My 2/15/15AM sermon, Church in Romans, surveying the book of Romans on the subject of the church, is now online. In it, there were so many goals I had. I wanted to get after the American (human?) tendency to think individualistically over and against thinking collectively. I wanted to connect the why of church life to the Gospel. And, at the most basic (and deep) level, I wanted to magnify Jesus and the Gospel. So, I thought this sermon helped connect those ideas to truths evident throughout Romans. I see Romans as showing the glory of God in a united church on mission under grace. This sermon came rather easy in light of that big sweeping goal. I hope you enjoy it.
Dangerous Calling Email #1
Last week, we had an Elders/Deacons Meeting and began to take some time looking at Paul Tripp’s Dangerous Calling book. Here’s the first of weekly emails I’ll be sending our leaders from last Wed entitled Suspect Yourself:
As we jump into thinking about Dangerous Calling this year, I was reminded of a Sherlock Holmes case in which the inspector asked Holmes if he had any suspects yet and Holmes replied, “I suspect myself—for jumping to conclusions too rapidly.” Really the Introduction and Chapter 1 of this book highlight the importance of tender hearts before God. In the Intro, for instance, Tripp clearly lays out his aim: “This is a diagnostic book. It is written to help you take an honest look at yourself in the heart-and-life-exposing mirror of the Word of God—to see things that are wrong and need correcting and to help you place yourself once again under the healing and transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (p.11).
Weekend Recap – Church Health
My sermon from 2/12/12AM entitled Church Health from Hebrews 10:23-25 is now online. The big idea was that the Gospel’s full access should promote full living (that was Kent Hughes’ thought). Specifically, because of the relationship we have with God through Jesus, we should hold relentless tight on the Gospel and be aggressive in showing love to others.
In the evening, we had Small Group and my group discussed our sinful tendencies toward envy, jealousy and other sins.
Hope you had a great Lord’s Day.
Are you all out of whack?
That’s the question Kevin DeYoung asks in a blog post from Tuesday (that originally appeared in Tabletalk). He gives 4 reasons why we can get all out of whack in church life:
First, we are not always gracious in the way we talk about secondary issues.
Second, some of us have never considered that certain issues in the Christian life belong in a Romans 14 category.
A third problem is that some Christians inquire too early and too often about their particular hot-button issues.
Finally, we must be careful our passions are not out of proportion.
Read the post and see if you don’t require some recalibration.
Weekend Recap – Advent Week 1
After the holiday week last week (which involved me traveling to Illinois), it was great to be back with the saints at Crestview yesterday. We started a series on Advent, focusing in on the word HOPE in a message from Malachi 4:4-6. In the sermon, I tried to show how God was working in these final words of the OT to prep us for Christ and His coming.
After the AM service, we had the 1st of 2 information meetings on the 2011 budget. These meetings allow the congregation to gather and discuss the budget with leadership. We did one yesterday, will have one December 5th and then will ask for congregational affirmation on the 12th. Big changes in this year’s budget are some monies to update our web page, monies to help us achieve our goal of a safe children’s area through background screenings on workers, and monies reallocated in our international missions line items.
In the PM, we gathered to serve one another by “decking the halls” or “hanging the greens” with lots of great fellowship.
This weekend was also busy for me serving the May family. Fred May passed away last Friday, November 26th. I was privileged to serve the family today, encouraging them from Jesus’ words in John 11:25-27.
It’s been a full weekend, but a great time to find hope in Christ.
Young Mothers: Discouraged?
The latest 9Marks EJournal is online and deals with Pastoring Women, equipping local church pastors with good, practical tools for shepherding women in the church with whom they’ve been entrusted. I let me wife read an article in this issue entitled: For the Young Mother: Ministry, Guilt and the Seasons of Life. Here’s her thoughts on the article:
Jani Ortlund challenges young mothers to evaluate the guilt we so often feel. She reminds us that we shape the souls of our children. What a high calling and difficult challenge that is! She says, “It is not godly guilt that would call you away from a wholehearted investment in your little ones for his sake. Don’t feel guilty over making your children your primary ministry investment when they are young.” Wow. That really sums up what we should encourage our young mothers to desire in their hearts and train them to be.
Another great perspective I am reminded of from her is that I am called to cultivate a love for the home. She says, “God has called us to love our children from home base (Tit. 2:4-5). We can’t improve upon God’s design! This means more than staying at home. It means fixing your heart on your home. Women can leave their homes through more avenues than work or outside ministry. Cell phones, emails, and chat rooms can take a mother away from her primary ministry, too.” Home is where I should desire to be, especially in this season of my children’s young lives. There are so many things, as good intentioned as they might be, that pull at us to give our time and energy and passion other than to our children and husbands. This should be an encouragement to spur us on!
Finally, she reminds us that this season is just a season. I love her words when she says, “And each season is a divine calling from our Creator and King. Organizing a new church event is important. Teaching your little boy to be kind to his sister is also important. But which one can best be done by you during this season? Serve God well by ministering to your children first. Very soon they will be grown and gone and all those uniquely teachable moments will be gone. And you will have ample opportunity to serve Christ outside your home in the seasons ahead.”
“But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7).
Ok, so I don’t have much more to say than what Jani has already said. I thank the Lord for her wisdom in writing this to challenge and encourage the young mothers today.
So…check out this issue and be encouraged yourself.
Local Church Involvement
Z quotes Carlos Griego:
Telling people that being part of the local church is optional for the health of the Christian, is like telling a married couple they can replace living together with being friends on Facebook to grow closer and become One as God intends.
Good insight. And as we progress through Colossians, we are seeing that God is at work to renew us as a body in the image of the creator, conforming us to Christ. This new man being renewed is a corporate body of believers as the subsequent commands show. Let’s show Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11) by not treating our involvement in the local church as an optional thing.
On Church Involvement
Here’s a great clip from Mark Driscoll on what to do when the church doesn’t feel like family. As a pastor, I get to hear critical comments often from people who wish the church could be this or that and often it comes from people who are not involved. Driscoll’s words are really timely for those of us who aren’t involved. Let this challenge you to a deeper commitment.
I enjoyed these thoughts from David Livingstone, a pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church and not that famous missionary, who wrote about an article for their newsletter entitled, “Is Watching a Very Good Sermon on TV or Online the Same As ‘Doing Church’?”. A helpful summary (from the DG Blog):
No doubt there are more than just a few folks who have surfed their way into our services from elsewhere to hear the very good sermons and will stay only as long as the sermons remain very, very good. That’s what “doing church” is for them … they are “auditing” church.
And that’s not all bad … in fact, it’s way better than staying away. By all means, come and audit! For that matter, staying home to watch a good sermon on TV is also way better than watching virtually everything else on TV. Long ago, the Apostle Paul wrote that he rejoiced at any kind of gospel preaching so long as Christ was proclaimed (Philippians 1:15-18), and so should we.
The rub comes in letting ourselves settle into minimalism. In other words, it’s very sad to reduce “doing church” to listening to a sermon whether it’s at home in front of a screen or in a building with others in front of a screen. “Doing church” is far more and far better than that … both on Sunday mornings and all through the week. Why? Because church isn’t a building to go to or programs and classes to attend; it’s a living fellowship of people who have a saving relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ … and a saving relationship with one another as members of the family of God (consider Hebrews 3:12-13).
I hope you found this helpful too.
How To Wreck Your Church…
From Thabiti & Ray Ortlund…
How to wreck your church in three weeks
Week One: Walk into church today and think about how long you’ve been a member, how much you’ve sacrificed, how under-appreciated you are. Take note of every way you’re dissatisfied with your church now. Take note of every person who displeases you.
Meet for coffee this week with another member and “share your heart.” Discuss how your church is changing, how you are being left out. Ask your friend who else in the church has “concerns.” Agree together that you must “pray about it.”
Week Two: Send an email to a few other “concerned” members. Inform them that a groundswell of grievance is surfacing in your church. Problems have gone unaddressed for too long. Ask them to keep the matter to themselves “for the sake of the body.”
As complaints come in, form them into a petition to demand an accounting from the leaders of the church. Circulate the petition quietly. Gathering support will be easy. Even happy members can be used if you appeal to their sense of fairness – that your side deserves a hearing. Be sure to proceed in a way that conforms to your church constitution, so that your petition is procedurally correct.
Week Three: When the growing moral fervor, ill-defined but powerful, reaches critical mass, confront the elders with your demands. Inform them of all the woundedness in the church, which leaves you with no choice but to put your petition forward. Inform them that, for the sake of reconciliation, the concerns of the body must be satisfied.
Whatever happens from this point on, you have won. You have changed the subject in your church from gospel advance to your own grievances. To some degree, you will get your way. Your church will need three or four years for recovery. But at any future time, you can do it all again. It only takes three weeks.
Just one question. Even if you are being wronged, “Why not rather suffer wrong?” (1 Corinthians 6:7)
Thabiti’s encouragement was to read, pray and (if appropriate) repent.
In an upcoming sermon, we will see how Paul endured lots of suffering and afflictions for the sake of Christ’s body, the church. We need to practice active love toward the bride of Christ. Josh Harris has also weighed in timely on this matter. How are your actions showing love to those for whom Christ shed His blood?