Three Realities of Church (Pt 2)

June 9, 2015

Three Realities of Church (Pt. 2)

In this installments to this blog, I intend to present the second of three realities of church work that deserve a quick reminder. As you, the reader, remember these truths, I trust they will renew your readiness to serve in your local church.

“Chore versus Career”

There is also the thought of “Chore versus Career”. It should be understood that change is a part of the reality of all that God has placed on this earth. The fact that you felt a real and secure direction from God to teach that class or lead that committee or whatever your chore might have been in a time now past, this may not be a life long calling. This is even true for the person who is absolutely chosen by God for lifelong career ministry. Every church chore, whether high profile or behind the scenes, should be viewed simply as a chore. It is a necessary, vital, has to be done, no room for error chore. It is a chore that must be done; a chore to be done to the Glory of God; a chore that calls out, “You are the one who must do this thing.” But also remember that God could have chosen someone else to do that chore, and may choose to replace you any day He chooses.

 

The chore is not “Yours” to own. The chore is “Yours” to do. But only yours until it is time for someone else to have the same chore in the same room with the same seat covers and the same dishes. There is only one eternal thing to which God calls us. This is salvation, and this places every bondservant of God in the same place.

 

© 2015 Dr. SF Gallagher

Three Realities of Church (Pt.1)

June 4, 2015

Three Realities of Church (Pt. 1)

 

Over the next few installments to this blog, I intend to present three realities of church work that deserve a quick reminder. As you, the reader, remember these truths, I trust they will renew your readiness to serve through your local church.

 

“Role versus Rank”

One of the most important things to understand for every church worker is the concept of “Role versus Rank”.  The reality is that there is no “Rank” in the church except that which is due to God. No pastor, nor deacon, nor elder, nor long time or charter member, nor rich person, nor mean person, nor angry person, nor educated person, nor person with a long Christian lineage – this list is too long now so if you want more, make them up yourself- has any higher importance than any of the other people on or off this list. Even though there are “Roles” that necessitate an amount of leadership and authority, there is not a single person in the church with the place of the dictator. Responsibility absolutely exists, and a lot of it. The proper submission to that place of responsibility also absolutely exists. Many problems ensue very quickly though when either party overdoes his or her part of this equation.

 

In probably every church in the world, there are those who are extremely demanding. It is their thinking that every thought they have is divinely inspired and thus everyone must follow whatever they want. They think they are always right and anyone who does not agree with them must therefore be wrong and should get right with God – this being measured by their agreement with and submission to the thoughts and directions they support. The reality is that these people need to get a right understanding their place in God’s kingdom work.

 

There are others in most churches. These are those who have no opinion whatsoever. Perhaps they have been beaten down so many times that they feel that there is no value in the fight any longer. They may be quiet, jello backed people who think so little of their opinions that they refuse to assert any part of them.  It is also possible that these are simply so apathetic that they really don’t care, feeling that what and how the church goes about her task are plainly unimportant.

 

Both of these people need to gain an understanding of how God intends His church to operate.  It is God’s intentional plan that His church operate with order and with leadership. He gave us the roles of leadership, and the roles that follow His leaders. Knowing which role God has given an individual, and working within that role, will remove many dissentions in the church.

 

© 2015 Dr. SF Gallagher

Something About Jesus’s Love

April 25, 2015

The thing is, that while “Jesus regularly ate dinner with thieves and prostitutes” (seen on Facebook), He never celebrated their theft nor participated in their prostitution. Loving people does not mean approving nor embracing their sin. Nor is love shown by participation in their sin. In fact, this would be the opposite of loving those to whom Jesus gave love.

It seems to be difficult to love people whose sin is different than our own. It also seems difficult to accept love from those who define sinfulness differently. When Jesus bridged that gap, He was maligned and misrepresented by those in the time of His incarnation. Some today still misunderstand. Those who attempt to bridge that gap today are misunderstood as well.

I long for that time when the dark glass will no longer be in the way.

See You SONday,

Dr. SF Gallagher

(c) 2015 SF Gallagher

The Simple Question

Guest Blogger JF Gallagher (that’s my son)

January 3, 2015

 

I have been in church my entire life. My father is a Baptist preacher and thereby I know a ton about Jesus the Bible and church stuff in general. This is great. I have a good grasp on what a Christian is and what he does and how he thinks. So, I know what it means to be saved what is should look like how a Christian should live etc. Quite often in the church world, the question arises “How were you saved?” What is your personal salvation story? Your testimony. A simple question and for those who are saved easy to answer. So this brings us back to me, the good little preacher’s boy who when asked this simple question freezes. Why do I stumble through this question? What is so difficult about articulating my salvation story? Perhaps, the problem is that I did not have one. My “salvation story” was actually one of pride and sin.

When I was called on to recount my salvation experience, I recited my story which, deep down, I knew was missing something. I would say was saved when I was young. Since I grew up going to Church every time the doors were open, I knew who God was and what He had done for me. Then, one night in bed He called me and I answered. I knew the steps to take and the words to say so I did. Bam I was saved. Simple and easy, this was the story of how I got saved, or so I thought.

I told myself and everyone who asked that I was saved. I had convinced myself that when I repeated those words to myself in bed with my eyes closed and hands folded that I had asked Jesus into my heart. I was wrong. But, I still had to figure that out. I continued in this dishonest state for years. Whenever I doubted my salvation, I would reassure myself “no, no, remember that one night in your bed? Yea that’s it. See no worries you’re saved.” I could not tolerate the idea that I was not a Christian. After all, what would people say if they found out the preacher’s son was not truly saved. And besides, who could doubt that I was saved? No one did. Except me.

I allowed my pride get in the way of my eternity. Through many church services, I ignored the calling on my heart to preserve my image. I was a well-respected young man of Christ who certainly did not want to lose his status simply because he made a mistake, and besides I was saved. Right? I had become consumed by sin and I allowed it define me. I knew this mindset was not pleasing to God and needed to be changed but, I was unwilling to destroy my reputation. After all, I had an image to maintain. But I still had sin in my life and had to fix it. Okay, no problem. I got this. I am a good church boy. I know how to cure this sin. I have a Bible, I can pray, and hey, I’m already going to church. This should be easy. I can rid myself of this sin no problem. I took the correcting of my sin into my own hands. Well, I tried and failed. I would screw up time and time again. “Oops, I messed up time to try again after all, I’m only human.” I said these words to myself over and over to no avail. I was trapped in my sin. I continued to sin even when I was trying to do what was right (this grew increasingly aggravating). I hated my sin. I should be able to end it. I slowly came to the conclusion that I must be missing something. While “reading” my Bible, and by reading I mean flipping through aimlessly, I stumbled across some verses that finally connected with me.

I read the words again. Romans 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Wo, hey that’s me. I was doing what I did not want to and the good I was trying to do I was not. Cool. So, I kept on reading. Romans 7:17 “So now it is no longer I who do it, but the sin that dwells within me.” So sin dwells in. Wait, now this cannot be me. I was saved. Remember that one night in bed. Oh well guess it can’t be me because I KNOW I am saved and thereby sin cannot dwell there. I once again repeated my words of reassurance to myself that I was saved but the doubt still lingered. Then, I read verse 19 which said the same thing so this must be important. It is in the book more than once. Maybe I am wrong that would explain that longing and weight on my heart. Well, I continued to try to put an end to my sin and continued to fail. All the while the truth of scripture reverberating in my mind. “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” I continued on this destructive path if failing and trying to remedy the problem on my own and the weight on my heart grew. While on this path, I ended up working at Falls Creek. I did not anticipate anything great would happen while I was there I just thought it would be a fun summer job. But, God had other plans.

            As a summer staffer at Falls Creek (the Oklahoma Baptist camp ground), I was put into a small group of a few guys. One of whom was the leader. This leader was there to mentor us and help us grow spiritually. When I was put in this group, there were only two things on my mind; I wish this weight on my heart would go away, and I am saved I don’t need to say or do anything. At this point, I clung to my sin and it was killing me I just could not see it. I was unwilling to ask for help. I could not let anyone see how low I had fallen. Once again, I allowed my pride to get in the way of my eternity. All this was unknown to my small group leader and I just told him I wanted to read my Bible more. He liked the idea and offered some good books to read. As I read and discussed them with him, he challenged me to dig in deeper and discuss the truths I found. All this digging was hard. But, through this exploration of His book Christ was working on my heart. He showed me truths and how His book applies to my life and ultimately my need for Him. After weeks of learning and Him breaking down my wall of pride, I was finally ready to make a real change.

            During a Sunday night staff worship session, I was bombarded throughout the service. I may not remember what the speaker was saying or the songs we sung but, they all led me to the same place. Christ reminded me of all the things He had been revealing to me through the past weeks and years and how on my own could never defeat the sin in my life no matter how hard I tried. He also told me that simply being able to recite a story and know all the right answers was not enough to get into Heaven. I still had to come to place where I surrendered my life to Him. I was finally ready to lay down my pride and follow Christ.

After that service I went to my small group leader and told him “I need Jesus.” He did not hesitate and I did not feel that he thought any less of me. We found a seat and sat down. He asked me “what’s up?” and I told him. I told him of the battle I had been waging over the past few years and of the revelation that God had shown me. I no longer saw a need to fight it alone. I had to have Christ in my life. So, I prayed. Unlike last time where I simply recited some words, this time I meant the words I said. I asked the Lord to forgive me for all my foolishness and sin and asked Him to be the Lord of my life. At the end of that prayer my burden was lifted. I felt like a new and freed man. I now knew that I had Jesus in my heart and nothing could change that. When I was asked how I was saved I could now answer with confidence.

Being able to simply give a response to the question of “how did you get saved?” does not make you a Christian. Nor does knowing the answers to all the “churchy” questions. You can tell everyone that you are saved and even convince yourself of the lies you have chosen to tell but, you still need Christ. Until you come to a place where you are willing to give it all to Christ and let Him reign as your savior, the question of “how were you saved” will always be a terrible one. Next time you think about asking someone how they were save, perhaps a better way to start is by asking them if they have ever gave their life to the Lord.

 

© 2014 SF Gallagher

 

 

Some Thoughts About Worry

Worry is a killer! Literally, worry kills. It kills the spirit. It kills relationships. It kills careers. Probably worst, worry kills the body.

I have determined that worry has as at least one if its roots the thought that one could have done something else, perhaps something better. Bundled with this is the belief that this lack of doing whatever is going to be the foundation upon which someone will build a failure or a lifetime of heartache. In other words, we fear the consequences of our actions will not be the good consequences, but the worst possible outcomes our imaginations can conceive. To this end, a bit of oblivion can be our friend.But, it is neither healthy nor wise to live in the land of oblivion. There must be at least some intentionality in every aspect of our lives. A person, by necessity concern himself with the possible outcomes of his actions. Wisdom demands this. However, wisdom also demands that we realize that there are certain things which we are not capable of affecting. We must know that there is a point in time in which we have done all we can do. It is at this that worry becomes that purveyor of depression and ulcers and depression and death and other things that I could not begin to enumerate.

I am neither physician nor psychologist. I am a simple preacher of the gospel. So these words should not be substituted for getting the help that is needed. There are certainly occasions that require some of that professional intervention which God has provided. Here I simply offer some food for thought which may alleviate some of the temptation to be a chronic worrier.

  1. Be prepared (Yes I am in scouting). This is not to assume that we can see into the future and predict every situation. But we do know with certainty that we will face some things. The kids will move out, finances will get tight, disagreements will happen, we will have to let go of some things which are dear. Don’t let these times sneak up and take you by surprise. Make some decisions before the need arises to enact them
  2. Learn your limits. If you can’t fix it, or control it, or affect it in any way, accept it. Why harm yourself for something that you can do nothing about? If you are not an auto mechanic, leave the fixing of the car to them. If it is out of your hands, stop grasping for it. There is something akin to insanity in trying to affect that which you simply can’t.
  3. Trust other people. Don’t be one of those who live by the motto, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Most likely, there will always be someone other than you who can tackle the task. If it is their task, let them do it. Stop hovering over them. Stop second guessing them. They may even be better suited to the task than you. Let them do it.
  4. Trust God. OK – So I am a preacher and to that end let me just let the Bible speak here. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV). Some reading at the end of Matthew 6 would also be beneficial as well. Simply trusting God is a great way to alleviate all that useless worry.
  5. Remember what momma used to say. You know, she wasn’t always right or relevant. But remember what she and others said. Remember the right and keep it spread all over your circumstances. Remember what was not right to avoid out of synch as well. Learn to value what those from your past have to add to keep you out of worry land.
  6. Learn from others. It is not only important to hear what others have said, it is also important to see what they have done. Let’s face it plainly and clearly. People do stupid things that have undesired consequences. Instead of worrying that you will also garner those consequences, learn from them and don’t copy their behavior. But there is another side to that piece of paper. It is the side where people do great things and garner great consequences. Follow on. Learning from others will not guarantee any particular result. But it sure helps.
  7. Be OK with whatever you call failure. Everyone defines failure differently. Whatever you call it, determine that it will be OK if it comes. Some call this defeatism. Others simply know that one can never achieve greatness 100% of the time. Don’t let those times shatter your existence.

Ephesians 6:10-20

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints — 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.   NKJV

 

© 2014 Dr. SF Gallagher

I Preached My Father’s Funeral

November 13, 2014

On that Tuesday evening (Oct. 28, 2014)  we summoned the Hospice nurse. His time was close. There was not an overwhelming air of deep sorrow in the house where my mother and I were with a few other family members. We all knew this was the time and he was ready to break through the dark glass to see and know his Lord even as his Lord had known him for 77 years.

About 10 years before, he told me that I was going to preach his funeral and holding his sermon note cards in his hand said “this is what you are going to preach.” I told him something that I seldom ever told him. I told him that I was not going to do that. He just gave me that same look I had seen more often in my lifetime than I care to consider, which said to me the reality was that I was going to preach that sermon at that very time. I still neither wanted to do it, nor think that I could.

As his health declined, I got a bit of an early inheritance. I was given my father’s library. He gave it to me while he was in one of his lucid moments which were becoming Funeral Bible2less frequent. There were still enough of them for him to know that there would be less of them as time went on. He treasured his books and wanted me to use them as did he to prepare for the proclaiming of the best news ever – The news that Jesus Saves. I treasure them as well.

In that stack of stuff that he had been keeping close and not shelved nor boxed was a Bible case with a Bible inside. When I unzipped that small pocket on the front of that case, there it was. The only thing in that pocket was a set of four by six index cards, the kind which he always used for pulpit notes. It was not just a random or recent sermon on that set of cards though. It was the sermon that he told me that I was to preach at his funeral. I was content that I must fulfill this mandate from my father.

That night, to the sound of a CD of him playing hymns on the church organ from a few years earlier, and the muffled sounds of family and friends and a couple of the sweetest caregivers Hospice ever had all half singing and half mumbling the song “When We All Get to Heaven”, my father breathed his last stinky polluted breath on this old earth in his worn and struggling body, and breathed a great big sigh of relief while standing tall and whole, complete in mind and spirit. He entered Heaven. It was a peaceful moment. It was purposeful. It was planned, for “it is appointed unto man once to die” (Hebrews 9:27). On some level that many may not understand, it was even pleasing. On that same level, I find myself a bit jealous.

On October 31, while many others were celebrating demons and death and other dark things, we gathered at the church house and celebrated Heaven and life and the Light of the World, Jesus Christ who had welcomed my father into His Father’s house just a few days earlier. Bro. Jack was remembered by someone from each of the five decades in which he pastored. We sang some of Bro. Jack’s favorite hymns. And Bro. Steve, that’s me, preached one of JFG Obit PicBro. Jack’s sermons.

I know that there is not a shred of Biblical evidence suggesting that he could have been right there with me. I know that he was not and it would be mere selfishness to wish that he were. But, as I said some of his regular phrases and unfolded one of his hand written and personally chosen outlines, I had a clear view, if only in my mind’s eye, of that proud semi-smile which I always saw when he would visit my congregation and hear me  preach what might have also been one of his sermons.

John-F-Gallagher

Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.”  1 Kings 13:7 NKJV

© 2014 SF Gallagher

Back to Malawi

 

 

September 12, 2014

 There are a lot of things going on in my life right now. One of the more significant is that I am part of Flame of Fire Ministry – Malawi.

This year I will be making my third journey to be with these beautiful people and share with them about my Lord Jesus Christ and also about how they can share Him with others.

Last year we saw 7,747 people who heard the good news respond to that message. Since then, there have been literally thousands more who have heard and responded. This work continues because there are men and women of God that are part of this work who carry on when we are at home doing our primary work.

February 2015 is quickly approaching, and we have assembled a team of about a dozen men and women to travel to Malawi and continue this work. The plan consists of five men’s and 5 women’s conferences for training and encouragement. We hope to have our second set of equipment for sharing the Jesus Film by then so we can get into some remote places and share the good news in places where they may have never even heard any hint of this news. We will go places where there are no cars or running water or electricity. But, when we leave, there will be followers of Jesus.

Another nice part this journey is that I will be taking my oldest Daughter along. Bethany has a heart for the mission field and has worked this summer to get her passport and begin her preparation for her first international journey for Jesus. She will be representing the PK’s in the conferences among other duties.

I am asking that you put this mission team on your prayer list. Please ask that God will prepare our minds and guard our health before we go. Pray for our team in Malawi as they begin to prepare the fields for our service. And, pray that those who will hear the Good news of Jesus Christ will respond in repentance and faith.

And, if God should lead you to help us go, please contact me for specifics.

See You SONday,

(c) 2014 SF Gallagher

 

 

 

My Garden

August 28, 2014

This year I planted a garden – – Well sort of. My whole garden consists of a single seed taken from some produce that we got at the local grocery store. That single seed is in a scoop of dirt I took from the hump where they just planted my new sewer line — Not where the leak was though. That scoop of dirt is in a peanut butter jar and it is sitting on the window sill. Not much of a garden really, but today there are two tiny little sprout leaves that one can almost see without the aid of a magnifying glass.

There is not really much to brag on here, but a seed was planted and germination has taken place, and there is evidence of growth. Tiny as all this is, it still counts. And so does your corner of work for God. It may be tiny and not visible to anyone at all. But, if it shows even the tiniest little microscopic sprout, it counts and so do you.

I really have no idea what will come of that tiny little sprout. I hope it will become a nice colorful vegetable or two. But even if it doesn’t, I have already seen something amazing for the ten minutes effort I put into my garden. And while I have neither intention nor desire to put any more effort into  it, there is the lingering thought which wonders what might have become of just a bit more effort and a little larger peanut butter jar, or if I had told just one more person about Jesus.

See You SONday

 

© 2014 SF Gallagher

Ramp Up The ALS Challenge

Tuesday August 26, 2014

I challenge everyone who has been called out and participated in the ALS challenge, and has sent a donation to continue research, to match their monetary gift with another monetary gift to their local church to be used for sharing about salvation through Jesus. And further, to match the discomfort of the ice bath by sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with whomever they feel the most discomfort sharing. No video necessary. No call outs needed. And if you are unsure of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is, then your part is to go ask at your local church to explain it to you. After all, the point of the ice bath is understanding.  

If you are unsure how to even begin to ask or share, please click on this link right here and read what it says.  It will tell you how to know Jesus