More on One of the Safe Harbors – Ref Alive

I can only assume that God truly does have a sense of humor. Sometimes I think it’s a twisted (in a godly sort of way, or course) sense of humor. I mean think about it. He came up with bright pink birds whose legs bend backwards. He created the platypus – the PLATYPUS. This is a mammalian creature that has a duck bill, hair, webbed feet, and lays eggs. It’s a mammal that can dispense venom. And it has a stupid name. Yeah. God has a sense of humor.

Further proof of this propensity is the fact that he moved the hearts of the men and women who worship at Reformation Alive Baptist Church to appoint me as one of their Elders. Yes, you read that correctly. I am an Elder (and I don’t just mean one of the oldest guys there) at Ref Alive Baptist Church.

I have constantly refused to pursue almost any kind of leadership role or title within the church. Operating on the edges is good enough for me. But one day several months ago, while I was minding my own business, I asked the pastor what I could do to help ease the transition that was taking place. If you take a look at one of the earlier articles, you will read about Ref Alive losing its pastor because he lost his day job (the Seminary he teaches at was not able to pay him or the other employees) and we couldn’t afford to make up the difference.

When I asked about what I could do to help, he said something to the effect of “The Elders want to present you for consideration for Elder to the church. Would you support that?” I agreed. Some five weeks later, after getting some questions from the congregation (I don’t think they had a lot to ask since they know pretty much where I stand on most things.) they voted unanimously to appoint me as an elder.

The task is frightening – or maybe humbling is a better word. The task makes watching the pimps devour their flocks on a daily basis even more outrageous, even more heartbreaking, even more infuriating. I study, pray more than I have ever prayed in the past, listen, and work really hard at giving thoughtful, consistent responses to questions and concerns.  And I  don’t even have an armor bearer.

When people in the congregation have problems I am there to listen, to pray with them, and if possible, to present a possible solution. As I said, it’s scary. But through the grace of God, and certainly not my own innate genius, I seem to be filling the role in a satisfactory manner. No one has complained about me yet. And I don’t think the baseball bat I carry around has anything to do with the lack of complaints.

As I said earlier, the original pastor, Eric Redmond, had to leave. His replacement, Billy Womack is a brand new pastor/vocational elder. And I mean brand new. This is his first pastorate; these are some of his first sermons. But like the man he replaced, you walk away from the sermons with the thought “Here’s where I need to change.   This is what I need to pay attention to.” Billy has a full time job – eight hours or more a day, five days a week, week in and week out. Then he has to put ten to twelve hours into his sermon, every week, week in and week out.  And did I tell you his wife just had a kid?

If you want to hear the results of his studying and his understanding of the Word of God, go to  This is the kind of stuff we were getting when Eric was here.

If you are in the area, and you want to listen in person, come on by. Here’s the church information:  We’re Reformed, Baptist, and want to help you to understand the meaning of holiness.  Oh, and we’re really friendly too.   

9 Responses to “More on One of the Safe Harbors – Ref Alive”

  1. electlady Says:

    Hello. This is great news. I read this site quite a bit, but have never responded. I plan to visit the church in the near future. Thanks for the enlightenment (is that a word :)) that is on this site.

  2. Henry Thompson II Says:

    Welcome to the ministry, brother. Will be praying for you and RefAlive.

  3. Melanie Says:


  4. Devin Says:

    Congrats sir! May God bless you and keep you on this new journey. I can say with confidence that God had prepared a good candidate and you have already been operating in this office via this virtual congregation. Awesome!

  5. Cushie Says:

    Good news! Pray it all goes well.

  6. EF Says:

    Here is something I copied from regarding armor bearers. To the Minister of this site, please share your thoughts on the question of armor bearers as described at that web site. Armor bearers seems to be something that was developed in the last few years by certain denominations. Thanks in advance.

    Question: “What is an armor-bearer? Should there be a church position of armor-bearer?”

    Answer: In Scripture, an armor-bearer (also spelled armorbearer and armor bearer) was a servant who carried additional weapons for commanders. Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Saul (1 Samuel 16:12), Jonathan (1 Samuel 14:6-17), and Joab (2 Samuel 18:15) had armor-bearers/armorbearers. Armor-bearers were also responsible for killing enemies wounded by their masters. After enemy soldiers were wounded with javelins or bows and arrows, armor-bearers finished the job with clubs and/or swords. After the time of David, armor-bearers are no longer mentioned, likely due to the fact that commanders began to fight from chariots (1 Kings 12:18; 20:33).

    Some churches today have instituted a figurative position of armor-bearer. The duties range widely, but generally speaking, a church armor-bearer carries the “armor” of a church leader, such as the leader’s Bible “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). In some instances, a church armor-bearer essentially serves as a church leader’s bodyguard. Is the idea of a church armor-bearer biblically-based? No, it is not. Does the concept of a church armor-bearer contradict anything in Scripture? Not necessarily. Any church considering such a position should prayerfully study God’s Word and make sure the responsibilities assigned in no way conflict with the New Testament’s teaching on the church. The fact that the New Testament nowhere mentions armor-bearers and nowhere describes any of the apostles/prophets/elders having a person in that role should give pause to any church considering instituting the role of armor-bearer.

    (MN: I can speak from my limited experience as an armor bearer (AB) at First Baptist Church of Glenarden on the Kettering before it moved to the Kettering. The head AB [Chester Bellinger] put out a call for men interested in being ABs, announcing that he would be holding training on such and such a date. I went through the training and came out what amounts to a butler. The AB was, at the time responsible for driving the pastor (and sometimes his wife) around. You got to wait for him when he met with other important pastors, you got to make sure he had a change of clothes waiting for him on Sunday moring between sermons. Hey, a man can work up quite a sweat when it’s all about appearances and not content. In other words, you did all the stuff a normal person would have to do himself if he didn’t have a butler.

    Personally, I think the churches that do this make a huge mistake and suffer a trememdous loss. I would see an armor bearer (if you have such a thing today) as the pastor’s back up, his sparring partner, a man to help the pastor to keep his head on straight.

    But that’s just me. )

  7. Cheryl Forehand Says:

    Dear Melvin,
    This is wonderful news. Praise the Lord! I will be praying for you.

    I would like to introduce you and others who may be interested to Grace Advance Mid-Atlantic. Grace Advance Mid-Atlantic is a ministry devoted to strengthening, supporting and encouraging pastors and developing churches who have a like-minded biblical philosophy of ministry. Below are some links to Grace Advance Fellowship and the upcoming conference, “The Fight for Sanctification”. For more information on Grace Advance Mid-Atlantic, you may contact my pastor, Tom Leake, Hope Bible Church ( at 443-200-4673.

    In Christ,

    (MN: The only problem is the congregation is so well taught I’m going to have a heck of a time convincing them to sacrifice to buy me a cheap suit or even last year’s Lexis.

    But on a serious note: Anyone reading the site – check out the Grace Advance links. Especially if you believe God is moving on your heart to be a part of starting a church. If it’s backed by MacArthur it should be pretty orthodox. )

  8. veman96054 Says:

    Be interesting to hear your prospective on being an elder from time to time. What the realities of running a responsible church.

    (MN: Sounds like a plan, or close enough to one. I’ll see what I can do. )

  9. Trey Harris Says:

    Good stuff Melv. I’ll certainly pray that you be given the wisdom to faithfully carry the task of elder. How’s Decline of AAT coming?

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