Snoozing in the Pew and in Life

andy & barney asleep in church

No doubt about it, I’ve contributed to too many folks’ early Sunday nap while I have been preaching on a Sunday morning.  I know how it feels.  You are tired, you try to stay awake, and in a moment, you see two preachers standing in the pulpit instead of one, and next thing you know, your head’s-a-bobbin’!!!  Then you look around to see if anyone saw you . . . especially the preacher!

andy & barney asleep in church 2

What concerns me so much more than this are the folks who sit week-after-week in a Bible preaching/teaching church and are never moved by the Word of God. They hear the truth, but in their heart they are snoozing in the pew.  The Word does not reach their heart and subsequently their will.

Perhaps they have never been born again. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Perhaps they have been converted but need the exhortation found in 2 Peter 1:3-11.

According to God’s divine power, we have been given everything that pertains to life and godliness (1:3) including exceeding great and precious promises that enable us to be daily partakers of the divine nature (1:4).

Based upon this deposit and a personal, growing knowledge of God, we are then exhorted to be diligent!  We are to give every effort to add to our original faith the list of virtues found in verses 5-7.  Quite frankly this is simply maturing in the faith.

When you give diligence to this growth, then you as believer will not be . . .

Useless (barren, 1:8) This means to be stuck, stalled, ineffective, lazy and apathetic in your Christian life.  We are asleep.

Unfruitful (1:8) Too many believers remain spiritual infants throughout their Christian life (1 Cor. 3:1).  They are satisfied to stay on the bottle, drink milk, rather than feeding on prime cuts of meat in God’s Word (Hebrews 5:12-14).  They remain unfruitful because they are worldly wise not godly wise.  We are asleep.

Unseeing (blind, 1:9) We are unable to discern our true, present spiritual condition or to live with an eternal perspective.   We are asleep.

Unmoved (forgotten, 1:9)  There is never a day that should go by that we are not reminded of the pit God brought us out of through the gospel (Ephesians 2:1-9).  That same gospel should have a daily effect upon because Christ’s death, burial and resurrection touches every facet of our everyday lives (Galatians 2:20).  Are you asleep?

Then Peter adds that we are to be diligent in making our calling and election sure (1:10) In other words, your life should be lived in such a manner that no one would ever say, “I wonder if he/she is really a Christian?  Is he/she sleeping?”

The word sure (1:10) means “to show the receipt.”  Our transparent, honest walk with Christ should be a proof of purchase (a receipt) that we have been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

If we are diligent to grow in our original faith and in making our calling and election sure, we will enjoy a grand, rewarded entrance into heaven (1:11).

So, when you hear preaching, are you “snoozing in the pew” or diligent to gain all that God wants to teach you?  Have you become useless, unfruitful, unseeing and unmoved?  The key is to be diligent to hear and quick to obey.

Calling Godly Men!


Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. . . . I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:1-2, 8).

Please note the following about this passage.

The Priority of Prayer (2:1)
The second chapter of 1 Timothy contains instructions for public worship. Paul has something urgent on his mind by using the word exhort as given under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21). This urgency is directed to the need of giving preeminence to prayer in public worship, and may I add, to life in general (Luke 18:1). In other words, prayer is to be first in rank, to take first place in importance.

What place does prayer hold in your life or home or school or business or recreation or marriage?

What place does prayer hold in the life of your church? How about in the Sunday worship gatherings? Mid-week gatherings? Evangelism? Discipleship? Sunday School classes and small groups? Deacons’ Meetings? Awana’s? Small group meetings in homes? Men and Ladies’ gatherings? Etc.?

You can do more than pray after you have prayed; but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed (A.J. Gordon).

The greatest thing anyone can do for God or man is pray (S.D. Gordon).

The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray (Samuel Chadwick).

The Person in Prayer (2:8)
After acknowledging the only Meditator between God and man for salvation as well as prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ (2:4-6), Paul returns to public worship and the role of men (2:8).

Who are to be the leaders in prayer in our churches today?

How thankful I am for all the dear precious ladies who have given themselves to the ministry of prayer over the years! But, the church should be and must be known for the men who pray, not the ladies first. Quite frankly, the church is too feminine in many ways, and that is not a knock against ladies. Here, the exhortation is clearly laid upon men.

Men, it is time for us to be the prayer warriors, the prayer leaders, the prayer intercessors, the person in prayer!

Men are the ones to pray . . .

Everywhere – That’s exactly what it means, in every place.

With earnest desire – Lifting up hands in prayer is a natural response, a natural indication of earnest desire. Sometime take note of all the places in scripture that show the lifting up of hands as a part of praying (1 Kings 8:54; Nehemiah 8:6; Psalms 28:2; 141:2; 143:6)

With clean & committed lives – The word for holy hands refers to moral purity as well as a devoted life. Prayer is null and void if sin is unconfessed, and we not totally committed to Christ.

Without anger – Interesting that anger is mentioned here. If men are to be faithful prayer warriors, the sin of anger which so easily besets too many men must be overcome by the power the Holy Spirit and obedience to the Word of God (Galatians 5:17, 20, 22-26; Ephesians 4:26, 31-32; James 1:20). Anger is a major mental distraction to prayer. The best way to overcome anger is to pray.

Without doubting or dissension – Furthermore, when it comes to prayer there is to be unity and harmony and a proper mental attitude of faith-believing.

Men, our greatest example of prayer is the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. See Him praying in Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 14:23; 19:13; 26:36-44; Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 11:1; Hebrews 7:25, to name a few.

At the very next prayer gathering in your church, men will you lead?

The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day (E.M. Bounds).

God’s cause is committed to men; God commits Himself to men. Praying men are the vice-regents of God; they do His work and carry out His plans (E.M. Bounds).

Who Will You See Sunday?

andy griffith show pic

My family and I are fans of the Andy Griffith Show.  To this day, we watch an episode or two practically every week.  Those shows are full of good down-home humor with many connections to life even today.

In one scene of the episode, “The Sermon For Today,” Aunt Bea and Clara Johnson are found in deep discussion on the phone about what they were going to wear for church that morning. This was of great concern to these two dear ladies because a visiting preacher, Dr. Breen from New York City, would be delivering the sermon.  They wanted to make a good impression upon the special “sermoner” from the big city!

Who are you preparing to see this Sunday?

As was noted in Wednesday’s blog, Christ is the Church. He is the Head, the Architect, the Chief Shepherd, the Master Builder, the Owner, and the Transformer of Lives in His Body, the Church.

Christ also is The Face of the Church, not the pastor, the deacons, the denomination head, or anyone else.

So, when you prepare for the worship gathering this Sunday, make it all about Christ.

  • Christ goes with you because He dwells in you (Colossians 1:27), and He is your life (Colossians 3:3-4).
  • Christ is the reason the Church exists (Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:14-22; 3:10-11)
  • Christ is One Who is read in print (Bible) and electronically (Bible app) and is preached about from the pulpit (John 1:1, 14; 2 Timothy 4:2).
  • Christ is the Savior of all who gather, those who have received His free gift of salvation as well as those who have yet to do so (John 1:12; 3:16; Romans 3:10-25; 10:9-13; Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • Christ is the Truth, the main topic of conversation, as you share with others in life-on-life discipleship (Ephesians 4:15).
  • Christ is the only One Who is worthy of all the attention on Sunday (Colossians 1:18-19).
  • Christ is the One you are looking to show-up with great fanfare at any minute (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

Church is not about what the ladies (Bea & Clara) are wearing, or where the preacher is from, or how long the sermon lasts, or any other peripheral issue.

The Church is the body of Christ of which you, as a born again believer, are a member (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).  So as you prepare to gather on Sunday, be looking for Christ in every facet of ministry.  If the church you attend is a solid Bible-believing, preaching church, Christ will be there.  Look for Him (Hebrews 12:1-2).  He is the One you really want to see, to fellowship with, and to hear from in Church!!

To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, these things says He Who holds the seven stars in His right hand, Who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands (Revelation 2:1).

The Face of the Church


Every church has a face.

Mention First Baptist Church of Atlanta, GA, and immediately Dr. Charles Stanley comes to mind.  Reference Thomas Road Baptist Church of Lynchburg, VA, and you think of Dr. Jerry Falwell.  Of course, many other examples could be given.

Perhaps, if I could mention the churches you have attended in your past, what face would come to mind?  The face of a pastor, deacon, Sunday School teacher, worship leader, youth leader, etc.?  When you think of that face, it probably brings joy or sorrow, contentment or criticism, or a variety of other emotions.

Truth is, the face of every true, biblical church is Jesus Christ.  The church is the Body of Christ.  1 Corinthians 12:27 states, Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

A church is to grow into Christ in such a way that it fulfills the provision and mandate of Ephesians 4:11-16, And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

I totally understand that when you look at a church you see people.  But in reality, you should see Christ . . .

  • Saving depraved, darkened, desperate, repentive sinners (Luke 13:5; 19:10; Romans 3:10-23; Colossians 1:12-14).
  • Transforming His children into Christlikeness as they look into the mirror of God’s Word (2 Corinthians 3:18) and humble themselves under mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6b-7).
  • Interceding for His children as they pour out their hearts to God in prayer (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 2:1).
  • Carrying on His ministry through His servants (Acts 1:1-2 and following) albeit they are weak and needful of His daily, sufficient, sustaining grace (1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 3:5-9; 2 Corinthians 9:8).
  • Nourishing and cherishing His church as the body submits to the Chief Shepherd and to one another (Ephesians 5:23-30).
  • Gathering His people together for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), discipleship (Ephesians 4:11-16), and the numerous “one another’s” (Romans 12:9-16; 15:7, 14; Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 10:25; 1 Peter 4:9; to name a few).
  • Restoring broken homes and marriages (Romans 5:1-21; Ephesians 5:18-33).
  • Being the life of the church (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:14; Colossians 3:4).
  • Chastening, cleansing, and identifying those He loves (Hebrews 12:5-15).

There is so much more that could be said, so much more that Christ wants to do in His Church.  Even when we mess up, act like little immature children, make wrong choices, complain, criticize, get angry, etc., in the church, the sovereignty of God and the gospel can work through the sin and selfishness to accomplish His redemptive plan for His glory and our good.

The face of the church is Christ; the Christ who transforms, transcends, and triumphs over all sin and man (Romans 5:20; 2 Corinthians 2:14). Look for His face not man’s.

That Church . . .


  • Just doesn’t feel right; is not the right fit.
  • Hurt my family years ago, and I will never forgive them!
  • Is so unfriendly.
  • Is too big.
  • Is too small.
  • Doesn’t meet my (our) needs.
  • Is too contemporary.
  • Is too conservative.
  • Doesn’t have a kid’s ministry.
  • Is full of hypocrites.
  • Comes across as being full of perfect people.
  • Will judge what I wear.
  • Sings music that’s too loud and too worldly!
  • Sings only the old songs.
  • Just wants your money.

And I have just covered a few of the gazillion statements I have heard over the years in reference to church.

My dad pastored ten churches over the course of his fifty year ministry.  I personally trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior at the age of five in Marietta, Ohio.  Church has been my life for fifty-nine years.

Oh the stories I could tell about church, good and bad! Perhaps as I continue to write about this subject, I’ll share some of them.

Today, my heart is simply to say this, our perspective on church is totally skewed if we look at the church through the lens of finite, temporal man alone.  Furthermore, the only correct view for all of life, including the church, must come from absolute Truth, the Word of God.

Consider the following:

The Church is God’s idea, not man’s.

I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15).

Jesus Christ is the “Master Builder” of His Church, not man.

Jesus said He would build His church and that no power of hell could destroy it.  Jesus Christ’s definitive statement recorded in Matthew 16:18 says, I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The Church belongs to Jesus Christ alone, not man.

I will build my church (Matthew 16:18).

Jesus Christ is the head of the Church, not man.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent (Colossians 1:18).

The Church is Christ’s body, not man’s.

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23).

The Church is to be built upon Christ, not man.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Therefore, in EVERY discussion, attitude, action, response, and thought about church, you must begin with Christ, not man. To come to the right conclusion, you must end with Christ in mind, not man; His Word and not man’s perspective.

Tomorrow, I will continue these thoughts.  In the meantime, look back at the list statements mentioned at the beginning of this blog.  Where is the consideration, counsel, and wisdom of Christ seen in any of them?

Principle:  You cannot have a high view of Christ and a low view of His church at the same time.

Sing Congregation! Sing!!

In Christ Alone

There are many reasons to be excited about attending church on Sunday and one of those is participating in worship with a congregation that sings!

Music has always been a major part of my life.  My mother played the piano for nearly 75 years.  My dad loved to sing.  I cut my musical teeth on children’s records and long-play albums.  The sounds of Jack Holcomb, Helen Barth, Doug Oldam, 16 Singing Men, and many others filled our home every day.  We even had a membership with Word Record Company and received monthly sacred albums.

My mom would play the piano in church and Dad would lead the singing.  I vividly remember as a little boy that small congregation along the river in Dart, Ohio, singing their hearts out to such songs as “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder,” “Hear Ye the Master’s Call,” and many, many others.

Believe it or not, the first time I led singing in church was at the age of 12, and I led my first choir at the age of 14.

Some of my fondest memories of music are also connected with a packed out Lodge at The Wilds Camp and Conference Center as a teen singing those great camp songs!  Also, how blessed to have attended many, many Southern Gospel concerts with my father-in-law, my wife and our daughters who are musicians.

How absolutely grateful I am that God created music!!  Even more, how awesome it is to sing with other believers on Sunday who are gathered in the presence of God, our Heavenly Father, lifting their voices in praise and heartfelt melodies!!

This past Sunday, as I stood at the front row of the auditorium, I could hear the congregation singing behind me.  Having led singing for many years in our church, I could only imagine their countenances as they sang, “Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone,” “Come, Christians Join to Sing,” and a new song we are learning, “Jesus, the Son of God.”  Many, many times when our congregation sings, I think, “This has to be a foretaste of Heaven!!”

May I encourage you to serve the Lord, to worship the Lord, and minister to all those around you this Sunday by lifting your voice in praise!  Ask your worship leader ahead of time what songs will be sung so you can sing them with your family during the week before the Sunday worship gathering.  Use those songs in your personal daily meeting time with God in His Word and prayer.  Come prepared to Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name  (Psalm 30:4)

Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! (Psalm 47:6)

Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. (Psalm 66:2)

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. (Psalm 95:1)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)

Sunday Worship in Mzuzu

Africa 9

One the blessings of our journey to Africa was the opportunity to keep up my journal entries. These writings are very dear to me.  They recount my walk with Christ, my relationship with Denise, the grace blessings of every life as well as many, many other things that my mind would not recall.

Here’s a partial entry from Sunday, July 9

Africa 8 Collage.jpg

What a glorious day!! Sunday worship at Charity Baptist Church was a huge blessing.

  • God gave grace to preach the first service.
  • The congregational singing was powerful; watching Daniel and Mark Anton lead the congregation is fun to watch; then other men get come up to lead a song which they call a special; the choir of young folk was awesome.
  • The offering is received by folks going forward and putting their offering in a basket while the congregation sings.
  • Matt preached a powerful sermon from Ruth 2 on the subject of grace.
  • The service ended in a very touching way. Pastor Daniel had the whole USA mission team line up across the front.  Then he said, “I want our church to come up and greet you and place a love gift in the basket.  It won’t buy the team a car but it will buy you a Coke.  When you all drink it, think of us and pray for us.”  Wow!  These poor folks gave out of their poverty.  As we sang, hugged and swayed, what a special time it was!!!
  • Another brother stood and shared what a blessing it was to have blacks and whites worshiping together in the unity of Christ.

Love Offering

Youth Choir

Africa 11

From a pastor’s heart,


Let Them Come to Me

kids salvation

This week my wife has written some extremely insightful, practical and helpful posts about the issue of children coming to Christ for salvation at an early age.  These writings would be extremely helpful for parents and anyone who works in children’s ministries.

Having received Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at the age of five, this is a subject very dear to my heart.

As a pastor, I have had the joy of seeing many children born again over the years.  How precious is a tender heart coming to Christ in simple faith, taking God at His Word.

Here are the links:

How to Tell If a Child Is Ready to Be Saved

What’s Wrong with Waiting Until a Child Is Older to be Saved

What if Your Child Doubts Their Salvation

Preparing a Child’s Heart to Know Christ

Motion Songs, Scripture Memory & Joy-Filled Believers


Last night in prayer meeting, we shared in a family-friendly service.  After singing a couple of gospel songs, one by request, we had the kids up front leading the singing of some good, old children’s songs, two of which had motions.  It was fun to look back at the adults who were doing the motions as well, especially on singing “Only a Boy Named David.”

After singing “Boys and Girls for Jesus” we took prayer requests for the unsaved.  How precious to hear these children and adults mention their loved ones, friends, and neighbors’ names.  We then broke up into small groups with adults and children praying out loud for the lost.  How sweet to hold a 4 year old boy in my lap as he prayed in his own precious way, and it was not a short prayer either.

When we gathered back together, we sang the old gospel song, “I Love to Tell the Story.”

I’ve challenged our congregation to memorize Ephesians 4:1-16 over the next two months.  Hence, we then worked on 4:1-3 as a family or in small groups.  The drill was to say 4:1-3 five times aloud in unison as a group.  Then, one person in each group would take the lead in saying the passage leaving out words for the rest of the group to fill in.  This was a blast!  The laughter and joy of memorizing Scripture was so cool!  Then some of folks stood and recited 4:1-3 which was followed by encouraging applause.

We then took Ephesians 4:1 and broke it down word-for-word learning the meaning and the application.  How cool to watch everyone search through Ephesians 1-3 to find what Paul meant when he said in 4:1 to walk worthy of the vocation to which you are called.  The kids did a great job with their answers straight from Scripture.

What a precious time we had as a church family in community last night.

The ice cream treat with my wife and the sunset afterwards was an added blessing, too!

From a pastor’s heart,


Let’s Carterize!

wp-1463974026394.jpg How would you respond if you heard this statement about your church  “I would never be accepted at __________Church because I could not break through the clique.” 

For years as a pastor, one thing I have pushed for so much is that our church be really friendly.  Without sounding arrogant or haughty, I believe we are an extremely friendly church. When you walk through the front door, you will be warmly greeted and then by many others.

So, why would such a statement be made?

I’ll answer it this way:  We must do a better job of “Carterizing” others!

Rod and Hope Carter have been married for 70 years and charter members of BCBC for 60 years.  Their health has failed them greatly, so they are not able to do as they once did.

For years, I have watched Rod “campout” in the church foyer just looking for visitors, especially young singles and/or young couples as well as others.  As soon as they entered the building, he was getting acquainted with them.  His greeting was only the beginning of what I am calling here, “Carterizing.”  He would invite them to his house for dinner or out to a restaurant after the morning service and would do the same in the evening.  He made sure some other BCBC folks were invited to join the group.  He wanted folks to go to the next level of relationship and communication.  He wanted those guests to know he cared; that they needed to become a part of the BCBC family of believers.  The bottom line is, he went beyond just a greeting. He was willing to get involved in their lives.  I can call the roll of those who would testify right here!

How do you Carterize?

  1. You come to church expecting to meet visitors, sit with them during the service, and have your meal planned and prepared so you can invite them to your home. If it is not a visitor, it is someone who has been attending for a period of time, yet you haven’t gotten to know them.
  2. When you plan your weekly calendar, you build in an evening to have guests in your home or meet them out for a meal or ice cream or time at the park.
  3. When you get together, you ask questions, you listen, and you share time in the Word and prayer.
  4. Be listening with all your heart as you look for ways to minister and really care.
  5. Invite visitors or repeat guests to your men or ladies’ ministries, small group Adult Bible Fellowship, camp retreats, etc. You have to be intentional.
  6. When at church, do not gravitate to the folks who make you comfortable. You reserve your personal conversations for a later time.  You are there to minister to others like Jesus did.
  7. Make your guests believe they are the most important people on the planet.

You see, getting involved in people’s lives takes planning, preparation, prayer and perspiration.  Instead of coming to church and just being friendly, you must “Carterize!”

Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:41-47)

Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)