Thursday, October 31, 2013

Is Halloween Dangerous?

I was thinking about the supernatural today. I guess it seems appropriate, since today is Halloween. I was wondering why most American and Western Christians do not think the supernatural rhealm especially the demonic or spirit rhealm is real. So today in, deep contemplation, I asked my wife and she said she thought it was because it is so sensationalized in the media and treated more as entertainment rather than reality. I think it is dangerous for us as Christians to not give any credance to the spirit world, which biblically exists beyond a shadow of a doubt. I remembered the great book by C.S. Lewis called Screwtape Letters in which a senior demon is communicating in a series of letters to his young apprentice called Wormwood. Here is a lengthy quote from the book in which Screwtape describes a great strategy in demonic warfare. Making us Christians think the spirit realm is not real.
"Our policy for the moment, is to conceal ourselves.  Of course this has not always been so.  We are really faced with a cruel dilemma.  When the humans disbelieve in our existences at we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and skeptics.  At least, not yet.  I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalize and mythologize their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. …If once we can produce our perfect work – the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls ‘Forces’ while denying the existence of ‘spirits’ – then the end of the war will be in sight." (p31)

-C.S. Lewis
Screwtape Letters 
Screwtape writing to Wormwood giving him advice on keeping himself concealed and helping humans continue to disbelieve in the existence of demons

We could also say that our culture doesn't disbelieve in demonic or the supernatural rhealm, but we are just entertained by it. Witchcraft, the occult, and the like are huge selling phenomena in today's entertainment industry. That is even more dangerous. We see these things as practices and religions that entertain us is even more senseless to me. I leave you with a scripture that for us as Christians should sum up our biblical relationship with the adversary. 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 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 firm. (Ephesians 6:12, 13 ESV)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Is Fear Real?

I watched a good movie the other day.  It is called 'After Earth'. There was a very profound quote in the movie about fear. Will Smith is the hero character named General Cyper Raige which is by the way a pretty awesome name (way to go M. Night Shyamalan). In this particular scene he is giving his son advice on fighting an alien that can literally smell his fear. It is pretty spot on advice, and maybe even biblical. It could also be pretty helpful advice when you are fighting an alien that wants to tear you apart limb from limb, or maybe you are like me, just facing the unknown...

"Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity, Kitai (Jaden Smith character).  Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story, and that day mine changed (because he decided not to fear)."
-Will Smith character playing General Cypher Raige in 'After Earth'-

It kind of sounds like a pretty wise man once said...

"And He said to His disciples, "For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:22-32 NASB). 

Lord help us turn our fear into faith.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Is UFC 166 the Answer to Our Masculinity Problem? Masculinity, Ministry, and the cultural slide. How Should We Respond?

I read an article recently about a famous Evangelical leader who was being parodied as appealing to men to be more alpha.  In the satirical piece, he was quoted as saying, “The problem with our churches today is that the lead pastor is some sissy boy who wears cardigan sweaters, has The Carpenters dialed in on his iPod, gets his hair cut at a salon instead of a barber shop, hasn’t been to an Ultimate Fighting match, works out on an elliptical machine instead of going to isolated regions of Russia like in Rocky IV in order to harvest lumber with his teeth, and generally swishes around like Jack from Three’s Company whenever Mr. Roper was around.”  The article went on to poke fun at men who bash on guys who don't spend every waking moment doing "masculine" things like changing the oil, watching football, beating their bare chest in front of the latest UFC 166, 

or Muy Thai stick fighting.  There's a crisis in the church today; we have a skewed understanding of true masculinity, which this article highlighted by exaggerating some of the views that are out there.

I believe in men being masculine, but we would be wise to find out what truly makes a man masculine? From examining scripture, I have four observations.
1. We need a healthy balanced definition of Masculinity. Webster defines the word masculine as "having qualities appropriate to or usually associated with a man." It is also defined as "courageous, bold, or strong."  Nothing about violence, machismo, or emotional distance, which some of these aforementioned activities can involve.  Do we need macho guys in the pulpit or men who are connected to their families, and wives in particular.  I have found that even the act of watching football can isolate me for a complete weekend (not to mention Thursday and Monday night). Some wives are virtually widowed in the Fall; I call them "football widows."  Is masculinity now equated with violence such as UFC, and football? Both of these have made me more violent over the years (and I have played football for 10 years of my life). Jesus shows us true masculinity.  The scriptures say about Jesus in Isaiah 53:9, "He had done NO VIOLENCE, and there was no deceit in his mouth." The scriptures also talk about doing violence to our wives in Malachi 2:16. The prophet says, "The man who hates and divorces his wife," says the Lord, The God of Israel, "Does violence to the one he should protect," says the Lord almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful."  Could unfaithfulness include loving a sport or hobby more than our spouse?  I think there should be a healthy balance of strength, and boldness, kindness, and tenderness in the biblical definition of masculinity, rather than the masculinity litmus test being your ability to bash someone's face in on UFC 166. Here are some other scriptures for your perusal: Ps. 11:5, Pr. 13:2, Is. 59:7, Matt. 11:12, Jer. 22:3; Ps 119:37.

2. Men in ministry need to be spirit filled and humble. We don't need men in ministry who are more effeminate; we don't need "studs" either.  I remember years ago our student ministry decided to stop attending a very popular camp with our students because of this very issue. We attended this camp for years, and then as I began looking around at their staff, they were all studs and studdettes.  There was not one minority, disabled, unattractive, or "un-cool" person on their staff from year to year. It was an unreal picture of the kingdom of God. Jesus ministered to the odd, hurting, needy, marginalized, leprous. He reached prostitutes, people with disabilities, the sick, and tax-collectors. It also seems like the biblical definition of the 'elder' or 'overseer' seems to fly in the face of what I am going to call the "new evangelical masculinity." I would actually consider this definition the height of masculinity.  In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Paul writes that a church leader "must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."  This passage seems to be the antithesis of the description of manliness that we're hearing from several evangelical church leaders lately.

3. We need leaders whose masculinity is evidenced in part by their transformational ministry. Transformational leaders are connected emotionally (to people and the Lord).  They feel deeply, act deeply, and worship affectionately.  Men, where is your affection for the savior? We go to concerts and get crazy, or a baseball game, or for that matter play video games for countless hours, but where is our excitement to worship Christ?  A.W. Tozer said, "Any man (or woman) who is bored or turned off by worship is not ready for heaven."  So my question to you is not, Are you a masculine leader? But, do you have a living, humble, needy, celebratory, affectionate, meditative, worshipful, loving, and tender, communion with Christ? If so, you are masculine by his standards.  If we say No to any of these things, and say "I'm not a very emotional person" then we may need to examine our hearts.  We need to pray and ask him to change us into a emotionally connected servant leaders, like Jesus our master.  I'll give you a few instances of how our master was compassionate, affectionate and emotional: Matthew 14:10-18; Matthew 20:30-34; Mark 8:1-6; Luke 7:12-15; Philippians 2:1-3; Matthew 9:36-38; Mark 1:40-42; Mark 6:34; John 11:32-38; Luke 19:36-41; James 4:9, 10; Matthew 13:15; I Thessalonians 2:1-19.

4. We need men who serve faithfully rather than seeking to be superstars in the church. For example, we don't need more multi-site churches beaming sermons into their venue via satellite.  As we're seeking to lead other men, we can give them opportunities to lead and invest in them. We can give them feedback and encourage them when they take those opportunities.  They will speak with their feet and walk out the door if we don't provide opportunities to express their pastoral gifting in this way.  We need more men of average intelligence, and average teaching skills, to be preaching the not-so-average gospel in the not-so-average power of the Holy Spirit!  Our men need to be empowered through training and service.  The "big ministry" and personality-centered ministry concept gives young men the impression that if they have only 200 or fewer people in their church, they're not adequate or successful in ministry.  Success is not how many butts are in our seats.  There are so many men out there who appear "average" in other people's estimation, but they're not average because they minister week in, and week out in the Holy Spirit's power!

In conclusion, I wholly disagree that the problem with the church today is not enough "masculine" men in ministry; we don't have enough men who call on the name of the best man in all of human history, the most humane and mighty man, Jesus.  No, not the most interesting man in the world from the Dos Equis commercials.  

No, "that one," the one who did seemingly un-masculine things.  He let evil men savagely disfigure him by beating him in the face and pulling his beard, the symbol of a Jewish man's masculinity.  He then let them put him on a cruel cross to do the most masculine act in all of history!  He took responsibility!  He took responsibility for your sin and mine.  That man is the ultimate measure of masculinity.  May we all as men measure up to that man Christ, "who emptied himself taking the form of a bond-servant; and being made in the likeness of men, being found in appearance as a man, he humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."  Can we all follow the example of Christ? Then and only then will we measure up as masculine men, and if that isn't very masculine in our culture, then I'm not masculine, and I don't want to be.  I want to be like Christ!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Richard To Speak For Your Event

Richard is currently serving as an evangelist, missional leader, and church planter of the newly formed LEAP Network in Germany. Most recently he was the student pastor at Creekside Community Church in San Leandro, CA for 8 years.  Richard graduated from Columbia International University (Columbia, South Carolina) in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science in Bible and Youth Ministry, all the while gaining valuable experience in youth ministry at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina.  Richard then moved to Savannah, Georgia where he was Minister to Students at South Effingham Community Church.  Richard returned to Columbia to finish his Masters degree in Leadership, Evangelism and Discipleship in 2004.  During his time in seminary, Richard worked as Minister to Students at Red Bank Baptist Church in Lexington, South Carolina.  He then served at Tommy’s Interactive Church in Columbia, South Carolina, where nearly the entire congregation was made up of students.  After finishing his degree, Richard worked with adolescents at a mental health hospital in Lexington, South Carolina.  Richard is currently working on a Doctor of Ministry degree at American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, CA (in partnership with Bakke Graduate University in Seattle) Richard is married to Simone whom he met while working with Tommy’s Interactive Church. Richard has two daughters and one son. Ana was born in 2006, Lydia was born in 2009, and Caleb was born November of 2011.  He enjoys sports, playing with his daughters, hanging out with his wife, and watching movies and their favorite TV shows together.  Richard is passionate about seeing an ever increasing number of students come to know, worship, and obey Jesus authentically. Richard has been Preaching and communicating to youth part time or full time since 1994.  His experience is vast, from speaking to small groups, to much larger crowds.  He is an engaging, funny, energetic, animated, and a passionate communicator.  He seeks to challenge students into greater relationship with the Lord or call them to make a commitment to him for the very first time.


Reference Quotes from Past Ministry Partners

“I taught Richard Moore at Columbia International University. He was a fine student and frankly turned out to be one the most gifted graduates of our Youth Ministry major. I recommend him to you without reservation.”

-Michael Holt-
Professor of Youth Ministry
Columbia International University 1991-1998

“Richard is an exceptionally gifted speaker, who puts his words into action. Even years later, I still remember some of the messages he gave at "English Camps" here in Germany.”

-Sammy Dittmann-
Youth Pastor, Baptist Church
Essen, Germany
“Richard Moore is a man of great passion for Jesus. Richard is a godly man, great husband, and dad. He has a unique gift of communicating with a rare quality of authenticity and truth-telling. Richard is one who ministers in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

-Dr. David Olshine-
 Director of Youth Ministry, Family and Culture
Columbia International University
Co-Founder of Youth Ministry Coaches

“Richard is a gifted communicator with a heart for passionately communicating Biblical truth. His faithfulness to the Word, sensitivity to his listeners and pastoral care for people has impressed me greatly over my years of working with him. This is a man of faith boldly serving the Church and glorifying God"

-Brian Howard-
Former Program Director, Sonshine Specialized Camping Ministires
Current Student Ministries Programs Director
Calvary Community Church, Westlake Village, CA

“I have known Richard for around 17 years. He has been a Godly man and would do whatever it takes to reach people for the cause of Christ. I was fortunate to be on the search committee and Chairman of Deacons when Richard came to Red Bank Baptist Church. I saw both of my sons grow in Christ under Richards’s leadership.”

-Rev. Grady Harmon-
Former Chairman of the Deacon Board
Red Bank Baptist Church, Lexington, SC

"I have had the privilege and the blessing of working with Richard Moore at Tommy's Interactive Church in Columbia, SC and studying with him at Columbia International University. Richard is an excellent youth pastor and a committed student of God's word. Richard is passionate about seeing youth come to know Jesus and demonstrates competence and integrity in leadership and in ministry. Despite his many proficiencies in ministry, Richard is humble and dependent on God's Spirit to lead him. Richard chooses intentionally to "put on the towel" as he models Jesus' servant leadership style. It was a pleasure working with Richard and I only regret that we do not still get the opportunity to serve together."  

-Robbie Pruitt-
High School Bible Teacher
Quisqueya Christian School
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Former leadership team, Tommy's Interactive Church

"In our day and age, it is difficult to get someone to speak who is both passionate and knowledgeable. Richard is clearly both and this makes for a great speaker to students. I believe that across the country students are hungering for the Word of God delivered passionately. Richard is God's man for the job!!!"

-Adrian Despres-
Itinerant Evangelist
Kingdom Building Ministries 
Chaplain, University of South Carolina Football Team

Send Inquiries to please try to answer these questions to the best of your ability...

1. What is the name of the event?
2. Contact Name:
3. What is your position held in relation to the event?
4. Phone Number:
5. Email Address:
6. Website Address:
7. Event Dates:
8. Where will the event be held?
9. What airport would Richard fly into?
10. When do you expect Richard to arrive at event?
11. When would Richard be available to return from event?
12. How many times will Richard be speaking?
13. How long should Richard plan to speak for each message?
14. When is the event scheduled (precise times of day)?
15. How many are expected to be in attendance?
16. What is the general age group of attendees?
17. What would you like Richard to speak on (Scripture, Topic)?
18. Would you cover all of Richard's expenses (airfare, hotel, food, transportation to and from event)?
19. Please feel free to list any other pertinent information: