Archive for the ‘Ministry’ Category

Redeeming Words

My new blog project exists to redeem Christian terminology from misuse and misunderstanding.

Check it out: Redeeming Words

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I’ll Be Over Here:

So coming back to this particular blog doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. However, the other blogs to which I’ve been contributing have been revamped and that’s where I’ll be spending most of my blogging time. Hope to see you over there!

Re: Fundamentals KJV Only Debate Blog

The Sovereignty of God Conference, Day 2 (am)

sovGodconfDue to work, I missed the morning session of Day 2, which included 2 messages. However, I was able to listen to them yesterday on CD. What a blessing! Each message fit right into the theme and continued in this wonderful conference of solid, biblical preaching.

Bill Poss, an elder at the host church, kicked it off with the topic, “God’s Sovereign Choice of the Younger Son.” His sermon was very exegetical, drawing from the text the only conclusion that can be consistently made: God will mercy whom He will and harden whom He will. Consequently, the message focused on Romans 9 and God’s unconditional election based on His purpose.

Eric Redmond followed him and spoke on “God’s Sovereignty and the Call of the Pastor.” He had us open to 2 Timothy, and I smugly thought I knew where he was going, but I was surprised. I figured he would preach on Paul’s charge to Timothy, or the qualifications of a pastor, or something to that extent. He did touch on those things, but the thrust of his message actually dealt with Paul’s terrible conditions in chapter 4:9-22 and how Timothy was called to be by his side. The point was clear: the call of God on one’s life is more important than the place in which he serves. Coming from a leader familiar with the tough, transient, often unrecognized nature of urban ministry, this message was profound. For me, it hit home, for I’ve been involved in urban ministry myself and feel that is where God will be using me for the rest of my life.

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The Sovereignty of God Conference (with amazing cell phone pics), Day 1

sovGodconfToday, the Sovereignty of God conference, put on by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, hosted by Bread of Life Fellowship in Haledon, NJ, came to a conclusion. The speakers included pastors from New Jersey as well as James White and Eric Redmond.

Well, I’m no Tim Challies, and I didn’t live-blog it, but I’m going to give a quick recap because this conference was a tremendous blessing to me.

How refreshing it was to attend a conference that had little to do with ourselves, our circle, convention, or denomination, or that promoted anyone’s agenda. The only agenda was the promotion of God’s sovereignty – a true conference on doctrine about God. And I say that it hit the nail on the head.

This conference was much more than expounding on a particular theological position, namely Calvinism. Despite the fact that there’s so much controversy and so many pot-shots going back and forth, the purpose wasn’t to arm us Calvinists with better arguments and more proof texts. Sure, some of the debate points were mentioned, but the emphasis was on the truth of God’s sovereignty as revealed in His word and the implications thereof. Instead of leaving me with ammunition to propagate the agenda of spreading 16th century soteriological nuances, I was left with a sense of awe about our mighty God. I was also given a humility about how I go about thinking about our sovereign God, communicating our sovereign God to others, and serving our sovereign God each day.

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Taking a Stand: A Rant

standPlease excuse the incoherency and lack of flow in this post, but I’ve got a few things to say.

I’ve been slacking a bit in blogging, but I think that’s ok. In the meantime, I have posted a few things on the King James Only blog, and, as a result, posts about that topic will be exclusive to that website, for the most part. This will allow me to focus on other topics. I’ve also been lurking around other blogs recently, and a few things have come to my attention. So I’ll make some comments. After all, small-fry bloggers like me have opinions that really matter, right?

The concern over the “YF Reformation” (if I can coin the term) is not diminishing at all. The demographic of 18-35 year old Christians who are tied to fundamentalism in some way (the Young Fundamentalists, “YFs”) is undergoing a major facelift in recent years.

And we YFs haven’t been silent about it. Those who are against the shift haven’t been either. The blogosphere has added significant volume to all our insignificant voices, as well as popularized diatribes and analyses by influential leaders of both camps. Currently, there’s much ado over Dan Sweatt and the FBFI. John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll. Peter Masters’ assessment of this movement. Colin Hansen’s Young, Restless, and Reformed is still being discussed. And of course, commentary on all of these issues abound from pastors and lay leaders alike.

Certainly, a reformation of sorts is underway. It’s both a privilege and a scary thing to be living in these times. I don’t know how this all will conclude, but God does. He is still in control. And we must remember, reformation is never easy.

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Encouraging Sunday Video, 11.30.08

Fighting the Real Battle

II Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

There’s a battle raging in America today. While some seek to “unite” the country, many are becoming increasingly polarized from one another. The battle of the worldviews is culminating in a head-on collision. Debates about abortion, stem-cell research, and especially gay marriage are bringing out the fight in everyone from all sides. 

While Christians are called to stand for the truth at all times, it seems we sometimes get too carried away with fighting the wrong battle. I sympathize for the churches that have been attacked and mocked. I am for this moment even on Rick Warren’s side. As a matter of fact, the Mormons have my pity at this time as well.

But, Christians – this is not the real battle! A friend pointed this out to me recently: there’s nothing wrong with taking a stand in society or voting for a referendum that would promote morality. But many of the Christians who are pouring their energy into these social issues have never personally shared the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation.

While it seems this “fight” is noble and godly, it is really the social gospel repackaged, and an outward expression of worldliness.

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What is Worldliness?

heart_globeIn Tim Challies‘ recent review of the new book, Worldliness (edited by CJ Mahaney; Challies offers a less-stellar-than-usual review ), he summarized the view presented of the term “worldliness:”

“He biblically defines worldliness saying that this world we’re not supposed to love is ‘the organized system of human civilization that is actively hostile to God and alienated from God.’ Worldliness is a love for this fallen world and, specifically, ‘to gratify and exalt oneself to the exclusion of God.’ Mahaney is careful to point out that worldliness is not extrinsic to us but intrinsic, inhabiting our fallen hearts. Worldliness does not consist of outward actions (though such actions can certainly be evidence of worldliness) but instead is a heart attitude that rebels against God. The antidote to worldliness is the cross of Christ. ‘Only through the power of the cross of Christ can we successfully resist the seduction of the fallen world.’ Worldliness dulls our affections for Christ and distracts our hearts from him. Hence it is so serious ‘because Christ is so glorious.’

I believe the Bible leaves little room to doubt that definition or something close to it. Worldliness is more a disposition than a style

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Buying Back the Time

Where did all the time go?

I went to an Apple store yesterday and was looking at the iPhones. I have to admit, they’re pretty cool. You can store tons of stuff on them, go on the Internet, watch videos, and even make phone calls. And all of it is designed so that you have something to do . . . in between doing things.

That’s where all the time went. I realized a nasty habit I have. Every time – and I really do think every time – I sit down, I check my cell phone. Maybe someone called. Maybe someone texted. And after a few seconds of realizing no one bothered to do either, I think of who I can text or call. I’ve been programmed to feel like I just have to do something. I mean, I can’t just sit there. That would cause me to. . .think!

So to answer the question of, “don’t people think anymore?” – no! They don’t. We don’t. We’re on our cell phones, we’re reading something. Every time we’re on the Internet we have multiple windows or tabs opened. If we have to iron clothes or clean our houses we must have music on, or the TV, or something else. Well, that’s how I am, and I see it in others as well. It’s no wonder our meditations are so weak.

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Authentic Boldness

Acts 4:17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

If you haven’t, check out the news lately – people are afraid. We’re facing all kinds of crises, it seems. And aside from the looming threats of financial insecutiry and political unrest, American Christians today face the menaces of increasing opposition. This threat comes from many different angles. New Athesists and Muslims are on the offensive. Liberals and skeptics are subtely undermining absolute truth in this postmodern world. And many who call themselves Christians are growing increasingly apathetic. No matter who it is, let’s face it – they don’t want us to preach Christ.

And yet, we must. And we must preach Him with boldness. It’s time we take off the shelf our most valuable tool and put it to use. Let us pray with boldness so we may preach with boldness. This is what the early church did in the face of opposition:

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How Do We Measure Success?

Recently, I was sitting in a church which will soon be closing its Christian school. As I talked with a friend about this, he intimated that the reason such a tragedy was occurring was due to the church’s “slipping into compromise.” Apparently the church had changed a few things over the years, and the resultant judgment from God was a lack of attendance. This lack of attendance would cause the congregation to shrink and the school to shut down.

Recently, I was sitting in a church which was thriving to the point of having to extend its facilities. It actually has a fairly new auditorium, and keeps the older one for more space. As I talked with a friend about this, he intimated that the reason such prosperity is occurring was due to the church’s “slipping into compromise.” Apparently the church had changed a few things over the years, and the resultant judgment from God was a bigger crowd. This bigger crowd came because everything was watered down and as a result, new buildings would have to be built.

Even though many have rejected a numbers-oriented approach to ministry, it is easy for us to still fall into the trap of measuring success by numbers or other non-biblical measurements. Oftentimes we receive happy testimonies of church growth as a result of fervent evangelism. We hear of pastors taking a stand on the issues, and God continues to bless the church. So we make the logical conclusion that God is blessing because a hard-line stance is espoused. But, like the two instances above, there’s always an opposite story: a pastor takes a firm stand on some issues and people leave his church in droves. Then we’re prone to make the conclusion that when you take a biblical stand, there will be few to accept it. What we’re doing in these instances is picking and choosing when to apply, “God added unto them about three thousand souls” or “straight and narrow is the path.” 

When numbers provide us with the measuring stick for success, we find ourselves in a maze of confusion. So, how then, do we measure success in the ministry?

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Evangelistic Fraud

The general consensus from conversation on this blog about Election’08 seems to be looking more towards hope for 2012 than towards next month. And now, the issue of voter fraud recently surfacing is just one more item on the long list of things that make this year’s presidential race uniquely complex. It only makes us hold tight to the passage suggested by our brother:

(Proverbs 16:33) “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.”

Recently, I was thinking about the ramifications of fraudulent voter registration in the election, when I stumbled across a thought. Persuading people to commit to something by pretense – sounds a lot like some fundamentalists’ idea of evangelism. I realize that it’s not a perfect comparison, but hear me out.

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Self-defeating Ministries & Self-defeating Christians

During the missions conference at my church last week, I heard an interesting illustration. It came from a personal experience of the preacher who used it. Having visited a country in central Africa, the preacher had taken a tour of one of the deepest gold mines in the entire world. It reached nearly three miles below sea level. In order to reach the lowest point of the mine, the preacher and the tour guide had to use a series of elevators.

As they were transferring from one elevator to another, the preacher asked the tour guide why they had to use so many elevators. The tour guide explained that the mine shaft was far too long for only one elevator. After a certain distance, the weight of the elevator cables become too heavy for any elevator system. It becomes a self-defeating mechanism.

The preacher had a different application for his story, but before he proceeded to it, he threw in the comment, “I know a few ministries like that – so big, they’re self-defeating.”

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Sunday and Machen: God Weaves His Tapestry

Proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.

Proverbs 19:21 There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

The Bible leaves no room for doubt that God has a purpose for this world. The purpose of God is in His heart, and is enacted according to His good pleasure. It is a privilege, as a Christian, to be a part of God’s amazing purpose.

Sometimes we are exhorted to try to make our own way through life. This is an unbiblical idea. It is the Lord Who orders our steps. He is weaving together a beautiful tapestry in our lives and in this world. This tapestry is to be a display of His glory. If I try to weave it myself, it would turn out to be rather ugly. God is the Weaver. Therefore, I am not here to try to earn my way into some high ministerial position. Nor am I to compete or campaign for a good seat in Heaven. I am here to glorify the Lord by being faithful to Him. 

When we understand this principle, it helps us to realize that oftentimes God will use people we wouldn’t expect. If choosing spiritual leaders were a task given to us, we would often choose the wrong men, even though we may devise a system whereby we choose them. God is not obligated to call the men we think can handle the job. Rather, He chooses whom He will, period. This is demonstrated wonderfully in the lives and ministries of Billy Sunday and J. Greshem Machen.

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Weaker or Stronger?

Just a quick thought for today. 

It is obvious that there is a shift ensuing within conservative evangelicalism and in fundamentalism concerning evangelism. Many are realizing the errors of revivalism and watered-down evangelistic methods that have pervaded the church in the last century, causing an innumerbale amount of false converts. As a result of growing frustration, the resurgence of Calvinistic views, the conservative revolution within evangelicalism, and the influence of ministries like the Way of the Master, it seems more of us are trying to get back to a biblical model of evangelism. This, however, is a model that produces less professions of faith. Now I realize that there can be many reasons why people are leaving churches. Many a preacher decries the reduction in church attendance and employs the use of staggering statistics to do so: and they are staggering. Just think about how many churches are closing their doors these days. We certainly need a revival. But here’s my question: do you think we are having a revival? Could it be, that this approach to evangelism and emphasis on discipleship is simply causing false converts to go away? I will always remember James MacDonald’s quip – “God can cut your church attendance in half tomorrow and be more thrilled with your ministry than ever before.” Of course, we all say, “it’s not about numbers.” Well, let’s wake up and realize that. It’s not about numbers or the size of your church. It’s better to have 5 obedient Christians than 500 disobedient pew warmers, no? Who turned the world upside-down for the gospel? The multitudes that followed Jesus’ miracles, or his group of 12 disciples? Is the decline of church attendance in America really making us weaker? Or is it making us stronger?

Honest Hymns

I realize I’m not the first to think about this topic, but it’s interesting to visit the arena of church music, especially to pay attention to the lyrics. As fundamentalists, we’re often hard pressed to strive for purity in all areas of life. When it comes to music, one could accurately say this issue is one of the top issues of controversy. And that’s fine – too many churches have incorporated worldliness into their services. But, of course, the issue of music isn’t just about the style itself. Lyrics must also be considered.

Now I don’t intend at all to take a look at every common hymn and dissect it for error. These were all written by men and as a result, error is prone to happen. But what is very interesting to me is that there seems to have been a shift in evangelical hymn writing – a shift from hymns about God to hymns about self. Rather than using a hymn to praise God, newer hymns seem to emphasize us: our faith, our love for God, our holiness, our willingness to serve, etc. Now, I know the Bible contains psalms about self, but they are normally psalms of mourning or cries for help. If we are going to incorporate “I”, “me”, “we”, and “us” into hymns that we sing to the Lord, we’ve got to be honest.

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Counting the Cost

In one of His sermons on discipleship, Jesus tells those who would follow Him that they must count the cost of making such a decision:

Luke 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
29 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him

This is a missing principle today. Too often, modern evangelism has produced many “converts” who were “not able to finish.” We have to ask, was it a result of not counting the cost?

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More than One Way to Compromise

I think we have it all wrong.

The word “compromise” is one of those words that is supposed to be cut out of the fundamentalist’s vocabulary. It is a terrible word. The Bible has nothing good to say about it. It reminds us of Lot, of Judas, or of Demas.

But in what direction must one go in order to commit the sin of compromise? Typically, we have less of a problem with someone who has gone to the “extreme right” than we do one who has gone to the “liberal left.” We have considered the “middle ground” to be the area of compromise. But is it?

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A Message from Ken Ham

We’ve all heard the adage “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” But, how often have we seen it? I have personally seen it lived out in its truest sense on a few of occasions, but none so honest, precise and Christ honoring as last night.

I attended a meeting in which Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis (AiG), was the keynote speaker. The meeting was held at a fundamentalist college that is known for its King James Only position amongst other “typical” positions that are popularly associated with fundamentalism today. To my knowledge, Ken Ham has never expressed any specific relation to fundamentalism nor to any denomination, for that matter. Yet, he brought a message that was more important than any denominational barrier. He overlooked whatever differences he had with the hosting school, as did the school with him, and a vital challenge was brought to the direct attention of God’s people.

As I watched, a vital challenge was placed before me.

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Great Things I Have Learned from Fundamentalism

To keep in tune with a positive approach, as I have determined to do, and in contrast to the criticism of fundamentalism found on this blog, I would like to highlight just a few of the invaluable things I have gleaned from being a fundamentalist.

So there is no question about it, I am still a fundamentalist. As stated before, I love and appreciate the ideals of fundamentalism as expressed historically. I believe these tenets are rooted in scripture and manifested in Christ and the apostles. Fundamentalism is a love for the truth – a love that must defend the truth and separate from error. In this regard, I will always be a fundamentalist, even if the modern movement known as “fundamentalism” continues to drift from its original intent. It is this modern movement of which I speak…or of which I type. . .and I want to make sure it is known that, although I have some concerns, not all is bad. In fact, much of modern fundamentalism is good, and God has used these things to shape my life, as He continue to do.

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Dealing with Discouragement

“How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.” (Psalms 13:1-4)

It would be hard for us to honestly say that we have been through things equal to what David went through to bring him to this point. However, if we are honest we have to admit that we have all felt at least somewhat this level of discouragement. I have not been in the ministry very long, but I have already experienced the times of discouragement that I so often heard about. It gets to the point where discouragement is almost a practical matter, simply because it can so greatly affect our daily responsibilities in our respective ministries. So, the question is, How do we deal with discouragement?

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Double Standards in Fundamentalism Today, #5: Me

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Galatians 4:16
 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?

True friends tell you what you need to hear. As much as I covet those comments in which people say, “great website!”, I need much more to hear about the things I need to change. Those things have been brought to my attention, and it seems like I’ve been one of the biggest Double Standards all along. I hope now to articulate some of the problems, and offer some possible solutions.

(No, that’s not really me in the picture.)

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Separation vs. Penetration vs. Both

There is no way to deny that we live in perilous times. Ethics are personally defined, absolutes are generally denied and any belief system goes as long as it does not impede upon another system, be it one of belief or unbelief. Tolerance is the buzzword of the day, and intolerance is the only thing intolerable. As Carl F. H. Henry put it, “These days are as hectic as Nero’s Rome, and they demand attention as immediate as Luke’s Macedonia.”

But who is a fault here? How much, if any, of the responsibility can Christians carry for the tragic demoralization that marks our culture? We have become so good at pointing our fingers of indictment. We blame the secularists with their declared independence from God. We blame the pagans with their disillusioned cults. We even blame our own liberal wing for having no backbone and the wherewithal to take a stand against the first two culprits.

We examine the pulse our culture and give a self-righteous diagnosis. We hone our skill of flaying those at fault, all the while, forgetting a most important question: “What about us?” What have we done or not done that has contributed to this slippery slide into decadence and abandonment of the truth?

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Encouraging Sunday Video 6.22.08

 

On Headset Microphones. . .

Yes, headset microphones – those oh-so-liberal looking devices of the devil! They have done almost as much damage as screens being employed in the services. No self-respecting fundamentalist would ever be caught preaching with one of those!

Or so we’re told to believe. But all sarcasm aside, the headset microphone has taught me a few valuable lessons.

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