Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Reading Scripture in larger context

Something is definitely lost when we read Scripture in short bites or proof texts rather than seeing the entire thought patterns that lay out over an entire chapter or a few chapters.

I know many proof texts that are rightly quoted from the pulpit, but are never seen in their greater context meaning.  When you read those in the paragraph where they were born, they burst with meaning.

There are several such salvation theology verses in Romans.  I challenge you to read chapters 1-3 altogether sometime.  You will see popularly quoted verses, but what you will see more is an amazing picture of salvation by faith alone, apart from the deeds of the law or grace:

Chap. 1 - The wickedness of the wicked before God

Chap. 2 - The wickedness of the self-righteous law keepers before God

Chap. 3 - The wickedness of everyman before God; righteousness apart from the law; justification by faith

What an exciting and faith-building read these three chapters are!  What joy they bring to the heart of someone clinging to faith in Jesus Christ alone.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Drawing a New Image of God

I am meditating on Romans 1 this morning and thinking back through the "timing" of this chapter.  It seems to be both a history of mankind's plunge into idolatry as well as the present direction of "everyman".

God has glory.  God makes every man able to see that incorruptible, holy glory.  Man (the majority) re-draw God into a image of something they can understand - something that makes them comfortable.  An idol.

These idols of course are not always physical like a statue.  They are creations of the "god" that we want.  Rather than His scriptural image, we make Him what best suites our thoughts, personalities, lifestyles.

The penalty for such counterfeiting of God is v.26:  God gives us over to uncleanness.

Knowing this danger, I would think that each one of us needs to be careful of our image of God and reexamine whether we are relating to Him as He truly is, or how we have drawn Him.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Thoughts about God

2 Corinthians has been a great blessing to me lately.  It is fresh perspective from the view of a minister.

This morning, there were many applicable things, but I wanted to share two thoughts about God:

1.2Cor 5:14  "For the love of Christ constraineth us" - the verses before and the verses following describe the apostles mindset of living and ministry that had been radically changed by his understanding of Jesus love toward him.  The thinking goes:  Jesus loved me and died for me.  Since he died "for me", I am dead and live to a new life.  I am a new creation.  My new life is about Christ and pleasing him.  

That love of Christ that changed Paul compelled him to live for Jesus.  I know that thought may not seem profound to you, but it is fresh oil to me to reconsider the love of Christ toward me.

2.  2Cor 5:20b   "as though God did beseech you by us:" - the word "beseech" means to beg.  I feel like I understand some things about the doctrines of sovereign grace, election, etc.  When I come to this phrase of how we are supposed to give the gospel, I am shocked that the God of all Sovereign grace would beg a sinner to be saved.  What compassion!  What love!  What Divine humility!  This is the attitude that I should preach with as I give the gospel, the attitude that you should beg your loved ones with, the attitude we all should have as we tell others that "Jesus saves!".  

I trust these two thoughts about God will be an encouragement to you.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

How is SWAT and Canvassing going?

This past Saturday was the second Outreach Saturday that we have had this summer.  We grew a bit in attendance and have a good amount of folks coming out.  I'm encouraged by the spirit of boldness for Christ that I see in each person.

The Canvassing Team has been working on the 1500 plus homes of Salem Woods distributing gospel literature and the Gospel DVD.  They were able to hit over 300 homes on Saturday!

SWAT (Soul Winning Advance Team) has been going to "people locations".  The first week we went to the New Castle Farmer's Market, but were told we could not come back there.

I wanted to tell you about SWAT's adventure on Saturday.  We went to Main street Newark and were wondering if we would find many people since U of D just held their graduation.  However, what we did not know is that it was "Newark Day" and Main street is shut off for vendors for the day.  When we arrived in the morning, the crowd steadily grew to several hundred people I suppose.

The great thing is that we were able to talk to a very steady stream of people on the streets about Christ and we simply blended in with all the activity around us.  Our different teams spoke to person after person using the introduction of the Truth Survey.  That Survey is four questions about "Truth" in this generation - things like "how do you know what is good and evil?" "are you responsible for your actions?" etc.  It is a great way to get into the question "can I show you what the Bible says about Truth?"  We then have been using the Bridge Tract which is a very easy method (with pictures) to give the gospel.  It has clear and thorough verses that explain the plight of sin and the answer of the Savior.

In past years, we have gone door to door in housing areas.  The problem with that is that most people seem to be gone on a given Saturday, and the rest are home to have a lazy morning or to work hard on their homes.  The people we engage on the street or at the Market are already out and prepared to see other people.  They seem to have more of a willingness to talk.  The Lord has been very gracious and encouraging to us.

It is shaping up to be a very good season of Outreach.  Already, many people have heard the gospel!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Caring for the functional needs of traveling missionaries

3Jn 1:5-8  Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;  (6)  Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:  (7)  Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.  (8)  We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.

I was reading this passage this morning and thinking about how important it is to care for our missionaries who are traveling through our church.  You will notice that this is what is being talked about here.  The leader -  pastor? "Gaius" is being commended of his love toward brethren that were going forward with the gospel. Evidently, they were showing great care for these missionaries.

V.8 says that when we care for their needs in such a hospitable way, we are becoming fellowhelpers of the truth.  Raising missions support right now is very tough.  American churches are feeling the grip of the economy and have become in some ways unhospitable in their attitude toward those trying to reach the field. It is common for a missionary to be treated poorly or coldly when they call churches.  It is common to never have an opportunity to talk to a pastor, but to be shut down by the secretary.

I have felt the frustration as a pastor about missionaries.  My parents are missionaries now, and they tell me what it is like.  I also realize the feeling of having no funds to support new missionaries and having to be careful with funds even to be hospitable to those passing through.

All of us need to see the bigger picture of the heart of our Lord that commends all hospitality to those called to give his gospel.  Even if it is small, we need to do the small things that we can.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Have you considered John the Baptist?

My sweet wife was reading in Mark this week and talked to me about the life of John the Baptist.  She was pondering his purpose in life.  She asked if I've considered that his entire life was dedicated for the use of the Lord Jesus.  Now, think about this for a minute in light of the purpose of your life.  Consider John:

1.  Glorified Jesus in the womb
2.  Prepared the way of Christ by preaching as soon as he was old enough
3.  Lived extremely minimally on locust and honey in the wilderness for his task
4.  Publicly declared Jesus as Christ before masses for the first time
5.  Was imprisoned for his righteous stand and outspoken holiness
6.  Was beheaded

Think about this man's life.  It was spent all for God and more specifically Christ.  We value ourselves and the will of God for us so much that we miss that we are made "for" Him.  We don't realize that it is a good thing to be sacrificed in a way that causes us "less" for Christ's sake.  Are you and I willing to lay down ourselves like John the Baptist for the only purpose of preparing the way for the Lord?

This is what my sweet wife shared with me.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Random thoughts on the Marriage Equality Bill that passed in Delaware Today

I really don't know where to begin.  I am numb.  I sat in the car after the vote with Pastor George Tuten and we prayed together.  When it was my turn to pray, I felt like I did not know what to say.  I simply yielded to the Sovereignty of God who does all things well.

This battle has been a worthy one.  It was right for 75 plus pastors to stand publicly against this Bill.  I am glad that we invested the time to stand for the Lord.  I am withholding words of judgment toward those pastors who did not come to stand.  I am holding back words of zealous rebuke that I want to say.  "Where were you?"...

When it really came down to it today, it really was about the Lord.  I was surprisingly pleased that much of the conversation was about our Creator, our ultimate Judge, etc.  Many of the Senators warned of answering to the Lord for this vote.  Honestly, much of the conversation revolved around God.  I was surprised and joyful that they still knew there was a God in Dover.

 I have found that liberal legislators hide behind the pole numbers when they cast their vote, and conservatives vote their conscience (that may be a generality - but seemed true for this vote)

The testimony today was prophetic in many ways.  Professional speakers and clergy warned of coming results of redefining marriage.  It seemed that no one was listening.  The warnings quoted from places like Massachusetts are grim.

Our churches District Senator (Hall-Long) came into the chamber at the very last minute.  She saw me and two other pastors from her district and came straight across and spoke into my ear that she had made her decision two hours ago and was voting "for" the bill.  Very upsetting.  I pray that a candidates will rise up from one of the churches to take the senate and house seat of District 12.

It is hard to believe in my lifetime that we have come so far down as a nation.  It is crazy to think that America is living Sodom and Gomorrah.  We have pushed away God.  We have thrown His Word to the sidelines.  Believers have absorbed the perversion of Hollywood and Oprah.

The day is dark and I pray that it will stir believers in a mighty way.  I have not been one of those pastors that constantly call for Revival - but we need that.  Only God Almighty's mercy can save us now.

This battle did something else: it united conservative, Bible preaching Pastors.  We will not stop fighting - in fact, I believe this joined the hearts of many leaders for Christ together in Delaware.  God is worthy, and it is a joy and honor to stand for what He stands for.  We hold the Book, the blood, and the blessed hope of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Strategy to fight gay marriage in your State

We hope these simple notes will help other Pastors in the fight against the redefinition of marriage in their states.

Tobe Witmer


Delaware Family Policy Council: Nicole Theis
Equality Delaware: Lisa Goodman

What we have done as a Church:
  1. Held special times of public prayer on the issue
  2. Informed the people in services, emails, passing information.  Provided information to make it easy to get involved (De House and Senate phone numbers, Who their Senator is, etc.)
  3. Had the congregation sign petitions against the Marriage Equality Bill - presented it to our legislators
  4. Worked through an organization to make our efforts effective (Delaware Family Policy Council - is a Christian organization - but was the largest to rise up.
  5. Our pastors went to our capitol multiple times and spoke in House and Senate Committee meetings against the Bill (2 minute speeches - intimidating, but very important for the Record)
  6. Took van from our church to a Rally for Traditional Marriage at our Legislative Hall - disappointed that not more from our church came - people seem afraid or timid on the issue. (1000 people who showed up)
  7. Were a part of a Pastors Press Conference with 75 Pastors against the Bill.
  8. Really Encourage Churches to understand -- We are salt and Light - Matt 5 - the Salt has to purify where their is threat of corruption and the Light has to Shine in the Darkness -- YOU CAN’T DO THAT INSIDE YOUR LOCAL CHURCH - MUST GET OUT INTO THE WORLD!!!!!!


  1. Civil unions passed in April of 2011 with the promise that it was not a stepping stone toward gay marriage. Approx. 18 months later, gay marriage was introduced by the Gov. of De.
  2. Sunday, April 14, 2013: Collected 171 signed petitions addressed to our representatives and senators
  3. Wednesday, April 17: Testimony before the House committee; several Pastors spoke against; bill passed 4-1
  4. April 18: Rally at Legislative Hall; Pastor's press conference with 75 pastors present; many Pastors spoke against marriage equality; bill passed 23-18
  5. April 26: Glasgow Church posts and removes a sign opposing the Marriage Equality Act
  6. May 1: Testimony before the Senate committee; many Pastors spoke. passed to Senate 4-2
  7. May 7: Senate vote


Delaware would be the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage, although other states recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Civil unions passed in April of 2011, Lisa Goodman and Equality Delaware assured the public that marriage was not on the table.
Civil unions give same-sex couples all the rights and responsibilities of marriage, without the name - however, this is a concession that is unbiblical and WILL NOT STOP THE THIRST FOR GAY APPROVAL for marriage dignity. The Gay community wants Dignity and Approval as much as rights. This is the real deal going on in their hearts.
Most of the arguments advanced by Gay Community are, heavily emphasize the dignity and respect desired by the LGBT community, and push the idea that opposing this bill will put you on the “wrong side” of history

Strategies / What we have learned

  1. Must get involved in the Election process - who you put into office is how they will vote.  Strong Christian involvement definitely could change elections (many seats aren’t won by huge amount of voters.

  1. Develop strong relationships with your local representatives and senators so that you have more influence when it comes time to defend a Biblical position. (the De vote is down to our District Senator - we have a friendship and history with her and she is willing to listen to us personally (Meeting)

  1. This is a fight for APPROVAL, not acceptance - The Gay community mostly has acceptance in America - now they want “dignity, recognition, approval” --- Civil Unions are about getting “rights” - “Marriage is about getting “Approval and Dignity” from the Country.   --- They use Civil Unions as a stepping stone. - (they will lie that they will not seek marriage bill - but they do)

  1. This is mostly Clergy Argument - the Gay Community uses lots of liberal clergy publicly to push their point - they create a god of their own desires (wants gays to love each other) - they never use Scripture.  Pastors have to understand that they MUST be involved.  Clergy are still the leading voice in Community for righteousness.  Don’t “Marginalize” yourself by not getting involved.

  1. HB 75 promises protection for clergy not to have to perform gay ceremonies - but this is just a way to push concerned clergy out of the debate - it takes the view off of the immorality of the issue and makes gay marriage seem harmless.

  1. You must not advance secular arguments to the neglect of the primary argument, that same-sex marriage contradicts the Bible, both the Old and the New Testament.  
    1. The leading opposition sort of encourages SECULAR arguments like “future children, statistics of infidelity in Gay couples, changing the definition, the impact on society, etc. - However this is really a matter of AUTHORITY.  Who has the right to decide WHO can be married - ultimately that is God, the Creator of Marriage and the Judeo-Christian laws America was founded on.
    2. Beyond the express verses of Scripture in Matt. 19:4-6, Romans 1, etc. - Allowing Gay marriage is a violation marriage that is the object lesson of the GOSPEL (Big Point) - Eph. 5.

  1. It’s not inappropriate to stand against an immoral, unbiblical position alongside people with whom you may have doctrinal differences, or even those who are only involved from a secular perspective.  Not compromise of Biblical doctrine - that is not in question.  CONSERVATIVE CHURCHES NEED TO BE INVOLVED  - in Civil Union Bill - less than 5 Pastors - We were 3 of them.  House - several more Pastors became involved (more Conservative Pastors) - In Senate - about a dozen Conservative Pastors and about 75 total Pastors united.

  1. Be prepared to deal with this and if you don’t have one Strong Organization in your State to organize Rallys, speaking points, etc. - Create one

1.  The Authority to define marriage and grant the right of marriage is not personal love, choice, public opinion, or government - it is God who is the creator of marriage and who speaks clearly in His word about his definition of marriage.

2.This is not a “civil rights” issue - Sexual choice is not the same as skin color.  There is no scientific evidence of a Gay gene, etc., but are many testimonies of those that repented from homosexuality and changed.  Sexual orientation is a Choice that can be changed.  **Much of the black community takes offense to the Gay agenda comparing themselves to civil rights

3.  Where is the stopping point if you redefine marriage? (Dr. Ben Carson’s Argument)-- If it is being redefined by 3% of the population, then what about including polygamy, bestiality, NAMBLA, etc.
4.  The History of what is good for society - Marriage is given privileges by government because government recognizes that it is good for society.  We have history and lots of data about the need for both a Mother and a Father in a home - Obama gives the evidence for the Father’s presence --- Mere Quantity (2 of the same) does not substitute for that --- need both a Father and a Mother for a stong family, and a strong fabric of Society

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Burdens Are Lifted At Calvary

Last night in the Prayer Service we sang the wonderful old song "Burdens are Lifted at Calvary".  Pastor Pritt paused the song between a verse and asked the crowd something like "Do you understand how because of Calvary you can give your burdens to the Lord?".

I want to think about that just a minute - How is Calvary the reason we can give our burdens to the Lord?

  1. We were the enemy of God that was only under His wrath before Calvary.
  2. Jesus' atonement at Calvary quenched the wrath of God toward us and made us friends and children of God.
  3. Jesus tore the veil in two that separated us from the Holy Place at Calvary.  That means we can go boldly before God to find mercy for our burdens in times of need.
  4. Calvary made the way to receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts that cries "Abba Father" and groans for us in times of burden with words that cannot be uttered.
  5. Because of Calvary, Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father to make intercession for us.  He speaks on behalf of our burdens and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
As I think about this connection between Calvary and God bearing my burdens, I realize that answered prayer, grace for daily living, comfort, etc. are given by GRACE from Calvary - not because I have been good enough or appeased God in some way, or that He likes me more today.  That is great realization as I rest in my Father's love and grace because of the cross rather than my performance.  Since I have Christ, the Lord by grace will bear my burdens!  Amen!!!!!!!!  Praise Him!!

These are five ways that Calvary allows us to cast our burdens upon the Lord.  I am sure there are many more - but I do hope that these will cause you to sing with conviction during the trials and struggles of this week:  "Burdens are lifted at Calvary....Calvary, Calvary.....Burdens are lifted at Calvary, Jesus is very near!"


Friday, April 19, 2013

Am I, are you, a Pharisee?

In my personal time today, I came across the condemnations of Christ to the Pharisees whom he called hypocrites.  This was in the book of Matthew, right before his crucifixion.  He does not hold back in Him comments and takes no prisoners.  I simply would like to list how Jesus himself describes hypocrites in Matthew 23:

1.  You shut up salvation to others.  You don't have it, and you keep men from having it. v.13

2.  You take advantage of the vulnerable (like widows) for your own interest - you want the things of others.  v.14

3.  You pray in ways that others will think "good" of you; perhaps long, perhaps emotional, perhaps fancy prayers. v.14

4.  You proselyte (what we would consider "soul-winning" for your own advantages.  Perhaps to be seen, perhaps to "count numbers", perhaps to be thought of as spiritual.  v.15

5.  You are not straightforward with your word, but rather look for ways around the truth when it would work to your own advantage.  v.16-23

6.  You are extremely particular in some spiritual obligations, but in many of the greater things that are the true spirit of what God wants - you are not interested.  (legalism)  v.23

7.  You do external religious things and look "spiritual", but inside you are full of extortion (taking from others) and self-indulgence.  v.25

8.  You are admired by others as godly, and play the part beautifully, but inside you willfully are unclean (thoughts, motives); a hypocrite; and lawless (you don't keep God's Word inside yourself. v.28

9.  You give truly Godly people a hard time; you persecute God's true people.  v.29-35

A few of these things are convicting for me this morning, and remind me that the Lord sees right through me. All my inner secrets are the same as my externals to Him.  In repentance and the need for grace I must earnestly see the Lord by His power to make me holy within, and without.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sweet Meditations of the LORD

Psalm 104:34  My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

It is easy to allow doubt and skepticism in our minds about the Lord.  We live in an evil land; we are constantly being confronted with the failing health of good and Godly people.

During these times, I find myself just for a moment thinking:  "Is God really good?".  This morning I read Psalm 104 and came to the verse above about my meditations of God.  Psalm 103 and 104 both rehearse the greatness and goodness of God.  It is a lie to allow thoughts of Him that are not "sweet".  

The control of my meditations about God have a lot to do with my joy and my ability to be "glad in the LORD."  We all need to determine as the Psalmist that our daily meditations about the LORD will be "sweet."

Friday, April 12, 2013

DE Same Sex Marriage Bill: An open letter to Senator Hall-Long and Rep. Kowalko

An open letter to Delaware legislators Bethany Hall-Long and John Kowalko Jr.  April 12, 2013

Dear Legislators Hall-Long and Kowalko,

I want begin by especially thanking Sen. Hall-Long for her continued contact and responsiveness to the 170 plus families that make up the Lighthouse Baptist Church in her district.  Your considerations and participation in our community has been above and beyond the call of duty.  Though we have not had the same level of relationship with Rep. Kowalko, I am sure he too desires to listen to the hearts of his constituents.

I feel that it is my duty as a Pastor of this community and a child of the living God to cry out against the direction of our noble State of Delaware toward same sex marriage.  The Governor's announcement yesterday was shocking in light of the promises made by the supporters of same sex civil unions just months ago.  When I stood with others to speak at Committee hearings, we were told that civil unions were not a stepping stone to same sex marriage.  The evidence now seems obvious.

I could speak to you of the benefits in society of natural marriage, of the clear commands of God's Word upon which this country and our blessed laws are founded; I could take you verse by verse through the Scripture of God's creation of marriage and it's definition; of the curse against same sex unions and behavior; of the New Testament passages of natural laws and prohibitions.

However, in this open letter, I wish to share with you the highest reason that same sex marriage should be opposed.  It is the truth of why God created marriage in the first place - beyond procreation, beyond stable society, beyond childrearing.  Marriage is the object lesson of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - that He would take a "bride" whom He would forgive, give a new life to, unite in an unbreakable bond, and live forever with in eternal bliss.  Consider please that the marriage between a husband and a wife is the picture of Jesus Christ joining all who will believe on Him.  For this reason primarily, the object lesson of marriage cannot be marred, broken, or redefined:

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;" Eph. 5:25

Legislators, you may not fully comprehend it, but your quest for "marriage equality" is not only the undermining of our society and a betrayal of our children, but it is an attack on the very Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our society though has forsaken the authority of the Scriptures and has followed the siren song of plurality of religion or the absence of it.  Yet, when all is over and the last moment of time ticks away, it will be revealed that this present struggle was not about equality, love, or rights - it was about the agenda of the Wicked One perverting the picture of the love of the Lord Jesus and His pure love for His bride.  Same sex marriage with the distortion of genders, roles, distinctions, etc. eliminates the object lesson and the purpose for marriage on earth as given by God in the first place.

I beg you that you will reject the Delaware same sex marriage bill that is coming before you in the next few weeks.

Faithfully Christ's,

Pastor Tobe Witmer
Lighthouse Baptist Church
1842 Otts Chapel Rd.
Newark, De  19702

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again

I'm up and blogging again....

After a short technical hiatus, I am up and ready to share some thoughts again.

We had a very good mid-week service last night and learned how to respond to the Lord in the ups and downs of life from James 5:13  Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

It will be great to preach on the next section of verses about "Anointing with oil" for healing.  Stay tuned to that message which Pastor Pritt and I practiced just a few weeks ago in faith as we anointed a man that attends our church.


Friday, February 8, 2013

10 Things Your Pastor Needs You to Know But is Not at Liberty to Tell You

1.  Although he may not be always able to visit you or acknowledge you at church every service - he still loves you.

2.  When you send a card or say an encouraging word - it really lifts his spirits.

3.  Ministry is very hard emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  It is really harder than anyone that has never done it can understand.  He fights discouragement and Satan's attacks every week.

4.  He really does need family time outside of the church and church family.  A pastor ministers non-stop.  His mind is always on ministry and most of the time at home he is dealing with some aspect of ministry.  Time alone, time away, and time with his family is one of the best gifts you can give him.

5.  He needs to care for his family and future financially just like you do.  He has no desire to be greedy, but he is commanded by God to care for his family and that takes the church providing adequately and appropriately for the servant of God's needs, and taking care of the pastor before advancing missions, facilities, ministries, etc."

6.  When you make critical remarks on the fly about things the Pastor and church staff have spent hours considering and deciding - it is frustrating to him.

7.  He needs friendship.  His family is not an island.  They don't often have close friends and family in the area, so YOU are it!  Be willing to be a friend to the pastor and his wife because they need personal fellowship outside of church services.

8.  He would rather see your life change than to hear "good sermon Preacher!"....however, both are good.

9.  He needs your support and participation when some direction of vision is being promoted.  Be wholehearted in following him in the belief that God has led him.

10.  Your prayers may be one of the only things that is keeping him in the ministry.  Pray hard, he needs you.