Category Archives: Jimmy Reagan

Are You Stuck in the Old Testament?

imagesMany of us do it. We live an Old Testament existence in a world of New Testament promises. I guess Law will always appeal to our flesh more than Grace. So we go along mistaking the physical lesson of the Old Testament for the spiritual truth of the New Testament.

Recently, there it was in my Bible reading. In Joshua 5 there was a lesson I found thrilling. Here were the Children of Israel freshly arrived in the Promised Land, and after the drama of the Jordan crossing, the Lord’s first order of business was the practice of circumcision. They had carried it out years before in Egypt, but over the years of wandering they had neglected it.

Well, we are supposed to look at OT stories with NT light, right? The circumcision that the Lord is really after is circumcision of heart. So many times we neglect it and it is urgent that we put it in practice again. Just think of the pain of carrying out that call to circumcision! I understand that “sharp knives” of Joshua’s day were flint stones. I don’t want to be too graphic, but I would dread it! Any surgery with stones instead of modern day knives would terrify me.  So, I suppose even at the cost of discomfort we must do the work the Lord seeks in our hearts. In verse 9 we were even told that “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.” He never said it until the events of this chapter. This we need and in verses 13-15 the Lord came. Pretty exciting stuff, huh?

These lessons get by us too easily. We’d rather pull out the stones of flint than do real heart surgery. We’ll inflict the pain of body and leave our souls at ease.

We become consumed with the object lessons. We prefer the tangible, outward things over the spiritual, inward things. Since this lacks spiritual power, we turn on each other and watch for the pool of blood and listen for the screams.  We are always ready to point out everyone’s failure as if circumcision could tell us all of our hearts. Our conclusions miss the point and hurt others, as well as ourselves. Need I remind you that Jesus has come through in the interim between Joshua and us?

Perhaps we find the pain exhilarating. Perhaps we enjoy it more if we see others suffering with us. I don’t know. We inspect the circumcision, so to speak, while the Lord says you are seeing the object itself as the lesson and missing the point. But we can see the circumcision and we can prove we did it. We can never prove what is in our hearts. We settle for what we can impress others with while being indifferent to what might please the Lord. We live the Old Testament as if the Lord had no greater revelation in the New Testament to share. Pretty ridiculous, wouldn’t you agree?

If I saw the point I’d pray for my heart and yours. I’d listen carefully as the Lord spoke to me and encourage you to do the same. But I’d leave the stones of flint to your own consideration and ask you to keep them away from me. Live the Old Testament if you please and I’ll keep my mouth shut. As for me, though, I’m rather fond of the New Testament.

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Changing Our Dress Standards

After months of prayer and study, my wife and I have reached a different conclusion on an issue that is big in some circles. After reflecting on the issue, I’m amazed that it is so big. The issue is whether a Christian lady must only wear skirts or not. The issue of clothing is, of course, broader than that, but the explosive issue is skirts versus pants. (To my readers who wonder what in the world I am talking about, this issue is big in the Independent Baptist world as well as some other Christian groups. While you read my disagreeing with some in this blog post just remember that I am disagreeing with friends and not fighting enemies.)

Our position now can be stated in 2 simple points: 

1. The Bible demands modesty.

We have always believed this to be true. We believe that we have lost focus on this subject by taking ourselves away from the issue and reorienting on clothing styles. The idea is that a style of an article of clothing defines modesty more than the covering itself. For example, a skirt could be more immodest than a pair of pants by being too short, or even if longer, by carelessly sitting, etc. We maintain that the issue is not showing the private areas of the body. Despite what has been preached and taught, any honest, godly man can tell you that the issue is not along a simple divide of pants versus skirts, but along the divide of revealing versus not revealing. There are women in skirts that a godly man must quickly turn while his eyes away from while there are very attractive women in pants that he doesn’t have to turn his eyes away from. The issue isn’t pants versus skirts but modesty versus immodesty. One incites lust of men who want to do right and the other does not.

2. The Bible does not teach that pants would be wrong on a woman.

There is no Bible passage that states this idea. There are places where some wonderful people believe an inference is made and I will discuss these items later. Still, there simply is no passage that expressly teaches it.

There are many arguments given and many feel they can conclude “no pants” from principles of the Bible. I’d like to carefully discuss some of the most common ones, ones that I have thought deeply about as I tried to determine exactly what the Lord was really asking of us.

1. This violates the Biblical prohibition of cross dressing.

Deuteronomy 22:5 is always given as the key verse that would prohibit a woman from wearing pants because it would be man’s apparel. Whatever that verse means, it couldn’t really mean what it is often said to mean here. In fact, those sincere people who use the verse this way forget that they might wear the same t-shirt or socks as their spouse. Logically, you can’t pick and choose if the verse means what some say. I would think that would refer to what is obviously for one sex. I’d worry about the man who wore a pink, frilly shirt! Some would argue that pants are that distinctly male, but most would disagree with you.

biblical-dress-1Have you ever looked carefully at pictures of clothing from Bible times in any Bible dictionary or encyclopedia? Look at this picture:

Do you notice anything? Just how different is the clothing for male and female? Many cite Aaron’s “breeches”, but they were under his robe-like garment and weren’t that noticeable. At least you would have to admit that the difference between male and female dress in Bible times is not as large as the difference between pants and skirts now? Skirts are fine, but can they be demanded when the difference required is greater than that when the cited Scripture was given? The verse likely refers to battle apparel, but in any event, it can’t be pushed farther than the context allows.

2. Pants are a giving in to modern culture.

It is true that 70 years ago all women wore skirts only. It is also true that our culture changed. Perhaps it would be fair to say that those who first changed were making a statement that ladies today are not necessarily making. It was not culturally acceptable then. What I am afraid we fail to see is that cultureis the last line of consideration for the Christian after the issue of covering our nakedness is addressed. For example, walk up and tell some burly Scottish guy in his kilt that he looks feminine or girly and as you pick yourself back up off the ground, you will probably realize he was all man and a cultural issue was involved.

Why won’t you wear the outfit of the people in the above picture from Bible times to church, or even Wal-mart?  Because you know that people would roll their eyes at you. In other words, it isn’t socially acceptable. And if some measure of changing with culture within the confines of modesty is wrong, how are the church dresses of today acceptable? They don’t look like those worn in the 1800s. Dresses went to the floor then and the sight of even the ankle was a scandal. (My Alicia says we are a long way from Adam and Eve’s furs too). Alicia and I were talking with some good friends of ours one day and wondered how the 1950s became the standard for all time. That more or less is the look of most who hold the stricter position today. It is an attractive look, but can it honestly be said to be the God-given standard for today? I don’t feel there is any way I could honestly hold that position.

It is true that there are things acceptable in our culture today that are unacceptable to the Christian. But we dodge that error by our first line of defense: modesty. Modesty means I particularly cover the private or sexual parts of my body so as not to enflame others with lust. It means drawing the wrong kind of attention. To put it simply, there are 2 factors that determine what we wear: 1) modesty, and 2) culture.

3. To start wearing pants is a move to the left and therefore wrong.

There is no Scripture on it being a sin to move to the left. Actually, the only thing the Bible teaches is that you adjust to the Biblical position no matter if you need to go right or left to do it. That really is an argument for appearances. What we are all called to do is figure out what the Lord is saying to the best of our ability and adjust accordingly.

4. Ladies should not wear pants in order to take the highest road.

It is an assumption to say it is the highest road. Is it a higher road to wear a button-up shirt over a polo shirt? Is it a higher road to have a land line instead of a cell phone? How do you know that is true? In any event, I so support anyone who feels they need to not wear pants for the Lord. But in fairness, let’s support those who do not feel that way equally. If there are no clear Biblical guidelines then it must be along the lines of Romans 14:6 (“He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.”)

A Plea For Consistency

Is pants- versus- skirts the big issue in the Biblical idea of modesty? Do we do the issue justice to reduce it to one area? Men, do you turn your head from every woman in pants? Or just from those who are flaunting their bodies? That really proves the point, doesn’t it?

Are pants worldly and a leaving of “the old paths”? Why do we pick this one modern development? Didn’t some think the same thing at other times about automobiles, or makeup, or jewelry, or cell phones, or electricity? Can’t you imagine some Christian years ago lamenting the shameful worldliness of bringing indoor plumbing into your home? Why would someone else get the privilege of picking and choosing such things for me?

Do you really believe that pants are a form of homosexual cross-dressing? Really? For every woman you know who wears pants? Are there not some women you admire as Christians who wear pants?  Does, then, a lesbian putting on a skirt make her straight? Doesn’t this show how far adrift we are in our thinking? Cross-dressing? Where’s the outrage for issues the Bible takes care to often discuss on the level of what we see here? Is pride or anger a lesser issue than pants when you read the entire Bible? Then why are these issues not getting at least equal publicity with the pants issue?

Is the entire issue of avoiding lust on women’s shoulders? (My Alicia feels strongly here). Does the man, who is truly a visual creature, not have some of the responsibility? If a lady wears something she shouldn’t, is he off the hook for wherever his mind goes? Let’s get real—does every pair of pants give men problems? If it does, could maybe he have a problem? Can a man not lust after a woman in a skirt? Even if a woman is immodestly dressed, is a man still not 100% responsible before God to keep his thoughts pure? On the other hand, does this not mean that there could be something called modest pants?

Finally, isn’t it true that there is no “thou shalt not wear pants” command? Isn’t it true that the Scriptures used are not as clear as some say? Isn’t it true that many of the arguments used are not Biblical, but are philosophical at best? Isn’t it true that where the Bible doesn’t clearly speak it is each Christian’s responsibility to seek the Lord? Do we, then, have a right to be upset if a brother or sister in Christ doesn’t arrive at our same conclusion?

Speaking for me and my family, these things settle it for us.

Read More: “Why Am I Making A Point To Discuss This Hot Issue” & “What This Means For The Reagan Family”

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If I Were God

Ever have the thought cross your mind “If I were God…”? Did you think “Here’s what I would do…”? I’ll do it because it should be done! You know what I speak of. Some person does some despicable thing and his life seems undisturbed. Someone else having done comparatively little or nothing seems to have a truck load of trouble dump on them.

Why do those who legalize abortion get away with it? Why do those who abuse or molest children get to go on their merry little way? And on and on we go.

The Bible addresses this subject on a few occasions, but this just recently jumped off the page at me. 1 Timothy 5:23-24 says:

Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.

There’s a great explanation for us. The Lord tells us to expect that some men’s sin blow up in their faces almost immediately while others may never in their lives face many obvious results. They do experience consequences, just not those dramatic, out-in-the-open ones that we so love to see. I mean some Nazi tormentors were brought to justice in 1945 while others are dying of old age with new identities in beautiful locales around the globe. How haunted they have lived, however, or how much time they spend jumping at every shadow, we have no clue.

Some of us have our sins knock us over before we leave the scene of the crime while others spend their lives being chased by their sins. The lesson is the same: sin is devastating and we must run to Jesus Christ.

You may be glad to have Christ’s forgiveness, but have something stuck in your craw about some who are “getting away with it.” What we are really questioning is the justice of God. Does He hand out unfair judgments in His world? In our more sane moments we know our God is just and even explains that He will not “be mocked” (Galatians 6:7).

So our two issues really are:

1. Appearances—The Lord is not making the judgment as apparent as we would like.

2. Timing—The Lord is not acting as quickly as we would like.

Besides the issue of it just being all about our likes and dislikes, we forget that the Lord lives in eternity while we live in time. Yes, my life is passing, but His is not. I may have occasion to get in a hurry as I may run out of time, but He never has reason to get in a rush. The problem is that I view the finish line as my time here while He has time until His Kingdom is brought to completion.

Verse 25 tells me more. The positive side is true as well. Some have their good honored here while others die unsung. Remember no martyr ever gets to read the glowing accounts of his or her sacrifice. Sometimes in life little recognition comes while others receive multiple accolades.

The Lord will catch all of that up, too. Remember He has eternity to work in. All accounts will be settled and not one shred of injustice will survive eternity.

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A Forgotten Regulation

It’s one we don’t think about. I imagine you haven’t heard a sermon on it in a long time, if ever. It first came up in Deuteronomy and was re-emphasized a few times in the New Testament. More importantly, it has incredible potential to keep you and me out of deep messes. We can hardly imagine why it is important at all, but it got enough mileage in Scripture to show us the Lord thought it a worthy concept.

What is this mysterious and forgotten regulation? The requirement that we have two or three witnesses to establish the validity of a word or matter (Deut. 19:15) is the one that needs to make a comeback in our generation. Think of how we establish a matter. We accept a whisper, we seize a rumor, and the worse the report the sooner we believe it. We so believe it that we feel it such an established fact that we have the right to tell it far and wide. Such is the genesis of broken friendships, wounded hearts, assassinated reputations, and of course, a sin itself. This doesn’t even cover the fact that it is blatantly unchristian and repeatedly forbidden.

The Lord knew what He was doing when He gave us this regulation. He knew conflict would arise among us and He knew we might not always play fair. So He took precautions for us. It protects us from both directions.  On the one hand, it’s so easy for someone to make up a charge in a moment of vindictiveness, or at least so exaggerate the situation that it no longer resembles what actually happened. If there’s a requirement of two or three witnesses, unless they conspire together, it will rule that out. At the very least, it will greatly lower the chances of a false accusation getting through. This makes a great principle obvious. Don’t form opinions by the word of one person, even if a good one, because you never know what complications in life may color his or her judgment. Also, we should check our own conclusions by those of others because it’s so cheap and easy to form a harsh opinion. You can check and see if others you respect have the same opinion.

Don’t form opinions by the word of one person, even if a good one, because you never know what complications in life may color his or her judgment.

Secondly, this can lead us through church troubles. Such crises usually denigrate into who can garner the most support as if it were but a popularity contest. But, praise the Lord, we don’t have to settle matters that way. I look for two or three witnesses, and if they are not available, I turn it over to God. Isn’t this what Matthew 18:15-20 is all about? Then personalities are irrelevant and we have a clear path through the mess.

There’s something to this two-or-three-witnesses thing. Do you suppose it has something to with why we are sent out two-by-two to witness of our Lord?

There is a lot of junk in this sin-cursed world. Perhaps, though, there wouldn’t be quite as much if we would but remember a carefully-defined, yet mostly-forgotten, regulation our Lord gave us long ago.

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The Future of Guys

Well, what is the future for us guys? For men in general? And finally, since it naturally follows, society in general? I can’t get away from the subject. I just did a book review about a book that addresses the struggles of Christian men (Man Alive by Patrick Morley). Then I read a couple of interesting blog posts by Marc Cortez that brings to light some surprising information he gleaned from psychologist Philip Zimbardo, among others.

Would you believe that your daughter is now more likely to get a college degree of any level than your son as well as do excel in school from start to finish? If you view those stats from 1970 to the projected amounts for 2020, an alarming shift is underway. It’s nothing against daughters (I have 3 of them), but what does this bespeak of my sons’ future (I have 3 of them too)? I don’t want to be obsessed with the idea that manhood is under full-scale attack, but something is up!

What I read only got more disturbing. Beyond academic chaos, guys are “wiping out relationally with girls, and sexually with women.”  Mr. Zimbardo is a little blunt in his remarks, but makes sense. To what does he attribute this downward slide? He says:

The real culprits are “excessive internet use, excessive video gaming, and ‘porning.’”

Mr. Cortez, in his fine blog post, focused on “arousal addictions” as the common thread of those 3 reasons. It’s the unreality of the virtual world overtaking the reality of life, the inability to find fun in real life activities, and the inability to distinguish an encounter from a relationship or what intimacy even is. For example, it’s much more work to make a relationship thrive than to satisfy a desire. The sad misunderstanding is that real relationship and intimacy even pays off in most thoroughly fulfilling desires.

The problem is “I want it now.” It wreaks its way through our society. We don’t want to invest time into anything no matter how worthwhile. I want arousal of my senses on every level. He even spoke of men spending more and more time together even if it costs them romance with a lady. (I’m for keeping the women myself, but that’s just me.) He said that there’s a trend of men preferring games over intimacy with a woman!

It takes effort to get a degree for your life’s work, but  we are not into the long term. You know, that’s so non-arousing! This only serves to push men away from the very roles where they are most needed. Irresponsibility murders responsibility.

I suppose here you would expect a pastor to begin a list of do’s and don’t’s, but that will not be the case. Our high-speed, connected world is here to stay. To wax eloquent against it would be like carrying on about electricity a generation or so ago. Moderation, or a Spirit-led life, would, I suppose, be in order. I’ll not define that for you, and I’d prefer you not define it for me, but it is a fair question between me and the Lord.

Then there is what you watch. Pornography, I hope we all agree, is out of bounds and safeguards in our one-click age are a must. Beyond that, the need is not that I tell you what you can watch or where you watch it. The first issue is no help at all because you’d be stuck if I had never said if it were fine to watch or not. The second misses the point because it holds up the appearance of my reputation over the reality of my character. If I keep my character I’ll probably be able to hold on to my reputation to some degree.

We lament these trends among men. The best thing I can do is be a real man. Next I can raise my sons to be the opposite of the age. Finally, I can encourage many of you who are fighting to keep Biblical manhood where it should be. May the Lord help you and me.

Two more helpful posts for men (by Jimmy Reagan):
– Hey Guys…
Man Alive

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House Church

Over the last few years we have seen a trend of more people having what they call a “house church”. I’m not referring to what is referred to in Romans 16:5:

Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my well-beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.

In that case they had church in the only place they could meet and it happened to be a house.

No, I’m talking about this idea that I can’t find any church pure enough for me and mine, so my house is my church. That would have its perks—scheduling family and church activities would be rather easy when the only schedule I would have to consult is my own. If I didn’t finish preparing my message and it is only my family, how easy would it be to watch “The Andy Griffith Show”. (Perhaps some episodes of that show would be better than some of the messages I’ve preached, but that is beside the point).

What is lost in this discussion is the idea of corporate worship. The Lord did not intend that everything in your life in regards to Him be in private. That’s a modern invention. Here’s a Scripture that might have escaped your notice. Deuteronomy 12: 17-18 says

Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand: But thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.

The phrase “within thy gates” means at your house. There are some activities that should take place at God’s House. No amount of verbal acrobatics will nullify what the Lord says.

This is nothing more than a repackaging of the old I’ll-have-church-in-nature routine. You know, I worshipped the Lord Sunday morning at the fishing hole. How does that work? Is there some spiritual way to hold the pole or bait the hook? I think of the Lord when out in nature too, but does that replace His call to corporate worship?

This all springs from a misunderstanding of all the Lord had in mind when He gave us the local church. Part of the idea was that there should be other Christians in it besides me and my family. Hopefully my family is already encouraging me and surely they are praying for me. I need more prayers, more encouragement, more of the Word than I can have at my house alone. Then there is giving and reaching out and the local church is what the Lord has designed for this very thing.

It’s not about that building, but we need that body of people in our lives. We need a local church. 

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A Right Response to the Jack Schaap Scandal

You’ve probably heard the news by now. It’s hard to grasp how big this is in the Independent Baptist world. I assure you I’m no rabble rouser, but this demands reflection. I sense a tsunami running through the ranks, bowling things over and destroying as it goes. Many of the thoughts I’m hearing, however, miss the whole point.

First, I take no pleasure in another man’s fall. Some out there are not doing as well as they imagine in hiding both their glee and the fact that it’s all a political game to them. You know the type–I stand taller when my enemy falls down. I know we are told it is doctrinal issues, but I haven’t been convinced it is so.

I know Mr. Schaap has literally wrecked his life. I always pity that sort of thing. I know there is an innocent wife who has been shamed beyond what any lady should endure. I know there is an ashamed congregation that is feeling all kinds of pain. I also know there are many pastors and college graduates who are horrified to answer for something they are in no way responsible for. Finally, and this is the worst, there are many who looked up to Mr. Schaap to such a degree, who hung on his every word, who followed his counsel, who are now struggling with the idea of walking out the church door never to return. Of course, we can wax eloquent about how they should never have looked up to a mere man to such a degree in the first place, and of course we’d be right, but it won’t change the fact that they did and that they stand bewildered today.

I do not, nor have I ever, counted Mr. Schaap an enemy. I have no desire to pile on, but we must call a spade a spade. What he did is egregious sin. That the girl was young enough to be his granddaughter makes it abusive and more perverse. Worst of all, he took the highest calling, a call to be a pastor of God’s people, and abused it.

Having labeled it the sin that it is, I pray he is restored as a Christian man in the spirit of Galatians 6:1. I pray someone is ministering to him. I do believe we need to feel something of “there but for the grace of God go I”. I pray for Mrs. Schaap and her family for healing. I pray for First Baptist Church of Hammond because a church crashing hurts us all. I pray for those who are feeling carried out to sea on the wave of this tsunami and can’t quite get their hands around what to think. I pray that they can see that Jesus Christ stands as tall as ever.

Let’s get this straight–we can’t change it. It’s been in the news and that can’t be erased. We must be on record as being on God’s side and make no excuses or cover up for such a grotesque thing. People are hurt and there’s no magic wand to take it all away. We must love and encourage and lift up those hurting and struggling as the Lord gives us opportunity. This is no time to have a marketing campaign to convince the world how great Baptists are. No, let’s just humble ourselves, go on, and be as Christlike as possible.

This should cause us to look at ourselves more carefully.  (Gal. 6:1c)

There is, though, one more thing we need to do. We need to look at ourselves more carefully. Everyone is doing it to us and, perhaps, you feel defensive. Corrective measures are needed. We need a debriefing time here to analyze how did we get here. Every Christian group has scandal–such is the nature of sin. Still, what positive steps could be taken? Would you permit me to suggest a few-especially to the church’s leadership? Here they are in random order:

1. Church Leaders must have accountability.

I know we are told that “the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers” (Acts 20:28) and that we are to take the “oversight thereof” (1 Pet. 5:2). We do have a leadership role in the local church, but what New Testament example could you honestly cite that allows us to scold, yell, or manipulate? In fact, that same 1 Peter passage tells us that our ministering and leading not be that way, “neither as lords over God’s heritage, but being an ensamples to the flock.” Please don’t imagine that it’s fine to degrade in the pulpit either. It’s the coward’s way to attack an individual under the cover of God’s sacred desk. We must be ethical and our leadership is open to honest scrutiny in the church. We should have honesty, integrity, and be fully above reproach in all we do.

2. We Pastors must extend that accountability to our personal lives.

When scandals like this come to light it tells me that the fallen pastor was able to go around with no one knowing where he is. It’s clear the wife wasn’t allowed to know either. Gentlemen, that is an abuse of our husband role. My wife always knows generally where I am and who I am with. She knows every password for my email, facebook, or any internet thing I do and can check it any time she likes. She can pick up my cell phone and look at any history she likes. In fact, if she picked up my phone in front of me, it wouldn’t even cross my mind to be concerned. She has full access to all bank or credit card information. There’s no way I could wine and dine another lady unless that woman paid for the whole thing! Plus, I’d still have to account for my time! It’s not that she even demands all of this, but I know accountability is a good thing.

3. We Pastors must maintain a sense of decorum and purity in all we do.

There’s a crudeness that is being accepted that is fully unacceptable. This is the age of shock value but we surely realize that we don’t have to take up all the habits of the age we live in. There are details of sin that don’t inspire us away from that sin. In fact, those details do the opposite. They fascinate us and lead our thoughts down dusty, dirty paths. A pastor trying to outdo the shocking statement he made last sermon not only puts himself under enormous stress, but also pushes himself to the edge of places dangerous to be. No wonder that circles that start doing this more find themselves in a rash of scandals. The pureness of God’s Word is greater than the filth of the world. That is doubly true in preaching.

4. We Pastors must cultivate our own marriages.

The Lord knew we men would need a lady in our lives. And yes, the sexual side is part of it. I encourage us all to look again at that beautiful lady we already have. Focus on her. Love her, romance her, enjoy her, immerse her in all areas of your life. You might find that you can have all the thrills you could ever want with the lady you already have. Look deeply into her eyes, really kiss her, praise God for her, and enjoy a wonderful part of life the way it was intended, and for the record, without sin.

5. Pastors must put the sheep first.

It’s time that every independent Baptist pastor quit imagining that his every thought is superior to those of the flock. The people I pastor (be careful here, read slowly, this may be a great shock to many of my fellow pastors) might know more than me about which house or car to buy, or who to date or marry, etc. A good pastor will show you when something is clearly a sin, but he lets you run your own life. You know what we have done? We are robbing those we pastor of something Baptists historically have died for–soul liberty. Instead of shepherding them into becoming stronger Christians, we stunt their growth by taking away that which is vital to becoming a stronger Christian–the ability to seek God’s face yourself.

6. Church Leaders must quit riding hobby horses.

Some like to ride some subjects to death. If you preach in great detail more than twice a year on adultery, you are a little over the top. If a preacher man preaches on women and their dress, etc., particularly with emphasis on body parts, all the time, then you are obsessed. We know where your thoughts are most of the time! People everywhere are starting to figure out that when you work things like that into every sermon it is likely because you are struggling personally in that area. Before you get angry remember that a day before a fallen pastor gets caught he likely would have ripped your head off for saying this. A word to the wise–make Jesus your hobby horse and that will never shame you. Emphasize the Gospel and you will never have any backlash. Could I put a little plug in for expository preaching here?

7.We Pastors must remember Who we serve.

Pastors face peer pressure just like anyone else. We want to be loved by the group we run closest to as much as anyone else. We must, however, live by principle. We must have an allegiance to God’s Word, not what our clique says is God’s Word. We must get to where we only need His smile upon us and then we will be free. Free to be the pastor the Lord asks us to be.

The tsunami has rolled through. Destruction is all around us. Let’s rebuild with Christ’s aid something stronger than we had before.

Follow-up Post: –The Backflow of the Schaap Tsunami

 

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Father Hunger [Book Review]

Just how important is fatherhood anyway? Our culture has no answer as it can’t think of one good reason for fatherhood beyond the biological one. For that matter, many fathers can’t add any more items to the list. Shall we listen to our culture? I’m not sure what our listless age has to commend to itself to be our guide. God, as the Master Designer, is left out of our thinking and the consequences are horrific. That’s where one of the most incredible books on fathers I have ever read comes into play. “Father Hunger” by Douglas Wilson is profound and greatly impacted me. Every page was like the hard steel blades of the plow tilling through the soil of my heart.

What Mr. Wilson was able to accomplish in this volume is rarely done. When the subtitle proclaims “Why God calls men to love and lead their families”, the book actually delivers on the “why.” Few books can give us the big picture and get especially practical as well. As an avid reader, it’s my opinion that most authors can give us only one or the other. Mr. Wilson, with verve, skill, and a pastoral heart actually pulls it off.

With deftness he upholds the essential equality of men and women while showing that the Lord, again the Master Designer, has assigned men and women different roles. That will probably keep this book off the New York Times Bestseller List, but it will have the smile of Heaven for its Biblical faithfulness. God is Father, so do you imagine in His design fathers would have a non-essential role? Ladies, don’t panic—Mr. Wilson never gives men power to be selfish brats, just power to love and be unselfish and sacrifice himself for his family. Listen to this incredible statement on men taking responsibility: “… to take on a lifetime of sacrifice and hard work. A man who takes a woman to the altar is going there to die to himself. But that is all right because it is not good for man to be alone.”

He looks at our country and where it is today and sees the absent father as the biggest culprit for the mess we are in. From fathers who provide the seed for a child and vanish to the fathers who live at the same address and mostly do their own thing in life, we have a generation of absentee fathers. The Lord designed everyone to need a father. A father’s loving hand is needed in the life of every child. He says, “Your actual pursuits are a running scoreboard. They reveal what you actually prize.” Are you challenged here? I am.

He shows how feminism, or the dire warnings of overpopulation, or the design of the welfare system, or the plea for gay marriage are all direct attacks on fatherhood. It also a direct attack on what every one of us needs to thrive as God intended. Statistics on everything from crime to education are given. The jury is in and the verdict says that homes without fathers are destroying children today. Without a Dad they will much more likely be a school dropout or be in prison. Also, the worst we see out of men comes from not encouraging them to settle down, accept responsibility, and protect their family.   He shows how God is masculine (not male) and how masculinity (defined with care) is needed all around.

There’s so much more, but this review is getting ridiculously long. For the practical side, the chapter “Some Father Mechanics” is worth the price of the book alone. I saw my lack all over its pages. Thank you Mr. Wilson. If no one else needed your book, I did.

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Meet the Skeptic [Book Review]

Here’s a book we’ve been needing–”Meet The Skeptic” by Bill Foster. So many of us witness by routine with a rote presentation with no regard if the person we witness to can make any sense out of a word we say. Or perhaps we use theological words, though great to us, which can no longer be understood in our Biblically illiterate world. Mr. Foster talks us through this problem, reminds us that it is people we are after, and guides to better methods and word choices.

For example, “salvation” would in no way mean to a guy with no church background what it would to those of us who have grown up in church. To ask “if you died today, would you go to Heaven” wouldn’t mean much to a lady who doesn’t believe there is a Heaven. To only quote the Bible might have little impact if that person has been indoctrinated to believe the Bible is full of errors. I believe the Bible has the answer, but how can I turn the conversation in a direction that would make Biblical truth something that must reckon with?

That’s where this book comes in. Mr. Foster does a masterful job reorienting us. He introduces many insights that I honestly had never thought of before. What makes his presentation so powerful is his uncanny ability to let us know how others think, how they’ve come to think it, and how we might finally get through with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

He explains the 4 main types of skepticism you may meet: spiritual skepticism, moral skepticism, scientific skepticism, and biblical skepticism (not believing the Bible is trustworthy). He describes the root idea behind the skepticism and offers probing questions to get them thinking. There’s even a quick reference chart at the end of the book designed to help you grasp what is fully brought out in text.

It’s not a gimmick; this book talks sense. I’ll keep mine handy for reference. Mr. Foster clearly admits that not everyone will turn to Christ with his approach. But wouldn’t you feel better knowing they rejected what they understood instead of what you ineptly explained?

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Regrets

Regrets. Failure accumulates as the years roll by and what grows with it? Regrets. You know, those things no one knows. Or even worse, those things that someone well knows. Those things for which we grab the eraser only to find you didn’t write it with pencil but the strongest ink.  How are you and I to deal with regrets?

Paul had regrets. You can sense at various places in the Epistles that they had the potential to haunt him were it not for the fact that he had learned some things about dealing with them. Take for example, Philippians 3. He begins the chapter rejoicing and speaks with passion about a life of serving Jesus Christ. By verse 10 he reduces the focus of his life to the simple idea of intimately knowing Jesus Christ. As he continued it was mingled with reflection. As said before, things that he didn’t really like to think about rushed again into his mind like a wave races across the sand on the seashore.

In verse 12, though a great man, he let us in on the cold hard facts of his existence. He had not “already attained”, which is like saying he hadn’t fully arrived. Nor was he “already perfect”, which is not so much perfection as it is to be complete in his maturity. He was saying, “I’m not finished yet. I’m still a work in progress.”

Then he said “But I follow after”. Compare that to “press forward” in verse 14 since it is the same idea.  In verse 13 he confesses he doesn’t understand everything, but he has one thing down pat. It turns out to be the secret to getting beyond regret.

It’s rather simple:

1. Forget. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin including the very guilt of it that so fuels our regrets.

2. Press on. The meaning is not stroll on down the road, but a vigorous and speedy travel. Reach forth for those things that are higher, higher than the living you did in forming your regrets. It’s the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

As you press on and reach up remember that the One Who called you to this higher call is the One Who best knows, even in vivid color and detail, the things you did that made for regrets. If He knows and calls you still to live for Him, why can’t you go on past regrets today? Let’s take Paul’s secret and use the transforming power of Jesus Christ!

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