Tuesday, January 26, 2010

10 Goals for 10 Years

What will New Prospect look like in 2020? What kind of church will our children and grandchildren inherit from us? If we want the coming generations to rise up and call us "faithful," then we must begin now.

Earlier this month I outlined a vision for our church family's next decade together. These are ten goals that we want to strive after in order to be a biblical church. We strive after these things for the sake of our own souls, our children, our community and our Savior's glory.

1. Expositional Preaching - If it is the hearing of the Word that converts us, convicts us and changes us, then it is the Word alone that we want in the pulpit. Thus, we affirm expositional preaching that takes the point of the passage as the point of the message.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 4:12, Ezra 8:8)

2. Commitment to the Biblical Gospel - The Gospel has been watered down and compromised to such a degree that in many cases it is almost unrecognizable in the American church, particularly in the South where we live and minister. Thus, we affirm the following:
The biblical gospel is by grace alone... we do not deserve it.
The biblical gospel is by faith alone... it is not by a human work or action.
The biblical gospel is in Christ alone... receiving Christ as both Savior and Lord.
(Romans 3:21-26, Ephesians 2:8-9)

3. Dependent, Expectant Prayer - This is God's church, so we must rely wholly on God to move and act in it. He has promised to do great things when we will ask in faith for them.
(Matthew 7:7-11, John 14:13-14, Acts 1:13-14)

4. Bible-Based, God-Centered Worship - Public worship is a time to exalt Jesus Christ and to be edified and equipped to go spread His good news. Thus, we want every element of our worship gatherings to point us and others toward God.
(Acts 2:42, 1 Corinthians 14:24-26)

5. Community and Accountability - We want to live life together... to move beyond superficial Sunday relationships. We want to help one another physically and spiritually. And, though unpopular, we want to love each other enough to confront sin.
(Matthew 18:15-17, Acts 4:32, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13)

6. Family Ministry - The Bible teaches that the primary evangelists and disciple-makers for children and youth are mothers and fathers. Thus, we want to equip and assist parents in training their children up in righteousness. We should not take this responsibility from them.
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Psalm 127:3-5, Psalm 78:4)

7. Biblical Counseling - The sins that we commit and the sins that others commit against us leave deep scars. The church should be known as a place where hurting people can go for help and answers. Thus, we want to make biblical (not therapeutic) counsel available to both church and community members.
(John 17:17, Colossians 1:28, 2:8, Hebrews 4:12-16)

8. Launch Pad for World Missions - God has called us to make disciples locally and globally. We want to be consistently sending workers into the harvest, and we want to sacrificially give of our finances to support the important work of world missions.
(Matthew 28:16-20, Acts 1:8, Psalm 67:1-2)

9. Every-Member Ministry - Every believer is made for ministry and has a God-given place for service. Ministry should never be viewed as the job of "trained professionals."
(Ephesians 2:10, 4:11-16, James 1:27)

10. Plural, Servant Leadership - Multiple pastors/elders who respect and value one another and who serve God's people in humility must lead the church.
(Titus 1:5, Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:1-8)

These goals for the next decade have the potential to transform our church, our lives and our world. I hope you'll join me in asking & striving for these 10 things over the next 10 years... and beyond!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Decade!

Yea, yea yea... I know it's a new year. But in my mind that is totally eclipsed by the fact we're beginning a new decade! There are only so many decades a person sees. Maybe seven or eight... possibly nine. This new decade will be my third. The children of the 80's are turning thirty!

I think I'm finally starting to see that life goes by in a hurry. Things that seem like they happened just yesterday actually took place in the year 2000... 10 years ago! So we've only got so long to live for Christ. There's only so long that we can wait to get things done for the kingdom. As 2010 rolls around, the Lord is giving me a sense of urgency about His work.

People don't live forever; they need to hear the Gospel... today!
Your spouse/your parents won't always be here; they need love... today!
Those kids grow up too fast; they need a godly upbringing... today!
Youthful zeal doesn't last long; use it up... today!
Christians struggle in bad churches; they need biblical churches...today!
Our nation is quickly fading; they need a strong Gospel witness... today!

"Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Co. 6:2) We need to recapture that sense of urgency as we move one decade closer to Christ's return. We need to get moving!

At the same time, though, we must remember that we have a very patient (long suffering) God. 2 Peter 3:8 says, "Do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

There's much to be done. Much to be done in my life, in my marriage, in my home and in my church. But, thankfully, God works on a far greater timescale than me. He is carrying out His great plan of redemption with perfect and precise timing. I just don't want the few decades that I have (that you have) not to count for eternity. So as we enter this new decade, rejoice that God is patient (2 Pet. 3:9), but remember that the day of the Lord is coming (2 Pet. 3:10)... faster than we think.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Choose Your Expert

A new study done by Duke University finds that spanking a child may have "detrimental effects on behavior and mental development." The research focused on 2,500 children from low-income families and concluded that children spanked at age 1 tended to behave more aggressively at age 2. Agreeing with these findings, Susan Newman, the author of "Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day," said that spanking reinforces negative memories and parents should aim to build "prominent, happy memories." Many other experts agree that parents should never "resort to violence." This study's leader, Lisa Berlin, said, "This is definitely the direction in which American culture is going." (And we all know how well-behaved the typical American child is.)

There is at least one expert who disagrees with the findings, though. His exhaustive knowledge of humanity has lead him to the opposite conclusion. He says, "Don't withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with a rod, you will save his soul from Hell." This expert goes on to say, "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." The expert, whose name is the Great I AM, leaves no doubt where he stands on the spanking issue. He couldn't disagree more with Duke University and all it's child-rearing professionals. The bottom line for God is, "whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him" - no matter what the 'experts' say.

I guess the issue for parents is choosing which expert to believe: the ones who study children or the One who creates children. As for me and my house, we choose the latter.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


President Obama used his rhetorical skills today to deliver a back-to-school speech to the children in our public school system. I read the speech, and it seemed pretty standard. Personally, I think it's good for a president to give a motivational speech to students as they begin a new school year, and I commend Mr. Obama for doing so.

I'm in the minority among conservatives, though.

The news reports that many parents complained about the Obama speech, claiming it is the president's attempt to indoctrinate their children. A few parents I spoke with said, "We don't know what he's going to be telling our kids." Parents feared our nation's leader speaking to their children. Is that not a tell-tale sign of where we are, America? Even still, all their fears turned out to be much ado about nothing because today's speech was just your typical stay in school, work hard message... no indoctrination as far as I could tell.

But it's a fair question for a parent to have, isn't it? What exactly is my young, impressionable child going to hear at school? That seems fair to me. At the same time, it's quite confusing to me. Why complain about a fifteen minute speech but say nothing when your kids sit under someone else's influence 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 10 months a year? With all due respect, conservatives, that makes no sense to me. I understand that you disagree with Obama. I understand that you fear government take-over of everything. But think it through. Who runs the school system? The government. Who decides what your child is learning? The government. Who influences your child's life from 8:00am to 3:00pm Monday through Friday? The government. Long before they took over GM, the government took over education!

Indoctrination didn't happen in the president's speech today, but it happens in classrooms everyday as evolution is taught as truth, homosexuality is normalized, feminism is propagated, and tolerance is exalted as the greatest virtue. The fifteen minute back-to-school speech was a good thing. It's the fifteen years (ages 3-18) of government indoctrination that concern me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NPBC, You Got Mail!

New Prospect, we got a letter in the mail today from the International Mission Board of the SBC. According to their calculations, the average member of our church family gave $54.30 to the Lottie Moon (LM) Christmas offering last year. To put that in perspective, we're in the top 4% for missions giving! Out of 45,000 SBC churches, only 1,867 gave as much as we did last year. That's incredible for a couple of reasons.

1) God is at work among us! Generosity is an evidence of grace, which means God the Holy Spirit is doing things in our hearts.
2) People are hearing the Gospel! Through our LM giving, people from every tribe, tongue & nation have access to the good news. Let all the peoples praise Him!
3) People are being sent! How will they hear unless someone tells them? The LM offering is the primary means of supporting thousands of SBC missionaries.
4) We're positioning ourselves for blessings! God blesses those who are serious about blessing the nations. He's not going to bless selfish churches. Thank God for this, and beg Him to let us keep our eyes on the nations and not on ourselves. (And get ready to be blessed!)
2) We're making Christ supreme -- here & around the world. And that's what it's all about.

I say we bump it up to $75 per person this year! What do you think?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Good Quote

This past Lord's Day we looked at John 10:1-21, Jesus is the Good/Model Shepherd. That is something we've probably heard before... though the joy of it never gets old. What may have been surprising - it was for me at least - was the contrast made between Jesus (Good Shepherd) and Pharisees (bad shepherds). We usually quote John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy" in reference to Satan. But in context, it's actually in reference to bad religious leaders!

Lord, am I a thief among your sheep? As I was examining my own heart as a pastor, I read this by David Wells:

"Far too many leaders and churches are out for the quick kill, the instant success, the enviable numbers, the bulging auditoria, the numbers to be boasted about -- 'my church went from ten to ten thousand once I arrived!' -- the filled parking lots, the success story all dolled up for the pages of Christianity Today or Leadership. All of this is about the short-term interest of the pastor, not the long-term health of the church."

Sheep, beware the many thieves posing as shepherds! And shepherds, be careful with the flock of God!

Monday, June 22, 2009

8 Minus Jon & Kate

Much has been made recently of the marital problems of Jon & Kate Gosselin, famous parents of 8-year-old twins and 5-year-old sextuplets. In tonight's episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8, the couple announced the tragic news that they are separating. I've never followed this show closely, but because of its popularity (especially among evangelical Christians), I feel a pastoral need to speak about it. Before you argue that it's none of our business, be reminded that it was their choice to make their lives public... particularly this sad part of their lives, which I believe God, in His providence, has given us as an example/warning. So let's learn a few things to help us make Christ supreme in our own marriages.

I watched part of the show tonight, and the thing I kept hearing was "it's all for the kids," "we want what's best for the kids," "this is the kids' house, not ours," "I'll do anything for the kids to have peace." Marriages fail when couples put their children before each other. Granted, it must be extremely difficult to raise sextuplets and twins, but it is never impossible to obey God. Christians, learn from this that the most important relationship in your home is not parent-child; it's husband-wife. The best thing you can do for your children is love your spouse!

Another sad reality with this couple is that their relationship, even in the good times, was never obedient to the biblical roles for husband and wife (Eph. 5:22-30). Kate is not a submissive wife. Jon is not a leader. Please understand I'm not throwing stones. If I invited (key word) a TV crew into my house, I'm sure it would reveal my lack of leadership. But it doesn't seem like the Gosselins were even trying to obey God's Word in this area. When those male/female roles are reversed, Satan wins and disaster strikes. Christians, learn from this that God's good design is for men to be the servant-leaders of their homes and women to be helpmates to their husbands.

For Christians, divorce just isn't an option. It cannot be on the table. Yes, God allows two scenarios for divorce (it seems): Adultery (Matt. 19:9) and desertion of an unbelieving spouse (1 Co. 7:15). Yet even in those situations, forgiveness trumps adultery, and, in the case of desertion, it's the unbelieving spouse calling for the divorce, not the believing spouse! Christians, learn that divorce isn't an option for us. Take that choice off the table! No way can that happen! You're in this for life... for better or for worse, remember? You vowed to God that you would work it out no matter what. Keep your word.

The situation for Jon and Kate is awful. That they're putting it on TV for all to see is shameful and defaming the name of Christ. Even still, let it serve as a warning/example for us. Pray for the Gosselin's marriage. Pray for your marriage. Pray for each others' marriages. And as you do, remember that marriage is given, ultimately, to point us to Christ's passionate pursuit of His bride...

... and He never gives up.