He Is RISEN!

April 13, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an established fact, a fact that shapes all of time and eternity. Do you know Him? Have you come face to face with the Living God and surrendered unconditionally to Him? Take the time right now to examine what the text of Scripture says about Jesus Christ and about the eternal importance of surrender to Him. You will be eternally thankful you did.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,  2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain.  3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,  5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.  7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.  9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.  11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.  12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.  15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.  16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.  17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.  20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.  24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.  25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him.  28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:1-28

The “Grey Tsunami” & The Church

March 28, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

The ‘Grey Tsunami’ is the economic, ecological and social effects that the baby boom generation is creating as it gets older.

COLUMBIA, SC — Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell warned lawmakers Wednesday that a failure to prepare for South Carolina’s oncoming “gray tsunami” will cause a budget crisis and human tragedies.

RICHMOND, VA news – Gray and Howarth are part of a booming demographic colloquially dubbed the grey tsunami. According to Statistics Canada, in 2011 Richmond’s seniors population – those over the age of 65 – was 26,000, representing about 14 per cent of the population. In 10 years, that rate should be about one quarter as baby boomers reach retirement age. By 2040, roughly half the population will be over age 55.

The ‘Grey Tsunami’ is a major factor in considering the health and future of the local church. I am working with a church of 370 people. 47% of them are over the age of 70. 15% of them are over the age of 90! Only 15% are 30 or under.

The implications of this are obvious to anyone with even modest intelligence. But, churches deny this reality with impunity. Entire States, yea entire nations are alarmed and taking action to address the ramifications of this reality.

The church – not so much. The Median Age of the population of the United States is 39. The Median Age of the church in the United States is 58. The church will be swept away by the Grey Tsunami if they do not take immediate and significant steps to reach young people.

After all, isn’t that the mandate of the Great Commission in the first place?

By What Standard?

February 25, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

TRUTH – is Revealed, Propositional, Transcendent, Authoritative, Incarnate and Transforming.

The past decade has seen seismic changes in the culture of the United States of America. Conduct viewed as normative today was virtually and properly condemned as practically and morally reprehensible just 10 years ago.

What single issue has changed that makes such a dramatic ‘student body left’ transition possible?

Abandoning our fidelity to Truth!

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world – to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37).

Jesus’ response to Pilate posited for all time and eternity that TRUTH is the standard by which all men and nations are measured. He is righteous and God’s Word and God’s Son reveal Truth to Power.

The lead banner on this article posits terms that characterize Truth. They are:

Revealed – No one would know God apart from His self-revelation. He has made Himself known to us and that knowledge is rooted in history and recorded in Scripture. The Greeks saw God from a perspective we label Deism. God created all things but has no participation in the unfolding of events. John tells us that when we want to know God we need only look at Jesus. In His coming He has exegeted, put on public display, led out into the open for all to see this Sovereign, Holy and Loving God.

Propositional - The Ten Commandments are not suggestions. Moral Law applies to all people of all time in every place. Have no other God’s before Him. That applies today. Who is your God?

Transcendent - The Scripture declares that TRUTH is forever settled in heaven; Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. (Psalm 119:89). The only objective source for a discussion of heaven or hell is the Word of God. All else is hypothetical speculation.

Authoritative - Philosophical systems endeavoring to describe and explain reality are multitudinous. All except Christian Theism lay on the ash heaps of history. Truth endures in the Special Revelation of God and the Person of Jesus Christ.

Incarnate – Truth is not merely a philosophical football. Truth is embodied in the Person of Christ. In His 33 years he lived a sinless life. Through the redemption purchased in his death mankind is enabled to live in freedom from the penalty of sin.

Transforming – History is replete with those who came to the Bible to prove that is was merely a collection of myths and legends. As they studied it’s pages to refute the truth-claims expressed, they were transformed. For any who would challenge the propositions I present in this article, get a copy of the Bible (English Standard Version) and read it. Warning – you will either yield to Jesus as LORD or put it down, deny Truth and by doing so seal your eternal destiny.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

God In The Whirlwind – A Review

February 10, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

This is the sixth (6th) title by Dr. David Wells in this series. This title summarizes the issues posited in the first five (5) titles and provides ‘a way forward’ for the evangelical church that is effective yet avoids capitulation to the ever declining cultural norms.

Highly recommended for any Christian seeking an approach to evangelism that is both compassionate and true to the message of the Gospel.

Building on years of research, writing, and cross-cultural ministry, renowned author and theologian David Wells calls our attention to that which defines God’s greatness and gives shape to the Christian life: the holy-love of God.

In God in the Whirlwind, Wells explores the depths of the paradox that God is both holy and loving, showing how his holy-love provides the foundation for our understanding of the cross, sanctification, the nature of worship, and our life of service in the world. What’s more, a renewed vision of God’s character is the cure for evangelicalism’s shallow theology, with its weightless God and sentimental gospel.

Written by one of evangelicalism’s most insightful minds, this book will help you stand firm in your faith despite the changing winds and raging storms of the modern world.

Endorsements

“Rich, deep, and faithful—God in the Whirlwind invites us to come before the very heart of God. No theologian understands the modern world better than David Wells, yet no theologian uses the modern world more powerfully to wrench us back to truths that are foundational and never to be superseded by the latest anything. To be read slowly and with prayer.”
—Os Guinness, co-founder, The Trinity Forum; author, The Call

“In this important book, David Wells begins the process of bringing his influential critique of late modern culture and the church down into practice. Here we have a ‘practical theology’ for conducting the church’s life based on the reality of a God of ‘Holy-love.’ This particular way of understanding and preaching the doctrine of God, Wells believes, protects the church from either being co-opted by the culture or becoming a ghettoized subculture. Decades of teaching theology is boiled down here into accessible, practical chapters. I’m glad to recommend this volume.”
—Timothy J. Keller, Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City; author, The Reason for God

God In The Whirlwind

January 31, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

David F. Wells (PhD, University of Manchester) is the Distinguished Senior Research Professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  In addition to serving as academic dean of its Charlotte campus, Wells has also been a member of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization and is involved in ministry in Africa.  He is the author of numerous articles and books, including a series that was initiated by a Pew grant exploring the nature of Christian faith in the contemporary, modernized world.  Building on years of research, writing, and cross-cultural ministry, renowned author and theologian David Wells calls our attention to that which defines God’s greatness and gives shape to the Christian life: the holy-love of God.

In God in the Whirlwind, Wells explores the depths of the paradox that God is both holy and loving, showing how his holy-love provides the foundation for our understanding of the cross, sanctification, the nature of worship, and our life of service in the world. What’s more, a renewed vision of God’s character is the cure for evangelicalism’s shallow theology, with its weightless God and sentimental gospel.

Written by one of evangelicalism’s most insightful minds, this book will help you stand firm in your faith despite the changing winds and raging storms of the modern world.

Words and Their Importance

January 10, 2014 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

I am reading through the Pastoral Epistles this year, a chapter each day. I pay particular attention to key words and the importance the meaning each brings to the overall message. Words and their relationship give meaning to language.

The languages of the Scripture, Masoretic Hebrew, Aramaic and Koine’ Greek are ‘dead languages’. This means that the meaning does not change as is true in a ‘living’ language such as English. When a credible lexical source is consulted we discover with a high degree of accuracy authorial intent. We know with a high degree of precision what the author intended to communicate with their use of those words.

The first word for our consideration is found in 1 Tim. 1:3 and 1 Tim. 6:3 – - different doctrine. The transliteration of this word is heterodidaskaleiv. 1 Tim. 6:3 makes clear that sound doctrine is healthy. The converse is true of a different doctrine. It is unhealthy. It produces division and strife in the body of Christ (1Tim. 6:1-10).

The proliferation of different doctrine today is nothing short of astonishing. When studying the Scripture people used to ask – - “What does that passage mean?” Now the questions is “What does that passage mean to me?” That is a very different question. It implies that the meaning of the text is assigned eisogetically, read into the text rather than exegetically, drawn out from the text.

God’s word is forever settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89). The meaning never changes.

 

Are you teaching a different doctrine?

It’s Called a Universe

December 31, 2013 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

Pastors across America struggle with the persistent and accelerating decline of the church. They pray, preach, and ponder. The decline is unrelenting. Why?

Robert Bellah is the Editor of a book published in 1985, Habits of The Heart. It is a study of the profound loss of ‘community’ in America. In that title he coined a phrase to describe this devastating onslaught – Ontological Individualism.

 The essence of that term describes the desire to be utterly and absolutely independent of one another.

God created mankind as a community of being all connected to and impacted by the conduct of the others. The hue and cry today is “what I do is my business”! Really?

Not so.

Every divorce tears at the fabric of our nation. The children of divorce stagger under the loss of a father.

Every act of adultery tears at the fabric of our nation. Remarriage takes the cause(s) into the next union and repeats same.

Every robbery tears at the fabric of our nation. Incarceration solves nothing. We need confession, repentance and restitution.

Every murder tears at the fabric of our nation. Those who kill should be executed.

The church must enter the Marketplace and declare with compassion and clarity the oneness that mankind shares. Truth is transcendent and applies to all people in every land without exception. Grace makes the application of this Truth possible.

Chasing Fantasies

December 13, 2013 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment. (Proverbs 12:11, NIV)

The text says literally – - has a needy heart.

As I write (12/13/13) people across America are pouring millions of dollars into the purchase of  Mega-Millions Lottery tickets. They hope to win ($400 Million+). It has rolled over (meaning no one has won since October 1st). Your chances of winning are like getting struck with a meteor. Talk about a FANTASY!!

This proverb is constructed with anti-thetical paralellism. Work your land and find abundance. Chase fantasies and watch your money fly away like a leaf in the autumn winds.

Better to run to the Person and Finished work of Jesus Christ. There you will find eternal life and abundance beyond description.

“THANKFUL”

November 28, 2013 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

The Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving were likely a subset of Puritanism and possibly prayed a prayer like this one from The Valley of Vision:

O My God, Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, for sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil;

for the body thou hast given me, for preserving its strength and vigour, for providing senses to enjoy delights, for the ease and freedom of my limbs, for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;

for thy royal bounty providing my daily support, for a full table and overflowing cup, for appetite, taste, sweetness, for social joys of relatives and friends, for ability to serve others, for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities, for a mind to care for my fellow-men, for opportunities of spreading happiness around, for loved ones in the joys of heaven, for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures. Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

Pastor – Is This YOU?

November 12, 2013 by  
Filed under A Monday AM BLOG

I recently had an exchange with a Pastor, a friend of many years (1973). His perception of folks such as I who are Church Consultants (I prefer the ID ‘Pastoral Liaison’) is quite low. In one of our exchanges I posted the following. Let me know if I am a “Grumpy Old Man” – our children got me that Video for Christmas one year – our spot on accurate.

 Having said that, 70% or more of the people in evangelical churches are simply unregenerate. I am hated for declaring this but the conduct and the absence of genuine fruitfulness – - Disciples fully formed in the image of Christ – is exhibit ‘A’ that supports my thesis. When I started IgniteUS in 2000 I used the figure of 3,000 church closings each year. This week Thom Rainer in a BLOG post said that figure is now 8,000 – 10,000.

This is true because Pastors lack both the wisdom, courage, skill and tenacity to identify that lostness, lovingly confront those lost people, and see GOD change their hearts which only HE can do. Pulpits pump out bland moralisms rather than flaming heart transforming Truth. Quite simply most gatherings that fly under the banner ‘church’ are nothing more than a building whose architectural capital feature is a steeple. They have no exegetical/theological definition of what a Disciples is and therefore no process to measure spiritual formation. There is no Elder/Shepherd accountability applied to the sheep for the growth in grace Peter commands (2Peter3:18). They tell me if they attempt that they will get fired. Who are you serving? 57% of evangelical Pastors would walk out the door today if they had a way to care for their families. The Scripture calls them hirelings. They have activity that will wear you out but on December 31st the vast majority of those who are present for every service are no more like Christ than they were on January 1st. If they attempt to apply such the NAKED TRUTH will be revealed so they continue ‘going through the motions’. My fear is that many/dare I say most will hear those frightful words – - Depart from ME, I never knew you!

When I started IgniteUS I chose the name “Neros Broken Fiddle”. I did so because the church is fiddling while the nation/world burns, consumed by the culture in which they exist. The LORD warned the nation of Israel not to adopt the folk-ways & mores of the nations they were going to displace. They ignored Him and so do we. I was affirmed by David Wells many years later when I read in one of his five (5) titles that very description. We changed our name but the reality that I noted still exist, in fact the acceleration of decline is nothing short of stunning.

What say you??

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