Monday, March 30, 2009


On my recent plane flight to the Philippines I had the opportunity to read the book, "The Shack". A book I have been wanting to read due to the widespread acceptance and love it has received in the mainstream bible believing evangelical church. As I read the book, I would highlight the parts that were objectionable or down right heretical. When I was finished, there was more yellow on the pages of the book than there was black and white. Now I know it is a fiction work, but every writer who writes a fiction book, or non-fiction book has a reason and a purpose for their writing. It is not that someone just sits down and aimlessly writes a book. All authors have a target they are shooting at with their work, and this author is no different.

I am sure that one of the things the author of "The Shack" wants to get across is that God is there in the midst of tragedy and that He truly does care. Both are true and both are worth stating, but the way he brings that across is reprehensible! The story goes that the main character, "Mack" had a daughter who was abducted and murdered on a family vacation, though her body was never discovered. One day Mack gets a letter in the mailbox from God inviting him out to the shack where this all occurred. Mack decides to go and the book is basically a discussion between Mack and the Triune God.

Unfortunately God the Father is an African Woman. The Holy Spirit is an Asian Woman and Jesus is a bumbling happy go lucky middle eastern carpenter. It goes down hill from there as the Father, called Papa, though a woman, warns Mack about eating too many greens as they could give him "the trots"! The God head tells Mack that they submit to him, they come across as powerless, unknowing, unwitting and frankly not anything like the God of the Bible. Without getting into too much detail this book promotes Goddess worship, Modalism, and a Unitarian universalized view of Salvation. No one will read the Shack and find the gospel in it. There is not way of salvation, there is no Christ as the only way, in fact there is no gospel at all!

Having said that, pastors it is up to us to beware of the wolves that lurk just outside the camp of our flocks. People are reading this book by the millions and there are famous well known believers like Eugene Peterson who are comparing this book to Pilgrims Progress! Nothing could be further from the truth, and it makes me wonder if Peterson actually read the work. Whether he did or not, in fact whomever recommends this book, we must stand for truth regardless of who we end up standing against.

"The Shack" is a great example of how easy it is for the elect to be deceived, and it is a great lesson for us all as shepherds to not simply recommend or criticize a book based on someone we respects opinions. It is up to us to do the work for ourselves. We must be leaders who go to primary sources ourselves and form our own opinions and conclusions, based on what Gods Word teaches. Brothers beware of "The Shack", it will lead your people astray, and it will also give unbelievers a false sense of security all the way to Hell!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pastors who don't show up!

Possibly you have heard the joke about the mother who kept trying to get her son up for church on Sunday morning. After she finally woke him up she said, “Son, you have to get up. It’s time to go to church.” He answered, “But mom, I don’t want to go to church today.” She replied, “Why not!” He answered, “Well, I don’t like to go to church. I don’t like the people, they don’t like me, and it is boring. I just don’t want to go.” Finally the mother simply responded, “Well son, you have to go because you are the pastor!”

This is not a joke in some churches. For example, a church I know of has several pastors on staff and they do not show up for many meetings of the church. In fact, they even miss many Sundays or come in very late.

In a case like this, what should happen? Should the elders deal with it? Should the Senior Pastor? Should the congregation rise up and simply say, “Enough is enough, if you are a pastor then you need to show up!”

Scripture says, …not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25, nasb).

Friday, March 20, 2009


Hello to all from the Philippines. I am staying at the Martin Burnham New Tribes Mission guest house in Manila. Martin is the missionary who was killed during a rescue attempt for him and his wife as they had been held captive by the Abu-Sayef terrorist group that is very active here in the Philippines. His wife Gracia has a foundation with a website worth visiting at Their story is inspiring to say the least.

At this mission guest house are missionaries from New Tribes and other places, but primarily New Tribes. When I got back tonight I ran into a couple staying here, Lance and Laura Ostman. The are missionaries to the Higaunon tribal people on the island of Mindanao, a heavily Muslim area and very dangerous. As it is with New Tribes they went to this tribe that had never seen white people in 1983! Here are some quotes from the people they went to reach;

"Only one person has ever been said to make it to heaven without dying, but he was sent back because he complained that there was no work for him to do there. In many ways, we fear the tee-noo-mah-nun because of what the spirits tell us we have to do, like having to sacrifice our seven year old children to them and going without food for long periods of time. They would have us go on long pilgrimages through the forest in search for a promised pathway to heaven. Many of our ancestors have died during the tee-noo-mah-nun, but we have no other hope."

"We are really scared of sickness because we have so much of it. We do not name our children until they are about 2 years old because we know that they will have constant sickness and be likely to die before that age. Sometimes, in order to obey the taboos, we have to bury our children at birth.

For instance if a baby has its umbilical cord wrapped around its neck at birth, that is a bad omen and the baby must be buried. We have to crush up some ginger root and stuff it down the babies throat and then place it in a shallow grave under the house. We don't like doing this because many times we hear the baby screaming from under the ground for a long time.

"We also have to worship and obey our ancestral spirits because they control every part of our lives."

This was the state of these people when the Ostmans went to them. The reason I write of them is tonight I found out that the completed translation of the New Testament will be finished in the language of these people who when they went there had no language. After 26 years the translation work by the Ostmans and others is finished, and praise God they have 800 people in the village who have requested copies. Twenty six years spent developing a language, learning it, teaching it and translating the complete New Testament. The Ostmans are taking a one week vacation next week, and then they will be seeking where God wants them to go next. Amazing, humbling, inspiring! That is twenty six years well spent in service to the Lord, the fruit of which will be the Word of God to be used for generations until the Lord comes. This should make us all take a look at how we are spending our lives for the Lord!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ten Reason to Preach the Word

by John MacArthur

Faithfully preaching and teaching the Word must be the very heart of our ministry philosophy. Any other approach replaces the voice of God with human wisdom. Philosophy, politics, humor, psychology, homespun advice, and personal opinion can never accomplish what the Word of God does. Those things may be interesting, informative, entertaining, and sometimes even helpful—but they are not the business of the church. The preacher's task is not to be a conduit for human wisdom; he is God's voice to speak to the congregation. No human message comes with the stamp of divine authority—only the Word of God. How dare any preacher substitute another message?

I frankly do not understand preachers who are willing to abdicate this solemn privilege. Why should we proclaim the wisdom of men when we have the privilege of preaching the Word of God?

With that in mind, here are ten reasons why I delight in preaching the Word of God, week after week and year after year. This is not an exhaustive list, but I trust it will encourage those ministers who read it to faithfully proclaim the Word of God to the people of God through the power of the Spirit of God. (I have expanded on each of these reasons in the book Preaching the Cross, which can be read here.)

1. Because Its Message Is Timeless and Truly Powerful

2. Because It Is the Good News of Salvation

3. Because It Sets Forth Divine Truth with Clarity and Certainty

4. Because It Stands as the Authoritative Self-Revelation of God

5. Because It Exalts Christ as the Head of His Church

6. Because It Is the Means God Uses to Sanctify His People

7. Because It Rightly Informs Our Worship and Our Walk

8. Because It Brings Depth and Balance to My Ministry

9. Because It Honors the Necessity of Personal Bible Study

10. Because It Makes My Ministry Dependent on God

Ten Reasons to Preach the Word by John MacArthur
Shepherd Fellowship Pulpit Magazine, January 29, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Review of Paul:Missionary Theologian by Robert Reymond

Review of Robert Reymond’s book Paul: Missionary Theologian. Not an altogether compelling read per say (a bit dry) but towards the end he gives some good takeaways which I thought were worth passing on. These are from Chapter 25, which is entitled “Lessons from Paul’s Ministry for Today’s Missionary”. He points us to some solid (biblical) principles for us to consider for our own ministry that should cause us to pause and evaluate. For those interested in further studies you might consider reviewing Reymond’s view on the Trinity, which in some circles has generated much discussion.

1. We should be, as was Paul, students primarily of one book, even the Holy Scriptures, ‘correctly handling the Word of truth’ in order to be approved by God (2 Tim 2:15)

2. We should, as did Paul, uncompromisingly proclaim God’s law-free gospel (Gal 1:8-9, 2 Tim 4:1-6)

3. We should be willing, as was Paul, to proclaim this ‘good news’ of justification by faith alone to all the nations of the world and to everyone – rich and poor alike.

4. Not only should we preach to the lost world; we should also take seriously, as did Paul, the ‘watchman’ principle of Ezekiel 33:7-9, apply it to our mission labors today, and faithfully declare the whole counsel of God to Christ’s church (Acts 20:27), rebuking her for her sin and warning her against apostasy, and doing so regardless of the cost to our physical safety, our reputations, and our earthly fortunes.

5. We should take seriously the sovereignty of God in the salvation of mankind, as did Paul, and in the spread of the gospel avoid all the gimmickry, such as Charles G. Finney’s ‘new measures’ in modern market evangelism (I Thess 2:1-12, I Cor 2:1-5 2 Cor 4:2-5, 2 Cor 10:3-5).

6. We should, as did Paul, in our propagation and defense of the Faith refuse to compromise with unbelief and employ an apologetic method which would distort and compromise the gospel or dishonor the self-authenticating character of Scripture.

7. We should be willing, as was Paul, to endure loneliness, pain and suffering, loss of friends, persecution, insults, misunderstandings, physical affliction, even death itself, if necessary for the cause of Christ. That is to say, we should be willing to go anywhere, at any time, at any cost for Christ’s sake (Acts 20:24, I Cor 4:9-13, 2 Cor 11:23-28, Phil 3:7-9, 2 tim 4:6-8).

8. We should be willing, as was Paul, both to become ourselves transcultural communicators of the gospel and to send and assist others to go everywhere – not only to the villages but to the large cities of the world – to proclaim the law free gospel of Christ.

9. We should be willing, as was Paul, to nurture our converts by forming them into communities in which both mutual respect for other Christians (Rom 14:1-15:13) and the sharing of the spiritual gifts with the other members of the brotherhood (I Cor 14) are encouraged and achieved.

10. We should instruct these communities of believers, as did Paul, to worship God with reverence and fear and in accordance with what has come to be known as the Reformation’s ‘regulative principle of worship’, that is, only in those ways that God himself has expressly prescribed.

11. We should be willing, as was Paul, to be accountable to the church and to spurn the ‘lone ranger’ attitude towards ministry.

12. We should live before our converts and congregations, as did Paul, model lives of reliance upon God for all things, of discipline, holiness, truth, honesty, consistency, industry, humility and joy. In sum, we should live godly lives among them.

13. In our daily lives we should glory, as did Paul, only in the cross of Christ (Gal 6:14). There is no place for boasting in ourselves (I Cor 9:6).

From Daren Beck, ACTION Cambodia Director

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


This past Sunday Pastor Fred Winters of the First Baptist Church in Maryville Illinois was shot to death by a 27 year old man who came into the church walked down the aisle and began to fire. Pastor Winters had been at the church for about two decades and the church had seen tremendous growth in that time, both numerically and spiritually. It seems that this type of things is happening more and more in the United States. For sure this persecution against Gods men has been going on worldwide for as long as there has been a church. Yet men continue to stand in those pulpits week in and week out proclaiming Gods Word at peril and risk that they brush off with heroic conviction. These men are my heroes, I love them and long to serve them worldwide.

But in my mind this latest incident raises a question, are we as pastors developing leaders who, if we were to die this week could step in and take over? Are we being intentional in our leadership development? Have we marked some men in our church who we can work with and train and disciple? This is always a good and necessary thing for us as pastors to be doing as a part of our ministry, but as persecution becomes more frequent and more fatal it becomes critical. Brothers I believe this to be the most important task for us, training and developing men who can at a moments notice step in for us. The goal should be that if we were to be shot and killed this week, or we were to drop dead of a heart attack that there would be men who would take the mantle and carry on, not missing a beat. We need to make sure and do all we can to see the church goes on without interruption should the Lord call us home today. This is our duty and to ignore or put this off, is to be derelict in our responsibility before God. So men consider the flock your Father has entrusted you with. Do you have a brother, or brothers who are ready, or getting ready to take your place? If the answer is yes, praise God, if the answer is no, it is time brother to get busy about the business of leadership development!

Friday, March 6, 2009


I am continually reminded of the dire need for the men of God who labor in the pulpits and shepherd His sheep to maintain biblical fidelity. It never ceases to amaze me at how quick people are to sacrifice Scripture on the altar of tolerance, political correctness, and cultural pressure. Maybe no better example of this than the issue of women as pastors. The Word of God is clear that God does not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. (1st Timothy 2:12) Yet there are people who name Christ as their Savior and have been put in positions of authority as pastors and shepherds who abandon this Scripture and embrace the heretical idea of woman as pastors.

What is amazing is how clear the Word of God is on this issue. Paul in writing to Timothy after making the clear point goes to creation as his foundation. He goes to Adam being the first one created and makes it clear that this is not some cultural issue as head coverings would be in the church of Corinth, but rather this is a universal principal that has to do with Gods design and order. Yet men who are called pastor, will give in and compromise Gods Word to make women and culture at large happier with them.

Brothers we are not called to win a popularity contest or to end our lives with the title of "most congenial". We are called to stand on the Word of God, regardless of who stands against us. And the truth of this issue is that when men of God act like men of God and lead their churches and their families, the women are thrilled. They are thrilled because this is Gods perfect design for the church. His design for the church is the same for the family, and that is that men lead. Men are to lead as Christ led, which is as a servant, not as a tyrant ruler.

But,and hear this brothers, if there are men who are not leading correctly as pastors, it does not mean that women are to step in and take their place. We cannot disobey the Word of God for the sake of pragmatism. So men, the call is for you and I to stand against the feminizing of the culture and the church at large, and to be men of of courage who will speak this truth, that the pastorate, the eldership is for men only. And we need to celebrate this as it is not discriminatory, but rather our Fathers perfect design that is the absolute best for men, women and His Church!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What Is A Healthy Church Member?

Recently on a flight from Honduras, I was able to read most of the “What Is A Healthy Church Member” by Thabiti M. Anyabwile. It is excellent!

The book is published by Crossway ( I would encourage each of you to obtain a copy and read it.

Pastor Anyabwile lists 10 marks of a healthy church member which are as follows:

1. A Healthy Church Member is an Expositional Listener
2. A Healthy Church Member is a Biblical Theologian
3. A Healthy Church Member is Gospel Saturated
4. A Healthy Church Member is Genuinely Converted
5. A Healthy Church Member is a Biblical Evangelist
6. A Healthy Church Member is a Committed Member
7. Healthy Church Member Seeks Discipline
8. Healthy Church Member is a Growing Disciple
9. Healthy Church Member is a Humble Follower
10. Healthy Church Member is a Prayer Warrior

May we strive to be all that we should be in the church for Christ’s sake.