Monday, May 31, 2010

Personal Plan for Spiritual Growth

Personal Plan for Spiritual Growth

1. Am I a Christian?

A plant can’t grow if it is not rooted in fertile soil. "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." – Romans 8:16 The first step toward spiritual growth would be to have the assurance that your sins are forgiven and that you have cast roots into the fertile and forgiving grace of God.

2. Search my heart

Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us search out and examine our ways.

Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This process can be difficult and humiliating. If we ask God to reveal our weaknesses and failings he certainly will. It is then our responsibility to respond by seeking his grace as we try to make corrections.

3. Establishing relationship

Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

We must devote ourselves to reading his love letter to us daily. We wouldn’t dream of depriving the body of food for a day, why would we consider depriving our spirit of food for a day. This daily exercise of reading and meditating on his word will enlighten our minds to truth and it will reveal the character of God to our minds. As we walk in truth we are set free from our sins and as we learn more about him a desire to be Christ-like will capture our souls.

4. Habitual communication

Psalm 130:2 “O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”

Our prayers should be more than a daily grocery list of items wanted. Prayer is the bearing of the heart to the only One who will be non-judgmental about what might lie within. It is trusting God with the most intimate details of our lives. It is seeking his guidance when we feel confused. It is confession, but it is also much praise and thanksgiving. It is also intercession for others which is pleasing to God. It is not a short exercise to be done in the early morning or late evening. It is ongoing and continuous.

Isaiah 62:6 “O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the LORD”

5. Don’t go alone.

Hebrews 10:25 “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

God created us to be social beings. We are to draw strength from each other and encourage each other in the faith. It is important to realize that our temptations are common to men. We share in the same struggles. How lifting to hear another tell of how victory was achieved in a struggle that may be similar to our own. Our life in the ‘rat race’ requires time commitments that would deprive us of fellowship with other Christians. It is important to prove our priorities by divvying our time appropriately.

6. Don’t keep it a secret

Mark 16:15 ““Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”

We often hide our light under a bushel because of our shyness or timidity. The mystery of the light of Christ is that it cannot be hidden. It is something that others will see whether you want them to or not. But Christ would not have us to be passive in sharing this light, rather we are to be proactive in sharing Christ with those who wonder about the hope we have within us.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

"A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste"

“A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste”

There is developing a deeper and deeper rift between government and those who cling to Judeo-Christian values. It is ludicrous to believe for even an instant that there can be some blissful marriage between government and Christians. Eventually, the dark hand of opposition and perhaps even persecution will reach out for Christians here in America. Christians in Europe seem to have become almost a non-factor as two other worldviews, humanism and Islam battle for supremacy.

When there is a desire for radical change in culture Hegelian’s Dialectic is often employed. The theory, in a simplified form, goes something like this: The first step (thesis) is to create a problem. The second step (antithesis) is to generate an angry or fearful resistance to the problem. The third step (synthesis) is to offer a solution that would not have been previously considered before employing steps one and two. This manipulation of the masses is a skill that has been used successfully by many governments.

A crisis can sometimes be manufactured or it can sometimes be a result of nature but opportunistic cultural warriors will jump at the chance to bring radical change by taking advantage of the fear and anger caused by the crisis. Isn’t this what Rahm Emmanuel meant when he said, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”?

Crisis such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City are all examples of events used to form attitudes and manipulate reactions among the population.

John Loeffler has written a book entitled “The Coming Persecution of Christians in the West.” Loeffler states that there are five stages in a coming persecution:

1. Define the opposition. Christians will be defined and targeted as Biblical literalists, fundamentalists, etc.

2. Marginalize the opposition. This is rather difficult in our culture because of the freedom of speech conservatives enjoy on talk radio and the internet. Expect the Fairness Doctrine and government control of the internet to be promoted.

3. Vilify the opposition. It’s not about open discussion and debate, it’s about vilification and ridicule. Christians are being pounded into submission by the twin clubs of diversity and political correctness.

4. Pass laws to criminalize activities of the opposition. Many laws have been passed in the last 30 years to subvert the influence of Christians. Christian clubs are prohibited in many public high schools. The intent is eventually to pass laws that prohibit the existence of the group or what the group does. (Prayer at high school football games)

5. Enforce new laws against the opposition. This finally becomes former persecution. An example might be a Christian minister going to jail because he preached against the immorality of homosexuality.

One might argue that we are at least to stage 3 and perhaps to stage 4. Barack Obama is a disciple of Saul Alinsky and rule #5 from his magnum opus “Rules for Radicals”: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then reacts to your advantage.”

Are conservative and God-fearing Americans being intimidated? We have been labeled “right-wing extremists” by the Department of Homeland Security. Fox News network was declared “not a legitimate news organization” by Obama. The Arizonans have been soundly vilified because they’ve decided to take things into their own hands and do what the federal government refuses to do, protect them from the invasion of gun-toting illegal immigrants.

Ridicule and vilification are used to muffle the mouths of young Christians sitting under liberal professors in our nation’s universities. Try speaking out against homosexuality or against abortion or against evolution and you will be soundly ridiculed and mocked by a professor who has no time for open debate or open minded analysis.

The worst thing that could happen would be for us to reward them with silence. We must speak now while we have opportunity to speak. If our values and beliefs are not worth speaking out for then we should look for a new worldview.

A Favor For Dad

Dear Matt, Justin and Denise,

I am so proud and happy for my sons and daugher-in-law to be going to Kenya to share Christ. What a great privilege. I'm sure it will be a life-changing experience for you.

But, while you are there could you do me a big favor......PLEASE LOOK UP THE BIRTH PLACE OF PRESIDENT OBAMA.


Your Loving Dad

It All Started With a Lie

It All Began With A Lie

It was paradise in the garden God had made. There is nothing on earth to compare it to. Not only did Adam and Eve live in paradise but paradise lived in their hearts. Their walk with God was perfect, unaffected by sin because their hearts were perfect. But then there appeared one in the garden who hated God. And he whispered lies in the ear of Eve. “Did God really say you couldn’t eat from that tree? Surely, you will not die, he doesn’t want you to eat from that tree because he doesn’t want you to be like him! You will have power and pleasure you’ve never dreamed of, go ahead and eat.”

So, Eve ate. She gave to Adam and he ate and their act of blatant, selfish disobedience was completed. Thus, we learned to lie from the Father of Lies. We lie to God, we lie to others but the greatest lies we’ve learned to tell are the lies we tell ourselves. Why write an article about telling lies? Aren’t there more important or more interesting things to write about?

I write these words because my hope is that others might escape the pain that comes from telling and living lies. I wasted nearly two decades of my life pursuing my own self-interests. I rationalized by behavior. I ran away from God’s call to preach. I believed the lie that I was happy and that I was fulfilling my obligations as a husband and father. I believed I was a good husband, a good father and a good teacher but there was no goodness in me.

During those years God followed after me like a bloodhound. He would not let me go. Crisis after crisis began to thunder in my soul like waves crashing on the seashore. I finally threw in the towel of my resistance and gave my heart to Christ. I then felt the freedom of his forgiveness but I also felt like the world’s greatest, happiest failure because of the years wasted.

Now I’m trying to make up for lost time. I often reach for the verse God gave me when I reconciled with him, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” – (Joel 2:25) When I was backslidden and in pursuit of worldly pleasure I thought I was happy. I thought I was fooling God and fooling everyone else but I was only fooling myself. Satan lied to me!! He is cruel and horrible in his hatred for us. When we resist the will of God it is inevitably going to lead to indescribable misery and unbelievable sorrow.

A month ago a blown out oil well forty miles off the shore in the Gulf of Mexico began an uncontrollable spew of oil into the ocean waters. They tried to cover it up but it could not be hidden. They’ve tried to stop the flow of oil but the dark, black liquid continues to pollute the waters. Now, the oil has reached the shores of our southern states and they are beginning to smell the stench of death as thousands of fish and birds perish in the crud.

There lies a deep, black corruption in every soul. This blackness seeps out of the soul continuously and no man can stop its eruption. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Many try to hide it but it cannot be hidden. “None of these things are hidden from him.” (Acts 26:26) Finally others began to cringe as they smell the stench of our attitudes, the stench of our behavior, the stench of our deception. There is only One who can stop the horrible eruption in the deep recesses of our blackened souls.

Don’t believe the lie. Don’t waste the years. Don’t live the short life you’ve been given in indescribable misery and unbelievable sorrow. Reject the lies and embrace the truth because Jesus said, “The truth will set you free.” (Jn. 8:12)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Christians as 'Useful Idiots'

Christians as 'Useful Idiots'

Every man and every government has a paradigm, or a worldview. Secular humanism is the worldview embraced by our modern government. But this worldview cannot survive or thrive unless it has some healthy opposition. Governments justify their existence by fighting real or imagined enemies of the state. In our country, Christianity is fast becoming the enemy of choice.

Many of our leaders are openly European 'wannabe's'. We seem to be running four or five decades behind the Europeans. Europeans are experiencing a major paradigm shift. Secular humanists have pretty much murdered Christianity in Europe but a new enemy rises. It is Islam. Muslims are determined to convert infidels to Islam although one might question their 'convert or die' approach. Onlookers are questioning if Europeans have the will to resist the onslaught of Islam upon their culture. Christians are so impotent they aren't given the time of day but Europeans handle the Muslims with kid gloves.

Every government and culture experiences a clash of worldviews. In our culture Christianity is no longer accepted as a player on the worldview stage. Humanists have used the club of political correctness to club Christians into submission. Christians are asked to conform and if they are unwilling they will be forced to conform by the enactment of various laws. (laws pertaining to prayer, ten commandments, etc.) If Christians cannot be forced into submission through the courts then an open persecution will follow. If you have any doubt this will happen just flip back through the pages of history and investigate the role of Christianity in every culture.

The Department of Homeland Security was formed to protect us from those who would be a danger to society. How shocking it was for many Christians when they discovered that some of their beliefs fit the new definition for terrorism. You might be a terrorist if you believe in end-time prophecies, you might be a terrorist if you are pro-life, anti-illegal immigration or belong to a local Tea Party group. You might be a terrorist if you are a resident of the state of Arizona. It us inevitable that he who defines the terms of the debate always wins.

In 1992 the United Nations redefined the term "enemy combatant". "This now includes non-military sources of instability in the economic, social, humanitarian and ecological fields." That word 'social' is especially troubling to those of us who are teachers or preachers.

Soft, feel-good terms are very deceiving. The process of ripping a living, unborn child from its mother's womb is called 'pro-choice'. If you would like to participate in a pantheistic pagan worship of the creation rather than the Creator then you might become involved in the National Day of Prayer for Creation Care. Christians were on board with the environmentalists until they made socialism the foundation of their politics, pantheism their religion and income redistribution their economics. This sharp turn to the left caused many Christians to abandon the movement while they struggled with a conscience that told them they were to be good stewards of God's creation.

The National Council of Churches and the National Association of Evangelicals are buying into this bunk. It's happened before. 80% of the churches of Germany bought into Hitler's great deception preceding WWII and the great holocaust.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Lies That Destroy Us

The Lies That Will Destroy Us

By Kevin Probst

Yehiel Dinur was a survivor of the horrendous German death camp, Auschwitz. He was a principle witness during the Nuremberg trial for Nazi war criminals in 1961. Dinur was brought into the courtroom where he came face to face with the exterminator of Jews, Adolph Eichmann. When Dinur saw Eichmann he stopped cold in his tracks and began to sob. He actually fainted as the judge banged away with his gavel trying to restore order.

Later, Dinur was asked why he fainted. Was he overcome with hatred? Was he overcome with anger? Dinur's reply was quite astonishing. He saw Eichmann, not as a beast but an ordinary man. "I was afraid about myself," said Dinur, "I saw that I am capable to do this. I am…exactly like he." What Dinur was trying to say was that "Eichmann is in all of us." Although this is horrifying to think of, it captures a brutal truth about the depraved, sinful nature of mankind. We all have a sinful nature and we have a potential of doing unspeakably sinful things.

Have you ever been tempted to steal? That temptation is directed at the thief that lies within your nature. Have you ever been tempted to murder? Or lie? There would be no temptation to do those things if there wasn't an impulse within that responds to those temptations. Dinur didn't see a monstrous devil when he saw Eichmann, he saw a man just like himself, a man battling a sinful nature.

What would cause a man like Eichmann to do what he did? If we all have a sinful nature why do some win the fight against it and others do not? Who is capable of answering that? What we do know is that Eichmann believed a lie. It had to have been a lie that led him into such darkness, it could not have been the truth. The truth sets us free, it is the lies we believe that destroy us, especially the lies we tell ourselves. Perhaps he truly believed he was doing a noble service for all of humanity by destroying the Jewish people. Perhaps he believed his duty to obey the commands of his superiors was more important than listening to the voice of his own conscience. Certainly he must not have believed that his actions would reap consequences.

The man who commits adultery or cheats his neighbor or steps on an underling in order to climb up one more wrung of the ladder believes his own lie that he can do those things without compromising his integrity, without becoming less the person he now is. He tells himself that he can do evil without suffering any consequences and he believes a horrendous lie. He becomes his own worst enemy, like a starving man eating his own flesh.

Individuals who embrace lies find themselves in all sorts of trouble, as do nations who embrace lies. American leadership refuses to believe that truth about North Korea's murderous aggression against the South Korean naval vessel. American leadership refuses to believe that the radical, Islamist terrorist mean it when they spew there hatred for us and promise our demise. American leadership continues to question the sincerity of Iran's Ahmadinejad when he promises the annihilation of Israel. The present administration would rather ignore complaints of human rights violations in China because our economy needs China's investment to desperately. We would somehow believe that our enemies are now are friends and former friendships are no longer important. Lies destroy people and they destroy nations.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Here the Commode Flushing?

Hear the Commode Flushing?

There are somewhere between 10 and 20 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Mexicans make up nearly 57% of illegal immigrants with another 24% coming from other Latin American countries. That computes to a whopping 81% of illegal immigrants coming from south of the border. 9% come from Asian and another 4% come from Europe and Canada.

Although I strongly favor limiting immigration and extraditing those who come here illegally I also have sympathies for those who are in this country illegally and want desperately to become legal citizens. I know of a wonderful, God-fearing family who had to flee their homeland because they feared for their own safety. Their attempts to become certified U.S. citizens have failed because of miles of red tape and the inability to get records from uncooperative members of the government of their former country. I have great empathy for this struggling family.

One day we may wake up to realize that this vast migration from south of the border wasn’t just happenstance. It was an invasion of one foreign people by another. It was planned in the sense that no one tried to stop it; not ‘W’, not Obama and certainly not Felipe Calderon the president of Mexico. Some of these are just good, innocent people who are fleeing a country with failing economy and crumbling governmental structure. But some are simply thugs toting guns, drugs and a criminal record. Calderon is more than happy to pawn his discontents off on his generous neighbor to the north.

On May 19, Obama and Calderon held a joint press conference. Americans should certainly have been enraged by what was said but most Americans were too busy watching American Idol and the NBA playoffs to pay any attention. In case you missed it, Obama stood quietly in the background while the Mexican president had the ‘audacity’ to trash the state of Arizona. He accused the governor of Arizona, the legislature of Arizona and at last count, 70% of Arizonians of “forcing our people (illegal Mexicans) there to face discrimination.” Lucky for him he didn’t arrive 100 years earlier because Teddy Roosevelt would surely have broken his nose.

Obama offered support by maintaining a cowardly silence. I feel like I’m watching the last swirl of water as it is about to disappear down the porcelain throat of my toilet. How much lower can we sink? Our president invites a neighboring president who is actively promoting an illegal invasion of our southern border and he acquiesces while this opponent trashes one of the fifty with an ‘in your face’ attitude!

If you aren’t depressed yet let me pile on some more manure. The following day Calderon stood in our Congress and berated citizens of Arizona for defending their border from those who would so blatantly break America’s laws and he received a standing ovation from those on the left side of the isle who are still brain dead from the hypnotization they received from Obama in the 2008 election. Oh yes, and those brave and noble defenders of all that is right and true, those Republicans we all love so well…sat quietly and let this all happen without even a ripple of protest. A few disgusted grunts would have been much appreciated. Why didn’t someone get up and walk out of the assembly. Is there not one Republican in the whole Congress brave enough to toss a tomato at the Mexican offender?

You shouldn’t be surprised. If you haven’t noticed by now, our president seems to have great affection for those who would call themselves enemies of the United States and he seems to detest those who would call themselves our friends. He eagerly hugs those who oppose Israel, he welcomes those from the southern hemisphere as if they were returning prodigals. He is consistent about some things….like trying to find points whereby we can find unity with those who call themselves Muslims.

What’s that I hear? It’s the flushing of all we’ve ever stood for; our liberty, our freedom, our integrity and loyalty to friends and allies down the proverbial commode.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Personal Testimony

Personal Testimony

I was born and reared in a Christian home and I was blessed with parents who loved God and committed themselves to teaching their children Christian values. I committed to Christ as a Junior High student at a youth camp. My parents, concerned about my education and moral development, sent me to a private school in my 10th grade year. Mount Carmel High School is a Christian boarding school that provides excellent opportunities to excel academically as well as spiritually.

As a junior in high school I felt a divine calling to enter a ministry of teaching and preaching. I graduated from high school and attended Kentucky Mountain Bible College where I deepened my spiritual commitment to the ministry. After graduating from KMBC I continued my education at Morehead State University in eastern Kentucky.

In the years that followed, I married, became pastor of a church, fathered two sons and began a career as a public school teacher. As my commitment to my own education and career deepened, my spiritual commitment to God and his kingdom waned. My failure to keep Christ as the center of my life resulted in a failed marriage and a great deal of pain for many people.

I began a period of introspection and soul searching. I came to terms with my own failures and sin and recommitted my life to Christ. I soon discovered that the calling of God on my life to teach and preach had never been rescinded. I had to decide if I would be obedient by answering that call. A renewed dedication to the calling of God would require a total consecration. I had been delegating God to the periphery of my life and he was demanding that I make him the center of all. I consecrated my life to him, he cleansed my heart and imparted to me an empowering of his Spirit. With this new found strength I determined to step out on faith.

I married a wonderful woman, her name is Shannon and she loves Christ deeply. I now have a 3rd son named Kameron. I resigned from public education and began working at a private Christian school. I have become Associate Pastor of CrossPointe Nazarene Church in Columbus, Georgia.

I regret the many years I spent digging my own cisterns. Instead of drinking freely and daily from the Spring of Living Water, I drank from cisterns. I sought security in changeable things rather than an unchangeable God. I put my faith in possessions, people and my own abilities. God allowed some very traumatic events to affect my life before I finally accepted the truth that there is no lasting security outside of Christ.

My sins are forgiven by the blood of Christ. I am committed to stand in the gap, to stand between the living and the dead and to do all I can to spread the truth of God's redeeming love. I regret that I can never recover lost years. But God's promise to me is found in Joel 2:25 "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…" I am grateful for second chances and I want to make the most of the opportunities God has given me.

What Does It Mean To Be Saved? ....Sanctified?

We like to use the term 'getting saved' to express the relationship Christ has made possible for us with him. Perhaps 'getting delivered' would be a better term. 'Saved' carries a connotation in our culture of accumulating, like putting money in a savings account. Perhaps the better question would be, "What have you been delivered from?" We believe salvation is a deliverance from sin. This deliverance is made possible by the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. When we are delivered from old habits, addictions and from ourselves a new life is inevitable. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

We make no attempt to try to defend the sacrifice of Christ as being in any way fair. There is nothing fair about the sinless, pure, innocent and only Son of God making the trek to Calvary to die in our stead. We accept this anomaly as the great, incomprehensible mystery of God's grace.

Because God has gifted us with a free will he chooses not to save us against our own will. He is eager to respond when we admit we are sinners. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). When we admit our sin our heart is prepared by the Spirit of God to accept the sacrifice of Christ. (John 3:16) It is important to realize that this work comes from grace and not of works. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). The marriage of our faith with his grace does produce within us a salvation, a renewal, a restoration of the soul to God.

Once a person is saved and begins to experience the scripture in a new light he will discover the wondrous and awful holiness of God. We react much like Isaiah did when he saw the holiness of God. He immediately began to confess his imperfections and his lack of holiness. "Woe is me! for I am undone: because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" (Isa. 6: 5).

Those who experience the regenerating power of Christ's sacrifice will soon feel a strong desire for more or for all of Christ. This is a hunger to be sanctified or to belong totally to him. Paul prayed that the Thessalonians might experience this grace. "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly: and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thess. 5: 23).

Jesus prayed that his followers would be sanctified: "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17: 17).

We can receive this blessing by consecrating our entire lives to Christ. Christ is no longer on the periphery of our lives but we choose to make him the very center of all. This consecration is without reservation. Once we present our bodies "a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God" (Romans 12:1-2) he then cleanses our soul of impurity and empowers us to serve by filling us with his Holy Spirit. He instructs us to demonstrate this infilling by fulfilling his basic command to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…" and…"Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:30-31)

It is important that church members have such a profession lest the church be filled with false prophets and false Christians. Perhaps the greatest difficulty facing the church today is determining just who is and who is not a Christian. There are many in the pews professing and even pastors in the pulpit professing an experience they've never really known. This causes untold confusion and discouragement among true believers.

Why the Church of the Nazarene?

Why the Nazarene Church?

The Church of the Nazarene exists in answer to the Great Commission of Christ. "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:18-20) We are evangelical and missional and desire to be a church used of God to reach the lost everywhere.

The church also exists to serve as a family to believers. We invite all Christ-followers to join our fellowship as we make sacrifices of worship and attempt to bring glory to God through prayer, song, testimony and preaching of the word. We desire to assist family members through times of difficulty and share blessings in times of joy.

The Church of the Nazarene is distinctive in its teaching of sanctification and heart purity. Because there are so few churches and denominations that emphasize this particular doctrine, we believe that God has a special mission for those who are willing to preach and spread this much neglected truth.

We take to heart the teaching of the writer of the book of Hebrews when he stated that we are not to forsake " the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25). We believe that God directs us to employ the help and support of others on this spiritual journey. We are to love and also be recipients of love. It is not necessary to walk this path alone.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

History and Mission of CrossPointe Nazarene Church

History of CrossPointe Nazarene Church and its mission to proclaim holiness?

CrossPointe Nazarene Church is located on Macon Road, a major thoroughfare through Columbus, Georgia. The church was established in 1934 making it 76 years old. It had its beginnings in south Columbus and was appropriately named Southside Nazarene Church. Later it relocated near the center of the city and was renamed Downtown Church of the Nazarene. In the early 1970's a new church was constructed on Macon Road where the present facility is. It was known as Macon Road Nazarene Church until five or six years ago when it was renamed CrossPointe Church of the Nazarene.

One of its early pastors was Arelia Moore, one of the few female Nazarene pastors of that time. Some of the other more notable pastors of the church were Robert Huff, Hilton Gillespie, Carl Pratt Sr., Eugene Wiseman and the present pastor, Eugene Boyette.

CrossPointe had between 200 and 300 people attending in the 70's and early 80's. There was a steady decline that followed as the church endured several pastoral changes. Recently, the church has experience some significant growth for which we give God glory. We have two associate pastors, the author of this paper being one.

Our church was home to two evangelizing sisters in its early days, Nettie and Leila Miller. We have produced several preachers from among our lay people.

It's hard to determine the identity or perception of local residents to the three Nazarene churches in our community. Columbus has a very large number of churches to serve its nearly 200,000 residents. CrossPointe Nazarene Church is just one of hundreds of churches in Columbus. Therefore, our impact on the community is minimal. All three of the local Nazarene churches are relatively small. Though small in numbers our people are very loyal to scriptural truth and, though hesitant to proclaim ourselves followers of anyone but Christ himself, we do strongly support the teachings of early Methodist founder, John Wesley.

Our effort to spread the message of holiness and Christ-like living in our community is probably hampered by the local misperceptions of what 'holiness', 'sanctification', and 'Pentecostal' mean. There are several groups in our area that associate speaking in tongues and extreme emotionalism or legalism with those terms. CrossPointe Nazarene Church is very receptive to the preaching of holiness and sanctification but we are trying earnestly to instill within our people the reality that holiness is not just something to be heard or believed. It is something to be lived and demonstrated. We are involving our people in missions, workdays, abortion prevention and many other opportunities where holiness can be demonstrated by expressions of love. We are in agreement with John Wesley when he said of holiness, "It is 'perfect love'. This is the essence of it." 1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Issues Facing the Church

Current issues facing the church:

• Contemporary vs. traditional music

• Segregating services by age

• Emerging Church

I think the issue of contemporary vs. traditional music must be one of the most divisive issues in the church. There is a desire for unity but there is also a sincere dislike for the music embraced by the 'other' generation. Can the older generation accept contemporary Christian music without fear of a secular cultural invasion. I like what Ron Hunter said in his article regarding our trend toward legalism, "The assumption was natural that one who was stricter than the founding fathers could not be less religious." Certain of the old ways we must not abandon but there is no virtue in hanging onto an old tradition that is non-essential to the doctrinal integrity of the church. Most churches go the 'blended' route but there must be a tolerance for 'other' music. We must not allow ourselves to be alienated or divided by non-essentials. The question must be: Can God be glorified by the music we play? Can people be blessed by the words we sing?

The music issue tends to segregate us by age. Generally, a church that is large enough to have two morning services observes their older people attending the early service and the younger people attending the later service or the reverse. Is it not practical to believe that the older people need to draw on the energy of youth and do the youth not need to draw on the wisdom of the elders? In an attempt to satisfy all age groups we separate them, thus, depriving each group of many benefits the other can offer.

At the front of the charge to adapt to our culture is the Emerging Church. Traditional Nazarenes are wary of Emergent types because they perceive them as corrupting the doctrine and traditional beliefs of the church. Brian McClaren has pretty much shredded the scriptural and traditional dogmas of the Nazarene Manual. The Emergent movement may be a serious threat to the orthodoxy of the church but the question they are asking seems to be the right question: How do we reach the 20 to 30 year old age group?

Should Women Preach in the Church?

Ordination of Women for Ministry

Women in the ministry is a huge issue here in the southeastern United States. We are a more conservative region of the country but Sarah Palin would have trouble getting votes in the southeast because of the strong, prevailing belief that women should not be pastor in a church often bleeds out into the political realm. Their thinking would go something like this: "If it's not biblical for a woman to pastor a church she surely she no business being president of the nation."

Nazarenes, since their inception, have been approving of women pastors. They use Galatians 3:28 as a scripture supporting women in church ministry. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." This issue is not necessarily a "man verses woman" issue. Many women also contend that women should not be a minister in the church. It seems to be more of a scriptural-interpretation issue. I'm sure the Baptists in my area would ask, "Is Galatians 3:28 referring to ministry or to and equality achieved through salvation.” Their favorite verse is 1 Tim. 2:11-12 "“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent".

Those who would exclude women from ministry will argue that God, from the beginning, created men to hold positions of authority. Men are more naturally suited for leadership and their aggressive nature equips them for the difficult task of leading. They would also argue that the women in Paul’s day were unqualified because they lacked education. If that were true, many of Christ's disciples were grossly unqualified as well. If education were still the qualifying factor many of our nation's greatest evangelists would have been disqualified.

When Paul wrote those words to Timothy he was addressing the pastor of the church of Ephesus where women were acting as leaders in the worship of Artemas, the Greek goddess.

Those who would support women in ministry often lift Miriam and Deborah as evidence that God approves of female leadership in the church. Priscilla was a minister in the New Testament.

Those against women in ministry believe that the biblical restriction is not that women should not preach and prophesy but that they should not have authority over men.

Supporters believe the Great Commission is anti-discriminatory. Does God not also give women spiritual gifts? Are they also not gifted as preachers, pastors and evangelists? If God gives them gifts to perform these functions in the church would he not call them to use these gifts? Acts 2:17 says, ""I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy…"

Is it inconsistent to teach that men should be authority figures in the home but it is surely proper for women to be authoritative in the church?

My local church is very proud to have been home to Nazarene traveling evangelist Miss Leila Dell Miller.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A particularly heinous sin

Our Christian culture teaches us that all sin is equal, that no sin is more heinous in the eyes of God than any other sin. Surely, there is a measure of equality when it comes to the consequences for sin. All unconfessed sins are punishable by a just God who chooses to separate himself from those who refuse confession. But even Christ himself did not teach that all sin was equal: John 19:11 "Jesus answered, 'you would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."

Who would argue that sexually abusing a child is no worse than feeling envy? Try convincing your wife that sleeping with the neighbor is no worse than speaking sharply to your children. Even our justice system is structured on the fact that some crimes are more heinous than others.

Scripture (Genesis 19, Romans 1, 1 Cor. 6, 1 Tim. 1) teaches that sodomy is a particularly heinous sin. Leviticus 20:13 says that "if a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads." Leviticus 18:22 says it is particularly "detestable" for a man to lie with a man. Those who disagree will say we are no longer under the law. God's moral law is transcendent. Jesus quoted Old Testament law when he said "in the beginning the Creator made them male and female," and a man "will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

Sodomy is especially heinous because it is:

1. A perversion of the created order. When God created man and woman he was very specific about his plan for them. Homosexual relationships are not what he had in mind.

2. A perversion of the procreation command. Homosexual relationships makes it impossible to do what God has commanded us to do, procreate. Homosexual advocates will reply by asking, "Are you saying the only reason for sex is for procreation?" Then they will reply that infertile couples should never have sex or that a couple who marry in their sixties should never have sexual relations because they can never have children.

God is addressing a category when he commands we procreate. Procreation doesn't always occur, but as a category, men were formed to procreate. The activity itself, aside from procreation, is appropriate between a man and a woman because it is sanctioned by God for pleasure as well as procreation.. Read Song of Solomon. Paul seems to indicate that legitimized sexual relations between a husband and wife can help them escape the temptations of sexual immorality. (1 Cor. 7:2) "But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband."

3. A perversion of the promise. Gen. 3:15 is the first messianic promise. "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." From that point on Satan was totally obsessed with killing the seed of the woman. Pharaoh killed babies, Herod killed babies. Babies are being killed by the millions in today's culture. What better way to kill the seed than to put men with men and women with women?

Homosexuality is listed among those sins that are particularly heinous. Thankfully, our Savior specialized in forgiving particularly heinous sins.

See cultural apologist Voddie Bauchim for a better and more detailed explanation of the heinous sin of sodomy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Psalm 2009

This is humorous, but a bit disrespectful.  Do you think it inappropriate to share?

Psalm 2009

Obama is the shepherd I did not want.

He leadeth me beside the still factories.

He restoreth my faith in the Republican party.

He guideth me in the path of unemployment for his party’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the bread line,

I shall fear no hunger, for his bailouts are with me.

He has anointed my income with taxes,

My expenses runneth over.

Surely, poverty and hard living will follow me all the days of my life,

And I will live in a mortgaged home forever.

I am glad I am American,

I am glad that I am free.

But I wish I was a dog…

And Obama was a tree.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Why I am a Nazarene

Why I am a Nazarene.

The advantages of the existence of so many denominations is that they provide opportunities to emphasize certain doctrines or beliefs that may be neglected by others. The Church of the Nazarene was formed for the distinct purpose of propagating the message of holiness. Mainline denominations began to turn liberal about 100-150 years ago. The work of sanctification as well as the inerrancy of the Bible were being questioned by the skeptics of the day. The Nazarene Church proclaimed a strong devotion to sanctification as an instantaneous as well as progressive second work of grace. The denomination has always held strongly to the inerrancy of the Word of God.

Where many other denominations have begun to question the trinity, the existence of hell and the definition of sin, the Nazarene Church has held strongly to their original definitions of essential doctrines. Nazarenes believe in God as revealed in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nazarenes believe in the dual nature of Christ, he is 100% human and 100% God. Nazarenes believe in original sin inherited from Adam and they believe in personal acts of sin that are voluntary transgressions of God's known law. Nazarenes believe that a man's soul can be justified, regenerated and adopted into the family of God upon sincere repentance for existing sin. One strong reason I am a Nazarene is because they hold true to the above said doctrines.

The Nazarene Church is a force for resistance against evil in her own culture. Nazarenes strongly oppose abortion and genetic manipulation of the human race. Because Nazarenes are committed to protecting the value of human life they strongly oppose euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Cloning is opposed because it treats human life as an object rather than a soul created in the image of God.

In a culture that is riddled with sexual impropriety, the Nazarene Church promotes purity and abstinence for youth in pre-marital relationships. The church recognizes the danger of substances that have power to destroy lives. Therefore, Nazarenes strongly suggest their members abstain from the consumption of alcohol and refrain from ingesting any substances that would harm the body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Not only is the Nazarene Church a very positive influence on modern American culture, the church is also very influential on foreign cultures. From the very beginning Nazarenes have been very committed to missions and evangelizing all peoples. Nazarenes have always felt a responsibility to take care of the poor and destitute. They have always been generous in their support of the spreading of the holiness message to peoples of other lands.

In summary, the Nazarene church has held strongly to the essential doctrines of God's word. It has been a force against evil in a sin-infested culture. It holds strongly to a set of values and ethics that glorifies God and benefits society. The challenge for the Nazarene church is to prevent the gradual decay that seems to accompany the growth of most religious institutions.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Why so many church denominations?

Why so many church denominations?

There are some who estimate that there are over 30,000 church denominations in the United States. This figure is a distorted exaggeration. The number of denominations that have significant differences are far fewer in number. Most denominational churches can be categorized as Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian or Lutheran.

Few of these denominations would declare themselves to be the only true church of God but all protestant denominations should agree that the one true church of God is not the Roman Catholic Church. They all protest the papacy, the deification of Mary, praying to saints and confessing sins to a priest. Most denominations were caused by a division in the church but if they retain their protestant identity they will oppose the Roman Catholic Church. Most would contend that the majority of protestant church denominations were formed as a result of a disagreement over non-essentials elements rather than essential doctrines.

Multiple denominations formed to satisfy certain cultural differences should be considered a good thing. For instance, in my area of the country there are multiple Methodist churches populated mostly by Caucasians. There are also numerous African Methodist Churches (AME) populated mostly by African-Americans. These denominations are very similar when considering the essential doctrines of God’s word but their styles of worship vary greatly to satisfy differing cultures.

Should we have much concern when churches divide over the method of baptism or the timing of the rapture? Should we entertain negative feelings toward churches that believe in the trinity, the person of Christ, the resurrection and the power of the atonement for the forgiveness of sins? A split is never a good thing but if it is a split over a particular style of worship rather than a split over essential doctrines then it is much easier to accept.

The churches that seem to be growing are those that are conservative in their theology and evangelical in their outreach. For the first time in history there are more Christians south of the equator than north of it. Denominational survival may depend on our willingness to resist the watering down of scriptural truth. Young people are looking for a strong people who are certain of what they believe rather than a weak people who have concocted a type of theological stew in an attempt not to offend others.

Is a multitude of diverse denominations such a bad thing? Isn’t “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17) a good thing? Diversity over style might be a good thing if it enables us to reach multiple cultures. But disunity over truth is detrimental and will lead to the destruction of the church to the delight of Satan.

There is no approval in scripture for breaking up into denominations. Though Paul and Barnabas seemed to have had a falling out, Paul states clearly what he thinks of denominationalism. “What I am saying is this: each of you says, “I’m with Paul,” or “I’m with Apollos,” or “I’m with Cephas”. (1 Cor. 1:12) Paul declared in no uncertain terms that we are to be “with Christ”. He promoted unity and resisted anything that caused separation or a lack of unity among the body of believers.

It seems Paul was much worried that some of these human leaders might be using the church for personal gain. He was enraged at the thought that men would use the body of Christ for self-promotion. He would certainly be spinning in his grave if he saw what was going on in the 21st century.

In spite of the opposition of Paul we now have thousands of denominations. So, what should we do? Should we worship at home? Should we worship through television? We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We should find a church that is committed to the essential doctrines of the Bible. We should find a church where the pastor is willing to preach truth in spite of what the consequences might be.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Magnificant Moher

She lived a very difficult life. She was the last of 25 children living in England in the 16th century. She was brilliant but had little education. She married an older man and bore him 16 children. Nine of her children died. At one point, as her home was burning to the ground she counted her children to be sure they were all safe but found one missing. John was dramatically rescued from a window in the second story of the house. Her health was failing. Her name was Susanna.

Susanna’s husband was Samuel. He was a preacher who made barely enough money to sustain his family. He was not good at managing what little money he had and was eventually thrown into debtor’s prison for awhile. Susanna and Charles were strong-willed and argued often. Susanna gave birth to a daughter during the election of 1705. A nurse who was caring for the child rolled over on her in the night and smothered the child to death. Susanna was grief-stricken. She was bed-ridden much of the time having to delegate responsibilities to her older children.

Her brother promised to give her a sizeable gift of money to ease the hardship in her life but he mysteriously disappeared never to be seen again. In 1731, Samuel had an accident. The horses stampeded, he fell from the wagon and he never regained his health.

What good could possibly come from such a difficult life? Susanna was the mother of two children who would one day be instrumental in changing all of England. Who can ever measure the amount of success John and Charles Wesley owed to the prayers of their godly mother? What was it that gave John Wesley the confidence to preach truth in the face of severe opposition and possible death? He had a mother who convinced him that he could do all things through Christ. He had a mother who loved him anyway when few others could muster any love for him. He had a mother who prayed for him aggressively, like a victor going off to war. He had a mother who patiently laid out the concepts that would construct his mind and develop his character like patiently placing bricks on a sturdy wall.

None were aware, perhaps not even John and Charles, that they were trumpeting the thoughts and words of their dear mother when John preached the word of God and Charles wrote some of the greatest hymns known to man. One woman invested in two sons. Two men founded the Methodist church and touched the lives of millions.

Be prayerful and careful, dear mothers. You have no idea how powerful your influence might be!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Will the real Barack Obama please step forward?

Will the real Barack Obama please step forward?

A man can be known by his words. But if his words are contradictory how can you know who the man is or what he stands for? Who is Barack Obama? We may never know. One thing is for certain, we will never know who he is by the words he speaks.

Some of his more recent statements are troubling. In reference to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: “Let me be clear: BP is responsible for this leak. BP will be paying the bill. But as president of the United States, I’m going to spare no effort to respond to this crisis for as long as it continues, and we will spare no resource to clean up whatever damage is caused.” If the “we” in his response refers to the government he ruins, (sorry, typo)…he runs, then what accolades does he deserve if BP is going to shoulder all the pain related to the expense and effort of the clean up? Why is this president so adolescent in his habit of blaming everyone else for everything that goes wrong? A sign of maturity is when an individual can finally except blame for his faults. In his regard, Barry just doesn’t seem to want to grow up.

“Every American affected by this spill should know this: Your government will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to stop this crisis.” And how long did it take for Obama to grasp the gravity of the crisis? And how long did it take Obama to decide he would visit those affected by the disaster? I’m sure those crab and shrimp fisherman in Louisiana now rest peacefully every night knowing that ‘your government will do whatever it takes.’

In response to the failed bombing attempt in Times Square: “We're going to do whatever is necessary to protect the American people, to determine who's behind this potentially deadly act and to see that justice is done.” That great whooshing sound you hear is not an ‘easterly’ coming off the Atlantic, it’s the collective sigh of relief among the thousands in Times Square and the millions in NYC after being assured that Obama is going to protect them. The Israelis feel the same assurance as do the American elderly as they prepare to draw from the empty coffers of Social Security and Medicaid.

Obama played Jekyll and Hyde with the graduates at the University of Michigan when he encouraged them to listen to opposing views: “It may make your blood boil. Your mind may not be changed. But the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship.” But earlier in his presidency he said, "But I don't want the folks that created the mess -- I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them just to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess.” Surely sounds like someone who wants to ‘listen to opposing views’.

On April 26th, Obama urged distinctive groups of Democrats to get out and vote. He is not at all abashed about using the race card. “It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African Americans, Latinos and women, who powered our victory in 2008, stand together once again.” Is this the same president who promised us in March of 2008, “When the means of production are in the hands of you, the proletariat,” he told an audience in Philadelphia, “only then will black and white blend together in harmony the way they do in my own DNA.”

Mr. Obama compromises whatever integrity he might have when he fails to stand for one truth. Instead, he chooses to stand for whichever truth might be most convenient at the moment. Many politicians are infected with this ailment but it is especially annoying and non-assuring when the president of the United States reveals a character weakness that is to glaringly obvious. Stand for something, Mr. Obama. People will respect you even if you stand for the wrong thing. But no one can respect you if you take no stand on anything.