Things we’ve lost in worship (and desperately need to get back)

•October 3, 2022 • Leave a Comment

It actually goes without saying that most contemporary worship (in all denominations and independent churches) these days is preoccupied with pragmatic preaching and exhausted with emotional exuberance … but shallow in substance and dull in doctrine. For some, it is at best a TED talk with a Scripture thrown in. One great need of worship in these last days is to return to time-honored and Holy-Spirit-blessed worship that exalts God, expresses Christ, and edifies the saints.

There are five things that need to be returned to our corporate worship:

Expository preaching. 35 years of pragmatic, self-improvement, self-focused, topical preaching has shown us that it does not build solid, practicing Christian disciples. Let us return to exegeting, interpreting Scripture first, then making correct life applications.

Scripture reading. Most contemporary services use very little Scripture. A verse or two is usually torn out of its context and used as a launching pad into the pastor’s topical message for the day. Let us return to the exclusive reading of Scripture with reverence, respect, and hearts to hear.

Prayer. Many contemporary services use prayer as a “cover” for musicians or stage props to be moved around. Let us return to pastoral prayer where the pastor or an elder leads the church in focused, conscientious, shepherding, and Christ-honoring prayer.

Confession of sin and assurance of pardon. Sin is seldom if ever mentioned in many contemporary services. Success is the theme of most contemporary services. Let us return to the recognition of our sin, confession of our sin, and the receiving of the assurance of pardon through Christ’s atoning work alone can give.

Doctrine-based congregational singing. The lyrics of many contemporary lyrics are man-focused and thin in theology – to say the least. So many songs are being written and produced, it’s hard to learn them and let them permeate into your soul. Let us return to doctrinally-based songs, sung by the congregation, that are rich in theology, honoring to Christ, and glorifying to God.

Generally speaking, we need Christ-honoring, Bible-based, sin-confessing, singing congregations and theologically rich expository preaching that will immerse worshipers in the Gospel of Christ and encourage them to follow Christ with all their heart, soul, mind, body, talents, possessions and relationships.

Why should the work stop?

•August 18, 2022 • Leave a Comment

In the Old Testament, Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem (a great work). His enemies entreated him to leave the work and come down to talk to them but their motive was to simply do him harm.

Nehemiah’s reply to his enemies? “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:1-4)

Your enemies will probably never change. Answer them with an adamant “NO” and get back to the great work to which God has called you.

TWO-MINUTE THEOLOGY (The Incarnation – 3)

•December 20, 2021 • Leave a Comment

The Incarnation is a monumental rebuke of our misguided attempts to please God in the flesh.

It proves to us the contention of Scripture that there is none that seeks after God, no

not one.

It reinforces the claim of Scripture that in the flesh there dwells no good thing.

It loudly proclaims that any reconciliation with God is never accomplished from this side of humanity.

It sets before us the unsettling yet liberating reality that reconciliation between God and humanity is accomplished only and forever from the side of God.

It sets forth the absolute impossibility for us to accomplish our own salvation through human

achievement and merit.

Through the Incarnation God has shattered the humankind’s puny notion that we can save ourselves.

Had anything good thing dwelt in our flesh, the Incarnation would not be necessary.

Could we have kept the law, the Incarnation would not be necessary.

Could we have lived uprightly, morally, and perfectly, the Incarnation would not be necessary.

Could we have please God in our flesh, the Incarnation would not be necessary.

But the Incarnation is necessary! Because we can do none of those things in and of ourselves.

The Incarnation preaches loudly that those on whom he shows his favor, will share in his glory only because he shared in our flesh.

TWO-MINUTE THEOLOGY (The Incarnation – 2)

•December 13, 2021 • Leave a Comment

The Incarnation (God becoming flesh) can also be called the Downward Mobility of God’s Son. In the 80s and 90s, baby Boomers participated in what sociologists termed as upward mobility. By that they meant that Baby Boomers had a constant obsession with and willingness to sacrifice health and relationships for new cars, bigger houses, better jobs, nicer clothes, and giving their kids better than they had received…upward mobility.

The Incarnation of Jesus is the opposite of that. The Incarnation shows us Jesus’ willingness to participate in downward mobility. He already had it all but he left it all to come and live among us.

2 Corinthians 8:9 says, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Philippians 2:5-8 says, In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who

being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!

The Incarnation is downward mobility. It is the great condescending. It is the great coming down.

Martin Luther said, “He condescends to assume my flesh and blood, my body and soul. He does not become an angel or another magnificent creature; he becomes man. This is a token of God’s mercy to wretched human beings; The human heart cannot grasp or understand, let alone express it.”

Perhaps this Christmas season might be a time for us to think about scaling down and having less rather than striving to gain more…a time for us to think about kneeling before God and allow him to work in us…a time for us to think about humbling ourselves and repairing some broken relationships.

Because the Incarnation of Christ is about downward mobility. The Incarnation.

TWO-MINUTE THEOLOGY (The Incarnation 1)

•December 6, 2021 • Leave a Comment

The crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus occupy a central place in the doctrine and doxology of the church. This is just as it should be. These two redemptive events in the life of the Savior mark his climactic entrance into, and final triumph over, the forces of sin, death, and the Devil. And so Christians rightly register a deep sense of awe and amazement when contemplating a crucified God on Good Friday and an empty Tomb on Easter Sunday.

However, we admit that we don’t register the same sense of awe when it comes to Christmas Day when we commemorate the INCARNATION of the Son of God into the world. This is the most staggering and stupefying miracle that ever came to pass – the miracle of God (who is spirit) becoming flesh.

Incarnation comes from the Greek language (“en carnos”) and it means “in flesh”. John 1:14

substantiates this saying, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

In peering into the biblical doctrine of the Incarnation, one is overwhelmed with the fact that God was willing to become like us.

Without the Incarnation, there is no Crucifixion. Without the Incarnation, there is no Resurrection.

During the Christmas season we celebrate the Incarnation (God in flesh) who went on to crucifixion (God our Savior) and executed the Resurrection (God our Victory).

That’s why we sing “Joy to the World, the Lord has come!” … INCARNATION.


•June 29, 2021 • 1 Comment

Many liberals attempt to prop up their leftist agenda by quoting Jesus’ words, “Love your neighbor”. I’ve become convinced that it’s the only Bible verse they know. It’s interesting they never read the verses before that quote, therefore, taking the quote out of its intended context. Look with me at the context of the quote in Matthew 22:34-40…

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Facts about this text:

  1. It is Jesus’ response to a question in which the Pharisees (enemies of Jesus) were trying to entrap him.
  2. Jesus response was a response in keeping with the Old Testament Law. In fact, he was quoting Deuteronomy 6:5.
  3. The first instruction in the context is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. An instruction that liberals conveniently leave out because it would affect their church attendance, giving, and other areas of Christian discipleship that calls for self-sacrifice and the denial of personal comforts.
  4. The point Jesus was making is that NONE of us love God or our neighbors as ourselves thus proving our total depravity and indicating our inability to make ourselves acceptable to a holy God.

Jesus concludes by saying “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments”. In other words, if you can completely and without fail do these two things 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year (in other words = perfection) then you can earn your way into the presence of a holy God. The problem is that absolutely NONE of us can do that. This is an INDICTMENT – not an INSTRUCTION.

This text (in its context) is what we call a salvific text (dealing with salvation and acceptance to God) not a discipleship text. Does the Bible say to love people? Yes. But that’s not what THIS text is about. Perhaps liberals should actually open a Bible and read the REST of it – they might be amazed at the other things Jesus said.

In addition, Jesus said a lot of things about a lot of things. He spoke about hell, God’s wrath, stewardship, taking up one’s cross, etc. Funny, you never hear liberals quote those sayings of Jesus.


•April 13, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Easter. Buying new clothes. Celebrating the coming of Spring. The Easter Bunny. Pictures. Easter egg hunts. Family. Food. Even…going to church. Humans always have a way of surrounding the real issue with “stuff” so that the real issue can hardly be seen anymore.

But due to the current Covid19 situation, this Easter none of the aforementioned things will be a reality. It would appear that all the man-made add-ons we’ve attached to the Resurrection of our Lord have been dismissed this year; stripped, if you will. Perhaps that’s a good thing.

Perhaps this Resurrection season we can actually focus on … the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our current circumstance certainly gives us the time to focus on all the things that the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus have provided for us. Deeply theological, eternal, and soul-assuring things:

Redemption (Ephesians 1:7)

Propitiation (Roman 3:25)

Cleansing (Hebrews 9:14)

Forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22) Access to God (Ephesians 2:13)

Reconciliation (Colossians 1:20)

Justification (Romans 5:9)

Sanctification (Hebrews 13:12)

Adoption (Ephesians 1:5)

Perhaps, like the early disciples, we should return to the empty tomb and spend some time there, unencumbered by all the things with which we’ve surrounded the Resurrection. Maybe a stripped Resurrection is a good thing.

Happy (stripped) Easter.

“ONLINE CHURCH” is an oxymoron.

•March 24, 2020 • 1 Comment

In the wake of the current Covid19 crises, many churches have gone to streaming their worship experiences online (and that is a good thing – the church I pastor is doing this).

Also, there’s been an uptick in comments like “the church is not about the building anyway” (which is true) and “get out of the building and into the world” (which is a noble endeavor).

Also, in recent years there’s been a strong emphasis from many pastors as to building “online communities/churches”.  They seek viewers from “around the world” to allow them to be their pastor and their church to be the viewer’s church – and of course, send them money.

With church attendance being at an all time low, especially in churches that actually preach the Scriptures, we need to pump the brakes on this downplaying of the actual physical and local church and Christians physical attendance to and participation in it.

1)  It is true that Jesus said, “go into all the world and make disciples”.  That means preaching the Gospel and discipling those who respond to it.  It does not mean just staying at home and not going to church.   Before the Gospel can be preached and disciples made, a physical and local body of believers must serve as ground-zero for such an endeavor.

2)  The Greek word used to describe and define the church is ekklesia.  This word is used 114 times in the New Testament.  This is the word Jesus and the New Testament writers used to identify the church.  Ekklesia means…

  1. to be called out (indicating a believer’s differentiation from non-believers) and
  2. to assemble together (indicating a believer’s responsibility to assemble together regularly with other believers).

There is no way you can make this word to mean anything less than a physical and local body of believers who meet regularly.

3)  While the church is not a building…Scripture says that Christians are the Building of God…and, you guessed it, that Building meets in a building.

4)  The book of Acts is about the establishment and growth of physical and local church gatherings where songs were sung, the Gospel was preached, worship was experienced, discipling was accomplished and fellowship was enjoyed – in a live group setting.

5)  The Apostle Paul spent his ministerial life planting physical and local churches throughout Asia Minor and Rome.  These churches continued to meet after Paul’s departure.

6)  Of the 27 books in in the New Testament, 12 were written to physical and local (specific) church congregations.  You might go so far as to say that another eight were written to congregations also … depending on how you view the recipient’s relation to his or her congregation.  Even John addressed The Revelation to the seven (local, visible, physical) churches in Asia (Revelation 1:4).

7)   Scripture teaches that the church is the visible body of Christ.  While that visible body can be observed out in the streets – it is to also be observed in a physical and local way = regularly sequestered together in prayer, fellowship, worship, ministry, and study.

While “watching church” on TV or other devices appeals to our carnal laziness, a screen is no replacement for the physical and local church at a fixed geographical location that serves as the headquarters for the preaching of the Gospel, the training of disciples, the fellowshipping of believers, and the corporate worshiping of our Savior.  Nor does it relieve believers from the biblical mandate of meeting together regularly (Hebrews 10:25).

Simply put, “online church” is an oxymoron.  There is absolutely no replacement for the called-out people of God coming together and worshiping corporately.

Let’s just remember that right now, “online church” is a needed and necessary response to a temporary problem – let us not make it the norm after the temporary problem is resolved.



One Aspect of Biblical Pastoring

•March 5, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Most church members do not want the kind of pastoring that the New Testament calls for.  I’ll leave that there.

In 1 & 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes to young Pastor Timothy about his pastoral job obligations.  Here’s what Paul DID NOT say:

  • have a vision, share it, and maintain it at all costs,
  • preach to the perceived needs of “seekers”,
  • create “environments” that mirror the world’s entertainment so you can attract world-based and carnally-motivated people,
  • mollycoddle certain church members who are there only to promote themselves, let themselves be heard, play out their own agendas, take up the pastor’s time with their own diatribes, or receive the attention they think they deserve,
  • he didn’t even tell Timothy to visit the sick or counsel people (sorry, but that is the reality of the text),

Paul did tell Pastor Timothy to do other things about which I will not elaborate here, except for one.  In 1 Timothy 1:3-7, 4:1-6, 6:3-5 and 2 Timothy 2:14-18, 3:1-9, Paul commands Pastor Timothy to confront, condemn, and crush false doctrine (heresy).  In fact, this is the first thing Paul instructs Pastor Timothy to do.   Read it:

1 Timothy 1:3-4:  As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.  Such things promote controversial speculation rather than advancing God’s work – which is by faith.

Paul went on to actually name the names of those in his day that taught heresy; not only in the Timothy letters but in other New Testament passages as well.  

The amount of  “myths” (verse 4), “endless genealogies” (verse 4), “controversial speculations” (verse 4), and “meaningless talk” (verse 6) going on in “Christianity” today is astounding.  From cults to faith healers to prosperity teachers to “end-time” prophets; even to those “Christians” who think a red bird or butterfly is a sign from a dead loved one (if not the dead loved one himself or herself).  The list is on-going…and dangerous.

Your pastor’s first responsibility is the PREACH AND TEACH THE BIBLE TEXT.

Your responsibility is to BE IN ATTENDANCE to hear the Bible text preached and taught.

Help your pastor do his job.


The Alarming Rise of Theological Syncretism

•February 13, 2020 • 1 Comment

Syncretism The amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.

In recent days…

Baylor University (a Southern Baptist owned and operated institution) recently had Kaitlyn Curtis speak in a chapel service.  Curtis says of her teaching…By contemplation, I am basically referring to the work of creating and sustaining an inner life of peace, quiet, listening to the Divine/Mystery/Higher Power/God , and letting the overflow of that love stretch into other realms of life.  She began and ended her “sermon” with a prayer to “Mother Mystery” – whatever or whoever that is.  Curtis is far from orthodox, biblical Christianity.

The Annual Pastor’s Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention (of which I used to be a part and also hold a Master’s Degree from one of their seminaries) just published it’s list of “preachers” for the event this year.  It includes non-Southern Baptist pastors – some with less than biblical stances on key theological issues.  It also includes David Hughes from Church by the Glades in Florida.  All you have to do is look at a “worship” service on his church website and you can see why he is questionable.  All the speakers are known for their less-than-textual and lack-of-expository preaching of the Bible.  Their sermons are mostly pragmatic, feel-good, psychological mumbo-jumbo that any  on-line trained pseudo-psychologist could dish out.

Liberty University (from which I hold a Bachelor’s Degree) had Jentezen Franklin speak in chapel.  Franklin is a known health and wealth preacher who is popular on the TBN and Daystar prosperity gospel TV networks.  Franklin practices eisegesis (adding to the Biblical text) to twist texts into saying what he wants them to say.   Also slated to speak at Liberty is Steven Furtick … another eisegetical, Scripture-twisting health and wealth preacher who is far from Gospel-based Christianity.

Francis Chan (whose books I have read and formerly thought very highly of) has now joined ranks with the prosperity gospel crowd and become a “faith healer”.

In addition, I continue to be amazed at how many church members who attend supposedly orthodox, Protestant churches listen to and follow people like Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine, John Hagee and others of that health-n-wealth, “visions”, “dreams” and “revelations”, twist-the-Scriptures, pragmatic non-sense.

The Apostle Paul (and there are NO biblical Apostles today) commanded Pastor Timothy to command others “not to teach false doctrines” (1 Timothy 1:3).  Paul warned us “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrines. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  I can’t imagine what the Apostle Paul would be thinking about some of the people who have been invited to speak at these once biblically-grounded institutions and conferences.

The days of which Paul spoke … have arrived.

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