June 2007


My fellow Our Sovereign Joy blogger (and father-in-law), J. Theodore Helms, offers some sobering words for the American church on the absence of Jesus Christ as its head. He says:

“Is it any wonder that we see so much conflict in the church when we know that we have severed the head from the body? And it being true that God’s love flows down to us through His Son, why should we expect other than what we have?

Where is Jesus when we make our least decisions as the body of Christ? Where is Jesus when we choose the color of our next carpet? Or when we finalize our budget for next year? Or when we have to hire a new secretary? Where is the head in all of this?

Where is the Head of the Church when we conduct our business meetings? Do we truly consult with Him first? Or do we merely say a prayer adding His name to the end? Where is the Head of the Church when we need godly counsel and God’s wisdom in handling trouble-makers and dissent and divisive people? Or when a brother or sister has been caught up in some sin and we want to condemn them to hell? Where is the Head of the Church when we need to trim the budget? Do we take some money out of missions or the benevolence fund? Where is the Head of the church when we are looking at Sunday School material or VBS material? The 21st century church had better declare itself on these issues, especially as we see the Day approaching.

Whatever happened to Jesus anyway? Didn’t we use to have Him here with us at one time?”

Read the entire post.

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Bob Pratico from Sojourn Church in Huntsville Alabama offers the following (the post is a couple of months old) guideline to determine if you are in fact Missional in your Christian walk:

1) A significant number of your friends are unbelievers. (Unbelievers like to spend time with you. Jesus seemed to spend a lot of time with unbelievers in the gospels and they were apparently comfortable with Him for the most part. Jesus was the friend of sinners – Luke 7:34. It was the religious hypocrites that felt threatened and couldn’t stand Him.)

2) Many of your Christian friends are from other denominations and churches. (You’re comfortable with the whole Body of Christ, not just your local part. You value the rich diversity in the Kingdom of God – 1 Cor 12:12-26)
3) You listen more than you talk. (You want to know where people are coming from and where they’re at. You genuinely seek to understand what people are telling you, not merely use it as an opportunity to mentally formulate what you’re going to say next. Jesus always began interacting with anyone by listening. Luke tells us that at age twelve, Jesus was in the temple with the Doctors of the Law, listening to them and asking questions – Luke 2:46. Before he healed people, Jesus listened to their stories of illness, loneliness, and rejection.)

4) You see no distinction between sacred and secular. (Everything you do in life is enthusiastically for the glory of God – 1 Cor 10:31. You live for and look to Christ in everything you do.)

5) You’re painfully aware of how little you really know and how far you have to go. (You never stop learning. You read a lot. You’re not afraid to say, “I don’t know.” The more you learn, the more you realize just how little you really know. Job learned this hard lesson in Job 38:1 through Job 42:3 – read through all 4 chapters!)

6) You take risk – enough so that you sometimes fail. (You like to push the envelope knowing those that never fail, never live to their full potential. You’re more afraid you won’t use your full potential than you are of failure. The words of Jesus in Matthew 25:28 as translated by “The Message” ring for you: ’Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’).

7) You have a long-term perspective. (You understand following and serving Jesus is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re in it for the long haul. You realize evangelization takes time; long-term results are more important than short-term trends. You don’t quit. Heb 12:1 exhorts us to “run with perseverance (endurance) the race marked out for us.”)

8) You tune in, not dial out, the culture. (Your unbelieving friends see you as a part of their culture – not outside it. You stay abreast of where the culture is and where’s its heading. You know how to connect with the culture without necessarily embracing it. Christ’s words in 1 Cor 9:19-22 as translated in “The Message” apply: “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!”)

9) You differentiate between essential and nonessential. (You know when to fall on your sword and when not to. Not every battle is climactic; many are small skirmishes best fought with patience and love instead of brute force. In Luke 10:41, Jesus gently reminds Martha that some things are more important than others.)

10) You care for the poor (Your care goes beyond writing a check for a tax deduction. You give, not out of a guilty conscience, but out of loving desire. The wealthy loved Jesus until he started to talk about loving the poor (Luke 18:18-23.) In the gospels, Jesus spent far more time with the poor than with the rich. He exhorts us to give to the poor (Luke 12:33). It’s interesting that Paul records the other apostles only request of him to be that he remember the poor (Gal 2:10)

One cannot have a discussion about the gospel without discussing the relationship of the unbeliever to the gospel. The Bible is clear about the nature of mankind. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The reason for our sin is given as well, “And you (that’s me and you) were dead in our trespasses and sins…and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:1,3). What relationship to the gospel can a bunch of corpses possibly have? The answer is found at the end of Peter’s Pentecost sermon. After Peter’s conclusion, the people cry out, “Brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). The answer 2000 years ago is the same answer today, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The good news to the unbeliever is a command to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. It is a call for them to trust in the only one who can ever pay the penalty for their sins (except they pay it in hell for eternity). Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? If not, repent of your sins and trust in Christ. Place your affection and love in the Savior and not your transgressions.

One of the main problems in many churches today is that they are denying or distracting people from the gospel. Congregations today are about many things, but they’re not about the good news of Jesus Christ. They “do” lots of stuff and have lots of programs, but they do not proclaim the substitutionary atonement that Jesus made on Calvary’s Cross. The church in Corinth had succumbed to this very same problem. They had removed Christ from His proper place as the center of the church. This is why Paul tells them, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Everything we do must flow from the gospel. That means that everything we are as a church must flow from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that this will look different than most churches in our culture today. The gospel is the most valuable treasure that we possess. Why would we center on anything less?

What does the gospel look like in your everyday life? This is a question that I have been pondering the last few days after having a conversation with a Christian brother. What is your take on this? What does the gospel look like in your life? In other words, what radical things are happening/shaping every day you live because Jesus lived the sinless life that you could never live and then died as your substitute? I’m looking for lots of comments on this one so help me out!

A good resource for you if you’d like to read more would be The Gospel For Real Life by Jerry Bridges.

John Piper writes, “The key to fathering is the cross. There the heavenly Father’s anger is appeased, and there an earthly father finds the strength to overcome both his own anger and his children’s.” These are good words that need to be foundational in our approach to ministry. Are we teaching fathers (and mothers) that their success as parents depends solely if they are trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross? Let’s think about ways that we can be incarnational (dwelling among people) about this in our everyday relationships.

Jesse Johnson writes over at Pulpit Magazine:

And I want to make a clear statement at the beginning of this post: not all Christians are called to do this kind of evangelism. Don’t misunderstand that. I am in favor of evangelism, and I know that some people get saved from cold evangelism. But I also note that while this form of evangelism may be seen in the New Testament, it is by no means normative. After all, not everyone is specially gifted as an evangelist (cf. Eph. 4:11), nor is every Christian equally passionate about (or effective at) going door-to-door, randomly stopping people in markets and plazas, or winning strangers on the subway.

For many if not all Christians the most effective form of evangelism is with people you already know and with whom you have established relationships. These are the people whom you love, and with whom you will be able to spend time carefully explaining the gospel. Think of your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends, and your family. These are your immediate mission field. Are you being faithful in proclaiming the gospel to them?”

Read the entire post.

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