Archive for June, 2006

“New Truth” needed says Bishop

The top official leading the Episcopal Church in the United States is retiring. Bishop Frank T. Griswold reflected on the controversy surrounding the denomination and its stance on homosexuality with these words: “In the Gospels, Jesus says, ‘I have many more things to say to you but you cannot bear them now,’ which suggests to me that God’s truth is always unfolding,” he said. “If we can accept that there are new truths that science brings us, or new discoveries in medicine, why is it when it comes to sexuality, there is no new truth?”

His premise seems to be the old adage “all truth is God’s Truth.” Have medicine and modern discoveries really brought us “new truth”? If so, does this extend to sexuality also, as the Bishop has suggested? What are the implications of this for ministry, preaching and the cooperative efforts of those who believe mainline denominations which embrace such ideas can still be turned around? Let us know what you think?

A Sermon Charge to High School Graduates (PT 2)

III. Third, you are a college student:

Ecclesiastes tells young people to “REJOICE in the days of their youth” (Eccl 11:9-10).
Yes it is spiritual to: Love life! To have a ton of fun! To truly enjoy the prime of life. You’ll only be a college student once, so live it up!!

Just remember the Biblical balance; Ephesians 5:16 commands us to, “Make the most of our time since the days are evil” Ecclesiastes 11:9 goes on to say, “Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young adulthood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things.” “Whatever you do, do all to His glory (1 Cor 10:31).” See your HW and your studies as a stewardship matter…Just don’t let your books get in the way of your fun too much! 

IV. Fourth, soon you will be a dormmate and a roommate:
One of the most refining aspects of college often takes place in the dorm room:

A) Here you will be tested, tried, and perhaps even tempted.

B) Here you will learn what it truly means to DIE to self.

Jesus said if anyone wishes to come after me, let him first DENY HIMSELF….(Luke 9:23)
Find ways to serve your roommate. Love her unconditionally.
Learn how you can become more like Jesus by embracing this relationship whole-heartedly
Even when you have the best roommate in the world their will be times when you feel like murdering someone…. My advice to you is simple: Resist that temptation!
 Embrace your difficult circumstances knowing they’re from the Lord (James 1:2-6).

C) In the dorms you will learn how you can humbly implement the principles found in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

D) Here you will learn how to resolve conflict Biblically-

Try to practice the “4 biblical rules of communication” from Ephesians 4.
1. Be honest!
2. Keep current!
3. Act, don’t react!
4. Attack the problem, NOT the person!
View your roommate & your dormmates as God’s sovereign agents, sent by Him to help you grow!

E) In your dorm room you will learn how to repent and how to forgive (Matt 5:23-24)

And Finally (F) In the dorms you will discover how diverse the body of Christ truly is. God has sovereignly saved: Jocks, nerds, merit scholars, home-schoolers, international students, americans, misfits, and more… God’s glory is surely displayed in this diversity (Rev 5:9). Seek out Christian friends who are red hot for Jesus- Even if they are (humanly speaking) radically different than you!

The sooner, we the church, learn to embrace God’s creative diversity the sooner we’ll be able to function as one (Eph 4:16)

(Graduate) Please know your church family will be praying for you. We are here for you if you ever need us. We are only a phone call away….

But let me close by reminding you of my favorite Bible verse in all of Scripture (Joshua 1:9). May you cling to this verse whenever you feel lonely, homesick, confused, or scared. I have seen God keep this promise in my own life as I’ve moved from WI to CA; CA to WA; WA to CA; CA to FL; FL to CA; and CA to IN.

God said to Joshua before he possessed the land of Canaan;
“Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go.”

If God be for you- who or what can stand against you (Romans 8:28-39)?!?

A Sermon Charge to High School Graduates (PT 1)

I am giving a brief sermon charge to our High School graduates this Sunday. Actually, this year we will only be honoring one student (last year it was four).

We are gathered here tonight to praise God for the infinite grace that has been displayed in your life!

We want to congratulate you on all your accomplishments; We want to thank you for your faithfulness to this Church and to our youth group in particular; & tonight as your teen pastor, I’d like to briefly encourage you from Holy Scripture as you prepare to leave home and begin an exciting journey at Grace College.

I think the best way I can accomplish this goal is by looking at the various roles you have (or will soon have) and discover what God’s Word has to say about each of these important responsibilities:

This is my personal charge to you that I trust will reflect God’s priorities (not merely my opinions)….

I. First and foremost you are a child of God:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourself lest anyone should boast.” (Eph 2:8) God graciously saved you and I know you’ve dedicated your life to His service!  You are a Christian, a disciple of Christ’s.

It has been a privilege to see you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” You’ve been blessed with a remarkable memory and a sharp mind. Your passion for reading books and learning is exemplary; Your creative use of your imagination is a wonderful endowment…

–>Continue to use these gifts for God’s glory! (1 Peter 4:10ff)

With that said:
1) Never allow yourself to think you’ve somehow arrived.

Philippians 3:12 says, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Keep on pressing on!

2) Avoid comparing your spiritual walk with others; Rather focus your attention on the Author and the Perfecter of your faith.

Christ-likeness is the standard and our objective (1 Peter 1:14-16). Also remember the inspired words of Paul in 1 Thess 4:10, “But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more…”
“Excel still more” in your faith

From my own personal experience, I know that Christian college students are especially vulnerable to spiritual pride… After all the Apostle Paul said, “that knowledge (alone) puffeth up.”

3) Continue then to grow in humility, gentleness, and grace as you no doubt will grow in knowledge, understanding, and theological wit… (See C.J. Mahaney’s book Humility: True Greatness)

4) I encourage you to seek wise counsel from godly dorm friends, your RD, and your parents; BUT ONLY after you’ve 1st asked God for wisdom and direction.
Proverbs 3:5-6 remind us to, Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

If, and when problems arise in your life, make sure that first you take everything to the Lord.

It’s a great blessing being able to attend a solid Christian college. I encourage you to take full advantage of this wonderful opportunity. Learn all you can from your new Christian friends, your Christian professors, and your RAs.

5) Constantly remind yourself though that with great privilege, comes great stewardship.
Jesus said to “whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48)

6) As a child of God don’t forget how important daily bible devotions are to your spiritual growth.

It’s easy to dry up even when you’re in the right place-

Don’t neglect the Bible! For it was the Word of God that made you wise unto salvation and it is the sacred Scriptures that will sanctify your very soul (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

1 Peter 2:2 says, “like new born infants LONG for the pure milk of the Word that by It, you may grow in respect to your salvation.”

Pray that your love for Jesus Christ will deepen as a result of these times!!

7) One last thing: Don’t let anyone tell you that Bible classes, chapel, dorm devotions, and parachurch ministries can usurp the central role of the local Church!

The Scriptures are clear that Christ’s bride has a unique place in God’s Kingdom program. The local church is the visible representation of the body of Christ! Make it a priority to plug yourself into a biblical church! One where you can be feed, discipled, and cared for; One where you can use your spiritual gifts & talents for the edification of the local church and the glory of God!

If you do these things I truly believe you will grow into the Proverbs 31 women that all of us desire you to become!

 Never forget, you are first and foremost a child of God! 

II. Second, you still are your parent’s daughter:

Like most Christian college students I’m guessing you are still very much financially dependent on your parents?!? 

That of course means that you’re still obligated to obey and honor them as Ephesians 6:1-3 says; Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.

 When you’re up at night eating ice-cream, painting toe nails, or maybe just cramming for a chemistry quiz take a moment to stop and thank God for giving you Christian parents. Try and find a free moment every week (or so) to call your mom. Take a minute or two to send your dad a post-card reminding him how much you love and miss him; & if you have any free time don’t forget to send an email to your lonely siblings, esp. your older brother! 

What are you currently reading?

It’s ministry share time: What are you currently reading? How have you enjoyed these books? What are you learning? How have these books impacted your preaching? etc…

Books I am currently reading:

1. No Place for Truth (by David F. Wells).
2. The Cross and Christian Ministry (by D.A. Carson).
3. Women’s Ministry in the Local Church (by Ligon Duncan)
4. Knowing God (By J.I. Packer)
5. The Holiness of God (by R.C. Sproul)
6. Growing Up Christian (by Karl Graustein)

Recently I noticed my relationship with God was growing dull and that my love for Christ (at times) was pretty luke-warm thus the need for a heavy dose of Theology Proper. My study through Knowing God has been VERY refreshing. Theology Proper is so crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship with the Father. It has been said of John Calvin that no man had a more profound understanding of God than he. It is no wonder why his preaching was so powerful and why his theological insights are so profound. He had an intimate relationship with his Creator. If God is not BIG in the pulpit then we have ample reasons to mourn. If God is not awesome in the pulpit than we shouldn’t be surprised when we hear that our people are timid, depressed, anxious, and/or proud.

The Holiness of God (my first time reading it) has been really convicting. Sadly, I bring God way down, way too often (when people are big and God is small syndrome). Thankfully He is not like me in SOO many ways. The Holiness of God has helped remind me of this reality. First and foremost we need to KNOW our God.

No Place for Truth has been a long but very good read. If you love history and evangelical theology than this book is a must read. It’s been very insightful as i seek to better understand the modern culture as well as the Church.

My reading through Women’s Ministry in the Local Church has been ok. In my judgment it is way too “Covenantal” (in really too many unnecessary places)… Their are some really great thoughts scattered throughout the book but all in all it has not been one of my favorite books on the subject.

The Cross and Christian Ministry has been a good challange to me in many ways. Our ministries must be cross-focused.
Honestly i have not made my way very far in this book so more to come on this book…

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