Friday, September 30, 2011

What Happened to Authentic Community?

This is a "trailer" for a new book by Brad House called Community: Taking your Small Group Off Life Support.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Humility through a Mini-Van

This week started off pretty rough. By Monday afternoon I was exhausted- not physically but in all the other ways that aren't so easily remedied. Perhaps the breaking point came when after running an errand with my wife and son that evening I hit the button for the sliding door to open in our van so I could unbuckle my son. It didn't open. I tried the button on my key chain. It didn't work either. In the last three months we've spent almost $600 in vehicle repair and I immediately began to envision what it would cost to fix the power doors. On top of all the other issues I'd had to deal with in the previous 24 hours this I did not need.

Suddenly I was convicted that I had made two critical mistakes. First, and most grievously I was dipping into the well of anger, frustration, bitterness, and doubt. The last of which was essentially questioning the Lord's provision. Who was I to get upset?? The Lord is ever-gracious and if He can deliver me from sin's clutches He will provide the funds to fix my van. On top of that, it is just a thing. He's blessed me and my family with great health and we have another child on the way. My cup runneth over so I realized immediately I needed to cool my jets.

My second critical mistake had a more practical consequence. I didn't hit the unlock button and oh yeah genius, power doors don't work when locked. Boy, did I feel stupid. Subtract impatience and add common sense. It's amazing how much better the day goes. Of course that's a lesson that in hindsight would avoid much heartache. The Lord is gracious to humble me through a mini-van!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Hodge-Podge (9-27-11)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Let's Be Clear

I've said a lot here recently about being missional and I don't want to be misleading. You can love being on mission with Jesus and not love Jesus. A more classic way to say that is you can be very religious about Jesus stuff and not have a relationship with Jesus. So I want to be clear that the gospel is not working for Jesus or rebuilding your community or feeling more fulfilled because you are doing Jesus stuff. The gospel is the good news that God sent His Son as Redeemer for those who are utterly hopeless and dead in sin... by His work on the cross atonement is accomplished to bring us into relationship with God... a relationship of knowing, enjoying, and glorifying God forever. By faith alone the work of Christ is applied and this is an act of God's sovereign grace. That transformation (the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit) implants in us a growing passion and dedication to spread God's glory through gospel proclamation and demonstration.

Here is a good video on the gospel (and what the gospel is not) that is helpful on my point:

Baptized Four Times from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Friday, September 23, 2011

How will you use these final 100 Days?

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.
Today marks the first official day of Fall (the Autumnal Equinox) but it is also the first day of the last 100 days of the year. I remember well writing out goals and resolutions for my first 100 days as pastor at Memorial Baptist in Port Arthur. Many of those goals and all of the resolutions got carried over beyond those first days. Now I'm at my final 100 days as pastor of Memorial before diving full-in with planting Cross Point Church in Beaumont. So I'm thinking and praying a lot about finishing well and how my leadership and ministry with the saints at Memorial would be most edifying and most glorifying to God. I'm a list guy so naturally I've made another list of goals (my resolutions remain) for these last weeks and days of 2011.

Have you thought about your final 100 days of 2011? We put a lot of stock in "New Year's Resolutions" which usually fizzle by March. How about putting more thought into finishing well. Consider Ephesians 5:15-16, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." Give thought and prayer today to what you'll do with the remaining time the Lord allows this year.

Growing Disciple=Living Missionally

I believe articles like this one by Mike Breen are, though well-intentioned and helpful on certain points, misleading. Reading his article you can easily feel the need to pick between a mission-focused church and a discipleship-focused church. This is not a choice that should be made. Discipleship done right includes being missional. Biblical discipleship is not just filling your head with unapplied knowledge. Churches must equip their members in the Word... for missional living. Being a Biblical church requires every member being missional because every member ought to be a growing disciple of the Lord Jesus. Of course too often churches don't disciple well. We are good at getting people into our programs and systems but activity is not necessarily spiritual growth.

Likewise many churches are not really good at doing missions either. That is relegated only to a committee, those who volunteer a bit of time at a local shelter, or those who can afford to go on 10-day trips to some foreign country. Those folks are doing missions but we must teach in our churches that every Christian must "do missions" every day and in every area of their life. The gospel is a way of life and discipling people is to- like the Apostle Paul- invest in others, sow God's Word into them, and challenge them to live missionally. Missional living and discipleship are two-sides of the same coin... both with the aim to make much of Christ and His gospel.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What do I mean by Confessional?

I'm working on developing a statement of faith for Cross Point Church that will eventually supplant the Abstract of Principles as the confessional document of the church. Nothing wrong with the AOP but there's additional positions not considered in 1858 (when the AOP was written) that I believe are important for inclusion. There are other things that I think can be more clearly stated in our present context. This project is probably a few months off from completion but I came across a good quote from Carl Trueman that is applicable to why this project is important:

For a church to be `confessional' means for it to adhere to a particular confession or set of confessional documents. There are two parts to that statement, of course: there is the material statement, in that there are confessional documents involved, documents which teach certain doctrines; and there is the point that the church `adheres' to said documents, i.e., the church has a Form of Government which connects to the confessional documents; as a result, office bearers take vows to uphold certain doctrines as taught in the confessional documents and there are procedures in place to remove them from office should they fail to do so.

Quote taken from this source.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Documentary on Star Wars

The Star Wars junkie in me had to post this so its pure guilty pleasure. In other words don't expect some amazing analogy about its application to the Christian life. Just enjoy...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Hodge-Podge (9-20-11)

Monday, September 19, 2011

What do I mean by "Missional"?

The term "missional" has become a popular buzz word among evangelicals. Unfortunately it has become misused and abused. However, I like the term. I believe it succinctly articulates the kind of mindset every disciple of the Lord Jesus ought to have. Every Christian is on mission.

What is the mission of every Christian or of every church? Well generally speaking you could boil that down to Jesus' words in the great commission. You could also quote Jesus from Matthew 5:16 (ESV) and say our mission is to "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Different people and different churches have said essentially the same thing in their own words and in their own carefully phrased "mission statements" but the mission of every member of the Lord's Church is essentially the same. We are to be a display of God's glory through Christ Jesus.

There aren't two classes of Christian- those who carry out the mission and those that do not. This attitude plays out in churches when you have the hired hands and the consumers. So I'm using the term "missional" to emphasize that every church member is on mission- not just the pastor, not just the missions committee, and not just the really zealous and gregarious people. Those folks may set the pace but every Christian is to be a disciple-maker and a display of God's glory.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why the Abstract of Principles??

Cross Point Church, though seeking to exalt King Jesus over any denomination is unashamedly being founded in the Southern Baptist tradition as doctrine, church polity, and cooperation for kingdom expansion is concerned. The Southern Baptist Convention is not a governing agency but a “convention of churches” which we will partner with to send missionaries across the globe, resource seminaries and other training institutions, and plant more Biblical local churches. Our polity will be pastor-led congregationalism (explaining that in detail will require another future blog post). Our doctrine will be consistent with the earliest statement of faith articulated and adopted by Southern Baptists. In 1858 the President of the soon-to-be-opened Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. James P. Boyce commissioned the drafting of an “abstract of doctrinal principles”. This confessional statement became a regulative document for the seminary and its professors (and has since been recovered under Dr. Mohler’s leadership). Of course years later in 1925 the SBC drafted the first edition of the Baptist Faith and Message but The Abstract of Principles was the first document that articulated the orthodoxy of Southern Baptist churches and it was the first confessional statement adopted by any SBC institution.

So Cross Point Church will use The Abstract of Principles as its main statement of faith. It is time-tested, clear, and concise. As such it will be the statement for confessional agreement among our membership. Over the course of the next year we will examine each article and make revisions in the language (for clarity) and teach the Scriptural proofs each doctrine is rooted in. It is also my goal to develop a “catechism” based on these doctrinal statements to use in discipleship—particularly among the children of our church members. The Baptist Faith and Message as well as other historic Baptist confessions (2nd London- 1689, Philadelphia- 1742, New Hampshire- 1833, etc) will also serve us to teach Bible doctrine and determine levels of cooperation with other congregations. Creeds and confessions while not authoritative—Scripture alone occupies this role for the believer—are guides and tools to express a church’s mutual agreement on Biblical doctrine and interpretation.