Archives for February 2014

The Old Testament Law and You

There are literally hundreds of laws found in the Old Testament.  For a person wanting to obey God, this work is actually insurmountable.  For people who have trusted in Christ, this law is still a picture of the holiness of God.  And we have come to accept that we are unable to live up to His perfect standard.  The redeeming part (literally) of it is that Christ has fulfilled all this law for us.  We only trust in Him.

But what many people fail to remember is that without without trusting in Christ, all that law still applies to the individual.  God is still God, even to those who do not acknowledge He exists.  He is not a fairy that lack of belief would cause Him to disappear.  Regardless of individual belief, God is there.  And the fact that He is Holy and Just reminds us that His Holy Law had to be, or will be, fulfilled.

The question for the individual is not whether God will ‘let them off’ because they didn’t know any better.  But the question is how will you fulfill God’s Holy Law?  Jesus knew that to be brought into the family of God, someone would have to fulfill the Law in your place.  That is what He did.  He, being God Himself, left heaven, came to earth and lived a sinless life (fulfilled the Law), and then took the sinners (the one who violated the Law) place by taking the scourges of a rebel and the death of a criminal on a cross.  But because He was sinless, and being God Himself, He rose from the dead and lives.  Death no longer has any affect on him.  Because the wages of sin is death, and He has no sin.

“17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus in Matthew 5:17-20

“the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
– Jesus in Matthew 20:28

The only one who can fulfill the Law and live, is Jesus.  So who will fulfill the law for you?  Will you pay the price, or will you trust Jesus?

Women in Ministry

Do you believe the Bible?  Acts 2:17-21, a quotation from the book of Joel that clearly speaks of both men and women.  And Acts 21:9 where we learn of Philips four daughters who were prophetesses.  (This in no way conflicts with the teachings of Paul.)  Now what does this mean for you and your church?

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” – Acts 2:17-18

See also “Women Deacons.”

Why Pastor Friendship?

A little background first.  I am not going to attempt to give all the theological ideas behind the call of God to a place of ministry.  Rather, I will share the heart attitude I had, and the things about Friendship that soothed those concerns.

I had been out of a traditional church for almost a year.  We had been working with a church plant effort in Louisville, KY.  I was just beginning to warm-up to returning to the existing church when a few churches began to contact me about open pastorates.   The first four or five churches that called I knew almost immediately that the answer was no.  But something was different with Friendship.

First:  I was thrilled to see that Friendship had a new building.  Yes, it matters.  Why?  Because it meant they were no longer married to or busy worshiping the old one.  This is a major problem in many churches.  “My granddaddy built that church [building].  There is no way we are changing a thing!”  Ut-oh….  This line, or any version there of, is a sign that the building and probably the institution (or by-laws) have taken a higher priority in the church than glorifying Christ and reaching the people.

Second: It was the worship leader (in his 30’s) who was on the pulpit committee who first called me.  The value here is that it was a young man who called me (something largely absent in the church today.)  The pulpit committee from Friendship had a variety of people.  Ages in their 20’s, 30’s, 50’s and 60’s.  There were men and women, singles, parents, grandparents, entrepreneurs, businessmen, farmers, two retirees, and a state worker.  The cross section of people showed that the church had and would allow people from different groups to work together and have a say.

Third: They were not surprised when I asked about how the church handled conflict.  Rather, I got real and honest answers about conflicts.  Where they were now and mistakes of the past.  And a desire not to repeat them.

Forth: The committee wanted me and my family to be available to the general church prior to the time for the vote to call me as their pastor.  I loved this.  It meant I was going to get to really answer the questions for all who were interested.  We were all going to get to know and see and experience one another.  There would be no surprises about who we were to the congregation.  (At least not in my mind.)

Fifth (and last):  Friendship was honest about who they were.  And in that honesty we saw both confession of wrongs in the past and a sincere desire to love God, love one another, and reach the community.

The people of Friendship may be surprised to hear it, but I was in tremendous conflict  when we went to the first interview.  Inside I knew I was about to move my family to Breckenridge Co.  But for some reason I was telling myself no.  The no disappeared when I met them.  They ‘sold’ me on Friendship if you will.

Now in hind sight, if we would put forth the same effort on new members, they will be here.  They will be a part of Friendship for a long, long time.

Women Deacons

Yes, it is a biblical idea.  David Platt, a well respected pastor from Birmingham, AL recently took on the question.  Click here to read about it or Here to watch it.

I have long wondered how we miss the word used in Romans 16:1 to describe Phoebe.  Deaconess is the word.  It’s not a translation of the word, it is the word.  (Words matter.)

There are many women who serve in great ways in the church today.  Some churches may not be interested in this, but it is no reason to disassociate with those who embrace this fact.  If we are going to be honest about the Bible… women can be deacons.

Some may naively claim that we must respect the tradition of the church not allow women deacons.  We in the protestant church need to remember here that this is the very heart of the issue we have long had with the Roman Catholic church.  We do not respect church tradition as being equal with or superior to the Bible.

As for the argument that says that deacons often serve as elders and that office is clearly an office reserved for men… It is a weak argument that has nothing to do with whether or not a woman can serve; but rather it teaches us that if the church is utilizing the offices of the church incorrectly, that church needs to surrender themselves and start managing the offices of the church in the way the Bible teaches.

I’d love to tell you this is not a hill on which to die… I’d love to tell you it is a secondary issue… and it some ways it is.  It is secondary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Authority and inerrancy of the Bible for example.  But if the Bible is innerant, then this is just one of many issues we need to be aware of and address as we mature in the faith and grow in our obedience to His word.

My value is not in who I am

I recently read of a person who was struggling with how he would “respond” or as any self respecting American man would never say, how he felt, when someone questioned whether he was right.  Yes, he knows this is an issue of pride.  But the problem is where does that come from?

I too have fought this problem in my own heart.  I have found myself wanting others to respect me and think great thoughts about me.  And when that was not the case, I was hurt.  The problem was I was looking for the impossible.  Anyone can tell you that “you can’t please everybody.”

Bottom line is whether a person is trying to determine their own self worth by what others think of them, or by what they think of themselves, both are damaging to the individual.  Neither others nor the self can determine self worth.  Why?  Because there is no base line.  No starting point to determine self worth within the person themselves.

But just like a piece of jewelry, an automobile, or a piece of land is worth whatever will be paid for it, your value is determined the same way.  So how much are you worth?

… you are not your own.  For you have been bought with a price… – 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a

The idea that there was a price paid for you comes from the Bible.  Your value has been determined.  Jesus said of Himself in Matthew 20:28 that He:

did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

The price, is His life.

knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or Gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

So your value is not determined in what someone else thinks of you, or even in what you think of yourself.  You are worth whatever God will pay.  The price God paid for you was the life and blood of the God the Son, Jesus Christ.

No longer allow anyone to make you feel worthless.  You are not.  You are of great value.  And I thank God, so am I.  Why?  Because He said so, and backed it up with His very life.