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.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Healthy Body

I will be preaching tomorrow from Ephesians chapter 4 where the Apostle Paul begins to develop his idea of the Church as the body of Christ. In verses 11 through 16 Paul is going to present the truths that leaders are given to the Church in order to equip the individual believers to serve each other. Every member a minister, so to speak. He will end the passage with the great truth that the Church grows best when every part does it's share. Now there is a novel idea!

I had a friend once when I lived in Nebraska. He was the pastor of a Presbyterian church in a neighboring town. He preached a sermon once that said that God never intended for church members to sit in pews and never do anything beyond attend church once a week. They fired him. They were honest in telling him, as he related this story to me, that they did not want to do more than they were and they did not want him around making them feel guilty about it.

But he is right. God never intended that once-a- week church attendance would be the end-all of our Christian lives. God in His wisdom has given us mechanisms to learn how to live within His kingdom.

In our families, we learn to be the servant of our spouse and our children. Husbands, yes ... this means you serve your wives. Read Ephesians 5:25 and meditate on that a while. In our churches we learn to serve each other. That is what the word "minister" means, to serve or servant. We love one another, bear one another's burdens, exhort, teach, lift up, pray for, hold each other in fellowship and so on. We serve each other. Our God given leaders are given for the very purpose of teaching us how to serve. Remember, in the kingdom of God, the last will be first and the first will be last. The pathway to greatness is the pathway of self denial and humility.

But this is not to be limited to a select few in the church. In many circles you'll hear tell of the 80-20 rule. That rule says that 80% of the work is being done by 20% of the people. But in God's plan, it is suppose to be the 100-100 rule. 100% of the people doing 100% of the ministry (work). In this way, every member contributes to the growth of the Church in Christlikeness and in holiness. And, as Paul said, it works when every member does his or her part. Just like a healthy body. It is healthy when all the parts of the body fulfill their intended functions. They all do their jobs. I am doing my part in my church body. Are you doing yours? Just something to think about ...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Our One Consuming Passion

The Bible says that "Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength." That verse was meant to be an all inclusive verse. It means we are to love God with everything we have and with everything we are. I was talking to one of my church members earlier today and it came to me that this is the one thing that seems to be missing in our churches above all things ... an all consuming love for our God.

John Piper gets it exactly right in his many books. If you ever read John Piper you will find that his books are almost all a variation of a single theme ... that the Christian's highest joy is found in knowing God. Therefore, the Christian's one pursuit in life is to use every resource available (heart, mind, soul, strength) to come to know God more. As Piper would say (paraphrasing Piper paraphrasing Jonathan Edwards) God is glorified when we know Him. But He is more glorified by our delight in knowing Him. Almost everything Piper writes is an attempt to get Christians to see that we need to delight in knowing God. He (Piper) presents this from a variety of different perspectives.

Remember though, we are called to love God with everything we are. One verse that has always spoken to me is found in Song of Solomon. It says simply "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine." God has come to us in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is where I want to plant my thinking tonight. I am persuaded that what I need most and what my congregation needs most is to become passionately in love with Jesus Christ.

Such a love is dangerous though. When nominal Christians meet a passionate Christian, their hypocrisy is exposed and is open for all to see. Passionate Christians are often attacked and ostracized. Passionate Christians are often called zealots, fundamentalists and extremists. People don't like passionate Christians, but that is exactly the kind of Christian that God is calling us to be. The greatest commandment is to love God with our whole being. We are to love Him above all else including parents, spouse, kids, power, wealth, fame or anything else!

If we are ever going to see any kind of revival in the Churches, we need to return to this first and greatest commandment. John the Baptist said that when Jesus came he would baptize us with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Friends, isn't it time we acquired the fire?

Friday, September 15, 2006

More Than a Calvinist...

I admit I stole that title from a tract written by John Newton. Having gotten that confession out of the way, let me get down to business. Much has been written recently in the SBC about calvinism and it's influence. Much of the negative press comes from a misunderstanding arising from biblical calvinism being identified with hypercalvinism. Now, a few observations.

Hypercalvinism is a heresy and has no place in Southern Baptist life. It is bad and ought to be identified, argued against, and shunned. I have nothing good to say about hypercalvinism.

Biblical calvinism, on the other hand, is a system of theology that seeks to glory God in all things and in every way. Taking a cue from Isaiah 6, biblical calvinism sees God "high and lifted up." It is a good system of theology and is a badly needed corrective in this day of lax doctrine and moral and theological compromise. But there is an important thing to remember.

Our allegiance is not to a system of theology but to a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Living Word of God. he has given to us the written word of God, which the Holy Spirit uses to point us to Jesus. Any system of theology is only as good as it points us to Jesus.

Let me put it another way. It is in the Bible that we learn of Jesus. As God speaks to us in scripture, we change and conform ourselves to the teachings of God through His word. Thus, we are called to be "biblical Christians." Above any system, above any teacher, we are people of the Book. Once I was asked, "Do you teach calvinism?" and I answered, "I preach the Bible." Even my critics in churches I have served have admitted that I was a biblical preacher. I recall I had a man in a previous church who was not a fan of calvinism, yet, he enjoyed my preaching and never accused me of going beyond what scripture said. This ought to be the pattern for all of us. We ought not to be known as "calvinistic preachers" or as "arminian preachers" or modified calvinistic preachers" or any other such thing. I say again we should NOT be known by these labels. But rather, if someone wants to label us, let them call us a "biblical preacher."

Scripture points us to Jesus, and it is to Him that we owe our loyalty. God has given gifted teachers and preachers to the Church (universal). We ought to heed these gifts of God to His people. Yet, we ought to follow none of them, unless by following them, they bring us closer to Christ. Ultimately, we are followers of Christ, and no one else. Isn't that the way it should be?

I Made It!

We arrived in Davenport on the afternoon of the 3rd of September. I have determined to set money aside so that if I ever move again, I can pay someone to do it for me. About 20 people from the church arrived at my house on Monday morning and unloaded the moving truck in about an hour and forty five minutes. (It took us two days to load it).

Aleta and a family friend have turned the house quickly into a home and we have settled in nicely. Our cats are still trying to figure out what happened. But they are adjusting well. I had the Internet turned on today and here I am updating what is going on.

The church is great! We had nearly 200 people in attendance last Sunday morning. This week, we have seen one young man accept Jesus and several others are preparing to join the congregation. The church lists a membership of 187, but we should soon exceed 200 members. God has blessed us so much since our arrival. We have faced a few frustrations. These Iowans (I am speaking of the powers that be who run the city) do things very differently than the folks back in Minot. It does take some getting used to.

Now that we have hung out our shingle (so to speak) and started to work, I covet your prayers. More than half the congregation is over 60 years old. Many are much older. Pray I will have the wisdom to lead such people and at the same time reach younger people so we can see the church growing for the future.

Personally, to all who helped me out in Minot and others who held us up in prayer, thank you very much. I would not be here without you all.

Now, off to the work...