A Mixed Multitude Church--Creating Ethnically Diverse Churches

The book of Exodus fittingly describes the exodus of Israelites out of Egypt to the land first promised to Abraham after 430 years in that pagan kingdom. You will recall the Israelites moved there because of a famine in the land where Jacob and his family lived. Unbeknownst to them, Joseph, the second to youngest son of Jacob and firstborn of Rachel, was already there. He was appointed Prime Minister of the land by Pharaoh and was led of the LORD to stockpile food in preparation for a 7 year famine.  The book of Genesis closes with Israel in good stead with the current Pharaoh, but the book of Exodus opens with a new Pharaoh who does not care for the Israelites. It is under this king that the Israelites are put into bondage and eventually begin to call out to the LORD to honor His covenant with Abraham.

God’s answer to the cry of His people is to manifest His great power in the deliverance of His people out of bondage through the leadership of one man, Moses. Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Promised Land via the parted Red Sea, where God’s power is on display for all to see, as walls of water are miraculously held in place so sons and daughters of Abraham can be free again. However, did you know that the group that crossed the Red Sea that day was not limited to sons and daughters of Abraham?  Verse 38 of chapter 12 of Exodus describes others who were with the Israelites as a ‘mixed multitude.’  The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates the words ‘mixed multitude’ as an ‘ethnically diverse crowd.’ The phrase ‘mixed multitude’ is instructive; it shows us that even while God had chosen Abraham and his descendants as His people, God was already concerned with people from all nations. As early as Exodus 12, God was saving people of all ethnicities, and the people who were saved out of Egypt were without question an ‘ethnically diverse’ group.

Today’s local church is anything but a mixed multitude in the majority of cases.

This isn’t God’s plan. One of the hallmarks of a true church is a culture where people of all races are welcomed into the congregation of believers with open arms. Lines of racial division are non-existent because of the gospel. All are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, and that blood is thicker than even biological ties. Jesus said as much to His disciples in Matthew 12:49-50, as His disbelieving family thought Him mad: ‘Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.’ Recognizing that God desires to save people of every kindred, tongue, people and nation (Rev. 5:9) must compel us to create a racially diverse church to properly reflect the intent of God.

Are you committed to that which God is committed? Are you sharing the gospel with people of all colors?

The great commission given to us by God demands that we reach the nations with the gospel. What does it say about a church that supports missionaries all over the world but does not reach out to people of color in its own community?

God’s saved a ‘mixed multitude’ out of Egypt, and Christ’s church must contain a ‘mixed multitude’ to reflect the heart of God.  Are you willing to cross lines and reach across the aisle to people of all colors?

Daisy Duke Shorts Is the Name I Know Them By

As styles change, as fabrics go in and out of style, the length of shorts also changes—going up or down the leg. Presently, the ‘daisy duke’ shorts from Dukes of Hazzard are the rage. We have seen them on campus for VBS. Teenage girls are wearing them to youth group. These are short shorts. These shorts basically have no inseam (the seam on the inside of the leg of a pair of shorts or pants [Webster]); or an inseam of 1 or 2 inches—which is then folded up virtually eliminating the inseam.  These shorts intentionally draw attention to a lady’s legs and the angle that is formed where the legs separate. These shorts are immodest. There is no debate or argument concerning the immodesty of these shorts. Christian women are NOT to wear these shorts (1 Timothy 2:9). A lady then adds a form fitting tank top to a pair of “daisy duke” shorts and you have one immodest woman or teenage girl. She comes to youth group or VBS where movement and lots of different activities occur, and she (perhaps unintentionally) presents herself as an object of lust because of the amount of flesh (human skin) she reveals.  This is especially true if she bends over to pick up a ball, a child in the nursery hallway or a piece of trash.

So here is my question: How many inches of fabric must be added to the length of the inseam of a pair of ‘Daisy Duke’ shorts to make them modest?  Dads or husbands: are you ok with adding 2 inches of length and calling them modest? Let me challenge you to take a pair of your daughter’s shorts, lay them on the ironing board and measure the inseam. Is a 3 inch inseam enough? Take your index finger and thumb and estimate 3 inches and ask yourself: “Is that enough? Will that provide sufficient covering so that the angle where the legs separate is not accentuated and enough fabric remains to cover the bottom when my daughter bends over?”  Husbands and dads of daughters: are you ignoring the issue because ‘happy wife (or daughter) means happy life’?  Ask yourself: what is the minimum acceptable inseam for a pair of shorts to be modest? Find a pair of shorts that you know are modest and measure the inseam on those shorts—that is your personal minimum acceptable inseam. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but clearly we can establish some guidelines. What is an acceptable inseam that makes a pair of shorts modest?

Church Discipline in the Church

Here is an example of a letter I had to write as a pastor about church discipline.

Dear Berean Family,

It is with regret that I am forced to tell you about two cases of church discipline we can’t ignore.  One involves a wife who is insisting upon divorcing her husband and will not provide any evidence that her desire for divorce is on biblical grounds. She simply doesn’t want to be married to her husband anymore. In the other case, a young adult has moved out of her parents’ house so she can cohabitate with her lover. She has ignored the will of her earthly and heavenly father and is ignoring the will of the church in this matter. Her desire to pursue this lifestyle is stronger than her desire to walk in the truth.

Paul instructs us in 1 Timothy 5:20 with these words: “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” We all sin. Paul sinned. Timothy sinned. I sin, and so do you. Obviously the church doesn’t rebuke every sin anytime anyone sins before all. Instead, I believe Paul is referring to those who sin and refuse to repent or change their current course of action. Paul instructs us that the potential censure from the church is supposed to act as an agent of deterrence in the life of the church member. Fear of censure from the church acts as restraining force in the life of the believer. I know I would lose my job and position in the church if I were to pursue an extramarital affair. Therefore, the potential of losing my job acts as a regulator to my conduct. There isn’t anything in the Word of God that suggests this idea is only for the pastors and deacons.

In the church at Corinth 2,000 years ago, a similar situation was going on with a man who was sleeping with his father’s wife. The church knew about it and was ignoring the sin (1 Cor. 5:1). Paul wrote a grilling letter to the Corinthian church telling them to stop ignoring the sin and cast the man out of the body of Christ if he refused to repent. And while there is a prevailing idea in the church that we are not to judge others about these matters of personal conduct and lifestyle choices (even the Pope has been interpreted as saying such a thing!), Paul says just the opposite. His words are found in 1 Cor. 5:3 where he says, “For I verily [truly], as absent in body, but present in spirit, [I] have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed.” Paul goes on to instruct the church to assemble in the name of the Lord and cast the man out of the assembly of believers until he repents. Paul rendered a judgment and directed the church to take action. They were not to ignore the sin. I challenge you to read 1 Corinthians 5 and let the word of God inform your opinion.

We also must not ignore unrestrained, unrepentant sin in the church.  On June XX we will have a special members meeting after the Sunday evening service to render a judgment and follow the Apostle Paul’s guidance to the church at Corinth and the words of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 18:17. Jesus said, “And if he [or she in these cases] shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.” Heathen men [women] are not allowed to be members of the church. Members of the church walk in the truth, and when they don’t, they repent and make course corrections.

Because everyone will not be in the Sunday night members meeting, I am using this forum of communication to ensure the maximum number of people in Berean understand that you can’t live in unrepentant sin and continue to be part of the body of Christ that meets at 517 Glensford Dr. If being part of the church means something to you (and it should), then I implore you by the grace of God to repent and walk in the light as our Father is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  Pray that both of these church members would repent between now and the members meeting. You don’t’ need to know their names to pray for them. You don’t need to know their names to know Berean Baptist Church isn’t ignoring unrepentant sin.

Finally, while some may struggle at what the church is doing in these two cases. I suspect all would want something done if the church member was molesting children or had murdered their parents. The only difference is the perceived seriousness of the sin, but the Word of God doesn’t permit cohabitation any more than murder. Both are violations of the commandments of the Lord. I implore you to let the Word of God inform your opinion and regulate your conduct through the power of the grace of God.

Proclaiming Christ,
Pastor Sean Harris

No One Wants to Talk About the Anger of God

No one wants to talk about God’s anger. 

Psalm 74 opens with this question: “Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?” (ESV). What a question! Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture? Notice who it smokes against. It is the sheep of his pasture. Not the heathen. Not the pagans. Not the unbelievers. These are the sheep of his pasture. The author of this psalm was not in the New Covenant. He was looking forward to a future redeemer who would take away his sins and bear his iniquities but he wasn't in the New Covenant. He had never heard the glorious words “there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christi Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Today we celebrate the reality that the atoning sacrifice of God’s own Son Jesus the Christ was deemed perfect and entirely acceptable for the sins of the whole world through the resurrection of Christ on that blessed third day. The wrath of God was fully and completely appeased for all who are in Christ Jesus and we know this to be a fact because God did not leave His Son in the tomb. It is empty! He is risen. He is risen indeed. The disciples saw the empty tomb and we believe their message was NOT a cunningly, devised fable created to lure people into following a dead man. Instead this weekend billions of people collectively pause and remember the reality that Christ rose from the grave as the first fruits of all who will eventually experience this same glorious resurrection. Will you?

The number of false converts, illegitimate sons and daughters, and professing but not possessing Christians is utterly staggering. Christ said, “Many in that day shall say unto me ‘LORD, LORD’” and he will say unto those who said, “LORD, LORD” “Depart from me I never knew you” (Matt. 7:21-23).

Is he truly your LORD?

If He is NOT your LORD then the anger of the LORD smokes against you because you are not in the New Covenant with God (John 3:36). How can you get in the New Covenant with God as your Father and Christ as your mediator (1 Tim. 2:5)? Turn to God with your whole heart and put every ounce of faith and trust in Christ’s death for your sins and believe with your heart that Christ rose from the grave on the third day and is presently seated on the right hand of God the Father on high interceding for all who believe He is the LORD of LORDS and King of Kings (Rom. 8:34; 10:9).

You don’t believe…cry out to God with a broken and contrite heart for the faith to believe the gospel.  

Are You Registered to Vote?

Christians don’t vote according to political parties; instead, they should vote according to their biblical convictions and worldview. Neither of the two major political parties have all the answers. Both parties have issues in their platforms. Neither party is the Christian party. Each party has candidates worthy of your vote and candidates you should not vote for. And I think whenever you are given a chance to vote for an authenticate Christian man or woman seeking to serve others through the government you should do what you can to help elect true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The anti-God progressive leftists in America want to silence the preachers of America. They want to threaten with the loss of tax exempt status and do everything possible to keep from mobilizing evangelical Christians in a united way to make a difference in Washington. Christians who are registered as Democrats and Christians who are registered as Republicans and Christians whose registration is unaffiliated should be unified in a desire that our elected and appointed leaders (the President, governors, congressmen and women, judges, secretaries, council men and women, sheriffs, etc.) glorify the one true God in their words, decisions and actions. When confronted with a choice between two politicians who both claim to be believers the next question that must be asked is: which of these two politicians will bring more glory to God based on what I know about each one? This is a judgment call. You are having to make a choice and you are having to judge between two individuals. Your judgment call is based on the information you have available to you at the present time. You and I are not omniscient. Any perceived endorsement or support of any candidate is conditional based on the information presently available—which could always change. As more information becomes available an endorsement or support may have to be withdrawn. Something as simple as pulling up a yard sign and throwing in the trash might have to happen if more information become available to you that calls into question whether you would vote for such a person. But I don’t’ think the potential fear of this happening should keep us from getting behind authenticate Christian candidates in full force. Nor do I think the church should remain silent as the world goes to hell.  Are you registered to vote?

Why are Young Fundamentalists Leaving Fundamentalism

Why are young fundamentalists leaving fundamentalism? Dr. Jeff Amsbaugh wants this trend to change and writes about it on his personal blog. Dr. Amsbaugh has some very valid points @

http://www.jeffamsbaugh.com/2014/03/11/keeping-young-fundamentalists-in-the-camp/

But in the end he misses the real issues that are driving the young and restless out of fundamentalism and into reformed Bible preaching churches where the gospel is central; Christ is the focus and God is in charge!

Listen to the pastors of Berean discuss the article and Dr. Amsbaugh's perspective.

10 Points of Focus for Every New Testament Church

From Acts 2 this is what I see for Berean and every other NT church. I see 10 points of application that should guide our churches. Here they are:

1. Spirit-Filled Proclamation of the Word (Christ & the Gospel)
2. Repentance toward God (faith in Christ is implied)
3. Obedience to Believer’s Baptism
4. Devotion to the Apostle’s Teaching
5. Participation in the Lord’s Supper
6. Prayer
7. Über Generosity in the Church
8. Daily Attendance
9. House to House Fellowship
10. Praise toward God

Are these contrived or do you see them too in Acts 2?