Monday, May 16, 2016

Instinct versus Worship

Human beings have certain instincts. At birth we seek our mother’s milk. It was wired into us by our Creator. We seek to breathe, and to crawl, and reach for things. But even though we have instincts, we don’t live by them. At least we are not supposed to. Instincts are wired into people and animals to survive. To run when in danger. To sleep when tired. But humans are able to ignore their survival wiring and even risk their own survival just to test out ideas and dreams. Remember Orville and Wilbur Wright? They risked their lives trying to get that first plane in the air. Humans don’t just live in an environment – we love changing our environment – and we yearn to go beyond our environment. Like to the Moon and back! And none of that is instinct. It is what it means to be human. God made us that way – desiring to create, and do great things – greater than has been done before. But humanity, like animals have limits. We can only do so many things before our time is up on this earth. We can only handle so much stress, and try only so many times to reach beyond our environment before we have to quit and call it a day. But Christians go even beyond our human limitations. We seek to go beyond what WE may want to do. We actually enjoy doing our Creator’s will, not ours. Our life is not found in finding a life that we love or enjoy. No. It is found in losing our life for the honour and glory of the One who gave up HIS life for us! Our purpose as Christians - as Christ followers - is more than instinct. It’s more than just eating, and sleeping and reproducing - it is worshipping the God who made all of heaven and earth! Instinct only enables us to survive; desires and dreams can only help us to enjoy the struggle along the way. But true worship enables us to actually live beyond ourselves, and our struggles! True worship lives life, not like animals, and not like all other humans, but just like the Son of God did. “We … worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3).

Friday, May 13, 2016

Preaching to Preachers

I love Bible preachers!
They have influenced my life the most out of all people! But they are THE hardest type of person to preach to!
Why? Because they usually have already heard what I am about to preach; because they usually are very tired when they are sitting still; and because they can actually be the most carnal of Christians in any crowd!
Yep. There. I said it. Believe me… I know from experience – my own experience!
When I sit in a crowd and hear a preacher preach, I find myself critical of his “style” and his use of unmoving reasoning. I spend a lot of time trying to find a “better” direction that I would take if “I” were preaching his truth.
And all the while, the Holy Spirit waits for me to just stop and just listen. What God expects of me is to repent of anything that the preacher might point-out that is wrong in my life – period! He does not need me to “improve” on the message being preached, or find fault with the achievements of the man preaching. God expects me to listen and get right what is wrong in my life.
This problem has been real in my life, both as I hear preaching, and when I preach. I cannot speak for the hearers of my preaching, but I can speak for myself…
SHAME ON ME!
Oh that I would quickly agree with what is true that is being spoken, no matter how un-entertaining, or unpleasant it may be presented! Oh that I would repent and humble myself at the gentle stirring of the Holy Spirit of God instead of waiting for the crescendo of some performance that we expect of preachers today! It is absolutely amazing just how easy it is for the devil to harden “my” ears and heart to God’s word. I should NOT care who is preaching, nor how it is being preached nearly as much as WHAT is being preached. God promised that it will always be the foolishness of preaching that does the work – not the logic, nor the enjoyment – just the preaching of an unpopluar message (1Corinthians 1:21)!
Next time someone is preaching from the word of God, I need to remember (and so do you), that God is speaking… even from stammering lips and poor delivery! “For with stammering lips and another tongue (not your own) will he speak to this people. (Isaiah 28:11).
How I, and every preacher will respond, is the real challenge!

Friday, January 01, 2016

It's been way too long since I last blogged anything, simply because I have been way too busy doing other things. But, here goes. Here is a thought about Christmas Day... On Christmas Day What God Did for One Day Luke 2:1-20 Dec 25, 2015 AM Christmas Day Pastor Craig Ledbetter Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland www.biblebc.com On that day, that we call Christmas, a lot of things were happening; And they were happening on a world wide scale! Luke 2:1-5 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. Caesar Augustus had come up with a new tax for everyone to have to register for and pay. That one act, mobilised the entire world into mayhem. They had a mandatory deadline to get back to their ancestral homes to register with the Roman Government. It was a huge undertaking. And NO one was exempt. So on that very first Christmas Day, even in the small towns and villages, like Bethlehem: There were crowded streets; Visitors were calling; Houses and hotels were full; Kitchens were bustling with activity; Family reunions were taking place everywhere; And as usual, Problems and pressures were crushing. None of the things going on were easy to handle. It was driving many a man to drink, and many a woman to give up. But none of it was Christmas. That was just normal life. But, in the midst of all that “normality”, ‘Christmas’ happened. On Christmas Day… There was a Baby born (Luke 2:6,7) It was absolutely Marvellous! Miraculous… An impossible reality! A virgin woman had actually conceived, and now had born a Son - The very Son of God! Just like prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son…” And there He was, lying in a manger, in the city of David, just as was prophesied in Micah 5:2. If nothing else, THAT was and still is CHRISTMAS! So, Forget all the family – SERIOUSLY! Forget all the gift-giving Forget all the food and fun of the holiday Because, That Baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, born to die for all of mankind… THAT Baby, is Christmas! On Christmas Day… There was Singing and Announcing (Luke 2:8-14) First just one angel, Then more, Then all of heaven opened up, and sang like only heaven can! As they announced that GOD had stepped down from heaven to save us all. Who did they announce the news to? Shepherds. God likes shepherds. Israel’s greatest king, David, was a shepherd. This little Baby named Jesus would grow up and become the Good Shepherd, who would lay down His life for the sheep. So, to the shepherds were the angels sent, to announce the birth of Jesus. They were not the wealthy, the powerful, the important… They were the least of society. And yet THAT is where God began his Gospel – at the bottom, so that ALL would hear! On Christmas Day… There was Rushing, Panicking, Hasting (Luke 2:16) As the angels disappeared, the shepherds began to panic, began to run: Not to buy more things; Not to get to grandma’s house; But to get a glimpse of the new born Messiah! Oh what a need there is to seek to see for ourselves if God actually HAS come to earth, and if He actually HAS kept His promise to save us from Satan’s power. Thank God for all the effort it takes to get to church, and to open our Bibles and to see for ourselves what God has done in Christ Jesus! On Christmas Day… There was Worship Something happened to everyone who ever got near to that Manger. They worshipped! Wonderful, simple, powerful worship. Not of Mary, or Joseph, or the angels, or the cows! Just worship of Jesus! “Unto you is born this day… a Saviour… which is Christ the Lord” (11) “Ye shall find the babe” (12) “found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe” (16) And believe me, this worship never stopped. Even 2 years later, when the wise men came, when they approached the presence of this little child, they bowed their knees, and presented their gifts, and worshipped HIM! Oh, on Christmas Day, let’s worship Jesus only! So again, Forget about the family; Forget about the gifts. Forget about everyone; Even forget about the past. Just sit in awe of the Son of God, who loved us, and came into this world to save us! On Christmas Day… There was Joy (Luke 2:10) It means excitement – like children on Christmas day! GREAT joy even. Not because of a house full of people, or a tree full of gifts… But because of the greatest gift ever given and received by anybody A Saviour - A Forgiver - A Justifier - God now WITH us! That Baby brings joy better than any gift, or hug – if you will let it! But some of you are so bitter you NEVER WILL enjoy Christmas. YOU above all people need to bow you knee and surrender your hurts to the Lord of lords, who will make you whole again! On Christmas Day… There was a lot of Pondering and Thinking (Luke 2:16,19) Notice Joseph! Joseph was not the father of this Baby. He was still only engaged to Mary – espoused. So he just sat there and watched as everything unfolded. And truly, that is all any of us can actually do – just watch GOD do something marvellous And then there was Mary. Yes she had given birth to Jesus, but she did NOTHING but carry Him in her womb. And now, as Shepherds came and went; As the weight of all that was happening started to hit her; She just stopped and pondered, meditated – she stored up all the good things that were happening. Because those memories would one day be needed. On Christmas Day… There was Confusion (Luke 2:17,18) As those shepherds ran through the streets, compelling people to come see the Babe, to come discover the Messiah, the people “wondered.” They asked “What? What could be so important about a poor baby, born in a barn? What could be more important than all the family I have around me this day? What could be more important than all the cooking and eating? What could be more important than paying bills, taxes, dealing with problems and pressures? Who do these lowly shepherds think they are, running through the streets interrupting our evening with something about a Baby?” I think so many stayed in their homes, and went back to their “normal” life, simply because the real event of Christmas wasn’t what they expected. Wasn’t about THEM! What a shame. If there is anything the same with Christmas THEN and Christmas NOW, it is that there is ONLY confusion that some BABY has been born! But On Christmas Day… God was glorified (Luke 2:20) The entire rest of the planet was busy doing other things. But there, in that little barn; Amongst just a few people, and shepherds, and village folks; God was glorified. And it was enough! An Invitation On THIS Christmas Day… Let’s Remember, There was a Baby born. The very Son of God. Wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, born to die for all of mankind… THAT Baby, is Christmas! On THIS Christmas Day… Let’s Do Some Singing and Announcing Ourselves. Let’s make sure the whole world hears! On THIS Christmas Day… Let’s Rush, Panic, Haste… Oh what a need there is to seek to see for ourselves if God actually HAS come to earth, and if He actually HAS kept His promise to save us from Satan’s power Thank God for all the effort it takes to get to church, and to open our Bibles and to see for ourselves what God has done in Christ Jesus! On THIS Christmas Day… Let’s Worship. Wonderful, simple, powerful worship of just Jesus. And let’s make sure it never stops. If you have no family, or only a messed up one. If you have no gifts, or a bus load. Just sit in awe of the Son of God, who loved us, and came into this world to save us! On THIS Christmas Day… Experience REAL Joy – of Salvation from Sin, Death and Hell. Have you been born again? Or are you still struggling just to be religious, thinking it is enough? Well, it never can be. Ye must be born again, Jesus said! On THIS Christmas Day… Do a lot of Pondering and Thinking about the goodness of God. On THIS Christmas Day… IGNORE the Confusion. So that On THIS Christmas Day… God can be glorified AGAIN!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ledbetter's Ireland Update July 2013

Ledbetter's Ireland Update July 2013
For a PDF of this prayer letter WITH images, click http://bit.ly/1aowjNm 

Dear Ministry Friends!
Such a busy Summer! One thing that is so great about Summer here in Ireland is that we as a church have so many evangelistic outreaches and events to keep us busy! For example, on a normal Saturday afternoon, we have an average of 15-16 men, women and teenagers out doing door-to-door evangelism. In the Summer, that number swells to 25-30! I just stand in amazement at the determination of our church folks to get the Gospel out all over Cork City! To help us this Summer, the Lord brought a young man named Alex, and he has been a tremendous blessing!

We are BUYING a Building! We have put a serious down-payment on a huge building in Ballincollig and have started the ball rolling on getting a small mortgage to purchase what is an incredible opportunity for the Gospel! For the past two years, we had been looking at purchasing a smaller building for twice the price of the building that we have settled on! The Lord seems to have just opened the door to a miracle-find of a huge building in great shape, and for so little a cost! We are stunned at this new opportunity, and really covet your prayers for us because we know how the devil will make this purchase and renovation as complicated as possible! It is my wish, and I have fervently prayed that we could just buy the building outright without any mortgage at all. We are almost able! Some churches have already helped us. But if you or your church wants to have any part in helping a Bible believing Baptist Church OWN its own building in Ireland, then let me know! Watch this space! And pray for us to have much wisdom!

19th Church Anniversary, Dinner and Baptism! June 9th marked our 19th anniversary as a church here in Ireland! We had an attendance of 144 souls, with 15 first time visitors! What a day! Following our church meeting, we all headed off to an incredible dinner, catered for us with loads of singing and testimonies of praise for how the Lord has so blessed our families with this church! Then, we all went out to the nearby Lee River for a Baptism! A teenager named Nathan had been waiting so long for some warm-ish weather to finally get Scripturally baptized! And the Lord so graciously provided it!

Victory Youth Camp! 86 people gathered at our Victory Youth Camp for 6 days in July of preaching, praying, awesome sports, activities, fellowship, and fun! Six young people were saved by God’s grace during the week! God gave us the perfect weather, and the best helpers! We focused on learning the life lessons from young Joseph in Genesis as he demonstrated godly character and integrity throughout his life! Everyone at Camp was greatly affected by the truths and challenges God gave us throughout the week! As usual, I can’t wait for next year’s Camp!

Upcoming Events

Children’s Summer Bible Club! In August we will be holding our outdoor Bible Club, called Amazing Kids of the Bible! 17 people are coming from NY state to help us for 2 weeks, and we are so thrilled! Pray many lost children and parents come to hear the Gospel! Pray for great weather and much lasting fruit!
Target the Heart Youth Evangelism Blitz! A final event we try and hold every year is a teen to teen evangelistic outreach where we teach our young men and women to engage their peers head to head with the Gospel, and get lost teens to come out to an evening preaching meeting at a local gymnasium where there will be loads of fun activities, but straight preaching about heaven, hell, and living for God!

Prayer Requests

So please pray 1) for our ability to purchase the building we have settled on; 2) for all our upcoming evangelistic events; 3) for our church to solidly grow; and most of all, 4) for the following people get saved: Miora and Finbarr K, Jim O’L, Sarah C, Pat W, Ann M, Denis L’s family, Brendan F, Kerri M, Chris M, and Barry G! Thank You for faithfully supporting us! And, God bless you all!


The Ledbetter Family in Ireland

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Thirty Three Years Ago Today, I was Born Again!

Thirty three years ago today (June 15th, 1980), in Cedar Park, Texas, I was rescued! Rescued in the truest sense of the word! I was born again by the grace of God! And I can never get over just how marvellous that experience was! Oh, it wasn’t really the experience as much as the fact that the Creator of this universe, had saved ME! I knew Jesus came to save the “world”, but 33 years ago this evening was when He actually was allowed to save ME!
It was just at the close of the Sunday evening church meeting at Hilltop Baptist Temple in Cedar Park, when I heard the pastor plea with everyone to make sure their soul is truly born again. He had preached on Unsaved Church Members and how church, baptism, good works, positive thinking, etc, could never change anyone’s eternal destiny. Only the perfect and finished efforts of the Son of God, in our place could actually be enough to make up for all the wrongs of anyone! He preached from Matthew 13:24-43 about Tares and Wheat. Over and over the pastor explained how that tares look like wheat, and feel like wheat when touched, and can easily fool almost anyone into thinking they really are wheat… until, they grow up and they have no fruit! They never were wheat! And they are only good for burning!
And then he pleaded for everyone to make sure THEY were wheat – that they were really born again into the kingdom of God! He commanded people that they had to be saved from the wrath to come. That there was no other way out. That if a person did not get their sins forgiven in total, they would one day perish, and spend eternity in a lake of fire, with the devil and his angels, because that is what we rightfully deserve because of our sinfulness!
I remember sitting in the middle of the crowd of about 250 people and wishing I could go up and take Pastor Jack’s hand and let him kneel with me in prayer and help me trust the Saviour to cleanse my every sin, and be forgiven. But as the hymn “Only Trust Him” was sang, I was torn. Torn between knowing I was not good enough to ever be in God’s presence, and yet knowing there was a doorway, an opportunity to get forgiven. Why not take it? If the God of heaven has made a way to be saved from my sin and its punishment, why not take it? But I was 17 years old, and that meant that I was more worried about what people would think of me, than what God would think. Looking back, I can’t believe I stood there, during the singing of that Hymn and actually held onto the back of the pew in front of me. I remember bowing my head and thinking to myself, why is this so hard? Why is it so hard to move out of this crowd and go up front? I remember thinking about how wonderful it must be to know that all your sins are washed away and are forgiven and are actually completely forgotten by God! And yet I stayed there, in the midst of that crowd.
And then the singing ended. Silence. I was surrounded in the midst of a crowd of people, and there was silence. And it felt awful. Then the pastor seemed sad. He said he knew more people needed to quit playing the game of Christianity, and get really saved! He then asked everyone to bow their heads and pray with him as he asked God’s blessings on us all as we headed home. When he finished praying, the crowd erupted with joy and conversations that only Christians have at the end of a good church meeting – rejoicing in the fact that the truth had been preached, and that hearts were melted. You see, while I was debating and struggling with my “image”, there were several people who actually HAD gone forward to the front of the church and knelt and pleaded with God to forgive them and give them the gift of eternal life like Jesus promised He would! But I had not. I stood there and watched the crowd around me slowly melt away and move towards the doors, and my heart began to beat like a piston! I knew I was definitely headed for hell. I had just missed my chance to get saved. And I knew that if I got into my car, that I might not make it safely home that night! And it was then that I saw John Cranford! I had gotten to know John in the teen Sunday School group. He was one of the class teachers. And I nearly ran over to him and just blurted out, “I need to talk to you”! He asked, “What’s wrong?” I just simply responded, “I am not saved. I am still lost!” He looked at me and then said, “Then yes, we DO need to talk! Come on over to the house and we will get it settled.” My heart was still beating a mile a minute, but I had some hope.
I followed him over to his house and walked into his home and he sat us both down at his kitchen table. His wife was so nice and fixed us some Iced Tea and brought out some muffins and I just anxiously waited. I couldn’t wait for John to open his Bible. John waited till his children were finished getting their snacks and headed on out of the kitchen before he started talking with me. He asked me why I thought I was not saved. I told him, because I am only a faker. I have blended with everyone at church now, and I can act like everyone around me when I am at church,… but I have never been born again.
He asked me how long I had been coming to church. I said, about 7 weeks now. Before that I had not been to any kind of a church in years, and I told him that up to coming to this church, going to church to me was stupid. But THIS church was different! This church was Bible only, and “that Book” spoke always right to my heart! He said that was the Holy Spirit talking from the pages of the Bible, and that I need to obey whatever the Bible said to do. I agreed.
He then started showing me Scripture after Scripture about why I am separated from God and that my separation would result in me being eternally separated from God in the lake of fire! He went over basically all that I had just heard from Pastor Jack. I patiently listened, but inside I was screaming, “GET TO THE GOOD PART!” I wanted to be saved!
He finally got to John 3:16, and Romans 10:13, and Titus 3:5, and asked me what I wanted to do. I said, “All I want to do is get the gift that God had purchased for ME, and walk out of this house a new person! But I don't know HOW” He asked me if I was willing to just firmly believe what God says in His Bible. I said yes. He then said, “Then just ask God to forgive you and make you His child!”
I bolted out of my chair and knelt on the floor next to that kitchen table and started crying like I hadn’t since my dad left my mom when I was 12 years old! I asked Jesus to forgive ME for all MY sins. I asked Him to come into my heart and save me, and make me a child of Almighty God!
When I finished, and looked up at John, he was smiling the biggest kind of grin that only a Texan can have!
I stood and he hugged me and then called for his wife to come in and asked me to tell her what just happened! I smiled and told her I was now forgiven, and it felt great! Like a real, massive burden had disappeared off my back. I was so, so excited that it had worked!
I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my Mom! I thanked John and his wife and then drove home. It was almost midnight by this time, but my mother was still awake, but in bed, with a book in her hand. I knocked and then came in and then jumped on her bed and announced, “MOM! I got saved tonight! And you need to get saved too!” She looked at me and started crying and we hugged, and then she said “I am already born again Craig” I said, “No way!” She said, “Yes, but I just have not been living like it.”
Oh I was so happy that night.
And you know what? I still am!
Thank you Lord for saving MY soul! Thank you Lord, for making ME whole!

Thirty three years ago today!

Friday, March 29, 2013

People Don't Seem to Want to be Free from Sin Today!

I was pondering this all day today. The unfortunate truth today is, the western world is FULL of "professing" christians who have NEVER dealt with SIN in their own life, and so they NEVER want to deal with sin in the world! When they were in troubles, they decided to look to God for "help" out of that trouble, but did not seek a Saviour from their sin! So, NO ONE TODAY SEEMS TO WANT TO BE 'FREE' FROM SIN! They only want to live IN sin! They are happy believing that they are enjoying forgiveness, and also the freedom to still sin. If a believer claims to be free to live in any sin that the Bible clearly declares as wrong, and they are happy to tolerate sin, and even approve of what the Bible plainly calls sin, then they are STILL in the bondage of sin, and lost! Romans 1:30,31 says people are generally "Without understanding, covenantbreakers (especially MARRIAGE covenants - they don't even TRY to stay married), WITHOUT NATURAL AFFECTION, implacable (not changeable), unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things ARE WORTHY OF DEATH, not only do the same, but HAVE PLEASURE in them that do them. The saddest part is that those who will read those two Scripture verses, will never BELIEVE them, but will blast ME with such venom and hatred for exposing their REJECTION of the Bible's judgment of sin, and yet go on thinking THEY are the more "compassionate" christian by tolerating it, and even promoting it. In all actuality, they are frauds. They are x-ians, not CHRIST-ians and need to get born again the Bible's way! I follow a holy SAVIOUR who 32 years ago FORGAVE ME of all my sins, and has called me to follow HIM! I pray all readers of this post will take a deep breath and think about WHY they consider themselves Christians, and that if they are following their friends, or their religion, or their own heart... they need to decide to only follow Jesus the Messiah! Because only He can forgive and save you from sin! I intend to keep preaching the coming WRATH of God on this sinful world just like John the BAPTIST did, and that the ONLY PLACE TO FLEE is to JESUS CHRIST, who died to pay for all our sins (heterosexual AND homosexual), and SAVE US FROM our sins! May the Lord have mercy on this LOST generation of fakers who still need to fall on their face before God and repent of their lack of concern for sin in their hearts! If you are reading this and have never realised just how wicked you ARE, and just how deserving of a devil's hell you ARE, they you never have come to Jesus Christ for the right reason - to get forgiven! And you will HATE me! BUT... if you DO understand and agree with the Bible's message that we ALL are sinners, and under the righteous wrath of God, and have fled by faith to Jesus the sinless Messiah, and asked Him to WASH you from your sinful life, and make you a child of GOD... well, you will take up YOUR cross and stand with the unpopular idea that same-sex marriage is filthy, and wicked, and wrong to approve of. AND you will agree and clearly take the stand that whoremongering, and adultery is wicked, and filthy and wrong! Hmmmm.... no wonder the gays are "winning" the arguments. People are afraid to be made fun of. Jesus took it (Hebrews 12:2-4)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Overcoming Death

No one can overcome death by themselves! The Bible clearly tells us that “the wages of sin is death” period! So death, in all its gore and ruin is the penalty we all must pay for our sinfulness (Romans 6:23). That should be the end of humanity's story - death, both physical death in the grave, and eternal death in hell. But God chose to intervene, and out of love, chose to personally pay the full penalty for us! Think about it! God, who cannot die, became a MAN, so that He could die! Not for Himself, but for sinners who couldn't save themselves! As a Man, God lived a life free from all sin! And then willingly took the sins of the entire world upon Himself (every last one) and then horribly suffered OUR consequences under the righteous wrath of the law of God…, so WE might live eternally according to His righteousness. If only someone would just fully believe that it is a done deal! If only someone would STOP trying to be good enough, and STOP trying to cheat death, and STOP trying to get into the presence of God through some religious "back-door." If only someone would cry out to Jesus Christ right now and ask Him to forgive them and give them the opposite of what they deserve… eternal life! Thank God I did just that - I repented and believed this Gospel 32 years ago! Thank God for the LOVE of God! Thank God for Jesus! Thank God anyone can overcome death by childlike faith in Jesus Christ!