Serious, Not Sour

Joy of the LordNothing is more serious than speaking about sin and the Lord’s offer of redemption to those who will believe the gospel. After all, the message of Christ crucified is the only hope of humanity. Equally so, nothing is more joyful than when a person surrenders to Christ and experiences the new birth in Jesus. That joy is above and beyond simple emotion as the heart of the believer is overwhelmed by God goodness and forgiveness.

Here is an observation from my experience of over 30 years of ministry.

Those who are serious about the gospel will also have a robust ability to laugh and experience joy! It is not an either/or reality. The most joyful men I have had the privilege to know where also the ones who were very serious about the truths of Scripture.

Society always seems to attempt to force believers into the false belief that seriousness about God and joy of life are mutually exclusive. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe this opinion is a result of what we see in many evangelical circles. Continue reading “Serious, Not Sour”

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit–Discernment or Rejection?

Holy Spirit, Not by mightEveryone seems to have an opinion about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Christian publications, television, conferences and denominations are filled with thoughts, discussions and positions about them. There are usually two sides to this issue. On one side we have wild-eyed false prophets claiming to exercise the gifts while they manipulate and control gullible and ignorant believers. Then on the other side we have spiritually dry intellectuals holding conferences to proclaim that the Holy Spirit doesn’t operate like He did in the New Testament and teaching that all who claim to operate in gifts are under the power of Satan and are not genuine Christians. Wow…are those our only options?

It is easy to get into some dramatic and wild arguments about whether some of the gifts have “ceased” or whether all remain. Discussions about neuter nouns and modifiers in the Greek are all fascinating as men perform linguistic backflips in order to deny God’s gifts for today. (No one would read through the New Testament and arrive at the position that gifts have ceased. It only comes about with linguistic gymnastics by those scared of or predisposed against them.) Equally ridiculous are the silly presentations of the so-called ‘Word of Faith’ cronies making the gifts up under their own carnal desires rather than submitting to God’s Word. (No one would read through the Scriptures and conclude that the charlatans we see on religious TV are under the influence of the Holy Spirit. To do so only comes about through lack of discernment.)

LifeWay research did a survey a couple of years back asking Southern Baptist pastors, “Do you believe that the Holy Spirit gives some people the gift of a special language to pray to God privately?” 50 percent of SBC pastors said “Yes” and 43 percent said “No” while the Continue reading “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit–Discernment or Rejection?”

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!”

Broken Boldness

broken-jar-2Arrogance in the pulpit–the great tragedy in the American Church. As pastors, we are called to be leaders, not in pride and aloofness, but in humility and brokenness. And we will be, as soon as we have a deep and fresh vision of our own sinfulness and constant need of the mercy and grace of God.

As pastors and elders, we are entrusted to communicate the glorious truths of the gospel. We are called to be God’s mouthpiece to the sheep under our care. And we will be, as soon as we confess that our own homiletical skills and linguistic craftsmanship is unable to pierce the heart of man for eternal value, and we cry out for God’s Spirit from on high to anoint our words and direct our messages.

As leaders, we are called to be examples of modesty and hospitality. And we will be, as soon as we see the waste of our silk suits, expensive automobiles and ostentatious houses, and we use our resources to reach those in our community who are needy and lowly.

Every morning, we must ask our souls, “Are you broken today?” The flesh loves to run the show, it loves to get the attention and applause of man. However, if we are to fulfill Continue reading “Broken Boldness”

Pastor, Have You Been With Jesus?

Pastor prayingPastors have a great influence in the lives of their flock–they are supposed to. As under-shepherds to Christ, we are to help direct and encourage the sheep to follow Jesus in the daily life. However, there is a dangerous trend we see in America among men in leadership. It seems very few spend quality time with Christ in prayer.

Many have detailed messages with elaborate outlines and cute points. However, a trained heart realizes that most information comes from books and sermon outlines they have quickly glanced over from ministry helps, and not from time on their face seeking the heart and mind of God. We have dead preachers preaching dead sermons to dead congregations.  Continue reading “Pastor, Have You Been With Jesus?”

My Son is a Hero!

JoshLeadingWorshipSometimes we learn things from the actions of our children that it makes our heart swell with joy, thanksgiving and humility. That happened to me this past week.

My oldest son, Josh, is a youth and young adults pastor in Kannapolis, North Carolina. I was visiting with him and preparing to travel with him and some of his youth group to a week long church camp. We had not seen each other since Christmas, and as we were catching up on things, he related a story to me which tore my heart out as well as made me burst with pride–the good kind.

He had been praying for months about how to reach kids from a lower income project housing close to his church. It started when he, along with a couple of his other youths, went and bought some popsicles and sat down in the middle of the projects and asked, “Does anyone want a popsicle?” Kids flocked to them and the friendships began.

After several months of building relationships with these young street-wise kids, they began wanting to hang around Josh. They loved being around him because they felt he Continue reading “My Son is a Hero!”

New Book – Praying in the Spirit

Praying_in_the_Spiri_Cover_for_KindleMy latest book, “Praying in the Spirit” has just been published. It is a culmination of several years of work. I have had the privilege of praying with many believers from various backgrounds, and those who walked in spiritual authority and power all had one thing in common…praying in the Spirit. However, this subject is seldom, if ever, discussed in our discipleship and leadership training. And yet, prayer is to be the strength, power, momentum and basis for all our work and ministry. In this book, we will put the subject back on the table for discussion by looking through the Scriptures and hearing God’s call to pray in His strength and under His leadership. We must return to the leadership of the Holy Spirit if we are expecting to see our prayers avail with God’s promises and strength.

In this book, we look at the ministry of the Holy Spirit in and through prayer. We will rescue this topic from the many misunderstandings about what it is, and will encourage all believers to learn to pray in power of the Spirit like the early church did. Praying in the Spirit is not about flexing our spiritual muscles but about letting the Holy Spirit flex His! We cover three main subjects:

    • What is it?
    • Who can do it?
    • How do we do it?

These three questions require us to walk through many areas of discussion. Some of them are: What is meditation? What is the difference between false and true meditation? What are the different kinds of prayer? What are the different seasons of prayer? What about praying with tongues? What about faith in prayer? What does it mean to pray “according to God’s will?” What is the deepest form of prayer? etc…

It is available in paperback from the Publisher. You can click 2T2 Publishing and purchase a copy of the paperback, and the book is also available for e-book readers in Kindle and Nook. It is also available in paperback from Amazon.

Two Young Girls and a Cousin

Rembrandt_Christ_In_The_Storm_On_The_Sea_Of_GalileePeter was one of four fishermen that Jesus called to be a member of His special group—the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. These men were entrusted to take the message they would learn during the three year ministry of Jesus and spread it to the ends of the earth. It would be no small task. However, the Lord would send the Holy Spirit to empower and enable them for the job.

As a fisherman, Peter was a member of a hard working and physically strong class of men. Fishermen in Palestine during the first century were not models of moral behavior. They were:

  • Gruff – abrupt and rude in speech
  • Unkempt – shabby, untidy, disheveled in appearance
  • Vile – morally bad
  • Used Vulgar Language – cursing
  • Had Boisterous Tempers – hot headed
  • Fearless – willing to face the sudden and dangerous storms on the Sea of Galilee.

Of all the disciples, Peter was the one the others looked to for leadership. He was willing to take the lead, even to his own embarrassment, when others stood passively by. Let’s look at Peter’s fearlessness. He was willing to fight for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when the soldiers came to arrest him…he even cut off the ear of Malchus, one of the soldiers. And yet, this fearlessness as a tough guy, a fisherman, a man’s man, was not enough to stand for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

After his arrest, Jesus was taken before a kangeroo court in the High Priest’s palace. Peter was outside, as close as he could be, waiting to get word in order to find out what the religious leaders would do with Jesus. As he waited we read where he denied even Continue reading “Two Young Girls and a Cousin”

Hiding Among the Trees

There are lots of things which can stand between man and God. It could be a job or hobby. It could be friends or family. Maybe even good works or religious devotion. Yes, church work can keep us from the rest of faith.

In our attempt to get busy for God and perform the Father’s work, we can lose our way of grace and become victims of our own efforts. It is easy to fall into this trap, or should we say, to hide behind this tree.

“…the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees…” (Gen. 3:8, ESV)

The very thing (the trees) God gave Adam and Even for food and nourishment (Gen. 1:29; 2:16) was now being used to hide them from God’s presence. Continue reading “Hiding Among the Trees”

Holy Who? – Inviting the Holy Spirit Back into Our Gatherings

Every Sunday morning millions of believers gather in various places around the world for church. However, without the presence of the Holy Spirit they are only club meetings, gossip sessions or fashion shows….but they are NOT Church!

Jesus left the Holy Spirit in charge of the church when He ascended back to the Father. He called men into leadership, but He charged them to do nothing, except wait, until the Holy Spirit took His rightful place among them.

Times have changed, but the Scriptures have not. When we read the New Testament we are driven to our knees in prayer for the same work of God to take place in our generation. We wonder how, when and where the Lord will do it again. We read about revivals from various lands and previous eras, and again we wonder how, when or where will the Lord do it again?

I’m convinced we are asking the wrong questions. Instead, we should ask, “Who?’ Who empowered the saints in the Book of Acts to spread the Gospel with such exponential Continue reading “Holy Who? – Inviting the Holy Spirit Back into Our Gatherings”

Holiness is Essential for Evangelism

Holiness is the single most important issue for evangelism. John Wesley said, “Get on fire for God and men will come to watch you burn.” May the Lord raise up men and women whose first desire is to live holy and righteousness through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

In order for us to properly understand biblical holiness and how it applies practically to our everyday life we need to have a basic understanding of separation from the world. We will only look at two vital points, but they are critical for helping us stay clear of legalism and sectarianism in our Christian walk.

Not of the World

Shortly before He was arrested and crucified, Jesus prayed for His disciples. This prayer was not only for the twelve, but also for every true believer down through the ages. (Jn. 17:20) In this prayer, Jesus mentioned how His disciples “are not of the world.” (Jn. 17:16) In some circles or camps this statement is completely ignored and the result is a very worldly church. In other camps, this statement is misunderstood or improperly Continue reading “Holiness is Essential for Evangelism”

Broken Jars

One of the greatest beauties of Christianity is that the Lord uses weak and broken vessels to demonstrate the living gospel to others. Redemption is not for perfect people. It is only for those who know their own brokenness and depravity. I wrote an article sometime back on how the Lord uses the wrong kind of people. You can read it here. Let us never lose the sight of the beauty of mercy and grace.

I think sometimes we fail to clearly communicate the gospel with the full force of truth concerning our human need for salvation. We’ve ‘pop-psychologized’ the message of redemption. By this I mean we present the gospel as a help for the situation or problem people find themselves in. This literally turns Jesus into a bell-hop or personal dispensing machine to help make man better. It is not the gospel.

The gospel is that we are ‘really sinners.’ Not theoretically or just theologically, but really…with force. We are undone, unholy, broken to the core by original and personal sin and stand condemned before the justice of God. When this is woven into the fabric of Continue reading “Broken Jars”