Monday, December 24, 2018

Men at the Manger ...

This post was originally published on this blog in December of 2011 and I republished it in 2013 and I believe the message is still relevant today:

                It is always fascinating to me that when we talk about the manger we focus only on two groups of men that came through the little door on that special morning - the Shepard’s and the Wise Men.  Of course we know that Mary and the baby Jesus was there.  However,  I believe that we miss some sufficient men that would influence the course of history by their presents that night. Let’s think about a few men that were around that night, or very close there upon. 

The first guy present that night was a man that had already been in the presents of God (the angel of the Lord had visited him), and he has agreed to be the step-father to King of King, Lord of Lords, and the “Great I Am.”  Now,  I don’t know about you but the thought of raising the Son of God would scare me. What if I made a mistake!,  what if I taught him the wrong thing!,  what if he could read my mind (like God can)!, what if something happens to Jesus!, what will God do to me?  Yet, Joseph sat there that night beside Mary, holding her hand, encouraging her, and takes part in the greatest miracle in history up to that time. We don’t know anything about Joseph as a father, beyond Jesus being 12 years old. The scripture is silent about the influence he had. However, I’m sure that it was significant. He held Jesus hands as he learned to walk, encouraged him to say his first word, watched over him playing in the field, helped him learn a trade, and maybe even taught him to read the scripture.  I have to say what a man, having raised two (what I believe) great children, I can only say I hope that can I do a good job.

The Second guy present that night was the Inn Keeper.   Please understand I know that the scripture does not say it was a man but provided the costumes of that time, it is a great possibility that it was. He is often criticized for his actions of not opening a room for Mary, but we don’t know all the details that happened that busy week with the census. I want to believe in my mind that throughout the night he was in and out of the manger, bringing the blankets, water, and maybe even kindling the fire. I’m not sure if there is remorse for not providing more or contentment that he had done all he could. But one thing would be clear, despite the lack of scriptural reference, his life was forever touched that night.

The third (Guys) was a group men that I view as the common man- - a group of shepherds working hard, providing for their families, and taking care of the sheep. As they were working, it says the angel of the Lord appeared and told them about Jesus’ birth.  They came running, they came to see, they came to worship!  Then they went and told everybody they could what they saw and heard that night. Can you image a group of shepherds being invited to the hospital to witness the birth of the Prince Charles or one of the Saudi Royal families? Not only was they invited, they were allowed to see Jesus up close and personal!

The Fourth (Guys) was a group of men that I view as the elite, educated, and of wealth. They traveled hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to see Christ; they came bearing gifts worthy of a king --gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  However, what is amazing to me is that God knew the need and provided the needed resources for a trip to Egypt (to escape the killing spree of Herod).  Think about these men’s arrival in Bethlehem; it would have to rival that of Kings, or even the president. Everybody was talking about these guys. Yet, the scripture says, they came and worshiped the King!

The Fifth guy never saw the baby Jesus.  However, he attempted to change the course of history.  He rejected the legitimacy of Jesus being King of Israel.  Even though, he himself sat on the throne of Israel by appointment of the Roman government, and not birth right.  He was the first person to outright reject the Messiah.  He set out on a mission to stop the Christ from fulfilling the mission that God had set in motion.  He died never seeing the Christ, but would earn a spot as one of the most treacherous men in history all because he missed understanding the significance of Christ Birth.

As I close, I have a question today especially to men, which man/group best represents you?  Is it Herod?, The Wise Men?, The Shepard’s?, The Inn Keeper, or maybe you feel like Joseph? Regardless, understanding that we may not have been at the manger the first Christmas morning, this Christmas morning with it falling on Sunday will we be worshipping him in church --reflecting on the alter (manger), or will we be at the toys’ alter worrying about the batteries or if the clothes we bought fit, or will we just claim he doesn’t exist?

Remember gentleman … Jesus is the only Reason for the Season!!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Top 10 websites to help prepare a message!




I personally find it so ironic when an individual has a “Doctorate” so many people want your opinion on books to read, speakers to listen to, and websites to visit. I continue to get asked these questions, I’m not sure how having an earned PhD makes me any smarter that the Pastor down the street that has been ministry longer than I have.

However, I will attempt to help individuals to tap in resources that will help them in their Christian Walk and Study of God’s Word.  Recently, one of my students at Grace Church of the Valley School of Ministry asked “What are the top research websites you use to prepare a message or Bible teaching.

So, I have combined the list of my top 10, some you will agree with some you will not. However, the goal is to provide relevant information to everyone seeking to study and share God’s word.



       Christian Classics Ethereal Library @ www.ccel.org

       This is one the first places I go to find great information.

       Bible Gateway @ www.biblegateway.com

       Great site for comparing various translations of scripture.

       Bible Study Tools @ www.biblestudytools.com

       This site has access to some great translation of the Bible as well commentaries and concordances.

       Study Light @ www.studylight.org

       This site has access to some great translation of the Bible as well commentaries and concordances.

       Logos Bible Software @ www.logos.com

       Full-disclosure here …I currently have on my computer LBS free version, and find it helpful at times.  However, I find most things required to purchased I can find other places free.

       www.Christianity.com 

       This is a great site with some awesome resources as well.

       International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) @ www.internationalstandardbible.com

Please understand the websites listed below may be controsvial to many. However, I have found them helpful in understanding the historical and even customs of the Bible, as well understanding the Early Church.



       The New Advent: The Catholic Encyclopedia @ www.newadvent.org/cathen

        Jewish Encyclopedia @ www.jewishencyclopedia.com

       Jewish Virtual Library @ www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org



I pray that you find the list helpful in your study of the scripture and in sharing your faith and walk with Christ.






Thursday, December 6, 2018

My list of top 10 Commentaries:




              I was recently asked by a Student @ Grace Church of the Valley School of Ministry what was my list of top 10 commentaries because she was wanting to update her library.  So, with that challenge I created her a list and thought I would make it available to you as well.

              Please keep in mind that I was raised Baptist church and started my formal college education in a Baptist college but would go on to serve in Pentecostal and Non-denominational churches over the past several years. So, my view of commentaries will be a little different than some folks that are locked into denominational lines.  

1.       Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (This awesome commentary can be found online free at various resources.)

2.       Thru the Bible Commentary, Volumes 1-5: Genesis through Revelation  by J. Vernon McGee

3.       Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture by Thomas C. Oden, (As a pastor I have found this commentary very rewarding in understanding the scripture from the writing of the Founding Fathers of the church)

4.       The Moody Bible Commentary, by Michael Rydelnik

5.       The Bible Exposition Commentary, 6 Volumes by   Warren W. Wiersbe

6.       The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, by Gary M. Burge and Andrew E. Hill

7.       Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary by Adam Clarke (remains one of the classics and can be downloaded free at various resources)

8.       Barnes Notes on the Whole Bible, by Albert Barnes (remains one of the classics and can be downloaded free at various resources)

9.       Liberty Bible Commentary, by Jerry Falwell, Edward E. Hindson, et al. (This is one of my favorites, do to using it a lot while in college. I know many will disagree with me, However, I have found it very helpful)

10.   Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown Whole Bible, by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown (remains one of the classics and can be downloaded free at various resources)  




Monday, November 26, 2018

What is the Scientist Job?


In article in the New York Post entitled:  “Turns out all of humanity is related to a single couple” By Marisa Dellatto dated November 24, 2018 (https://nypost.com/2018/11/24/turns-out-all-of-humanity-is-related-to-a-single-couple/)

So back to my title question “What is the Scientist job?” to me it is simple “Prove the Bible right”

In understanding that Evolution is the current held belief of most of society and especially within the scientific, medical, and academic communities. However, it is important to remember that Evolution is a new scientific theory only having been around since the mid-1800’s (157 years since Darwin originally presented his thoughts on the topic).  Over the decade’s individuals have come to believe that because the scientific community has said it, I must believe it is true. 

There have been various attempts to show facts that contradict the concept of evolution taught by Science teachers both with High Schools and Colleges and Universities.  However, the Evolution’s and others many with an agenda to dismantle Christianity and other religions so that they don’t have to deal with the guilt of sin, shame, and otherwise conviction of sin or hell.

Sadly, the reality is that many within the Church has bought into the Theory of Evolution resulting in the denial of what most just a 150 years ago to belief as fact.   Let me help you understand what Evolution can’t change! And scientist our going continues to prove!

1)     Evolution can’t change that God create Adam and Eve and that every individual that has ever walked on Earth is a decent of these two people.

2)    Evolution can’t change that fact that when they run a DNA test on me it will always come up as a MALE, no changing of my thinking, my outward appearance, or my beliefs is going to change the fact. Let me use a CSI television show analogy:  If they find my body after 2 years in a ditch and run a DNA test it will show a Male in my late 50’s … Nothing will change that.

3)    Evolution doesn’t change the fact that the fetus with the Women from the moment of conception is a living human baby. In fact everytime a doctor uses the Ultra-sound, or other tools he/she see’s a living human being. Evolution has only allowed them to live in the delusional world that it is not human until sometime later. And with the concept of evolution being presented it is Ok to kill the unwanted fetus because it about the “individual choice” not the right choice

4)   Evolution can’t change the fact that Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, though the move of God and that HE (Christ) died on the Cross and arose from the Grave.  The reality is that Evolution is an attempt to replace God with a simple vision “There ain’t no God” … I recently read a noted evolutionist that stated, “Evolution proves God don’t exist because I can’t observe him and see him” Wow what a profound statement, to me that as stupid as me saying there no country of New Zealand because I can’t see it.  (I know it on the map but what does that prove).



Sadly, to many people have bought into the theory of evolution! At some point every individual will find the truth about the topic and realization that God is the Creator and evolution is simply a figment of man’s imagination to help them cope with the unexplained.

For those that are new to my blog post, understand I’m not a Scientist, Chemist, or other profession that would be consider and expert on the topic. However, I’m Christian that has spent the past 40 years comparing the research that continues to be pushed in my face by scientist, new media, medical, and academic communities tell me that what the Bible states is a lie, so that they don’t have address the Big God in the World.  My challenge is to ask these folks to take their research and compare it to every verse of the Bible and see with a Truth really is.

          Oh, Ya thank you to every scientist that continues to try to prove the Bible wrong, you only make our job easier when you fail, and prove it right!


Monday, November 12, 2018

What if the Law said NO Preaching?


Every day I get an E-mail blast from Christianity Today sharing Historical events that have changed the course of Church History … https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/today/november-12.html 

In the e-blast for today … November 12, 1660: States that

“John Bunyan is arrested for unlicensed preaching and sentenced to prison. While incarcerated, he penned Pilgrim's Progress and Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, the greatest Puritan spiritual autobiography (see issue 11: John Bunyan). ”

I’m scared to be the bearer of bad news, this is coming to America it is simply a matter of when, the question for my pastor friends and those that are considering to be 

What law will stop you from preaching the Gospel and truth of Jesus Christ?

Are you be willing to do go jail time when told it is illegal to share your faith?

We are seeing this happen around the world, and sadly it is only a matter of time in America. The license they are talking about is not the License or Ordination from your local church or denomination it is a Permission/License from the Government … Are you going to let the government tell you what you can preach?




Saturday, October 27, 2018

Do we want another "Great Awaking?"


In a recent article entitled “The minister no church was big enough to contain” which you can check it out at: https://www.wnd.com/2018/09/the-minister-no-church-was-big-enough-to-contain/#sZfsuxD7ALzWaxpd.99

Author Bill Federer shares a great observation of one of the Giants of American history and especially of the American Church. When America was still in it infancy, several preachers came from England to preach and set the stage for revival.  The writer recounts the story of a preacher name George Whitefield a man that Benjamin Franklin would make a point of praising Whitefield in his autobiography.  Franklin shared about how he felt this preacher stood with a message from God on his heart and a concern for the loss souls of the world.

I’m convinced if we want another Great Awaking, it is going to take Men of God, standing with the message of repentance, conviction of the word of God not man’s culture or lies (Calling what God call’s SIN, call it the same from the pulpit and the street corner).  It is time for Men/Women of God to stand in the pulpit of America and declare like Whitefield the message of repentance.  Pastors, need come down from their pedestal and remember “The Bible Never Mean’s, what it never meant” Let me give you a few examples:

1.     The Bible never meant it was ok for preachers to tell folks there is No Hell and no judgement for Sin.

2.     The Bible never meant it was ok for preachers to tell folks that there is another way to heaven.

3.     The Bible never meant it was ok for preachers to tell people that the Virgin Birth, Death, Burial, Resurrection of Christ were simply stories (or fairy tales) that were made up, and definitely never meant for preachers to  deny the foundation of Scripture simply because they didn’t like how people would be offended.

Let’s call it like it is ladies and gentlemen of the Clergy! Revival will happen in a America when “Men and Women” that are called to preach quite preaching an agenda and start Preaching CHRIST … The death, burial, resurrection, heaven and hell, and He is coming again for the Saints (Believers) only.

Sadly, we have to either “Momma called Daddy sent preachers, or paid soothsayers (will say whatever you want me to say) in order to sell a book, get a speaking gig, or get you to donate to my ministry.

When God’s Preachers stand in the pulpit and marketplace of America and the world, and proclaim the truth of God the New Great Awakening will rock out world like the preachers George Whitefield, Charles Finney, or D. L. Moody.  It is God’s time to change the course of America like he has in the past.  However, the fear I have is how many preachers he will have to remove to accomplish it.

I think back over our generation and I see men like Billy Graham and others that have preached the Gospel is stadiums, and huge fields. They stood with the conviction to see people saved.  Where are the Whitefield’s, Wesley, Moody, and Grahams today?


Friday, September 28, 2018

Pastoral Care is an act of worship!


This blog post originally was written and published on this blog (Tuesday, January 8, 2013). However, with recent events in my personal life it has even become more relevant.  Now serving as the Chaplain for Summit Behavioral Healthcare, as well as President and Teacher for Grace Church of the Valley School of Ministry I now even feel more confident in making this statement.

Pastoral Care is an act of worship!

Pastoral Care is an act of worship. As pastors and ministers of the gospel we are called upon to provide pastoral care in many different ways. We are called to visit in the hospitals those that are sick, preparing for surgery, being institutionalize in mental hospital, or suffering long term illness in a nursing home. We are asked to provide counseling for couples seeking to get married, marriages that are on the verge of divorce, and for families struggling with a difficult teen. We may be asked to visit in the jail or prison to those that have been found guilty of a crime. We are even at time called upon at times of crisis, such as the death of a loved one, a massive disaster, and etc.

However, in all these situations we need to exam OUR (as pastors/pastoral care providers) motives. I believe that Pastoral Care requires us to incorporate five specific things in order to meet the needs of the members of our church, and those that come to us for help.



1)     Provide an opportunity for an individual to know Christ

a.     I believe as a pastor, pastoral counselor, or pastoral care provider this one thing has to become the most essential factor of our ministry. Bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ was the focal point of every conversation that the great Pastoral Theologian of Scripture (The Apostle Paul) shared. He shared tirelessly about knowing Christ in a very personal way.



2)     Provide Prayerful Encouragement

a.     As pastoral care providers we need to have an exemplary prayer life, one that when we pray the Lord Jesus and Holy Spirit stop in their tracks to listen.  People that we pray with in the hospital, nursing home, funeral home,  office, or  the front of the church need to feel that presence of Christ and that we are talking to HIM as one who expects HIM to here.  It is also important that our prayers be positive and encouraging, not demeaning to the point which someone turns away from Christ.



3)     Provide scriptural wisdom

a.     Know the Scripture or least if you’re like me and sometimes have a hard time remembering things, have a cheat sheet of scripture that you can go to. The fact that scripture is always true, and always the same makes it the perfect reference point for helping individuals address many of life’s situations.



4)    Provide reassurance of the Love of Christ

a.     My experience as a pastor, men’s ministry leader, children’s pastor, and counselor has shown me that one of my key roles in Pastoral Care is helping individuals understand who they are in Christ, and that regardless of what they have done Christ loves them. Please understand this doesn’t mean that he will not judge them for sins they have committed but He loves us despite. A pastor friend puts like this … “Christ loves the sinner so much he died for him, but he will never Condones the sin he commits.”



5)     Provide an opportunity for a Heart Transformation.

a.     As I sit in the office and write this blog post, I realize that as a pastoral care provider it is my responsibility to provide the resources, wisdom, and encouragement to the individual sitting in front of me to Change their heart and mind.  To transform themselves from a sinner to a saint. From a lost individual to a saved member of Christ family, and to take their very being from the darkest and separation of God, to the pure light of know Christ as savior.



6)    Now you’re asking after reading this why I would say “Pastoral Care is an Act of Worship” and my logic is simple. When I provide pastoral care, whether in the hospital, nursing home, funeral home, families home, my office, or at the front of the church, my number one objective is help that individual to develop and strengthen their personal relationship with Christ and help them worship Christ as Lord of their life. There for I’m always attempting to Worship HIM with the person I’m talking to.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

When is prayer relevant?


That is a question I was asked recently by an individual that is struggling to understand why God hasn't answered his prayer the way he wants. I shared with him that prayer is always relevant and has to be a very key part of our daily walk with God. I went on to share that prayer is relevant to four key areas of our life:

1)     Prayer is relevant in us having a personal salvation experience with Christ :

·        Scripture clearly teaches that in order for us to have a personal relationship with God, through the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross we must “Confess our sins and ask his forgiveness “. Putting it very simply that is prayer that is relevant to us to spend eternity in Heaven and not Hell.

2)     Prayer is relevant to seeking our miracle or for that of someone else :

·       Scripture teaches that God is willing and able to do the miracle in our lives. However, he wants to hear from his children and have them “ASK “. The people with Leprosy in scripture , the father of the sick girl , the blind man all had one thing in common they " ASKED " for him to do the miracle , today society when we want these same miracle we are to Pray !

3)     Prayer is relevant to shaping the course of history :

·        Throughout history we have seen our nation on a conclusion course with destruction, and we have seen people (both individually and cooperatively) stand, kneel, and cry out in prayer. Seeking God's divine interaction in the events that our happening to us.

4)    Prayer is relevant to saying thank you for all he (God ) does in our lives daily :

·       We teach our children “Or a least hopefully we are” to say Please and Thank you “well if it is important for our children to say it to family, friends, and yes even strangers. Would you not agree it is important for us to say it to God every day, if not every minute?

I'm convinced that the world is at a crossroads of what God is going to do! We are seeing nations begin to crumble under the weight of secularism, and devils agenda to destroy any trace of God from the world. However, we that say Prayer is Relevant to turn the Heart of God, and restore the nations to God. You want God to be Relevant in your life, church, community, and nation “PRAY “.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Christian Counseling Resources 101

            I have been teaching a course at the Grace Church of the Valley School of Ministry where I have the privilege serving as President.  I was recently asked by one of my students what books I would recommend for her to read to help her be more effective as a Christian Counselor or as some put it in the non-professional realm “People Helper”

So as I thought about it I came up with 14 of my favorite books by Christian Counselor’s and Pastors.  It is very important to remember that a book can be really good and have some great information and insight. However, that doesn’t mean that I agree with everything the writer’s state.  All of the books listed below are books that I have used over the course of 25 years in the field of Christian Counseling and continue to use today in my role as Chaplain.

 

1)       The Bible For Hope (Caring for People God’s Way) NKJV BIBLE / Formerly Titled: THE SOUL CARE BIBLE / AACC 2011 Edition2011 by AACC and Tim Clinton

·        I have used this Bible throughout my counseling experience and have found it to be very practical and insightful.

2)      Listening for Heaven’s Sake; Building Healthy Relationships with God, Self and Others. By Dr. Gary Sweeten, Dave Ping and Anne Chippard.

·        I have known these three individuals personally for over two decades, and would highly recommend this book.

3)       Hope and Change for Humpty Dumpty: Successful Steps to Healing, Growth and Discipleship by Gary Sweeten and Steve Griebling

·        I have known these two gentlemen and worked with them on a number projects over the years and would highly recommend this book.

4)      Christian Counselor; A Comprehensive Guide (current edition) by Dr. Gary R. Collins.

5)       Christ Centered Therapy; The Practical Integration of Theology and Psychology by Neil T. Anderson, Terry E and Julianne S Zuehlke. 

6)      Competent to Counsel, Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling

7)      How to Help People Change, The Four-Step Biblical Process by Jay E. Adams

8)      How to Be a People Helper by Dr. Gary Collins

9)      Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling by John G. Kruis

10)   Introduction to Psychology and Counseling: Christian Perspectives and Applications by Paul D. Meier and Frank B. Minirth

11)     Effective Biblical Counseling: A Model for Helping Caring Christians Become Capable Counselors by Larry Crabb

12)    Basic Principles of Biblical Counseling By Larry Crabb

13)    The Quick-Reference Guide to Biblical Counseling by Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Ron Hawkins

14)   The Billy Graham Christian Worker's Handbook: A Topical Guide with Biblical Answers to the Urgent Concerns of Our Day by Charles G. Ward (Editor)

 
 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

What happened to the Church?


What happened to the Church?

          This question has been in the forefront of my mind for the past several months as I have watched the news, and read articles about how our church has lost its influence.  I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s (I was born in 1960) and throughout my teen years and in my 20’s the churches had an impact on society and yes even the culture.  I remember the Moral Majority, whether you agreed with their position or not affected the political, educational, employment, and yes even the very foundation of our culture, no matter if you were in agreement with them or their political affliction; they were a force to be reckoned with. 

          I remember organizations (especially sports teams) wanting to have games or events on Sunday morning, and churches coming together to stop them.  My high school or local college would have never thought about having their graduation at 10 a.m. on Sunday Morning.  Now I sit in shock, as I hear of Christian parents telling how they spend all day Sunday at a soccer field or other sporting event with their kids. A friend was recently invited to another friend’s daughter’s graduation on a Sunday morning.  I hear of families that go camping every weekend throughout the summer and miss church and then make excuses about how it is ok.

          I’m going to very BLUNT, I believe that we have the problems throughout America and the world, epically around the mass shootings at schools and other places, accusation of sexual misconduct, suicide,  the excess amount of hate and bullying we see in our society because the Church has disappeared from its true calling.  I have spent the past 39 years in some form of Pastoral Ministry, serving as a Pastor, Children’s Pastor, Associate Pastor, and Bible College Instructor. 

I will ask my question again, “What happened to the Church?” 

          The Church has lost its way, we have got tied up in Liberal Theology, Social Justice, Feminist Theology, and yes even into the racism, abortion, and any other thousands of issues that can’t be resolved until the church returns to its True Mission!  I think the church has become a NON-Relevant factor in society, politics, the family, and yes within our own homes because it has focused on all the other things, and what Christ didn’t call the essentials.

          Christ set a clear mandate (At least how I see it) … Win people to Christ, Make Disciples, and Love People!  When and only when we get back to this will we see the world change! 

We will see racism become outdated; we will see hate speech stop; mass shootings or killings like the ones we see every weekend in our communities stop; and when the church and their Pastors come down from their personal soap box and follow the Mandate for the church as set by Christ!  “Bring people to a personal relationship with Christ, discipling in their walk, and Loving people.”  Why? Because the world will see Christ for who He is, and lives will be changed for the better and historically when the church is doing what it is called to do, there is transformation of good in society. 

A friend read this as I was typing it and said, “That is to Blunt” …

The reality is that we have too many Pastors, and church members claiming to do church, but not doing Christ’s Mandate.  Honestly, I’m personally getting tired of hearing hate speeches, racism, shootings, suicides, and all the other things that are consuming our society while the church is sitting on the sideline and does the social club experience and not engage in the solution! 

We want society and people to change! The church has to change first!  It is time to go back to the basics. What is the Mandate?   “Win people to Christ, Make Disciples, and Love People!  When and only when we get back to this will we see the world change “