Thursday, March 10, 2011


Ask a question about tithing in a room full of Baptists, and you'll get more than your share of opinions on the subject. Dean Shriver has written an excellent article entitled Can we preach the tithe?

He does a good job, I think, of breaking down tithing into three categories of how we find it in the bible. I'll have to do some research on it, but so far I'm in agreement with what he has said.

The three categories are: "tithing as covenant", "tithing as legalism", and "tithing as worship".

Tithing as covenant is for Israel. Tithing as legalism is for the Pharisee. Tithing as worship is for the New Testament believer saved by grace through faith motivated by thanksgiving and privilege.

Read the article and share what you think.

Making Disciples

I just read an article about youth ministry entitled "If You're not Making Disciples, what are you making?" Though the author's question is framed around youth ministry, his premise can be attached to the whole church.

If our church is not making disciples, what are we making? That is very interesting considering that our primary task as God's people is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20)

The author asks some probing questions to help us think through the answer to his main question. They can be applied to the whole church as well. I'll change the word "students" to "church members" for the sake of our conversation.

1. Are we leading our [church members] to be legalists?

Are we cultivating in our churches people whose primary calling is to abide in Christ (John 15:1-8) seeing as how the Holy Spirit is the one who "produces" the fruit? Or, are we training our members to be "rule keepers" like the Pharisees?

2. Are we leading our [church members] to be lukewarm religionists?

Are we training our members to "go through the motions" of religion or are we cultivating their heart passion and devotion for Jesus to be lived out every moment of everyday?

3. Are we creating spiritual consumers?

Are we seeking to cultivate our church members' depth of devotion and obedience to Jesus, or are we more concerned about making sure everyone is happy with the performance on Sunday morning?

4. Are we, in a word, leading our [church members] away from Christ?

Are we more about cultivating our religiosity or about the great privilege and call of following Jesus daily and being transformed into his image by the Word through the Spirit?

The questions are the author's. These answers, at least in part, are some of my own thoughts.

Near the end of his article, he writes this: "You are shaping [church members'] faith. What are you shaping it to be?"

That is a good question for us all to consider because if we aren't making disciples, what are we making?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kinsman Redeemer

My bible reading took me through the book of Ruth this morning. First, what a great story! Second, what an awesome picture of Jesus.

Ruth 2:20 says, "the man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers." Speaking of Boaz, Naomi said that he was in a position to redeem.

Jesus is our kinsman redeemer. He was in a position to redeem. He had the credentials to redeem. He was willing to redeem. He, in fact, did redeem!

Hebrews 2:17 "Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people."

Therefore, we can declare with Job, "I know that my redeemer lives!"

Friday, March 4, 2011

Whose Agenda?

I want to share two paragraphs from a bible study I have the privilege to be reading entitled "The Man God Uses" by Henry Blackaby. They were very eye-opening.

"When revival broke out in Wales in 1904-05, bars closed, jails were empty, and prostitution ceased. Cities were radically affected. When the people of God are touched by the power of God and are obedient to the Word of God, they can turn a world upside down! We're to be salt and light. If in the presence of light the city increases in darkness, what is to be said about the light. There is either something wrong with it or it is hidden.

Take a moment to evaluate your community, your neighborhood, or your marketplace. Is the darkness getting darker because churches and Christians are busy, or is the light getting brighter because churches and Christians are being obedient?"

Whose agenda are we on, ours or God's? Whose goals are we trying to reach, ours or God's?

Dare we even ask the questions?

Hezekiah's Self-centeredness

I was struck by Hezekiah's self-centeredness in Isaiah 39 this morning. God had already answered Hezekiah's prayer not to die. So, God gave him 15 more years to live. In that 15 years, he made a mistake and showed the whole treasure house to the Babylonians.

Because of that mistake, Isaiah made a prophecy against him in Isaiah 39:5-7. This was a prophecy that included the fact that "some of his own sons" would be taken away into captivity and become slaves of the king of Babylon.

But, what struck me was Hezekiah's response, and it's one that we all have the potential to make in 39:8. He thought, "well, at least there will be peace and security in my days". He was so concerned about his own peace and security and comfort to the neglect of what would happen to his own children because of his mistake.

I wonder how many of us are so concerned about our comfort in our day that we are neglecting the next generation for the glory of God. Is it possible that we are so concerned about our comfort that we are neglecting to reach the next generation with the gospel and raise up a generation that seeks after the face of God who will impact future generations for the sake of Christ?

I wonder...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Stewardship, part 7 - Our bodies

Just in the last week, I was asked the question, “what does the bible say about tattoos?” That question represents a host of other questions that fall under the category of the stewardship of our bodies.

Does what we do with our bodies matter to God? Absolutely, it does. Some of the answers to these questions may not have easy answers, but there are some biblical principles to guide us in our thinking. 

Sometimes, the answer to some of these questions isn’t about right & wrong, but about whether something is wise or not.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 is one of the primary texts that instructs us about our bodies and our stewardship of them.

Two primary foundational truths from this passage:
1)    Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (v. 19) – The dwelling place of God’s presence is within us as God’s people. Therefore, whatever we do in our bodies must take in to account that reality so that whatever we do in our bodies reflects the gravity of God’s presence in us.
2)    Our bodies do not belong to us (v. 20) – When we become Christians, there is a transfer of rights away from ourselves as king to a new master, a new king. That king is Jesus. Therefore, whatever we do with our bodies ought to have the king’s approval since we belong to him.

The conclusion Paul draws in v. 20 is this, “therefore, glorify God in your body”. He repeats himself later more generally in 10:31, “so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

A desire to honor the Lordship of Jesus over our lives in calling us to be a holy people is our motivation for making decisions about what we do with our bodies and what we put in our bodies.

May God’s Spirit grant us wisdom and diligence in the stewardship of our bodies for God’s glory.