Monthly Archives: February 2014

Mission failure

There was once an old church in England. A sign on the front of the building read “We preach Christ crucified.” After a time, ivy grew up and obscured the last word. The motto now read, “We preach Christ.” The ivy grew some more, and the motto read, “We preach.” Finally, ivy covered the entire sign, and the church died. Such is the fate of any church that fails to carry out its mission in the world.

Cited in The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Timothy, by John MacArthur

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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Books, Church, Preaching, Quotes


Can evangelicals and Mormons unite in dangerous times?

Can evangelical Christians and Mormons become co-belligerents against a common enemy? Can Southern Baptists and Mormons work together to combat a secular worldview?

These are the questions addressed by Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in an address given yesterday at Brigham Young University. His address is entitled, “Strengthen the things that remain: Human dignity, human rights, and human flourishing in a dangerous age.”  At the heart of his address is the central truth, “Men have forgotten God.” As a result, we have developed a secular worldview that relativizes morality and “actually undermines the very values that the prophets of the secular age claim to cherish and preserve — human dignity, human rights, and human flourishing.”

In his conclusion, Dr. Mohler makes the following statement.

In the Book of Revelation [3:2] we find the letter from the Lord Jesus Christ to the Church at Sardis. He commands that church to “strengthen the things that remain,” and those words certainly fit the challenges of our own culture and our own times. Without hesitation, we do our best to strengthen the things that allow and provide for human flourishing, that bear witness to human dignity, and that undergird human rights. We bear witness to the truth that these good things are not our own achievement or the result of our social experimentation, but are instead gifts of a sovereign and loving God, who brings himself glory and blesses his human creatures with these good gifts.

The task of those now living is to defend these truths in a time of danger — and defend them we must and we will. But we are not called merely to defend them, but to fulfill them and to receive them and to find our joy in them. This means that our task is not only to defend marriage, but to live that commitment before the watching world. Our task is not only to point to the dignity due every member of the human family at every stage of development, but to defend the defenseless and to work for the affirmation of this dignity in everyone — from the elderly to the infirm to the child with Down syndrome. We are not only called to defend human rights but to contend for them, and to insist that these rights are non-negotiable only because our Creator endowed us with these rights, and allows no negotiation.

When I was with you last October, I said something that got picked up by media around the world. I said that I believe that we will not go to heaven together, but we might well go to jail together. That was last October. That was four months and a few days ago. Since then, federal courts in your own state have ruled that your legal prohibitions of both same-sex marriage and polygamy are unconstitutional. Since that time, the President of your church has been summoned to appear in a secular court in London. Since that time, just over one hundred days ago, so much has changed.

Civil and criminal penalties have recently been leveled against bakers, photographers, and florists who could not in good conscience participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony. Erotic liberty is in the ascent and religious liberty is in peril.

We may go to jail sooner even than we thought.

This is why our conversation is really important, and why we need to stand together on so many urgent concerns. Most importantly, we are now called to defend religious liberty for each other, so that when they come for you, we are there, and so that when they come for us, you are there. We are learning anew what the affirmation of religious liberty will demand of us in this dangerous age.

Whether or not you agree with his conclusions, Dr. Mohler will make you think.

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Posted by on February 26, 2014 in Culture, News stories, Theology


Why churches get (and sometimes stay) stuck

14 months ago, I wrote a post on the idolatry of nostalgia, worshipping the good old days. This afternoon, I read a passage that speaks to the same issue. In his book, Dangerous Church: Risking Everything to Reach Everyone, pastor John Bishop states,

Dangerous churches are willing to look back in order to take the next step forward. Unfortunately, often we get caught looking at the past, at our accomplishments and failures, and our vision is limited and determined by what we have already done. We stay where we, stuck in our old ways of doing things, or we expect a miracle of the distant past to happen again. We stick with what is comfortable and normal. We allow for God’s work, but only in the ways we have seen him work in the past.

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Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Books, Church, Quotes


Impact of Social Media

Social Media Video 2013 is a powerful description of the impact of social media on today’s generation. It caused me to ask, How can church leaders make better use of social media in presenting the gospel? We need to become more creative in presenting our timeless message.

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Posted by on February 20, 2014 in Church, Videos


How dangerous is your church?

Dangerous church? I wonder how many of us have worked hard in our churches to be the opposite, to be safe. I would venture to say that most of us have become experts in creating safety. We know how to create a safe environment, safe programs, safe messages, and safety procedures. We have perfected the art of the safe church. We have made sure people will be welcomed, served, and not offended in our services. So why should we now be dangerous?

To be a dangerous church is to be about what Jesus was about. It is to be singularly, radically, and dangerously focused on making disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

We can take our cue from Paul’s words in Acts 20:24: “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” Sadly, statistics tell us that most churches are either confused about what it means to reach people for Christ or too comfortable to reach people for Christ, thus not changing the way they attempt to reach the world. Churches have become too safe.

Rick Warren, in the Foreword to Dangerous Church: Risking Everything to Reach Everyone, by John Bishop

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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Books, Church, Evangelism, Quotes


Tales from Tsibanobalka – 2014 edition

From February 9-17, Carol and I were in Tsibanobalka, Russia, where we served at the House of Grace. Here is our report of our activities. Click on the link if you’d prefer a full copy of the pdf version.

Russia 2014 trip report-1 Russia 2014 trip report-2 Russia 2014 trip report-3 Russia 2014 trip report-4 Russia 2014 trip report-5 Russia 2014 trip report-6 Russia 2014 trip report-7 Russia 2014 trip report-8

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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in House of Grace, Ministry, Missions, Russia


Novel insights about love

While traveling to and from Russia, I read the Steven James’ latest novel, Singularity (The Jevin Banks Experience, Book #2). It was a good, well written story that kept me engrossed and helped pass the time on the long flights and layovers.

I appreciate how the author weaves Christian values and principles into his stories without coming across as preachy. While entertaining, the author causes his readers to think. Here is an insightful quote on the nature of love.

It’s a mystery to me how love can offer you more than you’d ever imagine and allow you to give away what you don’t even realize you have—and somehow end up richer for it all in the end. The more you give, the more you have to give; the more you keep love to yourself, the less of it you have. It’s the paradox at the heart of every relationship.

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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Books, Quotes