January 12, 2018

The Culture of a Healthy, New Testament Baptist Church

The Culture of a Healthy, New Testament Baptist Church

10 Words that Describe the Culture of the Church at Jerusalem

By Dr. Paul Chappell




Every church has a culture - a functioning set of values and identity. Hopefully, this culture reflects what the church says it believes and teaches. But that is not always the case. Too many times, the culture of a church becomes one of divisiveness, pride, or worldliness (although no one is likely to acknowledge those). As Baptists, we of course believe that the Bible is our final authority for faith and practice. But does the Bible speak to such matters as the culture of a church? It does. And it does in one of the earliest descriptions of the first-century church in the book of Acts. In the same passage that tells us of the first moment of explosive growth in the church, we catch a glimpse into what the culture of this church was like.


1. A Preaching Culture

 The amazing explosion of growth that took place in the Jerusalem church on the day of Pentecost can only be attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit. But He used Peter boldly standing and preaching the gospel as the tool to convict the lost. Preaching must be the engine that pulls the train in the ministry of a New Testament Baptist church.
“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:” (Acts 2:14)

2. A Soul-Conscious Culture

Although Peter is the one who preached at Pentecost, it is obvious that all the disciples must have been dealing with people on a personal basis. A church focused on reaching the lost with the gospel not only will bear more fruit than a church that is inwardly focused, but it is also a more pleasant place to be and to grow in Christ.
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:41)

3. A Discipling Culture

 Even in this early explosion of growth, the church at Jerusalem did not neglect new Christians. The fact that these three thousand people continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine means that someone taught them the apostles doctrine. A healthy church has an environment that works like a greenhouse for new Christians.
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…” (Acts 2:42)

4. A Fellowshipping Culture

Christian fellowship is a powerful source of encouragement and is one of the great gifts God gives us through local church relationships.
“And they continued stedfastly in…fellowship…” (Acts 2:42)

5. A Worshipping Culture

One of the most worshipful times at church is when we partake of the Lord’s Table. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25), and He is the one who should have preeminence in the church (Colossians 1:18). To say it another way, church should be about Jesus, not about us.
“And they continued…in breaking of bread…” (Acts 2:42)

6. A Praying Culture

I don’t think prayers in the early church were confined to pre-scheduled moments on an order of service to create transitions. They were heartfelt, corporate prayers—as they should be today.
“And they continued…in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

7. A Holy Culture

This was a church that feared God. The signs and wonders performed by these early Christians brought an awe of God in the church. This was a church that recognized His holiness and had a deep reverence for Him. Holiness in the church is still vital today, for there is no fear of God where there is no holiness.
“And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.” (Acts 2:43)

8. A Sacrificial Culture

Giving is such an important part of a healthy church. We may not practice giving the same way that first-century church did, but we should have the same spirit of generosity. Sacrificial giving allows us to start ministries, send missionaries, and help those in need.
“And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need” (Acts 2:44–45)

9. A Unified Culture

The work of the ministry is too important to attempt it without the work of the Holy Spirit. Discord and division repel God’s power, but unity and love invite His work.
“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,” (Acts 2:46)

10. A Praising Culture

This was not a church enamored with its own success. It was a church praising God for what He was doing in their midst. The moment we usurp the goodness of God to elevate ourselves - our leadership, vision, organization, or anything else—is the moment we lose His favor.
“Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47)

Interestingly, we might read these ten descriptions and assume this church was practically perfect. It wasn’t close. In fact, just four chapters later in Acts 6, we read of significant problems that arose related to its growth. (Incidentally, we see in the apostles’ response in Acts 6 that this church also had an approachable culture!) But while it wasn’t a perfect church, it was a healthy church.

Even so today, a healthy church culture does not mean a church without problems. But it does point to a church that is focused on Christ and has centered its energy around reaching the lost, discipling new converts, encouraging each other, and all while worshiping God.

January 3, 2018

Feeding Sheep or Entertaining Goats?

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon
An evil is in the ‘professed’ camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted Christian can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years this evil has developed at an alarming rate. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments!
The devil has seldom done a more clever thing, than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses!
My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.’ That is clear enough and so it would have been if He had added, ‘and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.’ No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to Him. Then again, “He gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry.” Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people, or because they refused? The ‘concert’ has no martyr roll.
Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was the attitude of the apostolic Church to the world? “You are the salt of the world“, not the sugar candy; something the world will spit out, not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance “Let the dead bury the dead.” He was in awful earnestness.
Had Jesus introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into His teaching, He would have been more popular. When “many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him,” I do not hear Him say, ‘Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow; something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it! Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow!‘ No! Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them!
In vain will the epistles be searched to find any trace of the ‘gospel of amusement’. Their message is, “Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them . . . Don’t touch their filthy things . . .” Anything approaching amusement is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.
After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the Church had a prayer meeting, but they did not pray, ‘Lord, grant unto your servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.’ No! They did not cease from preaching Christ. If they ceased not from preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down; that is the only difference from today’s church. Lord, clear the church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her and bring us back to apostolic methods.
Lastly, amusement fails to effect the end desired. Let the careless and the scoffers, who testify the church met them half way, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment had been God’s link in the chain of their conversion, stand up! There are none to answer! The mission of amusement produces no converts!
The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is for Biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.
“Lord, clear the Church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to apostolic methods!”

June 28, 2017

There are more people on planet Earth than you (or me) and God. Sometimes we become so self-centered that we see those "other people", but they are not really that important to us - we have our own life to live and we must take care of "Good Ole Number One." Furthermore, if we aren't careful, we will judge those "other people" in a way that is based upon our having incomplete knowledge of them. When I was a boy, I often heard my family use the phrase "walk a mile in their shoes before juding them." Until we really attempt to get to know those "other people" and what is going on in their lives (often behind the scenes), we are not all that qualified to judge them. God deals with us in complete fairness and justice because He fully knows us. Perhaps we should attempt to get to know people more fully before judging them. How can we do that? Perhaps we ought to listen to them more carefully. Perhaps we ought to love them as Jesus Christ loves people. Luke 6:35 says God  “is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Even so should we! Remember, every person is a person that Jesus Christ died for.

June 15, 2017

Scripture Reading — Romans 8:35-39
The Victim Mentality
This may sound strange, but sometimes it's comfortable to be a victim. Some people grow used to feeling sorry for themselves, throwing pity parties, and inviting others to join in: "You poor thing! You really have it rough!" We all enjoy a little pity once in a while.

Being a victim also comes in handy when we don't feel like changing. We might blame our troubled childhood, our alcoholic spouse, our nasty boss, our painful illness. After all, who can expect us to move ahead in life? Don't we have every right to wallow in self-pity?

Jesus shatters the victim mentality. We're tempted to think of ourselves as helpless lambs being dragged to the slaughter. But faith in Jesus makes us "more than conquerors through him who loved us." Nothing, no matter how painful or powerful, can separate us from God's love in Christ Jesus. That makes us victorious--no matter what.

One of my greatest joys as a pastor has been seeing God's love overcome the victim mentality. People paralyzed by pain and self-pity discover how much God loves them. They find that Christ's riches are greater than their problems, that a victory celebration is more fun than a pity party. They stop using their troubles as an excuse, and they overcome them. Through God's love, they become more than conquerors. So can you.

April 12, 2016

Attempt to Resolve Problems

Never leave a church without having attempted to resolve problems with your pastor. Ducking out is not an option. It is just plain sinful. It is sin against God chiefly, but also against His church. You may have genuine concerns with the ministry of your pastor and the direction of the church. But to leave without speaking to them may lead to further damage in the church. 

February 20, 2016

Sheep Stealers

There are preachers in the last days who “steal sheep” instead of winning souls. The Apostle Paul says in II Timothy 3:6-7, “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:6-7). This refers to pastors and teachers in churches who worm their way into the hearts of weak women and lead them into their own church or Bible study. They usually seduce women, but they can also do this with weak men, particularly weak men whose wives have been seduced by the “sheep stealer

The sheep stealer, of course, will never tell you, “I’m a sheep stealer. I’m here to get you to leave your church and join mine.” One man who is a very notorious sheep stealer said not long ago, “I’m not a sheep stealer.” Actually this man is an expert sheep stealer, and yet he said that. I think these men often deceive themselves, to keep from facing their own sinfulness. They are “deceiving, and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:13).

What they do is get the prospective sheep to talk about his church. If they see that the sheep has no complaints the sheep stealer will leave him alone. But if the sheep complains to him, he will draw him out by asking smooth questions in a soft and kindly voice. If he can get the sheep to say something against his pastor, the sheep stealer will work on that point, all the time appearing to be a kind and understanding friend. In the end the sheep stealer will persuade the sheep to leave his own church and come with him. Believe it or not, there are preachers who make a career out of doing this. They have many people in their church that they seduced into coming with them. One preacher recently told me about a small town in Alabama that has 66 Baptist churches in it. He said the people float back and forth from one sheep stealer to the other. Needless to say, the spiritual level in that town must be very low, with hardly anyone truly saved. Why? Because such people are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:7).

The only way to avoid stealing sheep is for pastors not to accept members from other churches without their former church giving them approval or a “letter” of transfer. These are historic Baptist positions, which are violated by sheep stealers today.

This is a continuing problem because very few pastors in the last days know how to win and disciple converts from the world. As a result, they often try to build their churches by seducing professing Christians to leave their own churches and come with them. May I say to you as strongly as possible – that is an abominable kind of ministry! Sheep stealing preachers are like grave robbers in the 19th century. They dug up dead bodies that had recently been buried and sold them to medical schools to be dissected. The sheep stealing preacher is no better than a grave robber in my view!

May I say to you that no matter how bad the churches become in the last days, Jesus Christ Himself is ready to pardon your sin. He bled and died on the Cross to save your soul. He is now at the right hand of God praying for you. It is my prayer that you will seek Him and find Him. He said, “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).


April 18, 2015



People give all types of reasons for why they no longer attend church. Most of those given mask the real reasons someone becomes a former church member? It’s the same motivations for virtually every other human decision: pain and pleasure.
If you associate church with pain or church with interfering with your pleasure, you probably won’t go. Those are the real reasons why you don’t go to church, but they still shouldn’t be what keeps you out. Here’s why.
Reason 1: Someone in church hurt you, so you refuse to go back.
Maybe it was last month. Maybe it was last decade. But somebody in a church somewhere hurt you, maybe even deeply.
To those I want to say, as sensitively as I can, join the club. You are not alone in that. Everyone, and I mean everyone, who has ever been part of a church for an extended period of time has been hurt by others there. My deepest personal wounds as an adult came from church people. I say that to let you know, I understand. It hurts and the easiest way to escape that seems to be to leave church entirely. But it won’t really work.
Christians often speak of the “church family.” It is a way to communicate the bond that should be present among believers in a local church body. It also, inadvertently perhaps, expresses another truth. Church families are like physical families. You are around them so much that you rub each other the wrong way and people get hurt.
If you gave up on anything that brought you pain, your life would be dull, bland, self-absorbed and lonely, while lacking any real adventure, growth, achievement and love. If, the moment you experienced pain, you surrendered, you would never exercise, never learn anything new, never undergo necessary medical treatment that may hurt, never push yourself past the limits you thought possible, never achieve anything of lasting value, never be a part of a relationship with anyone else, never love or be loved.
You still want to leave and never come back because of some hurt? We can get past that pain and find joy. Everyone you ever see at church has done just that.
Reason 2: You are enjoying things that you know the Bible says are sinful.
Can we be honest about this? Most people who have left church fall in this category. Hurt and hypocrisy, while honest critiques that the church should confront and correct, are more often than not excuses to continue living a certain way.
You remember all the teachings from church. You remember what the Bible said about the recent life choices you made. You also don’t feel like changing. You like what you are doing and don’t want anyone telling you that it’s wrong.
Maybe if you aren’t confronted with the Bible or Christians, you can continue on in your new lifestyle. There will be no one there to say no. You can make your own choices without interference from others.
It’s like avoiding going to a doctor because you think he might tell you something is wrong. Sure, no one likes to hear bad news, but wouldn’t you rather hear it coupled with hope for the cure? Why would you want to avoid confronting problems that only will get worse with time? All those fears you have about returning? They’re lies. People love you and are praying for you to come home, even now. More importantly, God loves you and longs to be reunited with you.
Do you remember the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Jesus describes God as the Father who stood by the road and waited for the moment when His child would come home. He’s there waiting for you—ready to take you in.
Coming home can be difficult and painful. It means leaving old things behind to embrace new life, but it is dropping rags to pick up riches. When you embrace Christ and the things He has for your life, everything else, even those things that seemed so valuable to you before, pales in comparison.
As precious as our sin may seem to us, we cannot take hold of the treasures God has for us with our fingers still clutching our old rags.
Sure, you’ll find hypocrites in the house when you come home, but you’ll remember that they’re not any different from you. They need grace and forgiveness, just like you. Maybe, just maybe, you can offer it to them and they can extend it to you.

Here are two questions for those of us who are active members of a church family.
What can we do to help comfort those who have been hurt by church and the people there? How can we show those who are enjoying their sin that their is more joy within the church than outside?
Perhaps the two questions have the same answer.

June 5, 2013

Why Pastors Deserve Honor From Church Members “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” (I Tim. 5:17,18) The careful student of the Bible understands that when “elder” or “elders” is used in the New Testament that it’s typically speaking of pastors. The text leaves no doubt that this is the case in the verses above (i.e. – “rule well,” “labour in the word and doctrine”). Under the inspiration of God, Paul wrote that faithful pastors are “worthy of double honor” (vs. 17). Most involved with independent Baptist churches are highly supportive of their pastors and gladly submit to his God-given leadership role. However, anyone is susceptible to developing a wrong attitude towards his or her pastor. There are few things more harmful and dangerous to the local church than a wrong heart about the pastor because unless corrected it will eventually bring some degree of discord and division. What follows isn’t an exhaustive coverage of “Why Pastors Deserve Honor From Their Church Members;” however, it should be more than enough to convince any humble believer of his or her need to do so. Pastors deserve honor for their “work’s sake” I Thessalonians 5:12,13 says, “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” Here we see that honoring a pastor isn’t so much about “who he is” as a person, but “what he does” alluding to his God-ordained office. The carnal mainly esteem pastors for humanistic things such as doing and saying what pleases and gratifies them. In verse 13 we see that the spiritual esteem pastors “very highly in love for their work’s sake.” What comprises the works of the pastor? Well, as the elder (ruler), bishop (overseer) and under-shepherd (leader) the pastor’s works involve the mission and welfare of the local church. He’s to lead the church to follow God and His Word in carrying out the most paramount mission which exists, propagating the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As part of this his works also entail following the Lord’s leadership in the care of the church which includes trying to help all members to grow in Christ, doing whatever’s required to ensure that sound doctrine and practice are maintained, leading in bringing forth God-honoring services, overseeing business matters, and a whole myriad of other duties. So, since the works of the pastor involve the mission and welfare of the local church, the members need to do everything the Bible and Holy Spirit direct in order to help him, including giving him a high degree of esteem and honor. Esteeming and honoring the pastor have to do with actively demonstrating great respect for his under-shepherd role, which inherently includes willingly submitting to his God-given leadership. The word “rule” seen in I Timothy 5:17 means just what it says, “rule.” It speaks of “presiding over” and “having the care of.” Obviously, it’s indicating that the pastor has the undisputed leadership role. The thing is, when a person or persons don’t highly esteem the pastor — when people don’t provide him with the proper respect through attitudes and actions — it hinders his work, which “is unprofitable” to the church and the entire cause of Christ. Pay careful attention to what it says in Hebrews 13:17, “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.” Remember, the pastor’s work is the mission and welfare of the church, so when a member doesn’t respect him and his office, but instead resists and rebels against his God-appointed and anointed leadership, the work of that entire local body of Christ is hindered. And guess what can happen when such disrespect of pastors grows within churches? Those churches may be destroyed, at least as true New Testament Churches. Who was the first in history to refuse to esteem and honor the One in spiritual leadership over him? It was Lucifer, the devil. So who is the church member emulating when he or she has a wrong attitude toward the pastor? Yeah, that’s right! Folks, what is the devil always trying to do to churches? He and his forces are continually seeking to hinder and destroy. The serpent will be very happy to use you to try to run off God’s man and tear apart the Lord’s church. Only a lost person could enjoy being used in such a way. Christian, don’t ever allow yourself to become a pawn of the devil against Christ’s church! Part II A church cannot possibly be of one accord, of one heart, and of one soul for the Lord unless every member has the proper attitudes and actions of respect for the pastor. (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32,33) We can become so consumed with self that we refuse to see the biggest and most important picture. The mission and welfare of God’s church are much more vital than anyone’s personal whims, fancies and feelings! Every Christian must fight self. We must always love the Lord and His church enough to get “me” and “I” out of the way so that we can see and focus on the biggest and most important picture – the mission and welfare of the Church of Jesus Christ! Pastors deserve honor for the Lord’s sake You know, when one gets right down to it, to refuse the proper respect to a God-called pastor is to disrespect the Lord Almighty Himself. First, it disrespects God’s plan and organization. The Lord’s plan has always involved using under-shepherds in the position of spiritual leadership (i.e. – Moses, Joshua, the Judges, prophets, priests, several Hebrew kings). To the God Who is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), all believers are equal in person, but we’re ordained to different roles. As much as some folks might desire the leadership role in the church, it’s clearly and undeniable bestowed upon the pastor by the Lord Himself. Filled with pride many believe that they can improve on God’s plan which gives rise to board-run churches, committee-run churches, domineering man or woman run churches, family-run churches and devil-run churches. I Corinthians 14:33 tells us “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” In verse 40 we read, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” When there’s rebellion against a faithful pastor’s leadership, when there is slander being brought forth about him within the church, when a certain member or members are dedicated to getting their way, it certainly doesn’t bring peace. Rather, it brings chaos. We know that God isn’t the author of chaos, so who is? Secondly, refusing proper respect to a God-called pastor disrespects the Lord by disregarding His Word. How can someone who truly fears God read Proverbs 6:16-19 and still possess a wrong attitude towards his or her pastor? There we read these words, “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” Not honoring pastors brings discord to churches; and God hates sowers of discord. Pastors deserve honor for the church’s sake If the church member believes that the pastor has offended him or her in some way, or done some grievous wrong, the Bible explains what to do. (Matt. 18:15-17) Jesus taught that we’re to “go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” Why is it then that folks usually go to everyone except the pastor to tell about his alleged fault(s)? We should strive to be 100 percent behind the pastor. If someone comes with complaints about him, you should immediately tell them that you don’t want to hear it, and to take the matter to the pastor alone, not to anyone else. If fact, for the welfare of the Lord’s church, those who even smell the slightest stink of discord from anyone should be quick to report it to the pastor so that he can deal with the situation. Certainly the welfare of the church should be of much higher priority than any human relationship. The Scriptures describe the devil as a “roaring lion.” Have you ever seen how elephants protect the herd from lions? The most mature males and females will band together, standing shoulder-to-shoulder to form a near half-circle wall. Inside the wall will be their immature and babies. Guess what happens? The lions back away! Church members need to take a lesson from the elephants and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the pastor against those whom the “roaring lion” would use to attack. Have you noticed that it’s almost always the immature and baby Christians who are the first to be devoured? How utterly heart-breaking and angering! How dare any church allow it to happen! Conclusion Honoring or not honoring a pastor really comes down to a person’s heart. Those who are humble and seek to be servants will have little trouble submitting to a Godly pastor’s leadership. Those who are prideful and seek to have their own ways will not properly submit to a pastor’s leadership until they get their hearts right with God. Indeed, we should love the Lord and our pastor so much that we love him as Jonathan loved David. Do you know what I mean? By the way things operated, Jonathan was supposed to be the next king of Israel after his father Saul would die. However, even knowing that David would still get that honor instead of himself, Jonathan stood behind the one who God had called to that position. (I Samuel 23:16-18) The church member who truly loves God will love his pastor as he loves his own soul. Rather than tearing him down to people, we should stand up for him if anyone ever dares to disparage him, raising up in righteous anger against such enemies of the church. (II Thess. 3:1) Let us hold up our pastors, their wives, and children in fervent prayer everyday. Let us seek to encourage them often. And, let us have the courage to stand up for them whenever anyone would seek to tear them down. “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.” (I Thess. 5:12,13)

May 18, 2013

Stnkin Thinkin

Here is our thesis – What you choose to think about and dwell on in this life will make or break you as to what type of person you will end up becoming in this life. Scripture puts that thought this way – “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” (Proverbs 23:7). The key word in this verse is the word “thinketh.” The word “thinketh” is telling you that God is targeting your thought process – what you think about on a daily basis. Interpretation – you are what you think! You can become what you think! This principle is easily seen in our world today. You can easily tell who is operating on this principle in the way the Lord has intended and who is not. The people who always seem to be upbeat and fulfilled with their lives are the people who have a good sound mind and who are always thinking about the positive things in this life. They choose, with their own free wills, to dwell on the positive side of life. The people who are always pessimistic and have negative attitudes towards anybody and anything, are choosing to think and dwell on the negative side of this life. Granted, this is a cursed and fallen world in which we all live. Jesus Himself said that we would all have to go through various types of trials and tribulations in this life from time to time. However, there is a flip side to this coin. On the one side of the coin is the darker side of this life, but on the other side of this coin is the good, positive, and brighter side of this life. It is not all death, doom, and destruction. Even in the worse case scenarios and situations, there is always a hope and a light at the end of that storm cloud. As Christians, we all have God Almighty Himself on our side to help us take on any storm clouds that may come our way in this life. The difference between these two types of people is in their thought life. The people who are upbeat, and positive have chosen to look on the brighter side of things, even in some of the worse case scenarios imaginable. The negative type of people have chosen to think and dwell on all of the bad things that can happen or go wrong in this life. No matter what good may come their way, they will always think that something better could have come their way. As a result of all of this negative and morbid type of thinking in their thought process, nothing ever makes them happy or content because nothing is ever good enough for them. The Bible is very clearly telling us in the above verse that we can all choose what to think about and dwell on. We do not have to become slaves to negative type thinking. Our thinking and thought process does not control us – we control it! Negative type thinking can be broken. For many, it has become an actual mental stronghold because they have been mired down into this type of negative thinking for such a long period of time. However, as you will see in some of the Scripture verses below, the Bible tells us that we can actually take “captive” what we think about. We have to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus. What this means is that we are directly responsible for choosing what we think about and dwell on – and then make sure that our thinking always lines up with the Word of God and how He wants us to think about things. We cannot blame anyone else, including God Himself, if we have chosen with our own free wills to constantly dwell on the negative and darker side of this life. The Bottom line – we all have to learn how to develop right thinking. Our part is to do the best we can to try and think and dwell on the things that God wants us to be concentrating and focusing on. However, as we all know, most of us only have a certain amount of mental strength in this area. Some will naturally go farther in this realm than others will. This is where the Holy Spirit will really be coming in big time to help you get your thinking process straightened out and grounded in the Lord. This is all part of the sanctification process that God wants to start with each one of us. This process will not be accomplished overnight. If you have been operating in a negative type of mindset for a long period time, God will start to gradually and progressively move you out of it into a better, clearer, and healthier type of thinking. Your job will be to work very closely with the Holy Spirit once He starts this sanctification process within you. You will see Him start to target specific areas in your thinking where you are really off base. Once this revelation has been given to you by the Holy Spirit, then it will be up to you as to whether or not you will choose to work with Him to get this particular area cleaned up to the degree that the Lord would really like. If He tells you that you are too judgmental and too critical of others – then your part will be to do the best you can to try and cast down these types of negative and destructive thoughts and replace them with more positive and godly types of thoughts. For many, this will be a very painful process because you will be forced to admit that you have some character flaws and imperfections that will need to be dealt with in your mind, soul, and personality. The Holy Spirit is the Master Surgeon and He will be attempting to do inner spiritual surgery on you to take out what He does not want to be operating in your mind and thought process, and put in what He does want to be operating in it. Your job will be to choose, with your own free will, to work and cooperate with the Holy Spirit once He makes it very clear to you what specific changes He will want to make with you. He will not force these changes on you. He will let you know very clearly exactly what it is He wants to put in your system and exactly what it is He wants to take out. If you choose to move and cooperate with the Holy Spirit on what specific changes He will want to make with you, then God the Father will allow the supernatural power of His Holy Spirit to truly begin to transform and sanctify you in the way and manner that will most pleasing to Him. Romans 12;1-2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Ephesians 4:22-24: “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” II Corinthians 4:16 – “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” Many Christians are not operating with very sound minds. One of the most incredible blessings that we can be given as a Christian, especially in the type of world we live in today, is the blessing of being able to have a good, clear, sound mind in the Lord! For those who are walking very close with the Lord and have your act together with Him, the Holy Spirit will really move to impart this sound mind to you. II Timothy 1:7 – “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” To those of you who are into memorizing Scripture verses, I would highly recommend that you add this one to your memorization list. Proverbs 16:3 – “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” II Corinthians 10:5 – “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

April 28, 2011


Text: Matthew 16:24,25

Some people consider Christianity a burden, a series of unpleasant sacrifices such as continually going to ch. and having to give money. Or, unpleasant necessities like reading the Bible and praying. Or a weight such as giving up pleasures of the world. To some people, these are a heavy sacrifice and burden. Christians who have those feelings do as little as is absolutely necessary. They attend church little as possible, give only minimumally,and do little studying, praying, or working.

Andrew Jackson once decided to become a church member. He approached the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Nashville. The pastor asked him a number of questions such as, “Do you forgive your enemies?” Jackson, a military man and political leader had enemies. “Is that absolutely necessary?” he asked the pastor. “Yes it is”. After a pause Jackson replied, “Then, I forgive them.” If it was absolutely necessary, he would forgive them.

That feeling among some that they will do only what is absolutely necessary leads me to these thoughts. There are many others who do not become Christians because they consider Christianity a burden, it's sacrifices too heavy. To them, it takes too much time and money. It interrupts normal life and impinges upon their freedom.

The early Christians did not feel that Christianity was a sacrifice or burden. They gave up much more than modern Christians give up to wear the name of Christ, yet they did not find Christianity a burden. Let's see Christianity in its true perspective.

Our beginning point is Romans 3:10,23 - "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." A similar Scripture is I John 1:8,10 - "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." Since Adam and Eve rebelled against God and opened the flood-gates to sin, our world has been engulfed by it and all men are sinners. We were lost and in need of redemption.

Ephesians 2:12-13 brings our lost condition to a greater reality. "That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." Underline the phrase “having no hope and without God in the world.” That was our condition before Christ came and gave us the way of escape so that we might be saved. See also Romans 5:5,8-9,11.

We were separated from God, lost and without hope. Then Christ came and reconciled us to the Father. I Peter 1:18-23: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

Christ paid our penalty and brought us from the bondage of sin. Until He paid the price, we were without hope and destined to eternity in hell.
Colossians 1:13-14, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son." We were in darkness.God transported us into the kingdom of light. In speaking to the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20:28, Paul used the expression, “the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood”. Hebrews 10:24,25 says: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
I Corinthians 6:19-20 states: "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

We’ve been purchased by the blood of Christ. We belong, not to ourselves to do as we wish, but to the Lord to do as he wishes. That is not burdensome since He has sacrificed so much for us. It is only right and proper. Just as a man who has been saved from drowning feels a life-long gratitude to the one who saved him, we should have feelings of gratitude to our Lord who saved us for eternity.

II Corinthinas 5:17-19 says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." Christians are new creatures. We have a new eternal destiny, set of goals, values, and a new view of life. Years ago, one of Auto makers introduced its new models with the slogan, “An old name has a new car.” That’s exactly what happens when one becomes a Christian. Friends still call him by old name and a picture reveals the same appearance as before. But, inside, he is a new creature. Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

One of clearest examples of what it means to be completely made new is Gal. 2:20 - "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

In view of the fact that we’re new creatures, it is logical that we would live a different type of life. Colossians 3:1-3, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Romans 6:16-18: "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Romans 6:2 asks, “How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 8:9,14, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” I John 1:6-7, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” True Christians are a different kind of people, living on a higher level, because they are bought with the blood of Christ and are changed.

Matthew 16:24-25: "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 10:37 - “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Imagine a young man spending thousands hours training to be a champion athlete. See him later wearing the Olympic coat as a representative of the USA at Olympics. See him perform flawlessly and watch him stand on top of podium and receive gold medal - he is the world’s champion. Did he have to sacrifice a great deal in order to get there? His answer, “In a sense, I did. I worked long hrs in training. I passed by a lot of rich food that others ate. But none of those were really sacrifices. This training has been a great blessing - it has enabled me to achieve something of real
importance. As I look back, my training was no sacrifice but a great blessing.”

Christians are running in a far greater Olympics. We really give up nothing of importance. Christianity is pure blessing. When we realize the whole situation - our sin, redemption, & newness of life - Christianity is not a burden or a sacrifice. It is a joy.

March 5, 2011

The Tithe

Not long ago, one of our church attendees approached me. He wanted to ask a question about my message. It had evidently gotten him thinking, and he wanted my input. He went on to say that for some years now he had been giving only a portion of his tithe to the church, dividing the rest among a variety of para-church ministries. He wanted to know how I felt about this. My answer of course was that how I feel is of little consequence. What really matters is what the scripture says. In the Old Testament, in Malachi 3:10, scripture clearly says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." In the New Testament, Paul instructed the church at Corinth (I Corinthians 16:2) to give each week on the first day of the week, and they were to give at their local church. While para-church ministries may have many wonderful aspects, they cannot and should not be expected to replace the local church. It is the local church that reaches people. It is the local church that assimilates them into Bible studies and into the fellowship. When people need someone to visit them in the hospital, to bury their loved one or to walk with them through a difficult time in life, they turn to the local church, especially the local church pastor. While the teaching and preaching of para-church organizations may be wonderful, you cannot find one of them in scripture; in scripture what you will find is ministry being done by and through the local church. There are many reasons people would rather give to things other than their local church. Perhaps chief among them is the element of control they feel when they give ‘their’ money where ‘they’ want to give it. When they begin to see it as God’s money they will have no problem giving according to a biblical model - tithing through their local church.
As I told the brother who asked the question, my understanding of scripture leads me to the firm conviction that the Lord has already told me where my tithe belongs. My tithe and my offerings belongs to my local church. May God give you the faith to trust Him in this area of giving and the understanding of His word which will help you see this issue more biblically.

June 19, 2010

Eternity's Greatest Moment

Amos 4:6-13; Verse 12
People haven't changed much over the years. People back then were just like people today. Many would not listen to God. God did a number of things to get them to listen to Him, to repent, to turn to God. Yet they wouldn't repent. He sent a famine - verse 6. He sent a drought - verse 7. Crops dried up and the ground became parched, dry, dusty. Notice the phrase - "Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD."(vs.6,8, etc.) He sent pestilence. Verses 9,10. "Ye have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD."
I believe that sometimes the only way that God can get a nation to pay attention to God, to pray, to go to church and listen to preaching, is to allow them to be plunged into war. We have seen that since Sept. 11th. Verse. 11 says, “I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” Five times in our text you read, "yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD."
So, God gives a solemn exhortation - "...prepare to meet thy God." (12). "Prepare" is an important word! Our greatest weapon of defense is to be prepared. In education, educators have long said, "The way to prepare for life is to get an education." In a spiritual sense, it is a vitally important word! Everyone of us is going to meet God and must be prepared to do so!


There are 5 reasons given in the Bible:
First, God's Word demands it. God doesn't leave us without warning. Over and over He tells us that every man and woman is going to meet God someday. Isaiah 55:6 - "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:" Note the word "WHILE". There can come a time when you cannot find God. Go to a hospital to visit an unsaved person. They're close to death. The stare of death is in their eyes. The death rattle is in their throat. You try to witness to them, but they cannot hear you. They are past finding God! The Bible says to seek Him while He may be found! Acts 17:30 - "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:" You are to prepare to meet God because God's Word demands it.
Second, you must seek God because your lost condition demands it. "Lost". Jesus came & died because people are lost! Luke 19:10 - "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Jesus said, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mt. 16:26). I remember watching a business man weep uncontrollably on Sept. 11th. His bond business was in the Trade Towers upper floors. He kept crying, "It's all lost! Over 700 of my people are lost! Lost! What am I going to do?' It is a horrible thing to be lost spiritually! Your lost condition demands that you prepare to meet God.
Third, the reality of Hell demands it. People think of Hell as nothing more than a slang word. Even some Christians have hazy thinking on the matter of Hell. They do not think there is such a place. Forget what you think or feel, because this Bible teaches that there is a literal Hell. Psalm 9:17 - "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." Jesus said in Matthew. 25:41 - "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:" "Depart" means to be separated, cut off, from God forever. "Ye cursed" - think about having the curse of the Holy God upon you because you refused Jesus Christ. "Everlasting fire" - no end to the torment. Hell has no exits.
Fourth. the Day of Judgment demands that you prepare to meet God. It's coming! Romans 14:12 - "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." Revelation 20:12 - “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Hebrews 9:27 - "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" A group of young soldiers sat around a fire during the Civil War. One was obviously trembling and afraid. The others mocked him saying, "He's afraid to die." He replied, "No, I am not afraid to die. I am afraid of what comes after death." If you are unsaved, you have to fear what comes after death! Judgment day demands that you prepare to meet God.
Fifth, the death of Jesus demands that you prepare to meet God. Romans 5:8 - "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." If you die unsaved, Jesus died in vain as far as you're concerned! He shed His blood to save you! There is power to save you in the death of Christ! An old drunkard coal miner got saved. His home had been a brothel and a hellhole. After he got saved, he shared his faith in Christ with other miners. One day one of them asked him, "Do you really believe that you're saved?' He said "Yes." The miner then asked him, "Do you believe all the Bible?" He replied "Yes, every bit of it." The worker continued, "What about the part where Jesus turned the water into wine, believe that?” The new believer replied, "Yes, I believe it and here's why. In my case, Jesus turned beer into bread; hate into love; fighting into affection; a brothel into a paradise. If Jesus could do that for me, I know He turned the water into wine." The death of Christ and it's power to save people from sin is a reason for you to prepare to meet your God.


First, repent of your sins. The Bible teaches repentance. It is not outdated. Acts 13:19 - "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out," Acts 20:21 - "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." You cannot be saved without repentance. Unless in your heart there is repentance toward God, there cannot be faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why there are more church members than there are Christians. Many have gone thru the motions but have never truly been saved because they never repented of their sins.
Second, trust the finished work of Jesus Christ. Put your absolute trust and cast your soul entirely upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. On the cross of Calvary Jesus said, "It is finished." (John 19:30). That was a shout of victory, not defeat. He meant that the plan of salvation was absolutely complete. Isaiah 53:6 explains it - "the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Satan will tempt your mind concerning whether or not all your sins are really forgiven. Simply point back to a finished work - a complete work. Cry with Jesus - "It is finished." It has all been paid in full. It is forever settled.
Third, not only repent, not only trust the finished work of Christ, but also reckon yourself as being His forever. You belong to the Lord! John 5:24 - “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”


Now is the time. Why?

First, the Holy Spirit limits His striving. Genesis 6:3 - "And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man." That’s true!
Sometimes He says, "I am no longer going to strive with that person." He may stop struggling with you to get saved!
Second, your life needs saving as well as your soul. I love seeing people get saved when they are old, but I would rather see them saved when they are young. Your life needs to be saved! Don't waste all those years in sin! You will never be able to undo them. Your influence is important! A 68 year old man got saved. He had 2 sons and several grandsons. He became concerned about them. The next Sunday morning, he went to their house & invited them to come to church with him. Their reply? "Dad, you waited until age 68. When we get that old, we will think about it too."
Third, because death is unpredictable. "Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." (Prov. 27:1) Think about September 11th. Death is not a respecter of age! All the money in the world cannot guarantee you another breath.
Prepare to meet God right now! Why? Because Jesus invites you right now. II Corinthians. 6:2 - "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Isaiah 1;18 says, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

You may say, "Not now." God says, "now." Prepare to meet thy God! Now.

April 8, 2010

Appreciating Your Church

The Lord is in the midst of His church, which is His body on earth. We show our appreciation for the Lord by valuing His body. If you don’t appreciate and value the local church, it is you who will be the loser. God has mightily blessed those who have valued their local church and who have been thankful for what they have received from the church.

I can testify to this personally during the time my children have grown up in the midst of our local church. I don’t have words to express my thankfulness to God for that privilege. My children were all helped by them. Let us learn to appreciate the tremendous protection that we and our children have in our church.

The young people will never realize how much the church has protected them from accident, danger and sin. Only when they stand before the Lord will they realize how the strict standards in the church kept them from going astray in to the world and destroying themselves. In that day they will see how something they heard in the church many years earlier protected them from danger much later. The Lord will also show us in that day how many dangers our children were saved and protected from because of what they heard in the church.

Yet, inspite of these and many other blessings, how little all of us have appreciated and valued our church or pastor.

Do you want to progress to the point where you become a blessing to others? Then, first of all, learn to be thankful to the Lord for what He has done for you and for the church He has given you. Don’t take the church for granted. Many of us are like children who realize the real worth of their parents only after their parents are dead.

Why is it that you find it difficult to value others in your church? May be you see many faults in them. When people have a problem with their eyes, sometimes, they see spots in front of their eyes all the time. It can be the same spiritually too. In the eyes of some people, every brother’s and sister’s face is spotted. If that is so with you, the problem may not be with those other brothers and sisters, because those spots are in your own eyes. Your vision will never become clear until Jesus heals your eyes.

Jesus valued the loyalty of His disciples very highly. Once He told His disciples that even though all of them were going to forsake Him, yet He would not be alone, because His Father was going to be with Him (John 16:32). He did not need those disciples. Yet He told them in Luke 22:28 that He was thankful that they had stood by Him. He was the Lord of glory. He did not need anybody to stand by Him. But even though, He did not need their support, He appreciated their loyalty.

I hope the Lord will be able to say to us too in the final day that we stood by Him and were not ashamed of Him, that we loved the local church He placed us in and gave ourselves for it, that we were not critical of the church like many others were.

May the Lord teach us to be thankful for one another in the local church now, before it is too late.