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, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!

This is sort of a follow up to my last post. I am sorry to those of you who read this blog, but recently my health has not been good and I have had several pressing family matters to attend to. Things are returning to a state of normalcy (for me anyway), so I will be able to devote the attention to this blog that it deserves.

Anyway, much of the secular world, at least in the United States, is caught up in Halloween celebrations. Parents are dressing their children up in costumes so they can go out and collect candy from their neighbors. But Halloween has a much more significant place in history then simply the day when people dress fully and get candy.

It was on October 31st, 1517 that the Augustinian priest, Martin Luther, nailed his 95 Thesis to the castle church door in Wittenburg, Germany and touched off the Protestant Reformation. Rome has become corrupt at the time. Church offices were bought and sold, the faithful, even priests were often biblically illiterate. Salvation was sold for a coin to help build Saint Peter's basilica in Rome. Superstition ruled except where money had more power.

But one man thought to challenge the corruption of the Church and it's powerful leaders. One man who has studied what the Bible taught and compared the Church to scripture and found the Church coming up short. One man had a vision to re-form the Church according to scripture, putting every practice, belief, council and pope under the authority of the scriptures. One man who exalted scripture because it led him to the God of the scriptures. One man whose "conscience was captive to the word of God."

Martin Luther's challenge to the Church opened the door to the others who would come after him. Men like Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, and many others. One man led others to take up his challenge and so change the course of history.

We live in dark times as far as Christianity goes in North America. We could use men (and woman) like Luther again. People who are zealous students of scripture and who are not afraid to order their lives and their churches according to the word of God. We should ask ourselves where such people can be found. They are rare. Great, visionary leaders usually are. But I believe they are out there. Maybe one is sitting in your chair right now, reading these words? Maybe it is worth thinking about. Maybe.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"My conscience is captive to the word of God..."

I was watching the newer version of the movie "Luther" tonight. It is a good movie. Who among us can help but be moved during Luther's great defense of himself at the Diet of Worms? Luther stood against every pressure to recant what he had written and go back to confessing the doctrines of Rome as his accepted truth.

Our time in history, our churches, our souls have turned decadent. Christians, by and large today, look just like the unsaved world around us. Theology used to be the queen of the sciences, because it was once thought that the highest knowledge was the knowledge of God. But no more. Churches were granted tax exempt status in their communities because it was believed that the preaching and teaching of Christ produced better citizens and therefore, benefited the community. Now, local and state governments are wondering if that is true anymore. The gospel preached today is all about me ... man centered ... self glorifying. It is all about what God can do for me or what God owes me. The god most people pray to is a cosmic candy man who grants wishes just like the genie in the story of Aladdin's Lamp. Except among a remnant, the God of scripture seems to be unknown (or certainly unprofessed) among Christians today. Instead of finding men like the prophets of old, today we have preachers who want to be relational, nonconfrontational, happy, and as much like the people they preach to as they can be. Holy living is considered judgmental. Grace is an excuse for lawlessness. It is like seeing the worst traits of all seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 all rolled into one.

But what would a family look like, or a church, or a community, or a denomination, if Christians were to be like Luther, whose conscience was captive to the word of God? How would things in your life be changed if you knew such a person? How about if YOU were such a person?

O Lord, send us Christians whose consciences are captive to the word of God! Send us Christians again like Luther, Knox, Whitefield and Spurgeon. Let the word of God be proclaimed from sea to sea in the United States from the lips and the lives of fearless Christians who are slaves to the Sovereign Lord of Glory! O Lord, show us our sin, individually and collectively, and let us taste the bitter cup of your discipline. But after our brokenness and repentance, let us taste the sweet taste of your grace and mercy once again. And do it all O God, for the glory of Your Holy Name.

Spurgeon once asked, "Here is the day for the man, but where is the man for the day?" Are you one whose "conscience is captive to the word of God"? If not, why not? How much longer will we have to wait until Christians emerge who are hopelessly, fearlessly, faithfully, zealously, passionately sold out to the word of God and to the God of the word? With all my heart, I hope it is not too long.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Recommendation

My friends, I wanted to recommend a preacher to you in this blog post. I have met some fine ones over time. I have personally heard Dr. John Piper and R.C. Sproul. Though I have never heard him in person, I have listened to the messages of Dr. John MacArthur for years. I have heard Dr. Al Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, several times. I have been exposed to some phenomenal preaching. I have been able to hear some preaching from some Not-so-well-known preachers. One such is Dr. Tony Mattia of Kansas. All these men and more are very good preachers. A Christian would be very edified if they could find their messages and listen to them.

But there is a preacher who has recently (within the last year or two) come on the scene. He is not flashy. He doesn't yell much. But he tells the truth in a way that grips you and let's you know that he knows what he is talking about. This preacher's name is Paul Washer. He is a former IMB missionary for the Southern Baptist Convention. Now, he preaches wherever he is invited. He has a message that will challenge your heart and make you think about hard things.

There is a book I found some years ago by the Puritan preacher Matthew Mead called "The Almost Christian Discovered." It was a sobering book. Well, Paul Washer's messages are sobering messages. He oftentimes is not invited back to speak again. He messages are disturbing in our man centered world and our man centered churches.

I invite you to go to sermonaudio.com and listen to this preacher. Pick any of his messages. You will not fail to be edified by any one of them. But beware, he will expose your hypocrisy, your mediocrity, your false Christianity, your veneer of moral religion. He will teach you what true faith in Christ involves.

Truth telling is almost a lost art in our modern churches. I invite you hear a plain talking, truth telling preacher. His message is one we all need to think about seriously. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

How Heresy Gets In ....

"When heresy rises in an evangelical body, it is never frank and open. It always begins by skulking, and assuming a disguise. Its advocates, when together, boast of great improvements, and congratulate one another on having gone greatly beyond the “old dead orthodoxy,” and on having left behind many of its antiquated errors: but when taxed with deviations from the received faith, they complain of the unreasonableness of their accusers, as they “differ from it only in words.” This has been the standing course of errorists ever since the apostolic age. They are almost never honest and candid as a party, until they gain strength enough to be sure of some degree of popularity. Thus it was with Arius in the fourth century, with Pelagius in the fifth, with Arminius and his companions in the seventeenth, with Amyraut and his associates in France soon afterwards, and with the Unitarians in Massachusetts, toward the close of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries [& hyperpreterists in the twenty-first century -- my addition because it fits so well]. They denied their real tenets, evaded examination or inquiry, declaimed against their accusers as merciless bigots and heresy-hunters, and strove as long as they could to appear to agree with the most orthodox of their neighbours; until the time came when, partly from inability any longer to cover up their sentiments, and partly because they felt strong enough to come out, they at length avowed their real opinions." Samuel Miller, 1841