Jesus and the Road to Success

It does not take long to examine our pop culture in America and see how Jesus is often embraced as a ticket to success rather than a Savior or Deliverer from sin. From athletes who point to the sky after running across the goal line to singers who sing about “Jesus” in order to open up the gateway to the multi-million dollar CCM industry – the Jesus ticket is a repulsive reminder that many people have no idea who Jesus really is.

At the Grammy Awards this past Sunday night, Carrie Underwood was featured in the program singing her song titled, “Last Name.” The words to the song are as follows:

Last night, I got served a little bit too much of that poison, babyLast night, I did things I’m not proud ofAnd I got a little crazyLast night, I met a guy on the dance floor and I let him call me baby

[Chorus:]And I don’t even know his last nameMy momma would be so ashamedIt started off, “hey cutie where you from”And then it turned into oh no, what have I doneAnd I don’t even know his last name

We left, the club, ’bout around 3 o’clock in the morningHis Pinto, sitting there, in the parking lot, well it should have been a warningI had no clue what I was getting intoSo, I’ll blame it on the CuervoOh where did my manners go?

[Chorus:]I don’t even know his last nameOh My momma would be so ashamedIt started off, “hey cutie where you from”And then it turned into “oh no, what have I done”And I don’t even know his last name

Here we go

Today, I woke up, thinking about Elvis somewhere in VegasI’m not sure how I got hereOr how this ring on my left hand just appeared outta nowhereI gotta go take the chips and the Pinto and hit the roadThey say what happens here, stays here, all of this will disappear

There’s just one little problem

[Chorus:]I don’t even know my last nameOh My momma would be so ashamedIt started off, “hey cutie where you from”And then it turned into “oh no, what have I done”And I don’t even know my last name

What have I doneWhat have I doneWhat have I done

Oh, what have I doneI don’t even know my last name

Well it turned into, oh no what have I doneAnd I don’t even know my last nameYea, Yeah, Yeah

I don’t even know my last nameIt started off “hey cutie where you from”And then it turned into, oh no what have I doneAnd I don’t even know my last nameOh, yeah

Needless to say, these lyrics are far from those of her first hit, “Jesus Take The Wheel.” Did Jesus give up the wheel to “whats his name” in the life of Carrie Underwood or did He even have it in the first place? While Carrie Underwood would not be considered a Christian music artist, it should not go unnoticed that her song “Jesus Take The Wheel” was widely played on many Christian music radio stations. Now, that should be pointed out further in a post on the need for discernment in the Christian music industry, but regarding this particular issue – it is overwhelmingly obvious that people are more than willing to embrace Jesus so long as He leads them to the treasure at the end of the rainbow. That should be extremely repulsive to the heart of true Christians. Jesus is not a ticket to success. Jesus is the Savior from the pit of sin and eternal condemnation.

Paul writes in Philippians 2:9-11:

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 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.

Jesus is the Savior, Deliverer, and Redeemer! He is not a ticket to success. Christians need discernment and should have a high commitment to Christ in order to prevent supporting those who use Jesus as a chauffeur to success!

For His Glory!

Josh Buice

Overcoming Depression

Often times our American culture dulls us to the reality of “real life.” Our society is spoiled with great comforts and freedoms that blind our eyes to the true realities that exist in this fallen world. However, all of those realities come crashing down when the doctors walk into the room and say, “I’m sorry, but the spot we saw is cancer.” The realness of life grabs your attention when the phone rings to inform you that your father just died. The nearness of eternity commands your attention when your little baby is found lying in the crib lifeless and motionless. During such moments of pain, it is possible to lose focus on God while battling for true joy and peace. Such moments of grief often cause pain like an angry sea that pushes you under the waves and chokes the breath out of your lungs.

Often times the discouragement hits home weeks down the road following the diagnosis or personal tragedy. It is during that moment in time that the darkness and loneliness of tragedy settle in like a cold winter’s storm. How can a person find comfort and peace during such moments? The answer for overcoming discouragement is found in the Bible.

Psalm 30:1-12: It is during this song penned by King David that we see him praising God for deliverance and healing. During the song we see how David was made to be glad and to sing praise to God for his deliverance. The words that David sings should bring great comfort to our hearts as we fight for joy in the midst of discouragement. Notice what David says in Psalm 30:5. David understood that his joy was coming much like the brightness of the sun breaking through the darkness of night in the morning’s sunrise. It should be pointed out that David also understood the reason for God sustaining his life. It was not for David to continue living or that he may continue to be King, but that David could bring glory to God (Psalm 30:9; Psalm 30:12). That should be our prayer as well. We should pray that God would sustain us and give us life in order that we may praise Him!

John Bunyan was an English Puritan who wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress. That little book has sold more copies than any other book in the English language other than the Bible. John Bunyan experienced sadness and grief as he sat in a prison cell in Bedford England for 12 years because he refused to stop preaching the Gospel. At the time of his imprisonment, Bunyan had four children, the oldest of which was blind, a new wife who he married after his first wife died, and a new baby on the way. It was during that time of grief that his wife miscarried and was left to care for his four children while he sat in prison for preaching the Gospel.

Bunyan writes about that time in his life by saying:

The parting with my Wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as the pulling of the Flesh from my bones; and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great Mercies, but also because I should have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries and wants that my poor Family was like to meet with should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all I had besides; O the thoughts of the hardship I thought my Blind one might go under, would break my heart to pieces (Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, 123).

It seems clear that the entire event of his imprisonment was not a time of great joy. Although he was able to have visitors and given the privilege to write and continue his metal work, he was not overflowing with joy since he was separated from his family. Therefore, it is important to note that Christians – often great Christians – face battles of discouragement.

John Bunyan’s work The Pilgrim’s Progress is a great allegory of the Christian life. In that story, one of the greatest moments is when Christian and Hopeful are in Doubting-Castle. During that moment, Christian realizes that he has the key that can be used to unlock the door and allow them to be set free. Notice how Bunyan describes this event, because this is where we too can find the key that will unlock the doors of Doubting-Castle if we ever find ourselves imprisoned there.

What a fool I have been, to lie like this in a stinking dungeon, when I could have just as well walked free. In my chest pocket I have a key called Promise that will, I am thoroughly persuaded, open any lock in Doubting-Castle.” “Then,” said Hopeful, “that is good news. My good brother, do immediately take it out of your chest pocket and try it.” Then Christian took the key from his chest and began to try the lock of the dungeon door; and as he turned the key, the bolt unlocked and the door flew open with ease, so that Christian and hopeful immediately came out (The Pilgrim’s Progress, 172).

As Christian realizes he has the key, notice that it is hidden in his chest pocket. The entire story of The Pilgrim’s Progress is allegorical, therefore, it is full of symbols. This scene depicts the fact that Christian had the key hidden in his chest pocket. This implies that we as Christians should have the Word of God – the Word of Truth – hidden in our chest – our hearts – that we could experience victory, even in the midst of a “stinking dungeon” like Doubting-Castle. That is why David said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).

If you find yourself battling for joy and victory in the Christian life, remember that the answer is found in the Bible – God’s Holy Word.

For God’s Glory,

Josh Buice

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Additional Resources:

When the Darkness Will Not Lift – John Piper

Buy it here

Download it here

Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure – Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Buy it here

A Living Legacy – The Mark of a Man of God

When it comes to life, many of us can recall impressive preachers, presidents, leaders, and even family members who truly impacted our lives.  When it comes to the Christian life, who is it that stands out in our minds?  Can we recall who pastored our church when we were children or who God used to steer the church in a way that pleased God and impacted the community?

When it comes to Baptist life, whether we are aware of it or not, we have been touched by the sacrifice, service, and faithfulness of a man named John A. Broadus.  This man who was born in Virginia was saved as a teenager and used as a mighty preacher, teacher, scholar, and Baptist leader in the 1800’s.  John A. Broadus was one of the founding professors of the first Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention – The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Although he was criticized for his desire to start the great Seminary, Broadus did what God placed in his heart, and today – many of us have benefited through his early labor for God.

The fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention was both a celebration of the Convention and a celebration of a man named John A. Broadus.  Broadus died just before the anniversary, and W. H. Whitsitt, the man who succeeded him as the President of the Seminary provided a great insight to the life and legacy of Broadus upon Southerners, Baptists, preachers, and scholars who served with him at the Seminary:

When the Convention was holding its opening session at Augusta, there was a lad just turned of eighteen years, resting under the quiet shades of Culpeper, in far distant Virginia.  He was unknown to fame.  Possibly no member of the body had ever heard his name.  In due time he appeared upon the scene, and for a period of thirty years played the role of our Great Commoner.  For thirty years he was the leading force in our counsels and history, and yet throughout that entire period he did not occupy the smallest office directly in the gift of the Convention.  This year of our jubilee, with all its light and gladness, has been sadly darkened by his departure.  On the 17th of March devout men carried him to this burial and made great lamentation over him.  The foremost leader of our history, great in the might of his gentleness, has passed away from us, but his fame and usefulness shall go and grow throughout the years and ages.  When you who sit here shall be aged and feeble men and women, little children will gather about your knees with reverence and delight, to look upon one who has seen and heard and spoken with John A. Broadus.1 

After studying at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I am very grateful for this man and how he was used for the glory of God.  As I consider his life and legacy, I look at my personal life, ministry, and devotion to God with a question mark!  Will I leave behind a legacy that will make a difference for the cause of Christ?

This question has been upon my mind for some months now.  As I have been called away from my current church (Van Buren) to a church in Tennessee (Cornerstone), I have wondered how my ministry affected the body of believers at Van Buren.  Tomorrow (Jan 20th 2007) will be my last day in the pulpit at Van Buren, and my prayer is that my ministry was profitable in the life of Van Buren Baptist Church.  While I am no John A. Broadus – I strive to have respect for the pulpit as he did during his ministry.  I also strive to impact people with the gospel as did Broadus.  Therefore, as I end my ministry at Van Buren Baptist Church tomorrow, I pray that God has used me, as I sought to minister the gospel of Christ, to benefit the Church for years to come.

While I certainly do not desire to become the centerpiece of conversation around the dinner table of Van Buren members in the days to come, I do pray that as a result of my labor in the Word,  God will continue to produce families who are united under the reign of Christ Jesus – all for the glory of God.

Pastor Josh Buice

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Footnotes:

1.  W. H. Whitsitt, ‘Historical Discourse on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Southern Baptist Convention,’ in Proceedings of the Southern Baptist Convention…May, 1845, 90.

Delivered By Grace

Everyone who is a true Christian has a testimony to share with the world about their personal experience of deliverance. For the Apostle Paul, his story of deliverance can be found in Acts chapter 9. Since this is the first post on this site, I want to take time to tell everyone how God delivered me by His Grace.I grew up in a small town in Georgia (Douglasville). I was part of a divorced home at an early age in life, and during that period of time, I was confused about many things. My Grandparents were faithful during this time of turmoil to take me to church on Sundays with them. It was during this period of time that I can remember hearing about God and learning my first Bible verse (Genesis 1:1). Although the details are a bit fuzzy, I do recall during the invitation at the end of a service walking down the aisle and talking to the preacher. I do not recall many other details regarding that event in my life.After a custody battle that led to more confusion, my sister and I went to live with my Father. After the dust settled on this transition, we joined a church in Douglasville that my family had been apart of for many years – Pray’s Mill Baptist Church. During our counseling time prior to joining the church, I told them that I was saved earlier at another church, and I needed to be baptized. Therefore, I was baptized into the church body at age seven upon my profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I was at church every time the doors were opened. My Dad had made a promise to God to keep us in church, and he was faithful to that promise. I was always involved with choirs, R.A.’s, youth functions, and Sunday School through my early years. When I went to High School I began to take a left turn in life. I did not go as far as many of my friends did, but I did start drinking alcohol on a social basis with friends. I would always be in church on Wednesday and Sunday, but I had no true desire to be there since I was having “fun” doing other things in my own personal life.Through a series of events in my life, it became clear that obedience to my parents and doing the “right” thing was easier than the other way of life. Therefore, I started being very faithful to all church events and getting myself more involved as opposed to being on the outskirts of the youth group. This lasted for over a year until Graduation in 1996. After Graduation, I went off to college near my hometown, and it was during this time in my life that I became more and more faithful to church events such as evangelism ministry, choir, and I even started teaching a youth Sunday School class. It was in 1998 that I went with a group of people from my church to Zimbabwe Africa on a mission trip to share the gospel. Everything in my life seemed stable and my faithfulness to church was more committed than ever before.

From 1998 – 2002, my life was full of church, church events, and service opportunities. Inwardly, I experienced a great turmoil on several occasions regarding my personal salvation. Each time I would consider the possibility that I was not a Christian, I always passed it off as “spiritual warfare” rather than genuine conviction. On February 2nd 2002, I felt that God had called me into the gospel ministry. I made this known to my church publicly. On June 12th 2002, I preached my first sermon before my home church on a Wednesday night. Although it may have seemed to the rest of my family and friends that things were great, inwardly I was struggling with my salvation. There were key moments in my life where I can recall great turmoil and grief over the subject.

While sitting at my desk at work on June 24th 2002, I was listening to an audio sermon. It became clear at that moment that I was not a Christian. Although I had been to church practically all of my life, I had walked down to the front and prayed a prayer, and I was baptized when I joined Pray’s Mill, I was not a true Christian. At that moment at 25 years of age, I realized that I was a sinner who deserved the wrath of God. I also knew that Christ was the only means of salvation and true deliverance from the wrath of God (John 14:6). I called upon the Lord for salvation, and I was converted. It was a wonderful moment in my life. It was the greatest single moment in my life. At that moment, for the very first time, I knew that I was a child of God.Immediately I called my family and told them what had occurred. I also called Kari (who was my girlfriend at the time) to let her know. I then went down the hall and made my way into my boss’ office (Ron Mooney). I told him what had occurred as well, and he was very grateful. We shared tears of joy together in his office. At that time, my boss was a fairly new Christian who was trying to run his printing company according to biblical standards. Business was not good and he was a bit confused about things, but I think during those moments together he saw God working in his company and that brought confirmation to his heart that he was going in the right direction.

Following my salvation, I was baptized in obedience to Scripture. I immediately began to pray and ask God for clarification regarding my “call” to the ministry. I went through a brief time of confusion regarding whether or not I was truly called into the ministry to preach the gospel since I had felt this “call” on my life prior to my salvation. I surrendered my entire life to God and was willing to go work in the business world and be a layperson in the church if that was His will for my life. It did not take long before God confirmed that He had called me to preach, and there was nothing else that I could do in life that would fulfill that calling. I recall reading Jeremiah chapter one during my morning devotion one day and God profoundly convinced me that His calling on my life was prior to my life on earth. That time of devotion in my personal life was a key moment of confirmation. God’s call is not something that was planned the day the individual senses the calling. It is something that God plans out even before the foundation of the world.

After marriage, my wife and I started praying about Seminary. We visited The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY in June of 2003. We had also planned to visit Southeastern and Southwestern prior to making a decision, but God confirmed in our hearts on our first visit to the campus in June that He wanted us to attend Southern. In January of 2004, we moved our possessions from Douglasville, Ga to Louisville, Ky in a U-Haul. It was only 4 months later that I was called to pastor Van Buren Baptist Church.Today, we are continuing to serve at Van Buren Baptist Church. Although life has changed much over these four years, it has been a wonderful time of growth, education, sanctification, maturity, and marital bonding. My wife and I have experienced the birth of our first child in June of 2005, and we are awaiting the arrival of our next child in March of 2008. I am currently scheduled to graduate in December and I also have plans to continue my education here at Southern in the Doctoral program.

This is my life’s story of how God has delivered me by His Grace and blessed me as I have continued to serve Him. There are times when we need to stop and remember how God has delivered us from the curse of sin and the wrath of God! He did it based upon His own good pleasure and for His glory.

To God be the glory – great things He has done!

Pastor Josh Buice

Ephesians 2:1-10