Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chambers on Worship

I must take time to worship the Being Whose Name I bear.

- Oswald Chambers


The Lord knows them that are his by name, but we must know them by their character.

Matthew Henry

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Faith of God's People, Luke 7-8

Faith Defined: Hebrews 11:1,6

Faith is the medium of exchange in the kingdom of heaven. We receive from God by faith. Faith is the greatest asset we have. Unbelief is the greatest stumbling block. Unbelief is the chief wickedness. Unbelief is the mother sin, the father sin, the parent sin. The sovereign God has limited Himself to work according to the faith, the belief of the people of God. – Adrian Rogers

Faith’s Reward:

Salvation (Ro. 5:1) The fullness of the Spirit (Gal. 3:14)
Victory over the world (1 Jn. 5:4) Victory over Satan (Eph. 6:16)
Sanctification (Acts 26:18) Confidence (1 Jn. 5:13-15)

Faith’s Source: Hebrews 12:2; Romans 10:17

All true biblical faith is rooted not only in knowing God but in hearing from the God that you know. In order to have faith, you must hear from God. You cannot know the will of God by guessing at it. You don’t generate it; it comes. God gives faith. No one can believe God unless God enables him to believe. How does that happen? God gives you a word. God speaks, and you believe it and receive it. – Adrian Rogers

The revelation of God, given in Christ, revealed in the Bible – that’s the logos. But there’s another word that is translated word, and that is rhema. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the rhema of God. Not the logos but the rhema. What does rhema mean? It means an utterance, a spoken word. We would call it a word from the Word. You take the Bible – the logos; and as you’re reading, the Bible begins to speak to you out of the Word of God. You get a rhema from the logos. You get an utterance from God, and God speaks to you, and you hear it in your heart. How does God speak? You’re reading the Bible or you’re praying, and God puts that portion in your heart. God says, “This is from me. It is all true, but this is specially from Me to you.” - Adrian Rogers

Faith Illustrated:

1. The Centurian exercises faith in Christ’s authority (7:1-10).

2. The widow experiences faith in the midst of hopeless circumstances (7:11-17).

3. John exercises faith in the midst of life’s disappointments (7:18-23).

4. John’s followers exercise faith in spite of humble means (7:24-35).

• Jesus’ perspective on a man of humble outward appearance: (28)
“there is none greater than John”
• they acknowledged that God’s way was right (29); they submitted to His lordship and accepted His rule
• some rejected God’s purpose for them (30, refusing to submit to God’s means and method because it was uncomfortable, inconvenient, and unpopular

When people reject God’s way, they will find fault with anything. It is not a rational choice. Their spirits become clouded by unbelief. What a terrible thing to reject God’s way. But those who submit to God’s way walk in wisdom. What a contrast between the religious leaders (who rejected God’s way) and the followers of John (who accepted God’s way).

Those who rejected God’s way chose comfort, convenience, their culture, and a religious club.

5. The sinful woman exercises faith by extravagant love (7:36-50).

6. The women exercise faith through changed lives (8:1-3).

7. The seed illustrates faith through hearing (8:4-18).

8. The Lord emphasizes faith by the habits of hearing and applying (8:19-21).

9. The disciples learn about faith in the midst of trouble (8:22-25).

Summing it Up: how to have a victorious faith

1. Be saturated with the Scriptures.
2. Be dedicated to the Savior.
3. Be separated from sin.
4. Be activated by the Spirit.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Rockefeller Republican vs. The Reagan Conservative

Michael Reagan comments on Newt Gingrich as "the Ronald Reagan conservative."

Ronald Reagan's Eldest Son on Newt Gingrich

Reagan and Limbaugh blast Romney for his attacks on Gingrich.

Reflections by Willett

I thank God for bitter things;
They've been a 'friend to grace';
They've driven me from paths of ease
To storm the secret place.

I thank Him for the friends who failed
To fill my heart's deep need;
They've driven me to the Savior's feet,
Upon His love to feed.

I'm grateful too, through all life's way
No one could satisfy,
And so I've found in God alone
My rich, my full supply!

by Florence White Willett

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why I Support Newt Gingrich

The Presidential election of 2012 will be one of the most important ones in the history of our country. Newt Gingrich has repeatedly shared in talks that it will be the most critical election in terms of impact on our country since the election of 1860.

The United States of America is at an incredible crossroads. Many would like (and have tried diligently) to remake American into something she has not been historically. If you want more information about that, or if you doubt it, read Jim Demint's books Saving Freedom or The Great American Awakening or Newt Gingrich's book A Nation Like No Other.

Barack Obama and his far-left radical agenda must be stopped. I remember my wife and I sitting watching his speech in Chicago the night he was elected. I felt as if a dark cloud had just moved across the USA. As I watched Oprah and Jesse Jackson cry, I wanted to cry - but for very different reasons. At the time, however, I really did not know how little Obama appreciated American values, what a bad leader he was, nor the poor choices he would make for this country.

The fall of 2010 I began seriously hoping for one particular person to enter the race for the Republican nominee: Newt Gingrich. I was gladdened when earlier this year he did so and was very pleased with his positive campaign of solutions. Though I considered the other candidates, without question Gingrich stayed at the top of my list as the year (and debates) went on. Not that Gingrich is my ideal candidate - I don't think that person exists! But I believe Gingrich is the most electable candidate of the choices. And I believe he is the best person to lead our country.

Several people have asked me, "Why do you support Newt?" So here is my brief response.

1) Newt has a proven track record as a consistent conservative. He is without credible question a "Ronald Reagan conservative." He may have the best grasp on the conservative movement of any living American. I just heard his daughter Jackie speak in person this week. She shared of his first two (failed) attempts at being elected in Georgia in the 1970's and of his perseverance to keep going when most people thought he could not.

2) Newt understands American history. He understands what makes America, America. He understands what makes America work. And as he says, he understands the world that works versus the world that doesn't.

3) Newt, I believe, understands redemption from a Christian point of view. By his own testimony, he has shared again and again of his own moral failures. However, he has not stopped there. He has shared regularly of his own coming back to God in repentance, asking for forgiveness, learning about redemption, making amends with family members, and experiencing the grace and redemption of God. This week I asked his daughter Jackie about her perspective on this matter. She shared how the past ten years he has deepened in his relationship with God, has taken it more seriously than ever, and how she has seen him soften and exude godly qualities like patience and gentleness. (She also shared of his great love for his grandchildren!)

4) Newt is a thinker. He, in my opinion, has been the best debater among the Republican candidates. Drawing from a lifetime of experience, he knows how to engage with ideas, to come with facts, and to be a bear when necessary without being ugly. He can clearly communicate in a way that people can understand. Without question, he is the most qualified one to debate President Obama and talk circles around him.

5) Newt has already told us what he is going to do. His 21st Century Contract with America, a bold, fresh plan that exudes leadership, needs to be put into action! He even has a Day One Plan, including numerous executive orders he will sign his first day as President. That folks, is leadership, not just politics!

6) Newt has run a positive, solutions-oriented campaign. He has shown himself a statesman among the Republican candidates, refusing to run a negative campaign against his fellow Republicans. He consistently refused to attack others on the stage even when baited by the moderators. When other candidates were firing shots at each other, Newt was returning to the issues, speaking facts, and offering solutions.

7) Newt is a prolific writer and producer. He has given out his ideas for years in books and documentaries, which can be seen at Gingrich Productions. Our family has enjoyed his documentaries Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny and Rediscovering God in America.

8) Newt offers positive solutions for key issues facing America. He understands the problem with the judiciary in our country and the need to balance the power again in keeping with a Constitutional Republic.

9) Newt, without question, has the most legislative experience of any of the Republican candidates. The current presidency of Barack Obama suffers from a man who was elected with no practical experience. Let's not do that again.

10) Newt understands the historic relationship that America has with religion and in particular her Judeo-Christian heritage. He unashamedly explains that there has been a liberal agenda for years to "remove God" and that heritage from our country. He understands the foolishness of that and that to do is grossly un-American. He explains in detail in the first chapters of his book A Nation Like No Other that the rights of our citizens are grounded in one dominant fact: they were created in God's image by God himself.

Because of these reasons, I believe that Newt Gingrich is the most electable conservative candidate to help lead the United States of America toward a brighter future. He may indeed be an Esther who has been prepared by Providence his entire life for such a time as this.

Finally, some Christians seem to wrongly believe that pastors and Christian leaders in general have no business trying to influence politics or social agendas. Blasphemy! Those folks should be introduced to the historic Black Robe Regiment. In the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, we find two imperatives for God's people: multiplication and dominion. Multiplication involves what we call The Great Commission - the tasks of evangelism and disciple-making. Dominion, however, involves what we call The Cultural Mandate - redeeming and influencing the culture with the grace and truth of the Word of God. We need to engage the culture with the salt and light of Christ!

Newt's sign is in my yard and the sticker on my car! Go Newt!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Prayers for My Children from Daniel Chapter One

1. That they will be willing to stand alone when necessary.

2. That they will be motivated to do the right thing, not necessarily the easy or popular thing.

3. That they will be initiators.

4. That they will be holy.

5. That God will give them knowledge and understanding.

6. That they will be great learners.

7. That God will position them into places of influence.

This is Awesome

Gingrich slams the liberal, biased media at the opening of the Republican Debate in Charleston, South Carolina last night. He receives a standing ovation, of which newscasters say they can never remember that happening at the opening of a presidential debate.

Watch Newt tell them how tired he is of the liberal media attacking Republicans in order to protect Barack Obama.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Leadership vs. Discipleship

What do you do when your leadership principles seem to clash with your discipleship principles?

Well, I know the stock answer I have heard in several churches. "This is business, and we will handle this the business way." What that CAN mean is, "Now you are about to see the church respond and handle a situation in the FLESH!" When that happens, political processes replace biblical community, leaving excessive carnage.

Our leadership team at church just finished Bill Hybel's (leadership guru) book on that subject entitled When Leadership and Discipleship Collide.

What a fresh, honest, thought-provoking book!

I completed a doctoral thesis and years of research on the subject of how people who have been abused, misused, and mistreated by the church can heal and move forward positively. As a result, I learned a whole lot about the unbiblical approaches many people take to leadership in church work and ministry.

People take routes in the name of leadership that are sometimes shocking and breathtaking . . .

Like the pastor who wanted his church to relocate. They disagreed, so he paid his son to burn down the building!

Or the senior adult church librarian who disagreed with the senior pastor's leadership. As a result she was told that she was no longer needed as the librarian and that the library would be closed and turned into bathrooms! When her husband calmly went to the church to talk with the pastor, he was told to leave and that if he stayed they would call the police and have him arrested!

The pastor who had people write down the names of people who disagreed in business meetings with his ideas.

The senior pastor who taught his people that their job was to submit to him and obey him - even if he was wrong!

Or the denominational worker who came in to handle a church conflict between a staff and the senior pastor, and he and insisted that the women who worked in the church office were not allowed to discuss with their husbands what went on in the church office!! (That is a huge red flag, and it reeks of manipulation. The Bible says that a husband and wife are one flesh.)

Those are just a few of the many, many nauseating situations I have heard of, experienced, or read about.

I've seen or heard it too often. People decide to take an approach that works well in the military or even in the secular workforce. An, in order to handle conflict, we are going to get everyone 100% behind this person or thing - and anyone who gets in the way will be removed.

There is a problem with that, however. We are the Body of Christ - not the military! We have shepherds and spiritual leaders, not Donald Trumps! This is not the military nor a business. This is the Bride of Christ.

Hybels makes an excellent point:

In those rare cases when the human laws of leadership and the scriptural demands of discipleship do collide, decide on the side of discipleship every time. Decide on the side of discipleship every single time. Trust the promptings of the Holy Spirit, for they will help you at these deadly intersections.

Much of the published leadership literature these days has come from secular leaders in secular arenas. While we can learn a lot from people in business and athletics and government and the military and so on, we cannot forget that, ultimately, Christians - in whatever arena they lead - are trying to build God's kingdom. From time to time, leadership lessons from the secular world do not translate well into the arena of kingdom building, and, as ministry leaders, we must remember that our operating values and our ultimate marching orders come from only one book - a book that is God-breathed, Spirit inspired, perfect in its content, unchanging in its ability to transform lives.

When the demands of discipleship articulated in the Bible collide with human laws of leadership, read my lips: Defer to the Bible. Trust the Bible. And obey the Bible . . . every time.

So, our leadership team has discussed since reading this short book, how might we be tempted to choose leadership over discipleship?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quotation of the Day

Even active students receive only forty hours or so of biblical instruction from their churches. Parents, on the other hand, have more than 3000 hours a year in which they’re constantly “teaching” their children in some way! Our church recognized that—if we wanted to see an emerging generation that loves God with everything in them—we would have to redirect our ministry’s time and energies toward equipping parents to impress truth in their children’s lives day-by-day.

- Jay Strother

Thoughts on the Family-Equipping Model

In the Family-Equipping Ministry Model, many semblances of age-organized ministry remain intact. In some cases, the family-equipping church might even retain a youth minister or a children’s minister. Yet church leaders plan every ministry to champion the place of parents as primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives, asking at every level of the church’s ministry, “How can we best equip families to become fundamental units of discipleship and evangelism?” At the same time, parents recognize the church as a community that’s been called to participate actively in the discipleship of all believers, including children. The church equips parents to disciple their children, and the parents recognize the church as an active partner in this process. Whereas family-based churches develop intergenerational events and activities within current structures, family-equipping ministry reworks the church’s entire structure to call parents to disciple their children at every level of the church’s ministry. Every aspect of the congregation’s life consciously “co-champions” the church’s ministry and parental responsibility.

In many ways the family-equipping model represents a middle route between the family-integrated and family-based models. Semblances of age-organized ministry remain intact in family-equipping contexts. Many family-equipping churches even retain youth ministers and children’s ministers. Yet every practice at every level of ministry is reworked to champion the place of parents as primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives. Because parents are primary disciple-makers and vital partners in family-equipping ministry, every activity for children or youth must resource, train, or directly involve parents.

To envision the family-equipping model in action, imagine a river with large stones jutting through the surface of the water. The river represents the Christian growth and development of children in the church. One riverbank signifies the church, and the other riverbank connotes the family. Both banks are necessary for the river to flow forward with focus and power. Unless both riverbanks support the child’s development, you are likely to end up with the destructive power of a deluge instead of the constructive possibilities of a river. The stones that guide and redirect the river currents represent milestones or rites of passage that mark the passing of key points of development that the church and families celebrate together.

- Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Powerful Church Prayer Meetings Handout

Biblical Patterns for Powerful Church Prayer Meetings
From the booklet by Dr. Gregory Frizzell

Corporate prayer is God’s primary pattern for sweeping evangelism and

Why the intense prayer of previous generations?

1.Their deep belief that intense corporate prayer was essential to meeting God in revival and widespread evangelism.

2.They were experienced at meeting God in powerful prayer meetings.

3.Former generations exhibited intense spiritual hunger and a deep desperation to seek God’s face.

Especially in the New Testament, God’s absolute ‘essential’ for His Presence and Power to radically change lives, cities, and whole nations, is believing, obedient, and corporate prayer! The churches were devoted to their Lord and therefore to corporate prayer, and experienced God’s mighty activity as they prayed. Every time of prayer was a crucial time before God.
- Henry Blackaby

What were the historic patterns of corporate prayer and how have we changed from generations of great revival and evangelism?

1. Prayer meetings focussed on lost people, personal repentance, revival and missions.
2. Until the 20th century, prayer meetings were primarily led by lay people.
3. People spent the majority of time praying.
4. Prayer meetings were not confined to brief time slots or crowded into other activities.
5. Church prayer meetings involved whole families.
6. Prayer meetings contained strong emphasis on personal repentance and confession.
7. Fasting was a frequent emphasis. The first 300 years of Baptist history held a common emphasis on fasting among serious believers.
8. Prayer meetings were characterized by great fervency and inspiring testimonies.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that modern prayer meetings are extremely different from the churches of the great awakenings. But, believers, we should take hope. Through God’s grace our prayer meetings can change! Based on scripture and history, corporate prayer is not only the biblical thing to do, it is the most practical thing we can do! Like nothing else, God used prayer to release His supernatural presence in church discipleship, evangelism, and missions. Beyond question, God’s supernatural power is the desperate need of our day.

Newt's Highlights from SC's Debate Monday Night

Watch them here.

21st Century Contract with America

America needs this bold plan.

Standing Ovation in South Carolina

Newt brings the house UP Monday night in Myrtle Beach at the debate. It's the first time this has happened since Ronald Reagan in 1980. View it here. Awesome answer!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quotation of the Day

Is there grass on your prayer-trail?

ACTS Ministry Plan

Yesterday Wayne Traverse, Donald Thompson, and I spent the day at a training event at Forestville Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina. The ACTS: A Church that Serves Ministry Plan is the best infrastructure plan in order to sustain ministry, reduce bureaucracy, and unleash people to do ministry that I have seen. Marhsall Fagg was the senior pastor at Forestville who basically originated the idea, and Paul Fleming helped him much in the implementation.

Five years ago I attended the conference, was deeply impressed, and hoped to be able to transition the church I then served toward that plan. Instead, five years later I am pastoring a new church and wondering how this great plan may fit into our future.

One of the exciting things about starting a new church is that you start without organizational baggage. You don't have years of tradition working against you. You don't have to change a power structure that impedes or suppresses ministry. You have lots of flex room to prayerfully consider, What does God want here? and What process will best enable ministry to take place?

In a paper I wrote entitled Church Structure: Organize Around Your Mission, I state the following:

Bill Hull writes in We Must Sacrifice the Forms for the Function, “The mentality of the present system is management, not leadership. Its focus is maintenance, not mission. And its result is restriction, not release. The solution is to think function, not form. If the church desires to move people toward mission instead of toward institutional maintenance, a new administrative model is needed.” Hull advocates a “ministerial congregationalism supported by a streamlined administrative congregationalism.” In other words, empower the congregation to do ministry while empowering appropriate individuals to make decisions in their various areas. The balance of the system is accountability: “The three loci of power in the church – the congregation, leaders, and staff – must provide checks and balances, which facilitate mission.”

Empower people on ministry teams and committees to make decisions regarding their respective areas: “Delegating decisions nurtures a feeling of ownership and openness. It makes the church more grass-roots in practice, with those close to the action making the decisions. Those working within their sphere of ministry are endowed with the responsibility and the authority.” When appropriate, they too come to the congregation for input and approval. Every decision does not have to be discussed with the entire congregation. Instead, use congregational discussion times for sharing what they sense to be leadership from the Lord and sharing about things that affect the entire body.

Forestville's ACTS plan does just that.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Your Family

So stirring are the words of Jesus. Through the years I have been impacted many times by how different is his perspective than our own - and certainly than the religious crowd of his day. (That is why Philip Yancey called his personal study of the gospels The Jesus I Never Knew.)

Many times his perspective challenges and cuts through the natural thought-processes of our day. So it is in Luke 8. Jesus has been ministering and generating crowds. For some reason unknown to us, his mother and brothers wanted to see Jesus to talk with him. Now remember, this is not a reprobate or a Pharisee - this is Mary of whom we just thought a lot about during December. Gentle, sweet Mary.

So Mary and the boys can't get into the house where Jesus is due to the crowd, so they send word through someone else (maybe they passed a note - I don't think they could have texted). And someone tells Jesus, Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you (20).

Jesus then takes the opportunity to teach a kingdom principle. He uses the situation not to answer as they expected, but instead to share some of His thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9; Psalm 139:17). He simply replies, My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice.

That's a mouthful in one sentence. Coming off of the Christmas season, you have probably had time with your blood family. You may have seen aunts, cousins, grandparents, grandchildren, etc. I enjoy sending and receiving cards from extended family members in December that I may not see or hear from the rest of the year.

No doubt the Bible says that our family of origin is important. The Bible is clear that, as much as it depends on us, we should strive to honor our parents. Sometimes in the New Testament, families would come to faith together.

However, Jesus states a fresh kingdom principle - in God''s eyes our family are those people who accept God's Word and obey it - people who follow Jesus. The Bible states that in heaven, we will not be married - we won't be connected in the same family ties that we are on earth. I don't think that means that we won't know those people in a special way, but we will be bound by something greater than biological blood and genes. We will be bound by the blood of Jesus Christ - our elder brother and the firstborn among many.

It also should challenge us to reach out and include members of the body of Christ who may not have a lot of extended family members. We need to bring them into the party and treat them as the family members they are to us - part of the family of Jesus.

How are you doing relating to your spiritual family?

Every Day

I came across a new study of an old truth. Did you know how important it is for you to spend time reading God's Word daily? Turning everything else off and spending time with Him?

Brad Waggoner, a researcher for Lifeway Christian Resources, recently wrote a book entitled The Shape of Faith to Come. He explains in detail that when church members read the Bible every day they are more likely to demonstrate spiritual growth in a number of areas:

•To be active in a small group or Sunday School class for Bible study and fellowship.
•To spend greater time in prayer.
•To attend worship services regularly.
•To share their faith more often.
•To be involved in local ministries and missions.
•To give more generously to the church.

Jack Hayford, a pastor whom I have respected much through the years, challenges pastors to focus on growing big people rather than growing a big church. He says that, essentially, if you willl grow big people (strong disciples of Jesus who are abiding in the Word and filled with the Spirit), then God will help you to grow out numerically. It will be a natural by-product of growing big people.

The Spring will only be the people God wants if we are reading God's Word daily.

Thom Rainer shares, "Too many times we think of local church discipleship as a program where church members meet at a specific time. Ultimately, though, discipleship is really about becoming more like Christ. And we become more like Him as we read and study His Word. The Bible is inspired by the Spirit, so it is transformative for the believer."

How much time are you spending in a week in God's Word? What is shaping you and your decisions more - the culture around you, your own feelings, the opinions of those around you - or the Word of God?

Go Newt!

We need a Ronald Reagan conservative, not a Massachusetts Moderate.