Grace for Y’All

Church attendance seems to be on the decline. What once was a vibrant church culture in the Bible belt has shifted to a culture of church avoidance. I must admit as a pastor this used to bother me. I was worried that the church was failing. But my thoughts on this matter of decline have changed. Perhaps the church is seeing a time of restructuring and God himself is the renovator.

The root of the problems seen in contemporary evangelical churches lies in what has been taught about salvation in Christ. What one understands about salvation shapes the understanding of the Church. Without proper knowledge of salvation, there will be no proper opinions about the Church.

The Apostle Paul states to the Church in Ephesus,

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9 | ESV]

This passage of scripture lies at the foundation of Protestant Evangelical doctrine and rightly so. Salvation is by grace through faith. The foundation of the gospel message in Christianity is that humanity is sinful and lost, apart from God who created us all. The only path back to the graces of God is through the sacrificial death of His son, Jesus Christ.

Yet this passage of scripture has been taught incorrectly for a very long time. Sometime in the past decades American churches began to teach that salvation is between an individual and God alone. That this gift of God was all for me and no one else has any part in the process.

But historically this passage of scripture was understood in a different way. The role of the Church was always assumed and never questioned in the role of saving grace. Regular Church attendance was never questioned and rarely neglected.

God never intended to redeem sinful people one at a time to live out their lives peacefully without interference. The personal relationship that one has with Jesus is wonderful and properly so. But this relationship with Christ is not a private affair that we keep secret, nor do we live out in isolation.

Paul intended in his letter to the Ephesians to encourage them as a Church. He did not encourage individual Christians to seek out their own private journey to Heaven.  Rather, to be ‘saved by grace’ means for ‘we’ to be saved by grace. The ‘I’ is not intended in this passage at all.

This is evidenced in the context of the passage as well as the context of the letter as a whole. When Paul states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” He does not say that “my faith saved me” but rather that ‘all of you’ are saved by grace through ‘your’ faith as a plural.

A great way for most of us to understand this language is to translate the passage as, “For by grace, y’all have been saved through faith.” The text implies a plurality of ‘you’s’ not individual ‘ME’s.’

We can see further evidence in understanding the role of salvation as Paul states in verses nineteen to twenty.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on a foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone. [Ephesians 2:19-20 | ESV]

It is easy to see in this context that Paul intended to teach the church of Ephesus that salvation is not a lonely endeavor. Instead Christ saves the sinner to be part of a great group of people. His Church is not to be forgotten in the role of salvation. The body of Christ is not intended to be a lone individual. Rather the body of Christ is made up of many individuals as part of a greater whole. The Church is the gathered people of God who welcome all who are lonely.

Perhaps what the Church is witnessing in this season of decline is actually a purging of misled Christians. The result of misled salvation is dissatisfaction with the Church.  Church does not meet ‘my’ needs when a false understanding of grace is that grace is given to ‘me.’ Rather, grace is given to ‘us.’

Falsely held belief is rejection of the truth no matter the intention. I am sad to admit that I am glad of the purging happening in the Church. Church bank accounts may be on the decline, and church pews are empty, but those who are returning to the Church are seeking an authenticity which was lost.

I see hope for the Church and I am glad to see the faithful remnant restored by God himself.

The healthy Church is that gathering of Christians who support one another and care for one another just as Christ cares for all. But this healthy gathering of Christians does not include those who are nominal in faith in Christ. Nominal Christians are those who mistakenly think sins are forgiven. Only through the gift of God can one’s sins be forgiven. But once that cleansing of the spirit occurs, the Christian is not alone. Inclusion in the Church is automatic, but to be part of a Church requires physical presence.

Are you sitting at home alone?

Do you assume that ‘your’ faith is no one’s business?

Christ thinks otherwise. He has built a Church for all of His faithful. Are you included in this family called the Church? Or are you frustrated that Church has nothing for you? Perhaps the frustration is not the Church. Perhaps the frustration is you.

Keep On Walking: The Need for Intentional Solitude.

Are we ever truly alone? James V. Schall asks this question in his essay, The Metaphysics of Walking. Theologians and social scientists have wrestled with the question of an over busy society for longer than man can imagine. Although our contemporary Western culture is filled with activity, man has always found things to occupy his time. The struggle for survival alone can make one’s occupation overwhelming in trying to provide the basics of life. But as modern society in the West has continued to grow, so has the demands on our time. The twentieth century saw a radical shift in the modern age away from times of contemplation to a fast-paced information saturated culture. In a time of history when information and answers are at the click of a keyboard, it would appear that more leisure time would be easily accessible. But with all modern conveniences it seems like the importance of leisure in the priority of the day has become less and less a priority.

A new kind of slavery has entered Western work environments in that the cubicle has replaced the cage. Laborers remain at the desk for endless hours with very little movement or exercise. Even though many large corporations provide exercise rooms, the responsibilities and expectations of the workday rarely allow for the use of these facilities. The office worker will find it easier not to move the body in order to strengthen the mind. Reports on Google’s innovative work culture is the envy of most American office workers. If what is seen and reported is true at Google, then it is not surprising that the creativity that comes from there is so high.

Social interaction is important for the nourishing of ideas. The weekly Google hangouts in the Great Books Honors College at Faulkner University model the importance of this interaction. The encouragement and motivation in these discussions provide ideas that could have never been contemplated alone. But in order for these discussions to be productive participants must find time to contemplate prior to the meeting so that ideas can take shape. However, with many family and work responsibilities one finds it difficult to carve out the important alone time necessary for great thinking.

Sitting at a desk does allow for the focus of reading the works and taking notes. But most will often find that if the mind becomes stale and the eyes and body tired, the most refreshing thing to do is to get up, go outside, and go for a walk. Something as simple as changing scenery provides a new fuel for the mind. The combination of physical movement with contemplation is always the best formula for philosophy. If then this is an important priority, a schedule must shift for the philosopher and for anyone serious about great thoughts.

If then the problem of obtaining leisure is that busy-ness gets in the way, the easy response would be to simply find less to do. In order for this to occur a simple word must become part of one’s vocabulary. This word is no. This is not to say to reject all responsibility, but rather to prioritize requirements on time. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus is reported as prioritizing his time amongst the huge demand of his ministry. It is recorded that many people, gathered often simply to catch a glimpse of the Master. Matthew 4:18 records a time where Jesus was walking. On this stroll by the Sea of Galilee he calls his first disciples. Matthew 4:23 indicates that while teaching in synagogues and proclaiming the gospel, Jesus’ fame spread throughout the region. The gospel of Luke records, “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”

It is important to acknowledge when walking in times of solitude one is never truly in isolation. When the priority of discovery takes precedence over the busy-ness of drudgery, one’s mind is never fully alone. The irony is that when one is alone on a walk many more faults and realities occupy the intellect. It seems that in order to be most productive one must find times that seem the least productive. Perception is not always reality so when one is seen walking alone he or she is never truly alone. Writing on Cicero, Schall said that, “he was never less idle than when he was by himself.”

The revelation of a walk comes in that one realizes the importance of just being. With no other demands on the time and intellect a much grander, more accurate, perception of reality occurs. Schall writes,

“Metaphysics is the science of being qua being, of the first things and their causes. We are astonished that something, including ourselves, stands outside of nothingness. Even to meditate on nothing, we must begin with something not ourselves.”

Perhaps this is the value of a walk. Physically moving from one space to another physically shows man’s place in the world. Reality is simply not what we make it to be. Reality is much bigger than ourselves and in order to understand that, we must experience the bigger reality by taking our self outside of ourselves and interacting with that outside.

Mars Hill audio tackles this same concept in the discussion on the decline of reading among Western culture. Most notably among young adults. Reading for a small child seems to be an exciting time. Their minds are shaped by imagination and fantasy and are eager for stories. But as that small child grows and develops into adolescence, future adulthood looms over them. Struggles with identity replace the creative imagination of childhood as changes come physically and mentally for the adolescent.

It is easy for someone who is no longer an adolescent to proclaim solutions to this problem of declining reading among our teenagers. But is it not the responsibility of those adults to shape and guide these young adults as they become mature? Although there are great demands on the intellect and mind of teenagers, it is the parents who determine what is allowed in the home. Multitasking for the millennial generation is normal but not necessarily beneficial. It is the ease of multitasking that distracts one from the importance of solitude. Physical walking outside of urban areas, or even in a city park, is important even for the adolescent. The structures of the academic day for a young person must include times of walking in silence. No matter how difficult it is for the teenager, these young people do follow a schedule structured by others.

There is a problem. It’s called busy-ness. Yet with all the technological conveniences of our day, it seems that we are never settled. What is the answer? Personal responsibility and acknowledgment that priorities are missing amongst the multitasking must occur. Whether it be the individual taking responsibility him or herself, or academic administration reshaping the schedule of the academic calendar, priorities must shift away from busy-ness to leisure. Open spaces are abundant where people may go and simply experience a world outside of themselves. However, it is far too common that the spaces are not discovered unless a crisis occurs forcing one to seek out these places of solitude. The burden of multitasking and busy-ness in our culture will weigh down so heavily upon the shoulders and minds of our citizens, I am afraid a crisis must occur in order for one to see the damage happening. Perhaps a breakdown in a place of solitude, is the only way for some, not all, to realize the truth.



  1. Schall, James V. “The Metaphysics of Walking.” In The Life of the Mind: On the Joys and Travails of Thinking, 91-107. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2008.
  2. Gioia, Dana, interviewed by Ken Myers. Mars Hill Audio Journal, MHT-90.2.1. 2008.

The Right of an Education: a perspective from a Homeschool Dad

The beauty of freedom in United States of America includes the freedom to obtain an education. Thomas Jefferson advocated public education for the betterment of the country and I fully agree with this vision. Education is valuable not just to the individual but to the society as well. An educated citizenship results in a healthier more productive and prosperous culture. Lack of resources including food, shelter, finances, and education drag a culture down. Likewise, an abundance of the same resources creates a more stable society. It is education that enables a people to be stronger, more creative, and more united.

Although the right of an education is granted to all Americans, compulsory education has been distorted to an entitlement rather than a right. I once was a high school graphic arts teacher. My class was a vocational class, a trades class. No one expected to be challenged intellectually while learning the printing business. But once students began to apply the trade of the graphic arts, they quickly realized that a foundational education in mathematics and imaginative learning were crucial to creating commercial art and printed pieces. This example goes to show that education is more than just getting a job. An education is the development of the human mind and personality of the student. All knowledge, whether scientific, mathematical, literary, artistic, or mechanical, is valuable knowledge that interacts with all areas of society and work.

The right of an education for American citizens has expanded beyond the fundamentals of learning to the public universities and colleges where all citizens of the state have a right to attend these institutions. Yet what we now have in many public universities, but not all, is not an attitude of the right to an education rather to an entitlement to a degree. Russell Kirk reflects this sentiment when he says, “every man and woman and intellectual king or queen, with an Oxbridge degree!” His comments are sarcastic. Yet he fully agrees that the original intention of the University has been changed to a factory mentality. The original intent of the University was, “to develop right reason and imagination, for the sake of the person in the sake of the Republic.” If then education benefits the nation, it behooves the nation to ensure the integrity of learning.

While the dream of a college degree is admirable, the needs of everyday living to obtain food, shelter, clothing and finances is a true reality that cannot be ignored. The answer to improving education is not then to supply the financial needs of all citizens in order for them to pursue education. Again, the root of all problems in education rest in an entitlement mentality. If citizens are then entitled to be cared for this will not help the state of higher education. Those who work hardest are those who benefit most from the labor. Hunger is a great motivator. Ironically physical hunger will motivate one to work in order to satisfy the physical need. In order to work to satisfy the need, one must also learn and be educated in order to provide basic human needs. So the answer to all higher education problems is not to give away an education, but to make this occasion desirable. If a student is not hungry a student will not work.

I must admit that I have benefited from the grace of many teachers in my educational career beginning in kindergarten and continuing in my current doctoral program. This statement must come first in order to understand the opinion that standards must be in place and expectations enforced to bring value to an education. Academic standards that expect students to push further and obtain quality, will in turn cause hunger in the mind. Lax standards merely breed slothful mentality resulting in entitlement.

John Dewey has been criticized for his philosophy of education in that education has become a religion under his tutelage. Writing on Dewey, Christopher Dawson says concerning education, “it exists simply to serve democracy; and democracy is not a form of government, it is a spiritual community, based on the participation of every human being in the formation of social values.” John Dewey’s influence on compulsory education shifts the very nature of education away from strengthening the mind to strengthening the society alone. While it is true that an educated populace makes for a stronger society, the education citizens receive should be that education which liberates the intellect rather than conforming the soul. If then John Dewey has changed the concept of education so radically, perhaps it is imperative to undo his philosophy.

It is perhaps too late to influence the current generation of students to radically turn around the direction of higher education as it is today. Yet if problems exist to the extent that damage has been done, it is the responsibility of current scholars to begin to speak on and write on the problems at hand. In offering a solution, I would argue, in the spirit of Dawson, that motivation for higher learning begins in the primacy of the development of the mind. The atmosphere in which one lives at a young age does affect later learning. However this is not to say that the youngest mind is the only area of influence. I myself have been introduced to and inspired by many great teachers in my higher education years. But in order to redirect the ship, the rudder must be turned.

Influence on a society begins with the highest thinkers. Those thinkers must motivate current scholars, who will be future leaders, in ways of living apart from the current state of mind-numbing entertainment. The entitlement philosophy shapes not only education, but the way in which a society exists. If computerized ways of doing dominate the way one thinks, then the way one thinks will reflect the instant information atmosphere that computers create. Although I am grateful for the advancement of computer technology in the areas of research and accessibility to books that are no longer in print, I must caution myself often in depending on the search engine results as the top possibility for all of my research and thinking. True humane thinking requires time to ponder information in order for it to become knowledge. If instant information is then replacing what has traditionally been known as knowledge, it is important to delay the effects of the computer until after one’s mind has begun to grow in rational and imaginative thinking. It is the lack of creative problem-solving, not just in education, but also in normal everyday living, that has affected the way education is approached. One no longer is required to solve the problem of everyday living needs like obtaining food, clothes, yard and home maintenance, and even cooking recipes. Everything is available at the touch of the keyboard. If we do not know how to bake an apple pie,  a computer can tell us how within just a few seconds. No research needed. No problem to solve exists.

Perhaps the solution to the decline of higher education standards, rests in a fundamental shift in the approach to everyday living. This can only begin at home. Dire circumstances in the economy and in the culture, will require many to go back to the basics. But as long as problems have immediate answers, solutions will evade the seeker. If immediate answers substitute solutions, higher thinking will not be necessary. I do not propose that issues that need to be resolved can be resolved by one opinion alone. But in a time of history where all opinions matter and no opinion is more true than others, I wonder if any solution can be widely accepted as the best direction to begin solving the problem.

In a postscript thought,  I do believe that making education available for all is a very important freedom. But I must clarify my opinion, education is not an entitled right. All education is valuable. But the learning of an economic trade is not the same as higher liberal arts learning. If one’s aptitude is more in line with vocational training, that person must be given the freedom to choose that route. While if one’s aptitude is more in line with higher academic learning, that person must also be given the freedom to pursue that route. But it is not the role of the state to determine who is eligible for a particular trade or education. The role of the state must be that which enables all the opportunity to explore and pursue what is best for their skill set. This can easily be done while also providing academic standards that do not discriminate. I do not believe that state-funded education is always the best, but it is necessary and important. Those without financial means to a higher education must climb through the state schools in order to get there. I am grateful for my state sponsored education. This was the step up I needed to pursue higher forms of thought.



Gamble, Richard M., ed. The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2007.

Kirk, Russell. “Humane Learning in the Age of the Computer” in The Wise Men Know What Things are Written on the Sky (Washington: Regnery Gateway, 1987), 90-100.

Kirk, Russell. “The Conservative Purpose of a Liberal Education” in Classical Teacher, Spring 2007.

The Gospel and the Beauty of Heaven

The transcendence of God has always been, and always will be, apart from, while intricately intertwined with, His fallen creation which reveals his highest worth of glory and praise as the creator of all and redeemer of the same.

“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 10:32-33

The words of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel emphasize the proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven as central to Jesus’ message. In this passage, Jesus teaches us the truth of how to understand all creation in its proper perspective. As the Father is in heaven, his love and mercy overshadow all earthly sin and struggle. Jesus’ words are a comfort to us all as we worry and fight this sinful place. When we feel abandoned, Jesus reminds us that the Father knows every hair on our head and considers us of high value (verses 30-31). The authority and power of God are reminders that He oversees all things, even our struggles and worries. If we acknowledge Christ before our peers, before all men, then He assures us that we have Him on our side before the judgement seat of God. His mercy is for us and for His glory. His glory in heaven does not separate Him from us. Rather, He is intimately involved and in control.

The vision of John, found in chapter four of his revelation, describes the splendor of God’s throne. His massive glory and power are revealed as John shares a glimpse of our Lord’s authoritative presence. The four living creatures in verses seven and eight have been referred to by Irenaeus as representing the four gospels. These four pillars speak to the revelation of Jesus Christ through his life and the four gospels of scripture. It is through Christ that heaven and earth are reconciled. It is through the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection that man has any hope of being in God’s presence in his throne room. It is no wonder that the twenty-four elders proclaim;

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” — Revelation 4:11


— Ezekiel 1 —

“Over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of an expanse, shining like awe-inspiring crystal, spread out above their heads…

And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire, and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance…

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” — Ezekiel 1:22,26,28b

The parallel of the fourth chapter of Revelation and the opening chapter of Ezekiel’s vision is obviously similar. The descriptions of both celestial visions validate the truth of God’s throne room. The four living creatures are prominent servants. John’s revelation has these creatures standing at the throne of God (Revelation 4:6-8). Ezekiel’s vision describes the creatures moving about on the earth (Ezekiel 1:17-21). It is evident that these four creatures are meant to proclaim worship and honor to God, not only at His throne, but also in creation as they move about. These two aspects connect both heaven and earth revealing that God’s plan of redemption was for the restoration of all of creation, both heaven AND earth. The appearance of God is no longer a mystery through Christ, yet it is important to remember, that familiarity with what is mysterious does not weaken the majesty of God’s glory. These two visions give a glimpse of what has been abandoned by fallen creation. As God is described with all overarching power and authority, He is granted more glory and honor in that He redeems ALL things to His purposes and power. This is why no one can stand in His presence and must fall on face and worship in awe.

I am a fallen sinful man. As I read these passages about the majestic glory of heaven, I am reminded of my separation from perfection. Life is messy. Relationships dysfunctional. Nothing in my present environment resembles the perfection, glory and majesty described of heaven and God’s throne.

God the Father has a throne room with a floor like crystal. An expanse that allows him to oversee his creation. The floor of heaven is then described as the ceiling of the universe. Redemption of my dysfunctional life can only occur from God the Father who is not dysfunctional. The description of heaven in these two passages serve as encouragement that my hope rests not here, but elsewhere. The irony is that the separated place of hope is now present in the fallen world where I reside.

Although the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand in fallen creation, perfection is not yet fully attained. We are all separated from heaven by sin. Although the blood of Christ has purged the wrath of separation, the fullness of God’s glorious heaven is still not complete. As I embrace the cross and the price paid for my sin, I must be reminded of my final goal. To obtain full peace and security in heaven, requires a lifetime of faith in Christ as I am molded and sanctified in his image. Only through Christ can I ever hope to experience heaven first hand rather than merely read visions describing its majesty. Through it all, Christ is my hope. Christ is my salvation. Christ is my path to heaven. AMEN.

Danger! Danger!

“Danger Will Robinson! Danger!”

I was a latch key kid.

This meant that upon arriving home after school my brother and sister and I had little to no adult supervision until my mother arrived home from work. So from three o’clock to half past five o’clock we were supervised by after-school reruns broadcast on cable television.

One of the most memorable television shows for me was Lost in Space. The series told adventurous stories of the Robinson Family marooned on various alien planets throughout the galaxy. It was a loose science fiction adaptation of the classic 1812 novel The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. The Robinson Family was Lost in Space from 1965 to 1968. A film version of the classic TV series was released in 1998.

Although the Robinson Family faced many dangers on these alien planets, I was comforted to watch them bond as a family. Will Robinson was the youngest child and was accompanied constantly by the family robot. Robot, was a critical piece of equipment for the Robinson Family. It would sense danger before the family spaceship was attacked. A classic line from every show was, “Warning! Warning! Danger Will Robinson! Danger!” Robot was by young Will Robinson’s side protecting him with warnings of what he could not see.

“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” — Hebrews 6:4-6

Just as Robot warns the Robinson family of danger, the words of Hebrews are warnings to all Christians from our loving God. He does not wish us to fall away from the truth of salvation. Rather, he wishes to keep us in safety.

God loves his children. Those who are brothers in Christ, saved in the knowledge and faith that Jesus is their savior and elder brother have protection in the words of warning (Romans 8:9, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 2:17) .

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” — Hebrews 2:1

The author of Hebrews not only spoke of Christ, teaching of his true character and authority, he also proclaimed warnings to Jewish believers of the dangers facing them as Christians. The warning passages of Hebrews proclaimed caution to the believer not to fall back into the sinful, aimless life he had before coming to Christ. These warnings were not a call for Christians to question salvation. Rather, they were direct cautions from God’s Word as a means for the Father in Heaven to keep his own true saints safe.

A main tension in the Lost in Space stories was when Dr. Zachary Smith would ignore the warnings of Robot. Dr. Smith was the antagonist. Being a stowaway on the ship when it left earth, he was an unwelcome, yet permanent part of the Robinson family. Warnings from Robot were often met by Dr. Smith with a sarcastic response, “You Neanderthal Ninny!”

When Dr. Smith walked away from the protection of Robot, young Will Robinson would often be swayed, against his better judgement, to follow him. Robot responded to foolish decisions with the lines, “Does not compute.” and, “I cannot follow that course of action.”

The blindness to Robot’s warnings always brought life-threatening adventures with aliens and monsters. Of course, every episode ended with the climax of the father, Dr. John Robinson coming to the rescue protecting all from the dangers they foolishly met.

As a latch key kid, I was left to my own supervision often. From time to time, my brother and I would disregard the warnings of our mother and do dangerous things boys do. We could have hurt ourselves or destroyed the house more times than I dare to admit here. Yet, we did have sufficient warning. I was always amazed at how my Mother would know of our activities although she was away at work. She somehow always knew what mischief we had undertaken. I learned years later that Mom asked our neighbors to look out after us. They would always supply Mom with valuable secret information on us.

Now as a pastor and a Christian father, I find myself from time to time frustrated at the lack of concern my children have for the warnings I establish for their safety and success. My father in heaven must often shake his head at me for ignoring his warnings as well.

My only prayer is that my family, and church, will not drift away from a sound faith in Christ to the point they are lost forever. My prayer for myself is that I would not ever reject God’s warnings and suddenly find myself lost, drifting aimlessly outside of the safety of my heavenly Father’s protection, lest I fall just like others.

Danger! Danger! There are dangers ahead for every Christian. Most are not frightening like the monsters and aliens from childhood stories. Instead, forces of evil are cunning and manipulative. They look for ways to catch Christians off guard, separated from his protective word.

Please. Heed the warnings of our Lord. Do not stray from God’s Word to find yourself aimlessly drifting and lost forever.

Baby Boomers and the Aging Church in America


Ageism is the new ‘ism’ in American Churches today. James M. Houston and Michael Parker put forth the thesis that the future of America’s Churches is not the next generation, but rather the current aging generation. A Vision for the Aging Church: Renewing Ministry for and by Seniors [ISBN: 978-0-8308-3948-3, 279 pages, InterVarsity Press] is an insightful look at the truth facing American churches for the next thirty years. I heard recently on radio news that thousands of new retirees are filing for Social Security retirement benefits every day. The Baby Boomer generation will represent the largest generational shift in American history. These retirees could easily live longer in retirement than they did during their work years.

This requires that Family ministry in the Church must embrace the richness found in this generation of saints. No longer should Senior Adult ministry be limited to just the weekend trip out to lunch or gospel music cruises. Rather, the riches of the Church are present today in the pews of America.

The Baby Boomer generation began approaching the retirement age of 65 in 2011. A growing trend among many Baby Boomers is the decision whether to retire or continue working well past the traditional retirement age. More and more are choosing to work. It is imperative that Church leaders structure ministry to assist those facing this life stage.

The Baby Boomer generation is energetic and productive. Yet their financial independence looks to not be as dependable as previous retirees. Those just now entering their “restful years” may suddenly realize that their 401(k) plans are not as secure as they had hoped.

AP Story: For boomers, it’s a new era of ‘work til you drop’

U.S. News & World Report: Why Baby Boomers Will Have A Great Retirement

As many pastors depend on retirees as volunteers for ministry, this trend could force a new way to think of the senior generation. Rather than depending on the flexible schedules traditional retirees offer, or the freedom to travel on mission trips, pastors must look to the Baby Boomers as teachers, mentors, and encouragers for the local Church body. Likewise, seniors will still require counsel and discipleship. Too often, the younger generations feel inadequate in giving to this role of ministry. Likewise, the seniors receiving the compassion feel awkward being counseled by someone with less life experience.

Church leaders must consider these facts as they minister to the new retiree generation. Rather than placing seniors in separate Sunday School Classes away from the Church body, bible studies must be more cross-generational. Or perhaps Baby Boomers should take on new teaching responsibilities.

I see the coming years in the church as fertile for a revival in cross-generational spiritual fruit. There will be a majority of senior adults in the Church population for several decades to come. Many of those working long into their senior years.

Pastors and Church leaders must reconsider putting our seniors out to pasture before their time. Seniors must take seriously their biblical role for discipling the generation following them. Youth ministry leaders as well must renew their vision for youth ministry to both serve and learn from the senior generation rather than isolate themselves in “youth church.”

God is not finished with the Baby Boomer generation yet. They have much to offer and the Church is much richer because of them.

Lord Have Mercy on us….sinners: A guide to 24 hour prayer vigil

Clintwood Baptist Church is entering into a 24 hour time of prayer focusing on those who do not know Christ. I feel that this 24 hour vigil before our Lord God, the Father is a time of clearly seeking HIS face, HIS voice, HIS compassion for us and those who do not call him Father.

Luke 18: 35-43

35 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.

36 And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant.

37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

38 And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

39 And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

40 And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him,

41 “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.”

42 And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.”

43 And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God. 

It is the too true reality that so many in our community, nation, and world do not know our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, at all, much less as a savior. The reason is that too many do not see their need for a savior. The blind do not feel the need to cry out, “Jesus, have mercy on me!” Let us pray that those blind in their sin would feel the need to see Christ clearly and their need to cry out to him.

Luke 18: 9-14

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:

10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.

11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.

12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’

13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” 


The self-righteous are the ones in most danger of not crying out to the Lord for mercy.

We see in Luke 18: 9-14 a contrast between the pharisee who was self righteous and the tax collector who was humble. The self righteous Pharisee was blind to his need for mercy. His salvation was of his own making. In contrast, the tax collector was honest and full of vision. He saw his sinful state before our Holy Righteous Creator God. He cries out in verse 13, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

I ask that you spend time during this hour meditating on these two passages of scripture. The attached prayer guide is only that, a guide. Pray as you feel led, but please focus your prayers on the need for mercy. Not just for the lost in our world…but also for yourself…this church…this community.

May God richly bless you and may you hear HIM clearly during this hour of prayer.

In HIS Grip

Pastor Bryant

 Guide to 1 hour of Prayer

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner

10-15 minutes: Begin your hour with rest before the Lord. Stop. Breathe. Focus on God’s Word.
These passages may help.

Psalm 141 – Ask the Lord to hear you
Psalm 142 – Plea with the Lord for mercy

20-30 minutes: Center your mind on God’s WORD. The focus of our 24 hour prayer vigil is the lost who do not know our Lord. Focus on Luke 18: 9-14 & 35-43.

Luke 18:35-43 – Are you a Pharisee or a Tax Collector in your attitude toward our Lord’s mercy?
Luke 18:9-14 – Plea with the Lord for mercy. Who do you know who is blind to Christ? Pray that the Lord would soften their hear and cry out in their blindness for mercy. Pray that they will seek Christ for this mercy and not focus on their own efforts.

10-15 minutes: End your hour of prayer with focus on Clintwood Baptist Church. Pray that our Lord would awaken all in our church to our need for mercy.

Pray this way while breathing in and out:
Breathe in: “Jesus, Son of David,”
Breathe out: “Have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Breathe in: “Jesus, Son of David,”
Breathe out: “Have mercy on us, sinners.”

Pray for the next prayer volunteer. Focus on that person.

Riches & the Kingdom of God: A Response to Wednesday Night Wardrobe

This post is my response to the post Wednesday Night Wardrobe.

“Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke recount the same scene, a scene where a wealthy young man seeks acceptance by Jesus, the Good Teacher [Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31, Luke 18:18-30]. This young man first recognizes that the kingdom Jesus proclaims is truly what he desires. He approaches acceptance into this kingdom with the only understanding he has, earning favor through following a rule. The situation that Jesus addresses with the young wealthy man is the same issue facing Jake and his favorite t-shirt.

Ethical dilemmas in the Christian life and in the church always begin with questions. The questions asked by both Jake and the wealthy young man point to the same answer stemming from the same issue. The problem is, the questions Jake and the wealthy young man in the gospels ask are not the right questions. These two young men really ask the same question without realizing it; “Jesus, will you accept me?”

Continue reading “Riches & the Kingdom of God: A Response to Wednesday Night Wardrobe”