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Showing posts from 2010

$56 and Change

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Every year for the past 43 years our church has participated in the annual Christmas for Christ offering. It is the main force that helps fund the Home Missions Department of the United Pentecostal Church to start new churches around the United States. We make a big deal about it and wrap up our offerings in Christmas wrappings and try to give our best gift to the Lord so that somehow and somewhere a church can be planted. After placing our gifts around the altar area, the whole church prays over what we have given. This year we did something a little different with our promotions. Director Carlton Coon and his team put together a DVD with four clips that ranged from about three minutes to seven minutes or so that focused on the history of the CFC program and some of the accomplishments of several church planters around the nation. With those clips, instead of an instrumental while we were receiving the offering, I played those clips. The last one that we used was sort of a “

Reflections on "And the Shofar Blew" Part 1

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One of the most provoking works of fiction that I have ever read is And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers. It was published in 2003 and having read one of her other books, I picked it up on a whim and read it. In the subsequent years that have passed, I have re-read it a couple of times. Recently I picked it up again and read it for a third time. This time I had a pen and underlined a number of places in the book that can serve as jumping off places for blog posts in the next several days. If you are involved in ministry in any form, it is a very worthy book to be read and then ruminated over for the rest of your life in ministry. So as not to totally spoil it with a lot of details, it basically is a story of a young man who is called to take over a dying church who allows a maddening personal ambition and uncrucified dark motives to destroy him. The first lesson that boldly stood out to me was the gradual deceptiveness of the gravity of human means. H. B. London of Focus on

Hell's Disappearing Act

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J. C. Ryle —The watchman who keeps silent when he sees a fire is guilty of gross neglect. The doctor who tells us we are getting well when we are dying is a false friend, and the minister who keeps back hell from his people in his sermons is neither a faithful nor a charitable man. Hell has disappeared! Hell has been sanitized from the modern theological mind. Hell has become an off limits message for most pulpits. The sheep have either stated so publically to the other sheep or the sheep have privately inferred to the shepherd that this is not what they want to hear. The reasoning of the sheep goes in this manner, “We are so stressed out! We feel the pressure of moving from pasture to pasture. We are having babies and they are demanding our time. We are worried that the drought is going to wither and destroy all the grass. We have a shepherd who is always trying to lead us where we don’t want to go. The last things we want to hear about are ravenous wolves, bad waterholes,

Moonshine Whiskey and the Holy Ghost

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My mind and thoughts have been drawn back to old-time Pentecostal experiences in the last week. Last night (8/30/10) even provoked those thoughts even more. Being part of the Alabama District UPCI, I belong to Section 8. For the last couple of years the sectional ministers will meet in a central location at a restaurant and spend some time eating and fellowshipin’ as they say. Last night, we had a group of about 20 or so and the conversation turned toward the dramatic conversions of some of the ministers. It is always amazing to listen to some of the stories of God’s dramatic grace pulling debauched sinners out of some of the most dreadful situations. One of the men, Jerome Owens, hails from the north Alabama, north Mississippi, and south Tennessee regions. As the stories continued, we continued to drift back in time to the 1940’s and 1950’s as the Pentecostal experience trekked its way across the south. We have come a long, long way from our roots which is not all bad but it

Places Where Worlds Are Moved

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Last week, I got a series of twitter messages that brought some inspiration for this post. They are as follow: • The no heat/AC garage storage room where my dad birthed a 1,000 soul revival at 5AM daily 1:42 PM Aug 20th via Twitter for iPhone • The financial cost? Zero! The killing the flesh cost? Staggering. Went on for 20 years. 1:45 PM Aug 20th via Twitter for iPhone • I looked inside that tiny hot closet yesterday and it felt like I was standing in front of a burning bush. Take off your shoes 1:48 PM Aug 20th via Twitter for iPhone • His altar was a knee high floor fan with a blanket on top and a quilt on the floor. When Zion travails. Let's have another planning session 1:50 PM Aug 20th via Twitter for iPhone • God, where is Elijah? He put his head between his knees into the Oriental birthing position. The effectual fervent prayer ... availeth much Friday, August 20, 2010 1:55:31 PM via Twitter for iPhone • Planning is essential and I need help in this area. Howeve

A Professor Named Perini

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The attorney and author, Scott Turow, wrote a book about his free-fall drop into Harvard Law School and how he spent those challenging three years there. In that ordeal, there was a professor named Perini that all of the ‘one L’ (first year) students loved to hate. Perini was one quarter smart-aleck, one quarter whiner, one quarter bulldog, and one quarter warm human being. His classes were immersed in the so-called Socriatic method of teaching which basically can be summed up as the madness of the survival of the fittest in an academic setting. The student who had the great graces and academic prowess to answer correctly was exalted to the levels of Greek mythological figures. Those who were wrong were banished to the trash bins of hopeless failure and rarely were allowed to redeem themselves among their peers and professors because Perini made sure the news of their demise travelled to the four corners of HLS. Perini, the half-man and half-beast, was intimidating, sarcastic,

Some Books on Preaching--Part 1

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A couple of weeks ago, we visited the aspect of the responsibilities of those who are listening to preaching and how important it is to literally hear what is being preached. What is being preached is a back and forth between the pulpit and the congregation, it is to be a living moment of worship. However, I think it is absolutely of crucial importance that those who do preach constantly work toward improving both the mechanics of preaching—the wording, the presentation, and so forth—and the spiritual aspect of preaching—private prayer, personal holiness, and inner hunger for God and the Word. I have a responsibility to do everything in my power to make preaching/teaching effective. Sometimes the content of the message can be very heavy and convicting. It is imperative that the heart of the preacher be clear and free of the prejudices, offenses of life, and pressure of the times so he does not soil what God is intending to get across to the church. This huge burden of personal

When Church Leaders Fall--Part 4--Final Thoughts

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John Owen —If a man teach uprightly and walk crookedly more, will fall down in the night of his life than he built in the day of his doctrine. Several years ago, I found a book in another Barnes and Noble in Tallahassee, Florida while Teresa and I were on a spring break trip with our kids. Few books have troubled me more, in fact I cannot think of one that ranks as its equal, it was entitled Our Fathers by David France . It chronicled the abuses by the Roman Catholic Church priests who were involved in pedophilia and the cover-ups that took place in the diocese in Boston and Los Angeles and various other places. What makes the book so troubling was the fallout that was forever created in the lives of those who had been abused. When those who are in a position of spiritual authority—no matter what church affiliation it may be—the fallout continues for generations. While these posts have been primarily about the lessons learned when church leaders fall, the most important aspec

When Church Leaders Fall--Part 3

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To clarify a point on this particular series of posts concerning when church leaders fall—it is not limited to immoral relationships—it can also be related to misuse of money, poorly exercised authority (either too little or not enough), doctrinal compromise, laziness, and a host of other issues. Church leaders fall when they are not actively carrying out their responsibilities and work of ministry. Generally speaking when the man is initially confronted by the maligning behavior, he will initially deny it. Denial is a deadly form of self-slaughter. Henry Ford made that mistake after his company had been viable for a little over a decade. The things that made it great in the past were the things that drug it down in the present. Compound that with the fact that Ford began to believe his and be overcome with his own press releases. Don’t ever, ever believe what people are telling you about yourself! If you can deflect the criticism that comes to all ministers then you will have

When Church Leaders Fall--Part 2

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Picking up from yesterday’s post concerning when Church Leaders Fall, I want to give you some more thoughts that helped me to continue on in what we are called to do. The enemy loves nothing more than to challenge our faith by the failure of others. In fact, William Gurnall in his classic work, The Christian in Complete Armour , lists as one of the strategies of temptation that the devil uses is to get us looking at those who are in positions of influence and success and then create public failure to discourage us. 4. Public ministry “success” does not always mean that all is well. The soul of the man collapses long before the trappings of his public ministry unravels. The old adage, “A man never falls far” is true. When we see a church leader fall, you can count on it that it rarely was a sudden failure. A man can be publicly lauded and elevated and behind the scenes be rejected by God. Years ago, I was in the Barnes and Noble in Montgomery, Alabama and ran across a biogra

When Church Leaders Fall--Part 1

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I am currently working through a long series of studies through the book of Acts and I have come to the part in Acts 1 where the replacement of Judas is being dealt with by the Apostles (1:12-26). (If you want the notes send me an e-mail and I will send them to you in a Word doc.) As I worked through this passage, again I am confronted with how unsettling it can be when a church leader falls. In fact, it is almost ground-shaking to us when we see someone who once stood for the core doctrines of the faith find themselves disqualified from public ministry because of their actions. Not only did Judas disqualify himself from public ministry he committed suicide which totally removed any potential for his recovery at a later time. We have grown accustomed to public spectacles taking place when men make foolish choices and destroy the influence that they had carefully worked toward creating. This has always been the case as time marches on—the names change but the times of man’s fail

Christopher Hitchens' Great Dilemma -- Part 2

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Continuing on that same stream from last week with Christopher Hitchens' battle with cancer and his obvious and perhaps delightful embrace of atheism, we have to note the obvious hopelessness that comes to those who are intent on embracing this theory. If you listen closely to what Hitchens has to say about life in general, there are some obvious comparisons with the thoughts and ideas of George Carlin who also recently passed away. George Carlin was another figure with who I wasn’t familiar with until his death and happened to read a book review from another blog about his life. Considered one top comedians of our age, he was another man who was trapped in the same defiled thinking patterns as is Hitchens. I made the mistake of searching for Carlin on YouTube and could only manage about 3 minutes of the vile monologue that was dubbed as entertainment. But in reality both Hitchens and Carlin were both saying the same thing in a round-about way. Hitchens is being hailed as