Friday, December 30, 2011

Is Christ Divided?

1Corinthians 1:11-13  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.  (12)  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.  (13)  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Here was a struggle in the church of Corinth.  There were divisions because members were worshiping a certain man and his particular style of preaching.  Paul greatly rebukes this in the next several chapters making the point that we don't worship MEN.   We are not "OF" men.   Men who are spiritually gifted are to be imitated, listened to, learned from, respected, and even obeyed - but not to cause factions or groups to themselves.

Frankly, this is always a temptation within the body of Christ.  It comes from Preachers who may struggle with the temptation of pride that comes when people listen to them and value them over other fellow Ministers.  Also, there is a tendency that we all have to want to exalt and rally around those who make an impact on us.  There is a loyalty that starts with good motives, but may grow to a faction that pulls the attention away from Jesus Christ and places it on men who are supposed to be His slaves!  It is often easier to focus on men who we can follow physically than Christ whom we must pursue spiritually.

By inspiration, the writer simply says "Is Christ divided?" - the answer to that is "NO!"  When there are divisions within the church following certain leaders or even laymen, we have taken our eyes off of the Goal.  That Goal is Christ.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Is your pastor REALLY preaching God's Word to you?

Is your pastor REALLY preaching God's Word to you?

That may seem like a silly question.  I mean, you go to the church service, open your Bible, listen for 30-45 minutes, have an invitation and then go home - of course he is preaching God's Word isn't he?

I would like to explore that question by giving you an illustration that Pastor Mark Minnick used while instructing a room full of preachers what it is to preach God's Word.  He said if you were studying topography and were sent to a certain mountain to bring back a report on that mountain, you would go and study the mountain and write the report on things like size, height, mass, number of trees, texture, type of rocks, etc.  You would DISCOVER and write the report.  What you would not do is CREATE.  There is no creation to be done.  The mountain is already there, you just need to discover what is there are present it in a report.  This is preaching.

Unfortunately, there are many sermons that are created instead of being discovered in the Bible text itself.  God has already presented the thought patterns, context, points, structure, flow, argumentation, etc.  A Pastor's sermons should mirror the exact thought patterns and argumentation of a certain passage or paragraph of Scripture or he is not really preaching God's Word.  He is preaching a Dr. Frankenstein experiment of his own creation.  He is combining cliche's and folk truth that he has heard to present 35 minutes of a so called sermon that everyone leaves saying "that was acceptable, or he really got going, or that was really good (creation)".  This is not preaching God's Word.

Sermons that truly mirror the argument of each paragraph of Scripture sometimes are shocking and even tough to ingest because they are Divine Argument.  God often does not go to the cliche' Sunday School answer in the next verse.  He goes where His divine heart would go.  That is tough for some pastors because it doesn't sound like "3 points and a poem" like happens in most pulpits.

But when we preach this way, something incredible happens:  people change.  Cliche' preaching of repeating "ear candy" sayings and rhymes does not change people because it is man's word.  God's thinking changes people.

I am not saying there is no place for Topical sermons - but those topical sermons had better be preached with contextual understanding.  That means the preacher doesn't just string together rapid fire verses to support his point - he carefully searches out scripture that connects to the subject he is preaching and DISCOVERS God's mind on it and then preaches it carefully using the key passages of Scripture using the verses in such a way as to perfectly preserve the verse in the meaning God meant for it to mean in the context it was plucked from.  Frankly, even Topical preaching is best done by going to the key passages and preaching them in their own contexts.

Here are some telling questions to answer the original question of if your pastor is REALLY preaching God's Word to you:

1.  Does he take you to the passage he is preaching in your Bible and explain the context?

2.  Does he get the "points" of his sermon from the points God makes in the Bible paragraph?

3.  Is the argument flow of his sermon the same as you can read right there in the Bible on your lap?

4.  Does he often refer to phrases/words in the passage as he preaches (this indicates he is following the passage as he preaches...this is very good)

5.  Is he skipping verses as he preaches?  (this is not good.  Why is he skipping what God wrote?  Why is he not following the flow God did in the verses?)

6.  Are you hearing the same popular verses over and over?  (this is bad...he needs to preach the whole Scripture.  There are 66 books, why are you hearing the same verses?)

7.  Is he explaining the modern meaning of words?  (this is essential - the Hebrew and Greek are not always played out by our translations.  The preacher definitely needs to clearly define words that God gave originally by inspiration.)

8.  If you read the same Bible passage later, can you recall the sermon.  It should "mirror", so the sermon should be easy to recall.  If it is DISCOVERY, it will look the same as the passage.  If it is "Creation", there is no telling what monster may emerge. 

I do hope this helps challenge pastors to do their job and congregants to seek a church that preaches the very Word of God.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Today is the End of the World

This is October 21st, the postponed or redefined date of the End of the World by Harold Camping.

I will not waste your time talking about this heretic - I have written an earlier blog entry on him.  I will however challenge you with the question "Are you ready for the end?"  We do know that it is coming, whether Oct. 21, Dec. 5th, or ten years from now......

To put that in Biblical thinking, are you ready for the Lord to come today.  If you are a recipient of the grace that is in Jesus Christ, that would mean what we call "the rapture".  At first you may jump to the rehearsed answer "of course I am ready!" - however, are you ready to give account of the "things done in your body, whether they be good or bad?" as the Scripture says.

There is no condemnation to those in Christ and this cannot be answering for any/all/part of our sin.  This means the quality of the good works done in our body since we have received Jesus.  Those works, words, sacrifices to God are either good or bad.  Period.

I think about this and I am not so sure that I am ready to stand before that trial of fire.  I know that I have done many things in the name of the Lord, love, etc., but I am left with the strong impression and reality that many of them were done with motives that were prideful, selfish, and even self serving.  It is a struggle to do these works that will be tried with pure motives.  I think we have to have supernatural grace to do any works purely.

I have scripturally stained thoughts also about "the crowns" or rewards that we will receive.  We quickly quote the Revelation 4 passage about these being cast at Jesus feet, and He certainly is worthy of that - but the passage we quote is not the passage of the saint's crowning, but of the "24 elders of heaven".  Sometimes this "casting crowns" is a scapegoat for believers not to realize that what they are doing right now will have eternal impact on their standing in heaven.  It is not like we will cast the crowns and then we all will be equal.  As in Rev. 4 with the elders, there is ranking in heaven.  We see that discussed with James and John's mother in the gospels who wants her sons to sit on the left and right of Jesus when He comes to power. 

What I am saying is that your works as a believer do matter and will be rewarded accurate to your service, love, sacrifice, faithfulness.  This reward will be played out in your Millennium and perhaps heavenly ranking.  This is also illustrated by the parables of the talents when the managers are rewarded according to what they have done with the money entrusted them.

So, I return to Judgement Day today.  Are you ready?  Understanding that what you have done on this earth continues into eternity, are you ready to meet the Lord?


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Love Lasts

I am sitting here this morning thinking about the passage in I Corinthians that I will be preaching tomorrow morning.  The last phrase we will see before the invitation is "Charity (love) never faileth".  It is like the Lord is saying that the validity of all he has taught us about loving people for the last several verses should be our goal because of the nobility and eternality of love.

So, what does that mean?  "love never fails?"  If you keep reading it becomes clear that many of the things that we think are tremendous spiritual virtues and abilities (prophecy,tongues, knowledge) will be gone at some point in history.  Those supernatural revelations will be no more - but love "lasts".  It will be a high and noble virtue supported by the Lord on through all of eternity.

I think about that in my love to people.  For instance, in my love to my children, some of the things that cause friction between us and I make a big deal of simply will not last.  I allow things like their lack of performance in school, chores, etc.  to interrupt the fellowship of my love to them when the truth is whether they earned a "B" or a "C" in Chemistry is not going to matter in the grander scheme of things that really matter.  Love does matter.  Love lasts.  We certainly must push our kids, but not to the point of causing anger and deep scars from our words and scoldings.

We have but a few fleeting years with friends, family, coworkers, spouses, etc.  We need to concentrate our relationships with others on what matters: Love.  Love lasts and so we must make it the highest priority with others right now.


Friday, October 7, 2011

The Sin of President Obama

Luke 3:18-20 And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. (19) But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, (20) Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.

As I was reading this today, I was reminded of the responsibility of preachers of God to call out the sin of government leaders.  There is a careful balance between the respect that we owe our leadership (Romans 12) and the responsibility for the mouthpieces of God to declare sin and repentance to those who are over our land.

Listen to our President on Homosexual rights:
"We've got more work ahead of us. But we can also be proud of the progress we've made these past two and a half years. Think about it," he said, mentioning the repeal of DADT, new hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples and hate crimes legislation protecting LGBT individuals.

"I need your help to fight for equality, to pass a repeal of DOMA, to pass an inclusive employment non-discrimination bill, so that being gay is never again a fireable offensive in America," said Obama. "And I don't have to tell you, there are those who don't want to just stand in our way, but want to turn the clock back, who want to return to the days when gay people couldn't serve their country openly. Who reject the progress we've made. Who ... want to enshrine discrimination in state laws and constitutions -- efforts that we've got to work hard to oppose, because that's not what America should be about. We're not about restricting rights and restricting opportunity."

President Obama's Administration has made wicked progress on Civil Unions and Gay Marriage. This is a terrible and sinful responsibility that he bears and will give account for to Almighty God. His position as the most powerful man in the world carries with it the mandate to lead the world to righteousness and obedience to the laws of God. This is not a minor thing that should be ignored by Bible-believing Christians. We must use our rights and opportunities at the voting booth to remove this wicked man from leadership.

President Obama on Abortion: Obama, in a brief statement marking the 1973 Supreme Court opinion, said he also remains committed "to policies, initiatives and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption..."on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams."

Again, our President serves wickedly by supporting the deaths of millions of innocent babies. This is murder and he is the loudest voice to stop this abomination in our country...yet, when given a chance, he supports the "rights" of women to support their own selfishness and murder their unborn babies. The blood of the innocent cries out for justice against you Mr. President.

President Obama on False Religion: "That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn't. And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear."

Our President is an Idolator. We must not be the "frog in the pot" of the gospel of tolerance. It is not acceptable that President Obama panders to Islam. It is not expected or understood that an American president should be neutral on religion. There is only one true religion and all kings and presidents are under the authority of God to bow to it: The Worship of Jehovah and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Have we listened to the sweet words of Satan's media so long that we actually believe that there is some sort of "right" in America to subdue Christianity and promote Islam? Is this what our forefathers practiced? Absolutely not. "In God we trust" had only one Person in mind: Jehovah, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

As John the Baptizer, I call out our President's sin and expose his wickedness. The responsibility of born again believers is to above all vote BIBLICALLY AND MORALLY. Government system's and Parties come and go, but the Word of the Lord endureth forever."


Monday, October 3, 2011

The Grounds of Unity

We have been preaching through Philippians and 2:1 is not an easy verse to interpret. 

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
After studying it for a while, I concluded that the "consolation in Christ" mentioned here as well as the "comfort of love" were not speaking of something we could do for other believers, but rather something that Christ did and does to believers.  The consolation and comfort of love comes FROM Christ directly.

I know you may have heard it preached that we give the consolation and comfort of love because or by encouraging people about Christ.....but I don't believe this is what the verse means.  Verse 1 is the "grounds of Unity" - it is speaking of two People and what they do to give a foundation for unity:  Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

Listen to John MacArthur's commentary on the verse:  "Consolation" can also be translated "encouragement,"...which our beloved Lord does for His own.  comfort of love...portrays the Lord coming close and wihispering words of gentle cheer or tender counsel in a believer's ear."

I agree with this understanding and I think that is very clear when we understand that the "ifs" of the verse are assumptions of why we can always have unity in a local church.  Christ and the Holy Spirit's are always present in a true church.  These are non-variables and the "grounds" of unity.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Construction and More

I wanted to give a quick update on how Construction was coming along on the church.

We are very excited that the Lord has answered the prayers to hold back the rain this week so far.  We have had full workdays with Nowland's crew.  The back of the property is amazingly ripped up with storm water management trenches, swills, etc.  They are laying pipe and other mechanisms to control water run-off of the site.

The construction entrance is/has going in and the various garages should be demolished in the next several days.  The crews are working hard toward the pouring of our building pad before the winter sets in.

In the meantime, final color/texture choices are being made for the building.  We have chosen a brick that was used in the New Visitor Center at the University of Delaware on South College Ave. across from the Morris Library.  It is a timeless deep red brick with variegated "flashing" that will be beautiful and available for time to come.  The roof will be "slate gray" metal and will match our existing building.  The exterior of the main building will be a neutral color with gritty texture similar to many "Dryvit" buildings you see in this area.

It is an exciting time and the best thing is that we are seeing now with our eyes thousands of prayers raised to the Lord over many years.  Amen, thank you Lord!!


Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy In the Lord

Today I am happy in the Lord and I just wanted to tell someone.

We had such a good Lord's Day yesterday and that encourages my soul a good deal.  It is wonderful to see people of all ages fellowshipping in true Christian love.  I love to see pockets of people before and after the service just loving on each other and spending time building friendships that are sharpening each other in the Lord.  It is exciting when that happens naturally and is a sign of a healthy, Biblical church.

I also rejoice about the spiritual growth we have seen lately.  People's hearts are tender to the preaching of the Word.  We have had several saved lately, people waiting to be baptized, and a surge of church membership.  Amen.  Beyond this, there is growth spiritually in individuals that is not so public - People who are hungering and thirsting after righteousness (and by the way, being filled!)

Amy and I walked the construction site on Saturday and praised the Lord that the faith and patience of many years is becoming site.  Before long, Lord willing, we will see the steel arive for the frame of our building, the footers poured, and the site taking shape.  Wow....Amen. (Steel arrives in 7 weeks :)

There are many sorrows and hardships in our church right now and it is a joyful thing to see other believers responding to them in selfless ministry.  Hardship and joy rest side by side in the Christian life.

I just needed to praise the Lord today.  He is patiently teaching me about Himself in the Gospel of Mark.  I am very slowly letting go of my preconceptions of Jesus and seeing Him for who He really is in the phrases, actions, and chapters of God's Word.  I am trying to no longer stuff Jesus into the pretty boxes of my thinking, but rather allow Him to be who He really is and for me to admire and learn.

"I praise you this day Lord, I want to use my day for your glory.  Help me to remember today that I am dead with Christ on the cross, I am alive to righteousness because I was in/with Christ at the resurrection.  Let this Biblical Truth be my power for pleasing you this day.  In the name of Jesus, Amen."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fourth of July Congressional Prayers

I thought that it would be good to see on this day that we celebrate the birth and greatness of our country the progression of spirituality and prayers to God that have been made over the years in our great countries Legislature.  I hope you enjoy and pray for the United States that first of all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ might continue to convert men and women to the will of Almighty God who birthed our nation.

Prayers in Congress

1861 (July 4), Senate Prayer

The following prayer was offered by Rev. Byron Sunderland, D.D.Almighty and everlasting God, be not angry with us for our sins, which we only confess and deplore; but pardon our offenses and extend to us Thy favor. We thank Thee for Thy goodness on this anniversary of the nation a day tenfold more precious by reason of our present troubles, and sacred to the heart for the ever memorable Declaration of our fathers, in which Thou didst begin more openly to give us a name among the nations of the earth. We thank Thee for all Thy manifold and abundant mercies hitherto to make our nation exceedingly great and glorious; but now disasters have befallen us and darkness broods in the land. And now we ask Thy mercy as the Senate is convening at a most momentous crisis of our history. Give to Thy servants all needed help. Add to their deliberations wisdom and unanimity, and profit and speed to their conclusion. Bless Thy servant, the President of the United States, our veteran Commander-in- Chief, and all that have functions in the civil and military power. May the angel of Thy presence walk in the Cabinet and in the Congress and in the camp, to go before, to purify, and to direct the now greatly and universally-awakened love of country. And we beseech Thee to guide us, to overrule and order all things, and so to cause that nothing shall fail, that the disorders of the land may be speedily healed, that peace and concord may prevail, that truth and righteousness may be established, and that Thy Church and Kingdom may flourish in a larger peace and prosperity, for Thy Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ's sake. Amen. (Source: Congressional Globe, 37th Congress, first session, new series, 1, 4 July 1861.)
1918 (July 4), House Prayer

The Chaplain, Rev. Henry N. Couden, D.D., offered the following prayer:Our Father in Heaven, the inspiration of every generous impulse, every high and noble aspiration, we thank Thee from our heart of hearts for the "Spirit of '76," which gave to us the immortal Declaration of Independence, which led on to victory and the formation of our Glorious Republic, which has not only been the wonder but the admiration of the world. We thank Thee for the day which will be celebrated with more than usual interest throughout the length and breadth of the land. The native born and the naturalized citizen will vie with each other in making it memorable.
For the first time in its history it will be celebrated by our sister nations, who are engaged with us in fighting for the same principles for which our forefather fought, in a world-wide war for humanity, liberty, justice, and equal rights for all mankind.
May it furnish new inspiration to us and our allies, which will bring victory to their arms; then an everlasting peace; to the glory and honor of Thy Holy Name. Amen. (Source: Congressional Record-House,65th Congress, second session, 56/9, July 4, 1918, 8668.)
1943 (July 5), Senate Prayer

The Chaplain, Rev. Frederick Brown Harris, D.D., offered the following prayer:Our fathers' God and ours, on the birthday of national independence we confess our dependence upon Thee. Without Thee we are lost in spite of the overwhelming might of our national arms.
We thank Thee for those pilgrims of faith who came hither in their frail barque across mountainous seas and who stepped upon strange shores with the salutation to a new world, "In the Name of God. Amen." The Nation here established, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal has acknowledged that Name above every name and reverenced it, has built its altars, reared its temples, and raised its steeples, emblems of a faith that points to the skies and wings its sure and certain way to God. Make that faith of the fathers, we pray, real to us in these tempestuous days. Save us from a freedom of speech so empty that we have nothing worth saying, from a freedom of worship so futile that we have no God to adore, from freedom from want and fear with no creative idea as to how to use our plenty or our security for the redemption of our social order and for the salvation of our own souls. Let all that is low and unworthy in us sink to the depths. Let all that is high and fine in us rise to greet the morn of a new day confident that the best is yet to be. Amen. (Source: Congressional Record-Senate, 78th Congress, first session, 89/5, July 5, 1943, 7160.)
1962 (July 5), House Prayer

The Chaplain, Rev. Bernard Braskamp, D.D., offered the following prayer: Psalm 11: 3: If the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do?O Thou Eternal God, may our minds and hearts be stirred with a deepening sense of patriotism and gratitude as we continue to think of that day of high and holy memory in our national history when a company of God-fearing men were guided by Thy divine wisdom to sign the Declaration of Independence
Grant that the blessings of freedom, which were purchased at a tremendous cost and which we prize so highly and are privileged to enjoy in such an abundant measure, may always be coordinated with the spirit of self-discipline.
Help us to cling with increasing tenacity of faith and fortitude to the great truth proclaimed by George Washington in his Farewell Address that religion and morality are indispensable and our national greatness if we allow them to be subverted and obliterated by secularism.
Hear us in the name of our blessed Lord. Amen. (Source: Congressional Record- House, 87th Congress, second session, 108/9, Thursday, July 5, 1962, 12703.)
1969 (July 2), Senate Prayer

The Chaplain, the Reverend Edward L. R. Elson, D.D., offered the following prayer:We thank Thee, O God, that the freedom we celebrate in coming days is not an attainment, but an obtainment that it is Thy precious gift to man as part of his createdness. We thank Thee for the daring of our forefathers in reclaiming their "ancient rights." We thank Thee, too, for the heroes' valor, the patriots' devotion, the prophets' vision, and for all the blood and sweat and toil by which our freedom was purchased. As we commemorate our national independence accept again the declaration of our everlasting dependence upon Thee. In all our joy and thanksgiving enable us to remain a nation "under God," and give us grace and goodness to minister to mankind in His name. Amen. (Source: Congressional Record-Senate, 91st Congress, first session, 115/14, Wednesday, July 2, 1969, 18185.)
1974 (July 3), House Prayer

The Chaplain, Rev. Edward G. Latch, D.D., offered the following prayer:Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. Psalms 33: 12.
Eternal God, stir Thou our minds and stimulate our hearts with a high sense of patriotism as we approach the Fourth of July. May all that this day symbolizes renew our faith in freedom, our devotion to democracy, and redouble our efforts to keep a government of the people, by the people, and for the people truly alive in our world.
Grant that we may highly resolve on this great day to dedicate ourselves anew to the task of ushering in an era when good will shall live in the hearts of a free people, justice shall be the light to guide their feet, and peace shall be the goal of humankind: to the glory of Thy holy name and the good of our Nation and of all mankind. Amen. (Source: Congressional Record- House, 93d Congress, second session, 120/17, Wednesday July 3, 1974, 22130.)
1992 (July 7), House Prayer

The Reverend Norman A. Hjelm, director of faith and order, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States, New York, NY, offered the following prayer:
Lord God of hosts, God of the nations: By your grace and in Your patience You have allowed this our land once again to celebrate its birth, its primal guest for liberty, justice, and equity. And we are grateful.
And once again by Your grace and in Your patience You have called this House-- responsible men and women who are equally faithful and unfaithful, righteous and unrighteous before You, each other, and the people-- You have called this House to the exercise of its solemn task of the legislation of law and the formation of the Nation.
Remind these Your servants that liberty, justice, and equity remain ahead of this Nation as tasks yet to be fulfilled and not as goals already reached.
Maintain before us a clear dedication to the needs of those in our midst who are on the outside because of age, ill health, race, sex, poverty, and urban or rural degredation.
And consecrate anew this Nation to the exercise of imaginative and sacrificial leadership in a restless and violent world which still struggles for authentic justice, peace, and a safe home in Your creation.
Accept now, O God, the labors of this day and the frail lives of Your servants in this House. To You be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen. (Source: Congressional Record-House, 102d Congress, second session, 138/99, Wednesday July 7, 1992, H5981.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Courageous Parenting

I have been reminded this week through conversations and experience how much courage it takes to be a parent. It is one thing to know what God wants for our own lives and quite another to teach and enforce those things to our children.

We know the Scriptures that teach us to "command our children after us,” to diligently place the Great Command of Loving the Lord our God before their eyes always (Deut. 6). We know we must rear them in the "nurture and admonition" of the Lord, not "provoke them to wrath." But the practical application of "God's parenting curriculum" is very hard at times to carry out in everyday situations.

Some of the reasons and solutions for this difficulty need to be discussed:
  1. As our children grow, their future isn't only a matter of our "bring up a child", but also a matter of their choice to follow the fear of the Lord, or reject it. In the early, mid, and late teen years, each child faces the personal choice of whether to follow the Lord. I most fear for our children who have made early professions of salvation in Christ and show no evidence of that regeneration in their life. It is very hard to know what to say to a child like this: "Are you really saved?" "You show no fruit?" "If you love the Lord, why do you rebel from His commands?” I confess that I don't know how to articulate the right question to open their eyes to the obvious conflict between their profession and their lifestyle.

    Each person individually comes to the choice of whether they will follow Christ. All the desire, prayer, and intent of the parents cannot change that one sobering truth. I do believe the aforementioned things are a factor in their decision, but in the end, your child must choose to accept or reject the way of the Lord. It is this truth that chills my inner man more than anything else about my family.

  2. Another reason that it is hard to practically teach and enforce God's teaching is the changes that are occurring in our children. There is something very fearful about what happens between ages 12-15. I have had parents comment things like: "someone has taken my child and replaced him with this ‘Attitude.’” Suddenly, our 12 year old doesn't just do things because we say to. They question and actually care “why” they are doing things. They often have "better" ways to do them. Unfortunately, as they grow older and wiser, sometimes their ways are better. Now, how do we handle this? Do we give them free reign to be an arrogant teeny-bopper and say things like adults would say them? Absolutely not.

    We need to understand that God is developing them within and that naturally comes with a desire of independence. There is nothing wrong with that - in fact, we need to begin giving them more responsibility and even more say in things that are functional (not moral). It is good in a very controlled conversation situation to hear out your (pre)teen’s thoughts even if they are absurd. I find that I struggle to wait until it is my turn to talk because I want to "blow away" every crazy thought. Please understand with me that what comes out the mouth in preteen and teen years is like a baby bird attempting to fly for the first time. His posture is absurd. His technique is crazy. There is no possibility of successful flying given the continued approach. Gently, lovingly – parents, you and I need to listen and then speak God's truth in love. I confess, I need to work on this a lot.

    Within these exchanges however, is a magic line of respect. It is the authority that God has given you as parent that must be honored. You must not allow your child to cross this line by personal disrespect, rebellion, or usurping your authority. Hold the line with determined, unfaltering resilience.

  3. The last think I will mention is the difficulty of teaching and enforcing God's ways because of the "energy crisis.” Let's face it - we cannot maintain enough energy in our 30's, 40's, and 50's to stand toe to toe with a mouthy teenager that has a seemingly endless supply of foolish reasons why they cannot simply obey or do right. It takes a huge amount of energy to parent. We need strength from God to meet the need. But, first I want to say that we must conserve our energy for battles that really matter. For instance, it may not be worth the fight to insist that your son change the color of his socks because his "fashion statement" doesn't match. Who cares - let him look like a bozo :)

    On the other hand, it is not wrong for you to make the decision your way even if it isn't a Bible command. You are the parent and God has given you the right to choose for that child. You must avoid provoking for no reason, but there are times when you just prefer something different than the choice of that child and it is OK to insist on your way. In Tripp's book "Shepherding a Child's Heart" he points out that there are times to say "no" simply to shape your child's will into realizing he cannot always have what he wants. I agree with this perspective.

    Another point concerning energy is this: don't "talk it all out" every time. You cannot keep up with the insistent adrenaline flowing in your teen. You do not have to. Understand their perspective, consider in your own heart what is best from God's perspective, make the decision, hold to it, and lay it out to your teen in about a 5 minute discussion. Don't argue back and forth, back and forth. Don't give your teen that liberty. You are the parent; you must make the decision. Do not fret your child holding a grudge or not liking you. You are there to represent both loving and just God and you must do that no matter how they take it. They don't have to like it. They just have to do it with a respectful and submissive spirit. End the "discussion" and do not allow them to spout at you.
One thing that our Sunday school class has discussed is the confidence of understanding as a parent that parenting is a "God-matter". When your child resists you point them assuredly to their rebellion against God. That is really the matter. Stand confidently with God as you parent.

I pray that God give you the great grace and great wisdom that I am also seeking to parent courageously.


Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday or Earth Day?

We remember on this holy day that our Lord Jesus willingly carried the guilt of our original and life-sin to the cross.  Though He was the Just One, He suffered for the unjust.  Though He never committed even one of your angry deeds, selfish motives, secret lusts - He lovingly accepted the verdict of God's wrath for them all.

With grateful hearts we remember this day and the nobility of Jesus Christ sacrificing His royalty, deserved pride, innocence, reputation, painfulness, etc. to win your soul for eternity.  There has never been a greater love.

This year, very unfortunately, Good Friday and Earth Day are on the same day.  It was not intended that way and Christians need not think it was purposeful.  It is a terrible reminder however, that men worship themselves and creation rather than coming to the cross.  They bow to the religion of "Green" rather than the payment of "Red".  Oh, that men would come to Christ as Savior and Lord!  I have included the Wikipedia article exerpt below on "Earth Day" for your education.

May your mind be on the Cross today.  I am first including a wonderful Good Friday Song - The Power of the Cross


Significance of April 22 - Senator Nelson chose the date in order to maximize participation on college campuses for what he conceived as an "environmental teach-in". He determined the week of April 19–25 was the best bet as it did not fall during exams or spring breaks.[51] Moreover, it did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather. More students were likely to be in class, and there would be less competition with other mid-week events—so he chose Wednesday, April 22. ( ; Earth Day selection)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Burden of our Families

I have lately been burdened by families who are doing their best...yes, you did read that correctly.

Many families struggle and eventually throw up their hands in defeat as their preteens and teens begin pursuing attitudes and interests of this world that dishonors God.

There are many Biblical principles that deserve meditation by parents, but I would like to share simply two:

1.  Parents who "Really" love God.

By "Really", I mean "Real".  Real love for God is not only on Sundays or Wednesdays at church.  There are many well intentioned believers that have two standards for their home:  A Church standard and a Home standard.  They live in the dichotomy of conservative, holy Christianity for their church choice and attendance, but the lifestyle of pursuing a world without God's holiness and presence at their home.

Children need to see their parents loving God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

I was thinking this morning about the hundred's of Christian families that I have come into contact with in our years of ministry and how their children turned out.  I believe the single most important factor other than the calling Grace of God is having Parents that "really" loved God.  Their home life was like their church life.  Their children saw them seeking God in the Word and prayer.  Their media, talk, discipline, etc. was based on following the Bible, it wasn't only "church stuff".  "Real Godly parents" mostly reared "Real Godly children" in the long run.

I notice in many of these "real" families that sometimes there was a stint of rebellion where an older teen would seemingly pursue the world, but then would return to living for God later.  Of course, this isn't always true and their are many "real families" that lose one or two of their children totally to the world to return no more.  "Train up a child" is a directional promise, not an "every time" promise.

2.  Friendships that are allowed

Many of the hearts of our children are stolen by the Evil One through what seems to be a "nice friend".  I will never forget the nice church friend who showed me a condom when visiting his house one day.  His Dad was a deacon and good friends of my family, but it was clearly obvious that this son was very worldly minded.  My parents could have seen that.  I knew that.

We need to be kindly discerning and discriminatory about who we allow our children to spend their time with.  This can get embarrassing and a struggle when you have to explain this to other parents.....however, we are talking about our very precious children - we must over come fear of other parents when we say "no".  We must talk to our children about their friendships and know who children at school are.  What happened to the old time "have the friends over for supper" routine? 

I would also recommend you to be careful when allowing your children to spend the night somewhere.  We cannot keep our children in a bubble, but we must know all the possible dangers of allowing them to go somewhere.  Sometimes, just asking the questions can reveal some issue.  Scripture says: 1Co 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.  We must not allow evil communications in the form of friendships to corrupt the good manners we are instilling in our children.

A childhood of righteousness can be corrupted by one bad friend.  It is heart breaking when a teen will side with the counsel and direction of an evil friend and forsake the Bible counsel of their parents.  Be strong to control who your preteen or teen "hangs with".  Insist on helping them choose their friends.  If you have built a relationship with your child, after some resistance, you will greatly influence their choices.

We cannot afford simply to do our best in parenting - we need to parent God's way.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Seasonal Discouragement

There are many Believers that struggle with seasonal discouragement or depressions.  There are many reasons why you may battle with discouragement at certain times of the year.  Your body may react to the changes of weather, you may have bad memories associated with some crisis or negative event that happens in the Winter or Spring.  Whatever the cause, there have been quite a few people especially in Fall-Winter or Winter-Spring over the years that have confided that they struggle every year near the same time. 

I do not have a "magic wand" solution for you, but you will do well to take heed to the progression of the Psalmist Asaph as he works through his own thoughts of depression to praise to the Lord in Psalm 77.  Please join me for a short little study of this:

Psa 77:1-20 To the chief Musician, to Jeduthun, A Psalm of Asaph. I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me. (2) In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. (3) I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. (4) Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

Asaph came to a point where he was very discouraged.  "In the day of his trouble" he was praying, trying to seek the Lord, crying out to the Lord, but his heart would not be comforted.  In fact, when he remembered God, it caused him to be more troubled.  You can hear his frustration and complaint in these first four verses as he became overwhelmed within himself with trouble.  He could not sleep at night.  He became so troubled, he did not even want to speak.  His thoughts became all "inward".  He had no interest in others, in reaching out to others, in talking things through - he only thought about his own trouble.

This is tempting isn't it when we get overwhelmed inside?  We just replay our own troubled thoughts over and over and over in our mind.  We may clam up and not even want to converse with others.

(5) I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. (6) I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. (7) Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? (8) Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? (9) Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.

Asaph considered the ancient times and how God had been gracious to those before him.  He remembered his own "song in the night" when he went to bed joyfully and perhaps literally sang a song of joy to the Lord on his bed before sleeping.  He begins to question himself about his depression.  He does something he should not do.  He begins to accuse the Lord in ways that disagree with the promises God had clearly made to him in the Scripture.

Here is a revelation of our own minds in depressions and discouragements.  We begin to play "negative" questions or accusations over and over.  Asaph asks "will the Lord cast off for ever? ... Is his mercy clean gone for ever? ... doth his promise fail? etc.  These are poisounous accusatory thoughts that bring the Believer very low and take the hope right out of you.  Proverbs 13:12 says -  Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.  When we allow negative thoughts to brew and brew within us, we are taking away the "hopes" of God that He has clearly told us in the Bible.  We are allowing lies of the Evil One to poison us against God and the joy of living in Him.

(10) And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. (11) I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. (12) I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.

Asaph says "This kind of bad thinking is my problem (infirmity)"  God is not the problem in my discouragement.  He has not left or forgotten to be merciful to me.  His promise has not failed me - the poison is my own thinking!

Asaph then changes his thinking.  Three times he uses the word "remember" and once the word "meditate".  The begins practicing good thinking and that leads to the victory seen in the end of the chapter.

Notice He remembers the "years" that the Lord has been faithful.  He rememebers all the LORDS works in the past chronicled for us in Scripture.  He remembers all the miracles told us in Scripture as "wonders of old".  Then, he begins to replace the poison thoughts with meditations of God's working and doings.  This is thought replacement that brings hope back again.

Notice also in v. 12b, he takes another step at replacement and begins "talking" of God's doings.  So often when we are overcome with discouragments, our trouble is all we can talk about.  Asaph controlled and changed his thoughts and then he changed his talk.  I'm sure at first it was hard for him to intentionally "talk" of the Lord's doings.  He probably had to make himself forceably - but this is the nature of taking steps out of depressions.  You must take the baby steps of changing your thoughts, then changing your talk.  You cannot allow yourself to remain in the place that you are all "inward" and "cannot speak" v. 4

For the rest of the chapter you see Asaph recovering from his discouragement and praising the Lord again.  There is a startling change in his spirit from the beginning of the chapter compared to the end.  May the Lord use the his thoughts to move you to the end of your chapter where you are saying "who is so great a God as our God?" v.13

 (13) Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? (14) Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. (15) Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah. (16) The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled. (17) The clouds poured out water: the skies sent out a sound: thine arrows also went abroad. (18) The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook. (19) Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. (20) Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Norma Justice Memorial

The Memorial Service at LBC for Norma Justice will be today (Saturday, 1/29/11) at 11am with a Luncheon to follow.

Friday, January 7, 2011

First Spock then Phil

2Peter 1:3-4 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (4) Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

The verse above makes an amazing claim.  It says that through knowing God in salvation, by His power He gives us everything we need for life and godliness.  Do you believe that?  Those "all things" would include a Holy Spirit within us, the crucifixion of our old man, and the promises and commands of Scripture.
However, many Christians do not believe that we have everything we need in life.  Emotionally, mentally, in counseling, many believers are following the world of popular psychology rather than digging into Scripture and/or seeking the counseling of godly people for their mental and behavior issues.  They have bought into the lie of Satan that God and Scripture are not enough (not sufficient).
In 1946 a man named Dr. Benjamin Spock turned the hearts of millions away from God with an anti-Biblical approach to childrearing.  He advocated that Mothers should do what they "feel" rather than conventional order and childrearing.  Spanking was taboo.  Children were encouraged to "act out" their anger rather than behave and God's Word was placed on the shelf as thousands of believers read his book rather than followed the Bible. 
We are a generation of "Dr. Phil's".  Even Christians have bought into the lie that the Bible, preaching, Biblical counseling, etc. is inadequate to meet their thinking, emotional, mental issues.  We have received the "labels" of psychiatry as gospel for why we do and think wrong.  We have sought the medication of drugging as the answer to why we are "imbalanced" rather than taking time through the Scriptural correction, godly advice, changed obedience, fasting and prayer, etc. to address the true reasons for our anxiety, depression, fears, and "baggage".
There are definitely time for "drugs".  Organic damage, true body disease, thyroid problems, etc. all lend themselves to the help of stabilizing drugs.  There are times when fears, depression, and anxiety have not been handled Biblically that a person becomes overwhelmed and truly imbalanced and drugs must be used temporarily for 6 months to a year to bring the chemicals in their body under control.  These imbalanced states escalate to the point of hopelessness, terror, and even suicidal thoughts.  In these extreme times, medication is necessary and vital to quickly bring the body and mind to a managable state.  When these extreme terrors are under control and the person can think reasonably clearly again however, they must seek a skilled Biblical Counselor to deal with the reasons for the anxiety as they gently under a Doctor's care wean slowly off of the medication.

I do not share this thinking from ignorance or arrogance, but from the position of a Pastor who has personal experience in these issues in dozens and maybe hundreds of counseling situations in the past 18 years.
Anxiety medication does not heal, it manages.  In many ways it "band-aids" the unresolved problems.  Mental illnesses that are not organic (accident or disease) like labeled bi-polar, manic depression, anxiety attack, etc. are labels placed on you in the world of psychology.  These are not viruses, cancers, or diseases that have diagnosis like a broken arm, a tumor, high blood pressure, etc.  Doctors are giving names to your symptoms but have no physical test to prove it.  There is no medical test for "chemical imbalance".  They have learned to use medication to control your body to calm itself, but this is not the same as taking a Bible and looking at verses to change your heart about improper fears and anxieties within.  Satan has convinced believers through popular opinion that the world of psychology is more athoritative on the issue than the God who made your body and wrote the Bible.
The life of psychology is a constant cycle of failed talks, drugs, treatments, clinics, programs, etc.  There is constant correction of medication, labels, and failed sessions.  Unsaved Doctors can never heal the issues of the mind and heart because they approach the treatment from Humanism and not God's thoughts.  Secular doctors councel from the perspective of either "God doesn't exist" or that "He is a general helpful crutch of "having faith".  They are not giving the Wisdom of the Word of an involved, specific, commanding God in your life.  God must deal with your issues through renewing your thinking in those "baggage" issues from God's Word.  It often takes a skilled Pastor or Biblical Counselor to get to the heart of your thinking, but when they do, you will change if you will obey the Word.
We must place our confidence again in God who has given us all things that pertain to godliness. Deal with your fears and anxieties with the Bible and a Pastor or godly Christan who knows the Word while they are small or they will get out of hand and you will be overcome with anxiety, fears, and depression.
We must reject Dr. Spock, Dr. Phil and return to Dr. Jesus.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"V" is for Victory!

I am so happy to report that the New Castle Land Use Dept. has reversed their decision and granted us a three year permit for our "modular" buildings.

This was a great surprise to us as we went to the meeting ready to please our (God's) case.  After some questions about dates, pulling files, etc., the Land Use Manager simply said that they would give us the three year permit and that it was an error on their side.  Amazing.

Many thanks to Councilwoman Diller, Councilman Dave Tackett, Sen. Hall-Long, George Haggerty, Dave Culver, and others who helped us in this process.

God is great and heard the prayers of His people!  Do you see it?  Do I see it?  Do we understand that God intervened in the hearts and lips of the right people to deal favorably with us? 

I am encouraged in faith not only by these permits, but the bigger matter of building the building we so desperately need.  The hour is here, God hears our prayers, the need is great, and God is on His Throne!  Amen!


Urgent New Castle County Prayer Request

Dear LBC Family,

I ask each of you to pray and if you feel led to contact your council person or Delaware Senator over the following matter:

Since the week before Christmas, we have been going back and forth with New Castle County because they have denied renewing permits for our (2) Trailer/Modulars. As most of you know, these modular structures are of huge impact to our ministry. The allow for (3) Sunday School classes, our church office, King's Kids weekly children's program, Junior Church, Pastor's Prayer Partners, Senior Citizen events, Funeral dinners, Teen activities, video overflow of our services up to this point, and a host of other uses beneficial to our church, community, and to other churches that have used them.

I certainly understand the County's position in desiring to cleanup the temporary structures in our County, however, this comes at a terrible time for us as we seek with all our strength to build a new building. They are within their written ordinance writes as I understand it to refuse renewal, however, we are requesting understanding and common sense toward LBC in this time of moving forward in our plan to build.

I have called on area Pastors and churches to help us pray and influence this decision. WOEL 89.9 FM is running an urgent prayer request for us on the radio. Another Pastor is calling his former Senator to see if he can help the influence.

Today at 2:15pm we will meet with the Land Use Department and lay out our case. Up to this point, they have made it clear that they do not intend to compromise any on this issue. They will not renew our permits and we must get rid of the trailers immediately. Councilwoman Diller, Tackett, and Sen. Hall-Long have interviened to get us the "stay" until this meeting.

I ask you to urgently pray for the will of God in this transitional time of our church.  This is a political matter that could influence other churches and your voice will be heard by your council person or Senator.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Harold Camping

Lately, more attention has been given to a deceiver named Harold Camping.  He is the President of Family Radio that plays very nice Christian music in this area.  I love the music, but it comes at the price of being taught heresy in his Open Forum radio call in show.  Recently, I received this email question and here is my brief response.  I do hope that it will warn any of you that may come in contact with Family Radio.

"Hi PW,

Have you ever heard of Howard Camp? I believe he does Family Radio Ministry from Oakland, CA. I was just wondering if he is considered “reliable” in Biblical knowledge.

Response:  Yes, his name is Howard Camping and he is a deceiver. He is fairly popular on radio and now TV and is totally steering people in many wrong doctrines. Among these wrong doctrines are:

1. He incorrectly predicted that the Lord would come in 1994, now gives the date May 21, 2011 as the rapture or end of the world – I’m not sure which.

2. He is a hyper, hyper, hyper Calvinist which believes only the chosen can be saved AND even if you believe on Christ and ask the Lord to save you, He may not. He says you should just say over and over and over “God be merciful to me a sinner” and hope it works. (very bad salvation doctrine)

3. Most recently he preaches that every church is bad and all Christians must Come Out of the churches. No church is good. Only organizations like Family Radio are good, so send your tithes to them.

4. He doesn’t believe Jesus died in his human lifetime for sin, but rather before the world was ever made, God crucified him in, the death on the cross was only a demonstration of what He had done earlier.

This guy is bad news and he is deceiving thousands who are weary of organized religion (church)

Pastor Tobe Witmer"

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Why are all these people smiling?

As you look at this picture of President Obama sitting at a desk signing something, you may ask, "Why are all these people smiling and so happy?"  It is because our President is signing into law a document that says homosexuals can no longer be discharged from the military for openly practicing Sodomy.

This December 22nd, 2010 repeal was one piece of wicked legislature built on the wicked legislature of President Clinton's 1993 mandate which simply instructed homosexuals to practice their sin quietly.

President Obama said during the signing: “No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie or look over their shoulder,”  Quoting the chairman of his joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, Mr. Obama went on, “Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.”

No matter how much our leaders and country smiles and rejoices, God says that Sodomy is sin of extreme perversion, lust, uncleanness, vile affection, against nature, and unseemly.  It is an extreme sexual sin that is a consequence of a person or nation forgetting God.  Though all sin is wicked, homosexuality is revealed in Scripture as an exceeding wicked national sin that deserves the destruction of the Lord as He did Sodom and Gomorrah.

Romans 1:24-27 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: (25) Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: (27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence (payback) of their error which was meet.

Repealing "Don't ask don't tell" is nothing to smile about, but rather everything to weep about.  Beyond the terrible distraction that this will be to our military in everyday perverse situations, the greater harm here is a Country that once trusted God rejoicing in a lifestyle that spits on His holiness, His establishment of marriage, and the picture of Christ and the church.

Instead of conviction and shame for their sin that will bring repentance and salvation to perishing homosexuals, our country is glamorizing and commending the unrighteousness which will lead many to the lake of fire.  Instead of compassion that preaches repentance to lost homosexuals, our country is applauding the extreme sin that often drives them to a life of debauchery, sickness, disease, death of their body, and ultimately death of their soul.  For the sake of the repentance of perishing homosexuals, sin must be preached as exceeding sinful.

America is lost in sin and our only hope is national revival.  As Christians, we must not put our head in the sand and ignore such terrible and wicked steps of destruction such as President Obama's repeal.  We must be the pillar and ground of truth.  We must never be politally correct, but rather be Biblically correct and condemn Sodomy just as the Lord does.  We must cry in the streets, we must be burdened with our national sin, we must fast and pray for God to send revival.