So… What’s Going On Over At Lighthouse Baptist?

Well, a lot!

For those who drop in to this blog from time to time to see how things are going, we just want to say that 2015 has been a great year on many levels. We are thankful for His blessings in our church as a body, as well as in many of our individual families. New babies, new jobs, new homes, new beginnings Continue reading

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21 Lessons From 21 Years Of Marriage (And Ministry)

img009Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

This Thursday, Mrs. Raz and I will celebrate 21 years of marriage. We were 19 years old. We got married in the church we were saved at, and immediately began serving the Lord in that church, teaching Sunday School and working a van route. 15 years ago, we started Lighthouse Baptist Church together. We have four wonderful kids, the oldest of which will soon be enrolling at Heartland Baptist Bible College, and the youngest of which just entered our youth group. Our whole adult life has been spend together, serving the Lord, and I can testify that it is a great way to live – and has the best benefits.

So, to celebrate 21 years of marriage and almost 15 years as pastor and wife, Continue reading

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Dear Churches – Don’t Close The Doors, Give Them Away!

church saleRecent statistics show that approximately 3500 churches close down every year in the United States, for many different reasons. Churches grow old and towns die off. Poor leadership, splits, and other problems have caused many churches to decline to the point of bare survival. Too often, these churches close their doors and then sell them – to bars, coffee shops, mosques, bargain stores, or to be bulldozed for commercial use.

Perhaps you are in this situation yourself and do not know what to do. Last year, we had the privilege of meeting with a deacon in a rural church south of our city. His son attends our church, and through him we learned of the church’s situation. It had dwindled down to 2-3 people, and had a bad name in the community. They did not know what to do, but they were considering selling their property to a lumber yard. At a meeting to discuss their future, another pastor and I emphasized that the property was good property, and had been bought with God’s money for God’s work, and ought to be used for God’s purpose. Long story short, that church called a friend of mine to be their pastor – they reorganized, got a new name and some good leadership, and they are now doing well. A new church was born in the old location.

auctionA friend of mine down in Florida has been meeting in a community center while starting a new church in an expensive city. Just this week, a struggling church gave them their property, 100% free. Now, the Word of God will continue to be preached from the pulpit, souls will be saved, and a new church will prosper and grow.

I recently read of a new church in California that was given a beautiful property from a church in its last days. This property would have sold for a lot of money, but the remaining members of that church obviously had deeper spiritual priorities.

Before closing the doors, why not consider giving them away? Is there a new church in the area that could use the property for the glory of God? What if you have a mortgage? Can the new church take over payments, or buy it outright? That is what we did here in Wylie, purchasing this property from a Church of God that was relocating to the country. The pastor then told me, “We just feel that God’s money was used to build this place and it ought to continue on being used for God.”

Why not pray about it? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the empty pews filled with new people – to know a man of God is preaching the gospel in the pulpit, and that the Bible is being taught in the Sunday School classrooms again?

Thanks for reading. God bless.

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“BARNABAS ALSO WAS CARRIED AWAY”

Galatians 2:11-13 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. (12) For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. (13) And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

decision_making_path_route_thinkstock_istockphotoOne of the great doctrinal conflicts of the first century was over legalism (properly defined, the false gospel taught by the Judaizers to the Gentiles as recorded in Acts 15:1, “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved”). The salvation of the Gentiles apart from the law of ceremonies, animal sacrifices, Levitical priesthoods, kosher diets, Temple observances, and particularly the Jewish rite of circumcision was something that many of the Jews could not accept. Paul spend much of his ministry trying to help the Jewish and Gentile converts understand that that the believer was dead to the law and at liberty in Christ (See Romans 7, for example).

When the Judaizers began teaching legalism to the new Gentile converts, Paul and Barnabas rose up in the defense of the gospel. At the great Jerusalem conference in Acts 15, Paul, Peter and James all agreed that salvation was the same for all men. Peter, who had been used of God to preach the gospel to thousands of Jews on Pentecost as well as to the first Gentile convert, Cornelius, said –

Acts 15:8-11 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; (9) And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. (10) Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? (11) But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

Therefore, it is surprising to read not too long after this conference of Peter’s misstep concerning the Gentile converts in Antioch. While there, he ate with Jew and Gentile alike. But when certain Jews came from Jerusalem, he withdrew from them. Paul was horrified at the implications. By his actions, Peter was saying that the Gentiles Continue reading

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So, You’ve Graduated from Bible College – Now What?

College-GraduationMay means Bible college graduation across America, and it is an exciting time. I remember when I graduated from the Norris Bible Baptist Institute in 1997; I was 22 years old and ready to attack hell with a squirt gun. After years of 7 am classes and all-night work shifts in warehouses and freight docks, and then squeezing a couple of hours of sleep in during the afternoon (and maybe some in class), I was ready to be in “the ministry.” I wanted to pastor or serve on staff somewhere, and start putting my all that knowledge to work.

However, no staff positions came my way, and churches weren’t looking for 22 year old pastors (at least, none called me). Anyway, it was my goal to start a church, Continue reading

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Helping Our Children With Ministerial Loneliness

lonely_0Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Loneliness is not confined to the ministry. Many are lonely today, and many children grow up in lonely situations, for many different reasons. The purpose of this post, however, is to give some insights into helping children deal with “ministerial loneliness” – ie, the kind of loneliness that comes because their parents are in the ministry (pastoral, missionary, evangelistic, etc) – though I believe that many of these suggestions would benefit any child.

In 1993, I surrendered to the ministry. Amanda Hudson married me in 1994, knowing that I was called to be a preacher. Therefore, it’s her own fault that she is a preacher’s wife (she actually loves being a preacher’s wife). Our first child came along in 1997, and now we have 4, the oldest of which will be heading off to Bible college at the end of the summer. None of them surrendered to be preacher’s kids; they were just born into a preacher’s household. Yet, we have never seen any unhappiness about it, and all four surrendered their lives to God at an early age and, as far as we can tell, are Continue reading

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Parents, Quit Embarrassing Yourselves

family0015Proverbs 10:1 A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.
Proverbs 17:25 A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.

Recently I was sent a link to a YouTube video in which a father was going to teach his son the importance of work. The video certainly catches your attention, as Dad is sitting on a large zero-turn lawnmower about to drive over a large pile of video games, while his son (who looks to be in his late teens or twenties) yells in frustration.

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what is going on – the millennial-aged son would rather play video games and live in his parent’s house than go out and get a job and support himself, and so his dad is going to go “nuclear” and totally destroy the video game collection in order to change his son’s character. And of course someone has to┬ávideo record it and post it for the whole world to see.

Of course, this video is not unique. Other videos have shown fed-up parents destroying computers, iPods, cell phones, etc – all to publicly “teach their kids a lesson.” People do love their drama.

What would be interesting is a viral video showing that these sorts of tactics ACTUALLY WORK.

Now, I have to admit that my reaction to these videos is a little different than the responses I have seen from those my age and older. Continue reading

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