Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Are women better off today than 40 years ago?

Time Magazine has just released their latest issue which argues that women are more powerful today than 40 years ago. There is no doubt that women have more access to resources that will offer them financial independence and wealth. There is no doubt women have access to job fields that were unavailable 40 years ago. However, what's the trade-off? One would have a difficult time arguing that women are not more objectified today than 40 years ago. Sexual harassment and the objectification of women certainly existed 40 years ago but was it splashed across magazines and prime-time television?

Sadly, many Christians assume that the worldly standards and expectations of womanhood are the accepted norm. The Bible presents a radically different worldview and model for both manhood and womanhood than our culture presents. We should take the Scriptures seriously and honor the genders for their uniqueness. Men and women were not created to be interchangeable parts- to assume so diminishes value. It doesn't magnify it. Similarly women were not given their unique form to be forced to exploit it for monetary gain and power jockeying in the workplace. Below is a video by the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood which is a response to the article and the anti-Biblical movement of secular feminism.

CBMW Responds to TIME (Full Version) from CBMW on Vimeo.

HT: Jim Hamilton

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Free-wheeling Conversation" with Mark Dever

Over at Boyce College, Dr. Denny Burk interviewed Pastor Mark Dever from Capitol Hill Baptist Church. This is a great interview in a casual setting among college students that covers a lot of issues concerning the church and theology.

Go HERE to listen to the interview or to download it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Making Disciples of Young Adults

When I became the pastor at Memorial after ten years in youth ministry and six days before my 31st birthday the expectations from more than a few were that I'd "bring in the young adults". If only I had a magic flute! Of course my goal was never and will never be to function as the Minister of Marketing. Mostly we have seen young adults come but not really stick. This is discouraging in part because of a prideful desire to see a "growing" church, but there is a genuine grief because we want to obey the Great Commission to "make disciples".

Ultimately God draws people to Himself. He does so through the Church's obedience to share and live out the gospel. We've got to be serious about this as a church. It calls for sacrifice. It calls for diligence. It calls for investing time and money. It calls for a willingness to invest our lives into the lives of others. Kevin DeYoung offers five suggestions for reaching young adults- and not reaching them in a superficial way. It isn't by a program or a music style or by adding a staff member. Here are the five key things...

  1. Grab them with passion.
  2. Win them with love.
  3. Hold them with holiness
  4. Challenge them with truth
  5. Amaze them with God.

Go HERE to read the whole piece by Kevin DeYoung.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Not Your Average Day at the Beach

This is perhaps the coolest thing I've ever posted and I'm sure there's a sermon illustration in this somewhere. On St. Martin Island in the Caribbean the Princess Juliana International Airport sports one of the shortest runways for a major airport at just under 8000 feet. This allows for some great plane-spotting by tourists and locals on the beach as some massive jets land. Here are some pics and video below.

HT: The Herd

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

30 years of faithful, enduring ministry...

Thirty years ago today one of the pastoral heros of my life, John Piper obeyed God's calling on his life into the pastoral ministry. Months after pursuing this call he was installed as the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. On the night Piper felt the strongest urging of the Lord to answer the call he wrote in his journal,

"I am closer tonight to actually deciding to resign at Bethel (Seminary) and take a pastorate than I have ever been... The urge is almost overwhelming. It takes this form: I am enthralled by the reality of God and the power of his Word to create authentic people."

He was 29 years old. The ministry of Desiring God and of Bethlehem Baptist Church is mighty not because John Piper is mighty but because he faithfully followed our mighty God. Read the whole story HERE from Justin Taylor.

HT: Justin Taylor (especially for the 'old school' Piper pic)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reflections on Pastoral Ministry

When I started this blog I posted my simple strategy for pastoral ministry. Since my pastorate began in March 2008 I’ve resolved to do three things- preach the Word, live the Word, and shepherd others to follow the Word. I’ve found it helpful to constantly revisit these goals. Each week I’m trying through my study to understand the text of Scripture more and more so that I can present its meaning and intended application more clearly. This is probably the part of pastoral ministry I love the most. Don’t get me wrong, I do love people and ministering to them, but hunkering down with Scripture for hours during the week is a delight I never feel I get enough of. Since the summer of 2008 I’ve been preaching through the Gospel of Matthew with only brief breaks to address issues such as a Biblical view of marriage and a Biblical understanding of the church to name a couple. This area of my ministry is and will always be a work in progress.

The ‘living the Word’ part of my life and ministry is probably the hardest. It is always easier to look at other people’s lives than your own. However it is amazing that God always presents challenges to me and opportunities for application regarding the sermon I am preparing for during the week. He’s always pressing me to live it out. It is very convicting and sometimes frightening to think that my life and lifestyle can hinder people from hearing God’s Word clearly. While I know the Holy Spirit overcomes my own imperfections to plant the Word on people’s hearts it is still incumbent upon me to strive to “practice what I preach” and this can be tough.

The third part of my pastoral strategy (so to speak) is easily the most frustrating part but also the most rewarding part. Shepherding others to follow the Word can be really discouraging because when you stare at the text for hours you begin to form these expectations and ideals that everyone- including myself- is going to struggle to meet. I’ve had to be reminded over and over that sanctification is a process over a lifetime and it occurs in increments, day by day. Generally I get good feedback from my sermons and my leadership but whether the text is being personally applied or just theoretically agreed with is not certain. Still, the shepherding part of ministry is so rewarding. What a wonderful thing to see the Word reflected back from your people and that comes not only by preaching it, but by living it, and by shepherding them in it. Visiting the sick, listening to the hurting, and just building friendships provides those opportunities essential to helping the Word of God stick.

Well, there are thousands of better pastors and preachers out there but I’m not competing with them. My aim is to simply keep seeking to please Christ and follow His Word. So I’ll keep working at (with God’s grace) preaching the Word, living the Word, and shepherding others to follow the Word and just trust God with the results.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What He Must Be...

One of the growing influential voices in my home has been the Biblical counsel of Dr. Voddie Baucham who is a pastor, author, and speaker out of Houston, TX. His books, The Ever-Loving Truth, Family Driven Faith, and now What He Must Be… If He Wants to Marry My Daughter have really served to drive me to the Biblical texts in shaping my views on marriage, parenting, and living distinctly Christian in a culture with an increasingly anti-Christian attitude. I just recently finished the third book, What He Must Be and found it particularly helpful since my wife and I are expecting our first child- a son. We hope to have more so we are trying to absorb as much counsel as possible. This is excellent Biblical counsel and I’d highly recommend it. Also, below there are links to an interview with Dr. Baucham by Dr. Gary Chapman who authored, The Five Love Languages. This interview will provide you with an overview of the Biblical convictions Voddie teaches.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Roundtable on the End Times

What is the gospel? Where do Christians go when they die? What is the Millennium that Scripture speaks of? How do we understand the events of the "last days"? These are great issues that are discussed by a panel of scholars moderated by Dr. John Piper. The video below is a must-watch. There are few resources out there that provide a fair and balanced perspective on all the eschatological views. Stanley Grenz wrote a book some years back called The Millennial Maze that is excellent but this video provides clear information in a two-hour time frame. Dr. Sam Storms represents the amillennial viewpoint, Dr. Douglas Wilson represents the postmillennial viewpoint, and Dr. Jim Hamilton represents the premillennial viewpoint. Dr. Hamilton was one of the most influential professors I had in seminary (at Southwestern but now teaching at Southern Seminary). All these men are godly, gospel-loving men of faith so this makes for a great and quick two-hours. Enjoy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Marriage Prep

By the time a couple gets to their pastor for pre-marital counseling they are already deep into the wedding planning process. It is hard for the pastor to get any instruction to stick as their focus is on picking out a cake, making honeymoon reservations, and deciding how many cheesy love songs to include in the ceremony. Thousands of dollars and hours upon hours are dedicated to the wedding yet very little preparation (intentionally anyway) is put into the marriage. That is really tragic when you think about it!

One of the first questions I like to ask when doing pre-marital counseling is, "Can I talk you out of this?" I mean it too which is obvious on the awkward look I receive before any answer comes. If I can talk them out of it then they need to slow it down. Plus, it is a helpful way to bring gravity to what the couple are about to enter into.

I'm always trying to improve in this area of pastoral ministry and recently I came across a helpful blog post by John Piper called- "Questions to Ask When Preparing for Marriage." Perhaps this will be helpful for your marriage or to pass along to other couples that may be preparing for marriage. HERE IT IS.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Big Issues in the Seminary, the Church, and the Culture

This morning I was scanning through some old book marks and came across a blog post from July '05 by Dr. Jim Hamilton on his blog For His Renown. Dr. Hamilton was my Greek professor (among other things) in seminary and God used him as He often does our teachers to encourage and challenge me both academically and practically in my walk with the Lord. He posted on hot topics of controversy in three areas of life- the academic world, the church, and in the public forum. Here are the issues he addresses and I encourage you to follow the link to read the whole post where Dr. Hamilton explains these issues.

>Big Issues in Academia...
  • Open Theism
  • Inclusivism
  • Justification
  • Egalitarianism
>In the Church (USA)...
  • Doctrinal Indifference
  • Semi-Pelagianism
  • Materialism & Worldliness
  • Pragmatism
>"On the Street"...
  • Relativism
  • Skepticism
  • Hedonism