“The Deliberate Church” Book Discussion

Last week I began meeting with a group of men to read and discuss a book by Mark Dever, “The Deliberate Church”.

I first read this book in 2005. I had read a few books by Mark Dever and found this book of interest. At the time I read this I found myself in a surprising moment as a pastor. The church I was pastoring (and still pastoring) was in the midst of unprecedented growth. We were looking for options to accommodate to fast growing needs, addressing the expected wants of new attenders, hungry for innovation, and then I read this book and felt like I have just been flipped out of the boat.

I liken that day to rafting down the Colorado River as a kid. It was like other times; the water was right for a fun ride, we knew were all the rapids were, we knew how to get there, we wanted the full experience, and then right there in the middle of a rapid our raft was upside down. (At that time – about all I could do was think about where my hat was, we didn’t wear helmets then.)

Mark Dever and Paul Alexander put together a helpful book. A church growth book not at all patterned like trendy church growth fads that come and go. This is more of a call to open your bible and see what God has to say about His church and how he has ordained its order, structure, and purpose.

I’m reading it again with a cross section of men; pastors/elders, laymen, church planter, young, middle, and old.

Here is a summary of the content of the book.

The book addresses  four main sections; 1) Gathering the Church, 2) When the Church Gathers, 3) Gathering Elders, and 4) When the Elders Gather.

I will give occasional updates on our reading progress. Today, my prayer is four fold…

  • For myself: I pray that God will help me not be typically cynical and overly critical of others and look closely at my heart – examining with the lamp of Scripture exposing any wrong motive, intent, or dysfunction in me or my shepherding ways.
  • For my pastor friends: I pray that we will more quickly get serious about dealing with our hunger for fame and selfish ambitions in how we handle the eternal work of pastoring/shepherding God’s people. There is need for us to be deliberate, not responsive to the latest fad or wave, but deliberate and careful to give attention to our Lord’s instructions concerning the care of His bride. Be that kind of pastor. (Purchase your copy HERE)
  • For my denominational partners: If we say that the local church is the top of our organizational order, with Christ the head of the local church, then may I challenge you to reconsider our practical relationship. The local church does not need someone to come and introduce a new concept or program, the best thing you can do is help a local church stay faithful to her ordered work as given by the Lord to his church. Don’t feed our romance hunger for creative, innovative, flashy days. Most of us want to be prepared for the day when the boat is capsized to be a pillar and buttress of truth in our communities. Be that kind of partner to the church. (Purchase bulk copies HERE)
  • For my church family: know that I’m reading a book that one day “threw me out of the boat”. Today, I want what will cause me to look to God. I want to have discussion with others on how we “do” church. I want attention given to the bible about why we do what we do… when I come up from being thrown from the boat I want the only thing I think about to be;  “give me my bible!”, “what does God have to say about this?”, “Is there anything I need to repent of?”, “What do I need God’s courage for to faithfully keep doing?”. That which is urgent, yet not filled with anxiety. Let’s be that kind of church!

 

What if the House of Prayer was Empty?

There are unmistakable biblical markers of what a New Testament church should be doing when they gather together. There are sure things that ought to cause a New Testament church to gather together. (1) Preaching, (2) Singing, (3) Caring for each other (especially for widows and orphans in distress), (4) Baptizing converts, (5) Eating, (6) Proclaiming the Lord’s death, and (7) Praying.

The faithful church is sure to want to keep true in all of her duties. But, as warned by the Apostles, certain individuals have crept in and have been successful at times to redirect the efforts of the church in other ways.

It makes since when you think about it.

  • The enemy of God knows the power of preaching Scripture. Because of the power of the word of God, the enemy of God wants preachers to preach anything and everything but truth.
  • The enemy of God knows that God has created men to sing. Singing is ordained of God for corporate proclamations and declarations of God and to God. If the enemy of God can get men to love songs more than they love God then the corporate proclamations and declarations are at risk of being of another god altogether and men won’t care because they love the music.
  • The enemy of God knows what true religion looks like. The bible is clear on this matter. Because the enemy of God hates true religion he will want to divert the resources of God’s people away from the care of orphans and widows in distress. He’ll put attractive and popular ministries in front of them and persuade us to direct most of our resources upon ourselves, satisfying that selfish craving of the old man.
  • The enemy of God loves to confuse people about their salvation. Salvation is a work of the grace of God not the works of men. But take the ordinances of God and make them something that looks like conversion and makes many think the church is growing and men will brag about how many are being baptized and have access to the Lord’s table and forget altogether about the spiritual birth of a new man and we no longer know what or how salvation is even given to the sons of men.
  • The enemy of God knows that God calls His peculiar people to gather at the house of prayer for prayer. Because he knows this, it makes sense that he would be pleased to make God’s people more in love with activities that make us too busy to pray together. It’s been said by many before, that if the enemy can’t reclaim you from the power of the blood of Christ then he’ll be pleased to make you busy. It appears that many professing believers in the land are either false professors or are very busy.

If any church in any given community were to announce this coming Lord’s Day that it will no longer hold corporate prayer meetings many professing Christians could care less. They may even wish the church would do so so they don’t have to feel guilt about not attending and praying together. But that’s not really the point of my observation here; many churches have practically closed the prayer gathering by filling up the church calendar with so much activity that many churches have practically no corporate prayer times anymore.

What would any community look like if there was not a praying people praying on behalf of the community at large? Why would a professing follower of God not want to obey His Lord and gather for prayer? If professing followers of God are either too busy or just generally not interested in this commanded duty of our Lord, what has their attention that they are willing to set this command aside and disobey God willfully. What god are many churches following if they are willing to willfully disobey their professed Lord?

Here’s what happens to many across the land…

  • Your favorite T.V. program will be moved to Wednesday night.
  • Your boss will reschedule you to work on Sunday’s and prayer meeting night.
  • Your school will schedule important events on these nights.
  • Your children will complain about the prayer time as boring. (because you agree you will concede.)
  • More people will come to an active program if you provide an option. Look at most churches that offer multiple things at the same time as the prayer meeting, the other activities will outpace the attendance of the prayer meeting and will eventually need everyone in the prayer meeting to help with crowd control for the “attractive” activities.

The community God has planted His church in should be  (1) Preaching, (2) Singing, (3) Caring for each other (especially for widows and orphans in distress), (4) Baptizing converts, (5) Eating, (6) Proclaiming the Lord’s death, and (7) Praying. Yet, in many communities across the land, churches are going another way. A way that transplants a powerful church in a community with a powerless not-a-church.

What then should we do?

Repent of our willful distractions and gather with the Lord’s people to pray. Church, this church gathers every Wednesday night for prayer at 6:30 p.m. we don’t provide any other distractions or attractions to capture our attention. It is a quite simple gathering. We read Scripture and we pray. The church described to us by the the work of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts met at specific places and specific times on specific days to pray.

Prayer isn’t just something we start and close a meeting with, it’s something we should gather to do!

Church, arise! To you post! To your duty! To your God! Don’t let your community have a prayer-less church filled with prayer-less professors of Christ’s Lordship.

This Age of Religious Complexity

The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found in the modern church of the western culture. In the place of this simplicity are complex program, methodologies, organization and a basket full of nervous activities that require time, attention, and a lot of money that cannot be seriously considered as honoring to God. Rather, much of what the western church has invented complicates our ability to loyally honor and obey our master because we have another god we’ve created that is always demanding our time, attention, and money.

The shallow, hollow and imitation of the world that marks our methods all testify against us that we, today, are more “this-worldly” minded rather than being, as A.W. Tozer put it, “other-worldly”, meaning heavenly minded. No wonder there is so little peace in God, so little rejoicing in Him. Many don’t even know God, much less are at peace or rejoice in and with God.

It was A.W. Tozer in his book, “The Pursuit of God”, where I was first introduced to the idea of how much of this world I had employed to do things I thought was pleasing to God. He was not the first to say it, just the first time I paid attention, that Scripture is sufficient, meaning all that is needed. If Scripture is inerrant and reliable, which it is, why employ so much of this worlds methods and simply behave like it is sufficient?

The voice of God, the word of God, is not merely the most powerful, most important component in nature, it is what sustains everything in nature, making God altogether different.

We’ve heard people accusing some Christians as “being so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good”? I say it’s important the church be “other-worldly” heavenly minded so that we are of earthly good (salt and light).

It is the bible that puts the importance on words to advance the gospel, not entertainment, musicians, movies, games, or general silliness. The Bible even says that this duty of speaking words (preaching) is considered foolish by the unconverted. Yet the Bible calls out those who “have ears to hear, to hear what the Spirit says to the church”.

This may not be the day when men take kindly to an exhortation to listen.

Listening today is not part of the popular means because it implies another is speaking and we are of a worldview that celebrates the individual and even elevates his emotions and personality above truth, thus leaving him in a worse state than before.

Church, this coming Lord’s Day, come to hear a preached word from the word of God. Come prepared to listen. Then go and obey.

Preacher, this coming Lord’s Day, God’s people are expecting to hear what the Spirit says to the church, go to preach a word from the word of God. Away with your silly enticements and this-worldly mindedness. Be other-worldly minded so we may be of good to the sons of men.

Preacher – preach. Church – listen. All, go with authority from upon high into the byways of life advancing a gospel of a heavenly kingdom releasing the sons of men from the bondage of this world.

Prayer for the Next Generation

In the Lord’s way and in the Lord’s timing, He has blessed and is blessing Eastside Baptist Church with a generation of Children.

Never in the history of Eastside Baptist Church has there been a season quite like this one.

Five years ago Eastside asked God Almighty to forgive her of trusting in the methodologies of men and began a renewed path to trust in the Lord by trusting the sufficiency of Scripture as our primary instruction for training our children; meaning we stopped all age graded segregation of our children, we stopped providing ongoing systematic separation of children from parents when families gathered together on the Lord’s Day.

It felt strange at first, many were confused about what we were doing (and still are), some thought we don’t care about children and youth.

Today, God has has given us more children than we’ve ever had and more children than we could ever build facility for if we still segregated the children.

I want to share with you a short moment in yesterday’s (1/1/2017) gathering. We committed and recommitted ourselves to the duty God has given us, the church, and the family.

Here is a short clip from that gathering yesterday when we committed ourselves unto the Lord in our duty to obey Him.

Today, Eastside Baptist is committed to the Lord to obey him with respect to every child given to her duty both here and abroad. Locally, thirty-eight children belong to families of Eastside Baptist and forty-five children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Over eighty children under direct order of God to teach and instruct.

We can do it our way or God’s way. We are slaves of God, so we choose to do it God’s way regardless of the outcome.

May God help us to obey Him.

 

Lost in the Conversation

For more than a week the conversation of the local community is about some refugee children who have been charged with sexual assault. At this point, it is an open investigation and we must trust the law enforcement and prosecution process to do its duty.

In the mean time; there are many things lost in the conversation.

  • the depravity of humanity is active in the corrupt heart of all citizens. This is not a condition that is owned exclusively by men or women. Obviously it’s not something that U.S. Citizens are immune to.
  • any sexual assault acted out on a child is of serious weight in any community. This happens more in our neighborhoods than most know about and is not a new problem just because of the refugee center. Listen, you don’t even have to be an active church goer to be sickened by the sexual perversion.
  • this is first a sin issue – first and before it being a psychological issue, long before this being a refugee issue, or an Islam issue, this is a sin issue.
  • It’s even possible that your sons and daughters are exposed to sexually deviant behavior this summer at any given church camp.

Church, where are you in the conversation? Parents, Hopefully you’re not lost in the weeds of this being the kind of thing that other people’s children do.

Sin did not come to the city gates because of refugees. Press the law enforcement to do her duty, expect the city council to not be naive, but hold your church accountable to preach the word and your pastor to be the pillar and buttress of truth.

Sexual deviancy will not flee because you’ve signed a petition to shut a federally funded agency down (and I support the shutting down of federally funded agencies that don’t allow the citizens the privilege of accountability.) Sexual assault isn’t snuffed out because law enforcement and judicial prosecution exist (and I’m in favor of both.) But do not expect any change in the heart condition of humanity without the faithful proclamation of the gospel by biblically faithful preachers in God glorifying churches filled with forgiven sinners seeking the face of God.

Preacher, to your pulpit! Church, to your duty! Christian, be an ambassador of Christ’s reconciliation. All men, everywhere, repent!

They Forsook the LORD!

There is a history.

In history we read of people who begin strong and then forsake God. And we read of people who begin life as a wreck and finish strong. I would rather be included among those who finish strong.

To be a strong and faithful finisher it appears I will have a life long pattern of repenting, being corrected and disciplined to stay the course.

In the political world, today is “Super Tuesday.” If the day finishes as it appears, it will still have been Tuesday and anything but super.

There is good news in the midst though… it is a good day to be the church of the LORD Jesus Christ.

It is a strange thing to continue hearing word of how many evangelicals are promoting and wanting Donald J. Trump to be president. I like that that I’m not required to vote for a Christian to be president, even though biblical character is a fruit I look for and pray for in a leader of my homeland.

If the polls are correct and the majority of (so called) “evangelicals” are favorable of Trump for president, then please either stop calling them evangelicals or stop referring to me as an “evangelical.” Rather, call me a “follower of the LORD Jesus the Christ as described by the Bible.”

I just finished reading Judges chapter two and three.

There is a history.

Look at this from Judges 2:11-21 and Judges 3:7-8 [emphasis mine]. The context is the nation of Israel, before they had men like other nations (kings) to rule them. The pronouns I have in [brackets] are in the context of the nation of Israel. I’m not superimposing this text upon America, I’m simply comparing the situation. Could this text be spoken to other nations and other peoples? Likely, yes. Consider this text in our day to this land.

 Then [they] did evil in the sight of the Lord and forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the Lord to anger. So they forsook the Lord. The anger of the Lord burned against [them], and He gave them into the hands of plunderers who plundered them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies around them, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, they were severely distressed.

Then the Lord raised up [godly men] who delivered them from the hands of those who plundered them. Yet they did not listen to [these men], for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed themselves down to them. They turned aside quickly from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do as their fathers. When the Lord raised up [godly men] for them, the Lord was with the judge and delivered them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the [these men]; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed and afflicted them. But it came about when [these godly men] died, that they would turn back and act more corruptly than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them and bow down to them; they did not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways. So the anger of the Lord burned against [them]. 

[They] did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God. Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against [them], so that He sold them into the hands of [His enemies]. 

(17:6) In those days there was no [honorable leaders]; every man did what was right in his own eyes.

O, may the Lord raise up godly men in our day. May He find His church prepared and ready to boldly speak His gospel into the nation. May He find His church fit and prepared for this day.

It is a good day to be the church! Look unto, Jesus! His hand is as active in this day as He has been in any day in history. There is a history of God actively working all things for His glory among a people who love Him.

the Claptrap

My Twitter account had some activity this past week from a church consulting group. (In most of the Twitter world activity is no big deal, but for a guy like me this was huge.) After having a sermon ‘favorited’ by someone/group that I don’t know anything about I decided to investigate why they would even ‘favorite’ a sermon of mine.

The investigation was both humorous and disheartening.

I appreciate that there are people interested in helping the Lord’s church but I fear it appears more like they are preying on the Lord’s desperate people. There is a lot of clatter about ‘growing’ churches; how they are growing and how your church can grow too…

I’ve known of church consulting groups for a long time. LifeWay Christian Resources even has their own church consulting groups from within the publishing house arena and independent groups.

What must Christ think of our business like approach? Are we really this lost? Has God left without knowledge and understanding on how to be the church?

What good is our busy religion if we have lost majesty, reverence, worship – and awareness of the divine?” A.W. Tozer

Entertainment, that ancient and time-honored counterfeit of worship, is neither God-centered nor a byproduct of being God-centered. It must not be employed as a tool for drawing people to worship the God of the Bible.” John Snyder


This is the kind of claptrap going on around Christendom:  Innovative Church and Worship Consulting: Coaching pastors, worship leaders and praise teams to total church health, experience, knowledge, Jesus. This is how InnovativeCWC introduces themselves.

 “Does your worship team need a worship consultant?”
1 Day on-site: $950.00
2 Day on site:$1,650.00

The best consultation a church can get is to open that Bible and see what God wants from her. Unless that church is more interested in what others are wanting from her. If that is the case then perhaps this offer from InnovativeCWC is worth doing.

Then again, if a church does not worship God, it’s really only become a social club – and a social club is powerless to help the lost.

I don’t want to appear arrogant or selfish in thinking that I or this church can’t benefit from others input. But this looks like an appeal to the innovative lie that has been hounding the Lord’s church from the beginning.

Are these offers for consultation like the advice from Job’s friends who he calls “worthless physicians”?

I would prefer to speak to the Almighty. (Job 13:3)

 

The Fight Against God

Many are prepared to say that the war raging in the land for the definition of marriage is over. Look at nearly any online dictionary and you will agree, the modern English language has redefined marriage to include same-sex partners.

The agenda to redefine marriage from a biblical worldview has launched the attack in a strategically smart way (this should not surprise anyone.)

The battleground is messy, like any battleground would be.

It’s hard to engage in public forum or face to face conversation because the language of hate has been turned upon the ones who carry the message of love. Those who love are accused of hating, they are accused of being bigots, they are accused of being barbarians and backwards. They are told to get used to the new America, one that is finally free for all to do as they please.

This is what the conversation has looked like for me in recent days on the matter in public forum, emails in response to blog posts and conversations with friends.

  • Paul Thompson, perhaps you could look at it like this: There are “God ordained ways” of doing many things that we, and you, no longer follow; for example, how to properly conduct genocide, own slaves, stone children to death, own women, and sacrifice animals are all among the deed that God ordained to be done “just so” in his “specially approved way”…Just add marriage to your list, please, so that we can finally end the thousand-years-reign of inequality, injustice, bigotry, and hypocrisy to finally enter a new era of peaceful acceptance. Thank you.

  • Whose God? Yours, the Muslims, the Hindus? There are so many to choose from. Seriously.


  • If you don’t like gay marriage…don’t marry a gay person


  • Ok well in my place of worship my pastor fully supports gay rights. I’m a bisexual Christian I married a man when I was 19 and that man cheated on me and divorced me and with man or woman I’m happy and God is happy to call me his child and is proud that I spread love throughout the state.. So keep your rude remarks to yourself.. Same sex is here to stay and God is proud of his same sex children


  • Paul: This is not about christ, christ SHOULD have nothing to do with this discussion. Unfortunately people like you can involve Jesus and impose your own fear of homosexuality onto the population

The reaction to the Supreme Court decisions this week is not at all surprising. It is difficult to not let the comments distract or derail the message of calling all people everywhere to repentance. There is nothing more natural than for anyone who has crowded God out of their worship than to be offended when a biblical worldview is expressed.

What is more natural for anyone who has begun to worship and serve the very things they’ve created rather that the Creator who made them? Now, until all of us repent of this arrogance and turn to God, all we have to save ourselves is the romantic idea of love and fulfillment of a self navigated path born in decadence.

The use of godly language only exposes the overwhelming evidence that the heart has been busy deceptively leading to a faithless relationship with God. The best way for a deceived heart to gather momentum is to draw others into their circle of corruption. And then, of course, a grand place to launch the greatest front on truth is to sow that seed of deception in the heart of a lazy western church being led by men and women who think they can prevail against the God they have crowded out of their lives and churches.
Decadence is nothing new. The temptation to do as one pleases without regard to God is constant with all people. The powerful indictment against the church today is that she is in great need of revival. The problem in our land is not homosexuality, the problem in our land is that many pastors are afraid to speak biblical truth into the culture. There is a backslidden condition that has the church is a place she has not been in, or better, not known she is in for a very long time.

They are in the church and the pulpits across the land. They serve on committees and teach bible study groups. Consider it…

  • How many Christians will attend your mid-week prayer gathering this week?
  • How many homes will gather the family together tonight to pray and give priority to Christ?
  • What will the church people complain of this week?
  • Christ-likeness is made light of in the church as much as it is out of the church.
  • Consider how many times you pray, “thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,” while you steadfastly refuse to do the will of God.
  • Many will say “amen” when the preacher speaks of marriage between one man and one woman while they laugh out-loud in their home with the children watching degenerate characters made heroes to the family while suffering saints are not even prayed for.

This day we are in today, is not a secular problem. The day we are in today is a spiritual problem where the saints of God have grown cold and quiet. The church of the Lord Jesus has lost her militancy. Our land rarely looks to the church seriously any more. She’s made a circus of the church and looked at as the same kind of silliness as we do of the furniture store going out of busyness (again) or the car lot with a gimmick to get you on the property.

As in Jeremiah’s day, the Lord says, “what iniquity have your fathers found in Me, that they are gone far from Me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?” (Jeremiah 2:5) In their vanity they have determined that God is no longer important or relevant.

My plea is to the church. Marriage needs to be defended, but we must stop blaming the homosexual for the decay of the nation. Look to an arrogant church caring only for herself and the advancement of her “brand.”

Church, where have you been? Repent! Then call all sinners to the place you have found your hope, the place of the cross. The soul who looks at their sin on the body of Christ doesn’t have to be told to stop your decadent ways, He sees holiness and knows he is ruined in his current place of arrogance. He humbles himself and repents, then turns to Christ.

Reader, look at that cross again. See your sin? You own it and its cost is death. Stop fighting and cry out to God for forgiveness. Rise up a new creature in Christ as you turn from your sin.

 

 

Arise, Church!

It is a good day to be the church.

It is my argument that it is always a good day to be the church. Earlier this week ChristianAudio announced their free audio book download for the month of March would be “The Normal Christian Life” by Watchman Nee. Where there may be some controversy surrounding his life and especially what became of his teaching when he died in the early 70s, there is no doubt that there is value to the church today. I highly recommend this book to you for consideration.

My intent is not to write about this book, my intent is to speak about this good day for the church and to borrow Nee’s title of this classic book The Normal Christian Life for a moment. I promise to give it back, but it is a good title for consideration.

The normal Christian life is (should be) radically different than the normal American life.

The normal American’s life is expected to be a life of relative ease and marked with a type of common blessedness in comparison to the overwhelming majority of the rest of the world. Over the past couple of centuries, Christians have grown to love this ease of life and have forgotten that the Bible speaks of a normal life that is a marker of true believers.

I fear this is because we have lost the preaching of the Gospel in our land. The Gospel, the biblical Gospel is counter to the secular norm. This secular norm is attractive to the carnal man because it affords him ease of life and the pursuit of pleasure in temporary life and no craving is given to the carnal man for eternal matters.

The carnal man longs for the matters of this world and they are never satisfied until satisfied. He rules his life based on what he is born for. He argues that those who stop him or speak against him are attempting to keep him from being who he was born to be. Demanding, even though he wouldn’t admit that he is like this, that his (created) god would not make him with these cravings unless he meant for him to be satisfied in them.

“for natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised .” (1 Cor 2:14 NASB)

The spiritual man, on the other hand, has been regenerated.

How does a carnal man become a spiritual man? He must be regenerated. He must be born again. In other words, his carnal (old man) must be put to death. Then, he must be given a spiritual nature (new man) that has been made new.

We hear far too often of persons being brought into the kingdom of heaven without being “put to death”. As Charles Spurgeon puts it,

“we hear of persons being healed before they have been wounded, and brought into a certainty of justification without ever having lamented their condemnation, we are very dubious as to the value of such healings and justifyings. This style of things is not according to the truth. God never clothes men until He has first stripped them, nor does He quicken them by the gospel till first they are slain by the law. When you meet with persons in whom there is no trace of conviction of sin, you may be quite sure that they have not been wrought upon by the Holy Spirit.” (the Soul Winner, p.13)

We need gospel preaching, not simply preaching about the gospel.

Too often, the preaching about the gospel leads to emotionalism. Story’s that move even the carnal man, because emotionalism usually touches the temporary. It touches and moves a man, but it doesn’t generate new birth. He’s been part of something that his carnal nature understands and he compartmentalizes the experience as common to all people. But when the doctrines of the gospel is preached or shared, the carnal man is confronted with his offense to God that must be dealt with. Either he must reconcile this offence on his own merit and face the wrath of God without the blood covering of Christ or he must be put to death first, then regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit and covered by the blood covering of Christ and live.

There will always be true Gospel preaching, may there be an increase of Gospel preaching today. Preacher, look to your bible. Our duty is not to excite the carnal man, our duty is to preach a gospel that first offends, then rescues. We are not called to produce hypocrites. We are called to take this gospel to the nations.

“To make proselytes, is a suitable labor for Pharisees: to beget men unto God, is the honorable aim of ministers of Christ… To introduce unconverted persons to the church, is to weaken and degrade the church; and therefore an apparent gain may be a real loss. (the Soul Winner, p.5)

Arise! preacher, to your post! You and I must continue to aim at men whose hearts are not yet broken of their love for the things of this world and then we must keep on preaching Christ crucified until they are rescued from the sure condemned condition.

“A far greater work must be done before a man is saved.” He must see his condition without Christ. This work is only done with gospel proclamation.

The ‘normal Christian’ sticks to the Gospel. The ‘normal Christian’ is hated by the unregenerate. The normal Christian sticks to the Gospel.

The Romance of Homosexuality

As I look out the window in my office I see that the weatherman’s prediction was right. It’s snowing. The coming storm came.

Rachel Holt, from KMVT, came by on Tuesday to get some thoughts from me on the same-sex marriage discussion going on in the region. I don’t know how the end result, post edit, context statements will come across yet, but I’ve been pondering the critical moment the church is in today (as she always has been.)

The apostle Paul told Timothy to be a pillar and buttress of truth (1 Timothy 3:15). There is always a need for the church to be this voice.

If we allow emotion to rule our lives we will always lean toward being an enemy of God. Today, many are advocating for states to recognize same-sex partners as the “same as” heterosexual marriages. This is complex isn’t it?

This is a definition issue, not a rights issue.

There is no place for anyone to treat a homosexual as a lesser person or less than. This is the complexity of the matter. To speak against homosexuality is interpreted as equal to racial discrimination. This is not the same topic.

Marriage is unique. It is all about differences; books are written, studies are conducted, conferences are held, and the bible declares the two – male and female – are one.

Now, I’m distracted from the reason for writing today.

The matter on my mind today is about the future of the church. I’m not worried about the future of the church, Scripture says that the church will prevail. My interest is in regard to Paul’s argument to Timothy about why he tells him to be a pillar and buttress of truth.

There is no reason for Paul to instruct Timothy to be this unless there is a present and a future need. Paul picked up the architectural illustration of weight supporting elements that cause buildings to be safe today and remain into the future. Without them, everyone is at risk of being injured.

There is little romance when it comes to talking about absolutes. People are won over with stories the pull on emotionalism, but the church is instructed to be mindful to “structural” (truthful) integrity. A building’s integrity is depending on the integrity of the architect. Marriage, if it is to survive, must find its stability in the integrity of its architect. The church is blessed with the responsibility to both know and speak this truth into her culture.

Let’s be honest about this…

There is a clear and bold agenda in our land today to redefine the term “marriage.” The way the enemy of the Lord is doing this is with winsome stories that pull on emotional strings of caring people.

The Lord’s people are caring people.

The enemy knows this about our design, it’s our character. We care about people. We meet peoples needs. We seek ways to pull together and help struggling people. Look at our history.

In caring for people, we must never compromise our place in our communities. Our duty to the city is to be a pillar and buttress of truth, not the carnival atmosphere non-profit organization that many have become. This is why, when we abandon this role and blind ourselves with emotionalism, we become a danger to our community rather than a truly safe place.

The state of Idaho may soon travel down the same path as other states; but church, you must not abandon your duty.

We are no longer safe harbors in dangerous windstorms, we no longer safely navigate ships to port if we put the light out of the lighthouse, we can no longer rescue a perishing soul when we rule the day with un-directed emotion.

Yes, we are still emotional beings. We care about people. But when we care about them, we love them enough to plead with them from the safe place of truth.

Is the church prepared for the coming storm? Have we prepared our children to prepare their children to be the pillar and buttress of truth? Or have we simple taught them how to change with the times and keep the numbers up? Will we really turn to the survey conducting arm of our denominational publishing houses? Or are you prepared to steadfastly keep your gaze on the King of Glory?  Has the church forgotten? Her duty is to her Savior.

Twin Falls… Idaho… United States of America… If you want to build a society with a redefined definition of marriage, you are surely going about it the right way. But are you prepared for God to turn you over to your sinful cravings?

Church of the Lord Jesus Christ… are you going to speak into this matter with truth-less ‘caring’? Oh, arise church! Don’t turn that lamp of truth off as the storm approaches. Keep it on, do the unromantic thing and keep the light on. It’s your duty. Do it even when the culture complains about how the lamp keeps them up at night. Arise, church, and teach truth. Arise, church, and give helpful compassion to a spiritually ‘homeless soul’ in the raging blizzard of our day, and be a safe-haven that will provide lasting refuge as well.

Vance Havner put it this way: “Perhaps we do not sharpen the ax because it means work and hard, unromantic effort. Our lives need a going over now and then and the flesh does not relish it.”

 

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