Saturday, January 26, 2019

What is my role within the church?

What is my role within the church?

              For the past several weeks I have been teaching a course at Grace Church of the Valley School of Ministry on the Five-fold Ministry, using text Ephesians 4: 11 in the KJV it reads …

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” and the 

Amplified Bible (AMP): “11 And [His gifts to the church were varied and] He Himself appointed some as apostles [special messengers, representatives], some as prophets [who speak a new message from God to the people], some as evangelists [who spread the good news of salvation], and some as pastors and teachers [to shepherd and guide and instruct],”

I found the past few years very interesting as I have spent time preparing and studying material and lectures for this course at GCOTV School of Ministry.   I look at scripture within the context it is written and the historical perspective of the church that much of what I was taught growing up in the Fundamental Baptist as well as attended some great Baptist colleges.  I missed some great blessings of scripture. This passage of scripture is one of those blessings. I was taught or better yet indoctrinated that passages such as this and references to Gifts of the Spirit stopped at the time the Scripture (Bible) was completed (basically stating that they ceased at the Apostle Johns death).

Today as a Professor of Pastoral Theology, Minister, and Student of the Word of God I attempt to look at the scripture through the church worldwide not through the limited scope of a denomination, college, or the teaching of one particular preacher or pastor.  As ministers we often quote: 2 Timothy 3:16 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) “16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,” if we truly agree with this then we must agree that the passages we disagree with are inspired.

So, what about the passage in Ephesians where the Apostle Paul writes: He gave (of course we know that the Apostle Paul is referring to Christ) Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors, and Teachers so let’s break this down into simple terms:

1)      Apostle … The simple meaning of the word is “Messenger or Representative” these individuals have a clear understanding of the word of God both the “Logos Word” which is the written word we find within scripture and the “Rhema Word” that God uses men to share with individuals to uplift and move forward in the ministry.

2)      Prophet … The simple meaning of the word is “Proclaimer of Truth” of what God is doing with the in the church, world, and within individuals lives.

3)      Evangelist … The simple meaning of this word is “Soul-winner” this individual doesn’t see people he/she see soul’s individuals that need a personal relationship with Christ and they will go out of their way to share the truth with them.

4)      Pastor … The Elders, Bishops, and Overseers of the local assembly of believers, the shepherd of the flock the individual that God mandated to feed the sheep, protect the sheep, and care for the sheep.

5)      Teacher … The individual that is entrusted to take the Body of Christ deeper into the understanding of the Word.  Preparing individuals to defend the faith and share the foundation truths of scripture within the Body of Christ so that the church is effective in ministering to those within and in the community.

Personally, I have noticed a few “what I will call” rules for these Gifts …

                                  I.            They are never self-proclaimed, they are always God appointed with confirmation of the local Body of Christ or denomination.

                                 II.            They always operate within the authority of the local Body of Christ or denomination and under the leadership of that ministry or with the Local church or denomination providing wise-counsel and direction.

                               III.             They have a personal devotion and desire to continue to study the word of God and seek God’s face daily to advance themselves in their personal relationship with God (with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit)

                              IV.            All of them have one central theme or desire …. Build the Body of Christ!

Back to my original question: “What is my role within the church?” …

              Sadly, it took me over 25 years to find and understand my role within the Body of Christ. Even though I was always teaching serving as Children’s Pastor, Men’s Leader, and Pastoring (either as Senior Pastor or Associate) I always felt I was missing something.  About four years ago the Lord led my wife and I to Grace Church of the Valley and Pastor Roger Webb who walks out the Gifts of the Spirit, and especially the gift of discernment.  After one conversation, he simply said, “You have the gift of teaching, I want you to teach and lead my School of Ministry” and the rest is history …

              I would encourage every pastor, minister, and member of the Body of Christ to identify your Gift and seek wisdom in how you can apply it to help build the Body of Christ. Don’t fill a spot because there is a need, find a ministry because there is a passion.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Change your Thinking!

              This past week I have begun reading the daily devotional New Testament entitled “Time with God” my reading this morning was from Matthew 4: 12 – 5:12 discussing the statement of Jesus “Come Follow Me”

              As Jesus was calling the disciples, he stated “Change your heart and lives, because the kingdom of heaven is near.”  As I reflected on those 12 simple words, I was thinking how that I along with so many miss the importance of change. When I was eight years old and made a profession of faith when I trusted Christ as my Savior, I made a change. I was not going to live like others, I was going to live a true Christian life. When I was thirteen and felt the call to preach, I made the change that I was going to dedicate my life to sharing the love of Christ (telling anyone that would listen about his death, burial, and resurrection) so that they could have the same relationship I have with him.

              Over the past 51 years of the Christian walk I have learned a few things about Change!

         I’m the one required to Change! God is sovereign and has absolute knowledge and therefore when the scripture states, “I’m (God talking) the same yesterday, today, and forever” He means it. So, the question is “What must I change?”

         I must change my thinking to agree with his! Where do I find his thinking or words, within the context of the Bible (His Holy Word) …? I find it ironic that people say, “God really didn’t mean that” Sorry to give you the bad news Yes, He Did! What God calls sin is sin, don’t call it good! If my thinking about Sin doesn’t line up with God’s written word then someone must change their thinking, and guess who loses? ME!

         Change is Good! When I came to the understanding that change is good, was when I came into the understanding and will of God and allowed myself to follow him.  Peter, Andrew, James and John were told “Follow me (Christ)” If we are following Christ, it requires Change and a new direction.

I would have never thought as a teenager and wanting to preach and pastor that I would be Chaplain in a State Mental Health Hospital or serving as President of a School of Ministry and Teaching college level courses at several colleges.  My parents, pastors, and I had a plan that I would attend college then pastor a nice size church with a nice income, nice parsonage, and an expense account. But change happens! God changed my vision and plans, Change helps define who we are and where God wants us.

       The question to ask your self today is “How have I reacted to change”?  When I’m working with the patients at the hospital, I use this illustration; you can either do one of two things when change comes (1) you can RE-ACT which means that you don’t think about it and you simply become upset or do things with your thinking and generally get yourself in trouble or (2) you can ACT which means you seek wise counsel and come up with a plan to use the change to yours and God’s advantage and find a way to serve him in the change. 

       What are you going to do wih Change?

Monday, January 14, 2019

Wow is all you can say

Wow is all you can say!

When you read headlines like “Feds Seize Enough Fentanyl in 2018 to Kill Nearly Twice the U.S. Population.” ( It is time for America to take notice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to report increasing numbers of people dying from Opiate related death, some organization and agency reporting as high as 75,000 per year, over recent years. The reality is that anyone one of us could be a part of these numbers if we use an Opiate without doctor supervision and for an extended period of time.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever, more addictive than Heroin or Morphine, and deadlier than any drug we have seen in history. When I had my knee replacements several years ago, I was given Fentanyl for the pain, and the relieve was great. However, the fear of addiction was even greater. The Reality is that I could have learned to love that feeling of utopia and knowing that right then nothing in the world mattered. I only used the fentanyl a few times, and then moved to OxyContin which is also and opiate and eventually of the drugs over short periods of time.  The reality is that Opiates of any kind our not met to be a permit solution to pain, they are a temporary solution to get through a temporary crisis.  It was imperative that I had the support of family, friends, and church to help remain focus on my recovery from the surgery with the limited use of Pain Medication.

Over the past 27 years that I have been an Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and a Pastor I have counseled, prayed with, and attempted to help 1000’s of addicts many addicted to Opioids.  Reality is that we have a national epidemic and the CHURCH must step up and help! Not with a judgmental attitude, but with a heart of compassion. In my book “Drug Epidemic: Impact on Families and Churches” I attempt to help the church find it voice and be a part of the solution. Three things that I believe are so relevant for the church in this crisis!

1.      Understand the facts of drugs and addiction, not simply what you read in the newspaper, hear from the pulpit, or from your personal experience.

2.     Understand that God has a journey and healing for every addict, and it maybe not be the same path or journey God took you on. Some individuals may need to walk through Recovery and learn the tools to remain sober, other may have a divine intervention. However, whichever God chooses the outcome sought is always the same sobriety and disciple them in their walk with HIM (Christ).

3.       Pray, Pray, and Pray some more! Some one told me recently that is to simple! I have come to conclusion that God likes simple. Two things I have learned about prayer! (1) God promise to help me or someone I’m praying for when I pray! (2) I can’t be judging them when my heart is in prayer for them. Pray for God perfect solution for their recovery not my opinion.

If you would like to check out my book Drug Epidemic: Impact on Families and Churches we have several ways to get a copy!

Paperback copy @

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

My top four choices of English Theologians and writers to read and study!

              Over the years I have been so blessed to be able to read 100’s if not 1000’s of books by some of the great Christian authors across various denominational, and theological perceptive.  Within our current generation we have been blessed with some awesome writers with in the United States. However, some of the greatest Christian writers have come from Britain I would like to share with my top four: 

1)      James Stalker …  was a minister, lecturer and preacher for the Free Church of Scotland (United Free Church) and was Professor of Church History at the United Free Church College in Aberdeen.

o   Personal Note: Dr. Stalker’s books on the Life Christ and Paul and his great work on the Passion week, are must reads in my opinion for every pastor and student of the word.  His book The Preacher and his Models (Yale Lectures on Preaching: 1891) are on my top 5 books of all times.

2)      Thomas F. Torrance …was a Scottish Protestant theologian. Torrance served for 27 years as professor of Christian dogmatic at New College, in the University of Edinburgh; and serving as an ordained minister in the Church of Scotland

o   Personal Note:  This writing’s around “Theology and Science” and Christological our very interesting to say the least.

3)      C. S. Lewis … Clive Staples Lewis was a British writer and lay theologian. He held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1925–1954) and Cambridge University (Magdalene College, 1954–1963).

o   Personal Note: I remember first reading C. S. Lewis in class in the 4th Grade at a Christian school in Taiwan, and it was love at first read. As a class we read through the entire The Chronicles of Narnia that year, and since then I have read most of his books and have never been disappointed from his great wisdom within “Mere Christianity” to being so blessed when my parents passed away by his wisdom in “Grief Observed”

Within our modern history, one British theologian & writer that I have read has stood out to me:

4)      N. T. Wright … Nicholas Thomas Wright is a retired Anglican bishop who previously served as the Bishop of Durham; He then became Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St Mary’s College in the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

o   Still writing and impact our generation on the topics of the New Testament and Pauline letters, he is considered one of the great minds today in the field of Theology.  

Reflecting on scripture!

            As I read this morning from Mark 2: 1 – 12; I felt a special sense of urgency.   I was reflecting on the types of people we en...