What they’re singing in Heaven, and what that means for us now

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open the seals, for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood….” (Revelation 5:9).

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing….” (Revelation 5:12).

“And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16).

Up in Heaven, they’re singing about Jesus.

And the Father, far from being displeased, threatened, or jealous, loves it.

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How one preacher feels on Sunday morning

“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20).

I feel like I have a delivery to make.

I will drive 130 miles up the interstate and across some state highways, greet the members of Centreville, Mississippi, Baptist Church, and then join their worship service.  At the appointed time, I will rise and ask them to turn to Matthew 10.

All week long, I have lived in Matthew 10.  I’ve read it, thought about it, written about it, read about it, and talked to the Lord about it.  I feel I have a load to delivery.

When I drive South this afternoon, I will feel spent.  Empty. Unburdened.  And drained.

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The cure for an oversensitive conscience

“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things.  Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” (I John 3:20-21).

“But I don’t feel forgiven.”

“I don’t feel saved after some of the things I’ve done.”

“I feel so bad. I know God says He has forgiven me, but my heart says otherwise.”

Every pastor gets this.  People who have grown up in sound churches and call themselves Bible-believing Christians fall prey to this malady of judging their standing with the Heavenly Father by their feelings.

Imagine that.  As though one’s feelings about anything are accurate, consistent, dependable.

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Perhaps the most amazing thing the Lord told His disciples

“He who receives you receives me” (Matthew 10:40).

“He who hears you hears Me; he who rejects you  rejects Me” (Luke 10:16).

Imagine this scene:  You are about to go out and preach the Word of God.  You are devoted to your Lord, certain of the message, and sure of your call. But then….

You begin to worry about the kind of reception you will get.  Will I be effective? What if I’m not ready? What if they don’t like me?  I’m not that great a speaker.

That’s when you hear the most amazing words from the Lord.

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What unbelief looks like in a pastor

“The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; quoted in Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).

“Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

In a real sense, the shepherd of one of the Lord’s churches demonstrates faith every time he goes about his business of tending to the flock, of preparing sermons, delivering the message, or stepping into a hospital room.

He never knows what God is going to do and lives in the hope and expectation that He will do something.  Anything!

But there is another sense, perhaps on a deeper level, in which this one called of God may send a different kind of message, one of unbelief and not of faith.

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Ten of the most disgusting expressions ever uttered in anybody’s church

“A mixed multitude went up with them (out of Egypt)….” (Exodus 12:38).

“Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving…” (Numbers 11:4).

Listening to the gripes of the Lord’s people is standard fare for ministers.

They ought to teach courses on it in seminary.

Someone please tell the newly ordained to get ready.

The primary nerve center for griping and complaining in the church house has always been the carnal and the worldly.  This includes two groups of people: the unsaved (represented by the infamous mixed multitude of unbelievers and hangers-on who went up from Egypt with Moses and Israel) and the unspiritual.  The latter group is saved but has taken a seat just inside the front gate and gone no deeper into the spiritual things.

Some chronic complainers are saved and some are lost.  The problem is they look and act alike, making it impossible to tell outwardly.  So, God’s faithful must be careful about making generalizations, that “Christians wouldn’t act this way.”

Not all Christians get these things right. Not every believer acts like a Christian.

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When to fire a pastor

This is the most painful subject I ever deal with (and I write about plenty of them).

The very nature of church conflict demands that the pastor be found in the midst of the firestorm.  Sometimes, he is an innocent bystander, sometimes he inherited the problem, sometimes he is the problem and at all times he tries to be a healer.

In every case, he gets bloodied in the fray.

The church consultant we brought in to help us deal with a 30 year split in the congregation did his interviews, took his polls, and then announced, “McKeever is not this church’s problem.  But he has become the focus of it in the minds of many. So, I’m going to recommend that he leave and the church start afresh with someone new.”

Sheesh. Thanks a lot, friend.

But, that’s how it happens sometimes. You were trying to help the church and were downed by friendly fire, as we call it.

At other times, the pastor is neither a healer nor an innocent bystander. Sometimes, he is the problem and the congregation decides to take action.

The only question is “what action”?

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Roasting (and toasting) Dr. David Crosby

My good friend Dr. David Crosby is celebrating 20 years as pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Orleans.  Today, June 5, the church devoted the morning service to this, followed by a luncheon and a program consisting of a “roast,” with 6 speakers, of whom I was one.

What follows is my roast, with an explanation or two in italics along the way, followed by my “toast.”

Roasting….

“I’m honored today to stand before you to say a few words about a great American, a man beloved in New Orleans and elsewhere.  A man of great popularity who is held in high esteem.  He is a success any way you cut it.  A man of movie star looks, with a beautiful wife.

“But–enough about Donald Trump.  Let’s talk about David Crosby.

“David, you and I were both born on March 28.  Thirteen years apart.  No one looking at you today would ever believe you are that many years older than me.  Janet is clearly taking good care of you.”

“In June of 1996, when you first arrived in New Orleans, I was pastoring the First Baptist Church of Kenner, and had just had surgery. Since the doctor ordered me to rest up for three weeks, I was able to hear your first three sermons–the first two on live TV and the third in person.  I will never forget the subjects of your sermons.”

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What lazy theologians do

“Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod in 1749.  Yet because of opposition from local clergymen–man should not dare ‘avert the stroke of heaven’–the lighthouse did not receive protection from God’s thunderbolts for more than two decades.”  –The New York Review, May 26, 2016

Imagine the thinking of some people: We shouldn’t protect ourselves from lightning, lest we interfere with God’s judgment.

Abandoning their responsibility, criticizing those trying to help, and blaming their warped thinking on God.

“This is how God set things up.”

Interesting theology, I think we can agree.

If we carried that reasoning to its natural lengths, no one should wear seat belts or repair the brakes on cars just in case the Father in Heaven had planned to kill us that morning.

God should always be given a free hand in these things.

According to the authorities, the San Andreas Fault, that break in the earth’s crust running up and down California, is overdue for delivering the mother of all earthquakes.  One expert said, “The San Andreas is 10 months pregnant.”

When that happens, as we are assured it will, two things will follow:  devastation on a massive scale and lazy theologians blaming it all on God.

“Why did God allow this to happen?”

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Waiting: The hardest work any of us will ever do

“Wait on the Lord. Be strong. Let your heart take courage. Yes, wait on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).

Saturday, a pastor texted to ask for prayer.  He has been without a church for a year now and has exhausted all his savings.  The opportunities to preach have been few and far between, and he has been unsuccessful in finding secular work.

My heart goes out to him and I’m praying diligently for him.

Sunday, a friend asked for prayer for her pastor husband. He’s discouraged and would like the Lord to open up some new place of service.

Most of us have been there at one time or other.

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