Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Guilty

Monday, May 6th, 2013

I remember seeing a Peanuts cartoon where some unnamed stranger was walking around on a sidewalk with a sign that read, “Guilty!”  Charlie Brown looked at the sign and wondered to himself, “How did he know?”  Some people, like Charlie Brown, continually struggle with a guilty conscience, even if it isn’t justified.

King David had every reason to feel guilty.  It is because he was guilty.  He had committed that awful series of sins – adultery and murder – and was dealing with great guilt.  It was magnified when God sent His prophet Nathan to confront and correct David.  For so long David didn’t honestly face the reality of his sins.  In his autobiographical account of those dark days David recorded:

“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4). (more…)

Trust and Obey

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

A vivid memory from my childhood comes from an experience where I learned one of my first lessons in faith.  My buddies and I were playing baseball in the front yard of my house when someone hit the ball up on the flat roof of our garage.  Because the roof was flat the ball didn’t roll back to the ground, so someone had to go up after it.  Since it was my house it became my duty to go up on the roof.  We had no ladder so one of my taller friends boosted me up on his shoulders and I scrambled up the nine or ten feet on to the garage roof, retrieved the ball, went back to the edge expecting to be helped down by my “friends.”  There was no one in sight.  They thought it would be funny to leave me on the roof with no way to get down.  I began to yell for help, but to no avail.  Soon my dad heard all the noise and came outside to see what was up.  When he saw my predicament he chuckled, then just held up his arms and said, “Jump.”  Immediately I was confronted with a dilemma.  Do I trust that my dad and jump into his arms, or do I stay on the roof for the rest of my life?  It really was not a big decision.  I obeyed … and jumped!  Why?  Because I had absolute confidence in my dad.  I knew that he loved me and wanted to catch me when I jumped into his arms.  Furthermore I knew that he was strong and that he could catch me when I jumped into his arms.

That was a traumatic experience for a little guy, and I guess that’s why I’ve never forgotten it.  But it has served as a repeated reminder to me of what it means to trust and obey. (more…)

Welcome!

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

“All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss” (1 Corinthians 16:20).

The gatherings of the church are to be times filled with great joy and love.
  After all, we are family, having been bought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ and all indwelt by the Spirit of Jesus.

In ancient times the “holy kiss” was a common way for believers to greet one another as they gathered, probably men to men and women to women.  It was the old-time equivalent of a hearty handshake or a friendly hug.  It was a symbolic expression of love and unity within the Body of Christ.

As we come together as the people of God in our churches we should greet others as though they are beloved family at a family reunion.  We must also keep in mind that in healthy churches there will usually be guests attending on any given weekend.

Thom Ranier, President of Lifeway Christian Resources, recently penned what he called “The Ten Commandments for Guest-Friendly Churches.”  He reminds us that guests are often uncomfortable and somewhat nervous as they attend a church for the first time.  Here are Ranier’s “Ten Commandments” for church members as they welcome guests:

  1. 1. Thou shalt pray for people in the services whom you don’t recognize. They are likely guests who feel uncomfortable and uncertain.
  2. 2. Thou shalt smile. Guests feel welcome when they see smiling people. (You can resume your somber expressions when you get home.)
  3. 3. Thou shalt not sit on the ends of the rows. Move to the middle so guests don’t have to walk over you. You’ll survive in your new precarious position.
  4. 4. Thou shalt not fill up the back rows first. Move to the front so guests don’t have to walk in front of everyone if they get there late.
  5. 5. Thou shalt have ushers to help seat the guests. Ushers should have clearly marked badges or shirts so that the guests know who can help them.
  6. 6. Thou shalt offer assistance to guests. If someone looks like they don’t know where to go, then they probably don’t know where to go. Get out of your comfort zone and ask them if you can help.
  7. 7. Thou shalt not gather too long in your holy huddles. Sure, it’s OK to talk to fellow members; but don’t stay there so long that you are not speaking to guests.
  8. 8. Thou shalt offer your seats to guests. That family of four can’t fit in the three vacant seats next to you. Give it a try. You might actually feel good about your efforts.
  9. 9. Thou shalt not save seats. I know you want to have room for all of your friends and family, but do you know how a guest feels when he or she sees the vacant seats next to you occupied by three hymnals, one Bible, two coats, and an umbrella? You might as well put a “Do Not Trespass” sign on the seats.
  10. 10.Thou shalt greet someone you don’t know. Yes, it’s risky. They may actually be members you don’t know. And you may get caught in a 45-second conversation. You’ll be OK; I promise.

Remember how it was the last time you attended a church for the first time.  Put yourself in the shoes of the first time guests this weekend.  I suggest that you not greet them with a holy kiss; you might be greeted in return with a holy punch.  But a warm handshake and a kind word will do wonders to put others at ease as they gather with the people of God this coming weekend.

Remember the Cross! Remember the Empty Tomb

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Those of us who studied Texas history as school children may remember reading about the fateful events of Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836.  The Alamo had just fallen.  A few weeks later Colonel James Fannin’s troops had been captured and imprisoned at the presidio La Bahia, near Goliad, Texas.  The Mexican officer in charge awakened the Texan prisoners on that Palm Sunday morning telling them that they were to be marched under guard to another location.  What actually happened, however, is that they were marched a short distance out of La Bahia, and the Mexican soldiers opened fire on the Texas soldiers, mercilessly killing nearly 350 prisoners.  It was called the Goliad Massacre.  About a month later General Sam Houston would lead his troops against Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto where Texas independence was won.  The battle cry for that victorious battle was “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” (more…)

Demolishing Strongholds

Friday, March 1st, 2013

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).

On the corner at a busy intersection near our church there was located a sexually-oriented business and liquor store.  Persons driving to our church from one direction were forced to pass by this disgraceful display.  At first I remember being disgusted and wishing that it would just go away.  Then it occurred to me that perhaps I should pray that it would be removed.  What a novel thought!  Believe it or not, the first instinct of a pastor is not always to pray … but I’m learning.  I soon learned that my wife had come to the same conclusion; we should specifically pray that this unwholesome spectacle would be closed.

Several weeks ago we noticed that the business had indeed been closed.  But as far as we knew, it could open again at any time.  Even the empty building was a lurid reminder of evil business that took place there. (more…)

Your Reliable Bible

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

“The Bible is full of contradictions.”

“The Bible is just a collection of myths written by people long ago.”

“The Bible can’t claim to be a factual source of historical people and events.”

Have you ever heard someone make statements like these?  Perhaps in moments of doubt you have entertained the same questions yourself.  Through the years I have talked with people who challenge the authenticity and authority of the Bible.  Some just want to argue; others are genuinely seeking to know the truth about the claims of the Bible.

As I think about the attacks that have been hurled at the Bible through the ages I stand today with great confidence in the reliability of the Bible as the source of truth from God.  Here are just a few of the reasons I come to this conclusion:

  • From a purely literary perspective the Bible stands in a class by itself in terms of beauty, wisdom, complexity and design.  There are sixty-six books written by forty different authors over a span of 1500 years, yet God’s Word displays a supernatural unity from start to finish.
  • The New Testament Gospels are historical accounts by people who either were personally present or who consulted with eye witness of the life and ministry of Jesus.
  • The mountains of archeological evidence continue to verify the historical accuracy of details contained in the Bible.
  • Hundreds of years before the coming of Christ very specific prophecies were given about virtually every aspect of His life and ministry.  Against impossible odds those prophecies were fulfilled with amazing accuracy.
  • If the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were not true, the people of the day would have known it and would have laughed the story off as fiction.  But that wasn’t the case.  No one could step forward to refute the claims of the Gospels.  Instead the church exploded with growth because of the truth of the facts.
  • There is an abundance of extra-biblical corroboration for the key and basic facts contained in the Gospel.  Ancient secular historians provide independent historical confirmation of biblical material.

These certainties give us great confidence in the Bible.  As a believer, however, I am most encouraged by the very claims that the Bible makes about itself … claims to its authenticity and accuracy.  Consider just a few:

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30).

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

A perfect God could never give us an imperfect revelation of Himself.  The One True God would never reveal Himself in a way that was in any way false.  Almighty God, supernatural in all He is and does, has given to us a supernatural book called the Bible.  Stand confidently in your convictions about your reliable Bible.

A Moral Emergency

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

This week marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the controversial court decision to legalize abortion.  Since 1973 approximately 55 million babies have been killed at the hands of abortionists.  To put that staggering number in more graphic terms, that’s the combined population of Oregon, Idaho, Utah,  Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.  In the wake of those aborted babies are the countless lives of mothers and fathers whose choice to snuff out the life of an unexpected child has left them wracked with overwhelming guilt.

With the commemoration of the anniversary of Roe v Wade, another statistic emerged that saddened my soul.  Surveys reveal that 70% of Americans now believe that Roe v Wade should not be overturned.  In other words over two-thirds of Americans do not believe that abortion on demand is a moral atrocity, and that the laws that legalize it should be left in place.  Not so long ago at least 50% of Americans were opposed to abortion, clearly not enough to mandate a constitutional change, but certainly enough to keep the pressure on.  Now that opposition appears to be waning.

How can this be?  Our nation is rapidly becoming post-Christian.  With each passing generation America has become progressively unhitched from her biblical moorings.  As this is the case we may expect basic morality to decline in our land where everyone does what is right in their own eyes rather than what is right in the eyes of God.  No surprises there.

What surprises and concerns me is the vanishing moral resolve of the American church.  I’m certain that among the 70% of Americans who agree with abortion there are nominal church members who have given up the fight.  Many have spiritually and morally assimilated into a non-Christian culture to where their values reflect more of the world than the Word of Christ.

For the 30% of us who remain opposed to abortion, we must not grow weary in the struggle.  We face a moral emergency that will require urgency and tenacity on our part.  We must do it for the glory of God, for precious unborn girls and boys, for guilt-ridden parents, and for all that is holy and righteous.

What must we do?

  • Pray. The powers of darkness cannot stand against a praying church.
  • Make your case. In private and public conversations believers must continue to be vocal about the sanctity of human life.
  • Support pregnancy centers. These life stations are on the front-line of the battle for the lives of the unborn.  Pray for them. Volunteer with them.  Support them financially.
  • Back pro-life elected officials. At the city, county, state and national levels pro-life public servants deserve our encouragement and our votes.
  • Love. A strident tone will detract from the love of Jesus Christ who alone can change the human heart.  Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to God.

America faces a moral emergency.  We must remain vigilant in the battle for the lives of more than a million little boys and girls each year who will be snuffed out through abortion.

The Gift of Time

Saturday, December 15th, 2012

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law” (Galatians 4:4).

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16 NKJV).

No doubt you have attended a Christmas party this month in which everyone was encouraged to bring a “white elephant” gift.  It’s sure to bring loads of laughter to the gathering as people try to outdo each other with the outrageously useless, prankish gifts.  Tucked away in closets and cabinets in our home there are things that came to us years ago through the deviously thoughtful efforts of friends wanting to choose “just the right gift” for us.

Do you know where the “white elephant” gift idea came from? (more…)

Keeping Christmas

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

The Christmas holiday season takes on a life of its own each year.  The materialistic and commercialistic pressures are so great that we find ourselves looking forward to December being over.  As believers we must not succumb to the powerful tide of holiday-related stress.  Let’s seize the opportunity to proclaim the good news that Jesus has come to save us from our sins.  Here are a few ways you can do that:

Keep your priorities straight. Christmas can cause us to spend money and time on things that are not worthy priorities.  Sit down early in the season and remind yourself of your monetary, family and life goals.  Stick with them. (more…)

Ten Things That Won’t Change … No Matter Who is Elected on November 6

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Michael D. Dean

We are a day away from one of the most hotly contested presidential elections in recent history.  The stakes are high in just about every way imaginable.  Rarely has our nation been more polarized over moral, social and economic issues as we have been during this campaign.

Because of the tightness of the race, as Americans we may not know on Wednesday morning who has been elected on November 6.  But at the point where the results of the election are known, no matter what the outcome, for the church certain things will remain unchanged.

First, God remains sovereign over the affairs of our nation. “There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1).  God either blesses a nation by giving it good leaders, or judges a nation by giving it poor leaders.  He is still sovereign over all.

Second, Jesus Christ still occupies the place of supremacy. At the resurrection Christ was raised from the dead and seated at God’s right hand “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:21).

Third, our nation is still desperately in need of spiritual awakening. Laws and lawmakers can never change the heart of our nation.  The spiritual awakening that is long overdue in the U.S. will come only as God’s people humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face and turn from their sinful ways (2 Chronicles 7:14). (more…)

  • Bio & Introduction

    Dr. Michael Dean has been the senior pastor at Travis Avenue Baptist Church since 1991, having also served churches elsewhere in Texas and New Mexico. He and his wife Nan are blessed with two married children and three grandchildren. With a keen sense of calling to shepherd the flock of God entrusted to his care, Michael longs to see people become passionate followers of Jesus Christ. His hobbies include long-distance running, golf and hunting.

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