Monday, June 27, 2011

May This Sicken Us to the Point of Desiring Spiritual Maturity!

I sincerely struggled with posting this - it is sick. But, I can’t help but believe this is what our Father looks at each week in so many of the churches across America. If this makes you nauseous, just stop it at any point…it won’t take you but a moment to get the picture. But, don’t miss the statement toward the end – “you think you are the only one doing it…then you get on the computer and you realize there are all these other people that are doing it….you put away all your adult stuff and everything gets put on hold” – how he normalizes his sickness. The only thing I ask is pray that it doesn’t burn in your brain!





http://defendingcontending.com/2011/05/26/perpetual-spiritual-infancy/
Perpetual spiritual infancy

Posted on May 26, 2011 by Pilgrim

The Christian life is supposed to be one marked by sanctification and spiritual growth, but far too many in church–after years of being a Christian–are no further along in their faith than day one. Essentially they are still nursing on milk when they should be eating meat.

Churches too often make excuses for this lack of fruit in the lives of the masses of professing believers that fill pews on any given Sunday. Others simply pronounce “Judge not” if anyone dares to point out the problem.

But what if we could capture a glimpse of what this would look like in the physical realm? What if we could see with our eyes what this perpetual spiritual infancy looks like?

Wonder no more. The man in this video could be the poster child for the average American churchgoer.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Harold Camping....I Am Afraid We Missed the Real Problem

I was headed towards vacation when all of the Harold Camping, false prophesy hoopla blew through, and since I had already written several blogs that would be automatically posted...I am just now getting to give my input! I read several opinion pieces, blogs, and tweets of Pastors and other believers making comments about this missed false prophecy. The comments and blogs ranged from an attitude of mocking, to saying since he is a false prophet he should be stoned… some were funny, some were full of grace, and some were a bit mean spirited - others simply missed it. I read some that had the idea that this was the danger of “following a man” or placing too much emphasis on what man thinks. Certainly there is a great danger in placing too much hope in man, and not spending time searching the Scriptures and knowing what they state: but, I simply don’t see this as the main problem with Harold Camping and all this hoopla! In fact, I see Harold Camping’s problem as the complete opposite. To jump to the conclusion that the problem is following a man, is to totally miss the cause and treat the symptoms, which is so often the trouble today.


In order to understand this overall situation, let me give you a quick run down Mr. Camping’s lack of doctrine: (1) He does not believe that mankind is utterly sinful. (2) He does not believe that Hell is a real place - he is an annihilationist. (3) He believes that ALL organized churches are wrong and encourages that one listens to Family Radio Broadcast and engage in personal Bible study.

The issue I must remember is that our doctrine is built on the Word of God, but we stand on the shoulders of godly men when it comes to our doctrine. We are not called to only sit in our room and discover what the Bible means to me. I am to personally study the Bible, but one of the reasons that God gives me a church with other believers is make sure I do not fall into false doctrine. The rule of thumb is if it is a “new” doctrine then it is a wrong doctrine. While the Word of God is my only source of truth, I need to know what other believers have historically thought about a particular doctrine. If I “discover” something in the Word of God, which historically the church has viewed as error, then I had better back up. If I have “found” something that historical Christianity has deemed as heresy, then the body of believers should call me on that and lead me through the Scriptures to repentance. So, should I be concerned with how Augustine, Tyndale, Luther or Calvin saw things? How about Edwards, Gill, Spurgeon? Should I be concerned with what strong modern day biblical scholars think? Well of course! These men are not inerrant and neither am I - but to think for one moment that I am to study on a island and I do not need past or present believers to serve as check points for me is the height of ignorance or arrogance.

What leads a person to predicting dates of the return of Christ? What leads a person to such obvious unbiblical, made up prophecies as Harold Camping had? It is NOT that one relies too much on other people, but rather, it is one making up his own doctrine on an island asking “what does this mean to me” without asking “What did God mean when He inspired this?”. It is deciding to walk this life without genuine believers to discuss doctrinal issues. Certainly, the reason people followed Harold Camping is that they didn’t know the Word of God; but, the reason Harold Camping is leading the way he is, is because his theology, or lack thereof, is discovered on his own in isolation, without accountability in studying the Word and thus, relying only on himself. That is the real danger! I would think it would have helped if Mr. Camping or his followers would have read Matthew 24:36 or Mark 13:32 - even a simple Spurgeon quote could have aided in their study:

• “Let us not therefore be troubled by idle prophecies as to the end of the world, even if they claim to be interpretations of Scripture, for what angels do not know has certainly not been revealed to hair-brained fanatics.”          – C.H. Spurgeon       Commentary on Matthew 24:36

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Deceitfulness of Sin

As a Pastor, I have a very interesting perspective each week: I get to be reminded that our enemy really is not very creative! The reason? …he doesn’t have to be! Thomas Watson wrote: “Sin first courts, and then kills….” The enemy tends to divert our attention from glorifying God, to forgetting God, and then allows us to live for self. As I have watched how sin works in my life and in the lives of people I have the joy of serving, I have found three truths:


Sin is deceitful: Sin is the ultimate con game. Unlike most con games though, the desire of sin is not to separate us and our money, but sin desires to separate us and our God. Somehow we are deceived into believing the same way Adam and Eve believed - that our loving, kind, gracious God actually doesn’t have our best interest at heart. Sin causes us to believe (although not consciously) that we are not accountable to God, but God is accountable to us. He is to make us happy; He is here for our enjoyment and when life doesn’t bring enjoyment, He has let us down, so I am justified in finding it for myself. We, in some warped sinful way, believe we have become a victim by God, therefore we long for more than God.

Sin is enticing: Remember Genesis 3? The serpent simply leads Eve to question God’s command. Then, after looking at the sin and listening to the enemy, somehow Eve concludes that she is not accountable to God - but she is, in fact, a victim of this insecure God who didn’t want her to have the best.

Sin Betrays: It never gives what it promises. It is never what you thought it would be. The enemy never tells us the end game. If David would have known what his lust would do to his family, if he would have seen the damage in advance, he would have ran the other way. If Samson would have known what his sin would cost him, he would have ran from Delilah. There are countless men and women, who never believed sin would betray them, and they have fallen victim to its grip.

I pray that these simple reminders will keep all of us leaning on God’s wonderful, amazing grace! As believers we don’t have to live in sin’s grip - we are more than conquerors through Christ!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Conflict on Sunday Mornings....

I read a few people’s blogs weekly, at least. When I come across one that causes me to have an idea for my blog, or one that really blesses me, I will save it to either post or use to write about a specific subject. When my week has been extraordinarily busy, or if I am out of town I will pull a blog that God has used in my life and repost it - believing it will also bless your life. When I came across this blog, it was very practical and I know that in many homes, Sundays are not necessarily conducive to put you in an attitude of worship. So, while this was written to and for Pastors, I believe most of these pointers can help any husband as he leads his family to worship, even on the most difficult Sundays.


http://practicalshepherding.com/2011/05/02/what-if-i-have-a-conflict-with-my-spouse-sunday-morning-before-church/

What if I have a conflict with my spouse Sunday morning before church?


Posted by briancroft on May 2, 2011 in Home and Family, The Pastor's Soul


I wish I could answer this from a hypothetical perspective. I cannot. In fact, I have fresh experience from which to write this post. There are significant implications for the pastor and his wife who have a conflict that goes unresolved leading into the Sunday morning service. Ours started on a Saturday night. In a rare moment in our marriage, the hurt and frustration went unresolved and carried over into Sunday morning. We drove to church still struggling. We both chose not to go to Sunday school, but to go off separately to think, pray, and try to figure out how we each contributed to this rare circumstance of lingering conflict. The problem was I was suppose to preach in one hour. What is a pastor to do in that moment?

Do not hide the fact you are struggling. I am not suggesting to walk around and sulk, but when you are broken, it is not a bad thing to let a few folks know it to pray for you. When I was greeted by a few of my leaders that morning, they could tell something was wrong, so when they asked if I was okay is said, “No, just struggling today. Pray for me.” Most conclude the pastor never struggles like they do. Do not miss an opportunity to be broken before your people, even if you do not get into the details with them.

Search your heart for sin. The apostle James tells us (James 4:1-2) we never get to this point without sin being present and waging war in both our hearts. We took that time before the service alone to allow the Spirit to reveal sin that needed to be confessed to the other. Without exception, sin is present in those moments and sin was present in our conflict.

Find her to try and reconcile before the service. If at all possible, find your spouse and try humbly to confess your sin and ask for forgiveness from the other before you go to preach. I once had a pastor friend of mine convicted after his own sermon about the way he spoke to his wife on the way to church. He ended his sermon, walked down to his wife, whispered in her ear a confession of sin, then came back up to serve the Lord’s Supper to the church. That became a great teaching moment for the congregation. We talked before the service, but my sin had stung in a particularly hurtful way that she was not there to reconcile and frankly I was not yet humbled by my sin. At least try.

Depend upon the mercy of Christ to preach. In a perfect world all is reconciled and right with the world when we stand to proclaim God’s Word. That is not always the case. Broken by sin, discouraged by hurting my wife, and it stealing any desire to preach can be what drives us to utterly depend upon the Lord for mercy to speak through you. God is merciful.

As the service began and we sang, God began to break my heart of how I had sinned against my wife and although I could not get to her (she was in the nursery), the forgiveness and grace of Christ was fresh and evident at that moment. With tears in my eyes on the way home from church, a true genuine, heartfelt confession of sin took place and I was immediately forgiven by my gracious wife.

Have a more involved conversation later that afternoon. Once confession and forgiveness has taken place, then you spend the time talking about how things escalated to this place and to learn from them to avoid it reaching this place in the future, especially on a Sunday morning.

Fear not. Today as you read this, I am on a plane with my sweet wife celebrating our 15 year wedding anniversary (early) for a week away without children out of the country. Our marriage is stronger than ever. That does not mean we will not have these kinds of struggles…and occasionally they fall on Sunday.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thanks for Saying "Yes"

There are three things I always want to celebrate at Trinity: (1) People being saved (2) Babies being born (3) Marriages, new ones and old ones. I thank God that all three happen at Trinity! But, once a year I take a moment of personal privilege and just share one of the greatest things that happened to me in my life. Rebecca Michele Brashear said “yes” when I asked her to marry me! We have walked through this life for 17 years as a married couple - we have faced several surgeries, some joyful times and some deep sorrows… but through life, parenting and this wonderful work of grace we call sanctification, it has been blissful. While we have had disagreements, frustrating times, and arguments, we have never gone through a “rocky period” or a period of time when I have not been overjoyed that God allowed her to be my bride. So, if you will just endure this one time a year – this is a time that I write my blog with only one person in mind.



Michele,

I thank you for the passion you have for our Lord - I thank you for the joy in which you serve our home. If the writer of Proverbs stood up today and asked the question in Chapter 31:10 I would simply answer him this way:

I have found her sir. She has been mine for the last 17 years. She has loved our boys as only a mother could and even served them as their teacher. She has taught them math, reading, writing, church history, but most importantly she has displayed to them what a godly woman looks like, knowing one day they will have to find one. She said “yes” to me 17 years ago having no idea what life would hold, but she has taken care of me during 2 back surgeries and several others surgeries neither of us saw coming. She has encouraged me in everything from marathon running, to preaching the gospel, to teaching our boys about biblical manhood. She has loved me on my most selfish days, and listened and prayed with me on my most broken days. You ask, sir… “Who can find an excellent wife?”… I have found her, not by my wit nor by my looks, but by God’s wonderful act of grace upon my life. Although most days I am sure her body aches with pain from disease, I, as her husband, can seldom tell. She is the most grace filled, yet toughest person I know. She is a friend, lover, confidant, counselor, helper, sister and so much more. Oh, I have been blessed abundantly, but outside of my salvation and the honor of proclaiming God’s Word each week, I know of no other blessing I am more grateful for than my bride. I know I am not married primarily for me, but for God. But these 17 years have been so glorious and joy filled that, in all honesty, I can’t think of one day that I have ever thought of walking away. In fact sir…I can’t think of one moment I have thought that. To call her a “blessing” is too small of a word - but to call her “my life” would be too big of Word because she is not who I worship, she is not the one who redeemed me. But, she is the one who I love with a love which can only be deeper beyond this earth. She is the one I would give my life for and I give my love and devotion to, second only to our Savior. But should you or anyone else wonder, sir…I HAVE TRULY FOUND AN EXCELLENT WIFE.

I love you, Happy Anniversary.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Meaningless Membership - by Al Jackson

Below you will find a wonderful article written by Pastor Al Jackson who is Senior Pastor at Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama. My wife was blessed enough to have him as her Pastor while she attended Auburn University. It is an incredible piece that every Southern Baptist should read and feel some conviction over.


Meaningless Membership: A Southern Baptist Perspective


By Al Jackson

What do Britney Spears, Brad Pitt, Bill Clinton and Al Gore have in common? If you answer, “All four have been members of Southern Baptist churches,” you move to the head of the class.

These four individuals are found in the branch of Christianity that also includes Al Mohler, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Bowden, and Billy Graham, among others. Our Southern Baptist churches include their share of prominent personalities. Some bring honor to our denomination. Others bring dishonor.

MEANINGLESS CHURCH MEMBERSHIP IN THE SBC

The purpose of this article is to answer the question, How has meaningless church membership adversely affected the Southern Baptist Convention?

The question assumes that membership in many Southern Baptist churches has little impact on how those members think or live. Historically, Baptists have affirmed regenerate church membership, which implies that every church member should walk in holiness and purity. Yet the widespread reality today is otherwise. A person can walk in ways that bring great shame to the name of Christ and yet remain a member in good standing in a Southern Baptist church.

The meaninglessness of membership can be seen in the number of Southern Baptist church members compared with the number of people attending Sunday worship. Convention-wide, there are 16 million members. But only 6 million people show up on a typical Sunday. Where are the other 10 million Southern Baptists? Some are providentially hindered, but surely not 10 million.

Apparently, the twentieth-century Southern Baptist revivalist Vance Havner was right when he said, “We Southern Baptists are many but we’re not much.” After the convention-wide crusade to add one million new members to Sunday School rolls in 1954— “A Million More in ’54”— Havner famously said, “If we get a million more like we got in ’54, we’re sunk.”

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF MEANINGLESS MEMBERSHIP?

The Southern Baptist Convention is most likely far smaller than what we report. And our membership rolls most likely contain a multitude of unregenerate individuals. Our Baptist forefathers would view our present condition with shock and horror.

What are the consequences of such meaningless membership?

It Gives a False Assurance of Salvation to Multitudes

First, the failure to practice church discipline and maintain integrity in our church rolls gives the multitude of “inactive members” a false assurance of salvation.

It is common for a man or woman to join a Southern Baptist church, but then to stop participating in worship and fellowship—sometimes for decades. Yet when the church says or does nothing, the individual continues to believe he or she is saved. This is the case because of our refusal to obey God in the matter of discipline.

We often say that we love inactive members too much to discipline them. Actually, our lack of discipline reveals our lack of love for these people who give little or no evidence of the new birth. Many such people are under the just condemnation of a holy God. This is the greatest and most grievous consequence of allowing them to maintain church membership without church involvement.

It Harms Our Gospel Witness

Second, the fact that so many Southern Baptists live in open disobedience to God’s commands and have little involvement with their fellow members greatly harms our denomination’s gospel witness.

Hypocrisy within our churches is common, and Southern Baptist churches almost universally fail to practice church discipline. As a result, Christ’s bride is stained and soiled when she should be progressing toward radiance, holiness, and blamelessness.

Church history professor Tom Nettles has said that “holiness should pave the way for evangelism.” In other words, the holy lives of a congregation should undergird its gospel witness. Those who proclaim the gospel of God’s saving grace in Christ Jesus should be able to point to an assembly of believers who are new creations in Christ.

Sadly, many lost men and women have been able to point to their own moral superiority when comparing themselves with the immoral and deceitful lives of church members. As a result, they feel justified for not trusting in Christ.

It Makes for Some Ugly Business Meetings

Third, meaningless church membership periodically reveals its ugly face at church business meetings.

The typical Southern Baptist congregational meeting is characterized by routine motions and decisions. However, occasionally, when the Spirit begins to move in God-glorifying ways, unregenerate church members who haven’t been seen for years suddenly appear at business meetings. The result is not pretty. God-glorifying initiatives are halted, and godly pastors are often voted out. The occasions on which this has happened are too numerous to count.

It Hinders our Missionary Efforts

Fourth, meaningless membership in Southern Baptist churches hinders our efforts to declare God’s glory to the nations.

Yes, it is true that we have the largest number of missionaries worldwide of any American denomination. Our 5,000 International Mission Board missionaries span the globe. Yet this translates to one missionary for every nine Southern Baptist churches. In light of the Bible’s clear teaching on missions, is it unrealistic to think that every church should have a least one missionary serving internationally? More than 30,000 Southern Baptist churches have no missionary from their ranks. How can this be? Where is the passion to declare God’s glory among the nations?

Consider one other missionary statistic: Southern Baptists gave approximately $150 million last year to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. Southern Baptists tend to take some satisfaction in knowing that the Lottie Moon Offering is the largest missionary offering in the two thousand year history of Christianity. But do the math and divide $150 million by 16 million Southern Baptists. You get less than $10 per Baptist. Apparently, obeying Jesus’ last command to “go and make disciples of all nations” means very little to many.

WHAT SHALL WE DO? RECOVER MEANINGFUL MEMBERSHIP

The picture I have attempted to paint in this article is a dismal one. Vance Havner’s diagnosis from fifty years ago—“Southern Baptists are many but we’re not much”—is as true today as it was then. The greatest tragedy of meaningless church membership is that God’s glory in his church is diminished.

A recovery of meaningful church membership is desperately needed in the Southern Baptist Convention. Perhaps then we will know something more of “him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ten Priniciples on Money and Possessions from Proverbs - by Kevin DeYoung

I was reading the blog below several weeks ago and Kevin DeYoung mentioned Ten Principles on Money and Possessions from Proverbs that I thought was worth reposting. May we not only read these ten principles, but may we live them and teach them to the next generation!


http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/04/29/money-and-possessions-in-proverbs/

1. There are extremes of wealth and poverty that provide unique temptations to those who live in them (Prov. 30:7-9).

2. Don’t worry about keeping up with the Jones’ (Prov. 12:9; 13:7).

3. The rich and poor are more alike than they think (Prov. 22:2; 29:13).

4. You can’t out give God (Prov. 3:9-10; 11:24; 22:9).

5. Poverty is not pretty (Prov. 10:15; 14:20; 19:4).

6. Money cannot give you ultimate security (Prov. 11:7; 11:28; 13:8).

7. The Lord hates those who get rich by injustice (Prov. 21:6; 22:16, 22-23).

8. The Lord loves those who are generous to the poor (Prov. 14:21, 31; 19:7; 28:21)

9. Hard work and good decision-making usually lead to increased prosperity (Prov. 6:6-11; 10:4; 13:11; 14:24; 21:17, 20; 22:4, 13; 27:23-27; 28:20

10. Money isn’t everything. It does not satisfy (Prov. 23:4-5). It is inferior to wisdom (Prov. 8:10-11, 18-19; 24:3-4). It is inferior to righteousness (10:2; 11:4; 13:25; 16:8; 19:22; 20:17; 28:6). It is inferior to the fear of the Lord (Prov. 15:16). It is inferior to humility (Prov. 16:19). It is inferior to good relationships (Prov. 15:17; 17:1).