Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Beware of Becoming Distracted

Mark Patton, pastor of my home church, Spring Hill Baptist Church, has been preaching through a series on the book of Nehemiah. This past Sunday he shared a message on the attacks Nehemiah faced and how these describe the attacks churches face which would hinder them from fulfilling the work God has given them to do.

The attacks Nehemiah faced:

Becoming Distracted

Becoming Timid

Compromising on the Essentials

In his first point he shared how easy it is for the church to become distracted from the work God has given us to do: that of glorifying Him by making disciples.

From Pastor Mark’s message:

“All over the world today, churches are leaving disciple making for helping the environment, for helping the poor, for helping to fight Aids, for helping to fight hunger, for helping to stop abortion, for helping to protect marriage. None of these are bad. I would love for the environment to be better. I would love for the poor to have enough that there would be no hunger. I would love for the Aids epidemic to be curbed. I would love for innocent live to be protected. I would love for the home where one man and one woman in a monogamous marriage of harmony would be the model of our culture.

“But the job of our church is to bring honor and glory to God by making disciples…

“My beef is not with these outreach ministries. My beef is with the church getting distracted by people who do these 'ministries' apart from the gospel.”
Pastor Mark’s message was a great reminder for us as a church to stay focused and faithful on what it is that God has called us to do.

20 minute clip from Mark's message dealing with churches becoming distracted from the God given priority of making disciples.

Pastor Mark’s complete message

Saturday, July 12, 2008

John Piper: Taking the Swagger Out of Christian Cultural Influence

We often question how believers are to best engage and influence the culture around us. One of our greatest mistakes is to make those who are unbelievers (and their leaders) enemies to be defeated rather than people to be reached.

Several years ago John Piper wrote a good article reminding us of our proper attitude towards the lost and the culture in which we live.

Piper writes:

"The fact that Christians are exiles on the earth (1 Peter 2:11), does not mean that they don’t care what becomes of culture. But it does mean that they exert their influence as very happy, brokenhearted outsiders. We are exiles. “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). “Here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 3:14)."

His conclusion is a great reminder:

"...Christian exiles are not passive. We do not smirk at the misery or the merrymaking of immoral culture. We weep. Or we should. This is my main point: being exiles does not mean being cynical. It does not mean being indifferent or uninvolved. The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat. Where it can, it saves and seasons. And where it can’t, it weeps. And the light of the world does not withdraw, saying “good riddance” to godless darkness. It labors to illuminate. But not dominate.

"Being Christian exiles in American culture does not end our influence; it takes the swagger out of it. We don’t get cranky that our country has been taken away. We don’t whine about the triumphs of evil. We are not hardened with anger. We understand. This is not new. This was the way it was in the beginning –- Antioch, Corinth, Athens, Rome. The Empire was not just degenerate, it was deadly. For three explosive centuries Christians paid for their Christ-exalting joy with blood. Many still do. More will.

"It never occurred to those early exiles that they should rant about the ubiquity of secular humanism. The Imperial words were still ringing in their ears: “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Mark 13:13). This was a time for indomitable joy and unwavering ministries of mercy.

"Yes, it was a time for influence–-as it is now. But not with huffing and puffing as if to reclaim our lost laws. Rather with tears and persuasion and perseverance, knowing that the folly of racism, and the exploitation of the poor, and the de-Godding of education, and the horror of abortion, and the collapse of heterosexual marriage, are the tragic death-tremors of joy, not the victory of the left or the right.

"The greatness of Christian exiles is not success but service. Whether we win or lose, we witness to the way of truth and beauty and joy. We don’t own culture, and we don’t rule it. We serve it with brokenhearted joy and longsuffering mercy, for the good of man and the glory of Jesus Christ."

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringgod.org

Read John Piper's complete article.

Friday, July 4, 2008

"Contact Your Representatives Today!"

How often have we been encouraged to contact our legislators regarding some bill or issue before them?

I would like to encourage you to contact your legislators and elected officials with a note or call thanking them for serving and letting them know you are praying for them. Regardless of party or ideology, we are called upon to honor and pray for our leaders.

You can find contact information for West Virginia’s leaders at www.wv.gov.