Friday, May 22, 2015

Around the Web-May 22, 2015

PCUSA Loses Membership After Embracing Gay Marriage

What Does Jude 7 Mean By “Other Flesh”? by Kevin DeYoung

Running from a Bad Church Situation May Hinder Your Spiritual Growth by Trevin Wax

Christian, Your Job Is a Ministry Job by Jon Bloom

Five Signs You Might Be Making Disciples of Your Church Instead of for Jesus by Jason Garwood

I Hope I Die Before I Get Old by Jared C Wilson

15 years ago at Shelby Farms in Tennessee, there was a gathering of student for the purpose of glorifying God called One Day. If you have followed the Passion conference for years, you know what I am referring to. The Passion conference has featured many worship leaders such as Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Charlie Hall. They have also hosted a few preachers such as Louie Giglio and Francis Chan. Perhaps the most well-known of them was John Piper. The first time I saw Piper was Passion in 1998 at Austin, Tx. Have no idea who this guy was but I am glad I do now. This video is the message Piper preached at One Day called, "Boasting Only in the Cross."

Thursday, May 21, 2015

An Answer to Prayer for Our City

Our city and surrounding areas have been in a severe drought for the past couple of years. I wrote a post called, Learning from our Drought, where I shared we were in a stage 3 drought. Since then we have been at stage 5 which means no one could water their yards. Our ground has been very dry and even caused plumbing in house to get damaged. Hardly anyone had green grass in their yard unless you had a well and no one could use their swimming pools.

A couple of weeks ago, heavy rain came in our area that caused a significant dent in the drought. We have two lakes that are our main water sources and they were at a combine 22% capacity. After a week of heavy rain and strong storms, they were almost at 50%. A week after that they were over 50%. Today I learned that one of the lakes, Lake Kickapoo, is over 100% and flowing into the spillway which flows in our other lake, Lake Arrowhead, which is at 66%. Our lakes could be at a combined 100% sooner than a lot of people expected. Our city officials decided to move us from stage 5 to stage 3, which sounded a little to rash at first, but it seems like a good idea now.

We are grateful to God for answering the prayers of the people. Many churches were praying for rain and we got it. Many were worried if our city would survive this drought. Thanks to all of you, who have prayed for city. However, with all the rain comes one big problem, flooding. In 2007, our city got hit with some major rain that caused flooding in some areas. I ask for prayer for those people who are in flood zones that have to be evacuated before the flood waters come rushing in.

What are my hopes after all this rain? I pray the people of our city know that there is a God who will give us all that we need and will answer our prayers in His timing. I hope those who do not know Jesus, this will be an opportunity for them to hear the gospel. I hope our city learned lessons in water conservation even while our lakes are full. I heard someone say we have 10 years of water. A lot can happen in 10 years so I hope we don't go too crazy. I pray more businesses come to Wichita Falls so people can get jobs. I also hope our churches will realize that God is Sovereign. He gave us these last few weeks of rain because He is a gracious God, not because someone repented or drew a circle around the city.

Almighty Father, you give rain to those who are yours and those who are not yours. Thank you for answering our prayers. I pray many will worship and praise you not the acts of men thinking they had something to do with this. I pray for those in the flood zones that you will protect them and give them peace. Allow your church to proclaim the gospel during this time and I pray hearts are now opened to hear your gospel. In Christ name, Amen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Review: The Complete 101 Collection by John C Maxwell

When it comes to leadership books, one of the authors that comes to mind is John Maxwell. He has been called the leadership guru. I have known many church leaders who have read his books and have benefited from them in leadership development.

Maxwell has been in several leadership conferences whether it is for businesses, churches, or even a city-wide banquet. Wichita Falls, for a couple of years, has hosted a leadership banquet where Maxwell was the keynote speaker, which, unfortunately, I was unable to attend either one of those two banquets.

His books has been New York Times Bestsellers and he even has a study Bible with his name on it. This book, The Complete 101 Collection, is probably the most unique of all his books because, as the title states, it is a collection of books put together into one volume.

The 101 series was released in the early 2000's which featured different topics of leadership. Those areas are attitude, self-improvement, leadership, relationships, success, teamwork, equipping, and mentoring. Each book has their complete chapters. All eight books are short but put them together and you get one big volume like putting all three Lord of the Rings books.

If you are in some kind of leadership roles, these books might be some benefit to you. I know they will work in the business world. What about the church? That depends on the church. Even though there were some Biblical references in this book, there were not that many. Some churches will gladly welcome anything that John Maxwell wrote which there are some good things he does write about. As far as leading under the power of the gospel, there is nothing to go on in that area. If you are John Maxwell fan, this book is for you.

Thanks BookLook Bloggers for letting me review this book.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

How Do Christians Grow In A Local Church-Part 7: Church Discipline

Church Disciple. To many, this sounds like an oxymoron. To others, it is a truth in the Bible. What is the purpose of church disciple? John MacArthur wrote:

The purpose of church discipline is the spiritual restoration of fallen members and the consequent strengthening of the church and glorifying of the Lord. When a sinning believer is rebuked and he turns from his sin and is forgiven, he is won back to fellowship with the body and with its head, Jesus Christ.

The goal of church discipline, then, is not to throw people out of the church or to feed the self-righteous pride of those who administer the discipline. It is not to embarrass people or to exercise authority and power in some unbiblical manner. The purpose is to restore a sinning believer to holiness and bring him back into a pure relationship within the assembly.

In Matthew 18:15, Jesus says, “And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” The Greek word translated “won” was originally used of accumulating wealth in the sense of monetary commodities. Here it refers to the gaining back of something of value that is lost, namely, an erring brother. When a brother or sister strays, a valuable treasure is lost, and the church should not be content until he or she is restored. The body of Christ is in the business of recovery (Gal. 6:1), and such is the purpose of church discipline.

Church Discipline is designed to confront us of unrepentant sin. How is the process of church discipline conducted? MacArthur continues:

In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus sets forth the four step process of church discipline: (1) tell him his sin alone; (2) take some witnesses; (3) tell the church; and (4) treat him as an outsider.

Step One (Matt. 18:15). The process of church discipline begins on an individual level. Jesus said, “And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private” (v. 15a). Here, an individual believer is to go to a sinning brother privately and confront him in a spirit of humility and gentleness. This confrontation involves clearly exposing his sin so that he is aware of it and calling him to repentance. If the sinning brother repents in response to the private confrontation, that brother is forgiven and restored (v. 15b).

Step Two (Matt. 18:16). If the sinning brother refuses to listen to the one who has rebuked him privately, the next step in the discipline process is to take one or two more believers along to confront him again (v. 16a). The purpose of taking other believers is so that “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed” (v. 16b). In other words, the witnesses are present not only to confirm that the sin was committed but, in addition, to confirm that the sinning brother was properly rebuked and that he has or has not repented.

The presence of additional witnesses is as much a protection for the one being approached as it is for the one approaching. After all, a biased person could erroneously say, “Well, I tried to confront him, but he’s impenitent.” It would be presumptuous to think that one person could make that ultimate determination, especially if he was the one who had been sinned against. The witnesses need to confirm whether there is a heart of repentance or one of indifference or rejection. Such a report provides the basis for further action because the situation has been verified beyond the report of one individual.

At this point, it should be hoped that the one or two who are brought along to confront the sinner will not have to become public witnesses against him before the rest of the church. Ideally, their added rebuke will be sufficient to induce a change of heart in the offending brother that the initial rebuke did not cause. If this change of heart does occur, that brother is forgiven and restored, and the matter is dropped.

Step Three (Matt. 18:17a). If the sinning brother refuses to listen and respond to the confrontation of the witnesses after a period of time, those witnesses are then to tell it to the church (v. 17a). This is most appropriately done by bringing the matter to the attention of the elders, who in turn oversee its communication to the assembly as a whole.

How long should the witnesses continue to call the person to repentance before telling the church? The elders at Grace Community Church avoid carrying out the third or fourth stage of church discipline until they are absolutely certain that the erring believer has truly sinned, or is continuing to sin, and that he has refused to repent when appropriately confronted. The elders will routinely send a letter by registered mail warning the individual that the third (or fourth) step of discipline will be taken if they have not received word of repentance by a specific date. When this date has passed, the person’s sin and refusal to repent are made known publicly, either before the entire assembly during a Communion service or through a fellowship group in which the person is known.

It has been the custom at Grace Community Church, upon enacting this third step, to clearly indicate to the congregation that they are to pursue the person aggressively and plead with him to repent before the fourth step becomes necessary. That crucial and potent procedure often draws the sinner to repentance and obedience. If repentance does take place, the sinning believer is forgiven and restored.

Step Four (Matt. 18:17b). The fourth and final step in the process of church discipline is ostracism. If a sinning believer refuses to listen even to the church, he is to be ostracized from the fellowship. Jesus said, “let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer” (v. 17b). The term “Gentile” was primarily used of non-Jews who held to their traditional paganism and had no part in the covenant, worship, or social life of the Jews. On the other hand, a “tax-gatherer” was an outcast from the Jews by choice, having become a traitor to his own people. Jesus’ use of these terms doesn’t mean that the church is to treat these people badly. It simply means that when a professing believer refuses to repent, the church is to treat him as if he were outside of the fellowship. They are not to let him associate and participate in the blessings and benefits of the Christian assembly.

When a man in the Corinthian church refused to forsake an incestuous relationship with his stepmother, the apostle Paul commanded that the man be removed from their midst (1 Cor. 5:13). The believers there were not even to share a meal with him (1 Cor. 5:11), for dining with someone was symbolic of a hospitable and cordial fellowship. The one who is persistently unrepentant is to be totally ostracized from the fellowship of the church and treated like an outcast, not a brother.

As far as the welfare of the church is concerned, the purpose of putting the brother out is to protect the purity of the fellowship (1 Cor. 5:6), to warn the assembly of the seriousness of sin (1 Tim. 5:20), and to give a testimony of righteousness to a watching world. But as far as the welfare of the brother himself is concerned, the purpose of the ostracism is not to punish but to awaken, and it must therefore be done in humble love and never in a spirit of self-righteous superiority (2 Thess. 3:15).

When a church has done everything it can to bring a sinning member back to purity of life but is unsuccessful, that individual is to be left to his sin and his shame. If he is truly a Christian, God will not cast him away, but He may allow him to sink still deeper before he becomes desperate enough to turn from his sin.

The command not to have fellowship or even social contact with the unrepentant brother does not exclude all contact. When there is an opportunity to admonish him and try to call him back, the opportunity should be taken. In fact, such opportunities should be sought. But the contact should be for the purpose of admonishment and restoration and no other.

Now is the question, how do Christians grow from this? Mark Dever explains in 9 Marks of a Healthy Church:

God's plan for the local church does not encourage us to leave weeds unchecked. He intends, for His own glory, that the church be composed of imperfect people; but He intends that these imperfect people should be people who love Him and in whose lives He can work-to make them more holy.

For the good on the one disciplined, for the good of other Christians as a warnings, for the health of the church as a whole, for the good of our witness to non-Christians, and for the glory of God, we will be helped to grow as we practice church discipline.

Recommend Reading:

The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline by Jonathan Leeman

Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus by Jonathan Leeman

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How Do I Know I'm A Christian?

Many people in the church lack assurance that they are a Christian. There are many reasons for that. It could be bad teaching like hearing a pastor say, "If you remember the day and hour of you prayed a prayer" or "You remember how old you were when you came to Christ." It could unconfessed sin that causes you to doubt.

Whatever the reason, many Christians doubt their salvation. How can one be assured of their salvation? Kevin DeYoung has written three signs that you can determine for yourself if you a Christian:

The first sign is theological. You should have confidence if you believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God (5:11-13). John doesn’t want people to be doubting. God wants you to have assurance, to know that you have eternal life. And this is the first sign, that you believe in Jesus. You believe he is the Christ or the Messiah (2:22). You believe he is the Son of God (5:10). And you believe that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (4:2). So if you get your theology wrong about Jesus you will not have eternal life. But one of the signs that should give you confidence before God is that you believe in his only Son Jesus Christ our Lord (4:14-16; 5:1, 5).

The second sign is moral. You should have confidence if you live a righteous life (3:6-9). Those who practice wickedness, who plunge headlong into sin, who not only stumble, but habitually walk in wickedness-should not be confident. This is no different than what Paul tells us in Romans 6 that we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness and in Galatians 5 that those who walk in the flesh will not inherit the kingdom. This is no different than what Jesus tells us in John 15 that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. So if you live a morally righteous life you should have confidence (3:24). And lest this standard make you despair, keep in mind that part of living a righteous life is refusing to claim that you live without sin and coming to Christ for cleansing when you do sin (1:9-10).

The third sign is social. You should have confidence if you love other Christians (3:14). If you hate like Cain you do not have life. But if your heart and your wallet are open to your brothers and sisters eternal life abides in you. One necessary sign of true spiritual life is that we love one another (4:7-12, 21).

These are John’s three signposts to assure us that we are on the road that leads to eternal life. These are not three things we do to earn salvation, but three indicators that God has indeed saved us. We believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God. We live a righteous life. We are generous toward other Christians. Or we can put it this way: we know we have eternal life if we love Jesus, we love his commands, and we love his people. No one of the three is optional. All must be present in the Christian, and all three are meant to be signs for our assurance (see 2:4, 6; 4:20; 5:2).

John belabors the same points again and again. Do you love God? Do you love his commands? Do you love his people? If you don’t, it’s a sign you have death. If you do, it’s sign that you have life. And that means confidence instead of condemnation.

Recommended Reading:

Am I Really A Christian? by Mike McKinley

How Can I Be Sure?: And Other Questions about Doubt, Assurance and the Bible by John Stevens

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Book Review: History, Law, and Christianity by John Warwick Montgomery

Apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith. There have been many apologetics that defended the faith and did it well whether it was through lectures and/or books. Such men include C.S. Lewis, James White, and William Lane Craig. Lewis' book, Mere Christianity, seems to be the one many go to for a simple discussion on the Christian faith.

Enter John Warwick Montgomery, who is not well known as the men mentioned above. Montgomery holds a few degrees in law and theology, and is a Lutheran clergyman. He has written a brief defense of Christianity called, History, Law, and Christianity. This book was written in 1964 and it still continue to be reprinted over the last 50 years.

Montgomery takes the defense of Christianity in a unique way. He first takes up the defense of the faith looks at the historical evidence of Jesus Christ as well as the reliability of the New Testament documents. This section of the book is based from a series of lecture at the University of British Columbia in Canada. These lectures were a response to a professor who made a statement that our historical knowledge of Jesus is inadequate, which Montgomery said this professor arrives at his conclusions by making some serious historical-philosophical errors which Montgomery does address in the book.

The next section addresses if Christianity can be defended in a legal way. If Christianity were to be put on trial, could be defended as one who would be on trial for committing a crime. Montgomery says, yes, because we have the Bible which was written by eye witnesses or close associates to those eye witnesses. Mark and Luke were not of the original twelve disciples but they knew people who were witnesses of the things of Christ while here on earth.

When I think of a book defending the Christian faith, I think of one that is big with chapters that will take two or three days to read in its entirety. This book is a good simple book. Montgomery gets to the point without chasing a rabbit or using words to confuse the reader.

Thanks 1517 Legacy for letting me review this book.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Music Monday: Lyric Video-Liberating King by Stephn Miller

Last week, I shared 2 lyric videos from Stephen Miller's upcoming album, Liberating King. This is a new lyric video from that same album which happens to be the title track.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

How Do Christians Grow In A Local Church-Part 6: Church Membership

Church Membership seems to be misunderstood in more ways than one. Some look at like they are part of a county club while others have no regard for it whatsoever. One way that a Christian can grow is a healthy understanding of church membership.

Mark Dever wrote,

Living the Christian life means being committed to each other. It entails being part of a community that is centered around Jesus Christ. by dealing with each other, we are forced to deal with areas of our lives that we would otherwise avoid; because of our committed love to each other, we pray and reflect on those areas and repent. Through our commitments and responsibilities as church members, we learn more of what true Christian love is all about. We're encouraged as we see God's work in other people's lives. We're encouraged by seeing the older members cared for, and encouraged by seeing newer Christians maturing. Even if things in our lives are not going so well, we can be encouraged by seeing the work of God in other people's lives. That's how it is suppose to be. That's one of the reasons why God doesn't call us to run this race alone. Being rooted in a church also encourages accountability. it helps us in many ways to grow as Christians.

Source: 9 Marks of a Healthy Church

God has called the church to be a community of faith that is centered on Jesus and committed to another.

Recommend Reading:

Grace Is Not To Be Experienced Alone

Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus by Jonathan Leeman

The Church and the Surprising Offense of God's Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline by Jonathan Leeman

What is a Healthy Church Member? by Thabiti Anyabwile

I Am A Church Member by Thom Rainer

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Youth Pastors Are Not Drill Sargents

Some churches seem to always misunderstand the job of a youth pastor. Some look on them as the one to keep the kids too busy to sin. Other look on them to teach the students to be followers of Jesus, which is true, but only because the parents don't have the time or they want time alone like they are babysitters. One task I think some churches look on youth pastors is the roll of Drill Sargent.

I have been in a few churches as youth pastor where one of my roles was to be a discipliner. When I say discipliner, what that means is to keep the kids in line. It also means when they acted up in church, rebuke them. Instead of being a friend and leader to students, I was expected to be their commanding officer to make sure they were keeping the rules. In my early days of ministry, I thought that was the task of a youth pastor. I was wrong.

Youth pastors are not suppose to be Drill Sargents. They are suppose to be pastors to their student to equip them for the work of ministry in the here-and-now, not the distant future. Yes, there has to be a time when youth pastors have to be discipliners but in a loving way. We need to teach them the Word and model for them to be followers of Christ. It should be the cry of every youth pastor to say to their students as the Apostle Paul told the Corinthian church, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV).

Youth Pastors are to equip parents to train up their children and encourage them as they raise their kids. Pastors need to be the champion for their youth pastor especially if something goes wrong that is beyond his control, like when a bus breaks down on a youth trip. Churches need to understand their youth pastor is a pastor not a Boys & Girls Club director.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Exhort One Another

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end (Hebrews 3:12-14).

Those who are truly the Lord’s do not fall away (apostatize) forever, but there is no assurance that we are truly the Lord’s if we live contrary to him (cf. 10:14; Rom. 8:29–30; Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1–3). So, these strong words call all professing Christians to a self-examination that would keep us from living in fear or rebellion (see also 2 Cor. 13:5). One evidence of truly knowing Christ is perseverance in faith. We must be on guard, therefore, that we do not develop “an evil, unbelieving heart.” What is the antidote to the poison of unbelief? It is mutual accountability and daily encouragement of one another. Sin is deceitful and can harden our hearts.

Let us be watchful, then, and “hold our original confidence firm to the end” (Heb. 3:14). We thank God for faithful spouses and other friends who help us walk with Christ. And we should be on the lookout for those who name Christ’s name yet do not continue with him. They need our prayers and maybe our help.

Gospel Transformation Bible

Monday, May 4, 2015

Music Monday: 2 Lyric Videos from Stephen Miller

The following lyric videos are songs from Stephen Miller's upcoming album, The Liberating King.

The first one is "The Love of God."

Next, we have "Our Father."

Check out these other great albums by Stephen Miller:

God & Sinner Reconcile


All Hail The King

Friday, May 1, 2015

Around The Web-May 1, 2015

Why We Need a Gospel-Centered, Missional Church by Joel Lindsey

It Is Insane to Kill Humans Because of Their Cognitive Abilities by John Knight

Top 10 Questions the Supreme Court Justices Asked on the Constitutional Right to Same-Sex Marriage by Justin Taylor

What should the church expect as same-sex marriage moves forward? by Aaron Armstrong

Answering Objections to Christianity with a Consistent Christian Life That Honors God by Dave Jenkins

FDA Approves California Company to Reduce...Double-Chin Fat? Our tax dollars at work.

Barnabas Piper has the latest Definitive Pastor Scouting Report

Okay, how many of you are excited about Batman V Superman coming out next year or am I the only one? Anyway, the trailer looked really cool and maybe Ben Affliack will do a good job as the Caped-Crusader. Speaking of the trailer, another one came out but this time animated based on the classic animated series that was popular in the 1990's which, as far as I can tell, features the voice of Kevin Conroy as Batman.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

How Do Christians Grow In A Local Church-Part 5: Evangelism

Christians freak out over the word evangelism. It is probably the unhealthy teaching they might have heard over evangelism. They probably heard they must lead someone to Jesus for them to be successful. They might have also heard that they must present the gospel in a certain way if not then it is not evangelism.

Other have even used excuses not to evangelize such it is the pastor's/church staff/elder's job to reach the lost. Some churches have a pastor of evangelism which some members might think that is his only job. Other might say I am not qualified which is not true. You may not be equipped because your church leaders are not doing what they need to do to give you what you need to know about evangelism as well as the encouragement to declare the gospel. Perhaps one of the biggest excuses for not evangelize is Christians want their lives to be a witness using the quote, "Preach the gospel all times. When necessary, use words."

Evangelism is one way a church can grow, not just numerically but spiritually as well for the believer. Mark Dever, in 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, wrote:

When we begin to understand more of what the Bible teaches about evangelism, we will begin to trust God in helping us to spread the Good News. We will feel more like obeying Him as we realize that is not our duty to convert anyone but simply to faithfully tell the news. There is wonderful freedom in that. I don't have to feel that I have to answer every person's question. I just have to tell them the truth about Jesus, and love them, and pray for them. I'm called simply to be faithful in the message, and that brings a wonderful freedom.

If you feel you unqualified to evangelize the gospel, that is not true. You are qualified because you have the greatest news of all to declare. When your favorite team wins, you want to celebrate and let everyone know why you are happy. The Gospel is about God saving sinners through the finished work of Jesus and He has given us new desires. That is wonderful news that must be declared.

If you think you failed because you did not lead someone to Jesus, remember it is not your job to convert. Conversion is God's job. If you don't know the answer to the question, be honest and say I don't know. I remember a story of one guy coming to Christ because the pastor just didn't know the answer to the question he was asking. Why? Because the pastor was not trying to make one up.

Evangelism is a task that should be a joy for all Christians. When one is saved that means the Lord has added a number to the church. We grow spiritually because, like Dever said, we trust in God to do the work of conversion in the heart of the person we are telling the Gospel to.

Recommended Reading:

Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by Mack Stiles

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever

Marks of the Messenger by Mack Stiles