Liberality Or Legality?

February 25th, 2013

I grew up with the benefit of a Christian dad and mom who made giving to God’s work a top priority in our home. My parents regularly reminded us (My Brother And Two Sisters) that all the money on earth was God’s anyway, and that we are called to give him His tithes and our offerings as a way for us to participate in His ministry. To do otherwise, particularly with respect to tithing, would be to steal from Him. The Bible word is “Rob”. If we do not give a tithe and offering we are not just negligent we are criminals who have “Robbed God”. I grew up with this Biblical foundation established firmly in my life.

I did not even realize as a young man that there was an entire subculture of Christianity that does not believe that tithing is required in the New Testament. Since God allowed me to enter the ministry 29 years ago I have met some of these so called liberated believers who feel no obligation to give a tithe. They view tithing as a form of legalism and in Christ they have been set free from this archaic bondage.  May I respectfully say, “I feel sorrow for those who have fallen prey to this insidious teaching.” As a sinner saved by grace, who rejoices in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, I too am thankful for our freedom in Christ. But my old nature certainly understands how people can fall into the false teaching that tithing is a form of legalism. My old nature would like to ignore the scriptures that teach about tithing just like my liberated friends. But there is just too much Bible that won’t let me fall into that disobedience.

II Corinthians 9:6-7 Teaches Us That New Testament Giving Is To Be Done:

1. Bountifully - To Give Abundantly, Liberally And Generously. This Kind Of Giving Is A Much Higher Standard Than Just Tithing. 

2. Purposefully - To Plan, It Implies Intention, Resolution And Determination.

3. Not Grudgingly - Giving Should Not Be Done, Unwillingly, Reluctantly, Or Sparingly. Giving Grudgingly Is Giving Done With Hesitation. It Is Cheap Christianity.

4. Not Of NecessityDon’t Give Because You Have A Need and You Hope God Will See Your Generosity. The Other Extreme Is Not Giving Because You Have A Need! Not Giving Of Necessity Is Giving Regardless Of Financial Hardships And Without Any Expectations That God Who Has Already Blessed You Owes You Anything. This Is Giving That Believes God Deserves My Best Because He Has Already Given Me His Very Best.

5. And Cheerfully -  This Is Giving With Rejoicing. Giving With A Thrill. It Is Worship In Our Stewardship. It Is Not Until Giving Is Done Cheerfully That It Is Done Sincerely.

Contrary to the Liberated Theology that the New Testament frees us from the Legalism Of Tithing The New Testament is tougher than the Old Testament. The Old Testament says, “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery”. The New Testament says, “If You Look On A Woman With Lust In Your Heart You Have Already Committed Adultery.” In the Old Testament God demands a “Tithe And An Offering.” In The New testament Jesus extolls the generosity of a widow who gives her all. The widow was not a 10% giver she was a 100% giver. To be honest with you, I think the Old Testament sounds easier to me!

I Still Believe There Is HOPE!

February 19th, 2013
Bro. Ramos And I Sking With Some Of Our Teens
At Nubs Nob February 15th
We have kicked off 2013 with tremendous energy here at Grace Baptist Church. Our 2013 theme is “There Is Hope!”  For January our theme was “There Is Hope In Our Heavenly Father.” For February our theme has been “There Is Hope For Our Homes And Families.” It has been so exciting, in spite of a lot of crazy winter weather, to see our building packed service after service as folks are both Eager and Excited to Seek God and to Serve God.

For the month of March our church theme is, “There Is Hope For Our Heritage And Future.” The month of March is all about teenagers and reaching the next generation with the gospel and with a heart for the “Old Time Religion.” I refuse to believe that it is only possible to reach teenagers with CCM, and watered down, seeker sensitive, emerging church, market driven ministry methods. There are still tens of thousands of teenagers all over this country who love the Bible, believe in chastity, want to have a good testimony, desire holiness and who are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

For 26 years now Grace Baptist Church has hosted a winter teen conference called “Winter Teenage Spectacular.” The dates for this year’s conference are March 7-9, 2013. You can get more information about this year’s conference and past conferences by going to Thousands of teens have attended over the years with hundreds receiving Christ as Saviour and thousands making decisions to following and serve Him with their lives. The music is conservative, the preaching is red hot and the crowds continue to grow. There is still a generation of teenagers who want to do right and who love the heritage of faith that we call genuine Christianity. I still have HOPE!
Bring your teens and join us for a time of spiritual renewal and spiritual revival with over 1000 other teens from many states and hundreds of churches! We truly anticipate a life changing conference again this year.   I Still Believe There Is HOPE!

Brandon Update!

February 18th, 2013

A week ago today I asked our friends both around the country and the world to pray for our son Brandon who had surgery at UT Southwestern, St. Paul Hospital in Dallas, Texas. Brandon and his wife, Christina, live in Dallas. Brandon works as a manager at a Walmart store in Dallas.

Brandon had PVC ablation surgery. During the surgery his doctors determined that it was in his best interest to receive a defibrillator as well. This was determined as a result of the EPC study that was conducted during the surgery. We are thankful that Brandon is in the care of great medical professionals.

As a father of course, I am deeply concerned for my son and daughter-in-law. We love Brandon and Christina with all our hearts. Brandon has had some good days and some tough ones since the surgery. Please continue to pray for Brandon as his body adjust to his defibrillator. Christina is such a great girl, we are so thankful that Brandon has her at his side through this ordeal.

I am claiming the promise of Psalm 147:3 for Brandon, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.”

Please Pray For Our Son Brandon!

February 11th, 2013

Today is a real serious day in our family. Our son Brandon is in surgery right now at UT Southwestern, St. Paul Hospital in Dallas, Texas. Brandon is our middle son and is married to a wonderful girl, Christina. Our daughter-in-law is the oldest daughter of a great Evangelist.

Brandon is having PVC ablation surgery right now. I just received a text from Christina that the doctors have also decided to give Brandon a defibrillator as well. This was determined as a result of the EPC study that they have been conducting during the surgery. Brandon has been having a lot of heart complications over the past two years. He is only 23 years old but we are confident that he is both in God’s hands and will. We are very thankful that he is in such good medical hands there in Dallas. We are also tremendously thankful for his awesome wife as she is such a support and blessing. Please pray for both Brandon and Christina as they go through this difficult ordeal together.

Brandon and Christina go to a good church, Lighthouse Baptist Church, of Wylie, Texas, pastored by Dr. James Rasbeary. I am truly thankful for the spiritual leadership that Bro. Rasbeary provides to my married children. Our family cherishes your prayers at this time!

I Sure Love My Church Family!

February 7th, 2013

It is 9:00 PM on Thursday evening as my wife and I are waiting to catch a red eye flight from Los Angeles, California back to Traverse City, Michigan.  We should land tomorrow morning at about 11:00 AM. We are returning from speaking at the annual leadership conference at Lighthouse Baptist Church, in San Diego. It was a great conference again this year. It was both a privilege to speak and a blessing to attend this great meeting.

As I jot down these thoughts I am tired, but very thankful that I am headed home. I have been privileged to speak in a lot of churches over the past 17 or 18 years, but I still get excited every time I am headed home. For nearly 27 years now I have been blessed and yes humbled to be the pastor of the greatest folks in the entire world. I am so thankful for the wonderful people who give me the awesome privilege to be their pastor. Grace Baptist Church is truly a great church! This is not because I am the pastor but because of the incredible people who make up our church family.

Grace Baptist Church of Gaylord, Michigan is made up of hundreds and hundreds of wonderful people who take their church and their faith very seriously. I cannot even imagine any group of folks anywhere who I would want to pastor more than the precious folks who call me pastor. The staff that works with me to, lead our great church, are absolutely the finest Christian workers you will find in any church anywhere in the entire country. So many of our members serve tirelessly in the many ministries of Grace Baptist Church. The Bus Ministry, RU Addictions Recovery Ministry, Sunday School Ministry, Children’s Church Ministries (Beginner I Church, Beginner II Church, Primary I & II Church, Junior I & II Church), Sunshine Special Needs Ministry, Teen Ministry, Teen Church, Usher’s Ministry, Nursery Ministries (Nursery I, Nursery II, Nursery III), Greeters Ministry, Jail Ministry, Nursing Home Ministry (6 Different Facilities Every Week), Grace Baptist College, Grace Baptist Christian School, WBLW 88.1 FM Radio Station, Spark Of Grace Soul Winning Ministry, Ladies Soul Winning, Church-wide Soul Winning, Teen Soul Winning, Annual Conferences (Camp Meeting, Teen Spectacular, Ladies Conference, Missions Conference, College Days), Choir Ministries (Beginner Choir, Primary & Junior Choir, Teen Choir, College Choir, Adult Choir), Special Music Ministry, Live Nativity, Children’s Summer Sports Leagues, Secret Servants Ministry, Deacons, Doorkeepers, and on and on I could go. The great people of our church keep these ministries and many others going week after week and year after year with their sincere and faithful service.  They are the BEST! I love every one of you, and thank God that I get to be your servant.

I am sure looking forward to this Saturday and Sunday as we all roll up our sleeves and serve the Lord Jesus Christ together through our local church, the Grace Baptist Church. I Sure Love My Church Family!

Teaching Your Children To Be Givers

February 6th, 2013

Most of us have had a conflict in our lives between what we think we want and what we really need. This same conflict also is alive and well in the lives of our children. We hear a great deal in the media about our national debt. As of today it is $16,475,048,398,166. This staggering number represents running away spending in our nation’s capital, but it also represents a national failure to teach our children proper attitudes towards money, things, and desires. Our children will either be “givers” or “takers” in society and that will be greatly influenced by the life they live in our home. How can we teach our children to be givers rather than takers? How do we help our children (and ultimately ourselves) be people who genuinely enjoy giving to others as the Bible commands us to do?

1. Be Generous Parents.

The story is told of Jesus and the disciples attending a wedding. The wedding reception had been going for a while when something tragic happened. They ran out of wine. That was serious business to the host of the party. It was a cultural “no-no”; a huge embarrassment to run out of wine. Jesus took some big barrels of water and turned them into the best fruit of the vine that the people had that night. The people were surprised and said that normally people put the best wine out first and saved the watered down stuff for later. The Bible says that was the very first miracle Jesus ever did. As culturally important as weddings were in those days, it still sounds like God met a want, rather than a need.

It is very clear to me that God is not trying to keep us from having what we want in life. God is not opposed to blessing us with things we want, but may not even need. We should not be afraid to do the same with our children. If we can afford to, and if our children are living within the boundaries set for our home, we should not be afraid to give them gifts they simply want, but may not even need. It is okay to do nice things for your kids. The atmosphere of (Luke 6:38) should be taught by example if we hope our children will embrace it. 

2. Teach Your Children The Difference Between A Need And A Want.

As much as God wants to bless us with wants, if we study the Bible, God seems far more interested in helping fulfill our needs than He does in giving us everything we want. In fact, God never promises to provide our want list, yet He does promise to meet all our needs. (Philippians 4:19) is a tremendous promise that God wants to meet our needs, but the context of this verse makes it very clear that this is a conditional promise. This verse is a promise to people who are givers, and especially givers to the need of missions. Granted there are some that take verses out of context and teach that God gives us everything we ask for, but that doesn’t line up with the rest of Scripture. The problem from a Biblical perspective is that we have a messed up system of determining need verses want. That thing inside us that chooses good over evil, better or best, need verses wants; is broken. Adam and Eve entered a perfect world. They could have had anything they “wanted” except for one tree and yet that was the tree they chose to eat from. (We shouldn’t be too surprised at their decision, because we make choices like that every day.) That sin of rebellion brought about the world in which we live where there are actually things that are harmful for us, yet, because we are in a messed up world, we often want most the things that are not the best for us and we certainly have a hard time determining the difference between a need and a want.

It is understandable why it is difficult to raise children who understand the difference between a need and a want when most of us as parents struggle with the same issues.

3. Teach Your Children To Make Wise Choices With Their Own Money.

One of the primary reasons children should have access to their own money is so they can learn the value of it. Most kids are more careful spending “their” money than they are spending their parents. Talk with them about how they should spend their hard earned money or even money given to them for birthdays or Christmas. They ultimately should give their tithe to God, save some, and spend some for things they need or want.

4. Be A Good Example Of Making The Right Choices Between Needs And Wants.

I think we teach our children to value the need more than the want by first modeling it for them. We cannot ask children to do something we are not willing to do ourselves. Children are smarter than that. Today’s generation is far more interested in truth and integrity than earlier generations. This generation despises hypocrisy. If children see parents saying one thing and doing another, they will reject that as being truth. We need to model and teach our children the proper concepts concerning money; ultimately that we are to be responsible with what God has allowed us to have. Children need to see their parents giving sacrificially of their time and resources. Volunteering to serve in the ministries of your local church is one of the most important life lessons you will ever teach your children about giving.

5. Ground Your Children In Reality.

Children need to know that the universe does not revolve around them. Our world as their parents may revolve largely around them, but the rest of the world thinks otherwise. Children need to experience times in their life when they have to wait for something they want. Teach and model for children a life that puts others needs and wants ahead of their own.

6. Whatever You Do Don’t Give Children Everything Even If You Can Afford It.

If children are encouraged by example to have a love of money…a love of stuff…chances are they will never have enough possessions in this world to be satisfied. Plant within them a love of God, and a love of people and they will want to be a blessing to others. Regardless of how financially secure your family may be do not raise your children with a “privileged attitude”. When this happens the child has a hard time developing a heart of giving, because they are often too consumed with acquiring more “stuff”. A dear preacher friend of mine said that whenever he would take his children to the store he would instruct them, “You are with me, I am not with you,” IT IS OKAY TO SAY NO TO YOUR CHILD! In fact, that may sometimes be the exact thing we need to say. Every trip to the store should not produce a new toy!

Perhaps the greatest thing a parent can do to help children succeed in life is to help them desire the things of God more than the things of this world. That is God’s heart for us as His children and it is the heart He desires for us to pass on to the children He’s placed in our homes.