A Plea for Unity

Jonathan Threlfall shares his modern “translation” of an old preacher’s plea for unity among pastor and churches. 

As fellow pastors, we are allies in a common cause. Therefore, we must be diligent to cultivate union and communion among ourselves and seek to promote the unity and peace of the churches we oversee. We must realize how critical this unity and peace is to the wellbeing of the church as a whole, the strengthening of our common cause, the good of the individual church members, and the advancement of Christ’s kingdom.

Instead of being instigators of conflicts among churches, pastors—of all people—should themselves feel the sting of these divisive wounds. They must accept as part of their calling the responsibility to prevent and heal divisions. They must be willing to work day and night to discover ways to close up breaches between churches. Instead of bending their ears to divisive rumors, they must listen to ideas for mending conflicts, and even come up with ideas of their own and be willing to carry them out.

To bring about such unity, pastors must have a clear grasp of the ancient simplicity of the Christian faith, and of the foundation and center of universal Christian unity. We have an inbred arrogance that turns zeal for suppressing error and maintaining the truth and into a pretense for wrecking and ripping apart the church of Christ. Pastors must learn to recognize and abhor this tendency in themselves. They must be willing to impose no other rule than the rule of Scripture, which takes precedence over church confessions and other writings. Pastors must know the difference between certainties and uncertainties, essentials and non-essentials, universal truths and personal opinions.

When dealing with controversies, pastors must be careful listeners. Some doctrinal errors are real; others are merely semantic. Let us not accuse a brother of heresy before we understand what he is actually saying. We must patiently get to the bottom of an issue so we may see the real point of difference, and not make it seem greater than it actually is. Instead of fighting with our brothers, let us combine our forces against our common enemy. Let us fellowship with each other, communicate with each other, and hold meetings together without letting smaller differences of judgment come between us. As much as we are able, let us do the work of God together. The purposes of our organizations should not be to make laws, but to avoid misunderstandings, to mutually encourage each other, to maintain love and fellowship, and to be unified in the work God has charged us to do.

East Idaho Pastors Coalition

News Brief:

Yesterday afternoon on the National Day of Prayer in Idaho Falls, at Pastor Lon Huff’s church office of Eagle Rock Baptist Church, four pastors discussed and birthed a name for the start of a new coalition of pastors.  Building upon the gospel pioneers over the last 140 years, the desire is to proclaim together in unity the words and work of King Jesus in our beautiful region in the Intermountain West.

Those on this pilot committee are Pastor Lon Huff (Eagle Rock Baptist Church), Pastor Todd Wood (Providence Downtown Church / Idaho Falls Rescue Mission), Pastor Mike Ghiglia (Morningstar Christian Fellowship / Share the Son Ministries), and Pastor Steve Molsee (Roberts Community Church).

An initial evangelical pastors’ gathering for the guys is being planned for September 22-24, 2019 at Old Faithful Christian Ranch. The name is “CONNECT Pastors Retreat.”  Cost is $80 per pastor for the retreat.

In future days, our prayer is that through the East Idaho Pastors Coalition (EIPC), pastors will be encouraged in their gospel frontiers, the body of Christ will be nourished and edified, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, King Jesus will be lifted up.

Pistol in the Pulpit by Tim Rupp

On November 5, 2017, an angry man, estranged from his ex-wife and in-laws, opened gunfire on a little Baptist church in Texas.  He had one goal:  murder everyone in his path.  It did not matter whether it was a grandmother or granddaughter, all were targeted to die.   He slaughtered 26 people and wounded twenty more.  In the investigation, police found 15 empty AR-15 magazines with 30 round capabilities.  Imagine the time that he spent in shooting, reloading, shooting, and reloading.  What if there had been a trained, armed security team at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on that fateful day?

Should a church family be resigned to passivity?  Should Christian people only resort to prayer?  Or is it ok to both pray and shoot a killer who walks into a church sanctuary, brandishing a knife or gun?

Pastor Tim Rupp rolled up his sleeves and wrote the book, Pistol in the Pulpit, to seriously engage church leadership on the topic of church security.  In the Intermountain West, we would maintain the rights of the farmer or rancher to protect their animals from the predators in the wild.  We would defend the shepherd for carrying the rod in guarding the sheep.  So why shouldn’t a church family have a plan for defending themselves against someone wearing black tactical gear, a ballistic vest, and a black face-mask featuring a white skull, wielding an AR-15 pattern Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic rifle, and seeking to kill your mother or daughter in cold blood?

In Tim’s book, he builds a biblical defense for the right to bear arms, pursues righteous motives of the heart for defense, answers evangelical misinterpretations and objections, and teaches logically and wisely on security plans.  And to especially captivate your interest, he weaves in personal anecdotes and stories, from both a personal and national level.  I was totally riveted—especially when I was exactly midway through the book.  Honestly, you must read or hear the whole story from Tim for yourself.

If you have any hesitations about discussing plans of church security, I would encourage you to read Pistol in the Pulpit.  Tim’s purpose is not to incite fear among church families in Idaho Falls.  His desire is to have a conversation with you.  He motivates God’s people to be prepared.  He promotes the idea of men who desire to protect the innocent and do battle with evil.  The presence of evil will be removed once and for all when Jesus comes back again.  But until then, it is the responsibility of leaders to protect the sheep.

Providence Downtown: Launch date


The purpose of this letter is to announce that Pastor Warren Cuppy and I feel led by our Savior and King to serve and glorify Him through a new church plant in Idaho Falls.  We have incorporated this ministry through the State of Idaho in the name of “Providence Downtown Church” (Please like our Facebook page).  The church services will be conducted on Sunday evenings.  Our vision is to bring gospel hope to the poor who might be addicts, inmates, abused, and/or homeless.

Let me quickly introduce ourselves:  Since December of 1993, Warren Cuppy has faithfully pastored Dubois Community Baptist Church.  For almost a quarter of a century in Southeast Idaho, Warren has been ministering to broken people.  In the genesis of the new Bonneville County Jail, Warren initially worked as the chaplain.  He served as a monitor with men at the old Alcohol Rehabilitation Association (ARA) halfway house.  Likewise, Warren joined with Pastor Ray Vincent in providing biblical counseling through Straight Street Counseling.  Today, he faithfully travels on Sunday mornings to Dubois to shepherd the church family.  On Sunday evenings, he comes over to the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission to teach God’s Word to the community before the evening meal; and on Thursday mornings, he leads a 12-step small group in biblical discipleship.  Warren has a deep love for (1) small church ministry, (2) Christian discipleship, (3) pastoral mentoring, and (4) unity in the body of Christ.  His life verse is Philippians 3:10, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”

I was born in the LDS hospital on the Snake River in downtown Idaho Falls in December of 1969.  I graduated from Skyline High School, went off to Bible college in the East, came back to the West, and joined a little nucleus of believers at the start of Berean Baptist Church.  I pastored Berean from August of 1997 to July of 2016.  Since September of 2015, I have been ministering at the Idaho Falls Rescue Mission, first as a case manager and now for the last year as an IFRM chaplain.  My life passage is Isaiah 61:1-3.

The launch time and date for our first Sunday evening church service is 6:45 pm on March 11, 2018.  We will be meeting in the chapel of New Destiny Ministries, located in the historic, downtown Rogers Building.  Enter through the “B” Street doors.  It is with great joy that we give you all the invitation to join us for this first night of worship as we lift up Jesus downtown in Idaho Falls.

Roots by the river,                                                                 God is good, all the time,

Todd Wood                                                                              Warren Cuppy

Evangelical-LDS Conversation(s) in Idaho Falls

I appreciate the elders of Christ Community Church connecting with both Dr. Brad Wilcox and Dr. Steve Crane to set up a community meeting last night in the Civic Auditorium for conversation about God, gospel, and grace.  It was titled an Evangelical – Mormon Conversation. The event was reminiscent of when Dr. Robert Millet and Pastor Greg Johnson got together for mutual discussion five years ago about their respective faiths.

Pastor Jeff Kennedy of Christ Community Church and Jay Hildebrandt, anchor newsman of Local 8 News, introduced the conversationalists.

Here is what I have learned about the speakers by looking on the web.

The Civic Auditorium filled up with people.  I imagine 2000+ showed up to listen in on the conversation.

Pastor Steve asked most of the questions while Professor Brad provided most of the answers for what he believed in his LDS faith.  Pastor Steve would follow by sharing some Scripture and his evangelical conviction.

Here are six highlights of what Dr. Brad Wilcox shared with us.  To my LDS friends, please feel free to post any questions or clarifications.  From this conversation, I have not included any of Pastor Steve’s reciting Biblical Scripture or his evangelical convictions.

  1. Nature of God – God and Jesus are separate beings. The Father has a body of flesh and bones and is the father of spirit children. He is literally the father of our spirits. The Father is a physical father to Jesus.  God is very personal and tangible.  The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three Gods but one in spirit.  The Holy Spirit will someday take a body.  There is not much to know of the Gods before the Heavenly Father of this world. There is the acknowledgment of many Gods but the worship of only one God.
  2. Jesus – Jesus was a part of the Godhead before he came to the earth and took on a body. Jesus atoned for sins by providing immortality for all.  This atonement took place in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the cross, and climaxed in his resurrection.  Dr. Brad Wilcox urged evangelicals to agree that LDS have a different view of Jesus but it is still the same Jesus.
  3. Humans – All humans preexisted with God and Jesus. And all were at different levels of progression before they were born on this earth.  LDS will progress to the delight of their Heavenly Father but they will never become equal to Him.
  4. The Fall in the Garden of Genesis – LDS do not consider it strictly a punishment alone for Adam and Eve being sent from the Garden. Look at the consequence for Adam and Eve as more like being sent to school. God did not give them plan B.  It was all planned.  Think of how men and women fall, get back up, and get even better in their lives because of their falls.
  5. Salvation – It is not just a get-out-jail-free card. Neither is it just slipping St. Peter a $20 bill at the pearly gates and asking to get in.  Salvation is not Jesus merely supplementing all the works that LDS do.  It is the joy of reading one book after another given by the Heavenly Father.  Consider the maintaining LDS covenants as inviting more and more grace into one’s life.  Salvation is not being a spiritual couch potato but life transformation in being more like Christ. After death, audiences in spirit prison are invited to hear the LDS gospel.  They have the opportunity after death to learn and to love Jesus.  In accordance to their responses, the levels of heaven will be according to what they feel most comfortable with.   Hell is very small.  Heaven is very big.  Brad Wilcox is big on grace.
  6. The Bible – LDS love and respect the Bible. It is rich in history that speaks of living prophets, that is why they follow living prophets for today.  Amid the 90,000 Christian sects, denominations, or groups, the LDS prophet today provides God’s voice of unity.  If today’s LDS prophet and apostles were directed to discontinue a practice in the Bible, they would follow their prophet.

Dr. Brad Wilcox urged evangelicals to open their thinking to a “much bigger picture” of God and progression of salvation in this life and life after death.   Again, I did not share Steve’s part of the conversation.  But Pastor Jeff of Christ Community Church mentioned they will seek to put the video coverage on their church website and provide video links by email to all who registered by email. Hopefully, that will spike your interest.

I love living among LDS neighbors and friends in Idaho Falls.  I am convinced more than ever that God has me as his missionary in this city.

I love King Jesus.  Send me an email, give me a call, or come by my office if you would like to talk about Him.

Grace to you all,

Todd Wood

Pastor Michael Wedman and India

Charles Barnes writes:

Sent from Idaho Falls

Michael Wedman, pastor of Discovery Fellowship in Idaho Falls, is planning to go to New Delhi, India to help train local pastors how to preach God’s Word more effectively.  He will be part of a team from CrossTalk Global, whose mission is to provide quality training in the context, language and culture of local pastors.  Michael will depart on April 14 for two weeks and return to India annually for the next six years to continue this training.  He is seeking both financial and prayer support for his trip.  Donations can be made using the following link: https://crosstalkglobal.cloverdonations.com/india-mike. If you would like to support Michael with prayer, please email him atwedmanfamily@gmail.com. To learn more about the ministry of CrossTalk Global, see http://www.crosstalkglobal.org/.

Eric Strom’s recent trip to Liberia

Trip to Liberia 2/7 – 2/17/17

I just returned from my second visit to Liberia, Africa working with Joshua Milton Blahyi, the former warlord, General Butt Naked. The trip was mainly relational, restorative and reconciliatory. The focus of the mission, Journey Against Violence, is recovering ex-child combatants from the civil wars. I am currently working with two such young men, Abraham Fahnbulleh and William Wilson. Abraham was previously a Muslim, a fighter and heroin addict. He recently graduated from high school in June 2016 at 31 years of age. He currently is operating a business in the Mount Barclay township outside of Monrovia. He services and charges cell phones, takes passport photos, copies and produces documents, conducts mobile money business, rents sound equipment for celebrations and sells various electronic items. He was recently broken into and had his computer, camera and printer stolen. I was able to provide replacements with the money donated from my church family and friends. He is now working at full strength as a respected businessman in his community to the glory of the Father.

Wilson had tried working on his own for the past nine months. He was able to purchase a motorcycle for a taxi business. Through infrequent maintenance, the motorcycle broke down. He has construction skills and was working with some men building a structure. When he went to ask for his pay, they beat him, leaving him with two broken arms. After healing, he was unable to use the motorcycle because of the injuries to his arms. He asked if I could help him in a business. The Father instructed me to set up a gas and fuel business for him. We purchased all the necessary equipment and put him to work the very next day. He sold ten gallons of gas the first day. He was ecstatic. Since the first day, he has purchased two more 70 gallon barrels for fuel (diesel) and is selling close to his capacity daily which is above two hundred gallons combined. He is so thankful to the Father for providing him with a means of living and resources for his family. Again, finances were provided by my church family and friends.

Abraham took me to the ghetto where he used to live as an addict and gang member. We entered a house and found a small room with four men sitting around a table smoking heroin. These were his brothers. Once they got over the shock of seeing a white man enter their world, they invited me in and received me. I hope I was able to convey some hope to them that facilities were being built to receive them and get them out of this bondage. They begged me to take them now. My heart was so broken for “the least of these”. Their country ignores them. Their society is afraid of them. I assured them that the Father has not forgotten them.

Journey Against Violence is currently building facilities in the bush to house 480 men upon completion. Once the first dormitory is finished, men will be able to enter the program. I am able to provide consultation for education and drug and alcohol treatment. I will return upon direction from my Father. My current schedule of Refirement fits this very well. Your prayers are coveted and needed.