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Showing posts from October, 2008

Analysis of the California ballot measures

Wondering how to vote on the twelve ballot measures in the November election?

The California Family Council (an affiliate of Focus on the Family) has done us a great favor by reviewing all the initiatives and providing a thoughtful analysis of each. Here are their positions:
Proposition 1A - NoProposition 2 - NoProposition 3 - NoProposition 4 - YesProposition 5 - NoProposition 6 - YesProposition 7 - NoProposition 8 - YesProposition 9 - YesProposition 10 - NoProposition 11 - YesProposition 12 - YesFor further explanation and in-depth analysis, click here.

What is a "disciple"?

In my October 17 post, I introduced the new mission statement of our church: "to make disciples of Jesus Christ who love God and love people, by reaching and teaching everyone."

Making disciples is not just the mission of our local church. It's the mission of every church across the world, and of every Christian who is part of the church. Simply put, believers are here to make disciples (see Matt. 28:19).

When I hear the word "disciple," I immediately think of Jesus' colorful little band of followers along the shores of Galilee. While these men were called "disciples," they were only the beginning. After the resurrection, Christ instructed them to go "make disciples" of all nations (Mt. 28:19). They were commanded to reproduce themselves. They began to fulfill this in the book of Acts (see Ac. 6:1; 14:21). And now, two thousand years later, we hold the baton. We must make disciples of the next generation.

But what exactly is a disciple? I b…

Our loving teacher

While preparing for yesterday's sermon on the love of Christ, I was touched by this quote from Charles Spurgeon, taken from a sermon he preached in 1868. It brings out an aspect of Christ's teaching I'd never thought about before. How loving and patient Christ was with His disciples. And how blessed we are to now have the Holy Spirit as our aid.
[Christ] proved his love by being always ready to instruct [His disciples] on all points. His teachings were very simple, because he loved them so well. The epistles of Paul are, in some respects, far deeper than the teachings of Jesus; for instance, Paul more explicitly lays down the doctrine of justification by faith, of total depravity, of election, and kindred truths. And why? Observe the humility and loving-kindness of the Master. He knew infinitely more than Paul, for he is essential wisdom, but he was pleased, because their weak eyes were not able at that time to bear the full blaze of light, to leave the fuller manifestation…

The true test of professionalism

Baseball offers a wonderful lesson in discipline. Take the first baseman, for example. It might appear to the casual spectator that his job is easy - that he just stands there and guards the base. But in reality, a good first baseman is performing dozens of tiny, seemingly insignificant, acts of discipline. In his book Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball, George Will explains,
When Rod Carew moved from second to first he discovered that a first baseman, far from being immobile, must always be doing something. Watch an excellent first baseman such as Don Mattingly, hold runners on first base. The instant the pitcher is committed to deliver the ball to the plate, the first baseman should make a strenous move, one comparable to that made by a base runner when stealing or participating in a hit-and-run play. "It's like stealing a base," says Keith Hernandez. "Take two explosive steps at the last possible moment. The point is to get into position to cover the hole. You get…

Free Sermon File Addin - an $80 value!

In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, Logos is giving away theirSermon File Addin. This tool has two basic functions: to catalogue sermons and illustrations. It normally sells for $80 value, but through the end of the month, you can get it for free. Thanks Logos!

Logos is also selling 16 book collections at a discounted price. For more details, click here.

I downloaded the Sermon File Addin on Saturday and tried it out a bit. It looks interesting, but I haven't decided yet if I will use it regularly.

Up to now, I've been saving a digital copy of my sermon notes each week in folders according to category/book of the Bible. I've been filing all illustrations in a simple Microsoft Access database that I created. But since I use Logos constantly, it just might be worth the effort to start using the Sermon File Addin.

The sixties revolution

I recently finished reading The Things that Matter Most by Cal Thomas. I'm a sucker for library book sales, and I found this book at a local sale about a month ago.

Thomas wrote this book shortly after Bill Clinton came to office. What I found so interesting was how the author described Clinton as a child of his times, the epitome of the 60s revolution. This would prove even more true than Thomas realized, as Clinton would later be impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice after his sexual promiscuity and disgracing of the Oval Office.

At any rate, I think Thomas does an excellent job of capturing what really went on in the 1960s. When I read David Well's The Courage to Be Protestant, he said that the private spirituality and rejection of all authority that we see today are deeply rooted in the 1960s. But having not lived during the 60s, I always felt like Wells assumed I knew what he was talking about. Thomas, on the other hand, walks you through that infamous decade and…

Our mission

This fall, our church has been asking the question, "What is the mission of our church?" In other words, what is the target, the overarching purpose, the unifying statement, that describes who we are to be and what we are here to do? What has Christ entrusted to us that will determine our faithfulness to Him on the day of judgment? (Mt. 25:21)

Developing a sense of God-given purpose can greatly help the maturity and development of a church. In his book Comeback Churches, Ed Stetzer notes, "Comeback leaders agreed that having a clear and compelling vision was foundational in the transformation of their churches. Casting the vision with other leaders and with the congregation was an integral part of their leadership. Through vision casting, a sense of unity developed as other leaders embraced a new sense of urgency about church growth and reaching the lost" (p. 45).

After much prayer, research, and discussion, our leaders have arrived at the following mission statement…

The most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever

When Rick Warren asked Barack Obama at the Saddleback Civil Forum about abortion and human rights, Obama responded that this issue was "above his pay grade." That may sound humble, but the fact is, Obama has been clear and consistent during his Senate career and Presidential campaign what he really thinks about abortion.

Princeton Professor Robert P. George observes, "Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States.He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate.Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress." (To see the evidence for such a bold claim, you can read the whole article here.)

We can't afford to be ignorant on this issue when we cast our votes in three weeks. Millions of lives are at stake.

HT: Danny Akin

Preaching is an act of faith

At the end of a long day, the mechanic looks at the car he repaired, and feels satisfied. At the end of a long season, the farmer looks at the crop he harvested, and feels joy. At the end of a long year, the teacher looks at the children she educated, and feels gratified. But when does the preacher feel a sense of fulfillment?

Hopefully, every preacher does receive regular encouragement from his spouse and parishioners. But I believe our greatest gratification will come when we arrive in heaven. Paul says of the Thessalonians, "For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?" (1 Thess. 2:19) How I long to see my flock standing in the presence of Christ, perfected in glory, and to feel the joy of having been an instrument used by God! But that day is still in the distant future.

Preaching is, by and large, an act of faith. Rarely -- if ever -- do I immediately see the full fruit of my labor. Nevertheless, o…

Depending on God in this economic crisis

The economic tailspin continues. FoxNews reports this morning, "Amidst the greatest financial crisis in the U.S. since the Great Depression, the Dow is on pace to suffer its worst weekly plunge in its 112-year history even as reports of another government-led financial rescue swirl. "

Families, banks, and even the federal government are taking desperate measures to stave off a full-blown recession or depression. But in the midst of this crisis, we must not forget to turn to the Lord for help. Depending on God is the safest and most fundamental step we can take in this turbulent time.

Centuries ago, when the Israelities felt the threat of war from their enemies, they took drastic military measures to protect themselves: In that day you depended on the weapons of the house of the forest, And you saw that the breaches in the wall of the city of David were many; And you collected the waters of the lower pool. Then you counted the houses of Jerusalem and tore down houses to f…

I got a 'B' on the US citizenship test

Here's a sampling of questions from the new US citizenship test:

1. What does the Constitution do?
2. What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?
3. Name one branch or part of the government.
4. We elect a U.S. representative for how many years?
5. How many justices are on the Supreme Court?
6. How old do citizens have to be to vote for President?
7. When is the last day you can send in federal income tax forms?
8. There were 13 original states. Name three.
9. Who was president during World War I?
10. Name one U.S. territory.

For answers and the full story, click here.

So, how did you do? I scored 8 out of 10. 6 or more is a passing grade. Whew! I guess I qualify to be a US citizen!

Our hiding place

"A prairie fire was whipped along by the wind so fast that it overtook all creatures in its path. One family, seeing the impossibility of outrunning the blaze, began a backfire and then covered themselves with earth as they lay in the midst of the already burned-out circle. The roaring fire met the backfire and it burned only up to the edge of that burned-over area, then went right around it, continuing on its hungry race. That family was saved. They knew the only safe place was where the fire had already burned.

"The fire of God's wrath has touched down at one particular point in history. And when it did, it utterly consumed a man as he hung on a cross. It did not burn a large area, but it finalized God's work of judgment. The fire of God's wrath will come again in history. This time it will consume the whole earth. Will there be any place to hide? Only on the hill where that cross stood, where the fire has already burned. A person is forgiven if he identifies wi…

Big bear trip

Here are some highlights from last week's trip in Big Bear, and our weekend back at home. I've come to realize that it's impossible to "get lots of rest" on vacation when you have two young children. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time, and made some great family memories!