Friday, July 29, 2011

Thus says the Lord...

In Jeremiah 38:1-4, the prophet pronounces a "word from the Lord" to the  people of God. In response, v. 4 says, "Then the officials said to the king, 'Let this man be put to death, for he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in the city, and the hands of the all the people by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm.'"

How many of us respond the same way to God's Word today? We try to squirm out of it hearing or try to dismiss it when we do hear it. Or, we even try to re-interpret it so that it fits what we already desire rather than yield to the Holy Spirit to conform our desires and will to God's.

How will you respond to God's Word today? My prayer is that we will all respond in "loving obedience" to our Savior and Lord.

"Gospel Aspirations"

Here are two quotes that I will be using in this Sunday's message in light of Philippians 1:12-18.

DA Carson:
“Paul’s example is impressive and clear: put the advance of the gospel at the center of your aspirations. Our own comfort, our bruised feelings, our reputations, our misunderstood motives--all of these are insignificant in comparison with the advance and splendor of the gospel. As Christians, we are called upon to put the advance of the gospel at the very center of our aspirations.
What are your aspirations? to make money? to get married? to see your grandchildren grow up? to find a new job? to retire early? none of these is inadmissible; none is to be despised. The question is whether these aspiration become so devouring that the Christian’s central aspiration is squeezed to the periphery or choked out of existence entirely.”

R. Kent Hughes:
“So the centrality of the gospel is the great question and challenge for us. Is the gospel first and foremost in our lives and in our church? The answer will determine our future.”

Monday, July 25, 2011

Robert's Rules of Order

Read the following over at Dave Black's blog about church business meetings. Excellent stuff!

Good evening, bloggers and bloggerettes! Got time for a quick thought on ecclesiology?

I always enjoy our church business meetings. Today's was no exception. No matter what is being discussed, I sense a genuine willingness on the part of our members to do what is in the best interests of the kingdom. And by "kingdom" I do not mean Bethel Hill Baptist Church. That said, what I cannot fathom is our enslavement to a set of manmade rules for doing church business. Having to vote on an issue according to certain prescribed rules makes as much sense to me as someone getting into a fist fight to promote pacifism. A call to democratic voting ("majority rule") has sometimes been read into certain biblical texts, but it cannot be read out of them. Nevertheless, I suppose Robert's Rules of Order will be with us until the Rapture prior to the great tribulation (or perhaps until the end of that 7 year period, depending on your eschatology).

Two things need to said here. First, I have no doubt that a good many godly and sincere Christians truly believe that a set of manmade guidelines for decision-making is God-honoring, orderly, and efficient. They have not perceived or bothered to think about the theological implications of doing church business that way. Secondly, our God is an extremely gracious God and truly blesses those whose goal is to honor Him. I, for one, am very glad that God operates that way. His patience with those of us who muddle along is simply astounding!

The one thing I do believe is perhaps destructive to the unity of the Body is the so-called vote by secret ballot. Why do I think this? Too often this method of voting is used when people -- usually those who are in the minority on an issue -- desire to preserve their anonymity because they fear censure, rejection, or hostility by the majority. Surely, of all the reasons put forth to follow Robert's Rules of Order, this has got to be the most distressing. The reason is clear. If your church -- or mine -- is marked by genuine Christ-like love, then everybody should be able to vote his or her conscience without any fear whatsoever of being maligned by other Christians. In a healthy church, fellow members, even those with opposite viewpoints on an issue, can love and accept each other without any pre-conditions or pre-qualifications. I confess myself to be one among many whom this feature of voting bothers. 

Something seems deeply wrong when some members of a congregation despise their fellow Christians who strike them as less spiritual or less informed or less whatever. The Corinthian church was like this. Paul could rejoice that they were gifted and knowledgeable (1 Cor. 1:4-7), but at the same time he could rebuke them for being carnal and immature, behaving in ways that for Christians were inconsistent with mutual love. They were valuing opinions above love and service, and that scale of values, says Paul, is wrong.

Let me say it plainly: Should you and I disagree on a church vote, you can expect me to love and accept you just as if we had no disagreement of any kind between us; and I would expect the same of you. When Paul says that he wants all Christians to be convinced in their own minds (1 Cor. 14:4-5), surely this does not mean that we will always agree on every matter! As someone once said to me, "Dave, we don't have to see to eye on everything to work hand in hand." The mere existence of a secret ballot option makes one painfully aware of the degree of suspicion and distrust that prevails in so many of our churches. In his letters Paul censures nothing so strongly or deplorably as carnality and immaturity. None of us is entitled to claim perfection for our views -- not you, not me. Let us remember that we are very great sinners, saved by grace!

To summarize: How a matter is decided (whether yea or nay) is not nearly as important to me as seeing that every member in my church feels free to vote his or her conscience without any fear of rejection or censure. Let me be clear that if, through peer pressure, everyone should cast the same vote but fail to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit, true unity will never be achieved. Genuine unity is not uniformity or conformity but a spirit of love and cooperation, even in the midst of a diversity of opinions. I hope we can all agree and remember that the Spirit's first concern is to lead us through faith in Christ to a practical, personal holiness, and then to a life of mutual love and service. Spiritual life, at its core, is fellowship with God and fellowship with our fellow Christians. In Acts 2-6 we see a church with, it seems, some significant disagreements, but with each member pulling his or her own weight in the work, doing what they can to build a genuine Christian community in which all are equally cared for, loved, and valued. The Holy Spirit was the architect and agent of that community back in Acts, and it is He alone who today can create such unity in our churches.

Shall we not let Him have His way?

Blog News for July 25, 2011

Cheerleading vs Worship Leadership (interesting)

Does church size matter? (interesting article on why people choose certain size churches)

Ministry in the Shadow of "Wal-mart" - interesting article about smaller churches

Why do pastors get depressed? (please read)

It only takes one generation for a church to die (interesting reading)

Free Will, Calvinism, and God's Holiness (in case you are interested)

Why do I keep doing the same sin? (good article)

Put the gospel at the center of your aspirations (great article)

Praying for Each Other

The past two weeks, we have been studying Philippians 1:9-11 as a model for how we can pray for each other.

Here are six ways to pray for each other from Philippians 1:9-11 as we live as God's people for that day to His glory:

1. We can pray for our love to abound more and more - for Jesus, for each other, and for our neighbor

2. We can pray for our knowledge of God & our discernment to grow

3. We can pray for our pursuit of that which is excellent (superlative; best) according to Christ and His kingdom

4. We can pray for holiness and moral purity to be evident in our lives

5. We can pray for our lives to be filled w/ the fruit of righteousness

6. We can pray for everything in our lives to point to the glory of God & a reflection of our praise to Him

May God answer these prayers as we pray for each other.

Praying for Each Other

The past two weeks, we have been studying Philippians 1:9-11 as a model for how we can pray for each other.

Here are six ways to pray for each other from Philippians 1:9-11 as we live as God's people for that day to His glory:

1. We can pray for our love to abound more and more - for Jesus, for each other, and for our neighbor

2. We can pray for our knowledge of God & our discernment to grow

3. We can pray for our pursuit of that which is excellent (superlative; best) according to Christ and His kingdom

4. We can pray for holiness and moral purity to be evident in our lives

5. We can pray for our lives to be filled w/ the fruit of righteousness

6. We can pray for everything in our lives to point to the glory of God & a reflection of our praise to Him

May God answer these prayers as we pray for each other.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Thought this was a great article:

Salty Speech

Colossians 4:6 exhorts us, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

One of the most difficult things in the world, if not the most difficult thing to control, is our tongue, our mouth.

In fact, James reminds us that “every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

At the moment our speech occurs, what comes out and how it comes out reflects that which is in our heart at that moment. For me, that is a scary thought, a very humbling and convicting thought.

Matthew confirms this with, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Maybe that’s really why the proverb writer tells us to guard our heart (Proverbs 4:23).

Paul’s exhortation in Colossians 4 was and is to the church, the people of God. Let your speech always be gracious... Does it mean we gloss over the truth, the hard conversations? No, but, there is that verse, “speak the truth in LOVE.” That’s to be love for the other person as a brother or sister in Christ, not love for our “point of view” or our “agenda”.

If there is ever a place where we should all experience “salty speech”, it ought to be among the people of God, the community of faith.

When we don’t give it or receive it, we need the gospel--the cross, confession, repentance, forgiveness, humility among us all. Starting with me.

Keep your eyes straight ahead

Part of Charles H. Spurgeon's sermon from Proverbs 4:25:

"When you have Christ, the next business of your life must be to know Christ. Seek to know more of him, to know him better, to know him more practically, to know him more assuredly. "That I may know him," said the apostle, after he had been a believer in him for fifteen years. That same man of God speaks of "the love of Christ which passeth knowledge," even his knowledge, which was of the fullest sort; so that he meant to go on learning more and more of Christ, and he did not count himself to have attained. Christian men and women, you do not know your great Master yet. Here have some of us been nearly forty years in his service, and yet we could not describe him to our own satisfaction. Why, we hardly know the power of the hem of his garment yet. We have not descended far down into the mines of his perfections. How little know we of our hidden wealth in Christ Jesus! Oh, that we studied scripture more, that we were more teachable, and waited more humbly upon the Lord for the light of his Spirit from day to day!"

AWESOME! May we pursue our Savior and Lord with such ferver!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I just read this definition of worldliness from a David Wells' quote:

"that system of values, in any given age, which has at its center our fallen human perspective, which displaces God and his truth from the world, and which makes sin look normal and righteousness seem strange. It thus gives great plausibility to what is morally wrong and, for that reason, makes what is wrong seem normal." (p. 4)

Blog News for July 19, 2011

Word of Mouth, not just Buzz (interesting distinction)

Why do we fight, part 2

Reparative Therapy, Homosexuality, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ (interesting and thorough)

Have an awesome day!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Refiner's Fire

The refining process in our lives never ends. God is always at work in all situations to bring our character into conformity with Jesus and to conform our will to his will.

Malachi 3:2-3 says in part, “for he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver.”

Proverbs 3:11-12 read, “my son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”

Hebrews 12:5-11 read, “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits land live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

By God’s grace, I recognized this in my life this week. I thought I was doing the right thing in a particular situation and found out very quickly that I had made a mistake--out of ignorance or over-zealousness or control issues or...well, you get the point. I had to confess and repent. It is painful, and the consequences I will bear, by God’s grace...But, that’s just it. It is God’s grace that refines me for his glory and his purposes.

Have you recognized the refiner’s fire in your life recently?

Monday, July 11, 2011

July 10, 2011 Teaching - Philippians 1:3-11

Yesterday, we spent our time in God's Word at Philippians 1:3-11. We examined the three of the four affirmations Paul gives to the church at Philippi concerning their "fellowship (partnership) in the gospel."

In verses 3-5, there is an expression of thanksgiving.

In verse 6, there is an expression of confidence concerning God's Work in them, among them, and through them for the advancement of the gospel--deeper into the gospel blessings and greater zeal for gospel mission.

In verses 7-8, there is an expression of affection for the people at Philippi.

Lord willing, this coming Sunday, we will examine the fourth expression, an expression of petition where Paul reveals the content of his prayer for the church at Philippi.

May God continue to grant us illumination of His Word as we study together.

Blog News for July 11, 2011

8 Reasons why your church is stuck (thought this was interesting)

10 Simple Ways to Love your Community (these are so easy to do)

He Hath Removed the Slaying Sword (great reminder of God's grace!)

Narnia Helps Us Live Better Here (interesting)

When Orthodox Christianity is Unprofitable (great post after reading Hosea 4 last night & in anticipation for Philippians 1:9-11 next Sunday)

The Inner Essence of Worship (good reminder)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


In the last week, I have been reading the book Radical Together by David Platt. This is a sequel to the book of a similar title he penned a year or so ago entitled Radical: Taking back your faith from the American Dream. Let me say that both these books have made me squirm—a lot!

Both books seek to apply simple, biblical truths to 21st century Christianity asking the question, individually and corporately, whether our pursuits in life and in the church actually line up with what the scriptures teach clearly and unequivocally.

It is sad, however, that we have become so removed from obedience to the simple and clear teaching of scripture that we call many of the things Jesus said “radical” when in reality, the things he said should automatically be our natural (supernatural) way of life.

For example, think with me just a moment about Luke 9:23-26. It reads, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

This passage clearly teaches that the “normal” response and way of life for a disciple of Jesus is to deny oneself, take up a cross (which means death to oneself), and follow (emulate, imitate) Jesus. This is not a requirement for those who are “really serious” about being Christian; this is for everyone.

I mean, is this really radical teaching by Jesus? I believe that it only seems radical to us today, especially those in church, because we have become so infatuated with ourselves and our dreams and comfort and our security and our version of Christianity that we have relegated these instructions from Jesus for those who are “radicals” or “missionaries”. Yet, the reality of Jesus’ teaching here is that these instructions are the requirements for and evidence of being a true Christian.

Maybe the reason this seems so radical to so many in our churches today is that many are not true Christians, but only playing a game hoping they have their “get out of hell free card.”

Blog News for July 6, 2011

Challenges in Contemporary Christianity - slowing down to look

Discipleship - good reminder about the permeation of a disciple-making lifestyle

Obituary of the American Church (very good article & warning)

Authority in Preaching (good, humbling article--especially for me)

The Casey Anthony Case (interesting take)

"I'm sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me" (good article)

Reforming Church Architecture (thought this was interesting)

Is Church Membership Biblical (interesting take on this issue)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

God and Man on the Scales (re-post)

This is from Justin Taylor's blog:

J. I. Packer:
“I think of the two pans of an old fashioned pair of scales. If one goes up, the other goes down.
Once upon a time folks new that God was great and that man by comparison was small. Each individual carried around a sense of his own smallness in the greatness of God’s world.

However, the scale pans are in a different relation today. Man has risen in his own estimation. He thinks of himself as great, grand and marvelously resourceful. This means inevitably that our thoughts about God have shrunk. As God goes down in our estimation, He gets smaller. He also exists now only for our pleasure, our convenience and our health, rather than we existing for His glory.

Now, I’m an old fashioned Christian and I believe that we exist for the glory of God. So the first thing I always want to do in any teaching of Christianity is to attempt to try and get those scale pans reversed. I want to try and show folks that God is the one of central importance. We exist for His praise, to worship Him, and find our joy and fulfillment in Him; therefore He must have all the glory. God is great and He must be acknowledged as great. I think there is a tremendous difference between the view that God saves us and the idea that we save ourselves with God’s help. Formula number two fits the modern idea, while formula number one, as I read my Bible, is scriptural. We do not see salvation straight until we recognize that from first to last it is God’s work. He didn’t need to save us. He owed us nothing but damnation after we sinned. What he does, though, is to move in mercy.

He sends us a Savior and His Holy Spirit into our hearts to bring us to faith in that Savior. Then He keeps us in that faith and brings us to His glory. It is His work from beginning to end. God saves sinners. It does, of course, put us down very low. It is that aspect of the gospel that presents the biggest challenge to the modern viewpoint.

But we must not forget that it also sets God up very high. It reveals to us a God who is very great, very gracious and very glorious. A God who is certainly worthy of our worship.”

Blog News for July 5, 2011

Does your church pass the blink test?

Should we play music behind people praying? (interesting)

Before Pentecost, where did the OT Israelites' Faith Originate? (good article)

Dirty Words in Counseling

Let us glorify God for the greater thing (we are so prone to this in our Christian sub-culture)