Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!

On this day, 491 years ago, Martin Luther hung his 95 thesis on the door of Castle Church. While the Reformation had been brewing for quite some time, this is typically the day that marks this time of spiritual renewal.

In years past (2006 & 2007), I have released a series of posts regarding the Reformation.

Traditionally, the printing press is considered one of the factors that led toward the Reformation. After all, as the Bible became more available to people, naturally reformation would come. However, I do not think that is as much a factor as how people began reading their Bibles. It was nothing new for Luther to be able to read the Scriptures in a monastery or seminary. What made a real difference was the way he read them.

As I prepare for a trip to the Dominican Republic, hermeneutics have been on my mind. I have the amazing opportunity to meet with young preachers in the Dominican and speak to them about preaching and ministry. More important than anything else is the way they will read their Bible. It will effect their own walk, and it will effect their ministry (1 Timothy 4:16).

The discussion of hermeneutics often gets clouded when you start speaking of camps. Similar to the political campaigns, people start making ridiculous claims or distort the other camps perspective in an attempt to defend their own. Pretty soon, the argument becomes philosophical and we're no longer talking Scripture but talking around Scripture.

If hermeneutics are so important, wouldn't it make sense if God told us how to read His Word? In the next few posts (notice, I did not promise when they are coming, just that they are), I hope to walk through a couple passages which not only teach us Truth, but teach us how to understand that Truth.

For God did not just display His grace to us by giving us specific revelation, He also displayed His grace by telling us how to understand it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Real Prosperity Preaching

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.--3 John 2
    1. Would you be happy if someone prayed that your physical health would match your spiritual health?
    2. Would you be happy if someone prayed your financial health would match your spiritual health?

Friday, October 24, 2008

More Election Inserts

These are our last two inserts as we seek for our congregation to be conformed to the image of Christ as they work through the electoral process. (We'll do one concluding specific insert as to praying for officials who one races.)

Again, if you want them, swipe them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Preaching During the Election

How does a pastor deal with the "elephant in the middle of the room?" When every news agency and media outlet is screaming "election...election...election!" how do we navigate through it?

Personally, I think we offer our people a breath of fresh air and a bit of stability by continuing to work through the text, (surprise, surprise) not to mention that which actually can sanctify. In my opinion, this is complete silliness and a complete distraction from our gospel calling. I've also received pledges from other pastors which I'm supposed to sign. Apart from the complete waste that internet petitions/pledges are (several of the signees are clearly atheistic, mocking the church with their signatures with silly names for churches which clearly do not exist), there is also no center in the gospel (a fellow pastor in my fellowship's signature is immediately followed by an LDS "elder"). These things should serve as a reminder that a November election focus is barking up the wrong tree.

However, we don't have to ignore the election either. But instead of hitching our wagon to a particular candidate or issue, could we consider our real job? How could we shepherd our flock in such a way that they conform to the image of Christ as they navigate this election? As a church, we have approached this goal with the following bulletin inserts, which have led to some great follow up discussion. (Feel free to "steal" them, if you think it would benefit.)

We plan to do two more posts in preparation of the election and one in review, encouraging the Body to pray for the specific candidates who win.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Still Here, Sort of...

My blogging has certainly slowed down lately. If you read this blog, you've probably noticed posts are quite infrequent and have switched to short questions/thoughts as opposed to articles. There are a few reasons...

1. Time (lack of). No matter how I've tried to justify it, blogging ultimately fits more in the category of hobby than ministry (though the two can overlap). Therefore, as ministry opportunities abound, it seems best to let the blog lay low for a time while I seek to serve others in the moments God has provided.

2. Talent (lack of). There are several articles in the "pre-written" stage, however, they need a lot of refinement to be clear and attempt at concise. This can be the most time consuming phase, which drives back to point one.

3. Tired. I'm tired of meeting with other pastors only to find they are more enamored with their strategies and plans than with the work of Christ. I'm tired of hearing them treat a gospel confession simply as a "heresy fence" instead of it being the overflow of their heart. I'm tired of pastors who try to convince me they are being more faithful to the text by intentionally not bringing the person and work of Christ into their sermon. I'm tired of looking at my own track record and realizing the way I have dealt with these conversations in the past lacked the grace and humility needed to produce the symphony of God's infinite mercy and merely came across as a noisy gong. Therefore, I'm working the word through my own heart and these current situations before I write about it, which brings me back to point 2 (which brings me back to point 1).

It may be a while before I post an article, but until then, I'll try to direct you to somethings I have found truly helpful.

If John Piper picks a peck of people's ponderings, how many ponderings can Pastor Piper peck? Well, I don't know. But Desiring God has added a resource called Ask Pastor John. Click here to see the list of questions Pastor Piper has answered. You can either podcast this feature or sort through the questions and download the three-to-four minute answer one at a time.

If the world has nasty sayings about assumptions, why do we believers still do it? Through Professor Matt Harmon's blog, I read this wonderful article on Assumed Evangelicalism. The article not only nails the overall condition of the American church, but also seems to nail the responses given when this issue is addressed. A must read (especially for shepherds of Mackian decent).

Listen to this sermon twice! I wouldn't recommend listening to The Tongue, the Bridle, and the Blessing: An Exposition of James 3:1-12 (by Sinclair Ferguson). I'd recommend listening to it twice. Once to allow the Spirit of God to convict you about your use of the tongue. Whether you struggle to speak or struggle to remain silent, Ferguson will lay out for you God's standard and desire for our tongue and our failure to accomplish it on our own...drawing you to the blood of Christ for Him to sanctify this "great boaster." The second time to study the beauty of Ferguson's sermon. It is a brilliant example of how the gospel drives a passage and leads a person to repentance and standing in the glory of Christ. A great example of a gospel driven sermon finding application in all of our life.

Sex! This is not just an attempt to boost hits on my blog, it's a reference to Darby Livingston's recent article. Darby tackles a specific area of tension in the intimacy of bride and groom and seeks to call people to consider the gospel in this area. Again, excellent theology is applied to show that all things (including the bedroom) exist to glorify God by exalting His Son.