5 Ways to Pray for #ElectionDay

The election is only one day away. We’ve studied the candidates, researched the issues, lamented our options and read politically charged articles on social media.

But have we prayed?

I’ve got to be honest. Prayer hasn’t been my first reaction. But, as Bruce Ashford and Billy Hallowell write, prayer is one of the most important tasks we have this election:

As we battle back and forth over the political situation, it’s easy to forget the importance of prayer. Ask yourself: when is the last time you prayed for President Barack Obama, or for members of Congress?

The Bible is clear; Christians are meant to seek God’s guidance for our leaders and those in authority. Yet, many of us are so consumed with fear, frustration, or even apathy that we’ve forsaken these instructions.

How, then, can we pray for the election? Over at the IntersectProject, I offer five simple ways to pray for Election Day.

Read the rest of the article at IntersectProject.org.

John the Baptist Died Believing Character Matters

A prominent child of privilege had glaring personal weaknesses. He was overly image conscious, and he constantly got in trouble for indulging his hedonistic sexual desires.

On paper, he followed God. In practice, he did nothing of the sort.

Many of the people ignored his personal transgressions. But a well-known preacher called him out, at great personal cost.

Headlines and History Books

This story sounds like it’s ripped from the headlines. In fact, it’s ripped from the history books. This is the story of Herod Antipas and his chief critic, John the Baptist.

Read the rest of the article at IntersectProject.org.

On Social Media, We Can Do More Than Complain

We have a negativity problem on social media.

We rant about certain Presidential candidates, or we rant with equal fervor about those who don’t support said candidates.

We moan about gas shortages or the long lines at the pump, or we leverage the crisis to moan about fossil fuels or why we all can’t just use bicycles.

We grumble about faddish cultural phenomena like Pokémon Go or the latest top-40 song, or we grumble at the grumblers for criticizing our pet fad.

We hurl insults at athletes who speak out on race issues, or we hurl insults at athletes who don’t speak out.

We disparage gun owners, or we disparage anyone who speaks negatively about firearms.

And the media! How we all love to heap insults upon the media, this purportedly debased, monolithic entity with sneering, moustache-twirling executives in smoke-filled rooms planning the destruction of the American Dream. All of us — right or left, conservative or liberal — can find ways to complain about the media.

And that’s just a sample of our negativity on social media. I’m sure you could add a few items to the list.

As I scroll down my feeds, I see us circling a never-ending pit of cynicism, negativity and snark — aimed directly at those who don’t see the complex world exactly as we do. And I know that I’m part of the problem.

Here’s the worst part: These complaints spew from we who claim the name of Christ. This negativity flows from we who claim to have the world’s greatest hope.

Read the rest of the article at IntersectProject.org.

Sermon | Jesus’ Greatest Hits (Matthew 14:13-33)

“The church is the means by which Jesus compassionately provides. We are the hands by which he touches people’s lives. We are the feet by which he meets people’s needs.”

We look at two of Jesus’ most popular miracles (and a lesser known story in between) and learn how we should worship our savior.

Delivered by Nathaniel at Cedar Rock First Baptist Church on October 16, 2016.

Sermon | Sex, Politics, and Suffering (Matthew 14:1-12)

“Our ultimate allegiance isn’t to a donkey or an elephant. It’s to a crucified savior. We’re not primarily Democrats or Republicans. We’re citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.”

We know what the world thinks about sex, politics, and suffering. But the more important question is this: What does God think about these things?

Delivered by Nathaniel at Cedar Rock First Baptist Church on October 2, 2016.

Sermon | Captivated by the Kingdom (Matthew 13:44-58)

“Discipleship must happen not merely within the four walls of this building. We can’t merely outsource biblical, moral training to the church. It needs to be a part of our lifestyle”

Are you merely familiar with Jesus, or are you captivated by him? Learn why the answer to this question is so important in this sermon on Matthew 13:44-58

Delivered by Nathaniel at Cedar Rock First Baptist Church on September 25, 2016.

Sermon | What Kind of Dirt Are You? The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-23)

“If your faith is just a leisure time activity — just something you do for an hour in a pew — then your faith will wither”

How do we account for people who at one time had a glimmer of faith, but that faith faded? Jesus gives us an answer in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1-23.

Delivered by Nathaniel at Cedar Rock First Baptist Church on September 11, 2016.

When Fear Gets in the Way of Sharing the Gospel

I know I’m supposed to share the gospel. But fear always seems to get in the way.

To wit: I once had a conversation with a staunchly liberal (and probably unsaved) lady in my town. I invited her to my church and mentioned how faith inspires us to love the least of these. As I walked away, though, I realized I had only wanted to talk about topics she wanted to hear. I held back the portions of the gospel that caused friction with her worldview — namely, that Jesus is the only way to the Father.

On another occasion, I discussed faith with a deeply conservative (and probably unsaved) man. After I explained my interest in international missions, he said, “I hope you don’t leave the country. I hate any country that’s not America.” I didn’t know how to respond, so I didn’t. I held back the portions of the gospel that caused friction with his worldview — namely, the parts about Jesus saving us to share his good news to the ends of the earth.

In both instances, fear prohibited me from sharing parts of the gospel my listeners didn’t want to hear. So I stayed away from controversial topics. And both of them heard something less than the full gospel message.

Continue reading