Entries from January 2009 ↓
January 28th, 2009 — Church, Ministry, Outreach, Personal, Theology
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
Certainly one of the crying needs of the church is the reinvigoration of the model of the pastor-scholar. While scholars are seldom pastoral in their orientation and aims, pastors are seldom theological, much less scholarly, in their thinking and practice. As a result, the church suffers from an overabundance of superficiality and a dearth of substance. What is needed for the long-term health and vibrancy of the church are pastors with scholarly heads and shepherding hearts.
January 27th, 2009 — Church, Ministry, Outreach, Personal, Theology
“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).
The local church is indispensible in raising up the next generation of pastoral leaders. Yet for far too long this responsibility has been abdicated to Bible colleges and seminaries. While such institutions have an important role to play in ministry preparation, the church itself needs to take the lead role in raising up its own leadership.
January 26th, 2009 — Church, Ministry, Outreach, Personal, Theology
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this, to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).
Historically, evangelicals have struck a good balance between personal piety and social action. Recently, however, we’ve slipped to one side: stressing piety and purity to such an extent that in some cases we’ve even withdrawn from the world, thus leaving the gritty work of social engagement to the more liberal wings of Christianity. We need to return to a religion that is indeed pure and undefiled, balanced and holistic.
January 22nd, 2009 — Church, Ministry, Outreach, Postmodernism, Theology
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
Without in any way diminishing the truth of the gospel to an unbelieving world, we must work hard to commend the beauty of the gospel. For the gospel offers a compelling way of living, not just a compelling way of thinking, because it is rooted in a beautifully compelling person, Jesus Christ. Beauty and truth – balancing these is the key to winsome gospel outreach, especially in postmodern times when beauty is often more appealing than truth.
January 21st, 2009 — Church, Ministry, Outreach, Theology
“[W]e have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (Rom. 1:5).
On the one hand, Christian discipleship needs to be understood as living the life of faith and fighting the fight of faith by daily relying upon the promises of God. On the other hand, Christian faith needs to be understood as inextricably tied to a life of obedience. Rather than being viewed as optional or secondary, obedience must be viewed as simply the visible expression of an invisible faith. For that is simply what faith does: it “works through love” (Gal. 5:6).
January 20th, 2009 — Church, Ministry, Outreach, Theology
“There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:4-6).
We continue to witness the fragmentation of the church in the Western world, not least in Protestant evangelicalism. The church also continues to suffer reproach for its failure to manifest to the world the kind of unity enjoyed by the Father and the Son (John 17:21). Because of this we must eagerly seek to maintain the “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), practicing unity with other believers in light of our common faith in the Triune God of the Bible.
January 19th, 2009 — Church, Ministry, Outreach, Theology
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).
The accomplishment of the Great Commission is not simply an ideal we pine for, but a goal we seek after, mobilize for, strategize around. God has blessed his church, like Abraham, to be a blessing for the nations (Gen. 12:1-3). Until the Lord returns, world evangelization should capture the church’s imagination and compel her into joyful, sacrificial action.
January 16th, 2009 — Church, Ministry, Personal, Sermons
Forgiveness. That’s the answer to the Christmas riddle I posted in late December:
The one gift everyone gives, but no one can give;
And every time we give it, we realize we can’t;
But once it’s been truly given, it never needs to be given again.
And kudos to the person who commented; you nailed it!
To hear more on the riddle and it’s bearing on the meaning of Christmas, let me invite you to listen here.
January 15th, 2009 — Church, Ministry, Outreach, Personal, Theology
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2).
The mainstay of the corporate gathering of the church, and the centerpiece of our life together, should be the ministry of the word through expositional preaching. This requires that we consistently and unabashedly open the Scriptures and seek to make plain their meaning. In this way we discharge our responsibility, as Paul did while in Ephesus, to teach the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Moreover, God’s word is honored, and his people edified, when the preacher envisions his task as to declare the “oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11).
January 14th, 2009 — Church, Ministry, Personal, Theology
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).
Just as the primary task of the gathered church is the edification of its members, so the primary task of pastoral leadership is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. The pastor is not the one who ministers, while everyone else watches. Rather, ministry is the responsibility of every member according to each one’s gift.