Matthew R. Perry

Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Sunday’s Sermon: “Jesus Saves, Jesus Sends” (Luke 9:1-9)

In Christ, church, Evangelism, Leadership, Missions, Salvation, Worship on March 23, 2009 at 12:32 pm

(If you wish to listen to the mp3 of this sermon, click on the title of this sermon in the sidebar of this blog.  This sermon was preached on Sunday, March 22, 2009 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY where I have served as pastor since September 2003.)

Every leader, no matter who he is or what he is engaged in, must multiply himself. If a leader does not pass along his vision, delegate that vision out, and then give away some of that responsibility, that influence will be small. That influence will only go as far as that person can. But leaders and organizations’ influence multiplies when others are involved in making the vision a reality.

When I became a minister of music and youth at a church in South Florida, I went from a small church with a very small choir and about a ten-voice children’s choir to a church that had five large choirs from preschool to senior adults. While they already had people in place for the preschool choir and children’s choir, I was directly in charge of the youth choir, adult choir, and senior adult choirs which had a combined 90 people involved. I was swamped.

Yet, my greatest challenge was the youth choir. We formed an instant bond, and I knew how to direct choirs—but the youth also were involved in large dramatic musicals. This wasn’t where you just gave them some lines and said, “OK, guys—do your best!” There were tryouts, auditions, and some serious practices. It was not my strength, and it showed at our first musical.

So I had to swallow my pride and get some help with this. Someone in our church was good at drama and had experience doing it, so I enlisted Sean and he took over all the drama. We would coordinate, I’d tell him my thoughts, and he’d either run with what I said or improve on what I said. But the burden was lifted, ministry was expanded, and the youth choir absolutely flourished.

Jesus understood this. As we have been going through Luke, we have seen that Jesus was very busy in doing ministry. He would do the preaching, he would do the healing, he would talk to the opposition—and he did this alone! Even the account of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the issue of blood, people pressed in around him so much that he struggled to get from Point A to Point B. He was it! He even had to divert his attention from Jairus’ issue to tend to the woman. As far as the perspective of heaven was concerned, this was exactly how God planned it. But from heaven’s and earth’s perspective, Jesus needed to give away his ministry not only so he could spread his influence—he needed to train these young “interns” to carry on after He ascended to the Father.

It’s interesting that Jesus chose this path—involving flawed and frail human beings to expand his ministry and work through them and all who follow the Gospel.

1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 And he said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. 4And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them." 6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, 8 by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. 9Herod said, "John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?" And he sought to see him.

As we look at this passage, we must remember this without fail: those whom Jesus saves, Jesus sends. He calls you, he empowers you, he directs you, and when it comes to the church he stays with you in his Spirit. Not only this, but the Spirit moving you along gives you the desire to point others to Christ. The connection is such in the New Testament that if you find yourself not wanting to be sent or resisting it, there is always a question as to whether you are saved. Spurgeon says:

Any Christian has a right to disseminate the gospel who has the ability to do so; and more, he not only has the right, but it is his duty so to do as long as he lives. The propagation of the gospel is left, not to a few, but to all disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.[1]

1. Jesus saves us and sends us, armed with the gospel (1-3).

Again, look at verses 1-3:

1 And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 And he said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.”

Jesus chose these twelve out of many, and he poured his life and teaching into these twelve men. During this mission, they were only armed with the power of the Word of God to do both physical and spiritual healings. This is great in seeing how Christ uses people to expand and conduct his ministry. In John 6:69-71, we read:

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the Twelve?”

Christ chose the Twelve to serve as an extension of himself in the world. This is a foreshadowing of how his church would serve. Remember from Ephesians 2:19-21:

19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

Jesus saves us and sends us to be an extension of Him as well—the apostles were sent, yet we are His body that’s living and active in the world. What is the resource He gave them to use? “He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” I read this, and two things came to mind. I recall in Acts 1 after Jesus rose from the dead, he spent his last days: “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

The other thing that came to mind was a conference I went to in Elizabethtown this past Tuesday called “Essential Church?: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts.” Dan Summerlin gave a breakout session talk about the necessity of a church understanding its mission. He recommended to us pastors gathering together your key leaders and spend three months on this. He said, “The first four weeks of this, do a study on the Kingdom of God to get that framework in mind. Then you’re ready for the particulars of your church.”

Notice over what Jesus gives them authority: demons and diseases. Why is this significant? Did not Jesus have power over the demons and to cure diseases in Luke 8? Jesus called them, saying that they now have His power and authority over these issues as well. He doesn’t just save them. He doesn’t just empower them. He sends them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal.

We must realize that this was a short-term mission for a specific purpose. In this passage, they were to take nothing for their journey, when in another missions trip they were to take extra supplies. This was a time where they would get used to sharing the gospel in various communities, especially after the time Jesus was ascended—given great evidence of this in the Book of Acts.

We must also realize that Jesus is bringing together his apostles (and this word, from the Greek, means ones who are sent—in this case, ones who are sent by Christ for a specific purpose).

2. Jesus saves us and sends us to work the Gospel out in our communities (4-6).

Look with me at verses 4-6:

4And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them." 6 And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.

Verse 6 is telling: “And they departed and went through the villages.” Jesus sent out the Twelve to “proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal.” Notice too the parallel understanding of proclaiming the Kingdom of God and “preaching the gospel.” So that’s the what—now we see the where: the villages. They went into the communities where people lived.

Christ empowers us to be witnesses from our neighborhoods to our nations. How? “The Holy Spirit will empower you, and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8). Do we understand that the power that God gave to Christ and that Christ gave to the disciples is ours as well? We need to realize a few things: one, the one who calls us; two, what he arms us with; and three, who he sends us to.

John Benton in his book, “Why Join a Small Church?” tells the story of when U.S. troops captured the Pacific Island of Okinawa towards the end of World War II. The island by and large contained great moral and social issues, except for one city—Shimbakuku. Upon their arrival there, they were greeted by two men, one carrying a Bible.

Everything in that village was neat and tidy, a far cry from the state of the other villages they had encountered. The reason? Thirty years prior a missionary had stopped in Shimbakuku on his way to Japan. He didn’t stay long and only two people (the old men) became Christians. He left them a Bible and begged them to shape their lives by it. They did so, and the whole community changed.

Do we not need to go into our villages? Has not God called us to go into our communities as part of the Great Commission? You see, in every case where God saves, He sends! And He arms us with the Spirit and His Word! We are to know our Savior, we are to know His Word, but we are also to know the people to whom we minister.

Have you ever talked to someone who feels called into international missions? In Southern Baptist life, if someone goes into missions through the International Missions Board, whether career or a two-year journeyman stint, end up spending some time a the Missionary Learning Center. There, they are trained to learn the language and culture of the people to whom they will serve and minister the Gospel. Why? Because some of our American traditions and customs may not only fit, but some may take offense. Plus, we need to be ready to adapt.

What is so interesting to me is, we do not question those methods of the IMB in training these missionaries to study their culture. Yet, we fail to see that this is what we need to be doing as well! 1 Chronicles 12:32 says, “Of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.”

You see, there is a difference between the church being like the world and the church understanding the world. Some Bible-believing churches want to completely cut themselves off from anything in the world

3. Jesus saves us and sends us, challenging outsiders to deal with Him and His Gospel (7-9).

7 Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, 8 by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the prophets of old had risen. 9Herod said, "John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?" And he sought to see him.

Consider the progression here. Jesus saves us in order to send us. He gives us His power and His love and His desire for His prized creation and re-creates them, making them new creatures in Christ who no longer desire their own wills and appeal to their own flesh are sold out to the Kingdom of God—such a disparity will make a great difference in the world.

Yet, Jesus’ ministry had gotten the attention of none other than Herod the Tetrarch (also known as Herod Antipas). Herod ruled Galilee from around 4 B.C. until 39 A.D. He was every bit as evil as his father. Luke alludes to the fact that he was “perplexed because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead” (v. 7). He by the urging of Herodias beheaded John the Baptist who accused him of adultery by having his brother Philip’s wife. He was familiar with John’s powerful preaching on the Kingdom of God, and Jesus (as far as he knew) had the same powerful preaching as well. “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?”

Herod wanted to meet him. Yet later on Herod wanted to kill Jesus. But in Luke 13:32, Jesus told the messengers, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my course.’” (Luke 13:32). Later on in Luke 23, during Jesus’ trial, Herod finally meets Jesus in person and wants a miracle from him—something in which Jesus did not oblige him.

What do we see from this? For one, we see that on the surface, Christianity looks very good. The disciples were preaching, yes, but they were healing! Many saw these incredible miracles and wanted to be a part of what was going on. They liked what they saw on the outside concerning Jesus and Christianity in general.

Yet, as we see with Herod, when people hear of the very nature of Christianity and the message that not only saved us but the message that we as saved people are armed with, they want to silence us. They may like what we do, but the world will hate what Christians say because it will not just involve an enjoyment of physical miracles, but it involves a spiritual change. When the Scriptures say, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness,” they will resent the notion that a change, a spiritual transformation must take place.

A.W. Tozer calls for a certain type of preacher to step up:

Another kind of religious leader must arise among us. He must be of the old prophet type, a man who has seen visions of God and has heard a voice from the Throne. When he comes (and I pray God there will be not one but many), he will stand in flat contradiction to everything our smirking, smooth civilization holds dear. He will contradict, denounce and protest in the name of God and will earn the hatred and opposition of a large segment of Christendom. Such a man is likely to be lean, rugged, blunt- spoken and a little bit angry with the world. He will love Christ and the souls of men to the point of willingness to die for the glory of the One and the salvation of the other. But he will fear nothing that breathes with mortal breath.[2]

Yet, we may wish to silence Jesus, but there is a little seed that still intrigues us—as it did with Herod during Jesus’ trial. He wanted to see a miracle. Even with his skepticism, he still wanted to see if Jesus was all he said he was, but the only thing he could muster up was a desire to see an external magic trick. He still felt as if the world bowed to him, yet Jesus showed numerous times that He followed another King!

Our lives must be lived both in private and in public in such a way that the world and its leaders will have to contend with Christians—not politically, but spiritually. First Peter 3:15-16 says,

“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”

Conclusion

One time, Billy Graham took time to speak to President John F. Kennedy about the gospel and the Second Coming of Christ. Kennedy disregarded what Graham had to say. Yet, sometime later when he and Graham were together, President Kennedy asked Billy if he could ride with him to his hotel room—clearly something was on his mind. Graham was suffering from a nasty cold and told the President he did not want to give this to him. So they settled for another time. Yet, just days later, JFK was shot in Dallas, and the conversation never took place.


[1]C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures To My Students (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 2008), 19.

[2]A.W. Tozer, The Size of the Soul, 128-129.

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When Smaller Churches Rise to Greater Heights

In Acts 1:8, Christ, church, Evangelism, Leadership, prayer, Worship on March 12, 2009 at 5:46 pm

I am pastor of a church that averages around 170 per Sunday morning: 30 in the children’s area (workers included) and 140 in the main worship service. Technically, we are above the national average of churches (which average approximately 75), but we are just below the “medium” range, which begins at 200.

By the world’s perspective, smaller churches face a daunting task. In an age of consumerism where people come to a church to see what that church can do for them and provide for them, we are tempted to work to make the “big sell.”

Over the years, we have lost some of our long-time members to bigger churches in our area that have more resources to provide more programs for children, youth, young adults, parents, grandparents, singles, divorced—every type of demographic available.

While these churches gain traction and momentum, many of our smaller churches work hard to maintain. Some may visit the church, take a look and examine the particular ministries on the table, then may feel they need to move on to churches with … well… more!

John Benton in his wonderful little book “Why Join a small Church?” recounts a story of a friend of his who was a zealous Christian and a pastor of a small church. Though the church had only a dozen or so elderly folks in attendance, he took the call. He preached the Word of God faithfully, with much boldness, and accompanied by much prayer. Here Benton describe this:

What a situation! For many years nothing much seemed to happen, except a few minor encouragements from time to time. Though the preaching was good, the church continued fairly small. But my friend stuck to the task, praying, preaching, and doing whatever he could, with the help of a faithful few, to make the little flock a group of Christians pleasing to Christ. And after something like fifteen years of his ministry there, suddenly the church took off. Christians moving into the area began to join, people began to get saved. Things they had only dreamed of before as a church began to come true. The church numbers something like 200 to 250 people on Sundays, the building has been renovated and they have been used by God to plant another church in a nearby town.

Numbers are not everything. I believe this church had already become a great church even before attendance began to increase.

Even with slight numbers, small churches can rise to greater heights. How?

  1. A commitment to prayer and ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4).
  2. A determination to establish God-centered, Christ-exalting relationships (Acts 2:42-47);
  3. A desire to inject the message of the Gospel, accompanied with genuine compassion and care for those you are trying to reach (Ephesians 4:15);
  4. A hunger and thirst for knowing what you believe, why you believe, and why it is worth telling (Ephesians 4:11-16);
  5. A dogged commitment to assembling together with the saints at the appointed time (Hebrews 10:23-25);
  6. A shedding of a consumeristic attitude, looking for a church that meets your particular needs, rather than rolling up your sleeves and helping that church be what God would have it to be!

I’m sure there are more. But notice what resources are needed to maintain these things: the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), the Bible, and you.

What about it?

Lessons on Authority, Integrity, and Accountability

In home, integrity, Leadership on March 5, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Everyday, we are confronted with images on advertisements as large as billboards, or as small as marginal ads on websites that cause stumbling blocks to many men. We are confronted with movies, television shows, even commercials which seek to stimulate our sexual desires in ways never before thought of in previous generations. This is a grave danger! What starts out as a simple innocuous seed in the heart and mind can bloom into full blown sin.

We would do well to heed what James says:

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:12-15, ESV).

God has called us to remain “steadfast under trial”—the trial being the trials of Satan, the world, and the flesh (1 John 2:15) luring us with temptation into sin. He is so subtle, that he can even use things provided by God Himself for God’s good and turn it into something wicked.

1. Christian husbands must embrace the role of spiritual leaders in the home without fail.

The Apostle Paul gives us some very timely words in his letter to the Ephesians: In Ephesians 5:25-30, we read:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

The temptation for Christian husbands and fathers is to simply go through the motions to get through the day. Get up, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch TV, go to bed. If you’re a great father by our culture’s standards, you may read stories or play games with your children, even have a meaningful conversation with your wife. These activities would put you in the minority of most homes, and thus give you a false sense of confidence as to your leadership in the home.

Yet, is there any spiritual, Christ-centered leadership taking place? While God wants us to provide for our families, pay our taxes, spend time with our kids, etc., God has entrusted our spouses and children to us to nourish and cherish as Christ nourishes and cherishes the church and gave Himself for her.

Men, our wives are silently begging and pleading for us to step up to the plate and be the spiritual leaders in the home. Sadly, too many of us have abdicated that role to our wives. Prayer and family worship are hard work and out of the norm. Our parents may not have modeled that for us. Let’s break that generational curse and lead our families! Otherwise, you risk having them starve for spiritual nourishment, only to risk being fed by someone else (maybe another man). Our bodies, emotions, and souls are all connected within us—they each affect the other. So do not give room to the devil. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:7-8).

2. Christian men must engage in the fight of spiritual integrity at all costs.

Rick Warren rightly notes:

Integrity is the foundation of leadership. You only lead people if they trust you. If you lose people’s trust, you’ve lost it all. That’s why the right to lead is earned, and it’s earned by being trustworthy. I think the most damaging sin a leader can commit is to betray the trust of his people.

This applies to every area of leadership we have: the home, the ministry, the workplace, or within the recesses of your own heart. We fight for integrity not simply because people may think ill of us or that people may start a rumor to ruin our reputation—we fight for integrity for the sake of our own souls before the living and all-seeing Savior and Lord. We maintain integrity to protect ourselves! Jesus says in Mark 7:21-23:

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).

These issues reside within us because we are all sons of Adam whose flesh has been seared by the Fall’s curse! So being aware of this makes us see our need for the Gospel to cleanse and transform our sullied hearts. And we preach the Gospel to ourselves every day because we see the need for cleansing every day. We understand ourselves, and we understand our dire need for the Spirit to lead us where we should be.

3. Christian men must enlist other men to not only disciple but also to whom to be accountable without exception.

Paul gives Timothy a great model for discipleship:

1You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2and 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 Timothy 2:1-2).

Paul strengthened Timothy, Timothy entrusted to faithful men who would, in turn, teach others. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Galatians 6:1-2 says:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Jesus says in John 15:12-17:

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

What does this say? This says that Christians (and specifically in our case, Christian men) must never try to walk their Christian walk alone. There must be some significant transparent accountability. Why? This will serve to stave off potential sins that would occur if they worked in their own strength to resist. Hebrews 10:23-25 says,

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Stir up one another. Encourage one another. Bear one another’s burdens. Love one another. Are we seeing a pattern here?

4. Christian leaders (pastors and deacons) must examine areas in which they would be alone with another woman and take appropriate measures.

Consider what this father tells his son in Proverbs 5:7-14:

And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”

Men, you must never be alone with another woman, unless she is your wife. “Too legalistic,” you may say. No matter the intentions, someone will always believe the worst. “But what if it’s a church member who needs counsel?” Insist on taking someone with you, or that they bring a friend. It’s not worth losing your reputation.

Remove yourself from situations that will cause you to stray. Have to work on the computer? Install an Internet filter like http://www.bsafeonline.com. Find yourself up late watching shows you shouldn’t after your spouse has gone to bed? Turn off the TV and go to bed with your spouse. Take every step you can to keep yourself away from all appearance of evil. It only takes a rumor.

“Making Vision Stick” — a Short Book Review

In Leadership on December 11, 2008 at 11:35 am

At the close of each year through the first few weeks of the following year, I prayerfully seek God’s will and desire for our church. I find myself reading through the Scriptures with an intentionality of understanding what God has for the church in general as well as our church specifically in where we are located.

God brings along books to me as well that are priceless. The latest book is Making Vision Stick by Andy Stanley.  Having only read one other book by Stanley (Visioneering) — and that was years ago — I approached this book without much bias or even expectation.

Yet I would highly recommend this short book.  He recommends three ways to help vision stick:

  • Cast vision strategically: defining your vision
  • Celebrate vision systematically: regularly rejoicing in the successes
  • Live your vision continuously: putting your vision into practice in your own life.

He goes on to note how the vision statement for the church must be simple and memorable.  He notes how it is better to have vision statement simple and incomplete rather than complete but too long to remember.  It is up to the leader to help those following him to see the vision the leader has embraced.

The Higher the Expectations, The More Prone To Disappoint

In 2008 Presidential Election, Barack Obama, Leadership on December 9, 2008 at 6:31 pm

Politico has a report regarding the President-elect’s appointments to his cabinet as well as some of his agenda:

Liberals are growing increasingly nervous – and some just flat-out angry – that President-elect Barack Obama seems to be stiffing them on Cabinet jobs and policy choices.

Obama has reversed pledges to immediately repeal tax cuts for the wealthy and take on Big Oil. He’s hedged his call for a quick drawdown in Iraq. And he’s stocking his White House with anything but stalwarts of the left.

Now some are shedding a reluctance to puncture the liberal euphoria at being rid of President George W. Bush to say, in effect, that the new boss looks like the old boss.

“He has confirmed what our suspicions were by surrounding himself with a centrist to right cabinet. But we do hope that before it’s all over we can get at least one authentic progressive appointment,” said Tim Carpenter, national director of the Progressive Democrats of America.

OpenLeft blogger Chris Bowers went so far as to issue this plaintive plea: “Isn’t there ever a point when we can get an actual Democratic administration?”

Even supporters make clear they’re on the lookout for backsliding. “There’s a concern that he keep his basic promises and people are going to watch him,” said Roger Hickey, a co-founder of Campaign for America’s Future.

These small paragraphs give all leaders one good moral maxim to stand by: “The higher the expectations, the more prone to disappoint.” Barack Obama’s campaign was filled with promises for progressive (read: liberal) change, therefore many progressives were rejoicing at his election, feeling that he would implement that change immediately.

I do commend Obama for coming in, evaluating the situation, and realizing that changes do take time. One man cannot implement change all by himself, especially when the often inconvenient system of checks and balances are in place. Plus, the man is not officially president yet!

Nehemiah was a leader who understood the need to discern and evaluate the situation before running hogwild into his mission. He heard the problems (Nehemiah 1:1-3), began praying to the God of heaven for wisdom (4-11), came to the leaders with the problem as well as a solution (2:1-8), then surveyed the situation himself (2:9ff) before coming up with a plan (2:19ff).

So regardless, let your expectations match reality.

5 Reasons Why I Won’t Lead My Wife (Provocative Church) — great post!

In Church Life, Family, Leadership on June 5, 2007 at 1:04 pm

Last night my wife and were talking. We were talking through some questions and issues of faith and life. During our conversation, I picked up on a couple of issues that have been a reoccurring theme in her relationship with God (at this point those issues will remain cryptic – this is my blog and not hers and therefore I am entitled to expose myself and not my wife).  I felt the Lord impress on my heart that I needed to step up to lead her and disciple her through these issues. I made the big pronouncement that we should do this Bible Study together that really helped me sort out this stuff in my own life and walk with the Lord.

As soon as I spoke those words, I felt impending doom. I had made those pronouncements before. But when push came to shove, I didn’t deliver. During some time with God this morning I came up with 5 reasons why I won’t lead my wife.


(Click here to read the five reasons. He absolutely nails it!)

(HT: Mark Combs)

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5 Reasons Why I Won’t Lead My Wife (Provocative Church) — great post!

In Church Life, Family, Leadership on June 5, 2007 at 1:04 pm

Last night my wife and were talking. We were talking through some questions and issues of faith and life. During our conversation, I picked up on a couple of issues that have been a reoccurring theme in her relationship with God (at this point those issues will remain cryptic – this is my blog and not hers and therefore I am entitled to expose myself and not my wife).  I felt the Lord impress on my heart that I needed to step up to lead her and disciple her through these issues. I made the big pronouncement that we should do this Bible Study together that really helped me sort out this stuff in my own life and walk with the Lord.

As soon as I spoke those words, I felt impending doom. I had made those pronouncements before. But when push came to shove, I didn’t deliver. During some time with God this morning I came up with 5 reasons why I won’t lead my wife.


(Click here to read the five reasons. He absolutely nails it!)

(HT: Mark Combs)

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Theologically-Driven Preaching (Daniel Akin)

In Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Leadership, Preaching on April 21, 2007 at 12:00 am

Dr. Daniel Akin, President of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, has written a very helpful pamphlet on the necessity of theologically-driven preaching for the church.

(HT: Thabati Anyabwile

CAN THEOLOGICALLY DRIVEN PREACHING HELP RESCUE THE SBC?
By: Daniel L. Akin

The Conservative Resurgence gave Southern Baptist a second chance but it did not secure our future. Has there been a Resurgence? Yes. Has there been a Restoration? Doubtful. Have we experienced genuine Revival? Clearly the answer is no.

Eight Theological Essentials for Southern Baptists in the 21st Century
1) The non-negotiable of a regenerate Church (John 3; Rom. 3; 2 Cor. 5; Gal. 3)

  • First, we need to make it clear that church membership is a privilege, not a right.
  • Second, we must preach against easy believism and reject any form of a compromised gospel.
  • Third, we must be careful with respect to our own theological integrity concerning infant or early adolescent baptism that lacks a clear understanding and confession of the gospel.

2) The essential nature of believers baptism by immersion with a biblical appreciation for its significance. (Matt. 28; Acts, Rom. 6)

That baptism involved a particular member (a believer), mode (immersion) and meaning (public identification with Christ and the believing community) is grounded in New Testament witness and has been a hallmark of Baptists throughout their history.

We must see evidence of regeneration for those we baptize. The baptism of young children must be administered with the greatest possible care.

Baptism should be viewed and emphasized as a first and necessary step of discipleship and obedience to Christ. We will reject as inconceivable the idea of admitting anyone into our membership without believer’s baptism by immersion.

3) The recovery of the lost jewels of church discipline and genuine disciple-making as essential marks of the Church.

Church discipline is clearly and repeatedly taught in the New Testament, yet most do not preach on it or practice it. Jesus addresses it in Matt. 18:15-20 and Paul does so several times in 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 2 Cor. 2:5-11; Gal. 6:1-2; and Titus 3:9-11.

Theologically it is to disobey the plain teachings of Scripture and ignore the necessity of church discipline in maintaining the purity of the church.

  • First, we must preach and teach our people what the Bible says about church discipline.
  • Second, we must begin to implement church discipline lovingly, wisely, gently, carefully and slowly.
  • Third, we must apply discipline to areas like absentee membership as well as the specific list provided by Paul in 1 Cor. 5.

4) The emphasis and practice of a genuinely Word-based ministry (2 Tim. 4:1-5)For those of us who profess to believe in both the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, there must be in our churches what I call “engaging exposition.”We must advocate an expositional method with a theological mindset under an evangelical mandate. It is preaching that models for our people how they should study, interpret and teach the Bible.

5) The vision for a faithful and authentic biblical ecclesiology (Acts. 2; Eph. 4; Pastorals)

  • First, there must be the 4 marks of 1) a regenerate Church membership, 2) the Word, 3) the Ordinances and 4) Church Discipline.
  • Second the local church should be elder/pastor led and congregationally governed. Here, in my judgment, there is room for flexibility in terms of patterns, structure and implementation.

As we move forward in this century, Pastors will need to give particular attention to a theology of stewardship and discipleship.

The members of our churches must move from being shoppers to buyers to investors.

6) The continued nurturing of a fervent missionary and evangelistic passion that is wedded to a healthy and robust theology (1 Thess. 1; Eph. 4:11-16; Jude 3-4; Rev. 5)

No church will be evangelistic by accident.
First, there are multiple ways churches can do missions and evangelism. That we do it is the key.

Marketplace evangelism which can reach into the workplace is an area needing attention, strategizing and training.

Youth and student evangelism needs renewed emphasis.

Theologically and biblically, we must challenge our people to evangelize without bias or prejudice, loving and going after the exploding ethnic and minority groups where we live.

7) The teaching and preaching of a 1st century biblical model for church planting (Acts 17)
The 21st century is more like the 1st century than has ever been the case in our Western culture.

We are losing America and the West because we are losing the great metropolitan areas where there is a concentration of people.

  • First, explore creative methods, but make sure that they are faithfully filtered through the purifying waters of Holy Scripture.
  • Second, be wise fishers of men.
  • Third, we must ask God to raise a new generation of godly and gifted church planters and missionaries.

8) The wisdom to look back and remember who we were so that as we move forward we will not forget who we are

The Southern Baptist Convention today is not the Southern Baptist Convention of your parents, and certainly not your grandparents.

We now have several generations who know almost nothing of William Carey and Adoniram Judson, Bill Wallace, Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. They do know nothing of Boyce, Broadus, and Manly; Carroll, Robertson, Frost, Mullins and Truett.

They have never heard Criswell, Rogers or Vines preach, and they are not really sure who they are.

In creative and dynamic avenues fitting a 21st century context, we need to retell the Baptist History story in a way that will grab the attention and stir the hearts of our people. And we need to do it, at least in part, from the pulpit.

Conclusion:
The North Carolina evangelist Vance Havner said, “What we live is what we really believe.”

Grunge Christianity? MacArthur Speaks on Driscoll-esque Preaching

In Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Leadership, Preaching on March 3, 2007 at 7:46 am

I confess, I am a Mark Driscoll fan — to a point.  I concur with John MacArthur about Driscoll:

“He is a very effective communicator—a bright, witty, clever, funny, insightful, crude, profane, deliberately shocking, in-your-face kind of guy. His soteriology is exactly right, but that only makes his infatuation with the vulgar aspects of contemporary society more disturbing.”

Driscoll pastors the Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  I have benefited greatly from Driscoll’s sermons on Jesus, the atonement — and really everything he has preached.  Yet, he preaches in Seattle in a basically left-wing “grunge” community where his speaking style really chimes with the people.  I wrote about him previously (here) and mentioned he is someone that I wish I could recommend to my people here at Boone’s Creek, but just can’t because of his maverick-style delivery.

MacArthur has an excellent word for all young aspiring preachers. Click here to read .

New MacArthur Transcripts at Bible Bulletin Board

In Environment, Family, Finances, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Leadership, Sermons, Theology on December 27, 2006 at 11:55 pm

Tony Capoccia of the Bible Bulletin Board has posted seven new John MacArthur transcripts of sermons dealing with a wide range of issues. His ministry posts sermons by MacArthur, Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle and Jonathan Edwards to name a few. Here are the most recent additions:

What Should a Wife’s Priorities Be? Can She Work Outside the Home?
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/jm-176404.htm

The Unity of Strong and Weak Christians, Part 4 [Romans 14:16-23]
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/jm-231251.htm

Christians and Politics, Parts 1-4
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/politics1-4.htm

True Servants of Christ
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/jm-231543.htm

True Success in Christian Leadership
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/jm-231292.htm

The Purpose of the Law [Galatians 3]
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/jm-231570.htm

Evangelicalism and the Environmental Movement
http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/jm-231546.htm