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ORDINARY PASTORS

13 Mar

Ordinary Pastors

I have in hand another invitation to a big name conference with a big name speaker. I could go and hang out around the coffee pot with ordinary pastors, but I am told that the important stuff comes from the important people.

My brother Steve and I have spoken from time to time on how glad we are to be part of the Evangelical Free Church of America. One of the reasons is that there is no single awe-inspiring individual with whom the Free Church is identified. It is not a movement of personalities. We had looked at other church planting groups who were led by powerful, ‘successful,’ personalities, yet we chose the Free Church as a movement of ordinary pastors led by ordinary men who are seeking to be faithful to the work and Word of God.

Some time ago I read Don Carson’s book Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: the Life and Reflections of Tom Carson in which he told the story of the faithful work of his father laboring in small churches in Quebec. The Reformed Reader summarizes the book aptly: Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Gospel-Centered Tier One Christian Fellowship

24 Jan

True Christian fellowship is based on Tier One commitments to the Gospel and to Biblical Moral Essentials (summarized in the Great Commandments). These Biblical Moral Essentials provide growing evidence of one’s genuine experience of the Gospel. Tiers 2-4 should not constitute a basis for Christian fellowship.

The Gospel creates spiritual union with Christ and union with other believers. Biblical Moral Essentials give outward evidence of the reality of that union with Christ.

We should not grant Christian fellowship to those who lay claim to the gospel, yet deny perspicuous biblical morality.

 

 

 

Personal Beliefs/Opinions

 

Denominational Distinctives

 

Theological Systems

 

Doctrine Essential to the Gospel

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Convictions

 

Debatable issues

 

Cultural applications of biblical morality

 

Perspicuous Biblical Morality

 

 

 
 

Christmas — the Birth of Our Divine Warrior

06 Dec

I love the celebration of Christmas especially when it turns my focus to the incarnation of the Divine Warrior who would come and rescue us from the kingdom of darkness. Though we may sing, “Silent Night, Holy Night, All is Calm, All is Bright,” our theology suggests that more than that was going on that night. Hell was raging. Satan was fuming. The demons were preparing for the greatest confrontation between the powers of evil and the power of God.

Way back in the Garden, God had ordained that hostility would exist between Satan and those whom God had created in His image to worship and serve Him. The Old Testament narrative portrays that hostility in the frequent attempts of various enemies to destroy the people of God. Time and again, Yahweh fights for His people and delivers them. He chooses warriors like Gideon and David who fight the enemies of God and His people.

As we read these narratives through the lens of the New Testament, we realize that a great spiritual hostility lay behind these physical battles between nations. The attempts to eliminate the people of God were designed by Satan to thwart the coming of that One whom God promised would come and ‘crush the head” of Satan.  The Lord’s sovereign and powerful interventions in behalf of His people renewed hope that the ultimate Divine Warrior would come and defeat the great foe of mankind.

Christmas is the birth of a King, a Warrior King, a Divine King. Though He is the Prince of Peace he comes, not to appease or accommodate evil, but to destroy evil and to crush the evil one.  He is born to defeat sin, Satan, and death.  The life and ministry of Jesus vividly portray the confrontations He had with Satan and the demonic world. Unlike the first Adam, Jesus comes through every time as one who triumphs over evil.

Satan was relentless in His attacks against this One who is called “the Son of God” and within the eternal plan of God is allowed to incite the mobs to kill Jesus. Death would be Satan’s final vanquishing of the Divine Warrior.  Death was Satan’s last and most powerful weapon to bring against Jesus. However, little did Satan know that God would use this powerful weapon of death to be the very means by which Satan himself would be defeated. Satan unleashed his great fury in the death of Jesus only to have it recoil and crush the great enemy of mankind.

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Heb 2:14-15 ESV)

“Up from the grave He arose with a might conquest of His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose. He arose. Hallelujah Christ arose!”


 

Jesus Christ – the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)

25 Oct

Jesus Christ – the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)

The immutability of Christ comforts and assures us through the inevitable changes of life.  Life is full of changes – some for the better – some for the worse.  In a world of rapid and unpredictable change, we know one who is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  This immutable character of Jesus Christ concludes the book of Hebrews in a similar way to how the book began. Listen to some of those beginning words:

Hebrews 1:8-12   8 ¶ But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.  9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”  10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;  11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment,  12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”

Is not this our comfort? He is the same. In a world where governments change, economies change, physical appearances changes, friends changes, climates change (so I’m told) —  In a world of certain, but unpredictable change, what can you depend on?

This is the central question of the book of Hebrews and the central issue of life? WHO IS THIS IMMUTABLE JESUS? Is Jesus the same – yesterday, today, and forever? The resounding answer is Jesus is the Same.  As you read through the book of Hebrews you will find the at least following affirmations about the immutability of Jesus.

  • He is the same son of God, image of the father, creator of heavens and earth.
  • He is the same one who takes on humanity that he may experience death for every man,
  • He is the same one who pioneers and blazes the trail of salvation for all who will follow Him.
  • He is the same one who sanctifies us and is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters.
  • He is the same sympathetic Savior who triumphed over the Devil and who helps us in our temptation.
  • He is the same apostle and high priest of our confession who builds the house of salvation in which we live.
  • He is the same one who brings us to the throne of his father to find mercy and grace.
  • He is the same one who gives the Promised rest for weary sinners.
  • He is the same one who is of a priestly order that has no end.
  • He is the same priest, holy, harmless, undefiled, made higher than the heavens.
  • He is the same one who offers himself as a once for all sacrifice for sins.
  • He is the same one in whose blood is your forgiveness of sins.
  • He is the same one who brings you not to Mount Sinai and its holy wrath but to Mount Sion and that grand celestial celebration.
  • He is the same one who disciplines you because he loves you.
  • He is the same one whom saints of old have found to be faithful in life and death.
  • He is the same one who is coming and who will fulfill everyone promise to his children.
  • He is the same one who endured the hardship of the race but entered into the joy of victory.

He was all of this yesterday – He is all of this today – He will be all of this tomorrow – He will not change – never, ever, will He change – He is the same.

 

 
 

Obsession with Urban Church Planting

15 Sep


Obsession with Urban Church Planting

Last night I received a tweet and a re-tweet from a conference in Alabama on church planting.  The tweet was from one of the sessions there on church planting and unfortunately tweets have no context in which to interpret them. So, I will discuss the tweet as it is. The tweet was about the speaker’s bewilderment over what he called ‘the urban obsession with church planting when half of the world’s population lives in rural areas.’

In response I tweeted: ‘Urban obsession counteracts a history of rural obsession that neglected half of the world’s peoples.’

My point and the point of any urban church planter is not that we should disregard rural and suburban church planting but that in recent history urban church planting has been a neglected focus of the church and a renewed emphasis on cities is needed. Read the rest of this entry »