“The threefold misery of humanity resulting from sin (that is, ignorance, guilt, and the oppression and bondage of sin) required this threefold office. Ignorance is healed through the prophetic office, guilt through the priestly, and the oppression and bondage of sin through the kingly. The prophetic light scatters the darkness of error; the merit of the priest removes guilt and obtains reconciliation for us; the power of the king takes away the bondage of sin and death. The prophet shows God to us; the priest leads us to God; and the king joins us together with God, and glorifies us with him. The prophet illuminates the mind by the spirit of enlightenment; the priest soothes the heart and conscience by the spirit of consolation; the king subdues rebellious inclinations by the spirit of sanctification” Francis Turretin
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
'Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matt. 6:34)I am a bit of a worrier. I have been this way since I was little. Recently I have found myself overwhelmed, worried about how much I need to get done on my vacation. I have found that I am not getting all I have wanted to get done done. It has been rather frustrating but also very convicting about how much I want to control everything around me. It has also showed me that I need to stop looking at all the days I have off and instead look at today. Focus on today cause that is all I have. I am working on that, and I am far from where I want to be with it, but for today His grace is sufficient.
Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church has a great post today about this very subject, about thinking upon today with a hope of 40-50 years. Here is a good quote:
I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed wanting to know scripture more, or walk in victory over this or that. It’s much easier to decide that today, knowing that God has given me all the grace and mercy I need to be all that He has made me to be, I am going to follow Him. Today I’m going to read and meditate on His word. Today I’m not, by his grace, going to give into temptation. Today I will be obedient to His leadings. Day after day following the long path of obedience in the same direction until, and if, we get to 70, drinking coffee early in the morning with lifelong friends…until then, day by day…until we are sitting at an even better table.Click here for the rest from his blog Dwell Deep
Monday, December 22, 2008
As you have probably seen, Seattle is experiencing a pounding of snow they are not used to. For Mars Hill church this meant the smallest attendance in services for the year. Read some of the reflections of Pastor Mark as he thinks about lessons times like these bring:
1. We learn who sees Mars Hill as a calling and who sees it as a job.
2. We learn about our own heart.
3. We learn about the deep love some people have for our church.
On the worst days, we learn the best lessons. So, they are often the best days.
Click Here for the whole thing
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
“In sin, Adam and Eve would seek to find love with each other in the absence of love for God, and in God’s creation this simply cannot work. To reject God is to fall into sin; to fall into sin is to fall prey to guilt and the power of its corruption, both of which makes love impossible as God designed it. It was thus in mercy that God cursed the woman and the man, injecting a poison into their relationship for which he alone is the antidote. In the futility of love apart from God, Adam and Eve were to turn back to God, just as we must turn to God today for grace to repent of sin and minister in love. Love between a man and a woman simply cannot work without love for God at the center of the relationship; by means of his curses, God mercifully brings this fact to our attention so as to woo us back to himself.” (Holding Hands, Holding Hearts, Richard and Sharon Phillips pg. 49)
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed” (Luke 22:41)
It is interesting to see how Jesus often times would get away from all the chaos and crowds that often followed him to pray and rest. Meditating on this has made me more aware of the replenishment my soul needs on a weekly basis. God commands us to rest and to refresh, so that we come to realize we are not Him and so our soul finds energy and is revived. I also have come to realize that everyone is replenished differently, for instance my wife loves to be around people so for her a time of refreshment may be social interaction with people over the age of 2 years old. I am almost the exact opposite of that, I find that time with lots of people drains me and does not at all refresh me. Instead I love to find quiet times in my car, driving and thinking about God’s Word by myself, it is those times where I am alone and quiet that I find my soul is refreshed. This is not something that just can occur spontaneously or once a month but something I must be seeking and planning, on a weekly basis. For instance I am more purposeful to use my Wednesday afternoons for this, to pray and think on God’s word and the direction for the ministry and life he has me in. A battle that I have to face in this is to trust the Lord that those “to do’s” will be there and that I do need to trust that God will bless this time of prayer and meditation.
What is your way that you refresh your soul? How often do you do this?
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Maybe it is about what gifts we want? Or what gifts we are going to buy for loved ones? What about where you are going to spend Christmas day? Maybe you work at a church and all the talk is about upcoming ministry events and Christmas Eve services.?
What is the topic that predominates our discussion today? Let George Whitefield give us some much needed advice:
“What can we do to employ our time to a more noble purpose than reading of what our dear Redeemer has done and suffered; to read that the King of kings and the Lord of lords came from his throne and took upon him the form of the meanest of his servants; and what great things he underwent. This, this is a history worth reading, this is worthy employing our time about: surely, when we read of the suffering of our Savior, it should excite us to prayer, that we might have an interest in the Lord Jesus Christ; that the blood which he spilt upon Mount Calvary, and his death and crucifixion, might make an atonement for our sins, that we might be made holy; that we might be enabled to put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, even the Lord Jesus Christ; that we may throw away the heavy yoke of sin, and put on the yoke of the Lord Jesus Christ…Did Jesus come into the world to save us from death, and shall we spend no part of our time in conversing about our dear Jesus; shall we pay no regard to the birth of him who came to redeem us from the worst of slavery, from that of sin, and the devil; and shall this Jesus not only be born on our account, but likewise die in our stead, and yet we shall be unmindful of him? Shall we spend our time in those things which are offensive to him? Shall we not rather do all we can to promote his glory and act according to his command?” (Excerpt from “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” Advent Readings, pg 12,14)
Click Here to Buy This Great Book for Advent
"The church in our generation needs reformation, revival, and constructive revolution.
At times men think of the two words reformation and revival as standing in contrast one to the other, but this is a mistake. Both words are related to the word restore.
Reformation refers to a restoration to pure doctrine; revival refers to a restoration in the Christianís life. Reformation speaks of a return to the teachings of Scripture; revival speaks of a life brought into its proper relationship to the Holy Spirit.
The great moments of church history have come when these two restorations have simultaneously come into action so that the church has returned to pure doctrine and the lives of the Christians in the church have known the power of the Holy Spirit. There cannot be true revival unless there has been reformation; and reformation is not complete without revival.
Such a combination of reformation and revival would be revolutionary in our day -- revolutionary in our individual lives as Christians, revolutionary not only in reference to the liberal church but constructively revolutionary in the evangelical, orthodox church as well.
May we be those who know the reality of both reformation and revival, so that this poor dark world may have an exhibition of a portion of the church returned to both pure doctrine and Spirit-filled life."
(Francis A. Schaeffer, Death In The City, Ch. 1)
Friday, November 28, 2008
My wife Lauren is infamous for having to have a mint or piece of gum right in the middle of Sunday service. So when Johnathan over at Fool's Gold wrote this I found it particularly interesting:
This question is not simply limited to a church service. It could apply to a presentation, a board meeting, or any situation in which a silent audience is expected. In such an event, how do you open the plastic wrapper on a peppermint, for example, without causing undue distraction? I see at least four options:
- Gradually unfurl the wrapper, timing each crinkle to match times of greater volume in the speaker’s presentation.
- Cough very forcefully and loosen the wrapper all in one motion. You will draw attention to yourself, but it will be directed away from your fumbling hands and may even be mingled with some momentary pity.
- Bank all your hope on the fleeting short-term memory of those around you and get it over with as quickly as you can.
- Petition candy companies to wrap their products in cloth.
Which do you prefer? Do you have any other ideas?
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
"In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die."
Monday, November 24, 2008
Last week my friend and Young Life College director Brian Ferguson and I attended the Acts 29 Boot Camp in Dallas, Texas. It was a packed 2 days of good and bad stuff. First the bad, it was the stomach virus that overtook me the night before the boot camp started. We had dinner with Chad Vegas of Sovereign Grace Church of Bakersfield who shared with us some great insight into his church plant and its development. Following dinner I started to feel pretty crappy and it was not too long until I was having some good talks with the La Quinta toilet.
I was not feeling that great heading into day 1 of the boot camp but decided to try to suck it up and go. Upon arriving to The Village Church I immediately regretted that decision. About half way through Matt Chandler's first message I had to get up and head back to the hotel. I slept for most the day, waking up in time to make it back to the church for Darren Patrick’s message.
Darren is a pastor from The Journey Church in St. Louis. Darren’s message was on leadership and what being a church planter will cost and require of the planter and his wife. It was a great message and the phrase that still rings true in my mind is when Darren said “You will let everyone down at some point.” This little phrase struck home with me because I think I have a fear of letting people down and I need to repent of the pride that fuels that fear. He also recommended the book “Leading with a Limp” by Dan Allender which I just got in the mail today I hope to read over thanksgiving vacation. I appreciated Darren’s genuineness and honesty in his message, it was not a pep talk but was in fact like a warning call to those running into the battle. Darren also had wicked beard that has inspired me to grow mine out during the month of December.
After some soup at Applebee’s we headed back for the final nights message from Mark Driscoll pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.
Mark spoke about what Acts 29 is about and what type of planters they are looking for. It was great to hear Mark’s heart for church planting and his priority for Acts 29 to not become about anything other than just that church planting. That is one of the reasons for the creation of The Resurgence website where there are resources and books. Many in the blog world seem to get their Hanes bunched up over Driscoll’s use of strong language, but upon meeting him he is a nice and cool dude. Driscoll is one of those guys that you want to have over for some wings and brews to watch the UFC fight, in other words my kind of dude. In fact following his message a few of us headed over to a local sports bar where we got to meet Mark and some other planters that were at the boot camp.
to be continued....
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
I work with a lot of young men who are thinking about marriage or dating. Often times I find that what we have to work past is not a desire to serve, but a desire to be served. Because of sin men are inherently selfish (women too, but for the sake of this post I am focusing on men) and are constantly judging how things affect them. I often hear from the dudes about how they want this or that in a girl and how this supposed “wonder woman” needs to conform to their passions and hobbies. To put it bluntly they want someone like themselves only with breasts. This is not a biblical model for how men should think about women we want to date. Women were made fundamentally different from us, God had intention in this and it is more than just biology. Men we were made to be alone, but we also were not made to be with carbon copies of ourselves. Chapter 1 of “Holding Hands, Holding Hearts: Recovering a Biblical View of Christian Dating” by Richard and Sharon Phillips, gives some good wisdom pertaining to this:
“God created the woman, who was made of Adam but differently, so that Adam would know a love that was more than self-love.” (pg. 24)
“’The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. Adam lost a rib…but in lieu thereof he had a helpmate for him, which abundantly made up his loss.” (pg. 27, quoting Matthew Henry)
What about a dog being man’s best friend?
“A dog cannot share a man’s dreams, cannot kneel beside him in prayer, cannot exhort and encourage him with God’s Word, and cannot inspire in him the self-sacrificing love that makes him godly…A woman was made to fith with a man: to match his strength with her resilience, to minister to his heart with the power given to her by God. Only a woman is a suitable helper for man.” (pg. 30)
Click Here to order this book
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Watch Randy Couture Post UFC 91 Interview on RawVegas.tv
Props: MMA Mania
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Needless to say I am pumped for tonight's fights!
I consider myself to be technologically up to date to a certain extent. When I read this I realized that our sinful hearts can take technology to a dangerous extent. This goes in the "What The Hell??" category:
A British couple who married in a lavish Second Life wedding ceremony are to divorce after one of them had an alleged "affair" in the online world.
Amy Taylor, 28, said she had caught husband David Pollard, 40, having sex with an animated woman. The couple, who met in an Internet chatroom in 2003, are now separated.
"I went mad -- I was so hurt. I just couldn't believe what he'd done," Taylor told the Western Morning News. "It may have started online, but it existed entirely in the real world and it hurts just as much now it is over."Second Life allows users to create alter egos known as "avatars" and interact with other players, forming relationships, holding down jobs and trading products and services for a virtual currency convertible into real life dollars.Taylor said she had caught Pollard's avatar having sex with a virtual prostitute: "I looked at the computer screen and could see his character having sex with a female character. It's cheating as far as I'm concerned."
The couple's real-life wedding in 2005 was eclipsed by a fairy tale ceremony held within Second Life.But Taylor told the Western Morning News she had subsequently hired an online private detective to track his activities: "He never did anything in real life, but I had my suspicions about what he was doing in Second Life."
Pollard admitted having an online relationship with a "girl in America" but denied wrongdoing. "We weren't even having cyber sex or anything like that, we were just chatting and hanging out together," he told the Western Morning News.Taylor is now in a new relationship with a man she met in the online roleplaying game World of Warcraft.
Friday, November 14, 2008
We are a people that in our sin always seem to think the "grass is greener on the other side". A good way to measure this is if you have ever said something like, "Once I get/move/have/am with ....". If you do not think you have, you are lying to yourself and need to think harder. We all do this, the first sin of humanity was in part this type of attitude. Biblically the problem is never about getting to this stage or going somewhere else, the problem lies in our hearts. Our hearts will be continuously discontent until we have "tasted and seen" the goodness of the Lord. We were made to be ultimately satisfied in our Lord the maker of all green grass. Not until He saves and renews us can we see that our pining for something better or a "fresh start" is not our hope, Jesus is our hope! We must fight for this contentment, we must pray that as we grow to know Jesus more and more intimately we will no longer be driven by the "next big thing" in our lives cause only one main thing matters, Jesus and His Kingdom!
This poem quoted by Lydia Brownback from The Purple Cellar was so convicting and encouraging:
It was Spring, but it was Summer I wanted:
The warm days and the great outdoors.
It was Summer, but it was Fall I wanted:
The colorful leaves and the cool, dry air.
It was Fall, but it was Winter I wanted:
The beautiful snow and the joy of the holiday season.
It was Winter, but it was Spring I wanted:
The warmth and blossoming of nature.
I was a child, and it was adulthood I wanted:
The freedom and the respect.
I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted:
To be mature and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted:
The youth and the free spirit.
I was retired, but it was middle-aged I wanted:
The presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over,
and I never got what I wanted.
Phil Ryken, 1 Timothy, Reformed Expository Commentary (P&R, 2008), 255-56
Working with Young Adults means working with relationships. It means listening to hurting hearts and disappointed expectations. It means being excited for upcoming marriages, and encouraging those that feel that marriage has passed them by. Ultimately it so often means pointing hearts to the Great Doctor of the Soul, King Jesus. It means that when those exciting times come to help each other keep focused on Him. As well as when hurt and pain comes, to point to Him as the only ultimate source of joy and love.
I am currently re-reading, “Holding Hands, Holding Hearts: Recovering a Biblical View of Christian Dating” by Richard and Sharon Phillips. This is a good book that deals with dating in a gospel centered way. More than likely at The Well in January we are going to spend a few weeks talking about dating, relationships and the Gospel and a lot will come from this book. If you are a young adult wondering about dating I really encourage you to pick this book up.
Here is a great quote found in the introduction that I have sadly seen to ring so true recently:
“More harm comes to many of us through dating than in any other way. According to the world, dating is a way for singles to enjoy the comforts and pleasures of the opposite sex. If marriage is in the picture at all, then dating is a tryout for a potential partner. The idea is to start living as if you were married and see how things go. If one isn’t finding fulfillment in the other person, the you can simply break up and move on. It’s not much different from finding the right pair of shoes. At least you can have some fun along the way, or so it goes.” (“Holding Hands, Holding Hearts: Recovering a Biblical View of Christian Dating” by Richard and Sharon Phillips, pg 14)
Click Here to order this book
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Following the election last week the talk of the "anti-Christ" has risen, is Barack Obama him? Once I finish rolling my eyes at that question, or stop laughing I agree with Michael McKinley:
Click Here for More from the 9Marks Blog
"I don't know if Obama is a Christian or not. If he's not, then he's antichrist in the sense that anyone who is not for Jesus is against him (Luke 11:23). But then so is my next door neighbor who smokes pot in his garage until 5:00 AM on Sunday mornings. Whether or not the president-elect is for Jesus or against him isn't my call to make.
But more importantly, this question seems to take a very America-centric view of eschatology. Monsters like Hitler, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, and Josef Stalin have all risen and fallen and have not been the harbinger of the end times. But this guy wants to socialize our health care, and Jesus is supposed to be so enraged that he will come storming back to save us?
Please. The Christian faith is doing great. Christ's church is being built. The gospel is exploding in other parts of the world. It's not the end of the world... just because you think America's going down the tubes or because you don't like the guy elected to lead one branch of the government for the next four years.
If you're struggling... just take a deep breath, put down your copy of Left Behind, and pray for the president-elect."
My Friend Tiffany Sent this to me, it is sweet!!!
The Chicken and the road...
Why did the chicken cross the road?...
BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a change! The chicken wanted change!
JOHN MCCAIN: My friends, that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.
SARAH PALIN: You betcha he crossed the road, but let's not talk about that, let's talk about energy policy, and how gosh darn hard it is for a middle-class hockey mom to manage the budget of the only state in America with a massive surplus, especially while surrounded by countless Russian and Canadian chickens we have to keep an eye on.
HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure - right from Day One! - that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.
GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.
DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?
COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.
BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken...What is your definition of crossing?
AL GORE: I invented the chicken.
JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.
OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.
NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.
PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.
DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain... alone.
JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth? That's why they call it the 'other side.' Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay, too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like 'the other side.' That chicken should not be crossing the road. It's as plain and as simple as that.
GRANDPA: In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.
ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.
JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.
ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?
COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
One day, we will be beyond asking any questions about God's ways. Until then, it may help to remember that even the Apostle Paul was sometimes perplexed. Perplexed, that is, but not unfaithful.
Click Here for the rest.
In February at The Well we will be studying the book “The Reason for God” by Tim Keller in our small groups. This book is such a great apologetic book written to non-believers and done in a very good, and easy to read way. Sometimes apologetic books can get bogged down in philosophy language that much of the great wisdom of the book is lost. Keller is able to take hard subjects and make them clear and understandable to all readers. This book is a must have for all Christians to be equipped in a post-modern world where people are becoming more skeptical of Christianity. Below is a couple of quotes taken from the 2nd chapter of the book entitled: “ How Could a Good God Allow Suffering?”
“’Why does God allow evil and suffering to continue?’ and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still do not know what the answer is. However, we now know what the answer isn’t. It can’t be that he is indifferent or detached from our condition. God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself.” (Keller, The Reason for God, pg. 30-31)
“Everything sad is going to come untrue and it will somehow be greater for having once been broken and lost.
Embracing the Christian doctrines fo the incarnation and Cross brings profound consolation in the face of suffering. The doctrine of the resurrection can instill us with a powerful hope. It promises that we will get the life we most longed for, but it will be an infinitely more glorious world than if there had never been the need for bravery, endurance, sacrifice, or salvation.” (Keller, The Reason for God, pg. 33)
Click here to get this must have book!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
"With the Fall all became abnormal. It is not just that the individual is separated from God by his true moral guilt, but each of us is not what God made us to be. Beyond each of us as individuals, human relationships are not what God meant them to be. And beyond that, nature is abnormal -- the whole cause-and-effect significant history is now abnormal. To say it another way: there is much in history now which should not be."
(Francis A. Schaeffer, True Spirituality, Ch. 1)
There was a time when we spoke of unsaved people as “lost and dying and on their way to hell” – a phrase that painted a vivid picture of the stakes of being outside of Christ. We spoke of unsaved people in this way for so long that such terminology became something of a cliché.
Today, it seems that many pastors and church members tend to shy away from terms like “lost,” “unsaved,” and “unbeliever.” Instead, we speak of the people we are trying to reach as “unchurched.”
Trevin lists off a couple of reasons for why this change may not be for the best:
1. First, it indicates that our people believe the goal of the church is to grow the church.
2. Secondly, our shift in vocabulary indicates a lessening of the eternal stakes of salvation.
Click here to read the whole thing, it is worth thinking through for sure!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Thabiti Anyabwile posts this over at Boundless.org:
"Where is this new spiritual reality in Christ to be housed or displayed?" Where can it be observed? Where is this dynamic available for us to witness, see and touch? Not in coffee houses. The local Rotary club does not display it. Neither do neighborhood or community groups, political parties, governmental jurisdictions, or even pastor fraternals and networks as valuable as they are.
The local church penultimately displays the unity and solidarity we have in Christ, the "race"-abolishing oneness we share with Him and with each other.
The local church is not a perfect display. Some people fear that talk of ethnic unity in the church borrows too much from the perfection that lies ahead in heaven.
It seems to me that our problem leans in the other direction. We need to live more fully in the already. We live beneath our inheritance in Christ. If Esau sold his inheritance for a bowl of porridge, we've sold an even greater inheritance for his leftovers. If the prodigal squandered his inheritance, we're the older brother refusing to rejoice and receive our once-dead sibling.
Read the rest here
take possession of Thy throne; pride, covetousness, uncleanness, and sloth want to be my kings; and
then evil speaking, anger, hatred, and the whole train of vices join with me in warring against myself
and try to reign over me. I resist them, I cry out against them, and say, ‘I have no other king than
Christ.’ O King of Peace, come and reign in me, for I will have no king but Thee! Amen.”
I have been currently going through the book "The Story of Christianity vol.1" by Justo Gonzalez in a class I am taking from Covenant Seminary. I will be studying vol. 2 in the spring. I have really been enjoying this book and recommend it as a great starting place to understand church history.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
"Of course, it is only natural for young people to default to spending time with other young people, but the church is not a “natural” agency. The church is a phenomenon that can only be explained by the operative grace of the Holy Spirit at work through the gospel of Christ. Part of the discipleship of young people is encouraging and equipping them to be willing participants in a diverse congregation.
A further benefit of this integrated approach to reaching and discipling young people is the way they then contribute to the actual shape and color of the community. Leaders take the presence of young people actively into account as they plan the life of the church. Young people matter, not because they are the “church of tomorrow,” but because they are an integral part of the church today. They too need to understand the word of God as it is taught. They need to hear the truth as it is in Christ applied to their hearts, their idols, their struggles, their joys.
Listen to what Martin Luther had to say on the subject of teaching God’s word to the gathered congregation:
When I preach I don’t look to the doctors and magistrates of whom there are about forty in this church. I have an eye to the many young people, children and servants of whom there are
more than two thousand. I preach to these, addressing myself to their needs. If other people don’t want to listen to this approach then they can always walk out! An upright, godly and true preacher should direct his preaching to the poor, simple sort of people . . . when preachers talk to me they can show off their learning—they will be well put to their trumps! But to sprinkle Hebrew, Greek and Latin in their public sermons, suggests they are merely showing off."
- Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, Total Church, p. 186, 187
My disappointment is also tempered by joy and excitement. I woke up this morning and realized that my children will probably grow up with the first memory of a president as an African-American. What a joy, what a day this is!! This step is maybe the biggest step since the abolition of slavery and one that EVERY Christian should praise the Lord for! It feels like a new day in America and it should in many ways.
I would say though that while there are reasons to rejoice and to be excited we need to be cautious too. We need to be aware that President-Elect Obama is not our Hope, he is not our Savior. Jesus Christ is our ultimate King and Lord, He has placed Obama in office. Barack Obama is a "servant of God" as Romans 13 states. This should temper our joy in a man, and our disappointment in results, whatever side you are on.
Below are various links to responses to this historic election:
Abraham Piper's shared joy for our kids
Al Moehler's discussion on disappointment, joy and obiedence
Trevin Wax on Racial changes may forshadow Value of Life changes
Riddleblog on remember the City of Man is not our hope
Joshua Harris on How to Pray for President-Elect Obama
Randy Alcorn on how the fight for the unborn goes on
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Mark Driscoll offers great advice and pastoral wisdom in this post. In it he states that we do not look for presidents for our hope, but to Jesus. I fear that whatever side of the electoral map you are in that it is easy to hope too much and fear too much when election time comes around. Driscoll's advice is truly wise.
You can find the rest of the post here at The Resurgence
This election season which has dominated the cultural conversation for many months has been particularly insightful regarding the incessant gospel thirst that abides deep in the heart of the men and women who bear God’s image. Without endorsing or maligning either political party or their respective presidential candidates, I am hopeful that a few insights from the recent election season are of help, particularly to younger evangelicals.
First, people are longing for a savior who will atone for their sins. In this election, people thirst for a savior who will atone for their economic sins of buying things they did not need with money they did not have. The result is a mountain of credit debt they cannot pay and a desperate yearning that somehow a new president will save them from economic hell.
Second, people are longing for a king who will keep them safe from terror in his kingdom. In the Old Testament the concept of a peaceable kingdom is marked by the word shalom. In shalom there is not only the absence of sin, war, strife, and suffering but also the presence of love, peace, harmony, and health. And, this thirst for shalom is so parched that every election people cannot help but naively believe that if their candidate simply wins shalom is sure to come despite sin and the curse.
The bottom line is obvious to those with gospel eyes. People are longing for Jesus, and tragically left voting for mere presidential candidates. For those whose candidate wins today there will be some months of groundless euphoric faith in that candidate and the atoning salvation that their kingdom will bring. But, in time, their supporters will see that no matter who wins the presidency, they are mere mortals prone to sin, folly, and self-interest just like all the other sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. To help extend naïve false hope as long as possible, a great enemy will be named and demonized as the one who is hindering all of the progress to atone for our sins and usher in our kingdom. If the Democrats win it will be the rich, and if the Republicans win it will be the terrorists. This diversionary trick is as old as Eve who blamed her sin on Satan rather than repenting. The lie is that it’s always someone else’s fault and we’re always the victim of sinners and never the sinner.
Speaking of repentance, sadly, no matter who wins there will be no call to personal repentance of our own personal sins which contributes to cultural suffering and decline such as our pride, gluttony, covetousness, greed, indebtedness, self-righteousness, perversion, and laziness. And, in four years we’ll do it all again and pretend that this time things will be different. Four years after that, we’ll do it yet again. And, we’ll continue driving around this cul de sac until Jesus returns, sets up his throne, and puts an end to folly once and for all.
In the meantime, I would encourage all preachers to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and repentance of personal sin. He alone can truly atone for our sins. He alone can deliver us from a real hell. He alone is our sinless and great King. And, he alone has a Shalom kingdom to offer.
Lastly, for those preachers who have gotten sidetracked for the cause of a false king and a false kingdom by making too much of the election and too little of Jesus, today is a good day to practice repentance in preparation to preach it on Sunday. Just give it some time. The thirst will remain that only Jesus can quench. So, we’ve still got work to do….until we see King Jesus and voting is done once and for all.
Jesus sits and rules.
Tonight someone's candidate will lose.
Jesus sits and rules.
Tonight people will think their "savior" has come.
Jesus sits and rules.
Tonight people will be angry their "savior" lost.
Jesus sits and rules.
Tonight people will think they found hope.
Jesus sits and rules.
Tonight people will feel lost and defeated.
Jesus sits and rules.
Tonight people will feel safe under a new "king".
Jesus sits and rules.
Tonight people will fear the strength of a new leader.
Jesus sits and rules.
Tonight people will hope change has come.
Jesus sits and rules.
Tonight people will dread the same old song and dance.
Jesus sits and rules.
"The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you."
Psalm 33:13-22 ESV
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Hebrews 1: 1-4
How does the Bible instruct us to pray for “all who are in high positions”? It says,
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:1-4).
A few observations:
1. Giving thanks “for kings” is hard when they are evil.
And, as Calvin said on this passage, “All the magistrates of that time were sworn enemies of Christ.” This shows us that anarchy is a horrible alternative to almost any ruler.
We should give thanks for rulers because “non-rule” would unleash on us utterly unbridled evil with no recourse whatever.
Again Calvin: “Unless they restrained the boldness of wicked men, the whole world would be full of robberies and murders.” The better we understand the seething evil of the human heart that is ready to break out where there is no restraint, the more thankful we will be for government.
2. The effect we pray for is “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly, and dignified in every way.”
Dignified means “serious and reverent,” not stuffy. I suspect what Paul means is not that we can’t live godly and serious lives during times of anarchy. We can. I suspect he means that peaceful and quiet lives, which are the opposite of anarchy, are often wasted in ungodly and frivolous actions.
So he is praying for a government that would give peace and quiet (not anarchy), and that Christians would not fritter away their peaceful lives with the world, but would be radically godly and serious about the lost condition of the world and how to change it.
3. Using our peace for radical godliness and serious action will lead to more effective evangelism and world missions.
This last observation is confirmed by the hoped-for outcome Paul mentions. Paul says that the reason God delights in such peaceful, Godward, serious action is that he “desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
More people will be saved if our government restrains the horrors of anarchy, and if Christians use this peace not to waste their lives on endless entertainment, but seriously give their lives to making God known.
This is why I heart that man!!!
Monday, November 03, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
4. Prophetic Perspective
5. God's Sovereignty
Watch this video, whatever side you are on! Let the truth he speaks sink in and may it change how we approach Tuesday!
"This life, therefore,
is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness,
not health but healing,
not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it.
The process is not yet finished, but it is going on.
This is not the end but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified."
Today in 1517 a small German monk, named Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the doors of Wittenberg's castle church. That spark transformed the landscape of Christianity that whether you realize it or not has had profound impacts on today. You can read about it here
Also Below is a cool video:
Props for Video: Cranach
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"The war is longer, wider, deeper, more subtle than we might imagine. It is no accident, therefore, that the height, depth, length, and breadth of the love and work of Jesus is more wonderful than we understand at first. What is God after in remaking our lives? Is his purpose merely that we would just stop sinning? That we would become more involved in religious
activities? Yes, stop sinning. Yes, use the means of grace. But neither is an end in itself. The point is to become more like Jesus." (Sex and Supremacy of Christ, pg. 102)
Monday, October 27, 2008
The 2004 Desiring God National Conference had the title, "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ". One of the speakers at this conference was David Powlison, a Biblical Councilor, the title to his message was "Making All Things New: Restoring Pure Joy to the Sexually Broken". I just finished reading an chapter from the book that was inspired by this conference, the book is titled the same as the conference. Powlison's chapter is such a great read for all those who deal with sexual temptation and sin, which is everyone reading this. The answers given in this chapter are not the run of the mill 10 steps towards victory. Instead the chapter goes at the heart of the problem, sin and the heart. I found this chapter refreshing, encouraging and very convicting. It is amazing how books that bring such light to an issue often times illuminate the dark corners of sin that exist in our own hearts.
Powlison also did not deal with just lust or internet pornography, but showed how this sin is usually accompanied by many others. A metaphor that Powlison used was that of a movie theater. While lust is often playing in the main screening room, often there are many other screening rooms that are playing other sins that we often do not see. Looking at sin in this light, and seeing that it is wider and deeper than believed makes us rely on a bigger God whose grace is infinitely wider and deeper than we could ever have imagined.
Below are a few quotes from this chapter:
"The bold-print sins point in the direction of the fine-print versions of the same sins. Many varieties of flirtation, self-display, foreplay, and entertainment don't necessarily 'go all the way' or orgasm: dressing to attract and tease the lust of others, looking voyeuristically, suggestive remarks, crude humor, erotic kissing, petting, and the like. All these actions suggest an intention toward immoral sexual intercourse, whether the intention is consummated or not. Such behaviors (whether occuring in daily life or portrayed on film or page) cross the line of love. Whether or not our cultural context views such things as acceptable, or even as entertaining, they are evils. Love considers the true welfare of others in 'the eyes of Him with whom we have to do' (Heb. 4:13)." (page, 69)
"Jesus Christ looks better and better the more we see what he is about. He is not simply in the business of cleaning up a few embarassing moral blots. Deepening the battle deepens the significance of the Savior. He alone sees your heart accurately. He alone loves you well enough to make you love him." (page, 94)
I strongly encourage you to
Listen to the conference message here
Watch it Here
You can buy the book here
How can we embrace the love of Jesus and God's amazing grace, if we do not know the seriousness of what we have been saved from. Joel is not loving or caring when he skirt around the issue of sin, or the wrath of God, just like a doctor does not care for his patient when he gives him a cough drop for his lung cancer. Joel is a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Props: Pure Church
Friday, October 24, 2008
“O Christ, our King, Creator, Lord, Savior of all who trust Thy word, to them who seek Thee ever near, now to our praises, bend Thine ear. Thou didst create the stars of night; yet Thou hast veiled in flesh Thy light, hast designed a mortal form to wear, a mortal’s painful lot to bear. When Thou didst hang upon the tree, the quaking earth acknowledged Thee; when Thou didst there yield up Thy breath, the world grew dark as shades of death. Now in Thy Father’s glory high, Great Conqueror, nevermore to
die, us by Thy mighty power defend, and reign through ages without end. Amen.”
8:1 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Picture from Astronomy Pic of the Day
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I have been reading portions of Mark Driscoll’s new “Death by Love: Letters From The Cross”. It is a very good book that deals with serious pastoral issues and how the cross of Jesus has comfort and hope. The format of the book is rather interesting; it is made up of letters from Driscoll to people in his church dealing with specific issues in their life. The issues dealt with are real and sometimes very painful things people face. The letter I read today dealt with Thomas a middle-aged man, married with kids. On the outside Thomas seems pretty put together and devoted to his family, but “there hasn’t been one day that Thomas hasn’t looked at porn on the computer”. Thomas approached Mark in counseling appearing broken over his sin, but Mark soon found out that he wasn’t. Thomas wanted to confess his sin, feel better and never change. This is not repentance as the bible states, instead it is guilt avoidance, Thomas had no intention to biblically repent. Thomas did not want anyone especially his family to know, but Mark being a loving pastor, told Thomas that he had to tell his wife and work towards reconciliation.
Mark’s letter to Thomas deals with the hope of reconciliation and freedom from sin found at the cross of Jesus. Mark delivers a hard rebuking letter that is passionately gospel filled. Mark shows Thomas how he is in slavery to sin, and that his heart is hardening much like Pharaoh’s did in Exodus. Thomas’ only hope for freedom is found in the power of the cross and God’s transforming grace. Mark gives Thomas a list of things needed and while doing this is emphatic to show that this list is not works for salvation. This is what Mark tells Thomas about the power of the gospel:
“The good news is that God is more powerful than anything, including your sinful desires. If you turn from sin and trust in Jesus, God the Holy Spirit will indwell you. As a result, you will receive a new power by which to say no to your sinful desires and yes to the holy desires of God. Unless you become a Christian, your sin will continue until it leads to death and the wrath of God being poured out upon you eternally in hell.” (pg. 63)
Mark ends the letter in humility. Mark sees a lot of himself in Thomas and admits to Thomas that apart from God’s amazing grace would be in the same boat Thomas is in. this letter does not come across as a mean, arrogant pastor just wagging his finger at one of his sheep. This letter shows the love of the under shepherd who loves his sheep enough to use the rod when needed.
I highly recommend this book to all, especially those that often find themselves doubting and wondering about God’s love.
To buy “Death By Love” click here
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The "short answer" is that satellite campuses are NOT an alternative for church planting, but they ARE a good substitute for multiplying services on one campus.
I believe each church should capitalize on the growth God is bringing them. The way that they do that is to a) build a bigger facility; b) multiply services on the campus or c) plant new campuses. Of those 3 options, c is the most efficient.
Some say, "Do none of the above! Instead, plant a church." But numerous studies show that planting new churches, even if very close to the home church, makes no significant reduction in how many people will come to the home campus. It is a good "theory" to say that when you get full in your sanctuary you should just plant a church. But it usually does not do what we designed it to do on paper--i.e. free up space at a campus or provide for maximum growth.Thus, you should multiply services and campuses AND plant churches.
Ecclesiologically, there is no substantive difference I can find between multiple services on one campus or services on multiple campuses throughout the city.
Churches that do this should also be planting churches IN THEIR OWN CITY, as they will capitalize on new leadership and reach a whole new set of people. We want to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years, and I hope that at least 20 of those are in the Triangle.
To say it briefly, satellite campuses are an alternative to multiple services and bigger sanctuaries, not to church planting.
One small word of caution to critics of the multi-site movement--make sure that you're not doing the same thing the traditional church did to Luther (who put the Bible in the vernacular so farmers could read it) and Wesley and Whitfield (who had the audacity to preach outside of the church in the open field)--criticize the new medium just because it's not what we're used to...!
J.D. Greear gives his thoughts as his church is a multi-site church. Click here to read whole entry.
Multi-Site Campuses have been a topic of discussion among our staff here at Desert Springs. Although I do not see us doing a multi-site deal anytime in the future it is interesting to think about. There are many pastor who we respect who do multi-site campuses via video messages, such as John Piper, Matt Chandler and Mark Driscoll to name a few. I guess the only big dilemma I see with this, is the tendency for it to become about the pastor. While this is an issue I think it is one regardless of whether you do multi-sites or not.
What do you think?