Thursday, October 31, 2013

"All that glitters isn't gold"

The following perspective comes from the heart of a faithful church layman.  I believe his summary of First Baptist (past and present) is both honest and accurate.

"From what I am seeing, God has His hand on First for whatever purpose. But His purpose seems best revealed through a humble church.  Over the many decades FBC has been known as 'the' church in Freeport. Large crowds, big choirs, impressive musicals, a wealthy church, a place to go to be among the who's who. It appeared however to be a proud church. 

Pride caused many to overlook the sins within the church. Pride placed a premium on relatively shallow teaching/ preaching. I notice many of the choir songs have a Christian bent, but are very shallow in message. Grandeur, but not necessarily Gospel.  Style without corresponding substance.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

How Church Discipline Can Be Like Doctor Shopping

Article written by Dr. Russell D. Moore
"Law enforcement officials use the term “doctor shopping” to refer to the way those addicted to prescription pain medications seek to avert accountability. If you go to your doctor to ask for Vicodin, and your physician refuses to prescribe it, you are doctor shopping if you then seek out multiple doctors until you find the one who will prescribe the Vicodin. Sometimes an addict will have multiple doctors going at once, all prescribing different medicines, often those that are dangerous to mix. I’ve noticed the same thing going on when it comes to church accountability.

The truth is, there’s a certain type of personality that doesn’t want accountability, but affirmation. If one wants to divorce someone one shouldn’t divorce or marry someone one shouldn’t marry or do something one shouldn’t do, he seeks out a pastor’s “accountability.” When the pastor tells him the opposite of what he wants to hear, he leaves and goes to find a pastor or counselor who will. And this goes on and on.

This isn’t being shepherded. It’s the same old autonomy of the self, that first manifests itself in the life-cycle of a child saying, “But Dad said it was okay…” except now grown up into something with a far more malevolent motive and a far more dangerous outcome.

Sadly, there are too many ministers of the gospel out there willing to empower this sort of behavior. If you have a church member who has been warned or disciplined by another pastor or church, you have a responsibility to investigate what’s going on. True, it might be that the old church spoke where there is no authority to speak, disciplining a parent for not homeschooling, for example. But, even then, if you will give an answer for the soul of this person, you bear the responsibility to find out what exactly is going on.

If you’re the kind of minister who refuses to acknowledge the discipline or accountability structures of other churches, you might simply be more enlightened than those churches and leaders. Or you might not know what you’re dealing with. And you just might be fighting against a word spoken by Jesus himself, handing over an unrepentant soul to Satan, with the hopes of ultimate repentance (1 Cor. 5:4-5).

Your affirmation of an unrepentant and fugitive-from-discipline church member isn’t an act of love or mercy. It’s an act of hatred. You are empowering the unrepentant to “bear the name brother” or sister (1 Cor. 5:11), to assuage a conscience that should be convicted by the Spirit. If so, you’d be better off just prescribing an addict another round of Percocet." 

Article by Dr. Moore and posted at  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Alexander the Coppersmith

"Alexander the Coppersmith did me much harm

In college I was privileged to be discipled by a number of faithful men.  Pastor Mark Spansel was one of the godly men who invested in my life and future ministry.  Mark often let me use his office at the Master's College so I could study the Word and utilize his personal library "after hours."  As an extended family member of the late Dr. D. Edmond Hiebert Mark owned a number of books from the personal library of the great New Testament scholar.  One of the Hiebert books that has been most helpful to me is shown above. "In Paul's Shadow: Friends and Foes of the Great Apostle." 

It is obvious in reading the New Testament epistles that the apostle was not afraid to name names.  Alexander the Coppersmith was one of the many named "ministry foes" of the apostle Paul.  Apparently this metalworker wrecked havoc on Paul's pastoral ministry.  In time Alexander did God's servant a "great deal of harm."  2 Timothy 4:15 informs us that Alexander strongly opposed the apostolic message.  The rest of the backstory would have likely been very familiar to the original audience and so Paul does not say much more than this.

As a faithful Christian the great apostle tried to practice what he preached.  For example in Romans 12:18-19 Paul wrote, If possible, so far as depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'I will repay, says the Lord."  Instead of trying to settle a personal score in a fleshly way Paul left room for the wrath of God.  Paul believed that God Himself would "repay this man for his sinful deeds." 

As a faithful shepherd Paul also sought to protect his flock and Timothy from the contaminating influence of this Coppersmith foe.  So Paul mentions this man by name in a letter that would have been read aloud to the entire congregation.  In 2 Timothy 4:13-15, the apostle dually warns these believers of this human "leaven."  So what does Paul and Alexander have to do with me or FBC?