Does God Still Speak?


If you want to create a lively-and sometimes ungodly-conversation among believers, ask the simple question, “Does God speak to people today?” It is like tossing a hand grenade into a busy mess hall during boot camp and watching the soldiers rush for the door. Depending upon one’s background and theological bent, the answers will range from ‘of course He still speaks’ to ‘not since the canon of Scriptures has been completed.’ This is a frequent question among young believers, especially in light of the fact they wish to walk free from a dead and lifeless form of Christianity.

Theologians of previous generations must be read carefully, as they were combating errors and heresy unique to their time. This is why we have to be very careful not to ‘over-judge’ the statements from previous generations unless we know with reasonable certainty the layers to the theological battles that raged during their life of ministry. Equally so, we must be careful when using their quotes in our generation, as they may not be bringing out the essential issues we face.

It is easy for us to read famous quotes from writers and theologians and turn them into false dilemmas by using them and presenting an either/or option when more than two options are available. One such case can be illustrated with this quote I ran across some time back while reading puritan writer, John Owen. It is similar to some quotes I’ve read in various systematic theology books that were written during times when the church was battling the dangers of mysticism that is not grounded in sound doctrine.  Continue reading “Does God Still Speak?”

Passion Born Out of Conflict

Conflict PassionConflict is painful. It presses us beyond our strength and understanding, and forces us to seek solutions outside the box of our perception. Once we have faced conflict through the truth of Scriptures, a passion from God ignites in our soul concerning what we discover. It is that passion that plunges us into new dimensions of faith and a Spirit-filled walk.

Christian faith is filled with passion. It only becomes passionless when we fail to cultivate intimacy with our risen Lord. For believers there are several areas of interest concerning passion, and each one of them is born out of some type of conflict. Here are five: Continue reading “Passion Born Out of Conflict”

From the Tomb to the Pulpit

empty-tombEvery pastor is simply a messenger boy. As John Piper says, “Brethren, we are not professionals.” And yet, as simple messengers, we are entrusted with the most important message to mankind–the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Heaven’s glory rests upon our calling and upon our communication. In one true sense, we are all wordsmiths, forging the expression of words to present the gospel with the majesty it deserves. 

Learning some of the nuances of homiletics, speaking methodologies and audience perceptions are beneficial, as material has been written about these issues since the age of the early church fathers. However, we must never get trapped into a style that is foreign to our gifts and uniqueness. Because of the diverse placement of gifts in each pastor, each of us are a ‘little different’ and that difference is where we find our authenticity and freedom.  Continue reading “From the Tomb to the Pulpit”

How NOT to Communicate With Others

Indian to IndianThere are ways of proper discourse and persuasion, and there are ways guaranteed to fail. The photo to the left sums up vividly how NOT to communicate with others if you want to persuade them. Our culture is filled with the ‘up in your face’ form of shock journalism and dialogue. Even in many Christian circles rudeness and speaking down to people is defined as spiritual boldness. We must do better, we must think biblically, and we must get our example from Scriptures and not from the latest fad in social media.

Here are some quick points (with some sarcasm) on how NOT to communicate:

Fail to Listen – we understand it all anyway, right?

Fight for the floor – if both are talking, keep raising your voice until they yield the floor.

Ad Hominem – fill the discussion with personal assaults and zingers to embarrass. (Or you could dress up to match their culture…see photo at top of post!)

Fail to ask questions – after all, I’ve already googled the subject, so I know what they would say. Continue reading “How NOT to Communicate With Others”

No to Resolutions…Yes to Surrender

SurrenderAt the beginning of every year, millions of people, including Christians, start the calendar year off with resolutions and self-promises. It is man’s way of attempting to have a better year than the one before. If we look back over several decades, we find that most have repeated the same old resolutions year after year. Obviously, the power of our ‘resolve’ hasn’t been successful.

Maybe, we need to do things differently. Maybe, the answer is not in the strength of the ‘will of man.’ Real change is found in surrender to the Only One who can change us from the inside-out. This is why the Gospel is so powerful–it is not just a message of a historical figure who died in space-time for us. Jesus actively and existentially changes us as we lay ourselves upon the altar of prayer and spend time in His Word and in His presence.  Continue reading “No to Resolutions…Yes to Surrender”

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!”

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”

Why Me, Lord?

Why Me Lord?Being in full time ministry since 1985, I have been with a lot of people who received bad medical news. Of course many times, even as pastors, we find ourselves offering the ‘pat answers’ embedded within shallow clichés. On June 17, 2008, the tables turned. I received a call from my Doctor telling me I had Hodgkins Lymphoma, a type of cancer within the body’s lymphatic system. I knew what this could mean as I have lost two close friends from the same type of cancer throughout my life.

I have always loved everything about apologetics–the search for balance, the answers to life’s questions, the response to objections to faith. However, the most difficult question in apologetics came down on my life with force and fear–“Why me, Lord?”

I surrendered to the Lord at an early age. I have sacrificed, as all Pastors do, much time, energy and finances to share God’s Word. NOW, this is what I get? I know many think Pastors are beyond such questions…but we aren’t, not if we are honest. How could God really love me as His child and send me down this path? I wouldn’t do this to my child. The questions flooded my aching soul like a breached dam. I found myself pouring over the various prayers of David in the Psalms and found great comfort in knowing that the questions were common. Continue reading “Why Me, Lord?”

Can We Do It In America?

Conf 5:'13 Church Planters2Is it possible to plant simple and thriving churches in America? By thriving, I’m referring to planting church-planting churches. Our measuring stick is not how many buildings we can build, or how many people we can convince to come to one location. Rather, it is how many disciples can we make and send out to new communities to reach people with the gospel ‘where they live.’

We must ReThink many things about church. We must re-evaluate and re-calibrate our thinking and paradigm of what is, and is not, a church. If we stay bound to the inflated building programs and ‘me first’ in-reach focus of modern ecclesiology, we will lose another generation to the spirit of this age. We are called…to Go…to Make disciples…to Baptize them…to Teach them! (Matt. 28:19-20) And in all of this we must ‘know’ that Jesus is with us throughout the journey! The real question is do we have enough faith to believe the Holy Spirit is big enough and sufficient enough to enable us to obey the great commission?  Continue reading “Can We Do It In America?”

Overloaded With Wood

Bond fireThe unique thing about building a fire is that you start with a little wood and fire–then you add more wood. Sometimes I think our view of church planting is so complicated that we’ve stacked wood for a huge bond fire, but we have forgotten to bring the fire.

We have an overload of conferences, an overload of ideas, an overload of books, an overload of theories, an overload of symposiums, and an overload of interest. Our wood is stacked as high as the old Aggie bond fire rallies at Texas A&M, and yet we are not burning…we are not on fire!

We are overloaded with wood.

We’ve attempted to cross every “t” and dot every “i” in order to be prepared. But honestly, how do you prepare sufficiently for the move and falling of God’s fire when He breaks out. We map out all the “how to’s” and the “what ifs,” and then we say, “Here is our wood, Lord, light it!” All of this while the Lord is saying, “Let me bring fire to your life in prayer, and then I’ll also provide the wood.”  Continue reading “Overloaded With Wood”

Do Not Disturb

Do Not DisturbI recently stayed in a motel in Nashville, TN after a week long traveling schedule. I was physically exhausted and looked forward to a good nights rest. As I walked into my room, I placed the “Do Not Disturb” sign on my doorknob and prepared for bed. I crashed around 10:15 after getting a bite to eat at a local restaurant, with the full expectation of getting fully refreshed from rest to complete the final leg of my drive back home.

Then it happened! Around 3:30 a.m. I was awakened with a great burden to pray. The Holy Spirit had not read my sign, and He was having none of it…there was work to be done in prayer and He wasn’t playing around. I spent the rest of the morning laboring in prayer, and seeking the Lord’s will about several things, and praying for many friends. Continue reading “Do Not Disturb”

Shaking the Gates of Hell

a-wesley-windowMy friend, Marty Schoenleber Jr, posted an article on his blog which is worthy of reposting. In fact, I would encourage you to read all of his posts. Marty is an experienced Church Planter and Pastor, and has a heart for encouraging and all who seek to build God’s Kingdom through service and sacrifice. Above all, Marty is a man of prayer. He heart beats with God’s compassion and desire for His bride to be holy, merciful and active! All of Marty’s posts breathe with his desire to see the Gospel proclaimed to this generation with clarity and conviction.

Here is the link to the article and to Marty’s blog:

Shaking the Gates of Hell « ChosenRebel’s Blog.