Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Principality of Sexual Perversion has been released, now what?

In my life time homosexuality has been a term that represents perversion of sexual attraction and behavior. On a social level it has always been viewed as wrong, sinful, perverted, sickness and one of the worst expressions of a sinful life. We all know that any and all sin is wicked in the eyes of the Lord. There is really no such thing as a small sin on some levels, but on other levels there are indeed degrees of sin bondage that are more entrapping and difficult to break then others. Some sinful acts are ethical issues while others are moral issues, but again all sin separates one from a relationship with the living God. This verse in Corinthians is very revealing about the depth of sexual immoral sin without naming each type of sexual sin Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18.  This verse is written to believers and not to unbelievers. Sexual perversion without question has increased on multiple levels in the last decade in America like no other time.  It is a sin against God's law, others and self. These sins continue to damage peoples emotional, spiritual and psychological well being.
  Most youth who have no godly instruction in their lives are being socially raised in the culture to view homosexuality as a choice or birthed desire with no repercussions. A few weeks back a grandmother raising a young girl from her broken home told me a story that really sadden me. She told me how her innocent granddaughter was asking questions about being gay and how it was ok since she learned about it at school and on TV as well.  
   Our American society has always struggled with this immoral sin to some degree, but when our country started all the states had  laws against sodomy on the books up until 1960 (Every state adopted some form of a sodomy law as it joined the United States, either in acceptance of an unwritten common law or in formal codification. A slow modernization of laws away from a religious doctrine into a secular system reduced penalties over time in a piece meal fashion. All states had laws against sodomy by 1960).  Now some 236 years later the President of the United States of American gave his blessing to immorality. Because he is the top authority over this nation he unleashed the spiritual principality of homosexuality on our nation to have more power then in any other time in our history as a nation. Since the day of his declaration I have seen a massive increase of people defending homosexuality as well as attacking those who stand opposed to it. The Chick-fil-a business that only stood on their values when asked, has now become the latest assault by the principality of homosexuality.  

These are not good signs of a nation coming back to God. When many people who profess Christianity also defend immorality as good we end up reflecting at best a Corinthian type of church in America.  
So what can a solid biblical Christian do?  First of all we should not be silent just hoping this will all go away, because if we do it will only get worse. Sodom and Gomorrah never got better but actual became worse until God finally redeemed the few righteous left before destruction.  Even the youth of the cities came out to have sex with other men. The interesting thing I discern from reading that story in Genesis is that Lot and his family seemed to have lived and tolerated the immorality about them; verses them speaking out against it to redeem those lost immoral residents.  Perhaps their view was just as the prevailing view of our day is becoming, “let’s just love them and just get along together”.  The problem with these kinds of statements is how we are defining what loving people really looks like. God’s love speaks forth the truth regardless of how much it hurts or offends the sinner because he loves us so. Yet many believers today do not want to offend anyone for fear of being viewed as self-righteous or judgmental so they remain silent with a warped view of how to express the gospel and how God’s love toward others should be expressed.
  In large part the homosexual community already knows their sin and that their choices are judged by God as sin. We are each born with a conscience. Some sear it over with sin so bad that they are very harden to truth.  The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse….. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:18-20, 28 .
 Since President Obama spoke forth in approval of gay marriage the spiritual level against moral people or anyone who opposes homosexuality has heightened and keeps increasing. Public figures are coming out of the closet as never before. Cooper Anderson just recently announced his gay lifestyle after 2 decades of silence. More and more celebrities keep coming out with greater levels of pride and less and less shock from the general public. The democrat party is pressing into the make gay marriage and gay rights an official platform of the party as well.
    Born again spirit filled followers of Christ should not avoid discussing this, but be armed and ready to not only defend morality, but reveal the truth of God’s Word at the risk of being rejected, attacked or offended and called names. If we do not stand strong in these days we will truly become like those ancient cities of the past.
   Can we see a change in America? Yes, but it will take a changing position of our President or a new President who declares the opposite public statement to put that principality back in the closet so to speak. Authority is an interesting thing and when the highest authority in the land gives permission to a shameful sin it is bad news on any nation. This is not about President Obama because any sitting President could have made the mistake he made, but the declaration he made was a massive attack against the church that stands for morality. We must pray, be prepared and influence each child, teenager and adult anytime we can.  Truth is typically only found today in solid biblical churches and even then many churches are becoming Corinthian style messes or worse and actual are becoming  counterproductive to the righteous work of the Kingdom of God.
  Be prepared to be assaulted, verbally attacked and rejected for the moral values of God as a believer.  When this happened rejoice because your reward in heaven will be great. Pray for America and its future with other believers in your church and community.  Christian really need each other for support now more than ever. Do not defend homosexuality or homosexual rights on any level. Don’t be entertained or endure homosexual endorsing people, politicians or anyone. We can already see that the homosexual community is standing opposed to Christians who stand on moral principles just by the Chick-fil-a position. So likewise we must be prepared to be attacked for standing opposed to this lifestyle.  The bible is real clear that we must stand our ground with His kingdom and press in for the souls of men. We can have a revival, but its gonna be a work and a battle on our knees in the public square.  We don’t need to attack people, but just stand our ground on God principals and people will either come to the truth of God’s Word or push back against it in any multiple numbers of ways.
     We must be careful not to be deceived by the multiple lies coming forth that try to indoctrinate and persuade Americans that people are born gay. That is the biggest lie from the pit of hell ever. We might not be able to explain every person’s reasons, feelings and personal journey or make up, but God’s Word excuses no sin under any condition. Just like there is no science to actually prove evolution there is likewise no solid science to prove that people are born gay. The unregenerate lost community will always try to persuade the masses that science proves sin or the bible wrong, but remember the devil is crafty and will go to great measures to deceive the world and if possible even the very elect of God.
12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. 2 Corinthians 11-12-15
I encourage you to read the entire 22 verses of the book of Jude in the New Testament in light of this recent aggressiveness coming into our nation on the heels of the Presidents declaration.  Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. Jude verses2---------

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:10-1

Friday, May 25, 2012

When Did Righteous Living  Become Prejudice?  

  "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,  who put darkness for light  and light for darkness,  who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20 NIV) Before I became a Follower of Jesus I was a rebellious teenager. I rebelled against my family , my school authorities and eventually the community authority ( police ).  Even though I thought I was a good person who could get into heaven because of my core beliefs ( which I never lived) the real truth was I had been deceived to believe a lie as though it were the truth.        In the 70's  right was right and wrong was wrong. When it came to sexual behavior it was right to wait until marriage to have sex, but it was acceptable among many to cheat and enjoy the pleasures in advance. If a guy could have sex with a girl it was bragging rights even though it was wrong.  In those days men who lusted  after men and women who lusted after women was rare and considered sick.        The culture of the day also totally shunned homosexual behavior. During my growing up years most of my peers lived with their actual mom & dad as well.  I cannot even recall any of my friends not living with their actual biological parents.  A divorced family was rare.            Now some 40 years later  what was rare is common and what was common is rare.  My children's peers rarely live with both of their original parents.  So many children & youth I've come to know in the last decade  live within multiple the structure of fractured family circles.       When I was in school, holding hands publicly was a sign of affection and now I'm told that teachers often allow students in school to publicly kiss and that includes those of the same sex.     What was defined as sexual perversion is now considered a sexual choice.  Corporations even support  sexually perverted organized groups  with thousands of dollars ( Starbucks & Target are examples) and the top authority of our land ( the President of the United States ) has publicly declared that sexual choice is not only acceptable but can be and should be embraced as normal behavior with a marriage license to endorse it as official.       Now the righteous who live by the standards of God  & His WoArethaare mocked and considered prejudice if they object to immoral behavior.     Sins that become legal are still sins regardless. Just because it is legal to  buy and consume alcohol does not make getting drunk less sinful. Just because more people are getting divorced does not make divorce less sinful. Just because it's legal to buy drugs prescribed by doctors does not mean being influenced by other narcotics  is acceptable. Just because it's legal to kill babies before they are born does not make murder any less  a sinful crime before the eyes of God. Just because actively sinning people say they are  followers of Christ does not mean they are following Christ.        In the final days only what God says is true even if it means every man is a liar.  These are becoming ever increasingly difficult times for those who still believe the truth when the majority strive to paint it differently.  Even if religious leaders declare that sin is not sin beware because  sin is still sin.  Just by calling what is wrong right does not make it so.  Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9 NIV) May God be glorified in the lives of the righteous regardless of the price to be paid and scorn of the wicked.  Hold fast to the truth-" Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." (Hebrews 12:14 )

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Biblical Position on the Biologos theory of Evolution Verses Creationism

  For several years I have read, studied and pondered how anyone who truly believed in Jesus Christ could also believe in evolution. The words of Christ and the pro-ported theory of evolution require faith. If someone puts faith in both the claims of Christ and the scientific theory of evolution then they run into immediate contradictions and conflicts throughout the pages of Scripture. So how can someone who has repented of  their sins as well accept the theory of evolution? The words of Christ and the theory of evolution are direct contradictions. So let's examine the claims of Jesus Christ and his affirmative support of the claims of Scriptures and the writings of Moses as it relates to man and creation.

Southern Cross
1. The first piece of evidence the follower of Christ must recognize is that all physical matter in the universe was created from another source in another realm called the invisible realm. Because we are of the visible realm we have little experience and restricted access or even understanding of the invisible realm that created us, other then what scriptures reveal to us. "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible". (Hebrews 11:3 )

2 . The Scriptures tell us over and over that man was created and did not evolve from some other form- "So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

“It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. (Mark 10:5-8)

Genesis tells us man and women were created on day 6 and then in the New Testament Jesus verified the same thing. He also gives us information on the purpose and identity of man within day six of Creation. " The two shall become one and produce after their own kind. "God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. ” (Genesis 1:28) The union of man and women is to be one flesh working together for the purpose of God to reflect the unity of God and man in fellowship. God created us and in turn we are to be united in marriage and in and through our marriage union be fruitful.

 3. Evolution is built upon millions of years of death, yet death is noted in the scriptures as entering into the physical realm since man (and in particular Adam and Eve the first human couple) sinned. This alone should stop someone in their evolutionary tracks as it contradicts multiple scriptural verses about death entering the world through the spiritual disobedient act called sin. Evolution was spun together out of a need to understand what was not easily understandable by reason and logic. I have read several  books and  many posts on the Biologos website and  all I can deduct is confusion and conflicting claims. If you start with evolution you end up twisting the scriptures and doubting the full revelation of God's Word. I truly believe that those who walk with Christ and as well embrace theistic evolution or any theory of evolution do so because of the reputation and reasoning of the minds of  men. This first sentence alone on Biologos is insane: "We at BioLogos believe that God used the process of evolution to create all the life on earth today.'  These men can believe what they want about God, but God never said, claimed or implied evolution as a method of creating. The Bible declares an instant majestic creation that no man will likely ever understand.  We can accept scientific discoveries without accepting it's theories.

4. Creation itself is always referred to as a 6 day 24 hour literal process. Then on the next day ( day 7) God and man had a sabbath rest. This alone proves that the previous 6 days were not eons and millions of years because Jesus referred to the sabbath "day" as being made for the benefit of man and fellowship with God.

( For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” (Hebrews 4:4 )
Catfish Crucifixion skull

Rock formations

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. (Exodus 31:15 )

4. Marriage - before man sinned he was married and united by God and for the purpose of being fruitful and to have a companion and helper for life. This declared truth acknowledges a moral law long before the commandments and before death entered the world through sin.

I find it interesting that in the same day that we see creation being undermined  by evolutionist we have an increase among many in our day who are trying to do away the biblical revelation of marriage or  many are redefining the perimeters of marriage when God had already declared what the purpose and intent and boundaries of a man and woman's relationship is to be.

I believe we are soon approaching the very last days that even the very elect are being deceived to accept and believe a false faith  system of values from evolution to the acceptance of a perverse sodomy relationships. Many of those who now profess evolution also among those who accept homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle or moral condition.The Bible contradicts both these theories. To believe evolution is to believe is a well fabricated lie. If you are a professing Christian who accepts evolution then you obviously only accept parts of the Saviors teachings.
          Even our Vice President of the United States recently acknowledged that homosexuality is a morally acceptable way of life. Just because this man with all his years of leadership and authority acknowledges a lie as acceptable does not make it truth. Likewise, just because well learned scientist and influential men have declared evolution as truth does not make it true if it conflicts with God's Word and the very words of the Savior Himself.
May God restore the truth of His Word back to the Church regardless of what man says or declares. "What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar". Romans 3:3-4  If you have accepted evolution as a  true doctrine I want to encourage you to repent of this false teaching as truth and embrace the Truth of God's Word before the enemy eats away more of God's truth from your life.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Discipleship in a Post Christian Culture

What is your reaction to this video? Please visit the website listed in the video toward the end. Upon getting to that site look for the 16 page document called the "white papers".

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Evangelical Rejection of Reason- NOT

I am going to keep this simple and straight forward. I am an Eastern Nazarene College graduate who had Professor Karl Giberson as a professor. I have witnessed over the last several years his digression away from the bible, the holiness heritage of the Church of the Nazarene (COTN) and sound biblical doctrine. I have personally written to him and appealed to him, the President of the College and even our General Leaders about this wayward professing evangelical member of the Church of the Nazarene. Fortunately, he finally resigned and moved on, but only to still bring upon the COTN great shame in his latest Oct 17th New York Times article.

          Many of the articles and books Karl and similar faith abandoning professors have written do no earthly or heavenly good. Karl has taught at ENC and has brought the greatest shame upon the institution in it’s over 100 year history.
      I trust that in the silence of those in position of authority something is being done, said or considered to set the record straight about who Nazarene’s are and where they stand on these issues.  I am not in a position of leadership with ENC, the board of trustees, the current President or this present professor named Randall Stephens, but I do feel confident that the recent article named “The Evangelical Rejection of Reason” in the New York Times opinion section of October 17th 2011 does not reflect and represent the majority of the members of the COTN around the world.
  These men who wrote this article are out of line and touch with the doctrines and position of the church. They indeed bring shame upon His glorious Church when they dare refer to themselves as evangelicals. They obviously rely exclusively upon science and reason than the Anointed One and His revelation. Christianity is a relationship built upon faith in Jesus Christ and the recorded miracles of the bible. All miracles defy reason, logic and science and therefore called miracles.  
  The supernatural order always has and always will overstep the natural order of science and the material order of creation when the Creator wants and decides and it takes faith to believe and receive that as a higher reality than the natural order of creation.  
These men should either make a retraction on their article or public recordable statement of correction or move their association and membership out of the COTN.   If they choose not do so, I think they would make a far better match with Richard Dawkins new non believing clergy groups then the believers of Christ within the COTN.  Is there any science to the fact that this article was published on the same day as the article published by Richard Dawkins?  The article at hand is a testimony of their abandonment of true biblical faith in Christ unless corrected soon. If not corrected they are shipwrecking their faith and perhaps the faith of many others as well.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Weak Pond Water Anyone?

      It has been sometime since I posted a blog on any subject. It's just been a busy summer. Today I was finally able to read a book I've had since February 2011 that I picked up at the M11 Conference on evangelism. Within a few hours my local Missions president called me to ask about a missions lesson she was disappointed with. In our conversation she said, "pastor there is no scripture in the lesson plan and it's all just social work stuff". We discuss what we can do to teach people the Word and get what we could out of the lesson. I have heard one leader say our leadership  has become as " weak as pond water". 

After I finished my book I did a review on Amazon and left a quote from one page in the book. I can you tell we have a publish crisis.  I will not drink pond water being passed off as Holy Water and I hope you will not either.

Listening Inside Out: Conversations with Twenty Somethings About Faith, Culture, and the Church (Paperback)

The book title is interesting and a few of the chapters had a few good thoughts. However, the entire book as a whole was one of questions and not that of conviction or persuasive answers. I believe the twenty something generation is looking for solutions and answers and what this book does is confirm that those answers are not being delivered by many leaders who should have good biblical answers for this generation. Most of the chapters became a repeated pattern under a different title. I find it refreshing when writers quote scripture to give support to their perception and convictions, but very little of this is noted in this book. It was a very liberal and weak publication for a publishing House that has been known for decades as a holiness publishing house. One page in particular stood out as being extremely liberal that addressed the subject of homosexuality in the church. The author suggested that those who are openly homosexuality should be offered membership in the church like anyone else. Homosexual is referred to as an "orientation" verses a "perversion & immorality" and that alone gives enough evidence that this book wants to influence and persuade the holiness mindset to change and liberalize ones biblical standards.

Social Justice and Compassion seem to be a higher focus in this book verses the preaching of repentance and salvation for the poor and unfortunate. We should be reminded that even when Jesus fed the multiple he did so at the end of a day when he had taught the people spiritual truth first. However, many in our day try to put the cart before the horse and wonder why we are not reaching the lost as we had in previous generations. The book is more a read on the emotional feelings verses the spiritual convictions of leaders.

" on page 38 in the chapter called "Lifestyle"  reads the following:

Let's say a homosexual man walks into your church. The most responsible thing a church can do is love him, regardless of what lifestyle he chooses. You just love him into the Kingdom. It doesn't always mean that man is not going to be gay anymore, but that's not up to you. All we can do is love people regardless of what lifestyle they choose. Obviously, questions will arise. That gay man might ask, 'What is your stance on homosexuality'? It's ok to have a stance, but it's not ok to tell him that he is not welcome at your church, or that he can't be a part of this or that. It's about loving him and telling him that you're dealing with it too. You're loving people regardless of background, race or orientation."

 I want to press him further on this perspective. "Matt, what if that homosexual person wants to join the church? If he's in a lifestyle we don't condone, do we let him join anyway?"

"Well, yeah. I mean, I don't think it's a deal breaker. This is a really tricky question because if I say yes, then I'm saying that now we allow openly gay people to be in the community. And if I say no, then it leads to a question of what we will allow them to do.

 I know that raises all kinds of questions either way you go. But ultimately, I say yes. What you're saying to that person is, 'we love you.' His thing may be homosexuality, but someone else's thing is pornography, ..................

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Realistic & Good Report on Ministry In The Church of the Nazarene

Report of the District Superintendent

North Florida District Assembly

May 20, 2011

Dr. Middendorf, our presiding general superintendent; Michael Johnson, representing Trevecca Nazarene University; other special guests; and delegates, members, and friends of this 38th Assembly of the North Florida District: I am once again honored to stand before you to report for the 11th time as your district superintendent. Come August of this summer, Nancy and I will have been a part of this district for 20 years, and you really are family to us.

I want to begin by expressing personal gratitude to those who surround me in this assignment, and to whom I am especially indebted…our advisory board, two district secretaries this past year in Joe McNulty and Dave Pullen, our district treasurer Mark Patrick, our auxiliary leaders in Susan Day (NMI), Donna Nichols (SDMI), and Tim Hildreth (NYI), and our team of pastors and spouses. Thank you…your love, support, and encouragement.

Once again, rather than reviewing the year just past for my annual report, I am choosing to share a message with you as my district family, my flock, so to speak. But before doing so, I want to briefly mention some of our statistics. Financially, this past year has been perhaps our most challenging in our 38-year history. The plight of our nation’s overall economy is no secret, but our district had been spared its severity until this past year. In several of our churches, regardless of size, members have lost jobs, or their work or business has been greatly curtailed, or they’ve moved away seeking employment elsewhere, significantly reducing tithes/offerings. As a result, our district churches have had an overall loss of income compared to last year of more than $1 million.

In addition, we have had the added challenge of implementing a new budget system. And tomorrow morning our district treasurer, Mark Patrick, is going to walk us through once again a simple workshop on this new way of doing things, sort of a “Funding the Mission 101.”

In speaking to you this afternoon, I would like to refer to a passage of Scripture found in 2 Peter 3:11-14; 17-18:
                       Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?

You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him. Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (NIV)

In this passage, the Apostle Peter reminds all of us of the Day of the Lord. And much like the time in which Peter was writing, we, too, seem to see the ravages of evil all around us. I am not a prophet, but it would appear we are living in the Saturday night

hour of this dispensation. Yet when speaking of His return, Jesus said no one knows that day…not even the angels in heaven…except for His heavenly Father.

Though we may be living in the last days, the best way to keep prepared is to be involved with all of our energies and efforts in the extension of His Kingdom in our world. He may or may not come in my lifetime, but whether I’m caught up in the rapture or His coming is after my death, I want to be ready.

When it comes to God’s Kingdom, I’m both glad and thankful to be a part of the Church of the Nazarene. At one time who would have thought we would ever be a denomination in excess of 2 million members worldwide, as we are today? And yet in spite of that growth, some of you know I’ve expressed some sincere concerns about our church…

recent trends and directions…as have others.

I don’t want to merely voice caution, or to sound critical, for practically all of my life has been invested in and given to the people called Nazarenes. They are the ones who found my parents in Central California and were responsible for helping change their lives, spiritually, forever. As a result of that heritage, I, too, found the Living Lord for my life. I was educated in two of our Nazarene schools and have served with gratefulness in Nazarene churches. My closest and dearest friends are Nazarenes.

But some concerns linger. I don’t want to see us drift, or lose our spiritual moorings, which is not uncommon for a church in existence for more than a hundred years. I want us to continue to adhere to our cardinal doctrine.

I want us to preach it with fervent hearts and clear minds. I don’t want us to be lost in the shallowness of liberalism or drawn to the cold, sterile forms of ritualism. I want us to maintain a revival spirit that early on became synonymous with our church. And I want my own children, and your children, to be able to identify that spirit!

As I think about our church, I believe there are at least three great pluses or attributes that have been in our favor. And in this report, I want to share those with you.

I. The Plus of a Great History

First of all, there is the plus of a great history through some wonderful and godly leaders.When my parents were still living but no longer able to care for themselves on their own, my two sisters and I had the daunting task of getting them to move out of their home into an assisted living environment. During that process we discovered something in their basement we never knew existed. My mother had kept hidden away all of the love letters she and dad had exchanged during their courtship. That was when the telephone was used sparingly, and writing was a crafted art. As we came across the letters and took turns reading them aloud, my sisters began weeping at the beauty, innocence, purity, and depth of their love for one another.

But something else stood out. They were both in their twenties and had only been Christians and a part of the Church of the Nazarene a short time, but their letters also expressed a surprising maturity and growth in the things of God. For in that time they had been exposed to several of the early leaders and preachers of our church. One of them was a small statured itinerant evangelist who frequented their home church of Porterville, CA, because his daughter and her husband and their eight children were also a part of that church. His name was Uncle Bud Robinson.

Others who impacted their lives were H. Orton Wiley, the president of Pasadena College where they attended, and who taught systematic theology to all religion majors; Jay Proctor Knott, godly professor of history at the college; and preachers like C. W. Ruth and A. O. Hendricks. As dad told me one day, “All the preaching I heard when I came into the Church of the Nazarene came from powerful preachers of the Word of God, and perfect love seemed to ooze from them.”

Not once did he ever hear someone cast doubt or question the absolute authority of God’s Word. They were unique, learned, and humble servants, minus any arrogance stemming from their own knowledge and educational credentials. And God blessed!

If you read the Historical Statement in the beginning pages of our Church Manual you’ll come across the name of Mary Lee Cagle, who, along with her first husband, R. L. Harris, blazed across the cattle trails of Texas for scriptural holiness. In one county seat after another they paid the price to plant what became the Church of the Nazarene. And when her husband died, Mary Lee continued on her own to conduct revivals, one of which was in the West Texas town of Rotan. In that meeting a cowboy by the name of Henry Cagle was won to the Lord under her preaching, and later on he won her hand in marriage and joined with her in ministry.

As a 10-year-old boy I recall going with my dad to visit the home of Mary Lee and Henry C. Cagle, then retired and up in years, living in the small town of Buffalo Gap, outside of Abilene, TX. There was a sweet and godly spirit about the Cagles, including just being in their home. But there was also a certain awe about Mary Lee. She was tall and stately, with snow white hair and flawless skin, almost angelic looking. And before leaving, she would say to my dad, “Now Brother Jenkins, I want you to have prayer with us,” and the four of us would all kneel around their kitchen table.

But after dad finished praying, Mary Lee would always close in prayer. I want to tell you that even as a young boy, I knew her prayer had lifted all of us heavenward. And before saying goodbye, she would clasp my dad’s hand and say, “Brother Jenkins, if I don’t see you again here, I’ll meet you yonder just inside the Eastern Gate.”

I share this to say that those who went before us to plant our church did so, for the most

part, at great personal cost and sacrifice. They had few people, even less money, and in most places were accompanied by hardship. But in the lives of those early leaders, not only did they profess and preach heart holiness, better yet, they lived it. Their lives were transparent, they stood clear and tall for God, and they had an influence and impact because of a holiness that they themselves demonstrated.

None of our preaching is ever any better than our living.

II. The Plus of a Great Theology

The second plus in our favor is that of a great message contained in our theology…

freedom from sin by the power of the Holy Spirit, known as heart holiness…verified and confirmed by Scriptures. It became the foundation and distinction of who we are and what our early preachers and leaders unashamedly proclaimed.

Yet all too often, upon visiting a church in this assignment, someone will say to me, “Orville, we seldom, if ever, hear a message on holiness.”

If we are Nazarenes, there should be a stamp upon us that we cannot escape. Pastor, as a holiness preacher, you are marked for life. Others may not agree and give emphasis elsewhere. But you and I, as holiness people, have no options, no electives, no discount fares, and make no apologies. When you go this way, you go with a purpose, for you go God’s way, without compromise, reservation, or stipulation.

It calls for cutting some shore lines…settling some spiritual issues once and for all…living to a higher standard…and dying to the world, including the opinion and favor of others. In short, it calls for dying out to self!

But if we ignore or neglect this truth, we not only forfeit the distinctiveness that brought us into existence, we also vacate a wonderful experience that God has for each of us in which our hearts are made clean from sin and pure in love.

III. The Plus of an Evangelistic Passion

And then there is the plus of an evangelistic passion, for the Church of the Nazarene was born in revival.

The Methodist Church stands as a tribute today to one man, John Wesley, who had a passion for souls. When the Church of England forbid him to preach, he stood on his father’s tombstone and said the world was his parish. And for the next 40 years he started revival fires, often in out of the way places all across England, resulting in Methodism. During that time Wesley averaged 8,000 miles a year by horseback and 1,000 sermons a year in his zeal for spiritually lost people.

The Wesleyan revival of the 18th century was a forerunner of the historical religious current which birthed the Church of the Nazarene, and was characterized by three components: salvation by faith in Jesus Christ; full surrender to Christ’s lordship leading to heart holiness, or sanctification, also by faith; and then the witness or assurance by the Holy Spirit. In fact, when the Methodist Episcopal Church was formed in America in 1784, its stated purpose was “to reform the Continent, and to spread scriptural Holiness over these Lands.”

Ironically, almost a hundred years after Wesley, a Methodist leader by the name of Phineas F. Bresee left a rather secure position in Southern California in order to pursue taking the gospel to the poor and needy. He did so no longer a young man, but at age 57, with the end result being the establishment of the Church of the Nazarene…not only to the poor, but to the world. For also evolving from Bresee’s sense of obedience was something he never fully realized or observed in his own lifetime…our church’s great missionary enterprise which has produced countless unsung heroes of the faith as well as an endless stream of those all over the world who’ve been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

And more often than not in our history, we’ve planted a church or entered a new world area by sheer faith, trust, and confidence that our God would go before us as we obeyed the Great Commission. That has been our evangelistic passion.

But now here we are, a little over 200 years after Wesley and almost a hundred years after Bresee. No organization, including the church, can rest or dwell merely on its strengths, pluses, attributes, or personalities of the past. Yes, we’ve had a great history and been blessed with wonderful, godly leaders. But now we seem to find it easy to identify ourselves with those who are either controversial or have nothing in common with our holiness doctrine…today’s liberals who were yesterday’s evangelicals…sons and daughters of those who once rejected liberalism. For if you reject the orthodox truth of Scripture and the church, whatever you call it will still be liberalism. It’s almost as if 2,000 years have gone by and now someone is telling us they’ve discovered something contrary to Scripture that no one else has ever found.

But more importantly, I want to know who among us is willing to say…“Here we stand! This is what we believe!” It is something to which the modern, liberal, emergent church is allergic toward declaring.

Who is standing in the gap, ready and willing to take the mantel of spiritual leadership in this post-modern, post-Christian era in which we live? Who will be a modern day C. W. Ruth, A. O. Hendricks, Mary Lee Cagle, J. B. Chapman, R. T. Williams, E. O. Chalfant, G. B.Williamson, M. Kimber Moulton, Lawrence Hicks, Edward Lawlor, Paul Martin, or C. William Fisher, to name only a few. To some of you, these names may not be recognizable, but they were all powerful Nazarene preachers who stood absolutely on the authority of God’s Word and from whom perfect love seemed to ooze. And they helped establish the reputation of the Nazarenes having some of the finest preachers to be found anywhere.

Who will replace the legendary names of Anderson, Beals, Browning, Depasquale, Eckel, Esselstyn, Garman, Hynd, Knox, Orjala, Prescott, Schmelzenbach, Sedat, and Carson- Winans among our long list of missionary heroes?

And who will be among the next wave of individuals to replace outstanding lay men and women, including those here on our own district, who have served faithfully and been the heart and soul of our church going all the way back to those that followed and joined with Bresee?

We’ve had the benefit of a great theology found in Scripture and brought to a new awareness and emphasis by Wesley. But who will be among our next brilliant, dedicated, and humble theologians in the mold of an H. Orton Wiley, Paul T. Culbertson, Ralph Earle, Donald Metz, Willard Taylor, Mildred Wynkoop, H. Ray Dunning, or William Greathouse, who not only taught but demonstrated the very essence of holiness?

And when it comes to our schools, I believe our tolerance should be zero for anyone who doubts or questions the creation, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection and deity of Christ, the reliability and authority of Scripture, as well as the reality of heaven and hell, or wants to impose the acceptance of homosexuality? For in reality they are not only a danger, they are an enemy to what we value, believe, and hold to dearly, including the minds and hearts of our students. I only want teaching, influencing, and impacting our young people those willing to stand boldly and unflinchingly for biblical truth, and strongly and unequivocally against sin, because the lives of those students, many of whom will be the future of our church, is far too valuable to risk with anyone less.

And who of us is going to make sure the plus of our evangelistic passion does not wane? Some of our churches will go for more than a year without one new member joining by profession of faith. Today we are graduating growing numbers of business and education majors in our church schools here in the U.S., while students who feel called into the ministry are in decline. Who will help us retain or renew a passion for lost people?

As both laity and clergy representing our various congregations, the Church of the Nazarene is now in our hands. It’s no longer in the hands of those I’ve mentioned who paved the way and have gone before us, for we cannot recall yesterday, or go back there ourselves. Neither is it in the hands of those who will come after us. But it is in our hands…yours and mine…for we are the Church of the Nazarene of this hour. And our future depends largely on people just like us who sit here today and who will be in our churches on Sunday.

Several years ago I came across an old gospel spiritual entitled, “Shine on Me.” It was the melody and words of the chorus that really caught my attention and that I loved immediately. The chorus says simply, “Shine on me, shine on me, let the light from the Lighthouse shine on me.”

The question I pose to us is this: This light from the Lighthouse of God that brought us into existence as a church…shined upon us with godly leadership…called us unto holiness…placed within us a burden for the lost…and eventually drew you and me into the church…will it still be shining brightly after you and I are gone due to the spiritual fervor and legacy we’re leaving for others?

What about your local church? If our district, or the Church of the Nazarene, depended on what is taking place in your church to sustain and continue our existence for the foreseeable future, would the light from the Lighthouse be bright enough to do so?

And I ask myself, is the light shining through my life strong enough to create the same love, loyalty, and appreciation within the lives of my own children that I’ve experienced for the church? And what am I doing where I serve to help insure that our church remains a viable influence for the message of holiness across northern Florida?

After first hearing “Shine on Me” in a mostly black worship service, I have since heard it sung by youth choirs, but with a slight variation that asks the question, “I wonder if the light from the Lighthouse will shine on me?” And as I’ve heard it sung in that manner, it has haunted me, for I hear the next generations of our church…our youth and children and young families…asking that question of us.

I wish I could answer that question in the affirmative without reservation. But I can state that unless we as a church are able to preserve our godly heritage, influence, and spiritual fervor…and unless we are able to retain our theology that is most sensible and practical when it comes to living godly and holy lives…and unless we are able to maintain our evangelistic passion for lost people…the light from the Lighthouse will gradually grow dim, no longer shining brightly enough to guide those who come after us.
    In the passage we read from 2nd Peter, the apostle asks what kind of people ought you to be? Rhetorically he answers that you ought to live holy and godly lives, making every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with the Lord (3:11; 14). But he also issues a warning when he says to be on your guard…don’t get carried away and fooled by what is in error (3:17). In other words, don’t settle for what is shallow or just not true.
    And, he is speaking to you and me, in whose hands is now our church.
    I close with a “homework assignment” in three parts. The first two are specifically for you as pastors, for Scripture says, “And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14). Pastors, you are the spiritual leaders of our churches, and you are to teach and preach the truth of what we believe from the authority of God’s Word.
  • Part One. Two years ago I asked that you preach at least one sermon a month on heart holiness. This year I’d like to see you increase that emphasis. If you don’t already have a copy, obtain the following books an immerse yourself in them for study and sermon preparation, and to feed your own soul: Exploring Christian Holiness, Vol. 1-3 (BHP); Biblical Resources for Holiness Preaching, Dunning/Wiseman (BHP); Studies in Biblical Holiness, Metz (BHP); Grace, Faith, & Holiness, Dunning (BHP).
  • Part Two. Read through E. M. Bounds’ book, The Preacher and Prayer. It will change your life!
  • Part Three. And as congregations, may I challenge you to spend intentional and specific times in prayer for the Church of the Nazarene? Pray for boldness, courage, steadfastness, and spiritual power against the forces of darkness and evil that come against us. Pray for every phase of our church, including our leadership, our missionary enterprise, our publishing and curriculum arm, our Global Ministry Center personnel, and for Spirit-filled pastors and lay leaders in our local churches. For nothing of real significance ever happens in the church if it doesn’t take place there. Pray earnestly for your own congregation, not just for the sick or the absent. But ask God, point blank, to help you engage, befriend, and win to Christ no less than at least one new person this year!
                    This assignment is captured in that simple request, “Shine on me, shine on me, let the light from the Lighthouse shine on me.”
    Respectfully submitted,
    Orville Jenkins, Jr.