June 28, 2011

The Story of George McCluskey

The following is today's devotional reading found in The Word For You Today, a three month devotional booklet that is distributed to the members of First Assembly of God.

"Pour out your heart...for...your children."  Lamentations 2:19, NKJV

When George McCluskey started a family, he decided to invest one hour every day in prayer because he wanted his children to follow Christ.  Then he expanded his prayers to include his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Every day between 11:00 a.m. and noon he prayed for the next three generations.  As the years went by, his two daughters committed their lives to Christ and married men who went into the ministry.  These two couples produced four girls and one boy.  Each of the girls married a minister and the boy became a pastor.  The first two children born to this generation were both boys.  Upon graduation from high school, the two cousins chose the same college and became roommates.  During their sophomore year one boy decided to go into the ministry.  The other didn't.  He undoubtedly felt lots of pressure to continue the family legacy, but he instead chose to go his own way and pursue his interest in psychology.  He earned his doctorate and eventually wrote books for parents that became best sellers.  Eventually he started a radio program that was heard around the world each day. 

The man's name - James Dobson.  So now you know the story of George McCloskey!  He was just an ordinary man, but his prayers had an extraordinary effect on much of the world.  If you are a parent or a grandparent, the Word for you today is, "Arise, cry out in the night...pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.  Lift up your hands toward Him for the life of your...children."


June 21, 2011

My thoughts: Van Impe ministry abandons TBN in clash over Islam

Another friend of mine asked for my thoughts regarding this story from World Net Daily and here is what I shared.  I've added a bit more because my mind began thinking of some other quotes and Scripture that support my position.

Jack Van Impe is right to call out those preachers that are abusing the Bible for their own selfish gain, especially when more of what you hear coming out of their mouths is about money, being "blessed by sowing a seed into this ministry", or by preaching that God wants everyone to live happy, healthy and wealthy, which greatly contradicts Scripture.  

Romans 16:17-18 is an excellent example of what Jack Van Impe is doing and people should follow this when they have searched the Scriptures diligently like the Bereans did in Acts 17, to know whether what has been said is in solid accordance with Scripture AND has been used in its correct context too.

Rick Warren has consistently taught things that are contrary to Scripture, manipulating verses and translations to make it say what he wants it to say.  Robert Schuller has hardly ever preached anything sound because his philosophy was all about having a positive mental/theological attitude.

I do find it hypocritical that TBN would not allow Van Impe to say anything about Rick Warren or Robert Schuller, but did allow people such as Harold Camping and Rob Bell to be named specifically on one of his programs.

The effort to combine Christianity and Islam is certainly an example of a church that has become apostate and should be rebuked too.

When you look at many of the churches today, many of them have slowly worked into their vocabulary the replacement or removal of biblical terms, so that they don't sound biblical or Christian-like.  

I just read in John MacArthur's book Preaching: How to Preach Biblically where the following quote was cited and is related to this, which says, "I urge adherence to Biblical terminology. Much modern preaching has taken a psychological and sociological turn. It is mysterious and mystical. It sets forth psychiatric ideas, often using the terms of the psychiatrist rather than those of the Christian evangelist. It speaks of repression, fixations, traumas, neuroses, and syndromes, world without end. I claim that in the main these are not terms that the Holy Spirit can use effectively." 

I do believe that a pastor of a church should keep the language biblical while helping the congregation to learn and understand it as clearly as possible.  It's no different than studying to become a doctor and learning medical terminology that is applicable to the work of a physician.  Doctors speak using certain terminology that explains certain things in the human body as it relates to recommended treatments for a patient.

The language of the church, especially from the pastor shouldn't be any different.

Again, John MacArthur says in The Consequences of Non-Expositional Preaching regarding the language necessary for teaching the bible and he refers to R.L. Dabney who said, “The power of the Great Revolution that we know as the Reformation was the restoration of Scriptural preaching. It came with the authority of God. It came with the power of the Holy Spirit. It came under the clear leadership of Christ and people submitted to the Word of God in the pulpit and people followed and submitted to the Word of God in the pew.”

"And Dabney then goes on to draw a little kind of a paradigm that helps us to understand this. He said, “The golden age of preaching is Scripture truth in Scripture dress,” that’s the words he used. Scripture truth in Scripture dress...that’s the golden age. That is all the truths of the Bible presented in their biblical context as the Holy Spirit wrote them, had them written by inspired writers. Scripture truth in Scripture dress."

"You teach the Bible from the Bible. You teach Bible truth in Bible texts. That’s the golden age. That’s what we endeavor to do...to teach Bible truth from Bible texts. You say, “What else would you do?”

This is most disappointing from the story that Rick Warren has advocated through his book, The Purpose Driven Church that "...churches change music to a contemporary rock style, eliminate hymnbooks and the choir, eliminate the Sunday evening or Wednesday prayer services, remove the word "church" and refer to it as a "campus," and reduce the use of the words "unsaved," "lost," "hell" and "heaven.""

No one has to look too far at the churches around their neighborhoods and see if this is true.  And here is the question that I would ask - Did the Apostle Paul go on missionary journeys throughout the Mediterranean and establish campuses or churches?  

People that are unsaved are not unchurched - they are unsaved, unregenerate, unrepentant and depraved human beings that desperately need to turn to God and humble themselves before Him by throwing themselves at His feet and placing their full faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.  I said this to a particular pastor in a letter to him that stated people are not unchurched in such a way that they have forgotten how to behave in church.  They aren't even looking to relearn how to do that anyway!  

And yet, there are churches trying to do everything they can to accommodate people with "an adaptable gospel that is spoon-fed through humorous skits, drama, and short, nonabrasive sermonettes on how to cope—called a seeker-friendly or sinner-friendly gospel."  David Wilkerson, The Dangers of the Gospel of Accommodation

Van Impe is right to cite Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, Bill Hybels, Brian McLaren and anyone else, as contributors to causing the church to become apostate and people should be forewarned about it by telling them they should leave those churches and leave them fast too!

I think if people truly want to honor God and the Lord Jesus Christ and where they go to church, they will not want themselves to be found in any of the churches listed in Revelation 2 and 3, except that they and their church may be foudn to be like the church of Philadelphia that was known as a faithful church.

I hope this helps clarify my position.

June 13, 2011

Yesterday, it became official

"And He Himself gave some to be...pastors and teachers,"  Ephesians 4:11

Yesterday was the formal presentation of my ministry license at First Assembly of God in Brookfield, CT, where I have done my internship for seminary.  I am very grateful to be able to continue working there as a volunteer too.

Receiving this credential was something I was working for since I began seminary three years ago.

While I am greatly excited about this recognition it also brings a great sobering reminder of the stricter judgment I will one day be accountable to God for, as a pastor.
James 3:1 - Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Hebrews 13:17 - Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
I do not take lightly this responsibility that I have now been recognized and entrusted with, in whatever capactity I may serve as a pastor too.  May God give me the strength and wisdom to do only what will be pleasing, honoring and glorifying to Him alone.

James Bradford, General Secretary and member of the General Council of the Assemblies of God included this prayer, as a pattern for my own prayer life, from the words of John Wesley, for an unswerving and obedient surrender to God's call upon my life.

June 5, 2011

Church, be diligent regarding the sermons you hear today


Our Sunday School class is taking a journey through the Book of Acts and I've been teaching this class since chapter 13.  Each week has been a slow walk through the text as it is exposited (explained) for greater understanding with regard to its meaning and discovering its application to our lives.

This morning we're going to cover Acts 17:5-13 and verses 10-12 are as important as verses 2-3, regarding the exposition Paul gave to those in the synagogue, in Thessalonica and Berea, where he explained and demonstrated that the Jesus whom he preached to them, is the Christ. (v. 3)

The following four points from Albert Barnes' Commentary are simple, yet helpful points to follow regarding the importance of ensuring that the sermon that is spoken in church is in accord with the doctrine of Scripture.

May these be helpful to you, as you become a diligent servant of the Word of God, searching daily to see that the sermon is in accord with the Word of God.

May God be exalted greatly as His word is faithfully preached and expounded for the church today.

From Albert Barnes' Commentary on the Bible regarding Acts 17:11 - 
Whether the doctrines stated by Paul and Silas were in accordance with the Scriptures. The Old Testament they received as the standard of truth, and whatever could be shown to be in accordance with that, they received. On this verse we may remark:
  1. That it is proof of true nobleness and liberality of mind to be willing to examine the proofs of the truth of religion. What the friends of Christianity have had most cause to lament and regret is, that so many are unwilling to examine its claims; that they spurn it as unworthy of serious thought, and condemn it without hearing.
  2. The Scriptures should be examined daily. If we wish to arrive at the truth, they should be the object of constant study. That man has very little reason to expect that he will grow in knowledge and grace who does not peruse, with candor and with prayer, a portion of the Bible every day.
  3. The constant searching of the Scriptures is the best way to keep the mind from error. He who does not do it daily may expect to “be carried about with every wind of doctrine,” and to have no settled opinions.
  4. The preaching of ministers should be examined by the Scriptures. Their doctrines are of no value unless they accord with the Bible. Every preacher should expect his doctrines to be examined in this way, and to be rejected if they are not in accordance with the Word of God. The church, in proportion to its increase in purity and knowledge, will feel this more and more; and it is an indication of advance in piety when people are increasingly disposed to examine everything by the Bible. How immensely important, then, is it that the young should be trained up to diligent habits of searching the Word of God. And how momentous is the obligation of parents, and of Sunday school teachers, to inculcate just views of the interpretation of the Bible, and to form the habits of the rising generation, so that they shall be disposed and enabled to examine every doctrine by the sacred oracles. The purity of the church depends on the extension of the spirit of the noble-minded Bereans, and that spirit is to be extended in a very considerable degree by the instrumentality of Sunday schools.
Colored italics, my emphasis.

June 2, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY


  
That's right Mr. Spock, it is!

In a little less than an hour and a half, I'm going to get a phone call from my mother at about 2:59 p.m. (EST), reminding me of the time I was born.  I love it when she calls.


And as usual, I got an early morning phone call from my Dad wishing me a happy birthday too, but he forgot I was at work when he called.  


Still, it's such a great blessing that he's reminded of today, as I am of the wonderful parents God has blessed me with.

Each year my Dad does something different for my birthday, which I have no doubt that he does the same for my brother, when he somehow encapsulates the number of years of our lives in a very unique message.

Like this one he sent to my cell phone one year that said, "Rise and shine, you're 39! HBD!"

This morning, one of the guys I work with at The Home Depot wished me a Happy Birthday and nearly in the same breath he said, "WOW, you're getting a lot more gray hair, did you know that?  Have you seen it lately?"  Thanks, I feel your love. :-)

It is getting a little more gray, but I'm not too worried about it.  A few others at work wished me a happy birthday too, which was really nice and it was announced over the PA system too.  Thanks to Donna and Debbie.  :-)

So, for my birthday I got some great new books (so far) that I'm looking forward to reading this summer, from my mother, father and my mother-in-law:

  • Him We Proclaim - Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures by Dennis E. Johnson
  • Twelve Ordinary Men - How the Master Shaped His Disciples for Greatness and What He Wants to Do with You by John MacArthur
  • Shepherds after My own Heart - Pastoral traditions and leadership in the Bible by Timothy S. Laniak
  • A Disruptive Faith - Expect God to Interrupt Your Life by A.W. Tozer
  • Brothers We Are Not Professionals - A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry by John Piper
  • A Hunger for God: Desiring God through Fasting and Prayer by John Piper
Pretty good choices huh?


Tonight, we're going to one of my favorite Italian restaurants for dinner and I'm going to enjoy some really good lasagna and then back home for desert to have my favorite style birthday cake - double layered yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  It is definitely YUMMO, especially with a nice tall glass of milk.


So, thanks for reading this post today.  I'll be getting back to writing more frequently over the summer, so stay tuned.


God bless you all and have a wonderful day today.


I'm incredibly thankful and blessed for the life God has given me all these years so far.

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