Friday, December 29, 2006

What About New Years Resolutions?

With the new year upon us and many people making some type of resolution. The truth is that instead of making a set of resolutions on one day that are quickly lost we should be constantly striving to reform our life to that of Christ’s and thus seeking out to resolve everyday to do so. In that vein here are some of the resolutions made by Jonathan Edwards of which he read once every week. Thanks to A Puritans Mind for these. I have listed the first 10 and you can get the rest from the site:

Resolutions 1 through 21 were written by in one sitting in New Haven in 1722.

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1722-1723)

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

At A Puritans Mind – Jonathan Edward’s Resolutions there are another 60 of his resolutions.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Blogs to Check out in the New Year

Some Blogs to check out for the New Year, these are in no particular order:
The Shepherd’s Scrapbook
Worship Matters
Strange Baptist Fire
The World from Our Window
Biblical Theology
The Founders Ministries Blog
Between Two Worlds
Slice of Laodicea
Grace and Truth to You
Together for the Gospel
Alpha and Omega Ministries
Calvinist Gadfly
Reformation Theology
Reformation 21

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

When has someone gone too far?

I would say this is an example of someone going to far:

During a search I came across a letter written at the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI) web site with regards to Vision Forum and the Family Integrated Church, entitled: The Integrated Church Movement: Viable Church Polity or False Teaching?

Once you get through all of the rhetoric in the beginning you get to the crux of their beef when they say:

When one examines the underlying theology of the movement, the answer must be no. The FBFI is without apology committed to a dispensational understanding of Scripture. It is clear that the postmillennial teaching of Vision Forum is in contradiction with the doctrinal statement of the FBFI and would be incompatible with the ministries represented by members of the FBFI.”

This shows that while they may disagree with the method of “doing” church they are in the end making their eschatology a high priority, even one to separate over.

It is their prerogative to separate over particular doctrines; however they also go on to say:

“These churches are classified according to their particular theological, hermeneutical, or traditional distinctive, but the one thing that unites them—that litmus test for fellowship—is their integrated church philosophy. Scripture is clear that fellowship with unbelievers and false teachers is sin. Fundamentalists cannot violate the doctrine of separation by allowing ICM to infiltrate our local churches. Fellowship with Vision Forum, IUCAH, or similar groups—or so-called Fundamentalists who adopt such an errant theology and practice—should be condemned, not condoned.”

Wow, it is good for people to hold firmly to their convictions but when one begins to label others outside their belief system as unbelievers and worse because they do not believe exactly the same or do church exactly the same they have crossed the line. It sure would seem that of utmost importance to them is eschatology and thus eschatology has been made their “litmus test” of fellowship. I always thought the litmus test of fellowship was whether one was a believer or not and not ones understanding of end times.

I would pray that this group, who by the way I had never heard of until I read this letter, would see the folly of their ways and repent. Calling others in the family of God unbelievers simply because they dislike their “hermeneutical principle” is uncalled for and in the end dishonoring to God.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Amazing Grace Movie Trailer

Below is a trailer for a new moving coming out in February called Amazing Grace about William Wilberforce.

If you want to read some more on Wilberforce you can do so in John Piper’s The Root of Endurance. As well as listen to an MP3 on him by John Piper here.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dr. Sailhamer to Teach at GGBTS Southern Campus

Dr. John Sailhamer was elected by the trustees of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary as the new professor of Old Testament for the Southern California campus.

Here is the school's press release

I am looking forward to being able to sit in on some of his classes, especially since I am so close to the school.

Reading through the Bible in a Year.

Do you have a plan for reading through the Bible next year? Well, if you would like to see various Bible reading plans go to the ESV Blog. They actually have charts that let you visualize how the different plans look as well as links to various plans.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Some Random Thoughts on The Church

Before I delve into what I feel is the structure a church should have, and I do feel that the church or Ekklesia of God does require a structure I thought I would just share some thoughts I have had recently upon some articles I have read and some MP3’s I have listened to.

- When we see the word church and realize the Greek word used is Ekklesia we need to realize God had a purpose for choosing that word for both its use in the New Testament and the Septuagint. The reason being that it carried with it a meaning already that God desired to be carried over to its use with regards to the people of God. One of those reasons is to show that those in the church are not only called out, to be holy, but the called out ones are also to be gathered together with some manner of organization as the word would convey to the original listener/reader.

- I find it interesting how so often the church seeks to be current on the cutting edge but in reality they, in general, simply just copy the world. By this I mean as I read through stuff on the internet I find that the idea of actually having a church that did not have a youth group as it is commonly conceived of is balked at. There are usually some scripture thrown around but it seems that the common reasons for having such a group are built more around secular teaching and humanistic understandings of youth than around God’s desires for youth

- The above also applies to the whole concept of having an age integrated church. People seem to immediately question how a child or youth can get anything out of the regular service but again this is based on humanistic findings about learning and such. This creates a tension that should not exist if people could only see where their understanding truly come from.

- The hesitancy of the church to change is not just in the area of how to do ministry as it also extends even to the structure of the church. It seems to me that it is hard not to read scripture and come to the conclusion that the church is called to be structured around “biblical” Eldership (a plurality) and “biblical” Deacons. But when this subject is broached in many churches it is avoided like the plague. The probable reason is that the church for all too long has chosen its leadership for all but biblical reasons and standards and if one is to have biblical leadership things have to change drastically.

- While some may see the benefit, even the biblical call, of a family integrated church structure they struggle with what to do about those that will not see things the same way and not stay. The issue here is that it begins to be people that dictate how one does church rather than God’s word. If one truly believes God is sovereign over all things then we should not be afraid to move forward and structure church as God calls for. We simply need to trust more in God than pragmatism and salesmanship and move forward with the goal of glorifying God and making true disciples and not simply filling seats and taking in bucks.

- I was listening to a talk the other day and it struck me that in focusing simply on evangelism without a means to disciple we are not being the best stewards of God’s resources we could be. For example if we do not disciple those that we share with in foreign countries there may be many converts in this generation but because they have not been discipled on discipling future generations we will be back in that same country not too many generations later. We can see this in countries such as Germany and England where the generational discipleship was lacking and the generations slowly drifted from being God centered. The issue of not discipling the next generation and it leading to future generations “not knowing God” is not new. If you read Judges 2:10 and the context around it you see a nation that strayed form the Lord and see the disastrous effect on future generations. By the way unless things are not changed soon in America we will be in the same place as others are now.

- Ones view on end times may drive how they see the function of the church. It is my opinion that if one holds to the dispensational view of end times they will tend to focus simply on evangelism and add on discipleship if there is time and resources. However this misses the goal of Matt 28:18-20 which is not simply to make converts but to make disciples and to make disciples that not only know but obey the commands of Christ.

These are just some thoughts that I need to work through but definitely do see a need to address these issues. I have been more convinced by scripture and other reading that the church has to change and not in the way it is currently being changed. So over the next few months I will continue to work through how I think that God desires the church, the local church, is to look like.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Master of Divinity, Finally!!

We just got back from San Francisco and graduation ceremonies for the fall graduating class of Golden Gate Theological Seminary. We had a great time as a family and went all over San Francisco the day before graduation and got to see quite a bit, even in the fog that was around for most of the day.

It has been a long and unconventional road to my Master of Divinity but even the path to the degree speaks volumes of God’s grace and providence. I am not sure what He has in store for my family and me but if it is anything like the road to my degree it too will be unconventional and winding. Serving God is anything but boring and we have to simply keeping moving forward so as to be used by God to accomplish His plans, and not ours.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

What Jesus Demands from the World

I have been reading through John Piper’s new book: What Jesus Demands from the World as a devotion for the last few weeks and it has been a very worthwhile time. Piper does a great job of balancing the concept of demands with the truth that not only is it God that makes demands on us He is also the one that enables us to follow those demands. This follows much in line with the great quote of Augustine who prayed: “give what you command, and command what you will.”

I think to have a correct understanding of the law and its place for the believer can only be seen as it should be when we come to the understanding that we are incapable of doing anything pleasing to God without His enablement.

So when Jesus commands something there is an essence where we do need to feel helplessness so that we rightly fully realize we can do as commanded by Christ but only under His power. Once we understand this then and only then can we do as we are commanded without it being legalistic or simply doing for the sake of doing.

As I read Demand #33 - Love Your Neighbor with the Same Commitment You Have To Your Own Well Being – Piper goes away from the usual seeker friendly interpretation of Matt 22:39 which is to use this as a reason to love oneself so that one can love others. Piper revels what is true of all human nature and that is we do not need to learn to love ourselves as we all do that no matter what. The call of this passage is to take that self love we already have and turn it on its head by instead loving others as we love ourselves. Of course as I said above all of this is predicated on us being children of God as this is where the power comes to love as Christ commands us to love.

I suggest this book to everyone and not simply to read it as a book that you read all at once, even tough you can do that, but take it bit by bit and ponder all that is revealed. If you can not afford the book or simply want it in electronic form here is a link to the book in PDF format.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Mr. Bean goes to Church

This is probably my favorite Mr. Bean. I am not sure if this says more about the church or more about Mr. Bean but it has always struck me as funny.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

More on Family Integrated Church

As I continue to think over what a family integrated church looks like I think it is imperative that the “Family Integrated” part is seen as how one does ministry. I was listening to the recent Uniting Church and Family Conference and a talk by Voddie Baucham where he made a good comment with regards to a regular objection he hears. That objection deals with people saying that if one focuses on families it will alienate those not in families or what are perceived as families. Well first of all the focus of the church, as it is with any church, should be the equipping of the members through the preaching of God’s word. Thus, not every sermon or teaching will be on the family. Where families come into things is in how ministry is done. So one could walk into a service and things may seem no different that in some other services. What would be different is that families will be worshiping together and people would not be segregated by age. There will probably be more activity in the service with children there but apart from this the teaching is to revolve around God’s word as it comes up in the text.

Another thing is that while there may be Family Integrated churches that, as Voddie mentions, are cloistering themselves from the world this is not to be the norm. No, the Family Integrated church is to seek first to be steeped in God’s word and then seek to worship in a biblical manner which involves people worshiping as a family, a household of households. The single person in the congregation is adopted into an existing family so they can see how a family is to function. Those that are single mom’s are mentored by other women in the congregation and thus are seen as a family and helped in areas they need help in. Other men in the congregation can help to mentor sons of single moms just as women can help with girls of single dads. So I hope you can see that the idea of a Family Integrated church is to be seen as a biblical model of doing ministry in church and does not take away from the word which is to remain central to all that is done.

So the focus of a Family Integrated church is to seek to do what is necessary to equip the members to understand God’s word more clearly. Included in this is for families to see how they are to function as families so as to best glorify God. I suppose this model of ministry is far from the norm today but as one of my past posts showed it is not new. In the past the family was seen as God’s means of discipling and ministering but as the world has changed the church has also changed, and I say for the worse. But it is not too late to reverse course and seek to have biblical congregations that seek out the Lord as a Household of Households and thus build up not only strong families but stronger believers better equipped to glorify God,

I have found that the church today, even those that say they desire and are not afraid of change, are wary of following a model (I really do not like the word model) of church that is so different but should not a church look different than the world? If we do ministry as God calls for us to do in His word we will look different. Our goal should not be to look like the world but like what God desires. As I have said before a church that wants to move toward this model will have to do it through the preaching of God’s word and to do it slowly as change is often difficult for most people. But, through the Spirit of God change can occur and the Church of Jesus Christ can return to the the biblical moorings it is called to have.

I will be continuing to work this all out and look at some more particulars about how Family Integrated church functions.

Here are some churches that are Family Integrated that have info on their sites in reference to how their particular churches function:

Grace Family Baptist Church - Spring, Texas
Baptist Church- Wake Forest, NC
Community Church - Magnolia, Texas