Sunday, December 21, 2014

1 The Royal Claim of the King to David's Throne



In this first sermon through the Gospel According to St. Matthew we examined what the title "Christ" or "Messiah" means.  We also showed through looking at Jesus' genealogical table—through the royal line of descent from David's throne—that Jesus was qualified to sit on David's throne as Messiah.

On a personal note, and with no disrespect intended, I almost could wonder if the words of Jesus could be used in my context for preaching through St. Matthew:
 "For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth." (John 18:37b ESV)
Even so, Maranatha.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

When You Can't Baptize by Immersion

As an ordained minister of the Church of God (Anderson) I believe baptism by immersion was the normal practice of the early Church.  The issues are complex; I am a credobaptist as well, not a paedobaptist.  (Look those up if you care.)  

However, what happens if baptism by immersion ("dunking" for the non-technical folks) is not feasible?  What if a person is gravely ill?  Should an immersionist like myself just shrug his shoulders and say, "Well, baptism doesn't save a person anyway so I won't do it"?  I believe baptism is important; King Jesus demanded it of his followers.  While there are times when immersion is impossible some occasions present themselves where a compromise can be reached.

There is an impressive ancient document from early Church history called the Didache, which is Greek for "teaching."  While scholars debate the age they all arrive at an extremely early dating for the manuscript, from the mid-first century to the early second-century.  In fact, even though consensus did not grow to include it as part of Bible canon (as one of the authorized books of the New Testament) some early Church Fathers did believe it was inspired Scripture.  I don't think it is Scripture but its importance would be hard to be overstressed.

The Didache has a section on baptism.  It reads as follows:
7 Now about baptism: this is how to baptize. Give public instruction on all these points, and then "baptize" in running water, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  2If you do not have running water, baptize in some other.  3If you cannot in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."  4Before the baptism, moreover, the one who baptizes and the one being baptized must fast, and any others who can. And you must tell the one being baptized to fast for one or two days beforehand.
This certainly is interesting.  It appears to me that this manuscript hints that the early Church baptized by immersion (or at the least they stood in a considerable amount of running [Greek: "living"] water).  Notice, however, that the produced document isn't legalistic about the mode of baptism.  It says, "Do A, but if you can't then do B, but if you can't then..."

If a person becomes a Christian in a hospital, on his sickbed, etc. and is in grave illness then I advise the immersionist minister to wrap a towel around the convert's neck and pour water on the new believer's head three times, "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

Yes, the mode of baptism is important but it is not as important as the act of doing it, and the mode is far less problematic than a minister refusing to perform baptism if he can't do it in his theologically preferred way.  It appears the early Church was flexible.  I pray immersionists like me will be flexible as well.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Evangelism: One Purpose of the Church



Evangelism simply means to share the Gospel (good news) of Jesus with another person with a desire for the other person to accept the message. It is the responsibility of each local church (and each Christian within that church) to tell others of God's revealed way to a relationship with him.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Worship: One Purpose of the Church



When we think of worship, we tend to think of singing although worship is exalting God through any activity.  In the sermon we examined what the Bible says about believers singing to God.  We also waded deeply into the "Worship Wars" that have plagued many churches to show the difference between biblical mandate verses personal preference.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Advent Season of Christmas

We're getting ready for Advent Season which begins November 30th in 2014. We light the first Advent wreath candle Sunday morning, "The Candle of Hope." (BTW, the word "advent" means the anticipated arrival of a special person. In this case, we eagerly anticipate the past arrival of Christ's birth in Bethlehem, the City of David, which we commemorate each year on December 25th.) 

There will be a Second Advent, a Second Coming, when Christ arrives abruptly for the Day of Resurrection and Judgment to end our human/universal timeline as we know it currently and usher in heaven/hell for all. This present universe will be destroyed/renewed with fire for the Present Age must give way to the Age to Come in which sin will be banished and righteousness will reign.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Getting the Apocalypse Right

I've noticed a big increase in pop culture with the word "apocalypse" to describe worldwide destruction. Technically speaking, apocalypse is an English transliteration of the Greek ἀποκάλυψις which means "unveiling." It is translated in our English Bibles as "revelation." 

In the last book of the New Testament it is the unveiling of Christ as Lord in the midst of the unveiling of events occurring to the seven churches in first century Asia Minor and a look to the future when, in the words of Paul, faith becomes sight.

So, apocalypse in the biblical sense doesn't mean an "end of the world" scenario.  It is the revelation of Christ in the midst of things that have already come and things still yet in the future of God's salvation history.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ministry: One Purpose of the Church



In the New Testament "minister" means "servant."  There is no division between clergy and laity in the case of ministry because every Christian is a minister who does acts of service.  We examined the biblical evidence on this important purpose of the Church.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Peanuts | Official Trailer [HD] | FOX Family



I've said it before and I'll say it again: if they mess up the movie this world will be dead to me, Man.  Dead.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Prayer: One Purpose of the Church



A prayerless church probably will be a powerless church.  Each Christian and congregation must seek the face of God for his presence, power, provision and peace.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fellowship: One Purpose of the Church



Is your church "safe"? Do the members feel they can confess their sins, hurts and limitations to others in the congregation and know it won't be gossiped around but prayed about and cared for? Do hurting Christians receive love, mercy and grace at your church?

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Five Dollar Blessing

This past Sunday my mother attended morning worship with me at my new pastorate, First Church of God.  I found out that she was going to put five dollars in the offering plate; I told her she didn't need to do so and reminded her that the church website asks first-time visitors not to give money.  Mom followed my direction and held on to the five dollar bill.

Today she called me excitedly, needing to share an experience that happened yesterday.  My parents were at a fast food restaurant where they saw an older employee cleaning.  She was happy and friendly to the guests.  Dad felt the desire to tip her.  He asked Mom if she had five dollars and she did—the very bill that she was going to put in the offering plate at First Church.  Dad walked up to the worker who was then seated for a meal.  He asked if workers were allowed to receive tips.  The lady seemed surprised and told him she didn't know.  Dad discretely took the $5 and placed it on the table with his hand over it.  After he removed his hand she placed her hand on top of the money.

Dad and Mom saw her begin crying over the money.  They were amazed when, as they were leaving, she hugged them both and told them her story.  She wasn't going to get paid until Friday (today) and she didn't have enough money to ride the bus to work.  It was on her mind.  How was she going to pay?  Dad followed a desire and unwittingly paid her fare...and then some.

A five dollar blessing?  Well, numerically it was but I have a feeling it was of much more worth to the worker than five hundred pennies.

God is good...all the time.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Discipleship: One Purpose of the Church




This is the second sermon in The Mission & Purposes of the Church series. How does a local congregation fulfill her part of the Great Commission? Dr. Luke gave us the answer by his description of the early Church after Pentecost in Acts 2.42-47. In this message we examine what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Mission of the Church



This is the inaugural message in the series The Mission & Purposes of the Church. What is the Church's mission? What ramifications follow? 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ffald-y-Brenin on BBC Radio Wales' All Things Considered

 
I'd love to visit the place.  A blurb from the Centre's website:


The blessing of God continues to be poured out at Ffald-y-Brenin, a remote Christian House of Prayer and Retreat Centre in South West Wales, UK. People are pouring in from the nations and many are being blessed and healed. The deaf hear, the lame walk, and joy arises to heaven! Increasingly we are seeing people make a commitment to follow Jesus Christ. Hundreds are launching into local prayer-based mission-shaped discipleship in Wales and the nations.  Ffald-y-Brenin cannot offer beds to all those wishing to visit, so some visit for a day whilst others stay in local homes and hostelries, joining us for the daytimes. Many join in our Rhythm of Daily Prayer, which is now translated and in use in various languages around the world.  Our Prayer Days and Conferences are packed as people recognise that Jesus is in the house, and, being present, he works wonders amongst us.

The beginnings of this move of God are described in the best-selling 'The Grace Outpouring' by Roy Godwin and Dave Roberts. Come, taste and see that The Lord is good!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Nothing But The Blood featuring Stikyard



I confess I love percussion.  Wow.  This is quite a rendition of the famous old hymn, "Nothing but the Blood of Jesus."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cavalry vs. Calvary

People often confuse the two terms but they have a vital distinction:

The cavalry comes riding in to save your life.
Calvary is Latin for the place where Jesus Christ was crucified to save your soul.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Carrie Underwood "Something In The Water"



Have no idea where Carrie is with the Lord but this song is awesome!

But one of the soldiers pierced [Jesus'] side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. (John 19:34 ESV)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

R. T. Kendall on Tithing



Interesting back-story: R. T. Kendall was raised in Ashland, Kentucky as a Nazarene.  For a short while he even pastored a Church of God (Anderson) congregation in Ohio but it didn't go well, because while a student at Trevecca Nazarene University Kendall became a Calvinist.  He later went on to earn his doctorate at Oxford and pastor Westminster Chapel for 25 years, the pulpit made legendary by men such as George Campbell Morgan and David Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

Another interesting back-story: Kendall's full name is Robert Tillman Kendall, so named after R. T. Williams, a former General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene.  However, his family didn't address him as "Robert."  From infancy he was called "R. T."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Place of Blessing in the Two Virginias!




I preached this sermon on September 7, 2014 as I candidated for the senior pastor position of the First Church of God in Princeton, WV.  It was my vision/challenge to the congregation should they extend the call to ministry.  They did and I'm going.  I will preach at First Church on the Sunday mornings of October 19th & 26th.  My first day "on the clock" will be November 1st.


First Church of God
301 Mahood Avenue
Princeton, WV  24740


GPS coordinates to the main gate's parking lot:
N 37°22.182'
W081°06.480'

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Scholarship Doesn't Replace Bible Reading

I am very excited about moving to Princeton, WV and becoming senior pastor of the First Church of God on 301 Mahood Avenue.  After I preach a Sunday morning series on the Mission & the Purposes of the Church (taken from Acts 2) I will begin the most challenging and rewarding preaching assignment ever: I will preach, verse by verse, through the life-changing Gospel of St. Matthew.  

Matthew's Gospel account is for everyone, saint and sinner alike.  It answers the question, "Who is King Jesus?"


It's gonna be thorough.  I will delve into the socio-religious background of First Century Judaism.  The Messiah will be placed in the contemporary situation of his day.  We will listen to Matthew on the Apostle's own terms.  By the illumination of the Holy Spirit I believe many lives can be converted/sanctified through the preaching of the Word.


Here are just a few of the massive academic works that I will consult as I preach through Matthew:


Alford, Henry.  Matthew—Mark (The Greek Testament:  A Critical and Exegetical Commentary)
Barclay, William.  Matthew  (The Daily Study Bible Series)
Broadus, John A. Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew
Carr, Arthur.  Matthew (Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges)
Carson, D. A.  Matthew (Two Volumes, The Expositor's Bible Commentary)
Edersheim, Alfred.  The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah 
Keener, Craig S.  The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
France, R. T.  The Gospel of Matthew (The New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Lange, John Peter.  Matthew (Bibelwerk)
Lloyd-Jones, David Martin.  Studies in the Sermon on the Mount
Meyer, Heinrich August Wilhelm.   Matthew (Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament Handbook)

And many, MANY additional sources, including those on Kindle and electronic commentaries on e-Sword.


Oh, and yeah, the actual New Testament Gospel According to St. Matthew.


A preacher has to watch himself lest he is tempted to lean on the thoughts of brilliant scholars without taking the time to keep his own finger on the text.  Classic and modern scholarship is fine...but they are no substitute for studying the Bible for himself.



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Roger Goodell Replacement?

Give a Smile

( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)


There isn't anything to this post.  I just like the smiley guy; that's all.

Dave Benton of WCIA, Terminal Brain Cancer and Christ



What a Christian testimony! "We have a hope within our souls, brighter than the perfect day! God has given us his Spirit and we want the world to hear it! All our doubts are passed away!"

Click here to be taken to his WCIA bio.  Click here to be taken to his Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I'm Pastor-Elect of Princeton First Church of God

This evening I accepted the senior pastorate of the First Church of God in Princeton, West Virginia.  It's a big step and I look forward to preaching Christ in the region of the two Virginias!


First Church of God
301 Mahood Avenue
Princeton, WV  24740

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Huntington Mayor Pleads for Prayer

In a truly inspiring video Huntington, WV Mayor Steve Williams pleaded with all of the churches in the tri-state area to pray for the region during their morning worship service time on September 7th.  I don't live in Huntington; I don't know his religious beliefs or his political affiliation but I am pleased to see a civic leader publicly call for prayer.  Amen.




Mayor Steve's Prayer Request from Trifecta Productions, LLC on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Word of God Sermon

This morning I preached a sermon entitled "The Word of God" at Browns Creek Church of God.  I've uploaded it to my YouTube Page, The Church of God Pulpit.  Click below to listen to the message.  (A box fan on the platform made a continual background noise on the original recording.  Through the audio editing software, Audacity, I was able to remove the noise but it distorted my voice slightly.)


Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Little Comic Relief

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Preaching Again at Browns Creek Church of God

On Sunday, August 30th, I'm preaching at the Browns Creek Church of God!  
Morning worship begins at 10:45 A.M.  If you don't have a church family how about joining us?



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'
W081°53.671'

2550 Browns Creek Road
St. Albans, WV  25177

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Different Titles of a Pastor

In evangelical churches most know their minister by the title of "pastor."  It's a rich word that emphasizes one facet of the minister's role in the congregation.  There are multiple titles that apply to the same minister because his job is multifaceted.  Let's examine them together:

1. Pastor ποιμήν 

"Pastor" is Latin for "shepherd."  It evokes images of tender—though sometimes tough—care for the "flock," the local congregation.

2. Elder  πρεσβύτερος   

The word translated "elder" sometimes is simply transliterated as "presbyter."  Elder speaks of the authority of one that comes with age, maturity and seniority (whether literal or figurative).  When spoken of in a ministerial sense physical age is not a consideration.

3. Bishop  ἐπισκοπή  

The King James translates this term as "bishop" though modern versions tend to use "overseer."  It speaks of one who has the authority of supervision, of oversight.  In early Christianity it spoke of pastors; as Christianity developed it then took on the meaning of a hierarchical ruler over pastors in a given district.

4. Ruler ἡγέομαι

Some may translate the Hebrew writer's Greek with an English noun, such as "leader" or "ruler."  The Greek actually is in verbal form as shown by the King James Version:

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)

It speaks of those who rule and command with authority.

It is important to note that all of these terms for the same office—that of pastor—are terms of authority.  Far too often the American Church sees pastors as employees who are chaplains: those paid to marry 'em, bury 'em, visit 'em and comfort 'em but who have no real authority to command them.  This is a grievous error and a woefully ignorant view in light of the New Testament.


Monday, August 11, 2014

"What is Holiness?" by John Oswalt

Is This a "Fetus" or a "Baby"?


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Entire Sanctification: Session IV from the Rippling Waters Church of God Campmeeting Conference on "Spiritual Formation"



This was the fourth session of my class, "Spiritual Formation" that I taught at the 2014 Rippling Waters Church of God Campmeeting. The class was casual and informal. A Q&A followed after the session that I did not record.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Kenneth E. Jones on Dispensationalism

Yesterday I discovered (I think rediscovered) an article that the late Rev. Dr. Kenneth E. Jones of Mid-America Christian University wrote for the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.  Jones responded to a standard three volume work on Premillennial Dispensationalism by George N. H. Peters (1825—1909).  This set had been reprinted multiple times, showing its influence on Christian thought in the 20th century, so Jones critiqued the work.  It is entitled, "An Amillennial Reply to Peters: A Review Article."  This link will take you directly to a .pdf download.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Greg Hall: Stand for the Bible

Last night at the Rippling Waters Church of God Campmeeting Dr. Greg Hall, President and CEO of Warner University in Lake Wales, Flordia, preached a powerful sermon on the inerrancy and authority of the written word of God.  It encouraged my heart to see an educator so passionate in his defense of the Bible.  Dr. Hall challenged us to defend God's truth in print; a large crowd stood in front of the platform to "take a stand."


Worship services continue through Friday night at 7 P.M.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I'm Teaching a Spiritual Formation Conference at Rippling Waters Campmeeting 2014


I was very honored to be asked to teach four conference sessions on spiritual formation (discipleship) during the Rippling Waters Church of God Campmeeting next month.  The series will be from a Church of God/Wesleyan perspective.  Each conference session, August 4-7, will begin at 1 P.M. in the alcove section of the tabernacle (near the bathrooms).  



Directions from I-77 South

1. take exit 116 Sissonville
2. turn left at end of ramp.
3. Drive to the stopsign at the intersection of CR-21
4. turn left at stop sign onto CR-21
5.stay on CR-21 about 1.05 miles
6.turn right onto Middle Fork Road
7. Stay on Middle Fork Road about 3.1 miles
8. Middle Fork Road goes through the campground; you will see the office on the left after you pass some of the camper sites and the pond.

Directions from I-77 North

1. take exit 116 Haines Br. Road
2. at end of ramp turn right
3. drive about 150 feet you will come to a stop sign, there will also be a Rippling Waters Sign, turn left at stop sign onto CR-21
4. stay on CR-21 about 1.05 miles
5. turn right onto Middle Fork Road
6. travel on Middle Fork Road for 3.1 miles
7. Middle Fork Road goes through the campground you will see the office on the left after you pass some of the camper sites and the pond.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Recurring Dream

To quote Amos, "I was no prophet, nor a prophet's son" (Amos 7:14a ESV).  However, I would like to share with you a recurring dream that I've had.  The dreams aren't identical but they follow a common pattern.  It's hard to describe but I'll try, however imperfectly, to be faithful to the impressions of my dreams.

I am in a church sanctuary but not during a worship service.  The church building once housed a thriving congregation that has dwindled in numbers over the decades.  I go exploring throughout the building because, over time, the congregation has remodeled it, adding rooms, sections and even floors to the original huge sanctuary, cutting it down to size because they had no need for such an enormous sanctuary as they did in their heyday.



In my dream I investigate, walking into different rooms and sections as I mentally trace the outline of the original sanctuary.  Perhaps behind a wall is the former stage of the old sanctuary, complete with stained glass windows that nobody pays attention to anymore.  Perhaps in another section is a divided off room where theater seating has been removed and one can see where the seats were once bolted to the floor.  By climbing floors and going through dividing doorways it becomes clear that it was a breathtaking artifice where throngs of people once gathered.  

It isn't a sad dream for me but one of hope.  I thrill in the possibility of the discovery of the once-used sanctuary.  I thirst for revival so that the building will once again be filled with worshipers.  It is an open-ended dream.

Is it a prophetic dream?  
For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, (Job 33:14-15 ESV) 
I just don't know.  W. Dale Oldham believed in the prophetic dreams of Church of God evangelist, W. F. Chapel.  Perhaps the best response is for me to quote John Wesley concerning another matter:
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]
In any event, it makes me hunger and thirst for revival.

Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee? 
(Psalms 85:6)


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Carson and Keller on Revival



Tim Keller and Don Carson have experienced revival firsthand. Watch them share their experiences in a brand-new roundtable video.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Learn Biblical Hebrew & Greek...for Free

With the global internet learning opportunities are greater than at any other time in human history.  I'd like to share one example with you.

Did you know that you can learn the basics of biblical Hebrew and Greek online for free?  While many free resources abound I'll highlight two examples.  All are YouTube videos.

Biblical Hebrew

The Master's Seminary hosts two graduate study years of Old Testament Hebrew.  The teacher is William Barrick.

Hebrew Grammar I (semester one, 22 lessons)
Hebrew Grammar II (semester two, 26 lessons)
Hebrew Exegesis I (semester three, 11 lessons)
Hebrew Exegesis II (semester four, 13 lessons)

Biblical Greek

John Moore of World Video Bible School teaches the basics of koine (Hellenistic) New Testament Greek.

Learning to Use the Greek New Testament (36 lessons)

To say this is generous and gracious is an understatement.  You've just been saved hundreds of dollars in instruction.  You can learn a workable knowledge of the two major biblical languages (not Aramaic, which just comprises a sliver of the Old Testament) for free.

Caution

I have watched very little of the above material.  I think it helpful to remind us that all Bible teachers have biases.  I certainly do.  I am a Wesleyan-Holiness Christian.  That affects how I interpret (and, perhaps in places, would translate, Scripture.)  It happens.  We all have biases/viewpoints that affect our objectivity.

William Barrick is a teacher at John MacArthur's Master's Seminary.  I assume Barrick is a pre-trib dispensational Calvinist.  John Moore pastors Dripping Springs Church of Christ.  I assume he holds to baptismal regeneration and other perspectives of the Church of Christ.  Therefore, you may find instruction colored by theological belief.  If it happens don't be surprised.  That's life.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Hearing" God? Really?

I freely confess that I check the Amazon site daily for Kindle freebies.  In fact, in all of my time in owning a Kindle I've only paid a grand total of .99 for my collection.  (It was for volume one of H. Orton Wiley's Christian Theology.)  Every other title is a writer/publisher promotional limited-time offer freebie.

If I have to pay for a book then I want a hard copy in my hands.  Freebies, however, I'll gladly take electronically.  Beggars can't be choosers.

Searching the Kindle freebie section is a mixed bag.  Big-name publishers occasionally bless the unwashed masses with a *good* book.  Many in the freebie section, however, are self-published.  Consequently, several of the free offers wouldn't have seen the light of day if an established publisher was the only route.  Short, grammatically dubious books hit the wifi all the time.  Not to say they have no merit but let the buyer beware.

Apparently Christians really want to hear the voice of God because that style of book keeps cropping up in the freebie section.  People are downloading them and bump the titles up into the top 100 list.  It gives me pause.

Why do we need books on how to hear the voice of God?

Yes, I know that anecdotal books can be intriguing, even downright fascinating.  Yes, we need to be reminded that God is heard in his Bible, impressions of the heart and circumstances.  However, what I'm getting at is that it is so unlike how people heard God in recorded biblical history.

For example, when God first revealed himself, prophetically speaking, to young Samuel, he spoke in words.  While the young man mistakenly thought that it was Eli calling him, it just took one short lesson to get the boy to listen to Yahweh communicate in sentences.  Samuel heard God audibly (or at least he thought it was audible but they were words, nonetheless).

We preachers (yes, myself included) have butchered one Old Testament passage beyond recognition.  How many sermons have exhorted us to listen for the "still small voice" of God  by recounting Elijah's experience at Mount Sinai?  There's a problem.  God spoke not in an impression to the despondent prophet but in a voice.  It may have been still and quiet compared to the natural disasters Yahweh displayed before he began speaking—but he did, in fact, begin speaking.  Words, sentences and paragraphs!  Elijah had a back-and-forth conversation with Yahweh!

When the Father spoke to Jesus once while some wrongly said it thundered (while others said an angel spoke) at least they heard physical sound.  Nothing about an impression of the heart.  God can get noisy when he wants to be.

In another post I wrote of a friend's very real encounter with the voice of God during an intense weekend of lay ministry that you can read here.  (I shamelessly beg you to read it.  It's thrilling!)  Again, he heard words.  Two different times.  The first time he thought they were spoken by a human.  He followed up on the first and it opened a floodgate of seekers.  He followed up on the second and people got saved.  And he didn't need anyone to teach him how to hear the Holy Spirit.

Francis Schaeffer claimed to have heard God's voice.  Uncle Bud Robinson and Asbury professor T. M. Anderson claimed to both hear and see Jesus.  Even John Wesley speculated on hearing angelic music with the death of the saints.  Whether audible or not it sure wasn't a still small sound in the heart.

If God talks to you, if he uses words, sentences and paragraphs to speak to you, you won't need a book to teach you how to hear him.

Read the Bible.  Be open to your heart impressions.  Be mindful of your circumstances.  I am, by no means, belittling and despising the usual avenues of learning God's will.  But let's be careful when we try to teach others how to hear God's voice.  Sometimes we hear him speak.  Other times we "hear" him "speak."  Let's be clear about the two.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Speaking at Abney Street on June 4th

Old-time family friend, Jack A.C. Lawrence, asked if I could teach the Wednesday evening lesson for him at Abney Street Church of God on June 4th.  I've spoken there several times and look forward to seeing the good saints at Abney again.  Service begins at 7 P.M.

By the way, if you haven't read his call to ministry testimony, click on this link and be inspired.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Preaching at Rippling Waters Campground

On Sunday, June 1, I will preach at the Rippling Waters Campground Chapel by the Lake.  
Morning worship begins at 11 A.M.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Preaching Again at Jones Avenue Church in Oak Hill

On Sunday, June 22, I will preach at the Jones Avenue Church of God in Oak Hill, West Virginia.  I've preached for them twice before and 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.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

An Exorcism Interrupted by a Cell Phone

   This is one of the best YouTube videos I've ever seen.  I think I can tell that it's real and not faked.  I believe in demons and I believe in demonization but this...uh...uh...

 

It's sad and hilarious at the same time!

Friday, May 9, 2014

I'm a Writer, Not an Author

We all have things that annoy us, little grievances against the idiosyncrasies of others or life.  One, for me, is the widespread use of the word "author."  

My English professor in college, Dr. Robert Bland, brought this to my class' attention over twenty years ago.  He held that it was wrong for a person to describe himself as an author because author comes from the word "authority."  It's self-aggrandizement for a person to call himself an authority on something (even if he is).  It's for others to call him an author.  For himself, "I'm just a writer."

Remember: just because a person wrote words to form a book it doesn't mean he's an author on the subject.  "Writer" is safer because he can be a poor writer or an excellent one.  How can one be a "poor authority?"  A person is either an authority or he isn't one.  Let others decide for themselves if he is.

There are other words that, if used, should be used only by others to describe us (if they will) and not used by us to describe ourselves.  Take "theologian," for example.  It seems presumptuous for a person to call himself such a vaunted thing as a theologian or, to use the the archaic word, a "divine."  No, we're just Bible students.  Others may (or may not) choose to call us theologians but that's up to them.  Another word is "professor."  We are teachers.  Others may call us professors.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

John MacArthur, Ian Murray Discuss Martyn Lloyd-Jones



The late Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899—1981) is one of my favorite preachers.  The Welsh Calvinistic Methodist defined preaching as "logic on fire."  In fact, his book, Preaching & Preachers, is the closest articulation of my own philosophy of preaching.

Enjoy this 2014 panel discussion of Lloyd-Jones, pastor of Westminster Chapel, London.

Moving Sermons to My YouTube Page

I have been transferring my audio sermons from sermon.net, my present hosting site, to my YouTube page at The Wesleyan Pulpit.  It makes sense because YouTube has a larger internet footprint than the site I now use.  I may do away with the sermon.net site altogether.

UPDATE: I deleted my sermon.net account today.  I only have my YouTube channel.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Preaching Again at Green Valley Church

This Sunday, April 27th, I'm preaching at the morning worship service at Green Valley Church of God.  The service begins at 10:30 A.M. 





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'

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Kara Welker Sings in Kilkenny, Ireland

 

On YouTube Kara Welker explains:
Since the first time I set foot in a beautiful, old European church it has been a goal of mine to belt out Amazing Grace at the first opportunity I got in one alone. I finally had that chance in Kilkenny, Ireland. And it was just as amazing as I ever dreamed it would be. Please note that this was recorded on a phone and with absolutely no editing.
Beautiful.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A 7th Grader's Speech on Abortion




Call this 12-year-old The Bus Driver 'cause she just took everyone to school.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

R. C. Sproul on How to Convince a Person Sin is Real and He Needs a Savior





I don't endorse this action but it certainly gets the point across.  After all, what is "righteous indignation" but an acknowledgment that sin exists?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ministry Wisdom

Over the years I've gained important insights about how church "works."  Here are a few principles that may not be on paper, and may even be unspoken, yet they are true from my experience.

1. There is no secret to church growth.  Most people begin attending a church because a family member or friend invites them.

2. People officially vote by ballot.  However, they also unofficially vote by checkbook and feet.  If people are unhappy they may withhold their money.  If a church has a Sunday evening worship service and few attend that means most have voted with their feet not to have one.

3. There are two types of leaders in the church: official ones with a title and unofficial ones that may, in fact, yield more power than official ones.  Figure out who the "real" leaders are—official or not—and convince them of needed change.  The congregation will follow.

4. Show me how Christians spend their time and money and I'll tell you what really is important to them, regardless of what they may say.

5. If a pulpit committee promises something to the pastor-elect, get it in writing.

6. Pick your fights; you will want to tweak/change many things.  Decide what issues are crucially important, pick those fights, and release the rest into the grace of God.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Peanuts: Charlie Brown and Snoopy Will Come in 3D


I hope this is a clean picture with no innuendo or crass jokes.

Interesting trivia: Charles Schulz, the late creator of Peanuts, attended a Church of God (Anderson, Indiana) congregation for a while as a young man in Minnesota.  In fact, he even tried his hand at some preaching.  It was his pastor who encouraged him to shop his cartoons.  The rest is history.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The "Jesus Never Said Anything About" Fallacy

You may run across people who want to justify homosexual behavior (or many other things) or by saying the following:

Jesus never said anything about _______.

Such a person may call himself a "red letter Christian."  That is, he wants to talk about what Jesus (didn't) say about the issue.  Such a conversation isn't recorded in the gospels?  Well, end of story for him.

There are many problems with this view.  Let me stream of consciousness some out:

1. It's presumptuous to demand that only the Christ of Christianity can prohibit it when God spoke not only through his Son but also through regular people.  It places an unwarranted wedge between God and his official leaders and is an anti-historical tone.  Moses spoke the the abomination of homosexual acts (as well as other sexually sinful ones).  Are there people today who would say that Moses isn't a recognized leader of God's Israeli community?  Try floating that one by a Jew today.  Paul spoke of the sin of homosexual behavior.  I am aware of no scholar (even a flamingly liberal one)  who denies the existence, the conversion and the apostolic ministry in the early church of the Rabbi Saul of Tarsus.  Whatever the scholar today may think of him personally, he will admit that Paul was an early and influential church leader and that Christians believed him then.  
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 male prostitutes, nor passive nor active homosexual partners, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
To say, "Moses and Paul have no authority to deliver binding revelation from God to me," is just arrogant.  And where did Jesus say his was the only voice to be used in establishing Christian doctrine?  Who are we to tell God how to write his Bible?

2. There was no foreseeable need for Jesus to be on the record about the issue.  He preached primarily to a first century Jewish audience (that is to say, Second Temple Judaism).  The Jews of the day wouldn't have remotely thought that homosexual behavior was legitimate.  Even though some Jewish authorities denied Jesus they did not deny Moses.  Hence, they would've taken Moses' Torah instruction to heart and condemned homosexual behavior.  

It would be like me getting up in the pulpit Sunday and declaring that incest is sinful.  I have no need to preach that Sunday because everybody in the audience would already know that.  (Give it a few years and, given this society, it might not be a truth just taken for granted.)

The New Testament writers tended to write about things that needed correction.  That is, we get Paul's views on things that people were messing up.  I wish Paul said a lot more about everything but he didn't.  He crafted his letters to fit the occasion of writing.

Jesus didn't have to talk about homosexuality because it wasn't a problem.  He did have to address heterosexual divorce and remarriage because that was a problem in the Jewish community.

3. Besides, how do we know that Jesus never said anything about it?  Maybe he did.  Maybe he spoke about gentile sexual sins in passing but it just wasn't recorded in the Bible because the Holy Spirit didn't direct the gospel writers to write it.  As John himself says,
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:25 ESV)
There it is.






Saturday, March 1, 2014

Demonic Possession?

KDKA's Andy Sheehan investigates:


Bob Cranmer and the Demon of Brownsville Road

Ex Alleghany County Commissioner, Bob Cranmer, shared that from 1988 to 2006 he and his family suffered at the hands of a demon in their home.  He is finishing up a book to be released this summer called The Demon of Brownsville Road.




What I find sad is this bit from The Blaze:
At the time, Cranmer and his family were evangelical Christians. They went to their pastor to report the occurrences, but said that the Baptist faith leader wasn’t quite sure how to help them. 
And that’s when Cranmer said the Catholic Church stepped in to assist — involvement that he says resulted in a lengthy two-year process that ultimately rid the house of the demonic force. 
The family later converted to Catholicism.
We Evangelicals must do a better job at helping our saints gripped by bondage.  But why did it happen?  Another Blaze article said that long before the Cranmers lived there the house was once an abortion mill.  This reminds me of the story of a demoniac found in Mark and Luke.  (Matthew adds there were two demoniacs):
Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me." For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert. (Luke 8:26-29 ESV)
It would seem that demons love death.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Godwin's Law for the Church

In 1990 Mike Godwin made an internet observation that has become known by Godwin's Law.  He postulated:
As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.
I believe there is an ecclesiastical equivalent to it.  Let me tweak it to read:
As an online Christian discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Pharisees or legalism approaches 1.
In other words, when Christians debate with each other online, eventually somebody is going to compare another person's views (or the person, himself) with Pharisaism or legalism and [on the wrong side of the argument because he is] in contrast to Jesus and grace.

Watch for it.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bock, Wallace and Witherington on the Reliability of the Bible



Because you DON'T have to take Bart Ehrman's word for it.  I think it's great that you can get two outstanding Calvinistic Dispensationalists (Dallas Seminary's Darrell Bock and Daniel Wallace) and one outstanding Wesleyan-Arminian (Asbury Seminary's Ben Witherington) together on the same stage saying the same thing.

It's just fun to listen to three really smart guys sitting around saying really smart things.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

What Does the New Church of God (Anderson) Logo Mean?

General Director Jim Lyon gives us the answer in an Open Letter.  Part of it reads as follows:
Soon after I arrived on the job, Church of God Ministries began to review its logo. Introduced for the first time in 1980 (one hundred years after the Movement’s beginning), the familiar-to-some-but-not-to-others flame art posed a few challenges. Panned when it arrived on the scene as “sectarian,” bearing too much likeness to denominational imprints already then in play (e.g. the United Methodist Church), today it is even more similar to other, newer faith brands (see for instance the Metropolitan Community Church logo—a group with some emphases quite different from our own). The flame logo has never been embraced by the whole church (nor was it necessarily intended to be) and is unknown in many (if not most) of our congregations across the country. 
Furthermore, the flame does not communicate abroad what many of us take for granted in the United States and Canada. In western Christian culture historically, fire has been seen as an emblem of the Holy Spirit—and with good reason, found in the Bible (e.g., the Holy Spirit descended on Pentecost in the form of visible tongues of fire, famously). In the Orient, though, this symbolism for the Holy Spirit has little traction. Fire can suggest many other themes (in Hindu India, e.g., fire often burns before the idol, inspiring worship) and rarely would lead an unbeliever to think about Jesus. Even in the Occident, traditional Christian emblematic representations are falling out of the common cultural core and do not speak as they once did. 
There is one symbol, however, which is recognized universally, in every place Jesus has been preached, as the mark of the Gospel and that is the Cross. If Jesus is the subject—and I believe He is—the beginning and the end, the Word become flesh, the Way, the Truth, and the Life—then the Cross is His signature. 
I listened to the graphic designer engaged in the development of the new logo present a very careful and reasoned case for the how and why of the new look, developed by his hand (after elaborate research and exploration of core ideas and themes, listening to Church of God people) and understood it. But, my assessment of the new look was much simpler and straightforward: (a) the logo places the Cross at the center—in the middle of everything; it makes Jesus the subject (the appearance of the Cross in the logo was strengthened, after initial response and review contended it was too faint), (b) whatever the pieces of my world might be, whatever the challenges, the relationships, the shapes and sizes of life, they all come together at the Cross—Jesus makes everything whole, (c) the circular form of the logo spoke to me clearly of wholeness, unity, holiness: something shattered and disparate coming together, again, drawn together by the Cross. It’s all about Jesus.
Of course, it’s a subjective exercise, discerning messages from art, ink stamps, logos, and the rest. And, like the flame introduced on letterhead in 1980, no church or agency or pastor or school is required to employ the brand. But, in a world of global exposure—when thousands can access our website from every continent every day—when correspondence I send reaches not just to Kokomo but Kolkata, the Cross-in-the-middle, pulling all things together in unity, is an imprint I believe will serve Church of God Ministries well. 
Some today have panned the Cross-in-the-middle logo as others did the three-colored flame in an earlier age. Some have readily grabbed it, praised it, and already employed it in their ministry publications and online presence. Whatever imprint our state and local ministries use, let’s focus our message on Jesus. Making Him the subject is our best hope for coming together and changing the world.
There ya' go.  Click on this link to visit an official page with downloadable versions of the new logo in various sizes and colors.