Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Cost of Being a Disciple

I love reading Charles Spurgeon’s devotional book, Morning And Evening -and, when I read this on November 10th, I copied it down and wanted to bring it to you before the end of the year. I hope it blesses you as it has blessed me:

“It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master.” Matthew 10:25

No one will dispute this statement, for it would be unseemly for the servant to be exalted above his Master. When our Lord was on earth, what was the treatment he received? Were his claims acknowledged, his instructions followed, his perfections worshipped, by those whom he came to bless? No; He was despised and rejected of men. Outside the camp was his place: cross-bearing was his occupation. Did the world yield him solace and rest? Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. This inhospitable country afforded him no shelter: it cast him out and crucified him. Such-if you are a follower of Jesus, and maintain a consistent, Christ-like walk and conversation-you must expect to be the lot of that part of your spiritual life which, in its outward development, comes under the observation of men. They will treat it as they treated the Saviour-they will despise it. Dream not that worldlings will admire you, or that the more holy and the more Christ-like you are, the more peaceably people will act towards you. They prized not the polished gem, how should they value the jewel in the rough? If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? If we were more like Christ, we should be more hated by his enemies. It were a sad dishonour to a child of God to be the world's favourite. It is a very ill omen to hear a wicked world clap its hands and shout Well done to the Christian man. He may begin to look to his character, and wonder whether he has not been doing wrong, when the unrighteous give him their approbation. Let us be true to our Master, and have no friendship with a blind and base world which scorns and rejects him. Far be it from us to seek a crown of honour where our Lord found a coronet of thorn.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dates to Keep in Mind

I just wanted to use this post to remind our church family of some very important upcoming dates for 2011. Please mark these dates on your calendar as a matter of prayer and make them a priority for your attendance.

• January 5th - AWANA and Wednesday night meals will begin again.

• February - We will begin our Men’s Bible Study from 6am-7am (the January 13th date posted earlier was a misprint)

• The entire Month of February will be “I Love My Church” month. This will be an exciting time for our church family. More details will come in the coming weeks.

• March 6-9 - Revival with Rick Coram. This will be our only 4 day meeting this year, but it will be phenomenal! Make plans to be here and expect God to do a great work.

• October 21-23 - Trinity’s First Annual Missions Conference And Fair

•  November 13 - One Day meeting with David Miller

In addition to this, we have some incredible mission trips ranging from Arizona to Paraguay, to Vancouver. Let’s pray and ask God to allow the Gospel to flow forth from Trinity like it never has before. I look forward to the work God is going to do this year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I want take a moment to thank each of you for following this blog this year, and a special thank you to my Trinity Church Family! I love you and have counted it such a joy to be your Pastor for another year. I look forward to 2011 and many other years together as we work in our Lord’s Kingdom. Thank you for your e-mails, comments on Facebook, and the personal discussions we have had regarding this blog over the course of the last year… and for the many discussions regarding other areas of ministry and growth in our Church lives as we walk alongside each other. May 2011 be a year that we look back on and see a great work in our church by the one true God. Have a wonderful, Merry Christmas and know that I love you and love serving alongside you.

Bro. Chad

Monday, December 20, 2010

How Unattractive is the Gospel: Part 4

This will be my final post on the wonderful book written some time ago by John MacArthur entitled, Hard To Believe. We have looked at three admonitions or “strategies,” as MacArthur puts it, to remember as we share the gospel. Today, I will mention numbers four and five. Because of the length of the text, I will not post it on the blog, but you can look at it in 2nd Corinth. 4:8-16. To combine the final two thoughts, we can say: We Will Not Seek Popularity AND We Will Not Look At Earthly Success.

It would be absolutely crazy to expect this narrow gospel message to be accepted by the masses. This does not prohibit us from passionately carrying forth the gospel to the masses…to every tribe, tongue and nation…but we should understand that we will be hated for giving the true gospel. Now, it should be understood that if we are going to give the true gospel and seek to please our Lord, that success is going to be found in the delivery of truth - rather than the numbers that respond. This is next to impossible for the modern American church to embrace. In America, bigger is better, health and wealth must equal spiritual blessings. We have an “American Gospel” that, in the majority of the world, it would be openly rejected because there isn’t as much health and wealth floating around - so it can be easily refuted. The rule of thumb is, if I have a gospel that can not be proclaimed in a third world country, but rather it can be proclaimed and understood only in my little corner of the world, IT IS NOT A TRUE GOSPEL.

When I look at John 3 and watch Christ proclaim the gospel message, how different does that look than our modern evangelism practices? MacAuthur says it like this: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; it isn’t just holding up your hand or walking down an aisle and saying, ‘I love Jesus.’ It is not easy, it is not user-friendly or seeker sensitive; it isn’t a rosy, perfect world where Jesus gives you whatever you want. It is hard, it is sacrificial, and it supersedes everything.” If the enemy can’t destroy the church, he will be satisfied confusing her. If we can’t articulate the gospel, we are ineffective for the Kingdom. This will redefine missions, this will redefine grace, justification, the exclusivity of Christ, it is a message that is absent of God’s truth. Therefore it is a message that it is synthetic - it may look like a gospel message but it is a message that is damning.

In closing, read books like Hard to Believe and The Gospel According to Jesus, by John MacArthur…or What is the Gospel by Greg Gilbert, or so many other wonderful books - but by all means we must get this right. Go to The Way of the Master website or view their training materials that do a wonderful job explaining the gospel. If there is anything we must get a firm grasp on, it is the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How Unattractive is the Gospel - Part 3

If you want to see the premise of this post, then look at Part 1from a week ago. I want to jump right into these “strategies” or admonitions that MacArthur uses in his book, Hard To Believe. The second point he gives is found in:

2nd Corinth 4:2 - “We have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness or handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

The admonition is: We Will NOT Tamper with the Message.

This admonition builds perfectly on the first strategy - if I am ashamed of the message or too cowardly to present it in truth, then the tendency will be to tamper with it…to weaken it or to change it to fit my comfort level. We see this a great deal in our day but, in truth, I think there has been a tendency to do this in every generation. I will tie this second admonition, along with MacArthur’s third one, together in this blog because they fit so well together and, most of the time where you see one, you inevitably see the other. The third admonition is found in the next two verses:

2nd Corinth. 4:3-4 “even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

The Admonition is: We Will Not Manipulate People To Get The Desired Superficial Results.

MacArthur rightly points out that the problem here is “the soil - not the seed.” A wonderful friend of mine was telling me about a program he saw on the Discovery Channel - it was discussing farming and crops (I have no idea what drew him to this program, but that is beyond the intent of this blog). This friend said the documentary explained that the only way something can grow in “dead/bad soil” is if it is created from a synthetic seed. This describes what has happened all too often in our churches - and sadly, it has happened many times by well intentioned people - they are just not gospel focused. So many churches and pastors become decision focused and “results” obsessed. That is why muscle bound men in wife beater tee-shirts can come in and rip phone books and give a cute synthetic gospel presentation - then can claim hundreds saved. To the casual observer everyone wins! The church is happy (if they are Southern Baptist they may get an award), the preacher gets noticed, the muscle bound men get paid and feel good that they saw such a “movement of God” (their definition), and it is good entertainment! If you dare to protest this by pointing out the fact that, though you baptized 100 people the next Sunday - you probably won’t be able to find them in a week or two – you are somehow cold, calloused and not evangelistic! Never mind that there was never a call for real repentance, no concept of counting the cost, no discussion of Lordship or surrendering your life to Christ - only some magical special prayer that God is now obligated to come through on since you repeated it. Again - if you actually have the unmitigated gall to point this out - brace…brace…it’s about to get ugly because you, my friend, obviously don’t care if people get saved! Some well meaning person will point out that if even ONE came to Christ and all others were false, it was worth it. To that I say, NO! The damage done by a false gospel and a false hope IS SIN!

Some of those who tamper with the message in order to get some desired results, no doubt have a desire to get people to come to Christ…but I am guessing that, too often they forget the reason they are sharing is not to “make a sale,” but to deliver truth. As children of God, our number one calling is to glorify God in all we do - the only way I can do that in witnessing is to get the Gospel right! It is not my message to change (it is arrogance to believe I can give it the way I want), it is simply my task to deliver it! It is exciting to see the ever growing passion at Trinity for this great task.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How Unattractive The Gospel Is: Part 2

In my last blog, I began a series by discussing how unattractive the Gospel is to a person who has not been born again. I referred to one of my favorite books of all time, Hard To Believe, by John MacArthur. This book does an incredible job of explaining the Gospel, the necessity of presenting it faithfully, and understanding that the Holy Spirit is responsible for the work in the heart. MacArthur gives five strategies, as he calls it, but they are more like admonitions - I want to take the next several blogs to remind us of them as we share the Gospel in our day to day lives….

The first admonition he mentions is found in 2nd Corinth. 4:1 “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.” The admonition is: Don’t Surrender In Cowardice. Paul assumed people would reject him - he knew that hatred would meet him at every corner, and the same should be true with us. In a culture (even in many of our churches) which has so watered down, changed and twisted the Gospel, the true call of the cross, the true explanation of Lordship, it is too often met with hatred. You had people in that day that called Paul a liar, who said he was preaching a false Gospel - all because he was teaching what God required and not what the religious group had heard all their life. All we need to do is read Luke chapters 1-4 and watch the change. In Luke 1 – 4 (about halfway through chapter 4) Jesus’ ministry is going pretty well, but when He has the audacity to stand up and preach the truth in His home town to those who knew Him best, they rose up and wanted to throw Him off a cliff. We should be reminded that the true Gospel was no more of a crowd pleaser then, than it is today. One of the most wicked lies today, is that it is easy to become a Christian - the truth is, it is difficult! It is through a narrow gate - a brokenness over self, dying to yourself, forsaking all and turning to Christ. For this to happen, it takes a miracle of God, not a slick talk, promises of wealth or fame, a cool track, or even a former Miss America pageant winner.

One can afford to be wrong when it comes to secondary issues of our eschatology… or can differ from you or me on some secondary doctrinal issues, but the great tragedy is that there are far too many who miss the Gospel today. When one misses the Gospel, they miss eternal life. The way I view the Gospel determines the methods I will use in presenting the Gospel - or if I present it at all. As we are sharing the truth of Gospel, let’s not be ashamed of it… let’s present it the way Christ did - not add to or soften it - let’s be passionate about it and let’s watch God do His saving work!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How Unattractive the Gospel Really Is

I have been so blessed to be raised under godly men! Men who, while being far from perfect, have a great hunger for the things of God. I was blessed by having been raised by a Dad who, not only loved the things of God, but had me around great men of God. Men like Bro. David Miller, Bill Stafford, Herb Reavis and countless others. Not only have I been blessed by being around such wonderful men, I have been blessed by the great men of God that have influenced me through their wonderful books. Men with a passion for revival like Leonard Ravenhill, or with a love for doctrine and truth like John MacArthur, or even great preachers like Charles Spurgeon. Obviously, I could name countless others, both living and dead. But, one of my top 2 or 3 favorite books would be entitled, Hard To Believe by John MacArthur. I have mentioned this book a year or so ago before on this blog, but it is one of those books that I go to so often – so I thought it would be worth mentioning to you again. It exhorts me in presenting the Gospel correctly and encourages me to stand on it and preach truth in good times, and in adversity.

The Gospel has never been attractive to the natural man – but unfortunately, we have many churches today that desire nothing more than to put a new twist, or slight change, on it to make it more palatable. I was sharing with a pastor a little while ago, that there is no reaction that incites the Pharisees’ anger and frustration spoken of in Scripture, than when one stands and declares the Gospel clearly. When one points out the novel idea that walking down an isle, or filling out a card or “feeling saved” even, means absolutely nothing – their blood boils. The reaction especially in the “Bible-belt” can be astounding. The exclusivity of the Gospel has always been an inconvenient message to sinners, but the truth of the Gospel can not be negotiated. For the next few blogs, I am going to hone in on a couple of truths from Hard To Believe and use it as a reminder as to what we as believers should be doing, and understanding.

The title of Chapter 3 of Hard To Believe , is “Truth In A Privy Pot.” MacArthur uses 2nd Corinth. 4:5-7 and reminds us that, those God has called to proclaim the treasure of the Gospel are called “earthen vessels.” Now, I certainly don’t want to be crude, but an “earthen vessel” is a cheap baked clay pot, that is easily replaceable and valueless. God took these plain, replaceable pots and put the glorious light of the Gospel and called us to shine into a dark world! MacArthur says “We’re baked dirt, that’s what we are, carrying around the message of God’s eternal kingdom of light and life.” Is this ever more clearly illustrated than in the life of Paul, who was not a handsome man, who demonstrated no oratorical skill, who was crass, at times, to say the least? Paul has to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest demonstration of a believer, who ever lived. We are compared to “privy pots,” there is no need for explanation…we are clay bedpans. Isn’t it great that God is in the business of passing up the gold and silver bowls and just puts the treasure of the Gospel in us? Want a little self-esteem boost? Well, 1st Corinth. 4:13 calls us filth. We are called bedpans, then we are called scum. That is what the filth is, the scum that stays at the bottom of the pot. Wow, we have moved from bedpans to scum… that is not an upgrade. See, this is what is so difficult about a true Gospel…it has nothing to say “good” about us before salvation, and then when we are saved, there is nothing better about our flesh - but it is He who resides in us, that is wonderful. It is Christ that we can glory in! Now, this aids in the killing of pride, but what can our strategy be as believers? How can we deliver a true Gospel message? Calling people to hate self, calling people to die to self, telling people that we are not saved to do anything except bring glory to God in our life through our witness and in all that we do?  MacArthur mentions five strategies that we will discuss over the next few weeks on this blog that I believe will help us tremendously! There is nothing to glory in ourselves about, but there is plenty for us to passionately proclaim of our Christ.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Giving Thanks...from Guest Blogger, Bro. Jeff Summers

We (that is me…and I know I speak for parents - and for children who can’t say “thank you” now, but will in years to come!) ought always to give thanks (I know I don’t say “thank you” enough) to God for you, brothers (and sisters - who serve in AWANA, KidCare Nursery, children’s Sunday BFG’s , Kids’ Worship, Mothers’ Day Out, VBS, or in the Hopper. Every good and perfect gift is from above, and you are definitely right where God wants you to be. I thank God for you. You give Him the glory when you serve children and their families.), as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly (The reason we serve is because of God’s grace and mercy for us. He is the one who has placed the desire in you to serve as you wipe noses in nursery; helping a child memorize a verse in AWANA; encouraging the red team to cheer for their teammate as they run around the AWANA circle; as you spend hours during the week preparing to teach the Word of God; as you spend time in prayer for the children you lead; as you depend on God to empower you; faithfully serving even when you don’t see many results; serving with excellence showing that you believe that you serve a God who is sovereign, all-powerful, true and truth, pure, and righteous, sacrificing, faithful, giving, and seeking to save the lost) , and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing (because you serve faithfully in nursery so that parents can worship without distraction, when you contact your students and parents to let them know you are praying for them, or miss them, when you work as a team focused on ministering to others’ needs, rather than your own, when you demonstrate patience with children, parents, and other church members; and your commitment) . ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:3

I thank God for YOU! This kingdom work is too big for one person to accomplish. It takes a team of people who love our Lord, and express that love by serving people whole-heartedly. You are invaluable! I love and appreciate you, my Trinity brothers and sisters in Christ!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thankfulness....from Guest Blogger, Bro. Greg Stringfield

It is indeed a blessing and a privilege to serve my church family as your administrator. I can remember when I first felt God leading me into fulltime ministry. My first reaction was “Are you kidding?” Two years prior, I had just completed my masters degree in Personnel Management and wasn’t ready to consider another masters degree. Now, fast forward thirteen years and I can truthfully acknowledge how thankful I am that God saw fit to use me in this manner. Through these years there have been trials and challenges that have increased my reliance on God’s providence.

This Thanksgiving, we will all have the opportunity to reflect on the many reasons we have to be thankful. Of course, I’m thankful most of all for my relationship with Christ and also for my wife and my two boys. Outside of that, I receive a true blessing in serving you. The joy I experience day after day only comes from being in God’s will. There is no doubt in my mind that, at this time in my life, God has called me to serve the Trinity family. God has put together a staff that loves the body of Christ... and a staff that truly enjoys serving along side of each other. I have served in four different churches and none of them had the continuity that our staff exhibits. I’m grateful and thankful for that continuity. I would have to admit that at times working in the area of finances has been challenging and has caused me to pull a few hairs out...but, in the end, I can’t imagine serving my God and my church family in any other manner!!