Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It takes the right vision - Church and Big Decisions

In what today seems like years ago I learned a lesson that I have never forgotten. Vision is easy. But the right vision is never easy! In leading a church this may be the most difficult lesson of all to apply. And I am still learning this lesson with every day that passes. Vision in itself is exciting and prioritizing. But Vision can also be the downfall of one's ministry; personally and corporately.

Getting the right vision and seeing the vision realized requires many smaller visions to complete. Beginning with implementation one's vision can can either shine or go bust. This has become one the BIG stumbling blocks in our day. When a leader and team begin to understand the vision that God gives, excitement often leads to a premature roll out and careless neglect of time for growth among the people. We force when we ought to grow. We forget that it took time for God to get His vision in our hearts and thus time for others to grasp from the Lord is equally required.

Odd to me is the growing and promoted idea that I often hear from Pastors that church members need to follow the vision of the leadership. Little emphasis is given to the sharing of the vision and the depth needed in the sharing process. A leader must lead. Forcing and pushing is NOT leadership. In our recent events, we actually were forced to go slow due to negotiations and availability of land. Yet when the time came, much effort was placed and time was further extended to allow for the sharing and grasping of the vision by the people. No one on our staff but me had ever been involved in this type of presentation and I will be the first to admit that I humanly struggled with the idea of taking more time. I was eager. My staff was eager. Three years of hunting and working had passed. The lay leaders where chomping at the bit. Two votes by the church had already occurred to allow the search and to spend the funds for due diligence. It was easy to jump to the conclusion that there had been enough time and enough talk. Just get it done was often the thought running through my head! But that approach could have (would have) killed what God desired.

I listened a few weeks ago to Dr. Ronnie Floyd share the story of how the name change occurred in Springdale to Cross Church. In his presentation to the church he stated the fact that he himself was the one to slow the change down. That was refreshing. Timing and roll out must never be over looked. Lay leaders may be on board (as ours were - all 54) but still the whole of the congregation needs time. The vision must be refined and often the laity are Gods tool for refinement.

Transparency and understanding require work and patience. I wonder why we in leadership so easily skip over the multiple verses in the Bible that explain these traits. Even Galatians makes it clear that long suffering is one quadrant of the Fruit of the Spirit. I learned during this latest process that patience just might be one of the biggest issues we Pastors face. The battle within me waged daily over moving quickly. Discussions with leaders and all laity were almost redundant to me. The pull of Satan to trip me up at this point was for me a major struggle. It helped to refresh my spirit in the area of spiritual warfare and it reminded me that as a leader, it really does rise and fall at the top.

We took the time to make sure all were included and had ample opportunity to hear, experience, pray and seek the Will of God. We knew we could accomplish what was needed. But more important to us as a staff and key lay leaders was the understanding that a church is all about God and His work in the lives of people. We had no choice but to give Him time to work. The result was an incredible move of God that no man could produce. Is that not what it is suppose to be like?

Our smaller visions in presentations, time to absorb, question and answer sessions, and most of all prayer times bore a peaceful, spiritual atmosphere that resulted in the big vision being overwhelming approved with little negative. No one has left the church mad. No one has been cut out. No one has been told to "trust us". God is working and as a result we are seeing people saved and joining His church during a time that many hide out in fear waiting for the implosion.

Remember, this church had built nothing, done upkeep on little, and had little hope of survival for over 57 years. There was history of "bad" meetings over smaller things. This church is what many young Pastors speak of in ultra negative tones and descriptions. I was even told NOT to take the position. Yet in the last 4 years it has now begun a new contemporary service, leased and shared the old facilities with another church of another denomination, over hauled the Children's Ministry and now voted to relocate - none of which were on the radar at all 4 1/2 years ago. Only God could do what has occurred here. And for that I more than thankful!

Next post: God's Vision is People!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Transparency, Church, and Big Decisions

For over 20 years I have ministered in great churches with great people. From being a Pastor to serving as an adviser, I have witnessed many situations and many challenges in churches attempting to do major things in the kingdom. I have watched as some of these situations have been peaceful and some have been NOT so peaceful. I have read all I could find on "how to" and what to do". Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that what I am about to share would occur.

Recently, our church finished a 6 year journey (that began before my arrival) dealing with a building issue. The church has not done anything building wise etc. for more than 57 years. Very few of the church family have ever been through a building program - much less a Capital Campaign. The whole idea was scary for most if not all. The possibilities of Satan creating a huge mess were very real and easy to see. At risk was the very fact that though buildings etc. had not occurred (nor much upkeep due to expense), missions and ministry had flowed freely and generously for years. Multiple nations have been touched by the church family with money and actual people on the ground. Nine have surrendered to ministry within the past 15 months. Indeed much was at stake with this journey. The reality that time was running out and no examples of similar situations succeeding made this journey an adventure.

The study and conclusions that were reached over the 6 years called for the purchase of property and relocation of the ministry. The task was not easy and the project is long from completion. But the first few steps have been one to write about. Over the course of the next few posts I plan to share some insight into common thought applied to this particular situation. Remember, for over 57 years this church has not built anything in regard to buildings. Important to note is that this church is currently in the inner city. Also revealing is that less than 10 couples can be found in the age bracket range of 40 to 60. This church should not be doing what it is indeed doing. This church should be closing down shop. It is not a church that many young Pastors would consider worthy of their interest. But what this church has accomplished to date and how it accomplished it speaks loud and clear in a day of perception oriented reality that is often very off base.

While many are writing these churches off, I believe this church is actually a pace setter for what can and should be occurring all over America with the right spirit, approach and patience. Maybe the greatest reality of this situation is that others will be inspired by it. Many of our churches today are identical to this one. Many of our churches today lack encouragement to do what this church found the courage to do even while others said "NO WAY!"

I pray this story will be an encouragement!

Next Post: It takes the right vision!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How far can we run away or ...

The more I read and the more I listen to some of today's top promoted speakers and preachers the more I hear the issues being promoted or addressed from a very strange position. It appears that people are desiring to see just how far they can go and still be "holy". This is a strange thing to me. Are we not taught that each of us is to pursue maturity in our spiritual life?

In fact the words of Romans 12: 1 keep coming back to me;

"present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God..."

Why are we leaving this command out of our teaching and pursuits spiritually? Is it an accident or is it more? From discussions of alcohol to anything else people love to claim their freedoms. There is no doubt that we are free in Christ. We must not forget the following words of our Lord;

John 8:36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed .

The problem is that this freedom does not grant nor allow for sinful practices. I think Paul made it clear when he wrote to the Romans;

Romans 6:1 "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?"

In my last post I mentioned some questions that we should ask each day relating to our decisions and choices. I post them again:

1. What would Jesus do?
2. Is my life clean before the Lord?
3. Do I base right and wrong on my opinions and preferences or ...?
4. Do I base right and wrong solely on the Word of God?
5. Do my actions cause people to stumble?
6. Is Christ being lived out in all I think, say and do?
7. Am I being honest with God?

If only more of today's promoted speakers and preachers would remember these when writing and teaching. If only our Seminary Professors would teach from this foundation instead of the thought of seeing how far I can go and not get into trouble. Maybe I am not in touch with modern thought. Come to think of it, I would pray that I care more about being in tune with the Holy God above all else including modern thought. I pray a couple of our seminaries and their personnel will find this same heart in their writings and topics used in their speaking.

How far will run before someone says "let's get back to the Word of God and living it?

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Danger of Organized Religion

For the past couple of weeks I have heard the phrase "organized religion" used in a derogatory way more than 20 times at the least. The use of the term is always in a negative sense. The more I have thought about this phrase and the negative use of it, the more I have come to realize just how misleading and misunderstanding the use is.

Misleading:

There is no such thing as organized religion. The Biblical definition of religion is found in the simple phrase "visit the widows and orphans in their time of need..."- James 1: 27 Why this phrase ignores this may explain much about the person using it and the intent to discredit the authority of Churches in their lives than it serves as an indictment of churches. The use also implies that some organization has done something to the person or at a minimum left a bad taste in their mouth.

Misunderstanding:

Since we know that the phrase is NOT an accurate description of biblical churches, we must look at the lack of understanding that many have concerning the role of churches and the people that are actually a church.

Clarification:

People make up the church. It is people who either do the will of God or go against the will of God. Sometimes those people do go against the Word of God and the Will of God as an organized body. But it still comes down to people.

Need:

What is needed now more than ever is for people who claim Jesus as Lord of their life to actually lived surrendered to His Will. The following questions may assist us in living out the greatest need of our day:

1. What would Jesus do?
2. Is my life clean before the Lord?
3. Do I base right and wrong on my opinions and preferences or ...?
4. Do I base right and wrong solely on the Word of God?
5. Do my actions cause people to stumble?
6. Is Christ being lived out in all I think, say and do?
7. Am I being honest with God?

The above will help all of us to put an end to the confusion of those who do not understand and lead us to reach the lost in our world! Can we try it together?

More thoughts later!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dr. Akin on Alcohol

The following was written by Dr. Akin of SEBTS. It is a wonderful read on the subject of Christians and alcohol use. I encourage it's reading and sharing. The growing number of Christians being trapped with the use of alcohol is costing much more than the freedom to partake is worth. Wisdom is applied here with sound Biblical support. The heart of one who loves people is felt in the words of this post.

Enjoy!

Written by Dr. Akin

I readily confess to a personal bias when it comes to the issue of alcohol. My wife Charlotte grew up in the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home because her parents were alcoholics. Her father died a lost alcoholic. Her mother, by God’s grace, was saved on her death bed. Her body had been ravaged by the twin killers of alcohol and tobacco. Today her sister and brother are lost alcoholics as is most of the rest of her family. My sister Joy and her husband Kevin King adopted a daughter born with fetal alcohol syndrome. She began life with two strikes against her through no fault of her own.

Today there are more than 40 million problem drinkers in America. Alcohol is the number one drug problem among teenagers. One in three American families suspects that one or more family members have a drinking problem. Misuse of alcohol costs our nation $100 billion a year in quantifiable cost. Because of these experiences and many more, I have often said that even if I were not a Christian I would have nothing to do with alcohol. There is simply too much sorrow and heartache connected to it. Avoiding this devastating drug is simply the wise thing to do.

This year at our Convention we again passed a resolution calling for abstinence from alcohol. The resolution passed overwhelmingly, but it did generate significant debate both during and after the Convention. Some have accused those supporting the resolution of being pharisaical and legalistic, traditionalist and anti-biblical. It is said that we fail to understand Christian liberty and freedom, and that we even stand against Jesus. These are strong accusations from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. However, are they correct? Are those like myself who believe abstinence to be the best lifestyle choice really guilty of these charges? Let me respond as graciously and kindly as I possibly can, explaining why I hold the position I do. I share my heart with no malice or ill will toward anyone, but from a desire to honor the Lord Jesus, and to protect others from the evils alcohol has visited on so many.

We should remember from a Baptist perspective that there are historical precedents for affirming abstinence. In 1886 Southern Baptists issued their first resolution on alcohol. Since then there have been almost 60 resolutions that in a united voice have addressed the risk of alcohol and the wisdom of abstinence. For 120 years Southern Baptists have made clear their stand on this issue. Individual Baptists no doubt continue to take a drink as they had before 1886, but the Southern Baptist Convention as a whole has been crystal clear on where it stands for a long time. I am confident that our forefathers understood the issue of Christian liberty as they passed these resolutions. I am grateful for this tradition. I believe we should continue it.

There are moral reasons for affirming abstinence. John Piper teaches the wisdom of abstinence because alcohol can be a mind-altering drug, and it can be addictive. It does not help one in doing the will of God and can genuinely be a hindrance. Further, he notes “the carnage of alcohol abuse” and therefore chooses to boycott such a product. He then adds, “is it really so prudish, or narrow to renounce a highway killer, a home destroyer, and a business wrecker.” Some questions are in order and deserve an answer. Does alcohol make me a better person? Does alcohol draw me closer to God? Does alcohol help me run the race faithfully to the end (Heb. 12:1-2)?

Some respond by saying the issue is not abstinence but moderation. They draw an analogy to both eating and sex. There is however a significant difference. We must eat to live. We must engage in sex to procreate. Alcohol is not a necessity for life or good living.

I am in total agreement with my spiritual hero Adrian Rogers who said, “Moderation is not the cure for the liquor problem. Moderation is the cause of the liquor problem. Becoming an alcoholic does not begin with the last drink, it always begins with the first. Just leave it alone.” My friend James Merritt wisely says, “It is impossible to be bitten by a snake that you never play with.” Alcoholism cannot strike unless it is given the opportunity. That potential becomes real with the first drink that one takes.

There are biblical reasons for practicing abstinence. Let me quickly note several. 1) It is consistent with the principle of edification (1 Cor. 6:12). Alcohol does not build you up or make you better for Jesus. Avoiding it ensures you will not harm yourself with it. 2) It is consistent with the principle of refusing that which enslaves (1 Cor. 6:12). Alcohol is a drug that can impair the senses and has a potential addictive element. Like addictive pornography, it should be avoided at all cost. 3) It is consistent with the ethic of love for believers and unbelievers alike (1 Cor. 8:13; 9:19-22; 10:32-33).

Because I am an example to others, I will make certain no one ever walks the road of sorrow called alcoholism because they saw me take a drink and assumed, “if it is alright for Danny Akin, it is alright for me.” No, I will choose to set an uncompromising example of abstinence because I love them. 4) I will seek my joy and filling in the Spirit not in alcohol. I love the Phillips translation of Ephesians 5:18 which reads, “Don’t get your stimulus from wine (for there is always the danger of excessive drinking), but let the Spirit stimulate your souls.” Psalm 4:7-8 adds, “You [O Lord] have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” 5) It is true Jesus drank wine, and I am sure I would have had I lived in the first century. However, there is no evidence that he ever partook of “strong drink.”

As Bob Stein has carefully documented, “The term “wine” or oinos in the ancient world, then, did not mean wine as we understand it today but wine mixed with water… To consume the amount of alcohol that is in two martinis by drinking wine containing three parts water to one part wine [a fairly common ancient ratio], one would have to drink over twenty-two glasses. In other words, it is possible to become intoxicated from wine mixed with three parts water, but one’s drinking would probably affect the bladder long before it affected the mind.” It should also be noted that children would have drank this diluted mixture of water and wine. It seems clear that there is no one-to-one correspondence with first century wine and twenty first century distilled liquor. Concerning the latter I believe the Lord Jesus would have no part.

Let me conclude with some practical considerations. Should those who practice abstinence look down on those who do not? The answer is an unqualified no. That is pride and therefore is sin. It is true that alcohol has contributed to many going to hell, but pride, no doubt, has done so in even greater numbers. A smug, prideful abstainer without Jesus is just as lost as the poor drunkard who is always in search of another drink. Those who believe in abstinence should be gracious and humble, kind and caring, loving and patient.

As a pastor or church leader, would I demand abstinence for church membership? No, I would not. Would I demand it for leadership? Absolutely! The principle of Proverbs 31:4-5 is appropriately applied here, “It is not for Kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.”

I agree with John MacArthur. Can I say it is always a sin to take a drink? No. Can I say it is almost always unwise? Yes, because it violates the biblical principles of wisdom and witness. One of America’s leading pastors is Andy Stanley. He wrote a book entitled The Best Question Ever. That question is this, “What is the wise thing for me to do?” I challenge anyone to show me the superior wisdom of drinking “in moderation,” as opposed to not drinking at all. This is not legalism but love. This is not being anti-biblical but pro-brother and sister. This is not working for evil but for good. Given the world in which we live I believe such a lifestyle honors the Lord Jesus. I believe it pleases Him. Without question it is the wise thing to do.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Calling Out the Discord Sowers

I have been preaching through the book of Nehemiah. This is my fourth time in 22 years. I never grow tired of the lessons contained in this great book. In fact, I am learning more this time than ever before as we walk through each verse and each chapter.

The story of Nehemiah is awesome. How God used this little man to do God size things is so encouraging. This current series has brought home how easy it is for God to work and how purely apathetic we American Christians have become. When I think of the task Nehemiah accomplished and then look at what little we do today - it is pathetic for us. And yet Nehemiah had challenges.

The past two weeks we have been hanging out in chapter 4. What a chapter it is. It dawned on me tonight as I prepare to close out chapter 4 and move in to chapter 5 next weekend that Nehemiah faced discourage rs like so many of us do every day. It also hit me that the leaders of the discourage rs were the "religious" leaders. How ironic.

I think it is time for us today to call out the people of our day who discourage and wreak havoc on the work of God. I understand that things in life and ministry need the critique of others - it can be helpful if done correctly. But what is NEVER helpful is when people attack and attack some more just to take cheap shots at some person or group. And there is much of this taking place today.

Our families are plagued with the sin of discord. Our churches are becoming crippled by discord. Conventions and Denominations have more than their fare share. Discord is growing without an end in sight. Just read the blogs! I wonder when if ever on earth, we will finally realize that this type of petty human focused griping NEVER accomplishes anything spiritual at all. It spreads the sin of discord more rapid than a forest fire and it exalts self more than it exalts the one true God.

So here is my challenge: Call out the sowers of discord in your life. Label them and stay away from them. Spend your time encouraging and exhorting those who God places in your life's path. Build up the people you encounter each day in person and electronically.

Proverbs 6 reminds us that God hates the sowers of discord among the brethren. In fact, he calls those people an ABOMINATION! I do not want to end up in that group!

Do you?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Health Care Reality and Sticker Shock!

If you Pastor an SBC church and use Guidestone for your Health Insurance you are probably in need of medical attention by now. This weekend packets announcing the 2011 prices hit the mail box with a bang. The new health care law reality is higher monthly premiums and I do mean higher.

According to emails and phone calls just this weekend and today, the average increase in medical premiums is between 31 to 40% per month. Yes you read that correctly. Mine was over 35% and no options appear as of yet to assist this increase. Either way I go, I will be taking a major pay cut this year.

In a conversation with one insurance man today, it was clear that what was sold to America was totally wrong. Premiums are up to stay and then taxes will be up after that. The options for my family are few and far between.

In the coming days I will be exploring alternatives and sharing some of the information if I can find any worth sharing. The real question is simple - what will churches do when they see the increase that hits January 1 for their staff?

This ain't gonna be pretty!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lessons for Leaders


The news on Monday carried the story of the head of the Segway Corporation who drove his Segway and off a cliff and died. How in the world could this occur? The owner of ..., drove the Segway off... surely not. But it is true. hen it dawned on me - what a tragic picture of a great lesson for those in leadership.

The man had the title. He was the boss. The man had authority and influence. He was the boss. But the man was not the developer of the machine he was driving and his experience with the machine was from a limited perspective.

Serving in leadership is not easy. Those who have never done so do not understand the complexities of such a role and calling. Decisions are made moment by moment. Once in the position you are expected to make the right decisions for the team, corporation, ministry etc. You are pulled by differing ideologies and rare are the days when you can find a few if any who agree with you. But this is the role. This is the duty of the position.

Problems will always be in front of you. But not all problems have to be deadly. The key in being an effective leader is to learn. Leaders must learn their product and get to know it better than anyone else. Leaders must know where they are going and how to steer the whole of the organization in that direction. When one fails at any or even just a few of the above, the leader drives off the cliff. Ideas and dreams are great. But it is in the fundamentals of life that those things are brought to fruition and survive.

Our world sees the lack of these fundamentals in every facet of our lives. Churches, Denominations, Conventions, Organizations, and world leadership as a whole suffer from the same issues today that the owner of the Segway Corporation obviously held. Tragic yes. But it does not have to be so!

If you are leader ask the following questions:
1. Do I know what I am leading?
2. Do I know the inside out of what I am leading?
3. Am I compromising basics to reach consensus?
4. Am I using "pressure tactics" instead of vision to lead?
5. Do I really know where I am going?
6. Is where I am going the place I really know I need to be?
7. Am I listening to sound wisdom from those who may know more than I?

There are so many more questions that could be asked. But I can assure you that the answers to the above will give you a more broad perspective in your mission. There are many cliffs. You do not have to drive off any of them. The choice is up to you.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lost People Matter - Don't Miss This!

I encourage you to read this article. It is indeed a great picture on the heart of God relating to people who are lost without Jesus!

Monday, September 13, 2010

God is in control...!

Even when it seems that situations are out of control, we must remember that God is never out of the picture nor is He ever out of control. God knows all. This knowledge is unique to our human perspective. We see only a few aspects of life. We can logically put things our there beyond our ability to see but in this we are merely speculating. God sees and know is all - all the time.

As you walk through your week with Him - seek to grow in faith knowing that God has it all worked out. He allows somethings to occur (His permissive Will) to grow us. He directly brings things into our lives to teach is. He knows the choices we will make and He knows the consequences of those choices. Faith is the key to living not in a state of worry nor fear but in peace with God sitting in the drivers seat of our life and our hands off the steering wheel.

Is God in control of our life? Now that is the question that we all need to focus on.




James 4:7-17
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?
13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit";
14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."
16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
(NKJ)


Friday, September 10, 2010

May We Never Forget!


Take time today to remember and to honor those who lost their lives!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

9/11 and Christians Nine Years Later


My thoughts have been replaying the horrible day nine years ago. America was attacked like never before. It was a different type of attack than we were familiar with. In wars past, political ideology was the leading motivator played out in war and human murder by crazy leaders. 9/11/01 was different.

On that day we saw a vivid display of the evil in the world relating to religion and beliefs. In the days after, I remember coming to grips with the full view of what had taken place. For a group of thugs to do as they did for the sake of their beliefs and religion still grips my mind. Beyond the evil and hatred was then and is now a lesson. One might say many lessons. Lessons that I do not think we as American Christians are learning.

Lesson One
American Christianity has become too easy. Easy believism is every where. We are not passionate about much beyond our own well being and desires. We fight for our rights as individuals while we sit apathetically by and watch our freedoms fall by the side of the road. While fighting for our rights, we have forgotten the command to "GO" and spread the Gospel. We send money. Yet more money is spent on humanitarian needs than on the sharing of the Gospel. We run from churches that still preach the truth of Gods Word and call people to repentance. We fight for a watered down holiness of self developed righteousness while we ignore 2 Corinthians 7:1 which states that we are to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

Lesson Two
American Christianity is willing to squander an incredible inheritance. Muslims will die for their beliefs. Not many American Christians will do the same. We are living in an hour of compromise in hopes of preserving our material things while we sell out the spiritual. People before us poured their hearts into the ministry of Gospel. Churches thrived in a land of freedom to worship. Now, we find Christians who argue against any moral stand in America while failing to realize that the very freedom that gives them the right to argue is at stake. A freedom that was paid for with blood from many people and handed to us.

Lesson Three
American Christianity still fails to understand that we are in a holy war that will last until the return of Christ. Though we may attempt to compromise, no compromise will appease our enemy. Muslims are on the march in every part of the world. A holy war is brutal. It will get brutal no matter which path a person takes. If we defend and fight, we will be attacked. If we continue appeasement, we will be conquered. It is not difficult to see the stage being set for anti-Christ. Problem here is that many people who claim to be Christians will join with him and his movement. Have you not noticed the number of Christians joining hands and working with Muslims.

Lesson Four
This world is NOT our home! And this excites me! We do not need to live in fear. Wisdom demands we know the hour. But the same wisdom also reveals that the plan of the one true God is call us home. Leading people to Christ should be our focus and passion from here on! Knowing that are day is soon coming to see our Lord and Savior should anchor us and propel us.

Nine years later we find much has changed. My prayer is that we will see the real changes that need to occur and get busy about living the life we have been called to live and loving the people that God has placed before us to lead to Him and serve.

I only wish that more people would see that as Americans we have been blessed. Rather than throw it all away, let us embrace our inheritance and make the most of it for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The world may be against us, but greater is He who is in us than he who is in them!

May God Bless America!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Redistribution of Wealth Coming!

The following link is to a report on the goals and direction of the United Nations. A carefully reading of the material provided should cause every American to fall on their knees in prayer. We are in for some rough days if we do not stand against the evil aimed at us.

I am thankful that this earth is NOT my home!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Times R Changing

From weather to finances, church to education, change is in the air. Change is not always bad nor is it always good. Organizations that experience change will often promote the new way as "the best" way. Only problem is they said the same thing last time change was promoted.

Personally there is a sense that some of the change we see coming these days deals with where we are on Gods timetable and the return of Christ. This is true when see the changes occurring around the world and even here at home in politics. But more important to me is the change that is taking place in REAL Christianity compared to the "form" of that has been so prevalent over the past few decades.

What change are you seeing in your life? What changes are you seeing in the hearts of people around you? Embracing Gods change of the heart and life is one that should excite us. Either we will be part of Gods final push or we will be part of the great falling away. There is NO middle ground. Change will be found in every life.

Are you changing for the better? Take a long look and listen to the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit. He longs to change us. He longs to bring about His will in our lives for His glory.

Is your life changing?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mormons, Beck and Politics

In reading what many have written regarding the Beck rally and even more, Becks Mormon religion, I thought I would make an observation or two. In the height of duplicity, we see bloggers living true to form. A guy says he is a Mormon and so we bash. We proceed to bash others that associate with him and we bash those who dare to say otherwise. We attack patriotism or at the least seem to impose that many view it as a religion of some sort. I will deal with more on this point later.

On Mormonism - I do not under any reason think that one who is simply a practicing Mormon knows what it means to be a Christian from experience. I do think they can know the Theology. On the other hand, I do think that someone who has been a Mormon and yet ministered to by Evangelicals who have shared the Gospel with them, can accept Christ and yet be slow to leave the Mormon church.

On Patriotism - I find it odd that several in Theological circles fail to see the value of turning America back to the roots. I fully realize that Americanism will not save a single person from hell. I fully understand that we cannot legislate morality. But it is in the return to basic American principles that we find our protection for Freedom of Religion and more. I am not a patriot for material reasons. I am a patriot for Spiritual reasons. Now living in America more than any other time in our history are indeed the peoples of the world. At a time when the Gospel is needed, I wonder why so many are so quick to forget that defending our rights and freedoms as Americans is more important to the spreading of the Gospel than we act like we know.

On Beck - I watched a show Friday where Beck sat with some well known Evangelical Leaders, Pastors of churches. These guys were not as famous as Falwell Jr or Franklin Graham, but they were and are extremely loyal to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have been watching Beck and listening very closely. Whether it is in a forum with the men above, or even just on his Fox News show, I have noticed a change in his language and view of Christianity. Is Beck revealing what may have or may be working in his own life? I can only go with what I see and hear. This I do know, he gives a better presentation of the Gospel than many that sit in a pew on Sunday in most Evangelical churches.

Summary - I think we ought to stop bashing Beck and those around him and start praying that indeed there is fruit to their work in Becks life and in the life of America. We are closer than ever to losing the very freedoms we have been blessed with to share Jesus here in America. With the world in our front and back yards, what a shame it would be to lose the freedom to share with the masses.

As a patriot, I am excited to see an awakening of the sleeping giant. I sense a true movement in America that may pave the way for more roads to the sharing of the Gospel than ever before. We would be foolish to throw this all away. It just might be God's plan! And I would hate to see the day when theological arrogance actually cost us the very freedoms that would allow millions to hear the Gospel like has never before been available.

You may not like Beck at all. But I think we need to get off our prideful horses and stop to think that just maybe we do not know all that God may be up to. A saved Mormon that takes awhile to leave the Mormon church needs to know Christians love and do care about him and his eternity. And if God can use a Cup bearer to lead out and rebuild His city, who is to say that He would not use Beck to do something similar in America. I know this - most pulpits are silent today. That is a real shame!

And I did not even mention Sarah Palin until now...!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lake Baptism Lessons



Today we were honored to baptize at a lake. The first picture is easy to see what was taking place. The second picture is actually misleading. It is a picture of people gathering for the event and yet it does not show the reason for this post.

Our people were pumped. I like doing things like this for many reasons. But I learned something unique that I think will stick with me for a long time. The above pictures are just a few of this event. What you cannot see was the one thing that really caught my attention.

As our people began to walk to the area of the lake for this event, people in the lake from all sides stopped what they were doing and began to gather with us. I did not notice this at first. My Associate made the comment about what was taking place as I was speaking to a few people waiting for all of our people to join us.

It dawned on me why this was unique. We get so caught up in telling people why other people aren't interested in church and yet an outdoor Baptism caught their attention and led them to stop what they were doing and join us. People are interested in the work of God and still respect the carrying out of Baptism - even at a State Park.

I wonder why we focus so much on church y stuff and don't realize that people will care when we live out true Gospel change and down to earth Christianity. It sure caught my attention. The respect and even applause came from more than our people.

Just a thought!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Which group are you in?

The idea of grouping people is just as natural as rain and sunshine. Each one of us possess certain qualities and approaches to life. There will be others in this life who are similar to us and thus a group for identity sake etc. is easy to form.

In Nehemiah chapter 3 we see a listing of many who put their bodies to work. The state of Jerusalem was horrible. As Nehemiah had been called by God to lead out in the rebuilding of this city (and more) we are given a specific list of those who worked and what that work was. Also mentioned in this chapter is a group of people who WOULD NOT WORK.

No one could deny the state of the city. No one could deny that something had to be done. But how could a group of people with a background such as "nobles" sit and watch while others jumped in and went to work? Is there a lesson here?

Sure!

There will always be those who do nothing. The nobles could have done long before Nehemiah. They could have prevented the much of the decay. They could have used their influence to rally the people long before Nehemiah chapter 3. But instead they did nothing and continued doing nothing.

You and I are in groups naturally. The key for our growing life with Christ is to make sure that we are NOT in the do nothing group! I would rather be a stepping stone than stumbling block! I would rather be part of the solution than to be a mere critic on the sidelines doing nothing and helping no one.

Which group are you in?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Mosque and a tale

It appears that the issue over building the Mosque close to ground zero in New York is not going away soon. Even our President has jumped into the discussion and debate. This story is really a tale of just how far America has fallen. Allow me to explain.

The Mosque is NOT the issue!
Anyone who claims the great American heritage of this country should know that in America there is and should be freedom OF religion. Thus building the Mosque is NOT the issue. Islam should be granted the same rights as any other religion to practice freely in our society. To say otherwise is to trample on the very freedom that we say we are defending.

Sensitivity IS the issue!
With freedom comes a great principle - we must be sensitive to and towards others. Our freedoms end where another persons begins. This is a principle that is being lost today. We are told as Christians to be sensitive towards others. What about others being sensitive towards us? What about the lives of those lost on 9-11? What about their families? Sensitivity should tell each of us that the building of such facility close to the zero point is NOT best nor right. But this sensitivity can only come from a grasping of the Word of God.

Yes, in America today sensitivity only appears to work one way. Not to mention the very man who is leading the charge to build. His antics and CRAZY statements about America only heat up the whole scenario. And then to realize that this is quickly becoming a political tool - it ain't pretty! But what really is taking place?

As Christians I think it highlights our need to know and understand what we stand for and how that plays out in the world. I think we need to be protectors of the very freedoms we deserve and demand. Even if this means protection of the right to build a Mosque. But I also think we need to be keen to the reality that the world is not fair. Our apathy in voting Biblical values is coming home in a loud roar. Our willingness to trade the pursuit of God for the pursuit of money is costing us big time. People do not do what is right much of the time. And though we can claim sensitivity, I wonder where in the world do we expect those without it to get it?

I pray common sense will prevail somehow in this situation. But I also pray that we American Christians will realize quickly that we need to get serious about reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and living the reality of His Work and Holiness in our daily lives. We cannot expect anything but more of the same when we continue to take for granted the freedoms we have and fail to live our lives passionately serving Him in that freedom.

To whom much is given, much is expected. Ours is a tale of what we ignored while others of more passion continue to seek what we have! They are willing to fight for it and they live it. We do anything but live it!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Elect Babies and the Reformed Thoughts

Reading over many thoughts pertaining to the ideas of "elect" and how one would relate those ideas and theological thoughts/doctrines pertaining to babies as led me to some interesting questions to ask of those of the Reformed movement. Beyond the questions are some clear contradictions that highlight how the Reformed/Calvinist doctrines are limited, as they should be being formed by a man and not the Word of God.

Babies are ELECT
If one holds to the idea that all babies are born elect and thus if die young do indeed inherit heaven, then one needs to ask how does one lose the status of being elect and what stage, age, or ??? would should occur? This is a logical thought process that must be addressed. Much confusion is found when reading the aged works of those Reformed thinkers. I think anyone who would, as a Calvinist, hold to this idea would also have a tough time explaining this idea.

Why?

If all are born elect, then all should be saved - according to this teaching.

Babies are born some elect and others destined for hell
If you hold to this idea, you must say that there are indeed children who die young that go to hell. In saying this, one would also be forced to admit that there is NO human way to know which it is for a specific child and family.

The above two areas are being ignored greatly in the discussion pertaining to the reformed movement. It is a sad thought when one realizes that a whole system of doctrine cannot explain the simple of the above scenario and actually is proven as incomplete and lacking.

How would you answer the above two positions? Can you back them up with scripture alone?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

This will change the world and us!

I was reading today the latest post from Perry Noble regarding sermon series for churches. I was curious when I saw the title. Someone is always developing the latest and greatest sermon series. it is the culture in many pulpits and just might be one of the most dangerous methods being used today.

I was elated to read the following words from Noble..."get alone with God, open your Bible, read it until he sets your heart on fire…and then go unleash that fire through preaching to the people He has called you to preach to! In other words…get “a word” from “The Word!”

That advise is GREAT advice!

But then I thought for a moment. That is GREAT advice for any Christian! If we would just GET ALONE with GOD and allow Him to set our hearts on fire!

If only! All too often we find ourselves getting caught up in going through studies and doing this and that... the latest and greatest new THING. What ever happened to the simple act of getting alone with God and allowing Him to transform us and ignite us? Why have we abandoned this in our daily lives?

So here is my challenge to you this week - get alone with God, open your Bible, read it until He sets your heart on fire…and then go unleash that fire through your life in all that you do!"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Debate or Divisiveness?

I was blessed with being raised in a family that loved debate. We would debate everything from Theology to Politics on daily basis. Strangers may have wondered if we really loved one another or not. These debates were always strong times of the exchange of ideas and concepts. They were not divisive. They were part of growing and learning.

When my soon to be wife first discovered this trait in my family it scared her. Her family could not debate without feelings being hurt. It took her a long time to adjust to this debate prone guy and his family. We debated everything. We debated often. The key was that these debates where only for the purpose of sharpening our thoughts and convictions and increasing our ability to defend what we believe.

Today there is a new form of debating being practiced in some Christian circles. The purpose of this type of debating is not to reinforce but rather divide. One will discover that people are willing to even judge on one's salvation without even knowing the person much less trying to know them.

The Bible does not condone the type of debate that is taking place these days. In fact, some of the strongest language in the Bible is used in describing this type of dividing:

Proverbs 16:19

19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
NKJV

Proverbs 6:16
...Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
NKJV

Proverbs 6:19
...And one who sows discord among brethren.
NKJV


If people desire to build up - great! But to take personal the idea of debating and move to the practice of name calling and judging one's salvation is to fit the above verses to a T. This is not God's plan. His desire is for us to live in love and edification with one another.

We must examine our activity with language and communication. Those who divide are agents of destruction. They are aggressive and they are dangerous. Stay away from them and join the army that builds up and edifies.

I am certain someone will want to debate this!

Friday, July 30, 2010

James White Bears False Witness

Tonight the Dividing Line internet program hosted by Mr. James White included a segment where he once again attacked me. I can easily get beyond his typical tyrant of calling people "emotional" and "naive" knowing that he uses these second and third only to calling people "liars" in that order. I am not into demeaning people to prove that I am right but I realize that this does occur. What I am against is being misrepresented and lied about. I had decided to not post on this garbage again but tonight realized that I could not allow Mr. Whites misrepresentation of me to stand. He crossed a line that no Christian should cross while claiming to call another to repentance. A person who claims to be a scholar and apologist should know and practice real research. Care should be taken to seek the truth by such a person.

Tonight, Mr. White showed that his research methods are more than lacking. In fact a caller that was announced by Mr. White as "being lost/dropped" evidently tried to clarify a point. And it was here that Mr. White revealed his carelessness and lack of thorough research; not to mention his absence of professionalism and Biblical conduct. Mr. White, this is not a game and this not about wining points.

What occurred?

Mr. White was trying to show that the only defenders of Dr. Caner are people closely tied to him and thus, emotionally charged and blinded to the truth (his version of the truth). He revealed that he had found a website that listed me serving on the Board of Directors of Watchman Fellowship with Dr. Caner. Thus it was easy to explain, in his mind and words, my emotional defense due to our closeness. According to Mr. White, the caller mentioned above, called to let Mr. White know that I had not served on the board of Watchman since 2009. Mr. White in making this announcement said the information was not relevant because all one had to do was to look at the web page and they would see the information for themselves that we had served together. He brushed off the information the caller must have given to someone before being dropped.

Yet when you see what was going on behind the scenes and know the real facts, you will see a major problem here:


1. I received an email letting me know that Mr. White was indeed going to use me in his program.


2. Mr. White was notified that indeed I had not served on the board since early 2009 via email.


3. Mr. White did not acknowledge the email response that stated the above.

4. I was indeed listening to the whole thing as it unfolded.

5. The email sent to Watchman was sent just before the program began. Christ-like?

6. I was never called or emailed.

7. His only research was an internet search. He took the information of his search and presented it as fact and reason for me defending Caner.

8. He failed to clarify the specifics that he had been given and remember he excused them when a caller tried to clarify.

But there is more. Had Mr. White done his research beyond a mere internet search, he could have easily discovered that which totally disproves his presentation and misrepresentation of me. Had he common courtesy and professionalism he would have called or emailed me with time for response. Neither was done. Integrity would demand that if you are going to accuse someone of something you would at least seek to have a first hand understanding of that which you were presenting and would know that your facts were indeed accurate. His intent was to simply malign me.
What he did was bear false witness against me and completely misrepresents me and my connection with Dr. Caner. For you see, at no time during my serving on the Board of Watchman Fellowship did Dr. Caner and I simultaneously attend a meeting. More, during my and Dr. Caners tenure on the board, I never had any contact with Dr. Caner relating to the ministry of Watchman Fellowship or anything else; I never spoke with or emailed Dr. Caner at all regarding anything. There was no contact. None!


Mr. White fabricated the whole connection thing. There is no excuse for such. He has no knowledge of that which he presented tonight beyond his computer screen.

Internet searches do not make for research. In this case, they actually led to Mr. White bearing false witness against me and Dr. Caner. Why? In his drive to impugn me and others, while destroying Dr. Caner, he obviously spends considerable time simply scouring the internet for anything that will help his cause with little care or effort to seek if it is true, complete, or even relevant. This is not research. It is an inside glimpse into the mess that he continues to promote. It is common among several bloggers to do the same. He is not alone. But this does not make it right.


When people make the claim, "research has revealed", one better question the research. Mr. White has proven that research does not always mean real research. The information being shared to prove a point may indeed be nothing at all and just might be totally wrong and fabricated.

I find myself at a loss in understanding why Mr. White has not emailed or called me to verify his supposed inside knowledge of me and my motivations, state of emotions and personality. This is not the first time he has mentioned me in such derogatory manner.
He does not know me nor does he closely know anyone else who knows me. One can only wonder why a Christian would attack another in such manner and carelessness for truth and reliability. But we all need to grasp with clarity the seriousness of bearing false witness against a brother or sister in Christ; or anyone else for that matter. My conversations with Dr. Ergun Caner have been minimal at best until this year. But Mr. White did not know this. In fact, had he integrity, he would have researched this before attacking me as emotionally tied to Dr. Caner. His presentation about me tonight thus, was a total lie. It was an intentional fabricated conclusion based on internet searches only. No facts were contained at all beyond the one that I did serve on the Watchman Board as did Dr. Caner. Everything else was assumed. And it was assumed wrong.

Think about what occurred tonight. Mr. White brushed off the "lost" caller and the point of the above while continuing to promote his fabrication to his listeners the segment about me. Mr. White did not know that Caner and I were never at a meeting together nor did he research it. He simply assumed. Mr. White was bearing false witness. He made up a charge to strengthen his points of discrediting people who stand with Dr. Caner. He used "Enquirer" type tactics in informing Watchman of the program content by doing so as the show was beginning. He failed to inform his listeners that he had no knowledge of me and that his research and conclusions were merely leaps of assumptions birthed in limited internet research.

I have been misrepresented many a time for stands I have taken over the years by people who do not know Jesus and some who do. But never before tonight has a Christian or lost person so misrepresented and bore false witness as Mr. White did in such a public manner. It is a revelation into his methods and tactics that are appalling. It makes one wonder about his attacks on others?

But I think the real question is "What on earth would motivate him to stoop to this level?"

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Caner Attackers and the Military

Rumor has it that the men out to destroy a brother in Christ are about to use the military in their approach. I have it on good word that Dr. Ergun Caner has been notified that another video is about to be released with the intent of stirring the military emotions and thus rally another group to the frying. Our heroes in the military deserve better than to be used as pawns in this ridiculous evil game. Their claim of him doing them harm is disgusting and disingenuous. There will be nothing new in this or that not answered by men such as Norman Geisler. Men like Smathers are attempting to search and destroy even though the committee has acted.


Here are a few points:

1. It is easy to notice lately that the story was about to play out. Another attack is required to keep the front lines going. Why? There is nothing new in their "new" revelation.

2. The cry is for this continued pressure to force "repentance" out of Dr. Caner. They are good at playing God. This is clearly a case of piling on. While Dr. Caner has publicly repented both in a public statement as well as in a Campus Church venue, and while Dr. Caner is no longer president of LBTS, these hateful men want a scarlet letter for him to wear. It seems that unless Dr. Caner repents in front of them, God will not grant forgiveness.

3. Who determined that these James Whites minions (remember this is their own name) have the role of knowing whether or not this repentance is needed? Who set them up as the one's to motivate this activity? And just why was the Feb 25TH statement not enough? What about the actions of Liberty? He is no longer Dean. Could it be that this continued attack simply proves they want destruction regardless of their cries?

4. I still am trying to find in the Bible where it says that people are to manipulate repentance from someone? Can we say obsession? They want something yet to be defined and are quick to change the "game" and definitions etc. just to keep the story going. Human pressure is NEVER God's method for God's activity.

5. In their cries for integrity and self proclaimed holiness they are easily forgetting about the consistent scriptural commands to leave the role of Judge and Juror to God.

6. It is also noted that lately we discover that many of these "men" are also now blogging under the disguise of historical figures names. So much for integrity. But do not forget that they love to publish to the world the names of those who disagree with them. And when they make their silly phone calls to stir up trouble, they attacks, abuse, and hide their identity best they can. The phrase "Man up boys" just seems fitting here.

No doubt these young minds who follow a man with too much time on his hands, will continue in their pursuit to do whatever it is, and however it is defined, to Dr. Caner until who knows when.

All one has to do is read my last post to discover that REAL Ministry and REAL Evangelism are more than missing today. These minions and their little to do leader, are clearly bringing this point home.

Christianity can and must do much better than this. May we all remember this simple passage of scripture:


1 Pet 4:7-11
7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.
8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."
9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.
10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(NKJ)


Monday, July 26, 2010

"Get Real"

In my early years I was given the opportunity to work as an umpire. At the age of fourteen, wearing the uniform and calling people out though cool, was nothing compared to getting paid. At $10 per game (in the 80's), two games per night, and averaging 3 nights a week, I was doing alright. I umpired all through High School and even built an Umpire Association that handled games all over the DFW area. It was awesome and yet I learned quickly that the money was not as easy as it first appeared. Often I would hear the phrase (among others) "get real!" And as I was reflecting on that today I realized something incredible.

We know an umpire has to make tough calls, deal with dads reliving their youth and moms who can scream like no one else, and grandparents who just cannot see from the bleachers what can be seen on the field. Most nights there will be that one or two calls that make for some fireworks. I actually loved all of it. I did not worry when I got home and I never was scared during some of those intense moments (though I would be in 2010 I think!). Calling a play or a pitch was just that. I called them like I saw them. Umpires back then did not have instant replay as they do now. You saw the play and you called it. Some calls were good while others were pathetic. One's perspective usually decided one's response.

Perspectives have always played a role in sports and I am learning that today perspectives are playing a major role in churches and ministries. The human factor, as in umpiring, is prone to mistakes. But more than mistakes, the human factor can also be a path for missing God. In umpiring, it is just a game. In ministry, it is heaven or hell for people.

We are now living in the midst of one of the most challenging times in ministry. People no longer look to God's Word for their marching orders. Ministry is driven by human desires, likes, and preferences. Evangelism is often relative to one's perspective instead of God's directive. Trying to discern what REAL ministry is, and what REAL evangelism is can be troublesome it seams. Even the largest gathering of Baptist in the world approved a report this summer called the Great Commission Resurgence. But in passing the report, I wonder how many people realized that no where in the report was a definition of the Gospel or Evangelism?

We have churches today who take "mission trips" that are really glorified vacations. We have church members who will refuse to support reaching people in their own community for a number of reasons and yet dare to call the church they attend a ministry. We will send money all over the world and clothes the same, but will not spend more than 2% of a church budget (on ave) to reach children in our community.

We need an umpire like moment. The REAL is missing from Biblical Missions and Biblical Evangelism. America is proof that American Christianity loves the glory but will not sweat or sacrifice much to do the REAL. I Pastor a church that is breaking out of this norm. I serve and lead a national ministry that is charting the course of lean for the sake of churches and ministries all over America. Neither are easy. But the fruit of REAL compared to the norm of human ideas is staggering.

Try allowing God to be the umpire of your life. He NEVER makes bad or wrong calls. This week join me in asking some tough questions about life, ministry and evangelism. Is ministry and evangelism REAL or more about you? Are you a person who promotes and encourages your church to do more REAL ministry and evangelism? As our supreme play caller, only God should be leading us in these areas. Self should be out! Are you allowing God to make the calls?

People here at home and around the world need us to get busy doing the REAL ministry and REAL evangelism that God has so called each of us to.

It's time we "GET REAL!"

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mature vs. Arrogant

Life is full of lessons. Teaching moments come at us from every angle. For a person to be taught, some maturity is required. I think this holds true even more so as we grow older. Maturity recognizes the need for continued learning. Maturity knows from old lessons that there is much still to learn.

Arrogance is totally the opposite. Arrogance portrays itself as the one who knows better and often more and obviously applies this in thus trying to teach others. Arrogance is an absence of humility and an unwillingness to admit that wrong could apply to one's own life.

Today arrogance is running wild. We see it growing in supposed Christian circles. People have fallen in love with pointing out supposed sin in the lives of others but will deny and excuse sin in their own life. The spiritual arrogance of today is worse than cancer.

This week in the adult track of our VBS I was privileged to watch spiritual maturity win out over arrogance. I watched a group of older adults learn about the culture of today and how ministry must be focused. They were challenged with a world that does not make sense to them and yet willing to learn. Why?

Maturity in spiritual issues always revolves around a simple principle - People Need Jesus! When one is mature enough to know this, it changes everything. Our arrogance is chopped when we see the need the need of others. Our desire for spiritual self elevation crumbles when we realize the lostness of the world and the call on each of our lives to share Jesus in this lostness.

Are you mature or arrogant? Do you spend your time pointing out the faults of others are ministering the Gospel of Jesus? May God grow us more mature!

Arrogance loves to attack. Maturity fights for the individual!

Romans 9: 1-3 is the perfect picture of spiritual maturity!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When we do ministry

This week we are in hosting our annual VBS which includes an Adult track. In the past we have brought in people to do studies on special subjects. This year I felt led to do a Vision 20/20 series. So I am breaking down each aspect of the church and leading in discussing the needs both spiritually and physically of each area. I love the discussion and I really love the catching of the vision that is taking place.

Our discussion so far has uncovered a great truth that I have not been able to get out of my head. There are many people in the pew who are tired and frankly sick of all the fussing and fighting that churches can be known for. I was shocked to hear this aspect shared from all generations. We currently have no major issues in our church which makes it a peaceful experience. We get along and when we do struggle with understanding, we work it out. But though I knew this was not the case in many churches, I never realized how adamant people in the pew were getting about this bad behavior.

As we have been sharing the needs of ministries I have once again been filled with the awesome truth that I think we each need to regain and live in. It is a simple truth. It is a powerful truth.

If we would all get busy reaching people with the Gospel, we would discover that we have little time left for fussing and complaining.

May we apply this truth and reap the fruit!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

When Critics Go To Far

Many years back a song was circulating around called "Chunkin Rocks". The song tells the story about Christians who love to blast others with words and more just to put them down. It was so many years ago that I cannot find the lyrics to the song nor have I been successful in locating them on the internet. Maybe I will soon.

I have never been able to comprehend the bashing that some Christians do towards others. It has become clear that the majority of Christians do not fit in this model of behavior and I am grateful for that. But the few who do, do so with such loud and screeching noise that it gives the appearance that there are more. The level that one must lower themselves to in generating the bash is staggering. And we are told that the over riding mission in chunkin' rocks is to self elevate. We tear down to build up and yet our tearing down actually destroys us.

Have you examined your speech lately? Do you find your relationship with others drenched in edifying communication? The Bible speaks so clearly on this subject. Notice the words:

Col 4:6
6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
(NKJ)

Even in times of correction, the word "always" clearly does away with much of the excuses that one hears for violating the truths of this verse. When a person makes mistakes, correction is important. Correction that follows the truth of God's Word will produce fruit. When correction moves outside of this truth, the result will not be a fruitful one. When we seek to literally play the role of God and His Holy Spirit, we easily move away from correction. To sin while trying to point out the errors of another is not Biblical. it produces nothing Godly.

May God raise up many more Christians who understand the power of speech and who live a life of redemptive speech with other people. Should you discover a lake or stream of water, a rock is great to chunk (fun actually). But to throw a rock at people is to destroy one's own life and testimony. No good comes from chunkin" rocks at people!

Now if I could just find the lyrics to that song!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why the change?

I announced several weeks ago that I was about to make some major changes to my blogging. The following are some thoughts that have driven this change. I love the use of media. In the early 90's I began using all types of media in worship services. From television to radio and now the internet, the paths for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and assisting each other in their daily walk are numerous.

Blogging has become a strange world. Though I love many aspects of it, some of blogging makes my stomach turn. It is these things that have drawn me back to my true purpose for living and my guiding parameters for all I do. Spending time arguing with people who just want to argue will not lead others to Christ. Seldom do these arguments change much of anything. That in and of itself makes for a huge waste of time and sin.

A new pattern is emerging with blogging. Agenda driven attacks are becoming the norm. These attacks are rooted in aggressive Reformed camps who have taken upon themselves to "clean up" churches all across the land and spread the New Covenant Theology as fast as they can. Beyond the attacks are the simple facts that most of these bloggers are young and inexperienced Pastors or lay people who have much bitterness and hatred aimed at Pastors and aggressive/faithful Evangelistic ministries. The move is on to derail these ministries in the internet world and thus scar reputations and character. Mind you that none of the attackers have much credibility if any to begin with and then note that often their so called evidence is hearsay gossip driven by a few spin masters driving the show.

We as Christians can and must do better than this. I will no longer get involved in the garbage and division being spread by those who have little desire to spread the Gospel to the lost and hurting of this world. Our time here on earth is quickly coming to an end. Our focus cannot waver from the mission assigned by our Lord - to reach the world with the Gospel.

I pray you will find this blog as an asset to your daily walk with Christ and that people from all over the world will read and experience the only salvation offered to man through Jesus Christ. Jesus died so that all would have the opportunity to experience this salvation. May we pray that many will receive.

I like change! Especially the change that Jesus makes in one's life!

The Change Begins

With this post the approach to blogging and interaction in the blog world is changing for me. Beginning next Monday, the site will be focused on the edification of people in their relationship with Christ. Comments will be moderated. We will discuss sermons that I preach (which will be available at this site and iTunes).

Another feature that will be added in the Fall is that I will begin a once a month (to start with) video sharing of thoughts relating to current events and how we as Christians can live our lives to make a difference in our communities, states, nation, and around the world. Sometime in the Fall or early Spring, our Winning Truth Telecast will be returning.

It is going to be a fun ride! See you along the journey!

Friday, July 9, 2010

When Christians sell out to other religions

The following article, from Fox News, needs to be read by every Christian in America. We are being told that we must be inclusive. I wonder when we will realize that in so doing, we will give away our very freedoms that so many fought and died for? If the following scenario continues to go unchallenged and we continue to see Christians sell out to a lie of passive compromise we will see the end of more than we can realize in a very short time.

by Todd Starnes

A North Carolina pastor was relieved of his duties as an honorary chaplain of the state house of representatives after he closed a prayer by invoking the name of Jesus.

“I got fired,” said Ron Baity, pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. He had been invited to lead prayer for an entire week but his tenure was cut short when he refused to remove the name Jesus from his invocation.

Baity’s troubles began during the week of May 31. He said a House clerk asked to see his prayer. The invocation including prayers for our military, state lawmakers and a petition to God asking him to bless North Carolina.”

“When I handed it to the lady, I watched her eyes and they immediately went right to the bottom of the page and the word Jesus,” he told FOX News Radio. “She said ‘We would prefer that you not use the name Jesus. We have some people here that can be offended.’”

When Baity protested, she brought the matter to the attention of House Speaker Joe Hackney.

“I told her I was highly offended when she asked me not to pray in the name of Jesus because that does constitute my faith,” Baity said. “My faith requires that I pray in His name. The Bible is very clear.”

When the clerk returned, Baity said he was told that he would be allowed to deliver the day’s prayer – but after that – his services would no longer be needed.

Hackney, a Democrat, and House Republican Leader Paul Stam released a joint statement to FOX News Radio:

“It has been our practice in the North Carolina House of Representatives for many years to request, but not require, that our guest chaplains deliver a nonsectarian prayer. This is intended as a show of respect for all the religions practiced by the members of the House and the people we represent.”

“In this instance, we allowed Pastor Baity to deliver his prayer, without interference, even though it was sectarian in nature. Nonetheless, we will review our procedures and guidelines concerning guest chaplains, and we will make sure we abide by applicable constitutional procedures. The House will adjourn within the next few days, but the results of this review will be publicly available whenever it is complete.”

Baity said he’s not happy with the way he was treated.

“When the state tells you how to pray, that you cannot use the name of Jesus – that’s mandating a state religion,” he said. “They talk about not offending other people but at the same time, if they are telling me how to pray – that’s the very thing our forefathers left England for.”

The Christian Law Association helped Baity draft a letter asking for an apology and an opportunity to return to the state capitol and finish his tenure.

“The First Amendment promises all Americans the free exercise of their religion, which includes the right to pray as their faith requires, even when they are invited to open state legislative sessions with prayer,” attorney David Gibbs told WXII-TV. “We trust that the North Carolina House of Representatives will realize its mistake and will offer Pastor Baity another opportunity to pray without requiring him to use a prayer that is mandated by government.”

Baity said he is still stunned by what happened.

“You would expect this somewhere else – Cuba, Saudi Arabia,” he told FOX News Radio. “You would never anticipate this happening in the United States of America.”

In a word – the pastor said – the decision is “anti-Christian.”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Celebrating Grace While Judging Anothers Sin


Life is full of contradictions. It is better said this way; "all of life is full of contradictions and Christianity is no exception." I often wonder why we can see things that are so clear and still miss what we are seeing. One of the things that excites me about heaven is the fact that ALL will be revealed and the humility of mankind will be so ever present that NO confusion will be found. Our eyes will see more than we ever dreamed.

When the Bible speaks of "...God is not the author of confusion..." normally the ping pong contest begins. Confusion sets in like a bolder dropped from miles above. Paralysis of mind, eyes, and brain are triggered. Logic is lost. Craziness becomes the norm. We are right and others are wrong. The confusion is present due to ungodliness on others - not us! In the confusion the spirit of self righteousness is fed.

A Pastor friend asked me yesterday about the idea that Christians can and do celebrate one who has sinned in a public manner while judging another at the same time. His question was serious. The confusion of thought was clear. The dichotomy of our day and the pluralization of so many people highlights this growing trend. From Theology to how to cross the street. We live in a day of self righteous hypocrisy.

Why is it?

I honestly do not know! I have some ideas but I cannot follow those lines of reasoning else I would enter into the same cesspool of confusion that is drowning out the Gospel of Jesus of Christ.

I read today where an individual was defending himself from statements made by someone about him who has never met him. The truth of the defense was iron clad. No one should bear false witness against another. No one should speak for another. No one should pretend to know the heart of another. The individual who wrote the article was right.

But wait...

Why is it that some can claim to promote a picture of grace and present such a clear path of right and wrong and yet be guilty of the same? How is it that some can claim a "work of God" while judge another and NO grace be allowed? Why have we entered into a day when people think it is there job to be judge, juror, and executioner? We see it in churches, families, and the work place. We call it childlike when we see it in our children but we adults are far more guilty than they. We are actually perfecting the art for them.

I know a passage of scripture that fits. In fact, I got to thinking today that maybe all of us should examine this passage a little more often. And maybe after doing so, the confusion would not be found. Maybe in it's place would grow a masterpiece of the work of God by His own hands in a consistent picture of truth, justice, humility, and brokenness lived out in each of our lives.

Can you imagine with me for just a moment how incredible that picture would be? Think about it! And while thinking, read the following:

1 John 1:5-10
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

8 If we say that we have no sin , we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
NKJV

I like to celebrate. God has done so much for us in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think we all need more celebration of the totality of this GREAT work and less judging of people. It is a shoe that fits both feet, all sides, and all people!

It is the truth that ends all confusion.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A lesson from death


People experience death every day. It is never easy. The loss of a loved one, whether expected or not, hits the gut of people close to the person in a way that varies from person to person. We miss the people who have gone. We are reminded of our own frailties. We ponder in our minds how our own passing will effect people and what the reactions of people will be when we are gone.

The reward of heaven is so easy to talk about and brings about much comfort to those left behind. Heaven is indeed the only place where all pain and sorrow are gone. But in this understanding is also found the fact that our grieving still hurts and little really helps.

There is one aspect that I have clung to since hearing it put so plainly many years ago. My mentor loss his mother in law and father within a twenty four hour period years ago. I traveled with several from our church to attend and support him as he led in both services. As one heading into the ministry at the time I could not even imagine all that was racing through his head and heart. I never dreamed that I would learn from him what I did during that trip.

Though I have misplaced the verses that he used, I remember this one thing from his fathers funeral. It has transformed my approach to death and my ministry to those who have lost loved ones. It has carried me through preaching both of my grandmothers funerals and doing more than 526 funerals beyond in 22 years of ministry.

As salvation is a gift from God that we share with people, so also is death. When we join in giving the gift of death as we do the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we find the peace and comfort that is promised.

Until that particular service I had never heard it put that way. As my mentor stood and preached his fathers service and imparted this truth - it stuck! We who are left behind should desire and thus participate in the giving of the gift of death. It is our letting go. It takes our thoughts away from our own selfishness and focuses us on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It maintains our understanding that God is working in drawing ALL people to Himself and so should we. Just as we are commanded to share Jesus with everyone - we are also included in the final gift - giving the gift of death.

Key point: It only works when one knows Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Today I join many in giving this gift to a man saved from drugs and more. Johnny Ray went home to His Lord early Saturday morning. His salvation had freed him from a life of disaster. He had been used by God to minister to so many teenagers and adults alike. His smile and his love for everyone will be missed. but as we will celebrate come Wednesday his life, we are reminded in our sorrow that we can join in the giving of this gift. Stomach cancer is a horrible thing. Leaving earth at 51 seems to be too soon. But now Johnny Ray is experiencing the reality of what God worked in his life.

How could we not want to join in the giving of this great gift. It is a lesson from death, for death.

Have a great time Johnny Ray! I will see you in due time! Thank you for all you did! I now give you this last precious gift.