A 10 Year Reflection from the Same Church

Today, December 11, 2018, marks my 10th year as a Pastor at First Baptist Church Oloh. On Wednesday, December 10, 2008, I was voted in as the new Youth Pastor. As my previous place of employment was aware of my transition, I began my new post on December 11, 2008. On my first day, we were graced with a snow storm, one of which resulted in a power outage at the church. My dad said, “When Andy took a church job, all of Hattiesburg froze over.” He had a point, given my eclectic background before God radically transformed my life.

Nonetheless, the last 10 years have been full of transitions. When I arrived at FBC Oloh, it was only Elizabeth and I. Having suffered our first miscarriage just a couple of months before, we were anticipating starting a family soon. With that being the case, 10 months after we arrived at the church, our first child was born, Ava. This was a monumental moment in our lives and this church family occupied a tremendous role in this moment.

So here we were, young, inexperienced, new parents, still working my way through college,  and everything in between. I was 21 years old when I was hired to be the Youth Pastor. I can assure you of this, if I were in the position that I am in now and I showed up to apply for the position 10 years ago, I would turn myself away. But James Moore, who had previously been my college pastor and then the Sr. Pastor at FBC Oloh, took a chance on me. As I began my time, I was just trying to figure it out.

I learned a lot during those first few years. I learned a lot about teenagers, the parents of teenagers, and myself. I did a lot of foolish things, said a lot of foolish things, and think to myself quite often, “what in the world was I thinking?” But I loved the students that had been entrusted to me. The Lord blessed our endeavors and I built relationships with students that I still maintain today. I walked with students through numerous issues that they would face: death, parents divorce, emotional battles, mental battles, spiritual battles, anger, bitterness, physical violence; you name it, Elizabeth and I walked through it with these students. It was very difficult, but I would do it all over again if I had to. I loved those students, and I still do.

During this time, I also began to build flourishing relationships with the people of the church. I began to get to know them, and they began to know me. I began to trust them, and in turn they began to trust me. We laughed together, cried together, and gathered around God’s Word together. At the time, I did not fully understand the value of these relationships.

As time went on, James Moore left FBC Oloh to take a pastorate in Texas. This happened in April 2011. At the time, we had three full-time staff members, so our worship pastor and myself were left to continue shepherding the flock. It was after James’s departure in which the church saw fit, and I pursued, occupying the position of interim Pastor as we began to search for a new Sr. Pastor. This meant that I would continue with my regular endeavors, with the added obligation of preaching on Sunday’s. This is where my life began to transition. As I began to preach on Sunday’s and do most of the pastoral duties, I found a great sense of fulfillmnet and pleasure in this role. God began to shape me, mold me, and formulate within me the desire to Pastor to this degree, so I pursued it.

Low and behold, this became one of the most difficult years I had faced up to this point in my life. I began my Master degree in January of 2011, therefore I was Youth Pastor, Interim Pastor, and full-time Master’s student. This was a heavy load. Additionally, in fall of 2011 I was met with some struggles that were trying, difficult, and formative. On October 31, 2011, my friend and colleague, Coleman Nichols passed away suddenly. He was Youth Pastor at a church down the road and we had done weekly ministry together. This was gut-wrenching for myself, my students, and his students, many of whom gravitated in my direction for comfort. Secondly, a friend, fellow-member, and father to one of my student’s passed away. The circumstances were difficult. I was a pallbearer in his funeral. Thirdly, two weeks later a member and husband to the sweetest lady you will ever know, died of cancer. This was my first funeral to preach. Three weeks after this, my parents marriage ended. Two weeks later, our other full-time staff member resigned. Indeed, a difficult season in life.

The following spring, I asked the church for some help, I was at the end of my rope. At the time, we had someone come in a preach twice per month and I would cover the other two Sundays until we eventually hired another interim who was there 2 months before we hired another Sr. Pastor. I applied and interviewed with the Pastor Search Committee to be the next Sr. Pastor, but they chose another individual. I was disappointed at the time. But I trust in the sovereignty of God, and I trusted every person on that committee and I was perfectly supportive of the decision they had made. Looking back now, I definitely was not ready.

Our next Sr. Pastor took the reigns, my job title changed to Associate Pastor, and I was back to my normal duties with our students with a few other added responsibilities. It was business as usual. But I still had that desire within my to shepherd the flock of God in the capacity that I had as the interim. With this being the case, I had a difficult time transitioning back to full-time student ministry.

Nonetheless, over the next two years I learned. I learned about myself, ministry, and life. During 2014, I began looking for another job. Things weren’t as I wished they would be, I was struggling with a few things at the church, and I was unsure about my future. However, even in my searching, I never had peace. I was offered different ministry positions, and turned them down because Elizabeth and I did not have peace about taking them. Then, after a few events, I became the Sr. Pastor at FBC Oloh in March 2015. When I was named the Interim, my first Sunday to preach in that position was Easter Sunday. Four years later, when I was named Sr. Pastor, my first Sunday to preach in that position was Easter Sunday.

During these last ten years, there have been many struggles. I have had many spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical battles. I have heard things that I never thought I would hear, and I have said things that I am ashamed of. I have received criticisms that I would have never expected,  and I have made some decisions that were equally unwise. I have practically grown up at this church. My wife and I have welcomed three children that know of no other church family other than FBC Oloh. I finished my college degree, master degree, and now working through my PhD.

But here is what I know, this place and these people are some of the best people that I know. Over ten years of labor, mistakes, victories, failures, funerals, births, graduations, and every other event you can think of, these people became my family. In July, I did 3 funerals in 6 days. Two were church members, one was my grandmothers. I drove over 2000 miles over these 6 days between Mississippi and Georgia. During this difficult week, one thing that I told Elizabeth was how much more difficult is has become to do funerals for people in our church. I told her it was because they have become family over the last ten years. Burying friends and family is a difficult thing, and the longer we are here, the more difficult it is becoming.

A pastor cannot form the relationships that I have with this church family when they hop from church to church every 4-5 years. Not only have these people seen to it that I grew up as a Pastor, they have loved me through some of the most difficult events in my life. They have been there for me at times when no one else was, and they have always reiterated their love for my family. They are my family and I love them.

Together we have been exhorted, corrected, and encouraged by the preaching of the Word, and it has called us to make some hard and unpopular decisions, yet this church family has stood side by side with me as we plant our lives upon the inspired Word of God. In the face of criticism, in the face of hardship, in the face of tribulation, this church family has said that we are going to stand upon the Word of God no matter the cost. There are no words to describe the affection I share for these people. We do not always see eye-to-eye, but that is okay. Every family does not agree on everything. But at the end of the day, there is a mutual love that cannot be experienced from a worldly perspective. The patience that they have had with me at times is overwhelming. The continued blessing that they have been, cannot be expressed. I love them dearly.

These last ten years have been the most challenging, yet most rewarding, years of my life. I look forward to many more with this faith family.

Jonathan Edwards and Regenerate Church Membership


Jonathan Edwards.jpg

Being a part of a church is a responsibility that all Christians must recognize. Church membership is not a thing of the past, a cold and rigid practice, nor an option for the Christian. Church membership is held high in Scripture and deemed as an essential part of the Christian life. American Christianity has minimized the necessity of regenerate church membership to the point of which church rolls are inflated, attendance is at an all time low, and people think they are right with God because they occupy a position on a church roster. However, Hebrews 10:24-25, 1 Corinthians 12, and many other passages indicate an individual to be in sin if they are a Christian and neglecting a local body of believers. When I say neglecting, I am not talking about the American Church’s idea of functioning membership, attending 1-2 Sundays per month. I am talking about faithfully attending the church, giving to the church, serving the church, and being a working part of what God is doing with the local body. You cannot, and will not, convince me from Scripture that God does not call all Christians who are able to function in this capacity within His church, unless providentially hindered.

While these things are true, these things are not popular. Many times Pastors and church leaders are ostracized for their desire to see the church restored to a biblically functioning membership and all of the practices found within. This is not something new. Jonathan Edwards, the Great 18th Century theologian and Pastor, was met with much of the same animosity when he sought to restore his grandfathers church to a regenerate membership.

Edwards joined his grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, a the Associate Pastor his church in Northampton. Three years after assuming the Associate position, Edwards grandfather died, leaving him to take the reigns as their Pastor. Stoddard was a bid dog preacher around this area, often referred to as the “Pope of the Connecticut River Valley.” Thus, his opinion held great significance among his congregation and the surrounding area. This was also the case regarding his idea of church membership. Stoddard allowed church membership and other Christian rites (outside of the Lord’s Supper) to all people, regardless of whether or not they profess Christ. Among the Puritans, this became known as the Half-way covenant.

As one can imagine, this became a pretty popular thing. One does not have to profess Christ in order to be a member of the church, so the church grew by leaps and bounds, climbing somewhere around 600 in membership. Church growth strategists at our State Conventions would have a hayday with this and the next thing you know, Stoddard would have a book deal, a much more popular blog than this one, and a podcast on how to grow a church in 90 days…. (of course, said with sarcasm). While this sounds great, it does come with its fair share of problems. To begin, it is not biblical. In order to be a member of a biblical church, you must be a born-again believer both in word and in practice. Second, the unbelievers began to outnumber the believers within this church. With this being the case, once more Stoddard would conform to culture and let everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, partake of the Lord’s Supper as long as they were not as public with their sin.

Nonetheless, when Edwards took the reigns, he began to expose the issue. First, one cannot be a church member and not be a Christian. This is antithetical to Scripture, which is why we have numerous passages citing people who had been converted and then added to the church. Furthermore, we have numerous passages citing church discipline in order to prevent sin from running rampant within the church, as well as maintain the purity of the church that Christ has established here on earth. Edwards stood against this, standing firm upon the sufficiency of Scripture regarding passages on salvation, the Lord’s Supper, membership and discipline. Edwards commitment to Scripture and the purity of Christ’s church led him to being removed from his position as Pastor after 22 years of service to the church.

The point is simple. The church had been infiltrated by culture and relativism. The idea of someone telling another person what they can and cannot do within the walls of the church was preposterous to the majority of this congregation. Additionally, the idea of church discipline was a foreign concept, one of which was not welcome despite the biblical mandate to practice discipline upon unrepentant church members. The purity of the church had been sacrificed on the alter of all-inclusive feel goodism, one of which the Bible does not advocate. The story of Jonathan Edwards is nothing short of the story of the modern day American church. The church has been infiltrated by the cultural mandate to toss the pursuit of holiness out the window and allow any and all people access to its membership, regardless of whether or not they follow Christ. With this being the case, the church is filled with unregenerate church members that think they are born again because no one will open Scripture and tell them otherwise.

Christian leaders all across America keep screaming at the top of their lungs “Revival! Revival! We need revival in this country!” While this is true, they are focusing their energy in the wrong places. Instead of looking to politics, to news media, to the highways and the byways, the place in which we need to look in order to seek revival is on our church rolls. Do you want to see revival break out in the American church? Actually stand on what Scripture says and hold God’s people to God’s Word and commission the church to practice what the Bible conveys regarding biblical church membership and discipline. Do this and see if God does not do a work among His people when they commit themselves to following His Word, even when it hurts.

Biblical church membership, and the requirements God places upon the Christian, are not meant to hold the Christian down or place them under a yoke of slavery. Biblical church membership is for the joy of the Christian and the furtherance of God’s Church. God has given everyone a gift. 1 Corinthians 12 is very clear about this. All of our gifts are not to be used for our own glory or the furtherance of our own name, but for the furtherance of the name of God in His Church. We have been given gifts to be utilized within the church and as they are, we will find great joy and satisfaction in using the abilities God has given us for the furtherance of His name and His kingdom. True joy and satisfaction comes when we give the Lord through the local church what He has so graciously blessed and given to us. Be a functioning member of a local congregation, not out of duty or obligation, but out of joy and a passion for the Word of God.

“Our Eyes Are On You”

Scripture is full of interesting accounts of God’s character, His nature, His essence, and His actions. We approach the Scriptures in order to learn about God as He has fully revealed Himself through His written Word. In 2 Chronicles 20, we encounter the nature of God, the nature of humanity, and God’s faithfulness in the time of need. Jehoshaphat is the reigning king of Judah. He sought to reform Judah, reestablishing judges, priests and Levites to lead in the fear of the Lord.

After doing this, the Moabites and Ammonites came out against Jehoshaphat for battle, seeking to overtake Judah. Because of the number of those coming out against him, he was afraid and went to the only place he knew to go for help, the Lord. We have much to learn from Jehoshaphat’s prayer. First, we encounter the powerful nature of God. 2 Chronicles 20:6-7, “[Jehoshaphat] said, ‘O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdom of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before you people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?'”(ESV) Jehoshaphat is beginning his cry to God by declaring the power of God as displayed through history. God is the sovereign ruler of all. God is the ruler of all kingdoms, nations, and inhabitants. He does whatever He pleases, whenever He pleases, because all is His.

This is an important truth for us to grasp. Too often we think that we control our lives, we have the power to overcome, we dictate our future, or someone else in between. We look at the current political state, the evil dictators of the world, or things going on that are beyond our power and we discount the sovereignty of God and His earthly rule. It might do us good to begin our prayers as Jehoshaphat, acknowledging the reality that God is in control of all things, and whatever He wants to do, He will indeed do.

So Jehoshaphat continues his prayer to the Lord and concludes it with a prayer that I often pray, but a portion of which I sometimes forget. 2 Chronicles 20:12b, “For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”(ESV) Is this not the mind behind most of our prayers? We are powerless. We do not know what to do. How many times have we prayed to God asking Him to show us what to do, or confessing that we are in a tight spot and we really do not know what to do. Maybe it is a career change, a family circumstance, or just life, many of our prayers involve a confession of helplessness and a lack of clarity of what to do.

However, we cannot overlook this last sentence. What generally happens is a confession to God of not knowing what to do, but instead of seeking that answer from God, we look within ourselves. But this is not what Jehoshaphat does, instead he fixes his eyes upon God. When you pray, when you are in a tight spot, when you do not know what to do, do you look to yourself or someone else, or do you look to the Lord? Do you fix your eyes upon God, the author of everything, to deliver you?

Jehoshaphat fixed his gaze upon the Lord and God delivered Jehoshaphat. God told them they will not need to fight the battle, but to stand firm. The salvation of the Lord would come to them as He would go before them. They entered into the wilderness to look toward those who were coming out toward them in battle and when they arrived there were dead bodies lyon everywhere and Scripture says, “none had escaped.” God literally fought the battle for them and delivered them.

Sadly, later on in his life Jehoshaphat turned from the Lord, acted wickedly, and had to learn things the hard way. Regardless, we can learn from His prayer to the Lord and the place in which all of our eyes should be fixed all of the time. Even when we are not in the “time of need” or in a “tight spot” like Judah, we must always keep our eyes upon Christ. I encourage you to do so today and I encourage you to let your prayer always be “our eyes are on you.”

Why Read The Dead Guys?


We live in a day in which there is a new, hip, cool, contemporary Christian book or a book about the Church hitting the shelves every minute (potential exaggeration). To a degree, many of the writers think they have the next best plan for how to transform the Church, how to reach more millennials, how to make the Church more relevant for society, or some other novel idea that has apparently never been thought of before. Modern Christian literature is inundated with material to make you a better you, feel better about you, boost your self-esteem, and everything in between. Again, all seemingly new ideas being promoted to keep up with the postmodern culture and how one feels about themselves.

Early on in my Christian life, I was this guy. I was the new wave of Christianity that kicked against the traditions of old, thinking that I was more spiritual than this person or that person because I raised my hands in worship, moved around a little more, wore shorts and a t-shirt to church as a non-conformist, and read Relevant magazine (before it was as irrelevant as it is today). I was a rebel Christian that refused to be kept in a box, and anything that happened before I was born again in 2005 was old and outdated. It was my charge to find a new way of doing church because the old way and the old guys were not getting it right.

As I started my trek into revamping the 2000 year old tradition, I began to realize something about the new wave of Christianity that was emerging. Much, not all, of the culturally relevant Christians had little depth to what they were promoting. I began to see little depth in biblical knowledge, theological understanding, or doctrine being handled from the pulpits. I began to read book by people that Relevant magazine promoted, only to find out many of the books I read were by Universalists promoting a gospel contrary to that of the Bible.

As a young Christian, the Lord began to open my mind and my heart to people such as John Piper, Wayne Grudem, and R.C. Sproul. My first memorable encounter with John Piper was my Freshman year of college at a conference our college group had attended. I had never heard anyone expound the Scripture in such an authoritative, yet grace-filled, manner as John Piper. I immediately went to the bookstore of the conference and bought his books Desiring God ( purchase Desiring God) and God is the Gospel (purchase God Is The Gospel). These two books began to open my eyes to the deep things of God in a way that none of the cutting edge books I was picking up on the shelf at Books-A-Million were. Tony Merida then became the Pastor at the church I was attending and I began to hear the Word of God expounded week in and week out in a manner very similar to Piper. I started studying Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (purchase Systematic Theology) with Tony and a group of other  guys, being exposed to good theology that would shape my thinking, even up to today.

In this process of learning, one thing remained the same for guys like Piper, Grudem, and Sproul. They heavily referenced and relied upon dead guys for their theological insight. They were quoting and reading guys like Edwards, Luther, Calvin, Baxter, and Augustine. They were alluding to things said by guys dating back to second and third century Churches and the theological ideologies that had shaped them. Are you telling me that I, in the 2000s, could learn something about Church and God from guys that existed many years before my time?

King Solomon wrote, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9, ESV). Solomon is not a moron. Solomon had great wisdom and with this quote, he is on to something. The Church has been around since the first century, and who was I, or am I, to think that the writings of men God has used mightily 1500, 1000, 500, or 50 years ago are not relevant to my spiritual growth or the furtherance of the twenty-first-century church that I am serving? We should read the dead men because the dead men have something to say. Not only that, but these guys communicate on a level that , sadly, most American Pastors and Theologians are incapable of communicating upon today. We live in an anti-intellectual church age, and the state of theology behind most American pulpits is disheartening. It would serve every Pastor, thinker, Sunday School Teacher, and Church member well to grab Calvin’s Institutes (purchase The Institutes), Augustine’s Confessions (purchase Confessions), Edwards Religious Affections (purchase Religious Affections), or anyone mixed with that group, so that we can be better equipped to battle the schemes of the Devil, especially when it comes to doctrinal formations of the Church.

Now hear this, I am not saying that anyone writing books today are off base, I can name thousands of modern books that are gifts to the Church and gifts to God’s people. Yet, do not think that a book has to be written within the last 20 years in order to be relevant for the Church. I am also not saying that we need to divert back to all the old traditions and never make any changes within the Church in order to reach people or try new things. I think the Church is losing the battle in a lot of areas because it refuses to change. My point is nothing less than one of encouraging everyone to read guys who have been dead for many years and thank our great God for their theological contributions for the furtherance of the Gospel and of the Church.

Give Thanks For The Church


“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you Christ Jesus.” – 1 Cor. 1:4

“I’m not going to that place, it is nothing but a bunch of hypocrites.” “I can have church right here in my own home.” “Me and God have our own thing going on, I do not have to go to a church to get that.”

These, among many others, are common objections to gathering with God’s people and being a part of a church. The underlying premises for such protests might be the result of numerous occurrences. It might be that someone was abused by the church, a Pastor abused his authority at some point, God’s people were harsh towards an individual and acted in an ungodly manner, or immorality was accepted within the  church and God’s people ignore God’s commands in Scripture. All of these incidents are potentials within the church that easily lead people out the door, all of which grieve the heart of God.

However, it does not have to be this way. Think about the church to which Paul is writing in 1 Corinthians. To a degree, all of the incidents just mentioned that would lead someone out the door of the church were happening in Corinth. Yet, Paul begins the letter with declaring his love and thanksgiving for the church. Here is a church that has issues. The church at Corinth had some serious moral issues, ecclesiological issues, they were dabbling in charismania, and the people had an issue with regularly coming together as the body of Christ. Paul is aware of all of these things and yet offers great thanksgiving to God for the church.

Why? He does this because he understands the importance of the local gathering. Forsaking church, casting aside membership and regularly gathering with God’s people for the Christian is in direct violation of the commands of Scripture; it is sin. For the person looking for the perfect church before they commit, they are leaving in lala land. What Paul understands about the Corinthians church is the lack of perfection, the occupancy of imperfect people, but knows the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul knows that despite our imperfections and the church’s imperfections this side of heaven, the grace of God extends to the church as they pursue holiness, practice repentance, and keep Scripture as their centerpiece.

The church may not always have it together this side of heaven, but a church that holds high the authority and supremacy of Scripture, making it their manual for instruction, that is the church that will “succeed.” Please understand, we are not talking worldly success. We are not talking big numbers, huge budgets, and monumental buildings. We are talking success gauged by health, commitment, and faithfulness.

I am thankful for the church because it provides nourishment for my soul. I am thankful for the church because the people of God at my local congregation are gracious, merciful, and caring. I am thankful for the local church because it encourages me to pursue holiness, fight sin, and hold high Scripture. I am thankful for the local church because it provides a safe place for my family in which I know they will be taught the word of God in every area. I am thankful for the local church because it provides me with a place to use my spiritual gifts that God has given me for the edification of His people. I am thankful for the local church because it is the God-ordained gathering of the Saints that equips me with what I need to fight through the week and battle sin. Without the local church, the Christian cannot and will not fend off sin and the evil one. So, I echo with Paul, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you Christ Jesus.”

What Are You Learning?


I refer to myself as a person always learning. I like to learn. I spent many years in the classroom caring little about learning, but several years ago that all changed for me. I’m not exactly sure what happened  that flipped the learning switch, but some how I ended up in the PhD department at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary pursuing further education. In addition to formal education, I enjoy knowledge about a vast array of topics. I watch documentaries, read biographies, and feel that if I am not learning something I am wasting time (which is not always the case).

While I enjoy learning on both a formal and personal level, one classroom that I have been in recently, and always find myself in, is the classroom of God. Life is full of eventful, unexpected happenings. Some of which are good, others less than desirable. However, one cannot escape the spontaneity of life’s events.

With that being said, I have found myself in situations and circumstances over the last year or two, and beyond that, to which I am powerless, perplexed, or left with more questions than answers. Personally, times have come, gone, and will come again to which I tend to scratch my head and wonder who/what/when/where/and why this is happening. But what I have come to the conclusion of in all of life’s situations is the reality that God has something for me to learn.

So in all of life, I have started asking the question: “God, what are you trying to teach me?” When I look at different circumstances and situations in life through the lens of this question, it begins to provide an outlook to which I see purpose in all things. Scripture does not give any indication that the God of the Universe sets things in to motion, steps back, and is not actively involved with His creation every again. However, Scripture affirms that God is active within Creation, He is speaking through His Word, and He is working by way of His Holy Spirit. So the question remains: “What is He trying to teach me?”

I have found myself asking this question quite often over the last several months. With this in mind, God is teaching me so much about Himself, His character, His provision, and HIs faithfulness. He has brought me to the point in my life to which I am utterly powerless, and have nothing more to do than to trust in His provision over my life. Both in the good and in the bad, I know that God is working things together in my life for my good and for His glory (Romans 8). While this is the Scriptural truth, it is a tough pill to swallow when some of those workings may involve instances within life that are less than desirable.

Thus, I will leave everyone with the question: “What is God trying to teach you?” Consider something you may be going through, something that is good, something less than good, something leaving you with uncertainty, a job change, a financial crisis, a family issue, and ask yourself the question. I can assure you that in all of life God is trying to teach those who seek Him about who He is, His love for His people, and the glory that He rightfully deserves from all of Creation.

Ungodly Infiltration


For several months in 2017 I preached through the book of First Timothy and will preach the book of Jude over the next two Sundays. Jude and Paul deal with similar subjects in their address to the letter’s readers, namely the infiltration of false teachers within the church. Upon a review of the New Testament Epistles, one might quickly draw the conclusion that the early church had its fair share of issues, one dominating theme being that of unbiblical teaching. For the Church of Ephesus as well as the recipients of the letter of Jude, the reality that a false gospel was being promoted within the walls of the primary place in which good doctrine should be upheld was both alarming and appalling.

The same might be said about the current state of the American Church. The Church has been polluted by false doctrine, misguided information, liberal theology, and emotionally therapeutic false teaching for quite some time, running more rampant than ever in the very place good theology and doctrine should flow freely. The very place in which Scripture should be held to the highest authority has unconsciously (or consciously) rejected the Word of God as the standard by which the entirety of the Christian life and the Church should be measured, trading it for man’s fleeting and finite opinions.

Why? Why is this the case too often within our Churches today? I think Jude alludes to the answer in verse 3 of his letter. A good portion of American Churches and a good portion of American Christians have stopped contending for the faith. Jude writes in an appeal that believers “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (ESV). To a degree, the Church has stopped contending for the faith. It may be out of ignorance, cultural relevance, fear, or comfort, but the Gospel has been lost somewhere in the mix. Because of this, immorality reigns within God’s Church, Scriptural exhortation and correction is viewed as suggestion instead of fact, and individuality is held high above discipleship.

Consider for a moment that this issue affecting the American Church of the twentieth and twenty-first century is not a construction of the times, but is a carry over from what began at the start of the Church. Why? Primarily because the Church is composed of sinners that often give way to their own flesh rather than to the Spirit. While this is true, this cannot be an excuse to allow the condition of the Church to continue. The Church must return to the Word, acknowledging the sinful inclinations of all people, even those who have been redeemed. The Church must pursue holiness, holding high the Word of God, living out their faith in fellowship with other believers in the local Church, practicing repentance on a daily basis. God’s Church should reflect God’s Word. When this does not take place, repentance is necessary and reconciliation must happen.

Semper Reformanda


Ecclesia Reformata, Semper Reformanda (the church reformed, always reforming) is a phrase often used when describing what took place within the Protestant Reformation. In many circles, it has merely been shortened to Semper Reformanda, as the abbreviated phrase encapsulates a large portion of what many men, used by God, sought to accomplish by His grace through the Protestant Reformation.

Tomorrow is Halloween, but better than that, it is the 500th anniversary of the dawn of the Protestant Reformation. 500 years ago, a monk by the name of Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church Door in Wittenberg, Germany that spawned the second most influential Christian movement since the spread of the first church in the book of Acts (my personal opinion).

However, what is necessary to keep in mind is the motivation behind Luther’s leading. He did not seek to overthrow or abolish the Catholic Church. Luther was a good Catholic. He was trained in the ways of the church. A teacher of the church. A servant of the Church. But, by God’s grace, God began to reveal the truths of His Word to Luther that led Him to question many of the practices of the Catholic Church of the past, and of today. The Church did not practice salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. The Church did not sit under the authority of Scripture, but sat as the authority over Scripture. The Church promoted the gospel + works = salvation. Luther saw the error being promoted by the Church and the oppressive nature of the false gospel they were selling. Yet, Luther desired to see the Church reformed, not begin a movement that might label him an enemy of the Church.

Through men such as John Hus, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Knox, John Calvin, and pastors of today, the Church is always reforming (semper reformanda). God’s Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edge sword, and the Word is always purifying, sanctifying, and edifying the Church of God. What Luther began 500 years ago tomorrow is just as much alive today as it was then. Most of our churches, on most of our blocks, need some serious reform. When I say “reform,” I am not speaking in a  “reformed theology” sense (although every church needs some good Reformed Theology), but I am speaking in a return to the authority of God’s Word sense. Too many churches have moved away from the Word of God. We have gotten soft with the culture and allowed rampant immorality to infiltrate the Church. We have allowed man’s ideas and opinions about certain things dictate what is believed and taught, practically tossing out God’s Word, or at least on controversial issues. If the Church in America survives the times we are living and survives the future, it will be a the result of a return to the Word of God. God will continue to bless His Church as they are faithful to Him. God will be faithful to us, but will the Church be faithful to Him?

This is a great question to ask yourself. If you are reading this blog, you may not be a Pastor, you may not be an Elder, a Deacon, or Sunday School Teacher, but you might be a Church Member. It is going to be all of the above leading the way to see God’s Word always reforming the Church. As the family of God, the body has many members (1 Cor. 12), and it will take all of the members of the body to carry out the will of God on earth. Do not let what Luther and the other Reformers started go to waste. Can you imagine what our lives would be like as Protestants if Martin Luther had not been bold enough to stand on the Word of God, even in the face of serious punishment and even death? Praise God for the Protestant Reformation and let us be a people that are Semper Reformanda!

I recommend Roland Bainton’s biography of Luther. Purchase Here: Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Abingdon Classics Series)