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“There Is No One Way To Do Church”

June 20, 2013
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Have you ever said this? Ever heard anyone say this? I have heard plenty of folks say this when I was a young and dumb new convert. It made sense to me. After all, it’s the pragmatist battle cry. But as I’ve grown and listened to a plethora of pastors, I realize that this battle cry is in fact a cry of lies. It’s not true. Why? Pragmatism isn’t inspired.

It’s crucial to explain upfront that I am not talking about worship styles and how the NT aids us in deciding the style. That’s not my intention. While most of the worship wars date back to the Jesus Movement, now by default focus on contemporary versus traditional, I find that ‘war’ pointless. At the core of it is this: what pleases the majority of the church or a much-needed group that we ought to hone in on. Pragmatism to the core. I guess as long as Ephesians 5:19 (addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs) is the focus of corporate worship through singing, then just maybe this pithily war can be done away with.

What I am talking about has everything to do with how the Bible orders our worship and settles the greatest debate known to the Church. I kid of course. But this is no laughing matter. For once I’d love to hear folks say that it DOES matter how local churches are setup, and it should NEVER be about what attracts the most families and singles. For example, 1 Timothy gives the local church much instruction:

1 Tim 2:1-2 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way

1 Tim 2:8-9  I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel

1 Tim 2:12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet

1 Tim 3:14-15 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth

1 Tim 4:12 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

1 Tim 5:1-3 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.3 Honor widows who are truly widows.

1 Tim 5:19-22 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. 21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

It is absolutely amazing, refreshing, breathtaking, and painful to read all of these verses when thinking about the life of the church and how it is to be ran. Now for the sake of the blog’s length I’m not bringing in all the details of the Old Testament, but suffice it to say that this one book of the Bible alone provides us with much to consider and reflect upon as we think on the right way to do church.

Take some time to read through all of those verses again.

Those things are to take place within the corporate worship of the local church. Nothing less. Plenty more we can add from other bible passages, but this is worth all of our mental energy. So it’s time we change our phrase and start saying, there is one way to do church and it’s the biblical way outlined in the Christian scriptures!

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SBC Takeaway

June 14, 2013
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Upon reading blog after blog, sermon notes, and the like, I walk away feeling as if my denomination has really missed IT yet once again at the convention. As important as evangelism is, knowing the content of that evangelism is the utter most important thing. In fact, it binds the Calvinists and non-Calvinists, it builds churches, and it saves Jew and Gentile. Somehow, we as a convention managed to set our sights on a practice that almost became our name.

Great Commission is über serious, please hear me say that. Also please hear me say the Gospel is more serious and necessary. The two often go hand-in-hand, as they should, however one is predicated upon the other. For instance, we don’t talk about godly parenting without talking about godly people joining in marriage having marital sex and so on. Therefore, we don’t jump to how we all ought to be sharing the gospel without making clear what the gospel is in the clearest sense.

We talk about how many international missionaries we have and how many we’ve sent out. That is of some importance in my estimation. Although, our sending agencies haven’t been the most helpful over the years. This is discussed because it all leads back to the Great Commission so that we can point to the total number of baptisms for the year. I wonder if the number were so big would it leave the attendees in shock and awe much like the famous Gladiator line, “Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is that not why you are here?”

There are other factors I wish were discussed and delved into, but sadly enough one major topic makes the world go round for Southern Baptists. It’s nigh time we set our sights on the gospel and follow the logical implications it leads to such as understanding the church in a fuller sense, a better view of marriage, gospel parenting that includes family worship, and how the gospel intersects with social justice. Those are just some issues off the cuff. I agree that pornography is serious, but not the Boy Scouts rhetoric.

I hope that one year at the convention we talk about the only thing we can talk about in our pulpits…


Friendships and Doctrine Differences

June 3, 2013
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Bridges That Are Built

The steps we take to build bridges has everything to do with what we plan to transport across that bridge. Sometimes it’s truth, watered down truth, positions stated as wavering opinions, or a plain ol olive branch. That olive branch can usually mean nothing is transported because one solely desires to just love the person and not present any cause for disharmony or disunity. And this line of thinking has filtered into the church, especially when it comes to good friends.

But here’s the problem with that.

If you encounter a person who is a believer that you don’t consider a friend, you may not care what sort of bridge is built because you have nothing to lose if communication starts and ends with that one conversation. But that’s not how the new covenant community is to act nor think. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We are called by Paul mainly to be in unity around our faith and if it’s not there, to seek peace as much as is in our ability. Sadly that passage isn’t followed much.

The flip side of that coin is when we do encounter friends or those whom we dare not upset (lol), we typically are prone to set aside our doctrinal convictions for the sake of friendship when it’s doctrine that unites us. Surely friends and brothers in the faith can exist while disagreeing with one another doctrinally over issues that aren’t outside of Christian orthodoxy nor are they top shelf/primary/first tier rate doctrines.

This is also brings into question the consistency behind the bridges we build with our brothers and sisters. Why wouldn’t they all be bridges where truth is the foundation and luggage transported? Truth builds up. Truth corrects. Truth transforms. Truth rebukes. Truth trains. Truth is an attribute of God. Jesus said he is the truth. Why on earth would we settle for anything less when our most important relationship in this world is predicated off the truth? So build that bridge with fellow believers with the mindset that the most healthiest thing we can give them is….truth.


Kingdom Caveat

June 3, 2013
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Does the kingdom of God ever cross our minds? As believers, do we recognize that we are now in the kingdom and that the final coming of the kingdom has yet to come?

This is more than some trivial mind game or slight recognition. This is monumental because it has everything to do with the gospel.

Because Jesus obeyed the Father, came down to earth, lived a righteous life preaching repentance and judgment to Jews and Gentiles, died on the cross to create one new man uniting both Jews and Gentiles, resurrected 3 days later, fulfilled the Law, taught of the already-not yet kingdom, and ascended to the right hand of the Father leaving believers indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that we need a kingdom mindset.

The kingdom of God was preached by John the Baptist and Jesus, right? Believers were put into this sphere at Calvary, and still are being added today. This is a glorious reality.

We are called out because of the gospel by God, justified because of the gospel by Jesus, being sanctified because of the gospel by the Spirit, so that we can be glorified because of the gospel in the kingdom of God. This should blow your minds!

Let’s be readily mindful of the kingdom we believers find ourselves in as we’re called to be holy, righteous, and blameless. And let us press on looking forward to that coming kingdom where we’re completely sinless spending the rest of our lives with the Savior.

This kingdom caveat can indeed impact the lives in our local churches.