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Showing posts from October, 2009

Missions rummage sale

This weekend, our church is hosting a rummage sale to raise money for missions. Every penny will go to support global missions and disaster relief. It's been such a blessing to watch the Body of Christ come together and support the Great Commission.

The rummage sale idea began to take shape a few months ago. I remember meeting with our missions committee to discuss different fund-raising ideas. I felt burdened that we needed to do something this fall to help our International Missions Board get families on the field who are ready and just waiting for support.

We tossed around a lot of fund-raising ideas like bake sales, car washes, and sponsorships, then finally agreed a rummage sale would probably be best. It involves no overhead costs and has allowed us to tap into an income pool outside our own church. As an added benefit, it has drawn many unchurched people to set foot in our sanctuary, thus raising awareness and making initial contact with our church. (Plus, it's given some…

Moral tailspin

Al Mohler writes an alarming piece today on the "Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act" that President Obama signed into law yesterday.
The bill, named for two men killed in vicious attacks, extends the definition of federal hates crimes to include attacks “based on a person’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or mental or physical disability."What sounds good on the surface is actually one more step toward eliminating all moral and sexual boundaries in society. If God does not send revival soon through our nation, we may be seeing only the beginning stages of moral decay. This new hate crimes law is another tumble down the slippery slope. Mohler observes,
The logic that leads to the celebration of gay, lesbian, and bisexual relationships cannot stop with those sexual categories. In an age that elevates “consent” as the only meaningful moral and legal issue, any effort to refuse similar recogniti…

The Protestant Reformation

Everyone knows that October 31 is Halloween, but there’s another, much more significant holiday that takes place on the 31st also. It’s Reformation Day, in memory of Luther’s posting his 95 theses against the Catholic church on October 31, 1517.Last Sunday, known as Reformation Sunday, our church learned about the history of the Protestant Reformation and its significance for us today.Problems with the church. Things looked pretty bleak by the beginning of the 16th century. The church suffered from serious doctrinal error, superstition, corruption of leaders, and ignorance of lay people. One pope, Alexander VI, was notorious for skipping worship services, mutilating a priest, setting houses on fire, committing homicide, adultery, and rape, drinking to the health of the devil, and turning the papal palace into a brothel. No wonder these were called the Dark Ages.Major Reformers. This included men like the converted monk Martin Luther (1483-1546), the Swiss reformer Huldreich Zwingli (…

Supporting the GCR Task Force

Last night at our annual meeting, the Inland Empire Southern Baptist Association unanimously adopted a resolution to pray for the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and its work; to pray for an outpouring of God's Spirit in reviving churches; and to recommit ourselves to the comprehensive work of making disciples according to the Great Commission.

It was a joyful moment that made me thankful and proud to be part of our association.

While we don't know what recommendations the Task Force will bring to Orlando next summer, I expect they will be truly bold and innovative. Still in the research phase of their discussion, Dr. Danny Akin has penned a number of helpful articles to dispel some of the more popular "Task Force myths." He concluded his series this morning. Here are links to all the articles:
Intro: Dispelling Myths Related to the Great Commission ResurgenceGCR Myth #1: The goal of [particular members of] the Task Force to get more money to the nations is only …

Breaking free from sexual sin

Tim Challies is writing this week on pornography and sexual sin. Excellent counsel so far. Here's an excerpt...
Every Christian guy who looks at porn wants to stop, but many of them want to stop just a little bit less than they want to keep going. And so sin prevails. The only way you will stop is if you begin to see the monstrous nature of the sin you are committing.And then, this advice which I totally affirm:
If you truly want to overcome pornography, go to your pastor. There is not a pastor in America who is not helping someone deal with the fight against pornography (says I with only a small measure of hyperbole). Take your willingness to talk to somebody about your problem as a sign that you are actually, finally, willing to deal with it. The local church is the ideal context for battling this kind of sin since in the local church you will find the authority and the support to help you fight and, ultimately, to help you win. If you want to overcome pornography, truly overcome …

An unforgettable meal

Christ’s appearances after the resurrection strengthen our faith and also help us understand His new role in the life of the Church. In John 21:1-14, Jesus appears to His disciples along the Sea of Galilee, performs a miracle, and then shares a meal with them. It’s a fascinating story that teaches us three things:A proof that Jesus is alive. This is the third time Jesus appears to His disciples after rising from the dead. Jesus did not appear once or twice, but many times, to many people, showing many convincing proofs that He was really, truly alive in the flesh (1 Cor. 15:3-8; Ac. 1:3; Ac. 10:40-41). The resurrection of Jesus is at the very core of the gospel and is what makes Christianity unique from all other religions. It is what gives us the hope that Mary Jo (a dear member of our church who just passed away) is now in heaven with the Lord, and that we will all one day rise up together with new bodies, free from sin and defect.A promise that Jesus will provide. As Jesus had done…

Care packages for soldiers

Freedom comes at a price, and we need to remind our service members often how thankful we are for the job they're doing.

One small way to honor them is by sending a care package. And with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, there's no better time to share a little taste of home and let them know how much they're loved.

Maybe you'd like to send a care package, but aren't sure what to send. One Marine's View shares a list of items that will most benefit our troops on the ground.
These are a few items that will give us the biggest bang for the buck vs. sending this and that. I can tell you from receiving all kinds of things, it's better you know WHAT we really need instead of sending things that may seem good to have vs. need to have. See the whole list here.

Photo credit: DVIDSHUB

Discussing the Great Commission Resurgence

Southern Seminary will host a very interesting discussion panel on the GCR at 10 am EST (7 am PST) tomorrow morning. You can listen along here.

Below are details from the Baptist 21 blog:
On Thursday October 22nd at 10:00 am, Southern Seminary will be hosting a panel discussion titled “Southern Baptists and the Great Commission Resurgence” during chapel. At the request of Dr. Albert Mohler, Baptist21’s very own Jonathan Akin and Nick Moore will be on the panel representing younger pastors in the SBC. Other panelists include Dr. Chuck Lawless, Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern and Dr. Russell Moore, Senior Vice President for Academic Administration and Dean of the School of Theology at Southern. Dr. Mohler will be moderating the panel discussion. We want to encourage every pastor and seminary student who is in the Louisville area to make this chapel service a priority. For those of you who cannot attend, you can live stream the Southern Chapel service…

Eschatology of the early church fathers

Pastor David Squyres asked a great question in response to last Friday's post on premillennialism:

"Do you think this is a view the Church fathers held? I ask because it seems relatively new to me, and would help if I could see it in a more historic sense."

The early church fathers did not all hold to one millennial position. Their theology of last things, like every other area of theology, was in infancy and still developing. Though the coming return and judgment of Christ were clearly defined in the early creeds, no specific mention was made of the millennium. However, it is very interesting to note how "premillennialism" developed and then declined in the first few centuries. These men were much closer to the ministry of Christ and the apostles, and were experts in the Greek language, so their testimony should not be dismissed lightly.

Church historian Philip Schaff observes:
The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age [i.e. the era prior t…

Worship wars

Ed Stetzer has a must-read article on worship. Here's an excerpt:
In many churches where a worship war is brewing or is in outright conflict, one group perceives themselves to be pushing forward toward the next generation (relevance) while another is trying to pull back to a once-honored method (reverence). One group thinks contemporary music or a more casual style will suit the modern generation and appeal more to the lost. Meanwhile the other group thinks all of that is just worldly compromise and, furthermore, arrogant to casually dismiss the styles that have served the church well, in some cases, for hundreds of years.

When either of these scenarios occurs it is usually because we have elevated our preferences to the level of principles. We are "taking a stand" for something important: our own comfort, convenience, and concerns. And all the while we're trying to give God his due or the lost people in the pew it turns out we're really just making worship about u…

Why I'm pre-millenial

While many friends and most Reformed scholars today hold to the amillennial view of eschatology, I continue to find the dispensational premillennial position most attractive and convincing.

Here's an excellent summary of premillennialism and why it is to be preferred over other views:
Premillennialism is the view that Jesus Christ will return to this present earth prior to the establishing of His millennial kingdom. Jesus will reign supreme in power and great glory and will be the object of worship for all mankind. The kingdom will be on an earth where the curse has been removed and where righteousness, peace, and prosperity are universal. Prior to the millennial kingdom there will be a resurrection of believers, and following the kingdom there will be a resurrection of unbelievers. The primary purpose of this period of time is to fulfill completely the covenant promises made to Abraham and his descendants. When this kingdom is over, the next phase of God's kingdom, the eternal…

Factors in a church facility

Mark Driscoll recently finished a series of posts on 23 factors that church planters should consider when finding a church facility.

Many of these factors are important not only for new church planters, but also for established churches with existing facilities...
SightTime FlexibilitySet-up and Tear-downSmellComfortLightingAcousticsPowerLocationChildren's SpaceRoom for FellowshipCostStoragePublic PerceptionParkingAdditional SpaceAdditional UseCleanlinessAccessibilitySignageConflicting DatesContract LengthFacility Options
Where is your facility the strongest? Weakest? Are there any glaring problems? Easy fixes? Not every improvement has to be a multi-million dollar renovation. Some of these factors can be radically improved with a simple change in lighting, paint, greenery, decor, fixtures, furniture arrangement, or room assignments.

We all need to continually ask how we can make our facilities welcoming to visitors and conducive for worship and fellowship. No space will be ideal. The…

The Purpose of John's Gospel

After spending two and a half years in the Gospel of John, I feel something of a bittersweet emotion nearing the end of the book. I hope for our people that as we have traveled along verse-by-verse and chapter-by-chapter, that it has increased our love for John's Gospel, but more importantly, that it has increased our love for Jesus Christ, who is the focus of the book.

I believe there is great value in studying the Word of God carefully, line upon line and precept upon precept. But there's also a danger of "staring at the trees and missing the forest."

In John 20:30-31, John helps us get the "big picture" of his Gospel, finally explaining why he wrote the book. We saw four points as we studied it together last Sunday:
John's Gospel is a record of signs. There is no way he could have recorded them all (Jn. 21:24-25), so John hand-picked seven of them and arranged the first half of his gospel around them: turning water into wine (Jn. 2:1-12); healing the no…

Jump, I'll catch you

Here's a beautiful picture of faith, from a sermon by John Piper...
Your daddy is standing in a swimming pool out a little bit from the edge. You are, let’s say, three years old and standing on the edge of the pool. Daddy holds out his arms to you and says, “Jump, I’ll catch you. I promise.” Now, how do you make your daddy look good at that moment? Answer: trust him and jump. Have faith in him and jump. That makes him look strong and wise and loving. But if you won’t jump, if you shake your head and run away from the edge, you make your daddy look bad. It looks like you are saying, “he can’t catch me” or “he won’t catch me” or “it’s not a good idea to do what he tells me to do.” And all three of those make your dad look bad.

But you don’t want to make God look bad. So you trust him. Then you make him look good–which he really is. And that is what we mean when we say, “Faith glorifies God” or “Faith gives God glory.” It makes him look as good as he really is. So trusting God is real…

10 ways to cultivate fellowship

Donald Whitney shares ten ways to cultivate fellowship (Greek koinonia) in your conversations with other Christians. These are great questions to get beyond the superficial and really take an interest in other people.
How is your ministry going? What do you enjoy most about it? Where have you seen the Lord at work lately? What's the Lord been teaching you recently? Have you had any evangelistic opportunities lately? Have you had any obvious answers to prayer recently? What have you been reading? How has it impressed you? Where in the Bible have you been reading lately? What impact has it had on you? How can I pray for you? What's the growth point in your life right now? What are you passionate about right now? Read the whole thing here.

2009 CSBC Pastors Conference

This year's Pastors Conference for the California Southern Baptist Convention will be Monday and Tuesday, November 9-10. From early information I'm hearing, I think this year's conference will be the best yet. Here's the itinerary:

First Session - Monday, November 9, 2009
The People of God: Defined and Engaged

6:45 pm MusicFBC Norco Music Team

7:00 pm Opening Prayer, WelcomeJeff Mooney

7:05 pm The People of God:

A Theologically Defined Worshipping Community
Mark Dever
Senior Pastor Capitol Hill Baptist Church
and Founder of 9 Marks Ministries
7:45 pm Break

7:50 pm The People of God and the Mission of God:
Engaged against Oppression
Larry Martin,
Senior Vice President of Education & Dean of the IJM Institute

8:35 pm MusicFBC Norco Music Team

8:45 pm The People of God and the Mission of God:
The Supremacy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Nations

Is it really OK to look?

So, I clicked on this morning to check the sports headlines when suddenly **BAM** I was hit with a photo of a male and two female athletes, apparently in the buff with legs and arms cleverly positioned. The photo caption:

"It's OK to look: A lifetime of athletic ambition makes some bodies better than others. See for yourselves."

Apparently, this is a preview for the "Body Issue" of ESPN Magazine (presumably their alternative to the annual "Swimsuit Issue" in Sports Illustrated).

So is it really OK to look and admire these sleek, ripped, and oiled bodies? It's no accident that two athletes in the cover photo were female, despite the fact that most sporting events on TV feature male athletes. My flesh wanted to look, but my spirit (conscience) was screaming out, "Whoa, hold on there just a minute. This isn't cool. It's a lie. Don't even think about clicking on that link!"

I am reminded of the sermon I preached on sexual pu…

A disciple-making church

From the Life2gether blog:What does it take to become a disciple-making church? Dr. Thom Rainer’s research shows these common traits:The church has an entry point class that all new members attendMembers are expected to attend an open group Bible studyMembers are expected to be involved in one or more deeper studies throughout the yearMembers are expected to attend a corporate worship service each weekMembers are expected to be involved in at least one ministry or mission activity a yearMembers are expected to read and study the Bible dailyRainer says,It is not unusual to hear objections when we present this research.“If I led my church to have these high expectations of members,” the argument goes, “we would have a mass exodus.” But our research shows just the opposite. Higher expectations get more positive behavioral patterns. People want to be a part of something that makes a difference.

Are You a Doubting Thomas?

Everyone would agree things don't often go our way. My family was reminded of this just a couple weeks ago during our trip to Big Bear, when both kids got sick and our cabin getaway was cut short. It was tempting to think, "This isn't fair! We've waited so long for this!" But God had other plans. He helped us to trust in Him and remember "man plans his ways, but the Lord directs His steps" (Prov. 16:9).

A big question in life is, do we still trust in God, even when things don't go our way, and when life doesn't seem to make sense? As it turns out, our hearts are still full of unbelief. During the worship service yesterday, we studied John 20:24-29. We used the apostle Thomas as a case study in unbelief, so we can better understand our own hearts and learn to trust Christ more fully.

1. Thomas doubts (Jn. 20:24-25). Instead of rejoicing with the other ten disciples, Thomas insists, "I've got to see it to believe it. I absolutely will not b…

Desert Area Bible Study Workshop - October 4

The "church" is not only a local assembly, but also one body of believers from across the world and all generations.
On Sunday night, October 4, we'll have a rare opportunity to worship and partner with other brothers and sisters in the larger body of Christ at the "Desert-Area Bible Study Workshop.”This is a community-wide event sponsored by all the local Southern Baptist Churches. Everyone is welcome. The speaker will be Jeff Mooney, professor from CalBaptistUniversity.
A free BBQ will begin at 4 pm, followed by a workshop “Christ in the Old Testament.” Ice cream will be served following the meeting.
The workshop will be hosted by Palms Baptist Church at 5285 Adobe Road in Twentynine Palms.

How to do inductive Bible study, part 2

Last week, I showed that inductive Bible study is one of the best ways to understand and teach a passage of Scripture. The first three types of questions you should ask are observation, meaning, and doctrine questions.

Relying on God's Spirit, by the time you've addressed these questions, you're well on your way to understanding a passage. But there's another essential step to Bible study: application.

It's not enough to understand what the Bible says. We must let it penetrate our hearts, reveal our sin, and transform our thoughts and behavior. We don't want to be hearers of the Word only. We need to be doers also. This brings us to a second set of questions: principle, application, and implementation questions. This chart helps show the relationship of these three questions:

Notice first the horizontal line at the bottom. This represents time. The Bible was written "then," but we live "now." Some customs and practices have changed dramatically…

Swine flu paranoia

I got this by email and just had to pass it along...