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Monday, December 27, 2010

Free E-Book for Christian Leaders from Covenant Eyes

Here's the free e-book from Covenant Eyes for Christian leaders that I have been writing about:

Internet Pornography: A Ministry Leader’s Handbook

It is available for uploading at this link It's a quick read and a very important tool for pastors to read. Please share this free book with your church leaders. I contributed an appendix titled "Does Struggling with Pornography Disqualify a Pastor from Ministry?" 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all the Scotts

Praying that you will rejoice in the miracle of Christmas  

God became a man, 
to rescue us from our sin, 
by dying in our place
so that we might live forever 
with Him. 

Jesus is the only hope of the world, the light for our way, the strength that we need, the joy that will satisfy, the true God who alone is worthy of our worship.

P.S., Thanks Johnny Young, Evidence Photography, for the cool pics.

From back to front and left to right Bobby & Naomi, BJ (13), Eliana (11), Carissa (15), Micaiah (9), Amariah (5), and William (7).

Happy New Year from the Scotts!!!!

Getting ready to pose but backdrop to cool to exclude this pic

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Does Struggling with Pornography Disqualify a Pastor from Ministry

It's accessible. It's anonymous. And it is eating away the very soul of the church. In staggering numbers, pornography has infected the professing people of God. It’s everywhere. It is in  our pews, in our choir lofts, in our youth ministries, and even in our pulpits. The church is in dire need of a solution.

In a few days Covenant Eyes will release a free e-book Internet Pornography: A Ministry Leader's Handbook that I pray will help. It is directed to pastors who struggle with pornography. I had the privilege of contributing to this project. To date it was one of the hardest writing projects that I have ever tackled. Covenant Eyes posted my chapter as a four part series to introduce this important book. Please let the leaders of your church know and encourage them to get this free tool. Here are the four posts to my chapter  titled “Does Struggling with Pornography Disqualify a Pastor from Ministry” part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What LACBC Teaches about Salvation Pt 2 Limited Atonement


Early in the 17th century James Arminius (1560-1609), a student of Theodore Beza (Calvin’s student), began to question the Calvinism that he had been taught. After an extended period of study he presented a series of lectures at the University of Leyden Arminius expressing theological revisions that he hoped would amend Calvinism. However, he only succeeded in splitting Calvinism into two camps. After his death, his followers issued the Remonstrance of 1610 in which they delineated five points of departure from the Calvinism of the day. These points are the major tenets of Arminianism:

  1. Election and condemnation conditional by foreknowledge.
  2. Universal Atonement.
  3. Holy Spirit helps in producing saving faith
  4. Resistible Grace.
  5. Uncertainty of Perseverance.

Adherents to Calvin’s teaching responded with what we know today as the Five Point of Calvinism: These five points are called the TULIP, an acronym which stands for Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible grace and the Perseverance of the saints. Thus the Five Points of Calvinism really did not originate as such with John Calvin, but were developed in answer to the five Points of Arminianism. The Calvinist position became the standard for the Westminster Confession of 1647, and the Baptist Confession of 1688, to name a few.*

The importance of last week’s study cannot be overemphasized. One’s position on the condition of lost sinners will directly affect what one believes about what it takes to save a sinner.


1. Did Jesus Die for the Elect?

The question that this study will consider is “For whom did Christ die?” Please answer that question, but before you answer it, carefully consider the following Scriptures, which many believers often read too casually:

  • Matt 1:21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
  • Eph 5:25b “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
  • Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
  • Also read Isaiah 53:10-12; Matt 20:28; 26:28; Mk 10:45; Rom 8:32; Heb 9:28; Rev 5:9

When actually looked at carefully, you will find that most of the atonement passages in the Bible teach that Jesus died for the many—the elect.

2. Did Jesus Die for All Sinners?

The verses above clearly refer to a limited application of the death of Christ to those whom God is saving. But these verses don’t paint the entire biblical picture regarding the scope of Jesus’ death. As clearly as the Bible teaches that God intends to sovereignly apply the death of Jesus in a special way to those whom He has chosen for salvation, the Bible also applies Jesus’ death to all sinners. Despite all the efforts to suggest otherwise, John 3:16 teaches that God gave His Son for the whole world. And even more strongly, 1 John 2:2 says that in some way Jesus’ death was for those whom God is saving and for those who will ultimately perish.

3. What Did Jesus’ Death Actually Achieve?”

Did Jesus’ death merely make sinners savable or did His death in fact secure the salvation of those chosen by God? Calvinistic Theologians teach that Jesus’ death for the elect is more than sufficient but efficient, while Arminians teach that Jesus’ death was merely sufficient, making it possible for the lost to get saved. In either case, some aspect of Jesus’ atoning death is limited. One will either limit the power of Jesus’ death by believing it only makes sinners savable, or one will limit the scope of Jesus’ atoning death believing that God applies his death to some (the elect) in a special way, securing their salvation.


Did Jesus die for the elect, for all sinners, and what did His death achieve? 1 Tim 4:10 sums it up best, “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” Jesus died for the elect and for all sinners. God applies His death to these two groups in two different ways. Augustine explained it well when he said Jesus death is “sufficient for all and efficient for the elect.” At LACBC we hold that God ordained that Jesus’ death be applied in the special way to the elect making their salvation certain, and His provision on the cross for the non-elect in a way that makes salvation a real possibility which all the non-elect reject. Therefore, they are held fully responsible for their condemnation (2 Thess 1:8-9).


We either have a gospel of grace or a gospel of grace plus what the sinner does. It should be seriously challenged if the latter is good news because in our state of totally depravity the Bible is clear that “There is none who seeks for God,” Rom 3:11. It is precisely because Jesus died for all sinners that God extends any measure of grace to anyone (Matt 5:45). It is also because Jesus died for all sinners that the Gospel is a real offer to all, and all who refuse to obey the Gospel are completely liable for God’s righteous wrath (John 3:36). But it is because His death secured the salvation of the elect that any are saved and that all of the elect are (John 6:37, 39).

* This section was adapted from David Forsyth’s TH 201 History of Doctrine syllabus.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lecrae Encore Concert

The Master's College and the Pastors' Bible Fellowship are sponsoring Reach Records' Encore concert at the Proud Bird on December 10th from 7-10pm. Click here to get tickets!

What LACBC Teaches about Salvation: Part 1 Total Depravity


As debates about the nature of salvation have gone through church history, we have tended to land on the sides of Augustine (the greatest of the early church fathers), Luther (the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation), and John Calvin (its greatest theologian). So that makes us in many ways reformed in our soteriology. The first great debate affecting the church’s understanding of salvation came in the 4th century between Augustine and Pelagius (the father of Christian liberals). Pelagius and his followers taught that Adam’s sin only injured Adam. Therefore, they hold that post-fall people have intact the natural endowments of conscience, reason, and free will (the ability to choose between good and evil). They believe what people need is reformation and not complete transformation in order to be saved. All humans, they believe, are able to live sinlessly and obtain salvation by their own powers apart from any special grace from God. Semi-pelagians believe God gives grace to those who worthily strive after what is good. Augustine’s biblical refutation of Pelagian’s view of the goodness of man is thorough. He argued from Scripture that all people are born in sin as a result of Adam’s sin. Luther affirmed our will is in bondage to sin. Calvin added that God sovereignly elects those who become Christians, draws them with an irresistible grace, and preserves them to the end. The greatly debated position within what is considered Calvinism is the doctrine of limited atonement. The next two studies will provide an overview of the main tenets of Calvin’s soteriology called the TULIP: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and the Perseverance of the saints.



The Bible teaches that sin has ruined everyone and that no one is exempt. Read the following verses and summarize the affects that sin has on everyone: (Gen 6:5; 2 Chron 6:36; John 8:34; Rom 3:10-12, 23; 5:12, 13, 17; 8:7-8; 1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:1-3).

The doctrine of total depravity comes from original sin. Original sin defines the consequences (not act of the first/original sin of Adam) to the human race of Adam’s sin. In Adam’s sin the entire human race fell and became corrupted.

Read Romans 5:13-19 and answer “How and when did everyone sin?” according to verse 12.

Paul explains the theological ramifications of the Fall in these verses. The sin that all committed (5:12) was in Adam’s sin. Either because God views Adam as the representative of the entire human race or because the entire human race was in Adam (genetically) when he sinned, God imputed the consequences of Adam’s sin to everyone. This means two things: (1) Everyone inherited Adam’s sin nature and (2) the consequences of Adam’s sin—death both spiritual and physical.

What is the effect of original sin?

  1. No one will seek after God (Rom 3:10b).
  2. Everyone’s nature since the Fall has come under the power of evil from birth (Ps 51:5). Like King David every person is born in sin. This speaks of our condition of fallenness. We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are by nature sinners. “No one is perfect, and no one is even close to being perfect. We are all sinners.”
  3. There is nothing in us that will cooperate with God (Rom 8:8).

Total depravity does not mean utter depravity that everyone will always be as bad as they can possibly be. People can be religious and charitable, and giving (i.e., Mother Teresa). The totally depraved can pray, give, and fast, according to Jesus (Matthew 6:1-18).  Paul however explains in 1 Cor 13:1-3 that without genuine love for the God of the Bible the greatest philanthropist’s work is nothing before God.

Read and explain Isa 64:6. Even the so-called good things we do are not good because we do them with self-centered rather than God pleasing motives. Genesis 6:5 further explains how this is true. Without Christ, the very intents behind all of everyone’s thoughts are only evil and evil continuously.


Totally depravity instead means that the Fall affects our whole person in radical ways. It affects our bodies in that we get sick and die. It affects our minds. It is darkened and deprived of truth. It affects our will. We live in bondage to evil impulses. It affects our desires. We lust after sin, which wages war even against a believer’s soul.

The debate among Christians isn’t whether corruption is true, but to what degree. The word “radical” captures the idea of total depravity best. It means that sin has permeated to the core of our being. This rebuts the idea that people are basically (at their core) good. Sin comes from our hearts—the very center of our existence. Therefore, what must happen for sinners to become conformed to Christ is complete transformation, regeneration, and a spiritual renewal of the heart. Luther, who was an Augustinian monk, agreed with Augustine that the human will is in bondage to sin. Hence, sinners do not have a free-will. Man is dead in sin and cannot convert himself or prepare himself for salvation. In the Fall, man has not lost his power to make decisions but his moral power to desire knowing/loving God.

Semi-pelagians argue that it is not grace alone that saves. They believe it is grace plus a person’s cooperation with it. But Augustine argued we are saved by grace alone! Augustine argued that man, being dead in sin, has to be saved unilaterally by God in His grace (Eph 2:1-10). Until we are born of the Spirit, we are all flesh living in resistance to God. We do what we naturally desire (sin) and chose to do those things. Without a clear understanding and conviction in agreement with the doctrine of totally depravity, a person will have an eschewed understanding of the other doctrines related to soteriology.

1.     Can you think of churches and pastors today who have a Pelagian and Semi-pelagian views? Answer: All liberal churches, black liberation theology churches/religions (teach that only white people are evil, e.g., Louis Farrakhan). Also a growing number of positive motivational churches like Robert Schuller, Joel Olsteen types.
2.     How does a right understanding of the doctrine of totally depravity help the evangelist realize they have to rely upon God when sharing the Gospel?
3.     And what are clear signs that a person is relying upon God in their work of evangelism?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Does Struggling with Pornography Disqualify a Pastor from Ministry? Part 1 of 4

In December Covenant Eyes is releasing a new e-book for pastors who struggle with pornography. This post is part 1 of the chapter that I contributed to this soon to be released book. I'd love to get your feedback on these posts. This was easily one of the hardest writing projects that I have ever tackled. Here's part 1:

It seemed like just another picture perfect fall day. My grandfather called my teenage cousin and me to go with him for a ride. We loved to spend time with him—especially on road trips. As it turned out, this would be a very different kind of trip. Coughing all along the way, he drove straight to the hospital. While my cousin and I waited for hours, my grandfather was admitted. That was our final road trip. My grandfather died after a brief stay in the hospital. I loved my grandfather. It ached my heart to think, what if he had gone in sooner? Would his doctors have discovered the cancer in time? But men don’t like to go the doctor, do they? We don’t like to admit that we have problems, and we certainly hate confessing that we need help. But acquiescing to the fear of vulnerability and to our culture’s false standard of masculinity, i.e., “I’m a man, I can handle it” often makes for tragic endings. There’s a lesson in this for all pastors. Living by the motto “I don’t need help, and I can’t expose my vulnerabilities” can lead to ministerial death, even when Christ offers abundantly abounding grace to rescue us.

In his classic essay on the dangers of ministry, Donald Whitney writes in “The Almost Inevitable Ruin of Every Minister,” that:

Almost everyone knows someone who used to be in the ministry. Almost everyone knows someone who shouldn't be in the ministry. And every minister knows another minister—if not several—he does not want to be like. . . . So I think it's important to address the subject of: the almost inevitable ruin of every minister . . . and how to avoid it. Once when a Southern Baptist denominational executive was on the Midwestern Seminary campus in the late 1990s, he asserted that statistics show that for every twenty men who enter the ministry, by the time those men reach age sixty-five, only one will still be in the ministry.

Doesn’t your experience confirm Whitney’s warning—too many pastors don’t make it to the finish line (1 Cor 9:27)? With the pastoral canvas already strewn with landmines, another lethal one has appeared. As stats throughout this book confirm, porn to a staggering degree is infesting the lives of pastors. Churches and denominations are being forced to implement policies to handle this growing problem. The determinative factor regarding how to respond to pastors who struggle with porn must be found in the Word of God. It is, therefore, my aim in this chapter to provide an exegetical/theological study of critical passages in order to answer the question—“Does struggling with pornography disqualify a pastor from ministry?”

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

LACBC is a Cessationist Church Pt 3 Miracles, Signs & Wonders


In addition to the belief that revelatory and miraculous gifts are for the church today, the resurgence of Pentecostalism brought with it the signs and wonders movement. With a global outreach via Christian television broadcasting networks (like TBN), mega-star and mega rich faith healers have successfully spread their brand of Christianity all over the world. Starting in the 1920-30s with Aimee Semple McPherson, Oral Roberts in the 40s, Kathryn Kuhlman in the 50s, faith healers now include the biggest names in Christianity Fred Price, Benny Hinn, and others. Before we consider a biblical critique of the claims of faith healers, it would be helpful to gain a historical perspective by hearing the convictions of the early church fathers regarding the gifts of miracles.

Quotes from the Church Fathers
Below is a small but representative sample of quotes about the church’s conviction about miracles, prophecy, and tongues in the Fall 2004, Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal on 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.

John Chrysostom (c. 344–407):
This whole place [speaking about 1 Corinthians 12] is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place.

Thomas Watson (c 1620–1686):
“Sure, there is as much need of ordination now as in Christ's time and in the time of the apostles, there being then extraordinary gifts in the church which are now ceased.”

Conyers Middleton (1683–1750):
We have no sufficient reason to believe, upon the authority of the primitive fathers, that any such powers were continued to the church, after the days of the Apostles.

George Whitefield (1714-1770):
[After being accused of practicing the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, said:]
I never did pretend to these extraordinary operations of working miracles, or speaking with tongues [since] the karismata, the miraculous gifts conferred on the primitive church . . . have long since ceased.

Arthur W. Pink (1886–1952):
As there were offices extraordinary (apostles and prophets) at the beginning of our dispensation, so there were gifts extraordinary; and as successors were not appointed for the former, so a continuance was never intended for the latter. The gifts were dependent upon the officers. We no longer have the apostles with us and therefore the supernatural gifts (the communication of which was an essential part of "the signs of an apostle," II Cor. 12:12) are absent.

BIBLICAL BASIS: The Truth about Signs and Wonders

  • Is it normative (normal) for God to raise up miracles workers among His people? While it is true that throughout history God has done and continues to do the miraculous, it is also true that only during three relatively short spans in all of history did He perform the miraculous through men gifted to perform signs and wonders. And never was it the case during any point in history that all believers performed miracles.
  • Why did miracles occur in biblical history? The Scriptures make it clear that God conferred miraculous gifts to Moses/Joshua, Elijah/Elisha, and Jesus/the apostles to validate/authenticate that they were His direct divine spokespersons (Exodus 4:1-5, 8-9; 14:31; 1 Kings 17:23-24; John 10:37-38; Acts 5:12; 2 Cor 12:12; Heb 2:4).
  • What is the NT evidence of the work of the Spirit? The Bible warns against those (Matt 7:22-23) who claim signs and wonders as being evidence of salvation. The fruit of the Spirit is a morally transformed life (Gal 5:16, 22-23) with no reference to revelatory or miraculous gifts (Eph 5:18ff).
  • Consider some of the extraordinary miracle workers in the Bible and answer the questions do the verified works of anything faith healer today remotely compare with them? (Exod 14:21-22; Deut 34:10-12; John 9:30-32; 11:43-44, 47; 53; 12:10-11; Acts 5:15-16; 9:36-37, 40; 19:12).
  • What does the following investigations suggest about today’s so-called faith healers? Following a Kathryn Kuhlman 1967 fellowship in Philadelphia, Dr. William A. Nolen conducted a case study of 23 people who claimed to have been cured during her services. Nolen's long term follow-ups concluded there were no cures in those cases. Furthermore, "one woman who was said to have been cured of spinal cancer threw away her brace and ran across the stage at Kuhlman's command; her spine collapsed the next day, according to Nolen, and she died four months later." Also the show 20/20 exposed TV Evangelist Peter Popoff as a fake. He pretended that God was revealing to him sick people in the audience when in fact one of his workers would read that person’s pray card to him through a hidden receiver in his ear. 20/20 picked up the frequency, heard, and documented the whole scam.


Many of today’s so-called faith healers are fake healers. They knowingly deceive vulnerable people desperate for help to rob them of their money. The Bible warns us, “but evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived,” 2 Tim 3:13.

So what do we do? (1) We believe that the miraculous gifts from Pentecost ceased, and yet we acknowledge that God can and does do miracles as it pleases Him (2) We limit fellowshipping in teaching venues with those who resist important doctrines. And (3) we reject fellowshipping with those who reject the essentials of our faith: the Trinity, advocating a false gospel, i.e., the Word Faith’s prosperity gospel, false teaching faith healers, etc.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Eddie Long LA Watts Times Article

Here's a link to the article (a previous post) "What should we learn from the Eddie Long scandal?" that I wrote for the LA Watts Times. I am thankful that they printed it. I hope that it sheds some light on how Christians should respond to pastoral scandals. 

A dear brother in the Lord, Eric Redmond, and I are actively pursuing a publisher to get a book out to address scandals in the church like this. As Christians, we need to "raise the bar" for what we will accept for biblical leadership and provide answers to  the excuses pastors use to stay in office after they have disqualified themselves. 

Last week, while I was lecturing to pastors in Kenya about the qualifications of leadership, one pastor told me that there is a hierarchy in their churches and that they just couldn't confront a pastor in sin. He said that after I had explained 1 Tim 5:20, which calls the church to publicly rebuke pastors who are in sin. So I read two others Scriptures to him. From Ephesians 1:20-22, I reminded him that the Father seated Christ far above all authorities and placed them far below His feet and that that includes bishops and celebrity pastors! Then I shared with him how in Galatians 2:11-14 the apostle Paul rebuked the chief apostle Peter in front of everyone because of Peter's hypocrisy. 

What congregations need today is a good ounce of courage, clear teaching about standards of leadership, and a renewed commitment to stop following so-called Christian leaders when those leaders stop following Christ. 

May God make us more loyal to the One who died to redeem us from our sinsto Christ alone.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Art of Marriage Guided Tour

I had the privilege of participating in this project, and I am anxiously looking forward to its world premiere on 2/11/11. To find out how your church can host this event go to Family Life Today for more information. I am sure that this will be a blessing to the engage and married couples in your church!

Monday, November 1, 2010

LACBC is a Cessationist Church Pt 2 Prophecy

HISTORICAL  CONNECTION: Quotes from the Church Fathers

Below is a small but representative sample of quotes about the church’s conviction about miracles, prophecy, and tongues in the Fall 2004, Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal on 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.

Augustine (354–430):
In the earliest times, “the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed: and they spake with tongues,” which they had not learned, “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to shew that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away.

John Calvin (1509–1564):
“...the gift of healing, like the rest of the miracles, which the Lord willed to be brought forth for a time, has vanished away in order to make the preaching of the Gospel marvellous for ever.”

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758):
Of the extraordinary gifts, they were given in order to the founding and establishing of the church in the world. But since the canon of Scriptures has been completed, and the Christian church fully founded and established, these extraordinary gifts have ceased.

Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892):
The works of the Holy Spirit which are at this time vouchsafed to the Church of God are every way as valuable as those earlier miraculous gifts which have departed from us. The work of the Holy Spirit, by which men are quickened from their death in sin, is not inferior to the power which made men speak with tongues.

[Speaking of the office of the apostles,] an office which necessarily dies out, and properly so, because the miraculous power also is withdrawn.

Benjamin B. Warfield (1887–1921):
These gifts were not the possession of the primitive Christian as such; nor for that matter of the Apostolic Church or the Apostolic age for themselves; they were distinctively the authentication of the Apostles. They were part of the credentials of the Apostles as the authoritative agents of God in founding the church. Their function thus confined them to distinctively the Apostolic Church and they necessarily passed away with it.

BIBLICAL BASIS: The Truth about Prophecy
  • Are modern day prophets often wrong? Yes, and in contradistinction to that, prophetic speech in the Bible is always 100% accurate (Deut 13:1-3; Jer 28:15-17; 2 Pet 2:1).
  • Does the Bible indicate that prophecy might cease, and if, yes, then how? Paul writes that when that which is perfect (teleios in the Greek) would come, prophecy would cease (1 Cor 13:10). The Greek word teleios can mean either mature or perfect, depending on the context. Paul didn’t know exactly when prophecy would end because he didn’t know exactly when Christ would return (soon or not so soon). So to indicate when prophecy might end, he used two illustrations. One pointed to maturity—the growing from a child to manhood—and the other the arrival of perfection—seeing face to face rather than in a mirror, which was a polished metal in his day and not very clear (1 Cor 13:11-12). Either would cause prophecy to cease. It just so happened that maturity came before perfection. We are still awaiting Jesus to bring in the perfect state of the Kingdom. Theologians debate whether the mature thing that ended prophecy was the completion of the canon or the church in general. I believe the completion of the NT canon is the stronger position. Because Christ tarried, then just as the OT canon of revelation was concluded, Paul anticipated that the prophetic process of writing the NT would one day be complete, mature or teleios.
  • Is God giving prophetic revelation today? No. Today God leads His people through the illuminating work of the Spirit based upon the revelation of His Word. No one today can add any so-called prophetic truth to the Bible (Rev 22:18-19).


Pentecostalism/Charismatic theology in its milder forms leaves the door open for revelation, which inadvertently suggests that the Scriptures are not sufficient (2 Tim 3:16-17). The language the “Lord told me to tell you” is theologically invalid and dangerous. If God indeed spoke to anyone, telling them to tell someone something, then the hearer is placed under the weight of having to obey because they’ve just heard the infallible will of God. No one should feel compelled to obey the voice of “God told me to tell you.” Why? Precisely because the claim of hearing prophetic revelation from God isn’t valid. God leads, guides, illumines us, but He doesn’t communicate in the revelatory sense of speaking to us outside of His Word. The P/C movement has totally confused these important theological distinctions and in doing so has left many people open to the deception of believing what someone tells them is God’s Word for their lives when it may not be.

But also many P/Cs love the Lord and the truths we hold as essential. Our difference should not keep us from fellowshipping together on almost any level except in church membership.

So what do we do? (1) We believe that revelatory gifts ceased (1 Cor 13:8) and yet we fellowship with those who believe all the other essentials of our faith. (2) We limit fellowshipping in teaching venues with those who resist important doctrines. And (3) we reject fellowshipping with those who reject the essentials of our faith: the Trinity, advocating a false gospel, i.e., the Word Faith’s prosperity gospel, etc. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Confessions of a Reluctant Missionary

I originally wrote and tried to post this blog on Friday before I left Kisumu. The hotel Steve and I stayed at lost its Internet connection (long story), so I am posting it today (Sunday). I've just safely arrived home after being on airplanes or in airports for the last 36 hours. I missed two flights coming home but that will be the source of my final post about my trip to Africa tomorrow.

I am all alone. At least I feel that way. Perhaps it is because everything seems so strange and somewhat surreal. I am literally on the opposite side of the globe from home. Behind me is a bed draped in a mosquito net to protect me from Malaria. I’ve never slept under a mosquito net before. I’m not sure I like it. Outside of my window, I can hear the sounds of motorbikes and people walking up and down the street. Yesterday some cows or bulls were walking toward me, so I left my group and crossed the street. This is all very different from what I am used to. I’m used to my six children laughing too loudly or fighting too much. The sounds here sound strange to me and add to my feelings of being homesick. But I’m actually not really alone. I am sharing the room with a godly Christian—he is downstairs in a meeting. He is a great guy, with a great ministry, ITEM, and he is doing a great work. He conducts pastor’s leadership conferences all over Africa. But he’s not Naomi, and I miss her. This is the longest time I have ever been away from her. I feel like a part of me is missing. However, this is my last night, but I’m not looking forward to it, though, because I already know what will happen. Although I am exhausted, I probably won’t be able to sleep because of my rock hard pillow. And at some point tonight, just when I start falling asleep, one of the hotel guests will start praying to Allah at top of his lungs. I feel emotionally, physically, and spiritually completely spent. To be honest, I didn’t want to come, but here I am, sitting in a hotel room in Kisumu, Kenya as reluctant missionary.

But what does the Scripture say, “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship,” 1 Cor 9:16-17. The privilege of preaching to my brothers in Kisumu as a reluctant preacher has humbled me by God’s grace. He used another Jonah to share the great gift of the treasure-truth of the Word of Life.


Over the years God has used the spiritual hunger of the LABTS students to keep me from believing the lie that no one cares about truth anymore. No matter how tired or scattered I may be, I look forward to sharing the truth with them because I know they will savor every word. Now imagine teaching pastors who have never attended a Bible class, sat in a seminar, or owned a single commentary or Bible dictionary. Imagine them hearing the truth that they love explained clearly to them for the first time in their ministry. I am moved to tears thinking about the privilege that God entrusted to this reluctant missionary this week. Dr. Van Horn and I served nearly 80 men by being the first to explain to them what they called “the deep things of God.”

I loved everything about being with these leaders. I loved their singing. I loved that they came from miles and miles to hear the Word of God. I loved that they sat for 6 hrs a day on the edge of their seats taking in every word from the Bible that Dr. Van Horn and I taught to them. I loved their questions. I loved their candor and transparency. I loved the fact that they are my brothers and sisters, and God could use a saved reluctant sinner like me to share with them the Word of Life that sets sinners free.

One of the men said that they came back to the seminar from a previous year because of the truth that Dr. Van Horn brought to them. He said and this time Dr. Van Horn has brought another man teaching the same truth. Because their land has been filled with lies from our American prosperity teachers and because many of them cannot afford the simplest Bible books, there is a famine in their land. So they cherished the opportunity to take in both the milk and meat of God’s Word, and they were inspired with the hope that perhaps America has more teachers of truth that might come to them.


After the conference, I was completely caught off guard when the leaders of Kisumu Baptist Bible College invited Dr. Van Horn and me to a meeting. They made a sincere plea. They asked us if we would try to find more teachers who would help them train their pastors. Imagine that. The way God moved this week has made me sure of one thing—that I am unworthy for such an honor. But if the Lord wills, I will not be a reluctant preacher again.

Tomorrow, I will make a 21-hour flight back to Los Angeles stopping in Nairobi, Amsterdam, and Detroit along the way, but a deep part of my heart will stay with my brothers in Kisumu. To Pastors Tom Ogala, Dennis Odhiambo, Apollo Oluoch, Peter Nyawade, Sampson, Joseph Agwanda, Jonathan Abongo, and to the rest of my brothers and sisters, I say asante for allowing me to have the honor of serving with you as your fellow-laborer and soldier for the Gospel of Christ. With tears of joy, I thank God for the laborers that He has raised up in Kisumu and the precious work that they are sacrificing to sustain. May God grant you, my brothers, the desires of your heart and may He develop a partnership that will glorify the Name of Jesus by allowing us to bear much fruit together.      

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pastor's Seminar in Kisumu


Dr. Van Horn and I started teaching at ITEM’s pastor’s seminar today in Kisumu. He taught through the Bibliology (Revelation, Inspiration, and the Sufficiency and Authority of Scripture) and having a biblical philosophy of ministry. A young American missionary shared with Steve after he had finished that his lecture was the best one he had ever heard a white man give to Kenyans. I taught on the role of the pastor and the qualifications of leadership. We also had a very lively Q&A time. The question that dominated our discussion was women’s roles in ministry. Surprise! We also entered into a deep discussion about what it means for pastors to be slaves of Christ and slaves of the church for Christ’s sake (1 Cor 4:1; 2 Cor 4:5).


The group (approx. 70 in size) is very eclectic. To a few we are preaching to the choir. Others they are hearing things that they have never heard before and are eagerly taking them to heart. The rest they are hearing things that threaten their way of doing ministry. Please pray that all who attend will embrace the truth of God’s Word and that Steve and I will accurately answer their questions. There is a tremendous element of spiritual warfare in all of this. Some of the ministers and hence ministries are being held captive by cultural strongholds. Polygamy is one of them.


The conference is being held at Milimani Seminary. It was started by the Southern Baptists. The school reminds me so much of LABTS. A few years ago the SB pulled their support believing they had invested enough time into that work. In order for the seminary to continue a few graduates assumed both the administrative and teaching responsibilities for the school. They have kept the school open by offering training free of charge, and volunteering their time. They have three different programs:
  1. A diploma degree for the men who don’t know English and have limited education. They teach them in Swahili.
  2. A Bible degree for those who know English but have limited education,
  3. And a Bible Education degree for those who know English and who have more education.


I feel a burden to help them. I asked to see their library with the goal of identifying books they were lacking and trusting the Lord to somehow enable me to secure the ones they need. Please join me in praying that I can fulfill this burden. There are some dear brothers here fighting to guard their churches from error, which is so rampant because of a lack of accessible theological training.


Before I sign-off, let me share one cultural eye-opener, at least to me. Imagine flying into an airport, and you never enter into a building—not even for one second. Welcome to the Kisumu Airport! You exit the plane on the tarmac. Walk to a sign that says “Wait here for your luggage.” Wait for a shuttle loaded with luggage. The driver off-loads it to you, and you head off to transportation without ever going inside of a building. That was amazing to me. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Today I Preached in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa

Today Pastor Pius Okello, a god fearing, pious man, invited us to come and share at his church, Nairobi Apostolic Revival Ministry. To get there, we had to travel on the matatu, a 12 passenger van/bus. Dr. Steve Van Horn told me that if we rode on the matatu, it would make our shuttle ride from the airport seem like a children's Disney ride. So of course we had to ride on the matatu. 

Twice, not once, but twice!!!! we sped onto the dirt sidewalks to pass another matatu. We made a blind left hand turn so fast that the matatu almost tilted onto two tires. Mind you pedestrians are everywhere! in the street and on the sidewalk. I was bracing for flattening someone as we gained vision around the turn. Then the better part of wisdom took over again, and I stopped back seat driving. 

Then we arrived a Kibera . . .

and we walked through Kibera. When we arrived at Nairobi Apostolic Revival Ministry around 2 p.m. The people had been there since 7 a.m. in Bible Study and worship. As we entered still sobered by what we had just seen, we were surprised by what we were hearing: young and old cheering and applauding us the men of God from America. Then they sang and danced and sang and danced and when we preached they cheered and applauded. 

It would be harder to find a more exuberant people, a people filled with more joy, and a people who had less. The people living in Kibera had Jesus and to them that seemed more than enough. We stayed more than 2 hours. After that some leaders led us to an out house with just a hole in the ground, and then through the rest of Kibera. A picture can't capture the scope of the poverty, but here's one that we took. 

We continued walking together to Pastor Pius' home. He is pictured above in black. Dr. Van Horn and I talked to the men about what we had seen and what occurred during the service. (Sign up for his newsletter to read what we saw). We encouraged them to test what they we were doing by the Word of God. They were very teachable. But there was much to explain. Pray with me that I will be able to send some theological resources to them. There is something worse than physical poverty and that is spiritual poverty. And there is something much worse than that. Do you remember why Jesus called a man a fool? It is because he decided to squander his great physical wealth to build himself bigger barns. I wonder what Jesus will say to those of us who have both physical and spiritual riches and hoard them to ourselves.  

Dr. Van Horn taught me a new phrase today, "In American you keep time in African we have the time."  Today God caused us to have time for Kibera. I will not forget my brothers and sisters whom I met here. And I thank God for deepening my conviction that the greatest resource the church has is truth. Truth is what God wants the church to share with the world. Because only the truth in Kibera and America (and everywhere else) can set sinners free and change them to be like Jesus.