Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Worst Type of Hurt

The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?
Prov. 18:14

There are certain things that I pray for every day. Every day I prayer for wisdom, understanding, knowledge and power. These are things I can only get from God. Then I pray that God will guide me. I pray He will help me to anticipate and avoid temptation; that He will guide me to someone who is lost so I can witness to them. Then I pray, every day, that God will guide me to someone who is hurting, because I know so many people are. I want to be God's tool to help that hurt, or at least hurt with them.

I have learned from this practice, that the worst type of hurt comes from one of two sources; a leader or a loved one. The hurt is greatest when it is either someone who is supposed to care for us
, or when it is someone for whom we are caring. It usually comes in the form of rejection.

It all boils down to one of these two scenarios: "They were supposed to love and care for me, but did not." or, "I loved and cared for them and they rejected me." Most hurt falls into one of these two categories.

For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. Psalm 55:12

I guess the one that grieves me the most are those that were hurt by a church leader. There are many people out there who once served faithfully in church. But some pastor or some leader in the church, by their careless words or cruel manner, wounded that person, and now they are far from God.

There are those I know that have spent five years healing from the wounds inflicted by a pastor . The sad part is, the pastor will often claim he was, "standing strong" and, "they just can't take hot preaching." I believe in hot preaching as much as anybody. But a shepherd are supposed to seek wondering sheep, not butcher them. Our position must be right. But a wrong disposition can do as much, if not more damage.

God help us to be a healing source for those we serve.

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is it Just Me?

Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word. (Psalm 119:114)

Back in October, my beloved bride, my grand boy and I visited some dear friends in Oregon. As I sat at their dinner table we discussed the ministry and its challenges. My friend made a statement that arrested my thoughts for some time.

He said, "People expect the pastor to be an expert at everything from finances, to family to legal matters. They expect him to be able to do anything, and we as pastors just can't be all of that." Now, this man has been a dear close friend, and a wise and trusted counselor for twenty five years plus. He pastors a great church. He has a wide and successful ministry beyond the walls of his church. He is a godly man; very competent, and very confident. He and his lovely wife have five fantastic children who all honor God and their parents with their lives.

I believe his statement to be one of perspective rather than experience. But I am left to wonder. Am I the only pastor out there who feels helpless at times? Am I the only one who runs to God every day to try to get some mess cleaned up? I seriously doubt it.

Young preachers are given this advise. Let your people know you have feet of clay, but don't take off your shoes to show them. We can tell our people the truth with confidence when we have none. Dr. Jack Hyles said, "A leader is one who hides his panic." The problem comes when we pastors, preachers, missionaries etc... begin to believe we have to be invincible. Faced with such a task, we quickly find ourselves in an untenable situation. We self destruct wondering why we are such failures.

Two verses have given me great comfort of late.

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
Philippians 3:3

In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

Is it not amazing that the same verse that uses the phrase, "strong confidence," also speaks of a, "place of refuge?" A refuge is a place to hide for protection. I have confidence in Christ because I can hide behind Him! I can get up on Sunday and preach with fire and with boldness. Those people never know the times I run to a dark corner and cry out to God, "I am so weak, and so tired! I am helpless! What a wretched excuse for a servant I am! God, help me!"

If I put my best front up, that is hypocrisy. If I put my best up front, that is poise. If I just do my best and hide behind Him for a Front. That is Biblical confidence. Our confidence is in Christ.

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Nana's Faith

I want to invite every lady out there to visit a site that will be a tremendous blessing to you. Men, this site you bless and encourage your wives and daughters, and you might even find it interesting. I know there are so many good sites on the Internet, but please take time to read my favorite writer; my beloved bride.

No, I'm really not biased. She is the most intelligent woman I know personally. Terri Cannon has
been a pastor's wife, homemaker, homeschooler, and now a writer. I have been married to Terri for over twenty seven years. The mother of six adopted children and a grandmother, she has been a "help meet" to me in every aspect.

Terri grew up in difficult circumstances. She spent time in a foster home as a young teen. She has faced numerous and major medical issues all her adult life, not to mention living with me all those years.
Terri recently completed her Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Illinois, Springfield, graduating with honors.

Few women you will ever meet have the insight, grace and wry wit of my beloved bride. Her writings will be a help to any lady who feels she is the only one out there that... you fill in the blank. She has been there.

Several book ideas are on the drawing board at this time, but you can read on the web at one of three blogs: Nanas's Faith is her personal blog. Grace and Salt is a daily devotional for ladies.
She has a third blog, Nana's Lens, in which displays her beautiful original photography. I know there are hundreds of pastors' wives, missionaries' wives and Christian ladies around the world who regularly read her blogs. I know that any and every lady out there who is trying to live for God will receive a boost from her candid and compassionate words.

Please don't tell her. She has no idea I'm writing this. If this sounds like an info-mercial, I guess it is. But I know a good writer when I read one. If you think this is biased, go check out the blog and see for yourself. It won't cost anything but some of your time. I hope it is a help to you.

nanasfaith.blogspot.com graceandsalt.blogspot.com nanaslens.blogspot.com
Check it out. Thank you for reading.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring! And Not a Moment too Soon!

"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat,
and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."

Genesis 8:22

"Time now, 2:30 pm. temperature, 59°!!! One would think we were in the Bahamas the way people are acting here. It has warmed up to 59° in Bettendorf today. For my friends in the south, this may not sound so inviting, but having lived through weeks of single digit temps this winter, this is a Godsend.

I think "Godsend" is a good word choice. I am so glad to hear of "global warming." With record low temps in the Midwest, I can only imagine how cold it would be without it. (tongue planted firmly in cheek) The Quad Cities is seeing its typical sign of spring. The eagles are leaving, the pelicans are arriving and the Rock River is flooding. Yep, that's typical.

God's promise to Noah was that there would always be "seedtime and harvest." This means something very special in our area. The Quad Cities is headquarters to John Deere Co. This is an agricultural area. We understand seeding and harvesting. As a church planter, spring is seed time for us too. Down south where I come from, churches usually do not see great growth in the summer. Folks, if it don't grow here in the summer, then it don't grow here. This season presents our church's best opportunity for growth.

We are praying for three things in particular; sowers in the field, fertile soil and rain from heaven. Nothing grows without those three ingredients. First, we pray for the sowers. Luke 10:2 says:

Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

All Seasons Baptist Church is praying for labourers for the harvest. Second, we are praying for fertile soil.

Mark 4:20: And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

Finally, and most important, we need rain. That is we need the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the hearers.

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) John7:37-39

The old song says, "All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One come down." That is what we need for the harvest. One might say, "Pastor, you did not mention the most important ingredient; the Seed." Friends, we have the seed. We just need to get busy sowing it.

Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you. Haggai 2:19

It is time to get the seed out of the barn.

Just a thought. Thank you for reading

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I know what I'm Talking About

Yep! That's me. In all my seventeen year-old glory. It was 1977, and I was on stage playing a Homecoming show to a crowd of over one thousand. That is a big rush for a high school senior. Suffice it to say, the music I was playing that night should not be heard in a Church.

Later, in college as a music ed
ucation major, I played and sang for a contemporary Christian group called "Brightside." Then, in January of 1980, I trusted Christ as my personal Savior. I was raised in church and in a Christian home. But I simply "assumed the position" growing up. I had a religion, but not a relationship.

On January 6th, 1980 I was born again!

Not everything changed all at once, But, immediately God began to work on me about my music, (among other things, which shall remain, at this time, none of your business.) The truth is, the first time I heard a preacher say that rock music was "of the devil," I did not need to be convinced. I knew that alread
y. But then I was taught that contemporary Christian music, (CCM) was just rock music with religious words. I was a musician, going to college on a music scholarship. I did not know much, but I knew music. And what I knew led me to the same conclusion. In 1982 I settled my position on religious rock music.

I went to Bible College in Arlington, Texas and joined Trinity Baptist Church. Trinity Baptist was known as the "legalistic church." They had standards. They had the right kind of music. They were on fire for soul winning. This was an exiting church. Now married, my beloved bride and I jumped in with enthusiasm.

Twenty seven years ago. I decided that worldly music had no place, in the church or in the life of a Christian. Many Independent Baptist churches back then held the same position. I saw kids get booted from Bible College for listening to CCM. I watched over the years as churches began to first, compromise in the area of music. When the music in a church slips every other standard will soon follow.

Now here is the problem. Today, I see some prominent, nationally known Fundamental Baptist churches performing music on their platform that would have gotten me kicked out of Bible College twenty five years ago. My college was not even that conservative. If it was wrong then to sing Amy Grant, (who Time Magazine called "the Madonna of Christian music,") or Sandy Patty, (who left her husband because she was having an affair with her road manager,) or Ray Boltz, (who recently announced his homosexuality before playing a concert at a Metropolitan Community Church,) or the Imperials, (who's lead singer left the group after he got saved in '81) or any other CCM group from back in the day, then it is wrong today.

It scares me to see great citadels of Fundamentalism raise up this kind of music. I still do not know much, but I know music; and I know where this will lead. There are churches who's conferences I once attended I will no longer attend. The slow slippery slide has already begun under new leadership. The Bible college kids who used to sneak out to the movies and listen to their CCM are now pastors. It is no surprise where they are leading their churches.

Pastors, its time to be honest. Quit worrying about keeping a crowd. My beloved home church, Trinity Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas still has the standards, is still on fire for soul winning
and still has godly conservative music in all its programs. Are they dwindling? No! with an attendance of over sixteen hundred on any given Sunday, they are the among the largest Baptist churches of any kind in Tarrant County, Texas, (the middle of the Dallas, Ft, Worth metro area.)

If putting old CCM on the platforms of our churches is o.k. then lets allow our teens to listen to "oldies radio." If rock music is of the devil until its twenty years old or so, then what would be the problem? Is there an expiration date on sin? If it was carnal when I was twenty, and it was; then it is car
nal today. Lets do some inventory in the music library. Lets teach our people the truth about music. Lets get back to Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Songs do not have to be old or slow to be good. But, they need to be spiritual. Fundamentalism has lost enough ground in my life time. Lets start taking some back.
Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

An Open Letter to the Leaders in the Fundamental Baptist Movement.

Stop sending me open letters!

Well, here we go again. In the last month I have received three news letters, five e-mails and six "open letters," (one to a dead guy,) all related to the latest scrape among Independent Baptists.

Before I go any further, this is not a blog where I am going to weigh in on my position.

It saddens me, but I am the only Fundamental
Independent Baptist in my family. This was not always the case. My grandfather was ordained under Dr. Luther C. Peake of Central Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. (No longer in existence.) Dr. Peake was out of Dr. J. Frank Norris' school at First Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, Texas. (No longer in existence.) Why did my family leave the Fundamental Baptist movement? over infighting and bickering just like we are seeing right now...again.

I am not saying we cannot, or should not stand up for our position. I am not some "peace nic" Baptist saying, "Why can't we all just get along?" But if we are not in agreement, in the words of Dr. B.G. Buchannon, "Pick up your hat and move on." But please, quit sending me open letters about who you are mad at. If you want to call a man a liar, buy yourself a plane ticket, fly to his town, go look him in the face and call him a liar. But stop wasting my time and God's money sending out letters so others will pick your side. I am too busy. I am in the trenches out here in Iowa trying to build a church and win souls while working another job to support my family.
So, besides being a pastor, I also work for a living.

It use to be enough to ask a preacher or a missionary, "Do you hold to the King James position." Now, we have to worry, is he KJV enough; or is he too KJV? I have been and Independent Baptist all my life. I will die an Independent, Fundamental King James Bible-believing Baptist.

I have been in the ministry long enough to know where this latest flap will take us. It will take us the same place the battle over doctrine of repentance did few years ago. It will take us to division, animosity between the brethren, suspicion, dropped missionary support and a fractured movement, with the pastors on both sides giving the exact same plan of salvation as the other. While all the time, the critics of our movement stand back and scratch their heads and wonder why we are at it again.

Fundamentalism will not be a significant movement in the twenty first century, because we will continue on the same fractured path we have been on for seventy five years. It happened in the fifties with J. Frank Norris and the Baptist Bible Fellowship. It happened in the sixties and the seventies with the Southwide Fellowship. It happened in the eighties between the World Baptist Fellowship and the Independent Baptist Fellowship. It happened in the eighties with the Sword of the Lord passing the baton to new leadership. It happened with the passing of Dr. Jack Hyles. at First Baptist in Hammond. (By the way, that was one church taking a pastor, and it was nobody else's business. We are independent, after all.)

A great Baptist evangelist of days gone by, (I am not being sarcastic, he was a great Christian.) was quoted as saying, "If somebody doesn't jump on me in six months, I'm gonna jump somebody." With all humility and with all due respect, sir, you are wrong. This attitude has led to a movement fraught with division and contention that neither glorifies God, nor edifies the body of Christ.

Might I remind you, brethren, some of the leaders of days gone by, who are being quoted by both sides for validation, did not even publicly take the KJV position until the early 1980's. Before that, the preaching and position on this doctrine was inconsistent and vague in many cases. I believe this is part of the problem today.

If you believe the KJV is inspired, then preach the KJV. If you believe the KJV is preserved, then preach it. Whichever your position, your practice will be the same. There are two groups of men that agree that we have the perfect Word of God in our language in the A.V. 1611. The issue is really how it got that way. If we disagree on that, we might not walk together, but our faith practice will be the same.

I believe it is time to take the advice of Dr. Phil Stringer. It is time to show some grace. It is time for Independent Baptist to start standing on something and stop stepping on each other. If we cannot agree then we must part company. But it does not have to be bloody. Just pick up your hat and move on.

I am not a prominent figure in the movement by any means, nor do I wish to be. There is not one pastor in America with whom I would trade places. If you are reading this, and know some of these good men; I mean that; they are good men, please send them a copy of this. Who knows; maybe they will send me an open letter some day. (O.K. that was sarcastic.)

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Eagles on the Mississippi

One of the beauties of this area is the Mississippi River. The river actually turns here and runs west for a distance before turning south again. It can make you a little disoriented at first. The river changes. It seems to have moods. At times, it is very placid. Other times it is rough and choppy. The river is about a half-mile wide running through the Quad Cities. My house is only about a mile from water's edge.

One of the wonders of the river is in the winter. Between November and the middle of March, hundred of bald eagles migrate south to fish the waters where the river is not frozen over solid. Over the years my beloved bride and I have taken many great photos of the eagles on the river. They are my favorite of God's creatures. I would just like to share some of the shots we have taken. These were taken with a 35mm digital SLR camera. They are not touched up. Even still, they do no justice to these magnificent birds.
In the background you can see the old clock tower building on the Rock Island Arsenal. Its amazing to watch them fish, flying at 30 mph, only inches from the water's surface and grabbing fish from the frigid waters in what seems to be an effortless task.
Yes, we really got that close. About fifty feet away. They seem to ignore people until approached, then they hop to some other tree top.

This is one of the reasons I love being here in the Q.C. I love being on the river. We have eagles in the winter, pelicans in the spring and barges is the summer.

We literally see them by the dozen up and down the river between Clinton to the north and Buffalo to the south. We see them sometimes sitting on large ice flows in the middle of the stream. We see the perched on jams, (fallen trees jutting up above the surface of the water) scoping the waters for their next meal.

Some people have chosen an "object of remembrance;" some animal, plant or place to remind of God's love. Every time they see that object, it reminds them that God loves them. For my wife, its lady bugs. Its amazing where we have seen them. A little over two years ago, my wife was deathly ill. While in intensive care at the University of Iowa Hospital, she she glanced over at the window from her hospital bed. There on the window sill, in the middle of December was a lady bug; there to remind her of God's love. I know of other who have chosen red birds, humming birds, sunrises, rainbows, certain flowers and even water fountains.For me, it is eagles. They show up at the most bitter cold time of the year. They leave right before spring and return in the fall. I am glad they do not stay all year. If they did, I think I would begin to take them for granted.

Even the Scripture uses these great creatures to remind us of God-given strength and courage.

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Why did God make Heaven?

And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. Revelation 21:18-23

I have heard the question many times. Those asking always seem to think its original with them. They think the question will stop you dead in your tracks if you believe in God. Sometimes, it does for some.

"How could a loving God create a place like Hell and then send people there forever?" We try to explain that God created Hell for the devil and his angels. (Matt. 25;14) That God is not willing that any should perish, and desires all to be saved. (2 Peter 3;9)

But, if I may be so bold, I think this is the wrong question. My question is, why did a holy and righteous God make a place like Heaven, and then pay such a horrific price to get wretched sinners like me in? That is the real question.

I stand at the gates of Heaven, a vile sinner; my own righteousness, filthy rags in comparison to His Holiness. What price could I possibly pay? What merit could I even begin to proffer? What hope have I to enter such a place?

Oh, the Love that drew salvation's plan,
Oh, the Grace that brought it down to man,
Oh! the mighty gulf that God did span!
At Calvary!

Mercy there was great and grace was free.
Pardon there was multiplied to me.
There, my burdened soul found liberty;
At Calvary.

Several years ago I heard a news cast on Channel 8 News in Kansas City, Missouri. Sports caster, Karen Kornachi, during an evening broadcast, reported with a broken voice and tears in her eyes, that famed Kansas City Royals pitcher, Dan Quizenberry had been diagnosed as having terminal brain cancer. She later interviewed Quizenberry and asked him if he ever asked, "Why me?" His answer was astounding.

"Why me Karen? why not me? I have had a wonderful life. God has been very good to me. I have lived a blessed life. I lived to pitch the winning game of the World Series. I have lived what others only dream of."

Why me? Why not me?

Revelation 21:8 tells of those in that day who will be turned into Hell:

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and
whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars,
shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone:
which is the second death.

I am sure on that day, if these masses were allowed to look on Heaven's population, they would doubtless cry out in anger. Because they would see there too, a throng of once fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters and liars. They would doubtless cry, "Its not fair! I knew some of those people! They were not better than me!"

There is no way the throng of Heaven could defend against such accusations. They would see there, David, the murdering adulterer. They would see Rahab the harlot. They would look on the face of Paul the religious zealot that reeked havoc on innocent Christians. They would see me; a vile wretched wicked sinner. They would see us all. The accused of that day could have not answer, but to lift up their voices in humble chorus, and sing the ancient hymn written by a one, once drunken slave trader:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found.
Twas blind, but now I see.

There will be seen, the thief and traitor, who waisted his life in sin. Who, in the agony of death looked into the face of Jesus Christ and saw holiness.

But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God,
seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly;
for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
Luke 23;40-42
No scholar ever wrote a thesis on soteriology that more clearly stated the great truth of salvation. He opened his mouth a dying hell-bound sinner, and with one simple statement became a born again child of God. Though he died in agony, he awoke in Paradise.

The dying thief rejoiced to see,
That Fountain in his day.
And there may I, though vile as he,
Wash all my guilt away.

We often say we understand God's plan of salvation, and He made that possible. But, though we understand, I do not think we comprehend. I am sure of Heaven. I just cannot comprehend it. I am sure of my redemption. I just cannot fathom it. We do not think about Heaven enough. We do not talk of Heaven often enough. We do not desire it as much as we should.

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also
we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Philippians 3;20

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Baptist Bread

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42

Sunday, March the first, We started a new tradition; or at least we are giving it a trial run. We are holding "Fellowship Sunday" the first Sunday of each month. In a smaller work, it is easier to do this.

We had our regular morning schedule with Sunday School and morning preaching service. This was then followed by a pot-luck dinner. (Or lunch, or supper; depending on what part of the country you are from.) Immediately following the dinner we had an afternoon service instead of an evening service. We finished up about 2:00 pm. It was a great time of fellowship ad a blessing to our people.

This is certainly not an original idea. We were having a monthly fellowship on the fourth Sunday night of each month. The change was well received and we had a good time. We will d
o it again.

What is it about Baptists and food? I can't speak of other denominations, but Baptists love to eat. One old preacher said, "Hold a prayer meeting and a few people will come. Hold an eat meeting and you'll really get a crowd." The reason we have such fellowships for the fellowship. It always seems easier to enjoy the company of others while enjoying a good meal.

I remember "Homecoming Services" at my grandfather's church when I was a boy. It was the highlight of the year. Some people would come to homecoming that wouldn't c
ome any other time. I do not approve of this practice, but at least they came that once. I cannot say the the breaking of bread in Acts chapter 2 was a pot-luck supper. Some would argue that Paul criticized such events in 1 Corinthians 11. Obviously, I do not take this position. I think there were bigger problems in Corinth than pot-lucks.

But such meetings build a fellowship within the church. It also gives us a drawing card with bringing visitors. I mean, who doesn't like free food? It also gives us a chance to show charity to some one who does not have. We never make anyone feel obligated to bring something if they cannot.

If its all about the ministry, then we should minister. Besides, some of these Baptist ladies fry up a mean mess o' chicken. Just a thought.

Thank you for reading.