Monday, October 3, 2016
I have become very heart broken over the years as I have attended church after church and sit in the pew while they serve the LORD SUPPER or COMMUNION as it is often called.
As a Christian we would not ever think of inviting Christ to dinner at our house and serving HIM supper the way some of us serve his Supper in church. We would never allow our children to simply stand or sit where ever, talk throughout the meal, and not truly acknowledge the guest in the house.
I guess I’m one of those old fashion preachers/teachers that spent a lot time studying Pastoral or Applied Theology and in doing so I remain frustrated. I think every aspect of the service is important. However, I see pastors and worship leaders put an emphasis on the music, preaching, and half dozen other things which maybe important at the time, but not when it time to serve the Lord Supper. Then the speaker stands for the Lord’s Supper and fails to take us to the understanding that the Bible clearly sets the stage for the Lord’s Supper, it is a time of REMEMBRANCE, it is a time of REFLECTION, and most importantly it is a time of REPENTANCE.
As I view the Bible and history I see for key elements of presenting and sharing the Lord Supper, in my opinion if you can’t do these every time. Maybe it is time reconsider the priorities of the church and coming to the Table.
1) Introduce the Lord Supper/Communion as a part of the Worship Service. (This is not a part of the offering, announcements, or invitation)
2) Explain fully that it is time of Remembrance, Reflection, and Repentance.
3) Give them a chance to do all three (It is not time to quickly rush the Lord Supper, you don’t rush dinner at home)
4) Eat and drink it together, understanding this is a Communal Meal that is shared by the family.
Pastor/friends I realize that there are dozens of things happening during any given Service. However, Christ stated to his disciple “Do this in remembrance of me” I don’t know about you, if you rush me through something, I really don’t remember. I guess what I am really doing is asking; “Is it time to slow down, and remember what Christ did at the Cross?
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Persecution is not a new concept, nor is it one that can be ignored. The Christian news media outlets are full of stories of persecution, killings, and other acts of cruelty against Christians. Let me say from the outset I realize that Persecution is happening around the world of different religious groups as well.
Emperor Nero of Roman blamed the believers of “The Way” those followers of Christ, as they were known throughout the First Century A.D., their belief in the teaching of Christ undermines the very fabric of the society. Throughout history Kings, dictators, and even individuals have been involved in persecution. Yes, even Christians themselves have been involved in some of the greatest persecution of other believers, we can go back to the Spanish Inquisition, where the Catholic Church persecuted those fellow believers that where not a part of the church as they deemed it.
Persecution can take on many forms; the simple definition in my mind is “simply stopping one from believing what they believe, either by force or threat of force.” I remember back in 1974 while attending McKinley Junior High School a teacher found some Gospel Tracts that fell out of my pocket in class. I have never seen a teacher so enraged by a simple piece of paper, he didn’t ask whose they were he simply waved them around and said “Don’t bring this trash into my classroom, and if you do I will have you kicked out of this school” I was 14 years old. When I told my parents they told me not to make waves and you better listen to him. Honestly, I felt persecuted by the teacher and definitely felt threaten. He would probably have totally freaked out if he knew I had a New Testament in my back Blue Jean pocket every day. However, my parents expressed the belief of many Christians of the time and even today, it not worth the fight, don’t make waves, and don’t buck authority. Now look at the public schools, and colleges Christians organization are banned from most campuses, teachers can’t even say they are a Christian in fear of losing their job, and if they see a child with a Bible they want him kicked out of school.
The Apostle Paul dealt with persecution; just like the other disciples in fact all of the original 11 (not including Judas who committed suicide) were persecuted. Ten where killed, and one was boiled in oil then exiled to an island for criminals. Persecution that the Apostles faced in the first century, and that Christians face today is a result of a state of fear, from those that don’t understand the believers in Christ. Atheistic countries like North Korea, China, Russia, and Muslim nations that outlaw Christian expression do so out of fear. Atheist would rather believe and force others to believe there is No God, than have individuals have a choice to expect or reject, just like Muslim nations they have come to the conclusion that their belief system is right and the others are wrong. As I stated before I know Christians have had their times of persecuting, and it was wrong then and it is wrong now.
God is righteous and just, he set his standard of values found within the Scripture (Bible). People that struggle to live up to those standards will become enraged when they are told they are wrong, or the statement that they are a sinner comes up. Persecution isn’t limited to governments, individuals can persecute as well by stopping people from practicing their faith. People have a right to beliefs, and I should have the same right to stand up and say that is not a Biblical view. It has become acceptable to criticize or demean a believer in Christ for his believing in these biblical principles, and stating them. To the point of destroying his career and his family, this is persecution.
Ironically, there is one interesting fact about persecution that folks often overlook … When individuals and nations rise up to Persecute the church and God’s people within in it, God shows HIM self-faithful, and lives are changed and hearts touched, and revival sweeps the land. You can tell Godly men NO, but Godly men will always worship HIM and share their faith despite the persecution. Simply, take a look around. Look at events throughout the Middle East, Africa, China, India, and yes even Russia where there are reports coming out daily of believers being hunted, put in prison, and killed for their faith. However, there are also reports that thousands of people trusting Christ around the world despite the threat of death and prison.
More than one individual has made a bold prediction that Christianity will come to pass (end), stop existing and it will be proven that Jesus does not exist. Sorry to report that those skeptics and persecutors are dead, and Christ is remained seated on the right hand of his Father is heaven.
I believe that America and the world are at the crossroads of history; the 21st Century is not going to determine the future of Christianity. However, the 21st Century is going to determine what it is going to look like around the world. There was a recent report that tens of thousands of folks trusted Christ as savior in one night service in India, and individuals in Africa are reporting the same results. Now individuals will question the accuracy of those numbers. However, what we can’t deny is despite the persecution around the world people still believe. The church in America is caving to the persecution of the liberal beliefs, and pressures from within to change it beliefs. However, we continue to see outpourings of God greatest and lives changed through a belief in Christ.
My view of the reality of Christianity and Persecution is simple …
Persecution is coming to the world like we have never seen. However, at the same moment Revival is coming to the world that will scare every atheist and non-believer to their very core. Some Christian believers will die; some will be injured, and some will be offended verbally. However, be certain of one thing Persecution is not a new concept, and throughout history God has always got the GLORY!
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
I recently read several Facebook posts and articles that stated Rev. Perry Noble the former senior pastor at NewSpring Church, a mega-church located in Anderson, South Carolina had been removed by his board over Alcohol related issues.
I have been an Alcohol and Drug counselor for over 25 years, and involved in pastoral ministry for over 35 years, I have seen dozens of pastors stumble for various reasons. Alcoholism is one of those things that have destroyed many pastors’ ministries, and marriages. However, with the changing culture I’m totally surprised that they didn’t come up with another reason. When I did my doctoral dissertation several years ago, and asked pastors about the perception of alcoholism and alcohol use, I was amazed at the number of pastors that thought it was OK for their members and themselves to drink.
The question that we all must answer is when does it become a problem? I ask four questions of my patients. (1) Has drinking affected your family and friends (2) has your drinking affected your finical situation (3) has your drinking affected your legal situation and lastly (4) has drinking alcohol affected your health, either your physical health or psychological health. If you answer yes to anyone of these then you need to take a serious look at your drinking habit. Why people drink alcohol has as many answers as people who drink. However, the reality is that alcoholism (or drunkenness as the Bible calls it) is a problem that needs to be addressed. There will remain a debate of the various views of the sin concept of drunkenness verses the disease concept of alcoholism/addiction.
How the church responds to Pastor Noble and others in the church will be an interesting lesson in love, forgiveness, and helping. I see the church from both the pastor’s side and counselor side, and I believe that there are three things that must happen. Keeping in mind these are my own opinions!
- The church must be willing get their head out of the sand, and to accept their role in this problem. I feel that role will be to have an open discussion of our views of alcoholism. This includes the stress factors we place on pastors, what we are teaching the individuals within our churches, and how we view alcohol consumption both privately and at social events around the country.
- The church must be ready to help! I have watched too many churches condemn alcohol and drug addicts, without as much as a prayer for the individuals suffering from the illness or problem. Sadly the likely hood of most churches providing treatment or in most cases even supporting the person going to a recovery 12 step program is out of the question. The church has turned this problem over to the Para-church ministries like rescue missions, teen challenge, and secular counseling agencies. Without a doubt we have missed some of the greatest opportunities for ministry.
- The church must be willing to not judge, but support individuals that need help. Let me be clear I’m not saying that alcoholism/drug addiction or any numbers of other addictions are not bad and out of the will of God for individuals lives. However, as a church we have come to make exceptions for a number of sinful or as some simply put bad judgment until it comes to alcohol/addiction and other peeves.
I can hear the critics now of this blog post, your making this all about the church. As a pastor, alcohol and drug counselor, and having grown up around alcoholics in reality in some ways is it all about the church. We have failed society but changing God’s word to mean what we want it to say, we have allowed sinful behavior to be accepted as just poor judgment, and we have failed to hold each other accountable for our actions. Then when an individual’s world starts coming apart, we rip them a new one. Some individuals have embraced us, and our self-righteous position.
Folks, I don’t know what Life Spring Church did or didn’t do to help Pastor Noble prior to his being asked to step down. I hope and pray that they did more than make demands. However, that doesn’t excuse us from showing love, support, encouragement, and providing a loving shoulder for him and his family through this difficult time. I have learned the hard way from church members, patients/clients, and family we are only one crisis or problem from being an alcoholic, drug addict, physically sick, or maybe even mentally ill. It is time to get our head out of the sand and start being a part of the solution and not continue to be a part of the problem.
While reviewing the blog post with a colleague and friend, he shared some unique insight that I had not thought of at the time of writing this post. One of things that we often overlook is the number of pastors that have grown up in alcoholic and/or dysfunctional families/home’s and were able to find an escape through the church and their personal relationship with Christ. However, if a person has not truly addressed the root cause of the addiction in themselves and their family they are destined to repeat the patterns themselves. This could be in the form of using Alcohol or drugs, or other compulsive, sinful behaviors such as sex, food, drugs, shopping, pornography, gambling, and etc.
Remembering the sin of the father affects the child, and as a church we need to provide a safe and loving place for people to heal and find emotional support when addressing the physical illness, but when addressing the addictive destructive of the use of alcohol.
Monday, July 11, 2016
Four young Black Men killed by police officers, 5 police officers killed, and at least two innocent bystanders and demands for justice from all sides. In each case there are already accusations that it was about racism, political leaders have made up their minds and are calling for various outcomes. Some will demand the prosecution of police officers that are involved; others will demand stricter gun control. Some will hide their head in the sand. Across America this same week dozen of people died as a result of violent acts of individuals. Some of it is was self-defense, other was premeditated murder. Regardless of the outcome individuals are dead.
Before preachers, social activists, and politician, and the guy of the street starts re-acting and saying things that could incite others to make unhealthy choices we need to STOP and ACT, I believe that there are three things we can and must do using the Acrostic of ACTS.
1. Ask Question … We will only find the facts when we ask questions, as a Alcohol and Drug counselor I teach my patients there are three sides to every story, your side that you believe is true based on your facts or perception of the event; the others person beliefs based on their perception or facts of the event; and then there is the TRUTH based on a clear overview of the events from a discussion and observation of what happen.
a. What happen?
b. Why did you do what you did?
c. What did the other person do?
d. What did you see?
e. What do all the videos that are available show?
f. What do the other witnesses say?
2. Challenge … I have to challenge my thinking, realizing that my pre-determined assumptions of the events may not be accurate. I remember listening to friends in the past when there was officer involved shootings, the assumption from the minute the news broke was that the officer did something wrong. No investigation, no facts, no questions, just an assumption. However, let’s be clear there are those on the other side of the fence as well, the assumption that the person being shot did something to deserve it. Growing up I was taught by my father, a retired Air Force Sargent, don’t assume anything. “When you assume, you make an Ass-of-u-and me”
It is time we lose the assumptions, and time we rely on the facts.
3. Talking it out … Several months ago I heard a prosecutor in a case belittle and criticize an officer involved in a shooting of an unarmed black man. Over the years I have had the upmost respect for that particular prosecutor, around where I live. However, that day it went out the window. He watched a video, and has assumed he had as all the answers. He didn’t allow the investigation, he didn’t hear the facts, and he assumed he had all the answer.
How are we going to stop the stereotyping of black men as being criminals and police officers being corrupt and trigger happy. That every white person that disagrees with the African American community is racist, I’m going to step on a limb here. It is time for the Pastors and other religious leaders of America to quit acting like selfish self-center brats, promoting a personal agenda that is destructive, and step up and be the man of God, you have been called to be. Sunday morning at 11:00 remains the most segregated time in America, I realize that some communities this is due to the population being overwhelming one group of people. However, have you ever sat down in your community and talked with the other pastors, or are you assuming you know what he thinks.
When the church as a whole steps out of the business of condoning sin; including the sin of racism, only then will we see the heart of America change. When pastors, preach the love of Christ for all mankind then America will have a chance to change the course of our current history. Some would argue this isn’t a pastors or church issue, and I would argue that clearly it is as throughout history the church has been the moral compass of the nation, how the church goes the nation goes.
There is an old children’s’ song “Red, and yellow, black and white they are all precious in HIS sight” … WE NEED TO STOP THE HATE, ANGER, AND VIEW HOW PRECIOUS WE ARE FROM GOD’S LOVE.
Saturday, June 18, 2016
We have heard two heart breaking stories out of Orlando, Florida in the past week. One involves the senseless deaths over 4 dozen individuals and wounding of dozens more. The second involves the loss of a child to an alligator right in front of the parents. I’m not sure how as a pastor and counselor I could help anyone make sense of either of these events.
I learned a long time ago that I’m not the sovereign God of the universe, I’m not all-knowing, nor do I have the understanding of why he allows such horrors to happen. I believe scripture gives a clue when it talks about the fall of man, and how that we have stepped into a sinful world from birth. When we think of those parents that have suffered such loss both in the shooting in Orlando, or the parent of that small child, my mind thinks of Adam & Eve in the garden what was the realization for them like the day they learned that Cain killed his brother Abel with a rock. Remember prior to this no individual had died.
Sadly, death is going to happen! Doesn’t matter the age, race, religion, or even sexual orientation every individual is going to pass into the next life. The question is are we ready? Christians, Muslim, Atheists, and people with any other religious choice are eventually going to die. As a believer in the Bible and as a Christian I believe we will stand before a loving and just God. However, I also believe that based on scripture that we will stand before a God that set certain standards; the most important is a belief in his Son Jesus Christ as our personal savior.
For those of us that have walked through or are currently going through the loss of a loved one maybe for you it is a family member, friend, or co-worker it is imperative that we work through the Grief Process. We cannot stay stuck in the Denial, Anger, Depression, or Bargaining we must each move on to Acceptance. Acceptance is not the forgetting of what happened, and assuredly it is not that we forget the individual, it is embracing the reality of the loss, and moving forward to accomplish the goals that are before us living out the remainder of our life, bring honor to theirs.
If you are currently going through the grief process or struggling with a loss … We would like to direct you to my workbook entitled:
Christians Coping with Grief, A Workbook for Finding God's Truth in a Time of Sorrow!
Which can be download free @ http://www.lulu.com/shop/rev-don-allen-jr/christians-coping-with-grief/ebook/product-1792838.html
Monday, February 8, 2016
The Churches DNA:
DNA is a scientific abbreviation for “Deoxyribonucleic acid.” the National Human Genome Research Institute states that DNA “…contains the instructions needed for an organism to develop, survive and reproduce. To carry out these functions, DNA sequences must be converted into messages that can be used to produce proteins, which are the complex molecules that do most of the work in our bodies.”
Just like the DNA in the human body, we find that the church has DNA. Over the centuries many individuals have attempted to alter the Churches DNA, and some have even denied its existence. However, the reality is that the Bible is very clear about the DNA of God’s Church. Strongs concordance gives the following definition of the word church … “The English word "church" comes from the Greek word kyriakos, "belonging to the Lord" (kyrios). 1577 /ekklēsía ("church") is the root of the terms "ecclesiology" As I read through the Bible I find strong evidence of the churches DNA, the foundation of which is found in creation, and is seen all the way through to the coming of the KING.
I see several intertwining parts of the church that make up the churches DNA. I realize that there are pastors, lay people, theologians, scholars, and people in the pew that will disagree with my view of the essentials of the Church DNA. However, from my study of scripture, if a church is missing one the following parts of the DNA, it has failed to be a true Church of Christ!
Growing up in the Fundamentalist church in Michigan, we were taught the “7 fundamentals of the faith.” the Assemblies of God whom I spent a number of years ministering with have what they refer to as the “16 Tenants of the Faith,” and for a short time I spent time ministering in The Southern Baptist Convention where they list “28 beliefs in their statement of faith.” The following list is mine; I can’t be accountable for anyone else.
I understand from the beginning of this post some are going to be upset, I have left off one of the key beliefs of your denomination, church, or heritage. I can think of a dozen off the top of my head people will yell about; KJV only, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Second Blessing. They will say I didn’t spend any time telling them that Arminius or Calvin was right or wrong, hymns verses courses, and the list will go on and on and on.
So what do I (Dr. Don Allen, Jr PhD) see as the DNA of the Christian Church today.
I. AN EXPECTANCE AND TEACHING OF THE FOUNDATION DOCTRINAL BELIEFS
1) INERRANCY OF THE SCRIPTURE … Simply stated that the original scripture is without error, and that through the translations over the generations we have learned the foundational truths of Christianity.
2) THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST (to the Virgin Mary) … Prior to having any other children, God interceded in a young virgin’s life and blessed her with a child, who would be the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and the sacrificed lamb for our sins.
3) THE CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS AT CALVARY … Christ died on the Cross for my sins, and that he was the perfect sinless a sacrifice for my sin. This being due to the fact that he had no earthly father (God was his father), and therefore was sinless in his nature, or without sin.
4) THE BODILY RESURRECTION OF CHRIST FROM THE GRAVE ON THE THIRD DAY… HE IS ALIVE; he conquered death, the grave, and Hell for my sins. In doing so he showed the devil and the world that I can have a home in heaven.
5) THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST TO HEAVEN TO SIT AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER … He is sitting in judgement, and serving as my advocate. He is talking to the father and reminding him that through his blood stained hands and feet, I’m forgiven, and on that final day of judgement he will show once again that HE paid it all.
6) THAT CHRIST IS RETURNING TO EARTH (Referred to as the 2nd coming of Christ), and there will be a Rapture of the Christians…. I know many deny it will happen, but the reality is clear in scripture that Christ is coming back to earth to claim his own (Those that believe in him as Savior), and at this point he will pour out his judgement on the those that do not.
II. FAITHFUL IN PREACHING AND TEACHING OF THE “GREAT OR GOOD NEWS OF CHRIST”
1) Sadly too many churches have lost their voice in the world. They are focused on workshops, seminars, retreats, encounters. They don’t preach as we were taught in Bible College…“The Book, The Blood, and Blessed Hope”
1) The church has overall lost its power of prayer. We are commanded to pray, to ask for his intercession in our lives and the intercession in others’ lives as well. We are to pray for the Kings, and world leadership (yes even a president we don’t like).We are also told to pray for the pastor of our churches, and most importantly we are to pray for the lost that they will see the truth and trust Christ as Savior.
1) I refuse and don’t have time to debate the merit of only singing hymns in church verses using contemporary courses. The foundational truth is that God told us to worship him in Spirit and Truth. When I sing, which is taught throughout scripture, I bring my heart and mind into his presence and lift up the name of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Father and exalt them above every other religion or deity.
1) I loved the Shepherd on Christmas morning saying “I got to tell someone about this.” Within hours after the resurrection of Christ people were a buzz about what had happen, they had to tell someone. Over the generations since the founding of the church, it has been a part of the DNA of Christianity and the Church to say “I got to tell someone.” Sadly, many churches have lost the drive to tell someone. They don’t see it as a necessity; they don’t feel it is their responsibility, and they don’t care if Hell is real or not.
Friends, no matter what your mind set is regarding my list, the reality is that the Christian church has a DNA, and as a whole we need to reclaim it. I know of denominations, churches, and individuals that have denied that the scripture is infallible; I have heard highly respected theologians and scholars state that they can find no evidence outside to the scripture for the virgin birth, crucifixion, or the resurrection.
In Conclusion ... The Christian Churches DNA is not found in the opinion of man, it is found in the very fabric of the Scripture, and the Faith it takes to accept the reality of Loving God who was willing to send his Son (Jesus) to die, conquer death, and sit in judgement of those that refuse to accept what HE has done for them.
Monday, January 25, 2016
The Church is standing on the edge of history; we are watching Biblical truths begin to unfold before our eyes. As I reflect on the comments of individuals both in public life, and those that I come in contact with daily, my heart is sadden by the thinking and actions of so many people. People that are so educated and have everything to live for, rejecting the truth of scripture for their own personal reason.
We have an opportunity to change course and correct the future, and make our children’s history better than ours. However, for that to happen we need to STAND ON OLD FASHION PRINCIPLES that not only made the church great in the past, but have made us who we are. It is time for the church to seek a revival (what I find interesting is we talk of Revival as something America or the world needs to do, which is totally false) … REVIVAL IS SOMETHING THE CHURCH MUST DO! Better yet it is something we personally must do!
The concept of Revival is to REVIVE bring back to life, bring back to prominence, bring it to a position of influence. I remember as a kid, knowing that you didn’t plan anything on Sunday because that was the day people went to church. I can remember praying in elementary school, and having a teacher not scared to lose their job because they said Jesus. It is time for the church to return to a time that the message is clear, and yes I will say it out loud it is time for all these false teaching, feel good, comprising preachers to get off television and out of the pulpits across America and the world. It is time preach that Jesus Died for our Sin’s, He is Alive, He is the ONE and ONLY WAY to HEAVEN, and HELL’s Hot and you reject Christ that is your destination. Preachers that haven’t spoken a message of the Cross in decades couldn’t or wouldn’t preach a sermon on Hell (despite the fact that Jesus spoke of it 10 times for every time he spoke of Heaven.
We have denominations and churches that have bought into the lies of the devil, hook line and sinker. They have turned from God’s truths, and have taken the church on a collision course with the destructive destination of HELL; we need to return to God’s plan for the church and for you as an individual. It is time for all churches and denomination that proclaim to be Christian to stand up, speak up, and say without reservation that Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the only son of the Living God, and is the only method for getting to heaven with no other way but HIM, becuasue of what HE did at the cross and resurrection.
As I see it, scripture Revival requires three simple things’…
- God’s men and women to stand up in their pulpit and preach the Book, Blood, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and 2nd Coming of Christ. Making it clear as the writters of scriputure does it is time to REPENT and turn from your SIN.
- God’s people to pray for forgiveness for their individual sins. Yes I agree we need to pray for America sins. However, until we have our own heart clean before Christ the prayers for America don’t mean much.
- God’s church needs to unite for the purpose of sharing the gospel, what is the gospel is the Good News of Christ death, burial, resurrection, and second coming. It is time to break down denominational lines, cultural lines, economical lines, and yes even time to lose the attitude that the person doesn’t use the same translation that I do.
When you read scripture it is clear, it is God’s people getting right with HIM (Christ) first, then God moves the church, nations, and world to revival. However, It first starts in me and you. I read sermon once that “In the 1800s Gypsy Smith, a great revivalist was asked how to have revival. He said, “Go home, lock yourself in your room, draw a circle around yourself with chalk, and ask God to start a great revival within that circle!”
My prayer is as I stand here on the Edge of History is God will you start the Revival in ME, Please!!!!!!!