Emasculating Christian Men

ScarecrowOur culture hates absolute truth! It also hates and rejects men who are bold enough to proclaim it. That is why pastors should never seek to be popular or acceptable among the leaders of society. Jesus warned us to be concerned if “all men speak well of thee.” It is the sign of a false prophet. (Luke 6:26)

We are witnessing the constant disintegration of our society and it should not surprise us. However, we are also seeing the emasculating of Christian men in the church…even in the pulpit. This is alarming. God is looking for men who will not bow down to political correctness or social pluralism, and who are willing to proclaim the exclusive claims of Christ boldly, and call for all to repent and surrender to Jesus!

A gospel of love and encouragement is NOT the gospel of Christ if it excludes God’s judgment of sin and the call for repentance. The message becomes nothing more than pop-psychology with god words, and will only complement the further decay and Continue reading “Emasculating Christian Men”

Not the Couch…The Cross!

Counselor CouchThis post is for Church Leaders: Today’s pastors are expected to be a jack of many trades. One particular job that has been laid at their feet is not only dangerous, but destructive. It is the expectation to be a free version of a professional counselor. People want to meet with the pastor and muse over all the emotional baggage of their life under the pretense of looking for answers. Many times, these encounters have to be repeated every few months in order to provide a ‘release’ for those craving an audience for venting their frustrations, and to keep them afloat.

It must stop! For the spiritual health of the leaders and their need to spend time with God in prayer and the study of Scripture, it must stop! Pastors must be bold enough to make a couple of things clear to their congregations and those ‘needy visitors’ who, under the pretense of possible membership, will suck the life and time out of your week. Here are a couple of potential helps.

Pre-Counseling Requirements for Members:

1. Attend regular services. (When the doors open, be there!)

2. Respond to what is taught.

3. Repent for any thing preached which fits your life. (Not discussion about it, but repentance.)

4. Take the necessary paths to restore relationships with those you’ve offended–NOW! Continue reading “Not the Couch…The Cross!”

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”

Restorative Church Discipline: Rescuing and Healing the Wounded

Hopefully one of my books will ready for print by the end of January ’13. Here is the Preface, which I just finished before sending the manuscript to editors. I feel it reveals my heart in writing it. Pray the Lord will use it to help and encourage young pastors and elders.

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If you are considering employing the steps of church discipline within your church—DON’T DO IT! That is, until you have taken the time to read and pray through this book. There are dangers, problems and pitfalls which await you if you do. The issue of church discipline is too serious to rush out and begin implementing without a thorough understanding and personal evaluation of our motives.

I knew an Elder who was young and full of zeal. He was elected to lead a church and extremely excited to do so. As the case with many young pastors, he soon began to see the lack of moral restraint and brokenness over sin in his congregation. Rampant immorality, gossip, slander, and backbiting were present and became known over the next couple of years.

Then one Sunday morning, after enduring all he thought he could, he addressed the church. He preached through the passage in the gospels (Matt. 18:15-17) about church discipline in one service. He closed the service saying, “From this day forward, this is how we are handling sin in this church.”

After the service, he retired to his house and enjoyed lunch with his wife, feeling he had delivered his heart and God’s heart to the church. As he finished his meal, he sat and reflected upon the service. Then suddenly he asked himself, “What have I done? How do I do this? Who are the witnesses? Which sins do I confront? How far do I take it? How do I restore someone? How do I handle them if they refuse to repent? Etc…”

Many questions overwhelmed his thoughts about the passage. He wondered how to carry out the words of Jesus faithfully. He had preached out of his frustration over the condition of the local church. His zeal, warning, and declaration to the church had gotten ahead of his understanding. The Holy Spirit arrested his heart and prompted him to slow down.

That young man was me, many years ago. If you feel frustrated with the condition of your local church and feel called to do something, I understand. I feel your pain and have felt your heart. As a fellow pastor and elder I have two basic words—slow down.

Before taking any steps, I plead with you to read and pray through this book. I cannot guarantee wisdom for all situations. However, I can offer some help in many of them. If you are a pastor or elder and feel the burden to see the local church walk in the power and purity of the Holy Spirit, I have written this book for you. It comes out of years of ministry experience, heartache, errors and a sharp learning curve.

I pray the words in this book will save you from some of my early errors, and that it will be a resource of help for understanding and employing restorative church discipline. If it helps one pastor, the years of writing and editing will be worth it. If it helps one congregation to be a loving group of believers who begin rescuing and healing their wounded, that is even better.

Nothing is as heart breaking as seeing the destructiveness of sin, especially when a believer refuses to repent. Equally so, nothing is a joyful as seeing a brother restored through repentance. There is hope for all—even you and me.

I have a dream. It is a dream that our local churches can be the shining light on the hill and the salt of the earth. It is a dream that she can be a chaste virgin with eyes only for Jesus. It is a dream that all of us who name the name of Christ would love other believers the way Jesus does. It is a dream that we would stop shooting our wounded, and instead reach out to rescue and heal them. They need us…and we need them!

Because of His Grace,
Terry

Christian Writers – Beware!

All we can do is thank the Lord for the abundance of Christian writers and authors we see today. Many young men are getting into the fray of ideas by sharing the truth of the gospel, either through blogs or books. I’ve been writing frequently since the early 90’s and simply want to share a brief warning to Christian writers to help guard against some of Satan’s tricks and schemes against authors.

All writers I have had the privilege of being around exhibit a very committed and tenacious personality. We are goal oriented and usually thrive over deadlines and ‘getting the ball’ over the hill. We are capable of shutting other things out in order to accomplish what we know the Lord has laid upon our heart and called us to do. However, in the midst of these traits, we face some unique temptations and traps from the enemy. Here are a few.

Traps for the Christian writer:

Replacing quiet time – First and foremost, we must maintain our ‘quiet time’ of prayer and biblical meditation with our Lord. We must guard against waking up and grabbing our laptop or pencil as our first activity of the day. Let time in prayer and meditation be our primary goal for each day.

Replacing living – Getting detached from on-hand experience with the people of God. We can become ‘hermit-tish’ (my word) instead of being giving to hospitality.

Replacing sharing – Witness only through writing and lose contact with one on one, face to face sharing of the gospel. This will cause us to lose the personal touch of identification with the broken lives of men. Also, this detachment will come across in our writing. Continue reading “Christian Writers – Beware!”

ReThinking Church, Part 10 – Biblical Leadership

America was born out of the seed of representation and democracy. It has given us the greatest freedoms of any civilized nation. Of course, baggage and error always comes with liberty and freedom, but that is the price for genuine freedom. Along with the secular government given to us by the trials of the forefathers, there is another pattern given to us. Unfortunately, it was given to the Church. That pattern is that the American church, for the most part, adopted the same forms of secular society and imposed it upon the ecclesiology of the church. Many fellowships take a vote from the local members to decide just about everything, or at the very least, have a board of Deacons who run the church on all matters. (physical and spiritual)

Is this the New Testament pattern? Is this the way Paul and the early apostles established leadership in the expansion of the church? Is this the polity we should use in our local churches?

Upon a casual reading of the NT we find the biblical pattern for church government to be quiet different from the American version. Here are the constants we find throughout the survey of the New Testament.

God’s Sovereignty and Spiritual Warfare

A casual reading of the Bible reveals the marvelous truth that God is Sovereign. That simply means that nothing takes place in this life which does not go through His Hands and that He is supreme over everything. That can be a controversial statement and one which gives rise to some interesting theological discussions. But how does it affect and apply to spiritual warfare? Let’s briefly look at this.

What does it mean to “go through God’s Hands?” Does that mean He instigates all things and that all things are the work of His Hands? Of course not. However, everything which takes place will either be promoted, permitted or prevented by the Father’s Sovereign will. That which He promotes and prevents can be declared the hand or finger of God with Scriptural certainty. However, that which He permits can have other sources; though none of them are independent of God’s Sovereignty.

Why all of this? Because while upholding God’s Sovereignty we must not press our view of sovereignty beyond the full Scriptural position. If we do, we will find ourselves calling the work of Satan the Hand of God. We have an enemy who fights believers and seeks to steal, kill and destroy. (Jn. 10:10) The OT prophets, Jesus and the early church stood against and engaged the powers of darkness as the cause of evil works. We must also recognize the presence of the enemy and stand in our rightful position in the finished work of Calvary lest we roll over and yield to the enemy’s hand while believing it is God’s Hand. Continue reading “God’s Sovereignty and Spiritual Warfare”

Tebow Is Not My Hero

I like Tim Tebow as an athlete. I appreciate his willingness and heart to work with children in the Philippines and to proclaim Jesus as His Lord and Savior on the public stage. However, he is not my hero…and I do not think he desires to be anyone’s hero; but, he would have to answer that part.

I came from a life of athletics and was certainly one who worshipped sports and athletes. Sports had my heart; football was my idol. The smell of a well manicured field, the thrill of collisions and the cheering of the crowd was an extremely addictive high. And, this seems to be true for pro athletes also, as we see their difficulty in adjusting to real life after sports.

But back to Tebow. While he’s certainly a different kind of athlete, and one which holds to a moral example in the midst of a very immoral sporting culture, he is still not my hero and wasn’t a person I lifted before my boys to be their hero. Why? Well, to be honest with you, I look higher up the spiritual ladder for heroes. I’ve never seen much spiritual depth in the hollywood celebrities and athletes who carry on about ‘Jesus.’ Their shallow use of religious phraseology never offered an example of walking ‘in the Spirit’ that I desired to set before my boys. My wife, Susanne, and I have always directed our three boys to look higher. (They are all grown now.) We wanted them to look above the lower limbs in the small trees and find a hero among the eagles perched in the top of the largest trees. So, where did we point them? Glad you asked! Continue reading “Tebow Is Not My Hero”

Restoring Prayer

There are many instances of prayer in the Bible, but many times we see them only as examples of devotion by those whom we consider saints. Prayer, after all, is little more than a crying out in times of desperation for most. However, there is one event in the life of Jesus which reveals the priority He placed upon prayer–when He cleansed the Temple.

The world and those who love it are continually attempting to fill our life with junk…. that is, unnecessary and unimportant stuff which robs our time alone with our resurrected King. The very joy, peace and strength we long for is replaced by stuff, stuff and more stuff. And we wonder why we get stressed out, fatigued, depressed and frustrated. We fall from the sustaining power of God’s Grace when we attempt to live the life of a believer apart from the abiding presence of Christ. And we forfeit the abiding presence of Christ when we place our own ‘doings’ ahead of getting alone with the Lord in prayer. We become spiritually defeated Christians. Continue reading “Restoring Prayer”

ReThinking Church, Part 9 – Christianity is NOT a Culture

Continuing our look at ReThinking Church, we find another difference between the modern church from the New Testament norm. It is in the area of culture. Today, especially in the West, there is little room between the Church and culture. In fact, the lines are so blurred that when we send out missionaries, they carry the baggage of the American culture and incorporate them into other cultures. (e.g. buildings with steeples, church furniture, meeting times, religious garments, etc..)

What was the position of the Church in the Scriptures? How did they view culture? What can we deduce from looking at their example of handling the various cultures as they were involved in the exponential expansion of the Faith? What did they understand that we miss?

Let’s answer these questions by stating some observances from Scriptures while ReThinking Church and culture.

  • The Faith is a Message – In the NT the Gospel proclamation is never seen in terms of having its own culture or subculture. Christianity is a message we are to proclaim to and among all cultures… to all nations. (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8)
  • Culture Not Transferable – Paul and the Apostles did not take their native Jewish culture and attempt to impose it on the Gentiles. In fact, this is part of what the Jerusalem council was all about. (Act 15)  Continue reading “ReThinking Church, Part 9 – Christianity is NOT a Culture”

Remembering Francis A. Schaeffer

Down through Church History, the Lord has raised up leaders who seemed perfectly forged for the struggles of his generation. That is certainly true of Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer. (1912-1984) He was a man where incredible simplicity, honest humility and aggressive application of biblical truths came together to give us a gentle giant in regards to apologetics.

Dr. Schaeffer understood where the real battle lines were at, and where we needed to drawn them. This is especially true in the area of the true spirituality of the Christian and the witness of the Church before a watching world. His writings were simple, yet piercing; straightforward, yet gentle; lofty, yet common. He had a unique talent of communication which has rarely been equaled. He authored 22 books before his death in 1984, all of which addressed areas where the Church was sloshing around in, either in unbelief or unconcern. And, while we may not agree to all his conclusions, we can safely say, Dr. Schaeffer never left you wondering where he stood.

Continue reading “Remembering Francis A. Schaeffer”

Let Us Preach From Our Knees – Street Apologetics

America is a nation which loves arrogant personalities with shock jock and intimidating communication traits. We see this in sports, news commentaries and politics. Sad to say, we also see this in preaching. In spite of the instructions from God’s Word, we constantly observe preachers, who are supposed to represent the “Lamb of God,” spouting insulting and obnoxious antics and statements…their speech betrays their own claims. It is the Shibboleth of our generation. (Judges 12:5-6)

Truth, as beautiful and liberating as it is, has baggage which comes with it. That baggage is the ability to make us arrogant and high-minded, as if we invented it and are the source. Nothing wrong about proclaiming truth, however, when we declare it in an coercive and arrogant fashion, we contradict the very spirit and character of truth…which is the spirit and character of Jesus. He is the Truth! (John 14:6)

If we keep ourselves upon the altar of prayer, repenting and dealing with our inclinations toward self reliance and pride, the Holy Spirit will work through us by making us broken vessels which reveal the glory of Christ. Satan and his imps are constantly waiting to pounce upon our lack of brokenness and humility, and to entice us to move into a disrespectful and graceless mode of communication. Let us be careful to preach from our knees! Continue reading “Let Us Preach From Our Knees – Street Apologetics”