Thursday, November 30, 2006

DIY: Jonathan Edwards Blank Bible

Here are some cool instructions from The Shepherd’s Scrapbook on how to make a Jonathan Edwards Blank Bible. This is a bible that leaves you lots of room to take notes:

DIY: Blank Bible (part 1)
DIY: Blank Bible (part 2) Cut, Rip, Clamp, Saw
DIY: Blank Bible (part 3) Slicing and Stuffing

DIY: Blank Bible (part 4) Punching and Binding

Not only do you end up with a great bible for note taking but you get to use a table saw in the process.

Here is a video on the blank bible from The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University:

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Family Integrated Church is not new

The idea of Family-Integrated church is not something new and Scott Brown writes on this in his article: My Top Four Favorite Family-Integrated Church Pastors: Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, Matthew Henry, Jonathan Edwards.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

More on Youth Ministry

It is my fear that when one encounters those, as myself, that think that youth ministry needs to be radically redone there are vast misconceptions. One of the major misconceptions is that the goal of a family integrated model of church is doing away with youth even gathering together. The second concern is that youth that are not part of a Christian family will not be evangelized. I believe that the people with these concerns are truly concerned about youth. However their concerns are unfounded and even their concerns are not being met with youth ministry as it is presently configured.

With a family integrated youth ministry the fathers are in charge of the discipling of youth with their primary concern being the discipleship of their own youth. Youth can gather together but it would be with the supervision and leadership of the parents, primarily the fathers. Now, one argument regards what does one do with parents that do not disciple their own children? This issue is where church discipline and leadership comes in to help. Simply because parents do not do as they are called we should not assume it is our responsibility to jump in and take over. So there is an important aspect of discipleship of parents that also needs to take place to make this all work. So while there are difficulties in accomplishing the correct method of discipling youth this is true of any ministry that deals with fallible people.

As far as the argument of not evangelizing un-churched youth the family integrated youth ministry model can accomplish this as well. If the youth of the church are discipled as they should they will in turn be able to evangelize the youth they meet daily. Youth that do become believers from an unbelieving family can for the time being be ministered to by a family in the church. Should the family of that youth become believers they would then be discipled so they take over the discipleship of their children. The other aspect of this is that in our corporate model of church we have come to see the role of the church to evangelize as an organization but scripture seems to show the individuals of the church being the ones that evangelize. The church seems to have decided to take this over because of the failure of its individuals to do so but this only perpetuates a continual decline in personal evangelism and reliance on a more corporate model. So, youth leaders see the need to put on events to try and evangelize because their youth and the parents of the youth do not do as they should. As with anything there are issues that may arise but this is also true of the current model of youth ministry.

While I see this model of youth ministry as the best one I also realize that unless one starts a church with this model it will take much teaching and patience to accomplish this. We are a people of habit and changing a model of age segregated ministry that has developed and taken hold over the last 100 years or so does not change overnight. There are issues such as the role of youth ministers and how they function in the church. There is also the need to change parent’s views of seeing youth ministry as the ones in charge of discipling their children and helping them to see it as their responsibility. So how one gets to youth ministry being the job of parents and not a professional youth minister may be difficult but will be well worth it for the spiritual health of the youth and families.

More to come on family integrated ministry.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

New Sovereign Grace Ministries Christmas CD - Savior

I just got Sovereign Grace Ministries new Christmas CD – Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man. It is very good in many ways and along way from the usual Christmas CD;

Here are some verses from the CD:

Christ the Lord is Born Today
Verse 3:
God has sent His greatest Treasure
Shown His love in greatest Measure
Sending Christ to bleed and suffer
Purchasing our joy forever
Let the earth rejoice
O come and lift your voice

Glory to God in the Highest
Verse 2:

See the One who spans the heavens with His hand
With fingers so small
See this babe so poor all of heaven adores
He’s the ruler of all
Let us worship our humble King
Adoration we humbly bring

The Son of God Came Down
Verse 1:
The Son of God came down and laid aside His crown
Born without great renown, the Sovereign One
All holiness and might, all glory shining bright
Have come top earth this night in Mary’s son
O come, let us adore

Not only are the songs well written from a theological sense but the music is great as well. I am thankful that those at Sovereign Grace are using their gifts to glorify God in word and song. So much of what is put out at Christmas is so shallow but here we have songs that truly proclaim the eternal Son of God who came to suffer and die for His children so that we can truly rejoice at Christmas.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Biblical Theology at 9Marks

This month’s newsletter at 9Marks is focused on Biblical Theology (PDF Version of Newsletter) . There are contributions by : Michael Lawrence, Thomas Schreiner, James M. Hamilton Jr. & Jonathan Leeman. There is also a Pastor’s Forum with contributions by: Andrew Davis , Graeme Goldsworthy , Phil Johnson and others.

Monday, November 13, 2006

What to do with Youth Ministry?

I have long had concerns about Youth Ministry but could not quite put my finger on it. I thought it may have been that we did not teach enough doctrine or maybe we did not connect with kids on their level or some combination of things. But, the bottom line was that I saw an issue in that we would take kids and get them all excited about God, or that is what we thought they were excited about, and then watch as they grew in to latter teen-hood and then adults and simply disappear from the scene.

Having been a youth leader for a few years I can say I did see a few kids truly changed and remain on course but the large majority simply strayed and were seen no longer no matter how much I tried. I could read the latest youth ministry book and see so much success, based on numbers, and not be able to reproduce those results. I could try and be as entertaining as I felt comfortable with but that was not enough. The issue with being entertaining is that we need to follow what I would call the “Madonna Principle.” I read an interview once where they asked Madonna why she kept doing what she did and continued to push the envelope, even stepping outside the envelope. Her answer was that she had to do things that were more and more out there because what she had done simply became the norm or not exciting enough. This is how Youth Ministry goes as Youth leaders continually seek ways to not only excite the youth but compete with the world.

Well, I think today we are seeing the results of the last twenty years plus of Youth Ministry and one of those results is called the Emergent church. The other thing that I think all of the focus on youth ministry has created is a segregated church. By raising children, and parents for that matter, to see that everything has to be done by age this has progressed into the church as a whole. We now have generation this and generation that churches, unlike what we see in scripture, that are less and less age integrated. While the church is intent on trying to make multicultural churches we are ignoring multigenerational churches.

Over the last year or so I have been more convinced that Youth Ministry needs to change and that change needs to revolve around households so that they care for the youth. We have taken the job of discipling children away from the parents and institutionalized it in the church and made it the job of the church. How we get back to where we need to be is difficult but it needs to be done. To simply put up our hands and say it is too late is not the answer.

If one stands up and says we need to dismantle the Youth Ministry and start again with an entirely, yet biblical, model will for sure get people up in arms. Children’s and Youth Ministry are two aspects of the local church that have become so ingrained that to think of changing them drastically is frowned upon. But we need to do something before it is too late and so we need to start now.

Voddie Baucham wrote an article, Answering Objections on the YM Issue, on his Blog that speaks to some of the common objections to stopping Youth Ministry as it is presently done. Those objections are things like:

1) We need youth ministry for parents who do not disciple their children

2) We need youth ministry for kids who don’t have Christian parents.

3) Why not let children be leaders in the youth group and disciple other Kids?

4) What about youth evangelism?

Mr. Baucham does a good job of showing that it is not a matter of continuing down the same road we have been on, because we are afraid to leave it for fear we will look different, but we need to get back to seeking God’s word for how to disciple and raise our children. If we care for our Youth we should be willing to do what is best for them and not best for our numbers. We should seek to do what is best for them from God’s perspective even if it is not popular. To simply seek to have a large youth group is not the answer as it is not the answer for the church in general but we are to seek to have spiritually healthy youth and the present method of Youth Ministry is not the way.

While the Family, or Household, Integrated Church flies in the face of how things are done today I am more convinced than ever that it is the correct path to head down. Not every church can head down it at the same speed and the same way but the goal at the end should be the same; Churches that worship together both corporately and in their everyday lives. The first step will be difficult and probably met with resistance but that should not deter one from the path.

Other articles on Youth Ministry by Voddie:

Youth Ministry Part 1
Youth Ministry Part 2
Youth Ministry Part 3

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Compassion Permanence

How often do we as Christians speak to the need to care for the poor but even without realizing it we do little because our daily lives take up so much room? Over at New Attitude there is a good article entitled: Suburbia vs. Social Justice that deals with how all too often without even realizing it we simply forget the poor and the downtrodden that Jesus told us to care for. This may not be true of all and the article even articulates that this is not a call for everyone to move to urban areas but is instead a call to make sure that we do not forget those God tells us to care for.

What is wrong, as with most things, is we have come to rely on government to care for people when we are the ones that are called to do it. The problem is that when government gets involved they are in general wasteful but more importantly it separates the care from the Gospel. We are to care for the needy so as to shed the light of the Gospel to people that are in need of more than just food and necessities. This does not mean we ignore the physical needs but we need to care for both and letting government care for the physical will take away our opportunity to be a light.

I personally need to see how this relates to me but the article was a call to spend time in prayer and contemplation on a part of scripture that is often ignored or implemented wrongly. My encouragement is to read and then pray as to how God would have you cultivate compassion permanence.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pre-Election Thoughts

As election time approaches here are some thoughts:

Do those that feel they environmentally conscious send out flyers that needlessly kill trees?

How much of the poverty in the US could we deal with if the candidates were made to give the money they spend on campaigns to help with it?

If campaign ads told the truth would we vote for anyone?

Why when one speaks out against stem cell research are they are said to be leading to the death of many, but people can promote abortion and it is seen simply as a choice?

When will people stop being so gullible when they hear politicians speak?

On the same note, are people blind to seeing that most politicians say what the people they want to vote for them want to hear?

When will the math skills of those voting improve – One can not say that there will be more things paid for and at the same time say they will not raise taxes?

When will Christians begin to vote by biblical standards, all of them, rather than what most benefits them?

When will Christians see through being used by both parties?

When will Christians see that while we can work within the system the political system will not save anyone?

So if you read this before you vote – I pray you pray before you vote and then you vote as scripture would lead you.

Remember that at the end of the day God is still sovereign and no matter who wins what and what laws are passed God is still ruler of all. Not only is He ruler of all, all that happens is in His will.

Preaching: Doctrine AND Application

I have often wondered if when people look at what the content of preaching should be if we miss the obviousness of scripture. It seems that people either preach nothing but application, or the “What to do” and How to do” sermons, or they are simply preaching nothing but doctrine. More reformed minded churches tend to fall on the doctrine side of the fence and I think that much of this is in reaction to the doctrineless preaching of much of evangelicalism. Many in Evangelical churches in a need to try and be relevant and less doctrinaire stick to simply handing down how to tips. Both sides of this spectrum are missing the point of scripture, that of lives being changed by the Word of God leading to God glorifying lives.

When one looks at the letters Paul writes, for example, he often starts with the state of affairs that he is addressing and gives a context that he is writing from. From there he goes on to give a doctrinal stance on the situation and in so doing fashions this doctrine around the cross. He then goes on to give application or how this doctrine will look in real life. We see this even in a highly doctrine laden letter such as Romans as well as in a letter such as Galatians.

From the example of Paul I think that preaching should reveal all three aspects for the listener to leave with a correct understating of scripture. If the preaching is wholly about application then the listener, Christian or not, will probably leave trying simply to follow a set of guidelines they were given. If the preaching is simply doctrinal the listener will leave with lots of head knowledge but no idea of how to use that knowledge. I am sure there are those that may argue for either side as being correct but I think that there is a better way.

That better way is to show the passage of scripture in light of the cross and the power of it for the believer. This is not some mystical power but the actual power that Christ delivers by the renewing of the mind and heart for the believer. From the cross we then move to the place the passage holds in a believer’s life from a doctrinal perspective. This can take many forms with some passages being more doctrinal and less applicational while others are the other way around. Once the foundation of doctrine has been laid the message should then move to how this will look in the life of the believer or how the doctrine is to be applied.

There may be some that would see telling people how to live as being legalistic. Now this would be true if we stray from scripture but if we stick to scripture then the claim of legalism is not valid. Paul often told people how they were to live and the eternal consequences of not living as he claimed, by the inspiration of God, they should. The issue here is not about rules and regulations but about how God’s word is displayed through the Christians lives. I agree that there is a danger of people ignoring the fact that we can do nothing apart from Christ but the fact that people may take things wrong is not a reason to avoid the subject. If we are diligent to constantly help people see the hopelessness of trying to do anything apart from the power of Christ we will in the end help them rely more on Christ and less on self and at the same time help those we lead to live God glorifying lives.

If the goal of preaching is to glorify God then it needs to do so in more than just words but in the lives of those we preach to. Application without the cross is legalism but the cross with out works is no better. Actually, can there be the cross without works, not if you read James?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Unstoppable Live @ Bethlehem Baptist

While I am not the biggest fan of Rap check this out as I do not think I have heard the "Doctrines of Grace" and Election" spoken of in too many songs before let alone a Rap song. This is at Bethlehem Baptist, the church John Piper Pastors.