The Lesser Magistrate

In this letter, I desire to impress upon you the importance of every election. Too many Christians who love the Lord, who obey his commands, and who love their country sit out local elections. “I’ll vote when it counts,” one might say as they wait for the next “big” election like a presidential or senatorial race. Here’s the problem with this line of reasoning: there are no small elections. Elections have consequences, even the local elections. In fact, having the right local and state representatives is a bulwark against corruption at higher levels of civil government.

During the high-insanity days of 2020, one only had to pay attention to how different states and municipalities managed the COVID pandemic to understand the importance of local and state magistrates. When unelected federal regulators sought to wield unbridled authority, it was up to Governors and local magistrates to stand up to tyrannical overreach. In those states where Governors went along with the program, the only recourse for citizens was disobedience. It was a perfect illustration of what the Reformers John Calvin and John Knox called the doctrine of the lesser magistrates. They used the word doctrine because it was formalized by German pastors, but it essentially states that “when the superior or higher civil authority makes unjust/immoral laws or decrees, the lesser magistrate or lower ranking civil authority has both a right and a duty to refuse obedience to that superior authority. If necessary, the lesser authorities even have the right and obligation to actively resist the superior authority.” (Trewhella, Doctrine, 2.)

The Christian church historically has taught that when the state demands what Christ demands or demands what Christ forbids, Christians are obligated to obey Christ rather than men. (Acts 5:29) The danger, of course, is that disobedience to civil authorities, though sometimes necessary, is fraught with peril and can be destructive. Just think of the French Revolution. Rather than the rebellion of the citizenry, a lesser magistrate, such as a Governor or Mayor, may interpose himself between the tyrant and the people. The lesser magistrate opposes tyranny so that the people don’t take up arms. We see this happen in Scripture. When Pharoah demanded the slaughter of Hebrew boys, the midwives interposed themselves between the Pharoah and the birthmothers and, in doing so, defied the edict of Pharoah in service of a higher authority. (Exodus 1) A civil magistrate is duty bound to protect the person, liberty, and property of those who reside within their jurisdiction. This entails their opposition of any tyrannical law or edict from a higher authority. They cannot plead that they are “just doing their job,” as they enforce unjust laws handed down.

On November 7, 2023 you will be called upon to vote for various mayoral and school board candidates as well as several referendums. You will give an account to the Lord Christ for how you used your vote. As I always say, it is not my job to “stump for Smith.” The church is political, but we are not partisan. We are political because we declare, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” But we do not represent any earthly nation or party. We represent the commands of the King eternal. (1 Tim. 1:17)

But here’s what I want you to pray about: When a federal anti-bullying law requires your school children to erase the distinction between male and female (in the name of love), which school board member will stand up against the tyrant? No, that school board member may not have as much power as a president, but they represent your interests, and they are a line of defense between you and higher magistrates. This is but one example of the importance of down-ballot votes. We need men and women leading with conviction and principle at every level of the civil government.

So, Christian, do not waste this opportunity to cast a vote. Politics is not a savior. But righteousness exalts a nation (Prov. 14:34), and unrighteous leaders make the church’s mission of gospel proclamation difficult. Now, more than ever, we need the right mayors, city council members, school board members, sheriffs, and governors. As you prepare to do your civic duty, pray that the Lord will guide your decisions. Ask other Christians for guidance and information. Pray that the Lord would grant a spirit of repentance upon the citizens of our nation. Pray the Lord would grant the church boldness in these trying times. And ask God to give us lesser magistrates who have the fortitude to stand up for their constituents against the oppression of tyranny.

To learn more on the doctrine of the lesser magistrates, I recommend reading: The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates by Mathew Trewhella

Keep My Word: Christ’s Word to a Faithful Church – Revelation 3:7-13


The text for the sermon today is Revelation 3:7-13. Our text can be found on page 1029. These are the words of God:

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

8 “ ‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’


Standing at 5’ 6” and weighing only 133 lbs., Spud Webb was one of the smallest ever players in the NBA. Playing for the Atlanta Hawks, Spud seemed to defy gravity with a 46’ vertical leap. Not only could Spud Webb dunk a basketball, he famously won the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk Contest as a rookie. It just goes to show you that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the dog in the fight.

The same can be said of the church in Philadelphia. They weren’t big. They weren’t powerful. They made zero headlines. But they were faithful in everything Christ providentially placed in front of them. And, for that reason, they were the only church of the 7 to last through the centuries.

How did such a small church not simply endure, but overcome the collapse of the world around them? They understood who Christ was. They rested in his power not their own. And, they held fast to their simple faith. They didn’t become masters of great things—they were mastered by the greatest and most glorious thing of all.


7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

What is this key of David? It’s a reference to Isaiah 22:22 when a faithful man named Eliakim was given the authority of the house of David. In other words, he alone could open the door into the king’s domain, and Eliakim is a foreshadow of Christ. He is the warden of history. The keys of the ages and epochs are securely in his hand. He alone opens a new century, and he alone can close another. He makes nations rise and fall. We may cast the dice, but he determines the result.

More importantly, he alone can open the door to his Father’s house. If he has opened that door for you, then you will walk through it. If that door remains shut, you can’t push it open through your own efforts.

Do you think the president, or the World Economic Forum holds the keys of history? They are merely pawns on the king’s chessboard.


When you realize that Christ is the warden of history, you worry less about how big, strong, or influential your life or church is. This is the God of disproportionate results.

He says to Philadelphia, “You have but little power.” In other words, they were a tiny congregation. He says they are persecuted by the “synagogue of Satan.” Their Jewish friends in the city had betrayed them to the civil authorities. So they’re small and the obstacles are big.

At the same time, he says to them, “I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” Though they were small, their gospel reach was big. Concerning the “synagogue of Satan,” Christ says, “I will make them come and bow down before you,” in repentance and belief in Christ. Though a trial was “coming on the whole world,” Philadelphia would be preserved through it. Why?

First, they kept the Word of Christ. It was the one thing they would not let go. Can the same be said of you?

Second, they endured patiently. They didn’t get their feathers ruffled. They weren’t like a dandelion, blown by the wind. They were like oaks, deeply rooted in Christ. Enduring the storms that threatened.


The passage concludes with promises too glorious for a single sentence, so Christ heaps up heavenly potentialities:

“I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.” (v. 12)

Though you may be labeled a disturber of the current state of affairs, you are the one who upholds and supports the only building that will outlast this state of affairs: the church.

“I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” (v. 12)

The threefold name given to the faithful church is the name of the Father, the new Jerusalem, and the very name of Christ himself. There is no greater title that can be placed upon you. To be a child of the Father, a citizen of the new creation, and a co-heir of Jesus Christ. When every skyscraper falls into dust and the castles of sinful men are proven to be made of sand, you will have a city that only becomes more beautiful in every eternal age.



Pastoral Sabbatical

The full text of the Deacon’s Pastoral Sabbatical Announcement is printed below. You may also access a PDF version of the information here: Pastoral Sabbatical Document


Prepared by the Deacons of Lake Wylie Baptist Church 

The following was presented by the Deacons to the church body of Lake Wylie Baptist Church in a congregational meeting on October 22, 2023. 

* * * 

Dear Father in heaven, 

We thank you for the privilege of worshipping you. We thank you for the cross of Christ which brought us redemption. We thank you for our church and the blessings upon blessings you have given us. We thank you for the blessing of our pastor and his family. 

Now, Father, as we discuss an exciting chapter in our church’s life, would your Spirit work in each heart. Enlarge each of our hearts to have a big vision of the open door you have given us as a church as we step out in faith and trust in you, the Almighty, Sovereign, and Good God whom we serve. 

* * * 

Sabbatical Overview (Jim Brooks) 

Several months ago, we deacons began a discussion among ourselves of how to care for our pastor. Once we reached our decision, we then let Pastor Jonathan in on the conversation, which has been ongoing for the past few months. We now want to bring the church into the conversation. 

The deacons wrote a letter to Pastor Jonathan that was shared and discussed with him in person when we first told him of our decision. I would like to read the first few sentences of this letter. 

We, the Deacons, give thanks to the Lord for your consistent hard work and dedication on behalf of Lake Wylie Baptist Church. Thus, the Deacons, without reservation, have unanimously embraced the following resolution: 

Resolved, Pastor Jonathan and his family will take a three-month sabbatical, during which time he will be relieved of all pastoral and ministerial duties. The purpose of this sabbatical is to give the pastor and his family an extended time to pursue physical and spiritual rejuvenation. 

The deacons want you to know that this resolution was totally, absolutely, and 100% deacon initiated. Pastor Jonathan did not ask for a sabbatical and he gave no hints whatsoever that he wanted one. The pastor was totally surprised and moved when we informed him of our decision for him to take a sabbatical. 

The idea of a sabbatical is rooted and grounded in Scripture. A few weeks ago, Ricki taught an excellent Equipping Hour series on the Sabbath. He emphasized that the word “sabbath” means “to cease.” God himself modeled for us what a Sabbath rest looks like. The Scripture says: 

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. (Genesis 2:2) 

The word of “rested” in this passage is the word “sabbath.” God ceased from his creating work. 

Embedded in God’s instructions to Israel was the command for the people to take a Sabbath rest every seventh day, meaning the people were to cease from their work. Every seventh year, the land was given a Sabbath rest for the entire year. The land ceased from producing crops so it could rejuvenate. These Sabbaths were given as a preventative against overwork and burnout. 

You may not know, but I have pastored two churches and I have been around a lot of pastors. Most of the pastors I have known are like Pastor Jonathan—hard-working men who love the Lord and love their churches. Yet, they are but men. I have known too many pastors who have suffered ministry burnout to the detriment of their churches, their families, their marriages, and their health. Trust me, much exhausting work goes on in a pastor’s ministry that the congregation never sees and will never know about. 

The Lord has blessed our church with our pastor and his family. And the Lord entrusts Lake Wylie Baptist Church with the stewardship of taking care of our pastor and his family. The deacons do not sense in Pastor Jonathan any signs of distress or burnout, and we want to keep it this way. Our purpose in giving him a sabbatical is to prevent ministerial burnout by giving him an extended time of much deserved rest. This sabbatical also serves as tangible evidence that we deeply care for the spiritual and physical well-being of our pastor and his family. 

God created us as body and soul, which necessarily interact with and influence each other: the body affects the spiritual and the spiritual affects the body. The deacons have stressed from the beginning that we wanted Pastor Jonathan to craft his sabbatical in such a way that would include both restful bodily pursuits and spiritually invigorating activities for him and his family. 

To hold Pastor Jonathan accountable, the deacons asked him to submit a general plan with moderate details of what he and the family would do during the sabbatical to accomplish these goals of physical and spiritual refreshment. He has done so, and suffice to say that the deacons are pleased with the seriousness and thoughtfulness that Pastor has taken with our request. 

A Deacon’s Journey From Sabbatical Skeptic To Sabbatical Believer (Jeff Williams) 

I was asked to share my initial view and my initial reaction to a pastoral sabbatical, which was one of skepticism. After gaining additional information and engaging in some of my own personal reflection, my viewpoint regarding a pastoral sabbatical actually evolved to not only to simply better understand the intent. but to full support and advocacy. 

“Reluctance” would describe my initial reaction when the sabbatical proposition was on the floor for consideration during our deacon’s meeting. My corporate and management consulting career has simply not prepared me to accept willingly a sabbatical as one’s normal experience in service to any organization. So, my initial reaction was one of reluctance because it simply was not normal or expected, and it was not what myself or my colleagues in my sphere of influence or network do. 

After listening to vastly wiser men on the deacon board, researching on my own, doing some personal reflection, and after doing a lot of listening, I see not only the value, but also the necessity of a pastoral sabbatical. I have completely reversed my initial skeptical position because of a few key areas. I would encourage everyone to think about these areas if you are having the same sort of initial reaction to a pastoral sabbatical as I did. 

First, this is an investment in Lake Wylie Baptist Church as a whole. Clearly, this is an investment in Pastor Jonathan, as it should be, to offer him some rejuvenation, an opportunity of separation, an opportunity of education, to focus on family and self. These are the things that go without being said. But it is also an opportunity and an investment for congregational growth and development at Lake Wylie Baptist Church for everyone that attends. I think about how growth and development can be applied to each of you—whether it is getting involved in music, or youth ministry, or maintenance, or whatever it is and however insignificant or significant—it is an opportunity for the growth and development of our congregation. So, it is an investment for our church as a whole, both for our pastor and for those who attend. 

Second, what really stood out to me was simply becoming more informed and gaining visibility in learning more about how the actual extended time would be spent. Again, focused on spiritual rejuvenation, passion, education, refocused on family and self. When you think about the very limited quality time Pastor Jonathan has to spread across all these important areas—he has done a wonderful job—but having an extended sabbatical would allow him to repurpose and reground in each of these areas. A healthy functioning Pastor Jonathan cascades down to a healthy church and how he serves our church. 

I would ask that you spend some time reflecting on these areas that stood out to me to help me change my course and reorientate me to think differently about a pastoral sabbatical. Along with the other deacons, I am more than happy to speak with you one-on-one and share more, if it would be helpful as you think through this as well. 

The Operation Of The Church During Pastor Jonathan’s Absence (Ricki Ingalls) 

I would like to take a minute to tell you what a great group of men lead this church and serve this church as deacons. All of the deacons that I have served with over the last 3 years have a heart for God’s church, and especially for Lake Wylie Baptist Church. That love for Lake Wylie Baptist is shown in this proposal for a pastoral sabbatical. 

Unlike Jeff, I was very familiar with the idea of a sabbatical, both in academics and in the church. I understood the benefits of a sabbatical both for Jonathan and for the church. But… I had a very basic question, “How is the church going to function while Jonathan is gone?” It’s not like we have a huge pastoral staff to fill in. I am sure than many of you have the same question. My goal today is to answer that question for you.

Jonathan’s sabbatical will begin on May 26 and conclude on August 11. As Jim said, a sabbatical is for the pastor to “cease” his responsibilities. What that means for a Jonathan is that he doesn’t show his face at this church for 3 months. If he did, he would be roped into work that would defeat the purpose of the sabbatical. We do not want that to happen. 

We believe that God has blessed us with men that have the experience and ability to lead the church in Jonathan’s absence. It is our goal to fill the needs of the church, as much as possible, with the people of the church. It is an opportunity for each of us on this stage this morning, the new deacons that will be in place in January, and all of the members of this church to use this gifts that God has given us for His glory. 

Since I’m an organizational kind of guy, I’m going to talk about who is responsible for different aspects of the ministry and how we expect to see them functioning during the time Jonathan is gone. The first question I want to answer is, “Where does the buck stop?” 

  • First, Jim Brooks, who is a former pastor and has a PhD from Southern Seminary in counseling, will be responsible for Sunday worship service and any counseling that needs to be performed during that time. 
  • Second, I will be responsible for the other ministries and administration. In bigger churches, this would be the role of “Executive Pastor”, which is close to my current role at work of “Chief Operations Officer.” 
  • Jonathan, Jim and I will be meeting several times before the sabbatical in order to plan and execute the transition. 

Now, to the second question – “How’s it really going to work?” 

Sunday Service 

  • The Sunday Worship Service is handled today through a schedule where men sign up for different parts of the service such as the opening and the prayer of confession. That will not change. 
  • Casey will continue to be responsible for the music during the service. That will not change. 
  • The sermons during the Sabbatical will consist of preaching through the Psalms, as we do every summer. 
  • So, now the big question – who is going to preach? The answer – It will primarily be men from the church. Jim Brooks, Randy Warner and I have already volunteered. We are looking forward to additional volunteers from the church body. It is also possible that we could have an outside speaker for 1 or 2 weeks during this time. 


  • As I mentioned before, Jim Brooks will be taking on the counseling ministry in Jonathan’s absence. Any on-going counseling situations will be transitioned from Jonathan to Jim during that time. 

Equipping Hour 

  • Equipping Hour will not meet during the months of June and July, just like we did this year. For those Sundays that we will meet, Randy Warner will coordinate the Equipping Hour teaching, as he does today. 

Vacation Bible School 

  • VBS will run as it does today. Marcy does an outstanding job of running the VBS and that will continue. However, we are searching for someone to take a pie in the face in Jonathan’s absence. 

Other ministries will be coordinated with Deacon’s serving in their ministry role. 

We are looking forward to the sabbatical so Jonathan, Chelsea and the kids can have a time of refreshing. We are also looking forward to it as we see the members of Lake Wylie Baptist flourish in the ways that God has gifted them. 

The Finances Of The Sabbatical (Randy Warner) 

Jeff has already spoken about the importance of sabbatical not just for spiritual rest and renewal for our pastor and his family, but also as a pre-emptive measure to prevent burnout before it happens. 

One of our goals is providing a sabbatical for Jonathan and his family was to give them an opportunity for rest and renewal in a stress-free environment of his choosing. A major part of making it “stress-free” is to relieve the concern about any financial impact to him and his family that might result from stepping away from the pulpit and travelling somewhere where significant cost might be involved. 

Prior to discussing the sabbatical with Jonathan, we the deacons met, discussed, and agreed upon a number of important criteria that we felt would make the sabbatical both productive and effective. One of those criteria was that Jonathan would not incur any expense as part of the Sabbatical period. We felt very strongly that Jonathan and his family should have the freedom to pursue spiritual rest and renewal without being encumbered by finances. So, the obvious question is: how are we going to pay for this? 

I’m not sure if all of you are aware of just how financially blessed we are as a church, and just how generous our members and regular contributors are. If you take the time to look in your bulletin each Sunday, you will find a section that details our weekly and annual giving. Not only 6 

have we kept our expenses at or below budget, but our weekly giving has exceeded our needs to-date by over $60,000! Praise God! I am so humbled and blessed to be a part of a church body that honors God so well with their finances. 

So as we look to fund the sabbatical, we plan to do so primarily in 3 ways: 

  1. At year-end, using a portion of the funds received above and beyond the budget expenses to pay for the sabbatical; 
  1. Add the sabbatical as a line item in the budget for 2024 (essentially, build the cost in total or in part into our expenditures for next year). We will be finalizing the budget for 2024 over the next few weeks, and will considering the sabbatical as part of that budget planning. 
  1. Give you as a church body the opportunity to participate financially with gifts designated specifically for the sabbatical. 

We have scheduled a follow-up meeting to discuss the sabbatical in more detail. At that meeting, I’ll be providing you with more information about detailed costs, as well as the final plan for payment to cover those costs. 

We look forward to giving this gift to Jonathan, Chelsea, and their family. Our hope and prayer is that through the sabbatical, that they will be restored and refreshed, ready to serve the Lord and serve our church with renewed strength and purpose. 

Concluding Thoughts (Jim Hughes) 

Thirty-five years ago, last month, the Lord Jesus Christ came into my life and saved me. During that time, I have had the privilege of serving five terms as a deacon with four different pastors in three different churches. 

I can say without hesitation that the combination of spiritual maturity, biblical knowledge, discernment, power in the pulpit, devotion to God and family and humility are unique to the man who stands in this pulpit each Sunday. 

Something else that’s unique is the unity that God has chosen to give us over the last eight years. Unity is like reputation-it requires time, effort and commitment, and it can be lost in the blink of an eye. Among other things, unity is a function of God’s grace and mercy, the love of God’s people for one another and the attitude and character of the man who stands in this pulpit. 

If you think only in terms of what you see each Sunday morning, you might wonder how challenging this role really is. Well, let me tell you: it requires hours and hours of intense study, planning, preparation, practice and prayer each week. In addition, our pastor is responsible for providing guidance and direction to our children’s ministry and our music ministry, he ensures the integrity and vitality of our missions’ program, he provides confidential counseling to church members when needed, he mentors and teaches in a local home school coop and he is on call 7 

24/7/365 when one of us has an emergency. Oh, and he is also a husband and father of four children. His plate, as they say, is full. 

The deacons and I want to be very clear about one important point. This sabbatical was not the result of a request from Jonathan. He did not ask for it and it was not his idea. The genesis for and the support of the sabbatical comes 100% from your deacons. At the same time, Jonathan and Chelsea are overwhelmed by our generosity and willingness to provide them with this opportunity. They are excited, have a sense of anticipation and yes, they are relieved that a season of rest is coming in their ministry. 

If you were not here before Jonathan and Chelsea arrived, it would be hard for you to appreciate how dramatically the composition of the church has changed. During the last two years of Pastor Alan’s ministry, there were roughly 30 regularly attending members. Brian and Janice, Jeff and Marcy and Jennifer and I were the three youngest couples in the church. You could count the number of young people under the age of 18 on one hand and a couple of fingers. Today, the church has several young parents with young families who are becoming the new anchor of our church. The children’s ministry is vibrant and growing, if not busting at the seams! These young parents are playing an increasingly vital role in the life of God’s church. 

Our goal as a congregation is not to prove that we can run the church without our pastor. The church may or may not run as smoothly while he and his family are away, but I know we will do our best. One thing is for sure, there will be numerous opportunities for us to step out on faith and play a larger role. 

As the sabbatical term winds down next summer, Jonathan and Chelsea will be rested, refreshed, excited about coming back and ready to begin the next chapter in their ministry. By God’s grace, the rest of us will have grown stronger and closer as we serve the Lord together, eagerly anticipating their return and ready to help them as they begin the next chapter. 

Following the meeting, I have asked the deacons to stay around for a while so that you can talk with us one on one and ask any questions you may have. Our phone numbers and email addresses are now listed in the bulletin, and I encourage you to call us or drop us an email. Your questions and input will help us form the content for our second meeting on this topic which will be two weeks from today. 

We believe our plan has a firm foundation, but there is still much work to do between now and May. You may be wondering what you can do to help. I’m so glad you asked! First, you can consider giving to the sabbatical project over and above your regular tithes and offerings. Second, you can begin praying about the role God would have for you in the months ahead. 

* * * 

O God, as we step out on faith, we look to you, the Author and Finisher of our faith. We pray for your mercy and grace, your wisdom and your blessing. Please bless your church with unity, singleness of purpose, faithfulness to you and a heart full of gratitude for all you have done and will do. We pray all these things in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen 8 

Next Steps 

Get informed! 

A Google search on the term “Pastoral Sabbatical” will result in thousands of returns. The Deacons recommend the following resources as a starting place to help you become informed about the nature of pastoral sabbaticals. 

  • Why You Should Make Your Pastor Take A Sabbatical 

This article gives six reasons a Pastor should take a sabbatical. The author gives several excellent links that will direct you to other good posts concerning pastoral sabbaticals. 

‘Why don’t I get a vacation, too?’ How to talk about clergy sabbaticals 

The author of this article works with the Lily Foundation, which works with a variety of churches that are planning pastoral sabbaticals. This article puts the concept of a pastoral sabbatical into a larger context. 

  • Ten Steps To A More Fruitful Sabbatical 

This article is from a pastor associated with the 9Marks ministry. The author is a pastor writing to other pastors who are taking sabbaticals. Many of the ideas found in this article helped the Deacons think through the physical and spiritual aspects of Pastor Jonathan’s sabbatical. 

Ask Questions! 

We urge you to contact any one of the Deacons with any questions or comments you may have. Contact information for the Deacons is found in the bulletin and is given below. Deacon  Email  Phone 
Jim Hughes  704-995-9590 
Jeff Williams  704-609-5474 
Randy Warner  904-819-3750 
Ricki Ingalls  405-612-4111 
Jim Brooks  502-939-0916 

Attend The November 5th Congregational Meeting 

The October 22 meeting gave a general overview of Pastor Jonathan’s sabbatical. The November 5 meeting will give specific details of the sabbatical. 


Please be in prayer for Pastor and his family, the Deacons, and the entire church as we take this significant step as a church. Pray for the Lord to show you how you can minister to the church body in the Pastor’s absence. 

Pastoral Prayer

Prayers for the Church

God, Our Father,

The fear of you is the beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111:10), and we pray that you would give us that holy and reverential fear. May we keep your Word (Rev. 3:10), and obey your commandments (Eccl. 12:13)

Give us also the grace to love you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mk. 12:30) May your Son, the Lord Jesus, be very precious to us (1 Pet. 2:7), and though we have not seen him, yet may we love him and believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible. (1 Peter 1:8)

Father, let the love of Christ control us to live, not for ourselves, but for him who for our sake died and was raised. (2 Cor. 5:14-15)

Prayers for the Lost


Father, you have promised to give the nations as a heritage to your Son (Ps. 2:8), and so we ask this morning for the nation of Algeria. Though your church there is small, we know your arm is mighty to save. So, we pray, bare your arm in the sight of Algeria. May your gospel sweep across that nation and claim every heart.

Father, you are the God over the great and the small, every continent and every molehill. No nation is too great to resist you, and no island is so small that you would forget it. We pray for the island nation of Kiribati in the Pacific and ask that you bring spiritual renewal to a once-thriving church. Cause them to run from false teaching and hold fast to your Word.

Prayers for Members


Thank you, Lord, for your protection and your care for your sheep here at Lake Wylie Baptist. We are weak, and our faith fails so often, yet your love never fails us.

I pray for those in our church who are tempted to struggle with sin; and those for whom sin remains attractive. Lord, help them to see the destructive power of sin. Give them a sip of the bitter taste of the cup of which your Son drained on the cross. May they see the folly of sin and turn instead to repentance and obedience.

Father, for those who have become captive to sin, who have given up the fight, who perhaps long to be free but no longer feel the strength—may they know that Christ has broken sin’s power as he was broken on the cross. Give them a renewed love for Christ alone which enables them to forsake sin and return to him.


Prayers for those in Authority


Lord God, we know that Christ holds the keys of history. We know that nothing can happen outside of his knowledge and your decree.

Therefore, we plead your mercy over the bloodshed in Israel and Gaza. We ask that you make a way for both justice and peace. We ask that lives be preserved so that more can hear of the saving love of Christ.

To that end, we lift up the civil authorities in Israel, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Russia, China, and all others involved. Lord God, defy the purposes of evil men. Show favor to the plans of righteous men.

And we do pray for the peace of Israel, may they soon see Christ as your Messiah, and turn to him in faith along with the nations of the world.


Prayers for Churches & Missionaries

Father, we lift up Relevant Church as Josh Hair has now become their Lead Pastor. Fill him with your Spirit. May he walk in holiness, proclaiming Christ faithfully. Give their church even greater reach and influence in our community.

We pray for FBC Clover and their pastor Mike Stafford. Thank you for their gospel witness in the town of Clover and we ask that you multiply their efforts. May you raise up more leaders and teachers and evangelists and missionaries from among their congregation.

Finally, Father, we give you thanks through our tithes and offerings. The work of your church is precious to us. May our gifts now demonstrate the gratitude in our hearts for the ministries and missions that are shaping us and forming our families into Christ-likeness. Increase our joy and our generosity even as we give.

We offer all of this in the name of Jesus Christ and for his sake. Amen

When Spheres Collide – The Governments


Take a deep breath because this installment may require multiple readings, but I promise it’s worth your effort. In 1880, Abraham Kuyper (pronounced kie-per) delivered a public address at the inauguration of the Free University in Amsterdam which he entitled “Sphere Sovereignty.” The basic idea is this: Jesus Christ is sovereign over all. Underneath his total sovereignty, Christ has instituted various spheres of human society and established the boundaries (or spheres) of their authority, responsibilities, and competence. In this post, I’m going to apply Kuyper’s concept of sphere sovereignty to our topic of the three governments directly instituted by God.

The family government possesses authority and competence within its prescribed sphere. The same is true with the civil government and the church. Sphere sovereignty, therefore, is concerned with the relationships between these human governments. Although Sphere Sovereignty isn’t a perfect system (no system truly is perfect a world of fallen human beings), we can gather several valuable inferences and applications from Kuyper’s thought.


In an earlier post in this series on the governments, I made the case that parents, not the state, have the authority and right to teach and discipline their children. Several of you wrote me and asked an important question: “Do parents have a right to subject their children to so-called “gender reassignment surgeries.” Sadly, of course, many states in our nation grant the legal right for parents to do so. In a saner society, the government would legally prevent parents from doing so. Why? Sphere Sovereignty. Parents do not have the right to mutilate their children’s bodies. In such a case, the government is not transgressing the boundary (sphere) of the parent’s authority. Rather, the parent is transgressing the civil and criminal laws which the government is required by God to enforce.

In other words, these spheres (family, state, church) cannot be isolated from one another. Instead, they all bear a responsibility to one another. The church cannot act in any way it pleases, nor can the family or the state. Let me give two more examples.


Christians (especially Roman Catholics) have long taught a social doctrine called “subsidiarity.” The idea is that the responsibility to provide for human flourishing subsides at the most basic unit where it can naturally be exercised. Larger social units should only step in when smaller social units cannot provide solutions.

For instance, if a person is physically unable to work in order to support themselves it does not immediately fall to the federal government to give assistance. Rather, the individual’s nuclear family is the first line of defense. They have a greater responsibility, a greater knowledge of the needs, and a greater motivation to assist than the federal government. If the nuclear family is unable to assist, the need then moves to the next largest social unit, the extended family/church, then the town, then the county, then the state, and so on. But the further you get from that smaller unit competence falls as does motivation and accountability. This is why a government can “lose” $6 Billion but families don’t.

If you and I want to see greater health in our nation, we must reassert the family as a sovereign sphere of responsibility and authority. We have to break the mentality that Washington, D.C. is responsible for solving our problems. We need a greater appreciation for the responsibilities entrusted to each of these governments.


Generally speaking, the church is to honor the civil magistrate. We are to be a good-faith member of society. We are not to be scofflaws. We pray for and submit to police officers as well as other government officials. We believe every single word of Romans 13:1-2:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:1-2)

But we also know that the Apostle Paul, who wrote those words constantly disobeyed the governing authorities when they demanded disobedience to Christ. Paul, along with many of the apostles, were fugitives who regularly angered the civil magistrates by their preaching. So, all-things-even, Romans 13:1-2 always applies as a general rule. But, there are some demands from the civil government that the church cannot obey. Just as we believe every word of Romans 13:1-2, we also believe every word of Mark 12:17:

17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him. (Mark 12:17)

Go back, for a moment, to March 13, 2020. I was standing in the parking lot of our church with several men who had gathered for a workday. We were spreading mulch and discussing whether we ought to have worship service the coming Sunday. The COVID-19 virus was making headlines, and it wasn’t hours before all of civilization around the globe came to a halt. In those first couple weeks, our church tried its best to honor the civil magistrate’s authority in asking us to all stay home. However, after several weeks it became clear that our church could begin meeting again without presenting a grave health threat to congregants. We began meeting outside and then moved indoors. We did all of this even while civil magistrates continued to ban or place draconian limitations on gatherings. It was an act, albeit a mild act, of civil disobedience. We didn’t shout and post about it. We didn’t protest outside of the county offices. We simply felt that Christ’s commands to gather and worship outweighed the guidance of the local magistrates. Some Christians may disagree with our course of action. There is certainly room for Christian liberty and freedom of conscience. We showed patience within our own congregation with those who were not yet comfortable gathering. All this is to say that two spheres of authority collided: the church and the state, and we could not honor both equally.


Each of these examples demonstrates both the reality as well as the limits of “spheres” of governmental sovereignty. As Christians, we have a responsibility to understand the three governments directly instituted by God (family, state, ecclesiastical) and their boundaries. We need to know what God has required of the family, the state, and the church. We need boldness to tell the state what it can and cannot do. We need conviction to live under the authorities which God has prescribed.

Hold Fast: Christ’s Word to a Compromised Church – Revelation 2:18-29


The text for the sermon today is Revelation 2:12-17. Our text can be found on page 1028. These are the words of God:

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

19 “ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’


We live in an age of tolerance. There are calls to be tolerant in our theology, our immigration policies, relationships, and just about every other area of life. And yet, the more our culture has embraced that word, tolerance, the less tolerant we have become. You might even say we now live in an age of intolerance.


So small, Thyatira was home to several strategic trade guilds, each worshipping their own pagan deity. Therefore, the only way to enjoy the rich commerce of the city was to pay homage to the guild deity. And Christ comes to them with piercing vision and irresistible judgment. (v. 18)

There is much for Christ to commend: works of love, faith in Christ, and service to others. And the church had matured since its founding. (v. 19)

However, much like Pergamum, they tolerate false teachers who have led them into compromise. The ring-leader was a woman Jesus calls Jezebel. (1 Kings 16:31; 21:25) (v. 20) Apparently, (v. 24) the church had drifted into a kind of pagan mysticism. In other words, the beliefs of the church we no longer being built on the objective Word of God, but on the subjective inner voice of man. And that inner voice always leads to immorality of some kind.

The door is open for the church to turn around, but if not, Christ’s judgments will come in the form of great tribulation, death, and sobriety among the churches. (v. 21-23)

A contingent of faithful Christians are called to hold fast until Christ, the judge, arrives. Then they will rule the nations with Christ (v. 25-27) Christ, the true Morning Star (Rev. 22:16) will give himself to them forever. (v. 28) And again, the churches are called to listen to the message of the Spirit (v. 29)


You have likely noticed that Christ introduces himself differently to each of the 7 churches:

Ephesus: “The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.” (2:1)

Smyrna: “The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.” (2:8)

Pergamum: “The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.” (2:12)

Thyatira: “The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.” (2:18)

Because he is the divine Son of God, he is able to meet every individual need of the churches. The church in Thyatira tolerated false teaching in an effort to blend in. Christ’s flaming vision pierces through every façade. He explicitly refers to himself as the Son of God. As his church, we bear and represent his name.


In his assessment of the church, Christ sees qualities which seem contradictory. He sees a record of love and faithfulness, yet at the same time compromise and tolerance of false teaching. And you might ask, “How does that work?”

This month we celebrate the 506th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Many of you will know the 5 Solas of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, etc. But there was another Latin phrase that Martin Luther made popular: Simul Justus et peccator, “At the same time, we are just sinners.”

In one sense, we are justified, or declared righteous by God through faith in Christ, and yet we still sin. In and of myself, I am not righteous, I’m a sinner. Yet, God has imputed or transferred to my account the righteous record of Christ by grace through faith (belief). And, he has transferred my sin to Jesus.

In this double imputation, God deals with our sin—he doesn’t compromise or negotiate with it. (2 Cor. 5:21) This is the heart of the gospel.


Christ’s two-word exhortation to Thyatira was to “hold fast.” Grab onto the true Jesus, the Scriptures, true doctrine, and don’t let go no matter how hard the world spins you. But how do you know if the Christianity you are holding will hold you?

  • Does my Christianity serve only myself and my desires, or the honor and glory of God’s name?

  • Is your Christianity cultivating a bigger view of God or yourself?

  • Is God a means or an end?

  • Do you desire holiness as much as you desire happiness?

You are not a Christian if these do not, in some way, describe you. You are not a Christian because you attend a church or put money in an offering plate. You are not a Christian because the music here makes you feel at peace.

Being a Christian is not a feeling at all. There are plenty of days when we don’t feel like Christians. To be a Christian means that God the Father has set his love upon you in Christ. That Christ has given himself for your sins at the cross. That the Holy Spirit has opened your eyes to this reality such that you belief and rest in it as your only hope in life and death. And we know this only because God’s Word is true and beneath our feet. Hold fast to that Word.

Repent: Christ’s Words to a Worldly Church Revelation 2:12-17


The text for the sermon today is Revelation 2:12-17. Our text can be found on page 1028. These are the words of God:

12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

13 “ ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15 So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’


55 miles north of Smyrna, and 15 miles inland, Pergamum, which looked like a crown on a hill means “citadel,” and even today you can see the ruins of the Roman theater, the temple of Athena. The city practiced strict zoning measures such that your wealth and influence determined how close to the top of the hill you could live. One only had to look at the architecture of the city to understand her heart. Zeus stood atop the hill. The first temple dedicated to a Caesar was found in the center, and most importantly, at the foot of the city, was a hospital/temple for Asclepion, the god of healing, symbolized as two snakes wrapped around a pole. What an opportunity for the church of Jesus Christ to stand out, yet you can tell by Christ’s introduction of himself that the letter to Pergamum will be sharp. (v. 1)

Satan loves to persecute the church through the power of the civil government, (Ps. 2; 2:13; 13:2) In such an atmosphere, living faithfully for Christ would be difficult; and the church at Pergamum had shing examples of Christian perseverance. (v. 13)

Nevertheless, Christ indicts the church for harboring false teachers, those who for personal gain, taught that Christians could participate in the sinful celebrations of the city without supporting the sin. These teachers are likened to Balaam who led Israel to do the same. (v. 14-15)

16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.

The church is called upon to repent of embracing these teachers, or else Christ will come to expose and expel them himself. (v. 16) Christians who forego the pagan feasts of Pergamum will feast on “hidden manna” that Christ alone can give in glory; a white stone indicating an innocent verdict. (v. 17)


“I know where you dwell,” (v. 13) is the same as saying, “I know the temptations you face.” Jesus Christ knew about Zeus crowning the city. He knew about the serpent cult. He knew every pressure Pergamum felt soften their own convictions in order to fit in. Lake Wylie Baptist, Christ knows the time in which you live, but do you? Do you understand the task and duties of a Christian in 2023?

We live in a culture that has rapidly shifted its posture to the church. Prior to the mid-1990’s Christianity enjoyed a privileged, or positive position in America. Between the mid-1990s and 2014, we watched Christian influence steadily wane in culture. In 2015, the Obergefell marked a distinct moment in our nation’s history. Our nation enshrined an abomination into law.

Christianity cannot take a neutral stance towards marriage. Christians cannot take a neutral stance to abortion. We can’t take a neutral stance to the harm done to children’s bodies who struggle with their gender. Therefore, American culture can no longer take a neutral stance toward Christianity.

The dividing lines in our nation are no longer over marginal tax rates. They are being drawn over the very nature of reality and who gets to write the dictionary.

Jesus Christ knows where you dwell. He didn’t put you here by accident. He is pleased to have you here, to serve his purposes in this time.


If we’re honest, we all would love teachers who will tell us that being a Christian doesn’t have to be so difficult, so demanding, so costly. (2 Tim. 4:3, 4)

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Tim. 4:3-4)

Having seen Antipas martyred for the faith, some at Pergamum likely said, “You know, the surrounding culture is so different from us. We ought to be more winsome as Christians. If we don’t change some things, we won’t have a chance of reaching anyone. We need to sit down and be better listeners, maybe attend some of their pagan festivals. I mean, “They don’t care what we know, until they know that we care.”

Church, not only are we faced with a negative culture, we regularly see popular Christian leaders retreat from clear Biblical truth in order to maintain their status.

  • Last year, when the Dobbs decision overturned Roe V. Wade, I took note of which evangelical leaders praised the downfall of Roe and which ones were mum on the subject.
  • Sadly, we’ve seen many pastors and spiritual leaders retreat on the issues of gender, marriage, and God given gender roles within the home and church. Sometimes in the name of the gospel itself.
  • Many Christian elites today are saying, “If we don’t unhitch Christianity from the Old Testament, we’ll lose our place in culture.”

And Christ says, “If you do not repent, I will come with a sword.”

You know what the downfall of Israel was just before they went into exile? Isaiah 30:8:

And now, go, write it before them on a tablet and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever.   For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; 10    who say to the seers, “Do not see,”and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, 11    leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”

When all the words from the pulpit are smooth words, look for lies. When all the words from the national leaders are smooth words, look for lies.

The same Jesus who says to weary sinners, “I will give you rest,” also told Jonah to say to Nineveh, “Repent, or else in 40 days your city will fall.”


What is Christ’s encouragement to you today? What is the promise that he will hold you fast through the insanity of this world today? It is an invitation to table fellowship.

To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, (v. 17)

This is an invitation to come and dine with Christ, to enjoy table fellowship with Christ. But be warned, you cannot fellowship at this table and the table of idols. You cannot enjoy the richness of this table with divided allegiances.

If you consider yourself a sinner, then this table has been prepared for you if we are willing to confess your own sin and cling to Jesus Christ alone as the savior of sinners. If you are willing to that there is another promise in this text:

and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

If you sit enjoy table fellowship with Christ you will be condemned by the lords of this world. You will be guilty of breaking their laws, their statutes, and disrespecting their idols. But in the end, the only judge that matters will give you a white stone, a new name, an eternal declaration not simply of innocence, but of perfectly white righteousness through his Son.

Pastoral Prayer

Prayers for the Church

Father, may you sanctify your church completely. Keep us blameless in body and soul until the coming of our Lord Jesus. We know you are faithful and will do this (1 Thess. 2:23-24)

Prayers for the Lost


Father, we pray for the nation and the people of Afghanistan. We grieve that their nation is under the control of a terrorist group and ask for your mercy. Preserve the lives of Afghans that they might hear the good news of Jesus. Give strength to your church which is being persecuted and hunted. May they be courageous for Christ.

We pray as well for the nation of Kazakhstan. Thank you for the growth of your church in that nation. We pray for the nearly 6 million people in that nation who have yet to hear the gospel of Christ. Embolden your church to evangelize and spread.


Prayers for Members


Lord God, we thank you that our sister ________ is home from the hospital and rehab and ask that you would continue to heal her body.

Lord we pray for those who are physically wearied or anxious at heart. May they cast all their cares upon you for we know you care for us.


Prayers for those in Authority


Father, heal our own nation which has forgotten you, and is deeply divided. Bring a spirit of repentance and humility to those who govern us. Help them to see their own finitude and need of your wisdom, your truth, your power.

We pray especially for the citizens of our nation. Father, you have given us the leaders that we have asked for. So humble and convict the people of our nation. Help us to see our sin, to repent, and to choose leaders who will honor you and your Law.


Prayers for Churches & Missionaries

Father, we pray for Bethel Baptist Church, and their Pastor Steve Kirby. As he plans to hand off the church to his new associate pastor Drew Boland, fill their church with grace and peace. May their transition of leadership be a time of unity and maturity.

Father, we thank you that Redeeming Grace Presbyterian has called their new pastor Henry Beaulieu. Thank you for guiding them through this season of transition and we ask now that the saints there would be fed and cared for through his ministry.

Lastly, we pray for our Operation Christmas Child drive. As we pack boxes and pray for the children they will be sent to, we ask that many would come to know Christ because of our labor. May we always be a giving church, a sending church: a church on mission for Christ.

Lord God, the needs of our church, of our city, and of this world are great. But we take comfort knowing that you are greater than all these because you are the Maker and Sustainer of everything.

As we come now to give tithes and offerings, cause us to do so with gladness, giving to you out of what you have given to us.

In Christ’s name, and for his sake. Amen.