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The Alex McFarland Show-20-The State of the Church with guest Bert Harper

Alex McFarland Show / Alex McFarland
The Truth Network Radio
September 1, 2022 4:00 pm

The Alex McFarland Show-20-The State of the Church with guest Bert Harper

Alex McFarland Show / Alex McFarland

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September 1, 2022 4:00 pm

On today’s episode of the Alex McFarland show, Alex sits down the longtime friend, Pastor Bert Harper. Alex and Bert co-host a live radio show called Exploring the Word. Together, they come to Alex’s podcast audience to discuss the state of the Church and the importance of believers getting “back to the basics.” Tune in to hear Bert share what those “basics” are, the importance of leaving room for the Spirit of God, and the difference between excellence and perfectionism.

Alex McFarland

Exploring the Word

Exploring Missions

Bert’s Website

Fishbowl Retreat

100 Bible Questions and Answers 

Truth and Liberty Coalition

The Assault on America 

Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
What's Right What's Left
Pastor Ernie Sanders
The Voice of Sovereign Grace
Doug Agnew
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Words of Life
Salvation Army

The spiritual condition of America, politics, culture, and current events, analyzed through the lens of Scripture. Welcome to the Alex McFarland Show. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron. Hi, Alex McFarland here.

Welcome to the program. You know, we've done a couple of weeks talking about the last days and the falling away and the abandonment of biblical truth that is described in 1 Timothy 4 and other places. And we're going to talk about verse 6, where it talks about putting the brethren in remembrance.

The church, the body of believers, we're to continually be reasserting the biblical worldview. Well, I'm so excited today because I've got with me in the studio just a beloved colleague and friend of more than a decade, Pastor Burt Harper. He has been a pastor for many years.

He is just an iconic figure in and around Mississippi and the American Family Association. But he has also, for ten years, he has been my co-host on the live show that we do daily, Monday through Friday, heard live throughout the world, really, and it's called Exploring the Word. Now Burt has his own weekend program Exploring Missions, just like we have this pre-recorded weekend program, Truth for a New Generation, the Alex McFarland Show. But I wanted to have Burt on again because I can't emphasize how much this brother means to the body of Christ, but how much he means to me just personally. And Burt, without further ado, I want to say thanks for making time to be on this program today. I'd love to be with you anytime, Alex, to speak or share the Word of God. It's always refreshing.

Isn't that great? Refreshing. And as I heard you talking about what we need to be reminded of, we need to be reminded of those things but in a refreshing way.

And basically, that's up to the individual that's speaking that it is fresh from God. Amen. Well, I want to talk about the church in America and the need to be on the Word of God, be filled with the Spirit of God, be spreading the message of Jesus. But I want to talk about you and Jan. In addition to pastoring, you've built a great family, you've got great grandkids, but you and your wife Jan, you do a thing called the Fishbowl Retreat. And I know your ministry has a website, but it's not about fixing a house. What is your website?

It is, and you can find some information there about Jan and myself, and you can also look at what we do. We do Fishbowl, but we also do some conferences, family conferences and retreat. We're not full-time evangelism like you are, Alex, but we do enjoy going to a church or a retreat center and sharing what God has done in mining Jan's lives.

It's neat. God took two completely different people, welded them together, and God's done a great work. Well, and a big surprise that came along a decade ago, you and I began to do Exploring the Word together, which I was just with Tim Wildman, who's the president of the American Family Association. But Tim was just, we were giving God the glory for the listener base of Exploring the Word and the popularity of that show, and never dreamed you and I would be doing that.

We didn't even know one another. I'd heard of you. I'd listened to you with Marvin Sanders for a year or two, and when I came on board, it wasn't necessarily to do Exploring the Word, but God had prepared me for that because I had stayed at one church 28 years and just went through the Scriptures. I would preach through a book, I'd preach on a subject, and so when I was asked to do Exploring the Word, all of that that God had prepared me for came up, and we were able to start Exploring the Word, and we haven't missed a beat.

Oh, I know. And we released a book a year ago, and you and I have a second book that will be out in 23. I give God the glory for that, and folks, we'll keep you posted on Burt's ministries and the things he and I do together, but I want to talk about the church because, brother, first of all, I commend you. Pastoring for 28 years at West Jackson Baptist Church, you don't go three decades very successfully as you have done without a lot of wisdom and a lot of Holy Spirit empowerment. But Burt, I read stats about the church, and I love the church. I'm in different churches every weekend. The American church right now though needs a touch from God, so I want to bring you in and get your analysis, and I want your recommendations because, folks, listen, if you're concerned about the state of your church, we have at the microphone today an expert.

We really do. So let's talk about the status of the church and where we need to go, brother Burt. When you look at the church, our mission has not changed.

It is the same. We have added a lot of things to the church that are good, but we better get back to the basics, and that is preaching the Word. Jesus said, Feed my sheep.

That's what he told Peter. Preach the whole counsel of God. And Paul said, Make sure you preach.

Be ready in all seasons. Alex, the way I felt like God had called me to do that was expository. Now, I don't mean that I went word for word like some are able to do, but I would do it more of a text. I would go through the book of John, and I would preach through the book of John like taking the seven miracles and preaching how each one built upon the other, or I'd take the eleven different conversations that Jesus had with individuals and groups in the book of John and preach on those.

And in that way, you're going through the book of John, and you're giving people a grasp of what it says, and there are some other additional things you would say, but preaching the Word of God. And I've got one other thing. Don't be so formal. Don't—and again, I'm not talking about structure. I like structure, but don't let the structure take the place of the Spirit of God being able to—I use the word invade our territory.

He needs to invade our territory, Alex. The minister of music that I served with years for years was Terry Hurt, and Terry and I worked together, and we called it Planned Spontaneity. And we came up with that, and God would say, OK, this is what we have structured, but God, when you want to intervene and do something a little different, sing an extra song, you know, interrupt with a testimony from one, do that, Lord. We don't want to—we don't want to schedule out of what we're about to do. Well, how can it be—and I appreciate that, because, you know, I'm in a different church just about every weekend.

It's a great honor, and there is what's called the rundown, you know, the time sheet. And, hey, many— I'm not saying that's not important, but you just— You got to give room for the Holy Spirit to show up, you know. Hey, we're going to have to take a brief break in just a moment, but, folks, we're talking about the church. And I've got to believe that with 345,000 churches in America, hey, look, that's better market penetration than any restaurant or retailer.

I mean, we've got the church, we've got the people, and yet, so often, the church in America, we're not penetrating the culture, we don't seem relevant. But we're going to talk more about this, so stay tuned more with Burt Harper on this edition of the program. We'll be right back after this. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert.

Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. In recent years, our nation has suffered greatly, and we seem to be on a rapid moral decline. We've rejected God, morality, and we've almost completely lost our sense of patriotism. It's no wonder that many are asking the question, is this the end of America? Hi, Alex McFarland here, and I want to make you aware of my book, The Assault on America—How to Defend Our Nation Before It's Too Late. You know, our nation has seen politicians that are corrupted by greed, and they've got a vested interest in power, and many of our elected officials seem to care little about the country that they've been appointed to serve. Read my book, The Assault on America—We Can Stand Up for Our Great Nation and Defend America Before It's Too Late.

It's available everywhere. You can learn more on my own website, which is Read the book, The Assault on America—How to Defend Our Nation Before It's Too Late. He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely.

Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. The Gospel. God exists. Jesus rose from the dead. Our sins were paid at Calvary. We're saved by faith in Jesus. 1 Timothy 4.6—We are to put the brethren in remembrance of these things and be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine.

Welcome back to the program, Alex McFarland here, along with Burt Harper. Hey, brother, before the break, you and I were talking about giving space for God to show up. Speak, if you would, the difference between excellence and perfectionism. Okay, that's great.

Yes, there's a difference. Let me share this with you. I need to add one other thing, and everything should be bathed in prayer. A great preacher was a man called Manly Beasley. I saw him and I heard him. He would work with Dr. Adrian Rogers and Peter Lord and Ron Dunn and Bertha Smith. They would do these deeper life conferences.

All those names I've heard for you. And I grew up as a preacher hearing them. And what I would hear them say is, cover everything in prayer. Manly Beasley would talk about he would only take a meeting every other week because he wanted to have time to pray to get ready for that meeting. Now I'm not saying everybody needs to follow his model, but he said, that's the way I would do it because I've got to give my time to prayer. Hopefully the church will give their time to prayer.

Now that's in meeting. How important is it for pastors to have a prayer group praying for him, him praying? So what you would do is preach the word. By that I mean, listen, just let the word speak. And the best explanation of scripture is other scripture. And so cross reference those things.

You know, let it go. And you say, well, I can't remember the exact verse. I found out the word of God is the word of God, whether or not you put the reference on it or not.

Now the reference may give it credibility to those that doubt it, but those that are lost and kind of uninformed, they don't know where it is anyway. But if you use the word of God, the word of God, God promises, the word will go forth and it will accomplish whereto I have sent it to do. Alex, preach the word. And if you preach the word, guess what you're going to do?

I think you'll be relevant. Now there's three things you do in a sermon or a lesson. You explain the scripture, you illustrate the scripture, apply the scripture. Guess who did it? That's brilliant.

Say that again. Well, that's the way Jesus did it. And I discovered that in seminary with my seminary professor said, would it be good to preach the way Jesus did? He would explain the scripture. He would take an Old Testament passage and he would put some explanation to it. He would illustrate it. Those are called parables.

He would illustrate it and then he would apply it. And it can be your whole sermon or it can be in every part. If you have a two part sermon or three part, you use those three things. But every sermon ought to have that. If you're not explaining what the scripture says, you're missing the boat. You need to know the who, what, and when. When did Paul write this? When did Joshua say this?

And it really adds to it. And if you do it in a, I would say in a simplistic way, and I mean that, and I don't mean simpleton, but way, those that are not as informed and educated in the word, they'll catch it. And those that are educated in the word, it'll take them with you as well.

So preach the word. Burt, you know what, I'm thinking of two different churches right now. One in South Carolina, one in North Carolina. Both of these churches, seven, eight years ago, were kind of on their deathbed. Alright, one church that hears us on the radio, they call me in and ask me if I would come down. So I drove to South Carolina on a Sunday afternoon and met with like half a dozen of their leaders, and they were, I don't know, running 25 on Sunday morning. Long story short, I tried to give them a pep talk and some of these pointers, and I said, look, preach the word in your children's ministry, in your youth, and they didn't have a youth ministry at that point.

Long story short, I heard from them about a week ago. God did send a pastor, they started a prayer team, first of all, several elderly ladies praying. And this church is out in the country, and I'll just tell you, it's, you know, Mount Joy near Union, South Carolina. They are running well over 150. They've had all kinds of people come to Christ, they've got a pastor, they're thriving.

Now, it took several years to begin to see some momentum. Another church that I'm thinking of where the pastor for years had, you know, it wasn't bad, but it was kind of topical messages always, and even a series on, you know, marriage or whatever. But he said, you know, I just decided to preach the Bible every Sunday morning.

I'm just going to go sequentially, straight through books, and make application. Well, this church, they're now in two services, a couple hundred people each. Again, a church out in the country, a church with not a lot of resources, but Burt, my point is this, when you base your ministry prayerfully and scripturally, you pray, you bathe it in prayer, and you base it on the Word, first of all, you're never going to run out of content if you've got the Word of God. Also, if you go through the Word of God, now, pastors, listen up. You say, well, I'm nervous to preach about giving or tithing.

I don't want to make people mad if I talk about homosexuality and moral issues. Look, go through 1 and 2 Corinthians. You'll, from Scripture, hit the issues of the day. Every one of them, every one that you mentioned is right there in 1 and 2 Corinthians, and makes it plain. And even the book of Romans, and a lot of folks are, oh, Romans is so deep. The first part of Romans is just as plain as you can make it, and it's there. And then the book of James is an awesome book. It's a, I remember in college at Blue Mountain where I went, Dr. James Travis said, the theme of the book of James is the handbook in Christian tithing.

And it really is. It says, this is the way. And so, preach the Word.

If you're going to preach through it, a lot, W.A. Crystal said, the way he would have done it differently, he would have alternated. He wouldn't have started in Genesis and go to Revelation. But he said you'd go Old Testament, New Testament, Old, you know, and alternate. And we do that on exploring the Word.

We alternate, go to Old, New. Sometimes we do Epistles, and then we'll go back to a major lengthy book. So, you know, but stay in the Word of God.

Sometimes you want to do on subjects, you know? That's true. The ministry of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the entirety of Scripture. Exactly. So you do that subject. And that way people will, they'll grasp it, and the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.

So it is able to do the work that God wants it to do. You're not going to do God's work apart from the Word of God. Amen.

Amen. We're going to talk about revival for your church. And, Burt, we're going to take a break, but can any church be revitalized? I believe they can, no matter where.

I believe they can. Let God be God. You know, I love that Scripture about Lazarus.

Loose him and let him go. And let the preacher preach the Word and let the Holy Spirit of God, let him, not it, let him have his way. Listen, something will happen, and I believe it will be revival. Stay tuned. More with Burt Harper after this. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert.

Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. Are you tired of liberal agendas ruining our country, but you don't know what to do about it? That's why Truth and Liberty Coalition was founded. We want to equip you to take back our country and impact the world. Here's how we do it. We educate through broadcasts, conferences, and our website with resources that inform, equip, and motivate. We unify by collaborating with like-minded organizations like the Family Research Council, the Family Policy Alliance, and My Faith Votes. We mobilize by providing practical tools you can use to impact your local community.

As Christians, we are called to make disciples of nations. Together, we can change the course of our country for good. Join Truth and Liberty to connect with believers and organizations who not only want to see a change in our nation, but a community that is actually doing something about it. Join us online for our broadcast and subscribe for relevant updates on our website,

He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program. I do invite you to visit the newly redesigned site, We've got a lot of stuff there, my speaking schedule, our books, blog articles, a lot going on there. Keep us in prayer, folks. You know we're working on our conferences for 23 and 24, and if you would like to have an apologetics biblical worldview conference in your city, just email me.

We'll pray about it, we'll communicate, we'll see what we can do. We also have a newly updated event preparation manual, and whether you're planning a revival or a Bible conference, or if you want to do a major citywide event like we've done in 49 cities over the last 20 years, listen, I will send you our event preparation manual. We will coach you through how to start a prayer committee, how to start an arrangements committee with all the details, a publicity committee, and we will help you reach your city for a revival that will not only, sure, present the gospel to unsafe people, encourage and equip Christians, but this is a big thing to burden myself both, to unify the body of Christ. Bert, you know, whenever we do our conferences and we've brought in everybody you've ever thought of or heard of from, you know, Dr. Dobson, Chuck Colson on down, but what I love to see are Christians of all strata praying together. There is power in unity within the body of Christ, isn't there? There really is, and I just want to tell people on our program, Exploring the Word, when Jim Stanley, you know, comes in, I call him a pinch hitter, not a substitute, but a pinch hitter for one of us, he's going to remind us, we want to major on the things that unite us, not the things that divide us.

Now, the key word is major. There's some things that we look at that we're different. If it's Jesus Christ, he is Lord, you're saved by grace through faith, and that the Word of God is the Word of God and we stand on what it says about marriage, what it says about gender, listen, brother, the mode of baptism, I'm not saying it's not important, but, brother, I can set that aside. The versions that you use, whether it's the King James or the English Standard Version, don't let those be things that keep you from the unity that we need in Jesus Christ. Alex, those... Burt, don't we all read the KJV, the King Jesus Version? Amen. It is, I had a friend, Tommy Vinson, and he was a pastor in church, and this is when most everybody used the King James, he'd say, come to church with King James under your arm and King Jesus in your heart.

And I love that motto, you know? But King Jesus, the whole thing is making much of Jesus. And evangelism, here's what, yes, you want to share people how to be saved, but I found out evangelism is more of an atmosphere than it is just a preaching sermon. It is an atmosphere of welcomeness, an atmosphere of warmth of the Holy Spirit, of people praying, and people get in, that's like an incubator, and you get into that kind of atmosphere, people will be saved. Well, it really is compelling.

It really is compelling. Elmer Towns, who was one of my professors in graduate school, a great guy, 90 years old this year, still going strong, but he used to challenge us to be what he called a carrier of revival. We hear so much nowadays about COVID and this and that and the other, about pandemics. I wish we had a spiritual pandemic in the sense of we're carriers of the gospel, carriers of revival. What would that look like in the life of a Christian? It would be awesome because it happened in Asbury.

You've read about the great Asbury revival. They got over there in chapel at a school campus, of all things, and there were some students that had been praying. All of a sudden, the Spirit of God came down, and the students were not leaving the chapel service to go to their classes. They stayed there. Some of the people that had not gone to chapel, they decided they would come and look at what was happening, and it continued.

Guess what happened? The people who were in that chapel service and they caught the warmth of what God was doing, the purpose of what God is doing, they went out all over that town sharing the good news of Christ. After people got hurt about it, they would have people that would call them, and they would say, can you come to our church and tell people what God has done?

Guess what? When they got there, they would tell them what God had done, how God had operated, and all of a sudden, it was spreading. It wasn't just there on the campus.

It was going from church to church to church as they were carrying not only just the Word, not just the experience, but the power of God in their lives that had changed the focus and direction of their life. It changed that area and even America for a while, Alex. It really did touch America.

Or could America again have a national spiritual awakening? I believe they can, because if you look what America was like before the first great awakening on the eastern seaboard, I mean, it was horrible. Slavery was still there now.

Evil of slavery was still there. And you had all kinds of people that were conniving to make money and stealing and drunkenness, but God invaded that area. And I believe God could invade our area as well. It would be like an invasion, because, listen, Satan and his minions have occupied many things. They've occupied entertainment industry.

They're occupying the industry of commercial business. But guess what? God is the one who said that we're to go into all the world to make disciples. I don't think he's saying, except, don't go there, except don't go there.

I think it could happen. So the church that feels like they're in a spiritual dry spell, what are some steps? We talk about national revival. Let's just talk about our local church to snap out of a spiritual dry spell.

What can a local church do? Well, it's amazing what God will use in order to do that, but his prayer will always be a part of it. At the church that I was at, you already mentioned it, West Jackson Street Baptist Church, we were doing a musical. And it was awesome. It was great. It was powerful. But we had a lady in our church that had a disease, and we decided we needed to pray for her. She was a prayer warrior.

And the power of God just came in on that place. Her name was Margaret, and people was praying for Margaret because they knew she had been praying for them. And we stayed at the church on a Sunday night. The men went in one place, the women in another, and people just stayed after the worship service and prayed.

During that period of time, we saw God do amazing things. One particular week, we had a person saved every day, and one of them was on for a week. And just not during the worship service, we're talking about just coming to the office to be saved. And I was usually off on Friday, but I told Jan I was going in on Friday because I wasn't going to miss what God was doing.

And so it was around 12 o'clock, and I thought, well, I'll go home. But right before I came home, there's this guy that drove by our church, fell under conviction, pulled into the parking lot, came to the office and said, I don't know what God's doing, but he spoke to me as I came by, and I was able to lead that man to the Lord. Amen. Total stranger. Total stranger, just driving by, and God is at work.

It can happen. It's going to take prayer, preaching the Word, and I really believe it's going to take a little bit of desperation. We were desperate for Margaret. The woman who had the issue of blood, she was desperate enough to touch the hem of his garment. And Jesus said, Who was it that touched me?

You know? And we need to touch the hem of his garment in desperation for revival. Who was it that helped me out here, drew a circle around himself and said, Lord, revive.

I can't say revive this or that one, but Lord, revive me. Everything in this circle, which was just him. Lord, I give you everything in this circle. Who said that? It was Gypsy Smith. It was called the Sawdust Trail. It's back when they'd have tents thrown up and they'd put sawdust, and he'd get up and preach, and he'd say, Take your right foot and make a semicircle. Now connect that semicircle with your left foot. Get in the center of the circle and say, God, let revival begin inside my circle.

And that's a beautiful picture. Lord, it's got to start somewhere, Alex. Now I want to say this. The great awakenings and the revivals, they did not know they were in it completely until it is already happening and in the middle of it. So guess what? While we're speaking the possibility of a revival, heaven started somewhere as a reality. That ignites my imagination of what God can do.

You know, we're just about out of time, and it does, it ignites my excitement as well, because listen, folks, it's no accident you're listening to the program right now. Obviously our message to you, if you've never trusted Christ, do that today. But if you are a believer, no matter who you are, what your age, no matter how long you've walked with the Lord, listen, God has things for you. God can use you, and it can begin today. Bert, we're out of time regrettably, but I want you to pray for every listener, for revival in the churches, for the future of our country. Would you close us out with a word of prayer? Father, I thank you so much for the privilege of calling upon you that you are the God and God alone.

There's no one like you. And Father, I pray for those who are listening that our hearts would be warmed to the point of confessing our sin, turning away from our sin, and turning to you. And Father, I pray in doing so that the Spirit of God would fill us and ignite us that we would share the good news of Jesus Christ by not only our words, but they would see Christ in us, the hope of glory. For that person that needs to be saved, Father, save them. May they call upon the name of the Lord, repent of their sin, and ask Jesus to be Lord of their life, because Jesus has done everything necessary, his perfect life, his death, the resurrection, the ascension to the Father. All he is waiting is upon us to call upon him. I pray we would do that in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen. Folks, God bless you. Thank you for listening.

And Bert Harper, thanks for being on with us. And don't forget, everybody, 1 Corinthians 1558, that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Alex McFarland Ministries are made possible through the prayers and financial support of partners like you. For over 20 years, this ministry has been bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ and has been equipping people to stand strong for truth. Learn more and donate securely online at You may also reach us at Alex McFarland, P.O. Box 10231, Greensboro, North Carolina 27404, or by calling 1-877-Yes-God-1. That's 1-877-Y-E-S-G-O-D-1. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you again on the next edition of The Alex McFarland Show.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-11 11:04:36 / 2022-11-11 11:17:57 / 13

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