It’s Saturday–Pray Hard For Your Pastor!

Pray for your PastorSaturdays are special to most people. It is the day of relaxation and hobbies. A day to sleep late or do yard work. A day to play with the kids or watch a movie. However, do not forget about your pastor. For those seeking to have a ‘live coal’ from God’s altar to communicate with the congregation, it is a day of spiritual battle and wrestling to get completely settled with the mind of the Lord for the messages the Holy Spirit has laid upon his heart.

Enjoy your family, friends and day off. But through it all, remember that your pastor is in the battle of the week. He has a target on his back as the enemy comes to discourage him, get him off track, or confuse his mind about what he is planning on sharing. He has worked on it all week, on his knees in prayer, and with pencil in hand. Take moments throughout your day and send up a prayer for him. What to pray? Good question. Continue reading “It’s Saturday–Pray Hard For Your Pastor!”

God Seeks a Prophetic People

Prophetic PeopleThe subject of being led by the Holy Spirit to speak into the life of another person (prophecy or prophetic ministry), can be very detailed and involves many subjects. One of the important subjects that comes to bear on this topic is Divine Guidance, and this involves learning to distinguish the promptings of the Holy Spirit from the promptings of a foreign spirit or even our own spirit. Any person using the gift of prophecy or prophetic sharing should seek to get grounded in the biblical guidelines about its operation and use great wisdom and caution concerning it.

The Apostle Paul instructed the believers at Corinth,

“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Corinthians 14:1)

There are many underlying subjects that must be mined from God’s Word in order to grasp prophecy maturely and in balance. In this article, I will give some simple guidelines that may help answer questions about prophetic ministry. It is important to know that these guidelines are are built upon many other subjects and are not ‘stand alone’ points.

There are many over-lapping issues between various gifts. The word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, word of wisdom, and prophecy have that over-lapping element. Within these 4 gifts we “know something” from the Holy Spirit. The real question is “What do we do with it?” Continue reading “God Seeks a Prophetic People”

Wisdom is Known in Her Children

Wisdom ProverbsPharisees hate integration and humility. Why? Because it keeps them from claiming superiority and prevents them from sitting on the throne of their own absolute authority. Today, we see a lot of this in some circles. Sadly, we see this attitude expressed very arrogantly in some Reformed camps. When the present generation fails to understand the wisdom of the previous generation, they always create division instead of biblical unity. True unity depends on two essential elements–the truth of God (the Bible), and the Holy Spirit of God.

If we attempt unity only on the Bible, we are left with the dry orthodoxy of natural minded men holding to propositional facts about God. If we attempt it only with the Holy Spirit, we have existential foolishness apart from any standard to evaluate. True unity must have the Word and the Holy Spirit. The propositional with the experiential. The mind with the heart. The descriptive with the demonstrative. The facts of the message with the living fellowship with Christ.

Dr. John MacArthur is a prime example of ministering from the head without including the heart, the Word without the Holy Spirit, dryness of teaching apart from the living presence of God. He seems to be constantly leading a book promotion tour for his “Strange Fire” release by continually attacking and throwing non-cessationists under the bus of his fundamentalism. After years of watching Dr. MacArthur and reading many of his books, it is sad to see him spiral downward into this pit of hostility. This is especially sad when you watch some of the conference videos and see the laughter, mocking and snickering the speakers express as they toss out everything supernatural. Exposing the false always carries the danger of crossing a line and painting with too broad of a brush.

Thank God for lifting the skirts on the disgusting, manipulative and demonic activities of the majority of Charismatic leaders, especially those we see on religious TV programming. However, when wisdom is not used, those leading the charge will also implicate millions of godly believers who distant themselves from these extremes. The days of dry dogma are over. I know some dear Reformed brothers who minister under the living presence and joy of the Lord. They are not afraid of the presence of the Holy Spirit…in fact they cry out in prayer for it and their ministries are very fruitful. MacArthur and his Continue reading “Wisdom is Known in Her Children”

Freedom to You…Freedom from You

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen believers get serious about walking in the Spirit and following the Lord’s call for their life, they face one of the most dangerous places of their life. That place is not in obeying the Lord, but in how to communicate with those who are called differently or in another direction. We all want freedom and encouragement from others to follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership to us, but it is easy to demean or put down others not called to the same work. We must learn the principle of freedom to you…freedom from you!

If we want others to give us the liberty to respond to the call of Christ upon our life, we must give them the same liberty. If we do not, we will become legalistically assertive with our ‘vision’ and seek to impose it as a standard for all. Our communication will become coercive and over-authoritarian, and fail to display the liberty Christ has given to every believer.

If someone has a call to obey the Lord to do a particular ministry, and it does not violate the truth or standard of Scriptures, then praise the Lord. It does not matter if we agree with the how, when or whats of their calling, that is between them and the Lord. We must grant them this freedom and pray for them as they seek to obey their call with honest hearts and commitment. Every genuine believer is the Lord’s servant, not man’s.  Continue reading “Freedom to You…Freedom from You”

Young Earth Controversy

UniverseThere are some godly men who believe in the young earth position. There are some godly men who do not accept its position of the earth being only 6,000 years old. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the young earth position is indefensible and presents a major hurdle in communicating to men who are versed in the sciences and are familiar with cosmology.

I get asked questions about the age of the universe, the earth, or man in many different settings. From small groups to Q & A with students and churches, this seems to be a topic of interest. Inquiry about this subject is important for anyone attempting to reach out and evangelize this generation. We cannot lift the draw bridge and hide in our small castles and expect to hide from the issue of geology or cosmology when standing upon the authority of Scriptures. A refresher course on how the Church dropped the ball in the Nicholaus Copernicus issue (ca. 1532 A.D.), when he proclaimed that the earth was not the center of our solar system but that the sun was, should be a quick reminder of our need for humility.

It is my opinion that young earth proponents are missing the mark. I do not believe the Bible tells us the age of the universe. In fact, it appears to go at great lengths to avoid the issue. Holding to the young earth position does not make a person more or less faithful to being a Christian. However, it will make a person less credible in the defense of the gospel to those outside a rigid fundamentalist view of Scripture. Continue reading “Young Earth Controversy”

How To Kill A Movement

Fat manChurch history is replete with stories of how ‘natural minded’ men seek to control the work of the Holy Spirit with bureaucracy and red tape. Another such story came across my desk per a dear friend. The explosion of church planting and missionary work in the early days of America are filled with stories of sacrifice and uniqueness among the circuit riders who blazed trails across this country to take the gospel to every man in horrid conditions. Both Methodist and Baptist missionaries traveled in difficult conditions and with God’s Spirit to plant thousands of churches among the unreached in our great land.

When we get too ‘big for our britches’ we begin to think more in terms of organization instead of organism. This shift has been the death of many movements of the Holy Spirt within Christianity. Here is another sad story of how organization can kill the Holy Continue reading “How To Kill A Movement”

The World Will Hate You

chainsIn our day of political correctness, ‘likability’ has become a golden calf. This has become true in many of our churches and pulpits. We must seek to go out as “lambs among wolves” when sharing the gospel, however, we must be careful that we do not dumb down the message beyond recognition.

There are a couple of issues that we must clearly understand in order to prevent us from watering down the gospel and getting caught up in the swell of cultural softness. We must never take the nails, thorns or splinters away from the scandal of the cross as we share, but we must make sure our presentation of those truths are not muddled by the ugliness of carnality and bitterness. Nothing is a ugly as a preacher sharing the glorious truths of Christ with harsh bitterness, frustration or control. It makes a mockery out of the message and fails to present the God of the Scriptures.

If we stand for the truth and Spirit of the gospel, we will be persons who are:

  • Loving
  • Gentle
  • Courteous
  • Kind
  • Tenderhearted
  • Respectful
  • Truthful
  • Honoring others

Equally so, when we stand for the gospel we will also be: Continue reading “The World Will Hate You”

John MacArthur Can Learn From Chuck Smith

John MacArthur seems to have adopted a ‘scorched earth’ policy toward charismatics and pentecostals. While there is much to be corrected within the circles of those who belong to these two groups, both doctrinally and practically, it is important to understand there is a difference between correction and rejection.

Much of the shame upon Christianity by non-believers are at the hands of the charlatans, prosperity crooks and wild-eyeed shameless false prophets from within pentecostalism that fill the TV airwaves with their vile false doctrines of ‘health, wealth and prosperity.’ We must stand against and warn people of these ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing.’ However, in Continue reading “John MacArthur Can Learn From Chuck Smith”

Christianity: It’s Not Just About Doctrine!

aposlescreedHave you ever heard, “Well, his doctrine is correct.” or “He believes in a sound statement of faith.” These are two examples of  statements which are common among evangelicals in regards to community and fellowship. It is imperative that we understand that Christianity is not just about doctrine. A person can be correct on all the major points of theology and yet spiritually dead or heretical in practice. We can be as straight as a gun barrel and just as empty.

In many of our mainline churches, the Christian faith has been reduced to a set of doctrines which one must adhere to. That is good, if we do not stop there! Certainly, the historic faith of Christianity can and should be presented in the fashion of sound theological propositions. However, the ‘faith’ of Christianity is way more than just some accurately stated doctrines or correct mental belief. At its core, it is about an initimate and personal relationship with the risen Savior. And this relationship takes place through repentence and faith in the finished work of Christ at calvary.

There are many ‘professing’ believers who would tow the line on sound doctrine, but whose lives are still destined for hell because they have not entered a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Sound doctrine protects us from cultic/heretical representations and preversions of the Christian faith. Therefore, sound doctrine is essential for accurately presenting and holding to the biblical view of God, Man, Sin and Salvatiion. It is impossible for cults to flourish apart from erroneous doctrine, as false doctrine is the seed bed for strange and heretical views.  Continue reading “Christianity: It’s Not Just About Doctrine!”

God’s Amazing Timing

Old ClockI sat in the Oncologist office recently. It was time for the re-staging tests to determine the prognosis of my battle with Hodgkins Lymphoma. It has been 5 years since I finished treatment and medically speaking this was a great benchmark to be at. What would the tests show? Where do things stand? How long will I continue to have all of this ‘hang over my head’ as I go about life and ministry? What if I face another round of chemotherapy? Can my physical body even take the abuse from the chemicals? These were the questions swirling around my head and heart as I waited for the lab call me back for blood samples and x-rays.

As I sat listening for my name to be called to report to the lab I felt my cell phone vibrate indicating that I had a message. It was an email from John, the head of our Project India team in India. Never knowing when there has been an attack of persecution or the need to an urgent issue, I quickly downloaded the message and read it as I continued to wait for the medical re-staging to begin.  Continue reading “God’s Amazing Timing”

Rearing Children to Stay in the Church

large_praying_handsA Pastor friend of mine from North Carolina shared with me that one out of every four children who grow up in the Church abandon their faith once they get out on their own. (Usually off to college) Startling, but true facts.

How do we prevent our children from being on the bad side of this statistic? Many friends, including fellow Pastors  have asked me what Susanne and I did to rear 3 boys who are all active and solidly planted in a local church, and who continue to walk faithfully even after becoming adults. Rearing children, especially boys seems to be a very hard task in the age we live in. Here are my answers to those who have requested my help with this over the years.

1. The New Birth – Be careful to make the new birth in Jesus a constant and clear message. Refuse to allow church membership or attendance to become a substitute for spiritual life. Gathering with other believers with commitment is important, but nothing meets the importance of true Spiritual life through faith in Christ! Attending church without the new birth is only a religious exercise. Attending with a genuine faith makes it alive and refreshing.

2. The Totality of Life – Make sure that the Christian faith is expressed in the context of the full expression of life, and do not let it become lost in a ‘religious’ framework of ‘church.’ A robust faith in every facet of life is a healthy and biblical faith.

3. Demonstrating Repentance and Openness – As parents, be quick to live out the humble and real practice of repentance and openess before your children. Repent to them whenever you fail before them. Nothing makes Christianity more real to our children as our brokenness and repentance. Using godly wisdom, discuss your own journey of maturing in faith, and be open about your struggles of seeking God’s will. Continue reading “Rearing Children to Stay in the Church”