Monday, December 14, 2009

The Sinner's Prayer

As our good futuristic friend Spock might say, "Fascinating...very fascinating." This is how I feel after researching our topic more, especially this area of "the sinner's prayer." What is meant by 'the sinner's prayer?' Something like this:
Heavenly Father, I know that I have sinned against you and that my sins separate me from you. I am truly sorry. I now want to turn away from my sinful past and turn to you for forgiveness. Please forgive me. I believe that your Son, Jesus Christ, died for my sins, that He was raised from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become my Savior and the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. I pledge to grow in grace and knowledge of you. My greatest purpose in life is to follow your example and do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen
Or something like that.
One can do a search on the history of the sinner's prayer and find a plethora of information. Here is what I have found.
First, as examined last week, we are saved by grace through faith and not of any work on our own. So does this include 'the sinner's prayer?' I believe in my response to one of the comments last week, I expressed my thoughts more clear in this statement:
Many believe they are saved because they prayed,when the reality is that they prayed because they are saved.

For instance, yesterday, to God be the glory, a soul was saved at our church. The person had made a profession of faith a few years ago, but had been struggling with doubt. Their words when being dealt with was, "I don't know if I am saved, I said the prayer, but I don't know if I meant it." Another perfect example of what I am burdened about. Their salvation was based upon THEIR PRAYER and THEIR WORK. This has caused so much doubt amongst Christians today.
So, what about that prayer? Where did it start? Well, as we should with any topic, we will begin by searching our Bibles. Unfortunately, there is not a 'sinner's prayer' to be found. Throughout the history of the early church, there was no use of the 'Sinner's prayer.' Finney and the Methodist began using a 'mourner's bench' and 'anxious bench.' They began what we call 'altar calls.' They would use soft music, dim lights, and spiritual coaxing (because apparently the Holy Spirit needed help) to convince people to come forward and deal with God. We then arrive to the 20th Century and our 'Billys'. Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, and Billy Bright (Campus Crusades). Because of the style of their meetings and need to 'hurry' through their invitations, their use of the 'sinner's prayer' became popular.
This sinner's prayer was accepted by Baptist and put into action. From there the 'easy believism' was naturally spawned. There is a great division amongst Baptist today over 'easy believism.' The reality is, perhaps both sides are in some error for the debate is centered on the sinner's prayer and abuse ot it. Perhaps it shouldn't be used at all.
Thus we learn that the sinner's prayer is not a 'foundational doctrine,' but in reality a young man made device. Turn on your T.V's (if you have one) or radios and listen to the modern 'Gospel Preaching Preacher.' Probably the program will end with an invitation to say some prayer and be saved. While I am NOT saying that folks that said 'the prayer' are not saved, I am saying that many have a false hope because of it and/or struggle with doubting their salvation because of it.
I have grown up and today pastor an Independent Baptist Church. I have gone soul winning since I was weeks old (didn't participate a lot, but I was there). I have attended Trinity Baptist Church (Jacksonville-in the late 70's), People's Baptist Church, Temple Baptist Church (Dayton, Ohio, Pastor Flemming), Alapata Baptist Church (Miami, FL), Moraine Heights Baptist Church (Dayton, OH), Fairhaven Baptist Church (Chesterton, IN), and Cozaddale Baptist where I currently pastor. I have seen literally 1,000's saved on soul winning visitation through the outreaches of these churches. I have gotten on the bus after visiting a couple hours and heard shared all the numbers of 'souls saved.' Five on Tuesday night, 10 one Saturday morning, etc...then you go back and visit those homes and there is not one intention in that 'convert' to ever darken a church door. They are visited a few weeks and then disappear.
To what did we attach our confidence in their 'decision?' To be honest, the only ones we 'counted' were those that did what? Prayed! That's how we 'sealed the deal.' Now again, I am not saying that none of those were saved. I am not saying that Billy Sunday never saw a convert. I am not saying that Billy Graham never saw a convert. What I am saying is that just because there is some success doesn't mean it is right. One must look at the harm it is causing on the other side.
So many are basing their salvation on their prayer. We don't feel someone is saved unless they pray. People then look back to their prayer as 'the token' of their salvation. This is wrong.
What is our token of our salvation? It is the blood of Christ! When I want to look back on to what my salvation is based, it is the blood of Christ. Anything else will lead to doubt because it is my work.
That convert that was saved yesterday, after saying, "I said the prayer, but don't know if I meant it," was determined to 'repray' and be saved. Praise the Lord for this study. Months ago, we would have quoted Romans 10:9-13 and told her to pray (please be patient for Romans 10 explanation-it's coming next week), but we did not do this. We started at the beginning with Adam and Eve and sin and the lamb sacrifice. We spoke of the Passover and the blood that brought salvation. We went to the New Testament and read Scripture of Christ's death, His promises, and His Resurrection. We read verses such as John 3:15-18, 36; John 5:24; John 6:35; John 6:47; John 11:25; Acts 16:30-31....Believe!
With tears in her eyes, she saw it. It was not her work that saved her, but her belief in Christ and His atonement. Her token was no longer her prayer, but His Blood, death and resurrection. It was not a work she had done, but His mercy He saved her! "I don't doubt anymore." Oh that others could find this peace!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


There are times when I sit to type on topics such as this one, that I feel like shutting down the computer and not even starting, or to start with an apology to all of those who have such a wonderful gift of expressing truth in eloquent words. 'I ain't that way.' Mine will not use such voluminous vernacular, but simpler words from the heart.
We begin a study today on the topic of salvation, or how one obtains salvation. I am Baptist! I am unashamedly Baptist! I become more Baptist with every sermon I study! Being a Baptist, I believe in salvation by grace through faith! I believe salvation is a gift of God! I believe that salvation is obtained not of ourselves, not of works! (Eph. 2:8-9, Titus 3:5) I believe that even the faith that saves me is not mine own, but a faith of God that He gives to me (Eph. 2:8). In other words, I believe that all my good works are filth in the sight of God (Is. 64:6), and that I at my best, fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). No baptism, church attendance, sacrifice, or good deed can earn my way to Heaven. It is totally by His grace and faith! I believe this salvation is free to each and everyone as He died for the sins of the world (John 3:16) and is not willing that ANY should perish (2 Peter 3:9). I also believe that every good Baptist has 'Amened' every word I have typed and we all in one 'baptiminical' voice cry out

But it is then, I pick up one of our many tracts such as this one and read the back after our Gospel message is shared only to read, "If you will accept Christ as your Lord and Saviour, please pray this prayer with all your heart..."
Did we just add a work? Did we just put a standard by which to accomplish this work? Do we not 'assure' people of their salvation by pointing back to this work in saying, "Well, was there a time when you prayed and asked the Lord to save you?" Have we inadvertently added a work and as a consequence confused and robbed people of their assurance or (may God forbid) robbed people of their salvation?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Church in Action V

We conclude our look at a church in action from Acts chapter 2. Here we see an example of what a church should be today. The beginning of the church, the role of the church, the reason for the church, ordinances of the church, and authority of the church is so discomposed today. There is only one type of church, a local visible one. It is these churches that the Lord loves and gave Himself for, gave His authority to, commissioned, and cherishes and nurtures. Therefore, the church has a great responsibility of which we must take seriously.
We have seen thus far that the early church was....
1. A Place of strong preaching (vs. 22-28)
2. A Place of conviction (vs. 37)
3. A Place of proper leadership (vs. 38)
4. A Place for the strengthening and protection of families (vs. 39)
5. A Place for Godly living (vs. 40)
6. A Place of growth (vs. 41)
7. A Place of proper doctrine and teaching (vs. 42)
8. A Place for Fellowship (42)
9. A Place of Prayer (vs. 42)
10. A Place for fear and discipline (vs. 43)
11. A Place of miracles (vs. 43)
12. A Place of unity (vs. 44)

We will conclude our study by seeing five more aspects of the early church.
13. A Place of sacrifice (vs. 45) Here we read how that the early church 'sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men as every man had need.' This verse does not demand communism or socialism (sorry President Obama fans), but rather suggests that the church should be a body that will sacrifice what ever it can to provide and care for the brethren. All we have belongs to God, therefore, if there is a need in the church that we could help provide for, we should set out to meet it. They sold their land, their possessions, their goods, in order to put food and clothing on one another's back. In this country we have been spoiled with much, but it is not too far fetched to for see a day soon when we may be called upon to do the same. Look at your church with me. There are some who own land not used, cars undriven, clothes unworn, cable television brought in, boats at dock, and more...will we be willing to part with them for that one sitting in the pew who has been unemployed for 2 years? Will we be willing to sacrifice? Most churches are feeling the affects of our current recession in their tithes and offerings. Will the typical member be willing to cancel their Internet and cable to make sure the pastor and church needs are met? Stay tuned....
14. A place of Joy (vs. 46) They ate and fellowshipped "with gladness and singleness of heart." Every pastor prays for this spirit in their church each week. We have already seen the need for unity and fellowship, but there should be with these a great joy. For too many, the church represents hurt, bitterness, betrayal, criticism, and division; when there should be a joy associated with one's local church. Now if that bitterness or hurt is because of one's sin and the church taking the proper stand, then the trespasser needs to blame themselves for their ill feelings. But far too many church's business meetings, services, and fellowships end up in divisions, fightings, and over criticism. Oh that we knew joy!
15. A Place for Praising God (vs. 47) The early church Praised God! That was their purpose, their motivation, their joy, their objective, their goal, their satisfaction. Oh that every member of every body dedicated and purposed themselves to praising God. There is too much man praising, ministry praising, and talent praising in our churches today. The day Cozaddale Baptist Temple greets me in a service to a standing ovation is the day that I should resign. We do not praise men, we praise God. Our churches are not about size, oratory skills, amounts of ministries, or drama or music is about praising God!
16. A Place that has favour with the community (vs. 47) Now obviously, a church preaching against sin, sharing the Gospel, and living separated lives will be offensive to some. But by this, I believe what is meant is that the members of this church were outstanding citizens in their communities. At work, they were the best employees. At the market, they were the honest ones. At the civic meetings, their words were respected. At the park, they were trusted. Integrity, character, patriotism, a work ethic, were all expected as the normal from folks from this church. Our churches ought to have great testimonies to the community.
17. A Place where souls were saved (vs. 47) The text reads that "the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." Where these 17 attributes are being practiced, I believe the Lord will bless those churches with souls saved consistently. We 'amen' the fact that God will not ever put on us what we can not handle, then we wonder why souls are never saved. Could it be that our churches can't handle such responsibility? Our churches are not proper? Understand, by 'church' I do not refer to any other denomination but New Testament Baptist. Our churches are losing ground, our churches are growing dead, our churches are impotent, our churches are becoming flesh pleasing instead of Spirit pleasing...why? We have gotten far away from what a church truly is to be.
May we think on these things.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Church in Action IV

Thus far we have seen the church in action in the book of Acts as being an example for us in that it was:
1. A Place of strong Gospel preaching.( vs. 22-28)
2. A place of Holy Spirit Conviction (vs. 37)
3. A Place with Biblical Leadership (vs. 38)
4. A Place to build and strengthen Families (vs. 39)
5. A place of Godly living (vs. 40)
6. A Place or growth (vs. 41)
7. A Place of Proper Doctrine (vs. 42)
8. A Place for Christian Fellowship (vs. 42)

We continue our look at the Acts church by seeing
9. It is a place of Prayer (v. 42) One cannot read the accounts of the early church without seeing a consistent practice of continual prayer. The early church spent more time praying together in one week than most churches today do in a year or more. It was this prayer time that unified the people (1:14) (maybe we would have less division if there was more prayer). It was this prayer time that brought power (2:2) (maybe we would see the power of God moving in more services if we spent more time praying.) It was this prayer time that brought miracles (12:5). It was this prayer time that gave boldness (4:29) and many were saved. One person said it this way, "Little prayer, little power; much prayer, much power." We at one time had a mid-week prayer service, but now it is a Bible study. Every great revival was birthed in prayer. I believe it would do all of us good not only to pray, but to bow the knee. I understand it is not necessary to be on one's knees in order to pray, but bowing the knee shows submission and reverence that is lacking in most churches today. We do not understand what it is to take the time to get on our knees and pray continually in faith. Truly it still 'availeth much.'
9. A Place of Discipline (vs. 43) The text reads that 'fear came upon every soul." There is a lack of reverence and recognizing of God as authority in most 'believers' lives. When the church lost this fear, it was discipline (5:11) that brought it back upon the church. I recently preached a sermon on proper church discipline ( Sadly, many of todays 'IFBaptist' churches no longer practice discipline. Discipline is greatly frowned upon by too many pastors and most members. Recently, a former IFB pastor called me after practicing church discipline upon a member of our church (that he was involved with) and threatened me to stay out of his business and to cease 'your unBiblical view and practice of discipline. God will discipline, not you!' Sadly, this view is shared by many IFB. The church has been instructed to practice discipline. This should be done as led by the Lord, consistently, and properly. I will not re-preach my sermon, but encourage the inquisitive to listen to it. I do not believe it is the duty of the pastor to discipline, but the entire church-a process everyone is involved in. A proper obedience to these instructions would again establish fear in the church, leading to a holiness and power too few churches enjoy today.
10. A Place of miracles (vs. 43) Many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. I do not believe in the Benny Hinn gifts of healing (if that were true, I wish he would visit Cincinnati Children's Hospital), tongues speaking, visions, etc...but I do believe in a God who can still work miracles. And, I believe our churches do not see such workings of God enough because of our lack of faith. Oh that we had faith that moved mountains.
11. A Place of Unity (vs. 44) The church in Acts was an example to us in that it was a place of great unity where they were together and had all things common. There was a true, sincere desire to love one another, provide for one another, and bear one another's burdens. The gossip, divisions, fightings, criticisms, etc were absent from the early church (probably due to the previous 10 attributes discussed.) A few months ago I was reading a Sports Illustrated magazine article where the author compared a dividing front office of a franchise like 'nothing he had seen since his days in the Baptist church.' How true? Our churches should be a place of unity!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Church in Action III

Brief report from Mexico:
The Lord truly blessed while we were in Mexico. Our missionary, Bro. Steve Harris and his wife, were truly gracious hosts. The Lord's hand was evident throughout the trip. We saw, at best count, 65 professions of faith while in Mexico. This is from door to door visitation, church services, and Pastor Ismael witnessing to his lost family. There were 8 first time visitors at the church's first service, and four of them were saved Sunday. The Lord truly blessed and we give Him the honor and glory. Most of this could not have been done without the sacrifice and time spent with us by Pastor Perez from Hermosillo and his group of Bible Institute young people. Praise the Lord!

Time to get back in the saddle though, so let us review:
The church in action in Acts 2 is an example for us today. We see that that church was a place:
1. Where Proper Gospel Preached (vs. 22-28)
2. Conviction was evident (37).
3. Proper Leadership (38)
4. Families were strengthened (39)
5. A place of Godly living (40)
We continue our study now to the sixth example this church gives us:
6. A Place of Growth (vs. 41)
People were being saved and baptized and added to the church. I do not believe that a church has to be large in number or buildings to be blessed of God. I do not believe that there is a magic number where when attendance reaches, the church has made it. Matter of the fact, I have met few, if any, churches that hold to strong Baptist doctrine (Salvation, church, closed communion, alien baptism, etc) that are "mega" in size. A preacher once stated, "Just because something is growing, doesn't mean it is alive and doing well. I pass many swelling opossums on the side of the road, but they aren't alive, they're quite dead." Having said all that, I do believe a church should be a soul winning church and should be seeing people saved. Should be seeing people baptized. Should be seeing people discipled. Should be seeing new faces and babes in Christ within the church. The church should be a place of growth.
7. Proper Doctrine (vs. 42) We read that the church continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine. As just stated, there are certain doctrines that a true New Testament church must hold to to be a true New Testament church. This will be a constant battle to stand as such, thus we read that they continued "steadfastly." A church must hold to the doctrine of Scriptures. That our Bible is the perfect, preserved, inspired, Word of God. That God is the Author of the Bible and the Holy Spirit moved holy men of God to give us God's Word. We believe that the only correct translation is the King James Version. We reject the modern paraphrased versions, common versions, and others that delete the pure meaning of redemption and the Deity of Christ. Our Bible is the final Authority for all faith and practice. A church must hold to the doctrine salvation. That salvation is by God's grace and that it is free to all through the Gospel. That the individual must accept by faith that salvation, and that by rejecting it, they are condemning themselves to a Devil's Hell. It is God's will that all should come to repentance and have the gift of eternal life. Repentance and faith are solemn and inseparable prerequisites for salvation; that they are inseparable graces wrought in the heart by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, and as the sinner is deeply convicted of his guild and helplessness he turns in repentance to the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving Him as personal Saviour and Lord and is immediately born again! This salvation is eternal and cannot be lost!The church must hold to the doctrine of the church. That the church is a local, visible assembly of called out believers into a public place of worship. That service to our Lord is done through the church. The idea of a universal or invisible church is a false teaching and contrary to Scriptures. That our Lord began the church with His disciples and His Authority to fulfill the Great Commission is given to that church. Only that church has authority to baptize. The local church should observe the Lord's Supper (closed). That the church is not governed by an ecclesiastical hierarchy, and that the will of the local church is final. The church should hold to the doctrine of the second coming. That our Lord will rapture the saints before a tribulation period. That there will then be seven years of tribulation upon this earth. During that time, all saints raptured or having prior died will stand before God and experience what is called the Marriage supper of the Lamb. Here the churches (those that held to proper doctrine) will make up the Bride of Christ. The angels, O.T. saints, and saints of the present age who did not hold to New Testament doctrine will be guests at the marriage supper. Following these seven years, the Lord will return with His saints to rule and reign for 1,000 years on this earth. Satan will then be loosed and then a final judgement. We then shall forever enjoy a new Heaven and a New Earth for all of eternity.Time does not allow me to also write of other doctrines the church should uphold: virgin birth, creation, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Devil, Hell, Fall of man, giving, missions, separation, etc A church should uphold these doctrine to be a true New Testament church. A church should teach these doctrines faithfully, discipiling their members in a knowledge of God. It is a lack of knowledge of the Law of God that is destroying our churches today (Hos. 4:6). A church should be a place that upholds proper doctrine! (Scripture for above doctrines: John 3:15-16, 1 Pt. 1:5, John 1:12, Acts 3:19, Eph. 3:21, Acts 2:47, 1 Tim. 3:15, Acts 8:1, Matt. 3:13-17, 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-34, Rom. 6:34-35, 1 Thess. 4:13-18, 1 Cor. 15:51-55, John 20:27, Jude 14-15, Titus 2:13).
8. A church should be a place of Fellowship (vs. 42) The church should be a place where brothers and sisters in Christ can exhort, rebuke, strengthen, and encourage one another. A place where you enjoy your company. A place where the brethren can break bread (eat) with one another. Pray for one another. Sing with one another. Laugh with one another. A place of wonderful loving fellowship. For this is indeed what eternity will be, what a shame to avoid it now!?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Gone To Mexico

Please pray for myself and 13 others from our church that are gone to Mexico this week to aid our Missionary Harris. Please pray for Providence, Protection, Provision, Position, Promotion, Promise, and Praise to our God. We left Monday morning at 4:30 a.m. and should return next Monday (11/9) late. We truly covet your prayers as we are gone. What a privilege to go to the field!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Church in Action II

We continue our study on the church. We have seen that our Lord began the church with His disciples. We have studied some promises our Lord made to the church, and we left off examining in Acts 2, a New Testament church in action. A model, in many ways, for our churches today. We read how that the church should be
1. A Place where the Gospel is Preached (vs. 22-36)
2. A Place of Holy Ghost Conviction (vs. 37)
3. A Place with proper leadership (vs. 37-38)

At this point we began to look at proper leadership, a place I believe many of our churches lack in today. We saw our Lord's qualifications for a pastor, and left off with qualification number 16 from 1 Timothy 3
16. One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (vs. 4) Realizing the principles and severity of our Lord's qualifications, we must take this one serious. Thus far, we have covered 15 qualifications in 3 verses. This one qualification itself takes two verses to administer. God takes this serious. I know there are arguments from all sides, but isn't it sad that we can just take the previous 15 qualifications without discussion or argument, but this one cause so much division? I realize that my children are young and I have already been 'warned' that I may eat my words, but I like to think I can stand on God's promises. Here are the facts about this qualification:
a. Need to rule our own house well. We ought to be able to be a Biblical father, husband, laborer, steward, financier, home repair man...take care of the house and home.
b. Have our children in subjection with all gravity. A pastor's children should be in subjection (obedience) with all gravity (the word gravity is defined as 1) the characteristic of a thing or person which entitles to reverence and respect, dignity, majesty, sanctity
2) honour, purity)
A pastor's child, while not perfect, should be one that has learned obedience and subjection to our Lord and His Word and is saved, reverent, respectful to the things of God. Lives a life of honour and purity to our Lord Jesus Christ. Titus 1:6 states it this way, "having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly." This indeed is a great responsibility. People will cry, "That's a high standard!" Shouldn't a pastor hold just that? The reality, I believe, is taught in the very next verse (vs. 5). If we as pastors cannot take care of our home, can not raise our own children whom we live with every day to serve can we take care of the church and train others to do so? Then comes the arguments:
"Children have a free will!"Yes, and so does everyone in our churches. That is God's point. If we can't influence our own children who we live with to do right, how can we expect to influence others?
Eli "restrained not" his sons.I guess the argument is, if he would have tried to restrain them that God would not have removed Eli? Really? Is that the best we can do? The word restrain there means "to grow weak or to grow faint." Had Eli done his job as a father, he would have broken their sinful will. He would have weakened their rebellious spirit. In other words, Eli was removed because He didn't train them right. And, can we really use a Temple priest as a model for a New Testament pastor? Can we use the Temple as a model for a New Testament church? While I am sure there are principles, they are completely different entities."God was a Father to Adam and Eve and they didn't do right!" Really? The excuse we will use is justifying our self by a 'failure of God?' Doesn't it just seem wrong? For those who love justifying that, then lets be technical: Adam and Eve were grown adults and not children. Theirs was not a matter of a life of disobedience, but rather an act of it. No child, even a pastor's child will be perfect, it is the act of subjection and obedience and reverence to the Word of God that is expected. It is sad we even have to 'defend God' so that pastor's can justify their wrong. I just think that an honest examination of this passage in 1 Timothy reveals that pastors should be above reproach and an example in all areas to the church. Greater and wiser men than I will argue many points, and I believe we all should just stop and read the verse and follow it.
17. Not a Novice (vs.6) A pastor should be one who has matured in the things of God and not a babe in Christ. The danger, as our Lord puts it here, is that a novice will be lifted up with pride thinking himself to be something, and it is then the Devil has his way.
18. Must have a good report of them which are without. (vs. 7) The pastor should have a good testimony with the lost. Not that he is going to be loved and never offensive, but that he is known for being honest, have character, and a good man. The Word of God, which he should preach, is offensive and is sure to make the world upset at times, but the person is one that has lived a life demanding respect for the Lord.
Titus 1 gives us a few more qualifications which we will quickly list:
19. Steward of God.
20. Not self willed (vs. 7)
21. Not soon angry (vs. 7)
22. Holding fast the Word as he hath been taught...sound doctrine...convincing the gainsayers. (vs. 9) When a pastor leaves sound doctrine, he disqualifies himself from being a pastor. Every pastor should be able to use the Word of God effectively. Our Churches suffer from a lack of proper leadership!

The church in Acts 2 was also:
4. A Place for Families to be strengthened. (vs. 39) A church should be a harbor for the home. A place where each can be taught their Biblical role, exercise their Biblical duties, and build their faith. The Word taught in our churches should be promises and principles that are true for dad and mom, brother and sister, grandchildren, and generations to come. It is sad how many of our young people are lost to the world right from a church pew. It was not so with this church.
5. A place of Godly living (vs. 40) The world then and now was indeed an 'untoward' generation. The word there means 'crooked, perverse.' The church ought to be a place that saves people from that kind of life. Holiness seems today to be viewed as what is keeping folks from church; in Acts 2 it was seen as the reason to come to church. We've come along way?.....

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Church In Action

Thus far, we have seen what a church is not, where the church started, and some Biblical facts about the church. We will now direct our attention to an early New Testament Baptist church in action as found in Acts chapter 2. Here, the early church was being blessed and we see what was truly important to the church then, that should be important to a church today.
1.There was Preaching of the Gospel (vs. 22-36) Here Peter was preaching the Truth. Here Peter was not preaching wishy-washy sermons. He was not worried about not offending any lost person with the Truth, nor offending another brother. He preached the Truth as it is to sinners as they are. He says in verse 23, "Ye have taken..." Christ was crucified because of our sins. "Ye have crucified him (vs. 36)". He preached the death, burial, resurrection, and glory of Jesus Christ. He preached the Gospel. If we desire to be a true Biblical church, we need more preaching of the Gospel-the Truth. It may be offensive to a lost person, but it is what this once lost person needed to be saved, and it is what they need too.
2. There was Holy Ghost Conviction (vs. 37)The preaching of the Truth brought conviction. I remember days when my grandfather would preach when the conviction of the Holy Spirit was seen and experienced by all. When people were white knuckled as they held on to the pew. When people cried out in despair as they saw their sinful state. When preaching of the cross and its agonies brought shame and reproach. Hot tears would flow down cheeks. People had to go to an altar to get right with God. People dare not leave with their sin still active in their life. When was the last time we saw that conviction steadily displayed in our churches. Getting God's people to give a testimony seems like pulling teeth at times. Churches have not had people at the altar for weeks and months. People can hear the Word of God concerning their sin and leave unmoved. A church in action with God's hand moving will be a place of conviction.
3. It had proper leadership (vs. 37-38)Peter and the rest of the apostles were the ones the people looked to for counsel and wisdom. A church with God's hand upon it will have Biblical leadership. It is blasphemous to God at the amount of 'disqualified' men in the pastorate today. The Books of Timothy and Titus give us distinct qualifications that should be met if one is to pastor. Please let me preface that I know that there is no such thing as a perfect man, but God does not require a pastor to be perfect, but He does require the following things from a man to be a pastor: (1 Tim. 3)
1. Be a Man (1)A woman cannot be a pastor.
2. A God given desire to pastor (1)A desire not given by a parent, friend, or relative, but by God
3. Blameless (2) Again, not that he is perfect, but that he is not continual in a sin, unrepentant. That he not have ruined his testimony. I believe adultery permanently disqualifies a man, for that wound and reproach is not wiped away (Prov. 6:32-34).
4. The husband of one wife (2) Again, not a woman (for how can a woman be a husband?). A pastor cannot have been divorced. These qualifications may seem extreme, but it is because the role and office of a pastor is of great importance to the Lord's church. The testimony must be one that is above reproach. Because the husband and wife are one flesh, and due to the fact that it is the testimony that is to be protected, I also believe that the wife of a pastor should not have been divorced. One may argue that I am adding to Scripture, but taken in context with the purpose of the qualifications, I believe one can see the importance of testimony.
5. Vigilant (2) On guard against sin
6. Sober (2) Control of ones flesh
7. Of Good Behavior (2) Behaving Good
8. Given to hospitality (2) Accepting people into their homes, their lives, and their hearts.
9. Apt to teach (2) A God given ability and desire to teach the Truth
10. Not given to wine (3) Abstain from alcohol
11. No striker (3) Not a Quarrelsome person, looking to hurt others
12. Not greedy of filthy lucre (3) The pastor should not be pastoring for money. Consumed with making money and building earthly treasures, for he will be a most miserable person.
13. But patient (3) Fair gentle gracious
14. Not a brawler (3) Thinking himself to be a tough guy, invincible
15. Not covetous (3) Of others possessions, churches, abilities
16. One that ruleth well his own house having his children in subjection with all gravity (4) be continued, and this is a big one!!!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An object of God's Love

Ephesians 5:25 reads, "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;". So what is a church? As stated in our last post, when one looks up a church in a dictionary, phonebook, or google search, one will find thousands of different answers to that question. We have already seen in Scripture that there is one faith and one baptism. So if there is only one faith and one baptism, then will the true one church please rise?
We can eliminate a vast majority because they do not stand for nor believe in the doctrines found in the Word of God. Jesus said in John 8:47, "He that is of God heareth Go's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God." Those churches that are true churches are those that read, hear, and obey the Word of God. I have head many people say statements like, "Well, I don't agree with my church in this area, but..." If that church is wrong in accordance to God's Word, then it is not a church; or if you are wrong and the church is right, you need to get right.
In order to understand what is a true church, we then need to study and see when the church began. There are many philosophies as to when the church began, but we will look at it afresh in the Word of God.
As stated in our last post, Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, "I will build my church..." The Lord Jesus began the church Himself with His disciples. Thus, true churches, must have descended from that first church. The church has a Divine Founder, whose name is Jesus. That is why, as suggested in our letter to Adam Metzger and the Kingsway Fellowship, the church is not ours for "redesigning." Our Lord designed it nearly 2,000 years ago, and it is still perfect today!
The church was not founded upon a man, a pope, or a prophet; but our Lord, Jesus Christ.
When starting this church, Jesus gathered the disciples of a man, John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a man who preached the Gospel of repentance and faith, baptized his converts by immersion, and taught them that the Lord would soon appear. (Mark 1:1-8, John 1:29-37, John 3:25-30).
It is this "Baptist" preaching and "Baptist" baptism that set the standard from that time on. Sadly today, not every church with "Baptist" on the outside is true to New Testament doctrine. The Word of God is being pushed aside for flesh-friendly doctrine. Those churches have lost their first love, and as a result have had their candlestick removed.
A true, New Testament, church, the object of God's love, is therefore a descendant of that church which He began. Our Lord's church was therefore a Baptist church, the church at Jerusalem was therefore a Baptist church. Matter of the fact, there were not other kinds of churches. The Catholic church was begun years later. Baptist are not Protestant. The protestant movement began as a result of Catholic heresy and abuse. Men like Martin Luther, while seeing some of the errors of Catholicism, did not begin nor found true churches. They merely founded "less corrupt" churches. Nonetheless, they were still not churches, and taught a false salvation. Baptist should never make a hero out of men like Martin Luther. If we had lived in his time, we would have been persecuted, if not put to death, by Catholics AND MARTIN LUTHER. Thus Catholic churches, protestant churches, and all men originated churches are not true churches. There is ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM!
I am not saying that all those in churches other than Baptist are not going to Heaven, as long as they have been saved by grace through faith. Just as I am not also saying that every person in a Baptist church is going to Heaven, they too must be saved by grace through faith.
We live in a politically correct world where it is frowned upon to every offend anyone. It is not this author's desire to offend anyone, but to point towards the truth.
The true church is an object of God's love, and while going to church will not get you to Heaven, it is our Lord's desire that we serve Him "lawfully," that is, it does matter what you believe and what church you attend. Many will stand before God and will not receive the rewards that they could have, because they did not serve Him through the local church, the true church, a New Testament Baptist Church.
2 Tim. 2:5 reads, "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What is a Church?

Opening a dictionary, you will read that a church is "a building for public Christian worship; the part of the whole Christian body." Is that what a church is? While growing up, I was taught by many men I respect and also in college that a church is a "a local, visible called out assembly of baptized believers." Is that a church? Can you use that definition and practice open/close communion? The catholics believe that a church is "all who, from the beginning of the world, have believed in the one true God, and have been made His children." ( Now one can believe that definition and practice open/close communion. The very word 'catholic' means universal, in reference to its belief in a universal church. Then we open a phone book and look under "church." Here in our tiny Goshen, Ohio phone book, I find "Bridge Community Church, The Oasis Church, Knox Presbyterian, Whitewater Christian Church, Goshen Assembly of God, Abundant Life Fellowship, Grace Ministries, Adam Tracey, KingsWay, Adath Israel Congregation, All Saints Catholic, Agape Church, Cozaddale Baptist Temple..." Are they all churches? How can things so different be the same? Doesn't Eph. 4:5 read that their is
One Lord, one faith, one baptism.

So, they all can't be churches right? So that begs us to answer, which one is a church? Are the others frauds, organizations, clubs, or worse?
The very first time we read the word church in our Bibles is in Matthew 16:16-19,
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

We see here a few lessons about the church:
1. The church is built by Christ. This is one of the most important works He is presently doing.
2. The church is built upon Christ. Not on Peter (see 1 Cor. 3:11, 10:4, Eph. 2:20), but upon the fact that Jesus is the Son of the living God.
3. The church did not exist until Christ came. The Lord started the church when He "called out" his disciples (Matt. 10:1-5) and commissioned them. The church could not have begun at Pentecost because that day there were "added unto" the church, the church had already been given its commission, instructions for discipline, etc.
4. The church belongs to Christ. He is the head of the church, not a man. He is the law giver, legislator, and leader of the church.
5. The church will be preserved through all generations. Since the time of Christ, there has been the church and will continue to be a church.
6. The church has been given the promise of Authority by Christ.
7. The church is not to be on the defensive, but on the offensive. We read that the gates of Hell cannot prevail against the church. Gates are used for defense, not offense. Too many times, we as members of churches feel like it is our destiny to be persecuted and beaten down, but 'Praise God, in the end Hell can't prevail against us.' Problem is, that is false teaching. We as members of our churches are to go out and take the Gospel to a lost world, knowing that there is no power that can defeat or hold back the power of that Gospel!
So, what is a church? Is the Yellow Spruce Community Assembly of the Church of God with Latter Day Saints Adventist Ministries a church?
Let us solve this, by looking at the Bible!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Open Letter to Adam Metzger and KingsWay Community Church

September 21, 2009

Attn: Adam Metzger
1138 Heritage Ct.
Milford, Ohio 45150


In God’s Word in the book of Jude we read, “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is the duty of every born again believer to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. That is the reason for my writing this letter. Recently, many in our church received your mailing asking us to “Rediscover church.” I too am saddened by the seemingly great amount of churches that are dead and reaching no one for the Lord Jesus Christ. I went to your website and watched your video and read your web page. While I believe your motivation is one that is good, your means are incorrect.
You stated in your video, “We have designed this church with you in mind.” The church is not ours for designing. The Lord started the church and the means of worship and evangelism and teaching and preaching have already been established by Him. I believe your focus is that church is ‘boring and irrelevant’ in most people’s eyes. So you are seeking to make church “exciting and a time of celebration…so that people can discover God at their own pace.” Your obvious use of the world’s music (with Christian words), your steady appetite of the world’s entertainment, and your flesh appealing worship will be your means of reaching people. The problem is this is unscriptural.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5 read, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” We cannot meet the lusts of the lost in order to reach the lost. Jesus never used the means of which you have ‘designed your church’ in order to reach the lost. Instead, he challenged them with the Truth.
Saints of God are to be new creatures, 2 Cor. 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” We don’t need the weak and beggarly elements of the world any longer.
I also believe you were mistaken in your recent mailing that read on the cover, “Church (expletive)!” I believe your mailing has done much more harm for the cause of Christ than help. One of our six year old daughters in our church got the mail from the box last week and came in and said, “Daddy what does ‘Church %%%% mean?” Sad she had to learn ‘filthy communication’ from you isn’t it?
You accuse churches of being ‘homophobic.’ I cannot speak for other churches, but I will speak for this one, “We are not homophobic, but rather love all folks.” Problem is, most churches and men like yourselves see preaching against the sin of sodomy as being homophobic. They are lost and need the truth of God’s Word, and we endeavor to share it to them and all the lost and dying world.
Our Lord loved the church and gave Himself for the church (Eph. 5:25). Ephesians 4 reads “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” This faith, our church, was relevant 2000 years ago and it is just as relevant today. You are attempting to use man’s wisdom to reach the lost. Man’s wisdom dictates that if we use their music, their entertainment, their lusts to reach them, they will come to church. But if church is designed with them in mind, if we adapt church to them, what do they need to be saved from? If we use the same vulgar language as them, why should they change? If our music has the same rock beat and dance as theirs, why should they consider conversion?
Adam, I pray you do not feel attacked, as that is not my spirit. Rather, I seek to help. I seek to help you from the error from Scripture you are ‘launching upon.’ I seek to help the people you will minister to, as I fear for their souls. I seek to contend for the faith that was once delivered and doesn’t need revamped, revised, or redesigned.
2 Peter reads, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”
Titus 1 reads, “This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”
I learned last evening, that an elderly lady received your mailings as well, and emailed you concerning your vulgar language. Your response to her email was “Is your church reaching the lost?” Her reply was “Yes” to which you simply responded in tiny letters “awesome.”
Just don’t miss that you can still preach against sin, still practice separation from the world, still sing songs that do not appeal to the flesh, and it all be relevant, powerful, and successful in reaching the lost. You seek to not offend people in order to reach them, but instead all you will do is condemn them, for we can never experience the grace of God until we first realize the truth of God-we are wicked sinners and our ways are filthy. We must be saved by grace through faith and that our conversion will indeed change our lives. We will become new creatures. The things we loved before being saved , we will hate; the things we hated before being saved, we now will love.
Please think on these things.

Delighting In His Will,

Pastor Travis Burke
Psalm 40:8

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Something New

Well, a year long adventure is seemingly over. We have studied and written on why we are losing our young people to the world and apostate churches. Is it really as simple as we have written-as one commenter wrote? Was all that work "simple?"-as one author ponders? We shall see.
So what now? What to write upon? I truly would love to have others input on our comment pages in days ahead-just be sure to add your name to it. "Anonymous" is a synonym for coward many times.
Something new....
Recently, I surveyed our high school and asked a question:
What makes up church?

The responses were various, but mostly were "people, pastor, Bible, worship, choir, singing, preaching, specials, offering, invitation, Sunday school, ministries, academy, friends, busses, etc.
I believe we Independent Baptist are many times as caught up in man made traditions as the Catholics. Jesus warned against this in Mark 7:1-9. The Pharisees then loved washing their hands; we read, "For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders." Well, the Lord's disciples ate and didn't wash their hands! The Pharisees accused the disciples of being 'unclean.' The Lord taught a very important lesson here:
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition

The Lord never said 'washing your hands was wrong.' Rather, He taught that the Pharisees had lain aside the commandment of God, and had promoted their traditions as the principle element. Their worship to God was done in vain.
What a terrible thought. They honored the Lord with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him. Their worship was all done in vain.
We think of catholics, evangelical, and such and accuse them of this very thing. We, as Baptist could never be guilty of such...could we?
Since becoming pastor, the Lord has stirred my heart to stop doing what we have always done, and examine it closely in accordance to the Word. What does God's Word say about it. Has any thing changed? Oh, yes indeed! I have learned dating is not Biblical, but rather a worldly practice that every Christian should avoid. I have learned that education of children is the parent's responsibility. I have learned that topical preaching is shallow and insufficient when that is what is only preached. I will never forget the day the Lord spoke to me about this. It was after a conversation with another pastor who said the following: "I have a great message put together, I just need a verse." Shouldn't that be the other way around? We are to preach the Word!
I have learned so much since becoming pastor; and I have unfortunately dealt with many heart breaks. But God is good through it all and our joy is constant!
While dealing with problems and re-evaluating all things Biblically, I found something else.
Maybe I am the only pastor this applies to, but most problems I deal with concern the following (probably in this order): our academy, nursery, Sunday School Jr. Church, music, and sin/doctrinal stands.
As with dating, I began to look in Scriptures as to how to handle these ministries and the problems they bring. I was running these ministries the way I had always seen them run while growing up in church. I was adapting principles I had learned at college to help these ministries and the problems they incur to run smoother. Problem was, I couldn't find most in Scripture.
There are no Scriptures for running a church academy. There are no Scriptures for how to organize a nursery. There are no Scriptures for how to use Sunday Schools to train children. There are no Jr. Church ideas in the book of Acts. I can't find one verse on how to use a choir in the New Testament church.
I then looked to my other passion in life...History!
When did these ministries begin?
Sunday School...1780 Robert Raikes, an Anglican, to educate poor children in the slums in areas such as arithmetic, grammar, and sciences.
Jr. Church...1929 John Higgins, an Episcopalian, an experiment to separate children into their own age groups and reach them on their level.
Christian School...1684, the Jesuits, to educate children with a 'christian' philosophy (now I know all about the synagogues and such, but those are no where close to what our 'christian school are today'.)
Choir...300, Constantine, after his 'conversion' (false) he demanded that choirs be added to services just like the Greek operas and pagan worship he had enjoyed before 'conversion.'
Nursery...Billy Sunday, as part of his crusades, did not enjoy preaching over the distraction of crying babies and had the first nurseries built as part of his tabernacles.
We could go on and speak of invitation, bus ministry, sound room, etc....bottom line:
All man made traditions, and relatively new to our faith. And, may I add, none of them Baptist.
Sadly, the typical 'fundamental, strong, Baptist church member' if asked what their focus was on any given Sunday, would be: their singing special, turn to work in the nursery, their Sunday School class, bus route, etc. We have all but forgotten what church is truly supposed to be.
We are so busy with our man made traditions, that we have gotten far from the Word, Worship, and true Work of God.
Is there anything wrong with these traditions? Well, is there any thing wrong with washing your hands before you eat? It is just, we too often are so focused on our 'ministries' that we miss the purpose of church. Our lips honor him, but our heart is far from Him.
Think on these things.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Back to the Basics

As with everything in America's history, we've come a long way in a short time. Sometimes that's good, but in the case of our families, it has gone horribly bad. So now what do we do? Get back to the basics; go back to the beginning. In the words of Ken Ham, Back to Genesis. Chapter one, verse twenty-eight to be exact, the very first commandment in the Word of God, one that modern Christianity has very much forgotten and forsaken - Be fruitful and multiply. Now, I am not advocating bigger families is the cure for our ills; but I am saying that a desire for children is a sure sign things are on the right track. Let me explain. What has been the purpose of this poll? To alert people to a serious problem, not just in our churches, but in our nation as a whole. What is this problem? Well, I think the previous chapters have illustrated it pretty clearly( not that we're great writers, but our subject has really written itself ), our children as a whole are going, going, and some are just gone. Even those still among us are not really with us. Honestly, I don't blame them. Would you want to be where you are not wanted? Wait a minute! How can you say that? Easy enough when many of us already have, if not in our very words, at least in our actions. This brings me back to my point about the size of our families. God has commanded us to "be fruitful and multiply"; not a suggestion, but a command. Is that the desire of the average American family? You and I both know it is not. The typical Baptist couple puts off having children, pushes off the raising their children on the church and/or school, and can't wait to be free of their children. It's not as much a matter of the number we have, as the heart that we have toward them. As with everything else, God is concerned with our heart. If I may be a bit personal for a moment; a few summers back, Shanda and I were preparing for the arrival of our third child. That summer a missionary and his family stopped and parked their camper at our church. That isn't unusual as this happens periodically at our church. But this particular missionary had a message just for me. One day as I was going about my business working at church, this missionary stopped me for a chat. ( the reason I refer to him as "this missionary" is not to hide his identity, but because he was a total stranger, not one of our supporting missionaries) Our conversation is one that I will never forget, though I unfortunately forsook for a time. He began to share with me how after having three children of his own, he and his wife decided they were "done". But he went on to say that God began to work on their hearts through preaching and his personal study, that though that was what he wanted, it wasn't necessarily God's will. To make a long story short, they went on to have several more children. I heard, but did not hear. I ignored this man of God sharing his heart with me and went on my way, thinking I knew better than he. Fast forward to the present. This past summer our pastor changed up our Sunday school schedule to really stress the family and the home. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting with my children hearing from God's Word what I could do to raise them up to serve God. One session I remember above all the others; teaching from Psalm 127, he read the following verse:

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

I must confess, though I was thankful for my children and loved them dearly, I realized then that my view of my children was not God's view of my children. I had been guilty of taking them for granted, and not fully realizing the blessing that they were. I had, at times, thought of them as burdens, and not blessings; of thinking they were here to serve my purposes, instead of to serve God's purposes. God has worked much in the hearts of me and my wife this past summer and I'm so thankful for it. We had developed a very worldly mindset regarding children and the Lord showed us our error; we have confessed it and determined from this point on to see them for what they are - on loan from God, to raise for God. How do you view your children? Is our mind transformed to God's ways, or are we conformed to the mind of the world? I am not questioning if we love our children, but rather do we live for our children? I encourage you, if you have adopted the world's mentality regarding children, humble yourself, confess it to God, and determine to leave a legacy to your children like that of Jonadab. If your children have already grown up and gone on, encourage those coming behind you to see children as God sees them. May we raise up a generation that will be an example for years to come.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

So What Have We Learned

In 1997 I began working in the ministry with teens. I poured my heart, my time, my energy, my everything into their lives. As a result, we saw a youth department go from about 12 to nearly 50 each week. We went had two activities every month as we had a S.N.A.C.K. (Sunday Night After Church Knock-out) and a Friday night activity of something like a Blue Gnu or Super Mall Sweep. We went to our Teen Camp, our Talent Contests, and weekly we had around 30 teens going soul winning on Tuesday nights. I was a 'success' as a youth I thought. I had the largest Sunday School class in the church, the soul winning crowd was 90% teens, the bus ministry rested on their shoulders, there was life, energy, and excitement each week in the teen class. Other youth pastors were calling me and asking what the secret was. I had where.
I estimate in my eight years of being a youth leader that nearly thousands of teens went through our class. There are right now four serving in the ministry and an additional 8-10 still in a IFB church. Success huh? Where are the other 1,982 or so? You can find many on facebook or myspace with their beers, blasphemy, and babies; but not in church Sunday. At first I would get angry with them, considering their actions an act of betrayal against me. I was wrong. Not just for that feeling, but I had been wrong.
With great intentions, great enthusiasm, and great effort, I won the heart of many of those teens. I, as many youth pastors, kept them busy at church and out of trouble, entertained them with activities, contests and jokes, and along the way taught some Bible. I met with parents-when their child was naughty. I did the IFB thing-had fun with them and ignored the Biblical Parental Roles that were missing.
By the time I became the pastor, the Lord had opened my eyes to a problem. Despite our efforts and temporary successes, we were losing them. We were losing the bus teens, the church teens, the preacher boys, the class presidents, the snotty nosed runt and the sharp verse memorizers. We were losing nearly all of them.
In my ministry, I have stopped and re-evaluated everything. I believe we have become so wrapped in our man made traditions, that we do not realize how far we have strayed from God's Word.
It is quite evident that many others are realizing this same problem. The Southern Baptist Church has begun a study on the same topic, as have First Baptist Hammond, Answers in Genesis, and many more. I, nor Pastor Carr, would ever claim to know it all or have the upper hand on anyone. We just are burdened. Hammond will no doubt preach its answers with a loud voice, Ken Ham will teach the answer is getting back to Genesis, Southern Baptist will select a committee to discuss it for 22 years, and so on and so on. Here is what I have learned....
It is our job Dad and Mom. Whether you are on the front lines of battle or the back pew of a dead church, we still can rear our children to serve the Lord. The promises are there in Scripture. It is time to get back to Scripture and leave the man made traditions of dating, letting Sunday School be in charge of spiritually maturing our children, letting an academy be in charge of educating our children, letting a youth pastor get their heart and keep them in church. It is time to grow up dads. Time to put up the PlayStation 3 each night and talk to your son. It's time for moms to quit going to two Pampered Chef parties, ladies fellowship at church, shopping with your friends, and instead stay home and fix dinner and teach your daughters to love their husbands and keep their homes. It's time to set aside our hobbies and sports and to instead get and keep our child's heart. It is time to stop eating dinner in three different rooms with three different T.V.s on and instead to sit around a table and fellowship together in unity. It is time that children hear their daddy pray at home, see their mommys keep the home, and join with parents in song at home. It is time we quit looking for loopholes in Scripture as to why our children may rebel, and start taking responsibility that we can rear them in the ways of the Lord and should they not-it is the parent's fault. It is time we consistently have family devotions, father is the head of the home, children desire to spend time with mom and dad, T.V.s are shut off, computers are shut down, and hearts are opened and shared. It is time for teens to realize they don't have to date fifty to find the one. It is time for the family to be more than a name. It is time that Authority be seen as God's Word. It is time!
We can't afford to sit back and think that our child will be the exception. I challenge every parent to stop, fall on our knees, and thank the Lord for our children, repent for not taking the full responsibility of them, and determine to quit our selfish ways. Determine to not be satisfied with our children making money and having a house. Determine to not expect rebellion as part of life. Determine to quit letting the world entertain and amuse us. Determine that a poll like the one to the right would not reflect failure, but success. Determine to be willing to sacrifice everything to get our child's heart, to keep our child's heart, and one day to give our child's heart to the one person God has for them as spouse.
It is time right now. May God give us wisdom and courage for the days ahead.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hold the Line

In the beginning the lines were pretty clear. They were established with the children of Adam and Eve, when Cain laid the first lines down with the blood of his brother Abel. From then on, you were either a child of Cain, or a child of Seth, Abel's substitute. All throughout history, those lines battled long and hard. Always it was Cain the aggressor, Seth the defender. What was he defending? The line of redemption, of righteousness; the promised line that God established in the beginning.
Now we come to the present. Why has it become so hard to identify which line a person stands for? The lines have become blurred. Satan has done a masterful job of mingling the lines of right and wrong. What does this have to do with our final poll question? Everything. You see, we have become guilty of pushing our youth to pursue the same things as those of a lost and sin-filled world. Now we are perplexed why they have no interest in doing the work of God and standing for the Word of God. I have come to believe that every generation has a battle to fight. The battle may appear different every time, or the name of the enemy may vary, but ultimately the battle is the same. Someone must stand up and defend the right. Someone must, as did John the Baptist and the prophets of old, be the voice of one crying in the wilderness. We must be willing to hold the line. In our own way, this is what we have attempted to do. Others may continue as before, denying any problem, but our responsibility is not to any man or organization, but to one day stand before God and say, I did what you told me to do. As Abraham Lincoln once said,

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am to do the best with what light I have. I will stand with anyone who stands right, stand with him while he is right, and part with him if he goes wrong.

We must be willing to hold the line, at any cost. The future generations are depending on us.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


We have come near the end of our research. We have asked 30 questions to Independent Fundamental Baptist Teens. The 31st question was not really a question, but rather a listing. It read,
My top 5 goals in life after graduating are (list in order of importance)

Indeed, this was a very open ended question. I feared that their would be so many different answers that arriving at a sensible result would be difficult. This was not the case. While there were a few non-popular results, over 90% of the answers were the same. Listed below are the top 5 goals for our IFB teens for their life after graduating; these are listed in order of importance to our teens:
1. Marriage
2. College Degree
3. Serving God
4. Successful Career

So what does one make out of this? Is their anything wrong with having the desire to be married or to receive a college degree or be successful at a career? No, not at all. I am sure we all wish that "Serving God" was number one on everyone's heart, but it was not by about 20%. The top two answers were by far the most prevelant: getting married and obtaining a college degree.
Where do they get these priorities? I believe they have obtained them for the most part from us. Who is 'us?' Parents, pastors, teachers, youth pastors, mentors. We have made 'success' to equal a spouse, two kids, own a home, dog, and a good job to support it all. I see parents 'satisfied' with their kids as long as they have these things. They may not be in the 'church' that parents desire them to be in, but at least they have a home, spouse, job, kids, and a dog. I mean, they still believe in God, they pray over their meals, and are sending your grandchildren to a Christian school. Plus, they are making money, have good insurance, and are living 'safe.' I have learned so much this past year in studying and reading about this 'epidimic' we have. First Baptist Hammond, Ken Ham, and others have written books and conducted seminars on the same topic. Even 'churches' (not truly a church, but claim to be) such as Willowbrook have conducted research the last two years as to the epidimic. The Southern Baptist Convention recently began studying the problem. So what is the answer? I will do my best to share what I have learned and vision next week. But for now, may we look at our young people's dreams and goals and ponder...what do I want for my children? It is easy to say, "Serve God," but by our actions, words, monetary investments, and time-what are we showing our children we desire for them?
Genesis four and five are some of those 'geneaology' chapters. Chapter four is all about the line of Cain. There we read of entrepeneurs, builders, owners, rich, famous, musicians, iron workers, builders of cities, and more. They were so successful. In contrast in Genesis five we read the line of Seth. The most any accomplished was that they "lived so many years and begat sons and daughters and died." No entrepeneurs, no rich, no iron workers, no city builders, no famous musicians. But, which was more successful? It was the line of Seth that 'found grace in the eyes of the Lord,' that 'walked with God and was not for God took him,' and that 'lived nine hundred sixyt and nine years.' It was this line that made an ark, will preach durring the tribulation, and produced the Saviour. The other line, 'perished in the flood' along with their successes and inventions.
We are not called to train up our children to be a builder, musician, or ownder; but rather 'in the way he should go.' We are a success when our children rise up to serve the Lord. They may not be great owners, builders, bankers, or officials-but should they serve God-they are a success.
I hear so often, "My child turned out all right, they stay out of trouble. So does my desk, but it's not a success. May we desire to sow in our children seeds of Godliness that will produce goals of Godliness.

Monday, August 24, 2009

"...but obey their father's commandment."

The above phrase is taken from Jeremiah 35:14, the account of the family of the Rechabites. In this account, which I have previously referenced, God tells Jeremiah to hold up this family as an example of faithfulness and obedience to the people of Judah. They also set a pretty good example for us today, when so many of our families are falling by the wayside. But what is truly amazing to me is that when studying a little further, I discovered Jonadab was not their father. This account in Jeremiah takes place in the time of king Jehoikim, one of the last kings of Judah. Jonadab lived in the time of Jehu, approximately 240 years earlier. In other words, for about ten to twelve generations, this family had passed on the teaching and instruction of this one man Jonadab. Stop and think about that for a moment( or in Bible terms - Selah ). That would be similar to the descendants of George Washington still living today following his teachings. So, how did he do it, you ask? I believe there are several principles that we can learn from this man's life.
#1. Jonadab took a stand for God.
We see this in the account of II Kings 10:15-28, when Jehu the king came to him looking for a man to stand with him against the wicked worshippers of Baal.
#2. Jonadab practiced what he preached.
I believe this is evident in the clear views that are presented by his descendants two and a half centuries later. There was no argument about what he said or what he meant.
#3. Jonadab was personally involved in the teaching of his children.
He didn't assume they were just going to get it at the temple, or in school. Three times in the account in Jeremiah, the phrases commanded and charged are used. he exemplified the instructions God gives in Deuteronomy 6:1-9. How can I know that for sure? We reap what we sow. It can't possibly be luck or coincidence that a man's descendants, two hundred plus years down the road, are still following his commands.
So, can we have the success of Jonadab? Yes, I believe we can. But I believe the reason we're not, judging by the poll, is not that our youth aren't listening or learning - it's that we aren't teaching them the things they need to know. Fathers - it's up to us. Mother's - if Dad is not there, it's up to you( see Timothy for case in point ). Point is, parents, we have a great responsibility, and from what I've seen in my few years is that responsibility has been ignored, because to many dads and too many moms quite frankly don't want to grow up. Men are living to pursue pleasure instead of promoting principle; woman are living to build a career instead of building character in their children; and the children are left on their own to "find themselves."
May God help us to restore a broken foundation, the family.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

You Can't Tell Me What To Do!

I think I saw this kid at the store last week, but I know I heard a child say that phrase to his mother. A few years ago at a CVS store, I heard a child say that to his mother, who by this time was red faced, paying, and ready to leave and hide under a rock. The child stood half way across the room disregarding his mother. I walked over to his side of the store to 'look at a greeting card' and softly spoke to him: "She can tell you what to do, and you better listen, or you will have to deal with me." The kid said, "Whatever" but quickly ran to his mother and silently walked out of the store.
We live in a day of equal rights, anti-abuse, independence, and free expression-all of which I totally believe in-problem is these anti-abuse defenders have become the abusers. I will not get into politics in this case (but would love to at a later time) but merely stick to the matter at hand. I am TOTALLY against child abuse-and more importantly, so is God! Our Lord warned over and over about the severity of offending a little one. Sadly, we live in a day where the child has more authority than the parent in many cases.
I am going to drop a bomb shell of enlightenment on you:
God's Plan always works!

And did you know, that God works through authority? God has a plan for rearing children and seeing that those children grow up to serve Him. That plan is founded upon authority. According to 1 Cor. 11:3, "...the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God." Eph. 6:1 teaches that the head of the children are their parents. So, if I may, God's plan of authority is this:

That will work-every time! We ask our IFB young people who was their life's authority, and they responded:
A. Parents 81%
B. Youth Pastor 4%
C. Teacher 0%
D. Pastor 3%
E. Yourself 12%

As you can see, the problem is not so much the children not seeing their parents as their authority. 81% of our young people see their parents as the authority for their lives. The 12% that consider themselves is somewhat alarming, but the vast majority see correctly their parents as the authority. At first, I scratched my head....then where is the problem?
I believe the problem is not so much children not seeing their parents as the authority, but rather Parents not realizing, accepting, and acting upon the fact that they are their child's authority.
Our Lord exemplified this in Luke 2:51 when "he (Jesus) went down with them (Joseph and Mary), and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them:" The omnipotent, omniscient One was subject unto his parents. Why? Because God has given to the parent the position of authority and to the child the responsibility to honor and obey that authority.
Here is where I feel we are 'missing the boat.' The typical IFB family drops their child off at a Christian Academy for 35 hours a week to be under the authority of a teacher, allows them to be under the authority of a coach for 15 hours that week, under the authority of a Sunday School teacher an hour that week, and so on and so on. I am not against these positions, but sadly the Devil has convinced most parents that their authority is at home...the teacher will take the authority for education, coach the authority for athleticism, Sunday School teacher/youth pastor the authority for spirituality....the parental authority has been so thinned out by delegation-that there is no real authority in the child's life. Thus, they grow to see themselves as a digester of all the 'inputs' they have received and the final authority to decide what is right for them.
As a parent, it is my God-given authority to see that my child is educated, matures spiritually, is physically fit, and learns the Biblical principles that are necessary for a successful life. My job! Not theirs!
We have swallowed the Devil's philosophy that 'someone else is more qualified than me.' I am not against using Godly tools to help me in rearing my child, but should my child stray-I did wrong.
As a youth pastor, high school teacher, and Sunday School teacher, I was blamed many times when a child rebelled. For a long while, I accepted that as my responsibility; but it is not. I have that responsibility the three children God has given to Stacey and I.
Parents, you can tell them what to do-and should! God has given that authority to every parent. May we strive to teach them diligently to our sons and daughters.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Hey kids, Daddy's home!

I must confess when I first saw the results of the poll regarding where kids thought there fathers would like to be, I was disappointed. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the fathers would be there, it just would have made it so much easier to conclude that the problem was absent fathers. But that makes it all the more puzzling. If the fathers wanted to be home, then where was the problem? I believe the answer is in the second poll question, where would the young people rather be. Almost the same percentage who thought their father would like to be home, apparently didn't want to be there with him. Why not? Why is there this stereotype among parents and their youth that they don't want to spend time together? Why are young people so anxious to get away from their parents? (Before I proceed any further, let me also say I have known some young people who wanted nothing more than to spend time with their parents and vice versa. Unfortunately that is the exception and not the norm.) Usually when this subject is discussed, the focus is put on the young person. We ask questions such as "What is wrong with that child?" or "Why are they so rebellious?" This shows, as seems to have occurred often in this study, that we have the cart before the horse. The first question ought to be, "What is wrong with me?" I fear we have bought into the world's mentality of blame-shifting. No one wants to take responsibility anymore. Parents, when it comes to our children, the buck stops with us. And that is a huge responsibility. One that, to be honest, if I thought I could I might try to pass it off on someone else. But I see from the Word of God there is no one else. Just recently I read an autobiography of a famous former baseball player who became wrapped up in drugs, alcohol, and immorality. It wasn't until he stopped blaming everyone else and took responsibility for his own sin that God was able to free him and get his life right. There is example after example in God's Word of the effects of men's sin on their children. One of the saddest examples of this would have to be David. So many wonderful things written by this man of God, but the saddest would have to be II Samuel 23:4-5, where he begins by recording how God blesses those who rule well, but closes by making the following statement - "Although my house be not so with God..."
Fathers, do our young people desire our company and counsel? Do they seek to be with us every chance they get? If so, praise God for it; if not, let's examine our lives to see what it is that is driving a wedge between us and our children.

Proverbs 17:6, "Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Family Time

First of all, I again want to thank each and everyone for their prayers, letters, emails, texts, phone calls, and about any other way you can communicate to us your love and prayers for my father and our family.
I just got off the phone with my mother, and she said that dad was having a very good day and that he continues to progress well. I know I have said it before, but this is nothing short of a miracle. God has shown Himself mighty once more!
When I returned from Kansas, I studied and rested Saturday, preached all day Sunday, then went to teen camp for the week. I have been playing "catch up" here in my office these last few days, and finally feel somewhat 'back in the saddle.'
I figured it was time to get back on track writing our blog as well. I told Bro. Carr the sabbatical was over and he would have to write this weekend. So, here we go....
We only have four weeks left of writing on this topic. We will cover three questions from our questionnaire this week. That will leave only two more questions. We then will take the fourth week to summarize our findings. I have begun to read "Already Gone" by Ken Ham (can not endorse the book as of yet, but realize it is on the same topic we are attempting to study-thus far I have found it a good read)(can you believe he stole my idea? What a mean guy!)
Just joking AIG fans!
This week we look at the area of Family Time. Some of the most precious memories I have is of family time while growing up (which by the way, you can read stories of at the following blog: Sadly, for many, some of the worst memories they have are of 'family time.' Some daily try to escape those memories, but this does not/should not have to be for the Christian's home. Here are the three questions we shall examine:
I believe if my dad had his choice, he would spend a free evening:
A. At home with his family 68%
B. Out with His friends 9%
C. At work for overtime for more money 23%

If you had only one activity all month at church, would you prefer it to be:
A. Family activity 19%
B. Youth activity 60%
C. Boys only/girls only activity 8%
D. Don't matter, I would skip it 13%

I would describe 'family time' as:
A. Recreation 38%
B. Boring 9%
C. At Church 6%
D. Vacation 27%
E. Non existent in our home 20%

Let us begin with the first question. The majority of our teens feel that if their fathers could, they would be at home with the family on a free night. Wonderful! I believe this is the way it should be. Granted, 23% at the time felt their dad would volunteer for overtime to make more money, but overall this was a pleasant response. (not sure how the current national economic condition would affect this). Recently I was speaking to a man who had asked about my father's health condition. He then told me how that it was a difficult time when his father died, but not near as bad as when his mother died. Thankfully I have never experienced either, but the man went on to say that "Dad always worked every hour he could get. He was never home. Even when he wasn't working, he did everything he could to stay away from the house...yard work, hobby, painting, friends...we never saw him. I had a much closer relationship with my mother." Praise the Lord for Godly mothers! Had this been a lady I was speaking to, it would not have struck me as it did. Children need their fathers! Believe me, I know the men must work and should be the main 'money makers' of the home (sorry ladies, your 'careers' aren't found in Scripture). I know men should handle the 'manly' chores at home. It is the spirit of neglect that too many fathers show toward their children...the lack of a desire to spend time with them.
It is fathers that can 'provoke their children to wrath.' Fathers who are supposed to teach their children the statues and ways of the Lord. Deut. 6 teaches that it is the fathers that do these things. Spend time with your children.
I took Alex with me to Kansas those few weeks. Why? Not so he would see my father in the shape he was in, but I saw it as an opportunity to spend time with my son. I took Grace out Saturday 'garage saleing'. We had a wonderful time. Why? Not because we needed more junk, but I saw it as an opportunity to spend time with my daughter. Fathers, may we take our God given role seriously and desire to spend time with our children.
The second question's results taught us that our teens would desire, if given the choice, a monthly youth activity at church greatly more than a family activity. We've already spoken on this before, but I believe churches are much to blame for the constant divisions of families. Church should be a unifier of the home, not a divider. We split up for Sunday School, have youth, children's, young couples, college age, and senior citizen activities every month; we have an academy, sports, and competitions to practice for. The family is never together. We have strove the past year to involve the parents more. I wish more parents would get involved. I encourage youth pastors to include the parents in their activities to help build the home.
Our third question dealt with 'family time.' Again, how I cherish family time memories while growing up, and so enjoy making them with my wife and children. We need family time. Family time should be recreational, educational, vacations, at church, at home, in the car, around a pond, on a trail, in a creek, soul winning, bus routes, visitation-LIFE. Sadly, 20% of our teens felt it was non existent in their homes, and nearly 10% felt they had it but that it was boring.
Family time, in my opinion, is not an event or a Tuesday night. Family time should be life. When family time is reduced to an evening or a trip, we are saying that our life and business is the priority. Our family should be our priority. Whether I am going soul winning, yard work, taking a vacation, eating dinner, enjoying a hobby, going to church, or enjoying a free's family time!
May God give us strong families and the desire to make our time, family time.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Last Dad Update (Lord Willing)

I spoke to dad today. He is still hoars from the ventilator tube, tired and sore from the trip, and weak from the surgery...but he is doing well considering. He has done his "excercises" for the day which include walking 5 minutes in the house, breathing, and limb movement.
He was able to sleep pretty well last night-thank you for praying. Things seem to be going very well considering 12 days ago he wasn't supposed to make it through the day.
He told me this morning, "Bub, when you write your blog tonight, please tell everyone something for me. Thank you so much for the prayers and encouragement. Had it not been for the prayers of God's people, I know I wouldn't be here today. I love you all and thank the Lord for you. Keep praying, I am willing and looking forward to getting back."
I would just add another thank would my mom...and Chrystal...and Rachel. We praise the Lord for the miracle He performed! Just continue praying for his 6 week 'healing' process. I can't wait to hear that first sermon back!
God is so Good. If there is ever anything we can pray with you about, never hesitate in emailing or calling upon us.
Glory to God!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dad is Home

Quick update:
Dad is home. The ride was much worse than any one expected it would be. Dad is very sore, in much pain. His legs are 'oozing' a lot and mom is very worried about clots and/or infection. Please pray for his pain to subside and that he would get some much needed rest.
Mom said he was sitting in his chair with Joey looking up at him. He is still struggling some with breathing and 'normal' problems after surgery. Please pray for these things. God is good!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'mmmmm Backkkkkk....And so is he!

It is Thursday evening, and I am back from a wonderful week at our teen camp. I so enjoyed spending time with the young people. We praise the Lord for one saved this week and the altars busy all week. The Lord brought Evangelist Matt Souza and his family to us this week for the preaching, and His power was evident. How we praise the Lord! Tomorrow, I will be back in the office for the first time in nearly 4 weeks....I wish I could say the last four weeks were relaxing, but they were times of spiritual growing for me. So, I'm back; and....
So is he! My dad will, Lord willing, leave the hospital in the morning. My mother asked that we have everyone to please pray for them. It is a good four hour drive back to Ark City normally, but for them it will be much longer. The doctor said they must stop every 45 minutes to allow dad to walk. This will help avoid blood clots. Also, tomorrow it is expected to be around 100 degrees at that time, so that will make matters more interesting.
The doctors and nurses went over with mom today how to care for dad. He has wounds that will need daily cleansing and bandaging all over his body. He will need to continue his short walks and breathing exercises. He tends to hyperventilate often due to the time he was on the verntilator. This will need work. He still (sorry if it's gross) is 'oozing' from his wounds. This will need special care. Worst of all, for dad, he is not to preach or be around large crowds for any significant amount of time for 6 weeks. I have a feeling we will see about that :-)
All in all, he is doing amazing considering that 11 days ago the doctor told us the family needs to come in as he would probably not make it. God is so Good!
So please pray for dad as he makes his way back home, and pray for my mom. She will be back home, but the work is just getting started.
Dad should not be left alone much at all. Someone will need to be with him around the clock. This will prove to be a most daunting task. Also, mom wanted me to mention this: it may sound like not much, but it is important. As soon as dad sits in his chair, Joey (their poodle) will want to jump in 'his place' on dad's lap. This CAN NOT happen. Please pray mom is able to keep him off dad so no further complications develop.
I also want to thank Chrystal for sitting in the Blog chair while I was gone. She did a marvelous job! She will be blogging more in the days ahead.
I love you all and thank the Lord for you. I am so glad to be part of the family of God!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Phone Call

It's about 3:30 at my house. My phone rang twice. I looked at my caller id, and saw it was Hay's, Kansas. That's my cue to call dad's room. (We do that so they don't have to use their minutes on the calling card.) It always makes me a little nervous when I get that call. I immediately called the number back. "Hi, baby girl!" It was dad!!! His voice was hoarse, but he sounded so great! He was talking 100 mph. He said he was having a great day. After the rough night he had, everything seemed to be getting better and better. He said the respiratory therapist came in today and discharged him from therapy! Then, the occupational therapist came in..discharged from O.T. The physical therapist came thru for the 4Th time today. He walked 200 feet today!! There was a little drainage from his legs, and chest today, but they weren't too concerned. They started him on a little antibiotic, but just thought it was all pretty "normal stuff".

Dad was talking about all the wonderful things that have happened since he's been in there. You heard me...he said, "WONDERFUL THINGS!" Was he at the same place I was at last week? Yes! He is already talking about getting back to church. He told me about the dream he had last night. He said that it was his first Sunday back to church. He came thru the back door, and Bro. Beam (the "sound man")started playing "Eye Of the Tiger". (the theme from Rocky) He said he ran up the stairs to the platform and lifted his Bible up over his head! That is a scene I would love to see! I think a better song would be , "God is So Good" or even "Power in the Blood". :)

It was so good to hear him. It was so good to hear how excited he is about life and the Lord. He said, "Sis, I didn't think I was going to make it. I know God is not finished with me yet!". He is so excited to share his story. He said it is just another tool to share "HIS STORY".

Another answer to prayer- when I was talking to dad, he said mom was on her way to get her motel room for the night!! Praise the Lord!! Thank you again for all your prayers. A nurse mentioned today that she saw no reason why they would keep him past this weekend! Can you believe that??? Keep the prayers coming!!! Can't wait for the day he stands up on that platform and hold his Bible high!!