Around the Web (June 3 – 8)

Andy Naselli | What If You Fail?

Andy Naselli posted a good quote from Tim Lane and Paul Tripp from their book How People Change.

 Albert Mohler | The Seduction of Pornography and the Integrity of Christian Marriage

Al Mohler has a two part article on pornography and marriage. These are two very worth while articles to look at digest. Part 1 | Part 2

The Gospel Coalition | Let’s Get Our Theological Priorities Straight

“Get your priorities straight. This is true in the realm of Christian doctrine, just as it is anywhere else in life. Doctrinal prioritization has a strong pedigree. Jesus himself placed priority on the two great commandments: love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40).”

David Crabb | Forbidding What God Allows

“Most Christians intuitively recognize that it is sinful to allow what God prohibits. God has said that we must not steal or commit adultery, and certainly it would be sinful for us to say otherwise. And yet, it is not so clear (especially amongst conservative Christians), that it is equally sinful to prohibit what God allows.”

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Comfort in the Sovereignty of God

From The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink (p. 31):

Rightly did the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon say in his sermon on Matthew 20:15— There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation—the kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings, no truth of which they have made such a football, as the great, stupendous, but yet most certain doctrine of the sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His almonry to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth. And we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter; then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love. But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon His throne whom we trust. “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (Psa 135:6). Yes, dear reader, such is the imperial Potentate revealed in Holy Writ. Unrivaled in majesty, unlimited in power, unaffected by anything outside Himself. But we are living in a day when even the most “orthodox” seem afraid to admit the proper Godhood of God. They say that to press the sovereignty of God excludes human responsibility; whereas human responsibility is based upon divine sovereignty, and is the product of it.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Ministry or Business?

Is this a ministry or a business?

I’m sure you’ve been asked this question before—or at least thought about it. When we think about “ministry” we think about God’s work that is eternal in its end and supernatural in its means. When we think about “business” we think about managing our possessions and work effectively and successfully. For the Christian minister it must be both. It is a ministry and it is a business—God’s business. We do everything in life for Him, through Him, and to Him (Rom 11:36). More

Around the Web (May 27 – June 1)

Desiring God | A Cure for Lame Table Prayers

This post was from last week but we just found it this week. An interesting post on prayer at the dinner table. Take a look at how Tony Reinke at Desiring God discuss this.

Theologically Driven | Churches Should Adopt a Modern Version of the Bible

A little bit of a heated discussion over on the DBTS blog about Bible versions. This is one of those debates that is likely not going to die in our lifetime.

Crossway Blog | 10 Helpful Books for Pastors

“While this list is by no means exhaustive, we think the following 10 books would be valuable for every pastor to read and have in their library. Feel free to leave a comment and let us know which books you would add to the list—we’d love to hear your recommendations.”

Also check out Crossway’s post on “What Does Paul Mean by be ‘Able to Teach?'”

Paul Tautges | No Hot Dogs Allowed

Paul looks at the Scriptural basis and mandate for team ministry. This is a good and practical post for those considering church planting and other ministries.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Upcoming Conferences

This post is for the ladies…or for men who want to serve their wives by sending them to one of these conferences.

I hope that you have the chance to periodically break away and attend a conference that will encourage you and move you forward in your Christian life and ministry. Here are two upcoming conferences that I believe will prove to be very good—especially if you could go with someone and grow together!

The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference

June 22-24, 2012 in Orlando, FL

True Woman Conference

September 20-22, 2012 in Indianapolis, IN

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Around the Web (May 20—25)

Desiring God | How to Thrive in College

“College should be a temporary season of academic preparation and personal growth to propel a lifetime of effective service to God and neighbor. It should be a launching pad into all that goes with responsible Christian adulthood. Yet for some it’s a time when they abandon the Christian faith, displaying that they never really belonged to Christ (1 John 2:19).”

Practical Shepherding | What are 10 Practical Ways to Love and Serve Your Wife?

Brian Croft at Practical Shepherding had this to say in his post this week, “Husbands, here is some very practical advice on ways to communicate love to your wife.  This is what I shared at the men’s luncheon on Monday at the Berean Baptist Church Marriage Conference and we had a great discussion about them.  Use them as a template to know how to best make your wife feel loved and cherished by you.”

Kevin DeYoung | How to Start at Your New Church

So what should I do when I start attending a new church? DeYoung gives you a list of seven items.

Kevin DeYoung | How to Leave Your Old Church

This is a follow up to the previous post of “How to Start at Your New Church.” Again, an excellent list of seven items.

Your Greatest Contribution

Have you ever considered that your greatest contribution to the cause of Christ just might be the time you spend in intercessory prayer for your children and others we consider to be part of this “next generation”?

Diane and I are in that “empty nest” phase of life and there are a lot of things we are learning from it. Energies once given to chasing down the pitter patter of little feet and waiting up for teens to get home from an activity are now channeled in prayer. Of course we have always “known” that the “greatest work is on our knees”, but we have not known it like we do now. Things we have always known… we now more fully realize. More

Around the Web (May 13-18)

G. A. Dietrich | Book Review of Gospel Centered Discipleship

Greg Dietrich reviewed what looks to be a helpful book that focuses on the gospel in discipleship. I’ve got this book on my list of “to read” for this summer.

 Trevin Wax | A Critical Mind vs. A Critical Spirit

“From the books and magazines gobbled up by the evangelical populace to the sheer gullibility on display in our forwarding of emails, it seems that biblical illiteracy and theological aberrations are widespread even in Bible-believing churches.”

AiG | The Rise and Fall of Inerrancy in the American Fundamentalist Movement

“The Christian fundamentalist movement in America played a key role in defending and promoting the importance of biblical inerrancy. While often ridiculed and mocked, early American fundamentalists withstood the tide of theological liberalism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”

Crossway | Training Parrots or Making Disciples?

Jim Hamilton addresses this question on the Crossway blog. “Solid exegesis, biblical theology, and systematic theology are necessary for preaching and teaching. We don’t exercise these skills merely for our own excellence in sermon delivery, but because the people in the pews have the ability to think, analyze arguments, read the Bible for themselves, and formulate answers to questions that we may never even address from the pulpit.”

No Time for One

A little while back I heard a story that broke my heart. A couple I had known for a number of years shared with me that they had recently moved to a new town and joined a large and seemingly thriving church.  The church appeared to have everything they were looking for: right philosophy, good preaching, missions emphasis, and a strong youth and children’s ministry. Since one of their sons had been going through some challenges, the couple interviewed the youth pastor and asked if it would be possible for him to take some one-on-one time with their son. The youth pastor’s response? “I really don’t have enough time for that kind of ministry.”

I would like to think that this is an isolated case, but I’m afraid that a lack of personal discipleship has become a painful reality in many of our “large and flourishing” ministries. Though most youth pastors would not be so brazen as to publicly make such an incredible admission, close examination of what is taking place reveals a very real crisis in ministry. Ministry is now designed for the masses, the crowds, the congregations, the youth groups. The pragmatic approach is often adapted to reach as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. Organizations, programs, and schedules once served the purpose of reaching people, but are now focused on reaching ministry goals. It seems we are succeeding in corporate ministry and failing with people. We are reaching the crowds, but have no time for one.

No time for one? But the ministry of Christ was one of “life touching life.” Even when the crowds were pressing Him, His concern was for the individual. This is illustrated powerfully in Mark 5 when a woman touched His garment in the midst of a suffocating crowd. Jesus knew it immediately and asked, “Who touched me?” The disciples wondered how He could ask such a question with so many people pressing all around Him. They saw a mass of people; Jesus saw an individual. We do not come away from our study of the life of Christ with a file folder of unique programs, plans, and curriculums. Rather we come away with a model of disciple making—a way of life. We see a man who poured His life into others. And isn’t this the same with Paul and Timothy, Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha? God’s “ministry plan” has never been about the big program, the grand scheme, the innovative idea, or the strategic plan. It has been about pouring one life into another. Certainly God will allow organizational tools to help accomplish a task, but that is all they are – tools. How many servants of God have been caught up with a new agenda, a better program, a novel idea and have failed in the process to see that one person? Faces only blend into the crowd for them.

Discipleship begins with meeting people where they are and meeting them often—one at a time. This means we need to get up and go, not just offer a class and set out a sign. Discipleship is about taking the initiative; we are commanded to “go.” Jesus said in John 4, “I must go through Samaria.” He went for one person. It seems, however, that today many churches have lost the burden to take such an initiative. Energies now are placed in improving and expanding the program, analyzing the market, offering more, responding to the competition, attracting crowds and wooing them in. I see two problems with such an approach: First, we have a tendency to compromise the integrity of what we are commanded to be as a church. Secondly, we never get out of our own neighborhoods and comfort zones to penetrate this dark and pagan world.

If we are to meet people where they are, we need to remember that they are not all at the same place. So one program will not fit every person. Even in the same audience, not all have the same experience and background, not all have the same perception of need, or the same obstacles to overcome. A good teacher will understand where each student is, how each learns. He begins at the level of his audience and with patience and persistence—and by God’s grace—assists each one to where he or she needs to be. No two students will ever be exactly the same. Christ met people where they were, and took a different approach with various individuals. He spoke to where they were living in language they could understand.

If we meet people where they are, we will engage in an informal dynamic in discipleship. There is a place for the formal classroom setting with more space (physical and psychological) between teacher and student, but some of the greatest learning occurs when both walk through life side by side. This is one thing that I greatly appreciate about Northland. Sitting in the dining hall, having lunch together, sharing a pizza or a bag of popcorn, watching a soccer game…and talking about life and ministry. Yet even here it is so easy to walk by a crowd of people and ask, “How ya doin?” and never give a thought to the individual. I have come to see that even in my role as president, the greatest and most lasting influence I may ever have will be one on one, not preaching to the masses. Could we even make this case for the ministry of Christ and the ministry of the apostle Paul? I think we could. Christ said to His disciples in John 20:21, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” Paul told Timothy, “The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” This is personal discipleship: one man teaching – and walking side by side with – a small group of other men, over an extended time, so that truth is not only “taught” but “caught.”

As I look back over the past twenty-some years of pastoral ministry, there are a few things that, given the chance, I would do differently. The biggest of these would be the amount of time and attention given to one-on-one discipleship of the “faithful-available-teachable” few. As a pastor I often found myself driven by two strong currents: “the program” and “needy” people who refused to change. The last few years of my ministry in Denver I was finally able to discipline myself to focus on discipling the hungry hearts of a few men. That work probably bears more fruit than anything else I was involved in.

So, my challenge to you is…make time for the one. Don’t get so caught up in programs and ideas for large groups that you fail to capitalize on the most effective kind of discipleship, which is “life touching life.” And the greatest opportunity you may ever enjoy will be finding that one in the crowd who really wants to learn, really wants to obey, and really wants to follow the Lord. Make time for one.