Monday, October 31, 2011

Don't Waste Your Halloween

To be completely honest I don't really care for Halloween. What was once a day for kids to dress up and get candy has become one more excuse for "grown-ups" to act childish. Furthermore I don't care for the day's emphasis on fear, gore, and sexuality (Have you seen some of the costumes for women hanging in stores??!!). I'd rather celebrate today as Reformation Day-- which is far more historically and spiritually meaningful. However, for better or worse we're stuck with Halloween as a growing phenomenon on October 31 so don't waste the opportunities it presents.

Tonight will be one of the few times in our impersonal culture when you can knock on a neighbor's door or strangers can knock on yours and the expected reception is friendliness. It will be like the 50's and 60's again when neighbors actually interacted with each other and opened their front porches to each other. So as a Christian, don't waste this. Keep your porch light on. Be hospitable. Give out candy (and gospel tracts or invitations to your church's worship). Remember that unbelievers will actually be coming to your door-- or you can go to their's! You don't have to endorse everything about this day to demonstrate Christ-likeness. Redeem the night by practicing gospel living on your front porch.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Piper is just around the corner!

In less than four days we will be inviting a new life into our family (via scheduled c-section). It is all very exciting and overwhelming at the same time. There's no doubt the Lord will use our new daughter to be a blessing but also to build our faith. New responsibilities, new challenges, and new uncertainties will be included in each day. I trust the Lord will use all these things to teach us more about how to parent by grace and grow in our marriage by grace. Of course this faith-building will also happen by all the moments of joy that accompany having a child. So in these remaining days Blair and I are praying up and resting up (while Asher enjoys some grandparent time)... eagerly anticipating the debut of the new life God created nine months ago, our daughter Piper!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tuesday Hodge-Podge (10-25-11)

  • Tim Challies proposes a theory on why Halloween has morphed into such a popular adult holiday. I concur.
  • Steve Lawsom has posted some great biographical snapshots over at Ligonier leading up to Reformation Day (here's his intro) on Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and William Tyndale (so far).
  • Kevin DeYoung offers some insight into things churches ought to think through concerning mercy ministry.
  • Jim Hamilton shares his take on why Harry Potter may not be the harbinger of Satanism (sarcasm) that many Christians seem to fear.
  • Thom Rainer suggests "five warning signs of a sick church". I especially want to amen #4.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Church in the City

Tim Keller offers a helpful challenge for churches to engage the city with gospel proclamation and gospel living. He says for example, "Cities are strategic and have lots of people yet they are poorly served by the church." This is not to discount the need for rural-based churches or suburban-based churches but we must continue to engage the city. It is just under 20 minutes and well worth it.

Tim Keller Argues For Churches In Cities [Lausanne] from Kenny Jahng on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Grow what?

On Sunday nights I've been leading a study through the "Seven Churches of Revelation" and this has been helpful to both warn and challenge. We talked last week about the desire for church growth. Depending on the motive and aim of that desire it could be a healthy and God-pleasing desire or it could be a desire reflecting selfishness and spiritual deadness. It is good to want the kingdom of God to grow and when the kingdom expands new disciples are added to established churches and new churches are started. So numerical growth is a byproduct of kingdom growth. Of course kingdom growth comes by faithful gospel proclamation and the gracious work of God using that proclamation to awaken a spiritual zombie (walking dead- Ephesians 2:1-2) to a new life in Christ. If you really desire true church growth you will faithfully proclaim and live out the gospel. You will invest time in unbelievers to lead them to understanding the gospel of the Lord Jesus. You will invest your life into new believers to help them grow as disciples of the Lord Jesus. So do you really want your church to grow?

I'm vexed by those who say they want church growth but seem apathetic about faithfulness to the Great Commission. Unfortunately what some people mean by "church growth" is actually club growth. They have a club that they don't want to go away. They have identity in that club and influence in that club that requires more people to surround that club to validate it. So the desire for more people to come to the church is not due to a love for Jesus and a desire to see Him magnified and enjoyed in another person's life. The desire for more people to come is so that the club would be magnified and enjoyed. I was encouraged as those who were present last Sunday night resoundingly responded that they did not want to be satisfied with "club growth" but wanted God to grow His church. I pray that is the desire of all our churches and that we'd guard ourselves from the spiritual deadness that permeated churches like the one in Sardis 2000 years ago.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tuesday Hodge-Podge (10-18)

  • Questions about Mormonism and its divergence from orthodox Christianity have become a hot topic again (due to Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy and LDS membership). Kevin DeYoung offers Mormonism 101.
  • So were Old Covenant believers permanently indwelt with the Holy Spirit? This is a good study topic and a question presented to me recently. Murray says yes. Hamilton says no.
  • Here is an interesting take on the spectrums of theological truth from Justin Taylor.
  • I'm planting a church but I pray established churches will maintain a pioneer mindset toward evangelism that most new churches start with. Here are 5 Ways Established Churches should think like Plants.
  • Here are ways you can think and act more missionally/ evangelistically among your neighbors.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Marriage Ceremonies & Cohabitation

Christianity Today asks the question of various ministers whether they would marry a couple who was co-habitating. I'm happy to help a couple that is repentant and thus willing to share separate habitations until they enter their marriage covenant. In that case it would be my joy to officiate the ceremony. Naturally these can be gospel-sharing opportunities as well. If they (professing to be Christians) are not willing to repent I would not do the ceremony because I'd want them to understand the seriousness and sanctity of the covenant. Al Mohler is better worded and spot on in his response.

"Pastors are stewards of a biblical understanding of sexuality. Marrying cohabiters miscommunicates the teaching function of marriage. I would only marry couples that were repentant, had forsaken the sin of cohabitating, and sought the remedy of marriage. Marriage does not simply validate the long-term commitment of a couple whose relationship has been based upon cohabitation. There's another problem, which has to do with the fact that pastors are not the only stewards of marriage. In other words, marriage is accessible to persons outside the church. So when the church allows a marriage to take place within its life, it should be validating this in a way that goes beyond marriage as a creation institution and gets to what marriage is teaching in the ceremony of the church and the church's stewardship of marriage."


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday Hodge-Podge (10-4-11)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Do you want to help plant a church?

In Spring 2012 a new church will be planted in Beaumont Texas. The core group of Cross Point Church is already meeting regularly but more "planters" are needed. In January 2012 we'll begin meeting for worship and fellowship every Sunday night and on March 18, 2012 we'll launch the public Sunday morning worship service and our home-based "Life Groups". There's a lot to do between now and then. Many fellow churches are coming on board to support the planting effort but more core group members are needed.

If you are interested or know of someone you'd like to commend to be part of this core group read THIS first. Now pray about what you've read or who you'd like to commend. Next, attend our Core Group Informational Meeting on October 11. Please email me for the time and location if you're serious about attending (email: jbradshaw77 [at] gmail [dot] com). We want to make sure there is plenty of space for everyone.