Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Worldly Church in a Churchy World

When I was a boy, I heard my dad preach a message about the church being the bride of Christ. The title of the message was, "Any ol' gal won't do." And yes, I have used that title. As a ten year-old boy, I remember my dad making this statement:

"The church is becoming more and more worldly, and the world is becoming more and more churchy.
One of these day you won't be able to tell the difference between the two."

Much credit to LD Cannon; we are just about there today. My beloved bride was recently excoriated online for saying she didn't feel right about joining the group called, "A fan of God" on the popular web forum, Facebook. My beloved bride stated, "I don't know, I can't bring myself to be a "fan" of God. I think He deserves more reverence than that." (That is all she said about it; no more than that.)

One woman, a Christian, said she didn't have a problem with it. (That phrase has always intrigued me. But that is for another blog.) "If I want to put down that I'm a fan of God, that might be the thing that causes someone to ask questions, and I can tell them about the Lord!" (If she attended church, that might help too.) This woman went on to call us self righteous, hypocritical and uncaring about souls; as if she has such a close relationship with God. How can deep Christians be so shallow?

My wife and I have given our lives for the last twenty years to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am a little fed up with backslidden Christians telling me that my standards or my position is bad because it makes them uncomfortable. I know lost people who show more reverence to God than that. I am not God's "fan" I am His servant; His disciple; His preacher. God is not my Buddy. He is not my pal. Jesus is not my "Bro." The Almighty Jehovah, Creator and God of the universe is my Master, my Savior, my LORD and my King.

The bloody horrific death He died on the cross of Calvary paid for my sorry wretched hide to escape an eternal burning Hell fire, which I know I fully deserve. I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing, and I know that His very Blood paid my redemption. Excuse me if it offends anyone, but on those terms, the word, "fan" just doesn't cut it.

I am weary of thirty-year Christians with a toddler's understanding who do not read their Bible, do not witness, do not go to church, do not tithe and do not pray, telling me that I am "holier than thou." Frankly, I am "holier than thou." And if these people are to be comfortable around me then, either they have to get holier or I have to backslide.

That God of which they claim to be a "fan" said, "Be ye holy, for I am holy." It is amazing how easily offended these "progressive Christians" tend to be. I am amazed at the intolerance of those who cry out for tolerance. I marvel at this "deeper life," and how shallow it is. Are we part of a worldly church, or a churchy world? Or are we part of a "called out" body of believers. One must decide for one's self.

But while deciding whether my position is too Pharisaical, remember; "The fear of the Lord if the beginning of wisdom." "The fear of the Lord is to depart from evil. O.k. I have ranted enough.

Just a thought. Thanks for reading

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Twenty Years in the Ministry

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me

faithful, putting me into the ministry. 1 Timothy 1:12

It was June 28th, 1989. A crowd of about 300 people, including my wife, parents, sister and my grandmother sat in the auditorium of Trinity Baptist Church of Arlington, Texas. I stood at one end of that long high platform behind a microphone with my Bible in hand.

Seated on the platform were
five men; my Pastor, Dr. Bob Smith, Dr. Bill Slayton, then pastor of Central Park Baptist Church in Carrollton, Texas, where I had
been saved nine years earlier; Missionary to Indonesia,
Shelby Mayo, Bro. Jimmie Wallace, a former pastor from Michigan and Bro. Terry Ingram, then Missionary to Romania.

After about one hour of questioning, (properly referred to as the interrogation,) Pastor Smith preached a message just to me. That message is called "the charge." After that, the presbytery, (that is the Bible term for it,) performed the "laying on of hands." As I knelt at the altar, my wife at my side, these great men of God prayed over me, setting me apart to my calling as a minister and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As of today, I have humbly worn that mantle for twenty years. Would to God I could say I always did the right thing. Would that I could say I have lived up to the great testimony of these men who laid hand on me twenty years ago; all of which are still serving God faithfully. But I can say that I stayed. The doctrinal positions which I held that day have not changed. I am glad I can say that. Yesterday, I knocked doors and handed out Gospel tracts for several hours. Today, I will stand three times and try to deliver the Word of God the the people I pastor. As to whether I have done well is for God to judge. I just want to make sure the Lord finds me still doing when He comes or calls me home. God has been so good. I love His ministry.

Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Matthew 24:46

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What in the World is he Thinking?

O.k. I love to fly. I love airplanes. I was in the aviation industry years ago. I trust American made aircraft. But not as much as some do. Last Saturday, I took my family to the Quad Cities Air Show. This is an annual event, and a very good air show. The Navy "Blue Angels" were there. That was cool. The U.S. Army "Golden Knights" parachute team did a great demonstration.

These were daring feats of skill. I can understand the motivation wanting to perform such skilled maneuvers. But t
his one guy; he was just flat crazy. We watch, (well some of us watched) as this stunt man is flown
over in a biplane. A helicopter flew only inches directly above the biplane as this man crawls out onto the wing, untethered, and climbs onto the rung of the helicopter. He then dangled from the rung while the helicopter flew loops above the runway. What would possess an man to try that? Who thinks of these things?
"I know! you fly the plane and I'll jump onto a helicopter above us!" This just does not sound like a plan to me! At least, not a good one!

My beloved bride could not bring herself to watch. She said she did not want to be at the one show where this trick did not work. I had to watch; I was taking pictures. So, who is more strange? The man crawling from a biplane to a helicopter, or the ten thousand people on the ground watching?

Just a thought. Thank you for reading. Enjoy the pictures.

Did God do This?

"What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"

Job 2:10

No pastor want to get a call at 3:00 a.m. It is never good news. A young man whose life I had watched spiral into success. He had overcome many personal obstacles, and was now married and very successful in his career. However, he accomplished this rise up the ladder leaving behind the faith of his parents. God had very little room in this ride he was on. Although he professed to be a Christian, he had little to do with church or God's people. He was respectful of those who were devout, he simply felt it was not necessary. Until tonight.

Tonight was different. I sat in the darkness of my living room at 3:30 in the morning listening to this young man tell of a toppling career that was now over. Then he told me of infidelity of his wife. This once successful young career man had lost his career and his marriage in less than a month. It was at that moment he asked me a staggering question. "Did God do this?"

Did God do this? I tried to reassure him of God's love for him, but frankly, the question annoyed me. Through the years of success in his career, not once did he ask, "Did God do this? Did God give me a successful career? Did God bless me with this rapid advancement up the ladder?" Was that question ever raised while at the top? While running with the jet set and diving into the party culture, he never once asked about God. Shacking up out of wedlock, God and His principles were never a consideration.

Now that his life was falling to pieces; now that his career and marriage were in shambles, now we blame God for the downfall. If you are not willing to add God to the equation while you are putting your life together, then do not blame Him when it all falls apart. How dare we blame God for destroying a life from which He has been excluded. If we cannot give Him the glory in the rise to the top, we certainly cannot blame Him for the fall.

"Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." Psalm 2:12

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fellowship Sunday

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

Today was fellowship Sunday at our church. We have made this a regular tradition at All Seasons Baptist. It is always a well attended service... Of course it is... we have food! Reminds me a story I heard.

A school was holding "Religious Emphasis Week." (No, that's not the joke. Stay with me.) The students were invited to to bring for "show and tell," Something significant to their faith. On that day, the teacher went around the room recognizing each student.

"O.K. Mary," the teacher began. "What did you bring today?" Mary held up a set of small black beads on a chain. "I'm Catholic, teacher. This is my rosary."

"Very good, Mary!" the teacher said turning to little Levi in the next seat. "And what did you bring Levi?" Levi stood wearing a small flat cap on his head. "I'm Jewish; I wore my yamika."

The teacher went through the class listening to all the explanations of prayer rugs, statues, incense and other religious artifacts. She became a little confused when she got to Suzie's desk.

"Suzie, I don't understand why you brought that. This is a day to recognize our religion."

"I know," Suzie replied proudly holding up a large square object. "I'm Baptist! and this is my casserole."

Just a thought. Thank you for reading.

Friday, June 5, 2009

On our Twenty-eighth Wedding Anniversary

If you are reading this, I would highly recommend you also real my beloved bride's blog at:

June 5th, 1981 my beloved girl friend became my beloved bride. She and I were married at ages twenty and twenty one respectively. We had no clue what the next twenty eight years would hold for us.

We have spent much time this week looking at photos, reminiscing and reflecting. This has been a time of reflecting on the past. The three big questions are, what would I do different if I had it to do over again? What would I not do if I had the choice again? And, was it worth it? We never have it to do over, and I question the profit in making such queries; maybe even the sanity of asking. However I do have an answer.

First, yes! it was worth it. It was worth every sacrifice, every growing pain, ever tear and certainly every Pennie. (I throw that in because the number one cause given for divorce in America is financial problems.) It was worth it!

What would I do different? I think there are small aspects of every area of my life I would do different. We would manage my finances a little better. We would have saved more money and we would have, somehow invested in the stock market back when it was knocking on 1000 points. It is not so much a matter of doing things different, but we would have just tried to do it better.

That is the bottom line. I would do it all over again, just better. But we do not have that option, nor did we have the luxury of hind sight in 1981. But from regrets come lessons; good lessons. We know how to do tomorrow better. We have learned from our mistakes, and by the grace of Almighty God, they did not destroy us.

We also live with the satisfaction of knowing we did the right thing when it really counted. I can live with the record of the last twenty eight years. No doubt, I could have done better at times. But I could not; I would not do it different. It was worth it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Laid off, or Full-time? Confessions of a Bi-Vocational Pastor

My job site!

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Eph 4:12

I look forward to the day that I "get it right the first time." So many times, I must confess, I find myself stumbling over what some one of my age and experience should have seen right off the bat. I know I learn from my mistakes, I would just like to avail myself of other forms of education as well. But this I have learned about "trial and error;" without error, the trial is inconclusive.

Last October, my "day job" fell prey to the recession. In January, I landed a temp job that lasted three months. Consequently, I have been laid off for six of the last nine months. I have spent much time searching for employment. Fortunately, my unemployment benefits are still kicking in.

I have spent much time frantically searching for employment. Then during a conversation with my beloved bride, it hit me! (Not my bride; the thought, I mean.) I am acting like I don't have a job! I have a job, I just don't have the income! I came to Iowa to build a church. For a long time I prayed about being "full time" in the ministry. Then I find myself unemployed and I spend every spare moment looking for a secular job.

It is not just a matter of semantics. It is a mind set that can be detrimental to the ministry. I am a bi-vocational pastor. "Pastor" is the first vocation. God help me never to forget that. I am still looking for a secular job, but I am investing this valuable time God has given me to doing the "work of the ministry." God is, and will continue to provide. Would that I had taken that attitude early on.

Just a thought. Thank you for reading