Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Packing Heat?

In Harm’s Way

Pastor Danny Kirk, Sr., and family.

This week another pastor died. But he didn’t die from a heart attack, cancer, or just plain old age. He didn’t even die in an accident on some busy highway. No, Danny Kirk was beaten to death with an electric guitar in the sanctuary of the church he founded 18 years ago. (Click here for the full story)

Of course, this wasn’t the first pastor to die at the hands of an assailant. This wasn’t the first to die in a church building, either. No, there have been others. They have been shot, beaten, and stabbed. One was even found naked and spread-eagle in front of the altar, mutilated.

I’ve Seen It

When I was only in second grade (1973) my dad, a pastor, was threatened by those who wanted to physically remove him from the pulpit. They were stopped by a Marine who had just returned from Vietnam.

One time a man threatened to come shoot my dad at church. He had already shot at our house. Fortunately, some other men of the church found out. They stood around the church, armed with pistols under their coats. He came…and he left.

But it seems like attacks on ministers are becoming more frequent here in America. In other countries Christians are regularly mistreated, assaulted, and even killed. But here in this country, it is pastors that are being targeted. Why that is happening is up for debate. The question I am posing is whether or not a pastor should carry a weapon.

False Expectations

For the longest time people have thought that preachers, pastors, ministers, priests, etc., should be mild and mannerly…peaceful and placid…always turning the other cheek. Somehow, because of the Romantic perception of a wimpy, mamma’s boy of a Jesus, people think that His servants should be softies. They forget it was Jesus who vacated the temple with a whip (not something your average 90 lb. girly-man would do).

And when it comes to being attacked, there is this notion among many that the Christian, especially the minister, should not try to defend himself, just “turn the other cheek.” They think that true faith dictates we lower our hands and let God fight our battles for us.

I actually heard a man defend passivity to the extreme. When asked what he would do if a criminal attacked his wife or children, he said, “If it is God’s will they die, then I am not going to stand in His way. His will be done.” I wanted to beat the guy myself! What kind of insanity is that? To stand and watch your family be molested because you think it is wrong to defend yourself?

God-Given Sense

Friends, God gave us brains. He also gives the believer the Holy Spirit. If you have both, then it should be pretty simple to discern that a man (or woman) has a responsibility to defend his loved ones, as well as himself. Even Jesus understood that there are times when we need to protect what is in our care. He said, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace” (Luke 11:21 NKJV). How much more should we guard our own lives?

And what about the idea of being a good shepherd? What kind of shepherd would have allowed wolves, bears, and lions to come and carry away his sheep? What did David do to the bear and lion (1 Samuel 17:36)? Was it not his duty to protect his sheep?

What if a gunman entered the church? Where does Scripture say that the only option is to stand (or cower under a pew) and pray that he will see the error of his ways, lay down his AK-47, then take communion? What would David do?

My Thoughts

This is how I see it. God is my strong tower (Ps. 61:3) and my shield, my fortress in time of trouble (Ps. 144:2). He is also the One who led Nehemiah to set guards as the wall around Jerusalem was being rebuilt. As a pastor, I believe that God has called me to a “great work” from which “I cannot come down” (Neh. 6:3). Therefore, I will keep in mind the instruction Nehemiah gave those who labored…

“Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them. … Therefore set I in the lower places behind the wall, and on the higher places, I even set the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses. They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the trumpet was by me.” – Nehemiah 4:9, 13-14, 17-18 KJV

I see nothing wrong with a modern-day wall builder having a modern-day weapon “girded” to his side.

What would you do if attacked? Would you defend your loved ones?

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Filed under America, Christian Maturity, Life Lessons, ministry, Relationships and Family, Uncategorized, wisdom

Block Party 2012

What is Evangelism?

I know a whole lot of Christians who would disagree with what we did at Riverside Baptist, today. They would say, “You never preached, handed out a tract, or sang a gospel song. You call this outreach?

Why, yes I do.

You see, there are many in the Church who think that there is only one way to evangelize the lost and reach the back-slidden. They would never even consider having  an event where no one preached, handed out literature, or did a mock hell pit with straw-men torches. They would consider our event a failure.

But what is evangelism? Is there only one way of reaching people with the gospel? Is there only one way to show people you care about them?

An Old Adage

Painting faces.

I believe it was Zig Ziglar who said, “People will never care what you know until they know how much you care.” That is the absolute truth, too. And that was the mission of our block party.

There are so many who are not in church simply because they feel unloved and unwanted. They think that all Christians want to do is take up offerings and sing old hymns. The last thing they ever think is that we are real people who really care about their lives. If they could only know that we care, they might want to hear what we believe.

Instructions

As pastor of Riverside, I gave instructions to all who were to participate at this event. I did my best to make it perfectly clear what was expected of each of us.

  • Kids in a fire engine.

    First, this was not to be a church service. We invited people to a party, not communion.

  • Secondly, everything was to be free. No asking for donations. No admission. No charge for “stuff” that was done.
  • Next, it didn’t matter who showed up, they were to be talked to and befriended. I asked all of my congregation to show up, if for no other reason than to just sit and talk. People like to sit and talk about their lives to somebody who actually listens – and cares.
  • Have fun without any expectations.

This event was to be a seed-planting event. It was to be a time to let the community know that we are here. It was to be a time to let the Holy Spirit work through us in the way that we cared.

The Results

Eating inside where it was cool.

My legalistic friends (do I have any legalistic friends?) might like to ask me how things turned out. I am sure they would want to know how many got saved. I am sure that they would love to ask me at what point I stood up and shared the gospel with all the visitors. I am sure that they would love to point out that this event was a failure, since there was not one conversion.

I would totally disagree.

Our little church had scores of people show up today. Many of them did not attend any church. How do I know that? Because they told me so. They filled out cards in order to register for genuinely nice door prizes.

I got to talk with one young mother who wanted to go to church, but thought people would make fun of her tattoos.

I spoke with a young mother of four who wanted to go to church, but felt that her life was too messed up. Oh, really? I told her we would love to have her. I told her about how God’s grace and forgiveness was there for her.

The Expectations

What do I expect? I expect to see visitors at church in the morning. I expect our members to come to church tired, but with a feeling of hope. I expect people to show up that didn’t even come to the block party (because that’s how God works).

Smiling coming and going.

I expect kids on my bus to mention to their families that their bus driver is a preacher, but he is cool.

I expect people who never talked about this little church to talk about this little church and say, “Hey, those people are really nice. Why don’t we go hear that guy preach?”

I expect more things to come.

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Filed under baptist, Food, legalism, salvation, Witnessing

It’s Only a Steeple. Really?

A Steeple

If there is one bit of architecture that characterizes a Christian church, it is the steeple. Compared to the one at Woodland Park Baptist, Chattanooga, TN, ours is a fiberglass toothpick.

The first time I saw their steeple it took my breath away. A friend of mine and I were driving down the road, then all of a sudden there it was, just piercing the sky like a spear. Actually, it was sorta scary, sorta intimidating.

When my girls and I were out today, I drove them by the church to see this hazard to low-flying aircraft. They were equally impressed. Even though this portion of the church building is still under construction, the grounds are not finished, but who cares when you’re looking up?

Only a Steeple. Really?

One needs to remember, though, that a church a steeple does not make. The true Church is not even a building, but the body of Christ made up of believers in Jesus. We don’t worship steeples, or buildings, or people who build them. They are only things. The Church doesn’t need a steeple to be a church, nor does it need a steeple to point toward the risen Savior of the World. Steeples are just nice.

But as we drove away, today, I had a conspiratorial thought. What if what Woodland Park has built is not just a steeple, but something far different?

What could it be?

  • A camouflaged intercontinental missile developed in conjunction with the former George W. Bush administration?
  • A tower in which to house Bill Maher, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, and all other left-wing media once Santorum is elected President?
  • A secret Holy Spirit antennae which allows Dr. Wayne Barber to receive knowledge unavailable to the common Christian?
  • A high-frequency radio signal tower that is sending out subliminal messages, making Independent Baptists join the Southern Baptist Convention?
  • A “Rapture Rocket.” In the even that the rapture skeptics are correct in their eschatology, select Woodland Park members, such as those who publish their own Bible studies, will leave Earth for the third heaven?

You just never know, do you?

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Filed under baptist, General Observations, Humor, Southern Baptist

Give Attention to Your Doctrine

I don’t do this very often on the blog, but indulge me for a little bit. There is more to me than funny monkeys, you know.

Every once in a while I feel the need to do a little teaching. Keep in mind, many who read this blog do not go to a church, never hear a real pastor preach, nor even read a Bible. This might be the only path through which they choose to accept Biblical truth.

I just finished recording the audio for an upcoming radio broadcast. The text from which I preached was primarily the following:

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. … Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. – 1Ti 4:13, 16 KJV

One of the greatest challenges for the preacher is to make sure his doctrine is biblical, not based on human desires, such as the desire to only hear what we want to hear. I am reminded of the what Paul told Timothy in his second letter…

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. – 2Ti 4:3-4 KJV

How many Christians (and I use that term with caution) have literally “heaped to themselves” stacks of books, CD’s, cassette tapes, magazines, study guides, and DVD’s from televangelists, conference speakers, and popular authors who preach what scratches the itching ear? People want to hear what makes them feel good, more encouraged, and can lead to a more prosperous, fulfilled life. Few want to hear the Word of God.

The challenge, then, is for the sincere man of God to give priority to what is true doctrine, not the doctrine of men. This takes serious study, a willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit, and an understanding that what is of the Lord might not be popular.

Next time, I will address what I think is one of the most un-biblical, heretical, and outlandish lies preached by “itching-ear-scratchers.” It is a false doctrine that has captivated many Christians, but is a doctrine of devils, a doctrine which has its roots in the garden of Eden.

 Can you think of what doctrine to which I am referring?  Hint: It has to do with “speaking” and “faith.”

 

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Filed under Christian Living, God, ministry, Preaching, Theology

Just a Reminder to My Readers

As more and more people come to this blog/website, it is possible for some to read and interpret my words in the wrong way. I just want to clarify some things, especially if you are new. Thank you so much for visiting.

First, I am a Christian. “Salvation is found in no one else [besides Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  I could go into a list of other Scripture, but I believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Secondly, my eternal salvation is not dependent on my righteousness, but the the grace of a merciful God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” (Ephesians 2:8).

Thirdly, my salvation is not is not based on anything I have done, or can do. “Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9).

In the simplest terms, I am a “recovering legalist” because I am still struggling with the scars of a theology that led me to believe God’s love was predicated on my obedience to a list of man-made requirements.

This is more of a rambling post, but what I am typing is what is on my mind at this moment. I don’t want anyone to think that I think that I am better than anyone else, for I know that I am nothing without Christ.

I do not write in order to condemn others. I write about the things with which I sometimes struggle. I write because I care. Sometimes I may get on a soap box, but I can’t totally help it – I am a preacher, you know. It is in my nature to call it as I see it, especially when the dangers of sin are obvious. “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all [men]” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

The ultimate goal of this blog is to help others to see that even though God is Holy, His judgment was poured out on Jesus, His only begotten Son, who willingly sought to reconcile those who believe with His Father (Eph. 2:13-17; Col. 1:20-22). No self-imposed requirement, kept to the most minute degree, can save a man, nor make him any more loved. It was while we were yet sinners, that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8); not after we cleaned ourselves up and scored 100 on a list.

I do not want to argue with anyone. I don’t want to offend anyone, either. However, if you get offended by God’s written Word, then that’s between you and Him – don’t blame the messenger.

You may disagree with me at times. You may even disagree with me all the time. Just know that my prayers are that you will grow to love Jesus, God’s Son, the Savior of the world, because He first loved you (1 John 4:19). God sent Jesus into the world so that we might be saved from our sins. He didn’t have to, you know. It was because He loved us that Jesus did what He did. The proof of His love was shown on the cross. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

Note:  If you don’t have a place where you participate in corporate worship (church), then I hope you would feel welcome at the place I pastor. As an under shepherd of God’s flock, I seek to lead and guide the best way I know how, understanding that I am totally dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about any good.

Please pray for me. Put me on your prayer list. As I take a public stand, both on the internet and behind the pulpit, the powers of hell don’t like it, nor me. Pray that I will be able to show grace and love in the words that I write and preach, but also to be increasingly bold as this world continues to spiral downward into wickedness. Pray that God will be glorified in everything I say, write, and do.

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Filed under Preaching, salvation

Please Explain Yourself, Bro. Paul, Cause I’m Hurt’n

“Bodily Exercise Profiteth Little”

I hope that is only a play on words, Bro. Paul! I hope that was a relative statement, Mr. Apostle; because if not, this “bodily exercise” I am doing is making me question my investment. What do you mean by “little?”

Brother Paul, did you not say in your first letter to Timothy, “…bodily exercise profiteth little…?” I believe you did. You went on to say that godliness was better because it “[was] profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:8 But what I really want to know is what exactly do you mean by “little?” Are you saying it is not worth doing?

What I’m Doing Hurts

It is the first day of summer, and I am in pain all over my body. My feet hurt. My back hurts. My legs hurt. The follicles in my scalp where hair should be even hurt. Because I have taken upon myself the responsibility to beat my body into shape, the exercise that it has endured has resulted in blaring protests from my muscles.

Just the other day, in order to prove I am serious about losing weight and getting into better shape, I reluctantly agreed to play with my kids on the Wii. Not that this was anything new, but the game they chose was something I had never done before in real life, much less on a game console. They MADE me twirl hula hoops!

After a few minutes of embarrassing hip gyrations which were unscrupulously caught on a camera phone, I feel like I have a hernia. There is no glamor in explaining that the reason for you pain is a hula hoop injury. I’ve heard of tennis elbow, but never hula gut. Is it worth it? Surely there’s some profit.

What I’m Doing Costs Money

When one decides to invest his time and money into something, he usually expects some kind of return. When this person invests in a Total Gym, a new bicycle, nasty food, and hours that could have been spent sitting comfortably in front of a TV watching NCIS, he hopes the profit is more than just a “little.”

I’m Hoping to Live Longer, Too

Isn’t life valuable, Paul? Without all of this heart-strengthening, calorie-burning “little” stuff, I would probably end up looking like Jabba the Hut and die before the Braves win another World Series. Are you saying that a few more years with my family and the ministry are insignificant? Just like Bill Murray said in the movie Scrooged, “I wanna live! I wanna live!”

I Know, I Know…

I get it, Brother Paul. What you are saying is that compared to godliness, compared to keeping our spirit in shape, keeping the body in shape with exercise is not as important. But what you are NOT saying is that exercise is unimportant. Right?

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? – 1 Corinthians 6:19

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service. – Romans 12:1

Because my body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, it is therefore a tool dedicated for God’s use. It is not my own. It belongs to the Lord. It is my responsibility to take care of it, or risk it being out of commission when it is needed to carry His Word to those who are lost.

Exercise has its place, even a spiritual place, when we consider that staying in shape can contribute to the work of the Lord. But the real point is that this body will one day fall apart, break down, and die. The life-span of this body is very finite; but eternity is forever. There is not much profit to be had in investments that eventually return to dust; however, there is great rewards to be had when we are obedient.

The next time I’m tempted to complain about how hard it is to work out, or how embarrasing it is to get hurt while doing the twist with a virtual hoop, somebody remind me that compared to a mountain, an elephant is little. Why? Because bodily exercise may profit me little compared to some things, but a little can still be a lot.

I need some Ibuprofen. Anybody got an ice pack?

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Filed under Christian Living, fitness

Three R’s and Revival

I just thought it would be good to share some thoughts about the following verse. On Wednesday, June 15, I preached a short message entitled, “Three R’s and Revival” from Isaiah 57:15.

Something about this verse stood out to me the other day. As I was casually reading through the chapter, this verse grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I was reading it on my iPhone, actually, in the NET version. It went like this:

“For this is what the high and exalted one says, the one who rules forever, whose name is holy: “I dwell in an exalted and holy place, but also with the discouraged and humiliated, in order to cheer up the humiliated and to encourage the discouraged.” – Isaiah 57:15 NET

When I went back and looked at it, my eyes filled up with tears. I was impressed with this fact, the Holy One isn’t too good to sit down with the humiliated and discouraged.

God is humble.

Of course He is! Just look at what He did! Jesus became flesh (John 1:14) and walked in our shoes. He allowed Himself to be humiliated and beaten, even crucified, although He had every reason to look down on us, being God (Phil. 2:6-7). The “High and Lofty One” became the “meek and lowly” (Matt. 11:29). There was/is no pride in God.

The Three R’s

Isaiah 57:15 KJV – “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”

The three R’s that I see in Isaiah 57:15 are these: Reign, Realm, and Residence.

  1. I see the first one in the words “high and lofty.”
  2. The second one I see is found in the words “inhabiteth eternity.”
  3. The third “R” is located in the words “I dwell,”and “with him also.”

Reign

Earlier, in chapter 6, Isaiah said he “saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up…” The “high and lofty” One is none other than a King. And not just any king, this is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ. The same description is found in Revelation 4. In verse 2, John saw a throne “set in heaven, and [one] sat on the throne.” Who was the One that sat on the the throne? Evidently the same Person who was seen by Isaiah, because in both accounts the angels were crying out “Holy, holy, holy...”

God is not a man-made idol or idea formed in the human mind – He is “high and lofty.” He is “exalted” above every other creature, whether in heaven or in earth. “Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11 KJV).

Because He is king, there remains only two options with regards to His reign: you are either His subject, or you are His enemy. God does not operate like earthly kings and nations. We have allies; but not God. His kingdom demands total loyalty (every knee shall bow). Serving another king is not a good thing at all, for it will only result in His judgment. No king is greater than He. To serve another is to live in rebellion.

Realm

God is the One that “inhabiteth (inhabits) eternity.” This is His realm. His influence reaches not only across all known and unknown areas of the universe, but across time immortal!

It was said that at one time the sun never set on the British realm. All over the world there were colonies under the control of the throne of England. But even more impressive than that, God’s realm isn’t limited to the present rising and setting of the sun, it is in ETERNITY.

It is important to note something here. I am not opposed to reading different translations, but a good example of when a new translation misses the mark is changing the word “inhabiteth” to “rules/lives forever.” Of course it is true that God lives and rules forever; however, there is more to it than that. The word “inhabit” touches upon His eternally sovereign omnipresence. God/Jesus is not just king over the here and now, or the future, but over the past, present, and future at the same time! He inhabits eternity! There is nothing in the realm of time, no matter where it is, that is out of His scope of authority.

Stop and think about this, folks. Think about the practical application of the above statement. Let’s just say you need $100 tomorrow to pay a bill. Or, it could be $1 million, a billion – doesn’t matter. You could go to an earthly king and ask for help, but the king would be limited to the time frame in which you needed the money, the amount that he had, and the limitations of his realm. Not God.

I have seen money come in for a need that was desperate. God provided what was needed. But, when you look at the sequence of events, God started answering that prayer long before it was ever prayed – decades before! God is not limited by time, space, or anything. His realm covers it all. When George Mueller prayed for milk (for his orphanage), do you not think that God had already put in place the neccessary sequence of events to make that milk wagon drop a wheel? It is not even out of line to think that He went back to when the tree was planted that provided the wood for the wagon.

Residence

God not only lives in the “holy place,” but He dwells with lowly man. His name is Emmanuel – God with us. But notice this, He only dwells with the humble, the contrite, the broken-hearted, the cast down, the weary, the needy (“God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” – James 4:6). Even though He could choose to stay in His high and holy place, far above the heavens (as most men would do, given the opportunity), He makes His bed right on the floor with the lowliest, shivering beggar.

Of all people, God should be the one who looks down His nose at us. He is the “lofty” One upon the throne. We are the helpless sinners. How ironic is it that the only ones who will not open the door of their hearts are the prideful? Pride closes the door to the King.

and Revival

He said “I dwell” in order “to revive.” It is the presence of the God who cares; the God who understands where we are; the God who makes His home with the “discouraged” and the “humiliated” that brings revival. Oh, to live without hope, without compassion, without a tender touch from a caring hand, brings death. But to have a King step down from His lofty position in the heavenlies, from the eternal, to a lowly place in time – that revives the heart.

The gulf that separated me from Christ, my Lord 
It was so vast, the crossing I could never ford 
From where I was to His domain, it seemed so far 
I cried “Dear Lord, I cannot come to where You are” 

CHORUS 
He came to me, He came to me 
When I could not come to where He was, He came to me 
That’s why He died on Calvary 
When I could not come to where He was, He came to me 

He Came to Me – by Squire Parsons

Don’t let pride shut the door to your heart when the King of Kings seeks to dwell with you.

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