Monday, December 2, 2013

They Say Dogs Don't Go To Heaven; But Mine Did.

In September, of 2006, my dad called and told me about a man in his church in Kansas that had some chocolate Lab puppies available if I was interested.  I certainly was interested!  I immediately reserved me a puppy and in just a few weeks was holding in my arms the cutest little brown lab you had ever laid your eyes on.

Seeing how he was a chocolate lab, I thought of the perfect name for him-Snickers!  Snickers was a little puppy, but had huge paws.  It was obvious to see that Snickers would grow up to be a pretty big dog, and that he certainly did.

Our children immediately also fell in love with Snickers.  They enjoyed playing with him, giving him snacks, and watching him play with whatever toy he could get his teeth around.  Snickers pretty much lived inside and easily became just part of the family.  At Christmas time, we all would hang our stockings, and was sure to hang Snicker's as well.  He had his own hat, ornament, and loved candy canes.   Snicker's was always sure to find a delicious bone every Christmas morning in his stocking.  He would take it and want to go outside with it and enjoy it all alone (I think he was afraid we would take it from him).

 Snickers loved playing at the dog park in our town.  He would look so much forward to running in the field and jumping in the pond and trying to catch the bull frogs.  I am not sure what he would have done if he would have caught one.

Snickers grew to be quite a large dog.  At his last last vet appointment, he weighed in at 115 lbs.  Snickers was not overweight, just a very strong dog.  Our neighbor called him "roids" because he accused him of being on steroids.  Once our son was walking Snickers and Snickers saw a cat.  He chased that cat four doors down, dragging our 100 lb. son behind him on the leash.

Snickers loved so much sitting outside and watching the birds.  He never chased them, just sat there in the sun watching the day go by.  Each night, after the kids went to bed, Snickers would come inside and eat and sit with me.  Before we got our new couch, Snickers would sit on the couch with me.  In the winter, I loved it so much as he was  the greatest electric blanket a guy could ever have.

We both enjoyed a late night snack, except my how Snicker's would drool.  It was actually disturbing what a drooler he was.  My wife wasn't real fond of this part of Snickers.  Any time she would sit and eat a snack at night, there he would be.  He never begged or whined, just sat there watching and hoping she would give in.  He may have gotten more if he could have controlled that drooling of his.  She was rather disgusted at it and many times excused him to his house.

Snickers "house" was the garage.  We had divided our garage into two sections with a wall.  The first part was a family room, and the second part was Snicker's house.  It had some totes, our freezer, some clothes, and his big comfy pillow he slept on.  He actually looked forward to going there at nights.  When he was real tired, he would beg to go and get excited when you got up to take him.  He probably was so excited though because every night I gave him an extra treat as he went to his house.  My how this dog loved cheese and bacon strips.

Snickers enjoyed life at our house.  He was, about as much as a Burke as you can be.  He loved family, he loved to eat, he loved being around people, he adored children, he loved being loved.  Each night, after he ate dinner, he would (like a cat) just go back in forth in front of you.  He expected you to raise your legs so he could run under them scratching his back.  He would do this all night if you let him.  He was a morning dog.  As you would approach his door to let him in in the morning, you could always hear that "T-rex" like tail beating the walls inside.  He was always happy!  That tail would always wag, and if it hit you, you knew it.  He grew up and was getting older, but I think he always thought he was a kid.  He just loved being around you.

Snickers also was a perfect Burke because he like making people happy and would take any aggravation you sent his way.  Our children when they were younger would grab his ears, tail, and try to ride him.  He would just sit there looking at me with a "you can stop them now" look on his face, but not one time in 6+ years did Snickers ever growl, snap, or even look angry at anyone.  He could take a lot and just keep loving.

As a pastor, there are some days when there are a lot of burdens on you.  The last 6 years have seen many burdens shared by me with this dog.  He was my friend.  Every time I needed to talk, he would sit and listen.  It is as if he knew I needed an ear and would lay his head down and just listen.  I always joked with him after these "sessions" telling him, "Can't you tell me you understand how 'ruff' it is?"  He never did, just listened and when I was done, would get up and wag that ginormous tail of his, as if to say, "It's over, lets go on."

Snickers even enjoyed watching a good t.v. show as long as you were petting him all the while.   In a nut shell, he was the perfect dog for me.  He was my friend and companion.

The day after Thanksgiving, 2013, something was wrong with my dog.  I went to let him out that Friday morning, and no tail was beating the wall.  I opened the door and he slowly got up and made his way to the door.  I had put some left over Thanksgiving meat in his bowl, but he just walked right by and headed towards the back door.  His tail weighed down, his eyes were heavy, and his strength weak.  I ask him what was wrong and his tail wagged a bit, but nothing like it should.  I took him outside and let him soak in a little sun, but something was wrong.  He just lied there.  I went into his house to get his water bowl and there was vomit on the ground.  My dog was sick.  I hoped within myself that he ate something bad and a day outside in the sun would make things better.  We went on over to my parents house and I came back home around 5 p.m. to check on him.  He was no better, maybe even worse.  I decided to take him to the vet hospital.  Maybe he had a virus or something a little medication could take care.  He slowly got into the car and sat staring out the back window as I drove.  He usually on car rides would pant and go from window to window, but this time it was different.

When we arrived at the vet hospital, the good doctors took great care of Snickers.  They took his vitals and came and shared with me that they needed to take some x-rays.  The x-rays showed a bowel obstruction and it was bad.  Snickers needed surgery.  He was very sick.  The problem was, I didn't have the money required to have the surgery.  I tried to think of ways to get the money, but it just wasn't there.  I told the doctor, I was going to have to put Snickers down.  The kind doctor understood and said to wait a minute and I could spend a last few moments with Snickers.  As I waited for them to bring Snickers to me, I couldn't believe this was happening.  It all happened so quickly, it was like a bad dream.  Then there was a knock at the door, and a young man brought Snickers in and shut the door.  Snickers came up to me with his tail wagging best he could.  I held his head in my hands and looked him right in the eyes.  I thanked him for being the best dog in the world.  I thanked him for always being so kind and gentle with my children.  I thanked him for the times he barked to let us know people were around the house.  I thanked him for listening to me all those times I needed him too.  I told him he was the greatest dog I had ever met, kissed his nose, and walked out of the room.  As much as I tried to "be a man," I couldn't help but cry.  I cried because I knew that about 10 miles away from me were my children and wife crying, I cried because I knew Snickers didn't understand what was happening, and I cried for myself because I was hurting.  

I signed the papers and was told that they would come and get me when the procedure was over.  They said it would take about 20 minutes.  Forty-five minutes passed and finally they asked to see me in a room.  I waited for the doctor to come in.  The room was so still and silent. My mind was flooded with memories of my dog.  I heard a knock at the door and the good doctor came in.  She had an awkward look on her face.  She said, "This is an awkward conversation in some ways.  I have an option to give you.  As we prepared Snickers for the procedure, he is just such a good dog, he won all of our hearts.  Another doctor here at the Care Center recently had her chocolate lab pass away.  She has been heart broken, and we thought of her while preparing Snickers.  I took the liberty to call her and let her know about Snickers.  She has offered to perform the surgery and pay for all medical expenses; but you would have to sign over ownership to her.  If he makes it through the surgery, she will take him home and care for him and give him all that he needs."

What a roller coaster of emotions I went through.  I stood there stunned.  I wanted to take Snickers home!  But, I couldn't, and I definitely wanted Snickers to live.  I agreed and signed over the papers.  I got in my car and headed home.  I had to explain all of this to my children. What a night it had been.  I put my hand in my coat pocket and felt his big blue collar and leash.  It was a hard night.

When I got home, all I wanted to do was see Snickers waiting for me there in the living room; but he wouldn't be.  I walked in and my wife met me with a hug and kiss on the cheek.  The children sat silent not sure what to say.  I sat down and my four year old daughter walked over to me.  She was trying to be strong for her daddy.  She said, "Snickers is in Heaven daddy," but she was at her end being strong.  She laid her head on my chest and wept.  That broke the dam of tears everyone was trying to hold.  After a good cry session, I shared the story with everyone what had happened.  We then bowed our heads and thanked God for the years He gave us with Snickers.  We thanked God that He had made a way for Snickers to have his surgery.  We thanked God for being so kind.  The kids went off to bed and I sat there thinking about what I had just prayed.  God truly had been amazing in this all.  The vet we were taking Snickers too wasn't able to see us and sent us to the Care Center.  It just so happened that at that one vet hospital, a doctor had just recently lost her chocolate lab.  I sat and thought, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." (Ps. 37:23).  The Lord had directed my steps that night.  Did the Lord really care about all of this?  Of course He did!  He cares about me.  If He knows when a hair falls from my head, He definitely knew how bad I was hurting and the loss I was going through!  If He cares about a worthless sparrow that falls to the ground (Luke 12:6), He cares about a chocolate lab that has protected, played, and pleased this home of ours.  God had worked all of this out.  But, why?

Maybe this doctor needed Snickers more than we did.  There are a lot of possibilities.  I laid my head on my pillow that night and thought on this more.  You know, Snickers was a good dog-the best in my opinion; but Snickers was going to die.  There was nothing I could do about it, the price was too great.   But, there was one person who could do something.  That doctor was able to not only pay the price, but to do the work required.  Snicker's life would be saved.  But now Snickers would go to live with this good doctor. Well, of course Snickers would.  The good doctor had paid the price and made the sacrifice, Snickers should not only be hers reasonably, but also willingly.  Then my mind thought on this, what better home could a dog have?  Snickers was pampered with us at our house, but he hasn't seen anything yet.  Those words came back to me: "she will take him home and care for him and give him all that he needs."  Snickers was going to dog Heaven.  It still hurts, but it is comforting to know where Snickers is at.

Obviously, what a picture this is of what our Lord has done for us.  We can be a good person-the best person, but still we are going to die (Rom. 6:23) and deserve the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15).  Our good works cannot save us (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).  But there is One who can save us!  This Great Physician is Jesus.  Not only could He do the work, but He made the sacrifice.  He came to this earth and took our place.  He went to the cross and died for our sins (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8).  He took all of our sins and placed them upon Himself (2 Cor. 5:21).  He was buried, but three days later rose again! All we must do is see ourselves as the sinners we are, see Jesus as the only way we can be saved, and believe on Him! (Rom. 10:9).  The Lord has promised to those that are saved, that He has a place prepared for us called Heaven (John 14:1-3).  This land is described as being one of utmost beauty where we will never hurt or need again.  We will go home someday to live with the One who paid the price and made the sacrifice so we could be saved.

While I know that dogs do not have souls and will not spend an eternity in either Heaven or Hell, we as people will.  We must be prepared for that day.  Has there been a day in your life when you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? (Acts 16:31).

I will miss my dog Snickers, but I am comforted knowing he is in a place where he will be taken care of and can run and  play and enjoy life.  They say Dogs Don't go to Heaven; but mine sure did.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Back in the Cold Saddle Again! Black Friday...err...Thursday Night!

After taking a year off, Chrystal and I  went out again to fight the elements, crowds, and impulse purchase temptations.   A wonderful night once more!

Our trip always starts in the morning of Thanksgiving as we peruse through all the adds (even though we have seen them all on the internet already) and then call each other and make an itinerary.  This year was no exception.  After some debate, we decided to start our evening at Kohls for their 8:00 opening.  We both agree on this-no store should be open until at least Midnight of Friday.  This Thanksgiving Day sale, open at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. stuff is for the birds (get it?  Turkey? Birds?...).  We both did not want to cut short family time with the in laws, so we met at 6:30-6:45 ish at Kohls.

This year we were joined in our adventures by Miss Jerrica Wilson.  She was a great slave...I mean, friend to spend the evening with us.  She did a wonderful job pushing our carts, bagging our products....Just kidding!  She was a joy to be with last night.

Due to iPad update difficulties at my in laws, I was running a little late.  When I arrived at Kohls, I found in the front of the line Chrystal and Jerrica.  They were the second in line!  I asked how long she had been there, and she and the people around her all said they had gotten there around 4 p.m.  I asked Chrystal why as I thought we were meeting at 6:30.  She said she was just bored. (I found out an hour later that they had gotten there around 6:20 and Chrystal had convinced all the people around her to lie to me.  I then told them how Chrystal had someone lie for her last year on Black Friday and they ended up getting arrested-so that wasn't real true either).

After talking to the people around us, they instantly fell in love with Chrystal, who was continuing to offer to place the teen age girl in her arm pit if she was too cold.  I also learned that Chrystal had been signing autographs, as she had convinced the young ladies behind us that she was an actress.  Only Chrystal could do such a thing while wearing a Frisch's Big Boy Beanie!

Finally, the doors opened! Being in front, we quickly found the few products we were looking for (special thanks to Chrystal and Jerrica for helping with a double special gift).  We then cashed out using our patented process of one of us standing in line while the other shops.  Kohls was a huge success and we were out by 8:40!

After catching up with Ricky and Rachel, we learned Walmart had been pretty much pillaged, so the three of us decided to go to Target.   Of course, they had opened much earlier, and we were able to just walk right in.   While there was no line to get in-WOW was there a line to get out!  I immediately got into the check out line which was weaved through aisles through 4 different departments.  While Chrystal and Jerrica shopped, I stood in line.  As I went through the refrigerated section of groceries standing in line, I remembered my wife needed eggs to make deviled eggs today.  So, I grabbed a dozen eggs.  Bad mistake.  No less than 30 people laughed as they asked me why in the world I was standing in line this long to buy a dozen eggs.  No explanation could overcome the sight, so I went with it.

The ladies returned, and I was given a chance to shop a little (I bought a meat thermometer for the turkey I currently am watching Stacey cook).  Finally, we made it to the check out.  Jerrica and Chrystal went and got a soda from the refreshment section and we gathered our items and left; but not before I told the police man that Jerrica had stolen the soda without paying.  Jerrica had some explaining to do!

The only other item Chrystal was really after was at Gamestop.  They would open at midnight.  We drove by at 10:30 and no one was there but three very hairy, zit covered, young lads.  So, we thought we would run into Meijer and walk around.  While there, I did my best to convince Chrystal to buy a Soda Maker Machine.  You see, since a young boy, I have had much enjoyment convincing Chrystal to spend her money.  It is a hobby of sorts.  We went into Meijer just to stay warm.  While I could not convince her to buy the soda machine, she did leave with a box of Liddies (as seen on TV), two board games, a Mr. Tea accessory, and a few other insignificant items that cost $100.  Brother success!  After walking through Meijer for about 30 minutes (me with a hidden whoopee cushion walking behind Chrystal), we finally exited towards the car.  There, I convinced Chrystal and Jerrica to pose for this picture with the Meijer sign behind them (and to their unawares, directly below a handicap sign-lol).  Meijer was a success!

We then headed towards Gamestop.  Amazingly, this was the most fun of the night.  Upon our return at about 11:15, we found there to be about 20 people in line.  It was freezing outside, so the three of us sat in our car, in the warmth, and watched the line slowly grow.  Every few minutes we debated getting in line, but the car was so warm and we were having so much fun.  How were we having fun? Well, for one, Chrystal and I decided, being parked right in front of the line, to take two people in line and watch their actions and guess the words they were saying.  What a riot!  People had to go to the bathroom, there was a ghost (a man with a white sheet completely over him), people were fighting, flirting, was fun.  We sorta got into so much and were laughing so much, the car began to shake a little (Chrystal and I blame this on Jerrica sitting in the back seat).  Two ladies (who we had just assigned the words of arguing over a daughter at home) began to notice and giving us the "evil eye."  The line kept growing and by now there were nearly 100 people in line.    The items Chrystal was going after were not at all "Big ticket items" and her main one could be found across the street for just a few more dollars at Meijer, so she decided the cold weather wasn't worth it.

We then took a picture of the afore mentioned ladies (they were not happy) and pulled out.  We made it to the side of the building when Chrystal changed her mind and we parked.  We joined the line about 11:40, now about 150 people back.
Yes, we were there when there were only 2 or 3 in line!  After a small confrontation with some potty mouth young men, we settled in.  We had a great time!  We shared memories, we sang a little, we FROZE TO DEATH!

Chrystal then put her hoodie back on, and we got quite the laugh as I reminded her that in that coat she looked just like a turtle (see picture below).  The man behind us agreed and we all got a kick out of Chrystal and I (my hoodie now pulled over my heard) singing "Teenage Obese Ninja Turles!"  An employee came out passing out tickets for the items.  When Chrystal asked if she needed a ticket for her item, the man chuckled (as did everyone in line) and said "I think you will be able to get those pretty easy.  After a chilling hour wait, we finally got to go in.

Upon walking it, let's just say that there were many young men in the store who obviously hadn't showered in a while and who obviously had a lot of baked beans for Thanksgiving.  Truly, I haven't smelled something that hideous in a long time.  Chrystal got her items and we stood in line the next hour hearing more about "recons, assassins, madden, war crafts, mine crafts, fast cars, and calls of duty" than I ever wanted to in my entire life.  Ironic how not one in that store could even carry the weight of a real gun, take one hit in a contact sport, or even drive a manual transmission car...but I digress.

We finally made it out of the stink hole and headed towards the car.  Was it our most memorable trip?  Probably not.  There were not punches, no ambulances, no riots; but it was good to be back in that cold saddle again.

I don't go to buy much (I enjoy getting Chrystal to spend her money); but I love going.  Jerrica didn't buy one item all night, so I gave here a tide to go I had purchased at Target for $.74 (great deal).  In Jerrica's words, "It was just fun to be here."  Agreed!  In this world of covetousness, anger, division, and sadness, it is just good to stand around a soda maker machine with people you love and laugh at tea bag holders.  To me, it is what the holidays are about.  Not sales, not crowds, not sports-but family and friends and memories.  And the best part is, it is not over.  I now will go to my parent's house with my beautiful wife and children, and join my parents and sisters and their families and enjoy that yummy looking turkey my wife just got out of the oven.  We will eat, play games, laugh, and share jokes and memories.  I love this weekend.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Church Plant in Bullhead City, Arizona

The following is written by Brother Steven Harris. Bro. Harris was born in Ippy, Central African Republic, on October 19, 1964. His parents were missionaries to the Central African Republic. In 1989 Brother Steven Harris and his family went to the field of New Zealand as missionaries . They returned from the field of New Zealand in March of 1991, because their daughter Bethany was terminally ill with a brain tumor. She passed away in April, 1991. On the day Bethany died they were informed that New Zealand had revoked their visa. (His complete testimony can be read on the Mohave Baptist Church homepage). 

"Thus began our search for God’s direction and our next step of missionary service. Knowing that the field is the world we were open to the wherever of God’s leadership. We earnestly prayed and specifically considered Africa, Wales, Russia, Australia as well as many other countries of opportunity and need. I was asked by a pastor friend if I had ever considered church planting in the U.S. That is where God started it all. I could not get away from that question. God was leading me west. I began to look for towns and cities that had no independent Baptist churches. At the end of January of 1993, God made His will know that the town of Bullhead City, Arizona was where He was leading and by February 5th we arrived.

"I immediately began door knocking on every door beginning at the Colorado River and California border and working north. In my very first week of door knocking I met two families that would eventually become charter members of the Mohave Baptist Church although it took them quite a few more years to begin attending services. At first it was my hope to hold services in our house there in the valley but no visitors ever came. On Sunday, May 2nd, 1993, we began hold services at 5287 Highway 95, Fort Mohave, Arizona. Still no one came, but we started and continued with Sunday school at 9.30 Am, Morning service at 10:30 AM, Evening service at 5:00 PM, and our mid-week service at 7:00 PM on Thursday. 

"Although soul winning was an almost daily activity, it wasn’t until the winter of 1994 that God began to increase our number. By our first CHRISTmas party in December of 1994 we saw an average attendance of thirty-five to forty. Our attendance included the Berry Family, the Ortiz family, the Riley family, the Shipman family, the Weaver family and a few more names that elude me at this time. By March of 1995 everyone of those families had moved out of state and we began again. Possibly one of the hardest moments of ministry in my life up to that time. By that time, my soul winning door to door had reached well up into the city of Bullhead City. The question that begged to be asked was, “Okay, so I came, I have knocked on almost every door in town. Almost everyone has heard and had their opportunity. No one is interested. God, can I leave?” The answer was no and I wasn't at all happy with the answer. 

"In February of 1996, we had our first Evangelistic Meeting with the help of the youth group from Anchor Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, and a group of men led by Pastor Ed Bragg of Lafayette Bible Baptist Church of Baldwin, Missouri. Bill Kinman was contacted and I was able to go by his house and lead him to the Lord. Just down the street one of the men had spoken with Henry Angon and he had made a profession of faith. God had begun to lay the seed that would lead to the salvation of others surrounding those lives. Others that are still a very real part of Mohave Baptist Church. Through that meeting and those souls saved God encouraged my heart and changed my attitude and I happily stayed to see God do great things at Mohave Baptist Church. 

"It was 2003, it had become obvious that God had established His work in the Mohave Baptist Church. I was still a missionary and the work was still a mission. It was time to organize as an autonomous work. We had a sufficient number of members to be autonomous; we had enough experience as a work to be autonomous. The question then became was it God’s will for the only “pastor” the work had ever know to be the pastor or was God’s will and calling in my life to continue as a missionary. It had been ten years since I had come to the Bullhead City area and I had become a pastor.  On Sunday, May 4th, 2003, forty people signed the charter membership of Mohave Baptist Church. Mohave Baptist Church was now it’s own autonomous church. 

"On Sunday, November 23rd, I resigned as the pastor and Gary Johnson became pastor of Mohave Baptist Church." 

The church is now growing and continuing its work for the Lord under the leadership of Pastor Don Randall Jr. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Somebody Ought-a Shout!!!...or should they?

While I have grown up in church, I had never really been in a "Shouting" church.  My first experience with a "shouting" church was going to a Baptist church my grandfather was singing at in Dayton, Ohio.  They "shouted the house down" during those songs!  I was about 13 at the time, and really enjoyed it a lot.  Since then, I've been in a few other shouting churches and sat in a few camp meetings where the shouting continually roars from the saints gathered there.

What's a shouting church?  Now this is an unofficial Travis Burke definition; but by shouting church or shouting service I am referring to a service that is filled with raised voices urging on the singers or preacher with "Amen," "Praise God," "Hallelujah", "Preach it!", "Go On!", That's Right!", "Park There a while!", etc.  I've heard a lot in my years at church, some very humorous.

Now, let me say, I love preaching!  I will "Amen" and "That's Right" any preacher who is preaching the Truth!  I will raise my voice in a service and "Amen" the Truth that is being proclaimed from the Word of God.  Why do I do this?  Well, in the Scriptures, when the Truth was being proclaimed, the people were expected to vocally say "Amen", which means "so be it!" (Num. 5:22, Deut. 27:15-19, and Psalm 106:48).   I Corinthians 14 teaches on tongues speaking.  One warning to the church then when one was praying in tongues is (vs. 16) "Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at they giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?"   It was expected that others in the New Testament church, respond to Truth with an audible "Amen."

But, most who read this, will understand that an "audible amen" is not what I am writing about when I write about "Camp Meeting style" or "the shouting the house down church."  At the mention of these, many will picture a red faced preacher and a couple of people standing up and pointing at him shouting "That's Right Preacher!" while others are walking on a pew, while others are standing there clapping, while others are raising both hands shouting "Hallelujah!" (and the majority of these are ladies).  Someone then takes a jog around the place and everybody starts getting goose bumps at all the emotions being shared in the place.

Is this wrong?  A while back, I quit asking the question "is this wrong?" and replaced it with "what does the Bible say?"  We could look at Psalm 132:9, "Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness: and let thy saints shout for joy."  The mention of the priests has to put this in context to Old Testament Israelite worship.  Technically, shouting is never mentioned in context to worship in the New Testament church, though singing and saying Amen is (Col 3:16, 1 Cor. 14:16).  But does this make it wrong?  The Bible never commands us NOT to shout.

The Bible talks a lot about shouting.  The Bible recognizes two major causes for shouting. When Joshua and Moses returned to the camp in Exodus 32, Joshua thought he heard a noise of war in the camp (v.17-18). However, Moses told him that is was rather the noise of them that sing that he heard. That is, instead of shouts of war, they were hearing shouts of joy. But this passage shows us something else as well. Not only are there two main reasons for shouting, there are also a good side and a bad side to each kind of shout. In Exodus 32:18, Moses declared, "It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome." Here we see that a shout of war may come from the victors or from the conquered. But the passage also shows us that shouts of joy can be good or bad. Here, the people were shouting because they had just turned from God and were worshipping false gods. Their joy was certainly misplaced.

So, I come to this observation.  Is it wrong to shout? No.  Is it right to shout?  No.  Since it is not commanded in the New Testament to shout in worship, one cannot and is unjust in deciding another saint is "not spiritual" or "dead" for not shouting.  It was usually a spontaneous expression of joy and praise for an extraordinary blessing of God. It came at times of unusual blessing; such as, the completion of the temple foundation, the coming of fire from heaven, or the moving of the ark to Jerusalem. It was never an everyday experience.  Shouting was an expression of something else. It was never to be the goal of the saints. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case in certain churches today. The people come to church seeking the emotional release of a great time of shouting. This is not scriptural and runs against the working of the Holy Spirit in believers.  Many times, the volume and "need to shout" is felt most by women in the church, challenging the command in 1 Cor. 14:35.  Still, Luke 19:37 reads, "And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen."  Jesus commends them for doing so.

I will conclude with an example of my point.  In 1 Samuel 4, the Israelites were about to face defeat.  Eli had already been told that his sons would die and Israel be defeated for the great sins of the land.  The Israelites decided to go get God after first being defeated, and they went and fetched the Ark of the Covenant.  They then went to battle and (vs. 5) "all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again."  The heathen Philistines heard the shout and thought "they were getting spiritual and God was come down among them," and now they would be defeated.  They were wrong.  There was a whole lot of shouting and a whole lot of God talk, but God wasn't in it at all.  Eli's sons died, the Ark was taken, and God's people destroyed.  

Many who are in to the "shouting or it's dead" philosophy love the emotions and feelings, but doctrinally are not as sound.  I hope this doesn't offend anyone, but I ask you to consider the practice of shouting. Is it the practice of the most spiritual? Do those who do it most live the closest to God when they leave the church? Do the churches that shout the most have the most spiritual congregations? Do they have the most pure doctrine? We would do well to consider the motivation that lies behind much of the shouting that is done today.

When I was fresh out of college, I attended a Camp Meeting as a young preacher and experienced this for the first time.  There was a long time of singing and people were shouting and hollering and running aisles.  Then Pastor Don Green of Michigan stood up to preach and read, "There is none righteous, no not one."  No one shouted.  No one "Amened".  He said, as only he could, "You all shout when some lady tears up and sings about trials, but you can't amen the Truth of God's Word?  It was all in the flesh?"   It made me think....I hope this does you.

I am not saying it is wrong, but I am not saying it is required.  Those who love it most, require it from all to be spiritual.  Do I hear a Amen?!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Time for Tea

The information below is
not at all spiritual in anyway.
Reading this post may cause
severe desire for an ice cold
glass of tea!

I remember growing up with dad and mom and the choice of beverage always being iced tea.  Now let me say, I've seen my dad put down some Pepsis in his life.  As a young boy, I remember taking the glass bottles back to the store with us and I being the one to put the bottles on the rollers and send them flying back to....actually, I never knew where they went; but I always sent them there fast!

Pop (soda, coke, whatever you call it) soon was set aside at our home and we all became tea drinkers.  By this I mean iced tea.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a spot of hot tea in the winter made with my Keurig machine with a just a bit of honey dripped in.  But my beverage of choice to this day is iced tea.  I've been a regular iced tea drinker since I was about 10.  I remember I had a blue Mickey Mouse tall mug that I had purchased at Disney.  This was my tea drinking glass (I started it way before Uncle Si).  My blue plastic glass would lose its Mickey insignia on the outside, but the brown stained inside spoke of its regular use.

Mom always made tea with just a hint of sweetener in it.  I remember seeing those little pink packets around and I suppose that is what she used.  Regardless, I loved it.  As I grew older, my taste in tea moved on to unsweetened.  To this day, I like my tea "Straight on the rocks." (as I joke with my wife).  I don't need none of that sugar.  If I wanted Kool-aid, I would buy the packets.

After marriage, my wife became an iced tea drinker too.  But, she's a sweet one!  Stacey likes her tea all sugary.  That has not been an issue in our marriage though.  I was concerned at first, but thankfully, she can make it unsweetened and she is then content adding her own simple sugar solution to sweeten it to her liking.  I say all this to get to this point...we both like tea and we differ only in the sugar department.

A few weeks ago, Stacey and I were driving down the road and we wanted a tea.  We saw the signs of all the establishments ahead of us that sold our beverage of choice and began a conversation as to which tea we desired to purchase.  I decided to share that information with you, my friends, so that you too can make the right choice concerning your iced tea.

What is our tea judged by?  Well, we talked about this in great detail.  First, and most importantly, is the taste.  It must taste good.  It cannot have that "coffee ground" taste to it.  It should be pleasant to the pallet.  Then, we decided that the cup is of great importance.  What your tea is served in is of great importance.  You want a cup that holds enough to satisfy your tea desire, but that also can keep the tea ice cold.  As your ice melts, your tea becomes watered down.  The amount of ice is important too.  There is nothing worse than a tea that is luke warm that should be iced!  We also judge tea by its "smoothness."  Some teas just are "smooth" as it enters the mouth and travels down the throat leaving a pleasantness in your mouth and mind.  My wife, for all you sugar people, judges her tea by how much sugar is added.  There is a right balance that must be achieved.   The final criteria is consistency.  By this I mean, when you go to this place and order the tea, can you count on it being good every time?  That said, here is our top 10 teas based upon these credentials.

10. BOB EVANS:  At one time, Bob Evans was high on our chart, but the last year or so, the quality of their tea has gone down immensely.  The tea to ice ratio is poor.  The taste is just bad.  A missionary recently said while eating with us there, "This tea tastes like dirty dish water."  We agree.  If they could find their old recipe and get back to the "Old Paths", perhaps we can see them make their way back up the list.  For now...order a water.

9. PANERA BREAD:  Not the most manly place to eat; but when dieting, you sure can get a good amount of food that is tasty and low on calories.  On Stacey's list for sweet tea, not that good.  On my list for unsweetened, pretty good.  You control the ice to tea ratio.  The "smooth" factor is very good!  The cups are too small and flimsy and allow quick melting of ice.  Consistency is there.  Overall, you won't go wrong.  Problem is, I like my tea to be there all day.  A Panera Bread tea will last through lunch.  Thirty minutes later, it is a "Laodicean" mess.

8. BURGER KING:  Six months ago, I would literally gag at the thought of drinking a Burger King tea; but somebody is finally getting it right.  I am not sure what they changed, but the iced tea at Burger King is quite drinkable now.  The taste is good.  The ice to tea ratio is fair.  The consistency is there.  The cups are plenty big enough if you order a large.  The cups are the same as their soft drinks though and just don't quite hold up like we would like.  The unsweet seems to get a better review than the sweet version.  Either way, Burger King is serving a tea finally that is drinkable.

7. ZAXBYS:  Not sure if some readers will know of what I speak.  If Zaxbys were nearer to me, it would probably be higher on the list.  Zaxbys are located in Kentucky and Tennessee and southern locations.  I have never gone to Zaxbys and received a bad tea.  It is very smooth.  The sweet and unsweet are both fine beverages.  The cups are equivalent to Burger King.  You control the ice to tea ratio.  If there were some Zaxbys up north near us, we would rate them higher.  When traveling and you want a good tea and see a Zaxbys, don't hesitate in stopping in (plus the chicken is pretty good!)

6. CRACKER BARREL:  The iced tea at Cracker Barrel is consistent.  It is what it is, a pretty good glass of tea.  We have never had to ask for a different drink, as it is a good tea always.  It's not great, but good.  It's not the smoothest, but smooth.  The glass is fine, but the ice to tea ratio is always poor.  They never give enough ice in their teas.  Should you ask for a tea to go, then prepare to drink it all before you get to the car as the cup is way to small. It's good...a deserving 6 on our list...but it is what it is.

5. SONIC:  Now to some, you may have expected Sonic tea to be higher on the list.  First of all, all the fancy flavors do not interest us as we stick to sweet or unsweet.  On my personal list, it would have been higher, but on Stacey's list it is a lot lower.  So, we give it a 5 rating.  The pros are that the cup is by far the best!  You can get a tea from Sonic and have enough to sip on till you go to bed.  I recommend going early and ordering your .99 cent Route 44.  It's the only way to go!  Then the ice, by far the best of anyone else.  You just can't beat the small crushed Sonic ice.  Where Sonic falls is the taste.  For unsweet drinkers, it is fair.  At times, the unsweet has no taste at all, almost like water.  For sweet drinkers, the tea just isn't that good.  Consistency is poor too.  Sometimes, you get a good one, other times you are sure that tea has sat there in a pot for a couple of days.  Always a danger for the coffee ground taste at Sonic.  Not real smooth ever. So, the cup and ice are off the chart good.  The tea is fair.  In the morning, it is my tea of choice; for my wife, she'd pass every time.

4. CHICK-FIL-A:  No, the "Christian" friendliness has nothing to do with this selection.  We only are judging by the tea.  The tea is very good at here.  It has a good taste.  The tea always has a smoothness about it.  The tea is is very consistent.  We have never gone to Chick-fil-a and received a bad tasting tea.  The cups are insulated and large enough.  Stacey agrees that the sweet tea is consistently good as well.  The problem here (and it is a big one) is that Chick-Fil-A puts WAY TOO MUCH ICE in their cups.  You can order a large tea (and the cup is plenty big) and drink it all in about four drinks.  Now when dining in, those super nice employees are ready "to serve you" and refill those teas; but drive thru and carry out just doesn't work in the tea area.  Great tea! Great consistency! Good smoothness! Great cups!  Just back off the ice!

3. McDONALDS:  Yes, we are loving it!  McDonalds tea has come along way the last few years.  Quite frankly, we believe McDonalds is the first fast food chain to start the quality iced tea movement (if there is such a thing).  You just never saw a fast food chain push their iced tea until McDonalds.  In 2008, McDonalds rolled out their Sweet Tea and it all took off.  Why a number 3 rating?  Well, the cups are great.  Insulated, thick, and large enough make the cups a hit.  Most of the time, the ice to tea ratio is good.  Consistency is above average.  It is nice to know that pretty much anywhere in the country you can count of a pretty good iced tea from McDonalds.  Occasionally you will get that coffee ground flavor in a McD's tea, but over all its trustworthy.  The sweet tea is above average.  The sugar ratio is good for most sweet tea drinkers.  There is a pretty good smoothness to their tea.  It probably is the tea we drink the most, mainly because of convenience.

2. WHITE CASTLE:  While we love those sliders, their food has nothing to do with this choice. The aspect that puts White Castle tea this high is that flavor.  It is the most important aspect of course.  The cups are fair.  The ice to tea ratio pretty good.  The consistency is above average.  It is that flavor and the smoothness that makes the White Castle Tea sit so high on our list.  It really is good.  If you could put their tea in a Sonic cup and ice....HELLOOOOO TEA HEAVEN!  The sweet tea is sugared correctly.  The unsweet tea has such a good taste.  We love you White Castle!

Are you ready for it?

The Number 1 Tea of choice on our list?

We should first state that also receiving consideration were the following:  Skyline, Dunkin Donuts, Wendys (improving), and Starbucks.  Did you know that last year America spent nearly 8 billion dollars in Iced Tea at Fast Food chains?  This is serious!!!

OK...her it is...the number ONE choice of Travis and Stacey when it comes to Iced Teas is...

1. McALISTER'S DELI:  What makes this tea stand out?  Well first and foremost,
the taste is just out of this world.  There is a crisp taste to this tea.  It has tea
flavor that is perfection.  It is by far, the best tasting tea, both sweet and unsweet, that is out there.  This is a fine, high quality iced tea.  When it comes to smoothness, no other tea can compare.  It is the standard of taste and smoothness for all other teas.  Consistency is absolute perfection.  To have such a great tasting tea, that is perfectly smooth, and it be that way every time you purchase one is quite impressive.  The tea to ice ration is always perfect.  You can order this tea and eat lunch and sit and talk for 30 minutes and you will still be able to sip that extraordinary tea.  The cups are the perfect size for tea drinkers.  The only not perfect score this tea gets is the cup.  While the size is perfect, the plastic will allow ice meltage on a hot summer day.  But, in our minds, its way worth the cup to drink that delicious tea!    By far, the best!

Well, there you go.  I know everyone was wondering and now you know what teas Stacey and I drink.  So now when you are out there driving around and get that hunkering for a good iced Tea, you finally got something to go by.  I love my wife, and I am glad she loves iced tea too.  Enjoy my friends!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Church Plant in Huber Heights, Ohio

We are thankful Bible-Way Missionary Baptist Church is planting a church in Huber Heights, Ohio. Bro. Pittman became pastor of Bible-Way Missionary Baptist in March of 2011. Bro. Pittman had previously served as a missionary in Mexico for ten years and served in the Spanish ministry of Bible-Way for three years. When Pastor Terry Zeller was called home to be with the Lord the church extended a call Bro. Pittman to become pastor. We are thankful for Bro. Pittman and his wife Wendyand their faithfulness. Here are a few thoughts from Bro. Pittman on church planting:   

  "Let's face it… age is our enemy!  Since the fall of man in the garden, time has been playing havoc on our world.  Every living thing ages and eventually dies.  This includes the Lord’s churches.  We are often shocked by an evangelist or pastor quoting statistics about how many churches close their doors every year in America.  Why should we be surprised?  This is a natural process.  Things have been this way since Adam and Eve were driven from the paradise they started out in.  Some churches publish their age with pride as if being the longest running church is some feat worthy of praise.  It is indeed an accomplishment worthy of recognition just as it is with a person.  We celebrate the birthdays of our eldest citizens with glee but the fact is that most of them are by now weak and fragile, just like old churches.  It’s nothing we should be personally ashamed of; it is the law of the curse.  Just as elderly people are not as productive as they once were, typically, elderly churches are the same.  The secret to revival in America is vibrant youthful churches!  That is what has motivated Bible-Way Missionary Baptist Church to reproduce herself.  I am not trying to be disrespectful to older people or older churches.  I am just stating a fact.  One day Bible-Way will undoubtedly close her doors if the Lord tarries His return.  In his book Multiplying Model, Bro. James Beller defines the “absolute death” of a church like this:  “When a church dies and has not reproduced itself in the planting of new churches…”  I do not want our church to suffer this fate.  Think about it; all of the churches mentioned in the New Testament are now dead.  They still live in a sense through the “great, great, grandchildren” of the many churches that they established during their life span.  In our day we have left the Bible model of churches reproducing churches.  Many churches now have the goal of longevity and enormous size.  I theorize that subconsciously they feel that they can cheat the law of the curse by sheer determination,  power and talented leadership.  They will fail, however, as the hundreds of churches before them have.  The key to reaching our country and the world is in planting new churches.  Just as our youth and middle aged citizens carry the majority of the work load in our society, the young and middle aged churches will see more revival and work accomplished in reaching the lost.  The Lord’s churches MUST start reproducing again!   The Word of God and Church History teaches us these facts.  Why should we ignore them?
In March of 2013, Bible-Way voted to begin her first church plant.  We prayed about the details and then chose Huber Heights, Ohio as our first work.  It has surely not been easy just as it is not easy for humans to birth children.  There is a lot pain and expense involved.  We have enjoyed successes and joys and have suffered disappointment and hurt.  However, I believe that overall this has been a positive and educational experience for this 34 year old church!  I look forward to the day when the mission in Huber Heights becomes a church.  It will no doubt be much like a father and mother watching their daughter get married and start a family of their own.  The natural process of reproducing and raising children is a perfect analogy for what the Lord’s churches should be doing.
As for advice for churches wishing to plant a new work; I would recommend that you prepare yourself for difficulties and disappointments.  They do not mean that you are doing things wrong.  They are natural and often the frantic attempts of our adversary to discourage us to the point of failure.  Rely on God and His word.  One of my theme verses for ministry is Psalms 127:1   “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it:…”  I believe that the only path to true success is to do things God’s way; The Bible Way!"

Friday, August 30, 2013

School Time

Well, it is that time of year once again.  Large yellow busses are found driving down the roads early in the morning.  Walmart is especially busy selling oversized erasers, cheap notebooks, and Angry Bird backpacks.  Little Debby stock is up 13%.  It's school time!

Children are going to bed before 10 for the first time in three months.  Parents are packing lunches at 11 p.m..  Books are being covered, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils fills the air, and the new clothes still have that new clothes look to them.  It's school time!

Teachers have their lesson plans prepared for the next two weeks for the only time of the year.  Grade books have been set up.  Buildings are as clean as they will be for nine months.  It's school time!

Homeschool parents have that zeal to get through it all and be up and at 'em first thing in the least for a few weeks.  Children are asking if they can stay in their pajamas all day.  Abeka is making a killing on these DVD classes.  It's school time!

A study on education is not my purpose in writing this, but a greatly suggested task should one desire to do so.  It is interesting on how our philosophies have changed over the years when it comes to education.  All that matters is this: "What is Biblical?"

Should a Christian send their children to  the public school system teaching them to be "salt" to the world.  Allowing them opportunity to share the love of Christ to a lost world and producing an atmosphere where their light will shine the greatest?

Should a Christian send their children to a Christian school where they will be taught the Word of God and education based upon a Christian perspective with peers that are supposed to all be sold out and growing in the Lord?

Should a Christian educate their child at home where they will be protected from outside distractions, temptations, and the always present rebels that are out there while being taught the Word of God and an education based upon the Word of God?

We could debate these three questions for a long time.  I personally know good men and families who hold strong to one of these three options?  So, which is right?  Rather, which is Biblical?

There is no doubt Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."  

There is no doubt that part of the church's great commission is  "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matt. 28:20).  We know that Paul sat under the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). 

There is no doubt that it is the parent's responsibility to teach their children.  (Prov. 22:6, Deut. 6:7; 2 Tim. 1:5 & 3:15).  

So where does this leave us?  As I said, respectable people hold different preferences in the matter...and here is mine.

1. I cannot send my children to a public school based upon a Biblical mandate.  Psalm 1 reads that a man is blessed when he "walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."  There are few places that better describe this warning more than our public school system.  The public school system by and large gives counsel (teaches) under the authority of whom God would say are "ungodly."  The greater part of peers in the public school would be considered "the way of sinners".  Few places on this earth scorn the things of God more than the public school system.  By choosing to not send my children to a public school, I am honoring my belief in the Word of God, but I am not taking my children out of the world.  They still live in this world and can and should be a light and salt to this world.  I seek God's blessings for my children and therefore cannot send them to a public school based upon Psalm 1.

2. I do believe the church is to teach all things whatsoever God has commanded us.  I also believe a church can and should do this through regular meetings as a church body (services).  I also believe that a church is a proper setting and can be used to educate children in other aspects based upon the Word of God. 

3. I do believe it is the families mandate to educate their children.  The responsibility and one held accountable for the educating of the children will be their parents.  They should assume that responsibility and see to it that is done properly.

Having said thus, I do not believe it wrong for a family to use a church school as a means to educate their children.  The parent maintains the responsibility, and oversees that is done properly through the church school.  The church is the pillar and ground of truth, and we desire our children be educated in the truth.  I believe home schooling is a tremendous way to educate the child, but one must not segregate from the church in doing so.  Most people I am close to understand this, but one does not have to search long before one sees that many homeschooling organizations promote family above the church and eventually see church as a non-necessity.  This is wrong!  God has ordained the church as the pillar and ground of truth.

I have been ridiculed for having a church school in the past and my wife and I choosing to educate our children at home some years.  Because of fundamentalism, you have to "support your church school!  To send your kids anywhere else is disloyalty!"  How we have put the cart before the horse!  I love my church and our school and some years have chosen to homeschool our children.  They were still part of our church school certain days and we saw our church as our accountability.  Some assumed that since my children did not attend our academy one year that there was a bad problem with our church school.  In no way was this the issue.  If I thought a problem was in our school that would keep me from sending my children there, should not I as the pastor of the church correct the problem or shut it down?  Of course!  The problem is that we are "too fundamental" and only see it as disloyalty or distrust.  Even some as they read this can't imagine doing such a thing or it just makes them some what angry at the thought.  Why?  Because it is a feeling and philosophy based upon your flesh.

Some parents have the liberty and ability to educate their children at home. Fact is, some parents do not have that opportunity based upon finances, ability, and different situations.  So what are these parents to do?  Answer: be sure their child receives an education that is Biblically based.  This is Biblical.

Bottom line, it's school time and we as parents should see to it that our children are educated in a Christ like manner.  This means, they should be protected from the ungodly, scornful, and way of sinners.  This means they should see and understand the importance of the Word of God and the church as the pillar and ground of Truth.  This means that parents can educate at home or a Biblical church school.  Just be sure they are educated.  

Education cannot become an idol in our life, but nor can it be ignored with the "Bless God, they love Jesus and God will use 'em.  They don't need no fancy education."  God can use anyone, but the Lord said to do all we do "with all of our might."  It is right as a Christian to do our best at whatever we do.  To know to do right and not do it is SIN.  We should desire our children to receive a solid education and for them to do their best so they are usable of the Lord in whatever field He calls them to.  

As my Daddy used to always say, "God can use a sharp axe easier than He can a dull one."  It's school time, let's do this Biblically!

Thursday, August 1, 2013


As we began the mission in Elmwood we were aware of the many needs of the people of Elmwood.  Now that we have been there for a year they are no longer the people of Elmwood they are Jim, John, Charlie, Calvin, Bob, Thomas, Jerry, Dwayne, Travis, Bob, Ronnie, Wade, Vickie, Sharon, Marlin, Laura, Sarah, Alexis, Melissa, Karen, and the list of names goes on. Now that we know the people of Elmwood personally the needs are now personal as well. Alcohol, heroine, crack, prostitution, poverty, mental disorders, broken hearted and the list goes on as well. 

It would be easy to see their outward needs only, lose track of why we are really there, and many well meaning people and organizations have done this. They went into inner cities preaching the message of the gospel, planting churches and some where along the way have gotten sidetracked by good deeds and good intentions. As we meet the people personally and see their individual needs it is very easy to forget why we are there. Yes, we will help with physical needs as funds permit and as God leads. (I wonder if the prodigal son would have had a well-meaning church down the street to meet his needs if he would have ever come to himself and went home to the father?)

As a mission we need to be on guard and keep our focus on why we are there. Our message and our methods must stay the same. Robert Sargent in his book on the Life of Paul makes the following statement. "It has been stated incorrectly that mission methods change but the message remains the same.  The methods also remain the same. We may use modern technology to increase the speed of travel and communication, but the methods-evangelism and establishing churches-must not change. They cannot be improved upon and in no way correcting."

As we look into Acts 1:1-8 we see the Lord address the first church before He was to ascend back to heaven "1. The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2. Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3. To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4. And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7. And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8.But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." 

We see in verses 6 and 7 the disciples began asking questions about future events and in verse 8 the Lord brings them back to what we call the great commission. We have a commission and a command to go into the utter most part of the earth and be witnesses.

Verse 8 gives us our message, “unto me.”  Though there is nothing wrong with feeding the poor, helping the mentally ill, getting help for the drug addict that is not what we are commissioned and commanded to do.  Our commission and our command are to preach Christ and Him crucified. We are told by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:16 that the gospel of Christ:  “…it is the power of God unto salvation…”   Then over in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 Paul goes on to tell us what the gospel is “…how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”

Verse 8 also gives us our method, “Ye shall be witnesses.”  Webster’s 1828 dictionary gives some of the following definitions for the word witness, 1. Testimony; attestation of a fact or an event. 2. That which furnishes evidence or proof. 3. A person who knows or sees any thing. Our message is Christ; our method is people telling people what they know to be true.

imgres.jpgWe see our message is Christ, our method is personal soul winning and our might comes not from within but from the Holy Ghost.   “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:” (the promise of the Father found in John 14:16). Acts chapter two records the results of them waiting for the power of the Holy Ghost. We have the same Holy Spirit dwelling within us that came and filled them on the day of Pentecost. May we as church planters not become distracted by the social gospel mentality but may we keep our focus on the message, the method and realize the might is not of us but through the power of the Holy Spirit.