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Thursday, May 26, 2016

BE CAREFUL YOU'LL BE OLD BEFORE YOU KNOW IT!

HONOR TO WHOM HONOR IS DUE?

DO ELDERLY CHURCH MEMBERS HAVE ANYTHING TO OFFER?

IF IT WERE NOT FOR THEM YOU WOULD HAVE NO CHURCH TO SERVE IN!




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 in 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. 

Recently she has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. We have gone to Emergency Room several times. We never dreamed we would find ourselves with so many physical ailments. 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. Lawrence Ayres cares for our house issues and we will be eternally grateful.

I had back surgery and have been told it will take 9 - 12 months for the two discs in my back to fuse.  The metal in my back holds the bones together and after flying, teaching, and preaching it takes time for me to recover. 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'm not complaining I am merely stating facts hoping it will others to understand the elderly church members.

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 over our 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 on social media 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 44 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.

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 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 plus years of life

Please forgive Mrs. G and myself 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, May 24, 2016

THE MAKINGS OF A MAN OF GOD

Man of God



Over the years there has been a progression of a thought that people should do what the pastor says because he is the "Man of God." I have heard it used as though a man has carte blanche power because he has that title. Often the title is self imposed and used as leverage with the people. Allow me to offer a spin on this teaching from my observation of Dr. Jack Hyles.

Dr. Hyles sought to be a man of God, but he did not believe that people should listen to him because he held that "title." In fact to him it was not really a title at all. He believed it ought to be a description. Every Christian man should be the man of God in whatever role God has placed him. The husband ought to be the man of God in his marriage. A father ought to be the man of God in his home. The fact is, every man who claims Christ as Lord ought to seek to be the man of God in the positions he holds.

But, what of the special designation oft given to preachers, in particularly pastors, as being the "Man of God?" I do not buy it. A man in the pulpit ought to be a man of God, but the pulpit does not make him so. Certainly he holds a position of God, but that position does not make him a man of God. Many men who hold the position of God are not men of God.

Saul held the God ordained position of king but he was not a man after God's own heart. David, who replaced him in the position was a man after God's heart. Therefore we can clearly see that the position is not a justification for claiming the title of "Man of God." The position gives a man certain positional authority, but being a man of God requires one to seek after the heart of God, which by the way, leads more to servanthood than dictatorship.

Let me share some specific thoughts regarding this designation.

1. A man of God is one who seeks after God not power or position. A man of God is one who seeks after God not after the authority of a title or position. Dr. Hyles was a man of God because he walked with God not because he held a title or position. To demand what is not earned is ludicrous, self-serving, and destructive in its very nature. A man is no less a man of God without the title than he was with the title of pastor or evangelist. Seeking the face of God and His friendship for service is what real men of God do with their lives. If you find yourself reminding people that you are their pastor it should alarm you.

2. Every man ought to seek to be a man of God. Every husband, every father, every pastor and every man who holds an authoritative position ought to seek to be a man of God. God sought for a man to make up the hedge is not specifically speaking of preachers. Every man should seek what it is that qualifies him to be a man of God. Our families need men of God. Our schools need men of God. Our ministries need men of God. Our marriages need men of God. To seek to be that man is a good thing.

3. Therefore, a preacher, or pastor ought to be a man of God with or without the position. Brother Hyles was a man of God to me long before he had an authoritative position over me and long after as well. He earned that with his life. My sons are pastors and my daughters are married to fine Christian men. They are serving God and for that their mother and I are very grateful. Humanly speaking this was because there was a man of God in our life by the name of Jack Frasure Hyles.  It was not because he held a title, but because he earned that place in our lives.

4. A church should seek a pastor to fill the position who seeks to be a man of God in the position of God. You do not hire a man to be the man of God. You hire a man to be the pastor who seeks to be a man of God.  There is a difference between a position and a purpose. A man can lose a position without losing a purpose. Men who seek offices make a mistake for they should be seeking to be a man of God who can properly fill the office.

5. Pastors should not use the title "man of God" to authorize their activities but to monitor them. Being a man of God means you are the one in subjection to the leading of the Lord. A man of God does not yield a rod of power, but a role of servanthood. The greater the servant, the greater the example one has. The word “minister” means exactly that. The man of God is to minister to and care for others less fortunate. To monitor or provide leadership for serving is done through example more than exhortation.

6. A church should follow the man with the position, but we should seek personal guidance from one who has proven with his life to be a man of God. We follow a man who is in authority. We trust a man who walks with God and seeks after Him. People trusted Brother Hyles because his life showed him to be a man of God, not because he dictated that they do so. He never abused his power to hurt anyone. That was evident to all. Being right was not as important to him as using his position to restore the fallen. There is a reason the Bible says “mercy” before it says “truth” and “grace” before “truth.” Where many are willing to use the “letter of the law” first; Brother Hyles allowed the “Spirit” to lead him first.

7. A pastor who humbly respects his position will more likely be a man of God, than one who wields it like a weapon. I am afraid some young men enter the ministry just to get a parking spot close to the building. The idea of service must be preeminent in the heart and life of a preacher. First, there must be service to our Lord through service to His people. Second, there must be denial of self in order to accomplish this great ministry of service. Third, one must become a custodian of doctrine so the service will continue throughout generations to come.

8. All men in the position of God make mistakes, so a humble spirit is necessary to prevent them from being like Saul and help them be like David. Tragically, positions of God turn some men into men of pride rather than men of God. A humble man in a position of God will most likely be a man of God. Please do not misunderstand. Meekness and weakness are two separate attributes in a man of God’s life.To speak up and stand up at the appropriate time has a mixture of meekness and weakness found in it. Moses was meekness embodied in strength. He stood when he was supposed to stand and in so doing humbled himself. Yet, we find the same man striking when he should have been speaking to the rock. When wrong admit it!

9. It is good when the people of God call their pastor a man of God because he has proven to be so. There is nothing wrong with me calling Dr. Hyles a man of God because he proved to be so in his life. However, he did not designate himself as such to me. In the twenty-two years of traveling with him, I never heard him refer to himself as a “man of God.” Yet, in our eyes he had earned the title. Others, who knew him well would not hesitate to call him a “man of God.”

10. It is dangerous for the man in the position of God to try and force the people to accept him as the man of God.  A man who leads must be in the lead. Too many are leading from behind, posing as a leader by declaring it to be so. If like begets like in Scripture, and it does, then the position has to be baptized in a purpose. Others need to see the purpose and not the position as they labor with the leader. No one minds doing as you do, but they will rebel at doing as you say.  Example is far greater motivator than exhortation. Both are necessary. However, exhortation without example is a killer of the purpose.

11. It is dangerous for men to assume that because the pastor they respected and admired was a man of God that they automatically were a man of God as well. I was not a man of God because my mentor was, but I sought to be a man by seeking after the God of my mentor. Elisha sought the God of Elijah and became a man of God. Sitting under great men does not make anyone a great man. Seeking the God of a man of God is the key to becoming your own man of God. Man does not make men of God. Only God can make a man seeking Him His man.

12. We need to teach all men to strive to be a man of God in the ordained position where God has placed them.    No matter where God has placed you, He desires for you to be the man of God to those who look to you. It is not a result of or inherited in a title, but from seeking of God.  Our homes need men of God as do the pulpits of our churches in America.

13. A man in a position of authority will have a far greater influence for God if he also is or becomes a man of God. A husband and a father who is a man of God will be a far greater influence on his wife and family than one who merely has the position of husband and father. The same is true of a pastor. More authority does not lead to greater influence. More power from God does. If you tell people you have God’s power then you do not have God’s power.

14. We should not allow the influence of a man of God to be lessened because those in the same position were nothing more than men of position. Saul did not make David any less of a man of God even though Saul was a man in a position of God who himself was not a man of God. There are many examples of men God in positions of God who were preceded or succeeded by men who themselves were not truly men of God.

15. There is even a difference between being God's man and being the man of God. I have heard men say when introducing a man to preach, "He is God's man for the hour." There is truth to that statement. When a man stands before a crowd to bring the truth of God, he is God's man for that moment. However, when a man sits before his child and teaches them the word of God he's also the man of God for that moment. We are God's men as we stand to do Gods work. There's a difference between being God's man for the moment and being a man of God. When Saul stood before the kingdom he was God's man because he held the position. However, Saul did not seek after God so he could not be called a man of God.

For these many years as I have filled the position of God I have sought to be a man of God. However, I have sought to be a man of God for more than just the position of pastor. I sought to be a man of God for the position of father, husband as well as for pastor. Am I a man of God? I cannot answer that question other than to say that for these many years as I have filled those positions with my greatest desire has been to seek after the heart of my God.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WHY CAN'T WE JUST ALL GET ALONG?

Strife is Inevitable




Recently I wrote an article entitled “Dr. Gray, Why Don't You Like Paul Chapell?” I have received amazing responses from that article. Perhaps it's because people are encouraged when they hear an explanation regarding supposed strife between certain leaders. 

As I have read the comments and thought more about my article I have come to believe that strife between good men is often inevitable. Throughout Christian history good men have experienced strife. I could tell of some of my own heroes who experienced strife with each other. It's not new. Even the apostles experienced strife among themselves. 

To think that there will not be strife is foolish. You are setting yourself up to be disappointed by those you admire. There are men I admire and love with whom I have experienced strife. I did not stop loving them, nor do I think did they stopped loving me. Yet at times strife happens between sincere and good men.


What causes such strife? Perhaps the best way to understand strife is to admit that we are all different. We have different ideas. We have different personalities. We have different strengths and weaknesses. We have different influences and heroes. We have different methods. We have different trials and challenges. We have different backgrounds. Differences often cause strife. We also have different followers. 

It was not strife between Lot and Abraham that caused them to separate. It was strife between the herdsman. Upon further study you see that the strife was because they were competing for the same land and resources. In ministry we are often competing for the same audience or the same students, and sometimes that causes strife. Most often that strife begins between the followers, not the leaders.


So what should we do when strife comes? Let me give several suggestions.


1. Do not allow strife between the herdsman to bubble up to leadership. Be careful not to allow those who follow you to influence you against another leader. If there is a seed of truth to what the herdsmen are saying then refuse to turn it into a mountain. Never assume what you hear or even read from a herdsman is true.


2. Don't be an idealist and pretend that there is not strife. I am amazed at how angry people get when they discover that I do not agree with someone they admire. I can write an article without mentioning a man's name or referring to him in a personal way, and the next thing I know, I am being attacked from all sides. I should expect that. There are going to be differences between leaders and often the followers will assume that it is personal when in reality it is philosophical. Don't be disillusioned when you discover that strife exists.


3. Don't turn strife personal. There are those with I disagree in their methods. I will often speak out against those methods. I must be careful not to speak out against the person. I have done this before and I wish I could go back and change it. Most of us have done it. The best thing to do is to explain our differences without attacking the character of the individual. 

I am not referring to someone who is preaching heresy. I am talking about someone whose methods I may think are faulty or too worldly. If they step over the line of doctrine then I reserve the right to expose the person. However if it is a philosophical difference I must be careful not to attack the person.


4. Sometimes separating is the best thing. I am not a believer in total unity. Most unity in the Bible refers to the local church. Unity is impossible. Sometimes the best thing we can do as leaders is to quietly separate. That does not mean we attack the other person. However, to do what Abraham and Lot did makes sense at times. Sometimes our differences are too strong for us to work together. What should we do? Prayerfully separate, and go your own way. Don't be a jerk about it. Don't rip the other person. 

If you can't work with someone because of their ideology then quietly separate from him. Dr. Hyles separated from men who he dearly loved. He separated from men with whom he preached for many years. There came a time when he felt he could no longer work with them so he separated from them. He did not turn against them but he did separate from them. At times we should do that.


5. Sometimes what appears to be separating is mere distancing. Don't miss this. There are times when I distance myself from a man and it appears that I am separating myself from him. I am merely being careful. It is not a total separation. I am not breaking off with him. I am not turning against him. I am merely distancing myself for ideological reasons. 

If you read Genesis 13 you will see that even though Abraham and Lot separated there is this interesting little phrase, “...the Canaanite and the parasite dwelled then in the land.” Although Abraham and Lot distanced themselves from one another they were still on the same team. Later when lot was captured by enemies it was Abraham who came and rescued him. 

When Sodom was about to be destroyed it was Abraham who interceded with God on behalf of Lot’s home country. Sometimes I distance myself from someone but I am still pulling for them. I may not like their methods, but I still wish God's blessings on them and their ministry. Sometimes it is not really separating but distancing that takes place between men.


6. Contend but don't be contentious. There is not a man alive who is a contender for the faith who does not struggle with this. If you are not at times contentious you are probably not contending. Passivity creates non-contentiousness. I cannot be passive. I contend for the things which I believe are important. At times I may appear to be contentious in my contending. Sometimes I will be contentious on purpose, but sometimes it is on accident. Men who are passive about their beliefs are seldom contentious, however they seldom do great works for God. If you want no contention, do nothing.


7. Don't be so sensitive. Perhaps this is one of the most important things. “Great peace have they which love thy law and nothing shall offend them.” If we are easily offended it is a sign that we do not love God's Word. We love our opinions instead. I have often been attacked by other Christians. Some of the attacks have been personal and vicious. I have been often hurt, but seldom offended. 

To be offended means that I place my feelings above the feelings of God. The work of God is far too important for me to wear my feelings on my sleeve. It always hurts to be attacked. But that hurt should not slow us down from the work of God.


And so, I contend that strife is a part of Christian work. It will always exist and it always has existed. Those who think that there is more strife today than there was in past generations have not read their history books well. They have not studied the biographies of great men. 

There has always been strife. There will always be strife. It is a part of life even in the Christian ministry. So, let us expect it, accept it, and respond to it as best we can. Oh, and if you don't agree with this let me tell you what you can…… oops, sorry, I didn't mean to become contentious.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

GENERATIONAL LEADERS CANNOT AFFORD TO LOOK TO EACH OTHER FOR LEADERSHIP

The Danger of Contemporaries




In the 60's and 70's great churches were being built all across America. Many of Dr. Jack Hyles' contemporaries were building the largest Sunday schools in their cities and states. Great numbers of converts were being brought into the church, baptized and growing as Christians. Dr. Hyles led the charge with many of his contemporaries following suit. It was a great time.


As the years went by many of the contemporaries of Dr. Hyles fell by the wayside. Many of them continued to pastor good churches, but they were not the great churches they once were. They had plateaued and leveled off. In many cases these men built fellowships with one another and Dr. Hyles was distanced further and further from them. 

In the later years of his ministry many of those men had completely pulled away from Dr. Hyles. Oh they still loved and respected him. But, some of them became a little bit discontented with him. They were even willing to accept some of the slander against him.


Someone asked Dr. Hyles why so many of his contemporaries had distanced themselves from him. His answer was very interesting. He said, “They did not distance themselves from me, and I did not distance myself from them. We just chose a different path. I always chose to cast my lot with those who could either influence me to do more for God, or who I could influence to do more for God. Many of those good men were no longer as interested in building a great work as they once were. Now they were more focused on maintaining the work they had.”


The first era was an era of being influenced by men who had gone before him. 

Dr. Hyles spent the early part of his ministry following and learning from the great men. He built relationships with them. He chose to be close to them. It was not because it was convenient, but because he wanted to learn all that he could. The byproduct was that he did not build intimate relationships with his contemporaries. He loved these men and he was loyal to them, but he did not “hang out” with them as much because he was with the older men.


Many young preachers would rather be close to their contemporaries than they would with older men. 

The danger is that in doing so they are now being influenced by their contemporaries. They are more likely to go where the wind is blowing rather than learning from the men who have already tried and proven their ministries. As a young man Dr. Hyles did not follow his contemporaries. He did not choose to fellowship too closely with his contemporaries. 

He was building a work for God and he wanted to learn from those who had already gone before him. He sought them out. Rather than going to fellowships of contemporaries he went to the meetings of the giants. He would rather learn from the grizzled veteran then from a novice contemporary. He loved his contemporaries but he did not choose to spend his time in close fellowship with them.


As Dr. Hyles influence grew many of his contemporaries were also building great ministries. Dr. Hyles loved these men. They were walking together because they were agreed in their purpose and cause. However, he was still looking to the older men. He was getting his inspiration and direction from men who had gone before him. 

He wanted to maintain the principles of the great man. As time went by some of his contemporaries lost the drive to build. As the great men of the past when off the scene, Dr. Hyles continued to have a desire to do a great work for God. 

The second era of Dr. Hyles' life.


What once was seeking to be influenced by those before him became a desire to influence those coming behind him. Once again this was not a natural alignment. Just as he could not become the best friend of those men who went before him he could not become the best friend of those who were coming behind them. 

But, the purpose of his ministry was not to be someone's best friend. Fellowship was not his purpose. He sought to be influenced or to be an influence. His ministry went from being influenced by the greats of the past to being an influence to a new generation. He began to pour himself into younger preacher.


Some of his contemporaries resented it. They felt that he had gotten too big for them. They judged his motives. They assumed that he thought he was better than the them. They missed the point. Dr. Hyles was not seeking to be better, he was seeking to continue growing and influencing others. When a man is influencing the next-generation he has to show them what he is teaching. He cannot merely tell them what to do and not do it. He must continue in the work.


A Private in the military follows the lead of his General, but when he becomes a General he must lead those who are the Privates. Dr. Hyles knew his responsibility was to follow or lead, not merely hang out. That is what makes a man a leader. He follows and then he leads.


Many of the contemporaries of Dr. Hyles saw him as a good man and one they loved dearly, but there was a disconnect somewhere along the way. It hurt them. In some cases it even made them better. When rumors came out against Dr. Hyles some chose to believe them because they felt hurt by him. Dr. Hyles just kept on marching forward. 

There was an army of men behind him who still wanted to do work for God and he became their/our leader. He was never a denominational head barking orders from the headquarters. He was a general crying, “Charge,” as he led us into the battle. He never stopped building. He never stopped battling. He never stopped dreaming of doing more for God. He was going before us as he had seen a generation do for him.


Is difficult for some to understand that a leader often does not build close relationships with his contemporaries. He becomes a leader by following leaders and then he leads others. That is why Dr. Hyles did not spend much time in fellowship with his contemporaries. The contemporaries get closer and closer to one another as he continued marching forward just as he always had. While they were licking their wounds in retirement he was still charging. While they were basking in the rewards of a ministry they once built, he continued building. While they were enjoying their influence he was expanding his.


I had the privilege of spending time with Dr. Hyles. I think he would have considered me one of his dearest friends. I think he also considered Dr. John Rice one of his dearest friends. But, his friendship with Dr. Rice was based upon what he could learn from him and his relationship with me was based upon the influence that he could have on me. 

Dr. Hyles' friendships were not formed for comfort. 

They were developed for purpose. The purpose was the work of God. We were soldiers. He wanted to influence us. While some of his contemporaries were hurt by his decision he did what he felt God had called him to do.


Occasionally I will have the opportunity of coming into contact with one of Dr. Hyles' contemporaries. We speak of Dr. Hyles fondly. However, the way we speak of him is much different. They have a respectful appreciation for him. Yet, I sense some hurt and maybe even sadness. I think they may feel a tad of jealousy for those younger men such as myself who they sensed took their place. They loved him and he loved them, but it was not his purpose to be their buddy.


I often heard him speak fondly of those contemporaries. He loved them deeply. He missed the fellowship. He hurt for those who turned against him. But, there was a battle to be fought. He did not have time to sit around and tell war stories. There was a generation that still needed to be influenced. He felt a responsibility to take what he had learned from the veterans before him and share it with the generation coming from behind.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A TEACHABLE MOMENT CONCERNING PAUL CHAPELL

Dr. Gray, “Why Don't You Like Paul Chapell?”



I am asked this question quite often. Typically the question comes from one of two groups of people. First, it comes from people who are critical of Paul Chapell and are looking for agreement from me. Secondly, it comes from people who are followers of Paul Chapell, and, for whatever reason, assume that I do not like him.

Let me clearly state to both groups that I like Paul Chapell. In fact I like the man very much. Those who dislike him want me to verify their disagreements and those who like him want to argue as to why I may dislike him. Shame on both of you. Paul Chapell should not be the issue. He is not the issue to me. The issues are the issues. If Paul Chapell and I land on different sides on an issue it should not become personal between the two of us.

Let me return to the question of whether or not I like Paul Chapell? I will answer with an emphatic, “Yes.” I have watched Paul Chapell grow up. I knew Paul Chapell's dad personally and know his family quite well. He is a likable man. He is a good man. I believe he is a sincere man. It would be foolish of me to say anything disparaging about him.

The reason I am writing this article is because I think there are many people who have assumed that I don't like Paul Chapell. Let me give you some reasons why I think this is true and then make some comments on how we often (mis)handle some differences we have.



1. I don't have to always agree with Paul Chapell to like and respect him. Let me make something perfectly clear. I can like someone with whom I disagree. Just because I don't agree on some issues does not mean I don't respect the person. Don't ask me and Paul Chapell to agree anymore than Jack Hyles and John Rice always agreed. There were sharp differences between them and I'm sure there are stark differences between Paul Chapell and myself.

2. If I see something written by Paul Chapell with which I disagree I reserve the right to rebut his article. I have done so in the past, and I will continue to do so in the future if necessary. This is not true only of Paul Chapell, but of anyone. A very good preacher friend of mine wrote an article that I thought was totally ridiculous. Without naming his name and without trying to disparage his character I wrote a strong article in opposition his article. I never mentioned his name nor did I refer to his article specifically. Yet, to this day he does not like me and will have nothing to do with me. I think he's a bigger man than this, but for some reason he took my disagreement personally. I find that interesting.

When at a conference where he was speaking I sat on the front row and went out of my way to greet him on his way up to preach and on his way down and both times I was treated coolly. Why? Because I'm not allowed to give my opinion? I felt he was wrong and the opposite side needed to be presented. I did so ideologically but not personally. The fact that he took it personally is not my fault nor is it my problem.

The same is true with the Paul Chapell. Truth be known Paul Chapell has never argued with me when I have disagreed with him, but his followers have. Isn't that usually the case. One leader writes a strong article stating one position and another strong leader writes an article opposing that position and both men go on with their lives and ministries.

The fighting does not take place among those two men but among followers who can't stand the thought that someone disagreed with “their guy.” It reminds me of the Republican primary. It's the followers or the herds that fight over the differences between the ideologies of leaders.

3. I do not want to negate the good of Paul Chapell in any way. I may feel that Paul Chapelle is doing good, but not agree with his methodology. I rejoice in the good but I can still disagree with the methodology. For example, I rejoice in every soul that is saved at a Christian rock concert. I don't support the Christian rock concert. I rejoiced in every soul that was saved at a Billy Graham Crusade. I still believe that Billy Graham was wrong to join up with the ecumenical crowd.

4. My differences with Paul Chapell or any preacher should not take precedence over my differences with liberals. I am for the cause of Christ. Where the gospel is preached truthfully and honestly I am not an enemy. However, I can be a critic of some ideologies that I think are not healthy.

Let me give you an example. Some people say that Billy Graham should be lauded for having a million souls saved under his preaching. I applaud the million souls. However, I question how many more could have been saved had those million souls been directed to a true Bible believing, soul winning church. In other words the long-term effect could have been greater had the short term decisions been more scriptural. 

That does not mean that I am not happy for every soul that was saved because I am. It means that I still believe that he was wrong in his ecumenical choices. The orchard was damaged while the fruit was taken. I cannot endorse his affiliation with heretics.

5. Let me be frank. Most of my concerns with Paul Chapell are not Paul Chapell. They are with some of those who have used Paul Chapell as their excuse for their own ideas and attacked others with different ideas. I do not know if Paul Chapell is guilty of this or not, but I do know that many of his followers are. They seem to think that all of those of us who stood as leaders in the 70’s did things wrong and they like to point it out. I think that's an error.

First of all they don't know those men they only know what they've heard about their methods. Most of the articles that I read criticizing and even condemning leaders of the 70’s are not even close to being correct. They are wrong about the men. They are wrong about the message. Worst of all they are wrong about the philosophy. I do not blame Paul Chapell for his followers anymore than I blame Dr. Hyles for men who took to the extreme certain things he taught.

6. It is interesting to me why men like myself are criticized if we distance ourselves from a man for ideological reasons. I did not say turn against them. I said distance ourselves. Yet the same people that criticize men like myself from distancing ourselves forget that those men have distanced themselves from us first. Paul Chapell and I do not speak together. He invited me several times years ago and I did not go because of the concerns I had about his direction. He has not recently invited me, nor do I expect him to. He has his reasons. It is not personal.

I have not asked Paul Chapell to speak with me. I have my reasons. It's not personal. Why should I be criticized and not him. I'll tell you why. It is because you agree you like Paul Chapell and you don't like me. You have turned it into something personal, but with Paul Chapell and myself it is not personal though we have our reasons.

What most people don't realize is that the very people who cry out against those of us who fight certain things are most often slandered far more by the same people. I do not think they represent Paul Chapell. But, you have no idea how many people who claim to be Paul Chapell followers treat me with contempt, slander and blatant disrespect. I wish you could read all the things sent my way by these men.

Paul Chapell is certainly not responsible for what they say or how they treat me. Yet, most of the time their problem with me is their perceived problem with Paul Chapell. Isn't it interesting how they criticize me for the exact thing they're doing?

Dr. Hyles loved Jerry Falwell. You have no idea how much he loved Jerry Falwell. He never stopped loving Jerry Falwell. However, there did come a time when he felt Jerry Falwell was going in the wrong direction. He chose to distance himself from Jerry Falwell, but he didn't choose to attack Jerry Falwell.

Loyalists of Jerry Falwell attacked Dr. Hyles. Conversely loyalists of Dr. Hyles sometimes attacked Jerry Falwell. However, it was never personal between Dr. Hyles and Jerry Falwell. However, it did become personal between some who loved one or the other of those two men the most.

When Dr. Hyles exposed error in the philosophy of Jerry Falwell without attacking him personally, people attacked Dr. Hyles for what they perceived as an attack on Jerry Falwell. He did no such thing. He merely warned of a direction Jerry Falwell happened to be taking. That is a mistake on the part of those who assumed the Dr. Hyles had a problem with Jerry Falwell. He never had a personal problem with Jerry Falwell.

7. There will always be divisions among us. The longer you live the more you will realize this is true. We will never always agree on everything. Sometimes our disagreement will be strong enough for us to feel the need to distance ourselves. Do not mistake distancing with hatred or criticism. My distancing from a man does not mean I do not love, respect and pray for that man.

8. Allow me to warn the herdsman. Do not turn our ideological conflicts personal. It's not personal with him and is not personal with me. It becomes personal when followers make it personal.

9. In reality camps are not created by leaders. They are created by followers. Followers seek the security of a leader. When someone questions the philosophy of their leader they choose to attack the personality of that man. The result-camps are created. Most leaders do not wish for that to happen. If they are true men of God they celebrate God's blessings on others even with their differences. However that does not mean they will stay silent on issues they feel are important.

10. Let me conclude with this. Anytime two men are on the scene at the same time there is the possibility of conflict. That conflict may be principled, not necessarily personal. Dr. John Rice was an older man when Billy Graham was coming on the scene. Dr. Rice struggled with some of the directions Billy Graham was taking. It was never personal between him and Billy Graham, but it became very personal to the followers of Billy Graham. Dr. Rice was attacked viciously and his ministry suffered suffered greatly. Dr. Rice stood strong to the principles in which he believed.

Later his influence would increase again. Billy Graham is credited with seeing a million souls saved. However, I contend that in the long run, Dr. John Rice's influence was far greater. He influenced churches to do more. His emphasis on churches baptizing more converts lingers to this day. He never hated Billy Graham. He suffered greatly because of his stand, but he loved the man.

Dr. Hyles and Jerry Falwell were contemporaries. When Dr. Falwell's ministry was on the rise many turned against Dr. Hyles because he distanced himself from Jerry Falwell. It was principled, not personal, but there were many who took it personal. Many of the attacks against Dr. Hyles were a result of his distancing himself from certain men. Some who committed themselves to destroying him did so because of positions he took which contradicted men they chose to follow.




Sometimes I am criticized because I take strong positions that are in direct contrast to others. I take those positions because I believe in them. They are principled positions. When my positions are different from other men, their followers will at times consider it to be personal. There are things some men are doing with which I strongly disagree. It is not personal. It is principled. Do not make enemies out of us when we disagree. Take the time to study my principles because they were taught to me my my mentor, Dr. Jack Hyles.

The same people who criticize me also criticize Dr. Hyles because they must do so to justify some of their positions. It is unnecessary to do so. Just because I contradict what you believe does not mean I do not honor your right to be independent. That's what independent Baptists do. We follow the Lord as we see fit.

You do not have to agree with me. I do not have to agree with you. But that does not mean it must be personal. Perhaps this is why so many people have decided that I have a problem with Paul Chapell that I really do not have.

Paul Chapell, Bob Gray Sr. loves you. He respects you. He admires you in many ways. Do not mistake our disagreement for disrespect. If my followers disrespect you I apologize. If your followers disrespect me, I understand it's not you. May God help us to understand that differences are always going to exist and may we be big enough in those differences not to allow them to become personal.