Friday, June 12, 2015

Great Commission

Matthew 28:16-20  Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.  And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Everytime I hear preaching on this verse it is always pointed out about God's might. Creation, miracles, healing, etc.
Whenever I hear preaching and Acts 1:8 is given I hear about how it is our command to be witnesses. I do not deny that God is mighty. I do not deny that we are to be witnesses. However, according to context and a good understanding of what the words actually mean, I began to do word studies to strengthen the impact of the commands.

First, I began to look at the events surrounding the discourse. I already knew it was Christ. I already knew he was talking to the Disciples/Apostles. So, who, what and where were already understood. But the when was fascinating. The Roman government was in full swing. They were under the AUTHORITY of Rome. Remember when Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees? They wanted to know by whose AUTHORITY he had done miracles and preached? It was all about authority. The Romans had given The Pharisees AUTHORITY in their political matters. They gave the Sanhedrin AUTHORITY over civil matters. The Priests were given AUTHORITY over the religious matters. Then came John shaking things up. Jesus echoed what John said. Even before Pilate Christ was asked by what AUTHORITY. Jesus told him that Pilate couldn't even do what he did except he was given POWER to do so. Pilate understood.

Now, we see Jesus giving POWER to his disciples. Not to heal the sick, lame, lepers or to raise the dead but to GO and TEACH and BAPTIZE and TEACH not just in Jerusalem. But into the uttermost parts of the Earth.
Did Jesus give them MIGHT or AUTHORITY? When you stop and realize the AUTHORITY that Jesus was given and the commands given to the Apostles (and so given to us), there is nothing in this world that can tell us otherwise.

Acts 1 records the words "and ye shall be witnesses UNTO ME...." I found this also fascinating. According to proper word study we find the word WITNESSES not to mean one ready to give an affidavit of an account which we saw and heard but to go beyond that and actually be MARTYRS. So, while we go out and obey they commission Christ gave we are doing so fully knowing the cost. We are to BE a witness even to the point of martyrdom. Our conduct shouldn't be the cause for martyrdom. The Christ of our message is the cause of our martyrdom. His power (authority) is the cause for our martyrdom.  How encouraging it is to know that as we go out and obey Christ that we are doing so under his authority and even if it costs us our life, we are in the right?

Great fun!!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What Road Are You On?

There comes a time in every man's life where he must determine the end of the road he is on. Where does the path of this road take me? How will it affect my family? Is it safe for my family? Is it worth the time, sacrifice, investment, and heartache?

Jacob left a comfortable lifestyle and drove his family into the face of danger which led to forgiveness with someone who made it their goal in life to kill him. But to do that he had to distance himself from wrong relationships.

We do not need to seek the bed of roses but we do not need to choose hardship for the sake of avoiding ease. The straight and narrow does have its comfort as does the broad path. The road traveled does not indicate peace and fulfillment. Carrying a cross is vain when there is no need for the cross to be carried. There is a time of rest. A time of solace. A time of healing.

What road are you on? WHY? To what End is the road you travel?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

But...Its Legal in Thirty Eight States!

Recently, a Dean of an Independent Fundamental Baptist College posted to his social media page an update regarding the fundraising attempts to hire a lawyer in attempts to lessen a sentence on his incarcerated son serving a long term for sexually molesting an underage girl from the Christian School where he was on staff. The son admitted guilt and the judge gave 48 years plus probation and a sex offender tag. Now, I don't understand why he received so long of a sentence for sex crimes on his first offense but the laws of this particular state had recently been stiffened to punish individuals using their office and influence over minors. Arguments were made that this individual had come back from the war and suffered from PTSD. Argument was made that this individual had been seduced as a teen. Claims were made that the father knew of the sexual advances against his son but did not handle it. This was brought to light at the sentencing hearing. Then, in his social media update, the reasoning for a lesser sentence was that another staff member of the same church/Christian School was given a lighter sentence and was released after three months. He saw that as unfair because his son only committed a crime that was LEGAL in 38 states. Furthermore, the man continues to share how his son has been a witness to the inmates and how they affectionately call him "The Bible Man." He has been able to distribute a number of Bibles and reading glasses to the inmates and also lead in a Bible study group. 
Now, I have to scratch my head in amazement over the whole situation. While I realize that a father will do what he can to help his son, the audacity to "water down" the severity of his crime and SIN is astounding. Here is where Christianity has joined themselves to the humanism of the word around us today. Compartmentalization is the phrase that I find appropriate. We can draw the lines in each part of our life and call one part mental. One part is our Spiritual. Over here is our Physical and over there is financial. NO! This is something that God's Word does not support doing. God tells us that our WHOLE body and Spirit and Mind is to be blameless before him in love. Our whole being! I do not mean to single out this one man as the antichrist but for a spiritual leader of young men and women who are being sent to colleges to be further developed and fashioned for the Lord's Service is a major catastrophe when the leaders are vile and corrupt. 
Remember Eli? Hannah dropped Samuel off at the Temple to be trained and raised for the Lord's service. Eli was the one responsible for Samuel. Eli's two sons turned out to be downright apostate. Stealing from the Lord, abusing women, oppressing those worshipping and Eli did nothing. Eli knew what was amiss and did nothing. These priests were handling sacrifices, praying, and representing the people before God. These were spiritual leaders. Yet, their lives were a cesspool of abomination before the Lord and before the people insomuch that the people ABHORRED the sacrifice and the temple. Eli confronted his sons but never dealt with the sin issue. When God spoke to Samuel, the lamp of the temple had already gone out. Even Eli was destitute of his priorities and daily responsibilities in service to the Lord. When God spoke to Samuel and called him out of his sleep; Eli did not perceive it was the Lord until the third time. God told Samuel that judgment would fall because of Eli AND his sons. When Eli heard the judgment he was apathetic towards it and said "whatever happens happens." 
This is the attitude of a father who does not respond to sin much less crime when it happens to his own. This is the attitude of the Spiritual leader who is indecisive regarding the swift and immediate discipline needed to correct and chastise his household who practice blatant sin. This is the attitude of the spiritual leader who reacts in awe at the punishment given (falling back and breaking his neck). 
As independent Baptists we pride ourselves excessively over a Bible version, standards, convictions, soul winning, dress code, music, homosexuality, and abortion but are we so blind to the sins of our own household? No. We know full well that our houses are in disarray. Our churches are shallow and proud. We all leave the assembly and retreat to the inner room where we practice abomination and idolatry and then proclaim that God doesn't see. God doesn't mind because it is legal in 38 states. Our soul winning, bible distribution and Bible stance makes us as righteous as filthy rags which do not impress the Lord and does not reach the world around us. 
"It is legal in 38 states, Lord!' Homosexual marriage is legal in several states as well. Pedophilia is being advocated for in NY as we speak. Sin is not the decision of the masses. Laodocea is here. Our churches are lukewarm and our spiritual leaders are wolves in sheep's clothing. People are leaving churches in groves. Seeking a place where they will heal no matter the cost. We have turned everyone to their own way. compartmentalization. 

Brethren, let the WORD of GOD dwell in you richly in all wisdom. The day is evil. Be sober. Pray. Stand in HIS strength

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bricks Without Straw

I've been thinking alot lately about the plight of the Hebrews in Egypt. They were captive by ingratitude. They were commissioned to build another's empire by cruel rulers. They were conflicted yet their cries went upward. When deliverance came they were commanded to do the impossible and yet do it twice as much. In all of this they were complaining when hardship came in their freedom. The high demand of results-oriented living will always lead to dissatisfaction. Results oriented pressure will starve you of the bonding agent (straw) and expect twice as much productivity.

God says it is better to be faithful in little than to be unfaithful in much. Results-oriented ministry will lead to collapse.

Ironically, Jack Hyles said "I do not use my people to build my work; I use my work to build my people."

When you have 10 people straining to make bricks without straw you cannot add more responsibility or volume to the order.

Wisdom builds her house and does so on the rock. a foolish man builds upon the sand, cuts corners, and doesn't consider the cost before he does so. When funds get low he cuts quality for quantity. He takes his pressure out on the laborers and increases their work load. He decreases morale and increases stress. The deadline becomes the focus rather than diligence.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why Little Churches Stay Little

At the risk of making this sound like a human interest sob story; allow me to tell you about what happened to me recently as I visited a local church and what I learned from it.

My family and I drove the short distance to a local church in hopes to find a warm welcome to worship with the people around God's Word. The first service was a Mid-Week Prayer Meeting and Bible Study. The people were most friendly and we enjoyed the laid back change of pace. The following Friday Evening two men from the church paid us a visit. It was a good time getting to know them. The following Sunday Morning we visited again. Through small talk we found out that they were not going to have a piano player for the morning service and they asked if my wife could fill in. We were more than happy to help. The morning service came alive through the energetic piano playing and congregational singing. The people were excited to see us there and we had some good fellowship together. I asked the Pastor if I could talk with him and ask some questions about the church, polity, and direction. He seemed to brush me off in a polite way. At first I thought it was just me being overly sensitive since I just resigned and left the ministry for a time being as we transition. That Evening service there was a strange feeling in the air as we found our place and prepared ourselves for the service. The sermon seemed to be altered and was rather obvious that he was chasing a rabbit trail. In the sermon he seemed to use the shotgun method and was looking at us while he did so. The words he spoke didnt match up with the text or the flow of the theme of the message. Again I thought that I was being overly sensitive. The next service was a mid-week service and make no bones about it....he was definitely out for blood. He openly stated to the whole assembly "We don't need you here. If you want to ask us why we do this and why we dont do might as well find somewhere else to go. We aren't going to change and we don't need anyone else to come along and disrupt what we have going here. I like us just fine." I looked at my always discerning wife and she had a look of hurt on her face. It was definitely not our desire to change anything. We were just looking for a church to find sanctuary and soon service as we rejuvenate ourselves for the ministry. 

I like to think analytically. So naturally, I began to think of how I behaved in my previous pastorate. Did I shun visitors? Was I warm and welcoming? Was I threatened by visitors? 

Then I began to realize the truthful report that there ARE those kinds of Independent Baptist Churches (or of any stripe/camp/denomination) that are nothing more than family related country clubs. It will never be more than just a handful of families getting together and playing church. They complain that others are not going to their church but they shun and RUN OFF anyone that would be interested in the possibility of worshiping with them.

Take away lessons:

1. Small churches are full of people who do not want growth. They fight against it with all their might. Unless God moves people's hearts they won't change. The Holy Spirit is silenced and most assuredly the candlestick is removed.

2. Don't scare off visitors with immediate service. Whether it is pressuring them to join or thrusting them into service - don't be talent starved. Church is a time of worship - not of program. Learn to get along with weaknesses and bare spots. 

Oh, there are tons of lessons that could have been learned from this experience but two will suffice.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When Missionaries Call Your Church

I was born again in a Missions Minded Church (Grace Baptist Church - Syracuse, NY). My Pastor at the time was Gary Welling. Even to this day the man is a missions minded machine! That I know of - his ministry has produced 3 missionaries on the field and countless of dollars sent for the cause of Christ.

Having said that, I also consider myself a missions minded pastor. My first and only pastorate as of today was at a church that supported missionaries on a monthly basis as funds permitted. However, the history of our church's hospitality regarding housing missionaries while at our property was terrible. No, I mean it....TERRIBLE. Now that I am no longer the pastor - I cannot tell you what the church will do, nor how it will treat missionaries.

I can tell you that I have had some missionaries that have been through that cause me to wonder what exactly are we doing wrong - having attracted such men. The phone calls come in and they are scripted. Nothing is from the heart on those men. Everything is choppy and curt. They want to come in and present their calling. They do not ask how they can be a blessing to the church. They handle the objection with scripted redirects.
Me: We are not financially able to support any more missionaries at this time and we are actually in a really bad time with the finances of the church in general.
missionary: well, let me come in anyway and then you can always consider us later for monthly support.

Me: we are going through something right now and it wouldn't be the best time to bring in a missionary until this blows over.
missionary: well, I will be in the area for ___, _____, and _____. So, what Sunday is better for you?


Me: Sure, we would love to schedule you to come and fellowship with us.
Missionary: what other churches in the area would be willing to schedule me?
Me: I really don't know.
Missionary: Well, could you call them and schedule me in?

Now, I work on the side in Direct Sales - selling CUTCO Cutlery. I TOTALLY understand what they are doing. However, since when did Missions become sales?

Instead of having a missionary come in with a programmed sermon/presentation - how about learn how to minister to the Pastor - who is a missionary to THAT particular field himself? Sure, the missionary may have had a bad meeting the church before, but the Pastor and Church they are currently at has NOTHING to do with that.

Missionaries need to remember that they are MINISTERS.

I recommending you read this post by Jimmy Reagan. Excellent points!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Final Sunday At Victory Bible Baptist Church

Am sitting here in the room that was once my office. My personal possessions are all packed away in boxes. The walls are echoing emphatically that I am leaving. I am vacating the room that comforted me during some of the most difficult prayer times and personal Bible Studies as I poured my heart and mind into every sermon I prepared. The memories of praying for the church and for God's leadership and wisdom have engulfed my senses and I'm reduced to sorrowful tears. 

Today's sermon is being filed away- my last Sunday sermon as Pastor of VBBC. 1,248 give or take a few sermons have been preached, taught, studied and poured over. I thank Jesus for allowing me to be part of the ministry here in Porter Corners, NY.

My heart is exploding with joy just thinking of what God has allowed me to experience and accomplish for Him.

My heart is also breaking at the loss that I am experiencing as I say farewell to those who I have poured myself out for and with. 

This morning's sermon was "The Last Supper." Allow me to encourage you and also share with you a thought that God gave me yesterday as I was typing out my outline:

It was in regards to the Passover supper in Luke 22-

"Today is a day of Celebration – we again see the power of our God that can uproot the satisfied saint and implant in him the desire and drive to forsake all that he has known for years – all that he has embraced- all that he has labored for and with and in – and move him across the country or across the street or across the world – because of his leading. His POWER. HIS PERSUASION. Is God dead? Is God powerless? Is God DONE with a person or a place? God forbid!
God IS NOT done with Victory Bible Baptist Church - he is weeding one pastor out and bringing another in!
God is NOT DONE WITH TIM DELELLO! God is weeding him out and preparing him for another place of service!! - Romans 8:14 "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God THEY (HE) ARE THE SONS OF GOD."

what a great assurance of salvation and of SELECTION it is when you are led by the Spirit of God- even if it is to leave all you have known to do what you don't know yet."