The Passover Approaches, The Lamb is Ready

Wednesday is for Prayer

Jesus-Praying-Last-SupperIt is the night before He suffered.

The Passover is a people-shaping event in the Jewish calendar.

  • It celebrates God’s selection of the Jews out of Egypt.
  • It celebrates God’s hearing the suffering of his people and acting for them.
  • It celebrates God’s sparing the first-born child of Israel.
  • It celebrates God’s providing for Israel in the desert.
  • It celebrates splitting of a sea and passing through on dry ground.
  • It celebrates the faithfulness of God to Israel.
  • It celebrates the giving of land “flowing milk and honey.”

passover-with-disciplesBut that’s not all . . .

  • It remembers chariots being defeated and the fearsome judgment of God.
  • It remembers the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai.
  • It remembers God’s faithfulness to his promises.
  • It remembers and celebrates the placing of lambs blood on the door posts of Israelite homes so that the death angel would pass over their homes and only take the first born in Egyptian homes.
  • It anticipates big-eyed boys asking “what is the meaning of this day.
  • And reminds Israel that it was “by a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.
  • It remembers, like Isaac before, God always provides the sacrifice.

It affirms the Jewish theology, that without the shedding of blood, there is . . .

  • No forgiveness of sins
  • No reconciliation with God
  • No rescue from enemies
  • No blessed fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham and his seed, that in Isaac’s rescued life, all the families of the earth will be blessed.

And as history and the plan moved forward . . .

  • It is the night He asked the disciples to pray with Him, and they slept instead.
  • It is the night He asked for the cup to pass, and it did not.
  • It is the night that He asked that the will of the Father be done. And it was.
  • And He knew, that as the night approached, He was going to suffer and yet He earnestly desired this night and  this meal with His disciples.

Luke tells us:  “And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them,

I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  (Luke 22:14-15, ESV)

Mysteries multiply.

The Lamb is ready.

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

“This is Your Brain on the Internet”

Training Ourselves to Not Pay Attention to Things that Matter

This is an important, very important, challenge to our social-media-driven culture. We are actually re-programming our brains to not function in the ways that we need them to function to succeed in the world. This is true for children and adults.

I hope you will take some time and watch / or listen to this interview.

Suggestion: Watch it and make one change to your use of social media as result of the analysis.

Overheard Wisdom

William F Buckley“I always liked the statement by William F. Buckley,

‘I’d rather be goverened by the first hundred names in the telephone directory than a hundred faculty from Harvard.’

In other words, the common person has better common sense than the faculty of Harvard.”

My youngest daughter would love this quote. She is a good “common sense” person.

Common sense.

Another good reason to get a copy of my book, Picking a President: Or Any Other Elected Official.  (Shameless plug!)

Helping You to be in the World, Not Out of the World

Weekend Links

new-waterfallsExtremely busy week as we prepare for Holy Week and also made a trip to Bolingbrook to run in the New Song Christian Health Center (dba Bolingbrook Christian Health Center) 5k which underwrites much of the budget for the clinic. This ministry is now about 12 years old and serves between 700-800 patients a year. It also provides gospel witness and compassion to all who come and is a sweet smelling aroma to Christ. It was fun to see familiar faces, support the ministry and also get a chance to see two of my daughters, my son-in-law and our precious grandson. Enjoy the links for the weekend.

Better Thinking About Ministry

Alternatives to Obamacare aka Affordable [ha] Health Care  (More churches ought to look into these options.)
Fault Lines of an Evangleical Earthquake  (Trevan Wax –thoughful article about a growing rift among evanglicals over a wide range of cultural issues.)

20 Reasons to Buy and Read Kevin DeYoung’s TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD  (Gospel Coalition)
6 Trends for the Bible in 2014  (Barna Research Group –thanks to one of my elders at Trinity Church [Wil Koester] for pointing me to this link.)
10 Lessons from a Hospital Bed  (John Piper–suffering is a doorway to understanding and perspective. Let a fellow sufferer show you the way.)
Six Christian Leaders Answer Questions from the Audience on Same Sex Attraction, Marriage and much more  (Ligonier Ministries–Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, Albert Mohler, and R.C. Sproul) 

Sexual Atheism: Christian Dating Data Reveals a Deeper Spiritual Problem  (Kenny Luck and pastors.com — this is an important and alarming article.)

Better Engagment with Culture and Politics

Why are they Called Homofacists?  (Read this article and find out. Christians are going to become outcasts in our culture. Unable to hold jobs, get elected to public office or decide their own associations.  It will happen in the next 30 years unless one of two things happen: 1) Jesus returns, or 2) the people of God get on their knees for revival and God graciously grants a reprieve.)

For Fun and Health

Junior Bridgeman: Former NBA 6th Man, Now Approaching Michael Jordan in Net Worth  (Great story about hard work and vision working together.)

Encouraging Pastors to Teach on Fasting

Friday is for Heart Songs

Jonathan EdwardsWe are in the middle of 21 days of praying for friends an neighbors to hear and respond to the gospel during the Easter season. “Knees on the Ground” or “Elbows on the Table” are two of the slogans, code words we are using to remind the whole church to petition heaven for their neighbor’s souls and to look for opportunities to serve their good. But I think I have neglected to teach on fasting for much of my ministry. Jonathan Edwards make a case for not just pastors to fast but for all Christians to fast and pray regularly. The article below is from Kairos Journal.

Fasting—Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758)

Jonathan Edwards knew that all spiritual renewal comes from God and that ministers are central in God’s outworking of His plans. In this extract from his famous work Some Thoughts Concerning the Revival, he reflects on the urgent need for ministers to seek God’s “extraordinary supplies of divine grace” through fasting and prayer. Edwards wrote these words in the months after New England’s Great Awakening of the early 1740s. Given the extraordinary challenges the Church is facing, this is a timely message for her leaders.

The state of the times extremely requires a fullness of the divine Spirit in ministers, and we ought to give ourselves no rest till we have obtained it. And in order to [do] this, I should think ministers, above all persons, ought to be much in secret prayer and fasting, and also much in praying and fasting one with another. It seems to me it would be becoming the circumstances of the present day, if ministers in a neighborhood would often meet together and spend days in fasting and fervent prayer among themselves, earnestly seeking for those extraordinary supplies of divine grace from heaven, that we need at this day …

One thing more I would mention concerning fasting and prayer, wherein I think there has been a neglect in ministers; and that is, that although they recommend and much insist on the duty of secret prayer, in their preaching; so little is said about secret fasting. It is a duty recommended by our Savior to his followers, just in like manner as secret prayer is. . . Though I don’t suppose that secret fasting is to be practiced in a stated manner and steady course as secret prayer, yet it seems to me ’tis a duty that all professing Christians should practice, and frequently practice. There are many occasions of both a spiritual and temporal nature that do properly require it; and there are many particular mercies that we desire for ourselves or friends that it would be proper, in this manner, to seek of God. I should think the people of God in this land, at such a time as this is, would be in the way of their duty to do three times so much at fasting and prayer as they do.1

1  Jonathan Edwards, “Some Thoughts Concerning the Revival,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 4The Great Awakening, ed. C. C. Goen (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1972), 507, 521, 516.

Decluttering Life for the Glory of God

chosenrebel:

Getting beyond “wave and smile” with your neighbors.

Originally posted on ChosenRebel's Blog:

Thursday is for Discipleship

Most of us are not involved in our communities and neighborhoods because we are too busy. We are too busy because we are too cluttered in our schedules and lifestyles. We don’t know the names of our five closest neighbors (first and last), we don’t know what they do (jobs and recreation), we don’t know what their pains, sorrows, heartaches are or their joys, accomplishments or dreams. We are “wave and a smile” acquaintances who would probably spring into action if there was some crisis in the neighborhood but we have very little relational capital with one another. 

As Christians, we need to de-clutter our lives so we can have more (in number) and more significant (in importance and value) relational contact points with our neighbors. “There is no impact without contact.”

View original 103 more words

Holiness and the Mega-Church

Wednesday is for Prayer

Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch

Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch

I once met a man who collected the names of former pastors who had destroyed their own ministry and marriages by sexual or financial misconduct or relational abuse of power. The inside cover of his Bible was nearly black with ink and he was about to start a new list on the back-inside cover.

Recently, the news of a number of mega-church pastors stumbling into gross abuse of power, infidelity, and pornography has made national news. Some have taken this turn of events with hand-rubbing glee, as a chance to dump more scorn and abuse on the mega-church phenomenon or the pastors of all mega-churches, or the Church in general, or pastors as a group. Critics multiply like cockroaches.

Multiplying cockroaches may mean that there is a food source to feed on but it doesn’t mean cockroaches are paragons of virtue and wisdom.

I have seen many small church pastors stumble in exactly the same way and even house church leaders. It isn’t a “big-church-produces more” issue but a “big-church-produces-more-noteriety-and-public-scandle” issue. 

David is the only man in all of Scripture who is called a “man after God’s own heart” and he stumbled in his abuse of power, infidelity, and pride. I take it then, that none of us, male or female, is more than an opportunity away from stumbling in the same way. 

Cultivate your passion for Christ, everyday. Cultivate it. Cultivate your love for your spouse everyday. Keep the passion for holiness at a high pitch or run the risk of spiritual bankruptcy. At our church,we write it into every job description and make it a part of performance reviews, “Maintain a visible, vital, and easily discernible love for Christ and his Kingdom and Maintain a visible, vital and easily discernible love for spouse and family. It is the PRIMARY job description for all our people. We hired them because they can do the tasks assigned, but if either of these two primary responsibilities are out of line, it will destroy their ministry and much more.

Moral Failure in the ChurchPray for these brothers and sisters who have fallen and command media scorn. But use their fall to warn your own soul of the dangers of spiritual declension. Ministering out of hypocrisy is dangerous not only to the body of Christ but to our own souls.

And let’s end the speculation and opinionated made-up percentages to paint all pastors, or all mega-church pastors with the same dark palette. I heard one blogger say “98% of all pastors are ego-maniacs.” These kind of percentages plucked out the thin air are an insult to the thousands and thousands of faithful servants of God. They aren’t based on research or knowledge but personal conjecture. And they aren’t helpful. Jesus implied that moral failure in the ministry would happen.

In fact the warning that we get in the New Testament is clear. Both from the mouth of Jesus (“it shall not be so among you” [Lk. 22:24-27]) and Paul in his warning to the Ephesians elders, (“form your very midst … savage wolves will arise” [Acts 18]), and the evidence of the task theology of the epistles, everyone of them addressing problems in the early church and many of them involving leadership, —all of these are proof enough that these are not new problems.

Narcissism and authoritarianism is a huge problem in all leadership both inside and outside the church. But size of churches is not the determinative factor. I have seen extremely abusive small churches as well as house church leaders. We might expect more from leaders but we shouldn’t be surprised that we get less. The material God uses is human, sinful, in need of redemption, sanctification, and grace. So let me say it again.

Instead of jumping on the critical bandwagon, let’s pray for these brothers and sisters. Show some mercy. But use their fall to warn your own soul of the dangers of spiritual declension. Ministering out of hypocrisy is dangerous not only to the body of Christ but to our own souls.

Creating Crazy People for the Glory of God

Tuesday Discussion

Steve-Jobs-dates“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

—Steve Jobs, cofounder and former CEO of Apple Inc.
(www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2qxVhP46Yk)

I want a whole church filled with this type of crazy!

“Five Signs You Glorify Self”

Sunday Musings

Upside Down Vision of JesusIn keeping with today’s message from Luke 22:23-28 and the Upside Down Vision of Jesus, I ran across an article by Paul Tripp. The whole article is worth reading but here’s the five major points.

  1. Parade in public what should be kept in private.
  2. Be way to self-referencing.
  3. Talk when you should be quiet.
  4. Be quiet when you should speak.
  5. Care too much about what people think about you.

You can read the whole article at this Link.

The message you can hear/see at this Link.

Four Different Groups in Your Church

Weekend Musings

Pastor's ForumThis post idea does not originate with me. I am picking up on the thought of Chuck Musselwhite, a Calvary Chapel pastor in Santa Barbara, California. It was part of a Church Planting Roundtable on LinkedIn. The post was a kind of  “agree/disagree and comment” type of question. Here’s the question Pastor Musselwhite posed: 

If there are 4 types of groups in your church;

  • Visitors,

  • Growing Disciples,

  • Mature Saints, &

  • Unengaged Consumers …

who [do] you spend the most time & $$ on?

One pastor responded almost immediately with the following:

If there were these four groups in this church (not my church but God’s), I would try to spend as much time with all four groups and would try to balance this so no one feels left out. Also, if there were any financial needs within these groups I would weigh the need over the desired amount and try to support the need at least.

Lead Pastor at The Village Chapel, Church Planter, Speaker, and Coach, Chuck Musselwhite responded with:

I think there is a danger in trying to minister to this group with a balanced approach. For instance mature saints don’t need nor desire all the time that a growing disciple might need. Also a unengaged consumer might want to drain you of time that you could be spending with visitors who are checking the church out. While we can, and should, have a heart for all of the people in our church it can be dangerous trying to be equal and balanced in our time and resources we allocate to them. I have several unengaged consumers who want to go out to lunch and have coffee with me all the time. This can be a drain on my resources and leave me little to minister to everyone else. I now make it a priority to minister to the growing disciple first, then the visitor, and finally the other two groups.

I think the first pastor is dead wrong and that pastor Musselwhite is spot on.

In fact, I would go one step further. As a pastor and elder of the church, it is my duty and responsibility to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (Ephesains 4:10-12). I will always invest the greater part of my time in training and equipping saints for this work. This is what discipleship is all about. It is not my  job to be everywhere, for everyone, at all times. It is my job, an elder’s job (which is what a pastor is) to equip the saints to minister to one another.

Questions:

  • What group are you in?
  • What group does Jesus want you to be in?
  • How will you get there?