RSS

When Everything You Were Taught is Wrong

I was obsessed with big churches. For many years.

At age twenty-six I attended the annual “Pastors School” at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. As a young pastor serving my first congregation, I had never experienced anything quite like it. On a “good Sunday” I preached to 50 souls in my tiny little church. At First Baptist I was surrounded by thousands. There were three times as many in the choir than I had in my  entire sanctuary. The singers were outstanding. There was an orchestra. And the preaching…Oh the preaching!!! It was like heaven on earth!

From that moment on, I wanted a big church. I desired to have a famous ministry like Jerry Vines, or Adrian Rogers or Charles Stanley. I wanted to write books, preach at pastor’s conferences and be elected to be an officer in the Southern Baptist Convention. After all, I could preach as well as any of those guys. I was smart. I will earn my degrees, climb the church ladder (from one bigger congregation to another). One day, I said, I will be the pastor of my own mega church. I will host my own “pastor’s school.”

Other pastors taught me to grow churches. The seminary taught me to grow churches. Bigger is better. Larger numbers means that you are doing it right. Small churches are sinful. Pastors of smaller churches, especially “bi-vocational” ones, are somehow not as godly or as blessed as the big church preachers. That’s what I was taught. That’s what I believed. That thinking is what would make me a “success .”

Something happened on my way to the top of the ministerial pedestal. Life happened. Sin happened. Ego happened. Tragedies happened.

Thirty years have elapsed since that” big church baptism “in Jacksonville. I left that church of 50 and subsequently was the pastor of eight different congregations. Only two of them reached or exceeded 200 in Sunday attendance. One was 150. The others have been less than 100. The church I preach in now? You guessed it. About 50.

In a time of discouragement last week, I spoke with my dearest and best friend in the ministry. I needed some reassurance. I needed some hope. A positive word. Anything. My dream of being a big ole famous preacher is shot.

His words were sweeter than honey, more precious than gold.

We were taught the wrong thing, he said. Everything we “learned” at those mega church pastor conferences was wrong.

Jesus did not call us to build big churches. He did not call us to be famous. He called us to make disciples. He called us to win souls.

Thank you my wonderful friend for speaking the truth. After preaching to 45 precious souls this morning, and witnessing an altar full of them crying out to God, I can sleep in peace tonight. I can rest well in my labors.

God wants me to love Him, love people and preach the Word. And upon THE ROCK, HE will build HIS Church. 

Just like He did in Jacksonville.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 11, 2018 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

Lennon’s Imagination

Genesis 11:4; Revelation 17:13

Former Beatle John Lennon’s song ” Imagine” promoted a world in which there was no religion and no afterlife, a utopian society of peace and love. The dream of fallen mankind has always been the same: to be free from the effects of sin and yet enjoy the pleasures of it. It is the desire for a world in which humanity is unified in its rebellion to God.

The ancient citizens of Babel, as well as those in the near future who follow the Beast, have one thing in common: a one-world government with no barriers nor divisions. No gender, no races and no distinctions. One religion in which man is his own God, or at least worships a God made in the image of man, rather than the opposite.

What we are seeing in the news is exactly what Lennon imagined forty years ago and exactly why the Tower was built 5000 years ago. Once marriage and sex is no longer gender-specific, race is no longer distinguishable and the God of the Bible is destroyed, man can have it his way. Unfortunately, humans do not control the universe nor their destiny. God does. Man’s way never brings about a perfect world because man himself is not perfect.

So, tear down the statues and monuments. Change the laws to accommodate sin. Join hands around the campfire of the Antichrist and sing “Kumbaya.” As much as humans work at it, they are incapable of peace unless they submit themselves to the Prince of it.

Unlike Lennon’s melodramatic mantra, another song floods my mind with hope and joy: 

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored, He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword, His truth is marching on. Glory, glory, hallelujah, glory, glory, hallelujah, glory, glory, hallelujah, His truth is marching on!”

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 15, 2017 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

The Crowd and the Chosen

Matthew22:14: “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Don’t be deceived or misled. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.

Humans are, by nature, herd followers. We, like sheep and cattle, follow the crowd and congregate in big groups. We assume that size equals success and we are drawn to the crowd like a bug is drawn to light.

To the contrary, the Bible doesn’t support our definition of success.

Noah preached for 120 years and only won eight souls to salvation.

Jesus preached to the crowds but was crucified alone,  with only his mother and a lone disciple caring enough to watch Him suffer.

Jesus talked about a narrow road to heaven, a path trod by a relative few. The crowd is going to hell. Only a remnant, a small number, will truly be saved.

Why then, are some so enamored with the bright lights, loud noise and packed, dimly-lit rooms? Their senses and  sin nature are blinding them to the truth, that’s why.

Elijah did not find God in the whirlwind. He did not hear God in the thundering noise nor flashing stimuli. The Lord spoke to the prophet in a still, small voice. God speaks in the same manner today.

Yes, it’s true that heaven will be occupied by a multitude no man can number.But the saints won’t be there because they followed others. They will occupy eternity based upon the fact that God chose them and in simple faith they accepted His invitation to the banquet.

The crowd is on a wide road leading to destruction. Repent(turn around) and go in the opposite direction.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 1, 2017 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

On Being a Dinosaur

In 1986, I had the pastor thing all figured out. Preach the Word and love people. That’s how I was taught. And it worked. It worked very well.

In my first pastorate I became skilled at the art of preaching and God blessed. I learned to love folks, even those who were difficult to love. And God blessed. A congregation numbering 40 became one approaching 125. In my third pastoral assignment, I watched 150 join our flock in just 15 months. 

But then it all changed. 

The first thing to evolve was the music. No more hymnals; words needed to be put on a projection screen. No more hymns; we started singing “praise and worship” songs. ( I assumed we had already been doing that.) Pianos and organs were out; guitars and drums were in. Choir? No way. We needed an ensemble (“praise team”) instead. Music director standing behind the podium keeping time with his arm? Goodness no dude. The church needed a “worship leader.” Gaither gave way to Hillsong. 

And it left me standing in the dust. I became a relic of the past. An animal of extinction. I became a church dinosaur.

And then churches quit passing the plate, choosing to receive offerings in boxes or on the Internet . We stopped recognizing visitors by making them fill out cards. (And for the love of Pete, never ask them to stand up or raise their hand!) No more invitations or altar calls, no more singing eight verses of “Just As I Am.” One pastor encouraged me to remove the “cringe factor” from my church services. I felt like I was approaching my senior adult years at age 35.

And wearing a business suit in the pulpit? Are you serious? Untucked shirts, blue jeans and loafers are in style brother! Spike that hair! Trim your goatee! Wear horn- rimmed glasses just like your third- grade teacher used to wear. Man, do I feel overdressed on Sundays nowadays.

Sunday School? Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat. Week-long revival meetings? No way… That’s too much competition with baseball and softball, soccer, gymnastics, dance, Facebook, Netflix…not to mention Friday and Saturday night liquor time.

Take out the pews and put in chairs! Take down those chandeliers and put in stage lighting, backdrops and install state of the art sound and technology. Clean out the foyer and open up a coffee shop. Tear down the chalkboards and put up an indoor playground, complete with cool themes.

I’m sorry, but I don’t recognize church anymore. I am an old dinosaur looking for a watering hole and all I can see is Jurassic Park. I am lost.

The worst part of all is that men don’t preach like the men of yesteryear. I miss Adrian Rogers. I miss Vance Havner. I miss Jess  “Hellfire” Hendley. I miss the KJV. I miss verse by verse Bible preaching. I hate this modern “conversational” junk with all the cute stories and popular psychology. I want to hear sermons with passion, Holy Spirit conviction and powerful soul-stirring confrontation. People are going to hell by the millions and leaving churches by the millions.

We need to return to the old ways. We need to see folks saved the old way, through the blood of Jesus, the way of the cross. It worked in 1986. It can still work in 2017.

Yes, I am an old fogey trapped in a young body. I am a dinosaur. I’m also right.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

Why Is Jesus Not Enough?

Colossians 2: 8: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”

When God saves one of His chosen children, redeems him from the bondage of sin and death, He alone is sufficient to meet the needs of that child. No one else and nothing else is necessary.

God provides His Holy Spirit. His Presence is life-changing, life-sustaining and permanent. He is our Comforter who walks beside us and helps us. When a person relies on the things of this world, rather than the Spirit of Christ Himself, it is an act of distrust, disloyalty and disobedience. Cheap imitations are no substitute for what is real.

God provides His perfect, unchanging Word, the Bible. As the Psalmist declared, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”(119:105) The Bible is powerful and it is settled in heaven. We have no need to be taught, inspired, led or comforted by anything or anyone else.

Sadly, there are many who profess Jesus as Savior and yet do not trust Him to be enough. These wandering souls, like the evil and adulterous generation our Lord spoke of, look for signs and symbols, seek nourishment from the table of demons, worship creation and creatures and thereby are cheated out of the true blessings God had planned to give them.

Why is Jesus not enough? Why do many need physical, natural substances and yet ignore the deeper, spiritual food of God? Because they live according to the flesh and only want to satisfy themselves and their sin nature. 

My friends, do not be deceived. You do not need a horoscope reading, an appearance from an angel or a beautiful sunset. Our Lord is able to do “exceedingly, abundantly ” and meet all of our needs according to his riches in glory. He is all you need. Trust Him.

 
 

One of the greatest challenges in the Christian life is learning how to trust God. I mean REALLY trust.

Real trust involves completely letting go of everything I control. It means letting go of my calling as preacher and allowing Him to place me where He wants me in His kingdom.

It means letting go of my career and allowing Him to bless my work and not worry about losing my job. If I am doing my best and honoring Him with my labor, He will reward me and sustain me; regardless of what other people do.

It means letting go of my finances, my health and, of utmost importance, my marriage and family. If I do what is right in all of those areas, He will bless me in all of them.

Trusting God is a matter of giving Him all of me and believing that He is true to His Word. He will take care of me. I cannot worry and trust at the same time.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 2, 2017 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

Two Families

In John 8:44, Jesus told those who rejected Him that they were children of the devil, not God. He said that they would do what their father wanted them to.

Practically speaking, Jesus said there were two different families on earth. One was the family of God, the other the family of Satan. He did not mention any others.

As I watch the protesters of democracy parade around and threaten our peace, I am convinced once again that there is neither black nor white, Republican nor Democrat, liberal nor conservative. There are children of God and there are children of hell. According to the Lord, God’s children do His will and the Enemy’s children do his will.

Am I suggesting that only Christians voted for President Trump while only heathens voted for Mrs. Clinton? No I am certainly not. But what I am saying is this: God is love. His children love. Satan is hate. His children hate. What we are witnessing in these recent days is a flood of hatred pouring forth from those who did not get their way. They are selfish. Their father is selfish. Wanting one’s way, and protesting because you don’t get it, is THE root of all rebellion, and therefore, the root of ALL sin. Lucifer did not get his way in heaven. He has been protesting ever since.

His children do the same thing. It’s a family tradition.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 21, 2017 in Daily Verse & Prayer