7 Steps Christians Can Use To Help Fix The NFL/White House Controversy.

I love football in any form! I played for 7 years, coached for 4, and watched it more than I will ever care to admit. I also love my country. Jenni and I have taught our children to stand for the flag during the national anthem with their hand over their heart. I also love people-all people. I was so thrilled this past Sunday morning when I noticed the diversity on our church platform. It is just one visible illustration of the unity that Jesus Christ can bring into the lives of fallen man. With all of that being said, there is still a major problem in our country. To be honest, I’m not shocked with the response of those who do not know Christ as their Savior, but as I scroll through Facebook and Twitter, I’m blown away by the reaction of those who call themselves Christians. Many of the responses don’t look anything like our Lord, and they are laced with anger, disgust, and short-sighted temporal living. I’m afraid that we are burning bridges that could be used to carry the gospel to those who need it so very much, and the Devil is all too happy to keep providing fuel as long as we will keep pouring it on the fire.

So how should believers respond to the controversy involving the NFL, the Whitehouse, Colin Kaepernick, the national anthem, and protest of any kind?

1. Be soft. Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

This doesn’t just work for siblings fighting in the back seat. It will make us rethink what we type on Twitter and Facebook. Soft answers will accomplish more than sharp ones.

2. Be stealth. 1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Paul’s example was to pray for leadership so that believers could fly under the radar and stay on mission. We shouldn’t get all worked up about an issue that will only serve to derail believers from their main mission. God is pleased when we live peaceable lives. This is more beneficial to others coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

3. Be smart. James 3:17-18 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

Did you catch that? Smarts that come from heaven are pure, peaceable, and gentle. You can read the couple verses before that to see what worldly wisdom looks like. The tone and content of our words will show everyone where we got our smarts.

4. Be seeking. Hebrews 13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

As believers, we are citizens of heaven, and while we may not agree with someone’s behavior even when it infringes upon our “rights”, we must never forget that this world is not our home. Be willing to suffer like Jesus so that the gospel can shine, and don’t get too comfortable here in America. Seek to be a good citizen of heaven first.

5. Be sincere. John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Being sincere means being honest, real, genuine. You see, some people are all upset because other people are “disrespecting the flag.” We believe as Americans that we should honor the sacrifice of those who have fallen for our freedoms. While this is very true, don’t forget that every soldier’s sacrifice is simply a living illustration of the price paid for by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In seeking to honor soldiers, we might be guilty of dishonoring our Savior with our carnal attitude and quick temper. It also seems odd that one would stand and fight for soldiers because of their sacrifice but fail to stand and speak up for Jesus in their everyday life.

6. Be sensitive. 2 Corinthians 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

If we know Jesus as our Savior, we should know that without Christ, mankind is spiritually blind. It is our job to help them see the light. Critical and decisive comments won’t shed light on the truth. When Christ encountered people that we’re searching for fulfillment in life, His response was compassion. Matthew 9:36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Jesus told his disciples to pray for laborers to go and serve these people and to share Christ’s love with them. This should be our response too.

7. Be slow. James 1:19-20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

If the first six points failed to help us respond correctly to the current tensions in our country, then consider the seventh: Be SLOW. Slow down killer. Slow your roll. Back up the train. Did we think that ranting and raving about our position would result in thousands converting to our viewpoint and simultaneously desire to accept our Jesus as their Savior? Yes, I know we have the freedom of speech, but that is an American freedom not a Biblical freedom. I’m not saying slow down in hopes to silence your voice, but I do hope it makes us all realize that half-baked and short-sighted reactions are hurting the cause of Christ way more than they are helping. With piles of garbage all over the country, we should really stop littering.

I’m afraid this tension in our country will become a new kind of normal, but if we ever hope to fix this problem, it won’t get done through memes, gifs, and provoking rhetoric. Truthfully, I’m not sure this problem will ever be completely resolved until Jesus rules on the earth, but I do believe if we want to see improvements in this situation we should use these 7 steps when engaging the world around us.

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God, Quit Bossing Me Around!

God, Quit Bossing Me Around!

Before you get too tired of “God bossing you around,” please consider the only other option you have. I understand no one really likes to be told what to do. Even people with a “retriever” personality have a limit, but the reality is that we will always have someone bossing us around. There will always be policemen, government, and other authorities. No one is truly free to do whatever he or she wants. Even as a dad, my little girls “tell” me when to change their diapers. I honestly don’t “want” to change them every time but their need and their crying boss me around.

In every day life this scenario happens all the time, even a man who owns his own business has customers, bankers, and accountants bossing him around. The funny thing is we don’t typically think about it this way in the normal operations of life. However, in the spiritual realm, you might feel controlled or bossed around by the Bible or church. When we sense this attitude creeping into our heart, we must remember that in spiritual/moral arenas, someone or something will always be telling us what to do. Paul explained it to the Roman Christians this way:

Romans 6:16 asks this question, Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

This question reminds us of the following truths:

  1. We will always serve something
  2. Our master is who ever we yield to.
  3. Being the servant of sin leads to death.
  4. Being the servant of the Savior leads to righteousness and eternal life.

You see we will always be “bossed around,” but if we know Christ as our Savior, we get to choose who we serve. Before we are saved there is no choice-we serve sin, death, and Satan. Romans 6:6-7 “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.” You see, God is not constraining or bossy. His free gift of salvation gives us a choice to serve life, righteousness, holiness, and God. He makes us alive spiritually (Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;), and we have only God to thank for that (Romans 6:17-18 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness).

Our choice is so important because we can only choose one and each boss produces extremely different results. Let’s take a look.

  1. When we serve sin, it produces death. Romans 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

At first, serving sin feels like you are calling all the shots as you shout like a pirate who has just seized a cargo ship, “I’m the captain now.” The consequences are unnoticeable, harmless, and innocent. The rush of rebellion seems liberating. You feel like a kid in a candy store, but sooner or later you will have to go to sleep and in the silence of your own heart, you want out, but you are trapped and you can’t seem to find the exit. Slowly your relationship with God withers to nothing. You begin to watch your relationships die, and instead of living in control you start to feel like you have lost control. You are now in bondage to an addiction of drugs, alcohol, sex, selfishness, negative thoughts, video games, television, entertainment, the pursuit of riches, and the list could go on and on. The old truth strikes again-sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. You are being bossed around by sin, and the result of serving sin is death, addiction, loneliness, a broken heart, broken relationships, divorce, depression, suicide, etc.

  1. When you serve God, it produces holiness and eternal life. Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

If you have to choose a boss, may I recommend God? Already his gift of salvation has given you eternal life, freedom from hell, death, and sin. He has more than proven that He is here to give you something not take anything from you. John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. When we serve God it produces holiness, and it is the greatest promotion a person could ever receive. Imagine working a grungy job where you were never recognized, rewarded or given a raise, not only that but you didn’t even want to be there. You were trapped and imprisoned against your will. I guess it would be similar to the story of Cinderella. The only difference is her rise to royalty was because she fit the glass slipper. Our rise from slavery to serving the King is all by his grace. When we choose to serve him it produces holiness/sanctification which is the spiritual process of being set apart to be used in special ways for God’s service all the while becoming more like God. Our text ends by stating that this process culminates in eternal life. This doesn’t mean my yielding to serve God earns my eternal life, but it does mean that when God saves me I can serve him in ways that I’ll be rewarded for now and in eternity. Serving God produces rewards of eternal value not just temporal pleasure.

This type of servitude in the Bible is referred to as a bondservant. A bondservant, in this context, is someone who has been freed by his master but then chooses to stay and voluntarily serve his master. In most cases this was done because the servant loved the master and enjoyed the benefits, blessings, and protection of his leadership. This is in part what Jesus was offering when he said in Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. As the willing bond-servant of God, we produced wonderful fruit in our lives, and everyday we get one step closer to the full realization of eternal life, which we already possess but presently enjoy only in part.

The closing verse reminds us that if we choose to serve sin our “wages is death” (separation from real living, separation in my fellowship with God, and separation from all the things that give this life purpose and meaning.) You see, being employed by sin doesn’t pay well. It doesn’t come close to the benefits package that God has to offer. If we understand what’s at stake, you might just decide to talk to God and ask him to “boss you around” because you realize the he is our only good choice.

Do you have any experience that demonstrate that Jesus is the best Master of your life?

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7 Lessons I’ve Learned From Planting a Church

7 Lessons I’ve Learned From Planting a Church

My wife and I planted City Light Baptist Church 3 years ago today. Armed with the motto “fake it till you make it,” we launch into the most amazing chapter of our lives not fully understanding what we were doing. On the way home from the Grand Opening service, my wife looked at me and said, “What did we just do?” My eyes bugged out of my head as I stared back at her and replied, “I have no idea!” We broke into overwhelmed laughter because we immediately felt the weight of responsibility for maintaining this thing we had just created. Thankfully the church and our family is still going. God has blessed our church tremendously. We are still learning every day, but here are the top lessons we have learned in the last 3 years.

1.God is building his church. In some way, every pastor would like to take credit for all the “good things” that are going on in their church, but the reality is that God is building His church, not me.

Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Ephesians 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Truthfully, I wouldn’t have put City Light together the way God did it over the last 3 years. I have disagreed with God at times. I really thought it would be best if he brought 150 people the first day, but he didn’t. I would have preferred a better location for our first building, but God gave us the small store front property at 1 Jason Court or something like that). On deputation, I had a list of 60 people, friends from around the country, for which I prayed that God would put it on their heart to help start City Light. (None of them came. If you are one of those friends, no hard feelings…now) He definitely answered my prayers. He said, “No.” At the time it made perfect sense why these people should be here, but God had a better plan. He wanted to assemble a unique combination of people in a way where only he would get the glory for all that is accomplished here at City Light. I’m thankful that God kept His promise to build His church.

2.Any soul-winner can plant a church. I’ll never forget this advice from Don Sisk. When asked to give advice to a few hundred church planters getting ready to start their churches, he stood to his feet and quietly stated, “Any soul-winner can plant a church.” At first I felt cheated at the lack of advice, but God has used that one sentence to keep me focused on my most important task as a church planter-sharing the gospel. If you are concerned for the direction of your church (young or old), start sharing the gospel with anyone you can. You won’t regret the fruit it brings into your life. We have seen just over 100 people come to Christ in the last 3 years. That little advice from Bro. Sisk made a huge impact on me, and I want to pass it on to every believer I know.

3.I couldn’t have done it without my wife. From daily encouragement, to playing the piano, to teaching the ladies, to sharing the gospel, my wife has stood supportively by my side from the moment God called us to plant a church. I don’t want to even think of what City Light would be without her gracious, loving, godly touch. She is a passionate follower of Christ, a dedicated mother, a fantastic pastor’s wife, and my best friend. She does the work of many assistant pastors not for any compensation, but simply because she loves Jesus and loves introducing people to Him. If you are a church planter/pastor, don’t forget to thank your wife for all she does to help you in the ministry.

4.You must know that God called you to do it. If you are not convinced above all that God wants you to plant a church, don’t do it. It’s not that God would punish you for not trying, but it is just too difficult to do unless you KNOW that it is God who called you to do it. I just read Jeremiah 1 this morning and I thought about the challenge of the ministry to which God called him. How was he able to stay faithful to it? I believe that God’s call was something he must have leaned on many times.

5.Listening to the Holy Spirit is a must. A church plant is such a unique endeavor. There are so many varying factors that come in to play: resources, people, finances, city/rural, age, experience, and family just to name a few. I know in the early days, I wanted to keep pace with other churches. I didn’t want to fail and I wanted to do my best. Then God gives you direction and you start to worry about what other churches or pastors might think. There is no doubt great safety in counsel, but at the end of the day you must listen to the Holy Spirit and obey His leading for your church. What worked in the South might not work in the West. What worked 50 years ago might not work today. Get all the advice you can, and then listen to the Holy Spirit. He will lead you in the right direction every time.

6.The Devil is real. If you follow us on Facebook, you might think that only good things happen at City Light. I assure you that isn’t true. The Devil is just as alive and active in greater St. Louis as he is in your mission field. On a regular basis I am reminded that he is a liar, and imposter, an accuser, a thief, and if given the chance he will destroy anyone he can. As I write this, there are marriages in the balance, addictions that hold people in bondage, and materialism that distracts people from finding God. All of these things are tools of the Devil. I have never seen him so active as I have in the last 3 years. Church Planter, the Devil hates your dream of seeing a host of people come to Christ and seeing a gospel preaching church established. He will do every thing he can to oppose you. Just be ready for it and read the next point.

7.God is bigger than the Devil. Don’t be discouraged by the presence of the Evil One. Always remember 1 John 4:4-Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. Each day remember to thank God “…which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place,” and hold on to the promise of Psalm 27:13-I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.


If you have ever been involved with a church plant, what is the greatest lesson you learned? I would love to hear what God has taught you.

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Fantasy For Reality

Fantasy For Reality

Let me first start by saying that I love football. I played in High School and College for seven years. I coached football for 4 years, and I have been a lifelong fan of this glorious game. I love FSU and anyone that plays UF or Alabama. (and no I don’t root for UF when they play Alabama.) There is nothing better than seeing Lee Corso dawn the headgear at high noon on Saturday, and then seeing the kickoff in a jam-packed stadium while I sit on my couch with a plate full of chicken wings and Doritos. (I apologize to all the ladies and men who can’t relate. This would be comparative to black Friday shopping or a BOGO sale at your favorite shoe store.) I even enjoy playing fantasy football. I’m not any good, but I enjoy pretending to be the coach and general manager of my make-believe team and the competition and bragging rights that go along with winning your matchup.

All throughout the season, I’ll check in with my fantasy team, find out how they are doing, check the injury reports, search the waiver wire, and listen to experts speculate on who the most productive players will be this Sunday. I won’t spend a ton of time this fall on my fantasy team but with all my football activities, I will spend at least 3 total days (72 hours) watching, talking, predicting, and trash talking about football. I’m sure my wife might like to debate the 72-hour thing, but this number isn’t all that important. It simply represents the minimum amount of time I and many other men will spend over the next 5 months doing football related things.

This important investment in time and football got me to thinking about what other significant contributions I could make this fall with 72 hours. I suppose there are many different activities I could get involved in, but what activity would make the most significant impact in my own life, community, church, and eternity. It’s quite simple. It’s just three words-Sharing The Gospel. I know you might be tempted to stop reading right here, but please, keep reading.

You might not have any idea the eternal impact you could make in 72 hours, but it would be staggering. Think about the fact that if all your efforts just ended up in seeing one person come to Christ, in the words of John Madden, “BOOM!!!” Totally worth it! Now imagine every man in your “football talking group” or fantasy league at church dedicated at least 72 hours this season to watching, looking, and studying the roster of your neighborhood, church guest list, or place of employment for the next free-agent acquisition for eternity. What would that total, 5-10-15 people being saved? How would that impact your life, your church, and eternity?

Let’s take it one more step. What if every football-focused man in every gospel preaching church in the U.S. invested 72 hours to “recruiting” people for Jesus? One word for this would be-REVIVAL. Jesus’ twelve apostles did this and according to the Bible, they turned the world upside down. I know they invested a little more than 72 hours, but they had to start somewhere and so do we.

I am always challenging every person in our church to be a part of our gospel outreach this year. Our goal is to collectively share the gospel with 100 adults this year. I believe that if we would share the gospel 100 times every twelve months, we will see 30-60 people accept Christ as their Savior (this would be the statistical average I have seen here in St. Louis). This would be more than enough people to keep a church of our size busy for the entire year.

Maybe you should consider forming a REALITY LEAGUE at your church. A group of 10-14 men that love everything football but would also be willing to invest 72 hours or more this season in reaching people with the gospel of Jesus. This would change your church and if enough churches got involved in the work of the Great Commission, it would change the world. It might even turn the world upside down. This is nothing new or fancy, just fresh encouragement to live in the REALITY of eternity and not the FANTASY of this life. If you need help getting started, please check out unashameduniversity.com. I have been working on an online video course called “witnessing 101” to help individuals and churches more effectively communicate the gospel. It could be used as an individual study or even in a Sunday school or small group setting.

Here are a few other tips to help you get the REALITY win this season.

  1. Listen to the Coach. The Holy Spirit will speak to your heart regularly and point out people that he wants you to invite to church and evangelize. Don’t ignore him. Do exactly what he tells you to do.
  2. Draft every interested person. Yes, contrary to popular belief, people are interested in spiritual things. I find these people in two ways. First, Follow-up with church guests. At our church, we will get half way to 100 if we will just look for an opportunity to share Jesus with each guest who visits City Light. These are the best prospects because they actually visited your church. Secondly, look for people who are looking for church. When you hear someone say, “I’ve been looking for a church,” this is your signal to put them in your draft queue. It could be that they are already saved, but many times they are searching for something and all they know is to look for a church. If they aren’t saved, your investment in their life and diligence to share your faith could help them find what they are looking for.
  3. Keep a current list of top prospects and free agents.* I’m not suggesting you look at other churches and see if you can swipe their best soloist or youth leader. You are looking for unsaved/unchurched people. Just get out a piece of paper and write down the name and contact info of people you gave a tract to this week, the lady at your work that asked you those questions about God, and the barista that hands you your coffee every morning. Next, look for a way to invest in their life regularly.
  4. Invest in your prospects. Don’t get the idea that if they don’t come after one invite or don’t get saved after you told them you are a Christian that it is all over. It’s just getting started. There have been a number of people I have led to Christ after 5, 10, or 20 conversations. Just invest in the people on your list. How? Love, give, serve, be nice, be thoughtful. Ultimately, just love them like Jesus would. This gives time for their heart to soften, for the Holy Spirit to work, and for you to build bridges to carry the gospel across.
  5. Don’t forget to communicate with the owner. You are going to need to pray for your prospects and for opportunities to have serious conversations with them about eternity. There is a spiritual battle going on for their souls. You need God’s help and direction in order to succeed in this endeavor.
  6. Schedule some time to recruit.* What gets scheduled gets done, so schedule to be a part of your church’s outreach efforts. Invite your neighbors or coworkers to dinner and pray for the right opportunity to help them consider God’s free gift of salvation. Get involved and see God use your life to make a difference in other people’s eternity.
  7. Find an assistant to help you get the job done. This might be the most important key for success. You will need the accountability and encouragement to go and to keep going, so find someone that will help you succeed and do it together.

Maybe you already have a plan for evangelism this season, fantastic! Keep up the good work. Please let me know how you and/or your church reach out to your community. I’m always looking to grow in this area.

If you don’t have a plan, I hope this article and the online video course “witnessing 101” will help you to get going and succeed in the REAL world this season. Let me know if I can help you in any way.

Enjoy this football season. I hope your team beats everybody except FSU, and I pray that the University of Florida loses every other game they play. Don’t forget to keep your head in the game. The REAL not the FANTASY one.


*I know that I used some football lingo like “recruit” and “free-agent” that might make people seem like a commodity, but that is just to continue the football theme of the article. Every person on this planet is an important individual who is cared for and loved by God and should be cared for and loved by us as well.

**If you don’t like football, I give you permission to share the gospel. =)

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I’m Sorry For Not Being A Baptist

I’m Sorry For Not Being A Baptist

I remember a friend telling me about some people he looked up to spiritually and how those people “changed the rules” throughout the years of their ministry.

“Changing the rules” meant they had certain standards, opinions or personal preferences that they passed on as doctrine (teachings of the Bible) or better known as living a certain way in order to be considered “godly”. These opinions and standards were adopted by my friend and his family as the gospel truth and passed down to others that they ministered to. However, through the years the people my friend looked up to spiritually changed and so did their opinions about certain standards and practices. Things that used to be taboo were now tolerated and enjoyed. I remember my friend saying, “Why do they get to change the rules all of a sudden?”

(I should insert an example here, but I fear that some will get to caught up with that “one thing” instead of considering the big picture and purpose of this apology.) Perhaps they “changed” because they realized that their standard wasn’t biblically consistent, or maybe it was just impractical for the real world, or could it be that they recognized they were in violation of Mark 7:7, which states “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” I remember reading this a few years ago – wondering if I have ever been guilty of the same sin of the Pharisees in Mark 7. Have I ever taught a personal preference as if it were a doctrine of the Bible? Sadly, I’m afraid I have.

In my zeal to be holy and desire to “help” other people be like Jesus, I have preached personal standards over scripture. However, through the years, God has opened my eyes to this and I have attempted to course-correct my teachings to accurately reflect the Bible. With this, I worry about previous damage I may have inflicted, as I have not always had the opportunity to go back and apologize to those who sat under my preaching, counsel, and influence.

Today, I want to do just that. I want to apologize for not being a Baptist. Before you get too angry with me, keep reading.

You see as a Baptist, we I believe in Baptist Distinctives which are as follows: (Feel free to skip this paragraph if you have ever completed a Baptist History course in Bible College)

1.Biblical Authority-the Bible is the only rule of our faith and practice.

2.Autonomy of the local church-each church should be self-governed with Christ as the head.

3.Priesthood of the believer-each believer has equal access to God as a believer/priest according to 1 Peter 2.

4.Two Offices-Pastors and Deacons are the only offices for the local church.

5.Individual soul liberty-Every person has the individual right to worship and live for God as they see fit. We are all individually responsible, and will individually give an account to Christ according to 2 Corinthians 5:10.

6.Saved and baptized church membership-In order to be a member of a church you must be saved and baptized by immersion after your salvation.

7.Two ordinances-The Lord’s Supper and Baptism are the only rituals God outlined for the church to practices.

8.Separation of church and state-The state should stay out of the business of the church. Federal enforcement of any religion would only produce fake and phony religious people.

These are the eight historical distinctives of Baptists. As a firm believer, it may seem simple enough to follow these eight distinctives, but on many occasions in my life, I have been guilty of not practicing #1, #2, #3, and #5. Let me explain.

#1 Biblical Authority. I took my own personal standards for dress, entertainment, music, etc. and strictly took them for-black and white truth. If anyone disagreed with my stance, I viewed them as unbiblical, ungodly, and as someone who was grieving the Holy Spirit. The truth is, I was guilty of usurping the Bible’s authority in the lives of other Christians. Jesus never intended for me, or anyone else, to preach personal standards as doctrine. It is loading down Christians with additional “man made” rules and guidelines, and it is unfair and downright wrong. Does this mean that I don’t have personal standards of holiness? Of course not. It simply means that I should allow the Bible to speak into people’s lives, and if my standards differ (whether I deem it above or below other people’s standards), I should not view or treat another believer as a compromising, ungodly reprobate. As a Baptist, I should have known better. I should have let the Bible be the final authority instead of taking it upon myself to be the final authority.  I believe I was not acting as a true Biblical Baptist in moments like this.  I want to truly apologize to people on which I imposed my own personal standards that God gave me for my life. I want you to have standards of holiness in your life, but I want them to be the standards that God gives you.

#2 Autonomy of the Local Church. From time to time, people ask my opinion of another church or ministry. I must confess that at times I have been quick to judge and voice opinions, based on my personal standards, on how I thought that church or ministry could improve. I also know that other ministry leaders have been guilty of taking on a position, practice, or attitude that was not motivated by the Spirit after being pressured by outside ministries or pastors. I am guilty of this myself. Instead of being motivated by the Holy Spirit or being led by God into a ministry or position, we can sometimes base ministry decisions on the fear of who might call us compromisers or denigrate us at the next pastor’s fellowship.

Along with you, I believe churches should be autonomous and directed by the head-Jesus Christ. I believe each body of believers can make choices, independent of one another, and that their decisions on preference-based ministries, positions and standards might differ from mine…and that’s okay. However, there were times in my past where I didn’t agree with that.

There were times in the past where I haven’t been a very good Baptist, but I’m working on it. I am working on not just saying churches are autonomous, but also practicing this belief. It is my desire to fellowship and co-labor with Bible-believing churches who understand the big picture of the gospel ministry, but may not always see eye-to-eye with me on preference-based issues.

#3 Priesthood of the Believer.  A good Baptist believes that every believer is a priest and has just as much access to God as any other believer, but sometimes we don’t wait for other Christians to talk with God about an issue in their life. Instead of God speaking to them, we are quick to instruct them on the core-values of being a Christian. This makes us more comfortable because they mimic our own current position of sanctification, and possibly short-circuits a believer’s ability and opportunity as a believer-priest to commune with God and establish personal convictions and standards of their own. It borders on violating Mark 7:7 yet again.

I want to help as many believers as I can to get close to God, but that cannot happen when I act as their mediator or try to make them carry my armor into battle.  (1 Samuel 17:38-40)

I am all for helping new and old believers alike to grow in their walk with God, but as a facilitator, I feel I’ve been guilty of pulling people off God’s path and attempting to direct them down a path more suited for me. I have prayed and asked God to forgive me for this. I also pray regularly that he will work through me to help others be the priest God designed them to be.

#5 Individual Soul Liberty. This is closely connected with #3, but contains some differences that I believe are worth discussing. Romans 14:12-So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.  At the end of the day, even after I preach what I believe is the truth, I need to allow people the space and grace to make their own decisions, and to follow God down the path they believe God is carving for them. If someone chooses to listen to a different song than I do or use technology where I would not, I need to be okay with that. They can still be my friends, and we can still partner in our work and serve our Lord together. There is no need for me to label them as a heretic. Even in situations that clearly disobey scripture, if I write them off and turn my back on them completely, I have forfeited the ability to help them to grow spiritually in God’s word.

Is it possible that the Holy Spirit would lead someone to a different position/standard than me? Will we get to the Judgment Seat and hear Jesus say, “if you all did it just like Matt, you would have been perfect to”? Absolutely not! Even though I believe I’m right in everything I am doing for the Lord (if I didn’t believe that I should desire to change my position), I’m not perfect, and I’m not getting an A+ at the Judgment Seat of Christ, so I need to approach people and their preferential differences with a little more lateral-love (give others space to be different and godly all at the same time). Is it possible? Yes, it is and I am ready to be the example of this or at least attempting to.

This apology letter is from me and to anyone who I may have burdened with an extra-biblical rule. Maybe even one God called me to carry but not you.

I also want to apologize for times that I preached, modeled, or enforced the truth absent of true Biblical love.

When I was in my twenties, specifically, I was so consumed with calling out anyone who played on the edge of Biblical error, heresy, and worldliness, when I should have exemplified Christ-like love, patience and grace. As a Resident Assistant in college, anytime sometime went against the rules (walking on the grass even!)  they got demerits-EVERY Time! No exceptions! Anytime they stepped off the sidewalk, I saw it as complete and utter rebellion. It ranked right up there with devil worship. I’m sorry for not loving you grass-walkers more. I’m sorry for not showing any grace…ever.

When I was a coach, I remember chewing a guy’s head off because he threw a plastic bottle out the bus window as we drove back from a team activity. I pulled the bus over, ran to the back, and discussed with him (very loudly mind you) as to why it was a horrible testimony for Christ to litter. In the moment, it never dawned on me that my testimony was worse than his was, on that given day. I want to apologize to all of you bottle-tossing litterbugs for being so concerned about outward perfectionism over inward holiness and Christlikeness.

Early in my ministry, I remember preaching a message on music and shortly after that night, I received a letter from a lady in our church congregation that basically stated, “We know what you believe, now back off and let us make up our own mind.” I didn’t appreciate the letter at the time, but she was right. I’m sure she was familiar enough with my habits enough to know that I would be looking to enforce the truth I had just preached. I would be looking for violators and impatiently beating them back from the edge of “doctrinal” compromise. It would have been more effective for me to graciously preach truth in a way that demonstrated my love for people, thereby, opening a door of communication that allowed me to impact them for righteousness. I acted more like the Queen of Hearts from Alice In Wonderland shouting “off with their head” towards anyone who dare to differ with me.

I really do believe it came from a desire to please God in holiness (I think this was the same misguided desire of the Pharisees in Mark 7) and help others do the same. Today, I’m striving to live out 1 Corinthians 13 and couple the truth I present with clarity and Christ-like charity. The verse I quote repeatedly is “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.” Meekness means that the Holy Spirit controls my words, responses, attitudes, and actions. Instructing means I’m taking time to lead people in God’s word not my way.

I want you to understand that it is my desire to be a Baptist in the truest sense of the word, but I’m afraid I have failed to be a real Baptist at times. As I work to improve my practice, please pray that God will work through me to continue to elevate the message of the Bible over my personal standards, as well as  allow other people and churches to follow God and his teachings through the Holy Spirit instead of inserting undue and unbiblical pressure to be like me. Also, for all those guys who resided in Spurgeon Dorm and may still grimace when you see me on Facebook, please forgive me for trying to make you like me instead of like Jesus.

Sincerely attempting to be a Baptist,

Matt Lahmann

P.S. If any of my English teachers are reading this, please forgive me. My improper use of the English language is no reflection on your performance as an educator.

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True words and respect from an atheist

athiestMy wife shared this video with me, and you have to watch it. It’s so powerful to hear honest, true, words from someone (He’s famous too)  that doesn’t believe in God. It should challenge you to do more in the areas of sharing your faith and being unashamed of the gospel of Christ. What does it say about our faith in Christ if we fail to tell others?

I would love to hear your initial thoughts as soon as you watch this.

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Gospel Sharing Success In 2016

Gospel Sharing Success Main Title

You can succeed in 2016 in the area of sharing the gospel. Join us this week for our 3-part video series “Gospel Sharing Success.” Get fired up and focused on the most important goal any believer could ever set for 2016-sharing the good news of the Jesus Christ.

Join us for our new video series: “Gospel Sharing Success”

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