Category Archives: Church

“You Might Be a Legalist If…”

The following list is not original on my part, I am unsure of who came up with it. But even though I didn’t write it, I want you to read it.

All that’s needed is Jeff Foxworthy to add his voice and declare, “You might be a legalist if…”

1) God’s love for me depends on what I do.

2) Meeting the expectations of others, especially those in my congregation or in positions of authority, are paramount.

3) Moral and ethical questions are usually black and white and only made into fuzzy shades of gray by hand-wringing, bleeding-heart types.

4) I try hard to obey God and it irritates me that others think they can get away with avoiding the same level of dedication.

5) I fall short because I don’t have enough faith, or because I haven’t prayed enough, or because I just need to be a better person.

6) God is predisposed to be angry with me because I am a sinner. My main goal in life is to try to gain God’s favor by doing things that will impress him.

7) My sense of spiritual well-being is linked to a Christian leader or membership in my church rather than a personal relationship with God.

8) I tell my children not to do something in church or around other Christian families that I allow in my home.

9) I believe my church is God’s true church and that most other Christians may be sincere, but are sincerely wrong.

10) The exterior choices a person makes in what they wear, hairstyle, piercings, tattoos, etc. is a clear indication of that person’s character.

11) I sometimes worry that people might take advantage of grace if it’s preached too much —people might think they can do anything they want.

12) After being around Christians for a while I feel drained —weary of putting up a false front.

13) When I happen to miss a service or activity of my church I feel guilty.

14) I will likely get into heaven, even though I’m far from perfect, because I have tried to be a basically good person and God will take that into account.

So, are you a legalist? I used to be, but I still struggle. That is the reason for this blog. That is why I call myself a “recovering” legalist.

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Filed under Church, legalism

How Do You Treat a Gift from God?

Remember, dear believer, if your pastor is a “gift” to your congregation (Ephesians 4:11), how you treat him says a lot about your relationship to the Giver.  – A. Baker

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Filed under Church, ministry

When Tomorrow Is Sunday

Never forget that the arguments, the hurt feelings, the illnesses, the stresses, and the pains that hit seemingly out of the blue are not coincidence when tomorrow is Sunday.  – A. Baker

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Filed under Christian Living, Christianity, Church, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, Relationships and Family

Having Fun While Filling In

One thing about not regularly pastoring a congregation is that I get a chance to visit other churches. Last night I got to visit New Salem Baptist Church and fill in for the regular pastor, Alan Rogers.

If you’ve never done it before, filling in for another pastor can be rather fun. In other words, it’s always refreshing to preach from someone else’s pulpit when there’s no risk of you being fired. HA!

So, just in case I have many more opportunities to cover for other pastors while on vacation or at a conference, or whatever, here are some sermon ideas I’m considering. Just let me know when you want me to come preach one….(cue the maniacal BWWAAAHAHAHA!)

  1. “Put On that New Robe: Why Congregations Should Buy Their Pastor a New Suit
  2. “Beautiful Are the Feet that Carry the Gospel: Keeping Your Pastor’s Feet Healthy and Happy In New Shoes
  3. “Smite a Scorner: Ways to Deal with Gossiping In the Congregation
  4.  “The Hem of His Garment: Why Jesus Is Concerned With How We Dress
  5.  “The Holy Spirit: What Scares Baptist More than a Clinton
  6. “Deacons: Who, What, When, Where, and How to Deal With Them
  7. “The Pastor’s Family: Living In a Glass House with Those Who’d Love to Throw a Rock Back

Below is a picture of me preaching at New Salem Baptist in Soddy-Daisy, TN. They had a big screen behind me, but it was not put to use when I was talking. Therefore, I did a little editing. What do you think?

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Would you like to know why I HATE the devil? If so, that’ll be my next post.

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Filed under baptist, Church, Humor, Preaching

Different, Yet the Same

South Soddy

Yesterday (Sunday) I was blessed to be able to preach at two different churches, one in the morning, the other in the evening.

Yesterday morning I was the guest speaker at South Soddy Baptist Church. The congregation there was warm and friendly and very receptive to the message I delivered. Below it a picture I took inside the auditorium (sanctuary).

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Notice, South Soddy Baptist was constructed back in 1946. It is small, simple building by today’s standards.

Mile Straight

Last night I was very privileged to be invited to speak at Mile Straight Baptist Church. Mile Straight is a much more modern building (it’s been remodeled, too) with plenty of up-to-date technology. Click HERE to visit their website – it’s pretty cool.

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Notice, even though Mile Straight has a more modern layout than South Soddy, something about the two are very similar. Can you tell what that is?

Neither have big choir lofts.

I first noticed this at South Soddy yesterday morning. I noticed how in the old design of this church the focus was never supposed be on the choir. Instead of an entertainment-like model many Christians have come to expect, this old church was set up so that the congregation would do all the singing and “worshiping,” not simply be entertained by the choir.

When I got to Mile Straight I saw the same thing. Oh, Mile Straight used to have a choir, but not so much anymore (I think). No, more focus is place on congregational singing than choirs. Even though they do have more of a “praise team,” the idea is to lead the congregation in worship rather than just sit and listen to others do it.

Honestly, I have no problem with wonderful, trained choirs. Friday night I got to hear my daughter Katie sing a solo in her college choir, and it was chillingly glorious! But that was a true performance…we paid to go see that. Church services should never be about entertaining the crowd; they should be about corporate worship. So, have a choir if you want, but encourage the congregation to be more than just consumers.

Two very different church congregations and buildings, yet still very alike in at least one important way.

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Filed under baptist, Christian Unity, Church, worship

The Harmful Effects of Drought (on video)

Tonight I was very privileged to preach at Mile Straight Baptist Church, a wonderful and gracious congregation in Soddy-Daisy, TN. Dr. Tom Goss is the pastor, and a great friend.

Unfortunately, the numbers were down a good bit for the service, but that was too be expected. For a good while the Chattanooga area has been suffering from a severe drought, and recently forest fires have caused much of the surrounding area to look like it’s covered in fog, even in the daylight. Smoke is everywhere, even in the church building.

So, I preached to a smaller crowd in person, but others watched live over their computers at home (isn’t technology great?). Mile Straight has certainly taken advantage of technology.

Therefore, I give you a rare treat – video of me preaching. The sermon took advantage of the most obvious illustration one could ask for.

Funny things: I was told to dress casual – this was old, fat man casual. 😉

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Filed under Church, Preaching

Resigning to Trust My Shepherd

Most of the time I can enter the title of a post before I begin to write it. In this case I don’t know what to call it. All I know to to do is start writing and let things fall into place.

That’s sort of where I am in life, right now; I don’t know where I am going, but I had to get going to find out.

Old News

By the time you read this post, someone in my former congregation will have read aloud my formal resignation as Pastor of Riverside Baptist Church – at least I hope they read it…all of it. It took me a couple of hours to craft it, all 1,026 words worth, and some of the words were painful to write. However, it had to be done.

Themes

In my resignation letter I focused on two main themes. First, it was important to note that the Church, including the local body of believers I pastored, did not belong to any of us; it belongs to Jesus Christ. Secondly, I stressed the importance of effective leadership: both the need to have it, and the willingness to accept it.

If either one is dysfunctional with either party (the pastor or the congregation), tension will grow…even worse, the power of the Holy Spirit will fade.

Feels like…

Therefore, based on several reasons, I had to accept the fact that my leadership was no longer effective, thereby necessitating a change, however painful and scary it may be. Unfortunately, it feels like a divorce (even though I’ve never experienced one). Maybe I could say it feels like a death, but that’s not really true – I have experience that kind of loss many times.

What it does feel like, however, is a missed opportunity…an “Oh, well” moment. I guess that’s why it’s called a “resignation.”

More to Do

Nevertheless, I will share with you the closing words of my resignation letter, for they express something that is more important than anything else – God is still sovereign! He’s got this! None of this caught Him by surprise, for He already has been working to make things new.

If you will remember, the Mission Statement of Riverside is as follows:

Reach the Lost, Rescue the Perishing, and Restore the Wounded for the Glory of God.”

Continue to reach the lost… We will. Endeavor to rescue the perishing… We will. And especially today, seek to restore the wounded, heal divisions, and move forward with grace and forgiveness… We will.

Pray for Us

Please, please, pray for my family and me as we seek to follow God to the next field of service, wherever that may be. Please pray for my former flock that they will find a more suitable shepherd and follow his leading.

Also, please pray that I will be able to put in to practice the lessons I have learned over the last eight years, thereby being able to replace the “missed opportunity” feeling with assurance that all things work together for good, to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.

After all, there are still plenty of lost, perishing, and wounded out there.

 

Now I know how to title this post 🙂

 

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Filed under baptist, Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, Church, Future, Life Lessons, ministry, Preaching, the future