Tag Archives: Rhett Canipe


As I walk further along the road of life with the Lord, I have notice a troubling trend. The church (the body of Christ) has become guilty of allowing the traditions of men to become as the commandments of God. Jesus warned us of this in Matthew 7.

Along the way, we have made the hymn book equal with the Word of God. If we use drums and guitars instead of pianos and organs, we are somehow dishonoring God. Now where exactly is that in Scripture.

We have taught and been taught that “where two or three are gathered in His name,” God will, definitely, answer our prayer. Now where exactly is that in Scripture?

We have taught and been taught that there are “certain” clothes that we must wear to church on Sunday morning. (I guess Wednesday’s do not matter. For God must give us liberty during “prayer meeting.”) This is called our “Sunday best.” When, again in reality, many people that are wearing their best would be turned away or shunned from many churches today. Who is to say that their “t-shirt” isn’t the best they own? But I digress, where exactly is that in Scripture?

We have taught and been taught that if someone drinks a beer they are in sin. Now where exactly is that in Scripture?

We have been taught that we must ask forgiveness of sin daily, because we are nasty sinners that will be out of fellowship with God if we don’t make things right. Now where exactly is that in Scripture?

We have taught and been taught that the two of each kind of animal went on the ark, there were three wise men, those same wise men came to the stable, that prayer can change God’s mind, and so on. Now where exactly is that in Scripture?

I contend that God could care less about hymn books or drums. “Where two or three are gathered in His name” is actually a church discipline text from Matthew 18. Jesus teaches “come as you are now,” not after you change clothes. Actually, the Bible teaches that drunkards will not enter the kingdom of God. Hebrews 10 teaches that after Jesus defeated sin on the cross, “He sat down!” A reference to one of His remarks on the cross, which was “It is finished!” The fact of the cross was complete forgiveness, So much so, that God does not remember our sins anymore. Why should we keep asking God daily to do what He has already done?

I believe God is simply concerned with preachers preaching the truth. Not traditions, not what we have been taught, but the truth of God’s Word. Even if it pushes the mark! Men of God must study to show themselves and not be ashamed to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

It is time for preacher’s to “Preach the Word, not the traditions of men!


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The New Fetish: SELF!

Have you ever noticed how quick people will let you know how miserable their life is? All you have to do is “open a door” for them to speak and they will jump right in!

I have begun noticing that people are consumed with themselves. I have always known that we, by nature, are a selfish people, but I just never saw it as blatant as it is today. It is obvious why Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Because He knew we would have no problem with looking out for number one. Now, let me be honest, I also fall into this trap many times myself. However, I have been seeing more and more Christians that fall into this trap on a regular basis.

Facebook has become a valuable tool for connecting with new friends or reconnecting with old ones. And I enjoy keeping up with friends from the past and “socializing” with new people in my life. But this “social network” has also become a place of self-grumbling about how bad life is in the present.

But the key things I have noticed are the common denominators. While looking at our church member’s statuses, a trend has developed. The members that are sold-out to serve God, the church, and their fellow man are usually upbeat about life and encouraging others. But the ones that just “show-up” at church on Sunday morning, never serve in the church, and never serve others become chronic complainers about life and others.

For example, Peggy Morris, a sold-out believer and church member, recently had surgery. Not once has her status been about how pitiful her life has been because of the surgery. Her statuses have constantly been about Scripture or encouraging others. Don Hall, another sold-out believer, constantly encourages others and never speaks of self.

Do these people have problems that arise in their life? Sure they do! But they have found the key to overcoming problems is faith in Christ and investing in others. Because when you invest in others, you take the focus off of self!

It is true what grandma said: “You can always find someone worse off than you!” My challenge to you believer is “Go Find Them!”

The Bible says to outdo one another in honor, esteem others more than yourself, and to encourage one another. It never tells us to compete to find whose life is really the most miserable.


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Begging Verses Exhorting!

The definition of begging is, simply, pleading that something be done. The use of the word is usually meant for the begger to attain something for themself.

However, the word exhort means to inspire or encourage strongly for someone to attain something for themselves.

As I was preaching Sunday, I realized that many preachers fall into the trap of begging. We beg people to give, serve, or commit to a life of Christ. Our ministries reflect that Christ has no power because we have to beg people to live for Someone who, supposedly, gave them life.

However, Paul exhorted people. Yes, he reminded them of what the Lord had done for them, but why would he have to beg believers to sellout to a God that died and rose again to give them eternal life. Would Paul beg? As Paul would say, “Certainly not!”

As pastors, we must continue discipling new believers to mature in the Lord. This includes inspiring, encouraging, and exhorting.

But should we have to “beg”, so-called mature believers to a surrendered life. I would say, “Cetainly not!” They should have the Holy Spirit residing within their heart to encourage them to finish well.

The point is: A person whom must be “begged” to serve the Lord has never truly known the Lord.

Yes, we all need exhorting and encouraging from time to time. But should our life represent one that has to be begged. Absolutely not!

Step up Church! Be the believer you were called to be. For you have been crucified with Christ.


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Liberal, hum?

I listened to a local pastor preach recently on the church. The final analysis was that these new churches are watering down Christianity so much that God is dishonored.

The problem is that his definition assumed that jeans, black backgrounds, flip-flops, bands, and piercings equaled liberal preaching.

He made me think of a part in my doctoral dissertation I wrote last year. Hope you enjoy!

Churches are called to be on-mission, but Alvin Reid writes, “Churches are not interested in reaching the world because they’re involved in such ‘important’ issues as whether people should clap in church, or whether guitars violate Scripture, or whether the carpet should be green or brown.” Believers easily confuse their preferences for biblical convictions, argue about the non-essentials, and then wonder why the outsider does not come.

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, is convinced that missions begin at home. The pastor believes that the local church must take the gospel to the streets to win the world and that it will be effective when the gospel, along with the church involves the culture. In other words, it takes all three; the gospel, the church, and the culture. The church cannot be fully effective until it works with all three simultaneously.

Jesus confronted the culture. His first miracle involved turning water into wine. Jesus hung out with Samaritans, adulterers, thieves, and obvious sinners. It sounds odd, but Jesus embraced the culture in order to change the people within the culture, and He began at home in His natural culture.

However, there is difficulty when embracing culture. People have questions, and they do not assume what always has been, should always be. Many are simply unchurched and have a need for answers. The local church must become intentional and professional at creating the gospel language that more reflects the culture of this present day. Again, this language is not a different message, simply, a different way of presenting the same message.

As free in Christ as the church is, it has often been guilty of trying to change the culture where it resides, instead of allowing Christ to change the people within that particular culture. It is also amazing how the church is guilty of regularly seeing its culture, the church culture, as the correct Christian position. The challenge is that believers have to become missionaries to those they find unpleasant and that God has placed right across the street. Driscoll writes, “To be faithful in reformission, we must embed ourselves in a culture and develop friendships with lost people so that we can be informed and avoid making erroneous judgments.” The friendships that are made within the unchurched culture actually help to teach believers about the culture they are trying to reach. Dan Kimball writes, “We need to make sure we are not trying to see them ‘born again’ into our Christian subculture and changed into one of us instead of being transformed by the Spirit into a disciple of Jesus.”

This is very important because today’s culture does not understand what the church is saying. As the church is trying to reach the culture around them, they must have a healthy understanding, as a local church, about their culture. Just as the church does not understand the world at times, the world often does not understand the church. Driscoll writes, “The better we understand a culture, the better prepared we will be to reach that culture so that God can transform how people think, what they value, and how they experience life.”


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What a Church!

Inspired by Perry Noble, pastor of Newspring Church in Anderson, SC, I couldn’t help but ponder how blessed I really am. He stated the following, “I believe in the church today, there’s been a major breakdown in communication between Jesus and His people. And I believe the communication breakdown that exists in the church in America today is instead of trying to build His Church, we’ve been asking Him to build our church. When in actuality we are called to lift up the name of Jesus Christ! IT IS HIS CHURCH!”

I am so thankful to be part of a church that is concerned, no totally consumed, with building the kingdom of God more than their personal kingdom.

I am amazed of where God has brought us to thus far, and can’t wait to see where we will be at this year’s end. How many more souls will be saved, marriages restored, relationships healed, and addicts recovered this coming year. Only God knows! But I am glad that there is a church that loves seeing salvation and sanctification in action!

I love you, Heights Church! Let’s Rock!


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Ready or Not here It Comes!

What a great year 2009 has been! However, the turn of a new decade is upon us. I look back and see all the changes in my personal life in this past decade and am, simply, blown away.

Since the turn of the century, I have finished a master’s degree and a doctorate. Both my children have received their driver’s licenses and have graduated high school. My son has married. I have become a grandfather twice. I have been a senior pastor for the past six years. I have also spent more than half my life married to the most wonderful woman in the world.

The question is: Where will the next ten years take me? That is a great question for anyone? What will we do with the next ten if God wills that we should even have it?

Do I now go down the homestretch preparing for retirement? Do I focus all my energy on my grandchildren?

I believe God has me here to focus on others coming to Christ. My sole purpose is to tell others about the love and grace that this man, Jesus Christ, gave to me fourteen years ago.

I am convinced that without Christ, none of the great things in my life would have come to pass. He has blessed me and calls me “highly favored” in His Word.

Will I neglect that? Will I turn inward and focus on self? It would be so easy. However, my goal for this decade is to pick up the pace, finish strong, and tell as many as I can about a Savior. “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Lord, please never allow me to be counted among the few!

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A typical church member today believes that everyone knows how to act in church, knows to wear their Sunday best to church, knows that church people only listen to certain types of music, etc. In other words, “secular stuff” does not belong in the church, because the church will look worldly, instead of reverent!

Every human being has their own physical perceptions in life. Some perceive that overweight people need to quit eating so much. When in reality, they may be sick. It has been perceived that people with long, weird hair are troublemakers; those with tattoos are gang members, and so on. It can be perceived that people with skinned heads are radical racists, when they may simply be Marines who are home on leave.

However, people also have spiritual perceptions. Some members hold that church people should look and act a certain way; only certain music should be allowed in the house of God; true Christians only read the Kings James Version of the Bible; deeply spiritual people pray in King James language; and a respectful, Bible-believing church is actually quiet and reserved. Then when another church attempts to do ministry in a more relevant way is accused of selling out. Kimball teaches that the church must quit accusing others of “selling out” who use different methods for reaching the unchurched culture. Driscoll agrees with Kimball that the church is quick to condemn other Christians who do not do church the way they do.

The body of Christ’s perceptions must change. Humans are not an omniscient people; therefore, most perceptions by them are normally wrong. However, great churches are not afraid of reality. Therefore, leaders and members alike must take a fresh look at the local church, be honest, and change what must be changed. If a local church’s ministry is effective and people are being saved, churches should still take a healthy look on a regular basis and eliminate what is not effective any longer.

James White writes that there are five different groups in every church when it comes to change. He lists the innovators, opinion leaders, early adopters, late adopters, and the resistant. The innovators, roughly 2 percent of the body, actually are the ones who come up with the good ideas for change. The opinion leaders, 14 percent, are the ones who actually communicate these ideas to the body, whether for or against the new idea. The early adopters look to the opinion leaders and typically fall right in line with the anticipated transition. The late adopters normally come onboard when they are no longer in the majority. Then the resistant, approximately 16 percent, are those who absolutely do not want to change a thing.
The late adopters feel like things are fine the way they are and have always been. They declare if it was good enough for them, then it should be good enough for everyone else. This group is a demanding force that often feels much bigger than it really is. However, God, in His wisdom, uses this group to keep the church from moving too quickly in the wrong direction. At other times, they can become a major stumbling block in a significant move of God. Sometimes they hinder a move of God, and the church misses what God had for them. The God-given opportunity may be gone forever. Change is good and needed, but leaders must lead through all attempts at transition for just a slim chance of seeing different results.

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Why, with all the churches in America, is the local church missing so many with the gospel? First, Americans are an inward people by nature and simply do not go and win them. Second, the local church has a reluctance to change, and most are in a desperate need of a radical transformation and commitment to Christ.

Why is change so hard in a church? People experience change everywhere else in the world, often without an argument. When it comes to church, however, feelings get hurt, churches split, and some people walk away. There are some who make the case that people many times feel change is synonymous with compromise. This can be true when principles change or when character changes. For example, when the church waters down its theology to win the seeker, this is not a healthy change; this is an ungodly abandonment of truth. The goal is to change the method—not the message—where it needs changing, and this can be done very effectively.

Change is not a dirty word, but a very healthy word. Change allows the local church to stay visible and not get mired in the culture of the past. Alvin Reid writes, “There’s a difference between being contemporary and being chic.” Changing any method just for the sake of change can cause serious problems in the local church. Every change must be a transition to take the church to its intended destination. However, one reason change is so hard is that people may not see the value in the intended change.

Many times leaders and the church look more at the “what’s” of change, instead of the “why’s” of change. The church begins with a healthy decision that something must be done to win more people to Christ. They also have a very sincere aspiration to do whatever it takes to see the Kingdom grow. However when the rubber meets the road, the ordered change gets messy.

When change begins, people become troubled with what they perceive as something they are losing, instead of what may be best. When they lose their “sacred cow” somehow, “the change” becomes personal. People, especially long-time church members, begin to take the change process personally, instead of staying focused on the transition that is needed. Mark Driscoll writes in The Radical Reformission, “Some churches are more into their church and its traditions, buildings, and politics than the gospel. Though they know the gospel theologically, they rarely take it out of their church.” When this happens, the “why” becomes distorted and the all of the effort now goes into defending the “what” on one side and protecting the “what” on the other. The “why” started out as being the focus, but now all the focus has become on the “what” and nothing gets accomplished. That is the problem in many local churches in America.

The church must continually stay focused on the “why!” Heights is a church that does that! I believe this body of believers is willing to do whatever, whenever to win the lost and dying. They understand that people finding Christ is the only “why” that matters.


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The local church must change. Many churches have become inward and stagnant, losing their mission and ministry vision. The local church today reflects more of a social gathering than it does an on-mission group of believers. Mark Driscoll writes in The Radical Reformission, “These churches exist to bring other Christians in, more than to send them out into the culture with the gospel. Over time, they can become so inwardly focused that the gospel is replaced with rules, legalism, and morality supported with mere proof texts from the Bible.” Driscoll is among those who see the local church as losing its effectiveness with the new generation, while others may contend that the church lost it the last couple generations. To many the church has become irrelevant to many in today’s world.

Many church attendees are set in their minds of what and who belong in the church. Many believe that people must look, smell, and act a certain way, or they should not even be there. They must not drink alcohol, smoke, have tattoos, use foul language, have the wrong job, live in a certain place, and so on. In other words, they must be perfect in an imperfect world to be a part of the social fraternity, formerly known as the church even before they become believers in Christ. The attitude seems to be that unbelievers are to act like believers before they are disciplined believers. The typical local church wants unbelievers to be “fixed” and then come to church, instead of coming to church and getting “fixed” by the transforming power of the gospel message. This blogger believes the greatest hindrance to evangelism today is self-righteousness and self-centeredness embedded in believers.
Individual believers would do well to remember they are also sinners who are saved by the grace of God.

This inward approach must be stopped if the local church ever wants to restore any relevance to this lost and dying world. To win these “radicals,” individuals in the church may have to become radical themselves. The local church may have to relinquish some of their self-perceived rights to win the lost.

The local church has slowly become a needs-based ministry. Churches tend to focus on those already on the inside or they may lose them as members. In many churches, everything is designed around the needs of the congregation. When this happens little emphasis is placed upon doing something for someone else. This attitude that is prominent in the local church today has limited their mission’s impact.
In The Emerging Church, Dan Kimball writes that the local church must “rethink everything we do.”

Alvin Reid writes, “Many in the Church have lost their passion and conviction about the gospel.” Many have never had the passion and conviction for the gospel. The local church is full of people whose inconsistency hinders the unchurched. Members become so busy with life that many forget not only those without Christ but also their personal relationship with Christ. Satan has done a great job of keeping believers busy with non-essentials. However, the church must renew its zeal for the lost and realize that the radically unchurched are ripe for harvest.
There are many people in America, who have never read a Bible, who believe Noah’s Ark is just another boat docked in the local harbor, and who have never darkened the door of a church. Statistics show that this people group account for 41 percent of America. Research shows that with over 350,000 Protestant churches, there are less than 350 growing by conversion growth. This statistic alone proves that American churches are not reaching this culture.

I thank God that I am blessed to pastor a group of people that will do whatever it takes to see lives changed by Christ. Heights, we are nowhere near finished, there is still much work to be done. More changes are coming; more mess-ups are probably on the way; however, we will not fail by being too scared to try.

In a few weeks we move toward three Sunday morning services (More change – I know!). That simple little change will cause some panic, wandering, and plain more work, but if we are to continue reaching out, we must continue to provide the space! Get ready, here it comes!


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Heights: A Mission-minded Movement

The Bible throughout is very clear on the purpose for believers and God’s will for each life. The Scripture known as the “First Great Commandment” reads, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). In John 14:15, Christians are commanded to prove that they love God by keeping His commandments. Also, the Scripture states what is known by the “Great Commission,” “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19–20). The Scripture is also clear of the results of being doers of the word. Matthew 7:15–20 teaches that non-believers and believers alike will be known by their works.

There is a constant biblical connection between the command to love God, the proof of that love, which is obedience, and the fruit that is reaped through direct obedience. Being doers of the word is being obedient and on mission.

Missions are at the heart of the Lord’s message. When studying the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, missions are the driving force.

I praise God, Heights is a church that realizes that “church” is not a social club for members, but a hospital for the sinner, stripper, homeless, addicted, and others.

Dino Rizzo in his book Servolution wrote, “I (God) don’t see only you; I see beyond you as well . There are others who can be reached through us, and in addition, there are others in our others. God is counting on us to rise up and make the difference.”

Thank God for a church that is making a difference!

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