Friday, October 31, 2008

Reformation Day

Oct. 31 1517, an Augustinian Monk nailed a set of theses for debate on the Wittenberg Church door, little suspecting that the world would never again be the same. The Monk's name was Martin Luther and his theses were the beginning of the recovery of the Gospel for the Christian world.

We moderns tend to think of this day as costumes and candy, but we as Christians have shamefully forgotten our heritage. We have forgotten that the Gospel, though never entirely lost, had been pushed into the shadows and God then used Luther to bring His Gospel back into the center. Let us never forget what God did through Luther and the reformers, let us never forget the courage they showed against the Holy Roman Empire. We should be thankful for the sacrifices the made.

I am deeply thankful for what Luther did (and consistently amused by him), and I was wondering how you celebrate this day if you do. And if you haven't in the past do you have any idea's. To give an example my family watches the Luther movie every year on this day. How about you feel free to share, I would like to hear some idea's.


Denny Burk has a great post on his blog ( that contains a video of John Piper, Pastor of Preaching and Vision and Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN, discussing the upcoming election and the abortion issue. I would highly encourage all to read it and watch the video as Piper is one of the most helpful pastor / theologians in the church today. Thanks Denny for your great blog, and here is the link:

Thursday, October 30, 2008


If you are anything like me, prayer is a spiritual battle. Communicating with God regularly and intentionally does not come naturally to fallen sinners, mainly because sin itself is substituting something worthless for something worthwhile. Every moment of every day provides numerous distractions that threaten to keep us from praying to our Heavenly Father (even writing a blog!). These distractions, while they might be beneficial and worthwhile, are not the best thing when we ought to be enjoying a time of sweet communion with God. But even if we do pray regularly, are we praying in a way that is “spiritual?” Are the prayers we cast at the feet of our Holy, righteous, loving Father-God prayed from a heart that desires nothing but Him and His glory? I believe that prayer is the window to the condition of a heart. Prayer exposes what truly resides in the affections of our soul, though every earthly eye is blind to it. So what are the “spiritual” things that will flow from a heart soaked in the majesty of Jesus? John Piper in a parenthetical statement gives nine nuggets to wet our appetites, as there are no doubt many more:

1. The Glory of Christ
2. The Hallowing of God’s Name
3. The Salvation of Sinners
4. The Holiness of Our Hearts
5. The Advance of the Gospel
6. Contrition for Sins
7. The Fullness of the Spirit
8. The Coming of the Kingdom
9. The Joy of Knowing Christ

Brothers and sisters, let us lift up spiritual prayers with joy!

(Adapted from John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, p. 139)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Goals and Priorities for Pastors

I fear that too much of thinking about goals and priorities for pastors is influenced by business practices and not informed and shaped by the scriptures. This outline of Goals and Priorities for pastors is taken largely from On Being a Pastor by Derek Prime and Alistair Begg. And they did a great job of going to the Bible for their understanding of goals. Enjoy.

Feed the Flock - John 21:15-17 - When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

Our goal as preachers is to provide spiritual nourishment for the flock entrusted to our care. We do this through faithful preaching of the scriptures.

Proclaim the Whole Will of God - Acts 20:27 - for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.

This is once again a call to faithfully preach the Scriptures, but this is a call to preach all the scriptures. We will make God's will for salvation, sanctification and we will do it without hobby-horses or cowardly avoiding difficult truths.

Present Everyone Perfect in Christ - Col. 1:28-29 - Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

We are to strive to motivate every Christian in our care to grow. We are to show them the purposes of God for them in Christ. We as Pastors will be held accountable for this process because we are striving to PRESENT everyone mature in Christ. So our goal is to help them to grow in such a way that we will be able to present them to Christ.

Prepare God's People for Works of Service - Ephes. 4:12 - For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

It is arrogant for us to think that we have all the gifts necessary for the work of the ministry. It is foolish for the flocks we serve to think that we their Pastors have all the gifts necessary. We must take seriously the New Testament teaching on Spiritual Gifts and realize that all of us are necessary and that we all have gifts necessary for accomplishing God's will for our church. We as the Pastors must make it a priority and goal to discern giftedness and empower the people for ministry.

Equip God's People to Be Fishers of Men and Women - John 10:16 - And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

We must be concerned for the flocks participation in the Great Commission, to personally be fishers of men, and for the sheep who have not yet come. Therefore, we teach, we train, and we give an example.

Keep Watch Over Yourself and the Flock until the Task is Complete - Acts 20:28 - Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

We must keep watch over ourselves - they remind us of the greater victory for the Enemy when a Christian leader falls. We are also to help our people run their race, keeping watch over their souls.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Call For Weight Gain

Only heaven knows how many commercials are plastered on our televisions that call for us all to lose weight and build up our bodies. Most of the commercials have both male and female models who look like they been sculpted in museums who would like for us to believe they achieved such physiques doing some exercise on a particular machine for 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week! Being more than a little overweight myself, I cannot help but have a natural resentment towards such folks. However, on some of my "weaker" days, I have caught myself looking for the cordless phone before the 800 number disappears from the screen! Complementing the exercise commercials are the diet commercials. These contain famous people and some not so famous smiling into the camera telling us how they've lost 40, 50, 60 pounds or more on this or that plan! The imagery from these things certainly makes an impression and several lines from these commercials have made it into society's vernacular. One of the most memorable is the guy saying, "I gave all of my fat clothes to my fat friends." Gotta hate that guy! Wonder how his fat friends felt about his commercial?

In preaching through Mark's gospel on Sunday mornings at our church, I have encountered some very "weighty" Scriptures. From Jesus forgiving sin to the high costs of discipleship, the weight is unmistakable! Yet, many of America's pulpits have found ways to trim back the weight for the "sake of the hearer!"

It is no secret that modern topical sermons purposefully avoid the biblical doctrines of sin, hell, judgment, and the like. People who preach like this, instead, choose to highlight the "positives" of the gospel. Subjects like heaven, forgiveness, and blessings are all but sure to be Sunday "homeruns." Most conservative preachers have books lining their shelves highlighting this failure committed by thousands each and every Sunday. Tying this in to my introductory comments, one might say the pulpit is "losing weight."

I am now in Mark 8. This is one of the greatest chapters in the book and is certainly a pivotal chapter in the ministry of Christ. Soon, Jesus will turn south and begin a timely journey to Jerusalem, the site of His impending death. After Peter's great confession a memorable scene occurs. Jesus, for the first time, begins to speak concerning what will happen to Him when He gets to Jerusalem. In fact, Mark writes that Jesus spoke plainly about what would happen. It is at this point Peter rebukes Jesus! Matthew's account in chapter 16 sheds a little more light on this rebuke as Peter basically says there is no way he will let this happen to his Master. Jesus sharply rebukes Peter for his outburst for He knows the cross is absolutely necessary for our redemption...something the disciples will come to understand in time.

Immediately following this exchange, Jesus begins to instruct the disciples and the surrounding crowd on the particulars of following Him. It is in this setting we find the remarkable statement by Jesus, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." The verses which follow are also weighty as well.

After preaching on these verses, I went home and started thinking about the "weight loss" in America's pulpits. Certain doctrines being purposefully avoided has always been a serious threat to the church. But the problem is bigger than that. By not preaching the high costs of discipleship as well, the door has opened even wider for the shallow and pitiful prosperity guys who plague our country and blast lie after lie from behind their expensive pulpits. Not many today desire to hear sermons about denying ourselves and bearing crosses or, truth be told, following Jesus. To hear some of the big wigs tell it, God's primary concern is blessing you more than He already has. God surely wants you to have 3 instead of 2, 5 instead of 4.

Of course, the well-fed believer knows better. Once you feast upon God's Word, you develop and desire a taste for more of it. Preachers certainly have work to do...but so do those in the pew. It's a great thing to drop some weight here and there. But we must keep in mind, physical weight loss is often good and beneficial to one's body. Weight loss in the pulpit is to everyone's detriment.

This blog is a call to put meat back into the diet from our pulpits! Sweets turn to fat and make us lazy. Same thing happens in churches! The truths of our Lord are sharp, distinct, and powerful. May we be gripped by the words and demands of our Lord. May we share these truths with our people with hearts devoted to Christ. May they see these things in us!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Elder and the Pedophile

Two men entered the First Baptist Church to worship. The first one, an elder, stood to pray and said, "God, I thank you that you have set me apart from the world, and that I am not a homosexual, a drug addict, an abortionist, or a pedophile. I attend church whenever the doors are open and I tithe every week from all my income. Then a pedophile stood to pray and said God have mercy on me for I have sinned.

Then Jesus said that the pedophile went home justified.

If that was as uncomfortable for you to read as it was for me to write then you and I have far too much in common with the unjustified Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14.

Let us beg for forgiveness for our pride and our lack of love and mercy for our fellow sinners.

Lets remember that only difference between us and any sin is the restraining hand of God, not goodness in us.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Love with Eternity in View

I have been reading Hugh Binnings Christian Love very slowly as a devotional aid and I came across this gem that I wanted to share with you.

What an unsuitable thing might a believer think it, to hate someone in this world whom he must love eternally; and to contend and strive with those, even for matters of small moment (importance), with bitterness and rigidity, with whom he shall have an eternal, uninterrupted unity and fellowship. Should we not be assaying here, how that glorious garment suits us? And there is truly nothing makes a man so heaven-like or God-like as this - much love and charity.

Hugh Binning, Christian Love, 27-28.