A New Church??

Last week’s post “A New Church?” was centered around the growth of satellite churches across the country and the thought was to create a forum for discussion regarding the validity or necessity for their existence. I was hoping for comments from a number of readers but I received only one from a good friend and brother in Christ and I am certainly appreciative of his insights on the matter. However, since there was virtually no other response I must assume that the interest level is low concerning this subject. It may be that most people have not really put any thought into these questions or that they don’t think it really matters either way. But like so many other things that seem to be changing in our culture, I sincerely believe that these assemblies need to examined closer to see if they really meet the criteria for a local church. In the next few paragraphs we will pose some questions and raise some concerns that may or may not have been considered before.

First of all I want everyone to understand that what I’m calling a satellite church is not to be confused with a church plant sponsored by an existing local church. A church plant should arise out of a mission effort on a local church’s part and should be targeted in an area that is what we considered un-churched and has no local church or churches to speak of. In other words, it is an effort to take to the gospel to that area and it is born out of a heart for missions from the existing local church. It is really no different from a church sending a team on a mission trip to some overseas country except for the most part those are short-term efforts in spreading the gospel. In contrast, a church plant is considered permanent and has a God-called man on-site and accountable for all that goes on. So, I am certainly a proponent of church plants as long as the motives are pure.

And that is where I have somewhat of a problem with certain satellite church attempts. What are the motives. In my opinion the following is the main question that should be proposed and considered to determine what the real motives are. Why would a church a number of miles away feel it necessary to rent a large meeting room, hold a meeting, televise it by closed circuit to the home church, and call it a church worship service, especially in an area where numerous local churches exist and many of them strong churches that are preaching and teaching correct biblical doctrine? I realize that is quite a long question but it really sums up a concern that should be considered. If this question can be satisfactorily answered while meeting biblical standards, then it may be something valid for today’s times and needed more than we think. However, next week we will present some possible motives that may be behind all of this and we will also pose some questions regarding the qualification and administrative aspects of the organization.

I hope we can eventually sort it all out and come to a reasonable conclusion that is supported by God’s Word. Again, I would appreciate any comments or thoughts from any of you on the subject. Until next week, may God richly bless each of you. 

A New Church?

Tonight’s post will be quite different from the normal post we do. Instead of discussing a familiar issue of today’s times or presenting some topic of interest while asserting my opinion on the matter, tonight I going to attempt to raise interest concerning a subject and then solicit the input and comments from the readers. I will reserve my thoughts and opinions for a later time after others have had an opportunity to respond. I realize this is an unusual approach but I’m anxious to hear from you before coming to a final conclusion. However, as always, the standard for comparison is always God’s Word and so I remind everyone to respond in light of that. So, if you’re ready, let’s get to it.

The subject for consideration this evening is this: “Satellite churches. Are they biblical or not”? There has been quite an emergence of these on today’s scene and have appealed to many people and the numbers seem to be on the increase. But, as with anything else, a new happening like this always brings with it a number of questions that need to be answered according to the scriptures.  

You might not be sure what I mean by the term satellite church so let me take the time to explain what I consider a satellite church to be.  A satellite church is one that holds its meeting in a public and common location but has no local pastor or church leadership. The services are conducted from a remote location and seen on large video screens quite some distance away where people are assembled to participate. These meeting places can be community centers, private event centers, hotel convention centers, and even abandoned church sanctuaries. The events remind me of watching a Billy Graham Crusade on the other side of the world and considering that to be participation in a local church. Mind you, this is not a negative shot at at evangelical crusades because they certainly have their place in spreading the gospel. It is only an example of something similar to what I see as a satellite church.

It is my intent to provoke an interest in this subject and my hope that it will create a dialogue with comments or even more questions from you, the reader. If you will respond with your comments on the post itself, everyone who reads the post will be able to see your comments. They can even respond to your comment on the post. I believe this could be a great learning experience for all of us and I am excited to hear what you have to say. We will discuss the subject more fully in upcoming posts as comments are made.

I want to thank all of you in advance for your participation and I pray that out of this all of us will experience  some degree of spiritual growth and understanding. God has a way of using different means and methods to get our attention and teach us. May God richly bless each of you.



The Gospel Arrow

Several weeks ago our Saturday morning Bible Study group began the study of the book of Acts. We all know this book as the historical record of the beginning of the Church and then its expansion throughout the known world of that time as Paul conducted is missionary journeys. In the very beginning of the book Jesus told the apostles that the Holy Spirit would be coming and that they were to be His witnesses throughout the world. We then see the selection of the apostle Matthias to replace the traitor Judas. Then we see a spectacular event occur by the sudden appearance of the Holy Spirit just as Jesus had said. This appearance was a noise like a violent rushing wind. It filled the whole house where they were and then appeared to them as tongues as of fire that rested on each one of them. At this point the Bible says they were filled with the Holy Spirit and folks, when that happens, there is change that takes place in one’s life that becomes obvious to everyone around them. And so it was then.

The Bible says that they begin to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there have been many attempts to make this into something mystical, super-spiritual, or something other that what it really was. This was a miracle of the Holy Spirit that was not for the benefit of those speaking but for those who were hearing. The passage goes on to say that those listening were hearing them speak in their own language so they could understand what they were saying. I have no idea how many languages or dialects that were present here but apparently they were numerous. Can you imagine being able to hear someone speak in German, French, or Spanish but you hear it in English. And that without an interpreter, but straight from the mouth of the speaker. This is exactly what was going on that day and there were other there that began to mock them and accuse them of being drunk. But Peter speaks to their assertions when He stands to preach his famous Pentecost sermon. And this is where I want to spend some time.

Peter stood with the other eleven and began to address those present that were from Judea and those who lived in Jerusalem because he was speaking to those Jews that were thee for the Pentecost celebration. He explained that they were certainly not drunk because it was too early in the day but there was another explanation for what was happening. He then that it was the fulfillment of prophecy that was spoken by Joel many years before and quoted the Old Testament passage. At this point he began to preach his first sermon emphasizing who Jesus was and is; the risen and exalted Lord and Christ. And he brought home to them that they are the ones that nailed Him to a cross by the hands of the godless Romans who put Him to death. Peter concludes his dissertation in verse 36 of chapter 2 and it reads like this. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ-this Jesus whom you crucified.” What follows after this is the topic of tonight’s post.

The very next verse says “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren what shall we do.”” Something wonderful begins right there and still continues today. That is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. It is proof of the power of the preaching of the gospel. I love those words “pierced to the heart” because I still remember the day it happened to me. After hearing the gospel numerous times the Holy Spirit in His timing used His gospel arrow to pierce my heart. For the first time, as an eleven year-old boy, I truly realized that I was a sinner and was helpless on my own. I repented and put my faith and trust in what Jesus did at the cross. I may not have understood everything at that time but  I knew that He made a change in my life. And I have never gotten over it.

It may seem trivial to some but one of things that saddens me the most today is there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of being pierced to the heart. I can’t count the times I have been in worship services and heard a great gospel sermon preached yet there was no movement of any kind by anybody. And I wonder why that is. Is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit been diminished? Are people’s hearts so hard that the gospel arrow can’t penetrate it? Or is the gospel so watered down by the messenger that there is no power in it. Could it be there is so much of the world in our churches that we have become satisfied with the status quo? Maybe a combination of all of these things or even something else I haven’t mentioned.

I realize there have been all kinds of programs introduced to reverse this trend but it seems like nothing is working. We’ve moved away from traditional hymns of worship to a different type of music that so much of it doesn’t seem to have any message to it at all. We divided our congregations into traditional and contemporary segments based on our ages. We have compromised on various parts of God’s Word and have not taken a stand for the infallibility of it. If God said it, it is so. Period. We have even changed Sunday School in many churches to more life application stories that actual study expository study of God’s Word. And I still don’t see much “heart piercing”. I heard someone say the other day that the church has turned inward and is just ministering to itself. Outreach has become a thing of the past. No “heart piercing’ can happen that way.

It seems to me that we need to get back to the simple basics of our faith. We need to confess our sins so that we can then be used to be God’s instruments for sharing His love to the lost world around. We desperately need to spend more time on our knees in our private prayer closets and more time on our knees in the corporate environment. I guess the best way to put it is that we need revival! The real question is “Do we really want it?” God help us to have that desire again! We need our own hearts pierced again. 

“I am Sick”

I recently read a post on Facebook by one of our local pastors that cuts through the chase and sends a message to pastors and lay people alike. Many of our churches have more world in them than Jesus and it is no wonder  we don’t see lost people saved like we used to. They can’t tell us apart from the world and it’s time we return to the basics, trust God and then be willing to be the instruments He can use to bring about the changes needed.

I asked my friend, Brother Greg Woodall, if I could have permission to reproduce his post in my blog and he so graciously agreed. Tonight I have included his post, word for word, straight from his Facebook post. There is no doubt it came from the depths of his heart and in turn has stirred my own. I pray that it stirs yours also.

“I am Sick”
I have been a pastor for 30 years. I started preaching when I was only 18. When I started I had no staff. It was just me. I was the worship leader, maintenance man, lawn keeper, secretary, you get it.
A lot has changed through those years. Today I have a wonderful staff of secretaries, student pastor, pastoral care pastor, media specialist, worship pastors, school teachers, administrator, connection leaders, children’s pastors, and about every kind of special ministry you could think of.
But I have become sick and it’s serious!
Used to I had no computer, no internet, etc… All I had to prepare my sermons were prayer and my bible. 
I would labor all week to prepare and think and pray and listen to what God would have me to say. As soon as I would feel a peace about my Sunday morning message and get it prepared, Sunday night was staring me in the face! I had yet another message to prepare, pray over, listen, and stay attentive to what God would have me to say. I would study and read and study and read. Once I labored over that message to get it in my spirit, I would deliver it with passion and people would come to the altar and genuinely give their lives to the Lord! I would wipe my brow on Sunday night and take a deep breath only to have Wednesday service staring me in the face! The routine of prayer, and begging God for an idea, and studying and more prayer, and listening to the Spirit as I would take the temperature of my congregation to give them what I felt God would have me to say. Again, I would labor and labor over my message and once again give birth to it and watch it live!!! People would come to the alter with tears and give their hearts and lives to Jesus!
Not just me, this is the way all pastors would preach. We had to. There was no other way!
But what has made me sick is that today, not all, but many pastors do not pray, do not study, do not listen to the Spirit, do not labor over their messages and don’t have to look at another service because there isn’t one. In a world that is falling apart and needs more God and more church than any generation before us, we are giving them less God, less Word, less passion and less church.
The messages are messages from other pastors that have been memorized and reproduced in the pulpit. I see it all the time. Pastors will have their own picture up and a quote from their sermon like it was their own and it’s straight off the internet. There are some that quote some internet idol weekly and changing titles so that no one knows it’s not the Word God gave to them.
There is no anointing! There are no alter calls! There is no prayer! There is no praying for the sick!
It’s just a talk, not a sermon. It’s a watered down motivational speech.
People are getting baptized but they aren’t changing!!!!!
Please do not be offended if it isn’t you. Keep on preaching what God has given you. But if it is you, get back to the Word of God! Get back to the altar! Close your computer and listen to what God would have you say and deliver it with passion and the anointing of God!!!
If you will notice, many of these preachers that pastors study and try to be like are taking a dive on biblical truths. 
Don’t try to be like them! Be you!!!! God chose YOU because He knew YOU had the potential to change the world for Him! YOU! You listen to Him! You follow Him. Don’t try to pattern yourself after anyone. You imitate Him, not some cool and successful pastor, Him!
This world needs Jesus! It’s time to quit being so neutral and dodging tough topics that are abominations to God! Stand up you mighty man of God! You have what it takes to make a difference! Yes it requires more. Yes it takes more time. It’s not as easy as picking some sermon on-line and reproducing it verbatim. But it’s what God gave you! And it’s the message He wants you to speak. The great thing about that is that it’s so much better!
Let’s heal the world and ourselves! 
God heal every one of us! Put us back at your altar. Fill our hearts with your anointing and our mouths with your Truth! 
I’m tired of being sick!

Greg Woodall
Florence First Assembly

I am so thankful that there are still pastors like Brother Greg and my own pastor, Brother Mark Mayfield, that will stand firm on God’s Word and not compromise in any way, shape, form, or fashion. I pray that God would give others the desire and then the strength to do the same. Please join me.

There are some of you on our email list that like to follow the activities of our group Reassurance. As a way of and update, we will have the morning service this Sunday, March 10, at my home church, Leighton Baptist Church. Please pray for the service and that we stay out-of-the-way so that God can do something wonderful. We want to lift high the name of Jesus in praise and share a message of hope through our music. He will then do the rest for His glory. So, to God be the glory and honor forever and ever. Amen.

He Keeps His Promises

Sometimes, when we begin to experience some unwelcome event in our life, we get so caught up in the present moment that we lose our sense of direction and ignore our spiritual compass. There are many things that can trigger these events including health issues, financial problems, a rebellious child, the loss of a job, marriage instability and even the death of a loved one. However, despite the cause, the event imposes so much emotional and physical stress on us that we don’t know where to turn. And even in extreme cases it may lead to thoughts of bringing harm to our own selves. So, the point is this; before we allow ourselves to get to a point of utter despair, we need to stop, turn around, and follow our spritual compass back to the One who guide us through the storm to safety. This He has promised He would do.

The word “promise” used above is not just some ordinary word with a basic dictionary definition. When it is used with respect to Holy God, it means much more than just a pledge. It carries a much heavier weight than that. When we speak of a promise that God has made in the context and content of His written word, we should understand that there will be no wavering or withdrawal on His part. His promises are sure and He will never break a single one of them. That is why David could say in Psalm 23 “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil. For Thou art with me.” And when we read the words of Jesus himself in Matthew 28 as He gave the disciples His great commission, we find in verse 20 where He promised that “He would be with us always, even to the end of the age.” The writer of the book of Hebrews repeats some Old Testament scripture in chapter 13, verses 5 and 6, He promises again that He will never leave us or forsake us.

I want to remind all of us that His eyes are always on us and we are never out of His sight. We can also trust the fact that we can never move so far away from Him that we are out of reach of His outstretched hand. That is, if we belong to Him, He is always there to faithfully forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So when we find ourselves in one of those situations I outlined in the start of the post, we need to remember His unbreakable promises and allow Him to again to take control of the rudder of our life’s ship. Turn to Jesus. We can trust Him and we can certainly trust His promises. I pray that I will continually hold on to all of His promises for He is my rock and my redeemer. In Him only do I trust.