“Jesus, Our Glorious, Great High Priest” a Sermon from Hebrews 4:14-16 by Julian Pace

great-high-priest.jpgHello everyone, I recently had the opportunity to bring the Sunday sermon at the First Christian Church of Savannah. If you would like to hear it the link I have provided below will take you to the Church’s website where you can listen in. Once you are there simply scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the sermon that is entitled “Jesus, Our Glorious, Great High Priest.” It is my prayer that this sermon will draw you closer to Jesus of Nazareth, our great high priest who has taken away the sins of the world! Blessings, Julian Pace.

https://www.fccsavannah.org/sermons

 

 

 

 

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“Preparing for the Great Homecoming” a sermon by Julian Pace

Here is a sermon I preached at Woodlawn Baptist Church recently. If I had to boil this sermon down to one fine point it would have to be that “The church needs to be the church”. How do you think we can live this out practically fellow Christians? I hope you enjoy the sermon and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this important topic-Julian Pace

The day Psalm 127:3 finally made sense to me.

It is hard to believe that almost seven months have passed since that day. A day I will never forget. For most people February, 21, 2016 was probably a day much like any other. For me it was unusual as it was one of the very few Sundays when I did not attend church services. Waking up at almost nine o’clock on a Sunday-weird. But we were told to be at the hospital at eleven o’clock sharp to prepare for surgery which of course left attending services out of the question. You see, today was the day my baby boy, Josiah, would draw his first breath and be born via Caesarian section.

To say that I am a stoic fellow would be laughable but I have always liked to think that I am a man of some composure. Certainly, there are always risks when your wife has a baby but I knew she was in the hands of good surgeons who would do their best to keep her and my little boy safe. Besides, it’s not like this was a path I had never been down before. My little girl Gabriella had been born almost a year prior and God had brought us through this process. There were complications but now Gabby was a happy, healthy, and inquisitive little one year old. In fact, these things were all in the back of my mind as I prepared to welcome my son Josiah into the world.

While on the way to the hospital I found myself asking a multitude of questions. What if having your second child is simply not as exciting as when you had your first? Would this time be as special? Would I love this little boy as much as I loved my little girl? All these questions raced through my head and I truly wondered if I was up to the challenge of raising another little youngster.

As a nurse helped me prepare for surgery I felt like I was about to star in a medical drama as I was bedecked in disposable scrubs complete with gloves, mask, and all the necessary accoutrements. With my lovely wife Allison already prepared for surgery I was ushered into the operating room and the doctors set about their work and in just about ten minutes I heard my son cry for the very first time!

It was at this moment that all the veneer of bravado broke down. I was the father of a baby boy! His cries had brought me tears of joy and I could barely contain the feelings of happiness that welled up inside of me. When the nurses informed me he was nearly nine pounds and they joked that “we have a little football player” I could not help but feel a small sense of pride as I thought about my little boy’s future. In just a few minutes I held my little boy in my arms for the very first time. His little hands grasped my thumb as if to hold on for dear life. His every soft, moist breaths forced the hair on my arms to tingle just slightly. It was at this moment I realized that my son, even though I had known him only a few moments, already had a special place in my heart that no one could ever fill quite like he did. It was also at this time that I really began to grasp the truth of Psalm 127:3. This verse says “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. (NIV)” As a Christian I had always known the truth of this verse but I believe it was in that little hospital room, just Josiah and I, when I began to really experience this truth. Yes, children really are rewards. Precious, tiny, little gifts from God above.

How Should Christians face discouragement?

 

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Discouragement is a universal human phenomenon. Christians are not excepted from this unhappy aspect of human experience. Discouragement is a very real and present danger in the life of the believer. Many different events in our life can lead us to despair- Death of a close friend or relative, prolonged sickness, multiple failed endeavors, or not being able to find stable employment. Sometimes just being a faithful witness for Christ in this sin sick world can lead us to depression. Any number of things that life throws at us can lead us to despair and allow us to slip into a lifestyle plagued by discouragement. When we get discouraged, and it is not a matter of if it is a matter of when, how should we deal with it? How should we face this age old problem in a fashion that honors Jesus Christ and is becoming of our Christian proclamation. In the following paragraphs I have listed a few things to remember if you are facing discouragement.

1st Kings 19 tells us that right after Elijah witnessed God’s power and glory on Mount Carmel (no not Mt. Caramel) that he fled to the wilderness due to the persecution wrought by the wicked Queen of Israel named Jezebel. Rather than being energized by the incredible victory, Elijah ran to the desert and fell into a deep depression. In fact, 1st Kings 19:4 tells us that Elijah begged God for death. If you are discouraged remember that you are in good company. Elijah was one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament and even he succumbed to discouragement. The fact is, sometimes doing the right thing for God will make some people very unhappy and we will face persecution for our efforts. It is difficult to remain unaffected by such harsh rejection. Now, I am not saying that we should see our plight of discouragement as a badge of honor or develop a martyr complex but nor should you go to the opposite extreme and think that you are less of a Christian for sometimes getting discouraged.

I also find it interesting that Elijah found himself discouraged immediately after he witnessed God sending down a pillar of fire in an incredible show of his might. For Elijah, this must have been and unforgettable and emotion filled experience. It is a simple fact of human psychology that after extremely joy filled moments in our life we can often experience a letdown. So when this does happen remember that this is normal. When you feel discouraged after a great spiritual victory I would recommend that you take the time to remember what God just did for you in this very special time. Do not be like the fickle children of Israel who often rejected God right after he did something kind for them. Sometimes you will have to make a conscious effort to remember God’s goodness but it will be well worth it! It is also helpful to remember that God is going to continue to do great things with you. Philippians 1:6 says this “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (NIV). If you have been gloriously saved by Jesus Christ (And I hope that you have) and Jesus has not returned yet (Which he hasn’t) then you can be confident that God will continue to give you spiritual victories.

In 1st Kings 19:5-8 we are shown, albeit indirectly, another beautiful truth about God. While in the wilderness and still in the throes of depression God does not forsake Elijah. Rather, he feeds and cares for him by way of Angels. As Christians, we can take comfort in the fact that God does not care for us only when we are faithful and bold, but even when we are broken. God’s love toward us is not conditioned upon our performance. Roman 5:8 echoes this thought in perfect harmony when it says “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (ESV). If you are discouraged, reflect on this truth and be encouraged by the goodness and faithfulness of God.

 

In 1st Kings 19:14 Elijah is quoted as saying “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” Pretty much everything Elijah says in this statement was indeed true at the time with the exception of one phrase “I alone am left”. Sometimes when we are discouraged we blow things way out of proportion. Things were certainly bad in Israel in Elijah’s day but he had clearly lost perspective. For one, he was not alone because God the Father is still on his throne, Jesus is still Lord, and the Spirit is still at work. God has indeed promised us that he will “never leave us, nor forsake us.” For these reasons we should never fear being truly alone. We should also rejoice in the fact that God will always have a remnant of people on earth who will follow him. Consider the words of 1st Kings 19:18 “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” God gently reminds Elijah that he is not the only person standing up for what is right and, by the way, modern Christian, neither are you. God in his grace has given us the Church-Not the building we worship in or hear the word of God preached but the people who make up the community of the redeemed. Dear Christian, when you are discouraged this is the time when you should lean on your fellow believers all the more. You should look to them for guidance, comfort, and care. All too many people when faced with struggles exit the church. This is the last thing you should do when you are discouraged. If you think that by leaving the church your problems will fade, then you are deceived. Cling to your fellow believers all the more. That is what God would have you do.

As you can see, the word of God has not left us without an answer as to what we should do when we are discouraged. In the previous paragraphs we have only considered one chapter of the Bible and It speaks directly to our present struggles. If I could leave you with one final encouragement I would simply say that if you are discouraged you should take even more time out of your day to search the scriptures for wisdom and encouragement. God has given us the Bible so that we might be taught, encouraged, and reproved. Sometimes the words of the scriptures challenge and sting but they are always instructive-And they will always draw us closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has promised us that all who follow him will indeed find rest.

 

 

 

Should Christians Vote for Donald Trump?

When writing articles in the past for my blog, I have intentionally avoided broaching the subject of politics. Even amongst Christians, politics can be a toxic subject and this is why I have refrained from writing anything on the topic. I have always wanted my blog to be a place where all Christians can find encouragement and unity. It has also been my desire that for those who do not believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, that they might find my blog to be a safe place where they can learn more about the Christian faith from a perspective that is whimsical, tolerant, yet thoroughly orthodox and scriptural.  This is why I have only decided to post an article about politics after much prayer and reflection.

I have long been an avid follower of all things political. Someone once said, “Politics is like sports for nerds.” This statement rings true for me. I am the guy who stays up into the wee hours of the morning checking election returns and I salivate when I hear about the latest developments from Washington and the campaign trail. I do not pretend to be an expert but I do try to stay informed. As I stated earlier, I don’t typically like to talk politics on my blog but as I have watched this years’ Republican primary season unfold I feel like I am compelled to offer some commentary on what is going on. Over the last year we have seen the momentous rise of Donald J. Trump. A man who was once written off as a distraction has become a force to be reckoned with. He has claimed victory in over ten different states and has amassed 458 delegates so far. There is no doubt that Mr. Trump is catching fire with many people in this country. With his massive success so far, should Christians join the “Trump train”?

If I were writing for a political news magazine like National Review or Politico I would probably offer my thoughts on some of Mr. Trump’s policy proposals but since I am not, I will offer my thoughts on where I think Mr. Trump stands in the moral arena. Christians can disagree on foreign policy. Christians can disagree on entitlement reform. Christians can disagree on fiscal issues but there are some things that we simply cannot compromise on. The Holy Scriptures are very clear on moral issues like adultery, murder, and hatred. They state that these things have no place in a Christian’s life. Put simply, some issues are “black and white” while many others in the realm of politics could reasonably be considered “gray”.

To put things into perspective, in the previous election I cast my vote for Mitt Romney. I strongly disagreed with him on a number of issues but I could cast a vote for him in good conscience because to the best of my knowledge Mitt Romney is a decent and honorable man. Based on the evidence, I can’t come to the same conclusion about Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump has proven himself to be a bully and demeaning to the handicapped and women. It was not so long ago that Mr. Trump mocked the New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski. Kovaleski has deformities in his arms and legs which have rendered him disabled. Mr. Trump mimicked and mocked Kovaleski at a rally in South Carolina. Mr. Trump’s views on women are scarcely any better. He has called reporter Megyn Kelly a “bimbo” and made jabs at her that referenced her menstrual cycle. Mr. Trump has also been a frequent guest on the Howard Stern show. In these interviews he shows that he has decidedly depraved views of women and human sexuality in general. The following web address will take you to CNN politics online where you can see for yourself http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/12/politics/donald-trump-howard-stern/. I will warn readers that the content is graphic. Mr. Trump has also bragged about his multiple affairs with some of the world’s “top women”.

Donald Trump has also defended Planned Parenthood in a live interview with Sean Hannity. He has been quoted as saying “they do good things” and says that providing abortions is only a small part of what they do. This is patently false as this report by the Heritage Foundation clearly shows. The link is available here and it shows that Planned Parenthood is primarily an abortion clinic http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2015/09/disentangling-the-data-on-planned-parenthood-affiliates-abortion-services-and-receipt-of-taxpayer-funding. It may be that Mr. Trump is simply misinformed about the great number of abortions this organization performs. I do not want to hold him accountable for a position that he might simply be mistaken about. However, I find it very hard to believe that he has no knowledge of the videos that were made available in September of last year that show in sordid detail how Planned Parenthood participated in criminal activity by selling the body parts of aborted fetuses. If Mr. Trump knows about this story and will still defend this organization, then he can’t be trusted to fight for the rights of the unborn. For his sake, I pray he is ignorant of the facts. I also have serious misgivings as to whether Mr. Trump really understands the philosophical and moral underpinnings of why most Christians (only the most liberal of us excepted) are so strongly Pro-Life. In a brilliant article for National Review, Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, mentions how Mr. Trump typically explains that he is Pro-Life because he knows of a child who was to be aborted who ended up becoming a “superstar”. Moore points out that this kind of reasoning is grounded in a Nietzschean and Social Darwinist perspective, not in the Judeo-Christian tradition. As Christians, we believe that all people are deserving of life because they are created in the image of God and they are precious in his sight. I wonder if Donald Trump has ever thought about this issue on these terms? What if this child was born with mental retardation? What if this child became a criminal? Would the Donald be Pro-Choice instead? Perhaps Mr. Trump is genuinely Pro-Life as he now claims on the campaign trail. Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, I genuinely hope he is. Still, for the reasons I have just cited, I doubt he will be a champion we can count on to defend the unborn and their right to life.

Donald Trump has frequently pointed out that his success in the business world would make him a good president. Unfortunately, the evidence seems to suggest that Mr. Trump has frequently engaged in less than ethical business practices. If you would like to know more, you can read this article by Mark Antonio Wright http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430628/donald-trump-business-record-bully. On a personal note, I have trouble voting for a man who has made so much money from casinos. While it is not illegal to operate casinos, these operations prey on people’s addictions and have left many families and marriages in shambles.

Now you might say to all this, Julian, aren’t you being judgmental? My only response is I certainly hope not. I am simply trying to be discerning. I realize that I am a wicked sinner saved by God’s grace. While I have never been unfaithful to my wife, engaged in unethical business practices (as far as I know), or been demeaning to women, the disabled, or minorities I know that I am fully capable of all these things. Sin is sin. Donald Trump is a sinner. Julian Pace is a sinner. On this playing field, we are equals. But should we vote for a man who implies with his own words that he has never needed to repent of any wrongdoing? I also want to make it perfectly clear that it is not my desire with this article to simply sling mud at Mr. Trump. I sincerely hope that one day Donald Trump will repent of his wrongdoings and throw himself at the mercy of the ever merciful Jesus Christ!

Today, On March 15th 2016, five states and one U.S. territory will hold Republican presidential primaries. Perhaps you are still unsure of who to vote for. All I can ask you to do is to vote with Biblical principles in mind. If you are not in a state where voting is taking place, then pray that God’s will would be done. The central question (and title) of my article is this: Should Christians vote for Donald Trump? Based on the evidence, I think the answer is a resounding no but you, the reader, will have to weigh the evidence for yourself. Perhaps at the end of all this you might opine that these things are of little consequence because, after all, we aren’t voting on a “National Pastor”. This is true, but that does not take the sting out of the words of Proverbs 29:2 when it states “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Ponder these words before you pull the lever.

 

 

Is the Decline of Religion Inevitable?

Here is a interesting conversation between Christian philosopher William Lane Craig and Kevin Harris (host of the Reasonable Faith Podcast). I highly recommend everybody check our Dr Craig’s website http://www.reasonablefaith.org. There are many fine resources there that will help you to grow in your walk with the Lord. Here they discuss if religion is really on the decline. Enjoy, Julian.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-the-decline-of-religion-inevitable