Monday, May 31, 2010

Busy Times

I didn't realize it had been so long since I posted. Over the past couple of weeks I've been quite busy running around. We had the great opportunity to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, travel out of town, welcome the birth of our niece, and several other smaller things. It has been a very good, but very busy, couple of weeks. I am working on part 4 of the series of posts called "Expectations, Fears, and Hopes." You can read the first three here: part 1, part 2, part 3. Thanks for you who are faithfully hanging with me on here!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Great Tribute to Wayne Grudem!

I saw this on the Desiring God Blog and loved it! If you have seen the movie "Grease", and if you've read Grudem's Systematic Theology, you'll know exactly what this is about.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Call to Rejoice in Persecution

In Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus calls His followers to rejoice and be glad when they are persecuted for the sake of righteousness and for the sake of Christ. Daniel Doriani helps us see how in The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of a Disciple:
The call to rejoice in persecution demands that we reappraise our values. Jesus asks us to detach ourselves from this age and to recalibrate our ideas about time. We should tell ourselves, "Our time on earth is short; eternity is long. If we endure insults or privation in this life, they are short-lived in comparison to eternity. If we should die because of persecution, then we meet the Lord and taste his goodness earlier than we anticipated."

Jesus summons us to compare this life with eternity. The Bible affirms the value of this life. It teaches us what we need to know to life well on earth. It enables us to lead a morally upright and personally satisfying life. God tells us that he gives us his commands and decrees "for your good" (Deut. 10:13 ESV).
But Jesus also states a vital qualifier. Sometimes our "reward" for living well is persecution. Sometimes warriors scorn peacemakers. They are angry and want to stay that way, so they despise peacemakers. Jesus warns us that we may do almost everything right, and yet the only payoff may be opposition or persecution.

Evaluating this truth, and the truth of the Beatitudes, J.C. Ryle writes:
Let us learn how the teaching of Christ is sadly different from the practice of many professing Christians. Where shall we find men and women among those who go to churches and chapels, who are striving to live up to the pattern we have read of today? There is too much reason to fear that many baptized people are utterly ignorant of what the New Testament commands.
I pray the church will seek to be a people who know and take seriously the commands of Scripture and seek to live them out for the glory of God!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mondern-Day Gospel vs. Biblical Gospel

Many of you have heard about David Platt's new book Radical. I am reading it slowly right now. If you have subscribed to his podcast, then you've heard much of this. Even if you have, however, this book is a great book and I highly encourage you to read it. This paragraph is a quick jab at getting back to the Bible, especially in terms of salvation.

The modern-day gospel says, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Therefore, follow these steps, and you can be saved." Meanwhile, the biblical gospel says, "You are an enemy of God, dead in your sin, and in your present state of rebellion, you are not even able to see that you need life, much less to cause yourself to come to life. Therefore, you are radically dependent on God to do something in your life that you could never do."

The former sells books and draws crowds. The latter saves souls. Which is more important?

p. 32

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Here are a few quotes from Sunday Morning's Sermon:

J.C. Ryle: He means those who use all their influence to promote peace and love on earth, in private and in public, at home and abroad. He means those who strive to make all people love one another, by teaching the Gospel which says, ‘Love is the fulfillment of the law’ (Romans 13:10).

John Calvin: By peace-makers he means those who not only seek peace and avoid quarrels, as far as lies in their power, but who also labour to settle differences among others, who advise all men to live at peace, and take away every occasion of hatred and strife.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Why are peacemakers blessed? The answer is that they are blessed because they are the people who stand out as being different from the rest of the world, and they are different because they are children of God.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Expectations, Fears, and Hopes: Part 3

This is part two in a series of post that I've been thinking about lately in respect to the expectations of pastors. You can read the first two here: Part 1, Part 2.

I want to begin with this post looking at the expectations that God has for the elders of His church. There will probably be 2-3 posts dealing with this particular aspect of expectations, but today will begin with a pattern that I think is developed for the leaders of the church in Acts 6. To see this, however, one must realize that the ministry of the apostles is in some ways given to the elders today. Acts 6:1-6 says:

1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

I believe this is the beginning of the deacon ministry, which later will be recognized as an office in the church. While some do not hold to that view, the point I want to make from this is not really concerned with that fact. However, in this passage you see the primary responsibility of the apostles in verses 2 and 4. The first thing we see is that the apostles recognized that there was a need being overlooked. The Hellenists complained that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. The apostles did not say, "Well, that's not important. We really don't care." Rather, they seemed to agree that this was a problem because they wanted to see it taken care of by others. That is why it says in verse 3 to pick seven men who could take care of this problem.

Why wouldn't the apostles take care of it themselves? Why didn't they drop what they were doing and make sure the widows were cared for? The answer in verse 2 is that they were to continue to focus on the preaching of the word of God. As I stated in the last post, it is right to realize that the pastors of the church need to be concerned about the ministry of the word. That is the primary, fundamental calling upon their lives. The apostles realized it was important to care for the physical needs of the widows, but not at the expense of the ministry of the word.

Years ago I served in a church with several staff members. I heard comments about the 'Senior Pastor' being a pastor (based on how he loved the people, visited the people, etc.), but that our 'Associate Pastor' was a preacher (meaning he was able to proclaim the Word). There is a flaw in the thought process of that statement. The pastors calling is to minister the word! While this does take place in more places than just the pulpit on Sunday mornings, it still is the calling up a pastor's life. In other words, you are not a pastor if you do not minister the word. The Bible does not separate those two things into categories. Being a pastor means ministering the word. And perhaps the primary way of ministering the Word is through the public proclamation when the church gathers.

The second thing pastors should be devoted too (based on Acts 6:4) is prayer. Pastors are called to lead the flock that they've been placed over, and yet they are to lead as God wills for them. The only way pastors can faithfully do this is by praying for themselves and their flock. Pastors cannot change hearts. The Holy Spirit must move like the wind and change hearts. The Holy Spirit must move with the ministry of the Word to help people to grow in Christlikeness. The bottom line from Acts 6 is that the pastors of the church must take seriously their calling to the ministry of the Word and to prayer. The other needs of the church are important, but they are secondary at best to those two things.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Sermons

I recently transferred my sermons over to Sermon Audio if you're interested.

I should have said that the sound quality hasn't been the best. We think we finally have everything worked out so that it will be better. The last message preached seems to be the best quality.