A Fresh Look at Matthew’s Gospel

matthew“The men who were tax collectors had no fellowship with other countrymen except fellow tax collectors. They were regarded as puppets to the Roman government, and traitors and heathens to the ordinary Jews. They were viewed as unclean and vile, and the average Jew, especially the religious ones, would not even sit at a meal with them, as sharing a meal was viewed as acceptance into fellowship.

Matthew knew what it felt like to have his own countrymen regard him as the chiefest of sinners. He understood the condemning stares and the rejection from the religious men of his day. And yet, Jesus chose Matthew as a member of his inner circle of followers. This is the same tax collector the Holy Spirit used to record one of the four gospels. Continue reading “A Fresh Look at Matthew’s Gospel”

Sanctity of Life – Do We Really Care?

My good friend, Marty Schoenleber Jr., posted a video recently that was produced by his ministry team at Trinity Church in Watseka, IL. This video is powerful in conveying the senseless loss of millions of lives due to abortion. I have had the privilege of spending a couple of days with Marty. We talked, walked, prayed and cried together. Marty is a man whose soul is marked with wounds of Christ for the lost and hurting. His life is immersed with continual thoughts on reaching and equipping others to be the heart and voice of Jesus to our generation. I am honored to be his friend.

Below is the video. I pray you will STOP whatever you are doing and give 8 minutes to an undisturbed viewing of this video. Then, join me in falling on our faces before our Lord Continue reading “Sanctity of Life – Do We Really Care?”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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!”

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”

Pastors Should Be Worshippers

Josh WorshipWe’ve all noticed it. The worship team is leading the congregation in praise and worship, and the person most distant from worship is the Pastor. Either he is using the time to talk with someone, or praying over his message, or putting the final touches on it. This practice by leaders reeks of disrespect and aloofness. It also hinders the freedom and liberty of the Holy Spirit the worship team is hoping to lead the flock into. How is the failure of Pastors to be worshippers a hinderance? Here are several ways.

  • It is disheartening to the worship team that has been praying all week and practicing to lead the congregation in worship. It makes them feel their effort is not important.
  • It is a poor example to the flock, especially other men, about the importance of worship. Men will look strongly to the actions of their Pastor. If worship isn’t a priority to him, why should it be to other men?
  • It leads to the false assumption that worship is beneath those spiritually mature. Pastors are held up as examples of maturity. What type of example are we showing.
  • It projects that worship time is only a ‘filler’ until the real event–preaching. It dumbs down the real benefits of worship. A person who worships in spirit and truth are the best ones prepared to receive the teaching of God’s Word.

All of these reasons will cause damage to the flock. It is never intended, but the damage is real nonetheless when Pastors appear distant from worship and praise. What should Continue reading “Pastors Should Be Worshippers”

Prophetic Stirring

Haggai, the wallsThe Lord still has His prophets. No, we will not see them walking around in sackcloth and ashes, or with unkept beards and shepherd’s staff in their hand. But they are there… speaking God’s Word in faithfulness and stirring up the sheep to obey the Lord. Haggai was one such prophet. The Lord used him to bring the people of Judah back into focus for the labor before them. His words were like clear trumpet sounds, bringing the voice and will of God to the hearts of the people.

Prophets, especially New Testament prophets, speak much like Haggai. Sure, there are times of rebuke, warning and correction. However, even during these times, the NT prophet fulfills the call to be gentle and patient, correcting without strife or quarrel. We are called to represent the Lord not only in word, but also in Spirit. It is a high calling for messengers to speak “truth in love.” (Eph. 4:15) Continue reading “Prophetic Stirring”

Monday Morning – The Pastor’s War

Pastor tiredRegardless how full of the Spirit leaders are on Sunday, there is always the Monday morning war. The Lord could fill the weekend services with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and yet, when Monday rolls around a battle rages. Take heart fellow Elders, Church Planters and Pastors….it is common. The victory of Mount Carmel is always followed by some degree of the loneliness of Elijah’s cave. (1 Kings 19:9) We are engaged in a continual battle…we don’t get a day off.

The enemy loves to do one of three things:

  • Over exalt what took place to get us into pride…attempting to make us feel ‘we’ did it.


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.