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  Unity in the church  
  by Richard D. McCormack - June 4, 2015  
     
  This is from a post I presented on Blackaby Ministry International  
     
 

Unity? The state of being one; oneness.

I always find the discussion of unity very interesting. One reason is because we feel everyone has to be of the same mind—I mean, after all did not Paul use those words in Philippians 2:2? But whose mind? Whose personality? Whose ideas? (Or do these concepts relate to unity?)

I had a member of a church I pastored who was very critical of almost everything. Often when we tried starting a new program or resume an old one, he would look at all that could go wrong and share it openly. Other members detested his views and comments; yet I grew to embrace them. While others refused to work with him on committees and some on other projects, I worked with him quite well. Although many believed he was destroying the unity of the church, I believe he was one reason we had great unity (kind of a strange difference of opinions).

You see, often we do have unity in the church if we will accept (possibly a strong word here) the realization that the Holy Spirit grows the church and puts people in the body as He sees fit (I know, I am preaching to the choir—or am I). I like the way A.W. Tozer puts it in my favorite book The Pursuit of God:

“At the heart of the Christian message is God Himself waiting for His redeemed children to push into conscious awareness of His Presence. That type of Christianity which happens now to be the vogue knows this Presence only in theory. It fails to stress the Christian’s privilege of present realization.”

It is this “present realization” that we often struggle in. Although we say we understand, but it is in our actions and attitudes we show our liberating beliefs to be false. Our idea of unity is to be like us (or should I say like me). However, I need people like this member above to examine my ideas, my thoughts, and my heart to see what I have missed and to help me stay humbled (believe me, arrogance is where my flesh wants to dwell). Even Paul had a tormentor who God left with him as a thorn in the flesh to keep Paul humbled and God glorified.

To this end I say we need to find unity in the body by embracing the differences. It is in those differences that we can find our strengths. Either that or we don’t truly hold to that great passage 1 Corinthians 12:18:

“But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”

 
   
     
  "If I were you..."  
  by Richard D. McCormack - October 3, 2014  
     
 

You know, we all are attacked by someone for things that we have done, or for things that we have not done. And frankly, it often hurts. It isn't easy being a pastor. Especially in today’s economy. Let me try to explain...

First: I understand, “Just preach the word and let God deal with what happens.” That is true. It is our responsibility to do such as pastors. However, as can be seen from the negative comments that will follow a post such as this, we don’t all live by that view. What we live by are threats and avoiding. Threats that members will stop tithing or leave the church. Avoiding by not speaking to me as a pastor or my family. Why? Because we don’t want to hear what God has to say about our lives. We want the five step programs and being out by noon. Even the great expository preaching doesn’t work. The best example is people don’t come to hear what is wrong, they come to hear a sales pitch or promotion message.

Second: We live in a disposable world. If we do not like the message or the music (don’t even get me started about the music.) or the teachings, or maybe someone didn’t talk to me last Sunday, then they will just find a church that will fit their agenda, at least for the moment. I have always admired members who will stay through thick and thin. Our disposable world has caused so many churches to split and disband. Some people say, “That church needs to fold.” with never a look at what they are saying. Just because they are old fashion, or traditional, or modern, or contemporary, the idea of another church folding is heartbreaking. Why would we help Satan end another church? It might not be the best church today, but we have to look at the future. I am not what I use to be. I have my ups and downs. Does that mean on my down days I should be disbanded?

Third: How can a person claim to be a member and never attend? That is like being married and never sharing a house with your spouse. I have members who will not go to church for one reason or another. Some have different views. Others have worldly activities. We even have members in other states who want to keep their membership at a church they never attend. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? And what is more upsetting is that we allow it because we don’t want to hurt feelings. Wow! And we would say, “If I were you...”

Fourth: Democracy, what is that called in a church? Business meetings—as biblical as can be (really? Where?) Then there are the lobbyist (to use a phrase from Ulysses S. Grant). These go door to door or huddle in pews whispering their views. Always trying to gain support for their position. What happened to discerning the will of the Holy Spirit? Trying to be directed by him? The first place I herd a business meeting called Holy Spirit Discernment Hour was by Lyndon Glaesman. I have always used that term ever since. I believe we are not suppose to vote on things, but to discern the will of the Holy Spirit and do as He says. Not running around like a bunch of children gathering our support. All they need to do is come in and talk with the pastor. But, instead, they scurry around trying to drum up support.

Fifth, pastors, don’t think we are off the hook. Remember, we will be held accountable for what goes on in our church while we are there—that even means in the lives of the people. That is a lot of responsibility. Yes it is. That is why thousands of pastors leave the ministry every year. I seem to be heading that way myself. No matter how hard I try some people just have to have it their way, even at the expense of the church. It hurts to see your children fighting.

So that brings us to the difficulties. The first is when the people believe they have the best advice and say, “If I were you...” frankly, “No you wouldn’t.” One reason is we never take our own advise. We say that we would, but we don’t. Our advise is often too black and white and we live in the grays. The next difficulty is commitment. We take a position and we say that we are committed, but we aren’t. Deacons who are called to visit the widows and orphans and never do. Sunday school teachers who are there half the time. Members who pledge their lives but cannot be found on Sunday. And we wonder why our children act as they do.

Some might find this harsh. Many will call it judgmental and misquote Matthew 7:1-2. “Judge not lest you be judged.” I say, “Go ahead. Judge me. I need it. For judgment begins in the house of the Lord. Pick my scabs and open my wounds, I welcome it.” You see, I want to be open before God and if there is something that I have missed, please tell me. I welcome it. I need the log out of my eye so I can help you remove the splinter. You see, Jesus never said don’t judge, he said get your life right first so you can help your neighbor. So go ahead. I know this doesn’t make friends. It often makes more enemies. But, frankly, we need to think of others more than ourselves. That is what Paul taught.

Okay. There it is. Go ahead and make the comments. Let’s see how we fair before God. I welcome your opinions and judgments. But do you?

 
   
     
  Is having an organized life really that necessary?  
  by Richard D. McCormack - August 29, 2014  
     
 

To tell you the truth, I have always looked at my life as organized chaos. I know that sounds like a cop-out, but when you look at what I do, and all the entities around me, my life is never organized—it is chaotic.

Chaos is described as complete disorder and confusion; being disorganized with turmoil and pandemonium ruling the moment or event. I believe this is a good definition. Yet, even though we have chaos in our lives we do not have to allow it to govern us.

You see, chaos happens when you deal with people. One moment everything is as you planned, the next you are facing that ugly word “cancer.” Or maybe you are doing well at work and then the company sells. Whatever the case chaos always enters our lives, and most often without any warning—and this is where organized chaos seems to work.

Paul reminds us that chaos is always around us.

I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.

 
  2 Corinthians 11:27-28  
     
 

So how can we live as Christians with so much chaos in our lives? The only answer is, “Prayer.”
You see Paul said in Philippians,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

 
  Philippians 4:6  
     
 

You see, chaos is going to happen. You cannot control or change that. But organizing chaos, now that you can do. However, it takes the one element that we lack the most and that is prayer. Prayer is the quintessential element that keeps chaos in check. It is what allows you to find that peace in the stormy waters. It is what makes you able to organize your chaotic life so that you are not tossed and thrown by every gale of chaos around you.

So here we stand wondering if prayer really works. Wondering if I can really let go of the chaos in my life and turning it to the Father. I believe Reinhold Niebuhr gave the best prayer to start with:

 
     
 

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

 
     
 

If we start with this simple prayer we will quickly discover that chaos does not rule our lives, instead it is Jesus.

 
   
     
  What do you do when the devil is in your house?  
  by Richard D. McCormack - August 28, 2014  
     
 

Recently I spoke on this very issue. It seems obvious what should be done, but it isn’t. You would think that we could recognize and know what the devil looks like or how he acts, but think with me for just a moment in the Garden of Eden...

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman,

 
  Genesis 3:1  
     
 

Let’s start off with a little observation, the serpent spoke. That should be a clue, but it wasn’t. The next thing you know Adam and Eve are being kicked out of the Garden.

Often we find something curious and the next thing that happens is we find ourselves outside the will of God. We look around and wonder how did we get here. What looked like a good thing turned into something that has moved us away from the fellowship of God. It is not that we have lost our salvation, instead it is that we have lost our relationship or fellowship with our Father.

I am a firm believer in the security of the believer. Yet at the same time I see that we can walk out of the fellowship with God. Some call this backsliding, while others call it living a prodical lifestyle—either way it is a broken relationship with God. And the root cause is the same as it was in the Garden—a serpent spoke.

That might sound crazy, but if my wife even saw a serpent she would be running away—much less hearing what he has to say. But there is that crafty side; the side that knows how to turn the hearts of men away from their Heavenly Father. Paul said in 2 Corinthians:

for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

 
  2 Corinthians 11:14  
     
 

So what do you do when the devil is in your house? The answer might seem obvious to many, kick the devil out; however, doing it, that is what is hard. You see, first we have to discover what the devil is. I know, Satan is a being, created by God, but he uses objects to keep us distracted from having a relationship with God—and this could be anything.

When I first learned the devil was in my house I was devastated. Then I realized I was the one who invited him in. And it wasn’t just one item, but many that I brought into my home that took me away from a personal relationship with God.

So how do you get rid of the devil in your home? First, it takes time. We can’t get around the time factor. This didn’t happen overnight and it certainly is not going to go away overnight. So for today, we need to ask God, in the power of His Spirit to reveal what the devil has placed between us and God, This might be shocking, but it is the first place to start.

 
   
     
  The elementary life  
  by Richard D. McCormack - July 15, 2014  
     
 

I have a wonderful daughter who is smart, bright, intelligent, good looking (she takes after her dad) you name it she is it . . . with the exception in one area—she does not like to read. Now before you jump all over me for disclosing my daughters shortfalls, you have to understand it is not because she can’t, but because she chooses not to. Why? Well, that is always the $64,000 question (yea, I am dating myself).

But isn’t that the case with most of us? We choose not to read God’s word. We know how to read, but we don’t. Thus we are still sucking on milk while God wants us to be feasting on the meat of His word. Take Hebrews 5 for example:

Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

 
 
Hebrews 5:11-14
 
     
 

Here in this passage the writer is trying to explain the concept of how Jesus is in the perfect perpetual priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. You can hear the frustration of the writer because he knows his listeners are still sucking on milk, allowing others too spoonfeed them.

Just look at the words the writer uses, “since you have become dull of hearing,” “you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles,” “partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness,” “solid food is for the mature.” These are the words of a pastor whose heart breaks because his members are still not ready to lead or teach—they are still arguing about the elementary ideas. And you know what is worst—we encourage it!

We say things like, “All you need to know is that Jesus died for you,” or “Don’t worry, the Holy Spirit will tell you what you need to know.” better yet “Don’t let them complicate the word, just stick to the basics.” Yet, according to Jesus and God’s word, the basics are not good enough. We have to grow, and that means grow deeper into God’s word.

 
 
 
     
  Are We Stuck in a Rut?  
  by Richard D. McCormack - July 14, 2014  
 
 

Corky Karkalitze use to ask me, “Bro. Richard, do you know what a rut is?”

I always wanted to spout off the obvious, “A rut is what your tires dig in the mud.” But before I could get the words out of my mouth he would say,

“A rut is a grave with both ends knocked out.”

Now that is wisdom! That piece of sound common sense is what is lacking in many our lives. And, for many reasons, we have found ourselves stuck in a grave with both ends knocked out—we have found ourselves stuck in a rut.

I have watched, over the past thirty-plus years of ministry, the average church falls into a rut. Often they never saw it coming—it just happened? Some do the blame game with the mega-churches saying they are stealing our people. Some blame the music as it has changed and is making the new Christians weak minded or immature. Then there are those who put the blame on the pulpit saying, “We need the Bible preached to us!” but what they are saying is they want to be told how everyone else is wrong and they are right.

A rut! How ridiculous. If you are in a rut then you are not dead and you have an opportunity to get out. Sometimes it is walking to a place in the rut that gets narrower and then climbing out, but most often getting out will be from a friend, a pastor, a good Christian in God’s eyes who will throw down a lifeline and pull you out.

I think most of our churches are in a rut—at least this is what Thom Rainer, Barna, Pew Forum and countless others are saying. We need to quit complaining and get out and tell someone about Jesus. You see, when we do that, all the unnecessary “things” fall out of our lives and all we can say is, “Just give me Jesus.”

 
 
 
     
  Straight talks with fathers — Part 3  
  by Richard D. McCormack - November 3, 2012  
     
 

I don’t write blogs as often as I would like; however, this subject about fathers is one that I am deeply motivated to talk about. Fathers, every society on earth has shown that where the father goes, so goes the family. Because of this, we are so needed in our home.

In Ephesians chapter five Paul addresses what are commonly known as the household codes. They are a set of codes to help keep, or bring, harmony to the family. Sometimes, if not often, they are used to bring the wife down with the idea of being a doormat of submission. However, that was never Paul’s intent. Fact is in the Greek, verse twenty-two does not have the word submit in it. It is only implied from the previous verse where we are all called to submit.

Before we continue, we have to realize Paul is not talking to the wife, but the husbands. His direct convocation is an address to the husband of the household. This is very important to understand, because Paul is once again reminding the husband, you are responsible before God for your household. Thus the first thing, after reminding them about their roll, Paul tells the husband, “You need to love your wife.”

Here Paul uses the Greek word agape, meaning I will not only say, “I love you,” but I will show it; I will put action to your words. Paul does not use the word phileo, which basically is tender affection, or eros, which is where we get erotic or lust. Instead, he uses the word agape, which means the love one has for another is worth showing the world and dying for.

So men, when was the last time you showed your wife love. Well, like the old Wolf Brand Chili commercial says, that’s too long. Go above what you normally do and show her the love you have for her, as Christ loves the church.

 
   
     
  Straight talks with fathers — Part 2  
  by Richard D. McCormack - November 2, 2012  
     
 

Yesterday we discovered that men are different from women (I know, a real revolution). But we also discovered that men are the head of their home and they are the only ones who will answer to God for the household. Let me give you a solid biblical answer to this paradigm.

In Genesis we have the creation story. On the sixth day God created Man. He called man Adam and placed him in an area the Bible calls Eden, or the Garden of Eden as it is often referred to. However, before God made woman He gave Adam some very direct orders,

The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. . . The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

 
  Genesis 2:8-9, 16-17  
     
 

So God told Adam to obey the rules or you will die. God then fashioned Woman out of the rib of Adam and he created a helpmate. However, Satan comes in and temps the Woman, Eve, into eating of the tree God told Adam not to after which she gives to Adam so he might fall into sin also.

But what comes next is the crux of the entire passage, and the order has been the way God has addressed the household ever since. It is simply this: God held Adam, Man, resaponsible for the offence not Eve. She was only accountable for her action where Adam was responsible for the family.

Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”
He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

 
  Genesis 3:9-11  
     
 

It was Adam that was held responsible for the sin not Eve his wife. Paul even mentions this in 1 Timothy 2:13-14,

For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

 
  1 Timothy 2:13-14  
     
 

So men, fathers, husbands, get ready to give an account to God for your family, for we are responsible.

 
   
     
  Straight talks with fathers — Part 1  
  by Richard D. McCormack - November 1, 2012  
     
 

Have you ever noticed men and women are not alike?

Kaye and I are sometimes so opposite. Before we got married, we could only see all that we had in common. Kaye was a blushing eighteen year-old bride and I was a strong handsome twenty-two year-old beef-cake of a man built like Captain America. Hey, you remember things like you want to, I’ll remember them like I want to.

Then after seven months of dating we got married, and all we started to see were all the opposites. If you are married then you have probably been there.

You know the old saying, “opposites attract.” Sometimes we are like magnets pulling ourselves towards those who are so opposite of us. We discover so much differences in each other, like:


One is an early riser, the other a night owl (Night owls don’t believe God even exists until after 11:00 A.M.)
One is impulsive, the other caustic and reserve.
One plays by the rules, the other says, “Forget the rules.”
One loves to talk, the other is quiet and mellow.
One loves to spend money, the other is a tightwad.
One loves to cuddle, the other is a porcupine (Don’t touch me!)
One is really neat, organized, on time, the other is flexible, lively, and mainly LATE!

However, we need differences. We need to have someone who balances us. I know that I would not want to marry someone like me—it would be awful. However, with Kaye as my opposite we balance each other. I think that is why God made us so different—to balance ourselves.

This idea of balance is also seen in the home. Paul addresses this in Ephesians chapter five and six. The passage is directed at men in the home as to a standard of household codes. Although Jesus is the same for all in salvation, we have different responsibilities, in Christ, especially in the home.

When we do our part that we are called to then we find balance. It is when we do not do our part or we try to do our spouse’s part that is where we run into trouble. That is where the problems lie. I know we live in a progressive society that calls all things, especially gender, equal; however, that is not what the Bible teaches in full. What it does teach is that the husband of the household will be the only one who will answer to God for the state of the household.

That’s right men, we are the head of our household, so we need to start acting like it!

 
     
   
     
  Where have all the good men gone?  
  by Richard D. McCormack - June 29, 2013  
     
 

Bonnie Tyler wrote those lyrics in 1984 to her smash hit, Holding Out for a Hero. The song went all the way to #2 in 1985 and was featured in the movie Footloose. So why ask the question? Obviously there are still good men around.

I would agree, especially in a community church in Rush Springs, Oklahoma.

We are often saying, “Our church is having a revival,” or “God is reviving the hearts of His church,” but where is the means to be measured. With most denominations recording losses each year the facts of revival is not able to be measured. Thus, the term “revival” becomes subjective.

Southern Baptist Church, Rush Springs, is a church like most. Ran on average 200-250 for years; however, things happened and the church struggled to maintain 100. Yet, three events happened since January that has really turned this church around.

The first happened on February 23, 2013 when the church had an open time of repentance. The question presented to us by the Holy Spirit in the message was, "What if?" "What if, because of our unrepentant heart, God was holding back His blessings. Not only in our church but in our families?" This one question caused the majority of our congregation to weep at the altar for almost an hour.

Then on April 26-27 our men went to the Rewired Men’s Retreat and something happened that we were not expecting. Some of the men went early to participate in the activities. Others came late, because they really didn’t want to be there. But by Friday evening everything had changed.

On Friday evening, after the Tabernacle service, we went back to the cabin and started fellowshipping and eating. Some visited other cabins to see friends of old. Others just sat around staring at each other, not knowing what to say. However, in the cabin, a conversation started. It basically went, “I wish this feeling would last after the retreat.” After a while the discussion turned to, “We can either step up as men of God and let Him lead us, or we can come back next year wishing we would have acted on this moment. The choice is ours.” It was then our little group of men agreed we would meet together weekly and hold each other accountable.

From the Rewired Men’s Retreat and because of the broken repentant hearts of the men of Southern Baptist, we started a men’s accountability group called, Men of Honor. Our goal is to be men of honor in our families, our church, our work, our community, and before God. We come together every Tuesday night and pour out our hearts before each other and God. We confess our faults and acknowledge our need for God to be center in our lives.

Since we returned from the Rewired retreat in April, and started the mens accountability group the Spirit of God has been moving. I do not know how long this movement is going to last. But I do know one thing. In all the years I have been in the ministry I have never seen such a huge blessing that can be measured. We all talk about the Holy Spirit reviving our church and our people, but at Southern you can see it each week as the people come and fill the pews, new believers are being baptized almost each week, and the families that were being torn apart are being restored.

So what about the means to be measured? They are as followed:

Since January Southern’s average attendance has grown 147%. The church has baptized 30% of their Sunday School average with baptisms happening almost every other week. That includes the five who were baptized last week and the seven the week before. And there are still many more to be baptized in the weeks to come. Tithing is up, to almost record levels. Youth are growing, children are increasing and families are being healed.

Measurable? Yea. It’s measurable.

 
     
   
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