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Pastor’s Book Recommendations

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Pastor’s Book Suggestions/Recommendations

As a pastor, I’m asked occasionally to recommend books on various subjects.  Below are books by category:

Marriage

Family

Life

 Parenting

Author Recommendations:

Occasionally, I will update this list as I come across more resources.

Blessings!!

Pastor Eric

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The true source of Joy

Image result for Romans 14:17It is the intent of most people to be joyful.  We enjoy being with happy people.  We look forward to laughs and lighthearted moments.  It’s the difficult things in life that cause us misery.

So, what is the balance of living life when we have a desire to have joy, yet we are pressed with uncomfortable circumstances.

I believe it can be said that depression sometimes has a physiological cause. However, I also believe that some depressions are the result of an unbiblical understanding of true and lasting joy along with unrealistic expectations in life.

As a result of unachieved expectations, people often plunge into the depths of disappointment, sadness, and even despair.  These responses left unchecked will lead to a state of depression.

For those who put their trust in and are obedient to Jesus Christ and His Word, the Holy Spirit of God is the true source of joy…Lasting joy.

Not matter how things may go in life, we can have absolute joy.

For just a moment, please separate any past adverse church experience.  Set aside any extreme teachings.  Focus on the true source of life:  Jesus Christ.

While you can experience some levels of happiness and contentment separately from the Holy Spirit, nothing can be compared to the enjoyment and pleasure of receiving God’s Spirit.  Far too many compare “religion” with negative feelings, but the fact of the matter is true joy far exceeds religion.

I would be willing to guess that most of your greatest joy comes from close relationships; family, friends, etc.  The key in those joyful experiences is relationship.  Relationships are what build our lives.  When we build our relationship with Jesus Christ we will experience true and lasting joy.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Now while for the most part, we don’t relate to kingdoms in the modern age, a simple definition for “the kingdom of God” is simply relationship.

Paul also wrote in Galatians 5:22-26, “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

The New Living Translation of verse 24 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.”

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus…”

Although we do not condone slavery of any type, in a sense we are enslaved when we are in relationship with others.  We are committed to someone.  When we care about someone we will do what is best for them.  The apostle Paul said multiple times in scripture that he was a slave to Christ (i.e. his spiritual relationship motivated him to be a servant).  The best earthly example I could give is the institution of marriage.  Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.  Wives are to respect their husbands.  (See Ephesians 5).  Relationship is about belonging.

Our highest priority relationship should always be that with Jesus Christ (the true source of spiritual joy).  Second should be our family who cares and nurture us (designed to be the source of earthly joy).

These two relationships were disrupted in the Garden of Eden.  Satan assisted in creating dysfunctional thinking which separated mankind from relationship with God and created division in human relationships.

In his Bible study titled “Bible Study on Joy: 7 Things You Need to Know,” Robert Driskell observed, “The joy that the world offers is a pale imitation of the true joy only God can give us. The joy that unsaved people experience is a temporary joy that comes and goes depending on the situation that person is in at the time. If things are going well, there is joy. When things are difficult, there is no joy”

Without God, our concept of true joy fails to line up with Paul’s definition of its source:  “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).

The Holy Spirit is the true and lasting source of real joy.

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Too many “Christian” teachings that are not biblical.

Yes!  You read that correctly.  I am jumping into the deep end of the pool with my first blog.

Recently, I have been perplexed by several situations and began to ask God for clear direction.  From a ritual religious standpoint, I would tend to give “off-the-cuff” answers that I have heard all my life.  But, how has that been working out for anyone?

For far too long Christianity has had its hang-ups and misconceptions.  Without a doubt, in my mind, I believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.  The Apostle Paul boldly exclaimed, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16 KJV).  It is simply our misapplication and misunderstanding that causes more pain and problems in our lives.  We must “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

There are many sincere Christians who fight with physical & emotional problems but feel there should be answers to their problems.  While I agree that God is able to heal and restore all situations, we must also recognize not all problems will be resolved the way we think they should.

In Matthew 13, Jesus performed only a few miracles because of unbelief.  Unbelief in something causes belief in something else.  Jesus’ desire was to heal many, however, the people’s belief was incorrect.

Jesus Christ’s power has not diminished.  It is our belief that is in question.  If unbelief of the cause of Jesus not performing more miracles, having a correct belief will allow God to work in a greater dimension than we previously anticipated.

In the coming post, I want to address some “Christian” teachings that may have caused you to miss out on some opportunities for deepening your relationship with God and experiencing a greater spiritual freedom.

It is my goal to remain biblical in my perspective, however, I also want to step away from tradition & religion to make sure that more people have the correct biblical perspective.

I look forward to sharing these with you.

Blessings!!

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What is the purpose of this blog?

With so many blogs & vlogs out in the cyber world, why would someone want to start a new one?  Well, in short, I searched for several questions that seemed very relevant to the twenty-first century and did not seem to find what I was looking for.  No, I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but I will aim to provide relative information that I have gleaned from published resources.

So, who am I, you may ask?  Well, in short, I am an individual who is hungry for biblical truth and perspective.  I have challenges just like anyone else.  My challenges are not always the same as everyone else.  I only hope to provide words of biblical encouragement that will motivate you to keep walking the spiritual journey.

I am blessed to be married to the most beautiful lady in the world.  I have two beautiful daughters.  I am honored to be called “Pastor” to a wonderful group of people in Baytown, Texas.

So, how do you apply the information I post?  My advice, don’t over complicate.  Human nature sometimes has a tendency to take information and either do one of two things; over complicate or under utilized.  I encourage each of you to read the information, pray and ask God to give you clear direction, and then apply as it is applicable.  Most importantly, follow the leading of the Holy Ghost and the Word of God.

The format will present a question and then I will attempt to provide biblical truth and perspective.  It is my hope that we can dismantle “Christian” myths that have been assumed to be “Law & Gospel”.  No, what I present will not be based on denominational lines, but a biblical perspective.  Everyone has opinions, however, having a biblical perspective has never been so important as it is today.

Somehow, I pray that what is written will inspire and energize your spiritual walk with God.

Blessings!

Why We Must Be Baptized in the NAME of the FATHER, SON, and HOLY GHOST

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

The Bible commands and teaches the necessity of water baptism for the New Testament Church (John 3:3, John 3:5, Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:20,21), so it is our responsibility to obey this commandment. One day each of us will account for our lives. Since we have God’s Word, ignorance will not be an acceptable excuse on that day.

The Necessity of Water Baptism

Is water baptism a necessary part of the salvation experience of the New Testament? People have various ideas about water baptism that we cannot always trust. We need to depend upon the Word of God as our source of instruction.

Jesus gave us some insight as to the importance of water baptism in John 3:5: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily,

I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.” Both the context of that statement and the subsequent practice of the New Testament church indicate that He was speaking of water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

If in Matthew 28:19, Jesus gave the apostles and us a direct command to go, teach, and baptize converts. Then since He gave this command, baptism is important and necessary.

The Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

If Jesus instructed us to baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”. In other words, He told us to baptize in the name (singular) that fully reveals God in His redemptive manifestation and work.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are titles and not names. I am a father and I am also a son and I also have a spirit. All that refers to who I am, but none of that is my name. What is the name?

The name given to the Son of God was Jesus. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Jesus was a genuine human being, born by the miraculous work of God’s Spirit in the womb of a virgin, and thus He was literally the Son of God (Luke 1:35). He was more than a man however, He was actually the one God manifested in the flesh (Colossians 2:9; I Timothy 3:17). He was the visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).

As such Jesus declared, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43). In other words, the Father is made known to us by the name of Jesus. The Father, the one true invisible God, gave His name to the Son (the manifestation of God in flesh), thus the Son received His name by inheritance (Hebrews 1:4).

The name Jesus literally means “Jehovah Savior.” Jehovah was the unique name by which the one true God identified Himself to Israel in the Old Testament. The name Jesus describes the one God of the Old Testament coming in flesh to be our Savior. Thus the name of Jesus reveals both the Father and the Son.

What about the Holy Ghost? What name reveals God in His spiritual essence and action? Jesus said, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). In other words, the Holy Spirit comes to us in the name of Jesus. The Holy Spirit does not come to us with a separate identity but is the Spirit of Jesus. Jesus Himself comes to dwell within us Spiritually (John 14:16-18; Colossians 1:27).

In short, the supreme name that reveals God, the name by which we know the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is Jesus. By invoking the name of Jesus, then, we would fulfill the command of Matthew 28:19.

The Importance of the Name of Jesus

Many passages of scripture emphasize the importance and supremacy of the name of Jesus. “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

“Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem”  (Luke 24:47).

“To him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).

“Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 1:4).

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of the things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him” (Colossians 3:17). If we are to do all things in the Name of Jesus, why would baptism be in any other way?

The Practice of the Early Church

How did the apostles obey the command that Jesus gave to them in Matthew 28:19? On the Day of Pentecost, sinners asked the question, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). The apostle Peter gave them the answer: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). This verse reveals that the apostles baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and that baptism is for the remission of sins.

When Saul (later known as Paul) repented, Ananias instructed him, “And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord”.

What is the name of the Lord?

Just a few days earlier, Paul had asked the same question: “Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest” (Acts 9:5). Paul later wrote, “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (1 Corinthians 12:3).

Jesus revealed Himself to Paul as the Lord (Acts 9:3-8). Paul knew about the Lord God of the Old Testament, but at that time he did not serve the Jesus of the New Testament. But he learned that the Lord of the Old Testament was the same Lord of the New Testament, and to his amazement this one Lord was Jesus.

The Bible clearly indicates that there is but one Lord, and not only one Lord, but one faith, and not only one faith but one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). When Philip preached the gospel in Samaria, those who believed “were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:16).

When a group of Gentiles received the Holy Spirit, Peter asked, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:47-48). As we have just seen, the name of the Lord is Jesus. Moreover, as translations such as the Amplified Bible and the New International Version (Acts 10:47-48 NIV) indicate, the oldest Greek manuscripts we now have actually state here, “in the name of Jesus Christ”.

Paul re-baptized the disciples of John at Ephesus in the name of Jesus. “He said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:3-5).

The Command of Matthew 28:19

Clearly the early church baptized everyone (Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles) in the name of Jesus. How does this practice harmonize with Matthew 28:19? First, Matthew 28:19 says “in the name” (singular) not “in the names” or “in the titles or offices of God.” The name that Matthew 28:19 describes is Jesus. So the apostles correctly understood and baptized converts in the name of Jesus.

The Bible does not tell us that we have life through the titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but it tells us we have life through the name of Jesus. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name” (John 20:31).

The Bible does not say that we are baptized into three different persons, but it says we are “baptized into Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:3-4). Specifically, we are “buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).

Conclusion

Shortly before His ascension Jesus gave the baptismal command found in Matthew 28:19 to the apostles.  According to Luke 24:45, He also opened their understanding.  A few days after His ascension, He baptized 120 waiting disciples with His Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.  On this occasion, the apostles proclaimed to the multitude that everyone should be baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38)

The apostles understood that Jesus was the redemptive name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  They did not merely repeat those three titles, but they invoked the name to which those titles referred.  The other preachers in the New Testament church, such as Philip, Ananis, and Paul, adhered to the same baptismal formula.

There are no contradictions in the Word of God.  The New Testament teaches that we must be baptized “in the name” of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and that name we are to invoke at baptism is Jesus.

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This blog is a compilation of two resources written with the same title:  “Why We Must Be Baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

  1. Personal Blog of Stan Hallett – First Apostolic Church of Biddeford, Maine
  2. Word Aflame Press Tract #1567220878

Because He Lives…You can face tomorrow!

Life is Worth Living!

 

Image result for Because he lives

Because He Lives is one of my favorite songs I’ve sung in church all my life, especially at this time of year.  I’ve listened to the author of this song sing it many times and enjoyed it immensely because there is so much truth to it.  When I think of the message of the words of this song it causes me to think about the power of Jesus Christ’s love and care for all humanity.  It is easy to say but harder to comprehend; God loves and cares for ME.  Those are not just words; they are a reality.

As I sat this morning pondering this song, the words kept reverberating in my thoughts:

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives

This song addresses three areas of our existence we have no control over.

Tomorrow…always leaves an emptiness in the stomach.  That unknown future.  That area which is out of our hands.  But, because Jesus Christ is alive you and I can face the unknown with confidence knowing that Jesus Christ will be with us.  The scripture says (God speaking to his chosen people), “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).  When you look at the original biblical language it is implied that the writer of Hebrews may have been shouting “[I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)!” (see Amplified Bible (Classic) of this scripture).   Knowing how emphatic the writer of Hebrews is it gives me confidence about God’s character; He will always be there.

Fear.  We all face it…even dread it at times.  Fear has been defined as faith being turned inside out.  When we allow fear to control our thoughts and emotions, our faith in the power and authority of Jesus Christ is diminished.  Knowing that Jesus Christ lives, we can confront our fears and walk in spiritual confidence.

The future. The vast part of our life we cannot control.  No one can.  We attempt in many ways to control components related to our future, but the reality is no one can truly control the future.  We save money. We plan. We organize & strategize.  Ultimately, however, Jesus Christ is the only one that holds, or knows, the future.  The best thing we could ever do is to simply trust in Jesus Christ and have faith in His ability and providence.  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)

Life is Worth Living!

Life is worth living, just because Jesus Christ lives.  Far too many people focus on the temporal things of this life (jobs, homes, vehicles, hobbies, etc.)  and lose sight of what is beyond this present life.  “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19 KJV).  Life is worth living when we focus on God’s truths for our lives.  Yes, we are going to face difficult times.  Yes, we will have difficult relationship problems. The good news is despite all this there is a life worth living.  Just follow and obey the biblical truths.

Book Recommendation: Boundaries

Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How to Say No
by Henry Cloud & John Townsend.
Boundaries
Description by Amazon:
Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances — Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions — Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others — Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God’s will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator — Often, Christians focus so much on being loving and unselfish that they forget their own limits and limitations. When confronted with their lack of boundaries, they ask: – Can I set limits and still be a loving person? – What are legitimate boundaries? – What if someone is upset or hurt by my boundaries? – How do I answer someone who wants my time, love, energy, or money? – Aren’t boundaries selfish? – Why do I feel guilty or afraid when I consider setting boundaries? Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer biblically-based answers to these and other tough questions, showing us how to set healthy boundaries with our parents, spouses, children, friends, co-workers, and even ourselves.
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Why do I recommend this book? Simple! It’s biblical and practical.
I encourage everyone to read this book.
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 To purchase this book click here:  Amazon Link