How Does the Bible End?

Have you ever read the Bible? I imagine most of you who are reading this have read some part of the Bible over the years. You have heard it read in worship services or at funerals. You may have tried a “read-the-Bible-in-a-year” program.

Whether you have read the Bible a lot or a little, you probably know some of its stories. You might even have some idea of the overall story that the scriptures tell.

You probably know about the creation and Adam and Eve. You might know about the call of Abraham, Moses and the escape from slavery, King David and the people of Israel. Maybe you can name some of the prophets. You certainly know something about the life of Jesus and Paul the Apostle.

But do you know when the Bible story stopped being written?

Not yet.

Because we are a part of that story too. No, I don’t mean that there is more to be included in the canon of sacred scripture. But I do mean that we must not see the Bible as a book that tells us only about the past. The Bible is a book that invites us to live in the present with a real purpose – the mission of God and God’s kingdom.

The Bible story is not done. It will one day conclude with the final fulfillment, but even now the story is still being written as God uses those words to bring healing and hope to people all over the world.

Have you read the Bible? Have you recognized that the story goes on? God calls us to be a part of living and telling that story and inviting the whole world to be a part of it.

Best book ever!

Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC

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We Are at War

Dr. Hanna Massad now lives in Jordan. For many years he served as pastor of the Gaza Baptist Church in the Palestinian territory of Gaza. Dr. Massad returns to Gaza frequently, when the Israeli government allows him to enter, to bring encouragement and relief supplies to his Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters.

But Dr. Massad is not bringing relief supplies to them so that they can improve their own lives. He is bringing relief supplies so that the Gaza Baptist Christians can be light and love to their neighbors whose lives have been overturned in military conflicts that are devastating their land.

In the middle of war, Gaza Baptist believers are trying to bring healing and help.

Most of us do not have to live in the middle of the kind of devastation that Gaza Christians see every day, but we live in a war zone too. In our community, many are waging war against themselves and their own neighbors through illegal and immoral activities that are destroying lives.

We too should be centers of healing and help in our communities. I am thankful that we do not have to worry about missiles falling on our homes every day. I am grateful for law enforcement officers who face dangers on our streets and help to keep us safe. But Jesus told us clearly that His way transcends the violence of military might and police presence. His mission is to bring transforming love. Not everyone will receive it, but through that transforming love, we can reclaim the broken and battered in our community. We should know because through His transforming love, God reclaimed us.

(To learn more about Dr. Massad and the mission of healing through Gaza Baptist Church, visit the website of his organization, Christian Mission to Gaza – http://www.cm2g.org.)

Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC

What Are You Talking About?

I graduated from the best university in the world. If you don’t believe me, just ask me. I have always been proud of my alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Maybe not always proud given some recent headlines, but still.) I never miss an opportunity to cheer on Tarheel sports teams and declare their superiority.

Many of you feel the same about your favorite team. Or maybe you don’t care about sports at all, but you will talk all day about your favorite movie or song, soap opera character or fishing hole. Anyone who knows you, knows what you love the most.

Do they know that you love Jesus?

If you are a thoughtful, compassionate person you will be careful about how you talk about your love for Jesus. We don’t want to place our faith in the same category as our love for a sports team. Love for God is much more personal and more important. And we understand that it can be emotionally troubling for others. A person who has been the victim of a religious group’s abuse may not want to hear much about your personal experience of Jesus. To be careful about how we talk about our faith is kind and loving.

But if we hide our faith, never let other know that Jesus is our Lord, we are choosing to rob God of the glory that He deserves. The Lord’s Prayer states, “Our Father in heaven, let your name be praised.” Jesus said our prayer should begin with the petition that God’s name would be praised. Shouldn’t we be the ones who praise that name? Shouldn’t we be the ones giving God the good reputation that He deserves to have?

We are proud to declare our allegiance to and love for many things in this world. The world needs to know that our deepest allegiance and our most profound love is Christ.

Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC

Why Do We Exist?

Why do you exist? God has created us with the capacity to do many things. Each of us has different gifts and different wishes for our lives. God takes great delight in the diversity of His creatures. He creates us with this variation built in.

But even though we each have different gifts and different roles to fulfill, God created us for one grand purpose. Each person has the same purpose. In fact, the whole creation is created with this one goal in mind. We are created “for the praise of God’s glorious grace.” This phrase is taken from the Ephesians chapter 1. In the first 14 verses of Ephesians, Paul uses this phrase or a similar one three times as he talks about how God chose to create us and save us before He created the world.

Some people think that when we say God created us to praise His glory that God seems terribly selfish. However, God does not want us to praise His glory and grace because He needs us to feed His ego. God wants us to praise Him, and to make praising Him our first priority, because it puts everything else in the right place in our lives.

When we praise God for who He is and what He does for us, when we live our lives so that our lives give glory to God, then gifts and desires and other priorities fall perfectly into place. When we do not make praise to God the priority of our lives, then everything else is out of balance. As the book of James says, “we are like the chaff that the wind drives away.”

“Praise Him, Praise Him all ye little children, God is love, God is love.” God’s love for us has moved Him to tell us that we need to praise Him and glorify Him in all we do. When we make praising God our top priority, it will affect all that we do. It will put everything in its proper place.

Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC