August 2007


Fellow Church Planter Jim Powell writes:

Weak Christian?  That I am, but my friends call me Jim.  Actually, the rhetorical question should read, ‘Strong Christian?!?!’  Is there is even such a thing?  There is not.   “For he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”   – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sometimes when there is a misunderstanding between two people I have been known to say, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” When we describe others as “strong Christians” (certainly we would never describe ourselves this way), we may not mean something that contradicts what our brother Jim has stated on his blog. You may even respond, “But I didn’t mean it that way.” No matter, words have meaning. What kind of message are we sending to the unsaved in our community when we use lingo such as “strong Christian?” What kind of message are we sending to Christians immature in their faith and are not well grounded in the Scriptures? “Ah”, you say, “see, someone who is grounded is strong.” Are they? Is being a mature Christian the same things are being a strong Christian? I would say not. A toddler may not be as mature as a teenager, but he may be very strong. An adult may be mature, but weak physically or in some other way. Maturity is not the same thing as strength. Our strength as Christians depends on our weakness because this is where God’s strength is displayed. If we are going to reach our culture with the gospel, it is imperative that we see ourselves as we really are…as weak Christians. 

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I’ll go ahead and let the cat out of the bag. When Paul states in 1 Timothy 3:2 that overseers are to be “the husband of one wife,” he is not referring to divorce. Yes, I said that and I am a Baptist…go figure. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul uses the word divorce (aphiemi in Greek) three times. However, this is not the same word he employs in 1 Timothy 3. In Greek, the words for husband and wife are the same as the words for man and woman. In other words the literal rendering of the phrase in 1 Timothy 3:2 is “a one woman man.” You could say that Paul is saying that an elder is to be a one woman kind of man. Hear this very carefully, there are men in pulpits all over this country that have never been divorced but are not one woman men. Likewise, their are men who perhaps were divorced pre-conversion, and then got saved and remarried and have been wholeheartly committed to one woman both in deed and thought since they came to Christ. Paul is not forbidding divorced men from being elders, rather he is speaking of the purity of the man’s heart toward his wife. Maybe a man claiming to be a Christian cheated on his wife and then got divorced. This would be a case when a divorced man would be disqualified, but not on the basis of the divorce alone. When examing men to be elders in our churches, we must not put on the narrow glasses of “has he been divorced?” If we do, we miss Paul’s point entirely and may install men who indeed are NOT one woman men.

OK, I expect to hear from everyone in the core group on this one. I’m serious! Leave a comment!

 I was thinking about our mission and came up with this statement:

 Our mission at EGF is to glorify God by spreading a passion for Jesus Christ by penetrating Charlotte with the light of the gospel.

 What do you think? If you aren’t in the core group, let us know what you think, too. Thanks!

Many postmoderns feel as if they are entering an alien culture when encountering evangelical Christianity. It is not the job of the unchurched postmodern to enter our culture. It is our job to invade theirs. We do that by recognizing this as mission work.

Mission work is the same in every place; the missionary must radically engage the culture. We must live among them, learn their language, build relationships, and work to discover what kind of redemptive analogies we can adopt from their culture to communicate the message of Christ to them.

Postmoderns are not responding to “sit and let them come to us” evangelism. Reaching postmoderns takes more than just a weekend outreach or a new program. Evangelism to postmoderns is a day-to-day effort. Postmoderns do not want to hear about Christianity; they want to see Christianity in action. A new evangelism paradigm must be used.

-Ed Stetzer, Planting New Churches in a Postmodern World, 140-141.

A couple of afterthoughts to Stetzer’s quote. For the most part it is excellent. I would just clarify that in a real way Christians are “aliens and strangers” in the world so don’t be surprised when we are taken that way, as long it is for the right reason. Also, we should show postmoderns “Christianity in action” but this does not negate the need for them to “hear” the gospel as well. This is because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

“Moreover, although our mind cannot comprehend God without rendering some honor to Him, it will not suffice simply to hold that there is One whom all ought to honor and adore, unless we are also persuaded that he is the fountain of every good, and that we must seek nothing elsewhere than in him. This I take to mean that not only does he sustain this universe (as he once founded it) by his boundless might, regulate it by his wisdom, preserve it by his goodness, and especially rule mankind by his righteousness and judgment, bear with it in his mercy, watch over it by his protection; but also that no drop will be found either of wisdom and light, or of righteousness or power or rectitude, or of genuine truth, which does not flow from him, and of which he is not the cause. Thus we may learn to await and seek all these things from him, and thankfully to ascribe them, once received, to him. For this sense of the powers of God is for us a fit teacher of piety, from which religion is born. I call ‘piety’ that reverence joined with the love of God with the knowledge of his benefits induces. For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him-they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him.”

-John Calvin, Institutes, 1.2.1

Driving home from my ladies small group last week, I turned on the radio and my attention was immediately grabbed by Dr. Tony Evans saying: ” Many a man here is discouraged from taking his rightful role, because he’s sleeping with the enemy.” It took me a minute to grasp that the “enemy” Dr. Evans was referring to was the man’s wife! I don’t know about you, but I don’t many preachers who could get away with that (or have the courage to try!) Sometimes we are so accustomed to hearing certain passages that we kind of tune them out unless the pastor says something shocking that commands our attention. That quote did it for me, so I listened to both of the messages the next day(which I will link at the end), and gleaned some great insights which I want to share with you today.

In Ephesians 5:33 Paul writes: ” However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  Dr. Evans says that: ” Without respect, men shrivel up and die…… it is our greatest need and highest motivator to do a better job of caring for you.” He points out from this passage that respect for one’s husband is not optional, just like his loving you as his wife is not optional. We are to not to wait until we think our husband’s have earned our respect. We are to respect them now because Scripture commands obedience in this area. As a Christian woman, does this sound foreign to you? If so, I’ll leave you with one more quote from Dr. Evans : ” Many women are learning their roles in the home from the wrong sources: too much TV, or too many girlfriends…… they are picking up their data from everybody but God.” I hope you’ll take the time to listen to at least one these sermons. He also answers questions about tough issues, such as being married to an unbeliever. Let’s all ask God for grace to respect our husbands, even when we don’t feel like it!

First Sermon

Second Sermon                      

Yesterday, I was speaking to a brother and friend on the phone and he keyed me in on this book by Robert D. Putnam. The book is titled Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. What is interesting is that this book is written from a totally secular perspective. The very idea of community is foreign to most people today, especially those in the church. Here are a couple of “factoids” from the Bowling Alone website:

1. Joining and participating in one group cuts in half your odds of dying next year.

2. Every ten minutes of commuting reduces social capital by 10%.

3. Watching commercial entertainment TV is the only leisure activity where doing more of it is associated with lower social capital.

The website says that social capital is “the very fabric of our connections with each other” and says that this fabric has plummeted. It is clear that God created us to need to be in community with other people. The gospel and the church is all about community. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way those of different races, economic classes, nationality, etc. can come together for genuine community as being people who have experienced a common faith (Gal. 3:28; Jude 3). If we aren’t experiencing and practicing and living community in our churches, then we are missing a key element of the gospel itself.

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