Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Hobbs, Taz, and Chloe.

Friday, June 30, 2006

OK. It is time I put all my cards on the table. If you haven't guessed it already, I am a sovereign grace Baptist. That is the same thing as a Reformed Baptist. In short, I am a calvinist. Now, I was not always a calvinist but I think, in my heart, I always leaned towards it. Let me tell you about it. Even when I was not a calvinist I always believed that man's fall was total, that salvation was unconditional, that Jesus effectually died for those who go to heaven and that God will not let a true believer ultimately fall away from the faith and be lost. But, back in those days, I could not have articulated those things very well. But our Beloved Lord set me on a path and along the way I have been exposed to books I would not have read before, I have met people I would not have met before, and I have come to see things that I have never seen before. Now, I have come to understand God's sovereign grace and I cannot see myself being anything else.

You see, I look into myself and I see the truth of the total fall of man in the garden of Eden. Every part of our being has been infected by sin and therefore, nothing that we do is acceptable to God, who is perfectly and absolutely holy.

I know that it is God who saves us and since there is nothing in us that would make Him want to save us, salvation must be unconditional from our point of view. We have nothing to offer God and there is nothing we can offer that He would accept.

I believe when Jesus died on the cross that He died effectually, that is, in a way that counts, for believers. People who die in their sins do so because Jesus' death is not applied to them.

I believe what the Apostle Paul said when he said that he planted, Apollos watered, but it is God who gives the increase. It is God who saves and if He saves, then He saves to the uttermost.

I am one who believes in the utter sinfulness of men and the bottomless mercy of God. I believe in a Father who gives His grace to sinful humans, a Son who dies for them and a Holy Spirit who hunts us down and shows us the truth of the word of God and brings us to faith in Jesus Christ.

I believe we need to be about the business of getting the gospel message to every living soul on earth, beginning with our friends and families and not stopping until the Name of Jesus is known in every corner of the earth. I believe men are responsible to repent and believe but that no one will without the grace of God enabling them. I believe in a salvation that brings about a miraculous change in the people who receive it. I believe evangelism and missions are the business of the Church. I believe that born again people ought to live like born again people.

I am a calvinist like Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, William Carey, Andrew Fuller, Hudson Taylor, George Mueller, James Boyce, B.H. Carroll, Albert Mohler, John Piper, John Newton, John MacArthur, Mark Dever, and a host of other blessed saints, both living and dead who embodied the very best of what it means to be a Christian.

I am a calvinist who believes like Jonathan Edwards, that although God is the initiator of the work of salvation, we are the responders to His work and that, as Edwards says, "God does all and we do all..." yet, we cannot at any point claim any credit for our work or our salvation and that we must ascribe our salvation wholly to the will and the work of God. I am a calvinist because I believe salvation is of the Lord.

I am a Southern Baptist calvinist, which means that I belong to a denomination that is not made up of mostly calvinists. In fact, most Southern Baptists are not calvinists. Yet, we all give glory to God (alone) for saving us. We all know that we were saved by calling on the Name of the Lord. We are all joined in our heart effort to see the Name of Jesus Christ glorified in every heart on earth. Though we are not all calvinists, we are all joined by the common bond of the Holy Spirit through saving faith in Jesus Christ.

As calvinists go, I am said to be somewhat of a moderate. That is ok. Like I tell my church, truth is always in the balance. The more extreme your position the more unbalanced you are. Now I am not saying don't be zealous. But be zealous for the truth, not for some unchristian extremism. I am a calvinist who (I hope) draws on the best of what it means to be a calvinist. One who has the unrestrained love of Newton, the doctrinal precision of Mohler and Edwards, the big-hearted evangelistic appeal of Spurgeon, the faith of Mueller, and the missions heart of Taylor and Carey and others.

So, there it is. I am a calvinist. But I hope I am embracing the very best of what that term means. To me, I believe it is the strength of our heritage ... for the glory of God alone.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

In the mid 1990s I was privileged to attend one of the Midwest Founder's Conference meetings in Missouri. I was pastoring in Nebraska at the time. This particular meeting was held at First Baptist Church of Harvester. One of the things about the meeting that stood out in my mind was when the music leader for the conference spoke of how some of the greatest hymns in history were written by pastors. Since most of us at the conference were pastors, he challenged us to write hymns. Now, I am somewhat of a poet and took his challenge to heart. On the way home, somewhere along I-70 before Kansas City, I wrote a hymn.

In the original version, I wrote 5 verses, but the man who put the thing to music took the 5th verse and made it the chorus. I needed to meter the words so I picked a very old hymn whose music I was sure was in the public domain. I took the words back to a later Founder's Conference meeting and in 2000, the pianist at First Baptist Church of St. Peters, Missouri put the whole thing to music. Since that time it has been sung and used. Several people have asked me for the words, so I thought I'd include them here. Now they are there for everyone to see.

Soli Deo Gloria*
1.
Wretched and naked I stood in sin and shame;
dead in my trespasses with none but me to blame.
Chorus
Soli Deo Gloria, I sing before the throne;
Soli Deo Gloria, all glory to God alone.
2.
Quickened by His Spirit, His Word pierced through my soul;
I saw that I was helpless to save and make me whole.
Chorus
3.
I cried out for God's mercy, He led me to a tree;
Jesus hung there broken, crucified for me.
Chorus
4.
Jesus only savior, He cleansed me by His blood;
By faith I am converted, help steadfast by His love.
Chorus
*Soli Deo Gloria is Latin for "To the glory of God alone."
Soli Deo Gloria, copyright 2000 by John Timothy Sneed
Well there it is. The tune is the first and last lines of the hymn "The Church's One Foundation."
I hope seeing this is a blessing to you.

Things are moving quickly. Those of you who follow this blog know that I resigned from my church effective just two weeks ago. In that time, let me tell you what I have done, and then I'll tell you what is happening now.

If you log onto the internet and go to the Google search engine, if you type in "Missouri southern baptist churches" (for example ... it could be any state) you will get a link to a site that lists every church in that state with a website. I have looked at every church website in almost every state and noted the ones that listed no pastor on staff or who listed an interim pastor on staff. This provided me a list of churches to send resumes to. As of today, I have just over 180 resumes out all over the United States.

Now, I have started to hear back from some of those churches. I have had several tell me that they have hired pastors and they are not in need of my resume. Several have sent me letters thanking me for being interested in their churches and telling me they will forward my resume to their search committees. However, two churches have contacted me already asking for more information. A church in Georgia and one in Missouri have asked for pictures of me (scary thought!) and for sermon tapes of my preaching.

This is very exciting for me. I believe it is too early in the process for either of these churches to be the one the Lord will call me to. (Although I would not presume to know what the Lord is thinking). But it is very encouraging to know that people are reading my resumes and that some are actually interested in me. It gives me hope that one day I will be the pastor of another Southern Baptist congregation. And that idea is both exciting and encouraging.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I am a Southern Baptist. My first memories of church were in a Southern Baptist church, Parkview Baptist Church in Landover, Maryland. I was saved in that church as a child of 8 in 1966. I was discipled in a Southern Baptist church. It was at the Pumpkin Hill Baptist Chapel (later to become Emmanuel Baptist Church) of Laurel, Maryland that I first felt the Lord speaking to me about becoming a pastor.

I admit that, while I was in the Air Force, I attended Independent Baptist churches for a time. I did not know about different kinds of Baptists at the time. The first church I ever pastored was an independent Baptist church. I was ordained in a GARBC church (Victory Baptist Church in Omaha, Nebraska). But when I retired from the Air Force, it was a Southern Baptist pulpit that the Lord opened up to me. And it was then that I realized what it meant to be a Southern Baptist.

There is no question about holding to the Baptist distinctives. I believe in a regenerate church membership and believer's baptism by immersion. I also hold to congregational autonomy and soul liberty in worship. I also believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and is true and correct in all that it teaches. It is the only binding standard of faith and life for me. I believe we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. I believe in the literal return of Christ to the earth for His people.

But more, I am a Southern Baptist because I believe in the Cooperative Program. It is the mechanism by which Southern Baptists fund the work of the Convention. Our Executive Committee, our seminaries and most importantly, our missions boards are funded by Cooperative Program money. Thanks to the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists have put over 5000 missionaries into foreign service and another 5000 minssionaries reaching the North American continent. They are all paid from Cooperative Program money so that they are all able to devote all their time to the work of missions they were called to. I believe, with all my heart, that the Southern Baptist Convention is the greatest and most effective vehicle today for reaching a lost world with the blessed gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And that being so, I want to be part of that organization. Therefore, I am a Southern Baptist.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I came home from church today chastened. Actually it wasn't really church, it was a Bible study. Let me explain. Since I resigned from my church at North Hill in Minot, I have taught Bible to a small study group on Sunday mornings. I always saw the group as a Bible study and not as a "church" or a "congregation." I prepared each Sunday as I would for any other small group Bible study. Granted, the group I meet with are all friends and the fellowship is outstanding, but still, to me, it was a study group. Until today. One of the brothers opened the meeting today in prayer. He thanked God for me. He thanked God for bringing a godly shepherd into the group. He thanked God for a shepherd who loved the sheep and would give his life for theirs. He went on in this way for several minutes. By the time he said "amen" I was suitable chastened. I had not thought of them that way. I had not thought of having such a responsibility of oversight over them such as he was attributing to me. I had not prepared for them like I would prepare to open the word of God on a Sunday when I was "preaching." I had not thought about loving them so much that I'd die for them. In short, I realized I was falling far short of the responsibility the Lord had put into my hands.

It is true that I have sent resumes out all over the United States looking for another church who will call me to that place to be their pastor. I have no doubt that sooner or later a church somewhere will call me to their pulpit. I don't know if I have a lot of time or a little bit of time left in Minot. But I know that God has given me the gift of a band of brothers and sisters who are looking to me to shepherd them for the time I have left. Now that I know that, I realize that I have to fulfill my ministry to the utmost of my ability for the glory of God. I went to that study this morning intending to be the teacher. I came home realizing that I had been the student. So, the Lord chastened me today. But it was a blessed lesson to learn.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Well, it is time to set a few things in order and then to say a few things I wanted to get out. This is a new blog. I am imagining that it will be mostly of interest to me and few friends. I doubt it will get out much, but who knows. Comments are appreciated, but attacking comments will be deleted. This blog is about what is going on in my head, not an open forum for attack. I also want to set down the rule that I am not obligated to respond to any comments. I am a terrible correspondant. But I am an excellent procrastinator. I recognize this. I know that it is going to make it easy for me to avoid responding. However, I may learn to buck the trend and respond anyway. You never know.

Now to other matters. I had the opportunity to attend a national Founder's Conference in 1999. It met at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. It was a very good conference. I enjoyed the fellowship but especially the preaching. John Piper was the main speaker. He has remained one of my favorite preachers ever since. But one message stuck out in my mind. Dr. Tom Ascol preached on the text "Strengthen your stakes and lengthen your cords." It spoke of how doctrinal strength at home makes it possible for Christians to reach more and more of the world for Jesus Christ. He reminded us that doctrinal weakness results in a weakened Christian life. Indeed, we live out what we really believe. Thinking about that got me thinking about holiness in the Christian life. We are saved by God to be holy (Eph 2:10). You don't hear holiness preached and taught much anymore. It turns people off. People today want a Christianity that makes no demands on their lives. But we were saved to be holy, just as God is holy. God saved us so that He could write the truth of His word in our hearts and people would see it in our lives. Yes, being a Christian means something. It means to be different than the world. It means to be different than the lost. It means we are called to live a higher way of life. We walk a narrow pathway entered into by a narrow gate. We are Christians, children of the Living God. That ought to mean something. Anyway, that is what I think.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Soli Deo Gloria. That is Latin for "To the Glory of God Alone." It is called the fifth 'sola' of the Reformation. Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, the glory of God alone. These are the pillars on which all the Reformation stood. But that last one is the tie that binds all the others together. For the glory of God alone. We are Christians and the highest calling of our lives is to live and die for the glory of God. Paul the Apostle said "Whatsoever things you do, do all for the glory of God." Our heart is to have God glorified in our lives, in our homes, in our churches, in our hometown and elsewhere. But is it? It is good to speak of the glory of God in our personal lives, and in church, but do we really worry about Him being glorified in our towns and in the world? We ought to. Christ left the earth while giving us the Great Commission. "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature; baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Even as Christ was ascending into heaven his mind was focused on getting the gospel message out to the very ends of the earth. The Church does this in two important ways. The first is by personal evangelism. The vast majority of people who become disciples of our Lord do so by being shown the gospel by one faithful Christian. One on one evangelism is the main means of the conversion of the world. To often though, when people think of the world, they are thinking of the lost people overseas. But evangelism begins at home. It starts when we seek the conversion of our lost loved ones in our own homes, our workplaces, our marketplaces, in short, our hometown. Everytime you walk out of the front door of your church, you are stepping into the mission field. But we must not stop there. No! The glory of God and the desire to see Him worshipped among all the peoples of the world compels us to go further. Indeed, we have to see that the gospel reaches the furthest corners of the globe. If there is a place where the Name of Christ is not known, and God is not worshipped in Spirit and in truth, then we have to do whatever it takes to get the gospel message to that place. The gospel is the only good news that brings salvation to all men. It is the only saving message their is. Only born again people can worship God as He is. For His glory, we must go. In our church we can share in reaching the world through the money we give to the church. Every week a percentage is sent to our state convention and then on to the national Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC have over 5,000 missionaries in North America and another 5,400 missionaries overseas. Our giving helps keep them on the field, in hard places, reaching people for the glory of God. As we are His people, we must be busy with His business. His business is the salvation of the world. We cannot reach it all alone, but he has called us to be faithful to do our part. To witness to those we can and send those to witness to those we can't. Are you faithful in doing your part? If you answered yes, then praise God! If not, will you today purpose in your heart to be faithful in your part? Telling us of his desire for the world were the last words of Jesus on the earth. Shall those words be ignored. I pray not. Amen?