministry if you can help it,. If any student in this room could be content to be a newspaper editor, or a grocer, or a farmer, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a senator, or a king, in the name of heaven and earth let him go his way; he is not the man in whom dwells the Spirit of God in its fullness, for a man so filled with God would utterly weary of any pursuit by that for which his inmost soul pants.

The struggles of pastors are often many but one that I have experienced and heard from many of my shepherding brothers lately is the struggle with our people's commitment to one another. We live in an age were little to no commitment is required of anyone. We see this in our economic structure where companies encourage non-commitment with easy purchasing options with little to no commitment. Things such as phone plans and internet service or even cable TV offer no commitment necessary to obtain what you want. What is worse is we see this bleeding over into the family and even the church. We see little to no commitment to the sanctity of marriage and what it represents. But we also see a decline in self-professing Christians to commit to the church.

Oh we commit to things. It is amazing that many families will commit to hours of baseball or soccer practice and all day Saturdays spent at the ball field or tournaments. They will commit hundreds of dollars to such things that eternally have no benefit but when it comes to the eternal things many are willing to commit even in the smallest amount.  

As I was reading today through the book of Ephesians I was reminded of this very thing. In Chapter 4 Paul urges the people of the Church at Ephesus to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which they have been called and to do this with humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with one another in love and eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. He then adds that the leaders of the church are to equip the saints to do the work of ministry for the building up of the body, the church.

What Paul is getting at is that all professing church members have a responsibility to one another to be a part of the church. This means commitment. Now many justify their commitment by attendance or maybe even a little service every now and then however there is still a great lack of commitment and it is detrimental to the health and growth of the church. 

I was told by a pastor friend the other day that the average church attendance of a "regular member" is 1.3 times a month. That number is staggering and is heartbreaking to pastors. Here are a few ideas of what it means when you just don't show up. 

  • First of all it means that you are not concerned about your own spiritual growth. Like it or not the Bible is clear that we are to meet together regularly for fellowship and worship. The purpose of this is that we will be challenged and equipped to fulfill the calling that God has called us to and that is to glorify Him. When we break the habit of meeting together we quickly fall into the ways of the world and our spiritual growth slows to a crawl. 
  • Secondly is says the we don't care about the spiritual growth of others. Weather you realize it or not if you are a true believer you have a place and a duty in the church. The Bible tells that the Spirit equips us to do the work of ministry and each believer has different spiritual gifts. When we fail to participate we are quenching that Spirit that God has given us to do His work for His glory. 
  • We don't cherish the Gospel like we should. For the believer the Gospel is as relevant today as it was when God used it to save us. We need the Gospel message to be preached to us because we are easily drawn away form what has saved us. We need a constant reminder of the awesome grace God has shown us through the Gospel message. It is to be celebrated, sung about, prayed about and studied about with our fellow believers. This too is for the glory of God. 
 Commitment to the local body of believers is a command that God gives us because it is there that the Gospel is experienced and lived out and every believer has a place and a duty to take part. And the great thing is we are blessed when we do commit. We grow in our faith. We grow in our relationships and we grow the church.

So I urge you. make a commitment. Commit to show up. Commit to attend that Bible study. Commit to that women's fellowship. Commit to that time of corporate worship. Commit that time to serve missionaly. I have never heard anyone say they have served Christ and His Church too much. 

I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!"
Psalm 122:1

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Minimalist Christian?

Minimalist Christian?

There seems to be a new phenomenon where people are becoming obsessed with being a minimalist. We see this new thing of tiny homes where people see how small a space they can live in with as few amenities as possible. There are smart cars that honestly don’t look that smart. There are minimalist wallets and other things in life that many have gravitated to to be more minimalistic.

Many of these things are great and I always encourage people to be more “minimalistic’ in their lives and my wife and I have worked hard on minimizing the things that we have to maintain because it seems to simplify life. However when it comes to Christianity is there such a thing as a “Minimalist Christian”?

 I recently studied through 1 John and a few verses made me consider this. In 1 John 2:2-6 John states “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

What John is saying here is that real, authentic believers are marked by their obedience to the commands of Jesus. If God has truly saved them then their desire is to please God by being obedient to the teachings and commands of Christ. This begs the question, what are the commands of Jesus? Many consider the commands of Jesus being something along the lines of the Ten Commandments. Have no other God’s before Him, have no idols, honor the Sabbath, do not lie or steal or murder or covet or disrespect your parents and so on and I would not disagree with that but think about this. There was a time when Jesus was asked what the greatest Commandment was. His response was to love The Lord your God with all your heart and soul and your mind. He then said the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Now consider how great a command these are. Paul Washer states that at no point in any believer’s life has he ever loved God with all of his heart and soul and mind and I tend to agree with him. I would also add that it is nearly impossible to love your neighbor as yourself. However these are the commands of Jesus and He adds that all of the Law is summed up in these two commands.

In modern day Christianity it seems there is a grave misunderstanding of the commands of Jesus that is spoken of in 1 John. Many in the churched culture seem to have a minimalistic attitude when it comes to somehow qualifying as a follower of Jesus. There are many that only consider the least amount of what they can do in order to somehow qualify or justify in their hearts and minds as being a “Christian”. Maybe they have walked the isle and prayed a prayer and got dunked and have not considered their growth in their faith since. Or they claim to be a church member because they attend once in awhile yet are not connected to and serving in the community of believers in that church. Or they give just enough that they don’t feel guilty but rarely give sacrificially. Maybe they will slap a fish sticker or cross or “I worship at …” on the back of their car and somehow feel ok with rarely or never openly sharing their faith. They will post a need for prayer or complain to others about sufferings but are afraid to publicly approach the Lord in prayer even in the smallest group. They complain that they are not being fed in their church or criticize the ministry yet never volunteer to help facilitate Gospel centered change.

Honestly are these the types of commands that Jesus says are ok for followers of Jesus? It seems to me that when Jesus tells us that we are to pick up our cross and follow Him it means much more than we give it credit. John seems harsh in verse 4 when he says the one that claims to know Him but does not keep His commands is a liar but it is a harsh truth that we would do well to hear. Are we lying to ourselves when we do the minimum when Jesus actually calls us to so much more?

What I see is that Jesus tells us not to strive or be happy with the minimum bet He tells us to strive for so much more. To love God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves seems to be the impossible but that is the standard that Jesus calls us to strive for.

When we are struggling financially the minimum would be don’t go out and steal and that would be good. However if we take Jesus’ standards we ought to look around for those that are worse off and see how we can serve. If our brother asks us to go a mile with him the minimum is to go that mile without grumbling. Jesus however commands us to go further than just what was asked. When our enemy attacks us the minimum would be not to return with an attack. Jesus says that we are to turn and offer the other cheek.


I pray that we consider these words of John. I pray that we abide in Jesus and our heart’s desire is to keep His commands. There is no such thing as a “Minimalist Christian” according to scripture. May the Spirit help us to see the areas that we are minimal and strive for the maximum. If we KNOW Him we Will KEEP His commandments. Are we walking in the same way in which He walked?

Monday, July 11, 2016

We are at war!

I am a pastor. I am also a 19 year veteran police officer. The events of the past few weeks have weighed on me heavily not only as a cop but also as a pastor. I mourn the loss of my brothers in blue and I hurt for their families who will sit at a dinner table with an empty chair tonight.

Today I attended a memorial service in our city for the fallen officers from Dallas. It was very respectful and an honor however as I listened to the names being called and the prayers offered I could not help but feel uneasy. I was uneasy to the point I was uncomfortable and almost sick. I looked around at all the people and could not help but think this would be the extent of their efforts to cope and deal with the things that have transpired. I thought, is this it? 

Maybe this was compounded by the rage of social media of so many amateur experts offering their sure fire way to solve the problems that plague modern day society. As I read through many I found myself more perplexed, frustrated and heartbroken because none offered any real hope. So in my hypocrisy I took to my computer and this is the result. 

We are at war! Make no mistake about it. The events that have occurred in the past several weeks, even a few years, should be a true wakeup call that there is a horrendous war raging and we are in the middle of it. This war is not one that is cops against the black lives matter movement. This war is not one that is Democrat against Republican. It is not a war for justice in our corrupt government. It is not a war of Americans against radical Islam or ISIS. It is much bigger. This war has just manifested itself in these facets. This war has reared it’s head as racial tension, religious tension and political tension. This war is spiritual. 

My fear is that we have been oblivious to it. The enemy has done well to trick us into fighting it wrong. We take to social media and rant. We march or block roadways. We wave signs with intent to “bring awareness”, whatever that means. We have vigils or rallies or simply just sit on the porch and complain all the while our anger and frustration builds. None of this does much good if any at all. It is because we fight this war wrong. And it is because we do not understand the war we are in.

Ephesians 6:12 says “ For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” 

This war is spiritual and the enemy wants to keep us off the spiritual battlefield and distracted on the battlefield of flesh and blood where we have no hope of victory. Instead the Apostle Paul says to take up the armor of God which are elements of our spiritual defense so that we may withstand in the evil day. Our problem is we exchanged the armor of truth for lies, righteousness for pride, faith for anger, salvation for destruction, the Word of God for our own agenda and the greatest one of all the Gospel is nowhere.

It is time we pull our heads out of the sand of the physical battleground and get our hearts into the spiritual realm. We need to pray, and I don’t mean simply for protection and safety. We need to pray for boldness to confront our enemies with truth. We need to hold fast to our faith knowing that whatever comes our way we have the glory of God to look forward to. We honestly need to open our Bibles and see the God of the Bible and obey His commands and stand on His promises and not some short tweet or Facebook share and be blessed tidbit of misused scripture. 

Lastly we need to be about the Gospel. We call ourselves a “Christian” nation then we need to prove it by being about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is how we fight and win the war we are in. Share the Gospel and live the Gospel. We must stop looking to destroy those that hate us and seek to rescue them from the wrath of God with the Gospel. After all Jesus came to seek and save the lost, Jew and Gentile.


So my encouragement and challenge is to get off the couch or porch, turn off the social media, stop ranting and go to those around you and give them Jesus. Just give them the Gospel, that which the gates of hell will not overcome. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Giving Thanks to The Father

I opened the church at around 6am as I do every Sunday morning. I spend my time unlocking doors and turning the AC on and other things to have the building ready for when everyone arrives. I am usually alone in this until around 8am. However this morning just after 7am I heard the front door open and my son Garrett walks in. This is odd for him because he rarely gets out of bed that early. He walks up and gives me a hug and tells me "Happy Father's Day dad." I then ask why he is up so early and he informs me that he is headed to Dallas to lead worship at another church.......on father's Day. I tell him to be careful and have a good time and I watch him walk out the door and drive off.

As He drove away my heart swelled and I just realized I had received a wonderful Father's Day gift not only from my son but from my Heavenly Father. Most dads would be upset that their child was choosing to spend the day apart from them on this day. After all it is Father's Day right? Not me. I was over joyed. 

This was a wonderful choice my son has made and I owe it all to my Heavenly Father. See my son had chosen to serve our Heavenly Father on this day over me and I am so thankful. My son sees the importance of serving The Lord over man and he knows that I love him dearly however he also knows that it is only a fraction of the Love God has for Him. For a dad that is what I want my kids to know. I do want them to know that I love them but I want them to know that The Lord loves them immeasurably more. 

I also want my children to know the value in serving their Heavenly Father as well. As dads we should desire this for our children. It shows our care for our kids when we desire for them to serve in worshiping The Lord. This is the greatest thing we could desire for our children that they know, love and serve The Lord. And this is a gift from our Heavenly Father. He has made Himself known to my children. He has shown them their sinful nature but also shown them His redemption and glory through Jesus. Thank you Father for this great gift on this day.

As my son drove away I could not help but think of the words in 1 John 4 "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." My heart is overjoyed today. 

Happy Father's Day. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Something to Remember When Defending Your Christian Faith

   As believers in Christ Jesus as our Savior we are called to share our faith with others. We are not to be ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes as the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 1. However, how we treat those that do not agree with us says a lot about how we view our own position and how much we value the grace and mercy of God. 

   Being in the south and in the preverbal center of the buckle of the Bible belt we are proud Americans and more proud Christians. We will defend our guns, our flag, our children and our freedom ferociously and if anyone says or does the slightest thing to encroach upon those sacred values, we bare our teeth and are ready to strike back with ten times the force. And maybe rightly so. I do agree that there are many things in this world that are well worth entering the octagon and fighting MMA style for but our Faith is one I believe we should handle differently. I am not saying that we should not defend our faith but what I am saying is we need to go about it the right way with the right understanding and in a way that is most advantageous and honoring to God. To do so there are a couple of things we need to remember when defending our faith. 

1. Don't get angry. I see on social media all the time where a "Christian" posts something about daring other "Christians" to post pictures of burning a Koran or killing Muslims or hate talk about atheists. Many "Christians turn to anger when there is the slightest talk infringing upon Christianity. The result  that I see is name calling and demeaning of the one disagreeing. That is not the way to handle things and to my knowledge has never made a non-believer come to faith or even begin to understand the Gospel. What it does is confirm the non-believers convictions that Christians are foolish and arrogant.

   I don't understand why "christians" get so angry when our faith is disagreed with or when we are attacked because of what we believe. It only takes a little reading of the Bible that says that there are those that will disagree. Jesus tells us in Luke 6 that we are to rejoice when people hate us or revile us on account of our faith. He says again in Mark 13 that we will be hated for His name sake. But never once does the Bible tell us to respond in anger. In fact the Bible encourages us to respond in compassion towards the unbeliever. Jesus tells us over and over to love our enemies and those who persecute us. This is a difficult thing to do because so much of our flesh wants to respond in anger when we feel attacked because of our faith.  

   I am reminded of Romans 5:10 that says For while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.  Let that verse sink in. What Paul is saying is we too were enemies or hostile against faith and Christianity and God would be just to respond in anger because of our rebellion, but He doesn't. Instead He responds in great compassion. So much so that He willingly laid down His life so that you might be saved from your rebellion. See you, oh believer, were no different than that one that confronts you and disagrees with you. How you respond, in either anger or compassion, says a lot about how much you value who you are now from what you were and what Christ has done for you.

2. We must remember that we save no one. I firmly believe, and scripture supports that God is sovereign in all things, including salvation. This is clear in John 6:44 that says No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws Him. It is God who opens eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to receive  the truth of the Gospel. We are just called to share it and share it relentlessly. We are often frustrated and angered when people do not see the truth of the Gospel. They are still blinded by the god of this world and it is the God of all things that enables them and us to see. But He does this through believers sharing the Gospel. I tell people all the time that the Christian duty is to continue the unfinished work of Jesus by proclaiming the finished work of Jesus on the Cross. In other words we are to be the mouthpiece of the Gospel and trust in the Holy Spirit to convict, cut to the heart and bring about true belief. Salvation is not our job. It is God's job. Ours is to proclaim what God has done. This takes time and understanding and patience. We are called to make disciples, not converts. Disciple making takes time and commitment. It takes effort to listen and understand and share with others. It takes grace on your part and knowing that God is working in and through you. 

   So what should we do? How should we respond? We are to respond the same way Christ does. With compassion and not anger. With love not violence. With humility and not prideful rebellion. Be firm in your faith but also understanding. Not compromising the truth of the Gospel but open to dialogue. And pray. Pray hard that you would be gracefully firm and pray that their eyes would be opened to see, ears hear and hearts cut with the truth of the Gospel. Remember you were once in their same shoes, hostile toward God but yet He saved even you.