Category Archives: Faith & Practice

Pastoral desires for the church

Note: I originally posted this on my “From the Pastor’s Keyboard…” blog on the Bethlehem Baptist Church web site.

Sometimes the stuff of church becomes routine, even for the pastor. But it’s truly an honor and a privilege, a sacred calling even, every time I get the chance to preach and teach God’s word. I’m commanded by God to faithfully explain His word to you. That’s something I can never afford to think of as routine, and something you shouldn’t take for granted, either.
On Wednesday night I got to preach from 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5, in which the apostle Paul expressed some pastoral desires for that church. Remember, he had planted the church, but only got to stay with them for three weeks before being run out of town by Jewish persecutors. Still, Paul had a pastor’s heart for these people. That’s the whole letter… his heart being poured out to teach them the truth, and in the process guard them from error. And at the start of what we know as chapter three he turns toward some of his heart’s desires for these relatively new believers.

As a pastor myself (as your pastor if you’re a member of Bethlehem), these are things I desire for you as well. Continue reading

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Donald Miller and one anothers

Ok. Everyone else seems to have written about this so I guess I’ll add what probably amounts to two literal cents in blogging currency…

Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, writes that he rarely goes to church anymore. So how does he interact with God?

The answer came to me recently and it was a freeing revelation. I connect with God by working. I literally feel an intimacy with God when I build my company. I know it sounds crazy, but I believe God gave me my mission and my team and I feel closest to him when I’ve got my hand on the plow.

Twelve I‘s, me‘s, or my‘s in those four sentences. No one anothers, which permeate the New Testament and are integral to church life. So if you are one who thinks you are a Christian but do not immerse yourself in a local Bible-believing, Bible-preaching, Christ-exalting church, then you are either fooling yourself or you are in disobedience to many of the Lord’s commands. And Jesus says if you love Him you will keep His commands (see PDF file).

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Serving Steven Furtick: Reasons Elevation Church is a great place to work

6a00e54eea6129883301a511607889970c-800wiI saw a link to this image on Twitter today. You’re going to have to click on it to really see it. But it’s something made up by Elevation Church, pastored by Steven Furtick, complete with church logo on the bottom and the trademarked raised hands in the background. It’s thirty reasons why Elevation Church is “the best place to work.”

Here are some examples:

1. We serve a Lead Pastor who seeks and hears from God.

3. We serve a Lead Pastor we can trust.

7. We serve a Lead Pastor who pours into us spiritually and professionally.

16. We serve a Lead Pastor who goes first.

The opening riff to Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality” comes to mind when I read this. Here I thought that Christians are to worship the Lord their God and serve Him only. Apparently since Furtick seeks and hears from God, it’s great for Elevation employees to serve him. It’s not surprising to see that employment at Elevation centers on its Lead Pastor, who has never met a biblical text he couldn’t make about himself.

Granted, Steven Furtick’s name is not to be found on this list. Then again, neither is another name…


(HT: Chris Rosebrough)

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Our racist past, murderous present, and eternal hope

Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Tomorrow is another anniversary. I post this in between intentionally.

I’ve been reminded in recent days about the sinfulness of sin when it comes to racism, particularly in this country. The 2011 film The Help has been playing on TNT in recent days, and it is one of the favorite films my wife and I can agree on. It’s just a wonderfully told story, a period piece of the South in the 1960s. It’s absolutely infuriating at times. That final scene where Abilene gets fired comes to mind. But more than that, it angers me that my parents’ and grandparents’ generations not only condoned such behavior, but took part in it.

The ButlerThat righteous anger was reinforced when my wife and I rented the recent film The Butler from Redbox the other night. It is the story of an African-American boy who sees his mother taken away to be raped and then his father killed before his eyes by a stereotypical white Southern plantation owner. He becomes a house servant and eventually leaves, circumstance taking him to the employ of the White House, where he serves from the Eisenhower administration into Reagan’s second term.

The film comes apart in the final twenty minutes (to me at least) become it seems to become a propaganda piece, but the depictions of racism are real, particularly in the scenes where the butler’s son is a participant in receiving ridicule, injury, and arrest because of the color of his skin. Righteous anger wells up.

I start to be thankful for how far it seems our country has come in such a short time on race. To be sure, America has seen its citizen push forward in several ways to realize the key ideal of Dr. King’s most famous speech, that men are judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.

I start to be thankful, but then I consider how many African-American children were slain yesterday, and will be today, before they ever take a breath. I remember that tomorrow is the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. I remember that the religion of abortion has a temple called Planned Parenthood, and its Solomon, Margaret Sanger, built it to eradicate the black race from Harlem. I remember, and I lament.

We still have so far to go.

And yet I have joy… and hope, for I remember what Paul said to the Athenians in Acts 17:24-27:

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;  nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;  and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

To quote another Pauline phrase, creation groans. We groan within ourselves, but not without hope. Jesus has made us all. There really is only one race — the human race — and Jesus saves sinners in that race from the consequences of their sin every day. One day He will return and make all things well. Until then, we grope for Him, knowing that the days are evil, but salvation is here… and coming.

While we wait for that great day, let us contend to abhor the very idea of racism, and the very idea of abortion, for they are both broadsides in the spirit of Satan against the very image of the One we were created in (Gen 1:26-27).

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Phillips, Craig and Dean’s statement rejecting modalism

Since news came out about Phillips, Craig and Dean signing a statement affirming the Baptist Faith and Message (I’ve written about this story here and here), I’ve seen a few posts and tweets stating they have have not anywhere rejected modalism. I now post this, the statement they signed and gave to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, to show that posts and tweets to that effect are not accurate.  You will can read for yourself the statement below.

I certainly understand the tendency to be skeptical and the calls for discernment. I would hope anyone who knows me or has spent any time reading me or talking to me knows I take such a need in the church very seriously.  I respect anyone’s right to continue to be skeptical. I simply post this to show that there is a place and a time where they have explicitly rejected modalism (Sabellianism), and here it is…

You can also download the statement in PDF format here.

Grace and peace to you.


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