Pastor's Blog

  • The Joy of Adoption

    “…he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ..." (Ephesians 1:5)

    A doctor describes pancreatic cancer. It is “the most deadly; the one people have nightmares about.” Thankfully, pancreatic cancer is rare.

    Understandably then, this doctor was surprised to encounter a man who claims that pancreatic cancer runs in his family.  This 40-year-old man is afraid that he is next up for “the curse in my family.” Already, his father, grandfather, four uncles, and three cousins have all died of pancreatic cancer. Each of them has gone rapidly from great health to the grave.

    So this doctor takes another doctor—a friend who is a pathologist—to investigate. The two doctors set up a lab in order to draw blood from members of this family. They do this in order to run genetic testing, so that they can try to track down “what’s making this family sick.”

    The pathologist is in new territory here. As a pathologist, she is usually distanced from her patients. She is usually looking objectively at samples under a microscope. But today she is face-to-face with them. Today she is talking with a healthy young man who is a member of this family. While they are talking, it dawns on her that this man who is sitting right in front of her has “a time bomb inside [his] body.”

    She describes what happens next:

    “And then this little boy comes in… and just runs up to this guy… throws his arms around Daddy’s neck, and kisses him. And all I could think was, ‘Oh my God. This beautiful child, he has a 50% chance of having this hideous disease.’ And I was just so upset about that. I was just so torn apart inside.”

    On the way home, the two doctors were talking about their day. The pathologist was talking to the other doctor about how sad she was about this little boy.

    The other doctor laughed. She knew something about the boy that the pathologist did not know: “Him? Don’t worry about him—he’s adopted!

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    Pancreatic cancer exists because sin exists. Pancreatic cancer is indeed a hideous disease, but how much more hideous is the root of all cancer—the root of all sickness and confusion and brokenness and pain. Sin brings death 100% of the time to 100% of the population (Romans 5:12–14; see also Genesis 5). Sin ruins everything:  us, our relationships, our world. Sin brings shame and alienation. Sin brings death (Romans 6:23a).

    And to top it all off, sin is inherited. Sin is “the curse in [our] family.”

    How good, then, is the news of adoption (Ephesians 1:6)! In saving us, God removes us from our old family (the one full of sin and death) and brings us into his own holy family. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

    And again, “you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ…” (1 Peter 1:18–19a).

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    Lessons learned:

    1)      Like the pathologist, I must feel great pity and compassion for the afflicted. Human beings are beautiful; each and all of us bear the image of our Creator! But sin infects us, and our sins afflict us. We are living in the midst of unspeakable tragedy. We must be compassionate.

    2)      Like the doctor, I must rejoice in adoption. Because of what God has done for me in Jesus Christ, I no longer need to fear the curse of sin in any form. I no longer have to live under the dread of the diagnosis—because my Savior has taken my disease upon himself! My disease was nailed to the cross, and in Christ I am healed.

    3)      And so, I rejoice in the Gospel, even as I share the Gospel. And I share the Gospel, even as I rejoice in the Gospel. 

    "Me? Don't worry about me—I'm adopted!

  • "WITH ALL THE SAINTS" — Discovering God's Love Together

    "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep" (Rom. 12:15). This two-pronged command is situated in a list of body-life exhortations that we believers are called to live out "in view of God's mercies" (Rom. 12:1). As a pastor, I commend Romans 12 to every church member's mind and heart. Sit down with a cup of coffee, and devour that text as food for some wholesome meditation! Turning there, you will find the Apostle Paul, in rapid-fire succession, giving us a challenging list of what it means to stand apart from the world and together with the saints of God. This is God's will for us.

    This past weekend at New City Fellowship was an emotional one. In addition to the highs and lows of each of our lives, we had the corporate experience of beholding—at one and the same time—both the ugly misery of sin and the beautiful hope of belief and baptism. There have been times these past few days when I have been unsure of the source of my tears, whether they are of joy or pain! Emotionally exhausting?—for sure! But also, these times are invaluable for us as a church!

    God, in his wise and loving providence, has brought these circumstances about. As we continue to look to him, he will grow us in our faith. The Gospel is God's power both to save and to sanctify us, and nothing will get in the way! I'd like to point out, as a reflection on these times at NCF, one way in which I see the Lord growing us.

    As we mourned together this past Sunday, and as we rejoice together over the upcoming baptisms, God is teaching us what it means to be members of one another. When we eat the bread and drink the cup together each week, keep in mind that we are all being sustained by one and the same Source! We are individual members of the one body. We will come to realize this unity as we worship our Savior both as individuals and in the midst of the congregation. We come to realize this unity more fully as we weep together, and as we rejoice together. 

    We pursue this unity by investing our time, thoughts, and emotions in one another. This involves (for example) sending notes of encouragement to each other, praying for one another, and exercising patience and forgiveness together. But there is a more ultimate goal here than simply knowing that we care about one another. As we love each other in these ways, we will have the strength to enjoy the greatest thing imaginable—the glorious love of God! It's with this in mind that Paul prayed for the Ephesian churches:

    ...I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  (Eph. 3:14–19)

    Amen!

    And so, brothers and sisters, according to the grace of God that is at work within us, let's cry together, and let's sing for joy together! Come thick or thin, God is at work in us! And in this way, with our eyes fixed on Jesus, we will come to realize more and more the incomparable treasure that is ours in Him!

    Grace and peace to you in Christ,

    -Pastor Josh

  • How to Subscribe to a Podcast on an Android Phone

    We use an RSS feed, or simply put - a podcast feed, to reach out to you and anyone looking for solid biblical preaching each week by making our sermons available for streaming or download.  We've had many questions regarding how to subscribe to our feed so that the sermons will download automatically to your device each time a new one is posted to the internet.  Here is an informative video on how to do this on an Android device that walks you through the process of finding and installing a podcasting app,  searching for the podcast you want to hear, and subscribing to the podcast so that each time a new sermon is made available, you will have immediate and easy access to the content.  I will post a video on how to do this through iTunes within the next couple of days.  If you have further questions, please email Wes Sharp at sharpj6637@gmail.com. 

  • Saved by blood, I live to tell 
    What the love of Christ has done;
    He redeemed my soul from hell, 
    Of a rebel made a son: 
    Oh! I tremble still to think 
    How secure I lived in sin; 
    Sporting on destruction's brink, 
    Yet preserved from falling in. 

    Chorus: 
    Saved by blood I live to tell 
    What the love of Christ has done;
    He redeemed my soul from hell, 
    Of a rebel made a son. 

    In His own appointed hour, 
    To my heart the Savior spoke; 
    Touched me by His Spirit's pow'r, 
    From my slumber I awoke.
    Then I saw and owned my guilt: 
    Soon my gracious Lord replied, 
    "Do not fear, my blood I've spilt,
    For your sin and guilt I died."

    Joy and wonder, love and shame,
    All at once possessed my heart; 
    Can I hope Your grace to claim
    With these stains so deep and dark?
    "You have greatly sinned," He said,
    "But I freely all forgive; 
    I myself your debt have paid,
    Now I bid you rise and live."

    Come, my fellow sinners, try,
    Jesus' heart is full of love;
    Oh, that you, as well as I,
    May his wondrous mercy prove!
    He has sent me to declare,
    All is ready, all is free:
    Why should any soul despair,
    When he saved a wretch like me.

  • The Gospel is for the Weary

    In the gospel, Jesus offers me rest (Matthew 11:28). This means that rest is not something I earn but something I receive as a gift. Indeed, the rest I seek is his rest (Hebrews 4:9,10). Jesus’ promise of rest is good news for the restless, for those who have been laboring for what does not satisfy. It is good news for me because I often restlessly strive after the wind rather than striving to enter his rest.

    At times, I fail to rest because of envy. Envy is the enemy of rest because it keeps me toiling incessantly. More than that, envy subjects the whole world to meaningless gridlock as every man labors to get more than what his neighbor has (Ecclesiastes 4:4). Mercifully, the gospel frees me from this hopeless situation by teaching me contentment with what I have in Christ (Philippians 4:11–13). It teaches me that who I am and what I have in Christ is beyond enough (Romans 10:12; Ephesians 1:18, 19). As I rejoice in God’s abundant generosity toward me in Christ Jesus, my relationship to my neighbor changes: instead of envying him, I am moved to generosity toward him. And so, the gospel brings me rest (Proverbs 11:25).

    Other times, I fail to rest because of anxiety. Anxiety is the adversary of rest because it floods my soul in the quietest of moments and robs me of refreshment. Anxiety is the product of idolatry, thus Jesus’ antidote is to reorient my worship (Matthew 6:24–33). Like envy, idolatrous anxiety is sinful. Through the gospel, I am not only saved from the just penalty of my sinful anxiety, but I am also liberated to worship God alone.In the gospel, I am reminded that God gave his Son for me, and this fact confirms his promise to give me all things (Romans 8:32). As I rejoice in the abundant provisions, which are mine in Christ Jesus, anxiety loses its grip on me. And so, the gospel brings me rest.

    In envy, my eyes are fixed on my neighbor. In anxiety, my eyes are fixed on my needs. In the gospel, my eyes are fixed on Christ (Hebrews 12:1, 2). If I am to enter God’s promised rest, I must rest in God’s promises today. True rest is God’s gift to me, and striving to enter his rest means diligently preaching the gospel to myself every day.

    ~Pastor Josh

    1. Reformation Roundtable Live from LaRue Baptist Church (11-1-2015)

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    What's the big deal about the Reformation?  Isn't about time we got over it?  

    Join Rhett Crabtree, Brett Cornelius, Tim Pasma and Josh Hause as they discuss the validity of the Reformation for today's Christian, answer listener questions, and wear clerical collars for a crowd of baptists.