Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Philosophy of Ministry is Available for Download

At Mid-America Bible College Dr. Cliff Sanders taught me to write a Philosophy of Ministry position paper. It lays out a minister's approach to ministry, biblically, philosophically and practically.

When you click on one of the two following links it will take you to a page that looks like this,

Download Attachment

Click here to download your attachment.

All you have to do is click to load the document.  Enjoy!

Philosophy of Ministry

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I'm Preaching at Green Valley Church of God on December 9th

This Sunday, December 9th, I'm preaching both worship services at Green Valley Church of God.  

10: 30 A.M. sermon: "The Place of Blessing"  (Numbers 6: 24-26)
6 P.M. sermon: "Paul"  (Romans 1:1)

Green Valley Church of God 
518 Green Valley Drive
St. Albans, WV  25177

From MacCorkle Avenue 
Exit onto  Kanawha Terrace.  Drive 0.6 of a mile then turn left onto Green Valley Drive.  Drive 0.8 of a mile and arrive at Green Valley on right.  The road leading to the parking lot is immediately before you get to the church building.

GPS Directions 
N 38°21.891'  
W 081°47.243'

If you don't have a church family come and be blessed!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Divine Healing

I believe in divine healing.  The testimonies from credible witnesses are simply too numerous to dismiss all of them out of hand.  (Consider the compilation of modern day miracle testimonials found in the two volume work, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, by Dr. Craig Keener of Asbury Theological Seminary.)

My father, Larry McCallister, Sr., experienced one powerful case during the 1962 Church of God state campmeeting then held at Cross Lanes, West Virginia.  In those days they held a daily divine healing service at 5 P.M. during the campmeeting.  A man from Clendenin, West Virginia learned of the service; he suffered with a broken back.  The man called and said that he wanted to attend if he could raise the money to rent an ambulance.  He was told to rent the ambulance and the bill would be paid.  A group of ministers pooled their money for the trip.

Dad remembers that the man wore brown pajamas as he came wheeled in on a stretcher.  Some of the ministers present were J. Ross Taylor, George Oiler* and Gene Curtis.  Preachers prayed for him.  Nothing visibly happened and the ministers left his side.  However, during the second verse of Amazing Grace his hands were raised.  During the third verse the man was walking up and down the aisles.  The man rode home in the ambulance; he sat up in the front with the driver.

I believe in divine healing.  I'm sure that man did, too.

*George Oiler, himself, knew God's healing.  He was pronounced dead in the emergency room.  A nurse was walking into his room to prepare his body for the funeral home when he sat up.  She screamed, dropped water on the ground and ran from the room.  Oiler reported that he felt himself rise out of his body; God spoke to him, telling him that he wasn't ready to leave and that he had to preach the straight truth.  He felt himself lower back into his body.  It should be noted that the nurse who screamed and ran came back into his room, knelt at his bed and gave her heart to God.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What are you doing that will last for all eternity?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I'm Preaching at Dunbar Church of the Nazarene

Pastor Greg Hudson graciously has asked me to fill his pulpit at the Dunbar Church of the Nazarene on July 22, 2012.  I've been to Dunbar Naz different times but this will be my first opportunity to preach for the congregation.  I'm excited to preach there because a) I love preaching and b) I will always owe a debt of gratitude to the Nazarenes because my mentor, the late Dr. Malcolm W. Shelton, was an ordained elder in the Church.

As an aside, I know the area well; my father pastored Dunbar First Church of God for 14 years; the two churches are separated by only one city block.

Sunday morning worship begins at 10:45 A.M.

Dunbar Church of the Nazarene
1334 Lightner Avenue  
Dunbar, WV 25064
(304) 768-7454

Sunday, July 8, 2012

TO MY READERS: This is Day 9 for me without electricty after the WV storm. I'm sending this via text message. I can't read my email. Pray I get power QUICKLY!

UPDATE:  My power was restored this afternoon!
 Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; 
Praise him, all creatures here below; 
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
 Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Peter Furler: "I'm Alive" Video

Peter Furler was the frontman for the popular Christian group, Newsboys.  He now has struck out on his own.  From the sound of this song he hasn't lost a step!  I respect him; his lyrics are deep, profound and worshipful.  He's not fluff.  He's no flash-in-the-pan.  He's legit.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Preachers, Heed This Message!

I found this picture on Facebook today:

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:2-5 ESV)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I'm Preaching at Browns Creek Church July 1st.

As the pastor preaches at Rippling Waters Church of God Campground I will fill his pulpit at Browns Creek Church of God on July 1st.  If you don't have a church family come and be a part!  Morning worship begins at 10:45 AM.

Browns Creek Church of God 
2550 Browns Creek Road
St. Albans, WV 25177

From U.S. Route 60 (Coal Mountain) 
Turn onto Browns Creek Road (CR-1) and drive 2.7 miles. The church will be on your left.

From Coal River Road 

Turn onto Browns Creek Road (CR-1) and drive 2.1 miles. The church will be on your right.

GPS Coordinates to Browns Creek Church
N 38°21.950'

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Script Your Life

Nevertheless, with most of [the Israelites in the desert] God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play." We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:5-12 ESV)
If you were to describe your life as a movie genre, what is the category/categories that it would most closely fit?

a. Action/Adventure
b. Psychological Thriller
c. Horror
d. Romance
e. Coming of Age
f. Drama
g. Comedy

Please don't allow your life to be labeled as a "cautionary tale."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I'm Preaching at Dunbar First Church of God

I will fill the pulpit of the Dunbar First Church of God this Sunday morning, June 10.  I'm looking forward to it; my father retired from full-time ministry at the church last year and I know the people well.

Sunday morning worship begins at 10:30 A.M.

First Church of God
1234 Payne Avenue
Dunbar, WV  25064

I am a West Virginian...and a Kentuckian and an Oklahoman...and More

Alfred Lord Tennyson, in Ulysses, said, "I am a part of all that I have met" and in that he was right.  Today I paraphrase it as, "I am a part of everywhere I have lived."  I was born free because I was born a Mountaineer.  (Montani Semper Liberi—"Mountaineers Are Always Free"—is the motto of West Virginia.)  Appalachia runs through my veins.

When I was in sixth grade my father, a pastor, moved our family to Kentucky to serve another congregation.  I learned that grass can be blue.  I graduated from Boyd County High School in 1989.  My influential teen years were spent in Kentucky.  Unbridled Spirit runs through my veins.

I felt God call me to Mid-America Bible College (now Mid-America Christian University) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to study for the ministry.  Four years and one degree later I left Oklahoma, a land of great people.  Great is the God of the Oklahomans!  Sooner runs through my veins.  

These three great areas—two states and one commonwealth—helped shape me into the person that I am.  I'm proud of them all.  But one loyalty is greater.

I am a citizen of heaven.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24 ESV)
Glory runs through my veins.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Thought for the Day

Would heaven be heaven if everybody got there?

Many people believe the only requirement to enter heaven is death.

a person dies = a person goes to heaven

Does this square with the Bible?
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14-15 ESV)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV)

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)
How does one get to heaven?
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36 ESV)
Is Jesus the only way?
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12 ESV)

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV)

This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:11-12 ESV)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Limiting God" by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

All Christians, I BEG you to download a free mp3 sermon by the late Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899—1981).  He was a Welshman who preached at Westminster Chapel in London for 30 years.  Lloyd-Jones is considered one of the finest preachers of the 20th Century.

The sermon, Limiting God, is one of the greatest sermons I've been blessed to hear.  To download it for free you'll need to register (for free) at his Audio Library.  After registering, click on the left-hand section that says, "Enter the Library."  Then find the section that says "Psalms."  Click on it and find the sermon called "Limiting God."

By the way, you are entitled to 25 free sermon downloads each week!

Lloyd-Jones was a Calvinistic Methodist; I am a Wesleyan (Arminian) Methodist; yes, we differ in some points of theology.  However, he's my favorite preacher.  I've listened to him for hours on end.  His lectures, Preaching & Preachers (from which a book was made) is here for free.  It is the closest thing to my philosophy of preaching I've ever found.  He has a spirit-stirring series on Revival for free

Why do I keep emphasizing the word free?  Because it won't cost you anything...and some of the best things in life really are free!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jesus: The Way, The Truth and The Life (Video)

This is my first sermon from the 8:00 A.M. service at Ash Avenue Church of God in Moundsville, WV on May 6, 2012.

If you want to listen to the audio of my second sermon preached at the 10:30 A.M. service then click on the link Jesus: The Way, The Truth and The Life (Audio). Both are from the same notes but since I am not a manuscript preacher the sermons aren't identical (which is how it should be because it allows the Holy Spirit freedom of direction).

Just in case you were wondering, the remote I am pointing upscreen at the beginning of the video is for a ceiling fan located over the pulpit.  What a great innovation!  The remote both turns it off/on and allows the preacher to adjust the speed.  What a blessing!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'm Preaching at Ash Avenue Church of God on May 6

Pastor Jeff Hancock of Ash Avenue Church of God in Moundsville, WV, has generously asked me to fill his pulpit for both Sunday morning services on May 6.

Ash Avenue Church of God
127 Ash Avenue
Moundsville, WV  26041

8:30 - 9:30    Early Morning Worship Service
9:45 - 10:30  Sunday School for ALL ages!
10:45 - 12:00 Second Morning Worship Service

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jill Diane Randolph (1968—1995)

It's hard to believe that my friend, Jill, died in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 17 years ago today.  She was in a Federal Employees Credit Union meeting when the truck was triggered.  Jill was the 101st person recovered from the blast site.

Truth be told, I had a college crush on Jill as we attended Shartel Church of God
but she was out of my league.  When I heard the news I wanted to travel across the country to the crumbling building in Oklahoma City and pitch brick after brick as I frantically searched for her.  Those were horrific days.

The greatest thing I can say about Jill is that she was a born-again Christian.  She is with the Lord Jesus. 


How the United Methodist Church Can Survive

Dr. Timothy Tennent, president  of Asbury Theological Seminary, is concerned with his denomination's future; as he considered the upcoming 2012 General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Tampa he wrote:
We were once a powerful evangelistic movement.  Now, we are forever searching for new ways to manage our decline.  Endless studies and reports and commissions and re-structuring and new slogans (Open hearts, open minds, open doors) have ensued over the years.  None of these well intentioned initiatives have halted – or even really understood – the nature of this decline.  It will probably take a least three more cycles of general conferences before the following suggestions can be heard.
How does he propose to turn the ship around?  Below is a summation of his points.  You can read his blog in its entirety here.

1. Official and approved UM seminaries must teach Wesleyan doctrine.
2. The UM bishops should remove all heretical pastors.
3. The seminaries should teach their pastoral students how to preach strong sermons.
4. The churches must learn how to evangelize the post-Christian culture.
5. The UM needs to pray and repent.

Nothing unfair about that list; all points are valid and timely.  If the United Methodist Church will do so is known only to God.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (2 Volume Set) by Craig S. Keener

Today I ordered Craig S. Keener's Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (2 Volume Set) on Amazon.  It should be interesting!  The blurb on Amazon's page reads:
Most modern prejudice against biblical miracle reports depends on David Hume's argument that uniform human experience precluded miracles. Yet current research shows that human experience is far from uniform. In fact, hundreds of millions of people today claim to have experienced miracles. New Testament scholar Craig Keener argues that it is time to rethink Hume's argument in light of the contemporary evidence available to us. This wide-ranging and meticulously researched two-volume study presents the most thorough current defense of the credibility of the miracle reports in the Gospels and Acts. Drawing on claims from a range of global cultures and taking a multidisciplinary approach to the topic, Keener suggests that many miracle accounts throughout history and from contemporary times are best explained as genuine divine acts, lending credence to the biblical miracle reports.
I'm looking forward to getting my two volume copy; at 1172 pages it surely is a thorough treatment and when someone such as Ben Witherington III says, "We have here perhaps the best book ever written on miracles in this or any age" I take note.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm Preaching at Jones Avenue Church of God

This coming Sunday, April 22, I will preach at the Jones Avenue Church of God in Oak Hill, West Virginia.  This is the first time I will have addressed the congregation; actually, I can't say that I've been to the building.  It should be fun!

Jones Avenue Church of God
Jones Avenue
Oak Hill, WV  25901
(304) 465-5401

GPS directions
  37°58.285' N
081°09.133' W

Morning Worship begins at 10:45 A.M.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Unrealistic and Non-biblical Expectations of Churches Seeking a Pastor

Churches seeking pastors—both within my Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) and without—are asking too much of their prospective ministers. Their preferences in some cases are downright unrealistic or even non-biblical.

One church I came across had fewer than 100 in attendance. However, they wanted a minister who pastored a 100+ congregation with documentable proof of church growth. Documentable proof?  Another church between 50-75 asserted that their candidate must have the [a]bility to work with all ages. A record of church growth (Spiritually and numerically)." 

Different churches were bi-vocational (which meant the pastors had to have additional "secular" jobs to make ends meet) but they wanted clergy with seminary degrees. (To put this in perspective, a typical M.Div. is 90 hours of graduate classes beyond a bachelor's degree; I know a guy who works for the federal government with a Ph.D. in economics whose masters-doctorate was fewer than 90 graduate hours.)

One bi-vocational church in particular (of 26 people) stated that a college degree was minimum but they would prefer a pastor with a seminary degree.  Here are the age ranges they listed:

2 people in the 30-45 range
2 people in the 56-65 range  
18 people in the 75-79
4 people in the 80+ range 

Furthermore, they instructed the potential pastoral candidate that the "[c]hurch does not have an active liaison with district. Would like to see a relationship develop with the school system and perhaps with local civic organizations".  So, they want a pastor to both care for an aged congregation AND reach out to children and the community?  When would he have time to join "civic organizations"?  How can he become a "liaison" with the school district when he's working a secular job during school hours?

One congregation whose entire operating budget was $12,000 a year wanted a pastor with a bachelor's degree.

I found one church of 50 people who offered no parsonage and fewer than $20,000 a year but they wanted a pastor with a theological doctorate.

Inside Secret: Bible college or seminary doesn't teach a person how to be a pastor.  Yes, they teach a person Bible/theology—which is crucial—and introduces the student to broad principles but it doesn't teach a person how to be a pastor, i.e. the practical aspects of ministry.  I learned that through asking questions about Dad's ministry.

Sadly, if a person felt a call to ministry today I fear I may have to say, "Go to a state school for your undergraduate degree.  It's cheaper.  Then go to seminary."  This is because I realize a bachelor's degree from Mid-America Christian University, Warner University, etc. is increasingly seen as insufficient in the eyes of many Church of God congregations seeking a pastor today.  It's wrong-headed because, again, these undergraduate and graduate programs don't teach a person how to be a pastor, but it's the reality we live in today.

One congregation—20 people at most attended worship services by their own admission—wanted an associate pastor to "groom" him for the pastorate.  They confessed the church couldn't afford moving expenses, salary or living expenses.  However, among other questions, they wanted each prospective candidate to tell them (a) what he believed about tithing and (b) if he currently was tithing at his present church.  So, was it that they wouldn't give him their money but they wanted to be sure they received his?

Some churches stated (directly or indirectly) that the pastor had to be married.  At the least, the thought of a single pastor never seemed to cross their minds.  Of course, the Lord Jesus and Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, were not.  Do churches want two for the price of one?  Are they afraid single pastors are homosexuals?  I have written another blog entry detailing the fears of congregations toward single pastors to be found here.  (Not to be outdone, one church wanted a pastor with a sense of humor.  They also asked for prospective ministers to send, [a] family creative!"  Creative?  What, are they looking for a stand-up comic or a minister?

One congregation wanted each ministerial candidate to email a picture of himself (but not greater than one megabite in size, mind you).  Another church requested that the prospective minister send the congregation a photo of himself with his family. Why? If the pulpit committee deemed the "first family" too ugly would the minister be rejected? Is style (image) more important than substance?  Isaiah (53.2b) prophesied that Christ, himself, would have "no beauty that we should desire him."  Or—forgive me for asking—is this their roundabout way of checking skin color? 

Another church stated that their pastor must be physically fit. That rules out Thomas Aquinas, the "Angelic Doctor of the Church" who wrote Summa Theologica, Martin Luther, the Founder of the Protestant Reformation, Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest preachers in 19th Century England, George Whitefield, one of the greatest preachers during the Great Awakening and Thomas Coke, a close assistant to John Wesley and the first Methodist bishop in America.

Different churches wanted pastors who could bring in young families. (This in addition to caring for the older saints who were already present...see above.) Churches look for jacks-of-all-trades who can connect with every generation from young to old. Do you know how extraordinarily difficult this is?

One highly educated pastor lamented to me that churches don't want ministers who are over 50 in age. This is in spite of the fact that our churches are aging and people are living longer.

I get the feeling that churches are looking for John Piper on a budget or Francis Chan on food stamps. Most pastors just aren't that. If such ministers were commonplace would the names John Piper and Francis Chan even jump out at us?  As John MacArthur warns:
With the proliferation of modern media, preachers today face an unprecedented challenge of being compared with other preachers. Do you ever find yourself wishing you had one of those famous radio/television/Internet preachers in your local church pulpit? Measuring your pastor against the supremely gifted isn’t just unfair or ungracious; it’s detrimental to your spiritual growth. It’s not the preacher, the human instrument, that’s the main issue for you (cf. 1 Cor. 3:5-7). God uses what the preacher preaches to change lives—that’s where your attention needs to be focused.
I doubt I'm far from base when I guess many churches feel, "We are scared because younger Christians are abandoning us to attend larger congregations that offer more stuff.  We, the older saints, are holding on but we are aging and shrinking in membership so we need an unusually dynamic leader who is a multifaceted and extraordinarily gifted individual to turn around our situation." Let me tell you that few ministers are so designed by God...and those who are so gifted are already employed by larger churches earning larger salaries.  One church actually had the audacity to put this in their brief about pastoral pay:
Proven history of leadership and growth will earn the top range of salary posted.  Less experience will fall below posted salary range.
What the church was offering as the "top range" salary wasn't great when one considers the not inexpensive area where they were located.  How sad that this congregation would treat the minister as a secular business would treat an employee.  However, that is how churches see pastors these days: as professional employees/executives.  What is additionally sad is that this congregation misses the areas Paul says to reward with more money.  He wrote:
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages." (1 Timothy5:17-18 ESV)
"Double honor" in Paul's Greek is διπλῆς τιμῆς and it means, quit bluntly, "double pay."  But when does Paul tell Timothy to instruct his churches to pay a minister twofold?  Not for "leadership" and "growth" but for those pastors who labor in preaching and teaching.  A pastor can't make a church grow.  Let me repeat that: A pastor can't make a church grow.  That is beyond his control.  As Paul, himself, said:
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 ESV)
However, a pastor can help it if he works hard at preaching and teaching.  That takes discipline which he is capable of exercising through the Holy Spirit.  That is within his control.

One further word about a pastor's salary and compensation package: Would you work for that?  God has never paid for my ever-increasingly expensive insurance premiums with coins from fishes' mouths.  I naively wish churches paid their pastors just as well as they possibly could because that's just what they would want to do to honor them.

What really distresses me (in addition to the above) is that many churches spend precious little space speaking of the biblical qualifications of ministry—found in Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus—and precious little space speaking of doctrinal positions. (Ministers must be pardoned if they get the impression these things just aren't terribly important to seeking congregations.) Instead congregations spend their time defining what kind of church C.E.O. they want.

I don't think contemporary congregations know what they are supposed to look for in spiritual leaders. Instead they use catchphrases from the secular business world like "team leader" and "motivated" and "time manager" or "self-starter" while preaching "relevant sermons."  Oh, the phrase "relevant sermons" just gets me.  It's horribly atrocious.

It's time for churches and pastors to ask themselves, "What are the biblical qualifications for the pastoral ministry verses what are the preferences we have unwittingly absorbed from American culture and business?"  I'll reiterate: A pastor's qualifications for ministry are to be found in Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus, not church growth books or secular business models of success.

UPDATE:  Recently I found this article online by Chris Pedersen.  While I REALLY don't like that Pedersen sources Rob Bell in his article Pedersen does make a good point.  Listen to the writer's story about one of his pastoral friends:
In my Ephesians 4 sermon from February 19th, I made reference to an interview a pastor friend of mine had with a CRC congregation when he was a candidate for ministry. He asked them the simple question, “What are your expectations for your next pastor?” Someone immediately chimed in, “We want a heroic leader who will fill our pews.” As I said in the sermon, my friend didn’t end up serving in this particular church. A statement like this sounds ridiculous and yet it sheds light on some of the unhealthy, unrealistic, and unbiblical expectations that churches and pastors come to expect from the role of pastor.
What scares me is that many churches may see nothing wrong with that person's answer.  That, in itself, is an indicator of how prevalent this problem is in the church world.

Have a question?  Ask me! My email is

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Earning" Love

I read today that 54-year-old Alec Baldwin is engaged to a 28-year-old woman. I've seen pictures of her on the internet and with my corrected eyesight I subjectively rate her a 10. How did a mid-century man catch a quarter-century woman?

When in my twenties I came upon the book, How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You by Leil Lowndes. (Fair warning: in her book she qualifies that absolute title.) It isn't a "Christian" book and some content prevents me from endorsing it. However, it opened my eyes.

Yes, Hollywood movies lie to us. So do fairy tales.

In her book Lowndes explains her equity horse trading principle when it comes to couples pairing up. Each person comes to the table with a set of assets, either tangible or intangible. For example, tangible assets can be money (inherited or earned), property, possessions, stocks and bonds, university degrees and powerful jobs. Intangible assets can be beauty/handsomeness, youth, common religious/ethical beliefs, native intelligence and personality.

Basically, the equity horse trading principle explains that people match up because both potential partners have consciously (or unconsciously) sized each other up and determined they are getting a good deal. Their assets, tangible and intangible, balance out.

Humanity does this every day. I don't know Alec Baldwin and his fiancee and I can't speak about their situation so instead I'll make a general statement: can you imagine a beautiful 28-year-old go for some "regular" 54-year-old John Q. Public?

Why do men want beautiful women?
Why do men want slender women?
Why do men want younger women?
(That's pretty much all many men ask for. Yeah, they're pretty shallow.)

Why do women want tall men (i.e. taller than they are)?
Why do women want financially secure/stable men?
Why do women want attractive men?
Why do women want physically fit men?
Why do women want younger men?
(& Etc. Women typically have more requirements.)

It's the equity horse trading principle at work. Sorry to burst anyone's bubble but this applies in the Christian dating world just as strongly as the secular world. Loving Jesus is a prerequisite for many believing singles but it isn't the only prerequisite. A person may be the Apostle Paul or Mother Teresa but that isn't gonna get 'em anywhere with most of the opposite sex if that's all they have going for them. Trust me on this.

How many times do you see an obvious couple in public and were astounded at how dissimilar they looked together? Probably not often. Maybe he is rich.

Is this depressing? Yes, it is, but it's the way it is. However, do we have to "earn" love from God, too? Thank God, no.
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)
While we were ugly and bankrupt with sin with nothing to bring to the table God loved us. God never sized us up and said, "I'll pass; there are plenty of fish in the sea." No, all of the fish of the sea were ugly and spiritually bankrupt but God said, "I choose them." Praise God!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Defeating Human Viewpoints with Truth

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Cor 10:4-5 ESV)
I am leading a Sunday School class at Browns Creek Church of God on counteracting the prevailing worldview of postmodernism. Let me oversimplify by saying that postmodern thought teaches that there is no such thing as objective moral truth—or, if there is, we can't know for sure because the very process of conveying truth to others is hopelessly bound-up with the limitations of human language and our inability to express ourselves because we are hopelessly trapped in our own subjectivity. Postmodernism answers the questions of epistemology, "What do we know and how do we know it?" by stating, "We don't and we can't."

Postmodernism worships doubt.

That's why many postmodern folks today are adamant that they know they can't know so if you claim to know they think you are intolerant, bigoted and uneducated. (Yes, that is illogical.)

We spent the first few weeks looking generally into postmodernism and how it is at odds with propositional Christianity. But it begs the question: how do we as a Christian community confront the lost culture of postmodernism (or modernism...or any currently prevailing philosophy or any "ism")?

I quickly reply that without the convicting work of the Holy Spirit we can't win anyone to the Truth; without his quickening ability we, ourselves, never would've been won to the Truth.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:7-11 ESV)
That's key. That's where we start our discussion. We admit that, humanly speaking, it's hopeless. Because of the hardness/depravity/evil of the human heart we Christians really do depend on the power of God to show sinners the true nature of things.

Second, we plunge right in with the Truth. And a good place to start is the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5.1—7.29). This is where we began last Sunday morning.

I'm not saying sinners can follow the Lord's sermon; unaided by the Holy Spirit no one can. However, it's a great place to tackle many social issues and show God's take on them. It certainly reveals the disparity between the Truth and current popular opinion.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

John Piper and Bethlehem Baptist Sometimes Cast Lots

I confess I've thought very little about this topic over the years!

John Wesley drew lots to determine if he should marry a woman. He relates:
'... both of us sought God by deep consideration, fasting and prayer...but could not come to any decision. At length we agreed to appeal to the Searcher of Hearts. I accordingly made three lots. In one was writ, "Marry;" in the second "Think not of it this year." After we prayed to God to give us a "perfect lot", Mr. Delamotte drew the third, in which were the words, "Think of it no more." Instead of the agony I had reason to expect, I was enabled to say cheerfully, "Thy will be done." We cast lots again to know whether I ought to converse with her anymore, and the direction I received from God was "Only in the presence of Mr. Delamotte".' (Wesley 4 March 1737, cited in David 1962)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Brief Thoughts on Hell

Hell has made a comeback in evangelical circles—at least in overt attention—these days. To give you the short version, some folks don't think the classic theological position that non-Christians remain there for the rest of eternity after they enter is correct. They believe it wouldn't be loving for a compassionate God to consign the vast majority of those who have ever lived to hell forever. In its place they say:
1. either sinners are mercifully destroyed after a period of suffering for their sins
2. or sinners eventually leave hell and enter heaven after a period of suffering for their sins
There are some problems with these views. The first view is built on pretty shaky New Testament ground. It involves the translation/interpretation of αἰών (forever/age) that most of Christianity has rejected. The second view has two problems:
A. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that suffering (however "suffering" is defined) in hell changes a person's character, disposition and nature. A person enters hell and he doesn't exit a Christian. The suffering isn't redemptive but punitive. Besides, a guilty person cannot atone for his sins like the sinless Christ did for sinners.

B. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that a person stops sinning after he enters hell. He continues to rebel against God's will and, thus, lengthens his "list of crimes" in hell. With his forever expanding record comes endless punishment.
It is tempting to think God's love, mercy and grace covers everyone. However, think about it for a second; if a person doesn't want to live for God here on earth why would he want to live in God's presence for all of eternity? Wouldn't heaven be a kind of hell for him, if you will? We know from the witness of the Scriptures that when sinners become aware of God's presence they recoil in fear/guilt. Imagine that for all eternity!

In a very real sense, hell is God's mercy for those who refuse to live for him and don't want to live in his presence.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

John Wesley Raised a Man From the Dead

Here is the account from Wesley's Journal:
When I came home, they told me the Physician said, he did not expect Mr. Meyrick would live till the morning. I went to him, but his pulse was gone. He had been speechless and senseless for some time. A few of us immediately joined in prayer: (I relate the naked fact:) Before we had done, his sense and his speech returned. Now, he that will account for this by natural causes, has my free leave: But I choose to say, This is the power of God. [i.406]
Praise God!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'm Preaching at Browns Creek Church of God This Sunday!

I will fill Dad's pulpit for him this Sunday morning, February 19th, at the Browns Creek Church of God. If you don't have a church family come and be a part! Morning worship begins at 10:45 AM.

Browns Creek Church of God
2550 Browns Creek Road
St. Albans, WV 25177

From U.S. Route 60 (Coal Mountain)

Turn onto Browns Creek Road (CR-1) and drive 2.7 miles. The church will be on your left.

From Coal River Road

Turn onto Browns Creek Road (CR-1) and drive 2.1 miles. The church will be on your right.

GPS Coordinates to Browns Creek Church

N 38°21.950'

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I'm Preaching at Fifth Avenue Church This Sunday

Pastor Rod Campbell graciously has asked me to fill his pulpit for him this Sunday morning, February 12th, at the Fifth Avenue Church of God. If you don't have a church family come and be a part! Morning worship begins at 11 AM.

Fifth Avenue Church of God
200 5th Avenue
South Charleston, WV 25303

UPDATE: I forgot to bring my digital recorder with me to church; thankfully the soundman recorded my message! I'll upload the sermon for your playback or download when a burned copy is given to me.

Monday, February 6, 2012

John Wesley on Justification's Results.

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, (Romans 4:5 ESV)
John Wesley did not believe that a person can be justified by faith—declared "not guilty" in God's celestial throne room—and then go live anyway he wants. The Methodist explains in his Notes on the New Testament:
But to him that worketh not - It being impossible he should without faith. But believeth, his faith is imputed to him for righteousness - Therefore God's affirming of Abraham, that faith was imputed to him for righteousness, plainly shows that he worked not; or, in other words, that he was not justified by works, but by faith only. Hence we see plainly how groundless that opinion is, that holiness or sanctification is previous to our justification. For the sinner, being first convinced of his sin and danger by the Spirit of God, stands trembling before the awful tribunal of divine justice ; and has nothing to plead, but his own guilt, and the merits of a Mediator. Christ here interposes; justice is satisfied; the sin is remitted, and pardon is applied to the soul, by a divine faith wrought by the Holy Ghost, who then begins the great work of inward sanctification. Thus God justifies the ungodly, and yet remains just, and true to all his attributes! But let none hence presume to "continue in sin;" for to the impenitent, God "is a consuming fire."
Do you see Wesley's chain of events? Hard upon the heels of the forensic declaration of "Not Guilty" God immediately begins "the great work of inward sanctification."

We were justified so as to look like Christ, not to excuse us of looking like the devil.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Free Full-Length Sermons by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones!

From the MLJ Archive (formerly Living Grace) is the official podcast for the late preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). It is now offering a free full-length mp3 sermon each week! Previously Living Grace offered half a sermon weekly so it took two weeks to get the entire message.

Click on this link to From the MLJ Archive to download this week's sermon; there are a few past full-length sermons in the archives that can be downloaded as well.

***NOTE: Lloyd-Jones is one of my favorite preachers but understand that he was a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist with more in sympathy with George Whitefield, Howell Harris and Daniel Rowland than John Wesley. (But MLJ was quite magnanimous toward the Wesley brothers and John Fletcher, an attitude that I fear is lacking at times on both sides of the aisle today.) Take the best of his Methodism while discerning his Calvinism.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Free Kindle W. T. Purkiser and Uncle Bud Robinson! is offering two free kindle ebooks that may be of interest to you! One is by the Nazarene scholar Westlake Taylor Purkiser (1910-1992); click on Security: The False & the True to visit the site.

The other book is by the folksy Nazarene preacher Reuben "Uncle Bud" Robinson (1860-1942); click on My Objection to a Sinning Religion to get it for free!

I don't know how long these kindle books will be available for free so grab 'em!


A while back I saw this sign outside of a congregation. It gave me pause and I snapped a pic. The sunlight makes it a bit hard to see but this church was going to begin a new contemporary worship service.

It bothered me. Not because this church has contemporary worship because I am a product of my times and enjoy contemporary worship. No, it was something deeper. They were advertising (and advertising is fine) to the community around them: "We have contemporary worship!"

I looked at it from the standpoint of a sinner, one outside of a relationship with Christ. Would such a sign mean anything to him? Remember Ted Haggard's viewpoint from an earlier blog entry:
...most non-Christians can't even imagine what they view as "exciting" going on inside a church.
Could most sinners even imagine what "contemporary worship" is, anyway? Do they even have a category in their minds to file this new piece of data?

My question is this: Is this sign effectively targeting sinners who the church is trying to win or unwittingly tempting Christians from other churches who are unsatisfied with the "boring" worship services being offered in their services?

I am not impugning the character or integrity of the congregation or the pastor; I don't know the motivations that went behind posting the sign. It just gave me pause; that's all. There is a wider issue that this sign touched off in me. Are we churches as a whole looking to do the hard work of changing goats into sheep [evangelism and discipleship] or are we content with stealing sheep from other congregations' flocks?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Maxie Dunnam on the Holy Spirit

Maxie Dunnam, the former president of Asbury Theological Seminary was asked how he viewed the Holy Spirit at work in the world.  He gave this insightful answer:
“The Acts of the Apostles might well be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit and two great truths stand out: where there is much prayer, there is vivid expression of the Holy Spirit; where there is the vivid presence of the Holy Spirit, there is much praying. This dynamic relationship—prayer and the presence of the Holy Spirit—produces that which is beyond us; in fact, this is the source of miracles. One of the reasons we don’t see more miracles is that we don’t expect more miracles.  
There is an intimate connection between the Holy Spirit and intercessory prayer. Intercession is at the heart of our relationship to the Father, the risen and reigning Christ and to the Holy Spirit. Two verses of Scripture combine to give us the picture. Romans 8:27 says, God, who searches the heart, knows it is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Put that with the exhilarating fact that Christ ever liveth to make intercession for us, and you have the dynamic work of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God searches our minds and the Holy Spirit becomes the intercessor of our hearts. As the Risen Lord, Jesus is the great intercessor, so the intercessions of the Holy Spirit and the Christ are one. As we abide in Christ, our intercession is one with the Holy Spirit and Christ, the Great Intercessor, in the throne room of heaven.”
May we pray much, expect much and see much.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me

A Christian friend on Facebook has a quotation that I like; she chose a section from the Psalms:
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. (Psalms 16:5-6 ESV)
I like that; don't you?  And from what I can tell about my friend and her lovely family, it is an accurate description of their lives.  They are blessed and I am blessed to know them.

Recently the Holy Spirit stirred my heart to consider a verse so well-known that I dare say it is often ignored.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalms 23:6 ESV)
It is said that familiarity breeds contempt and I am afraid this has happened in my life.  Consider how monumental these promises are for the child of God!

The Hebrew word for "goodness" is טוב and its semantic range is rich, depending on context. By Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions:
1) good, pleasant, agreeable (adjective)
1a) pleasant, agreeable (to the senses)
1b) pleasant (to the higher nature)
1c) good, excellent (of its kind)
1d) good, rich, valuable in estimation
1e) good, appropriate, becoming
1f) better (comparative)
1g) glad, happy, prosperous (of man’s sensuous nature)
1h) good understanding (of man’s intellectual nature)
1i) good, kind, benign
1j) good, right (ethical)
2) a good thing, benefit, welfare (noun masculine)
2a) welfare, prosperity, happiness
2b) good things (collective)
2c) good, benefit
2d) moral good
3) welfare, benefit, good things (noun feminine)
3a) welfare, prosperity, happiness
3b) good things (collective)
That's quite a list!  God's goodness is for me!

The Hebrew word for "mercy" is חסד and is translated by BDB as:
 1) goodness, kindness, faithfulness
This is a difficult word to translate.  Different English versions may have "mercy" or "kindness" or "lovingkindness."  In a nutshell, chêsêd means the "covenant love" or the "covenant faithfulness" of God.

David said that Yahweh gives his children beneficial goodness, favor and blessing.  What I find even more fascinating is how the Shepherd King describes these gifts coming to us.  The Hebrew verb which has been translated as "shall follow" is a Qal Imperfect.  BDB translates it as:
1a) (Qal)
1a1) to pursue, put to flight, chase, dog, attend closely upon
1a2) to persecute, harass (figuratively)
1a3) to follow after, aim to secure (figuratively)
1a4) to run after (a bribe) (figuratively)
A Hebrew Imperfect verb means the action has yet to be completed; the action isn't finished.  God's blessings continue to chase his children!  The blessings keep coming!  I like how the Emphasized Bible renders the verse:
 Surely, goodness and lovingkindness, will pursue me, all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of Yahweh, evermore. (Psalms 23:6)
Appropriate this by faith!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Craig Keener: My Sister-in-Law Was Raised from the Dead

Dr. Craig S. Keener, professor of New Testament Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, gives two examples of people who have been raised from the dead by Christian prayer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Asbury Seminary's Craig S. Keener: Not So Fast, David Hume!

Just because a person hasn't witnessed a miracle doesn't disprove the existence of them!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Daniel Radcliffe is an Atheist

Daniel Radcliffe, forever tagged as the talented actor who portrayed Harry Potter, is an atheist.  From an interview in Parade:
 Your dad is a Protestant from Ulster and your mom is English and Jewish. Were you raised in a particular religion?
"There was never [religious] faith in the house. I think of myself as being Jewish and Irish, despite the fact that I’m English. My dad believes in God, I think. I’m not sure if my mom does. I don’t. I have a problem with religion or anything that says, 'We have all the answers,' because there’s no such thing as 'the answers.' We’re complex. We change our minds on issues all the time. Religion leaves no room for human complexity."
Radcliffe is a sad casualty of postmodernism, the prevalent worldview in Western society today.  It is a viewpoint that celebrates doubt, champions uncertainty and ennobles pluralism.  This is why confessional Christianity is seen as intolerant: a faith that declares there are absolute moral truths and that people can know those truths is politically incorrect and considered rude, bigoted and ignorant.  Simply to take Jesus at his word when he said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," (John 14:6b ESV) is today labeled extremist, fundamentalist and right-wing.

So be it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Guy On A Buffalo

Sometimes we just need a good laugh. Don't over-think this one; don't analyze it. Just laugh.