Tag Archives: Baptist

What Underground Churches Don’t Worry About

In a sermon I preached not long ago, I made mention of the fact that you never see “First Baptist,” “Methodist,” or “Community Non-Denominational” plastered above an underground church. When all one wants to do is worship God without being imprisoned or killed, denominational distinction is one of the least of their worries.

That led me to think of other things that an underground church might not worry about:

  • The color of the carpet
  • The font on the church bulletin
  • Whether or not they sing a hymn or a praise song
  • Whether or not the pulpit is made of wood or etched glass
  • Cassette tapes or CD’s
  • Bible Versions
  • Post-graduate or seminary training
  • Projection screens
  • Padded pews
  • Pews
  • A family activity building
  • Gold or silver communion accessories
  • How long the worship lasts
  • What people wear
  • Parking
  • Youth activities
  • Revival Meetings

No, I don’t think underground churches ever have time to worry about all these things. They are more concerned with fellowship, encouragement, prayer, reading God’s Word in any version they can get their hands on, and staying alive.

Yet, it would seem we think we are closer to God than the underground, persecuted church because, after all, we have more things to worry about.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. Jesus  (John 17:20-21)

Maybe we should concentrate more on what really matters…”that the world may believe.”

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Christian Living, Christian Unity, God, legalism, Uncategorized, worship

Distinctions Worth Noting

This morning I came across a quote I posted to Facebook several years ago. Being Sunday morning, and being that I am a Baptist pastor, this is a great quote from a theologian with Chattanooga roots, Dr. Timothy George. And to think, we actually attended the same school 🙂

“The Baptist tradition finds a place within this narrative as a distinctive reform movement within the wider evangelical renewal, a reform within the reform, so to say. Baptists are indeed heirs of the Reformation, but they are not, nor have they ever been, mere clones of Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, the Anabaptists, or anyone else. For Baptists, the great doctrines of the Reformation were refracted through the prism of persecution and dissent which informed their intense advocacy of religious freedom and, especially in the American setting, the separation of church and state (which does not equal the divorce of religion from public life). With all true Christians, Baptists profess loyalty to Jesus Christ the Lord, the eternal Son of the heavenly Father who “for us and our salvation” became man. He died for our sins on a cross, rose triumphantly over death, ascended to the Father, and one day will come again in power and glory. In the meantime, he still reigns, rules, and redeems through the Holy Spirit.” – Timothy George

The Body of Christ (the Church) has many members, each distinct in its own way. I just felt these distinctions were worth noting.

Leave a comment

Filed under baptist, Christianity, Theology

What to Wear to Church?

Clothing

Recently, I was asked to be the guest speaker at a larger, more contemporary church. Out of respect for each other, the pastor of that church and I jokingly discussed what I should wear. You see, he never wears a suit, while sometimes I do. His congregation has become more “contemporary,” while my congregation remains more “traditional.” So, to make me comfortable, the pastor told me whatever I wanted to wear was fine.

Therefore, I wore shorts and flip-flops… Just kidding.

The way I dress to go to church may not be the way you dress. My style may not suit your tastes, nor yours mine. But the fact of the matter is that you do wear some kind of clothing to church, correct? Well, have you ever wondered if what you wear to church is appropriate?

Some people have asked that question.

Below are some of my thoughts on the subject.

Keep It Simple

If you are planning to attend a worship service where God is supposed to be the center of attention, don’t dress like a clown! Don’t dress like you are going to a movie premiere in Hollywood, either (that could get expensive in a hurry, not to mention scare the kids).

Some cultures believe people should come to church in clothing that could damage someone’s retina. Gettin’ “fancied up” is what’s expected. But it’s this type of clothing, in many cases, that draws attention to the congregant, not Christ. My advice is to stay away from neon suits and flashing bow ties. Church clothing should be a covering, not a calling card.

Show Respect

Some people think it is totally appropriate to wear enough jewelry and feathers to keep pawn shops in business and all geese naked. Others think it is completely acceptable to look like a drunk that slept in an alley all night (no offense to the drunk). Neither shows a sense of respect. The first steals glory from God, while the second implies the place where we gather to worship is no different than anywhere else.

Think about it this way, for example. Receive an invitation to tea from Queen Elizabeth and show up looking like you just got out of bed and never took a shower. Unless you’re a bonafide rock star, security personnel may escort you to a private room to “get acquainted.” Therefore, if dignitaries of earthly kingdoms demand respect, why shouldn’t we offer it to our Heavenly King?

Just a thought.

Beware of Legalistic Standards

However, whatever you wear, don’t be too quick to judge another person’s spiritual condition by what they wear. Only God knows the heart.

Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. – Rom 14:4 KJV

Sadly, I have been around many believers who consider one style of clothing a sign of spiritual maturity, while another style a sign of spiritual waywardness.  And you know what’s funny? It doesn’t matter which side of the spiritual tracks, there’s always somebody looking at another thinking, “They’re not right with God.”

Legalism cuts both ways, dear friend. For example, I have been to churches that ridiculed any woman who wears pants, or a man who never tucks in his shirt. On the other hand, I have been in congregations that blatantly condemned all dress and tie-wearers as right-wing, self-righteous, fundamentalist, nut jobs. In both cases, someone judged another’s spirituality based on outward appearances, alone. In both cases, one group’s set of standards were being used as a guide to what is mature spiritual behavior, and what is not.

That’s LEGALISM.

Context, Context, Context

Ultimately, how you dress should be determined by the context of your community. Small, rural congregations might not feel comfortable dressing for church in the same way a metropolitan First Baptist may. Similarly, churches in depressed economies may adopt different dress codes than upwardly mobile societies. The key is to be respectful, honorable, and considerate of the holy moment at hand. Whatever fits that bill is good enough.

Just keep this principle in mind:  Grace accepts, Maturity develops, and Love constrains.

Don’t make appearances the only thing about which you’re concerned. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is far too important a message to be drowned in petty arguments about whether it is appropriate to dress up for church, or go dress-casual. Many people in the world have to worship Christ underground – literally. Dress codes are the least of their worries. Additionally, the drug addict who needs hope and help may not have any clothes left that he hasn’t already sold to get high. The single mother of five that walks into your church may have barely enough energy to survive, much less do her hair.

Do all things to the glory of the Lord, but keep things in perspective, OK?

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism [or be legalistic]. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? – Jam 2:1-5 NIV

3 Comments

Filed under baptist, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Christian Unity, Culture Wars, Do not judge, Independent Baptist, legalism, Southern Baptist

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.

7 Comments

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

A Baptist Being a Baptist 

More than Boating and Fishing

Believe it or not, there are more things one can do at a lake than fish, go boating, or camp. Personally, I believe what I got to do today was more fun and more worthwhile than catching the biggest fish.

Jesus said if we would follow him He would make us “fishers of men.” So, instead of going to the lake to get fish, I got to go to the lake to put “fish” in it!

Here are some photos of the baptism we had at the lake next to our church in Soddy Daisy, TN. Since the little old church doesn’t have a baptistery of its own (why I don’t know), the big one out by the pier and boat ramp had to do 😉

May I just add one thing? The water was absolutely cold! So, those of you with the nice, heated, indoor baptisteries, not to mention those nice rubber suits you guys get to wear to avoid getting wet – THIS WAS WAY MORE EXHILARATING!

Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” – Mark 1:17 NKJV

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: – Matthew 28:19

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. – Acts 8:12

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. … And as they went on [their] way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. – Acts 8:12, 36-38

Just doing what Baptists do 🙂

12 Comments

Filed under baptist, Church, community, Faith

“Why in the Church?”

As I Promised

This past Sunday afternoon (March 5, 2017) I promised those watching me on Facebook Live (“Sunday Morning Recap”) that I would post the outline/handout I used and shared Sunday morning in the church service at South Soddy Baptist.

Because I am new at South Soddy Baptist Church, and because we are essentially starting from the ground level, I thought it beneficial to do a Vince Lombardi-like sermon, something like “Gentleman, this is a football.”

The idea was to assume no one knew, or at least they had not recently thought about, some very basic features of the local church. Sort of like asking “What in the world?” I called this message “Why in the Church?”

I might take the points of this little handout and develop them further as individual posts here on the blog. Would that be beneficial or interesting to any of you?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

The Outline

“Why in the Church?”

Church

  • Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23 and 4:15-16; Rom. 8:9) See also Jesus’ conversation with Paul (Acts 9:4)
  • Ecclesia: defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.”
  • The Universal Church (1 Corinthians 12:13)
  • The Local Church (Galatians 1:1-2)

Building

  • We should not neglect gathering together (Hebrew 10:25).
  • Why not just a house, or “home church”?
    • See: Acts 2:46 and 20:20.
    • Accountable leadership (Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 3).
  • What is to take place, wherever one meets: Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:2.

Singing

  • Enter into His presence with thanksgiving and praise (Psalm 100:4).
  • Songs should teach, admonish, and ultimately be directed to the Lord (Colossians 3:16-17)

Prayer

  • House of Prayer (See: Luke 19:46 and Isaiah 56:7. Also, Acts 2:42)

Pulpit

  • Bema – possible influence
  • “Pulpit of Ezra” (Nehemiah 8:4-5)
    • מִגְדָּל migdal (Strong’s H4026): a tower, or castle
      • Migdal-eder (mig·dal’·ā’·der) = “tower of the flock”
        • a shepherd’s watchtower near Bethlehem (Micah 4:8)

Altar

  • “Mourner’s bench,” 19th-20th century crusades
  • Place of Sacrifice – pride
  • Place of Commitment; when people ask (Joshua 4:6,21)

Invitation

  • Urgency – Today is the day (2 Corinthians 6:2 and Isaiah 49:8)
  • If you will confess me before men, I will confess you before my Father (Matthew 10:32)

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Saturday Business Meeting (2-25-17)

First order of business…

Encourage a blogger. Not every blogger get a lot of views on Saturdays. Why not go to a blog or two and find a post, or just the “about” page, and leave a nice word of encouragement? It doesn’t have to be about something they’ve written, just something positive.

Kicked out of the house and in need of wifi, the blogger will do anything to maintain his habit of changing the world one post at a time.

Kicked out of the house and in need of wifi, the blogger will do anything to maintain his habit of changing the world one post at a time.

Believe me, a kind word at the appropriate time can mean more than the world – and you never know what a person is going through.

Second order of business…

Go to church tomorrow (Sunday)!

Yes, I said it. Go where there is a community of Jesus-following believers who study God’s Word and enjoy some real, honest, down-to-earth fellowship.

There are many of you out there (you know who you are) who think church is a thing of the past, or worse, not necessary. Oh, how wrong you are! Not only is it something needed today, but it is something loved by Jesus and commanded by Scripture.

Bass Boat Baptist? Give me a break! Some of you may think that you can worship by yourself, at home, at the lake, in the garage, hung over under a table after a party the night before, etc. Well, with exception of the “under the table” part, maybe; however, there is a big difference between “personal devotions” and corporate worship. Believe it or not, you need more than yourself and a fishing pole to “have church.”

Don’t believe in “organized religion?” Why? Is it because of some bad examples you have witnessed? I hope so, because surely you’re not using Jesus as an excuse, are you? It was Jesus, remember, who came “not to destroy the law, but to fulfill the law.” Jesus wasn’t some unwashed, long-haired, holy man who wandered the streets talking nonsense. Jesus was called “Rabbi.”  He preached in the synagogues and the temple, too; not just house fellowships, or in one-on-one conversations.

Don’t need a preacher? It’s hard to argue there’s no need for a  pastor/teacher when the Holy Spirit thinks he’s needed  (Ephesians 4:11). Are you a loner? A Christian mercenary? Not biblical. Consider the following words from the Apostle Paul to the “pastors” from Ephesus…

(17)And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. (28) “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (29) For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” – Acts 20:17, 28-29

It’s about others, too. Find a place where God’s word is faithfully taught, without apology, and learn from those whom God has gifted for this holy purpose (1 Timothy 5:12-12; Hebrews 13:17). Then, consider this: by going, you just may encourage someone else in the process.

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. – Hbr 10:24-25

P.S. Listen to me on WFLI AM1070 at 5pm Sunday if you’re in the Chattanooga area 🙂

5 Comments

Filed under Christian Unity, God, Preaching, Uncategorized, worship