The Foolishness of Pride

Woodpecker TreeWe live in a culture and generation that celebrates pride. We see it in everything from politics to sports. News organizations give daily updates on the health and extramarital affairs of star athletes while rarely mentioning the sacrifice of the unsung heroes who work with the unfortunate and outcast of society. Even the unlearned and ignorant among Christian circles applaud and promote ministers that strut around like peacocks overflowing with pride.

God said that he “opposes the proud.” (1Pet. 5:5) This is a military term meaning that He sets himself in battle array against the proud. He still does! As Christians, we must never accommodate that which God hates. If we do, it will be to the peril of our own soul.

To illustrate the character of pride, I’m reminded of this story that I heard years ago about Continue reading “The Foolishness of Pride”

Confession of a Free Christian

Hands raisedMost people hates boxes. They require everyone to fit someone’s narrow view of reality and thought. We find this true in Christianity also. Thank God for sound theology and boundaries of historical thought concerning the person and work of Christ. However, the enemy seeks to divide believers by using self-appointed ‘heresy hunters’ who cause divisions while claiming to protect evangelical orthodoxy.

The Lord calls us to freedom in Christ, freedom in worship, freedom in the power of the Holy Spirit. As a free Christian, we are at liberty to worship God free from the narrow thoughts of man as long as our doctrine and practices are within the boundaries of the Holy Scripture. What does a “Free Christian” believe. It can vary, depending on one’s level of study, influences, or maturity. One thing for sure, the Scriptures will have the final say on all matters of faith and practice. For me, here is my confession. Continue reading “Confession of a Free Christian”

I Weep in the Summer

SummerMost people prefer summer to winter. There are opportunities to get out and ‘break a sweat’ doing enjoyable things from yard work to outdoor sports. The warmer temperatures and delightful weather seems to scream, “get out and do something.” This is good. However, many times it comes with a sad element that makes me weep for summer.

What is that element? It is the large number of people who seem to completely forget about God and abandon their convictions and commitments. The summer months seem to promote worship of the god of self. That is, families consume their weekends with constant trips of self pleasure and ‘me-first’ activities, while abandoning integration and spiritual growth with their local church. It is heart breaking and sad. It reveals the lack of true spiritual conversion or spiritual maturity among many church members.

Continue reading “I Weep in the Summer”

Evaluating The Value of Modern Mission Trips

Cross and the WorldIn the mind of American Christians, the thought of modern missions usually consists of people dropping $2,000 or more to fly to an overseas mission field and teach kids how to comb their hair or kick a ball. However, it usually includes very little that reflects biblical missions. We leave the field with smiles and tears, but with very few conversions. We come home with the joy of having gone, but with the realization that a lot of money was spent for very little return of spiritual fruit. It seems it has become more about us…about appeasing our conscience over the lack of sacrifice we make for the gospel with our life of luxury. Instead of embracing the cross with all of our life, we offer one week out of the year to do ‘missions.’

For all the money, all the photos, all the hype, what do we really have to show for modern missions? Where is the revival?

Maybe we need to re-evalutate our mission trips and begin getting serious about what they should be in light of the pattern we see in Scriptures. Maybe we need less expensive ‘mission trips,’ and more gospel centered mission ministry. That is, trips which have purpose of equipping believers and reaching people with the gospel through street evangelism and church planting. Trips where fruit of conversions are the focus, and leaders are equipped to mentor believers, instead of just games, toys and western ideas of what outreach is about. Continue reading “Evaluating The Value of Modern Mission Trips”

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”

Peace in the Valley

Deep VallyEvery Valley in life has a road in and a road out…sometimes it’s the same road. These are the valleys in which the traveller can see the lowland slowing coming toward them. We get to prepare for the elevation change and experience the acclimation of our surroundings. Still, it is a valley nonetheless, and it brings a unique set of issues into our life.

Then, there are valleys where the land just simply drops off…like a sharp cliff. One minute we are on the high ground, enjoying the view and fresh air. The next minute, we plummet to the lowland with the suddenness of a acorn falling from an oak tree. No acclimation, no preparation, only the sudden crash to the low ground. It could be a sudden and devastating medical diagnosis or family tragedy.

Regardless of the type of valley we find ourself in, God is waiting! He is the highway of Holiness if our actions drove us to the valley. We see His hand and feel convicted about our decisions. We repent and follow this highway of Holiness out of the valley. As we take the winding curves along this exit, we learn valuable lessons about faith, surrender, Continue reading “Peace in the Valley”

Church Planting and the Apostles’ Doctrine

Immediately after the birth of the New Testament Church on the Day of Pentecost, we read where the believers gathered together to form a community of fellowship, prayer and doctrinal instruction. (Acts 2:42) I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and pondering a few areas as it relates to church planting. My focus rests upon a simple question:

In the NT how much doctrinal instruction was expected before other church planters (apostles/missionaries) were sent out?

There would seem to be two extremes. First, there is the position that only those officially trained in Seminary are qualified to hold such a position. Second, there is the position that anyone with a burden should be sent out as soon as possible. The former turns the church planting into a slow and almost non-existent process and seems to violate the New Testament norm and would even disqualify the twelve apostles. (Acts 4:13) The later may multiply quickly, but it opens the door for all types of heresy and catastrophes caused by novice leaders. (1Tim. 3:6)

Couple this with the fact that the early Apostles did not have a written doctrinal statement to use for class room instruction, or even a completed New Testament text. Therefore, what did they demand for future leaders to understand before sending them Continue reading “Church Planting and the Apostles’ Doctrine”

Don’t Waste Your Sorrows

Suffering and affliction are inevitable in this life. It proves the truth of the Bible that we live in a fallen world. Sooner or later suffering will land on our doorsteps; it will visit our life. As Christians, we are not exempt from the valley of affliction and tears. They are common to our life as we wait for the redemption of our body at the Lord’s return. Though our spirit is reborn and brought into fellowship with Jesus Christ, we travel through the same vale of trouble as every man. In fact, we may experience more than the average man because we are a threat to the kingdom of darkness and are targets for the enemy’s attacks.

With the certainty of affliction firmly fixed through the teachings of the Scripture, let us briefly consider what our response should be. Our reaction to a valley of affliction will determine many things in regards to the darkness of the affliction. I do not remember where I heard this, but it has been said, “When you find yourself in a ditch, the first thing to do is throw down your shovel.” Our reaction to affliction can certainly be a continual digging; one which makes the situation worse. Or it can be better than that. It can yield to God’s work and bring about His desired transformation.

Life is part of God’s classroom to teach His children how to trust His sovereign and gentle hand. Without calling evil, good, we do know that regardless of the valley the Lord will work it together for good to those who love Him. (Rom. 8:28) Trials are actually the Love of God in action, designed to mature and call us out of our playpen level of faith. He is calling us to grow up. Continue reading “Don’t Waste Your Sorrows”

ReThinking Church, Part 8 – Church Planting is NOT the Mission

Now, before you have a stroke, let me explain. Of course church planting is part of the overall strategy of evangelism and the spread of the Gospel. However, if we count the establishing or planting of a church as the final goal, we miss the heart of Jesus and the example of the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts.

When church planting becomes the mission, several destructive issues arise.

  • Power Play – Fight over who’s boss (Can involve family ties, social clicks, racial profiling, etc…)
  • Satisfaction – We have arrived.
  • Pride – Look what we have accomplished.
  • Inertia – At ease in Zion.
  • Self Absorbed – Can we build a larger building to impress the community. (Of course, the building is always for the ‘Glory of God.’ …sarcasm intended.)
  • Old Testament Paradigm – Come and hear, as opposed to New Testament model of ‘go and tell.’

The above problems, and many others associated with them, is what we see in the majority of fellowships in America.  However, these all contrast the teachings of Jesus and the outworking of His teachings which are demonstrated through the early church, Continue reading “ReThinking Church, Part 8 – Church Planting is NOT the Mission”

Does Man Have Free Will?

Extreme Calvinists say “no” and extreme Arminians worship free will. As always, there is a great need for balance! There are pitfalls as a result of the logical conclusions we will arrive at if we embrace either extreme. The greatest pitfall is the damage to a clear presentation of the gospel. We must, in order to remain biblically balanced, hold to both the Sovereignty of God and the Free Will of man. If we allow either truth to crush out the other, it will lead us to various levels of misrepresentations of the gospel.

The entire biblical text presupposes, implies and teaches free will. Biblical commands tell us the ‘oughts,’ and the oughts presupposes ‘choice,’ and choice implies ‘free will.’ This part is just very simple when we are not forcing conclusions by cherry picking verses to support extreme Calvinism.

When free will is denied, you’ll always hear and observe a struggling attempt to discuss people surrendering to Christ, especially if the teacher is honestly attempting to remain logically consistent with his position. Most brothers who are five point calvinists, will still present the call to repent and place your faith in Christ alone for salvation. Continue reading “Does Man Have Free Will?”

Church Planters Conference – November 2011

Here is a report concerning the PROJECT INDIA Church Planters Conference held in November in rural India. Many great testimonies are coming in regarding the work the Lord did and is doing from this conference. I’ll be sharing some of them on the Letters From India page in the next few days. As you look at the photos, I would like for you to realize it was not my desire to have my picture on it, but Bro. John insisted that, culturally speaking, they strongly desire to see a picture of any person speaking to them. Therefore, I simply yielded to their request according to Paul’s teaching in 1Corinthians 9:19-23.

We had 65 (60 men, 5 wives) attend the three day conference. I taught on four subjects: The Cross, The Love of God, Evangelism and Church Planting. It was a great time of teaching and joyful fellowship. A personal highlight for me was hearing and seeing (via DVD recording) these men sing praises to the Lord, and hearing the testimonies they sent to me.

Part of the messages was video recorded in order to send into the remote villages which do not have phone service. They are playing the messages for outreach and training of other men who were unable to attend the conference. We gave new Bibles to those Continue reading “Church Planters Conference – November 2011”

ReThinking Church, Part 6 – God Uses the Wrong People

As we continue investigating the New Testament model of ‘church,’ the next thing which stands out is how the Lord uses all the ‘wrong people.’ Of course, I say this tongue in cheek as only the Lord can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. However, when we compare the members of the early church to the our middle and upper class fellowships, we see a stark contrast.

We leaders hate to admit it…but we target the ‘money people.’ They can fund our projects, support our needs and put our church finances at ease as they immediately come with a dividend. This stings, but time and time again I have seen fellow Pastors ‘suck up’ to those in the community who have financial success, while ignoring and even standing aloof from those who were in real need. To appease our conscience we send outreach into the poor neighborhoods and projects, but we dare not have these poor little unkept families come and smudge up our nice rooms and sanctuary. So we use a place out side our facilities to minister to them. God help us! We are hypocrites. Continue reading “ReThinking Church, Part 6 – God Uses the Wrong People”