Preachers, His Name Is Holy!!

For those of us who make a living by communicating the Words of Life, may I offer a strong, loving encouragement from my heart?

Please be careful how you use the names of God and the Lord Jesus Christ in your preaching and everyday speech.

Against the backdrop of Jesus’s words on Pharisaical hypocrisy in prayer, He said, Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name (Matthew 6:9). To “hallow” something is to recognize it as holy, great, and set-part from all other.

So, to hallow God’s name, we are exhorted to speak and/or use His name in such a way that sets His name preeminently and transcendently above every name in the universe! His name is to be revered, protected, adored, and magnified with humility and utmost respect.

Exodus 20:7 – You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Ezekiel 20:14 – But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.

Acts 4:12 – And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

So, may I ask, how do we reverence and magnify the holy name of God when His name is used so flippantly in the pulpit or in everyday conversation? Here are some examples:

  • A joke is told or a funny line is used when preaching and then tagged with, “Well, praise God!” or “Well, bless God!” Example of one I heard recently – “How many of you remember filling the Christmas tree the last time I was here with Starbucks gift cards? One? Oh, there’s another, two. God bless you sister!”
  • In the moment of a highly emotional declaration in preaching there is the follow-up of, “Great God Almighty!”
  • In the south, we are notorious for saying such things as, “Lord, have mercy!” Or, in sounding like a cry for assistance we say, “Jesus, help me!” Or, even, “Oh my God!”
  • Using the Lord’s name repeatedly in prayer. Can you imagine using another person’s name in conversation as many times as we use the Lord’s name in prayer? Sometimes it sounds like Baal-worshippers on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18; Matthew 6:7).
  • Although I am speaking to preachers, I must include so-called Christian comedians who throw the name of Jesus around like its any other common name and all for the goal of gaining some laughter or applause.

Isaiah 42:8 – I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

Leviticus 19:12 – You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.

Isaiah 9:6 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

So, preachers, myself included, let’s honor and cherish God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, by protecting and reverently proclaiming the name that is above every name!

Philippians 2:9-11 – Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

2021 In Review

Many years ago I started the habit of keeping a daily journal. This has practice has given back over and over again in my life. As I reread the entries from the week or month or even perusing through another year’s journal, the reminders of God’s faithfulness, love, teaching, wisdom, care, guidance, provision, and grace abound! There’s also the reminders of joy, sorrow, fun, heartache, ups and downs, the general stuff of life and the moments you don’t want to forget.

With that said, I end this year looking back through my journal to share some of life’s lessons and blessings with you.

  1. Celebrated 40 years of marriage in June with my sweetheart, best friend, and companion. We have done something special on the 2oth of every month since we were married on June 20. Wrote 40 blessings of being married for 40 years.
  2. Celebrated 20 years of ministry at Boones Creek Bible Church via the gift of a month long sabbatical from our church family.
  3. Statements throughout my journal: “By grace, give and live abundantly in Christ today!!” “Nothing is impossible with God!” “God uses weak men.” “What we think of God and believe of Him determines how we view all of life.” “The believer in life should love life.” “Jesus is enough.” “Do we just possess the Word or do we practice the Word?” “The key to understanding the Bible is to see Jesus Christ on every page.” “Just another typical day in the life of a child of God.” “Victims become victors and the condemned become conquerors through Christ alone!” “God puts His people in the right place at the right time to accomplish His righteous work.”
  4. The joy of preaching through 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and Hebrews on Sunday morning!
  5. Family gatherings: Celebrating our 40th anniversary, Pigeon Forge, Thanksgiving and Christmas, to mention a few!
  6. Answered prayer, answered prayer, answered prayer, answered prayer, answered prayer . . . .
  7. Many Thursday entries about the blessings of our small group meeting in our home as we sang, prayed, studied the Word, shared, watch God answer prayer, gathered around the bar counter enjoying fellowship, watching discipleship take place, etc.!!
  8. “Denise had Shiloh here for the morning and lunch and Shepherd here for the afternoon. . . . Alli and the boys came for an afternoon visit. . . . Shepherd went with me to return tables to the church. . . . After running with Andrew, I picked up Shepherd and Shiloh for a DD run and then Dollar Tree for a toy before leaving for camp. . . . Enjoyed watching football with Shepherd. . . . Went to the boys’ home to see them open up birthday gifts—so much fun! . . . . Shepherd and Shiloh stayed overnight with us.” (Do you get it????)
  9. “Although the Utah Missions trip was officially called off today, Andrew reported that all money was refunded! Praise the Lord for directing him to secure Covid insurance for this trip. The teens are learning from this major change in their plans.”
  10. “Grace to preach Hebrews 2:14-18. Wonderful time of worship through communion. Watching our folks worship is such a joy! Congregational singing: Because He Lives, By Faith, O Lord My Rock & My Redeemer, His Mercy is More!”
  11. “Blessing: Received a text from ________________________ saying they were coming through town and wanted to catch up with us! So good to see these dear friends again!” This was a common occurrence through the year!
  12. “After enjoying ice cream cake for Paul’s 41st birthday, they shared their big announcement—-the Lord has led them to foster to adopt! Wow!! Another answer to prayer in the way the Lord would have it, not our way or thoughts!”
  13. “Music on the Square, good times with Denise!” “Denise and I left for Carter Fold to hear Carson Peters & Iron Mountain. Packed house, good concert, great to be back at the Fold. So wholesome, family-oriented, great time to be with Denise!”
  14. “Ran the Tweetsie Trail—beautiful day!” “AT Spivey Gap to High Rocks; Rick & me; snow 6 inches to 2 feet!” “AT Cherokee Flats south to Pearisburg, VA; 22 miles; camped out on Peter’s Mt; Rick & me.”
  15. Read Deep Discipleship (English); The Faith of Christopher Hitchens (Taunton); Calvary Road (Hessions); How to Worship Christ (Carroll); On Pastoring (Charles) and others.
  16. “Tested positive for covid today.”

As 2021 closes, this scripture passage and song encapsulates my year.

Psalm 18:30 – As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.

Thank you for reading! More than anything, I trust that the Lord Jesus Christ is your personal Lord and Savior; that you are follower of Christ; that you are secure in Christ for all eternity (John 1:12; 3:16; Ephesians 1:1-2:10; Titus 3:5). If not, please watch the video link in the sidebar above.

Dale

Monday Mind of a Pastor

“Well, I blew that one!”

“Wonder where __________ was today. I sure missed them.”

“I went too long today!”

“Wow! That wasn’t even in my notes. Thank you, Lord!”

“What could I do better?”

“Why would anyone want to sit under my preaching?”

“I’m ready to get back into that passage and prepare for next Sunday.”

“The Word works!”

“Thank you, Lord, for grace.”

“That illustration was a flop.”

“___________ needs to sing that song again very soon! Powerful lyrics!”

“Need to pray more fervently next week.”

“Lord, if you used a donkey to speak, you can use me.”

“Wonder why we aren’t growing in numbers?”

“Thank You, Lord, for being faithful!”

“Who do I need to visit this week?”

“Lord, I am not worthy to be in this position as a shepherd.”

“How good is was to be with God’s people today!”

“All by the grace of God!”

“Lord, thanks for reminding of the call to ministry!” I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Colossians 1:24-29)

Faces

The first time I heard it many years ago, I was deeply moved to tears. It was as though I had written the lyrics. Ever since, Faces, has caused a mental review of nearly 37 years of ministry that stirs my heart and brings the tears.

I was reminded of Faces while ministering in Thompson, PA, Sunday, September 27th. The afternoon service was dedicated to the commissioning of Carl Butler, the new pastor of Thompson Baptist Church. Indeed, it was a joyful occasion! This congregation, without an under-shepherd for three years and now small in number, had weathered many storms. This day brought God-size hopes for the future.

The occasion at hand also gave the church family an opportunity to express their appreciation for every pastor and layman in attendance who had filled the Thompson pulpit during those waiting days. These men came from all around, some haven driven over the mountains on narrow roads to minister to God’s people over the years. Many probably came at their own expense. Some had to return to a bi-vocational job on Monday such as driving a dump truck hauling bluestone.

These men, the majority of them unknown to the Twitter feeds, podcasts and speaking circuits, have simply been . . . faithful. They have used their talents (Matthew 25:23) to serve their Lord in their God-appointed fields. As I stood in the midst of them as we gathered around Pastor Butler to pray, my heart was moved again. These are God’s faithful men. They have seen multiplied days of joy, thanksgiving, sorrow, testings, wonderings, answered prayer, misunderstandings, death, sickness, miracles, salvations, . . . and through it all, remained faithful “to plow the field and plant the seed.” They have remained faithful because God is faithful (Psalm 33:4; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 10:13; 1 Peter 4:19)

One day, on the other side, they will see the faces because they will be standing face-to-face with the One Who paid the price and accomplished the work through these faithful men (Matthew 25:23; John 15:1-5).

I dreamed my life was done
I stood before God’s Son
It was time to see what my reward would be
With love he reviewed my life
To count what was done for Christ
For that is what will last eternally

See I’d done my best to share
That Jesus really cares
And he would save if they just believe
Oh, but seldom did harvest come
And so few did I see won
Until the Lord said, “turn around and see.”

[Chorus:]
Then he showed me the faces of the ones who’d come because of me
So many faces that my life had led to Calvary
All those years I thought nobody saw as I labored in lowly places
That’s when Jesus smiled and showed me all the faces
.

He said though you did not see the yield,
You were faithful to plow the field
At other times you helped me plant the seed
No matter how small the task, you did just as I asked
And thanks to you these souls have been set free.

[Chorus:]
Then he showed me the faces of the ones who’d come because of me
So many faces that my life had led to Calvary
All those years I thought nobody saw as I labored in lowly places
That’s when Jesus smiled and showed me all the faces
.

Songwriter: Rodney Griffin

Sung by: Greater Vision

The Monday After

“We had six saved today, three baptized, ten join the church, the house was full, and I had great liberty in preaching!” (A fake tweet that parallels the statements of some pastors on Monday after they have had “a ready good” Sunday!)

“We had a small crowd, no one came forward at the invitation, a section of the church was empty due to a group who left the church this past week, and I bombed my sermon.” (A fake tweet that parallels the feelings of too many pastors on Monday after a “rough” Sunday.”)

Before social media, I heard both of these kind of statements when I attended a local preacher’s fellowship or read a bi-weekly preacher’s newspaper. Now it’s in real time on Sundays and Mondays.

Oh the joys and heartaches, the delights and discouragements, the successes and failures, and the highs and lows of Sundays for a pastor!

But every Monday, I have to come back to the Truth. I cannot listen to myself. I must preach the Truth to myself.

My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.
7 In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.
(Psalm 62:5-7)

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:18-19)

For without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. (Romans 12:15-16)

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:5-11)

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)

The “tweet” that will really matter is when we stand alone before the Lord Jesus Christ at the Bema, and we hear His declaration about the ministry that He entrusted to us. That’s when it will matter.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

So men, let’s press forward today in the grace of God as we keep the end in mind rather than our viewpoint or other’s tweets on Monday! Christ’s evaluation will be right and eternal.

A Pastor’s Monday

The rambling thoughts of a pastor looking back over a Sunday . . .

I wish I had said that better.

Did I do my best?

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:58)

Was the Lord pleased?

Did I handle the text accurately?

Will that message stand at the Bema?

Lord, what would you have me preach next Sunday from Mark 12:35-40?

Sure was good to see them back again!

Why didn’t anyone respond to the invitations?

I hope they will not be hurt in any way because I failed to recognize them.

That song was powerful. How challenging, convicting, and Christ-centered!

I should not have let that get me down.

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. (Heb. 12:3)

Those testimonies were so encouraging!

Lord, I need You.

How uplifting were his words to my heart!

Why don’t folk return on Sunday night?

Lord, forgive us for our pride
When our faith becomes a show,
Dressed in righteous deeds to hide
All the stains below.
We have judged Your sons and daughters
For the sin that is our own.
May we now forgive each other
And lay down our stones.
Forgiven, forgiven,
Through the blood of Christ
We are forgiven.
(Forgiven, Brittany Born, Kate DeGraide, Rebecca Elliott)

Thankful for the Spirit’s illumination of Christ during the Lord’s Supper.

I never got to speak to that visitor.

How awesome to see that prayer answered!!

Satan is attacking it seems on every front.

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

They’ve been gone for two Sundays now.

Thankful for the Word to share with a hurting, confused heart.

Lord, I need You.

What a blessing to see how the Word and worship affected biblical change!

What trials will come my way this week?

You prepare a table right before me
in the presence of my enemies
though the arrow flies and the terror of night
is at my door I’ll trust you Lord
Surely goodness, surely mercy,
right beside me all my days,
and I will dwell in Your house forever
and bless Your Holy Name
(Psalm 23 Surely Goodness, Surely Mercy; Shane & Shane)

I missed them today. Need to follow up.

Sure grateful for all those who are so faithful.

Must get some exercise today.

I did a poor job communicating that announcement.

Lord, how can we reach out to that hurting family down the street?

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:8)

I should have taken the opportunity to shepherd the flock better at the end of the members meeting.

God gave grace again.

Lord, I need You.

I’ll be back next Sunday, Lord willing.

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2)

Facing Opposition

Image result for congregational pew boxes images

While preparing to record my weekly radio broadcast, the Lord led me to this illustration and used it to speak a needed word of exhortation to my own heart. Hence, I share it below in hopes it will encourage you, especially pastors and their flock.

When he was appointed as the pastor of a church in Cambridge, England, in 1783, Charles Simeon was delighted. The people of the church did not share his joy. Many of the prominent members of the church opposed his convictions on reaching the lost with the gospel. To show their displeasure they locked their pew boxes during the service and left them empty so that those who came to hear Simeon preach had to stand or sit in the aisles. Eventually God began to work, and Simeon’s ministry had a powerful influence on the nation of England and the world through his efforts to encourage missionary work.

Image result for congregational pew boxes images

During the dark days of opposition Simeon wrote: “In this state of things I saw no remedy but faith and patience…. It was painful indeed to see the church, with the exception of the aisles, almost forsaken; but I thought that if God would only give a double blessing to the congregation that did attend, there would on the whole be as much good done as if the congregation were doubled and the blessing limited to only half the amount. This comforted me many, many times, when without such a reflection, I should have sunk under my burden.”

Opposition does not mean that we are doing things wrong—often it is evidence that we are doing things right. If we allow ourselves to be deterred from doing anything unless we have complete approval, it is certain that we will never accomplish anything of value. Rather than being discouraged by opposition, we should take comfort in God’s faithfulness and keep on doing what is right.

( https://ministry127.com/resources/illustration/standing-strong-in-the-face-of-opposition )

A Much-Needed Reminder

This past weekend was a much-needed refreshment for my soul. Ministry in the past year and a half has been difficult. While seated by the lake at the Wilds, the Lord pointed out this passage to me. Reluctantly, I must say that I had forgotten some of the ingredients of gospel ministry, of following Christ. Paul, through the Holy Spirit, reminded me last Saturday morning.

But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. (2 Cor. 6:4-10)

Pressing forward in His grace!

God Is Looking For A Man

Dad-Army

Recently while looking through a stack of papers that had collected on the bookshelf in the garage, I found something precious, challenging, and meaningful to my heart.  Immediately I recognized the handwriting on the stenographer’s note paper as being my precious dad’s penmanship.

At the top of the page were the words, “Jer. 5:1,2  Search for a Man,” and in the right corner, he had penned my name.  This was one of his many ways of encouraging his son, of being a mentor to me.  The writing is below.

God is looking for:

  1. A man who will not lose his individuality in a crowd.
  2.  A man of convictions who is willing to say “no” when all others are saying “yes.”
  3.  A man who is upright, pure, and generous.
  4.  A man that’s not a coward in any of his parts; no fear of man.
  5.  A man with balanced character, conviction, and consecration.
  6.  A man who wants substance rather than show.
  7.  A man who will be the conscience in his society in which he lives.
  8.  A man who delights in the privilege to glorify Jesus Christ.
  9.  A man who is dogmatic in his loyalty to the Bible, even if it costs him his friends.
  10.  A man who is determined to stand for Christ even if it becomes unpopular cause.
  11.  A man who denounces sin without apology in high or low.
  12.  A man who has a desire to fellowship with good men.
  13.  A man who displays compassion for lost souls.
  14.  A man dominated by the control of the Holy Spirit.
  15.  A man who knows how to discern between love that is based on truth or mere  sentimentality.
  16.  A man who has a decisive desire to build a strong Christian home.
  17.  A man who walks in the will of God.

Thanks, Dad, that even after departing this earth sixteen years ago, your influence is still strong in my life!  Thanks for being that kind of man. By God’s grace and for His glory, I want to be that man, too!

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
    look and take note!
Search her squares to see
    if you can find a man,
one who does justice
    and seeks truth. (Jeremiah 5:1)

I Want To Be That Man

Sandwiches & Stories

“You used a Black & Decker drill to perform surgery on a man in jail?”  That was my response a few years ago as an OB-GYN doctor serving in medical missions in Africa told her story while we were gathered around our dining room table.  Even better was the fact that this man later came to believe in Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior (John 3:16; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-13).

This story was one of probably a thousand or more in my lifetime! Growing up in a pastor’s home provided many opportunities for evangelists, college presidents, pastors, and missionaries to put their feet under our kitchen table and/or sleep in our guest bedroom.

I can remember as a grade school aged boy sitting at the kitchen table after an evening church service listening to all kinds of ministry stories.  Those memories are also a part of my junior and senior high school days as well as college.

With eyes wide open and ears open even wider, those narratives told me that life was full of blessings, fun, hardships, trials, laughter, questions, burdens, answers to prayer, rich in Bible knowledge and application, and tears to name a few.  But no doubt about it, those stories from real Christians revealed a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ and an unshakable faith in an awesome, faithful, promise-keeping God!

Interesting enough, I did not learn until long after I had left home that it was my dad who invited most of those folks home.  My mom really did not like duty in the kitchen.  That was just not her “cup-of-tea.”  I share this to encourage you.  Our meals were usually very simple.  The table was not elaborately set.  Mom used what she had, and in our early days at home, that was not much.

You see, it was not the food at the table I remember or how the table was decorated that has left an indelible impression upon me.  Most assuredly, it was all those hours in the presence of simple servants of the Lord.

How grateful I am that many, many times, my folks would let me stay up on a school night way past bedtime to sit under the influence of such godly men and women.  The eternal influence in their eyes was always more important than the temporal influence.

May I encourage you to host missionaries, evangelists, preachers, and other servants of the Lord in your home?  How cool it is to have a faithful missionary from a far-away land while eating dessert share accounts of God’s grace, protection, and answers to prayer!  What an impact it is to listen to a preacher tell about a lost soul receiving Christ as his Savior or expound the Word while eating a grilled cheese sandwich!  Oh, how wonderful to hear a college president while enjoying a bowl of corn chowder share how the Lord provided the school’s needs at just the right time!

Parents, your children need to experience this!  They need to experience it often.

Prepare the guest room, fix some sandwiches and invite a servant of the Lord into your home.  By the way, be sure to open your ears, too!