Category Archives: Christian Living

I’m Going To Be a Grandparent!

Unbelievably, the time is come for me to become a grandparent. My oldest daughter and her husband have made plans to adopt, so a grandchild is just around the corner.

#WestbrookPartyOfThree

But because we don’t yet know if it will be a girl or a boy, I don’t know if I’m going to become a grandmother or grandfather.

Congratulations, Josh and Alicia!

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Filed under Parenting, Relationships and Family

When you hear the sound of the trumpet…

Nearly seven years ago (Oct. 28, 2010) I wrote the following post. Now that a new school year is upon us – and now that I’m actually pastoring in Soddy Daisy, TN, it seems appropriate to be reminded of some some things that are as true today as they were back then.


Last night (10/28/2010) I had the honor to participate in an event of community prayer.  I was invited to speak by a student at Soddy Daisy High School.  If you don’t know what happened, a whole bunch of people gathered together in the park to celebrate our right and freedom to pray, even though it was recently mandated that prayer be stopped before football games.  This meeting was organized by students who decided enough was enough.

In my closing remarks (I spoke for 7 1/2 minutes) I brought up the story of Nehemiah, specifically a part in chapter 4, verse 20. Nehemiah, in response to threats from enemies intent on stopping them from rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, set people on the wall as lookouts.   Being that the wall was big and spread out, and being that there were few people, Nehemiah came up with a plan.  He said :

“The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall.  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there.  Our God will fight for us.” Nehemiah 4:19-20 NKJV

To me, and I am just little ol’ me, there should have been a lot more people present last night.  Why?  A trumpet was sounded for the body of Christ to come to the aid of not only Soddy Daisy, but for all of Hamilton County.  An attack on our freedoms, as both Christians and Americans, has come to our soil.  Why is it that our schedules and programs and our own sections of the wall are more important than stopping the enemy somewhere else?

Last night was your typical “Wednesday night prayer meeting” night.  Besides the fact that prayer is rarely the object of attention at a lot of these meetings, what would have been wrong with jumping in the church bus and heading to where the trumpet was sounding?  Where there may have been 500+ at this event last night, there should have been 1-2000.  Why were they not there? Because it was more important for local congregations to remain safe and snug in their own little sections of  “the wall.”  

Here was a prime example of LEGALISM in action, for many did not want to participate in an event that featured speakers who weren’t part of a particular denomination.  

Here was a prime example of LAZINESS, for it may have been difficult to get people together to go somewhere on a weeknight, especially if it wasn’t to Ryan’s (the local steak house) or the bowling alley.  

Here was a prime example of DENIAL, PRIDE, and APATHY, for there were others who did not attend because they either didn’t think there’s a problem, it wasn’t their idea, or they just really didn’t care.  Folks, what has been “typical” needs to be trashed.

This past Sunday I told my congregation that I would be in Soddy Daisy on Wednesday night because a trumpet had been sounded.  I went to stand in the gap with my brothers and sisters who cared enough to make a public stand against the tyranny of a few over the wishes of the people.  

In the future, when other trumpets sound,  I pray that the churches of our county and our country will rally together in defense of the few walls we have left in this nation… a nation that, for now, claims to be “under God.”

May our God truly fight for us, for we don’t seem to want to fight for ourselves.

…Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses. – Nehemiah 4:14

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Filed under baptist, Christian Living, Christian Unity, General Observations, Independent Baptist, legalism, Southern Baptist, World View

Unity, Liberty, Charity: Disagreeing With Grace


The Way It Should Be

Isn’t it wonderful to have a platform where we can openly discuss the Bible? Isn’t it wonderful to be able to express our thoughts over the web without fear of retribution or imprisonment? Unfortunately, we often misuse the wonderful gifts we’ve been given, the gifts of the internet and our blogs, to bellow out our opinions as we blast our opponents, rarely taking advantage of the freedom we have to show grace, mercy, and love to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

A few days ago we started this discussion of glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and its modern relevance to the Church. What I have seen so far, both by way of posts and comments, has truly been encouraging. The series is still young, but I’ve yet to see a single critical, ungracious comment! Everyone who has written has been cordial, even in disagreement. That is the way it should be!

Therefore, before I go any further or get any deeper into the discussion at hand, I feel it best to clarify some things about my personal beliefs. The reason for doing so is to lay the groundwork for any further posts or comments I may write while addressing this particular subject of contention and misunderstanding within the Body of Christ.

Clarifying My Position

First of all, I am happy to say that I have many dear friends who differ with me on the issue of glossolalia (speaking in tongues). Those friends are not only in the Charismatic/Pentecostal branches of Christendom, but even within my own Baptist circles. Therefore, it is not my intention to belittle or demean what they believe, nor is it my wish to harm our relationships by openly disagreeing with certain doctrines they hold dear – they are family, and I love them. No, my sole intention is simply to state what I believe and why I believe it.

To be very honest, there are times when I wonder if it would be best just to leave things as they are and never discuss our differences. For example, some of the most godly and faithful people I know have a different understanding of the passages on which I will expound in a future post: they truly believe that the 4th and 14th verses of 1 Corinthians both affirm and give evidence for the faith to which they hold. Therefore, when they enter into their prayer closets and humbly bow before God in intercession, should their view of secondary or tertiary doctrines be a concern of mine? So what if their persistent, fervent, private prayer leads to ecstatic speech? If they are encouraged in the Faith, and it only leads them to stand stronger in it, why should I care? Honestly, at least they are praying! Lest we forget, right theology does not a prayer warrior make.

Nevertheless, as a minister I am tasked with the responsibility to read the Book distinctly, give the sense, and cause the listener to understand what’s being read (Nehemiah 8:8). As a preacher I am supposed to be “instant in season [and] out of season,” speaking the truth in love, despite the consequence or mood (2 Timothy 4:2). And should I choose to remain silent, never offering a proper treatment of a particular passage, even if doing so would seemingly cause no harm, then my shame would be justified (2 Timothy 2:15). Scripture is not up to “private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20), so it is always appropriate and ultimately edifying to get closer to the interpretation that’s correct.

The second thing I would like to make clear is that I cannot, in good conscience, label myself a total cessationist (i.e., one who believes the spiritual gift of tongues ceased with the apostolic age); there is still room in my understanding of glossolalia for God to work outside my denominational box. However, it is of my opinion that the overwhelming majority of modern-day examples of glossolalia are nothing more than “ecstatic speech” (emotionally-induced language-like sounds). Even without referring back to the directives issued by Paul in1 Corinthians 14:27-33, the average example of glossolalia fails the most simple of linguistic tests, therefore demonstrating that whatever is being spoken may sound like a language, but it isn’t. Then, when one does insert 1 Corinthians 14:27-33 back into the equation, the average Charismatic or Pentecostal worship service becomes incredulous (i.e., ten people running around the sanctuary and speaking in tongues at the same time, all without an interpretation).  Simply put, if glossolalia is a gift still being given, the actual practice of it in public worship is probably extremely rare.

In my next post on this subject I am only going to address one particular verse of Scripture, 1 Corinthians 14:4. There are obviously several other passages which could be discussed, but for the sake of brevity (as if this post was short), this one verse, viewed in context, will be enough for me – at least for a while.

For the time being, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity” (Rupertus Meldenius, circa 1627).

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, Christianity, Relationships and Family, Theology

Which Way Do We Go?

How often do you argue with your phone?

Maybe a better question would be, “How often do you disagree with Siri or Google over directions?”

Last week I was invited to be the guest speaker at a church I’d never been to before. I knew the general direction I was supposed to go, and I had a general idea where to make some turns, but even though I had the address I wasn’t sure how to get there.

As we were getting close to where I knew we were supposed to turn off of the main highway, I asked my wife to use her iPhone to look up the address and get directions. You’ve done that before, right? And most of the time things go just fine and I get to where I need to go.

On a side note, I do miss those days long ago when I’d sit down with an atlas and local maps in order to plan a trip out of town. Planning trips that way always made it seem like I was heading out on an adventure. GPS has taken all the fun out of road trips.

Well, my wife entered the address of the church, pressed the “go” button, and down the road we went until we found the first turn.

I don’t know about you, but despite the amazing technology, even though Siri and Google rarely lead me astray (I did say “rarely”), there’s always this uneasy tension which keeps me from totally trusting the little gadget in my hand.

Anyway, we drove for only a couple of miles until we came to a split in the road. Right there in the middle of the road was a big white sign with a big black arrow painted on it. Above the arrow was the name of the church I was trying to find.

As I slowed down, my wife repeated the words of the digitized direction-giver, “Keep right.” I said, “But the sign says that we should go left.” Then Valerie replied, “All I know is that the phone says we should go right.”

Risking my own embarrassment and a potential “I told you so,” I followed the instruction of the big, black arrow and went left.

In just a short while we came to an intersection where we would have to make another choice, either left or right. Once again Steve Job’s creation sweetly advised me to “Make a left, and proceed blah blah blah blah.” However, right in front of me, as plain as black paint on a white sign could be, there was a big hand-painted arrow pointing left, and right above the arrow was the name of the church we were trying to find.

“You know,” I said to my wife, “this is one of those times when a good, biblical lesson about the spiritual life could apply.” I continued, “Instead of trusting the phone, why not trust the sign that was obviously placed by someone who’s been down this road before?”

We made the left – despite Siri’s protests – and found the church no more than a quarter mile down the road.

Here’s the thing. The world is full of all kinds of information and advice, and much of it is spot on. However, when it comes to the road that leads to a peace that passes understanding, to a relationship with my Creator, to Heaven… I’d rather trust the One who has already gone this way before.

“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

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Filed under Christian Living, Church, Faith, God

Parenting 301

I’ve heard it many times before, and I’ve even said it a time or ten myself, “Enjoy them while their young.” But as my children and I age, the truth of that statement becomes more profound with every day.

When they were young; when they were just wee little crumb-crunching Barney lovers; that was the time when we only thought we were pulling out our hair. Those were the days when babysitters were hard to find. Those were the days when milk got spilled and urine only leaked through diapers when you were wearing church clothes.

I’ve seen poor young moms, all frazzled and worn, look forward to the day when their terrible tikes could feed themselves, go to school, and go to the bathroom alone. Yet, if only those moms and dads could realize the physical stress of the moment is nothing compared to the emotional and spiritual stress of later years.

Those of you who still have small children, may I give you some sage advice? Those of you with children still at home, whether toddler or teen, will you listen to what I have to say?

Don’t waste a single minute, don’t even read to the end of this post, and get down on your knees and pray for your children.

I can’t tell you how much I wish I’d prayed more for my daughters. I can’t tell you how much my wife and I regret not praying for our girls every day, day after day, since before they were born. You might not be able to change the past, but would you change your future? Pray for your children!

We live in such an evil time, friends. Satan (I believe he is real) has never been more active in seeking the destruction of innocence. There is no way we can keep them from every danger, so we must intercede for them like their lives and souls depended on it…because they do.

We are in a war for the souls of our kids, and the only weapon proven effective in this conflict is the effectual, fervent prayers of righteous men and women. Are your prayers effective? Are they being fervently offered? Do you even care enough about your own life and character to be concerned if whether or not your prayers are being heard?

Again, we are in a war, a war of sedition, and the casualty rate is swallowing our sons and daughters!

Parenting 101 is easy stuff. Parenting 201 is the practical stuff. But Parenting 301, if there is such a thing, break your heart and bend your knees. If your not used to it, the fall to the floor is going to hurt – a lot.

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Decaffeinated Christianity

In an effort to keep you entertained and encouraged, even though I’m too pressed for time to press a shirt or French press some coffee, here’s a re-run…a repeat…a re-heated cup of truth. (Oh, and don’t forget to check out ProverbialThought.com)


Like vs. Love

I like coffee, but I wouldn’t say I love it. My wife and kids, on the other hand, are worth dying for. I love them. I only like coffee. I’m not going to jump in front of a moving train to save an espresso.

But there are times when I like coffee more than I like my wife. Every once in a while I want a cup of coffee more than a kiss or a hug. I still love my wife, but she won’t fit into the French press.

Now, it must be said that I also like tea. Thanks to the influence of certain English folk, my tea consumption has increased a thousand fold! Yet, tea is not coffee. Sometimes I want coffee more than tea. Sometimes tea needs to leaf me alone. There’s a big difference between loose-leaf anything and some medium roast Jamaican Blue Mountain. That’s real coffee, and I really like it.

What is Real?

But wait! That raises a question. What is real coffee? What is the difference between freshly brewed coffee and let’s say, uh, freeze-dried instant? Both are real, aren’t they?

Fake coffee. Whoever still drinks that stuff on purpose should be psychologically evaluated. Coffee is only coffee if it comes about as the result of gently ground coffee beans being caressed by steaming hot water. Chicory is of the Devil.

Instant coffee. It comes packaged in a jar, but it is made from real coffee. It may not taste as good as fresh-brewed, but it’s real, nevertheless. The worst instant coffee is still better than dandelion tea, believe me.

Nasty coffee. Even the stuff you find in a gas station, an army mess tent, or a crazy relative’s thermos is still coffee. Coffee is coffee, even if it tastes like road tar.

“Unleaded.” What I don’t understand is decaffeinated coffee. Sure, it tastes the same to most people, but why would anyone want it? Without the caffeine coffee is…well…it’s just not coffee. It has the look and taste, but no umph, no kick, no power.

Powerless

Decaffeinated Christianity is the same way. It looks like the real thing. It smells like the real thing. It tastes like the real thing. For crying out loud, it even outsells full-strength, real Christianity 10 to 1! People love it! They wear t-shirts promoting their favorite brand. Yet, decaffeinated Christianity is no better than decaffeinated coffee without the Power.

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! – 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT

What are you drinking?

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons, Uncategorized

The Parsonage Project

What I’m Doing

I would really appreciate your prayers. Pray that God would give me wisdom and a steady mind. Pray that I will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, for stormy waves are trying to distract my focus. Pray for me, if for nothing else, that I will myself remain in constant prayer.

This week the house that we are living in will be listed on the market to be sold, and we are not as ready as we would like to be. On top of that, the house in which we are planning to move is the parsonage of the church where I now pastor – but it is FAR from being ready.

Right now I am having to work a job and pastor a church; record a weekly radio broadcast; record lectures at the seminary; move a lot of stuff into storage; see that a house is ready to be seen by buyers; and oversee the restoration of an old house – a restoration which costs more money than we have and will have to incorporate the expertise of many people. That doesn’t count being a parent and a husband. Can you see why I wanted people to send me guest posts?

That’s why prayer is so important. In James 4:2 we read that we have not because we ask not, so I’m asking – pray for us.

The Parsonage

It is a well-known fact among pastors and their families that parsonages are a mixed blessing. For one thing, when you live in a parsonage (a house owned by a church, but meant to house the pastor), you live in a house that is not your own. Secondly, living in a parsonage usually means that you are not building up any equity or means to move into a normal home. So, what happens is that when the pastor ends up leaving the church where he pastors, if nothing else is done, he and is family are effectively homeless.

But, there are times when a parsonage can be a blessing, like for us, because without it we would have no place to live at this point. Also, the parsonage, if used properly, can be a tool for evangelism and discipleship. The parsonage can also show that the pastor and his family are personally invested in the health of the congregation he shepherds. Therefore, if the church does have a parsonage, it should be well-maintained in order to make full use of its potential.

Unfortunately, the parsonage at the church where I now pastor has fallen into serious disrepair. I am working with different groups and individuals in order to restore the old house, but that will take time, manpower, and a lot of something we (the congregation) don’t have…money. One group of men estimated that it would take $10,000 to make the parsonage livable. On the other hand, I was told by someone else that the costs would be closer to $30,000. And right now this little upstart of a little church only runs around 15 in a decent Sunday!

The Video

Below is a video I made last Sunday. In it I take you through the parsonage and let you see for yourself what needs to be done. Look, Nehemiah rebuilt a wall which his enemies swore would fall down if only a fox pushed against it. Noah built a huge ark with the help of fewer men than volunteers I will have. What needs to be done will get done, but this ship won’t sail without a strong wind of prayer.

If all things were easy and well within our own power, we wouldn’t need God’s help. But, when things seem impossible, we call upon the Lord to do for us what we cannot do (Psalm 57:2), thereby allowing Him to get the glory and praise.

The more impossible the project – even a parsonage project – the more praise, glory, and honor is due our Savior and King.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, Church, Prayer, Preaching, Relationships and Family