The Pastor: An Endangered Specie

Today is September 11, 2019, just 18 years after the tragedy of the bombing of the world trade center. What an awakening moment in the life of our country. We will never forget and we will always remember the lives lost and the actions of our police, fire, military, chaplains, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and civilians, who gave all they had on that day that changed us.

I want to address the tragedy that is ongoing in the life of pastors. Pastors are a group of men and women who also have given their lives for cause of others. They work tireless hours, being available 24/7, and rarely have true time off or vacation time. In light of recent events of pastors falling into temptation, and now even taking their own life due to mental illness, I came across Thom Rainer’s daily post, entitled “How pastors discern their true friends.” We as pastors have to do a better job of taking time off and protecting it, spending more quality time with our families (this is a whole other subject in and in itself), and finding ways to engage with friends who will keep us in check.

As I am embarking upon a new position to become the Executive Director of the El Paso Baptist Association, I am challenged to be a friend to our pastors of the many Baptist Churches of El Paso. We need each other. We need to cooperate with each other. We need, we need, we need. We are afraid to admit that at times for fear of appearing weak. Pastors always want to make a good impression of being strong and having their lives all together. The Pastor is an endangered specie. Pastors are leaving the ministry in record numbers. More churches are pastorales than ever before. More pastors are now bi-vocational as well, since giving is at an all time low.

When you think about your pastor, please, please, please, pray for them. They are people too. They have needs too.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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New Church Location!

Pastor Larry preaching first sermon at new location

Well, God did it again. He decided that we had been at our old building long enough. We lasted a whole 18 months there. After outgrowing the facility rather quickly, God quickly opens the doors to a new place for us to worship. It has been amazing so far to say the least.

Young and old worshiping together to bring glory to His name! What a wonderful time of worship! It still awes me to think that this is real!

Congregation listening and seeking Jesus through His Word!

God is good! All the time!

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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We Are Moving

Easter Sunday Service 9 am

We had a great Easter Sunday. 2 Services, 3 Baptisms, and egg hunt for the littles. I wasn’t sure that a 9 am service would be well attended when we started back in January, but God knew what He was doing as always. Our 9 am service is populating very well. Since the beginning of 2 services comes growing pains again.

Being at 80% capacity already on several Sundays, we have begun to pray about a 3rd service. But in steps God. We have been offered to move to a new location that is 2 times our current size! The church has been so generous to us and is offering much of the amenities to stay at the building including the chairs, which is usually a large cost to churches. We found out last week that everything is a go, so onward we go.

I always let my humanness get in the way at times like these. I was worried about how we would sell our current facilities. God came through with flying colors as usual. We found another church who had been looking for a church building for 2 years. They have already agreed to terms and we are in contract with the buyers of our church and in contract with the sellers of the new location to be!

I have been preaching through the book of Acts, and have noticed how powerful the work of the Holy Spirit was in the early church. When they prayed and relied on the Holy Spirit, God came though. Acts 4:31-After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

We are truly experiencing an earthquake moment of God. 4 churches are about to be changed by way of location. 2 churches are merging into 1 church, and the other 2 churches are moving into their new locations. This will all transpire June 2, as each church will begin a new chapter in there perspective churches.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Church Planting

“Follow Jesus on the journey he has planned for you, and invite your people along.”

“When God called me to plant a church, he intended for me to go on a journey with him. The beginning and end of this journey are not results, but the love of God in Christ. That is the promised land! Church planting is uncomfortable and dangerous work. When Jesus calls you to take it up, he intends to draw near in previously unknown ways. If you’re willing to respond in your soul to where God is calling you, you can take people with you.” 

I came across this statement while doing some online reading about church planting. After 3 1/2 years of church planting in Del Rio, I sensed this statement was written just for me. I have never been comfortable as a church planter, having served in traditional churches my entire time as a minister. For me, City Church Del Rio had to be very different than what I knew as church. I needed to experience a total reliance upon God like I never have before. I need others to come along and join me in this experience.

The reason I say that I have been uncomfortable is because church planting goes against my every being of the way I do things. Growing up in a very structured household, and then having served 7 plus year in the US Army, I always have know structure as a way of life. Don’t get me wrong, there is some sense of structure to church planting, it just isn’t as visible as what I would call normal structure. Church planting has allowed me to do things I would never do in a normal church structure. I am allowed to lead others to dream with me and even though it may really seem impossible, God allows me and those of my team to make sense of it through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I plan to expand some more on my journey as a church planter in the upcoming days and weeks so that you may be able to catch a glimpse of the God I have so enjoyably been able to walk with.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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New Sermon Series

On Jan 27, 2019, I will begin to preach a 2 year journey through the book of Acts. This will be my longest book study to date. I am super excited about what the Lord will do through this journey. Acts is an amazing account of the early church and its foundations.

What we can glean is yet to be determined. As we have embarked upon a second worship service at City Church Del Rio, this Sermon Series is going to propel us into our next phase as a church. Moving past our smallness and into bigger things God has for us, including filling up 2 worship services. CCDR will look extremely different in 2019. New faces, new people coming to know Jesus as their own Lord, more baptisms, and much more.

Will you begin to pray for City Church Del Rio to make a big impact on the community? It really isn’t about our church, but it is about Jesus!

Here is the line up for 2019:

Jan 27, 2017—The Day of Promise, Acts 1:1-11

Feb 3, 2019—Choosing a Leader, Acts 1:12-26

Feb 10, 2019—The Day of Power, Acts  2:1-13

Feb 17, 2019—Peter’s Bold Stance, part 1, Acts 2:14-21

Feb 24, 2019—Peter’s Bold Stance, part 2, Acts 2:22-35

Mar 3, 2019—Peter’s Bold Stance, part 3, 2:36-47

Mar 10, 2019—Give Them Jesus, Acts 3:1-10

Mar 17, 2019—It is Time to Listen, Acts 3:11-26

Mar 24, 2019—Not Everyone Will Listen, Acts 4:1-12

Mar 31, 2019—Follow God, not Man, Acts 4:13-22

Apr 7, 2019—Pray in the Spirit, 4:23-31

Apr 14, 2019—It’s all God’s, Acts 4:32-37

Apr 21, 2019—Easter Sunday

Act 28, 2019—Think Before You Lie, Acts 5:1-11

May 5, 2019—The Church at Work, Acts 5:12-16

May 12, Mother’s Day

May 19, 2019—In Jesus Name, Acts 5:17-42

May 26, 2019—Leading the Church, Acts 6:1-7

Jun 2, 2019—Speak the Truth, Acts 6:8-15

Jun 9, 2019—Stephen’s Sets the Record Straight, part 1, Acts 7:1-16

Jun 16, 2019—Father’s Day

Jun 23, 2019—Stephen’s Sets the Record Straight, part 2, Acts 7:17-29

Jun 30, 2019—Stephen’s Sets the Record Straight, part 3, Acts 7:30-53

Jul 7, 2019—Jesus Takes a Stand, Acts 7:54-8:3

Jul 14, 2019—The Spread of the Gospel, Acts 8:4-25

Jul 21, 2019—Understanding The Gospel, Acts 8:26-40

Jul 28, 2019—Who is Saul? Acts 9:1-19

Aug 4, 2019—Total Transformation, Acts 9:20-31

Aug 11, 2019—Healing the Sick, Acts 9:32-43

Aug 18, 2019—Peter the Pillar, part 1, Acts 10:1-8

Aug 25, 2019—Peter the Pillar, part 2, Acts 10:9-33

Sep 1 2019—Peter the Pillar, part 3, Acts 10:34-48

Sep 8, 2019—Testifying, Acts 11:1-18

Sep 15, 2019—Multiplication by Persecution, Acts 11:19-30

Sep 22, 2019—The Persecution Continues, Acts 12:1-25

Sep 29, 2019—Paul’s First Mission Journey part 1, Acts 13:1-12

Oct 6, 2019—Paul’s First Mission Journey part 2, Acts 13:13-25

Oct 13, 2019—Paul’s First Mission Journey part 3, Acts 13:26-35

Oct 20, 2019—Paul’s First Mission Journey part 4, Acts 13:36-52

Oct 27, 2019—Paul’s First Mission Journey part 5, Acts 14:1-18

No 3, 2019—Paul’s First Mission Journey part 6, Acts 14:19-28

Nov 10, 2019—Paul’s First Mission Journey part 7, Acts 15:1-35

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Do You Really Love People?

There is no way that Christians can be salt and light apart from love. We are to obey the command to love God first and allow that same unconditional love to flow from our lives onto others. We have to love people in order for them to believe in the God we say we believe in. It is very crucial today.

We are not the Holy Spirit. We cannot be the Holy Spirt. We are to not supposed to pretend we are the Holy Spirit. Our commitment to Christ is one out of self-sacrifice allowing the Holy Spirit to be Himself through us. We aren’t the ones to fix it, He is the One to fix it!

Here is an article posted today by Jim Denison. Please read all the way through before you become the Holy Spirit!

Teacher fired for not using transgender student’s preferred pronoun

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Peter Vlaming teaches French at West Point High School in West Point, Virginia. He was fired by the school board last Thursday for refusing to use a transgender student’s preferred pronoun. (The student was born as a biological female but wishes to use the pronouns “he” and “him.”)

The school’s administration claims that Vlaming was told multiple times to refer to the student using male pronouns. “By failing to follow the directive, he was therefore discriminating and creating a hostile environment,” the superintendent told the board.

The next day, students at the school coordinated a walkout in support of Vlaming. Several held signs that read “Men are men and women are women and that is a fact!” and “You can’t impose delusion on us.”

Vlaming told the school board that his Christian faith was the reason for his refusal. “We are here today because a specific worldview is being imposed on me,” he said. “Even higher than my family ranks my faith.” Asked whether the debate was worth losing his job over, he told reporters, “There are some hills that are worth dying on.”

God “made them male and female”

My purpose today is not to focus on the transgender issue itself. (For an in-depth discussion of this subject, please see my chapter on the transgender debate in my book, 7 Crucial Questions.) Nor do I want to limit our discussion to the West Point controversy.

Rather, I want to ask: Are there “hills that are worth dying on” for Christians today?

Imagine yourself in Peter Vlaming’s position. Your Christian worldview affirms the biblical statement that God creates humans as “male and female” (Genesis 1:27). You agree with Jesus: “He who created them from the beginning made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4).

What should you do?

This is not an abstract question. A recent survey found that nearly 3 percent of ninth- and eleventh-grade students say they are transgender or gender nonconforming, meaning they don’t always identify as the sex they were assigned at birth. Of America’s 15.1 million high school students, 3 percent equates to 453,000 transgender students.

In addition, according to one adoption website, there are 594,000 same-sex couple households in the US; 115,000 of them have children. As these children become students, Christian teachers who affirm biblical marriage may be faced with a dilemma similar to the one confronting Peter Vlaming.

These questions pertain to more than high school teachers. Parents who affirm biblical morality must address these issues with their children. Pastors face similar issues with their congregations. So do those who work alongside transgender or LGBTQ persons.

Let’s survey our options.

One wrong approach: Change your theology to match the culture.

As our society embraces “gender fluidity,” same-sex marriage, or other unbiblical morality, we could adapt our beliefs accordingly. This might enable us to appear relevant to our post-Christian world.

Of course, interpreting the Bible through the lens of our fallen culture is a never-ending process of adjusting God’s unchanging word to our changing world. If the Bible is wrong on “gender fluidity,” is it also wrong on same-gender sexual relations? Polygamy? Premarital sex? Pornography? Abortion? Euthanasia?

Scripture is clear: “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32). Unpopular truth is still truth. A doctor who tells her unwilling patient that he needs medical help is exercising courageous compassion.

A second wrong approach: Condemn those with whom you disagree.

We could see the school board members as attacking our faith. It is more likely, however, that they are acting out of their worldview. They apparently believe that gender is fluid and the gender identity of this student should therefore be affirmed. And they are convinced that to believe otherwise is bigoted and discriminatory.

For every enemy of our faith who uses moral issues to attack us, there are many who think we are simply wrong and intolerant. The root of their problem is spiritual: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Like Paul, we are sent “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light” (Acts 26:18). We are called not to reject those with whom we disagree but to minister to them.

The biblical mandate: Obey your highest authority.

Peter taught us, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” (1 Peter 2:13). Yet when he was ordered by the authorities to cease preaching the gospel, he and the apostles responded: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

We should do all we can to obey and respect those in authority over us: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). We should look for ways to resolve conflict, remembering Jesus’ beatitude: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

But if we are forced to choose between Caesar and God, we must choose God.

(MY WORDS HERE: One of the mandates so easily forgotten is to LOVE PEOPLE. When we love people, we chose God!)

Chinese pastors and believers who will not submit to the control of the government are being imprisoned and their churches closed. According to Open Doors, 215 million Christians experience high levels of persecution for their faith today.

American churches are not being closed by our government; American Christians are not being imprisoned or martyred for following Jesus. But we are increasingly being forced to choose between what is popular and what is biblical.

For a follower of Jesus, this is no choice at all.

The next time you must pay a price to obey God’s word, consider the cost of your salvation. And remember: The first “hill to die on” was called Calvary.

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Be The Church Or Make Way For Something Else

Great read for those of us in leadership positions of churches. Enjoy!
Be The Church Or Make Way For Something Else

Christ is not found in our institutions, he is found in the church. In people who love Jesus, love each other and gather together regularly.

Why does the church exist?

It’s not to get people together for meetings. Or to keep our theology pure. Or to defend our traditions. Or to look cool and appealing to the unchurched.

But it’s easy to fall into one or more of those traps if we’re not constantly reminding ourselves what we actually do exist for.

Why The Church Is Supposed To Exist

As defined clearly by Jesus himself in both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, the church exists to love God and share his love with others.

We’re not about meetings, denominations or creeds – although all of those have had and will continue to have a place. We’re about relationships.

It is our calling and our mandate to introduce people to Jesus, connect those people with each other, then prepare them to help others meet Jesus, too.

Being The Church

Through the command to make disciples, Jesus created a self-perpetuating system to keep the church alive, vibrant and adaptable.

Through the command to make disciples, Jesus created a self-perpetuating system to keep the church alive, vibrant and adaptable.

For 2,000 years and counting the church Jesus started has been the most relentlessly growing, most adaptable, most life-changing, most liberating organism in the history of the world.

Despite all the cries of alarm and concern, the church is not in trouble. It’s not dying. Its best days are not behind us.

The church is alive and well, with far greater days ahead than any we’ve seen come and go so far.

But the formats we’re currently using to accomplish those ends? Those are in trouble. Big trouble.

What We’re Doing Instead Of Being The Church

The way we format the church experience, the expectations we have of people when they gather as the church, the top-down hierarchical structures that are so commonplace we barely see them any more – those are going, going and soon will be gone.

And that’s okay.

Because we’re not supposed to be in the business of preserving those formats. And, in fact, to the degree that we try to preserve them we will continue to sap precious resources away from doing what we should be doing – helping people find, love and serve Jesus.

Being the church.

Why Does The Church Exist?

We need to rediscover and re-commit ourselves to being the church Jesus called us to be. Or, while we’re off chasing other ideas, someone else will offer a knock-off version that feels better than what we’re currently doing.

Actually, that’s already happening. It’s been happening for 2,000 years.

There’s always some version of “almost church” that’s ready to give people an “almost” version of Jesus.

There’s always some version of “almost church” that’s ready to give people an “almost” version of Jesus, wrapped up in a greater sense of community than what many churches have.

The church doesn’t own a monopoly on friendship, mission or caring. We have a monopoly on only one thing. Jesus.

Christ Is In His Church

Christ is not found in our institutions, he is found in the church. In people who love Jesus, love each other and gather together regularly. That is de facto the only place to find, know and grow in Christ.

  • Not in a building
  • Not in a creed
  • Not in a specific format
  • And not alone

People loving Jesus and loving each other is how Jesus said the world would be won to him.

That’s the church.

That’s the Jesus way.

That’s who we need to be.

Stay In The Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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