Friday, December 19, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Another Deep Thought by Jack Handy:

Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: "Mankind." Basically, it's made up of two separate words -- "mank" and "ind." What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Abusive Power

Today I came across the following quote from John Maxwell:

Consider the "Path to Abusive Power" in leaders:
Stage One: Surprise -- "I get this?"
Stage Two: Self-Esteem -- "I need this."
Stage Three: Satisfaction -- "I deserve this."
Stage Four: Selfishness -- "I demand this."

The Junkster's thoughts on this quote:

Many, perhaps most, pastors start without any expectation of special privilege or personal gain as a result of their position, and are genuinely surprised at whatever blessings or benefits come their way from being a pastor. But over time they may become convinced that they need and deserve the perks that come with a position of power, and eventually expect and demand them as their right.

May God grant pastors who start out and remain humble servants.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Deep Thought

And now, a Deep Thought, from Jack Handy:

If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mega Mania

It doesn't take much looking to notice how market-driven many churches have become these days. And it's getting harder and harder to find a church, particularly a large church, that doesn't give at least the appearance of being very focused on material things and being some kind of successful business enterprise.

Just my opinion (and one that won't be popular with some), but the more I think about all this, the more it strikes me as the natural progression of the whole mega-church concept. The existence of local churches composed of thousands or tens of thousands of members is a very recent phenomenon, unique to our modern age – something made possible by technology, easy and relatively inexpensive transportation, mass media communications, affluence, etc. None of these things are bad in and of themselves, and great resources have been made available by bringing so many believers together, united in a common fellowship and purpose. But along with success, popularity, and significant financial and other resources, whether of an individual or of an organization, comes influence and power. And with power and money come pride, greed, and corruption. It is just the nature of living in a fallen world, and Christians (pastors and congregations alike) are by no means immune. (That’s why we are warned in Scripture over and over about the deceit of riches, the love of money, and the need to be focused on service instead of positions of power.)

I’m sure that some who read this will dismiss what I’m saying, and claim that the problem isn’t with the size of the church, just with the character of its leaders and/or its members. But my point is not that big churches are inherently bad, but that truly godly men and women of character are fewer and fewer these days, and even those who start out good can too easily be corrupted – slowly, over time – so gradually sometimes that they can’t see what has happened.

Still not convinced? Check out how many times members or former members of Bellevue Baptist Church, FBC Jax, or FBC Dallas have written of their churches on blogs as being the “flagship church of the SBC” (which one is/was really the “flagship” anyway? – a fleet can only have one). It would be hard to think of another term that displayed a greater sense of inappropriate pride, even arrogance. If the members of a church think of their church as somehow better than other churches, it's no surprise that the pastors would think far too highly of themselves. And that sense of pride (“Look at me, look at what I am, what I have accomplished”) is what’s really at the root of the worldly focus in today's churches.

When will the churches be healed and restored, and receive godly leaders? When the members repent of their own arrogance, greed, apathy, self-reliance, and devotion to the things and values of this world more than to God. Not before. May God have mercy on us all.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Church For Sale

Here is an interesting article, called "Has the Church Sold Its Soul?"

(Ignore the fact that the author shares the name of an infamous former minister from Memphis -- it's not the same guy!)

Especially interesting is the part about how many churches have adopted a Carver Policy Governance model. I didn't know there was a name for it, but I Googled that term, and sure 'nuff, it is the very thing that I have been saying for the past 3 or 4 years is a major problem with how so many churches today view the elders/pastors as decision makers, business leaders and rulers rather than as spiritual shepherds and servants.

Also interesting is the correlation between personality type and church size, and how churches are using personality tests to identify and hire ministers with the profile of a successful corporate executive.

To all of which I say, "Maranatha!"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Well, I had to tell Jennifer to stop sending me secret messages in license plates, after they started getting strange. Like this one: MQD 327. Yeah, I realize her meaning is obvious, but, still, I was thinking, "What's up with that??"

After I called her home repeatedly to tell her to leave me alone, she sent a very nice letter of apology via registered mail. She pretended to be her lawyer threatening me with a restraining order, but I could tell it was just her funny way of saying she was sorry for freaking me out.

Poor girl.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Does it mean I am crazy if I have become convinced that Jennifer Love Hewitt is sending me secret encoded messages in other people's license plates?

Friday, August 29, 2008

MIA Friends

Do you have any friends who seem to be "Missing In Action" (MIA)? I mean true friends -- people whom you are genuinely close to, whom you feel a strong connection with, whom you've been through a lot with, who have supported you and whom you've supported, whose company you enjoy and who seem to feel the same way about you -- yet, it has been far too long since you've heard from them? The kind of friend you know would gladly do anything you ask, and for whom you would do the same -- yet, you never hear from them, unless you make the effort, take the initiative, pick up the phone, make an appointment or lunch date, or otherwise reach out to try to spend time with them. It makes you feel like maybe you value the friendship more than they do, since it if was left up the them, weeks or even months would go by without you hearing a word. (And you know this for sure, because you have tested it to see.) But then, if you do make the effort, they give every indication that they would love to see you or hear from you or spend time with you more often.

What's up with that?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Time for Some Campaignin'

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Monday, August 11, 2008

High School

My son started High School today. I'm old.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Elders & Authority

The more I study and think of the issue of church leadership and governance, the more convinced I become that the essence of the role of elders (or pastors, or overseers) in the New Testament is service, rather than ruling. The New Testament emphasis regarding governance is more on function than on form, and I believe that when the whole body is functioning in the giftings of the Holy Spirit, the functions of leadership will be performed primarily by those with those gifts and with the spiritual maturity to exercise them wisely and consistently. I do not believe that leadership authority in the church inheres in a position or title or "office".

Baptists have historically been congregationally governed and not ruled by elders not only because they were small congregations and it was functionally expedient, but also because of a firm commitment to the priesthood of all believers, which implies that each person is accountable before God, without need of an intermediary for any aspect of their relationship with God. As such, we are all equal in His service, and there is no special class or group within the body with any ruling power over others. Godly people will gladly and freely defer to the wisdom and spiritual leadership of those who have demonstrated deep commitment to Christ and His Word, those who have shown great care for their spiritual welfare by humble service.

I personally wouldn't mind if more churches intentionally focused more on experiencing and expressing the New Testament basics (community, mutual edification, interactive study, giving to meet the material needs of others, service to others, etc.), and focused less on today's programs and buildings and "church work" (keeping all the plates spinning). But I don't think doing the former (basic NT stuff) and the latter (modern-day stuff) are mutually exclusive, or that the NT forbids or eschews structure or organization (far from it -- God values administration enough to have made it a spiritual gift). My concern is more with the relatively recent move toward a focus on "pastoral authority" or "elder rule" in Baptist and like-minded churches -- I understand the pragmatic appeal, but I fear what is lost (in congregational involvement, commitment, and our equality before God in Christ) isn't worth it.

I realize that, for better or worse, churches today, particularly those of significant size, are also businesses, with budgets, payrolls, taxes, insurance, utilities, property, income, and expenses to manage. And certainly God would not have us be less than excellent in whatever business practices we are faced with. Someone (or more than one) needs to administer all of that. But it is important for those who do so to remember that the essence of being a leader in God's kingdom and in the church is to be a servant, not a master. The needs and will of the congregation should always be placed before the opinions and desires of those who serve the congregation. Unfortunately, too many in such positions of leadership have adopted the view that they stand between God and the congregation as those who receive divine direction and pass it along to the people. I believe the NT makes it clear that God hasn't worked that way with His people since the veil of the Temple was torn in two.

Again, we are all His priests, collectively, and Christ alone is our head, and He leads us all by His Spirit, not just a select few who pass along His will to others.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Abusive Ministers & Autonomy

Something just occurred to me ... please bear with me as I try to put it into words...

Baptist leaders are quick to say that the SBC can't do anything about abusive ministers because of the doctrine of local church autonomy. This indicates that autonomy is such a highly prized doctrine that it over-rides pretty much everything, including concerns about protecting children. In essence they say, "Catholics can handle the problem differently than we can because their church government is structured differently; our hands are tied by our form of church government."

Yet Baptists believe in (cling to) the doctrine of autonomy not just out of tradition, but because they believe it is right. They believe it is what the Bible teaches, and that other forms of church government (like the hierarchical structure of the Catholic church) are unbiblical. Put another way, Baptist believe that the way Catholics are organized is wrong, just as they believe Catholics are wrong on their doctrines of justification, sanctification, purgatory, saints, Mary, etc.

All that said, wouldn't if follow that when the Catholic church as an organization removes a Priest's ordination and refuses him a place of service in any Catholic church, according to Baptist doctrine, the Catholic church is wrong for doing so? I mean, if Baptists believe they are right about church government (autonomy) and Catholics are wrong (hierarchy), then doesn't that mean that the Catholic church is wrong when they act according to their wrong doctrine?

But I have yet to hear a Baptist leader say that. They simply throw up their hands and say, "Oh well, Catholics do things differently than we do; we can't do what they do."

This raises the question ... if autonomy is really the primary concern, and if it is so strongly believed to be true Bible doctrine, why do Baptist preachers not have the courage of their convictions to come right out and say, "What we are doing [leaving it to local churches] is right and what the Catholics are doing [handling it as an organization as a whole] is wrong"?

I will answer my own question ... because they know how bad it would sound. It would be plain for all to see that they are saying that it is preferable to allow abuse to continue in order to protect autonomy.

And that is one reason I believe autonomy to be just a smokescreen, a convenient excuse to do nothing. There may be many reasons the SBC has chosen not to address this issue as it should (fear of lawsuits, pride, potential loss of esteem and power, laziness, apathy, etc.) but autonomy is not the reason; it is just an excuse.