Saturday, April 23, 2011

What if Saturday is All We Got?

This post is in response to a friends post that posed the question, "Would we still follow Jesus on Saturday?" Check out his blog: 
http://b-logismos.blogspot.com/

I am sure that if we could experience today without the hope of tomorrow that we would really be able to resonant with the followers of Christ in that day. We would be able to experience the doubts that they went through, the depression, and feeling of being wrong. 

But I would also like to point you to Luke 22:46, as J.D. Greear help me see, that Jesus knew that his disciples would experience the temptation to disbelieve that even the cross of Christ took place and especially the resurrection. It is what we still experience today when people deny the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Today represents a day where we feel lonely, our skeptics appear right, everything we put our hope in appears to be maybe wrong... we have doubt as the disciples had doubts.

But the difficulty of this scenario is that we, as the disciples, know that Sunday exists and is coming. Everything changes tomorrow, whether I have doubt of it or not, it all changes.

Christ told his followers that the grave would not hold him in that he would raise again to life. It is the most important miracle that ever took place, which has huge implications for everyone everywhere in all of human history.



So continue to reflect and be somber today, but at the same time get ready for a celebration is coming tomorrow! Please celebrate with your local community of faith and invite people to your church so that they can hear the message of the gospel on Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

It is Good Friday, the day that we remember the reason that Jesus came to earth to die a bloody gruesome death on the cross in our place. At first look it appears that Christ death was nothing more than death in itself, appearing to some skeptics as proof against the claims of Jesus.

But it is only Friday... Sunday is coming!


For those in the RDU area I invite you to join one of the Summit campuses for a Good Friday service at 7pm. For more info go to http://www.summitrdu.com/goodfriday. And if you cannot make it in person there will be a live stream for you to watch.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday Meditation


Tonight I participated in my first Maundy Thursday service that was hosted by Treasuring Christ Church. We took time to remember the death of Christ on our behalf through song, reading of Scripture, and taking of the Lord's supper. This was a great time of reflection for me as I remembered that you don't get to Easter Sunday without first going through the Cross. The death of Christ on the Cross has been described as the great exchange, in the words of John Piper, "My sin goes to Him, and His righteousness comes to me."

I want to encourage you all to take some time before getting to Easter Sunday and reflect on the meaning of this. If you are a follower of Christ then remember Christ's death and the work on the cross and the hope that we were given in him as he rose again on the third day. If you are not a follower of Christ then take time to think of the implications that it has for your life that Christ died on a cross in your place and rose again to life three days later, which made a way of hope and salvation for you.

Here is a brief Maundy Thursday Meditation that John Piper gave a few years ago.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Theological Education

My last few posts have dealt with the training and equipping that believers receive in their discipleship process to be prepared to be the ministers that we have all been called to be. In each of these post I have stated that I am not against seminary training as I am currently pursuing an M.Div, but I recognize that it is not for everyone and do not believe it is for the majority.

Rather I am in agreement with Ralph Moore, http://www.ralphmoorehawaii.com/, who believes "seminary" training should be happening through the local church for all people, but in particular for church planters and pastors. Moore points out that out of the seminary students that make it to graduation, only a small percentage lasts in pastoral ministry more than two years.

Now, I am not sure where Moore got his statistics, but that is a sad reality. The majority of people that I talk with at seminary are there for a minimum of three-five years. So this tells me that the majority of people in seminary spend more time training for pastoral ministry than the amount of time that they are actually in pastoral ministry.

I cannot help but think that Steve Addison might be on to something here when he says, "Theological education in its current form creates barriers to enter into ministry." Since my own time pursuing theological education many believers have pursued me because I am the one in "ministry," but in reality we are all in ministry as disciples of Christ, but the church at large has failed at both communicating that and training their people as ministers.

The below link is a video of John Piper answering the question, "Should churches train their own ministers or be sent to seminary?"
http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/should-churches-train-their-own-ministers-or-should-they-be-sent-to-seminary

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Options for Training and Equipping

The last couple of post have dealt in some way with the amount of training and equipping or the lack thereof that most disciples of Christ receive in order to realize that we are all ministers of the gospel. Below is a short list that gives some suggestions, including seminary, on where to receive training and equipping to be sent out.

Non-Traditional:                                                    
1. Re-Train: http://retrain.org/          
2. ywam: http://www.ywam.org/
3. Mars Hill: http://theresurgence.com/pages/training
4. Bethlehem College and Seminary: http://www.bethlehemcollegeandseminary.org/

The local church should be a given here, but unfortunately most churches are not doing much to train and equip their people. 

Traditional:
1. Denver Seminary: http://www.denverseminary.edu/
2. Southern Seminary: http://www.sbts.edu/
3. Southeastern Seminary: http://sebts.edu/
4. Gordon-Conwell: http://www.gordonconwell.edu/

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Every Disciple Ordained For Ministry

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 13:4 

This verse has challenged me in my thinking about the equipping of believers to go into ministry. The largest denominations and many individual pastors will immediately tell you that if you want to go into ministry that you need to first go to seminary. In this way seminary has become a prerequisite to be in and do ministry.

Even the seminary I attend only lists certain degrees as equipping you to go into ministry and the mission organization that is partnered with the school will not allow you to go on the mission field before taking a set amount of seminary classes. Now, to be fair to the seminary I attend, there are many professors who would disagree with this, but it is listed and communicated by the school this way.

The problem is that I do not see this in Scripture, rather I see men such as Peter and John who were unschooled and ordinary, spending time with Jesus. I know some of you are thinking about now, "Well we don't have the benefit of spending time with Jesus." I understand that we do not physically have Jesus here with us, but if you are not spending time with Jesus then you do not need to go to seminary or into vocational ministry, one can look around and see plenty of people in ministry that have taken this route to the detriment of the church.

Steve Addison said it this way, "Jesus' model of training assumed that the disciples did not know something until they had learned to obey it...He trained the head, the heart, and the hands of the disciples and expected them to pass on what they learned to others."

As I noted yesterday, these are not meant to be posts against seminary, as I am in seminary. Rather these are meant to challenge the church as a whole in what it means to be equipped for ministry and to break down the distinction between "clergy" and "laity." I would love to hear any personal stories, testimonies, or thoughts in regards to every disciple being equipped for ministry. 


Friday, April 8, 2011

Leaders are you mobilizing or stifling a movement?

I have been reading a lot lately about church planting movements that changed the world and have found some ideas very interesting. For example in 1850 the Methodists had 4,000 itinerant preachers, 8,000 local preachers, and more than one million members, which made them the largest religious body in the nation and second largest national institution behind the government.

Steve Addison on this movement said, "This achievement would have been impossible without the mobilization of ordinary people-white and black, young and old, men and women-and the removal of artificial barriers to their engagement in significant leadership as class leaders, local workers, and itinerant preachers."

Addison is getting at something here that many of our churches miss. In many churches and denominations it has become all about the "professional" Christian doing the work of ministry. Even in many of our local churches we will hear the pastors say, "You guys need to be involved with this, do ministry, etc." But then what is communicated through their actions is the attitude of, "I am the seminary trained one here, so allow me to be the face of everything in regards to ministry." It is also communicated  through who serves the family meal (communion) and who baptizes, which neither has to be "professional ministers."

This kind of attitude communicated to the church is what has stifled its growth at many times and in many ways. During the surge of growth in the Methodist denomination they had no college-educated people in ministry, sounds slightly similar to Jesus day to me. And the decline of the Methodists church came during the time when the amateur people in ministry were replaced with the seminary educated professionals.

Now, let me clarify that I am not against seminary if you take that route as part of your equipping, I am in seminary. But, I do believe that there has been too much emphasis put on seminary education and not enough on the local church equipping and training their members to go out to be ministers in their everyday lives. And until we as a church get back to the place where the Methodist were in 1850, we in many ways we are the cause of stifling a movement that could change the world by not equipping every follower of Christ to be on mission.

I leave you with this, if you are a pastor or professionally trained in ministry, what are you doing in order to equip and mobilize your people to go out and do ministry? By the way, Sunday school, one hour a week is not going to cut it. If you are an "ordinary person" in the church, what is it that you are doing to realize that your work in ministry is just as important as your pastor? In case you did not know before today, we are all ministers of the gospel!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sign of the New Covenant in Christ


Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ by Thomas R. Shreiner & Shawn D.Wright. 

Believer's Baptism lays the foundation for baptism as the initiation into the Christian church, by making it unmistakably clear that baptism is intertwined with the gospel message. The authors show concern when some churches practice infant baptism, paedobaptists, because they see no New Testament evidence for this mode of baptism. The distinguishing mark given between Baptists and paedobaptists is that paedobaptists allow some into a covenant community who do not believe, where Baptists do not.
           
The authors are upfront in their promotion of “credobaptism,” the belief that only believers who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ should receive baptism. Their purpose in writing the book is to correct the view of evangelical paedobaptists, mainly in the Reformed tradition. The main theology they are attempting to correct is the belief that as evangelicals’ salvation comes by faith in Christ alone, but as paedobaptists they give the sign of that faith to those without faith, infants.

Early in the book they are honest in their promotion of credobaptism and about their disagreement with paedobaptists. There is a strong argument given from Scripture as to why baptism is only for those who have repented of their sin and put their faith in Christ, but then displayed how baptism is essential in the discipleship process of a Christian.
            
The book shows how John and Jesus baptisms were most likely by immersion that sets up a precedent for all that follow. They also show that water baptism is a presupposition to ones regeneration. Both Schreiner and Wright use Col. 2:12 as a convincing argument that baptism is reserved for those only with regenerate hearts.  Once one has a regenerate heart, then baptism is introduced showing that one is united with Christ through his redemptive work.
            
Wright is helpful and informative in going through the “covenant of grace” appeal that is the logic behind Reformed paedobaptists. He also discusses the different known Reformed paedobaptists throughout Church History and explains where they are not biblically consistent in their beliefs or arguments for paedobaptism. He positively concludes that based on Scripture that baptism is a mark that one has through faith sought after God desiring membership amongst the eschatological community of elect.
            
The book failed to recognize that modern Baptists are inconsistent as a whole on the actual practice and meaning of baptism. But despite these slight problems, this book is among the best available on the theology of baptism. It will remain an asset for future reference and research in the ongoing debate of modes of baptism.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It is Finished: New Single by Matt Papa

For those of you not familiar with Matt Papa you need to stop what you are doing and go check out his music @ mattpapa.com . I had the privilege of getting to know Matt as the Summit launched the North Raleigh campus back in September. I was immediately inclined to talk to Matt as he had some funky looking hair and a very nice beard, not a crappy looking goatee like most worship leaders.

But what I really enjoy about Matt is his love for Jesus that shows through his music. He is not just up there singing another happy clappy song that nobody really knows the meaning of, but rather his songs are rich with Scripture, theology in song. His most recent single, "It is Finished" just released and I want to encourage you all to go get it on itunes, http://www.mattpapa.com/it_is_finished.

This song speaks of the death of Jesus that we see in John 19:28-30 and the work that it accomplished by his death, burial, and resurrection. This song in no way points to Matt, which is why I love it, he is merely allowing himself to be used by God to proclaim what is seen in Scripture.

The phrase "It is Finished" is a proclamation that the work that Jesus was sent to do is now finished, most importantly that he bore the sin of humanity.  Do you understand what this means? That Jesus paid for all the sins of the world, yours and mine included, so that we didn't have to. The Bible tells us that the  penalty of sin is death, but through Christ death we have the opportunity to be restored fully to the relationship that we were meant to have in Christ.

Thank you Matt for reminding me of this rich truth and sharing it with others. This song serves as a reminder that I am helpless and hopeless on my own because I constantly return to my sin, but that I am free in Christ full of hope because my sin has been taken care of and "It is Finished!"

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pastoring your family

Most of my days begin around 5am and do not stop until 12am, this is due in part to being a full-time worker and full-time student. This means that I, like many Americans go full force non-stop from the time I wake up until I go to bed. I am not saying this to toot my own horn because I do not necessarily think that it is a good thing. I have been reflecting on this in my spare time, ;) in the car, and come to realize that I have either taken on too much, spend too much time doing useless things, that I am generally selfish, or that I have a problem saying no. In reality it is a combination of all those things.

Due to my busy lifestyle, it has been revealed to me that by allowing myself to become this busy that I could easily ignore the most important part of my day, pastoring my family. And to be completely transparent I often have ignored the most important part of my day. Much of this has been revealed to me in the past few weeks as our family grew from two to three with the birth of Elliot.

I am like most people and like to strive to do my best, but I have come to realize that my best will sometimes have to be less than others in order to get my priorities right and pastor my family. For work this means that I will show up on time, do a good job, and leave when it is time to go. For school this means that my usual B, I have never been an A student, will have to maybe become a C. In other areas of life I will need to quit wasting time on things that don't matter, and give my all to the ones that do such as leading a missional community. For my family this means that I will free myself up to focus on them and be able to pastor them well.

I must note, that just doing those things does not guarantee that I will not fill that time with something else and that I will necessarily pastor them well automatically. First, I must be a good Christian that loves God my Father. Second, I must be willing to admit when I am wrong and repent. Third, I must model a walk with God in my own life that allows me to cultivate my relationship with my family to help shape them into the people God designed them to be. Mark Driscoll said it this way in his ebook, Pastor Dad, "It is important that a man first love God and then seek a woman who loves God and will respect him and love his children, because he is ultimately responsible as the head of his home."

Resources on pastoring your family:
http://theresurgence.com/categories/family
http://theresurgence.com/files/2011/03/02/relit_ebook_pastordad.pdf