Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday Hodge-Podge (4-24-12)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Functional Roles within the Trinity

This is the first in a series of posts I’m planning on my version of “DVD Extras”. I’m trying to find a place to put some of the thoughts and notes I edited from my sermon series through the Gospel of Mark. With that series I have a specific purpose in each sermon (covering a larger section of text to get the big idea or theme) so some stuff I have to edit out for fear it would take me off point. Still, these are insights that were a blessing to me and I hope are a blessing to the 2-3 of you that might read them here. :)

Days before Jesus would be arrested and crucified He foretells of these events to His disciples. James and John (possibly two of the younger disciples) are unmoved and instead make a very audacious request of Jesus- “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (Mark 10:37). In my third of three sermons on Mark 10 I talked at length about Jesus’ response to James and John particularly regarding suffering as part and parcel with being His disciple. He humbled them. However there was one comment Jesus made that I didn’t have time to flesh out but is a beautiful insight into the doctrine of the Triune God. In verse 40 Jesus says, “To sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” The parallel to this verse in Matthew 20:23 is more descriptive, “To sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

Jesus made it clear to them that God has prepared whatever is received eternally and God determines what we receive according to His sovereign prerogative. This is an excellent example of the functional distinction between the three persons of the Trinity. God is one being, one essence who manifests Himself in three distinct and simultaneously present persons- Father, Son, and Spirit. Each person of the Godhead carries out distinct functions. The Father did not die on the cross, the Son did. Likewise the Son does not determine kingdom rewards, the Father does. This information is given that the disciples would have a higher view of God and in contrast a lower view of man (in keeping with the context of discipleship as humble servanthood). When we open God’s Word we are to see how He reveals Himself and not for how our self-seeking nature wants to see God and how we can get things from God.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jeff and Caesar on Missional Communities

I know, I've been a sluggish blogger of late, but between planting a church and selling a house my creative energies have been occupied. I'm planning to post more sermon-related stuff soon (material I just don't have time to cover on Sunday morning) and answer questions that come in through my church or by email. For now, here is an excellent video discussing missional communities. You might not agree with everything said or how it is said but there is much that is helpful here. Our church's Community Groups will aim for much of the concepts discussed here.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Plumblines for Cross Point Church

We are in the process of selling our home and relocating to Beaumont where we have planted a church (the 30 minute commute on Sunday is no big deal but it hinders relationship-building in the community during the week). So we're cleaning stuff out, packing stuff up, and throwing stuff away. Last week I came across a treasure... the notebook that I scribbled six life-altering statements in. I remember seeking the Lord for direction in my leadership at my former church. I sought to put in a few simple statements the convictions the Lord had put on my heart about how Biblically healthy church life and mission.  Initially I called these statements "plumblines for healthy church life". Ultimately these became the seeds of the vision for planting Cross Point Church. They grew out of my prayer life and conversations with my wife...

1. We envision a church whose members are always on mission in their lives as fully devoted followers of King Jesus and as faithful givers of the gospel by word and hospitality.

2. We envision a church among whom Christ is magnified and people's needs are met as we worship and hear God's Word together in weekly assembly and as we share life together in home-based small groups.

3. We envision a church who finds its life and vitality in hearing and obeying God's Word as Biblical expository preaching and teaching is presented weekly and as Biblical truth is taken seriously for life application.

4. We envision a church who is a display of God's glory in an ordered creation as we live out the roles of Biblical manhood and womanhood and as we honor and support those set apart as leaders.

5. We envision a church who has a simple program with central focus on Sunday worship and missional home groups so as to avoid feeding a consumer mindset (inside the walls) and so as to avoid taking us off mission (outside the walls).

6. We envision a church who is always reproducing for kingdom expansion as we train leaders and lifestyle missionaries and as we plant churches and start more missional home groups.

The Lord knew I needed to find that notebook just to have my eyes run across those statements again. Some form of them are printed on information brochures about our church and I've articulated these ideas numerous times but it is so easy to lose sight of the convictions that first set us on this course. It is easy to get anxious about attendance and finances and various sorts of issues but we must continues to come back to these measuring sticks. I am so thankful the Lord has set me on this course and thankful for those on this journey with me-- we must keep aiming to be shaped by God's Word and to be motivated by God's glory!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Reenacting Maundy Thursday

One of my fondest memories of my time serving as pastor at Memorial Baptist Church was when we held a special worship service to commemorate what is known as Maundy Thursday. We sang, prayed, and took communion. It was a very simple and very reflective time of worship. The word "maundy" comes from the latin word for "commandment" and takes its significance from John 13:34 when Jesus said to His disciples, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." Jesus gave this command on the night before His crucifixion. He had gathered with His disciples to celebrate Passover. He breathed new meaning into the elements of the cup and the bread- instituting the Lord's Supper and demonstrated through washing His disciples' feet His purpose for the Son of God taking on flesh and dwelling among them. He came to serve... a very specific need. In Mark 10:45 Jesus said, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." Maundy Thursday is a reminder then that the eternal Son of God humbled Himself by taking on flesh and dwelling among sinners (though not sinning Himself as He had no sinful nature) so that He might give His life to satisfy the wrath of God against sinful people. This is the greatest expression of humble servanthood and love there has ever been and will ever be!

As His disciples we are to imitated this kind of servanthood and this kind of love to one another as a testimony of Christ's work to redeem and transform us. We are knit together as family with other disciples. Neither Maundy Thursday or Easter Sunday are instructed to be celebrated in Scripture as special days. We are to reenact the servanthood and love of Christ and rejoice in the power of His resurrection every day-- especially every Lord's Day when we gather together as local covenantal congregations. However, it never hurts to give special attention to these things on special days. So consider today how you might serve and share the love of Christ with fellow disciples as a witness to those who need to hear and see the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus adds another critical statement in John 13:35 that gives motivation for verse 34, "Be this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."