Tag Archives: Bible

Qualifications for a Pastor (and a reminder for the rest of you)

There are places in the Bible where the Apostle Paul describes the qualifications necessary to be a pastor (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:5-9).

But there are some additional characteristics I think every pastor should have if he wishes to survive until the next Easter service or deacons’ meeting… and believe me, I speak from experience.

This photo was taken at a bi-vocational pastor and wives retreat. These men were gathering around a fellow pastor who’s son who was a drug addict and missing.

Among other things, a pastor should have a thick skin, a broken heart, a humble spirit, and a hope that rests in the fact that Grace is there to pick up the pieces.

As for you, the congregations they lead, be reminded that the only perfect Shepherd was Jesus; the rest are human.

Pray that the light of Jesus will shine through the cracked vessel which is your pastor.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Faith, grace, ministry, Prayer, Preaching

Imagining the “Copacavaca”

The Name

Deep in the black forests of Romania there may live a scary animal. The locals have a name for it: Vaca Care Locuieste in Copac. 

I call it: Copacavaca (because the other name is too long).

The Creature

In the early 90’s, shortly after the fall of Nicolae Ceaușescu, I had the privilege to spend about a month in Romania. There I visited many cities, including Bucharest, Alexandria, Timișoara, Arad, Pitești, etc. The people were more than wonderful. The forests, however, were darker than any I had seen before. Literally, they soaked up light like a sponge.

One day, while walking through one of these dark forests, I was made keenly aware of the possibility of some creature in the trees above me. Being mindful of the legends associated with Transylvania, I could not help but imagine myself as one of those hapless tourists pounced upon by some non-mythical monster heretofore thought imaginary.

I thought to myself, “What could be above me, right now, which I might never expect? What kind of creature would be impossible to believe, therefore capable of living in obscurity, except for when it feeds?” It couldn’t be a vampire or werewolf. It had to be something totally off the wall. It had to be something as unthinkably dangerous as Clark Kent was powerful…then it hit me (not literally)… “Vaca.”

Vaca

Just the day before I had learned the word. “What do you call those big animals in the field that go mooooooo?” I asked.

“Vaca” was the reply.

My mind now imagined an animal so dangerous, so heavy, so tired of being milked and eaten between buns, and in the trees right above me – the Vaca din Copac…

the Romanian Tree-Dwelling Vaca… 

the Copacavaca!

The Horror

Should you ever walk through the dark woods of Romania, be very careful. Just because you can’t see them, that doesn’t mean the Copacavaca aren’t there. They could be. If so, you could be in danger.

One thing you should know about the Copacavaca is that they cannot see very well – they hunt by hearing. It is when you walk through the woods and make noises like other animals (especially humans) that the Copacavaca realize you’re potential prey.

They wait for you to walk under the tree they are in, then fall from on high to crush you beneath their massive weight. Therefore, it is critical you sound like them when walking among the pines (or whatever leafy, woody, thingy that is nearby).

I asked a friend who was with me if she had heard of tree-dwelling vaca. When she told me “no,” I demanded, in order to be safe, that she make a sound to imitate the vaca. If not, the camouflaged, nearly invisible Copacavaca may have mistaken us for dinner.

Computer rendering of a Copacavaca attacking prey.

With a puzzled look she responded to my request with a nonplus “Mooo.” 

“Do it again!” I said. “But louder!”

“Moooooooo!”

“LOUDER!”

“MOOOOOOO!”

Finally, with a tone of quizzical frustration, she asked, “Why am I making the sound of a cow?”

“Because that’s what the Copacavaca is – a man-eating, tree-dwelling cow.”

For some reason the Romanian girl didn’t believe me. Later that night, shortly after she invited me to a knock-off discotheque (a one-room joint with a few tables and a mirrored ball hanging from the ceiling),  I was poisoned and nearly died (no joke – I got sick and nearly died).

Coincidence??

Here’s the Point

The imagination can be profitable, just as long as it magnifies truth.

Used properly, as God designed it, the imagination can help us to see God from different perspectives, in different colors, with different expressions. Just think of what C. S. Lewis was able to do with the Narnia series. But replacing the God that is with a god of of our own creation is more than dangerous; it’s idolatry.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. – Rom 1:21 KJV

Some people say, “My god would never judge anyone.” Others say, “My god understands me…he made me this way.”

Still, others are convinced that “God doesn’t care what road you take, just as long as you’re sincere.”

But what kind of god are they thinking up? Maybe a creature that lives in the woods, but certainly not the God of the Bible.

For More Information

If you want to know more about the Copacavaca, I can think of something. Who knows, we may be looking at the next Dracula, only with four legs and udders (quick, somebody contact Chick-fil-A).

However, if you want to know more about the God who really is, I suggest you read the Gospel of John in the Bible.

And if you’d like, imagine yourself huddled next to a campfire, late at night, as an old, old man shares the amazing story of what he saw take place long, long ago…that you might believe (John 20:31).

I imagine the Truth will blow you away.

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Filed under General Observations, God, Humor, legalism, worship

Christmas IS the Gospel

This month will see a lot of Christmas sermons preached, and if you actually go to church somewhere, you might actually get to hear some 😉

But if you aren’t planning on attending any church services this December, or if you just can’t get enough of sermons on the subject of Christmas, I would encourage you to listen to the one I’m attaching below.

Several years ago (2012) while pastoring at another church, I delivered a sermon entitled “Christmas Is the Gospel.” It was recorded on my iPhone that was sitting on the pulpit, so don’t expect too high a quality of production.

Why did the angels tell the shepherds what they are about to hear was “good tidings”? Pick up a Bible and turn to the book of Luke, chapter two, and follow along.

Listen: Christmas IS the Gospel

And remember, “sharing” is caring 🙂

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Filed under Christmas, God, Preaching, salvation

Call It All James

This morning (Sunday) I am beginning a new sermon series through the book of James. It will be a verse-by-verse expository series and one that I’m excited about.

If everything goes well I will be posting recordings of the sermons on my “Sermon Archive” page. I’d like to post them on the same day they’re preached, but editing takes a little time, so give it a day or two (like Monday or Tuesday) before expecting to see them.

UPDATE: Click HERE to go to the Sermon Archive page.

One of the main themes – if not THE main theme – in James is the idea of enduring while having our faith tested. So many people get discouraged when their faith is tried by circumstances, yet James reminds us to “count it all joy” (James 1:2).

Another reason James writes is to offer practical instruction on displaying a living faith through what we do. James argues that “faith without works is dead,” meaning that a living faith does something.

So, in this upcoming series of sermons, as I try to exegete the letter of James to those “scattered abroad,” I hope you will be encouraged to keep your faith as you work it out for others to see.

If you don’t regularly attend a church, and if you’re a little skeptical of the big TV-type ministries, I would encourage you to visit the website of the church where I pastor. Go to http://www.SouthSoddyBaptist.org. It’s not a big website, but it’s growing in content – simple, basic stuff meant to encourage and keep things real.

Have a great Lord’s Day!

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Filed under Christian Maturity, Christianity, Church, Preaching, wisdom

A Bible Study Promo

I created a little commercial for our new Bible study on Sunday mornings (the Sunday school hour). 

If you are ever in the Chattanooga/Soddy-Daisy, TN area, why not stop by? 

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Filed under Bible Study

It’s the Bible, Not a Telephone Game

Dear friends,

This afternoon I was skimming through posts on Facebook and came across a discussion on the reliability of the Bible. A lady named Shannon questioned the claim that the Bible we have today is the same scripture from thousands of years ago.

Shannon asked, Ever play the game telephone? Try doing that over a course of a couple of centuries and a few languages.” 

Well, I felt I should engage Shannon, so I offered her some resources I thought might be helpful. I want to share them with you guys, too.

First, please try to find a copy of the book God’s Word In Our Hands: The Bible Preserved for Us. I have a copy in my library and let me tell you, it is an invaluable resource.

Click on the picture of the book for a link to Amazon.

Secondly, if you can take the time, watch this lecture by Dr. Sean McDowell (son of Josh McDowell) on the reliability of the Bible.

 

Yes, we may disagree on what some of it means, but it would be intellectually silly to write off the Bible as nothing more than the result of 2000-year’s worth of playing “telephone.”

Essentially, I am fully convinced that what we have today is the preserved Word of God, regardless of how long it’s been since the originals were penned. The textual evidence is overwhelming that what we have in our hands is reliable.

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Filed under Apologetics

My Most Popular Post of All Time

Now that we are beginning a new year (2018) I thought I would skip the anual list of “Top Posts” and go straight to the top – the consistent #1 – the most viewed post in 2017 and every year since it was first published (2011):

“Was John R. Rice a Heretic?”

Here’s your chance to read the post that put me on the map…without all the drawn-out, hateful comments 😉


On the 400th anniversary of the 1611 King James Version of the Bible, I would like to pose a question to my brothers and sisters who refuse to recognize any other translation: was John R. Rice a heretic? If you do not know to whom I am referring, let me give you a little background information.

Dr. John R. Rice

Dr. Rice, who died in 1980, was one of the most well-known fundamentalist writers and evangelists of the 20th century. He wrote more than 200 books and booklets which were published in many languages and sold all over the world. He condemned the compromise, liberalism, and apostasy being taught at major denominational colleges and seminaries.  He fought for a return to holiness and the fundamentals of the Christian faith. But what I think he will always be remembered for is his founding of the weekly paper, Sword of the Lord.

For the record, I highly respect Dr. Rice. I have in my personal library several of his works published back in the 1960’s. He was a great writer and a great preacher; however, he was not flawless. He said some things back in the day that I have a hard time with. On the other hand, he had some things to say that would shock the average reader of Sword of the Lord and the typical legalist who believes the KJV is the one-and-only perfect, preserved text for the English-speaking world.  Unlike the Sword which continually decries any other translation as dangerous and confusing, Dr. Rice actually recommended the 1901 ASV. OK, would somebody get a glass of water for the fainting KJV-only person on the floor? Dr. John R. Rice, founder and editor of the Sword of the Lord newspaper, actually said that the…

“…American Standard Version, translated in 1901, is perhaps the most accurate of all versions… It takes advantage of the three great manuscripts – the Sinaiticus, the Vatican, and the Alexandrian manuscripts – which were not available when the King James Version was translated.”   from, Dr. Rice, Here Is My Question (Wheaton: Sword of the Lord, 1962), p. 59.

As an overall explanation of his beliefs on the topic of multiple translations, Dr. Rice also stated:

“[There] are many, many translations. The differences in the translations are so minor, so insignificant, that we can be sure not a single doctrine, not a single statement of fact, not a single command or exhortation, has been missed in our translations. And where the Word of God is not perfectly translated in one instance, it is corrected in another translation. And if the Word of God is not perfectly portrayed in one translation, it is portrayed, surely, in the winnowed sum of them all… Have copyists passed on to us any major errors so that in any particular matter we miss the Word of God? There is abundant evidence that they have not. Do the various translations differ materially on any doctrine, any fact of history, any Christian duty, on the plan of salvation, or the Person of Christ, or any comfort or instruction? No, they do not! God has preserved His Scriptures. – from, Our God-Breathed Book, the Bible (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1969), p. 355.

Now, according to many legalists, at least to those who refuse to read or use any other translation of the Bible than the King James 1611, Dr. Rice, who had probably been one of their heroes, is now a liberal. Poor guy! He did so much!

I believe that God inspired His Word (2 Timothy 3:16). I believe He gave it to us in the original autographs. I believe that He has preserved copies of those originals in the examples we have of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts. What I do not believe is that the King James Version was the one-and-only, forever-settled-as-pure-and-inspired translation. It is ONLY a translation. To say that no other English translation is the Word of God is to say that the Geneva Bible, 51 years older than the KJV, was just a book.

The Kings James Version of the Bible changed the world. We should all be grateful for it. I still use it many times when preaching, and especially when memorizing verses. But even though the KJV was and is a blessing of God, His Word is preserved in the ORIGINAL TEXTS. Anything other than the original languages, including the King James Version, is a translation.

Our goal should be to use the best translations of the texts at our disposal when we are preaching and teaching, comparing them with each other and the originals, when possible, so that we can better understand how God’s Word should be understood in today’s language. After all, if you can’t understand it, doing you no good is the least of your worries – doing harm because of a faulty understanding based on a changed vocabulary is far worse. That is where the REAL heresy comes from.

But hey, it doesn’t matter which translation, if you are not reading it and studying it on your own, you might as well be reading Harry Potter and the Temple of Whatever. READ your Bible. STUDY your Bible. Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you read and study and then a wonderful thing will happen – you won’t be ashamed in the end (2 Timothy 2:15); you will find light for your path (Psalm 119:105); and you will know how not to sin against God (Psalm 119:11). Even the ASV, ESV, HCSB, or the NIV will tell you that….right, Dr. Rice?

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Filed under baptist, legalism, translations