What follows is an excerpt from the Constitution of Our Father’s House, West Unity, Ohio. I started Our Father’s House in 1995. I pastored the church for seven years.
Statements of Morality, Ethics & Doctrine
We as a Church believe homosexuality to be a sinful and wicked behavior. (Romans 1) Such behavior is contrary to the teaching of Scripture and no practicing homosexual will be admitted as a member of the Church.
We as a Church believe that a man and woman living together (as husband and wife) without being legally and morally joined together as husband and wife are living in a state of fornication and/or adultery. (Exodus 20) Such behavior is contrary to Scripture and no couple living in such a manner will be admitted as member (s) of the Church.
We as a Church believe that abortion (that is non-spontaneous or not a medical emergency) is sin and such action is to be considered murder. (Exodus 20) We believe an anti-abortion stand is consistent with the morality and ethics of Scripture and no one may be a member of the Church if they promote or advocate abortion .
The Gifts of the Spirit
We as a Church affirm a non-cessationist view of spiritual gifts. We believe that God spiritually gifts His people for the evangelization of the lost and for the mutual edification of the body of Christ.
Excerpt from Our Father’s House website, circa 1998.
Often I am asked “what does your Church believe about__________?” This is not an easy question to answer because our Church is a body made up of individuals, and even in a smaller Church like Our Father’s House, there are “differing” views on what the Bible says about some things. We do not set any particular creed or statement of faith as a requirement for membership in the Church. Rather, if a person has repented of their sins, and by faith trusted Christ for Salvation , AND has a desire to be taught the Word of God , we encourage them to become a part of our assembly. We accept the Apostle’s Creed as a summary statement of belief. Please see our Church constitution for further information.
So, when asked “what does your Church believe about__________?” it is better for me to say what “I” believe and to share the viewpoint that “I” teach from.
I am an a expositional preacher. The primary Bible version I use is the KJV. Some Church members use the NKJV. Usually I preach on random passages of Scripture, and at times will preach through books of the Bible. I believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. It does not just contain the words of God, it IS the Words of God, every jot and every tittle.
I am an Evangelical. I willingly embrace all those who claim the name of Christ and walk in His truth. I believe the denominational fragmentation that is seen today is a dishonor to the God of Heaven. The world will know we are Christians by the love we have for one another. One of my desires is to promote love and unity among God’s people. Lest someone think I am an ecumenist, I oppose the Evangelical and Catholics Together statement. While I readily grant that there are many Roman Catholics who are Christians (and I embrace them as such), the official doctrine of the Roman Church is salvation (justification) by works. In the name of Christ, I embrace God’s people wherever they may be found, but I strongly oppose the false gospel of works taught in many Churches . A sinner is saved (justified) apart from the works of the law. (or any other work like baptism, joining the Church, being confirmed) Sinners are not saved by works but UNTO good works. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
I am a Non-Cessationist. I believe that the spiritual gifts are for today and that they are in operation today. While I would not call myself a charismatic, I do find a common bond with men such as John Piper and Martyn Lloyd Jones and ministries such as People of Destiny. I do not believe that many of the so-called charismatic gifts exercised in many Charismatic/Pentecostal Churches are of God. Such Churches preach a gospel according to the Holy Spirit not a gospel that finds as its foundation Jesus Christ. Any gospel that requires a person to speak in tongues, evidence the fullness of the spirit, etc. is a false gospel. I also stand opposed to the modern prosperity gospel preached by men such as Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Freddy Price, etal. The modern charismatic movement is an admixture of truth and error and is best described like a mixture of the Corinthian and Laodicean Church. I also stand opposed to most of the teaching regarding demons, territorial spirits, and demon/spirit possession. There is a real devil who can and does possess his children (John 8:44) and our battle is with him, but much of the spiritual warfare teaching is according to the philosophies of men and not of God.
I believe in the validity of the law of God. God’s law is pure, holy, and true, and man is enjoined by God to obey. I emphasize that the believer is to progress in sanctification and holiness. Saved people LIVE like saved people. I find much in common with the good men and women. of the Chalcedon Foundation. They are a small voice in a large wilderness declaring the validity of the law of God.
I am a Calvinist. I believe in the Sovereignty of God and that salvation is of the Lord. No man can save himself. I do not believe man has an innate ability to believe. Unless the Father, by the power of His Spirit, draws a man to salvation, that man will never be saved. I believe in the perseverance (preservation) of the saints. God keeps His own until the day of salvation. I consider the doctrine of eternal security preached in many Churches to be a perversion of the truth because it denies a connection between the saviorship and lordship of Christ in a man’s life. There is a direct connection between a man who is saved and how he lives. The same God who saves a man has also ordained that that same man would live a life of good works. No holiness, no heaven! While I consider myself a Calvinist, I stand against hyper Calvinism and its denial of the free offer of the gospel. I also reject double predestination as a doctrine rooted in the philosophies of men and not the Word of God. As a minister of the gospel, my desire is not to convert Arminians to Calvinists, nor is it to promote a system. I preach Christ. Calvinism is the best description of how and why God saves a sinner. I, without hesitation, affirm the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith as an accurate statement of that which I most surely believe.
I am post tribulational, and a-millennial. I believe the Church will go through the tribulation and that there yet awaits a day when Jesus Christ will come again and judge the world.
I believe in the Lordship of Christ. We do not make Him Lord, HE IS LORD. Because He is Lord, we are called on to live holy, separated lives. The standard for such living is the Word of God. I reject all man made standards of living, for God has given us everything we need pertaining to life and godliness. Legalistic standards of touch not ,taste not are rejected as the philosophies of men.
My favorite theologians and authors are JC Ryle, Wayne Grudem, Donald Bloesch, Charles Spurgeon, Thomas Watson, Gardiner Spring, John MacArthur and most anything written during the Puritan era. Truly a minister is known by the books he reads. My favorite bookstore is the Cumberland Valley Bible and Book Service. They are an excellent source of sound doctrinal books and of course they carry a large supply of Puritan books
So there you have it……….this is not all I believe…………but I have given you enough so that you can decide what kind of preacher you think I am. After you decide……..if you are still interested, please do stop and visit. We will be delighted to have you as our guest. If you have a question please e mail me and I will promptly reply.
In the fall of 1995, I started a new church in West Unity, Ohio named Grace Baptist Church. Several years later, the name of the church changed to Our Father’s House. Prior to starting this church, I pastored Olive Branch Christian Union Church — located five miles north of West Unity. Several families from Olive Branch joined with us in our new church endeavor. This post is about one of the families who made the move to the new church.
John and Betty (not their real names) lived in Michigan, just north of the Ohio line. Betty was quite talkative, the type of person who, if you saw her at the grocery, you headed in the opposite direction. While I certainly enjoy talking myself, Betty rarely let anyone get in a word edgewise. I am sure she meant well, but 15 minutes of having to listen to Betty was as tiring as a strenuous workout at the gym. I listened, she talked. And when she was done telling all and more than everything she knew, she would walk away, looking for someone else to regale with her stories and world observations. I was always glad when she sought out others to talk to.
John was the very different from his wife. Quiet and reserved, John was content to let his Betty do all the talking and decision-making. There was never a question about who wore the pants in the family. Even when John was specifically asked about his opinion, he would slightly tilt his head to the side and defer to his wife. I don’t remember a time when John made a decision without checking with Betty first. I suspect it was just his personality. John liked to please others and detested conflict. He was in his 40s before he married Betty. Prior to that he lived with his parents.
Survey my children and you will learn that one of the Bruce Gerencser laws drilled into their heads had to do with being on time. I thought then, and still do today, that it is important to be punctual. If I say I am going to be somewhere at 5:00 PM, people can expect me to be there on time. And on time means at least 30 minutes early. Yes, I am one of THOSE guys. One of my sons recently asked me why I was so insistent about punctuality and being early if at all possible. I laughed and told him that there were two reasons why I always arrived early at scheduled events. First, when the kids were young we drove junk cars with tires that had very little tread. These tire were more prone to flats, so I always left early so I would have enough time to change a tire and still make it to wherever I was headed without being late. I also hated walking into a place late. Despite the fact I spent most of my adult life preaching and teaching, I was quite self-conscious, and walking into a place late often made me feel like everyone was staring at me. And arriving late for a church service was even worse. Baptists are notorious for sitting at the back of the church. The front pews are rarely filled, and those arriving late often have to sit toward the front of the church. If we were late, that meant we — all eight of us — would have to traipse to the front of the church to find seats. I was quite embarrassed when this happened, and on a few occasions I turned around and went home rather than do what I — in my mind — thought of as a perp walk. Silly, I know, but to this day I go out of my way to be early. I am too old to change.
Now I have told you this so you can better understand the next part of the story. John and Betty were notorious for being late. Sunday morning service began at 11:00 AM and it was not uncommon for John and Betty to be 30 minutes to an hour late. They lived a half hour from the church, so this meant on most Sundays that hadn’t even left home before the service started. One week, they were so late that they arrived as we were getting ready for the benediction. Being late never seemed to bother them, but it sure as heaven bothered me. More than once I stopped preaching, hoping that my impatient pause would let them know that I was not happy with their tardiness. I think they likely thought I was just being polite, allowing them time to get settled before I preached the last ten minutes of my sermon.
One week the church decided to hold a yard sale at its building. The women of the church put tables outside of the building stacked with clothing and knickknacks they hoped to sell. They also put items for sale inside the church. The proceeds of the sale would go towards some sort of church project. One morning after the first day of the sale the phone rang at the church. It was Betty and she was quite upset with me for allowing the women to have a sale in God’s house. Quoting Jesus cleansing the Temple of money changers, Betty couldn’t believe that I would ever permit such a thing. She then informed me that she and her husband would no longer be attending the church. I made no effort to talk her out of leaving the church. Quite frankly, their entire contribution to the church was disrupting the services every time they were late. As far as I know, they never financially contributed to the church, even though both of them had full-time jobs at a nearby factory. They never volunteered to help clean the church, visit shut-ins, man the clothing room/food pantry, or any of the other opportunities they had to help others. Betty couldn’t even be bothered to help her invalid sister. Well, she would help IF her sister would pay Betty for the privilege. Of all the things Betty did, this infuriated me the most. I thought, this is your sister, and you won’t help her unless she gives you money? How Christian is that? The church, of course, stepped in and helped Betty’s sister, often taking her to doctor’s appointments in Toledo — 50 miles away. Needless to say, when Betty said they were leaving the church, I thought, good riddance!
One time, Betty made a deep financial sacrifice and bought — at Goodwill — a $2 wall plaque of Jesus for the church nursery. Several years after John and Betty left the church, I resigned and the congregation decided to disband. As we were gathering up things to donate to Goodwill and other churches, I came upon Betty’s plaque. As I turned Jesus over, I noticed that Betty had written her name and the words PLEASE RETURN on the back of the plaque. I snickered as I read it, and then, with great pleasure, I tossed the plaque in the trash. For the first time, I had the final word.
Published on September 25,1997. At the time, I was pastor of Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. This is a good example of how I used to think about life, God, the Bible, sin, and culture. This was not a Letter to the Editor. I wrote it for the Community Voice editorial column on the editorial page of The Bryan Times.
America is in trouble… big trouble. The moral and ethical structure of our nation is crumbling at its very foundation. We, at one time, accepted the “law of God” as our moral and ethical standard, but now, relativism reigns supreme. Law, morality, and ethics are relative to the situation and circumstance. It seems that there are no absolutes. We debate such issues as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, homosexuality, etc., and by our debate suggest that God has not spoken on these issues. God’s law is not a mystery. His law is clear. It is we, as defiant creatures, who have shaken our fist at the heavens and said, “We will not have You to rule over us.” As a result, instead of being ruled by the laws of Jehovah, we are ruled by the laws and system of corrupt humans. We have become a nation of people aptly described as “they did what was right in their own eyes.”
Who do we blame for the mess we are in? It is easy to blame the politicians. It is easy to point to the Clinton/Gore administration and say “they are the problem.” Recent articles in the Bryan Times reported on the meeting of the Christian Coalition. They were quick to blame the Democrats for all the ills in our society, all the while ignoring the ethical and moral lapses of those they support (i.e. Newt Gingrich). No, I would contend that what we see in Washington is a consequence and not a source of our ills.
The blame must be laid on the church and her ministers. There was a day when the church and her ministers were respected and were considered the moral voice of the community and our nation. Such is not the case today. Society has concluded that the church is irrelevant and her ministers are nothing more than educated buffoons. We are told to keep our religion within the four walls of the church (separation of church and state you know) and to keep our moral and ethical pronouncements to ourselves. If a prophetic voice is raised, screams of “Thou shalt not judge” are quickly heard. We, as ministers of the gospel, should be ashamed for allowing our voices to be silenced in such a manner. God has called us to be a clear voice of light in our decadent society. How then, can we be the prophets of God has called us to be?
First, we need to be reminded of who the boss is in this world. It is not the government, it is not society, it is not any mere human: it is God. He is the Sovereign of the universe. He is the Creator and we are the creatures. Our society needs to be reminded of who is in charge and that we will all be held accountable on Judgment Day.
Second, we need to be reminded of the authority of the Bible and the law of God. The Bible is God’s written revelation to man. His laws are to be loved and obeyed. The pulpits of America have been silent to the law of God and as a result antinomianism reigns. Church members have no absolutes and as a result they follow their own rules or they let “their conscience be their guide.” The greatness of a nation is directly related to the respect and obedience it gives to the law of God.
Third, we need to return to being bastions of absolute truth and morality. Ministers need to be thundering prophets instead of mild, wimpy church mice. There is no time for compromise. The battle is real and we must fight. On Judgment Day we will not be judged on our popularity, but rather on how we faithfully fought the battle and kept the faith.
Fourth, we need to stop trying to be culturally relevant to such a degree that we sacrifice what is true and honoring to God. The appearance of Audio Adrenaline at the Williams County Fair is case in point. In an effort to “reach”young people (and perhaps fill the grandstands) two high-powered “Christian” rock ‘n roll groups were booked at the fair. When Audio Adrenaline took the stage the party began to rock and roll. Complete with body piercing and mosh pits, we were given a quick lesson on how far we have slipped in our Christian society. We see the troubles that young people face and we think by lowering the standard and meeting them at the lowest common denominator we’ll “reach” them. Sadly we have been deceived. Young people need to hear truth, absolute truth. They need to hear preaching that challenges, provokes, and rebukes. They need to hear the kind of preaching that ultimately lead them to a higher standard in Jesus Christ. We have become convinced that the timeless methods that God has ordained no longer work. This is the ultimate deception.
Fifth, we need to return the word SIN to our vocabulary. God says sin is transgression of the law of God. The church and her ministers are not the final authority on what is holy and what is sin. God is. Ministers are called on to repeat what God has said (thus saith the Lord). Because of the fear of men we do not preach on the “hard” subjects. We piously leave that to the “conscience” of the people. Such denial of responsibility will not wash with God on Judgment Day. We desperately need a revival of preaching against sin and the preaching of the solution to sin that is found in Jesus Christ.
When will we learn that people want truth and not compromise? We fear being rejected or ridiculed. We fear our message will not be heard or that we will be viewed as a Bible thumping fanatics. Well, a cursory reading of the Bible will show that we would be in good company. The prophets of old did not conform to their society, but instead demanded that their society conform to the truth of God’s Word. They demanded of all men everywhere that they”repent and believe the gospel.”
I would ask my fellow ministers and fellow Christians…when our eulogy is read what will be said? Will we be remembered as one who was a true follower of Jesus Christ? One who was faithful to his holy Word? Will our life reflect one who was a radical follower of Jesus? Life is short and in but a few days we will pass from this life. Let us labor for that which is eternal. Let us restore those things we have let slip and restore God as the rightful ruler of our nation.
From 1995-2002, I was the pastor of Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. One Sunday, the following discussion took place between an old woman in the church and one of my younger children.
Old Woman: So, how much candy did you get trick-or-treating?
Child gives Old Woman an embarrassed look.
Child: I didn’t go trick-or-treating,
Old Woman: Really? Why not?
Child: Our Dad doesn’t believe in Halloween.
Old Woman: Hmm, that’s interesting You mean you have never gone trick-or-treating?
Any of my six children could have answered the old woman’s questions. None of them was allowed to go trick-or-treating. Not one time. And they knew not to ask. Ever.
As a true-blue, bought by the blood, sanctified, sold-out, consecrated, committed, passionate, zealous follower of Jesus, I believed Halloween was a Satanic holiday and Christians, if they were right with God, should never practice Halloween. For a few years, I took the same approach with Christmas. We didn’t put up a tree or decorations, nor did we exchange gifts. We spent Christmas day at a Columbus, Ohio rescue mission serving meals to the homeless. (We did go to Polly’s parents’ home for Christmas Eve.)
I firmly believed Halloween was a thoroughly pagan and Satanic holiday. I could not, in good conscience, allow my children to participate in a holiday I considered an act of Satanic worship. One year, when my oldest son was in elementary school and before we started sending him to a Christian school, I kept him home from school because of the Halloween celebration his class was having.
Both Polly and I have many fond memories of trick-or-treating when were children, but I thought our parents were ignorant of the real origin of Halloween and this is why they let us go trick-or-treating. As I look back on it now, I suspect Polly thought I was crazy about Halloween. I recently asked her if she really believed like I did about Halloween. She said, uh, No. Why then didn’t she say anything? Simple. She was a dutiful wife of an Evangelical pastor, a woman who was taught that her husband was the head of the home and had the final say on everything; and everything included Halloween and trick-or-treating.
My view on Halloween was similar to the view of Karl Payne who wrote the following at World Net Daily:
As a child growing up in a small town in Nebraska, Halloween was not viewed as a sinister day promoting demonism, spiritism, occultism, Satanism, hedonism, witches, zombies or an invitation to walk on the dark side with demons. It was a day to collect as much candy as possible. The routine was simple. I put on a clown suit that had been passed down through my brothers, grabbed an empty pillow case and filled it up with candy as quickly as possible as I systematically worked my way through the neighborhood. At a halfway mark, I stopped back at home, emptied my pillow case on the front room floor to be sorted later and headed back out to refill the bag a second time. The goal was to have more candy than any of my brothers by the end of the evening, and then see how much I could eat before my mom began rationing my daily consumption.
Times were innocent in the ’50s and early part of the ’60s. We never worried about razors in apples or poisoned pixie sticks. We walked for blocks without a fear or concern for our safety. Tricks, at the worst, were limited to throwing eggs or toilet paper and knocking over a pumpkin or two. And if that happened, it only occurred selectively because many of our parents knew each other, and getting caught could mean a scolding from your neighbor and then a spanking from your dad when you got home.
To make the observation that things have changed culturally in the 21st century from the post-war innocence experienced by many in this country is an understatement. Today we exist in the midst of the loss of innocence and the joy of age-appropriate discovery. Hedonism, in a context of amoral and ethical relativism, is celebrated and force fed from the womb to tomb through a media that more represents an ideological water cannon than a responsible public trust. The secularization of this once great country is complete. The only real question now is how far it will fall in its depravity before, if or when people in the public square turn their gaze up rather than in.
Today Halloween for many is a horror show providing an excuse for people to glorify the deviance and decadence they watch ad nauseam in movie theaters and on public and cable television screens seven days of the week. Everything is a game that can be reset and started over at the click of a mouse. It’s just harmless entertainment that can be enjoyed or ignored. If you don’t like it, don’t turn it on. Who are you to dictate what is right or wrong for others?
Why am I concerned about the way Halloween, the media and our current culture encourage the celebration and trivialization of spiritism, occultism, Satanism, hedonism, witches, zombies and walking on the dark side with demons? Because the supernatural world is real, and no one is immune to it regardless of their education or worldview. God is real. Angels are real. Satan is real. Demons are real. Real gladiators and real Christians died in the Colosseum and circus even though many Roman leaders and citizens just considered their destruction an evening of entertainment.
I have worked for over 30 years with men and women who have been demonized. I wrote a book entitled “Spiritual Warfare: Christians, Demonization and Deliverance,” published by WND Books, addressing the subject as clearly as I was capable of doing. Why? Because real people and real families are being attacked by real demons, and their conditions are largely ignored, often because the subject has been redefined or trivialized, even within religious circles.
I have witnessed the reality of demonic bondage hundreds and hundreds of times. I have also witnessed individuals being set free through deliverance from demonic bondage hundreds and hundreds of times. Christian missionaries who live in the midst of this reality have thanked me many times for writing this book. Religious academics as well as atheistic secularists are more inclined to ridicule or ignore the subject. Curious.
Ultimately, bondage and deliverance both represent choices. In my book I have attempted to outline how a Christian can move from bondage to deliverance in a clear, step-by-step fashion. The New Testament addresses the subject forthrightly, so why should we run from it?
It should not come as a surprise that a secular culture would either ignore this subject or make a celebration out of it. 1 Corinthians 2:14 clearly states that spiritual truth and supernatural realities, be it God or the devil, represent nonsense to a natural man. But it should come as a disgraceful surprise that some professing Christians are so fearful of this subject that they would prefer to cast their lot on this subject with the naturalist or secularists rather than with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the New Testament they study. Apparently, it is preferable to leave real human beings made in the image of God in bondage than face the possible ridicule of those whose ultimate loyalties are to time rather than eternity, to the creation rather than the Creator.
Naturalists redefining the subject do not change the reality of the subject. A holiday celebrating the subject, promoting it as nothing more than a day to collect candy, celebrate the dark side, or mock God, does not change the reality of the subject…
It was not until I left the ministry that I learned the REAL story about Halloween and it’s pagan and religious roots. Jeri Massi has an excellent article on her blog about the history of Halloween. As with many things, I regret not allowing my children to go trick-or-treating. I regret not allowing them to enjoy the fun of Halloween or the wonder of a family Christmas. I know there is nothing I can do about the past. I now immensely enjoy watching my grandchildren practice the evil, wicked, pagan, Satanic holiday of Halloween. I encourage them to sin with gusto…and bring Grandpa some candy when they are done making a sacrifice to Satan. Besides, my grandchildren have nothing to fear from Satan. My grandson is a super-hero.
How about you? Did you practice Halloween? Did your Fundamentalist parents allow you to go trick-or-treating? If they did, how did they deal with the origin of Halloween?
Someone will be sure to ask if I did alternative Halloween activities like Fall Festival Day, Trunk-or-Treat, or other alternatives to Halloween. I did not. I never believed in the replacement theory; that if we took something away from our children we had to replace it with something better or spiritual. I believed Christians were put on this earth to be a light in the darkness and we didn’t need replacements for the things that were sinful.
See Jack Chick’s tract, The Devil’s Night to get a bird’s eye view of how some Christians view Halloween.