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:

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Put the Baby in the Beemer

Thanks to Charley at HomeDiscipling Dad as he mentions one of the 14 videos I linked to from Voddie Baucham’s FamilyDrivenFaith Videos, on You Tube, entitled “Put the Baby in the Beemer.” I had not had a chance to view this one but I just did and it speaks to how much our culture has invaded our priorities so I have put the video below as it well worth watching. I have heard Voddie often say (I think this is how he puts it), “If you can’t say Amen you ought to say ouch” well here it probably simply needs to be "ouch."

Put the Baby in the Beemer