Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hold to God

Several weeks ago Bro. Jeff Summers posted this blog http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/2648_real_lasting_rest/ to his Facebook page. As I read it blessed me so much I wanted to share it with the readers of this blog. You can go to the link or read it below.


Real Lasting Rest
September 8, 2010 | By: Paul Tripp | Category: Commentary

Do you ever struggle with God’s sovereignty? Do you wonder why he has ordained for you to face the things you face? Are you ever tempted to doubt his goodness or question his love? Or do you experience rest of heart even when your relationships are messy and your circumstances are difficult? The following words are about where the rest can be found.
I did it again and again when our children resisted our instruction and correction. I did it again and again when they debated a command or questioned our plans. I did it again and again when they opposed our authority and quested for self-rule. I did it again and again for two good reasons.
To begin with, my wife and I had brought children into this world who thought they didn't need us! Like us, each of them at some point fell into believing they were far more knowledgeable and capable than they really were. Like us, they often assumed that their intentions were noble and their plans were sound. Like us, they tended to think they were capable of determining what was best, even when they lacked important information and experience. Like we often do, they simply felt they were in possession of a better way.
But there was a second reason I did it again and again. Our children were too young to grasp the abstract, strategic, and often theological purposes underlying my instruction. Even if I explained everything in as age-appropriate a way as I could, they would still have no actual understanding. They just did not yet have the categories or the capacity to grasp the parental logic behind the plan or command.
So I did the same thing again and again. I would kneel down in front of them at eye level and say, "Please look at Daddy's face. Do you know how much I love you? Do you know that your Daddy is not a mean, bad man? Do you know that I would never ask you to do anything that would hurt you or make you sick? I am sorry that you can't understand why Daddy is asking you to do this. I wish I could explain it to you, but you are too young to understand. So I am going to ask you to do something—trust Daddy. When you walk down the hallway to do what Daddy has asked you to do, say to yourself, 'My Daddy loves me. My Daddy would never ask me to do something bad. I am going to trust my Daddy and stop trying to be the Daddy of my Daddy.'"
God does the same thing with you, over and over again. He meets you in one of the difficult hallways of your life, kneels down before you in condescending love, and asks you to trust his loving and wise rule, even though you don't have a clue what he is doing.
He knows there are many times when your life doesn't look like there is anyone ruling it, let alone someone wise and good. He knows there will be times when you will wish you could be the author of your own story. He knows that at times you will be overwhelmed by what is on your plate. He knows that his plan will confuse and confound you. And he knows that real rest cannot be found in understanding, because, like my children, there are things, as a limited human being, you simply do not have the capacity to understand.
Real rest is found in trusting the Person who is in control of the things you don’t understand.
He is willing to have the conversation with you again and again, and he has made sure that his Word assures you of his rule again and again. (For just a few examples, see 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, Psalm 103:19, Psalm 115:3, Proverbs 21:1, Isaiah 46:9-10, Daniel 4:35, and Ephesians 1:11.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thank the Lord for Books....

It has been such a joy to have the opportunity to have a round-table discussion on Sunday evening with parents and “soon-to-be” parents on biblical parenting. It is also an amazing joy that, at Trinity we have a book table in our foyer along with a church library that has at least one copy of each book we have on the table. I thank the Lord that I have spoken to several people who have said: “I have read more in the last year than I ever have in my life previously.” I thank the Lord for those who work at our book table and those ladies who so diligently work in our library – I was thinking of them when I read this by Charles Spurgeon:

“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” - 2 Timothy 4:13

We do not know what the books were about, and we can only form some guess as to what the parchments were. Paul had a few books which were left, perhaps wrapped up in the cloak, and Timothy was to be careful to bring them. Even an apostle must read. Some of our very ultra Calvinistic brethren think that a minister who reads books and studies his sermon must be a very deplorable specimen of a preacher. A man who comes up into the pulpit, professes to take his text on the spot, and talks any quantity of nonsense, is the idol of many. If he will speak without pre-meditation, or pretend to do so, and never produce what they call a dish of dead men’s brains – oh! that is the preacher.
How rebuked are they by the apostle! He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books!
The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every preacher, “Give thyself unto reading”. The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. Brethren, what is true of ministers is true of all our people. You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritan writers, and expositions of the Bible. We are quite persuaded that the very best way for you to be spending your leisure, is to be either reading or praying. You may get much instruction from books which afterwards you may use as a true weapon in your Lord and Master’s service. Paul cries, “Bring the books” – join in the cry.
-C.H. Spurgeon
1834-1892

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What Every Christian Couple Should Be....

I have never been one to shy away from adversity and, as I begin to write this I know that regardless of how I deal with this issue, there are some who will not take it well. I sincerely hope you believe the best and my heart comes through in regard to this subject. One of the great joys of being at Trinity Baptist Church is the number of babies that are in our nursery and the number of children we have. I know at times, when the Preacher goes long (ok…maybe often) many of our sweet workers may think we have too many babies - but they are at a church where they are loved and cared for, and I thank God for those who serve so faithfully. I also thank the Lord that we can always need more nursery workers, because there are a lot of children – that’s a great problem! I am not saying this to push a nursery sign up as I hope all our membership already feels a responsibility to care for our children at Trinity. I am writing because we live in a day where couples see children as a choice.

I would submit to you that the joy of having children is not a choice but calling for every Christian couple. Let me give you a very clear Biblical definition of marriage. Mal. 2:14-15 “Yet you say ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been witness between you and wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.”

No one would deny that God calls the husband and wife to be one - but in this passage he gives the primary reason, “godly offspring.” The natural question comes up like “What if you can’t have children?” The sad truth is that there are countless couples who want desperately to have children but for some reason they can’t. That is just another one of the many reasons to adopt! There are many couples who can’t have children, but there are many children who desperately need parents - and who better to fulfill that need, than children of God who have been adopted themselves, by our heavenly Father. I am sure somewhere, at some point - the reasoning of a couple that says they don’t want children sounds logical and maybe even moral…but, for the believer we should see that one of the highest purposes for which God created marriage, is for children. When you think about it, most of the reasons someone would give for not wanting children, would all consist of selfishness. Reasons range from:
Money, or the lack thereof…
One of the people in the marriage having had a bad home life…
Pace of life and/or the schedule we keep…
Goals they have set in their career…
There is an array of other reasons given but, at its core most every reason is based on “self”…It is what I want, plan and desire – it is old fashioned self-centeredness, self- interest or, it could be a lack of faith in God’s grace and presence in my life – to will and to work His good pleasure.

If we have children, we should see them and talk about them to younger couples as the gifts they are. I spoken with a young couple who shared with me that they have been fearful about having children because of the way their married friends hate life with children. Again, the reason for that kind of response is selfishness. They are frustrated at the way children have “inconvenienced” them, or they are so “self”-centered that they don’t want to do the hard work of disciplining their child and no one, including the parents, want to be with them as a result. Should we enjoy hearing “Daddy” or “Mommy” seventy times in two minutes? NO…and there are going to be times we fail miserably. Are there times that you just need a break from your kids? Only if you are normal! But, one of the primary purposes of marriage is to raise godly children and let me say I thank the Lord for the many Dads and Moms who are doing just that at Trinity! May God raise up even more through our young couples having children and those who are heeding the call to adopt! Praise the Lord!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Too Much for One Blog....Part 4

Well, it all began with this article http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/08/27/almost.christian/

I wasn’t sure how many times I would post about it, but this will be my final post on this subject. It has been a blessing to think through this article and the simple truths set forth on this blog…but, in all honesty, there have been some “hit dogs” hollering. The Gospel tends to have that impact upon man, to say the least. I want to close with this quote:

…the gospel of niceness can't teach teens how to confront tragedy.
"It can't bear the weight of deeper questions: Why are my parents getting a divorce? Why did my best friend commit suicide? Why, in this economy, can't I get the good job I was promised if I was a good kid?"
What can a parent do then?


She says parents who perform one act of radical faith in front of their children convey more than a multitude of sermons and mission trips.
A parent's radical act of faith could involve something as simple as spending a summer in Bolivia working on an agricultural renewal project or turning down a more lucrative job offer to stay at a struggling church, Dean says.
But it's not enough to be radical -- parents must explain "this is how Christians live," she says.


So how will students get it? Well, first churches and parents have to “get it.” If we don’t “get it” we can’t “give it.” There are at least three ways that our students will be able to handle the hard questions - at least three ways that they will learn doctrine that will ground them in such a way that when the hard questions come, or when bad things happen they will be rocked emotionally (as we all would be), but they will not be rocked spiritually. Let me just highlight the three ways:

1. The Grace of God: They will never come to a spiritual understanding unless the grace of God moves in their life. They will never hunger for the right things unless the grace of God acts upon their life. It is grace that saves us, it is grace that grows us and sustains us. This is not something I can work up in my own power, and this is something that we should pray for in our lives and in the lives of our students.
2. Parents: We need dads who will be more concerned that their son learns the truth of God’s Word, than learning to throw a curveball. We need dads who are more consumed with teaching their little girl doctrinal truths than they are in cheering or sports. We need dads who lead their families in worship at home, who understand the necessity of teaching Biblical manhood and Biblical femininity. We need dads who will teach truths in such a way that it shows Christ in every day life, but displays Him in such a way that the entire family is blown away by the power and glory and grace of God. We need moms who, in the day to day moments as they are walking and talking with their children, they speak the truths of God’s Word with them. Moms who will be as diligent in taking them through a sound catechism, as they are in teaching them nursery rhymes. If parents don’t teach it, and then do it and explain their motivation for doing it, our faith will ring hollow.
3. Church: Lastly, we need to be surrounded by other believers. Believers who take their walk and their commitment to their church seriously. Not religious people, but godly people. Not people who would rather gripe about the air condition or types of music or sound system (by all means keep your kids away from these people), but people who realize we are in a war, people who take the Word seriously. Little boys need their dad to “Man Up” and lead with the love of Christ and point out heroes in the body of Christ. Little girls need ladies around them teaching them what the Word of God says to them about what real beauty is. We are not called to run this race alone!

We don’t have to reject the notion of the article we have looked at—we have to say “We don’t want fake Christians” - they are all over the place. We have enough of them! Let’s not push them towards godliness, let’s lead them into it. Let them see it, let them hear it, and let’s all live it! Then…when they see it is real in us…it will mean something to them!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Too Much for One Blog....Part 3

Two posts ago I began commenting on this article http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/08/27/almost.christian/ and there is more here than one post or even 10 posts could discuss. But I want to continue with another couple of quotes and they are lengthy:

Others practice a "gospel of niceness," where faith is simply doing good and not ruffling feathers. The Christian call to take risks, witness and sacrifice for others is muted, she says.
"If teenagers lack an articulate faith, it may be because the faith we show them is too spineless to merit much in the way of conversation," wrote Dean, a professor of youth and church culture at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Corrie says she sees no shortage of teenagers who want to be inspired and make the world better. But the Christianity some are taught doesn't inspire them "to change anything that's broken in the world."
Teens want to be challenged; they want their tough questions taken on, she says.
"We think that they want cake, but they actually want steak and potatoes, and we keep giving them cake," Corrie says.


Churches, not just parents, share some of the blame for teens' religious apathy as well, says Corrie, the Emory professor.
She says pastors often preach a safe message that can bring in the largest number of congregants. The result: more people and yawning in the pews.
"If your church can't survive without a certain number of members pledging, you might not want to preach a message that might make people mad," Corrie says. "We can all agree that we should all be good and that God rewards those who are nice."


Let me see if I get this right:
-Our students watch their parents teach them to be nice and don’t do drugs or have sex, but there is internal conflict in them that believes that Christianity must be something more than a moral list.
-Then they see a Pastor stand up to preach – but he yields to the whims of shallow believers and some wolves…and that is not the God they want to serve.

You mean to tell me that there is something in them that wants to hear the cost of discipleship, they want to see parents live it out, they want to see a man in the pulpit preach the Word of God and not be consumed with demands of the anemic? Why can’t they buy into our Bible-belt culture and just show up at church, pray prayers, smile and sing and go home the way so many others do? Why are they looking for people who refuse to live under the fear of man? Surely they aren’t so na├»ve as to think that this Christ who went to the cross and who, in His Word demands us to do the same if we want to be His, really expects us to do so. I mean how stupid would it be for us to tell them that if you follow Christ you will be hated, rejected, slandered, cussed, lied about, torn apart, and maybe killed. There is no way we will pack a building with that teaching!

Problem… God hasn’t called us to pack a building - but teach and preach the Word, to articulate the Gospel correctly and live it out before them and the world. Counting the praise of man as nothing…but living for THAT DAY! I know, only a fool would teach this…1st Corinthians 3:18-19 “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God….” The Christian life is not a call to be loved by the world, and the most vile of the group will be the religious. But do hard things for Christ and challenge the generation behind us and before us to do the same. Tell them about men like Charles Spurgeon who said:

“The more prominent you are in Christ’s service, the more certain you are to be the butt of calumny. I have long ago said farewell to my character. I lost it in the early days of my ministry by being a little more zealous than suited a slumbering age. And I have never been able to regain it except in the sight of Him who judges all the earth, and in the hearts of those who love me for my work’s sake.”

Let us show them that we are living for that day, that the World my hate us, the religious will slander us, but we are not called to be men pleasers! This is what the true believer longs for, this is what our “Church filled - Christless generation” is missing. This call, along with doctrinal teaching is the steak and potatoes of the believer’s walk! Eat spiritual steak, not cake!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Too Much for One Blog...Part 2

Last post I spent some time discussing some initial thoughts and quotes on this article http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/08/27/almost.christian/
I want to continue this for the next several posts and allow us to think about the “whys” of this problem. The next two quotes I find quite troubling, and I believe they are linked:

Some adults don't expect much from youth pastors. They simply want them to keep their children off drugs and away from premarital sex.

AND

Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good -- what the study's researchers called "moralistic therapeutic deism."
Some critics told Dean that most teenagers can't talk coherently about any deep subject, but Dean says abundant research shows that's not true.
"There are countless studies that show that religious teenagers do better in school, have better relationships with their parents and engage in less high-risk behavior," she says. "They do a lot of things that parents pray for."


Let me just state the overwhelming joy I have that at Trinity, Bro. Brad Walker does not consume himself with a “sexual abstinence” message. His goal, our goal as staff and as a Church is to focus on purity and holiness, and this is only taught by going to the Word and finding the mind of Christ on these issues….Purity and holiness through the Word will take care of any behavioral and lifestyle issues that come along. A passion for holiness deals with the heart. I link these two quotes together because herein lies the overarching theme in many homes of those who fill our churches: because Dad and Mom have this overwhelming desire to “feel good” about self, and in response do good to feel even better about self, we have created a “moralistic hoop” to jump through and in turn demand our children jump through the same hoops. As long as behaviors line up with standards set for moralistic measuring sticks…we can pat ourselves on the backs. I would submit that the reason most Christian teenagers can talk coherently to peers and discuss relationships, sports, sex and countless other issues… but when it comes to the things of God their silence is deafening, is simply because they have a greater knowledge about almost anything than they do about God. Too often parents discuss morality but only a minority of dads and moms will ever sit down with their family and teach Biblical truths - not morality, but doctrine. The reason teens can’t discuss “deep truths of God” is because few church members know deep truths about God. If the only thing a Christian parent desires for their child is for them to “do better in school, have better relationships with their parents and engage in less high risk behavior” evidently many get their goals. In short, if all we desire is to see our children as nothing more than poodles that jump through the hoops we give them, then guess what? They are accomplishing our goals. And thus the reason so many of them “quit” as soon as they are out of the house!

The problem is that this never goes to the heart, this never demands they get to the cross, it never demands they know the mind of Christ on any issue. Most any religion teaches morality and teens see it for what it is - that is the reason the article states that “teens are embracing a nebulous belief in God.” If the goal is morality, just find a religion or god that best suits you. A few weeks ago one of our staff members mentioned a quote by David Platt that said (I summarize) “Most people live their life in such a way that if they were to find out there was no God it wouldn’t really effect them.” Repentance and Faith have no place if I can gain morality by following rules… the Gospel has no place in my parenting, my worship or my life if my goal is morality or even niceness – If I can accomplish it on my own by jumping through your hoops, then what need do I have of Him? If I can satisfy you with my hoops, then my sin has no bearing or real consequence…it really isn’t “that bad”….my heart never changes and I have no need for mercy or grace.

What should be our goal? Our goal should be Gospel focused, our goal should be to relate to our children as sinners and every time correction and discipline are given it is done by the cross. We aren’t their moral gods, we are fellow sinners who should be further along in this walk than they are…and God uses us as their authorities to aid in their sanctification by speaking truth to them. Our goal is not simple morality - our goal is to call teenagers from their own glory and help them understand what it means to live for God’s glory. Our walk with God should not become fuzzier the closer it gets to real life, but clearer and more concrete. We do this by teaching them doctrine, we teach them doctrine by learning doctrine ourselves – becoming grounded in it and seeing the relevance and wisdom of living it out in our daily lives. We do this in our home and we find churches where doctrine is boldly proclaimed and held up.
This should be our goal.
This should be what we pray for.
This should be what we model for them.
God’s Glory and Holiness – shown through in our lives and our children’s lives.
NOT MORALISTIC HOOPS!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Too Much for One Blog....

I must be honest and say that, unless I am in an airport and have no other choice, I never watch CNN. I must go even further and say, unless someone sends me a link or I see something on another website I never go to CNN’s webpage. Personally, I am more of a Fox News type of guy and I have much better things to watch…after all a lot of College Football shows are on! However, I must confess that I don’t know if I have ever read anything by a secular news organization that articulates the problem of the American Church in such a succinct manner! I would highly encourage you to look at this link http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/08/27/almost.christian/
and read it in its entirety. Most of the “experts” in this article “lean liberal” at best, but sadly it seems that they have a better understanding of what is lacking in the American church than most people today, including the Pastors. I am going to use some of the quotes over the next week or so and comment on this article. I am doing this because I want you to read and think through the CNN article and this post…and I know you have better things to do than read 10 pages of commentary on this article in one sitting. So, in the next few posts I will just put some quotes - going in sequential order - and think through them with you. This should cause us to evaluate church, sermons, parenting and an array of other issues. So, if you would be so kind…read the article then let’s walk through some statements. I promise I will try to keep this first post short...I know it is too much for one blog - but the information was too good to pass up!!

Okay, now what could possibly be the reason for seemingly good moral kids who go to church and obey rules, to be at best, weak, immature believers and at worse (and most likely) lost? Just look at the quote below:

The study, which included in-depth interviews with at least 3,300 American teenagers between 13 and 17, found that most American teens who called themselves Christian were indifferent and inarticulate about their faith.
Okay, let’s think biblically….
Luke 14:26-27 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
This certainly doesn’t sound like an “indifferent” attitude. It certainly doesn’t help that those who are in our churches, regardless of whether they are a teenager or adult, are hardly articulate when it comes to any doctrine whatsoever. Could it be that this culture is “indifferent and inarticulate” because it understands so little about the Gospel and shies away from doctrine? Why is it that so many churches assume that students and adults would not be concerned with deep biblical truth! Why should we not want to know about the God who calls us to lay down everything to come to Him? The problem overall in our churches today is not that our students can’t articulate truths, but that virtually no one can articulate truths. When we boil down salvation to a “simple prayer” and never use the Word of God - never measure one’s life against it to see what a real believer looks like – how is that truth? Or when someone begins to study the Word to see the high call of salvation, then he examines himself and realizes he falls short Biblically…the first thing that happens is some well meaning Baptist (who walked down an isle when they were 12 but never lived it out) tells them if they “prayed a prayer and really meant it, then Jesus must be in your heart.” Pray tell, find that assurance in Scripture! And, by the way, don’t use Rm. 10:9 until you take the time to read verses 10-21. If you sense frustration - it is there, but so is grief, and heart ache, and burden that we have lost generations…people that fill our churches, who know nothing of the Gospel but cling to eternity by their own power of a prayer.

I want to conclude by focusing on one more quote:

No matter their background, Dean says committed Christian teens share four traits: They have a personal story about God they can share, a deep connection to a faith community, a sense of purpose and a sense of hope about their future.

I know that this article is speaking to students of different beliefs, but I found this quote very interesting. How does one interpret these four traits? I think we can place these four traits in three categories: (1) A personal conversion (2) A committed life in a Church (3) Faith in God’s power. Certainly one can’t say if every “committed” was from an orthodox church, but we can say that when these three elements are a reality it leads to a meaningful commitment. Hmmm, who would have ever guessed this? (sarcasm intended).
More to come….

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Will Not Compete With This...

Below you will find a link and a copied text from Dr. Russell Moore’s blog. I have stated this same thought from the pulpit of Trinity (although certainly not as articulate at Dr. Moore has done here). I pray that we, as believers and as a Church, hold to the real Gospel of Christ above all else.

http://www.russellmoore.com/2010/08/29/god-the-gospel-and-glenn-beck/




God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck
— Sunday, August 29th, 2010 —


A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they’ve heard the gospel, right there in the nation’s capital.
The news media pronounces him the new leader of America’s Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America’s Christian conservatives have no problem with that.
If you’d told me that ten years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times. But it’s not. It’s from this week’s headlines. And it is a scandal.
Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, of course, is that Mormon at the center of all this. Beck isn’t the problem. He’s an entrepreneur, he’s brilliant, and, hats off to him, he knows his market. Latter-day Saints have every right to speak, with full religious liberty, in the public square. I’m quite willing to work with Mormons on various issues, as citizens working for the common good. What concerns me here is not what this says about Beck or the “Tea Party” or any other entertainment or political figure. What concerns me is about what this says about the Christian churches in the United States.
It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined “revival” and “turning America back to God” that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.
Rather than cultivating a Christian vision of justice and the common good (which would have, by necessity, been nuanced enough to put us sometimes at odds with our political allies), we’ve relied on populist God-and-country sloganeering and outrage-generating talking heads. We’ve tolerated heresy and buffoonery in our leadership as long as with it there is sufficient political “conservatism” and a sufficient commercial venue to sell our books and products.
Too often, and for too long, American “Christianity” has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah.
Leaders will always be tempted to bypass the problem behind the problems: captivity to sin, bondage to the accusations of the demonic powers, the sentence of death. That’s why so many of our Christian superstars smile at crowds of thousands, reassuring them that they don’t like to talk about sin. That’s why other Christian celebrities are seen to be courageous for fighting their culture wars, while they carefully leave out the sins most likely to be endemic to the people paying the bills in their movements.
Where there is no gospel, something else will fill the void: therapy, consumerism, racial or class resentment, utopian politics, crazy conspiracy theories of the left, crazy conspiracy theories of the right; anything will do. The prophet Isaiah warned us of such conspiracies replacing the Word of God centuries ago (Is. 8:12–20). As long as the Serpent’s voice is heard, “You shall not surely die,” the powers are comfortable.
This is, of course, not new. Our Lord Jesus faced this test when Satan took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth, and their glory. Satan did not mind surrendering his authority to Jesus. He didn’t mind a universe without pornography or Islam or abortion or nuclear weaponry. Satan did not mind Judeo-Christian values. He wasn’t worried about “revival” or “getting back to God.” What he opposes was the gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected for the sins of the world.
We used to sing that old gospel song, “I will cling to an old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.” The scandalous scene at the Lincoln Memorial indicates that many of us want to exchange it in too soon. To Jesus, Satan offered power and glory. To us, all he needs offer is celebrity and attention.
Mormonism and Mammonism are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They offer another Lord Jesus than the One offered in the Scriptures and Christian tradition, and another way to approach him. An embrace of these tragic new vehicles for the old Gnostic heresy is unloving to our Mormon friends and secularist neighbors, and to the rest of the watching world. Any “revival” that is possible without the Lord Jesus Christ is a “revival” of a different kind of spirit than the Spirit of Christ (1 Jn. 4:1-3).
The answer to this scandal isn’t a retreat, as some would have it, to an allegedly apolitical isolation. Such attempts lead us right back here, in spades, to a hyper-political wasteland. If the churches are not forming consciences, consciences will be formed by the status quo, including whatever demagogues can yell the loudest or cry the hardest. The answer isn’t a narrowing sectarianism, retreating further and further into our enclaves. The answer includes local churches that preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and disciple their congregations to know the difference between the kingdom of God and the latest political whim.
It’s sad to see so many Christians confusing Mormon politics or American nationalism with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, don’t get me wrong, I’m not pessimistic. Jesus will build his church, and he will build it on the gospel. He doesn’t need American Christianity to do it. Vibrant, loving, orthodox Christianity will flourish, perhaps among the poor of Haiti or the persecuted of Sudan or the outlawed of China, but it will flourish.
And there will be a new generation, in America and elsewhere, who will be ready for a gospel that is more than just Fox News at prayer.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Celebrate!

In March of this year we began our “Freedom For Tomorrow…Today” campaign. To say the least it has been a phenomenal success! We are six months into it and we have already given a total of $233,213.00 towards our debt retirement. This is not including our “Sending Our Gifts” missions offering that has been given and is going toward all of the missions efforts we support! These facts alone during these tough economic times would be nothing short of outstanding…but, with a little more than a quarter of our financial year remaining things have been nothing short of amazing. To put things in perspective, let me share with you some wonderful statistics.
• The first 6 months of this year we finished every month in the black for our general expenditures, (for those who may not be familiar with that term, in short it means we were able to bring in more money than we spent. I would think this is the goal of every family, business and church in the world.) The last time we, as a church did this, was all the way back in 2005.
• As of August we are in the black for the entire year, the last time this has happened at this point in the year was…you guessed it 2005.
• As of right now, above our general offerings, we are making major strides on our debt and we are giving to missions and sending people out to the uttermost parts of the earth to carry out the Great Commission. This is because the faithfulness of our Lord working in the hearts of His people. The desire is to free ourselves from the burden of debt in order to pour our resources into God’s Kingdom work throughout the World! Not only are we making headway to knock this debt out, as Bro. Lee Pierce stated last Business Meeting, we are in the process of renegotiating our loan to take advantage of significantly lower interest rates and our men have had multiple meetings with multiple banks wanting our business.
All of this to say, in an economy that says tighten down and look out for number one, when God’s people are obedient in giving and good stewards of what He gives them, He works in great ways in their lives!

It has been a great joy to watch God working in the life of Trinity! It has been exciting as we have seen people come to Christ…but also as we watch believers study, discuss and understand doctrine and then as a result, mature by gaining a better understanding of His grace. God is in no way obligated to bless us financially, but He will take care of “all these things” when we seek HIS KINGDOM FIRST! It is our desire that as we shed this debt, to use the resources He has entrusted us with to carry out Kingdom work. Let’s continue to be faithful with what He has given us. I love you and count it a joy to be your Pastor and serve our King together!