Monday, November 30, 2015
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
SEEK COUNCIL FROM THE OLD MEN NOT THE YOUNG MEN
BEWARE OF YOUNG LEADERS WHO SLANDER SUCCESSFUL MENTORS IN PRIVATE
Most of us wish we could point to some politician and say there is another Ronald Reagan or that man has the integrity of one of our forefathers. It is not to say that in retrospect some of the leaders of our day will not prove to be great. It is possible they will.
However, we will not know until they have proven themselves over many years of work. If they have the stature and the greatness of the great leaders of our country’s past perhaps they will. It is not that we do not support them. It is not that we do not see their potential. It is not that we do not cheer for them. It is not that we don’t want them to have success.
However, we know that they have not yet proven themselves like others before them. This is why we point backwards to the greatness of past men as a standard for those who are in leadership in the present day.
It is interesting that in ministry circles many do not use the same standard. In the ministry many think we should ignore the men of the past while lifting up the men of today. In fact, when some criticize great men of great past ministries the same people are appalled when some do the same thing in the political arena.
However, the principle is the same. These younger men have not yet proven themselves, nor do they have the right to attack and question proven men who went before them. Often, by finding fault in those men they are endorsing changes that water down the purity of what we have believed and believe.
It’s strange that we want a Ronald Reagan in the White House, but not a Jack Hyles in the pulpit of God's House. It is interesting that we want great political leaders like we had in the past, but seem to not care if we have great spiritual leaders like we had in the past.
We accept watered-down versions and criticize those who notice the weakness and try to call it out. Are we not to call out the changes that will move us away from that which we have believed and fought for?
Young men should be careful to criticize men who have gone before them. And when those of us who knew those defend them, we should not be attacked because we question the young man's motives and methods. I am not fighting younger men, but I do question the integrity of a younger man who tries to find fault in great men who have gone before them. We enjoy spiritual benefits because of the blood, sweat, and tears of our mentors. They fought the battle we have not had to fight. Yet, we are wasting past victory by besmirching the past victors.
Typically the reason young benefactors find fault is because they have something they want to change to ease the sacrifice for themselves. Attacking those men of old is often used as a defense for the changes the young leaders are making to serve their carnal followers.
Do not ask me not to call men out on this. Do not ask me to sit idly by while they criticize Jack Hyles and criticize things that he stood for without truly understanding the principles of why he fought for them. Do not ask us older followers to accept their label of legalism on what was not legalism.
I am suspicious of young men who question men like Jack Hyles, Tom Malone, Lee Roberson, and John R. Rice. It is not because I think those men were perfect. It is not because I believe that everyone must do everything the way they did them. It is because in their criticism of them they are trying to justify something of lesser spiritual value found in themselves. I question what and I question why.
I never tried to be like Jack Hyles in every area of my ministry. However, I did not need to criticize Jack Hyles in order to be different. I operated in the manner in which I felt God wanted me to, but I didn't feel I needed to criticize Jack Hyles or John Rice to justify my differences. In fact most of the times when I did something different I questioned myself first before I veered from there their methods or their philosophies I carefully considered if maybe they knew something I didn’t know.
A younger preacher told the story of reading a book by Dr. Hyles. He adamantly disagreed with something Dr. Hyles taught. After a time being in the ministry he became aware to him how right Dr. Hyles had been.
You see, he did not know yet what he did not know. He did not understand what he had not yet experienced. He had walked a block in Dr. Hyles shoes rather than a mile. He had put on the same shoes in the shoe store, but he had yet to go out and prove that he could walk in those shoes.
May I make several observations here.
1. Be very careful when criticizing a proven man. Don't be too quick to think you know better. Don’t scrutinize the men who God blessed in the past. Learn from them.
2. Be careful about following a man who criticizes proven leaders. There is a reason they don't like them. There is a reason they question them. Forgive me for saying this but there's a reason Dr. Hyles successor questioned Jack Hyles methods and why he deflated Jack Hyles numbers. We couldn't see it then, but we see it now.
3. Don't judge old men by the young men. Does not the Bible teach that it is unwise to take the council of younger men over older men? Would that not include older men who have passed off the scene and who are now in Heaven? Neither do I compare the young men to these older men, UNLESS they criticize those men.
4. Don't lose the old-time values while accepting the modern methods. It is easy for us to take modern methods and lose the integrity of our message. It is easy for us to lose our separatist position while trying to embrace the modern methods of our time. Modern methods can be good, but let us not lose the proven positions of those who went before us
5. Study the older men. Go ahead and attend conferences, but read the books by the older men. Go ahead and attend church growth conferences. You will learn something. But read Jack Hyles’ books on church building and Sunday school as well. Dr. Hyles forgot more than these younger men have yet to learn. Be a student of the past.
6. Give the young men time to prove themselves before imitating. Beware of young men who criticize and find fault in their heritage. One of the sins of America’s liberal institutions is the way they have altered history to demean our forefathers.
7. Don’t blame the older men for the current state of things. This is a popular method of some younger preachers. They credit men like Dr. Hyles for the good he did and then add a “BUT" to their commendation. Usually the “BUT" indicates a drift in their own position. It also is usually a mischaracterization of the man. Most of the criticisms I hear of Dr. Hyles ministry are blatantly inaccurate.
I do not want to attack younger preachers. However, if in defending an older preacher or a preacher of the past from the attack of a younger preacher makes me an enemy then I’m an enemy. Often time defending someone causes people to attack you when all you're doing is defending those under attack. If a preacher writes a negative article about Dr. Hyles don’t get upset with me if I choose to defend Dr. Hyles. Let us not forget what these men did and what they could teach us from their experience
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Psalm 71:9, "Cast me not off in the time of old age: forsake me not when my strength faileth."
Psalm 71:17-18, "O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and greyheaded. O God, forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is come."
An interesting statement was made to me about an elderly church member not being a very good church member. I immediately rebelled at the statement and became offended at the very thought of such an accusation about a dear saint who has given their whole life in service for our Lord being judged by the circumstances brought about because of old age.
All of a sudden it dawned on me that as Mrs. G and I are entering our 70th year on planet earth that maybe someone is saying about us that we are not very good church members.
My wife has had 42 surgeries. After a right hip replacement two years ago there was the constant fear of a need for a left hip replacement. When the pain became severe we sought the help of our surgeon. Our surgeon told Mrs. G she was not a candidate for a left hip replacement because her bones were too brittle. She suffers 24/7 with this pain. I have become her care giver and I have no regrets.
I help bathe and dress my wife for doctor's visits. She is is unable to dress herself and thank the Lord for the help of dear ladies like Denise Howie Dean and Diana Faye Ayres for their help.
Currently I am suffering from herniated discs in my lower back. I spent last Tuesday at the Hospital in NC with my back issues. When I arrived home I was taken to the ER for shots in my lower back. On Friday I went to the hospital in Tyler, TX, for more shots. Currently I have an appointment with a back surgeon on August 10.
Many a preaching trip upon arrival at home finds me in ice packs along with a two day recovery so I can fly out again the next week end.
I never gave much consideration to becoming older as a hinderance to our service to our Lord, but we are just about there. It is real and it is painful. I am so glad that through out my four decades of ministry I was a loving and a caring preacher for those whom age had become a significant factor in their Christian life. It is so easy to glibly throw verbal barbs at those who start to feel the pangs of broken bodies while forgetting the decades of sacrifice.
With this in mind it dawned on me that probably I, along with my wife, may be thought of as not being very good church members. We have been in the ministry for 43 years and pastored for 33 of those years. Hundreds of church members God has allowed me to care for were ill and home bound. I NEVER thought of them as being not very good church members, because they were physically unable to attend the services.
I was saddened by this off the cuff heartless statement about a faithful elderly church member. All of a sudden the former years of service mean nothing because of age? So sad! I wonder if talk like this does not downgrade the so-called "good church member" to the level of a "bad church member" themselves. Just wondering!
There are times I am unable to make it to church. Either because of my care-giving of my wife or because of my herniated discs. I thank the Lord that I never have expressed a critical spirit towards those who were ill and unable to do what some think makes a person a "good church member." I have not quit loving my Lord, praying, Bible study, tithing, preaching, teaching, writing, and counseling. I'm a little slower and have to move more gingerly, but I still keep on going.
I am extremely grateful to our son, Dr. Bob II, who has been so kind to us not just as his parents, but as church members who cannot do what they use to do. We need to be careful what criteria we use to classify what we consider to be "good church members."
We are so selfish. It is "What have you done for me lately?" attitude that is ruining us. I preached a sermon years ago entitled "What have you done for me formerly?" I lead our church in honoring former church members along with former pastors who were a blessing to our church in days gone by.
I am thinking of dear members of LBT who at the end of their life were home bound or nursing home bound. These members were as loved as any one who attended. I made sure they knew their pastor loved them and appreciated their years of faithfulness. The "Amens" of a Mrs. McKinley from one of the back sections of our auditorium was forgotten by many as she spent her last days in a lonely Nursing Home. But, her pastor did not forget her nor discount her years of faithfulness.
Does the person in the cancer ward cease to be a good church member because of their absence from the church services? Does the elderly lady in the nursing home cease to be a good church member because of the four walls that are their whole world? Does the elderly widow struggling to even get dressed for church lose her "good church member" card because she misses soul winning?
Does a Brother Danny Peurifoy, one of the greatest personal soul winners I have ever pastored, cease to be a good church member because of cancer incapacitating him physically at the end of his life? Can you imagine some critic saying, "He isn't practicing what he preached all those years!" I made the rounds to our nursing home church members on a regularly basis and never thought of them as not being "good church members."
Let me say this...
1) Mrs. G and I in our old age love our Lord
2) Mrs. G and I have been faithful servants of our Lord for decades before old age captured us
3) Mrs. G and I have been faithful to each other in these 50 years of Marriage into our old age
4) Mrs. G and I are faithful weekly givers to the cause of Christ even in our old age
5) Mrs. G is unable to go soul winning but I faithfully win souls to Christ on a weekly basis
6) Mrs. G and I have reared four children who love God and their families
7) Mrs. G and I have not brought discredit on our church or our Lord in our 70 years of life
However, I must admit that we are not really very good church members according to some! So, I promise we will work harder at being better church members. Please forgive us as we become more aged and less physically able to meet the expectations of some. I promise we will do our best to do better!
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
WHY DO WE HAVE A PUBLIC INVITATION?
By: Keith Phemister
I was talking to a man whom I pastored, and while we were talking, he made a statement that took me aback. He said that in our Baptist churches we do many things that are not biblical. “For instance,” he said, “we have invitations and nowhere in the Bible does it say for a church to have an invitation. If it isn’t biblical, then I will not move during the invitation.”
Well, since we are on the subject, where in the Bible does it say we should have pews? Offertories? Organs? Pianos? How about Ushers? May I just say that because the Bible is silent on an issue does not mean it is wrong! In fact, just because the Bible does not address the issue of a public invitation does not mean that we are wrong in conducting an invitation.
I would even go further and put that notion on the defensive. How about this; if it is not in the Bible, then why don’t you show me where it violates Biblical principles?
Charles G. Finney was held as the pioneer of the “public invitation.” For the first time in his preaching career at Evans Mill, New York, in 1825, Finney conducted an invitation and asked anyone who would like to give his heart to God to come forward and take the front seat. On his first attempt, Finney was successful.
Now Finney was not a Baptist, he was a Presbyterian. I say that because of the belief I have that what he did was biblical because it stood based on biblical principles.
The reason for conducting an invitation can rest in the need for recognizing the saved so that the next step can be easily pushed. How can we really know whom to baptize as part of the “Great Commission” if there is not an identification of the saved?
A person does not need to be saved in a church building. There are numerous instances of people in the Bible being saved in places other than the church.
If you look in Acts 2, Peter is preaching the very first sermon after our Lord’s Ascension. These Jews were pricked in their heart at the preaching of God’s Word, and demanded, “What must we do?” Folks who are under conviction should be told by the preacher what to do.
An invitation is the answer to meet the need. The answer in this case was: Repent and be baptized! I have a simple question to ask all of us. How did they know whom to baptize that day unless they identified themselves?
The Bible says that about 3,000 were baptized. Before baptism, there was salvation. Identification was necessary. Therein lies a very good reason for an invitation. Whenever there is preaching, real Bible preaching – there rests a demand for a decision. I have always been taught that preaching is teaching with authority, persuading with the intent to make a decision. We have gotten away from Biblical preaching and become teachers exclusively with the intent to not “run off the crowd.”
The Biblical principle of an invitation is evident in the Old Testament as well as the New. In Exodus 32:19-29, Moses came back from the mount, only to find the people having made the golden calf. There was ungodly music and the people were found naked.
Exodus 32:26 says, “Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.” Would that not be an invitation to the people of God? Absolutely!
An Old Testament example of the invitation is found in Deuteronomy 30:15-19, 15“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil: 16In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. 17But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt no hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall jnot prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. 19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and they seed may life:”
There is ample biblical principle for an invitation. See also Joshua 24:15 and I Kings 18:17-21.
The simple truth of the matter is that preaching demands a decision. There is a difference between preaching and teaching. In our church, I desire a balance amongst our people. I want them to get the fire and zeal that preaching gives, but I also want them to get the knowledge that teaching brings. We need to also be aware that biblical preaching will include teaching.
When I think of preaching, I think of II Timothy 4:2 that says, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Doctrine means teaching. Biblical preaching involves reproving, rebuking, and exhorting. What does that mean? Here it is broken down for us.
1. Reprove – to charge with a fault, to excite a sense of guilt
2. Rebuke – to restrain, to calm, to check
3. Exhort – to call for, to encourage to obey
So, in conclusion, we see a preacher is to identify sin, present the need to change, and finally urge one to make a decision. No wonder our Lord said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
We are to press them for a decision. One of the most critical points in presenting the Gospel is what is called, “Drawing the Net.” For the soul winner it is the invitation. It is the time after preaching where we invite the sinner to “receive the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Saviour.”
We must not bow to the liberal’s way of doing things. The neo-evangelical crowd, emergent church philosophy or even the seeker sensitive agenda must never cloud our minds. Just stay with the old paths. We must stay the course and have an invitation.
The liberals blast confrontational soul winning in the same way that invitations are blasted. All because we are pressing the appeal to make a decision! 2 Corinthians 6:2 “…now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
The same people who claim that the invitation is unbiblical are much of the same crowd who are consumed with pride. Pride will keep one from going to the altar to do business with God.
In no way, shape or form do I believe one must go down an aisle to be saved. It is belief in Christ death, burial, and resurrection that saves, not walking an aisle. Sadly, there may be some who think that walking an aisle is what saves them. Confession does not save. Confession is for man.
When we confess Christ, we show man our belief and God is glorified. Romans 10:10 states, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness (God sees it) and with the mouth confession is made (man sees it) unto salvation.”
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that confession is necessary for salvation. When Paul addressed the Jew in Romans 10, he said to them that confessing Christ was essential to note salvation from man’s point of view.
To the Jew, confessing that Christ was Lord and not a man would mean a loss of friends, respect, position and even life (witness Stephen and the Apostles). Even Paul himself, in Acts 9:1, persecuted those Jews who had confessed Christ.
Yes, according to biblical principles a public invitation is desired and needed. We will continue to give an invitation as long as we continue to preach. God give us strength and wisdom to continue to carry on what we have been taught and never waver.
JESUS IS THE DOOR
John 10:7, “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.”
In the book of Job chapter 1 and verse 10 the Scripture says, “Thou hast made a hedge about him.” Proverbs 15:9 talks of a hedge. Isaiah 5:5 says, “I will take away the hedge.” Ezekiel 13:5 says, “No man was found to make up the hedge.”
The same thing is mentioned later on in Ezekiel. Micah 7:1 says, “Sharper than a hedge.” Mark 12:1 says, “Hedge about it.” Hosea 2:6 says, “I will hedge up.” Job 3:23 says, “Whom God hath hedged.” Lamentations 3:7 says, “Hath hedged me about.” Matthew 21:33 says, “And hedged it.” I Chronicles 4:23 says, “Amongst plants and hedges.” Psalm 80:12; 89:40 says, “Broken down hedges.” Jeremiah 14:3, “Run to and fro by the hedges.” Luke 14:23 says, “The highway and hedges.”
The hedge in Bible times were tall stiff, sturdy, and sharp plants that made a fence around the vineyard in order to keep the oxen and animals from trampling or destroying the vineyards. However, workmen had to trim those sharp hedges inside and out in order to keep passer-bys from cutting themselves. The ones who cut and trimmed the hedges were the blue-collar workers of that day.
These hedges had an entrance into the vineyard. This was the door into the vineyard. Someone would be posted at the door to keep out and to let in. In Ezekiel 13:4-5 the redeemed are not the hedge but rather the door for the hedge.
Now, Jesus is called the door and the redeemed are His vineyard. Jesus stands in between those that could destroy the redeemed. There are two things that Jesus does as the door.
· To let in
· To keep out
I have a question? How could the Apostle Paul say, "in everything give thanks.” He did not say “for everything” it says, “in everything give thanks.” How could Paul say, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.” He had never been to Arkansas I promise you!
How could Paul make these statements having been in imprisonment, scourging, being stoned to death, beatings, and narrow escapes of his very life how could he say these things? How could Paul say, “In whatsoever state I am to be content”? How can the Apostle Paul say, “All things work together for good.”
All of us could very easily put pen to paper and share our individual griefs and heartbreaks. Here is how the redeemed can take it and make! God has placed a hedge about me and about you. God had placed a hedge about Job and Satan pointed out, rightfully so, that he could not get to Job because of that hedge. Then, God being the door of that hedge said to Satan Job can stand the test!
Please take note! Satan could not have done a thing to Job without being able to go through the entrance or the door of the hedge to get to Job’s life. In other words without God’s permission Satan could not have done to Job what he did because God is the door of the hedge. Thus, nothing comes to the redeemed that does not come through the door and the door is Jesus Christ!
It had to come through God before Satan could take Job’s riches, his health, his ten children, his loss of loyalty, loss of his wife’s faithfulness, and the loss of his friends. God is the door of the hedge. Jesus is the door of the hedge.
· God has placed a hedge about the redeemed
· God is the door to that hedge
· God decides what comes into my life
· God decides what does not come into my life
Nothing comes into the life of the redeemed that does not come through God the door. What a great truth! Likewise God decides what to keep out of the life of the redeemed. Why, because the redeemed are His children and He loves them and knows what is best for them.
WHO IS THIS DOOR?
He is the One Who loves me! He stands at the entrance of the hedge that He Himself created to protect me. He stands as the door and decides what is best for me. He loves me more than anyone in the whole world loves me! This One Who loves me unconditionally is the door and the entrance through my hedge of protection. He stands at the entrance of that hedge and says nothing can get to me that does not come through me first.
God has to personally approve everything that gets to the redeemed and that which is to be kept out of their lives. Being a child of God means that God Himself built a hedge around His children and God is the door through which comes into their lives what is best for them.
· God has placed a hedge around His children
· God is the door to the hedge
· God decides what is allowed in
· God decides what is not allowed in
· What God decides to allow in is best for His children
· What God decides to keep out is bad for His children
· God loves His children
WOW! This is no indifferent keeper of the gate or entrance! This is no nonchalant gatekeeper. This is the One Who loves me more than anybody else loves me! This is the One Who decides what is permitted in my life and what is not permitted in my life!
HE WANTS WHAT IS BEST FOR HIS CHILDREN
Wait a minute! It is possible to love someone and to not know what is best for them, but this One Who is the door not only loves me but He is Omniscient! He KNOWS what is best for me because He knows everything! He KNOWS what to let in and what to keep out! He Who is Agape love is the door and He who KNOWS all is the door.
Our ways are not His ways. Our thoughts are not His thoughts. Our ways are imperfect while His ways are perfect!
· The One Who is all love is the door
· The One Who wants what is best is the door
· The One Who knows what is best is the door
· The One Who is able to do what is best is the door
There is a hedge about the children of God. There is only one entrance to that hedge. God is the One Who is the door. God is the One Who wants what is best, knows what is best, and is able to do what is best.
God never has a helpless feeling as he watches His children suffer, have heartaches, and have heartbreaks, being attacked, being slandered, filthy Internet lies, and personal threats. Not one second does God possess a helpless feeling. He Who is the gate, the entrance, and the door of the hedge that surrounds us has the ability to let in and keep out!
God is the door! Jesus is the door! God never wonders what to do! God never says, “Uh oh” or “Oops” or “I didn’t know that happened” or “Really?” or “Your kidding”, or “How can that be?”
The sad thing is that God’s own children blame and criticize far too often God for doing what He knows is best for us!
· The redeemed criticize God for not doing it like they would
· The redeemed thus are criticizing God for loving them
· The redeemed are also criticizing God for wanting what is best for them
· The redeemed actually are blaming God for not being human