Wednesday, November 14, 2007


The posting of this blog will cease for a couple of weeks in order to spend time with family during the Thanksgiving season. We will resume posting in December.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2007

"Lifestyles of the Rich and Religious"

In our Bible class last Sunday, we finished our study in 2 Timothy chapter 4. One of the passages that sparked discussion was the warning the Apostle Paul gave to Pastor Timothy:

2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NIV)
1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:
2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

The black-eyes and wounds that the Body of Christ has received in recent years have come from within Christendom itself. When we stray away from sound doctrine and venture off with new doctrines such as the "prosperity doctrine" and many related doctrines, that direct the church away from its true mission and one in which the leaders are enriched at the expense of poor, gullible Christians who are lead to believe that their "love-gift" to a ministry is going to return a "seven-fold blessing" upon them. Many personal illustrations and twisting of the Scriptures are used to support their teaching. In a blog on Nov 9, from "Out of Ur", the writer speaks to this issue. I submit it in this posting for you to consider.

November 9, 2007

Lifestyles of the Rich and Religious

The Senate investigates “possible misuse of donations” by television preachers.

I come from a diverse family where few are Christians and even fewer venture into the curious sub-culture of evangelicalism. For this reason a number of my relatives have an impression of Christianity based largely upon what they see while surfing the television—an impression that I do not fit and work hard to deconstruct. Televangelists are loud and energetic; I’m rarely the life of the party. Televangelists have big hair; I have no hair. Televangelists fly around in private jets; I ride a bike to work to save on gas.

My work to deconstruct the image of gold-gilded Christianity appears to be getting some help from the United States Senate. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating possible financial shenanigans on the part of six widely known TV preachers. From Ted Olsen’s article at

"Recent articles and news reports regarding possible misuse of donations made to religious organizations have caused some concern for the Finance Committee," Grassley wrote to the ministries in letters asking for detailed financial records.
None of the ministries targeted—those led by Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Eddie Long, Joyce Meyer, and Randy and Paula White—are required to file the financial disclosure Form 990 with the IRS because they are designated as churches.
The ministries have until December 6 to submit audited financial statements, compensation reports, records for ministry jet travel, and other documents.

Read Ted Olsen’s full article here.

The Tampa Tribune has also published the letters sent by Sen. Grassley to each of the ministries concerning his investigation.

If your perspective and temperament is anything like mine, when you first heard about the Senate investigation you may have thought, It’s about time! After all, the ministries listed are not exactly the Salvation Army. Most are identified as “prosperity preachers” who flamboyantly practice what they preach. Sen. Grassley cited $10 million private jets and $23,000 toilets as part of his investigation.

If there has been a violation of the law, and not merely stewardship, then we should not mourn to see these ministries held accountable. But there’s another benefit to the truth being brought into the light. How many struggling people are suckered into sacrificially giving to these ministries in the hope of receiving God’s blessing? How many people are led astray? And how many non-Christians are given a false impression of Christ, the Bible, and his Church?

But after my initial reaction I had second thoughts. This investigation may have a downside. First there is the “slippery slope” scenario. (We evangelicals are trained from childhood to spot slippery slopes.) If the government begins to investigate these ministries will it eventually be looking at my church too? Will the Senate, IRS, or other agency demand my church’s expense reports? Admittedly, this kind of paranoia is what leads people to live in "compounds” and stock firearms next to their communion cups, but it’s something to think about. In the U.S. churches enjoy significant independence. Could the (alleged) abuses of a few high profile preachers impact us all?

But there is also a more personal angle for me. Many in my family don’t grasp the nuances and divergent streams of evangelicalism—let alone broader American Christianity. When any church scandal hits the media, they see it as an indictment on the whole faith the same way some Christians, unaware of the divergent beliefs of Muslims, can dismiss Islam as a faith of terrorists. To be honest, I’m just not looking forward to talking about yet another Christian scandal, no matter how overdue it may be.

Posted by Skye Jethani on November 9, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Monday Night with Cohorts

We are about half-way through our leadership training known as "Cohorts" with Dr Mel Ming. This has been a sometimes painful exercise as we have been forced to examine and decide our purpose statements, ministry model that we want to work with and other segments that will help us set the direction and agenda of our local church body for many years to come. Recently, I posted a blog about Willow Creek and their process of "Repentance" and reformatting their programs, even though they have been one of the most successful stories in modern Christian churches. Our new book assignment is "The Life You've Always Wanted" by John Ortberg.

It is interesting, that although our church congregation is approaching ninety years of age, we must examine our mission and purposes to make sure we are in tune with what the Holy Spirit is saying and the direction He wants us to go. This entire process will take about three years to complete and will need to be re-visited from time to time just as many successful churches are doing.

May God help us (Me--You--All of Us) to "hear what the Spirit is saying to the church". I really believe we don't have another generation to complete all that God wants us to do..what we do, we must do quickly!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

MY STORY (Part 3) Home Again!

Home Again

Through a loving, caring church known as Calvary Temple, now Northwest Family Church and a loving, caring Pastor, I learned the old story again, “Yes, Jesus Loves You.” Gradually, I began to climb out—I wish I could say it was instantaneous but it was not.

What I Learned

God never stops loving you! Even when I felt I was the farthest from God, He was there, loving me, protecting me, and answering the prayers of my loved ones. Every exit in the passages of life is an entrance: An entrance into another stage. And even if that step is away from God, He doesn’t abandon us. He loves us! That doesn’t mean he excuses or condones our sin, but it means that He is there to speak to us and lead us out. "But you were a Pastor didn’t you know that?" No, my friend, I did not always know that.

A Biblical parallel might be the story of Simon Peter, when he had turned his back upon the Lord and gone back to his fishing nets. To bring him back, Jesus let him fail—because He loved him! And when Peter obeyed, Jesus commanded him to throw the nets on the other side; He made him a success again. He let him win. It was Christ’s way of bringing him back. Later, you can read the account of how God used him in the Book of Acts; read his epistles, I and II Peter. Yes, he was fully restored and greatly used of God.

Now, I don’t put myself in Peter’s league, only in the sense that Jesus loves me just as much as he loved Peter. But Jesus let me fail—because He loved me. And when I obeyed Him he restored me. I am glad to tell you that our marriage is more blessed and happier than it has ever been. I thank the Lord daily for a Godly, faithful, loving wife, who should have left me, but I am so thankful she didn’t.

In 1994, Jim Filbeck became our Senior Pastor. I was still hiding out in the back rows of the church, not wanting to be too involved. It was Jim, who believed in me and involved me in the teaching ministry again. It was he who invited me to join the staff, part-time, in February 1999. And July 1, 2001, I became a full time associate pastor! I am once again ordained and enjoying the ministry, preaching, teaching, interacting with people, helping them. Something I thought would never happen. I can truly say, these last eight years have been some of the most fruitful and rewarding years of ministry I have ever experienced. My passion for ministry has been rekindled; my love for His people has been renewed. The heart of the Shepherd has returned.

I presently serve this great church:

Why do I tell you my story? Someone may read it (a man of or woman of God) that has reached a place in their life where they feel hope is gone; they’ve gone too far. I am here to tell you that God never stops loving you! He patiently waits for you to turn to Him. My message to you is—THERE IS HOPE! HE IS THE GOD OF THE SECOND CHANCE!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


In the spring of 1984, at 45 years of age, I sat down with the Board of the church, and sobbing, told them I could no longer carry on. I resigned from the Church. I didn’t want to preach anymore, I didn’t want to open my Bible, I didn’t want to counsel another person, and I wanted to run away. It was like I had run into a brick wall, an insurmountable obstacle. I did not fully understand what was happening to me, but as I look back, I realize that I had experienced burnout. I couldn’t go any farther.

I then began a slide down into a pit that would take me years to recover from. It was a trip for my family, into hell. I entered the automobile business and soon became associated with those who influenced me, rather than my influencing them for good. It wasn’t long before my routine changed drastically. I cut all ties to the church, gave up my ordination, and found solace daily, in alcohol and other vices.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had retreated into a dark, depressed condition where I reached the place that the only way I found relief was in the next drink. Within two years, this former preacher, pastor, church executive, who had never had a bad mark on his credit rating for 25 years, had to drag his wife with him into Bankruptcy court. It was one of the most humiliating experiences I have ever had to endure. We lost our beautiful home to foreclosure, and for the first time in our married life, we learned to live with cash. If we had the money, we could have it if we needed it. It was a new experience.

I took a job in retail automobile sales and Milbre went back to work with a Government civil service job. It was during this period that I reached the bottom of a horrible existence. I felt that all hope was gone. In fact, I was seeing a doctor and he asked me to write down my feelings. When I began to express my thoughts, I was amazed that I, who was usually a jovial, happy person, had reached a place of despair and hopelessness. My guilt and sense of depravity was overwhelming, but I felt there was no way out. I continued on this pathway for a few years, all the while my faithful wife was attending church, and I would pretend and go with her once in a while, when I couldn’t offer any other excuse. I didn’t know it then, but the bankruptcy was probably a slow turning point.

In October 1989, Pastor Wayde Goodall was installed as Senior Pastor at Calvary Temple in Auburn, Washington. We had moved to Auburn and Milbre was looking for a church home, she visited there for the first time. It was a good beginning and a giant step forward for our family.

Soon, I attended with her, and had the opportunity to meet Pastor Goodall. It was a life-changing event, ordered by the Lord. He was the first Pastor that I met since my resignation that I felt I could share my deepest thoughts and trust him not to judge me, but help me. And help me he did! I had reached a place where I couldn’t go home after work, without going to the bar for drinks, first. About two hours before I would get off, I would start thinking about how good a drink would be. I realized then that I was becoming dependent on alcohol.

Pastor Goodall prayed and counseled with me and helped me slowly to begin to walk out of the muck and mire that I had put myself into. For the first time in years, I began to feel that there might be hope. I was not interested in ministry, preaching, or anything else, other than being restored.

Tomorrow--Home Again!

Monday, October 29, 2007

MY STORY (Part One)


My Family

One of seven children, my father was a carpenter by trade and my mother was a homemaker. My dad had known about the Christian faith, but was not a believer. We grew up in a very dysfunctional family with many problems that were created by my father’s abuse of alcohol. Mother was raised as a Christian, and was the backbone of the family. When we were very young, she saw to it that we went to Sunday school.

I first gave my heart to the Lord when I was around 12 years of age. I had joined a Boy Scout troop and the leader was a pastor of a Friends Church. When I was 14 years of age, Mom and Dad divorced, ending a tumultuous relationship and bringing peace to our home for the first time in many years. I was the oldest child at home at that time, and so I became the head of the family, so to speak, since there were three younger children than me.

At age 19, I recommitted my heart to the Lord and received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. It was then I began to get serious about this Christian walk.

When I was 21, I met and married the love of my life, Milbre Mock. We were married 47 years September 17, 2007. In 1965, our first son, Kevin Britt, was born. In 1967, our second son, Russell Vaughn was born. Kevin and his wife Pam are serving in music ministry with The Pentecostals of Alexandria, in Louisiana. Vaughn and his wife Josie, and our three wonderful grandkids, Christina, Donnie, and Aleesha, live in San Angelo, Texas. He is a 22 year, career, non-commissioned officer in the United States Air Force and is serving the Lord in ministry as well as our country.

My Calling.

Vietnam came and I had a choice. After counseling with my Pastor, I decided to opt for a deferment for ministerial study and in 1962, Milbre and I went off to Bible College in California. After two years, we moved back to Houston (Texas) and I finished my last year at a College there.

In March 1965, I was licensed to preach. I soon began commuting 400 miles on weekends to plant a church in Del Rio, Texas. In 1966, I was ordained to the Christian ministry. Kevin was born in May, 1965, and we moved to Del Rio in June. We spent three years there and in 1968, accepted the call to pastor Calvary Pentecostal Church, in Fort Worth. We were privileged to pastor that great church for seven years.

In 1975, I resigned the pastorate in Fort Worth, having served in the District as District Foreign Missions director, and served for a time as a District Presbyter. We moved to St. Louis and I accepted a position with the Radio Division of a large Pentecostal Denomination, as Secretary and spent the next two years promoting the Gospel through radio.

In 1977, we moved to Seattle, Washington, and accepted the pastorate of a small church in the Greenwood area. We later sold the property and the congregation bought property north of Seattle, in Lynnwood. This was a loving, caring, congregation that we were privileged to pastor until 1984, when I began to experience serious problems.

Tomorrow: My Story (Part Two) Burnout!

Friday, October 19, 2007


For much of this year, the leadership of our church has been involved in an in-depth look at Northwest Family Church. It has been a lengthy, painful process as we attempt to define who we are; why we exist; and who are we trying to reach? In a nutshell, how do we do church? I have just read a shocking blog from "Out of Ur" entitled "Willow Creek Repents". I post this blog for you to read, if you haven't seen their blog. This is apropos since we have a scheduled cohort next week to decide what ministry "model" we want to embrace for the future of our church.

October 18, 2007

Willow Creek Repents?

Why the most influential church in America now says "We made a mistake."

Few would disagree that Willow Creek Community Church has been one of the most influential churches in America over the last thirty years. Willow, through its association, has promoted a vision of church that is big, programmatic, and comprehensive. This vision has been heavily influenced by the methods of secular business. James Twitchell, in his new book Shopping for God, reports that outside Bill Hybels’ office hangs a poster that says: “What is our business? Who is our customer? What does the customer consider value?” Directly or indirectly, this philosophy of ministry—church should be a big box with programs for people at every level of spiritual maturity to consume and engage—has impacted every evangelical church in the country.

So what happens when leaders of Willow Creek stand up and say, “We made a mistake”?

Not long ago Willow released its findings from a multiple year qualitative study of its ministry. Basically, they wanted to know what programs and activities of the church were actually helping people mature spiritually and which were not. The results were published in a book, Reveal: Where Are You?, co-authored by Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek. Hybels called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking,” and “mind blowing.”

If you’d like to get a synopsis of the research you can watch a video with Greg Hawkins here. And Bill Hybels’ reactions, recorded at last summer’s Leadership Summit, can be seen here. Both videos are worth watching in their entirety, but below are few highlights.

In the Hawkins’ video he says, “Participation is a big deal. We believe the more people participating in these sets of activities, with higher levels of frequency, it will produce disciples of Christ.” This has been Willow’s philosophy of ministry in a nutshell. The church creates programs/activities. People participate in these activities. The outcome is spiritual maturity. In a moment of stinging honesty Hawkins says, “I know it might sound crazy but that’s how we do it in churches. We measure levels of participation.”

Having put all of their eggs into the program-driven church basket you can understand their shock when the research revealed that “Increasing levels of participation in these sets of activities does NOT predict whether someone’s becoming more of a disciple of Christ. It does NOT predict whether they love God more or they love people more.”

Speaking at the Leadership Summit, Hybels summarized the findings this way:

Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

Having spent thirty years creating and promoting a multi-million dollar organization driven by programs and measuring participation, and convincing other church leaders to do the same, you can see why Hybels called this research “the wake up call” of his adult life.

Hybels confesses:

We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

In other words, spiritual growth doesn’t happen best by becoming dependent on elaborate church programs but through the age old spiritual practices of prayer, bible reading, and relationships. And, ironically, these basic disciplines do not require multi-million dollar facilities and hundreds of staff to manage.

Does this mark the end of Willow’s thirty years of influence over the American church? Not according to Hawkins:

Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The "Emergent Church" Movement

Caution flags are flying in many Christian circles as this theme has become obscured with many different meanings and directions. I offer the following article for your comment and observation, neither embracing it or rejecting it, I find it intriguing.

The Emergent Church Movement

One of the most prominent and growing movements today is the "Emerging/Emerged/Emergent Church". They claim they are still rising up and their doctrines have not solidified, some claim they do not have any fundamental doctrines but their aim is apparent. These Emerging Christians" seek to deconstruct and reconstruct Christian beliefs, standards, and methods of the church to accommodate the postmodern culture. Proponents of this movement call this "conversation" to emphasize its developing and decentralized nature. The predominantly young participants in this movement prefer narrative presentations drawn from their own experiences and biblical narratives over propositional, biblical exposition.

Emergent methodology includes frequent use of new technologies such as multimedia and the Internet. Emergents communicate in open dialogue rather than the dogmatic proclamation found in historic Christianity.

Some Emergents have differing emphases, depending upon the particular author or institution. Much of the Emerging or Emergent Church meld with typical postmodern rationalizations of men in regarding relativism - any lack of standards of truth from scripture.

One common theme is their concern with today’s churches losing touch and remaining relevant with the modern culture. Emphasis is on the "need" to reformat the church and Christianity towards the greater good of building better inroads and relationships with the post modern culture.

Emergents allow for a plurality of Scriptural interpretations. They challenge to re-think, re-analyze, re-interpret, and rewrite the Gospel and scripture interpretations to many possible relative meanings and applications. Biblical truths become vague, and almost scorned, replaced by universalistic and syncretistic themes that resemble mystical concepts, subtly and overtly.

Proponents of the movement advocate a subjective view of doctrine in which they embrace a continual reexamination of and flexible approach to theology which causes them to see the faiths of all religions as a journey rather than a destination. Emergents claim to "hold in tension" even radical differences in doctrines and morals. Emergents see theology as an icon pointing to God rather than as a definition of God, they do not see any doctrinal expositions as definitive.]

Their universalistic concepts of "salvation" (that all the sincere find heaven) are usually regarded as "finding the god within you," (Panentheism) and god is in everything (Pantheism) . Evangelistic church missions are regarded as a waste of time, and church believers in ages past, who died for their faith in Jesus Christ, are regarded as unnecessary zealots.

The Emergent worship focuses on Centering Prayer as a method of prayer, which prepares them to receive the gift of God's presence. Centering Prayer is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, Lectio Divina, (praying the scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. It was distilled into a simple method of prayer in the 1970’s by three Trappist monks, Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating at the Trappist Abbey, St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts” (

The Cloud of Unknowing is an anonymous 14th century book presenting contemplative meditation as a spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God. This form of meditation, recently known as 'Centering Prayer' (from a text of Thomas Merton), says to be traced from and through the earliest centuries of mystical Christianity. The Centering Prayer centers one on the god within each individual. During a conference on contemplative prayer, Thomas Merton was asked: “How can we best help people to attain union with God?" His answer was very clear: "We must tell them that they are already united with God." Contemplative prayer is nothing other than coming into consciousness of what is already there. (A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen, p. 80).

Did Jesus or the apostles ever instruct us to pray this way? If not where did it come from? They call it alternative worship. Those involved in the Emerging church make use of liturgies, prayer beads, icons, chants and practices from Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, the Anglicans and Eastern religious practices. They see this as a return to the Ancient Faith that will give them a richer spiritual experience through practicing sacramental rituals. By making it their own experience many see this as privatization of their faith.

Their worship does not just involve old stylistic candles, crosses, and incense. They make use of multimedia- music, video projection screens, vivid fluorescent black lights etc. to bring one into a multi-sensory experience with “the divine.” They walk the labyrinth in the darkness lit by candles and have the fragrance of incense permeate the air as they stop and chant Christian words or Contemplative thoughts and prayers. It becomes a personal spiritual experience as each one enters into their own spiritual space.

“There is a movement in youth ministry that is taking us back to what some would call ancient spiritual practices, or different contemplative tools.” (Mark Oestreicher, President Youth Specialties)

Although some Emergent thinkers such as Brian McLaren, and many Evangelical scholars such as D. A. Carson use "emerging" and "emergent" as synonyms, a large number of participants in the emerging church movement maintain a distinction between them.

"Emergent" is sometimes more closely associated with Emergent Village. Those participants in the movement who assert this distinction believe "emergents" and "emergent village" to be a part of the emerging church movement but prefer to use the term "emerging church" to refer to the movement as a whole while using the term "emergent" in a more limited way, referring to Brian McLaren and emergent village. Many of those within the emerging church movement who do not closely identify with emergent village tend to avoid that organization's interest in radical theological reformulation and focus more on new ways of "doing church" and expressing their spirituality. Mark Driscoll, an early leader associated with the emerging church conversation, now distances himself from the "emergent thread."

Individuals questioning Emergent modern teachings are labeled as "misunderstanding", "judgmental," or "divisive."

Monday, October 8, 2007


Proverbs 22:28 (KJV) Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.

Proverbs 23: 10 (KJV) Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:

What was the purpose of the boundary stones or landmarks? Beyond the obvious?

When the Children of Israel settled the Promised Land, it was eventually divided between the 12 tribes of Israel. Each tribe had a specific portion given to them. It was a sacred trust because this was tied to the Abrahamic Covenant.

Remember the story of Ahab, the pouting Potentate? He wanted Naboth’s vineyard because it was close to his Palace: “Give me your vineyard and I will give you something better”. But Naboth refused because this was a sacred trust. When Jezebel came in and saw her husband Ahab with his bottom lip stuck out, pouting, she said, “What’s wrong honey-bun?” She then devised a scheme to lie and cheat and Naboth was slain and Ahab got the vineyard…but the story didn’t end there—God eventually made Ahab and Jezebel pay with their own lives and the dogs that licked Naboth’s blood, licked Jezebel’s blood in the same spot. So we conclude that the allotment of land was indeed sacred.

The second purpose was for memorials:

When the traveler in days of old walked through the land of Canaan, he came here and there upon significant memorials that had been established by those who had been recipients of God’s blessings and divine visitations. These places were marked by landmarks, stones, or other means. He might pass by the place where God had delivered Jacob from Laban, and where Jacob put up a pillar as a testimony that beyond that spot his enemies should not come over. As the traveler went on, he might come to the place where the great altar was built by the two and ½ tribes, to keep them reminded that they belonged to Israel, though they were on the other side of Jordan. Then, again, he would come to the place where the stones were set up at Bethel, as a mark that God revealed Himself to Jacob there. Next, he might come to Gilgal, where the Lord had caused the people to go over the Jordan on dry land; and afterwards to the stone of Ebenezer, which had been set up to show that the Lord had delivered them. And so when their children or strangers would pass by the stones they would be prompted to ask, “What is the meaning of these stones?” And—the people would tell them of God’s blessings of power and deliverance in the past, and God’s covenants of mercy for the future.

Do we have Landmarks?

When you sell or buy a parcel of land, as part of the process, a survey is called for. It is interesting to see how they come in and take the measurements, but before they start, they have to find the markers or pins that have been driven deep in the earth for all those in the future to be able to survey from those lynch pins. They are on record in the county courthouse. If you sell your land and they have to do a survey, the surveyors bring out their instruments and locate those old markers that have been there for many years.

What about the Believer?

As the Christian passes through the better land of God’s Word, he comes upon marker stones or landmarks; if you stop to observe, you will find stories and legends of what God has done. They are there for a reason—they tell a story! We have the assurance that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. There is proof of the fact that God is a covenant-keeping God.

These events are markers for us—for each individual believer—for the church. Think about some of these—you could have your own list, also, in your church.

1. The virgin birth.

2. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus

3. His sinless life, and many other markers.

4. Communion Memorial

The landmarks told a story. The landmarks were sacred. They marked the boundaries of their inheritance that was given to them by God. Do we value the landmarks of our Christian heritage?

Am I saying I would like to go back to sawdust floors, tents or brush arbors? No, I am speaking of the significant revelations about the power of God that came with the great revivals that birthed the movement that we are the recipients of. What are we teaching our children about our heritage?

Each new generation has new ways and new ideas. Time changes things and people. Music changes, styles change, but there should be some things that never change. We should have some boundary stones set out in our life, in our church that will cause the youth who come behind us to ask the question, “What does this mean?

As leaders and future leaders, we have a responsibility to pass along and keep alive those things that make us distinct.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Here's An Old Chorus

God Leads His Dear Children

In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet, God leads His dear children along; where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet, God leads His dear children along.

Chorus: Some thru the waters, some thru the flood, some thru the fire, but all thru the blood; some thru great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright, God leads His dear children along; sometimes in the valley, in the darkest of night, God leads His dear children along.

Chorus: Some thru the waters, some thru the flood, some thru the fire, but all thru the blood; some thru great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long.

Tho sorrows befall us and Satan oppose, God leads His dear children along; thru grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes, God leads His dear children along.

Chorus: Some thru the waters, some thru the flood, some thru the fire, but all thru the blood; some thru great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Story Behind Great Hymns

All Hail the Power
Revelation 19:12, 16

by Written by Edward Perronet, 1726-1792

This hymn is often called the "National Anthem of Christendom." The hymn first appeared in the November, 1779, issue of the Gospel Magazine, edited by Augustus Toplady, author of "Rock of Ages". This text has been translated into almost every language where Christianity is known; and wherever it is sung, it communicates to the spiritual needs of human hearts. One writer has said, "So long as there are Christians on earth, it will continue to be sung; and after that, in heaven."

Edward Perronet was born at Sundridge, Kent, England, in 1726. He was a descendant of a distinguished French Huguenot family who had fled to Switzerland and later to England because of the religious persecution in France. Edward's father, a pastor in the State Church of England,was strongly sympathetic with the evangelical movement spearheaded by the Wesley's and George Whitefield.

Edward, too, became a minister in the Anglican Church but was always critical of its ways. Once he wrote, "I was born and I am likely to die in the tottering communion of the Church of England, but I despise her nonsense." Soon, however, he broke from the Church and threw himself strenuously into the evangelistic endeavors of the Wesley's during the 1740's and 1750's. It was during this time that the Wesley's and their followers suffered much persecution and even violence from those who disagreed with their ministry. Concerning these experiences, Wesley made the following notation in his diary: From Rockdale we went to Bolton, and soon found that the Rockdale lions were lambs in comparison with those of Bolton. Edward Perronet was thrown down and rolled in mud and mire. Stones were hurled and windows broken. Another interesting account regarding the relationship between the Wesley's and Perronet concerns the incident when John Wesley announced to a congregation that Edward Perronet would preach at the next service. Being eighteen years younger than Wesley, Perronet had always refused to preach in the elder statesman's presence. Desiring to avoid a public conflict with Wesley, Perronet mounted the pulpit but quickly explained that he had never consented to preach. "However," he added, "I shall deliver the greatest sermon that has ever been preached on earth." He then read the Sermon on the Mount and sat down without comment. Eventually, Perronet's strong-mindedness and free spirit caused a break with the Wesley's, especially on the issue of whether the evangelists as well as the regular ministers could administer the sacraments. Perronet continued to the end of his days as pastor of an independent church at Canterbury, England. His last words have also become classic: Glory to God in the height of His divinity! Glory to God in the depth of His humanity! Glory to God in His all-sufficiency! Into His hands I commend my spirit. Though Perronet wrote many other hymns and forms of poetry, most of which he published anonymously, this is his only work to survive. The success of this text has, no doubt, been furthered by three fine tunes. "Coronation," composed by Oliver Holden, a Massachusetts carpenter, self-taught musician and respected singing-school teacher, is most widely used in America. "Miles Lane" by William Shrubsole, Perronet's personal friend, is the most popular in Great Britain, while the festive "Diadem" tune, composed in 1838 for this text by James Ellor, an English layman, is frequently used as a choir number.

Many interesting accounts have been associated with the use of this hymn. One of the most remarkable is a story told by E.P. Scott, a pioneer missionary to India. One day he was waylaid by a murderous band of tribesmen who were closing in on him with spears. On impulse the missionary took his violin out of his luggage and began to play and sing this hymn. When he reached the stanza "let every kindred, every tribe," he saw to his surprise every spear lowered and many of these tribesmen moved to tears. Scott spent the remaining years of his life preaching and ministering God's love and redemption to these people. God in His providence used a simple hymn as a means of introducing the gospel to a group of needy pagans.

Quoted from "101 Hymn Stories" by Kenneth Osbeck. Kregel Publishers, P.O. Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, 1982.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Rest of the Story (Behind Great Hymns)

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Psalm 46

Words and Music by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

Martin Luther was born on November 10, 1483 in Eisleben, Saxony, Germany. He was educated at the University of Erfurt, later becoming an Augustinian monk, teaching philosophy and theology at the University of Wittenberg. On October 31, 1517, sometimes called the "4th of July of Protestantism," Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the Cathedral of Wittenberg, Germany. These theses condemned various practices and teachings of the Roman church. After several years of stormy disputes with the Pope and other church leaders, Martin Luther was finally excommunicated from the fellowship of the Roman Catholic church in 1520. One of the important benefits of the Reformation Movement was the rediscovery of congregational singing. Luther had strong convictions about the use and power of sacred music. He expressed his convictions in this way, "If any man despises music, as all fanatics do, for him I have no liking; for music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity and other devices." Again, "The Devil, the originator of sorrowful anxieties and restless troubles, flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God." In another place, "I wish to compose sacred hymns so that the Word of God may dwell among the people also by means of songs." Finally, Luther wrote, "I would allow no man to preach or teach God's people without a proper knowledge of the use and power of sacred song." The single most powerful hymn of the Protestant Reformation Movement was Luther's "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," based on Psalm 46. This hymn became the battle cry of the people, a great source of strength and inspiration even for those who were martyred for their convictions. This hymn has been translated into practically every known language and is regarded as one of the noblest and most classic examples of Christian hymnody. It is said there are no less than sixty translations of this text in English alone. In England the version by Thomas Carlyle is in general use, while in this country the translation by Frederick H. Hedge, a professor at Harvard University, is used most frequently. This translation was not made until 1852 and first appeared in a book entitled Gems of German Verse by W. H. Furness, published in 1853. The first line of this national hymn of Protestant Germany is fittingly inscribed on the tomb of the great reformer at Wittenberg, and may still be read with appreciation by travelers to that historic spot.

Quoted from "101 Hymn Stories" by Kenneth Osbeck. Kregel Publishers, P.O. Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, 1982.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

"The Issue of Balance"

Dan Betzer, prominent pastor in Ft Meyers, Florida, has written a daily by-line. He is retiring from his column soon, but this is one of his by-lines on worship, from 2004.
"ByLine with Dan Betzer" Program #2751
Monday, April 19, 2004
"The issue of balance"

I have been deluged with responses to my ByLines concerning hymns in the church. They have run about ten to one in favor of singing at least one hymn in every service. It is interesting that the no’s have come from young worship leaders who have protested that their church would lose its young people if hymns were sung.

None of the protesters mentioned the older adults they are losing in the meantime. Why is it so hard to understand that this is not a “one or the other” situation. I love the chorus, “Like a rose trampled on the ground He took the fall and thought of me above all.”

Wonderful song! But then so is “The Old Rugged Cross.” The detractors tell me that attendance declines if hymns are sung. Not so. Our church is filled with thousands of people, over half of whom are under the age of 30. Only 15% of them are my age.

The issue, it seems to me, is balance. As a pastor, it is my responsibility to reach as many of our area’s half million residents as possible. That means our approach has to be varied, anointed, interesting and relevant.

I suspect that if many of the young worship leaders would lead the singing worship with their eyes open, they would see many folks not singing, not responding, some even leaving. One other question: is there some scriptural admonition demanding that we sing the choruses six or seven times in a row?

If we are really singing them to God, do you not think He understood the lyric the first time around? Oh, by the way, it is possible to sing sitting down.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Minding My Own Business--continued

4. Inappropriate comparisons divert me from what God wants me to do.

God has a plan for my life. I need to discover it and get on with what God wants to do in me!

5. Not all comparisons are bad.

While comparisons harm us in many ways, certainly some are helpful. Comparisons benefit us when we look up to others as good examples, models, or leaders. I had a great role model as a young person in the church—my pastor. I wanted to emulate him. I have found that if I only critique myself against myself, I can grow accustomed to serious—yet correctable—weaknesses. For example, several months ago another preacher’s message caused me to realize my sense of urgency had diminished. As a result, I intentionally worked on better preparation of my heart before preaching. Many great preachers teach and challenge me by the quality of their ministry. One difference between beneficial and inappropriate comparison, then, is my attitude toward the other person. Do I respect and admire him, or do I have a sense of competition and envy toward him?

6. To overcome irrational comparisons I must call them what they are.

a. Envy.
b. Self-Pity.
c. Selfish comparison with others always leads to sin. If I come up short, I fall to envy; if I come up tall, I sink into arrogance.
d. It is a disease of the spirit that will do great harm.
In Corinth, it tore the church apart.
When Cain compared himself to Abel, he came up short and wanted more and committed murder.
When Saul compared himself with David, he eventually became subject to evil spirits and tried to murder David.
When Satan compared himself with God, he didn’t measure up, wanted to be exalted, and turned into the personification of evil and the bane of humanity.
To realize this will give us new perspective. Instead of feeling God is letting us down, we will see that we are letting God down.

7. I must find new ways to compare myself with others.

Sin finds a way to mutate and in its new form goes unrecognized for a time “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Conviction-based ministry

Like lust, wrongful comparisons are a spiritual battle that through Christ I must guard against and defeat—one day at a time. Consider a Christ-centered view of ministry based on ten convictions:

1. God is the one who assigns my task (1 Cor. 3:5).
2. God determines the scope of my ministry (2 Cor. 10:13–16).
3. God gives me the gifts he wants me to have (1 Cor. 12:4–11).
4. God is the one who makes me fruitful (1 Cor. 3:6).
5. God opens and closes doors (Col. 4:3).
6. God is the one who lifts people up (Ps. 75:6–7).
7. God bestows positions of high visibility even to the lowliest of people. When God gives great authority to someone, it does not necessarily mean that he approves more of that person or that they are more spiritual or holy than I am (Dan. 4:17).
8. By the grace of God we have our own ministries (1 Cor. 3:10).
9. No ministry deserves more credit than another (1 Cor. 3:7).
10. What matters to God is our faithfulness (Matt. 25:14–30).

These beliefs can enable me to persevere with contentment in the places God has commissioned me to be.

After a meal of fish on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, when the resurrected Jesus had finished reinstating Peter, he concluded with the simple words “Follow me!” True to form, Peter immediately blundered. He turned to the disciple whom Jesus loved and could not resist comparison.

“Lord, what about him?” Peter asked.

“Don’t worry about him; you do what I said.”

This is roughly how Jesus responded to Peter: “If I want him to remain alive until I return,” he said, “What is that to you? You must follow me”.

In other words, what the Lord does with someone else is none of my business. My concern must be with the command of my Lord to me. I cannot allow comparisons with others to distract me from the one thing that truly matters: following Jesus.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Minding My Own Business

Consider the following scripture verse when tempted to compare yourself with others.

2 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV) "We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise."

Not all comparisons are foolish but they can be destructive. In today's post and the next one, there are seven things I want to share about comparisons:

1. Comparisons make even the most advantaged persons feel dissatisfied.

Comparisons lead to dissatisfaction because they are relative; no matter how well off we are, someone else always has more.

2. Inappropriate comparisons focus on what we don’t have rather than on what we have.

Ahab, King of Samaria, had a lot: money, power, land, and more. One day, though, he realized that the vineyard of his neighbor, Naboth, would make a nice royal garden. He set his heart on it and made an offer: “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden,” said Ahab, “since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”

That sounds fair. But we have little or no grasp of the significance of an inheritance to an Israelite. To Naboth, this was not merely property; this was his family’s inheritance from Yahweh, going back generations. This land represented their security, their heritage. A noble Israelite did not offhandedly sell a few acres of his inheritance and buy something else. With revulsion, Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”

Ahab went home sullen and angry, like a spoiled rich kid whose mother had refused him a candy bar in the checkout line. Ahab lay on his bed feeling sorry for himself. He was oblivious to his vast holdings and was fixated on a little patch of potential garden. Such is the pathetic sight of an advantaged person who has indulged in irrational comparison.

3. Inappropriate comparison is selective and therefore deceptive.

I fool myself when I compare myself with a few desirable aspects of someone else’s life, ignorant of the undesirable side. Do I really want to step into that person’s shoes?

There are two sides to every coin and two sides to every life.

To be continued…

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


For the sake of argument, consider the reaction of the liberal media types if President George W Bush would have opened his speech at the United Nations with something like this: "Oh God, giver of all life, grant that your Son, Jesus Christ may come, as you have promised, may this General Assembly come to know His Righteousness..." Or similar words to that effect, what if President Bush had uttered such comments? Imagine the firestorm that would have been created? Yet, when the little man from Iran opens his speech to the world with similar language--not a word is spoken against him. It fact, it is eerily silent, to the point that seemingly many are in agreement.

This is how it played in Tehran:

TEHRAN (Reuters) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have faced ridicule in the United States by suggesting there were no homosexuals in Iran, but he won praise at home on Wednesday for taking his country's case to "the Lion's Den."

Generally, politicians and media in the Islamic Republic -- even some who have previously criticized the president -- described Ahmadinejad's visit to New York as a triumph and denounced the university president who called him "a petty and cruel dictator."

This is what Joel Rosenberg had to say on the Glenn Beck Show on Monday, September 24, 2007:

"When Ahmadinejad was elected in June of 2005, he began telling people that the end of the world was just two or three years away and that the way to hasten the coming of the Mahdi, the Islamic messiah, was to annihilate Israel, the Little Satan, in his view, and the United States, the Great Satan. And now we are two years into that, right? We`re now in the fall of 2007, two years later. We don`t know exactly his timetable, but we know what he`s been doing over the last two years: building military alliances with Russia, China and North Korea, three nuclear powers; building 3,000, that we know of, centrifuges to enrich uranium; and building alliances with Syria and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon to prepare for this annihilation."

Rosenberg adds in another part of the show, the following comments:

"But the 12th imam does not come back to Iran. This is critical that you understand this, because both Osama bin Laden say this is important, and President Tom says this is important. Where does the 12th imam return?"

ROSENBERG: He goes to Kufa, Iraq. He first comes to Mecca, then Medina, but he then goes to Iraq. And in the conditions of chaos and carnage, that`s where he emerges to take over the world and create an Islamic caliphate where, as one of his key advisers, the Ayatollah Amini said -- and I quote him in "Epicenter" -- the Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and Christians. If they accept, they`ll be spared. Otherwise, they will be killed."

It is so strategic that we are in Iraq. You can understand the hatred of the United States of America by these fanatics, because our soldier's boots are on the Holy ground of where their 12th Imam is going to return.

If the Democrats and those who are allied with them, have their way and we pull out of Iraq, there will be a genocide and bloodbath of unparalleled proportions. It will be a fight for the heart and soul of that nation. Their blood will be upon those who do not understand what they are doing.

My friends, this is no madman in Iran, but an instrument of evil that is possibly going to usher in the great battle of Ezekiel 38. Note his alliances, and they fit perfectly with those enemies that will attempt to destroy Israel, either at Armageddon at Megiddo, or the enemies from the North and East, Iran, Russia and China.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Twelfth Imam

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the United Nations today. Notice how he opened his speech with a prayer: . "Oh, God, hasten the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those to attest to his rightfulness". When he has spoken at the UN in the past, he closed his speech with a similar prayer. Why did he now choose to open his prayer this way? This man feels that his god has called him to wreak chaos in the world and especially in the Middle East. For it is out of this chaos that will hasten the return of the Twelfth Imam--their Messiah. So when Iran arms the insurgents in Iraq to kill American soldiers, they are fulfilling the mission of their god. Creating chaos!

Please read Joel Rosenberg's blog on this subject. It is astonishing! You can read him at:

For every truth in God's Word, the devil has a counterfeit. Jesus said, "Many false Christs would arise in the last day.

Friends, I pray that the Christian Church will awake to the momentous hour in which God has placed us. We are sitting in the balcony watching prophecy unfold before our eyes. As the apostle has spoken in God's word, "It is high time to awake out of sleep, for our redemption draws near."

Follow the news closely, we are headed to Armageddon! But, if I understand prophecy, The Church will be raptured before then...Are you ready?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My Arsenal

The digital revolution has changed how I do ministry and study. When I first started out, I collected every book I could get my hands on. I still love books, only many of them now have moved to my digital library. It's called Libronix Digital Library System. I have the "Scholars Edition" and this includes many resources for ministerial study and personal enrichment. I am saving most of my hard copy books for my two sons who want them when I pass on. This Logos Library even catalogs my sermons and includes them in search material. This is a long way from my Royal Manual typewriter, AB Dick Mimeograph machine (what a messy way to do ministry) and other such devices, which most readers under the age of 40, have never heard of.

"Good Ol' Days? Naah...I like today and the opportunities it offers to reach many more people than ever before with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Check out their web-site:

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Those are the words to a song Gospel quartets used to sing. Of course it refers to a relationship, in this case, one to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. However, my mind was going back to the late 1950's when I met a young lady by the name of Milbre Mock. She had transferred to our town with her job and started attending our little church in La Marque, Texas. We became friends and then the acquaintance grew into something more serious. On September 17, 1960, we were married. She became my "September Bride". I was thinking of the words to that chorus when I contemplated our 47th anniversary in a couple of days. Yes, we have had our share of difficulties, as most do, but the relationship has really grown 'sweeter" as the days and months and years have flown by. Time has taught us patience, perseverance and stronger love for each other. I really am thankful for this girl from De Ridder, Louisiana, that came into my life, and stayed!

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart!

Monday, September 10, 2007

"A Day In Infamy"

Tomorrow, our nation will mark the 6th anniversary of the horrendous event when 19 young Arabs hijacked four airliners and commenced flying them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, The Pentagon in Washington D.C. and the fourth was headed for the Capitol building or the White House, when passengers took command and overpowered the remaining hijackers and the plane went down in Shanksville, PA.

9/11/2001--"a day (to paraphrase President Franklin Roosevelt) that will live in infamy". It is interesting to read the various theories of what happened; conspiracies of secret cabals, explosives that were pre-positioned in the W.T. C. to detonate after the planes struck to collapse the towers.

They are saying some of the same things they said about Roosevelt, leading up to Pearl Harbor, that he and certain government agents knew in advance that the Japanese were going to bomb Pearl Harbor, but wanted an excuse to declare war against Japan and Germany. And now, some are accusing the government of having foreknowledge of 9/11, but wanted the mighty war machine of the the World's greatest superpower to declare a "War on Terror. See the following link: "

It would be unthinkable and treasonous for any Government leader to knowingly allow something such as this to happen and destroy so many lives. Personally, I don't believe it!

Taking the facts as we know them to be, these radical Islamics awakened a sleeping nation and sorely underestimated the will of the American people to challenge this bunch of cowards, hiding behind religion to kill and maim innocent men, women and children.

I remember the rage, the tears, the horror and the patriotism that swelled in my heart when our President, George W Bush, stood on the rubble of the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York and declared, "Those who destroyed these buildings will hear from us..." I remember that the nation rallied behind our President as we prepared for war. Young men stood in line to volunteer to be a part of those who would fight.

Since those fateful days, much has happened: Not only a war in Afghanistan, but also Iraq. Thankfully, to this date, there has not been another attack on American soil. But I am disturbed at the political leadership of our nation who now use this war as a "political football." I am deeply concerned that we (as a nation) might be forgetting why we are in this struggle. It is not against a nation, it is an idealogical war. Two civilizations fighting for supremacy!

May God Bless America and cause us to turn our hearts toward the true and living God! Let us join our hearts in prayer for our nation. If we don't, a worse fate could await us in the not so distant future. One nuclear device, set off in a major city, that could kill a million people. Unthinkable?" Yes, but is it possible? I pray not.

God Bless America!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

"Knowing the Time"

What an exciting time to be alive! This is the day that the Bible calls "The Last Days". Two thousand years ago, the Lord Jesus Christ told us that He would return. He was going to the Father, but would come again. He spoke of signs by which we could recognize when we were getting close to His return, although, He said, "No one knows the day nor hour," but God. However, he spoke that the days just prior to His return, there would be "Wars and Rumors of War"; Kingdom would rise against Kingdom"; "Knowledge would be increased"; "Men would run back and forth throughout the earth".

In the short span of less than a generation, we have witnessed phenomenal advances in knowledge. With the advent of the Internet, access to knowledge has never been greater. Much of this vast storehouse of technological information has gone into greater war machines, more skillful ways to kill and destroy. Instead of ushering in peace and safety, the world has grown more unsettled. We are in a great idealogical war in a clash of civilizations. The radical Islamics want nothing less than total destruction of Western culture and civilization. Therefore, since 9/11/2001, we have been engaged in a "War on Terror", with fighting on many fronts. Just this week has witnessed the disruption in Germany of a band of terrorists who were/are planning spectacular assaults on U. S. targets. Even today there is saber rattling between Syria and Israel. The war goes on!

In the midst of such turmoil and gloomy outlook, Christians should be looking up because all these events are pointing to the soon return of Jesus Christ. If you are not a believer, this would be a good time to turn your heart toward God and ask Him to come into your life.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Old Has Become New Again

Our church, Northwest Family Church, in Auburn, WA has debated and planned in a series of Cohort's about our purpose, mission, values and core beliefs. That process is ongoing. One of the decisions that has been made is to attempt to reach different segments of our community that may not respond to one style, but is there a style they would respond to?

A decision was made to hold a more traditional style of service on Sunday that would certainly appeal to a large segment of our church (since we are in our 85th year as a congregation), and to have another service more contemporary that would appeal to the younger people. While the first would sing from the hymnals, have a choir, and actually sit down to sing, the second service would be more guitar driven, louder, etc.

Today was the first day that the new service format was offered and it seem to be well received from all sides. The first Sunday attendance at each service was almost equal.

While I realize this debate has been going on in many churches and denominations, we desire to make this a sincere effort to reach our community and, yes, we want to reach younger people as well, since they are our future. This is the second time our congregation has begun a traditional service, and I believe it will be successful this time. There are many young people that need the Lord, but let's face it: we have to reach some of the older one's also, they may not have another chance. The fastest growing demographic is the 50 plus, since all the 'boomer's are coming of age. We will not forget them!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Strange Coincidences

Death of Twins
On the obituary page of a newspaper was the story of the deaths of two sisters who were twins. They lived in Ohio 30 miles apart, and they both died of natural causes on Mother’s Day. Ruth and Rachel were born two hours apart 74 years ago. They each died of heart failure on the same day, only three hours apart.
What a strange coincidence! What are the odds of that happening?

U.S. Open

At the U.S. Open Golf Tournament, in 1989 (Rochester, NY), four golfers shot holes-in-one on the same hole (par-3 # 6), in the same round, and all four used a number 7-iron.
One spectator who saw all four aces remarked, “I don’t think I will ever see that again as long as I live!” I would say that is a safe bet! The National Hole-In-One Foundation put the odds of that happening at more than 8 million to 1.


A mother in Germany photographed her infant son in 1914 and left the film to be developed at a store in Strasbourg. It was a single “film plate” and before the time of “rolls of film.” World War I broke out, and she was unable to return to Strasbourg. So she gave up the picture for lost.

Two years later in Frankfurt, over 100 miles away, she bought a film plate to take a picture of her newborn daughter. When developed, the film turned out to be double exposure—with the picture of her daughter superimposed on the earlier picture of her son. Through an incredible twist of fate, her original film, which had never developed, had been mislabeled as unused, and was eventually resold to her two years later and 100 miles away!

Wow! What are the changes of that happening by chance???

The Deaths of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy

Kennedy was elected President exactly 100 years to the week after Lincoln.

Both were deeply involved in civil rights for blacks.

Both were assassinated on a Friday in the presence of their wives.

Each lost a son while living in the White House.

Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy. Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln.

Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater. Kennedy was shot in a Lincoln convertible made by the Ford Motor Co.

Lincoln’s assassin ran from the theater and was caught in a warehouse. Kennedy’s assassin ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater.

Both assassins were themselves assassinated before their trials.

Both Presidents were succeeded by Vice Presidents named Johnson who were born 100 years apart (1808 and 1908).

Coincidence or Providence?

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Col 3:15 NIV Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Phil 4:6 NIV Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Look around you and you will see much turmoil, unrest, and a lack of peace in individuals. It is evidenced in the lifestyles, in the culture, and manifests itself in the form of many illnesses. There is one way to tell the difference between the voice of God and a counterfeit—it is the sense of peace. The voice which speaks peace is of God, the voice which speaks panic and urgency is either of Satan or comes from your own human nature. God leads! Satan pushes. When we come to know the abiding peace of God, deep within our spirit, we have reached a balance and stability that cannot be upset by circumstances or urgent voices speaking to our mind or emotions. Nor will we be fooled by counterfeit guidance, because we have learned to recognize the voice of God. Listen to the words of Jesus as he promised us His presence.

John 14:27 NIV Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

The peace of God is a function of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is on an equal footing with the voice of God. Peace is a word that is thrown around as if those who are using it know what it means. It is used in banners and signs, carried in marches, put on bumper stickers. World leaders continually call for peace.

But the peace of God functions according to the principle outlined in Colossians 3:15:

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts”.

The amplified version says it this way: “Let the peace of Christ rule (act as an umpire continually) in your hearts…deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds.”

We know better than to argue with the umpire. He has the last word. We are either safe or we are out!. If you argue with the umpire, you can be thrown out of the game. The peace of God is the umpire who calls the strikes and causes us to know whether we are on safe ground or not.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Teachable Spirit

These words from the Old Testament have a message for you and I in our relationship with God.

1 Samuel 26:8-11 (NIV)

8 Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of my spear; I won’t strike him twice.”
9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?
10 As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish.
11 But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”

Abishai couched his comment in spiritual language:

“Today, God has delivered your enemy into your hand…”

I call this spiritual manipulation. Manipulating the Scriptures for a desired result. I think that is a danger we all must be careful of. That’s how cults are formed and false doctrines begin.

Abishai could withstand and accept correction. He had a teachable spirit. It is a requirement of those who would be serious followers of Christ.

Beware the Christian who thinks they have an inside track on spirituality and knowledge from God. Sometimes, in an effort to find acceptance, I have watched some as they tried to establish themselves as “the” spokesperson that God wants to use.

If God has told you something or directed you, then that word can stand challenge or correction from leadership. I am a little wary of those who constantly say, “God told me this, God told me that, I know what God wants.” Sometimes, God will speak to us for our own needs—not to show the world how spiritual and how close to God we are—or to set the church straight.

No one stands alone and no one person has a patent on the Word of Knowledge or the prophetic Word. God sets these gifts in the church “as He wills.” The gifts are not necessarily resident in the person—they are resident in the Body—the Church.

One author pointed out that “every heresy has its beginning in the heart of an unteachable believer.” Because God anoints them for a special purpose, spiritual pride can enter their heart and they feel they have ownership of that gift in the Body. The Abishai anointing is willing to receive teaching and correction.

A teachable spirit inhabits those who walk in humility and Godliness. As Paul admonished Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them.” He seems to indicate that it can mean the difference between being saved and reaching others as well.

King Saul in the Old Testament is an example of an unteachable spirit. It started long before our story in this book. It started when he was a young king and began to feel the power of his position. The first indication was when he became impatient and disobedient and stepped into the role of Priest and offered the sacrifice. On top of that, when he fought against the Amalakites, God told him to destroy them all—every living thing. Pride taught him that he knew better—so he spared the best of the flock and also King Agag. This led to Samuel’s challenge: “Does God delight as much in burnt offerings and sacrifice as much as he does in obedience?”

If Saul had possessed a teachable spirit he would not have found himself in this predicament of being told “Your kingdom will not continue.” “To obey is better than sacrifice and to listen is better than the fat of rams.”

May God help us each to always have a "teachable spirit".

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hymns VS Choruses

OK--Let's have a little humor with this.

Hymns vs. Choruses

An old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was.

"Well," said the farmer, "it was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns."

"Praise choruses?" said his wife. "What are those?"

"Oh, they're OK. They are sort of like hymns, only different," said the farmer.

"Well, what's the difference?" asked his wife.

The farmer said, "Well, it's like this - If I were to say to you "Martha, the cows are in the corn"' - well, that would be a hymn. If on the other hand, I were to say to you:

Martha, Martha, Martha,


the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows

the white cows,

the black and white cows,


are in the corn,

are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn,


Then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well, that would be a praise chorus."

The next weekend, his nephew, a young, new Christian from the city came to visit and attended the local church of the small town. He went home and his mother asked him how it was.

"Well," said the young man, "it was good. They did something different however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs."

"Hymns?" asked his mother. "What are those?"

"Oh, they're OK. They are sort of like regular songs, only different," said the young man.

"Well, what's the difference?" asked his mother.

The young man said, "Well, it's like this - If I were to say to you 'Martha, the cows are in the corn' - well, that would be a regular song. If on the other hand, I were to say to you:

Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry

Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth

Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by

To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.

For the way of the animals who can explain

There in their heads is no shadow of sense

Hearkenest they in God's sun or His rain

Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.

Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight

Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed

Then goaded by minions of darkness and night

They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.

So look to the bright shining day by and by

Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn

Where no vicious animals make my soul cry

And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.'

Then if I were to do only verses one, three and four and do a key change on the last verse, well that would be a hymn.

Hymns or Choruses?

There is and has been an interesting debate among many denominations and churches regarding music styles; i.e., should we sing choruses? or should we go back to the old hymns from the hymn books that sit unused in the pews? Some would argue, that those old hymns teach theology as well as worship and praise to the Almighty.

I came into the church around 40 years ago and a chorus was the exception, mostly hymns from the books were sung. We even had teachers come and teach a "singing school" to teach the congregation how to read shape notes, sing in harmony and teach new songs from the gospel hymn books. I can tell you, with the congregation singing in 4 part harmony was a beautiful sound to hear and behold. I miss that harmony today in the congregation.

Here is a sample piece written by Dan Betzer, prominent Assembles of God Minister.

"ByLine with Dan Betzer" Program #2751
Monday, April 19, 2004
"The issue of balance"

I have been deluged with responses to my ByLines concerning hymns in the church. They have run about ten to one in favor of singing at least one hymn in every service. It is interesting that the no’s have come from young worship leaders who have protested that their church would lose its young people if hymns were sung.

None of the protesters mentioned the older adults they are losing in the meantime. Why is it so hard to understand that this is not a “one or the other” situation. I love the chorus, “Like a rose trampled on the ground He took the fall and thought of me above all.”

Wonderful song! But then so is “The Old Rugged Cross.” The detractors tell me that attendance declines if hymns are sung. Not so. Our church is filled with thousands of people, over half of whom are under the age of 30. Only 15% of them are my age.

The issue, it seems to me, is balance. As a pastor, it is my responsibility to reach as many of our area’s half million residents as possible. That means our approach has to be varied, anointed, interesting and relevant.

I suspect that if many of the young worship leaders would lead the singing worship with their eyes open, they would see many folks not singing, not responding, some even leaving. One other question: is there some scriptural admonition demanding that we sing the choruses six or seven times in a row?

If we are really singing them to God, do you not think He understood the lyric the first time around? Oh, by the way, it is possible to sing sitting down. "

Dan pastors in Ft Meyers FL

No one with rational thought would deny that the music of a younger generation would not set well with the older folks.

Our church, North West Family Church, is implementing two distinct styles of service beginning in September, 2007. The Classic (More traditional) will be held at 9:00 AM and the more contemporary with drums, guitars and sound much louder will perhaps appeal to the younger generations. Our honest attempt is to meet people where they are and provide a place where they can come and enjoy the worship experience.

Tomorrow, I will tell you about the farmer who went to town and learned the difference between an Hymn and a chorus.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Storm Clouds Rising

The approaching and gathering storm named Dean, causes me to reflect on childhood experiences dealing with storms on the Texas Gulf Coast.

When I was about 6 years of age, (hmmm. that would be 62 years ago), our family moved to the Gulf Coast of Texas, from the neighboring state of Louisiana. There was a large shipyard in the coastal town of Orange, Texas, and dad found work as a ship fitter (carpenter) building warships to support our nation during World War II. Because there were 7 children in the family, dad was given deferment from the draft. After the War ended in 1945, we transitioned to Houston about 100 miles west.

I spent my growing-up years, 6- 22, living in and around the Houston-Galveston area. We became familiar with the annual ritual of watching for Hurricanes. I can remember many of them; Debbie, Donna, and in 1961, a really big one, Carla, a category 4 or 5, set it's sights on Galveston and Texas City where we then lived. This was before political correctness caused them to use men's names for the storms, as well as females.

In earlier years, I can remember Mom gathering blankets, pillows, etc and the family would go to a local shelter, usually a school gym or class room, where we would bed down and wait out the coming storm. But this one was different.

Milbre and I had been married for one year and living in Texas City, across the bay from Galveston. All the weather statements were very grim and foreboding, advising everyone to leave, evacuate inland, away from the coast. "This one was different", they said. After some intense coaxing from my father-in-law, Harvey, we decided to evacuate. I remember the long lines of bumper-to-bumper traffic, streaming away from the area, but we finally made it to Milbre's parents home, safely inland, in De Ridder, LA.

All they said about Carla was true, and more. She was a really, big storm. It was a week or two before residents could get in to check on the damage. Our little rental home was flooded, but many homes in our neighborhood were flattened. When all was said and done, it was one of the costliest storms to that date.

On June 27, 1957, a hurricane named Audrey hurled a deadly raging ocean of water over quaint Cameron Parish, Louisiana. It was a Category 4 Hurricane and in a matter of hours, wiped out every movable object in her path, forever changing the lives and souls of Cameron Parish residents. Hurricane Audrey killed 425 people, 154 of whom were under the age of 9.

Coastal residents had learned their lesson. After Audrey, residents began to take the warnings more seriously. During Carla, they felt that several thousand lives were saved because people heeded the warnings.

Monday, August 13, 2007


While browsing the Web recently, looking for connections to my roots, I googled "Howardtown" and received some interesting hits. One was a newspaper article from Jackson, Alabama. It turned out to be an interesting insight into my family's history. The reporter had interviewed my father's half-brother, Charlie, who had given her detailed information on the Howard family and its roots in Howardtown, Alabama. I e-mailed the reporter and told her I was a relative of the Howard family and did not think too much more of it.

A few days ago, I received a call from Charlie Howard, my father's half-brother. What a surprise! We were able to relate information to each other about the family. It was almost like a time-warp. But in a good sense, I was able to connect with my roots.

Today, I received an e-mail from my cousin, Darlene Tortorici, who is Charlie's daughter. She sent along recent photographs of her family. How refreshing to receive information about your family, and those you didn't even know existed.

What does this have to do with anything? I think that in a world that is increasingly isolated from friends and relatives, it is important that we maintain our sense of being and belonging. I have preached a few funerals that were so sad, because hardly anyone came who knew the person. How could you live for 80 years on this earth and not have more than ten friends who came to your funeral? And yet, there are many people who have slipped into that place of loneliness and abandonment. Maybe not intentionally, but it just happened!

Don't let it happen to you and your family. Keep in touch. I have attempted with my siblings to do a little part by sending each of them a card on their birthday. In some small way, I hope that we will remain a part of each other.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Matthew 13:23 (NIV)
But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Notice the qualities of this soil. Here is a heart that is neither hard and narrow nor flippant. He understands the word, i.e., he thinks about it, ponders over it. He receives it gladly but his life is not shallow. He bears fruit. The seed remains long enough to sprout and grow and to come to fruition.

Finally, his fruit is not lost in a jumble of things, the thorns and thistles of life, but he brings forth varying amounts—thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold. This three-fold division, which Jesus gives, is amplified in other parts of the Scriptures to illustrate the stages or the phases of the Christian life.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The key point of this whole parable is that the only one of these four hearts, which is genuinely Christian, is the fourth one. The sowing is not salvation. Nor is the hearing of the word. Many hear, but they are not Christians. Even the sprouting of the seed is not salvation. Salvation is seen when the fruit comes. Fruit appears when the will is genuinely yielded to the lordship of Christ, when the Word is welcomed and nourished and acted on and allowed to grow to fruition.

What Jesus is asking us :

"What is your heart like when it hears the word?

What are you like when the word of the kingdom, with its promise of power and of righteousness, falls on your heart?

What is your heart like then?"

It is possible, if it is in any of these unsatisfactory conditions—hard or shallow or distracted or resistant in any way—for your heart to be brought to God because God is able to change it, whatever its condition. He is the Creator. He is able to break up the hard heart.

As the word of God falls upon us, the question each of us must ask is, “What is my heart like now?”

And with that, Jesus leaves this parable with us, for us to answer that question in the depths of our hearts.