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!