Monthly Archives: November 2010
I wanted to take a moment and reflect a bit upon the message we heard at Vann Avenue from Dr. David Sills (Reaching and Teaching International Ministries). I am sharing from my strategy, with regards to listening to a sermon with the intent to hear and obey. I go back and reflect upon the notes I have taken and ask, “Lord, how do you want me to respond in faith and obedience.” Here are the marks of a mission-minded church Dr. Sills drew from the Scripture (Acts 11:19-30; 13:1-3) and questions I ask myself.
Mark #1–A mission-minded church consists of lay people sharing the Gospel.
Sharing the gospel isn’t the duty of only the pastors. Sharing the gospel should be the delight of all people who have been saved through the gospel. The point being made, however, is that a church that is mission-minded consists of all people sharing the gospel. Am I? Am I being obedient in this area of life? When was the last opportunity I embraced to share the good news of Jesus?
Mark #2–A mission-minded church is sharing the Gospel with people not like them.
The church might be the only place within a community where there is no dividing line between ethnics, races, or socio-economic structures. Paul reminds us in Galatians 3:27-29 that what we have in common internally, Jesus Christ, far exceeds those external differences. Do I only find myself around people who are only like me? Are there people who, because I get uncomfortable, I will not be around? Do I struggle with the sin of racism? Do I look down upon people who are not like me or act like me?
Mark #3–A mission-minded church has wise, humble leadership who raises more wise, humble leaders.
One could mistakenly apply this only to the pastor, as if he is the only leader. Now I do believe it starts with his leadership, but Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3:11-13 that the aim of leadership is to train the saints (plural) for the work of ministry (life of the church body). Do I recognize my weaknesses? Do I even know my strengths? Do I possess humility or do I intend things to always go “my” way?
Mark #4–A mission-minded church has sound “healthy” teaching.
Here is how I go about this mark. If I am a teacher, do I prepare faithfully for the task of teaching the Word of God? If I am not a teacher, do I study my Bible, so that if someone is teaching contrary to Scripture, I can identify it? This approach leaves no one outside the responsibility of reading and studying their Bible. Am I spending regular, unhurried time in the Bible?
Mark #5–A mission-minded church has a clear commitment to Christ.
I loved the illustration Dr. Sills used for this mark from Spurgeon. In this church, leaders may come and leaders may go, but what will remain is the constant pursuit of God’s glory and His kingdom. How does this play out? Am I more concerned with my own preferences verses God’s word? Do I elevate my own preferences and lay them on others as the only biblical choice? Although we value tradition and heritage, will we elevate it to the authority of Scripture? The mission-minded church recognizes the change of culture around them, but holds on, with a firm grip, the truths of Scripture which always point to Christ (Luke 24:27).
Mark #6–A mission-minded church is a generous church.
According to the latest numbers from the SBC, it is reported that only 5% of the church tithes obediently. This is the beginning point. However, not only financially, a mission-minded church is also generous with their time and talent. If a detective were to have possession of all my financial records over the year 2010, would there be enough evidence to convict me of being a Christian based on my generosity to the church or ministries of the church?
Mark #7–A mission-minded church takes personal involvement in sending missionaries both internationally and nationally.
This church not only wants to be financially giving, but also people sending. I am going to assume there are a few people reading this who have thought about missions. You have thought about going on a short-term mission trip or maybe even the length of a summer (youth). What is keeping you from going? What is keeping you from planning one? Is He calling you to the mission field? Is He calling you to something that you know is only possible if He’s in it? That is where you want to be. You want to be leaning on His strength and not your own.
You know we sang the hymn Sunday, “Here am I Lord, send me.” I have always remembered what someone told me about that verse from Isaiah 6:8. They taught me that Isaiah wasn’t reminding God about his location but about his willingness. What about you?
A mission-minded church consists of mission-minded people. As I look to these marks, where do I need repentance and grace to be more like Christ? Which marks could I help someone else with who might be struggling? May we recognize this message from Dr. Sills as a gift from God, and seek to humbly obey.
I am looking forward to this coming weekend at Vann Avenue. We will be tremendously blessed and challenged as we hear from Dr. David Sills and his son in the morning worship. I had the privilege of taking a class at Southern Seminary with Dr. Sills as my professor. I recognized from that time under his teaching a man who has a deep passion for the gospel and the mission to proclaim that gospel to the ends of the earth. Here is a brief bio from his website (reachingandteaching.org).
Dr. David Sills is the founder and president of Reaching and Teaching International Ministries as well as a missions professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. David joined the faculty of SBTS after serving as a missionary in Ecuador. While with the International Mission Board, he served as a church planter and general evangelist among the Highland Quichua people in the Andes and as a seminary professor at the Ecuadorian Baptist Theological Seminary. He also served as Rector and professor of the Baptist seminary as a missionary with Global Outreach International. In addition to leadership training and seminary ministry that has taken him throughout Latin America and as far away as Nepal, David has started and pastored churches in both the United States and Ecuador.
A new release has come out called, “We’re Just Friends and Other Dating Lies.”
I believe our kids have it as difficult as any kids in recent decades with regards to relationships and sexuality. How will we respond? Will we respond or will we allow the world to continue to teach them about relationships while we continue to teach them Bible stories as if there is no connection. In a mini-book titled, Teens and Sex, author Paul David Tripp encourages us to strategize. I quote straight from the book.
Strategizing: Helping Teens Plan for Godly Relationships
In the face of the conflicting messages teens receive, we need to offer a clear understanding of God’s will for their relationships and show how those principles apply to their daily lives. Your efforts would include the following:
1. Give teens a biblical view of relationships that leads to a positive, practical plan for God-honoring friendships. Make the most of opportunities that come when the teenager talks about or struggles with relationships, since these moments are rare. Take the initiative and draw out the teen. Teach him not to be afraid of being honest by being understanding, honestly admitting your own failure, and pointing to the beauty of God’s standard and forgiveness.
2. Encourage other parents to be committed to honest, ongoing communication with their teens about sexuality. Parents need to take responsibility to keep this communication going. Teach parents to be open and unembarrassed, to be willing to invest the time necessary for a robust and honest friendship with their teens. Teach them to ask themselves what they are doing specifically to encourage or discourage such a friendship.
3. Always keep the issue of temptation on the table. Know where your teen is being tempted, know how he is dealing with it, make plans that anticipate temptations to come.
4. Encourage teens to take the long view of relationships. Rather than focus on the joys and pains of the moment, have the teenager start from the perspective of a God-glorifying marriage and work back. What steps need to be taken now, what habits need to be developed now, what things need to be forsaken, to prepare me for God’s best? Teach teens to assess their relationships using the sowing and reaping principle in Scripture: The relational seeds they are planting now will result in what kind of harvest?
This morning as I was reading from Daniel, I began to pray for my kids and all the young people I have the opportunity to pour in to. I pray that their righteousness would far exceed my very own. I pray we would be raising and training a generation of Daniel’s who love the Lord regardless of the temptations around them. I pray it would be said of them, “We will never find any charge against this Daniel unless we find something against him concerning the law of his God (Daniel 6).”
As we continue this weekend in our study on the topic of dating, we ask the question, “How can I stay pure in my dating?” Now this question implies you are going to be active in dating right now, that may not be the case. However, the topic of standards is an area that should be discussed with parents or even good friends way before you find yourself in compromising situations. Often, if we (parents) try to address the problem after it has already began, we are too late. I could not encourage enough the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye to all parents of children who are still at home. In fact, I encourage all elementary parents to have read the book themselves, so that they can read the book with their son/daughter when it is appropriate.
Sunday morning we are going to look at three different areas of the Bible to teach and reinforce that the best way to stay pure in dating is to…
#1 Set the Standard Now (Joshua 24:14-15)
In his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Harris refers to these standards as guidelines. He says, “After you’ve formed your “team” (parents/mentors/godly friends), you need to establish guidelines for your relationships with the opposite sex that are based on the wisdom of God’s Word. Sit down with your mom and dad, or mentor, and ask questions such as “What constitutes a romantic setting? When is going out with someone appropriate, and when would it lead to premature intimacy?” Think through some of the situations that might arise.”
#2 Don’t Start Something (Song of Songs 3:5)
Our study makes a great point of illustration when it reminds us that you can’t put an egg back together after it’s broken and the contents spill out. Now we know that only Jesus Christ can make broken people whole, but He also intends for His children to be Holy.
#3 Run from Temptation (2 Timothy 2:22)
Do we desire and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace? We can only run from that which we identify or recognize as dangerous. I hope the danger we see is the danger of not pleasing the God who loves us and who sent His Son to rescue us. This describes the person whose purity can be explained as an attitude and not a line we cross.
One chapter of I Kissed Dating Goodbye is called Counterculture Romance, and it consists of five attitude changes to help you avoid defective dating. The attitude changes are…
- Every relationship is an opportunity to model Christ’s love
- Singleness as a gift from God
- I don’t need to pursue romance before a I am ready for marriage
- I can’t “own” somebody outside of marriage–read chapter for further explanation
- I will avoid situations that could compromise the purity of my body or mind
Do these sound like counterculture ideas to you as a youth or parent? Talk about these ideas together this weekend. Talk about standards or guidelines. If these are the types of conversations you have had or are considering having, let me know. Much is at stake in this area of life. As parents we are commanded by God Himself to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4b).” Let us be found faithful and wise because dating falls in this training.
“No one should despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity (emphasis mine)–1 Timothy 4:12.”
What is purity? Is purity not crossing a certain line that you and your boyfriend/girlfriend have decided is wrong? As we continue in this month’s topic of dating, we want to ask ourselves these types of questions as Christians. Should my standard for purity be different than those friends around me who have no love for Christ or His will for their lives? The word here used by Paul for purity (hagneia) has its roots in the word holy (hagios). This fact alone should tell us that God desires something more for us in dating than the “don’t cross the line mentality” or “true love waits” program. Holiness begins within the heart and then expresses itself out in my actions/behaviors. Purity also begins in the heart and also expresses itself out in our actions/behaviors.
As Joshua Harris states in his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, “True purity is a direction, a persistent, determined pursuit of righteousness. This direction starts in the heart, and we express it in a lifestyle that flees opportunity for compromise.”
What type of example are we setting? This Wednesday evening we are going to turn our attention to this passage and seek from God some direction and encouragement. Until then, you might check out this short video.
What an interesting evening it was last night in the youth area. We played a few games and had a good group of students. One of the games played was musical chairs to the music of Lecrae. Music is without a doubt based mostly on preference. Although there are a few folks who think their music is the only type of good Christian music, thankfully I am not one of them and have been discipled around others who appreciate a variety of music as well. I do have a preference though, and that preference is God glorifying lyrics. Whether it be rap or southern gospel, I am looking for something that I like and that lifts up Christ and is biblical. I have included a 3-part series based on the artist Lecrae. He is one I can enjoy and whose lyrics help encourage me to glorify God.
“Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard–Acts 4:19-20.”
I hope you have been able to begin our Acts Challenge (reading a chapter of the book of Acts a day). If not, I would encourage you to begin and maybe sit down today and read chapters 1 and 2. Dr. Brad Waggoner states in his book The Shape of Faith to Come, “A major part of the spiritual formation process is to be a diligent student of the Word of God and to have a hungry, teachable spirit. To be a disciple means being a learner. Being a learner involves both attitude and behavior.”
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah–Acts 2:36.”
When I read this verse a couple things usually come to my mind. First, do we make Jesus lord? Now I usually understand what is being communicated when I hear that type of language, but I am not sure all do. This verse says God made Jesus Lord. I believe when people ask others to make Jesus Lord, they are actually asking them to submit or surrender their lives to Jesus because Jesus is Lord. Peter here is preaching and declaring that the Jesus they crucified is Lord. When the hearers of Peter begin to understand from their hearts that Jesus is Lord, it causes them to ask, “Brothers, what must we do?” Peter responds by telling them to repent and be baptized.
The other thing that comes to my mind is the idea that one can receive Jesus as Savior (Messiah) at one point in their life and then later make him Lord. The idea that it is a possible two-step process, which I believe this verse refutes. These were some thoughts from today’s reading, here is a quote from John MacArthur on this second point.
“Jesus is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3). That is the single, central, foundational, and distinguishing article of Christianity. It is also the first essential confession of faith every true Christian must make: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Rom. 10:9). The belief that someone could be a true Christian while that person’s whole lifestyle, value system, speech, and attitude are marked by a stubborn refusal to surrender to Christ as Lord is a notion that shouldn’t even need to be refuted . . . You cannot remove the lordship of Christ from the gospel message without undermining faith at its core.”
Does a name matter? Do words make a difference? I think so. If I am following my GPS and it tells me to turn right, and I turn left because I don’t think that word “right” matters, I’m lost. Now we understand that with directions, but what about whether we call a gathering of young adults, ranging from 7th to 12th grades, youth groups or student ministries. Does that really make a difference? In essence, probably not. However, if one thinks of their gathering as a group that has no real significant purpose, than to be catered to and entertained, then we got a problem.
Whether we at Vann refer to our youth ministry as youth groups or student ministries, how we understand our purpose is critical to our future. If you are a parent or guardian of a child in the youth group at Vann, I hope you will make it a priority to be involved at our next parent meeting next Sunday (Nov. 7th) night at 7PM.
I recently came across this comment from Alvin Reid who is an evangelism professor at Southeastern Seminary.
“Here are a few examples of changes I believe are good, and are driven by the gospel: From event-driven student ministry to missional student ministry. This one is only recently starting to happen, but it is happening in increasing ways. In the short time I have given focus to student ministry I have had many discussions with some of the most outstanding student pastors in America. A great and fundamental shift is happening, from treating teens like preschoolers to engaging them in the mission, from entertainment and activities to mission trips and discipleship, from a youth “group” to a student “ministry.” Watch and see this growing movement. Jim Elliot said, “Children are arrows in a quiver, and they are to be trained as missionaries and shot at the Devil.” Student ministry seen as training a generation of missionaries is driven by student pastors ready to change, and by a millennial generation ready for a challenge.”
What are your thoughts?