Posts Tagged With: Pastor

I'm a Pastor… And I Carry a Gun

On any given Sunday, many pastoral leaders around the country begin there day in similar fashion. Eat a hardy breakfast… check. Spend alone time in prayer… check. Grab their Bible… check. And load one high-velocity round into their semi-automatic handgun…. check. Sadly, this has become a very real scenario for many of us who have accepted the call into ministry. While pastors who arm themselves have become a very controversial subject, there’s no denying that the alarming rise in church shootings have led members of clergy to reevaluate if the Word of God is really the only protection they need to be carrying.

Before I begin, let me state where I personally stand on this issue. I am an ordained minister that believes that the primary weapons for spiritual warfare is the Bible and prayer. However, I also believe that God’s Word not only condones self-defense, but also mandates the protection of one’s family (Exodus 22:2; Luke 22:6). While most of my time in ministry may not be spent at the helm of a pulpit, writing for my own website and three international news organizations has led me to obtain a very large web presence. With that comes hails of praise and thankfulness; but also those people that Jesus warned about, “You will be hated by everyone because of my name” (Matthew 10:22). There have been many times where disagreeing with my views on faith have escalated past the point of mere theological indifference. And the chance of someone harming my family or myself has become a very real threat. Therefore, not only do I have a concealed weapons permit, but I carry a gun on me at all times. While some may disagree with my view on this issue, let me state that I openly declare, I am a pastor… And I carry a gun.

In 2007, I was a member of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. On December 9th of that year, a gunman entered the church and quickly turned this house of worship into the devils own personal playground. Just after the second service had let out, a gunman identified as Matthew Murray age 24, entered the church and opened fire. In the wake of the shooting, four people were injured, and two sisters Rachel and Stephanie Works were senselessly killed. Thankfully the nightmare ended when a church security volunteer, shot and wounded the gunman who then turned his gun on himself. Having this incident occur so close to home in my former church, I know all too well that the threat of violence against clergy members is very real. In fact, as the statics show, Deadly Force Incidents at Faith-Based Organizations in the United States is climbing at an alarming rate. Since January 2009 until present, there have been 568 incidents of violence on church grounds or ministries. Of those incidents, 398 people were killed (Chinn).

While attacks in church buildings in particular have awakened the attention of many Christians, there are still many that hold to the belief that those called to ministry should not bear arms. It is not my intent to write this article to debate these two opposing views. However, it is my intent to show why I firmly believe that the right to bear arms in not only a constitutional right, but also a biblically accepted mandate. A mandate that many parishioners may not be aware that pastoral leaders are secretly embracing. In fact, there are very few pastoral leaders that I personally know that don’t carry a concealed weapon today.

If you are one that disagrees with ministry leaders carrying weapons I would like to turn my focus directly to you. As Christians, the use of force in the preservation of life is a biblical doctrine. As the prophet Ezra wrote, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14). Other scriptural passages include Proverbs 24:10-12; Exodus 22:2; and John 15:13–14. Now I’m not saying that all pastors should just go out and buy a firearm without being trained. As scripture details, those whom took up arms were often shown as being skilled to do so. “Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred select troops who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss” (Judges 20:16). These scriptures where not provided by God as a means to authorize harming others; but illustrate that we do have a right and obligation to defend life, liberty, and property in the midst of a fallen world and an ever declining government.

With respect to those that state, “Well Jesus never carried a weapon.” You’re right, Jesus never carried a weapon but His disciples did. Let me turn your attention to Luke Chapter 22 where Jesus Himself said, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). In those days, a sword was the most lethal weapon that a person could carry on them as opposed to a firearm today. Remember also one of Jesus’ most widely used assertions today, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). There are two very important things to take from this statement. First, when Jesus told Peter to “Put your sword back in its place,” where was “its place?” It was at Peter’s side, which was concealed under his cloak somewhere. Secondly, Jesus’s makes the statement, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Interestingly enough, Jesus did not rebuke Peter for having a weapon. His words were representative of only using a weapon as means of defense, and never as means of cold-blooded murder. In fact, there is no question that Jesus knew that His disciples where “packing” so to speak. At the Last Supper, Jesus’ disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” Jesus replied (Luke 22:38).

One of Jesus’ favorite metaphors that He liked to use was about the role of a shepherd; for a shepherd has many roles. He provides food, correction, support, leadership, comfort, and yes protection to the flock. In fact, the word pastor means shepherd, “a person who tends to God’s flock.” This is a responsibility of every church leader today. While sheep are cute and fluffy, they have one huge disadvantage; sheep have almost no means of defense without the aide of the shepherd. While they may be able to run away, they really can’t kick, bite or scratch their way out of harms way. This makes them easy prey. Therefore, sheep need protection, and the protection of the shepherd is where they find it. However, in the role of protector, I believe that scripture clearly shows that it IS NOT the role of a pastor to carry a weapon as means of providing personal security to the flock. As Luke wrote in the Book of Acts, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them (Acts 20:28-30).” I believe this to be a very important passage to the true role of pastoral leaders. As protectors, pastors are called to provide spiritual protection of the flock and keep them from going astray and defend them against the savage wolves who may try and ravage them. With this in mind, I do believe that it is a pastor’s obligation to insure proper security is in place by security teams within the church. As the Apostle Paul exhorts in his farewell speech to the church at Ephesus, leaders must “Be on guard” for themselves and “for all the flock” (Acts 20:28).

Still, there are many critics today that believe that if a pastor, or security teams have to carry a gun then there is a lack of faith that God will protect him, his family, or members of the congregation. Is it a lack of faith? Absolutely not. Just because it’s a church building, are people really any safer inside than those outside of a church? As someone who has endured a church shooting and witnessed the aftermath of such horror, we need to come to the realization that churches are no longer off limits. Some say that it is a house of worship, and there is no place for weapons of death in such a place. To those critics I would say, you’re right. But unfortunately, those looking to harm others don’t see it that way.

As an ordained man of God I wholeheartedly follow the sixth commandment, “Thou shall not murder.” To murder is defined as, “The unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.” When a person, in this case a pastor, chooses to carry a weapon in self-defense it is not being done with the intent to commit murder. I for one hold to the biblical command to take reasonable precautions for the self-defense of my family and my personal safety. Yes, my primary weapon of choice will always be the Bible, prayer, and faith; but as a follower of Christ I must also remain vigilant with the knowledge that, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come” (Mark 7:21). We live in a fallen world and the Bible warns that in the last days we will live in “perilous times” because of the increase in evil character of man and people who actively “resist the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-9).

In closing, I would love to say that working in full-time ministry is all about joy and happiness where the love of God flows through everyone; and to be honest, most of the time it is. But unfortunately as many ministry leaders recognize, there is a very dark-side to ministry as well. A side where the forces of evil are very real and Satan really does use flesh and blood people to carry forth horrific acts of evil that can only be thwarted with physical protection. There are some that stand on the defense of, “How could anyone shoot a child of God?” Look, I hope that if I ever have to draw my weapon in self-defense it will be merely enough to show them my weapon and deter them from acting in violence. But one must also remember that if the time arises, it will not be a child of God whom you are likely to be defending yourself from. Rather those, whom are consumed by evil that do not have the love of Christ flowing within them; in fact, it may be someone so fueled with hatred towards Christians that they derive great pleasure from the suffering or death of others. In the event I, another pastor, or a Christian for that matter must pull our weapons in defense of ourselves, our families, or other believers, we would not be shooting a child of God. Instead, we may be the one God chose to protect a child of God by being properly trained and fully equipped to use lethal force to save a life. While some may still disagree with my and other pastoral leaders views around the world, there is no denying that in scripture Jesus is found telling His disciples to carry swords as they prepare to go out and evangelize. Therefore, if Jesus’ disciples carried swords… then shouldn’t a pastor carry a gun?

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Chinn, Charles “Security!? In a Church” http://www.carlchinn.com. 2009-2012. Web. August 17, 2012.

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Are You a Lukewarm Christian?

There are very few things in life that are good when it comes to being lukewarm. For instance, we don’t hear people say, “You’d feel better if you would go take a lukewarm shower.” Or what about going out to eat? If we get our food served to us lukewarm, what do we do? We send it back if it’s not hot, or cold if that’s the way it’s supposed to be prepared. By nature, society tells us things should be hot or cold.

But for some reason, in the area of Christianity, we make excuses and try and manipulate what the scriptures convey to us. I apologize if what I’m about to say upsets you. But as a pastor, our jobs are not always meant to build you up. Sometimes we are called to steer you in the right direction when you stray off course; hence why pastors care called God’s Shepherds. The Greek Word for Pastor: ‘poimaino’ = (herdsman, a shepherd… one who cares for, feeds, guides, and protects the sheep).

Let me cut right to the heart of the matter. The Bible makes it emphatically clear; being a lukewarm Christian is NOT considered good in the eyes of the Lord. What does lukewarm Christianity look like? It’s the place that is found somewhere between being hot (on fire and living your life for what God desires) and being cold (not believing in or having no desire to follow God). One of my favorite lines comes from Pastor Craig Groeschel, “Just because it doesn’t bother you… Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t bother you.” And that’s exactly what’s occurring in society and the church today. We have become a Christian society that spends more time debating scripture and twisting it, rather than doing what it says. Instead of following God’s Word, we follow it up with, “Well the Bible doesn’t really say…” Let’s be clear, the Bible does say! In fact, in the area of lukewarm Christianity, scripture proves that Christ Himself knew that the nature of our society would pull away from God just as it is today. In fact, Jesus was so concerned that He sent a clear message to those living a lukewarm walk with God. He actually states that He would rather you and I be “cold” rather than lukewarm; and that lukewarmness is so disgusting that it makes God want to vomit. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).

So with that in mind, here are 10 signs you might be a lukewarm Christian…

1. You only seek God when things seem to be crashing down around you.

2. You rarely share your faith, and would have a difficult time sharing your faith if asked.

3. The acceptance of people matters more than the acceptance that God provides.

4. You come to church and “Play Christian.” But as soon as you leave, your life is really no different than others in the world.

5. Your friends would be shocked if they found out that you were a “Christian.”

6. You spend more time on Facebook rather than in His Book.

7. The Bible that you have been carrying back and forth to church still looks like you just bought it.

8. You sometimes skip saying grace before a meal while out in public because you are afraid of what others are thinking.

9. Being a Christian to you means that you want to know Christ just enough to save you from going to hell, but not so much that it means having to change your lifestyle.

10. And my all time favorite… You are more concerned with “offending people” that you don’t share your faith.

The Word of God is clear and concise on this matter. Since God’s love for us is so unfathomable, shouldn’t our love for Him be so radical and thankful for Him sending His Son to pay the ultimate price? As I have had the displeasure of seeing this country fall to the wayside by trying to remove God from all of society, I’ll be very blunt; I have no patience for “lukewarm Christians.”

Let me end with two thoughts. Christianity is not simply living a lifestyle; it is living and dying for Jesus. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35). For Christianity is not a brief emotional experience, it is a lifetime commitment made with our Savior Jesus Christ. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22). In this life, God denounces lukewarmness. For Him, you are either a Christian… or you’re not! Which one are you?

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Daily Living | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wedding Officiant Services – Colorado Springs

Your wedding is one of the most memorable days in you life. Your celebration of love represents one of life’s greatest commitments. But it also is a declaration of love as you enter into a covenant relationship intended by God to be a lifelong relationship exemplifying unconditional love, reconciliation, sexual purity, and growth.

As a Christian Pastor, I only conduct Christian themed weddings. I believe that since marriage is a divine institution, and we are asking God to join you as husband and wife, it is only fitting and right that each should faithfully promise before God to accept the sacred marriage covenant according to His divinely ordained Word.

As you think about your wedding day, remember it should be special. Therefore, I’m able to perform your wedding anywhere and almost any time you want. No matter the size or the formality, I’ll do my part to make your day memorable. I want your day to be about you… “Your wedding done your way.” Depending upon what type of ceremony you want, you are open to incorporate personal vows, special readings, scriptures, songs, poems, and other distinctive touches. Contact me below and we can sit down for a free consultation to discuss how we can make your special day end like a fairytale.

If my fees seem like a lot less than other area officiants, please know that I feel called to solemnize the nuptials of believers in Christ. I do not officiate weddings for the money. My fees cover my costs associated to offer my services (travel, prep time, meetings, and rehearsals if needed).

FEE

DESCRIPTION

INCLUDES

$75

Informal Weekday Weddings
(Monday-Thursday, Friday before 5)

  • No Rehearsal
  • Short Meeting if Necessary
  • Wedding Ceremony

$99

Informal Weekend Weddings
(Friday after 5, Saturday and Sunday)

  • No Rehearsal
  • Short Meeting if Necessary
  • Wedding Ceremony

$149

FULL Formal Weekday Weddings
(Monday-Thursday, Friday before 5)

  • ALL Meetings necessary prior to Rehearsal
  • Rehearsal
  • Wedding Ceremony

$199

Full Formal Weekend Weddings
(Friday after 5, Saturday and Sunday)

  • ALL Meetings necessary prior to Rehearsal
  • Rehearsal
  • Wedding Ceremony

A 50% reservation fee (non-refundable) is required to save the date and time longer than 7-Days Prior

Vow Renewal Prices are the same listed above depending on the Ceremony Day / Formality

Consultations are free and scheduled by appointment

THIS CONTACT FORM GOES DIRECTLY TO MY IPHONE – I WILL CONTACT YOU SHORTLY

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Divorced? Are You Disqualified to be a Pastor?

Today, divorce strikes at the heart of over 50% of our nations homes. More shocking, you’re only a few Google clicks away from discovering that born again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce. When I was a newly ordained minister, I filled out many resumes for employment. It had become almost second nature to know that one of the first questions asked is “Have you ever been divorced?” This immediately placed me in the mindset that as soon as I answer “YES,” I might as well just get ready to be Triple-X’ed like a bad act on America’s Got Talent. If you took the time to read my testimony you already know that I have been divorced before. It was a time in my life that I was not a follower of Christ nor understood God’s true design for marriage.

Through my job search experience, I became amazed at how many pastoral leaders try to use a divorce in a person’s past as means to say that they are not qualified to be a pastoral leader today. For instance, I think the best example I found used by church leaders was in reference to 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. These scriptures point out many qualifications as pastoral leaders aside from just the “faithful to his wife” part. Do these scriptures really convey that a divorced man is not qualified to lead God’s flock?

Let’s break down what I believe to be a huge misconception that is flowing in our churches today. When looking at these verses as reference, it should be noted that Paul’s letter to Timothy was written to give instruction to Timothy concerning the pastoral care of the churches in Ephesus. “The overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2). This was not written to assert that Christian leaders must be perfect; however, it does mean that he should be a man filled with integrity who, as they say, “keeps short accounts.” Paul’s qualification standards also note, “A man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient” (Titus 1:6). I will be bold and say that many people who have attended a church service can attest that there is a much higher probability of seeing a pastoral leader with wild and disobedient children running around than a pastor who once was divorced. So the question begs to be asked. Using these standards of judgment, a pastor with wild and disobedient children should be removed from the pulpit?

As men living in a fallen world, we all have a sinning nature. Therefore, none of us have been “blameless’” over our entire life, for example. To take the view that this passage is going back over a person’s entire lifespan with regards to marital history is simply not what the passage is saying. The qualifications for which Paul addressed refer to the present life of a man; in the past few years, has his life met these qualifications? The irony of this view is that some people who have been “married” for years, but yet have been flirtatious, promiscuous, or have even engaged in pre-marital sex before marriage, are still allowed to be pastors or deacons later on in their lives. Yet if some poor guy’s wife leaves him to perhaps run off with another man, he’s removed from pastoral consideration for life.

The real question becomes one of, “During the person’s present spiritual life, have they remained faithful to the qualifications of God’s Law?” While the Bible does detail God’s negative view of divorce, the same person that wrote the guidelines for scriptural qualifications for elders and pastors, Paul, provides further clarification. Paul provides occasions when remarriage is permitted; one of these is when the unbelieving spouse initiates the divorce (1 Corinthians 7:15). In summary, while God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), He is also gracious to the innocent party in different situations. Since remarriage in itself is not a sin, it is not necessarily a blight on a man’s character.
In the context of ministry, more importantly as a pastoral leader, I do not look at my marital past or other pastoral leaders as a blemish. In my opinion, the real testimony of marriage and divorce is not on the one who says they have never been divorced. It lies within the testimony of the one that can say that they have walked through the fire and into the loving acceptance of God’s grace. My past is a testament of why sexual abstinence and waiting for God to provide you with the right person is so important. God uses circumstances in our lives to get us ready for the purpose for which He has called us into; “God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

I live my life today as I would convey to every youth I come across, “Don’t let anyone look down on you… but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Albeit, a pastor falling after ordination is a completely different topic I’ll address at a later date. However, to sum up this topic, I’ll close with one thought. In my case, had I never been divorced it is highly doubtful that I would have ever found the Lord; nor accepted God’s calling into ministry. It is by the grace of God that He calls men and women into ministry who have not followed biblical standards before coming to Christ. Make no mistake Satan has a vested interest in your future. He may intended to harm me, “But God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20).

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Marriage and Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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