Calling a Pastor

God’s Church and God’s Pastor

Now that we are officially looking for the next pastor of WSBC, I wanted to give you some scriptural thoughts just about who this man will be and how we all play a part.

Ephesians 4:11-16 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers (pastor teacher), 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

We have to remember that church is God’s. It is the Bride of Christ, the Building of Christ, and the Body of Christ. The church as it is mentioned universally in Matthew 16 is on the offensive against the gates of hell. It will never fail. In the New Testament the church is mentioned more as a local body. In Revelation 2-3 there are seven local churches mentioned. Each of those churches was responsible for their relationship to Christ. Some churches were living it up in Christ and some were dead as a door nail. I want to be a member that is bringing life to my church.

Now each church had a pastor referred to as a star or an angel. He was the messenger to the church. The pastor was responsible for bringing God’s message to the church. So it is today. When you study the above passage you find that there are gifts in the forms of spiritual leadership given to the church. (I am not so sure that WSBC hasn’t had the booby prize in me.) But God had a plan in the giftedness of a pastor teacher.

You see our next pastor will not be “the” minister of the church. He is a man that equips us to do ministry. No pastor could do the ministry that needs to be done in a church like ours. Way too many things to do! But he is to lead us into maturity and to protect us from heresy. The message of God has to come from him. By the way, the message of God is not easy in a liberal society like ours.

The pastor search committee needs your prayers in the days ahead. It will be their job to nominate someone to be pastor. It will be your responsibility to vote on a secret ballot to call a pastor. For you to cast that vote you will need to understand the will of God for WSBC.

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Acts 20:28

Tripping the Innocent

Luke 17:1-2 He said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! 2 “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble.

When I was at Eupora High School, I remember pulling a gag and having the gag pulled on me.  You catch someone not watching where they are walking and you put your leg out for them to trip over.  Oh, the chuckles from high school pranks we used to have!  But causing people to spiritually stumble is no laughing matter.

Jesus had the Pharisees scoffing at Him. (Luke 16:14)  The concern Jesus had was not about Himself.  His attention was turned to “these little ones.”  I believe He was referring to young followers.  Whatever the case, it was about throwing an unspiritual block to where someone would fail to be able to follow Him.

Now it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come to all of us.  How many times there has been a moral failure from a leader that disheartened me, an unfair criticism that brought some despair, or an outright attack on my faith that would cause me to doubt?  All of us face this throughout life.  But there is a “woe” to the people who are pushing these obstacles in front of unsuspecting “little ones.”  Jesus gives a hopeless ending for them.  A millstone necklace makes it hard to swim.

So, I need to pay attention to how I walk.  There are a lot of stumbling stones on the journey.  But I especially need to pay attention to the fact that I do not need to be a stumbling stone.  Think about it.

Here are a two more references:

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.

1 John 2:10 The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.

I love all of you,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

Enjoying Life

Ecclesiastes 3:12-14 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; 13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him.

“Wine, sex, riches and song” had been the theme of Solomon. All of it had become vanity to him. Everything had become an empty plate with dissatisfaction. Only if our generation could grasp the wisdom of this poetry, then worship would return to our churches and witness would become our mission.

A great life can be claimed by anyone. It doesn’t take what the world says it does. Solomon said there was nothing better than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime. He needs to see what he has is a gift of God and live with thanksgiving. Notice he goes further to say what God does will remain forever. There is no defeat in God and the saints have complete victory.

Recognition of the work of God in one’s life is what the real meaning for which we search. The philosophers can argue, but the people of God can rejoice. Sadly, men miss the real meaning of life. How can you tell when they have missed it? They do not fear Him. Worship is something to do at their leisure. It happens when they are not too busy with all of their vanities.

As I get older, for certain, “I know that there is nothing better for (me) to rejoice and to do good in my (my) lifetime.

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

Harvey

Every time I hear the name Harvey, I go back into my memory to the movie Harvey, starring James Stewart.  The movie was about a make believe 6-foot tall rabbit.  It was a fun comedy.

Now Harvey takes on a completely new meaning.  This storm that hit Texas has recorded up to 50 inches of rain.  Some have said that there have been 35 trillion gallons of water to hit Texas.  That is estimated to be enough water to cover the whole State of Texas with 8 inches of water.  Lives have been lost.  The overall cost of the storm will be billions upon billions of dollars.

In the turmoil of the storm, there is some good news.  There is an opportunity to share the Lord.  Never do we ever want to see such loss and loss of life, but when it does happen, we have an opportunity to share the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  As I was coming to church this morning, I was listening to national news and they were complimenting Samaritans’ Purse and Southern Baptists for already bringing help to this tragedy.

Do you realize that Arkansas Baptists are still working in New Orleans over the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?  This week marks that disaster as 12 years ago.  In New Orleans, which is predominantly Catholic, they praise the work the Southern Baptist Convention has done.  When I was in seminary, Baptists were ostracized in a lot of different ways.  Today it is different.

Jesus took a message to the world, the kingdom of God.  But when He did He also so set the captives free and healed the sick.  The message has to be proclaimed.  Faith can only come by hearing.  What I have found, people tend to look up and listen when you are giving them a helping hand.

Pray for the people in Houston.  I hope you will give to the causes that will not only help people but show them Jesus.  It is going to be our opportunity for the next several years.

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

My Major Objection to Hyper-Calvinism (Extreme Calvinism)

On Sunday night, I explained two types of theology where Baptists have their roots.  “Cat theology” (Calvinists) is the picture of a mother cat carrying her young.  “Monkey theology” (Arminians) is the picture of a baby monkey holding on to its mother’s back for dear life.  I am Calvinistic if I have to be in one of these two schools.  Glen Putman did not have the ability to save himself or keep himself saved. The gospel is God did something for us in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we could not do for ourselves. (More on this is coming on this Sunday night.)

Christians are not a silent people.  Sometimes they are too silent in the world, but they are never silent with each other when they disagree.  In the last 20 years, there has been a rift forming in Southern Baptist life over the doctrine of Calvinism.  As I expressed in last week’s sermon, we as a church need to understand something of its teachings.  I am not in a fight with Calvinist; I have many friends who are, but as our church launches into the next decade with a new pastor, I wanted you to be educated on the matter.  With the majority of Baptist pastors, I am a Biblicist.  My theology is not locked into Calvinism or Arminianism.

Calvinism majors on the Sovereignty of God.  God is the Almighty, All-Knowing, and reigning God.  But Calvinism goes on to teach man has no ability to repent and believe himself.  That the fall of Adam made us incapable to have repentance and faith but that God gives it to only those He chooses. This means before you were ever born God had determined you for heaven or hell.

Here is my major objection to this reasoning.  God the Father is represented not only as Sovereign God but Tyrant Ruler.  I heard an extreme Calvinist say at a funeral one time about his church member, “He believed on Jesus, and if he was elect, he went to heaven.”  Think about that one.

Think about this one:
1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

When In Doubt

Matthew 11:2-3 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”

Have you ever heard someone say that a believer never doubts the things of God?  As a young believer, I did.  And to be honest with you, it caused me some emotional and spiritual anguish.  Doubt in a believer is like a virus in a stomach.  You never think about your stomach until you get the virus.  Moody, the famous evangelist, was approached by a woman who said, “I have never doubted since I got saved.”  With great assertiveness, Moody replied, “Lady, I doubt you have ever been saved!”

John the Baptist had announced that Jesus was the Lamb of God.  He was humbled before Him and prepared the people for the ministry of the Christ.  It was John who baptized Jesus.  But now trouble had come.  For telling the truth, he was put in prison.  No longer was he coming out of the wilderness, but, more or less, coming out of his skin.  His meal was not honey and locust, but that of a prisoner.  He heard of the works of Jesus and a question came up in his soul about Jesus really being the Christ.  Now, Jesus sent him a reply to resettle his heart, but why, of all people, would John have a question about Jesus?

When life gets hard, questions can arise and your physical and emotional state can become dark.  Throughout the Bible you find great people of God struggling with doubt.  Moses, Elijah, and Jonah prayed that God would just take them.  Their lives had been challenged with negative people, physical hardship, and a lack of victory over their circumstances.

So doubt can overwhelm even the most faithful of God’s servants.  A great place to visit is First John when you face doubt.  John encourages those early Christians who struggle with doubt.  Look at how he uses the word “know.”  When you know, doubt will fade away.

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

20/20 Vision

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. KJV

This Sunday we will be having one worship service at 10:30 am. Brother Grey will be preaching this weekend about our vision at WSBC. Grey and the staff have laid out a vision for the next 18 months, and I feel that it would be better for him to share it with my impending retirement at hand.

Vision is so important. Normal vision is described as 20/20. That is a term used to “express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet. If you have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance.”

Spiritual vision is your ability to see what God wants you to do or accomplish. (GRP) If someone has spiritual vision, they are receiving it in their relationship with God. It is essential for spiritual leaders to have a vision from God. It is this kind of vision that can see over the horizon what the intentions of God are. This becomes the energy of the church to go after objectives.

What happens to a people without the vision of God? Well, they perish. The New American Standard Updated says they go unrestrained. When the people of God are not hearing from God, they become sheep without a shepherd or cattle without a fence. After a while, they not only do not know where they are, they do not know whose they are. The enemies of God’s people will do them in, one way or another.

For WSBC, we have been hearing from God. There is a continuing vision that God is giving because you have a staff that is walking with God. I am thrilled to get to be a part of this vision. Although my role as your pastor is changing, my life in Christ is still as exciting as it has ever been. Let me tell you I am not just wearing rose colored glasses about this vision. If it is not evident to you, to see the people being saved, the ministries being done, the missions being accomplished, and the fellowship being increased, stop and take another look. God is great and He is being great within us.

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

The Sense of Awe

Acts 2:43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. NASU

An internet dictionary defines sense as “a faculty by which the body perceives an external stimulus; one of the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch.”  On the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples, God manifested Himself so they could hear the rushing wind, see the tongues of fire, and experience great miracles.  The Lord was making Himself known.

I think that the saddest thing I have seen with Christians is a lack of sense of awe.  Adrian Rogers told me when I first met him in 1977, that the greatest success of Bellevue Baptist Church had been the church realizing the presence of God.  The church had been doctrinal, faithful, working, but basically boring.

With all my heart I believe the Christian life is an experience with God we should sense.  God has made Himself known so we can know Him (John 17:3).  When we truly know Him, He is in us.  Paul described the presence of God says, “to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

How is it that people lose a sense of awe?

  • Some people have never had a born again experience.
  • Others have let idolatry take over their hearts.
  • Some have sin that has blurred their senses.
  • Some do not seek the presence of God.
  • And it may be a combination or all of the above.

They say when you come up on the edge of the Grand Canyon, it will take your breath away because it is awe-inspiring.  If you have lost your sense of awe, get back to Bethel (the house of God) and seek Him out.  He wants to be found of you. (Jer. 29)

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor

LIFE Sunday

Here we are.  Just two Sunday’s past Bro Glen’s big announcement of his retirement, which has left most of us with a bag of mixed emotions; sadness, confusion, wonder or worry about what comes next and where do we go from here.  Personally, as a member of the staff, we have the great opportunity to get lulled to sleep during this ‘in between’ time, but let me encourage you, as I have had to do myself, to press forward.  The greatest part of this story is that God has richly blessed Walnut Street Baptist Church and He feels none of those emotions that we do currently.  God is NOT worried, He is NOT wondering about what comes next or where He wants us to go as a church.  He is NOT confused about our usefulness in the life of His Kingdom and He is STILL speaking in the same way He ALWAYS has if we will be diligent enough to listen.  Praise the Lord He still sits on His throne and He is still at work within our midst.

We sat down as a staff in the early part of June to talk about all the ways that God has worked within the life of Walnut Street in the past year…and WOW!  We filled up a full-sized dry erase board twice over with many of your names, stories, answered prayers, life transformations, and absolutely GOD ONLY happenings and I, for one, am extremely EXCITED about what God has in store for Walnut Street RIGHT NOW.  Not later, not after a point in time, not when a specific event happens but RIGHT NOW!  Praise the Lord He still works today, using you and I for His purposes NOW.

I want to be sure to pass along to all of you, your families, your friends, and your neighbors, a special invitation to join us for LIFE SUNDAY, August 13th, for one worship service together at 10:30 am.  We are going to have the chance to hear some of those stories firsthand and see just what God is up to within the life of Walnut Street, right here in our midst.  Following the service, there will be a meal provided and a great opportunity to fellowship with every age group within the life of our church.  Both services, all Sunday School classes and age groups, together…united and praising God’s name, rejoicing for all that He has done among us and through us in the past year.  Join us and let’s wait with eager expectation to see what He does in the next year at Walnut Street Baptist Church!

We love y’all,
Grey Falanga
Associate Pastor of Teaching & Minister of Collegiates

The Test of All Tests

2 Corinthians 13:5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

In 1988, I took a doctoral seminar called Philosophy of Education.  My professor was a Jesuit trained visiting professor from the University of Syracuse.  It was my last class to take a final examination.  When I finished my final, I got on the elevator with this distinguished professor and looked at him and said, “You have given me my last exam.”  My intention after 35 years of schooling (I am educated way beyond my IQ.) was to be through with all examinations.

Guess what?  I was wrong!  I have had personality inventories that revealed some of my deepest weirdness.  My doctors have given me some exams that we are not going to talk about.  The church, my friends, my family, and strangers have tested the limits of my tolerance.  Life is full of exams that we pass or fail in one way or another.  And it is good to know where you are at the end of the day.

Paul put the paramount test on the people of Corinth.  No matter what type of test physically, intellectually, or mentally you endure, the spiritual test is by far the most significant.  The Corinthians were living in a world that was changing their attitude about sin and their actions toward the church and spiritual leadership.  Paul said to take a deeper look than what you see in the world.  Examine yourself and see if Christ is living in you.  No! There was not a little x-ray machine that took an image to see if Christ was on the inside.  But Paul knew as we all know when Jesus is at home in our hearts or not.

This is not a test you can afford to fail.  If He is not there, follow Romans 10:9-10.  Then you can sing, “Since Jesus came into my heart.”

I love you all,
Brother Glen
Senior Pastor