Monday, December 31, 2007

Are Mormons Christians, Joel Osteen thinks so

When I hear people either equivocate or simply get it wrong when asked about other religious beliefs it can be troublesome. When this comes from a professing Christian pastor it is down right disturbing. Recently on Fox News Sunday (12/23/07) in an interview with Joel Osteen he was asked whether he thought Mormons were true Christians. Here is his answer and you can read the entire transcript here:

WALLACE: And what about Mitt Romney? And I've got to ask you the question, because it is a question whether it should be or not in this campaign, is a Mormon a true Christian?

OSTEEN: Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior, and that's what I believe, so, you know, I'm not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are.
And so, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a man of character and integrity to me, and I don't think he would — anything would stop me from voting for him if that's what I felt like.

WALLACE: So, for instance, when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, and the golden tablets in upstate New York, and God assumes the shape of a man, do you not get hung up in those theological issues?

OSTEEN: I probably don't get hung up in them because I haven't really studied them or thought about them. And you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don't know.

I certainly can't say that I agree with everything that I've heard about it, but from what I've heard from Mitt, when he says that Christ is his savior, to me that's a common bond.

Now for the man on the street this is probably the answer I would suspect but for a professing Christian pastor to say such a thing is greatly troubling. Mr. Osteen as a Christian pastor with a voice in the public arena needs to be more careful with his words and if he does not know about Mormon beliefs he needs to not answer the question rather than simply make statements as he did. Does he not know how Mormons define who God and Jesus are? To make statements as he did may be damaging to those that hear him speak and then see no problem belonging to a Mormon church since he said they were OK. As teachers of God’s word one cannot take the responsibility lightly as is seen in James 3:1.

Why is it so hard to say that based on Mormon Doctrine they are not Christians? Not too many years ago Mormons would have not been so evasive and were not afraid to air the differences as they wanted people to join their “true church.” In our local Sunday paper (Orange County Register) was an interview with a Mormon where the interviewer did not ask the correct questions. The interviewer simply asked the basics and since Mormon’s use many of the same words as biblical Christianity the Mormon was made out to be no different than any other professing believer. Never did the author ask the Mormon to define his words such as who is God and who is Jesus and how do you define the trinity. In essence the Mormon Church got a free advertisement in the morning paper with web links and everything.

I am not sure if there is a concentrated effort to deceive by the Mormons or simply ignorance on the part of many Mormons, including their elders (an unbiblical term as they use it). I recently talked with a couple of nice Mormon guys a few month’s ago and in talking to them they were very elusive in there terms and it took close to two hours to get them to see that we did not use our words the same way and that we did not believe the same things. I again do not know if this is purposeful, probably was, or simply ignorance. The problem is that unless terms are defined conversation cannot start. It is not enough to simply say “Do you believe in Jesus as your savior” but one needs to define who Jesus is and the Jesus of Christianity is not the Jesus of Mormon doctrine.

If we are to share the Gospel with Mormons we need to make sure we know they need the Gospel, and they do. So in sharing the Gospel make sure you define your words carefully so that the message given is the one that we are to give.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Some Funny Videos

Here are some funny Tim Hawkins Video’s

This first is a take off of Carrie Underwood’s Jesus Take the Wheel and is called Cleatus Take the Wheel.

This second video on Church is funny as I have actually heard from a friend that they did hear a church pray that God would remove the calories from the donuts they were too eat.

You can see some other videos at his web site: Tim Hawkins

Monday, December 24, 2007

What Child is This?

This week we went through Hebrews 9:15 and it is amazing how much this particular text speaks to this time of season. While it does not speak to the actual birth narratives it does speak about the work that Christ came to do, the reason for His birth. As 9:15 is basically a sort of summarization of what has gone before, and in many ways what will follow, it lets us see the work our Saviour came to do.

In the text we see that Christ came to be a mediator just as the previous high priests had been mediators, between man and God. Christ came for a specific people, a people called to Him as we know from John 10:25-30. He also came to make eternal salvation available for those that were given to Him. Christ came to die; yes he came to die, so that redemption would be available since a substitute was required. Lastly, Christ came to take care of sin completely.

This is not the usual message of Christmas but maybe it should be as when we so focus on the singular aspect of His birth we may be detracting from the reason for His birth, that being His substitutionary death. A required death foreshadowed in the Old Covenant’s sacrificial system.

At this time of year let us truly focus on who Christ is. Let us do this in such a way that we do see Him for who He truly is, what He has done and what He is still doing as our eternal mediator between us and God.

If you would like to hear this week’s sermon you can do so here: What Child is This? Or through the Sovereign Grace Christian Fellowship’s web page here: Sermons.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The DVD Winner is...........

And the winner of The League of Grateful Sons DVD is: (Drum Roll)….. David Owens.

I have sent an e-mail to you so I can get shipping information.

Keep checking back as Vision Forum has said they would have other things such as special buys and the like in the future.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Redeemed to Serve (Hebrews 9:11-14)

As I was studying for this weeks sermon on Hebrews 9:11-14 I was struck by the end of V14. As Hebrews begins to expound more on the atonement we are told in V14 that Christ blood in the sacrifice of Himself would “purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t to simply bring us a better life now or prosperity in the cross but was so that we could serve the living God. How different this is from the usual Gospel that is proclaimed by many that is man centered rather than the biblical God centered Gospel. Let us keep the Gospel God centered instead of proclaiming a man centered Gospel.

Christ came as the Great High Priest to make it possible for a people to be worthy to serve the living God. It takes the blood of Christ, which represents all of Christ’s redemptive work, to redeem a people to serve God. When was the last time you heard a “Saved to Serve” message as what one usually hears is a “Saved from _______ (put your problem here)” sermon.

Hebrews makes it clear that the Old Covenant sacrificial system was a shadow (Heb 8:5) of the true High Priest and sacrifice to come in Christ. We see that the Old Covenant system could only clean the external but it is the blood of Christ that cleans the conscience, the internal, and truly redeems. To deny the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ is then to deny God’s design for redemption. To deny that the blood of Christ is required to make one worthy to serve and worship God is to deny God’s plan for people worshiping Him.

There is so much more that could be said but I would just encourage you to spend time in Hebrews. If you would like to hear this weeks sermon on Hebrews you can either download or listen here: Redeemed to Serve. You can also listen to other sermons on Hebrews on the sermon page of Sovereign Grace Christian Fellowship, here.

Around the Web and Blogosphere (12/16/07)

Here is the Vision Forum report on the North Carolina Uniting Church and Family Conference - Lasting Reformation: May God Make it So.

Steve Camp writes on Contextualization - Quote of the Day...Tozer on contextualization in his day. All too often today it does seem that it is more important how one says things than what is said. If a particular preacher seems to get some form of response from their audience they may be lauded no matter the content of their preaching. This runs the gamut from the simple shallow pabulum of much preaching to even effective articulators of what amount to heretical doctrines. The Gospel is the power of salvation (Romans 1:16) not our eloquence.

Richard Barcellos reviews a new book that deals with Biblical Theology: Book Review: A Better Way: Jesus and Old Testament Fulfillment, Simon Austen. I am definitely going to look into this book. Ever since being introduced to the area of Biblical Theology by reading Graeme Goldsworthy’s books I have found it, Biblical Theology, very beneficial as it helps, while studying scripture, to keep the big picture in mind.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway of a DVD on my last post here: The League of Grateful Sins (DVD) Giveaway. Entries end at 5PM (PST) on 12/20/07.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The League of Grateful Sons (DVD) Giveaway

This month I will be giving away a copy of The League of Grateful Sons (DVD), which Vision Forum is providing. All you have to do is leave a comment that you want to be entered in the contest and I will randomly choose someone on the evening of 12/20/07, so entries end at 5PM (PST) on the 20th. By the way entering more than once will not help. Once the person is chosen I will contact you, so make sure you leave your e-mail address, and you can give me your shipping information as I need to have the information to Vision Forum by 12/24/07.

You can check out the what Vision Forum has to offer here,Vision Forum, or by clicking on the banner below.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Around the Web and Blogosphere (12/08/08)

Scott Brown writes on the recent NCFIC Conference, here Conference Report Wake Forest NCFIC and here Our Objectives for the NCFIC Conference

Over at are has some quotes from Joel Beeke and his book Puritan Reformed Spirituality entitled: 5 Puritan Evangelism Lessons For Todays Churches

At Baptist Press there is a handy list of the differences between Christina and Mormonism: Christian, Mormon doctrinal differences

Over at 9Marks there is a good article by Michael Horton: Transforming Culture with a Messiah Complex. I think the point, which is a good one, is that it is the church that needs to disciple people so they transform culture and that it is not necessarily the churches place as an institution to do so. Near the end of the article, as an example, he speaks of the slave trade in England being stopped not by the church but by people such as Wilberforce who were “formed by the church’s ministry” that made the change.

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Passion for His Glory to be Known

I was reading an article on the Banner of Truth site, where they always have a number of good articles, entitled John Paton and World Missions. The writer of the article, Al Baker, begins by telling of the hardships Paton and his family faced in being missionaries to the New Hebrides. The question he, Mr. Baker, poses is this: “what sustained John Paton in his missionary zeal?”

That is not just a question we need to ask of John Paton but we need to ask of ourselves. As Baker writes while Paton may have had compassion for the souls of the people he was a missionary to that is not enough to sustain the missionary zeal of Paton or for that matter of any Christian. This is not to say we are not to have compassion, we are, but as Baker shares, if we are truthful we will all find ourselves in times where we simply do not feel the compassion we ought to have and what do we do in those time?

Baker points to Psalm 67 ( Let the peoples praise Thee, O God; let all the peoples praise Thee. Psalm 67:3 ) and relates that our zeal for the spreading of the gospel should be grounded in a desire to see God worshipped as He deserves to be worshipped. We should have a desire to spread the Gospel that is driven not for the people but for God. Again this is not to say we are not to care for people, we are, but never above our devotion to God.

I think that for me, and probably for many, the desire to share the Gospel wanes often as we get so inundated by things that we simply do not have the compassion and care others souls we should have. But one thing that should never wane is our desire to see God worshipped as He desires and deserves to be worshipped. As Baker also shares, when we see others worship anything but the one true, triune, God we should burn with a desire to see that changed. Yes the person that repents of worshipping other than the true God will receive benefit from the change the main goal should be to see God worshipped.

This fits well with one of my favorite books by John Piper – The God is the Gospel. This book speaks so much about how we have turned the Gospel into a message about us instead of about God. Yes we are included in the Gospel message but we are not the focus, God is. We should share in God’s passion for His glory to be known and that all nations would worship Him (Psalm 2, 67, 96, 100 - as Baker shares). So, while our compassion and desires for others to know the glory of a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ may undulate we should never allow for our passion for His Glory to be known by all to do so. We have to move from a man center theology to what it is supposed to be, a God centered one.

I pray this article would bless you as it did me. Maybe as something new or, as it did for me, as a reminder of where my focus is to be.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sacrificing Church for the Family

As I previously wrote on the grievous error of sacrificing family for church I am now going to deal with the other end of the pendulum swing, that of sacrificing the church for the family.  When I speak of the church here I am referring to the local church or what is also often known as the visible church.  While I know there are those that see no call for people to be part of a local church I am not here going to explain that this is not the biblical example as I think I have done this more than once before.  Here the issue deals with more a matter of saying that the question of the family and the church is not an either/or issues but a both/and one.

I have been reading a sermon by Matthew Henry that has been edited by Scott Brown called: A Church in the House.  In this sermon Matthew Henry is arguing for the act of family worship and equates a church in the house.  But in doing this Henry makes sure it is understood that just because he refers to family worship as being a church in the house it does not negate our duty to assemble as a local body of believers.  In actuality both gatherings will benefit the other as the family worship will ready our hearts for the local gathering and the local gathering will prepare us for worship at home.

I think the basic reason that some may see little or very limited importance in the local church comes from a lack of seeing its importance in scripture.  As I read scripture it quickly becomes apparent that what is written by God through men is addressed to local congregations and dealing with the issues that those people were facing.  In the midst of this one also sees how the writers so often relate to the family of believers as sources of hope and encouragement.

I have been studying and preaching through Hebrews and even here in this letter/sermon that is often known as the New Testament commentary on the Old you see the importance of the local community of faith.  As the author works his way through the book he continually speaks of the other Hebrew believers being important for the perseverance of the other saints around them.  Examples in Hebrews are such as in Heb 3:12-14 which begins by warning the Hebrews to ”take care” and this waring is such that implies that they care for not only themselves but each other.  Then in V13 there is a call to exhort each other on a continual basis to help in the avoidance of the effects of sin.  Even in 4:11 we see that as a group they are exhorted by the writer to strive to enter the future rest or persevere.  This is just a small sample but there are more and this is just in Hebrews.

So the point in all of this is that while the family is God’s design for His people the church is equally important for His people. Thus the issues is that one needs to be involved in both family worship and the local church.  The church should not do those things that are injurious to the family such as having so many programs that there is little time for family.  On the flip side the family should not see the local church as a burden but a place for us to joyfully come to exhort, encourage and when needed admonish other believers that are committed to that local church.

My prayer is that these two extremes I have written on are examples that we can avoid.   The goal in all of this is to use all of the means that God uses to build His people such as through both the family and the church.  Thus let us find time in our increasingly busy days for both family and church and neglect neither.  This is not a call to spend X amount of time in either as that would truly be legalistic but instead to simply make sure that neither is minimizing the other but that each instead maximizes our spiritual growth. 

Around the Web and Blogosphere (11/30/07)

This has sure been a busy week. I have been meaning to write on a couple things but the time just hass not been there. So for now here are some items I have come across this week in a quick look at the Web and various blogs.

With regards to the Building Bridges: Southern Baptists and Calvinism Conference this last week (Nov 26-28) in North Carolina you can get the free MP3s of the conference at the Lifeway site. You can also read Tom Ascol’s comments on the Founders Blog.

At the Reformed Baptist Fellowship blog there is an interview by Pastor David Charles of Dr. James Renihan, Academic Dean of Reformed Baptist studies at Westminster Seminary in California who has recently edited a recent book entitled TRUE CONFESSIONS - Baptist documents in the Reformed Family.

If you are looking for a new Christmas CD, it actually came out last year, you may want to get a copy of Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man from Sovereign Grace Ministries. It is a great CD that has theologically sound lyrics as well as great music. While I do like many of the traditional Christmas songs this is one of my favorite CD’s as you will find it is one you can play all year long. You can also download one free song from the site as well: Glory Be to God.

James McDonald has a good blog post at his Family Reformation blog entitled: Family Reformation and the Modern Work Schedule. This is one of those areas that many fathers that are seeking to care for their families as God desires them to have to struggle with.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Around the Web and Blogosphere (11/23/07)

We recently watched the new DVD “Return of the Daughters” and it is very good. I am sure it will step on some toes but sometimes it is good to have them stepped on. The truth is that many of the things we all to readily do are not biblical and we have allowed the culture to dictate our interpretation of God’s desires rather than do what God requires. I would highly recommend this DVD and ask that you would watch it with scripture in mind rather than preconceived biases. You can see other info onthe DVD at .

A great list of things to be thankful for from Steve Camp: Thanks Be To God for His "Unspeakable Gift"

Here is a good post on being thankful from Pastor Paul McDonald: Being Thankful

Here is a good article that looks at the Pilgrims and the Puritans from A Puritans Mind: Reformation for the Glory of God, What is the difference between a Pilgrim and Puritan? Thanks to Jim at for linking to this article.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Sacrifice of the Family for Ministry

I had hesitated to write this blog post as I did not want to be negative.  However as I look around the blog world and read the numerous people worried about the apparent shrinkage of the western church and the lamenting over the various reasons for the shrinking number of baptisms and proclamations of faith I had a change of heart.  This change revolves around one area that the church, at least from my vantage point, neglects to deal with that may be a contributing factor to the anemic nature of the church in changing the world.  I do not say this is the only factor but simply that it is one of many possible factors.

The area I speak of is the number of people in ministry that sacrifice their families for the cause of the ministry they are in.  As there is little data that I have seen relating to this issue the observations to follow are simply based on my personal observations.  By the way, I also think there is an issue at the opposite end of the pendulum and I will deal with that later.

Often I have seen families of pastors and others in ministry less discipled by their own fathers than others in the church those fathers serve.  The usual reason, or should I say excuse, is that there are souls being lost and this is of utmost importance.  The problem with this statement is that we are called to reach the world and make disciples and this includes our families.  If we, and I am often guilty of this as a pastor, cannot disciple our families how can we ever think we should be discipling others.  One example of a result of this is the popular and often true moniker of one being a PK (Pastors kid) as an excuse for certain behaviors or attitudes, how sad it is that this name even exits.  Yes ministry takes time and effort and often sacrifice but it does not call for the sacrifice of ones family.  I do not say that there may not be a season where there is a mutual sacrifice that the entire family is apart of but it is not to be the norm.

This issue may stem from a lack of seriousness taken with the position of Pastor needing to fulfill the requirements given in 1 Timothy 3:1- for Elders.  In this passage there is a call to mange ones household well and this does not mean simply supply the funds for food and other necessities.  Since the managing of the house is tied to managing the flock one is to shepherd (1 Tim 3:5) it is easy to see that there is an intimate relation between how the church is to be shepherded and the family.  Thus if the family is not shepherded then how are we as pastors to be expected to shepherd the flock God puts before us.  If we truly raise PK’s we need to step down and deal with our own families and not return to the ministry until this issue is dealt with. 

This is not to say that pastor’s families are going to be perfect but my experience is that many of the problems that pastor’s families have are not such that happen overnight but are the result of neglect at the altar of doing ministry.  If you, as I need to constantly do myself, are spending more time in ministry than with your family you may need to reassess your priorities based on God’s call for us to care for our families.  Also, keep in mind the care of the family is the responsibility of the father and thus is unacceptable to simply say that ones wife is taking care of things so we can do ministry.  Again, there may be times that this is done for the short term but it cannot be the norm or we are not managing our family as we are called to and thus disqualifying ourselves from ministry.

If I am sounding a little harsh it is simply because I have seen this for too long and myself have been dragged into this.  While this issue is the responsibility of the Pastor/Elder the congregation is often a contributing factor by expecting so much from the Pastor and instead of doing more themselves they contribute to the sacrifice of the pastor’s family.   Another area that this issue shows up is in those in ministry that have secular jobs.  Often Pastors who may or may not have worked in the secular world do not truly understand the workload a bivocational minister has and thus may simply not see the ministerial load being as much as it is.   Many are afraid to say no and the end result is that the family is the first to suffer.  This is not to say that those working in the secular world are not to be part of ministry but it will be significantly less than say the Pastors role.

In all of this is the role of mentoring and if a pastor is seen as sacrificing the family what message is sent to the congregation?  If the world sees the church minimizing the family for ministry then will they not themselves see the family as being less important than say their vocation.  How can a pastor that spends little time with their family expect those in their congregation to do differently.  If we as church members see the pastor spending inordinate amounts of time in ministry why is it a surprise that they themselves do not do the same in their vocation.

I pray that all that I have touched on in some way convicts, as it does to me as I write it.  But conviction is nothing if change does not ensue.  The world is constantly minimizing the family and when the church does the same, starting with the pastor, it becomes anemic.  We as pastors need to re-evaluate our ministry and lives.  We as congregation members need to re-evaluate what we expect from our leaders.  For the church to be the change agent it is called to be we need to be different from the world and since scripture calls it’s leaders to lead their families lets start there. We can evangelize all we like but if we lose our families are we really glorifying God?

Next, I will touch on the other end of the pendulum in that all that I have said is not an excuse to not be part of ministry and part of a church community.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Family Integrated Conference 2007 – Session 2

Minstering to Families - Matt Bullen

This is my second installment of a review and comments on the Family Integrated Church Conference held in Houston October 26-27 and put on by Grace Family Baptist Church. The first session was entitled Calling Men to Lead by Paul Renfro and you can read it here. The second session was entitled Ministering to Families and was delivered by Matt Bullen. Of all of the Pastors at GfBC Matt is the one I know the best as I have spent hours at his home and many e-mails conversing over issues related to church and the start of the church I am part of, Sovereign Grace Christian Fellowship.

Matt’s focus at Grace is pastoral care and assimilation and it is easy to see that this is his passion. But he not only serves in this capacity but also preaches on a regular basis as the three elders share the preaching responsibilities. Matt is also a construction superintendent as well as speaking at various conferences but over all this in my time with Matt it is easy to see that his great focus on God and his family.

Mat spoke of the Why and the How of Ministering to families. This in reality covers two areas; that is the ministering to other families and the ministering to our own families with the goal being to lead other families to do the same. The Why seems so simple but is often neglected and that is the simple fact that within our families we can have a generational impact that can be hard to measure. Yes we need to reach outside our immediate family but often we reach outside at the expence of our families and the results are evident in how many youth leave the church within a year of leaving home. By ministering to our families, and teaching others to do the same, we have an impact that extends not only to the next generation but multiple generations after that. So Matt’s call and in reality scriptures call is to minister to families so as to disciple them to minister to their own families and then others. This is not a call to become a small cloister and avoid those in the world but instead to start where God has put us, in families, and then move out from there as a family.

The next subject was that of the How to Minister to Families and Matt used 1 Peter 5:1-3 to reveal three aspects of this: Ministering, Mentoring and Modeling. The Ministering we see in 1 Peter 5:2a by shepherding the flock God has placed in and leading others to do the same. This shows a need to be ministering to families so as to lead them to do the same which takes involvement and just as the Shepherd needs to know his flock so do we the families that we are discipling. This aspect of ministry takes time and effort because the world we live in today does not easily allow for community to be built up within a church. The fine line in this endeavor is that of creating community but not at the expence of the time families need to spend together on their own. Too often churches that claim to be family friendly actually splinter families by both segregation and time depletion. The goal of ministering to families is to do enough to create community while still fostering families that are healthy by God’s standards.

The second aspect is that of mentoring or as 1 Peter 5:2b says “oversight.” This is the area where a family or families mentor others in what God has revealed to them about God’s plan for the family. This is done through being together and hospitality of which small groups and simply eating together are some of the ways to do this. Again there needs to be care taken so as not to use up so much time the mentoree has no time to practice what they are being mentored in. Mentoring can also include various other resources such as books and such. This also shows the need to see that Ministering to Families takes work and it needs to be intentional so as not to simple take up time. Things such as that seen in Titus 2:1-8 are examples of this mentoring going on.

The last aspect is that of modeling or as 1 Peter 5;3 says being an “example.” Our families need to be examples to those we minister to so that they can see God’s work in us to show them what God does desire and what He can do. It is not enough simply to teach and tell but people need to see God’s word in action as god intends His word to be lived out in our daily lives and not just on Sunday. As the old adage goes often much more is caught than taught and modeling builds on the teaching or mentoring that has been done.

So with the church there needs to be a conscious effort to Minister, Mentor and Model God’s design for the family. In doing this we help succeeding generations pass on the same plan of God for the family. This should not really be that difficult of a task, although it often is, as we should simply be seeking to live out in the presence of others what God has called us to be as families.

Around the Web and Blogosphere (11/13/07)

Check out this video on Fide-O: John Hagee Has Lost His Mind. I had seen this before but if this is what he really believes then there is a big problem. Personally this is his faulty eschatology driving his view of Christ and trying to find a way out for Israel’s, like so many others, rejection of Christ.

Mark Dever speaks on the church and relevancy: Dever cautions about 'relevant' mindset

Tom Ascol writes on: Restoring health to an unhealthy church: What is the goal?

Over at the Reformed Baptist Fellowship: How to be Content with Your Stuff

Clcik below to enter this months giveaway:
November Giveaway

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Around the Web and Blogosphere (11/6/07)

Over at Fide-O blog there is a post called that has a video (Here) from a Christians United for Israel Conference. It is always interesting to see who shows up in these videos and what they say.

John Piper’s new book: The Future of Justification has been released. If you want the paper version you can get it here but it is also available to be accessed in PDF format from here. Also on the Desiring God site is a book that was taken from the 2006 National Conference: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World ($5 until this Friday). This can also access an online PDF version from here.

Scott Brown in his blog: Youth Ministry Gone Insane links to an article from called Reaching Young People at all Costs?, and what a cost.

Over at These are the Generations of…. Scott gives a review of a new DVD entitled “Monstrous Regiment.” This is a powerful DVD that deals with feminism and lets many from the opposing side speak for themselves in their words and attitudes. The DVD Monstrous Regiment is put out by the Gunn Brothers .

Novembers Giveaway

Here is this month’s giveaway at

First prize: The first prize winner will take home One copy of The ESV Listener’s Bible on CD (as read by Max McLean) and one copy of Classics of the Christian Faith CD collection. The retail value of this prize is over $180.

Second prize: One copy of Classics of the Christian Faith CD collection.

Third Prize: One copy of Classics of the Christian Faith CD collection.

Click on the banner below or here: November Giveaway

November Giveaway

This Months FREE audio download

There is another great FREE download at You can download Jonathan Edward’s The Religious Affections (unabridged) for the month of November for free. If you do not have an account it is relatively painless and well worth setting up as most months the free offering is very good. Enjoy!

Monday, November 05, 2007

GfBC Family Integrated Conference 2007 – Session 1

Calling Men to Lead – Paul Renfro

I meant to get this done some earlier but things just got in the way. So here is an overview from my notes of the first session of the FIC Conference in Houston (10/26-27). This is not a word for word look but a combination of what Paul said and how I heard it. When one listens at a conference it is not enough to simply be able to regurgitate what was said but we must be able to make it our own so that it can be used as God leads each of us.

The first session on Friday (10/26) was lead by Paul Renfro who is one Grace Family Baptist Church’s elders. The call was that the men need to lead as God has called them to lead and not simply talk about it. This in not simply a call for men to claim leadership or take positions, which is only part of it, but to actually lead in all areas of church life and home life. Paul mentioned that all too often the call for men to lead is proclaimed but men are not biblically trained to do so. A specific short coming of this lack of training men to lead is in the area of the home where men have abdicated leadership to the state and their wives.

Ever since the garden where Adam stood by and watched Eve talk to the serpent man has fallen short in leadership. This lack of leadership starts in the home where fathers in general do not lead, in a biblical manner. Men may try and have dominion over the home but true leadership is about relationship and that is severely lacking in so many homes, even Christian ones, where men are often excessively absent. Paul talked about the idea that we as men need to see that true teaching takes relationships and that we have assumed the Greek model of teaching which is more about information. While instead we should seek out scriptures methods which will inevitably lead us to a more Hebrew method of teaching which involves living with those we teach such as home. So it becomes easy to see how if we seek to have biblical homes we then naturally have the perfect set up for a Hebrew model of discipling our families. If we seek to live out Deuteronomy 6 we will be led to truly lead our families as God intended and as a church we need to train towards this end.

As a side note this issue of family leadership is also a big problem with those in ministry. The truth is that if men were held to the leadership standards of scripture many would be disqualified as they would not be managing their households as God desires them to be led. I hear and see, all too often, men claiming they are doing ministry while they loose their own families. I know for me this is a struggle being bi-vocational in that I take care not to neglect my family in the name of serving God. While I often fail I have to be vigilant to seek God’s power to persevere in this area. We as servants of God can not claim to be doing God’s work if we loose the families God has given us to lead. That is why God in His call for elders calls men to lead their families well and not well by man’s standards but by God’s

Paul spoke of how often the church tries everything but what God’s word tells us to do when we seek to train those we minister to. This is where he used a saying (not sure if it is original from him or not but I will use it myself) that so speaks to the church today and that is simply that we need to “stop thinking outside the box and think inside the book.” As the church shrinks and we loose so many of our youth we try and do everything but what God’s word says and that is train up men to lead as the scriptures call them to lead. We as a church need to, for scriptural reasons, seek to bring men back to the potion of the leaders in first their families and then the church as God has called them to be.

Paul ended by giving a practical list of things men can do in their homes with regard to their families. He put these in a three areas Prophet, Priest and King (or Provider and Protector):

1) Teach the word of God
2) Provide discipline
3) Disciple in all areas of life
4) Lead Family worship
5) Intercede for family needs
6) Proclaim Christ
7) Protect; Spiritually, physically, etc.
8) Protect from unqualified life partners
9) Protection from false doctrines
10) Protect them from loving the world
11) Provide Vision for the Family
12) Provide for spiritual and physical needs
13) Provide training in many areas
14) Provide a paradigm for our children’s vision for their homes
15) Provide guidance for finding a life partner, be involved in the process

Paul related in a great way God’s call for men to lead. This was not GfBC or Paul Renfro’s call but God’s call and we as believing men need to take heed of His call.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Nooma should be MEma

I just struggled through watching Rob Bell’s new Nooma DVD (#18:Name) and I am thinking that the series needs to be renamed MEma as the focus is not on God but on ME. Yes there is truth in the DVD; that we do all too often focus on wanting to be like others and not wanting to be who we are. However, the message is simply psychobabble that we are to learn to be comfortable and accepting of who we are. Yes there is a level where this may be true but at the end of the day we are to seek to be who God calls us to be and that is the message of scripture.

Rob Bell is not alone in proclaiming messages that turn scripture into stories about us rather than about God. He uses the story of Jacob wrestling with God to say at the end of the day Jacob had to simply accept who he was. But Bell stops short, actually as he mentions the sun rising (Gen 32:31) he skips over, because in the passage God changes Jacob’s name to Israel (Gen 32:28). So the whole premise of accepting who you are, your name, is out the window because God changes who He was just as He did with Abram to Abraham and Saul to Paul. We are to seek to be who God wants us to be and we see in scripture that people do not stay as they were but are changed by God to be who He wants them to be and to be used as He wants to use us.

While watching the video my impression was, as the names on the back of the t-shirts flash by, that no matter who you are that is who you are and you need to simply accept it, in Bells words (best I can remember) “good, bad and everything in-between”. But since when we become a believer we are a new creation and the old is changed are we not new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17)? Yes we have a past that we have to deal with but God changes us so that we are not to stay who we are but are to be who God calls us to be and that design is revealed in scripture.

In all of this production there was no call to deny oneself and take up a cross (Matt 16:24) it was all about feeling good about yourself. That is the essence of psychology but then again the video starts out with a story about someone that is in therapy so I guess at least he is consistent. The sad par t in all of this is that many churches get sucked into this sort of man centered theology as the message seems right but as scripture says we all too often seek after what tickles our ears (2 Tim 4:3) or as Judges ends in Jdg 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” For too many King Jesus is not their King so they do what seems right to them.

If you want to preview this it is free here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

GfBC Family Integrated Church Conference 2007

Over the next few days, or so, I will be commenting on the Family Integrated Conference my family and I attended October 26th and 27th in Houston that was put on by Grace Family Baptist Church. It was a very good conference with over 300 people from 17 states. While it did seem that a majority of the people came from Texas there were people from as far west as Washington State, California (My Family) and as far east as Campton, New Hampshire (New Hope Fellowship). The main speakers were the Elders from GfBC; Paul Renfro, Matt Bullen and Voddie Baucham. Each spoke at one main session and then on Saturday they as well as others at GfBC spoke at a number of breakout sessions.

They did not proclaim to have all of the answers but as they have been in the thick of starting an FIC and as they had received many calls for information they decided that a conference would be the best way to get information out to those seeking it. While there were those of us there already in FICs there were others that were simply seeking to get information on the movement.

One announcement at the end of the conference was that they were going to start a Family Integrated Church Alliance, I am not sure if that is the final name, so as to help resource and give guidance to others wanting to start Family Integrated Churches. This builds on Vision Forums National Center for Family-Integrated Churches which basically is a listing to help people connect whereas GfBC is seeking to help go further to help in church planting. I am not sure of all the specifics as probably not all of them have been worked out, but this will be a great ministry.

Before I go for the day I want to leave you with a great saying that Paul Renfro shared on the opening session Friday night, I am not sure if his original saying or not but it is great. In speaking on where we seek our guidance for church and how so often the call from many in the church is to be creative he said: “Stop thinking outside the box and start thinking inside the book.” Stop and think about that as all too often the Bible is the last place we look for guidance in ministry.

More to come.

Reformation Study Bible - One Day Sale

Over at Ligonier Ministries they are offering a one day only deal for the Reformation Study Bible (ESV). On October 31st the bibles are $15.17. This is a great price for a great study bible.

Update: 10/31/07 (7:45 AM): The bibles are sold out.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kevin Swanson at the UC&F Phoenix Regional Conference

You can go to Scott Browns Blog to hear Kevin Swanson’s talk at the Uniting Church and Family Conference in Glendale, AZ this past weekend: Lightning Rod in Phoenix .

Here are Scott’s comments on Kevin’s talk/sermon:

"Kevin Swanson gave a lightning rod address on “Pragmatism”, and proclaimed that evangelicalism is dying, and that the church has not had any appreciable impact on the culture because she has set aside Holy Scripture for all of life and godliness. The solution: the fear of God and obedience to His Word. Since so many biblical forms have been ignored in church and home, we need a reformation of practices that has its basis in trust in scripture. Hold on to your hat as you listen to this message. One of the conferees called this message seismic... I agree!"

I very much appreciate Kevin’s straight forward no holds barred approach. The church has issues and the only way to deal with them is to recognize them. To simply say we need to reach this culture is missing the point and often clouds the message. The more we look like the culture the less the message of the Gospel will be visible. At the end of the day the Gospel becomes subsumed by the trappings of the culture and then simply disappears from the message all together.

Listen to Kevin and be both convicted and exhorted. Let us make sure we do not let culture dictate the message of the Gospel but instead let the Gospel impact and change culture.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Use of Illustrations

I confess I have been guilty of using an urban myth to get across a point. The story of the boiling frog is often used, and I have used it, to get across the idea that slow change often engulfs us without us knowing it. Now while the point being made may be true it appears that the Frog Story may be a myth. This story has been used by many and, as I guess most Urban Legends are, has been accepted as truth. So, what is then interesting is that the truth that is trying to be conveyed is truer than the illustration used.

At they place the story as an urban legend and at Wikipedia on the subject of the veracity of this story there is some question as well. Wikipedia relates that the story originated back in the 1870’s and 1880’s and even links to a page of an article that would seem to say the original test may have been true but there is a definite level of uncertainty.

Bottom line is this illustration is gone from my list of illustrations, which is short as it is. I have recently been thinking about how I use illustrations and while they may make sermons more interesting are they as valuable as we think they are. I was talking to my sons about an illustration I used on a sermon some time ago and what I found was they could vividly remember the illustration but did not remember the point of the illustration. Yes Jesus used parables but keep in mind the idea of parables was to hide things from those not ready to hear (Matt 13:10-17; Luke 8:10), not necessarily to reveal them so His use of parables may not be the best reason to use illustrations.

The question I have to ask myself is whether I have been so influenced by the world’s view of conveying a message that I seek to do so by adding illustrations. This is not to say that illustrations are inherently bad but we do need to be careful how we use them and also to make sure they are true illustrations. In today’s age of a focus on narrative preaching I am concerned that we, me included, are more concerned about conveying a good story than conveying truth and relying on God to make sure the meaning gets through to the listener. This is not a free pass to lazy sermon preparation but is to say lets us be diligent to make sure the message of the passage is conveyed and not simply leave people with good anecdotes and illustrations that at the end of the day may do more to hide the message of scripture than accentuate it.

Let’s leave the frogs, and other such dubious illustration to the world and endeavor to let scripture speak as if we really did believe it was the actual word of God, I know that is my goal.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Around the Web and Blogosphere (10/09/07)

The Monergism Bookstore has upgraded its website, check it out. They even have a flat rate shipping charge of only $3.99 for unlimited items

There is a good article over at Old called: 'Creative Worship Experiences' or Strange Fire? The area of worship, mostly in regards to music, is one that all too often is devoid of scriptural basis but is instead left to the subjective idea of doing what the “Spirit” leads one to do. The question we have to ask is whether God tells us how He desires to be worshipped or if we can do anything that is not expressly forbidden by scripture (the regulative principle vs. the normative principle).

Dr. Al Mohler writes: Falling Birthrates, Empty Cribs, and Collapsing Worldviews. What is interesting is that the mindset of Germany doesn’t seem that far removed from many evangelicals today. While I do not have specific numbers with regards to birthrates among evangelicals in the US a simple observation of the surrounding American evangelical culture would let us see that there are less and less children being born and they are coming later in the life of professing believers. From my perspective this comes from the buying into the secular worldview rather than the church changing the world with a biblical worldview.

You can read Courtney Tarter’s article Confessions of a Recovering Feminist on the CDMW blog.

Sorry this months give away is done I will update as others become available.
Tim Challies is having another great give away courtesy of Ligonier Ministries. You can enter here , and please enter this referral code of 20072, or click on the banner below and it will take you there and automatically enter the referral code.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Free Audio Book – The Life of David Brainerd

This month’s FREE audio download at is:

The Life of David Brainerd (Unabridged) by Jonathan Edwards

You may have to sign up for an account, if you have not before, but this is a free download. There are a total of 9 files to download of about 32MB each. I have not been able to listen to them yet, but the ones I have listened to in the past have all been very good. There is a different free download each month so make sure to check back with them at the beginning of very month.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Evangelism and the Local Church

I have listened to a number of people who defend their method of doing church by referring to Paul on Mars Hill (Acts 17:16-34) and Paul’s statements in 1 Cor 9:19-23 as ways to attract unbelievers or those labeled as likely never setting foot in a church.

First, I want to say that the desire to see people hear the Gospel is to be commended. We should all have a desire for people to hear the message of the gospel, the Good News. Here is where I think the problem lies. The church is not primarily for evangelism, it is for those that are already believers. If a “believer” would claim that church is not for them or they do not like church without any number of extraneous activities that person may need to either reevaluate what the church is called to be or may need to even re-evaluate their faith.

I find it interesting that the verses that are often used to say the church needs to more reflect the world/culture around them are verses that have nothing to do with the church as a gathering. At Mars Hill, Paul is on the turf of the philosophers they are not coming to the church and in 1 Cor 9:19-23 he does speak about how to relates to unbelievers but again not in the context of the gathered church and not as far as some people try and take the verses. The call is to go out and evangelize not send out notices about how cool ones church is so people (unbelievers) come in.

We should desire unbelievers to enter our churches but the draw needs to be God not some slick campaign or packaging. Mark Dever in his new book (The Gospel & Personal Evangelism) talks about “Using the Church” in evangelism but in this he is speaking about inviting those we have a relationship with to come and see how a community of faith worships the God we proclaim to follow. It is their being among a people that are called to be distinctly different from the world that God can use to draw them to Himself. Unbelievers should be uncomfortable and they need to hear the entire message of the Gospel and not a partial and emasculated Gospel. It is when we live as a truly loving community of believers (John 13:34-35) that others will know that we are truly disciples of Christ. It is not culturally driven music, or drama, or any other creation we can think up it is first and foremost the word of God preached (Rom 10:14-15) that God uses to change hearts as well as our love for one another.

We do need to make sure our messages and speech is such that it is understandable but that is often a far cry from what is deemed as “contextualization.” I am also not calling for a reverting back to any particular age, but I would say we can learn much from the past. I would even say singing hymns, that so many have a disdain for, may be the very tool God can use to reveal Himself to people. Hymns may seem archaic to some but the truth that is packed into so many of them is often missing from many of the new songs that are written. What I am calling for is a return to church being built around and focused on believers so that when unbelievers enter in they experience something completely foreign from anything else they have experienced. If we simply follow scripture for the church’s role we will be the salt we are called to be rather than some sort imitation of the world around us.

I understand that this may sound like some sort of fundamentalist desiring the good old days. Well let me tell I do believe in the fundamentals of the faith and some things of the past would be nice but that does not make me yearn for the old days. Actually, I have only been a believer for a little over 18 years (I’m 48) so I really do not have old days to yearn for. My call again is to seek out what God desires of the church and not what we think is best. Yes, do use the gathered church for evangelism but be careful that it does not become it’s sole focus. We are to make sure we evangelize in our daily lives and make sure to know your neighbor and those that work around you but remember God calls the church, His bride, to be His and not the worlds.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Religious Symbology

From Pyromaniacs: By Frank Turk

If you read much from the Emergent Church many of these, if not all, will ring true.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Upcoming FIC Conferences

Here are some upcoming FIC conferences:

In Glendale, Arizona: Regional NCFIC Conference, October 12-13, 2007
Speakers: Scott Brown, Don Hart, Kevin Swanson and Jason Young

In Houston, TX: First Annual FIC Conference, October 26-27, 2007
Speakers: Voddie Baucham, Matt Bullen, Paul Renfro

In Wake Forest, North Carolina: Regional NCFIC Conference, November 30 – December 1, 2007
Speakers: Voddie Baucham, Scott Brown, Dan Horn, Steve Breagy

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

McLaren's New Book

Well Brian McLaren has another new book coming out, Everything Must Change, and here is what is being said about it in an email I somehow got, my comments interspersed:

In Everything Must Change, you will accompany Brian around the world on a search for answers (is not the Bible enough, why do we need to go to the world for answers about God). Along the way you'll experience intrigue, alarm, challenge, insight, and hope. You'll get a fresh and provocative vision of Jesus and his teachings (we do not need a fresh view of Jesus we need a Biblical view). And you'll see how his core message can infuse us with purpose and passion to address the economic, environmental, military, political, and social dysfunctions (I would suppose these dysfuntions are those defined by McLaren as dysfunctional) that have overtaken our world (I thought the Gospel was about God bringing a people to Himself, here is where the social Gospel of old shines through).

Jesus' message is more than a ticket to heaven or a formula for personal prosperity ( I agree whole heartedly, as we all should). It is an invitation to personal and global transformation (there we go again as the message of Christ is hijacked for another agenda). It is a radical challenge to the underlying stories that drive our social systems--social, economic, and political. It invites us to imagine what would happen

- if people of faith moved beyond political polarization and a few hot-button issues to the deeper questions nobody is asking ( I agree that Christians often choose some issues and conveniently ignore others but this does not mean we should not take stands where God takes stands).
- if the worlds' leading nations spent less on weapons and more on peace-making, poverty-alleviation, and creation-care.
- if a renewed understanding of Jesus and his message sparked a profound spiritual awakening in a global movement of faith, hope, and love ( I do believe that we need to renew an understanding of Christ and the cross but McLaren’s message does not do that).
- if we believed that God's will really could be done on earth and not just in heaven (What does he mean by this and does he really mean that Brian’s will would be done).

If you're are hungry for a fresh vision of what it means to be a person of faith, Everything Must Change applies the good news of Jesus to a world in need, igniting a revolution of hope that can change everything. Beginning with you. Beginning now (again missing is that the good news, the Gospel that McLaren proclaims, does not seem to match the Gospel of scripture. Yes we are called to do many things and to follow the commands of Christ but that is not the Good New, the Gospel is that through Christ our Great High Priest we can come to God, everything else flows from that)

Now, I do believe that the church needs to change but it is not the change that McLaren envisions. I also believe that people have missed the message of the cross, but again not as McLaren seems to see things. We should agree that Jesus’ message is not simply a ticket to heaven. But, McLaren’s real message is just as legalistic as the “fundamentalists” he often seems to be pointing to. He feels that the key to a vibrant faith is doing something and in his case it is simply the social gospel of old.

Don’t get me wrong we are to help the poor, feed the hungry and love our neighbor but the problem is that one has to have the right heart and that right heart does not come from the doing of “good” things but from Christ and the cross.

The message that needs to be proclaimed by churches is that the cross changes people. It is Christ’s sacrifice in His life, death and resurrection and His being our great High Priest that transforms. If one were to read the book of Hebrews you would see that the cross is the vital to our faith as that is what opens the veil (Heb 6:19-20) to allow us to be brought to God. As far as doing good, reading Hebrews 6:9-12 shows that it is the love for God, for His name, that results in the work of caring for the saints and not the other way around. Yes we are to care for others but that care has to be grounded in a correct understanding of the cross as Hebrews deals with.

So what I find interesting as I read McLaren is that he speaks little of the cross, in a Biblical manner, and much about social work but we cannot accomplish the social changes he desires with the heart God desires unless we are brought to God by the life, death and resurrection of Christ. By the way none of this is a secret as it stands bold and clear in all of scripture and is made abundantly clear in Hebrews.

I would suggest that instead of reading McLaren you read God’s Word. Scripture is there bolding proclaiming who Christ is, what He has done and the results that He empowers His people to do. There is no Secret Message and while we as a Church do need to change it does not start where McLaren starts it but it starts with Christ and a correct understanding of the Gospel.

Before someone says “how can I say this all without reading the book” let me say this e-mail came from those advertising a book tour of sorts. Also, I have listened to McLaren and read some of his writings and he says little that is new in what I have seen.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hebrews and the Gospel

I have been preaching through Hebrews and have to admit I have never looked at Hebrews as close as I am now. We are only to chapter 6 and there is so much already. I think ones understanding of the Gospel would be greatly enhanced by taking a prolonged journey through the book of Hebrews.

So often the Gospel is put forth in a way that only speaks of benefits to us, man, so that in the end it simply becomes a self help Gospel. But Hebrews speaks to no end about the importance of the cross and that it is though the cross that Jesus, our High Priest, has allowed a way to bring us to God. It is through the substitutionary sacrifice of the Son that we have any ability whatsoever to come before God. What we need to share when we share the Gospel is that it is the work of the Son that allows God to bring us to worship Him. This sharing of the Gospel by the way is not to be limited to evangelism but needs to be shared constantly with believers. The book of Hebrews was written to Hebrew believers struggling with a decision that would say volumes about how they viewed the cross. The writer of Hebrews, ultimately God, knew that they needed to be so firmly grounded in the Gospel and the cross that they would never contemplate denying the substitutionary work of Christ by deciding to go back to the sacrificial system.

Today we have turned the cross into mainly and example we are to follow. I would argue that if one does not truly understand the sacrifice of the Son to its fullest, as Hebrews reveals, they cannot deny themselves and take up the cross they are commanded to in Matt 16:24. We need to understand the cross and what it was to accomplish to see how we are to deny ourselves. When the Gospel becomes merely and evangelistic tool with its focus on man then asking people to deny themselves will be greatly hindered if accomplished at all.

There may be benefits that accompany salvation but as Hebrews stresses over and over it is the access to God that is the only benefit that is promised. Hebrews 4:14-16 speaks of how we can come with confidence to the throne of grace because of the work of Christ. Trials and persecutions are promised in scripture but all the other benefits that are so often tacked on to the Gospel are not. Should we not be overjoyed to be in the presence of God for eternity no matter our temporal situations?

Norm Wakefield, in a talk I heard this weekend, spoke of how the veil had been opened for us and that opening, because of Christ, allows us to enter in. Without the sacrifice of the Son there is no entry. Anyone that either minimizes the work on the cross by limiting its effectiveness or by denying its substitutionary nature has missed the force of Hebrews. To come to God is all the work of God, even the tearing down of the veil to allow us in.

I would encourage you to journey through Hebrews and take in all the glory of the cross that is revealed and leave the book with a renewed understanding of your salvation. A salvation that was wrought by God so that He could bring you through the veil to worship Him and experience the unfathomable joy that worshiping God brings.

If you would like to hear any of the sermons we have recorded (Starting in Chapter 3) you can go here: Sovereign Grace Christian Fellowship – Sermons

The Church - A Multigenerational Gathering

Being in the process of a church start makes one think often of what a local church is to be. Not just the where, the who, or even the how but first and foremost is to answer the question as to the “what.” Some time ago, as I was in the process of thinking through a church start I began to put down my thoughts and understandings of what God calls the church to be, both the Local and the Universal, and then to see how God was leading me to start a church.

It was only after thinking through what God calls the local church to be that I began to look at the “how”. In the process I found that what is often called the Family Integrated Church, as I see the Family Integrated Church, seemed to be the most biblical form of church. I understand that that can be unsettling as it then may be reasoned that I am saying other forms are not as biblical. Well I do not really apologize for my view of the way church should be and I would sincerely hope that others that do church differently are doing church as they see God desiring church to be. If we as servants of God are simply doing things because they seem best without seeking what God sees as best we are ignoring, intentionally or not, the sufficiency of scripture to tell us not only what the church is to look like but the how we are to “do” church. Ones conviction for Family Integrated Worship must flow out of a conviction from scripture because if it does not then when the tide changes so will the conviction.

I am not speaking here of the how in relationship to every detail such as when to have an offering or how or what type of music but I am speaking of the how in more general terms. That said I do believe God in His word is more specific about How He desires to be worshipped than many give scripture credit for but that is a topic for another day.

As I have written a number of articles I thought that maybe I would put links to most of the articles in one place. These were written over a period of a little more than a year and in some ways is still a work in progress. The first two sections are a series I did first on the church and then on how I see Family Integrated Church. The last grouping are just some things I wrote as they came to mind.

The Church:
The Local Church Pt1
The Church Pt 2 - Ekklesia
The Church Pt 3: Church Local or Universal
The Church, Where? Part 4
The Church - Part 5
The Gathered Church - Pt 1
The Gathered Church – Pt 2
The Gathered Church - Pt 3
Some Random Thoughts on the Church

A Series on how I see the Family Integrated Church:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Some General Thoughts on the Family Integrated Church:
Family Friendly?
Family Friendly II
Family Integrated Church is not new
More on Family Integrated Church
Some Random Thoughts on the Church
More Thoughts on the Family Integrated Church
Some More thoughts on the Family Integrated Church
There is Nothing New About Family Integrated Worship

“Wait to Learn with Tears and Trust”

I am encouraged by much of what John Piper writes but no more than when he writes about personal tragedy. This is not because I enjoy others personal tragedy but because John Piper so reveals that he truly believes what he professes. It is easy for us to proclaim the sovereignty of God in all things when things go well but when tragedy strikes we often struggle with joining our beliefs with action.

On September 22nd Piper’s daughter in-law’s, Molly, child was stillborn. It is a testimony to the grace of God that Piper and family can show sadness at the loss of the child, Felicity, and still hold to God’s sovereignty in all things and not just all things that appear good to us. One does not need to turn to things such as Open Theism in times of tragedy but can turn to the God that is sovereign over all things. In reflecting on the physical cause of the death Piper comments: “But neither man nor God prevented this. Man, because he did not know it was happening. God, because he has his wise and loving reasons that we wait to learn with tears and trust.”

You can read the whole post by Piper here: Felicity Margaret Piper

I pray that we would not minimize God’s sovereignty because of difficult issues but would instead see things as Piper does in the midst of the issues he and his family are facing; that God “has His wise and loving reasons that we wait to learn with tears and trust.”

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Please no Babies

Have you seen a sign like this as you enter the sanctuary, sorry worship center, of a church?

I am sure this sign is put there with good intentions but what does this sign truly say. Well I think it first of all says that adults are more important than children. It also says that the personal worship experience is of the utmost importance even if it intrudes on the worship of children. How sad it is to me that we have so elevated the idea of having a worship experience that we would deprive children of worshiping with their parents and other adults as they should and have most of the history of the church.

We have become an experience-oriented society that allows the experience to drive all that is done in today’s church. It drives the music we sing, the messages we hear and the environment we worship in. Is not worship to be God centered and the experience we gain in worship to be that which God provides and not one we strive to generate.

Let us have the children come to God (Matt 19:14), not in their own “Children’s Church” but in the midst of the community of faith they are part of. Let us take down the signs that say children not welcome.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

There is Nothing New About Family Integrated Worship

I was contemplating the other day how often I have to define what a Family Integrated Church (FIC) is. This usually stems from either a misconception that the church is only for families or that that is all that is taught about. I assume that there are probably FICs out there that do teach primarily on the family, possibly at the expence of other areas, and that may make those that do not have the ideal family unwelcome but I do not know any of those personally.

What came to mind was that the whole idea of the FIC is not a new concept but an old one. Up until not many years ago most churches would not contemplate segregating families. But, as with many things, we as a culture have so assumed the world’s view of generations needing to be separated that what was once normal for centuries in the life of the church is now seen as some new idea. What truly should be happening is that people should have to explain, from a Biblical perspective, why church is to be segregated rather than those that worship multigenerationally explaining their stand to no end.

When I speak to people about worship services that include children and that I do not favor youth groups the persons eyes widen as this is usually seen as going too far. How can one worship with little children squirming in their seats, do they really squirm more than most adults, and with the possibility of interruptions is what crosses their minds. When the topic of Youth group arises the same incredulous look arises as Youth Groups have become so much the norm that I think people must think Jesus went to youth group and that Paul started as a youth leader.

I say all of this simply to say that the whole idea of Family Integrated worship is not new, is Biblical, and I feel most emulates how we will worship in heaven. When Jesus returns and calls us home we will not be ushered into heaven simply to be divided up by age group, life situation or some other category but we will all worship God together. Should we not strive to do so now? Should we not strive to experience the Kingdom of God as we are able now in anticipation of the culmination of the Kingdom of God when Christ returns? Let us not let the world and the culture it creates dictate how we worship our God and creator but let God dictate how we worship Him.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Around the Web and Blogosphere (9/13/07)

Over at HomeDiscipling Dad, Charley has a good post on Home Schooling. In, I Don’t Home School Because… , he deals with some of the usual objections given for not home schooling.

I have not mentioned them in quite some time but if you are looking for quality worship music you should check out Indelible Grace Music. They use Biblically sound lyrics and the music that accompanies the lyrics is well done. They also have available most of their music available for download here: RUF Hymnbook.

At the 9Marks Blog, Church Matters, there is a good article on preaching of God’s word: 'Preach the Word': Tools for Interpreting & Applying God's Word. I would add that these tools are not just for preachers but for all that seek to understand God’s word.

Over on the Spurgeon Blog is a post entitled: An Idol Called Free Will. When I look around internet and especially those that have a disdain for the Doctrines of Grace it sure does appear that the whole concept of “Free Will” is an idol. Before the fall man was in constant and intimate communion with God yet when given the apparent chance to be “free” and know as God knows Adam and Eve jumped at the chance. So today it is no different because the natural, sinful, state of man wants to think they are free and be able to do as they please and constantly seeks to be free from God, even if they do not say so.

Don't Waste Your Life Video

If you haven’t read Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper it is well worth reading. It incorporates much of what is said in other of his writings but as is usual with Piper, one of the things I appreciate about him, he does not mince words. The point of the book is as believers we are not to waste our life in things that are not kingdom focused, not God focused. In our daily grind of living in the world we are all too often, me included, sucked into the world’s focus and are pulled away from having a Godward focus. At the Don’t Waste Your Life website there are a number of short videos dealing with topics in the book.

The video below is a good one dealing with money. The topic of money is a difficult one in the western world. First, because from a world wide perspective we have much of it and secondly from a western world or American mindset we are in general used to things belonging to us so when one speaks of money and giving that tears at our mindset. Piper speaks of having a wartime mindset and relates back to such times as during world wars where people put aside their usual comforts for the effort at hand and that we need to have this mindset in the spiritual realm as well. We should not let the world’s perspective of THINGS dictate our perspective, as believers but we need to seek after God’s perspective on all that we have since it is His anyway.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Around the Web and Blogosphere (9/7/07)

On Doug Phillips blog there is a good article entitled: The Education of Daughters and 'Cooking Sacred Cows with Dr. Voddie Baucham'. This article looks at the issue of raising our daughters and shipping them off to college. I am sure that what is said may irk some and the mention of the book So Much More by Anna and Elizabeth Botkin may make others uncomfortable but the questions raised, whether you agree or not, need to be dealt with from a Biblical perspective. My encouragement is to read the article and then prayerfully ask if the decisions that we make are driven by God or by man as I find that all too often my choices are driven by the world around me than the scriptures I am too hold to. I would even add that the whole idea of college is not just an issue with women but also men. We have so been ingrained with the idea that education must include college or university, but does it for everyone? Again read the article and then pray about what is driving the raising of our children.

At the Founders Ministry blog is a piece that relates to some comments by Dr. Roger Olson: Olson, Piper, tragedy and theodicy. This is a topic that is very important as it shows how once we try and remove God from the “bad” things that happen in the world the move to Open Theism is very short.

There is a good review of the ESV Literary Study Bile at The Shepherd’s Scrapbook. I have mentioned this before but one of the things often missing from the study of God’s Word is the realization that God has communicated to us in His Word through literature and thus understand the various kinds of literature God has used will better help in our understanding of what God is communicating. This is not to reduce the Bible to simply literature but to show that God has used various forms of literature to reveal Himself in His word.

At the Worship Matters website there is a link to a new song you can download long with the words: New Song - How Great Your Name. The words speak unabashedly about the substitutionary atonement of our savior.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Great September Giveaway

Tim Challies is having The Great September Giveaway and all you have to do is enter. There are three prizes: 1st is all 6 of the Reformed Expository Commentary series, 2nd is any 3 of the Reformed Expository Commentary series, and 3rd is any 1 of the Reformed Expository Commentary series.

When you enter if you could enter my Referral ID ( 10828 ) I get one extra entry and you can get a referral ID and do the same once you are entered.

or you can click here and the ID goes in automatically

sept Giveaway

Here are the Commentaries: