Monday, September 22, 2014

FORSAKING THE COUNSEL OF THE AGED

ABANDONING WISDOM


Dr. R. G. Lee
1886-1978



I was thinking this morning, for some reason, about R. G. Lee, the famous preacher.  Robert Green Lee was born in a three room log cabin in South Carolina on November 11th, 1886. He was the fifth child of David and Sarah Lee and a distant relative of General Robert E. Lee. While having such a famous forefather these Lees were a poor family, barely making it as sharecroppers. When Robert was born the black midwife (a former slave) who attended Lee's birth cried out, "Praise God! Glory be! The good Lord has done sent a preacher to this here house.

Lee's parents were strict Christians and raised their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Because of that influence young "Bob" came to Christ in 1898 at a church meeting at First Baptist Church of Fort Mill, South Carolina. He always remembered the choir singing, "Out of my bondage, sorrow and night, Jesus I come, Jesus I come. Twelve years later he was ordained to preach at that same church. 

When Lee was 21 he went to work on the new Panama Canal and upon returning enrolled at Furman University. Robert excelled in his studies and graduated magnum cum laude in 1913. Soon after that he married, Bula Gentry. Lee excelled so as a scholar that he was offered the chair of Latin at Furman. Many of his friends encouraged him to take the position but he decided to follow God's call to pastor and preach. When he told his wife of his decision she replied, "That's good! God never meant for you to dig around Latin roots. He meant for you to be a preacher.

His ministry was one of love for his people and determined defense of the Word of God. In his resignation address, Lee voiced his profound dedication to the Bible: "You can count on me until my tongue is silent in the grave and until my hand can no longer wield a pen to keep my unalterable stand for the Bible as the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God - giving rebuke to and standing in opposition to all enemies of the Bible, even as I have done for 50 years.” 

R.G. Lee was always and preeminently a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His sermons were eloquent and often long. Lee had no problem poking fun at himself about his hour to hour and half sermons. He often told this story on himself: "Once at Bellevue a man came in late for the service. I was in the midst of my sermon. In a whisper he asked the usher, 'How long has he been preaching?' 'About forty years,' was the answer. 'Then he must be about through.'" Few remembered the length of Dr. Lee's sermons as nearly as much as they did their depth. 

When Lee resigned his pastorate in 1960 a reporter for the Memphis, Commercial Appeal wrote: "For half a century he has thrown punches at the devil, punches containing the same power and vengeance as those of Billy Sunday, George Truett, or C.H. Spurgeon. In all these years he has never quit slugging. He says the devil never sleeps. So he has worked night and day to bring the gospel to as many people as possible." 

Lee preached another 18 years after his retirement. He traveled 100,000 miles a year preaching in small and large churches and places like Hyles-Anderson College. Every generation of Elisha's need their own Elijah to look to for guidance and example. Lee was that Elijah to many including myself. He will ever be remembered as the man who warned the world that there will indeed be a "Pay Day Someday!"

Dr. Lee went home to be with the Lord in 1978. I had the wonderful privilege of hearing him preach and converse in person many times.  My wife was the Secretary to Dr. Wendell Evans, Chancellor of Hyles-Anderson College.   As a result she had several opportunities to be a hostess for Brother Lee.   He sent my wife several hand written letters and we conversed with him many times.  At his home going he had pretty much been forgotten.   Only a few bothered to check on him.   Dr. Jack Hyles never forgot his friend and until Dr. Lee’s death called him regularly. A museum of Dr. Lee’s effects were brought to Hammond by Brother Hyles.

I wonder if we have forgotten those who have more wisdom in their little fingers than we have in our whole bodies. The aged among us who have served for a half century or more are sitting alone somewhere ready to help.  If only someone would seek them out maybe we could tap into wisdom that may just empower us to do more for God. Beverly Hyles is one I am thinking of.  She can tell us more by accident than many can do on purpose. Those grey hairs have all been earned by those dear saints of God who are left sitting alone somewhere waiting to be used again.  Maybe it might be worth tapping into those who paved the way for the rest of us.  

JUST A THOUGHT!

Monday, September 15, 2014

FANTASY NEVER COMPARES TO REALITY

Fantasy and Reality




Proverbs 27:1 says “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

The biggest mistake made by mankind is dreaming what tomorrow will be like. We say, “This is the way tomorrow is going to be,” and we picture tomorrow. However, dreams and fantasies never include nega­tives. Nobody ever says, “I know what will happen tomorrow; my mother-in-law is going to come and live with me.” Nobody ever says, “Tomorrow the com­mode is going to get plugged up.” Nobody ever says, “Tomorrow the sewer line is going to be stopped up.”

 Dreams and fantasies do not include negatives, but the reality always brings negatives; that is what makes it reality. A young lady says, “I’m looking for the man of my dreams.” He just does not exist. The reality your dreamboat will bring with him includes bad breath in the morning and stinking feet in the evening. Young man, the woman of your dreams does not ex­ist. In those dreams and in those fantasies, there are no negatives; that is what makes them dreams or fantasies.

 We place our dream of tomorrow on one side and the reality of tomorrow with its negatives on the other side; then we compare them. The dreams without the negatives overshadow reality, and we become un­happy, depressed, and melancholy.  The fantasy without its negatives compared to the reality with its negatives discourages us.

 A young lady planning for her marriage says, “This is the way it will be.” She cannot wait to get married to that big bruiser. She fantasizes about the way her marriage will be.  When marriage comes, she puts the reality on one side and the fantasy on the other side, and they do not match. Thus, she becomes disen­chanted with her husband and with her marriage. She does not blame her fantasy; she blames her husband for not fulfilling her fantasy. She says, “This is the way it will be!” However, fantasies do not include bad breath, stinking feet, bouncing checks, a mother-in-law, car payments, and a temper.

 Fantasies do not include being pregnant every nine months for four years.  Fantasies do not include ten sick babies, a lost job, a Ford car, cut-off notices from the electric company, eviction notices, and layoff no­tices. Reality has no chance to measure up to fantasy.

 Someone said, “All of my dreams have crumbled.” It is time to quit dreaming and go to work. Listen carefully, you cannot see tomorrow; but you can see today. Today can never compare to tomorrow be­cause tomorrow never reveals her negatives, while today shouts out her negatives.

 You cannot see tomorrow. You can visualize tomor­row. A young preacher goes to pastor his first church, and he dreams of the way it will be; but his dreams do not include deacons. Deacons are a reality. So he puts reality on one side and his dreams on the other side, and they do not match. Why? Because tomor­row forgot to announce her negatives, and so tomorrow did not match today. His dreams had no negatives, but reality brought negatives, and so the young preacher is unhappy.

 A church lists all the things they want in a new preacher. Then they call a preacher and compare him to what they thought they would get, and they are dis­appointed. Why? The church becomes disenchanted with the new pastor because dreams never can be matched by realities.

 The little lady looks forward to marriage, and she says, “This is the way it is going to be.” “I cannot wait,” she says. She puts her dream on one side, and then she is married and finds out that her husband cannot measure up to her dreams. However, there is a fellow at work that does, or so she thinks. The man at work always measures up to fantasies because she does not smell his breath in the morning and his feet in the evening. She says “Wow, now I have found the man that can match my dreams.” So she divorces man number one and marries man number two. She brings number two home. After awhile, she finds out that his breath smells in the morning and his feet stink at night. She measures him at home to her dream, and he also fails the test, just like man number one did.

 “Oh, but there’s a fellow in the bowling league that measures up to my dreams,” she says, and the proc­ess starts all over again. They always measure up at a distance. So here comes candidate number three, and his breath stinks in the morning and his feet stink in the evening, and he likewise does not measure up to her dream.

 It is the same process for a preacher who goes to church number one, and reality does not measure up to his dream. So he goes to another church. What happens? The new church says, “This is what we want in a pastor. We think we have found the right man.” The young pastor says, “This is what I want, and I think I’ve found it.” So they both get together, and neither of their dreams matches their realities. Now you have an all-out war.

 A preacher who stays two years and then moves will do it again. A church that fires a pastor in two years will do it again. What is the problem? The dream has no negatives. The reality has negatives. When the two are compared, disenchantment occurs. They are trying to find the elusive fulfillment of their dreams. There is no way that reality can equal a dream.  Too many contrast the greenness of the grass on the other side of the fence to the brownness of the grass on this side of the fence. So, you say, “There must be something better out there, because it is so bad here.”

The Unknown Cannot Compare With the Known

 When a preacher never becomes comfortable any­where, he is creating an appetite that will ruin him. He never becomes comfortable in a church, a job, or a house. He always feels that there is something he is supposed to be doing that he is not doing now. You cannot see tomorrow. You are making the mistake of your life by attempting to figure out what tomorrow will be like. You let God take care of tomorrow and today. There is no way to compare fantasy with reality; you cannot compare the unknown with the known.

The Future Cannot Compare With the Present

 Your happiness is in direct proportion to your sat­isfaction of yesterday’s hope. Whatever you hoped yesterday, the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of that hope today will make you happy or unhappy. What are your hopes for tomorrow? I would give a simplistic answer of “I plan to serve God.”

Look Back For Your Happiness and Forward for Your Hope

 My happiness is not based on what I believe, but on what I believed. My salvation, marriage, call to the ministry, church I pastor, children I have, grandchil­dren I have, converts I have, and so on, all give me happiness because they are reality, not fantasy. My hope is to see Jesus coming back for us at the rap­ture, the hope of Heaven, the hope of a glorified body, and the hope of eternity.

Do Not Compare Today to Yesterday

Every day is an adventure in your service for God. Every year provides its own built-in challenges. God has given us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to help us and guide us through these uncharted waters. I dare not compare today to yesterday. 

 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

GREAT LEADERS LEAD THEMSELVES FIRST



LEADERSHIP






 Looking back on my nearly 70 years of life I can only recall a handful of men who were real leaders.  Those were the ones who led from the front and not from behind.  The late President Ronald Reagan struck me as a man’s man.  His ability to lead not just others, but himself, brought security to Americans.  He was a disciplined man who lived by principles and not personality.  He brought our nation out of the disastrous policies of Jimmy Carter into a era of prosperity. When he became President we had long gas lines and skyrocketing interest rates.

At the Sheridan Hotel in Chicago I had a conversation with President Reagan.  I asked him if he were to die today if he would go to Heaven. He told me he trusted Christ as an eleven year old boy at the leading of his grandmother.  Later on in his presidency he would witness to Mr. Gorbachev after being asked what caused America to become such a great power in the world in such a short period of time. President Reagan did not hesitate to tell him it was because we are a Christian nation and it was because of Jesus Christ that we were such.  He urged Mr. Gorbachev to trust Christ.  We would never see that happening with our current President. Rather our current President would be apologizing for our greatness.

I believe that George W. Bush was a solid conservative, policy wise, as seen in the first 4 years of his presidency.  He let conservative principles guide him.   However, I felt in his last 4 years he capitulated to the liberals far too much and was distracted by a need for a “get-a-longism” philosophy. Also, we see this in his dad who could not resist the pressure to capitulate on taxes.  I lost a lot of respect after he said, “Read my lips. No more taxes” and then he caved in to liberal pressures.  Real leadership finds a way when there is no seeming way.  Most leaders are a city without walls on the inside.

General Douglas McArthur’s WWII promise to return to the Philippines is one of the great insights to the man General McArthur.  I am one of those who felt he would have made a great President.  General Patton had his problems, but no one could consider him a man who lacked courage.  He may have gone over board, but at least he was on board.

I think of over 4,400 Americans who have given their lives on foreign soil to help keep America free in our long war against terrorism. I see hundreds of young soldiers as I go through the DFW Airport. To me they look like they are 13 or 14. They look so young to me.  The truth is these are our finest. They are not a part of a conscripted army. They volunteered because of their love for America.  They are leaders for this fight for freedom.


 Power Tends To Corrupt


Very few politicians are not ruined and corrupted by power.  They go to Washington aiming to change Washington instead they are changed by Washington.  They are some citizens who love their nation and worry about the nation's future.  Such is the Tea Party.  It is nothing more than a movement of every day Americans who want common sense government.  They are often maligned by those in power because they think they are a threat to the status quo.  

Taxation and invasive regulatory policies from Washington are strangling our countries economy.  Political Correctness has become an albatross around societies neck.  Apparently no one can challenge the status quo without being called a derisive name.

To stand up for the Constitution is a patriotic thing to do for any American.  The heroes are not just those who hold a position of power or title. Leaders lead for truth and justice sake while caring little for their own safety.  Our fighting men and women have done just that. It is this kind of leadership that brought about the birth of this great United States of America.  These principles come from within and are expressed outwardly.

I am a Senator Ted Cruz fan.  He has been railed on by rhino Republican party members, but it has not fazed him.  When he speaks he does not use a tele prompter.  He rarely stays behind the podium.  He often looks like a preacher preaching a sermon as he moves about the stage.  When principles guide you it is not very hard to verbalize them.  Passion evolves where love is found.

When Gerald Ford won the nomination for the 1976 Republican party presidential race.  He stood to speak to the delegates.   He surprised everyone in the Convention Center by asking for Governor Ronald Reagan to come to the podium and speak to the delegates.  Governor Reagan had just been defeated for the nomination of his party for president and was in the booth far above the floor.  He, his wife, and staff were watching from that booth.  

He left and proceeded downstairs to the platform.  He proceeded to the podium without a written speech or thought of having to give a speech.   He greeted the delegates and gave a 15 minute speech that brought the house down.  He knew conservatism. He did not need to have a staff write a speech, for he lived this speech because he was his speech.  The speech was who he was.   There was harmony of what came out of his mouth and what was in his heart.

I have a set of CD’s of President Reagan’s radio spots he gave for one solid year to America.  He wrote those himself.  He was passionate about those values that made America great.  They were not adopted principles for he embodied those principles.  Scare tactics did not work on President Reagan.

Energy policies cannot be formulated by Liberal ideals and pie in the sky think tanks that have never run a hot dog stand.  The American people are not being told the truth about so called climate change.  We cannot pay through UN costly initiatives the portion owed by China and other Communist who will NEVER do their part to help clean up the air.  First of all, this climate change doctrine is the biggest hoax to come down the pike.  Anemic green policy coming from liberals is a slap in the face of Almighty God.  This earth and her resources were given to man to use. They will be here until Christ returns! We need a leader who will tell the truth. However, it is hard to lead others when one cannot lead himself.

 Those Who Lead Themselves Qualify Themselves



 The book “THE GREATEST GENERATION” authored by Tom Brokaw is a wonderful book about the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom during WWII.  These were not military experts.  They were farmers, factory workers, school teachers, etc., who lived and died for love of nation.  They were passionate about freedom. Passionate principled people are the back bone of a great nation. Oh, God give us leaders once again who can lead themselves first.

I traveled and preached with Dr. Jack Hyles for 22 years.  The first time I preached with him was in September of 1978 and I shared the platform with him the last time he preached in Monterrey, Mexico in 2001.  If you have ever had an opportunity to see one of his sermon outlines you would be shocked if you compared it to the actual sermon.  That skinny little outline did not reflect the oratorical expertise of detail with which he preached.


He was what he was preaching.  He had passion because what he was saying was who he was.  He did not check the doctrinal or cultural winds of his day.  If soul winning did not build a great church then he would go soul winning anyway, because it was still right to do.   The end never justified the means to him.  His motivation came from the inside not the outside.  All of this was a result of him leading himself first before leading others.

Proverbs 16:32, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”

God did not say, “He that doesn’t get angry….” You cannot be slow to anger if you have no anger. You cannot come back from where you have not been! You cannot be slow to anger unless you are on the way. 

Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be ye angry and sin not….” Sometimes you need to be angry, but you should decide when those times are. Your “will” should dictate when you become angry. Circumstances should never dictate your anger. Never react—act! Anger should never be a reaction, but a decision. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”


Our country is destitute for men. It is difficult to find a politician who possesses real leadership. It is a rare thing to find a preacher who provides real leadership. Leadership is almost extinct. The inability to not lead oneself forfeits ones right to lead others.

 It would be better for a single lady to stay single the rest of her life than to settle for anything less than a real man. When some men get married, the preacher should say, “Let me now pronounce you male and wife.” Some women could even claim their husbands as a dependent deduction for the IRS.

Our nation did not have a real man when Bill Clinton was in the White House. His wife was more of a man than he was. Consider the leaders of days gone by: Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Douglas McArthur, and others. Most people recognize the names G. B. Vick and J. Frank Norris, but few recognize the name of the current president of the Bible Baptist Fellowship. Most people do not know the names of the presidents of the General Association of Regular Baptists, the Conservative Baptist Association or the Southern Baptist Convention.

An Interview With King David




 In my minds' eye I come to an old warrior! His hair is like the snow on the mountain peak. His shoulders are drooped, and his brow is furrowed. His hands are palsied, and his voice shakes when he speaks to me.  I say, “Sir, you are not long for this world. Could I ask you a question? What was your greatest accomplishment in leadership? Was it when you killed a bear with your bare hands? Was it when you took those same hands and slew a lion? Was it when you took five stones and with a slingshot felled the giant Goliath? Was it when you ruled a nation in power? Was it when you conquered cities of the enemies? Was it the leading of a nation through two rebellions? Sir, aged one, what was your outstanding achievement in leadership?”

He strokes his beard and thinks a while. Finally he responds, “None of those things. My greatest time of leadership was not killing the bear, killing the lion, killing the giant Goliath, leading the nation in two insurrections, or leading a great nation from the throne of Israel in Jerusalem. No, that was not it. The time I led best was at the door of a cave.

“My enemy Saul was sleeping at the door of that cave. In fact, I was running from him at the time because he was attempting to kill me. There he was, the man who had thrown javelins at me and vowed he would kill me. There he was! I pulled my sword and I was encouraged to kill him, but I did not. I cut a little piece from the hem of his garment and let him live.

Another of my times of leadership occurred when I was running from Jerusalem. My son Absalom was leading a rebellion against my forces. A little fellow named Shimei began to curse me. He threw rocks, dust, and stones at me. My servant Abishai drew his sword and said, ‘Let me kill him!’ I said, ‘No! Do not touch him!’

The third time occurred during the rebellion itself. I could have fought against my own son. I could have led the forces. I could have killed my son.”

David, you say these are your greatest times of leadership, but I am confused, whom did you lead? “I LED MYSELF!”

According to Proverbs 16:32, if you are able to lead yourself, you are performing the greatest act of leadership known to mankind. If you never learn to lead yourself, you will never be qualified to lead anyone else.  Many Christians attempt to lead everyone but themselves!

If you are a young preacher and you picture yourself leading a congregation, you will never lead a church, schools, or even a wife until you perform the greatest act of leadership known to man. That is the act of leading yourself.

Saul led a nation, but he could not lead himself, and the nation fell. Alexander the Great led a nation, but he could not lead himself. He became a slave to alcohol and crumbled with his nation. Solomon could lead an empire until he quit leading himself. When Solomon could not lead himself, the empire fell. Samson could lead a nation until he could not lead himself; when he could not lead himself, he ended up in the lap of Delilah. As a result, he lost his power to lead nations.

Daniel never led a nation, but he led himself and then influenced a nation. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego never led an army; but they led themselves, and they have led billions who have read of the time they led themselves. Joseph never led an empire, but he led himself to run from Potiphar’s wife when she tried to seduce him.  No one will be a great leader until he can lead himself.

Greater than the leadership of Douglas McArthur in the Far East, than the leadership of Dwight Eisenhower in the European Theater, than the leadership of Patton, Grant, or Robert E. Lee, is the leadership of someone who looks into a mirror and says, “I will lead you!” You and I may not be able to lead multitudes, but we can lead ourselves.

The flesh is going to fight any time we decide to put it into subjection. The battle is on, and it must be won if we are going to provide the leadership that others need. Leading from behind is simply not being able to lead oneself.  The question must be asked, “Can you lead yourself?"
  

Monday, September 8, 2014

REBELS WITH A CAUSE!

Independence



As a boy we lived in a run down apartment just off of Arcadia Court in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Our school clothes were given to us by a Nuns’ clothing room of the Catholic Church from down the street. Mama would drive my two brothers and me to church in an old 1941 flat bed Ford truck. Daddy had replaced the muffler in the truck with a straight pipe and we thought it made the neatest sound. It was embarrassing to Mama, but not to us boys. We felt like we were riding in a hot rod. 
Mama would park in the far back of the parking lot hoping no one would see that truck. We were all dressed in our best clothes and we never thought of ourselves as less privileged than anyone else. Mama made us feel as if no one was any better than us and we were no better than anyone else.  There was a humble confidence she exuded to everyone around her.
Each Sunday morning at our American Baptist church, after Sunday school and before preaching, the pastor and deacons would go to the front porch and smoke cigarettes. After a while the older teens began to go to their cars and light up as well.  One Sunday I joined a group of them. I was sitting in the back seat and a cigarette was passed around. Eventually it was handed to me.  At the exact moment I was reaching for the cigarette my Mama opened the back door and snatched me by the hair on my head.  
The next thing I knew mama was dragging me out of the car with one hand while using the other to hit my legs with a switch. As we passed the front of the church building where the pastor and deacons were smoking she paused and said, “Shame on you, and you, and you, and you!” Then she took me into the church building for the preaching hour. As long as we were members of that church, we never again saw the pastor and deacons smoking on the front porch of the church building.  
Mama was an independent Baptist before I knew there was such a thing. As such she was also a bit of a rebel, but she had certain principles for her sons by which she wanted them to live.
Independence can be considered rebellion, but that depends on what and whom you are rebelling.  If we rebel against God we are submitting to Satan. If we rebel against Satan we are submitting to God.  They use to call us of the 60’s generation  “Rebels without a cause!”  My Mama taught me to be a “Rebel with a cause!”  To rebel against wrong was right according to Mama.  I did not understand it at the time, but she was teaching me to be independent.
Because of that I learned on my own how to be independent. Through the years I have encouraged my sons, as well as my sons in the ministry, to be independent as well. Now let me tell you what that means to their futures in the ministry.
1. Every Generation Must Rediscover Truths For Themselves Without Redefining Truths. Independents are by their very nature stubborn.  The independence of independents can lead to strong opinions about everything under the sun, yet often it has produced the finest leaders in America. Most of the men of the past who stirred this nation for God were simple men, but strong independant men of faith. They were independent of "this world" which included their denominations. They discovered truth for themselves and did not fall in lockstep with their contemporaries.
2. Do Not Remove Yourself From The Influence Of Those In History Who Taught You Independence.  When independents remove themselves from the influences that brought them their independence, they tend to become homogenized  Study the history of the real independents of the past. Learn about men such as J. Frank Norris, John R. Rice, Lester Roloff, Jack Hyles, Lee Roberson, Curtis Hutson, Tom Malone’s and others who truly were independent and whose philosophies must be kept alive.  These men merit our attention and study.
They personified the independence that independents must emulate.  We cannot allow ourselves to become puppets to man-made organizations. That which is “Politically Correct” in religious circles in our nation, must not strangle the men of God. When I listen to the independents of the past and the “independents” of the present, I wonder if we are even close to being on the same page.  Thank the Lord that is not true of all current independents, but those who criticize and attack the previous generation make themselves suspect because of their criticism. Do not allow them to influence you and lead you from that for which those men stood.
3. Do Not Judge Harshly Those Who Had To Fight In Order To Be Independent.   Some criticize the "rough" sermons these men preached.  They speak of how they alienated people. Some even have labeled them as legalists or claimed they lacked grace. May I remind you, that which attracts also detracts.  That which detracts also attracts.  Some of what I read today seem to be attempting to steer fundamentalism into cultural relevance. The greats of the past always fought their culture. Homogenization of fundamentalism into current culture is cultish in nature.
The battle to be independent and stay independent often demands that a line be drawn in the sand. When independence is given instead of won there tends to be a harsh judgment on those who won it.  There was a witness of the Holy Ghost to those sermons of these men.  Their's was not just ramblings with no content. They were solid Bible messages that drew a line.  
Be fair to the men who articulated strong fundamentals and gave us our heritage.  Learn from those whom God used to build great soul-winning churches with great Sunday schools in spite of what bothers others about them. Please overlook their brashness, for they are nothing more than “a chip off the old block” of those who preceded them.  They fought for their freedom and that is why they were so outspoken.  Those who have never had to fight for their independance know little of what it takes to become independent.
4. Those Who Will Carry On Fundamentalism Will Of Necessity Be Independent And A Remnant.   There will be hundreds of independents who will be forced to fight for their independance. They, like these I've mentioned of the past, will learn there is a price to be paid for not following the crowd.  There must be a new generation of maverick preachers who will be forced to fight to maintain their independence from modern cultural influences.  Those who succeed will not turn on their mentors, but add to what they did.
Every generation must fight their own battles just as our mentors did. If you are wise, you will build on what you have been given.  What I have called "the greatest generation of independents" was purchased at a high price. God blessed the church in Longview, where my children grew up, because she was built on the previous generations' sacrifice.  Carry on my sons, my sons in the ministry, and be independent of cultural and denominational influences.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A CALL FOR ALTAR CALLS

The Public Invitation Attacked
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 in the Bible of people 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 rests a very good reason for an invitation. Whenever there is preaching, real Bible preaching a decision is demanded. 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, 15See, 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.
  •   Reprove to charge with a fault, to excite a sense of guilt
  •   Rebuke to restrain, to calm, to check
  •   Exhort to call for, to encourage to obey

    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.