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