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Archive for April, 2014

equipped

It’s a typical Sunday morning, the saints have gathered, corporate worship has been exhibited, the Word has been preached, the Lord’s Table has been served, and now everyone is ready to depart from this gathering.

What’s next?

For some the next step may be to tell the Pastor something like “thank you for the sermon” or “great job” and then off to Bob Evans we go. However, if it simply stops with the Pastor we have witnessed nothing more than a performance. We sat in the audience, enjoyed the show and then on our way we go. But is that all there is? Does it really end there?

In Ephesians 4:12, the Apostle Paul tells us that the goal of Pastoral ministry (the preaching and teaching of the Word) is to “to equip the saints”. The King James Version says that God gave the gifts of Pastoral ministry for the “perfecting” of the saints. In the original language we see that the word “katartismos” has to do with “complete furnishing”. It means to make someone completely adequate or sufficient for something.

What is this something?

Paul goes on to tell us that the goal of Pastoral ministry is equip the saints for this reason “the work of the ministry”. One of the functions of the preached word to the saints is to make them completely adequate or sufficient to do the work of the ministry. To supply the church with that which is necessary to labor in the service of the King.

Implied in this thought is that all saints are to be involved in the work of the ministry. God has given each of us unique gifts and individual contexts in which to utilize them. So often we think that the local church is the only place that we can serve. Although serving other believers in the local assembly is a wonderful thing, we should not make it the only thing.

The practical outworking of this text is pretty straight forward…take the sermon and do something with it. Pastors and teachers are God’s gift to the church for the purpose of perfecting or equipping believers to carry on the work that they should already be engaged in. As one author stated “It is vitally important to understand that the bulk of the work (ministry) in the church is to be accomplished not by the paid staff but by the men and women in the pews. They are not there to just sit and soak but to hear and grow and serve!”

How does this affect you?

You tell me! Seriously, only you can answer this. How did the Holy Spirit apply yesterday’s sermon to you? How were you furnished for the ministry you are planning to engage in? How did God use the preached Word to change you, to sanctify you, and equip you?

Perhaps you are reading this and concerned because you don’t have a specific ministry. You have never set up a non-profit organization, you don’t have time to go join a group of believers to serve in an “official ministry”. If that is you, please consider the following:

Where are you today?

What are your plans this week?

What vocation has God called you to?

With who and where will you spend your time?

 

The answers to these questions will reveal the outlet for which you were “equipped to do the work of the ministry”. Take the preached Word and use it to “edify” others. You have been equipped to serve!

Source: Pastor Gary Chaffins

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“Heaven is For Real”

(Coming to a Church….I mean THEATER near you)

heaven is for real

Over the years we have been blessed by some wonderful Christian films. Many of these films were produced by men and women who had a desire to bring family films into our homes. These films encourage Christian living and are derived from the foundational teachings of the scriptures. For this we are very grateful and encourage you enjoy them if you choose to do so.

In the same breath, we should also be aware that with every good thing comes a counterfeit. That is to say that there are many films that make it to the big screen, under the brand of “Christianity”, that are not derivative from the scriptures but undermine them. These films do not promote Christian living, instead they hinder it.

 With that said, we want to encourage and remind you of the great need to apply biblical discernment in all areas of life (including those films that guise themselves under the banner of Christianity). Keep in mind that all films teach something, so we need to carefully examine the teaching within.

Thessalonians 5:21-22 tells us to: “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.” It is important to note that this passage tells us that discernment is for all believers in all situations. Therefore, obedience to this command is crucial for our Christian living and our witness to those around us.

As I ponder this command, I am compelled to write to you regarding the recently released film “Heaven Is For Real”. This is the account of a 4yr old boy who claimed to have visited heaven during a near death experience. Since his return from heaven, he has shared his story through the means of a best-selling book and now the big screen. The Washington Post writes “there is no question, however, that “Heaven Is For Real” is a Christian movie: One of their producers is a megachurch leader T.D. Jakes”.

The movie has the claim, it has the story, it talks about Jesus and Heaven, etc. However, the questions still remain, is this a movie that evangelical Christians should be endorsing and/or watching? What are the inherent dangers of all the “trips to heaven and back” stories that we are increasingly hearing about? Does this film promote Christian living? Does the teaching stem from biblical doctrine, reflect the nature and character of God as revealed in His Word?

 OR

Could it be a counterfeit of the Christian faith? A sinister way to promote false doctrine and lead people away from the truth of God’s Word?

I think these questions help reflect the mindset we should have when trying to discern films such as this. This should be the careful approach we take to loving God with all of our heart, soul and mind.

In an attempt to help you in this process. I will provide you with some very important resources from other reputable Pastors and Bible teachers that have been very instrumental to me as I tried to think through this for myself. I hope that these will serve as a benefit for you and those with whom you will be discussing this film.

Click on the links below:

David Platt on Why You Should Not Believe “Heaven Is for Real”

Are Visits to Heaven for Real?

The Holy Spirit says heaven is for real

We Don’t Have to Read the Book or See the Movie to Know Heaven is Real

Final Thoughts: Please know that my goal is not so much to keep people out of the theater, rather, my desire is to keep the theology of the film out of the church.

 

For His Glory,

Pastor Gary

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evangelism

 

Christian Loveless: “Hi, Mrs. Smith. How are you doing? Is Erik in yet?”

Mrs. Smith: “Lunch again, huh? I haven’t seen him come through the lobby today. He came into work last week with a bad hangover. Prob­ably the same thing has happened today. How was church?”

Christian Loveless: “It was really good. We had Brother Don Water­downs come in and do a series of healing meetings. Hundreds gave their hearts to the Lord. I’m in charge of the follow-up program. Man, I didn’t realize how easy it is to get people saved. Lots were getting healed and people were coming to the altar without even being preached to.”

Mrs. Smith: “What a blessing. We had him at our church too. He advocates ‘friendship evangelism,’ doesn’t he?”

Christian Loveless: “Yes. I like that. It’s what I’ve been using on Erik. We’ve become good buddies over the years.”

Mrs. Smith: “I like that approach. It’s so much better than shoving the gospel down people’s throats.”

Christian Loveless: “True. That can alienate them. I’m waiting for the right time to mention the things of God to Erik; I don’t want to make him feel uncomfortable. Erik came to one of the meetings, and he really seemed to enjoy it. That’s the good thing about non-confrontational evangelism. He didn’t give his heart to the Lord, though. Maybe today he will bring up the subject. I never do, because I don’t want to offend him. I’m just a good friend, and I think that’s the right approach.”

Mrs. Smith: “I agree. I’ll call the Third Floor and speak to his secretary. Perhaps she will know why he’s late.”

Christian Loveless: “Okay.”

Mrs. Smith: “Jeannie, Rose Smith. Is Erik Tuday in yet? Christian Loveless is here to see…”

Christian Loveless: “What’s wrong? Your face has gone pale!”

Mrs. Smith: “I’m afraid Erik died during the night. He had an aneurysm in his sleep and was pronounced dead at 8:17 this morning…”

(From, “The School of Biblical Evangelism” text book, 101 lessons, 768-pages, $25: www.livingwaters.com)

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Nine ways to disciple your husband

9

1) Get a burden – (Galatians 6:1) Your husband is caught in sin. What I mean here is that he is not entirely sanctified. The Bible does not teach sinless perfection, which means your husband has sin struggles like you and me.

If you don’t have a burden for your husband’s sanctification, then you will miss out on the opportunities to help him in his sanctification. If your marriage is more about what you can get out of it rather than what you can put into it, then you are not leading well.

  • Are you willing to set aside what you want for what he needs?

2) Pray for him – (1 Corinthians 1:4) I know; I know. I’m a Christian so I’m supposed to add prayer to the list of things a person should do to help someone. Yes, prayer is a great way to access the Trinity on behalf of the sanctification of your husband. Maybe the LORD will change him and maybe you should ask Him to change him. So pray.

While I mean prayer for that reason, what I’m really thinking about is how Paul prayed for the Corinthians. Paul spent time thanking God for the Corinthians. I want you to spend time thanking God for your husband.

If you don’t have affection for the person you want to help, then the help you’re going to offer may blow up on you. Paul had extravagant affection for the Corinthians, which paved the way for him to correct them.

  • Do you have extravagant affection for your husband?

3) Model your goal – (Philippians 4:9) Write out on a piece of paper the things you would like for your husband to become. Here are a few examples: humble, servant, encourager, respectful, loving, kind, gentle, and passionate for God.

I’m sure you can add to the list. If not, just these few things will make your marriage sing. A core tenet of biblical leadership is to become the person you want others to be.

To think otherwise is hypocritical and destructive to any relationship. To expect or demand someone to be what you are not is wrong on so many levels. To lead well is to show them what to become by your other-centered, God-honoring example (Ephesians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:1).

  • Are you a clear biblical example of what you want him to become?

4) Win him with encouragement – (Ephesians 4:29) Make sure your words have a building up effect rather than a corrupting, tearing down effect. A word fitly spoken can transform your world and one not fitly spoken can destroy it (Proverbs 25:11).

You have power in your words. You can draw your husband to you and Christ by what you say or you can push him farther away. One of the most effective assessment questions you can ask in this area is, “What do you experience more from me: my encouragement or my displeasure?”

If you want to lead your husband well, then be courageous and grace-filled enough to check your blind spots. Ask him about his experience with you.

  • Are you an encourager?

5) Make it easy – (Genesis 3:7) Your husband is a proud, self-reliant person who does not want to show weakness. I know this because I am one. We men are wired to be strong and impenetrable. Throw in a little sin and what you get is a person who does not want to reveal his flaws to anyone, especially to his wife.

He wants to impress you, which makes your condemnation and criticism of him more acute. Perhaps he has given up on impressing you. This is not hopeless, it just means you have more leadership work to do.

One of the most effective things the LORD does to win us to Him is by making it crystal clear that He is for us (Romans 8:31). The more your husband knows you are for him, the more you will be able to disciple him.

  • Ask your husband if he thinks you are for him.

6) Pick your spots – (Proverbs 15:1) Be careful about confronting him head-on or when you are angry. This is unwise and unhelpful. Know your audience. Find non-fight times to talk to your husband.

The moment of your disappointment is probably not the best time to talk about what is wrong with him. You’re more than likely going to say it the wrong way, which will only exacerbate an already negative situation.

Find a vulnerable time to talk to him. These are those moments when he’s not as defensive and you’re not as disappointed. It could be when you are already talking in a civil manner and you feel his receptivity to what you are saying.

  • Do you have self-control, which governs the timing of your communication?

7) Don’t be manipulated – (John 2:24-25) Sometimes a husband can become defensive by resorting to manipulative tactics. He will do this to throw his wife off the scent of his destructive ways.

Rather than owning his sin when she confronts him, he begins to blame, justify, or make excuses for his actions. If the wife is manipulate-able, she will buy what he is selling. This will cause her to be double-minded (James 1:5-8).

When she is away from him, she will see his actions clearly. When she gets within his manipulative orbit, she loses discernment. She gets lost in his noise and her mind becomes muddled. Some women struggle more with this than others.

If you can be easily muddled, then you need to fixate on what the problems are with your husband and your marriage. While you want to hold your assessments loosely (humbly), you don’t want to hold them so loosely that you’re double-minded about what is happening.

It may be wise to seek counsel about your marriage. Another perspective could clear up the fog, while giving you someone you can go to when your mind becomes cloudy.

  • Are you easily manipulated?

8) Be a matchmaker – (1 Corinthians 15:33) You should not have to help your husband alone. Though you are his primary discipler, you are not his only discipler.

Begin praying about a male friend who can come alongside him to help him. Build community. This could also quicken the process of sanctification. The typical husband will open up quicker to a third party he does not know before he will open up to his wife.

  • Who is a guy your husband may be willing to open up to?

9) Find community – (Proverbs 11:14) It’s also imperative you have your community to help you as you help your husband. You don’t want to be alone either. Your local church should be the best place for you to find friends to come alongside you.

If you live in a place where that is not possible, then I appeal to you to jump into our community. We have a network of friends who are more than willing to help you in this great adventure of husband discipleship. You can learn more about that here.

  • Who is caring for your soul?

 

Source: Adapted from Rick Thomas (www. rickthomas.net). Read full article here

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Original Sin Depravity Infects Everyone
J.I. Packer (from Concise Theology)

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5)

Scripture diagnoses sin as a universal deformity of human nature, found at every point in every person (1 Kings 8:46; Rom. 3:9-23; 7:18; 1 John 1:8-10). Both Testaments have names for it that display its ethical character as rebellion against God’s rule, missing the mark God set us to aim at, transgressing God’s law, disobeying God’s directives, offending God’s purity by defiling oneself, and incurring guilt before God the Judge. This moral deformity is dynamic: sin stands revealed as an energy of irrational, negative, and rebellious reaction to God’s call and command, a spirit of fighting God in order to play God. The root of sin is pride and enmity against God, the spirit seen in Adam’s first transgression; and sinful acts always have behind them thoughts, motives, and desires that one way or another express the willful opposition of the fallen heart to God’s claims on our lives.

Sin may be comprehensively defined as lack of conformity to the law of God in act, habit, attitude, outlook, disposition, motivation, and mode of existence. Scriptures that illustrate different aspects of sin include Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 12:30-37; Mark 7:20-23; Romans 1:18-3:20; 7:7-25; 8:5-8; 14:23 (Luther said that Paul wrote Romans to “magnify sin”); Galatians 5:16-21; Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-19; Hebrews 3:12; James 2:10-11; 1 John 3:4; 5:17. Flesh in Paul usually means a human being driven by sinful desire; the niv renders these instances of the word as “sinful nature.” The particular faults and vices (i.e., forms and expression of sin) that Scripture detects and denounces are too numerous to list here.

Original sin, meaning sin derived from our origin, is not a biblical phrase (Augustine coined it), but it is one that brings into fruitful focus the reality of sin in our spiritual system. The assertion of original sin means not that sin belongs to human nature as God made it (God made mankind upright, Eccles. 7:29), nor that sin is involved in the processes of reproduction and birth (the uncleanness connected with menstruation, semen, and childbirth in Leviticus 12 and 15 was typical and ceremonial only, not moral and real), but that (a) sinfulness marks everyone from birth, and is there in the form of a motivationally twisted heart, prior to any actual sins; (b) this inner sinfulness is the root and source of all actual sins; (c) it derives to us in a real though mysterious way from Adam, our first representative before God. The assertion of original sin makes the point that we are not sinners because we sin, but rather we sin because we are sinners, born with a nature enslaved to sin.

The phrase total depravity is commonly used to make explicit the implications of original sin. It signifies a corruption of our moral and spiritual nature that is total not in degree (for no one is as bad as he or she might be) but in extent. It declares that no part of us is untouched by sin, and therefore no action of ours is as good as it should be, and consequently nothing in us or about us ever appears meritorious in God’s eyes. We cannot earn God’s favor, no matter what we do; unless grace saves us, we are lost.

Total depravity entails total inability, that is, the state of not having it in oneself to respond to God and his Word in a sincere and wholehearted way (John 6:44; Rom. 8:7-8). Paul calls this unresponsiveness of the fallen heart a state of death (Eph. 2:1, 5; Col. 2:13), and the Westminster Confession says: “Man by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto” (IX. 3).

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Why do we have a hard time believing in the existence of hell? Why is there such a harsh penalty for sin?

by Ray Comfort

If a man receives a $2 fine for a crime, you can be sure that the crime he committed was trivial. However, if you hear of a criminal getting multiple life-sentences without parole, you can surmise that the crime he committed was very serious. The penalty given, gives us understanding of the nature of the crime.

The penalty for sin is death and damnation–life without parole. The sentence is eternal. This is harsh by any human standard, however, God’s standard is infinitely higher than ours. He is perfect and holy, and the best of us is desperately wicked in His sight. If we sinned a mere ten times a day through lustful thoughts, greed, ingratitude, bad actions, etc.,–over a 70 year life that comes to 255,500 sins that God must punish.

Still, eternal damnation seems incredibly harsh to the more tender of us. This is because we have no understanding as to what “eternal” means, because in eternity God will withdraw the dimension of time. Existence without time is something I find too difficult for my finite mind to grasp. But such thoughts do help me not to sweat over what I can’t understand.

If Hell doesn’t exist, then Hitler murdered six million mothers, fathers, children, brothers and sisters, and got away with it. Human reason demands its existence, but as to its eternality, I leave such thoughts in God’s hands. In the meanwhile, I say with the Apostle Paul, “Wherefore knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men

http://raycomfortfood.blogspot.com/

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If I did not believe in the absolute sovereignty of God:

  1. I would despair of my eternal destiny. I would have no assurance of salvation. Knowing the depravity of my soul, I would most certainly apostatize were it not for God’s sovereign preservation of me (cf. Rom. 8).
  2. I would be terrified of all suffering, with no confidence that God can turn evil for good and bring me safely through (cf. Rom. 8:28 and relation to vv. 29-30).
  3. I would become manipulative and pragmatic in evangelism, believing that conversion is altogether a matter of my will/skill vs. will/skill of unbeliever.
  4. I would cease praying for God to convert and save the lost. If the ultimate causal factor in human conversion is the self-determined human will, not the divine will, it is futile and useless to ask God to work or touch or move upon the human will so as to assuredly bring them to faith.
  5. I would despair of the political process and live in fear/anxiety/resentment of those elected officials who oppose the kingdom of God. See Daniel 2:21; 4:17,25,32; 5:18-31.
  6. I would live in fear of nature: tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, wind and hail and rain (cf. Psm. 147-148).
  7. I would despair of ever doing anything of a spiritual nature that God requires and commands of me. Phil. 2:12-13.

Sam Storms
Excepted from: If I did not believe in the absolute sovereignty of God, Nov. 8, 2006 (www.thegracetabernacle.org)

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