Friday, January 30, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Tonight at the internship with Open Door Baptist Church some discussion came up that caused me to think once again about why I blog. If I'm honest, I have to say that often times I blog simply because I started this thing and people (though few) expect to see something when they come to this site. However, that was not my original purpose. My original purpose was to have another way to minister to the local church that God had called me to shepherd. After leaving my first church I changed blogs and just did it because I had been doing it. Then I went through this time of talking about church planting since that was my plan and I had no desire to really go anywhere else. As usual, God's immediate plan was different. So now I'm pastoring a church in Pulaski, VA and still blogging. But, is there really a purpose in this blog?
My answer has to be yes (or else I'll stop all together). And the reason is to use this as a means to minister to others so that they will treasure Christ above everything else. The reason is that God has called me to first and foremost shepherd the flock of FBC. However, I pray God will use this for His glory and the joy of His people. So with that being said, I may begin to blog less frequently (like I have for the past couple of weeks), but I hope to blog more substantially. This semester for school I am taking classes on Gender Roles, Missions, Evangelism, and an internship focused on the ministry of the Word. I am also preaching through James right now and we are studying Philippians on Wednesday evenings. I hope over the next few months to post on things that I've learned through the studies that I think would help others to treasure Christ.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
As I was praying and reading this morning and confessing my own sin, I came to realize that I am way to passive when it comes to fighting sin. From there I began to realize the number of conversations I've had with other Christians about sin and how it's taken very lightly. From there I began to ask the question, "Why does sin overpower us so often and why do we not seem to mind?"
To answer the second part first is to say that the reason we do not seem to mind is because we do not understand that our sin is an offense to God. After David had slept with another man's wife he tried to cover it by getting Uriah to come home from war and sleep with Bathsheba. Uriah is a noble man and does not do it so David has him killed in order to cover his first sin by getting Uriah's wife pregnant. After we could easily say that David sinned against Uriah, David himself says he sinned against God. In Psalm 51 David is repenting of the fact that he has done this horrible thing and in verse 4 David writes, "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight." Until we realize that sin is an offense to the Holy God we will always take it far more lightly that we should.
To answer the first part of my question, however, is because we are often to passive in the fight against sin. Think back to Genesis 4 when Cain is about to kill his own brother. In verses 4 and 5 we see why we have to be active in the fight against sin, "The Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. It's desire is for you, but you must rule over it.'" If sin desires us, as it did Cain, then we too must rule over it. There is nothing passive about this. Christians must actively fight against the sin that desires to overcome us and cause us to flee from God. In Romans 7:21-23 Paul helps us to see there is a war going on within us that we must actively fight.
Christians, we can cannot be lazy in our strivings to live for the glory of God. We cannot expect sin and temptation to go on vacation so we can have a rest for a while. We must, by God's grace, fight with all of our might to live holy before God and to rule over sin or else it will rule over us.
Friday, January 16, 2009
That's the statement of many of us when we fall short of the glory of God (which is sin). Think back to the fall of mankind into sin in Genesis. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent. We've done it ever since that time. However, preaching through James this past week there is really no way for us to argue that way. Look at James 1:12-13:
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
If James stopped there we could still have a way out of the blame. We could say something like, "I can't help it, the Devil made me do it. He tempted me." But, James doesn't start there. Instead he goes right after the deep depravity of man.
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
The point is that it is our deep desires for sin that causes us to turn trials that we face that are meant to develop good in us (James 1:2-4) into a temptation that causes us to sin. Our faith is tested as God develops character in us to conform us to the image of Christ. However, we often times give in to our desires for sin and turn those tests of faith on their heads and dive deep into the sin of unbelief.
Beloved, we must face up the fact that we are sinners. We must realize that our desires are not naturally for God. The only reason we desire Christ is because God has done a gracious work in us to open our eyes to behold Him. That's how James concludes in verse 18:
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
It is by the will of God that we heard the gospel and were saved. It was God who graciously chose to remove our heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. The depravity of man is deep, but the grace of our God is far more powerful. Praise be to God!
Last week I began taking Friday to ask a question. Here is this week's question:
What doctrine do you think is the most neglected in the church today? How can we recover it?Thanks for answering. I hope this becomes a good time of discussion and reflection.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
After reading an article by Ed Stetzer and having a conversation with some friends about it, I'd like to hear some of your thoughts on creative ways to share the gospel. I don't mean how to make the gospel more creative. The gospel is the gospel and is the power of God for salvation. We don't need a new gospel. However, I am looking for creative ways to get that gospel to those within the community. Any thoughts would help.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
It seems there are two extremes in our culture. One extreme is to think that it's most important to fill your pews/seats during every service with as many people as possible and to do whatever you have to in order to accomplish this. I'm referring to those who are less concerned with the Biblical definition of the church, and more concerned with how big they can get.
The other extreme, however, are those who do not find it all that important to grow. They say things like, "the church is for the gathering of the believers and so we do not expect to be very big because we're not going to be like the other churches who are compromising everything to reach people." I've fallen victim to this way of thinking on many occasions.
However, I believe these are both extremes. We should genuinely want the church to grow. We should long to see the church gatherings full and overflowing. However, we don't want the gathering of people to grow just to grow. We should long for the church (those who are believers in Christ) to grow. We should long to see many people come to faith in Christ and to grow in Christlikeness until the day they are made perfect before God.
So how do we do this? In my daily Bible reading today, I read Acts 6. At the beginning of Acts 6 Luke writes about the fact that the apostles needed other men to serve the people because they were going to continue to focus on the ministry of the Word (verse 4). The key to church growth is found in verse 7, "And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith." So my answer is this: the way we grow, and long to grow, is through the ministry of the word of God. If you lose that in the pursuit of church growth, then you've lost being the church. Keep the Word of God central to all you do and long and strive for others to see Christ through the ministry of the Word!
I'm always looking for the best books to read. Presently I'm working my way through the ESV Bible, Whiter than Snow, Holiness Day by Day, The Pursuit of Holiness, and Calvin's Institutes. I would certainly recommend if you do not read anything else, read the Bible. It's by far the most important thing you'll ever read. However, if you have time, I would recommend every book I just mentioned. Once I finish them, I'll post some reasons why, but so far they are all great and very beneficial. What are you presently reading and would you recommend it/them to others?
Friday, January 9, 2009
I thought it would be good to try to get some thoughts from you, so I've decided to ask a question every Friday about your week. This week's question is:
What have you learned about God this week?
Given the fact that many people have just started a new Bible reading schedule, that would be particularly helpful. I'm looking forward to your answers.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Justin Childers is pastor of Christ Baptist Church of Wilson, NC and also a great blogger. He has posted a video today and some great quotes about the death of Jim Elliot and the other missionaries killed while taking the gospel to an unknown people. Take 10 minutes to watch the video. It's well worth your time.
Monday, January 5, 2009
For those of you who do not know Wil Owens and his ministry in missions, you're missing out. I've been privileged to go to India with Wil twice. I've worked with a ministry in South India on both occasions, and went to Northern India during one of those trips as well. Wil's ministry, Search and See Ministries, is constantly raising money for others around the world. This year's project is focused on Kenya. Today Wil posted an update on the Christmas Project for 2008. Check it out and check out more about how you can help serve those in other places of the world.
I had the privilege of beginning a preaching series through the book of James yesterday with our church. I began by preaching James 1:1-4 and it was perhaps the most excitement I'd had preaching a sermon. It was one of those times when I felt it was exactly the right text for our church. However, it had nothing to do with me. In fact, in preparing for the sermon I realized how I had not obeyed the command of verse 2 in my life, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds." That seems like an absurd command if you don't read the next two verses. Even after you do read them, it sounds better, but it's still just about impossible I think. The next two verses say, "for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
I believe the trials talked about here are both great and small. They range from the smallest testing of our faith to the persecution that many believers face all over the world. So my question for our church was, "how do we do this?" The connection, I think, is found in verse 3 and verse 5 (which I preached last night). In verse three it says that they "know" a fact about the testing of their faith. In verse 5 it talks about asking God for wisdom (living out that knowledge). So the connection is that since you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness and that leads to perfection and completion in the trial, we should ask God for wisdom to live through the trial in such a way that we can count it as joy.
Having just gone through one of the most difficult trials of my life, I realized how unbelievably unprepared I was for it. So my challenge to all of us is that we prepare now for the trials that WILL come. No one is exempt from this. Trials are coming. The only way to count them as joy is to know that God is working through the trial to accomplish a great work in us. The only way to persevere is to know that God is completing something in the believer through the trial.
One more final thought about this (and there are many more that could be said), this is not something that can happen isolated away from the church. I do not know of anyone who can meet trial after trial and ALWAYS count them all as joy. We need each other. We need to be lifted up in prayer by our brothers and sisters. We need to be encouraged to remember that God is working through that test of faith to strengthen us and conform us to the image of Christ. This is one of the many tasks that can only happen well when the church sees the importance of it.
By the way, thank you to those few friends in my life who pointed me in the right direction during the trial. I was blind to my sinful reactions. I confess them before God and thank you for holding me to a higher standard.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Our reactions to circumstances are a part of our walk of holiness. Holiness is not a series of do's and don'ts, but conformity to the character of God and obedience to the will of God. Accepting with contentment whatever circumstances God allows for me is very much a part of a holy walk.
Taken from pages 68-69 of The Pursuit of Holiness
Friday, January 2, 2009
I've been thinking much lately about my dependence upon the Lord. It's commonplace for Christians to say they are absolutely dependent upon God for all things. I've said it. I want to say I believe it. However, this thought has constantly ran through my mind over the past couple of weeks:
Your prayer life will display if you really believe you are dependent upon Him for all things.
What I mean is this. If we truly believed that we were dependent upon Him for everything, would our prayer life not be much better?
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I didn't put on my reading list the other day that I was also going to read the Bible this year. I assumed that was without question, but why would it be? After all, often times in the past I have began to read the Bible only to not finish and then start back up the next year. Of course, I'm not alone in this, I hear of this happening all the time. Last year I even decided not to read through the Bible in a year because I wanted to focus on reading and meditating on specific passages. They may have worked for some, but it didn't for me. I read less than any other year I think (though I really don't know). This year I'm using a Bible reading plan that several others are using. That made me ask this question, "Why read the Bible through in a year?"
There are probably several answers I could give such as: to become like Christ, to grow in holiness, to honor God, to show my absolute dependence upon Him for everything, to know more of God, to be a better husband, father, pastor, man, Christian, and the list goes on. However, my main reason is because the Bible is God's revelation of Himself to man. If we want to know God, we must know Him through the avenue that He has given us. We must read the Bible because in the Bible we see God!
From a pastoral standpoint, one of the things I've noticed most in the few churches I've served in is that most people do not even have the basic, overall view of the Bible. They know many things that have been told them (which we all do), but often times have never read the deeps trues that are found in the Scriptures (particularly the Old Testament). So with that being said, we need to capture a good overview of the Bible by reading through it each year (or more) so that we will better know God and be able to better worship Him in Spirit and truth. I plead with you my readers, read the Word of God this year!