Archive for the ‘ Leadership Crisis ’ Category

Vows for the New Year

As the new year dawns, many will chart plans and refocus on life goals. Many will have parties and fun. Some will make new vows to God.


A google search of “rash vow” or “vow” shows that use of these terms are primarily connected to marriage or to the Old Testament Judge, Jephthah.


Students of the Bible usually think of Jephthah’s vow in Judges 11:30 when mention is made of making a rash vow. Many have assumed that Jephthah was hasty and wrong to make a vow “that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”


I am convinced that had Jephthah not made the vow and kept it by dedicating his daughter to “surely be the Lord’s” by serving night and day in the tabernacle, he would have missed God’s best for his life and for his daughter. He would never have been listed in the Faith Chapter (Hebrews 11:32), and would not have been among the great Judges listed by Samuel in his sermon to Israel (I Samuel 12:11). In fact, the Holy Spirit might not have inspired Samuel to dedicate more than an entire chapter (Judges 11) to his biography. Samuel certainly knew the story better than any modern commentator, and he evidently considered Jephthah to be one of the “greats” of the period.


In my book A Name Forgotten (Heritage Builders Publishing, Clovis, CA, 2015), I go into the details explaining why I reject the idea that Jephthah’s vow was rash and why making the vow was essential to his fulfilling God’s Purpose for his life. The book also makes the application: it is as wrong to fail to make a vow that God prompts us to make as it is to make a foolish, rash vow. [ or]


Many have taken passages like Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 and assumed that it is always better to avoid making vows: “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” 

Very little emphasis is usually laid upon verse 4, which assumes that indeed there will be timeswhen thou vowest…” Vows in the Psalms are viewed as vital and significant, and the Apostle Paul made and kept vows.


One might suppose that most churches in our day have adopted this view, since church services usually end without an urgent call to repentance. Public invitations are often perfunctory, as if they are merely a part of the liturgy rather than an expectant appeal to God’s people, a summons to appear and answer in God’s Court. The average sermon is not preached to a verdict, as the revivalist Charles Finney taught preachers to do. When was the last time you fell on your face at the church altar, crying out to God and making holy, binding vows? (I Corinthians 14:24-25) Why are so few of our young people making vows for a lifetime of Christian service, to become a missionary or evangelist, or to dedicate time every week to develop skill as a soul-winner? Have we taught them that making a vow is never appropriate?


King Saul did make a rash vow, “Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies.” (I Samuel 14:24) Analyzing his few words, it is apparent that his heart was focused upon selfish goals, rather than upon doing the Will of God. Notice his reason for giving this order, which became a great hindrance to his famished soldiers: “that I may be avenged…” He was not concerned about damage to the Lord’s Name, but to his own. His desire for vengeance was not that the Lord’s enemies experience defeat, but he says, “mine enemies…”


Perhaps this is why the only significant vow expected of most Christians is the marriage vow? We have arrived at the place where young people only consider making a vow to God if they think there is some advantage in it for themselves. Unfortunately, many vows have been watered down, virtually ignoring God and His role in the marriage. The selflessness required in a godly marriage receives little emphasis in pre-marital planning. God in Heaven may take note that our marriages are in fact based upon rash, foolish, selfish vows.


George Matheson, a preacher, was engaged to be married when he learned that he would soon become blind. When he revealed this devastating news to his fiance, she broke the engagement. We might commend her for not making a vow which she might not have courage and endurance to fulfill. He never married. Later, he wrote the beautiful hymn, O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go. He might have quit the ministry, or blamed God for his plight. But instead, he devoted himself more fervently to his vows of service to Christ, and lived to an old age, still preaching the gospel.




People go to great lengths to have their name remembered, working non-stop to leave a legacy. They erect buildings emblazoned with their names, or give millions to philanthropy. Yet, it is the life of unusual sacrifice that is universally admired. Enduring applause belongs to those who forfeit fame and fortune in deference to a great cause.

A Name Forgotten challenges our perpetual sacrifice to gods of sensuality and prosperity. Broken hearts of the hero and his teenaged daughter, essentially forgotten today, will arouse deepest emotions and expose hidden motives.

Traditional views of a misunderstood character are confronted, ending with a finale that shocks the hero himself. Heart lessons abound. Subtle hints are analyzed. Historical and geographical allusions make details come alive. Some discover a new friend. Others find the heart to forgive this obscure hero for the first time. Your impressions of Jephthah and his long lost daughter will never be the same.

Find out how a bank robber confessed but never went to jail, why a songwriter sacrificed his dreams of fame, and what happened when a fourteen-count felon vowed to tell the truth in court.

There is still hope when choices appear imminently disastrous. Aspirations prevail though promises seem impossible to keep. And, even as you slog through the fog of interminable duty, you can endure!

A Name Forgotten by C.T.L. Spear is scheduled for release in fall 2015 by Heritage Builders Publishing, Clovis & Monterey, California. Watch for it!

Don’t Let Your Sons Grow Up (Parody)

(Sing to the tune of Mammas, don’t let your sons grow up to be cowboys.)

Mammas, don’t let your sons grow up to be pastors

Pastors are easy to love, but they’re hard to get home

Just one more call to be made,

A seed to be sown

Longwinded blessings and old illustrations,

And everyone thinks he’s a saint

His wife, yes, she loves him;

She puts up with him;

But that’s one thing she knows that he ain’t!


Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be pastors

Don’t let ‘em tape sermons and buy them old books

Keep them from pulpits, and potlucks and rook

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be pastors

Whenever they’re home,

They tie up the phone

And dinner is always served cold.

(Repeat Chorus)

Pastors like words nobody uses

In modern day language

They’d rather get out their Bible

And speak from the Greek

Dinner is burnin’ but he keeps on preachin’,

Then stops to shake every hand.

He ain’t worried about eatin’

Cuz he keeps on dreamin’

He’ll be the next Billy Graham!

(Repeat chorus twice)

Same-sex Marriage Denied

Leadership of the Eastern band of the Cherokee Nation wants to  ban same-sex marriage within their borders. ABC News 13 interviewed Cherokee activist Pastor Bo Parris, who said, “Bottom line, there’ll be no same-sex marriages performed . . . The laws of nature are against same-sex marriage. [God] is sovereign and His laws are above every law . . .” (View the You Tube video on this event at

A federal judge forced the state of North Carolina to legalize same-sex marriage, but the Eastern band of the Cherokee issued a tribal amendment, which reads, “The licensing and solemnizing of same-sex marriages are not allowed within this jurisdiction.”

Cherokee Baptist churches have long exercised an influential voice in tribal politics. The You Tube clip of the news report features short takes of several Cherokee residents including the pastor of Big Cove Missionary Baptist Church, who appears on the video.

Proponents of gambling casinos have been quick to defend the rights of Native tribes to operate gambling establishments on native reservations despite state laws forbidding such enterprises. It should be interesting to see how “the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:2-3)

Someone in the grandstand is chuckling derisively. “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” (Psalm 2:4) Perhaps Supreme Court justices should consider that there is a higher Court, presided over by The Just One, whose supremacy will not be denied. (Acts 7:52, 22:14)

Will the Cherokee Nation win this skirmish? Time will tell. But, one thing is certain: we have yet to see exactly how the final chapter will flesh out. Still, the Bible hints that the enemies of God will ultimately be broken “with a rod of iron;” the Lord will “dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2:9)

By saying these things, I do not mean to imply that God’s primary trait is vengeance. He is a merciful God (Psalm 103). He delights in showing mercy, even to those who have flaunted their rebellion. That is perhaps nowhere more evident than in His forgiveness of the thief on the cross, who had no opportunity to be baptized, to do good works, or to demonstrate his change of heart. No matter what kind of sin we might consider, God loved us so much that He sent His sinless Son to pay the penalty of our sins and crimes against Heaven with His Own precious blood. And, He offers full pardon to “whosoever” will come to Him in repentance and faith.


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C.T.L. Spear

When a key leader leaves, people respond or react. Since this event is inevitable, organizations with foresight should create contingency plans. Entrepreneur types often avoid such processes, preferring to pretend invincibility while presuming their own continuity. Some merely enjoy living in the present and choose not to entertain thoughts of reversals and destructive influences.


Organizations, like families, are necessarily composed of relationships, and relationships in turn are affected by personalities. When death visits a family, taking a key leader, responses or reactions are set in motion.


The grieving process has been analyzed and discussed at length. Grief support groups now offer comfort and counsel to the bereaved, but organizations still tend to ignore the presence of similar factors when vacancies occur in their ranks.


Eyebrows are raised when a widow remarries only weeks after her loss, but churches often “marry” a new pastor with as little attention to the grieving which is being endured by members of the congregation. Some congregations, like unsuspecting widows, invite the first available interim or permanent pastor to take the reins of leadership, with little or no investigation into the leader’s motives, gifts, background and temperament, and little regard for the emotional processes at work among the members.


Interim pastors should have as little interest in becoming the permanent pastor as an uncle who steps in to temporarily guide and assist the widow in the necessary matters of wills, estates, cemetery and funeral plans, and the reorientation and stabilization of daily schedules. If the interim imagines himself to be a candidate, and if the church supposes he might become their pastor, these possibilities should be frankly discussed before any commitments are made.


The interim will have a major influence upon the selection of the next leader, since many details of his perspective cannot but bear upon the process. His experience and his viewpoint on many related issues will either facilitate, circumvent, or delay the process. Sometimes, an interim leader views his responsibility as a burden, causing him to hasten toward most any resolution to rid himself of unwelcome tasks.


Therefore, it is vital that a thorough investigation into such matters be made before commitments are made. Each organization has its own set of mitigating circumstances which makes it difficult to merely adopt a template or questionnaire that addresses all the significant issues. Still, much can be learned by reviewing documents and processes others have used.


It is best to think it over before the departure, when the pressure is off. But, when that is not an alternative, careful thought must precede action.