Friday, May 30, 2008

Good Stuff

I haven't blogged much lately, but check out the following links (and read or hear stuff much better than what I write).

First, the NY Times printed a recent study done by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. The study focused on transracial adoption and discouraged the practice. Russell Moore wrote a brilliant and Biblically accurate response to the study in his blog post Transracial Adoption, the Gospel, and You. You will also find a link to the study in his post.

Second is yet another gem from the pen (digitally speaking) of Dr. Russell Moore. I first read Beyond a Veggie Tales Gospel: Why We Must Preach Christ from Every Text in the Spring edition of Southern Seminary's magazine The Tie. If you have a high-speed Internet connection and want to download the entire magazine then click
here. Here is the article's opening two paragraphs:

Have you ever seen the episode of Veggie Tales in which the main characters are martyred by anti-Christian terrorists? You know, the one in which Bell Z. Bulb, the giant garlic demon, and Nero Caesar Salad, the tyrannical vegetable dictator, take on the heroes for their faith in Christ. Remember how it ends? Remember the cold dead eyes of Larry the cucumber behind glass, pickled for the sake of the Gospel? Remember Bob the tomato, all that remained was ketchup and seeds?

No, of course you don't remember this episode. It doesn't exist--and it never will. Such a concept would be rejected out of hand by the creative minds behind the popular children's program, and the evangelical video-buying public wouldn't hand over the cash to buy such a product. It would be considered too disturbing, too dark, for children. Instead, the Veggie Tales episodes we've all seen are bloodless. They take biblical stories, and biblical characters, but they mine the narrative for abstractions--timeless moral truths that can help children to be kinder, gentler, and more honest. There's almost nothing in any episode that isn't true. But what's missing is Jesus.

Relax. This is not a rant against Veggie Tales, but it is a clear (and needed) call to not preach a Veggie Tale gospel; even from the children's ministries in our churches. Again, I think Dr. Moore has articulately, humorously, and Biblically hit the bulls-eye.

Once you have ruminatively read those two articles, click on the following link and listen to an interesting conversation
bewteen Al Mohler and Keith and Kristyn Getty. To use Mohler's own words, the Gettys, along with Stuart Townend:

have been at the forefront of a renaissance in robust theological hymnody among evangelicals both in America and the United Kingdom.

I really like that phrase "a renaissance in robust theological hymnody." I like those theologically robust yet contemporary hymns even better. The church I am privileged to pastor is musically gifted, (this balances out my lack of musical talent), and in the last year we have learned In Christ Alone, Speak O Lord, and my favorite The Power of the Cross. Here is the first stanza and chorus:

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

CHORUS:
This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Here is the link to the Getty's website. Visit the site. Buy, learn, and sing the music with all your might, and give God the glory.

Mohler and the Gettys discuss music's role in worship, and how they came to be used of God in writing and singing "robust theological hymns".

My fourth and final recommendation for some weekend reading and listening is another Al Mohler program. Back in April Dr. Mohler reviewed the popular book "The Shack". If you are interested in reading that book, or if people are asking you about it this would be an excellent resource for you. The book sounds like heresy to me. Whether or not you have read it, listen to Mohler's review.

If you listen to Mohler's programs you may want to skip until the 11:00 minute mark, otherwise you will hear his review and commentary on the news. That is always good stuff as well, but it's all old news by now.

I hope you take the time to read the linked articles and listen to the programs. You do not have to be a pastor to benefit from the above material; it's all good stuff.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pray for the Chapman Family

Kentucky native and Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his family have suffered an awful tragedy. The Chapman's 5-year old daughter - Maria Sue - was struck by a vehicle and killed. The accident occured in the Chapman's driveway, and the vehicle was driven by Maria Sue's teenage brother. Pray for this family, and hug your kids.

Remembering Gladness

The Indiana University basketball family is saddened this morning at news of the death of William Gladness. IU beat reporter Terry Hutchens reported this morning that William Gladness, A JUCO transfer who played for IU from 1997-1999, died on Friday, May 16 following an illness that followed flu-like symptoms. He was 34 years old. You may read Hutchens' story at the Indianapolis Star by clicking here.

Please pray for the William Gladness family.



Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Morning Cartoons

The cartoons are late today, by design; and I've also included a few comic strips to the political cartoons. Hope you have a laugh or two.













The Legacy of a Faithful Runner

Allow me to introduce you to Saul of Tarsus. This guy has no love for Christians. He was approving of Stephen's execution; a Christian and deacon of the Jerusalem church. In fact, Saul even held the coats for those who had hurled the stones. Saul didn't stop there; however, he was intent on ravaging the church. He entered house after house; dragged Christians off, and committed them to prison. Saul zealously persecuted the Jerusalem church, and when, as a result of his persecution, the disciples had fled to surrounding cities, Saul was undaunted. He continued to threaten and murder the disciples of the Lord, and he even ventured forth to Damascus on a follower of Jesus hunting expedition.

Something happened on the road to Damascus that Paul did not expect. He met Christ. On that Roman road he humbled himself before the Lord, and began to follow his Savior Jesus Christ, whom, up to that point he had ardently attacked. You see, Saul was sincere in his beliefs, but he was sincerely wrong because his god was not Jesus Christ. His legacy up until that Damascus road conversion was one of an intelligent, ambitious, zealous, sincere fool; a fool for denying the One and Only Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

After his conversion, however, that intelligence, ambition, zeal, and sincerity was brought under the submission of the Holy Spirit. Humility conquered pride, and one who had “breathed out threats and murder” against the followers of Christ, became the greatest evangelist of Christ. The Lord used this man to establish churches throughout Asia Minor and Europe. 23% of the words written in the NT came from the Holy Spirit through Paul. He was beaten, whipped, imprisoned, robbed, shipwrecked, stoned, and hunted down; as he had before hunted Christians. Yet there had never been a more bold witness for the faith. His testimony is one who preached Christ and Him crucified, and he did it wherever he went; indeed, it was his purpose for existence.

At the end of his life he wrote to his protégé Timothy these words:

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

From the moment of his conversion until his dying day, Paul diligently, consistently, and passionately labored for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He left a legacy to follow. His influence on lives for the gospel is still bearing fruit. He never quit learning; he remained humble and praised God for his weaknesses because that is when the power of the Lord shone through him the most. He is the standard for every missionary that leaves home to proclaim the gospel, and for every pastor who leads a congregation.

What a legacy!

Uzziah started off so well but finished poorly; Saul (who became Paul) started off horribly, but finished having fought the good fight, having finished his course, having kept the faith; henceforth there was a crown of righteousness laid up for him in heaven, which his Lord and Savior would give to him

There is nothing like the reality of death to bring clarity to the living of life. Our lives are like a canvas upon which we paint, and we will, sooner or later, leave behind a portrait. You are leaving a legacy; determine that with God’s help you’ll leave a helpful one, because you never know when you will make your final deposit into the legacy that you’re leaving.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Legacy of Leprosy

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. That is one of the messages that Solomon communicates to us through the book of Ecclesiastes. Today I want to consider the legacy of one man from the OT. That man is King Uzziah, and his story is told in 2 Chronicles 26. (I won't insert the entire chapter in this post, although I do recommend that you take the three minutes necessary to read the 23 verses.)

I will quote verses 4-5 & 15. They say this:

And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did. And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper...And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong.

Uzziah had the Midas touch. Everything he set his heart to do, he did, and he accomplished every task with excellence. He was a strong, visionary leader who not only began great projects, but, even better, he finished them. His influence was felt by all, even by those who were not of his country.

Here we have a young prince whose father had been murdered. He had been crowned King when he was barely old enough to drive. He sought God. He was teachable. He was the sovereign of the land, yet he allowed himself to be discipled by the prophet Zechariah. So far his legacy was pure gold, but (you'll see this if you read the entire chapter)when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. Uzziah was no longer satisfied to be King only, he also wanted to burn incense on the altar of incense. That function was reserved for the priests, and when the righteous king of Israel rebelled in this fashion God struck him down with leprosy, by which he soon died.

The final verse of the chapter says this:

So Uzziah slept with his fathers, and they buried him with his fathers in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings; for they said, He is a leper: and Jotham his son reigned in his stead.

Did you notice what the people said about their former king? What about Uzziah, people of Judah? “Him, he had leprosy”. He had leprosy; it marked him. How tragic to live a life of usefulness, only to leave a legacy that spoke of failure! Godly, talented, and useful King Uzziah, having taken decades to build a life of character, wrote his epithet in 5 minutes, “For they said, he is a leper.”

The turning point in this man’s life is recorded in verses 15-16, “…for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction.” Three words: strong, pride, destruction. Now do not think that Uzziah just all the sudden fell off the righteousness log; he did not wake up one morning and say, “Today is good day to turn my back on God!” No, at various places along the line of this man’s life he began to make course corrections for the worse. At some point he began to be unteachable, forsaking the godly and wise instruction of Zechariah.

Uzziah, for whatever reason, had begun, not all at once but over the course of time, to stop following after God as he once had, and as a result he no longer did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. Somewhere in the secret place of Uzziah’s core he began to believe that he was the reason for his own success.

“From whence cometh my help,” asks the Psalmist, and in his past Uzziah would unequivocally answer, as the Psalmist did, “My help cometh from the LORD which made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). But now Uzziah decided that he could do what he wanted and go where he pleased. No longer did Uzziah’s help come from the Lord; now he followed the Frank Sinatra theory. And the king would look out upon Jerusalem and say:

To think I did all that;
And may I say - not in a shy way,
No, oh no not me,
I did it my way.

Pride is endemic and inherent in us all. It is the undershirt of the soul; we put it on first and take it off last. Uzziah was king in Jerusalem; he was not the high priest. Yes, he had royal prerogatives, but not priestly ones. No matter how godly, how talented, or how wise and knowledgeable he was, burning incense in the temple was for the sons of Aaron not the sons of David. There is to be only one King who is also high priest and that is Jesus Christ, not Uzziah. In seeking to take what was not his, Uzziah lost even what he rightfully had.

How tragic would it be to live a life of usefulness, only to leave a legacy that spoke of failure? About Uzziah they said, "He is a leper."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

What Will Be Your Legacy?

On Wednesday my Momaw, Eva Gilbert, died after living for 93 years on this earth. Momaw touched and impacted many lives; not least of all mine. She was the wife of one man, Henry Gilbert, for almost 55 years (just two months shy), and that union produced seven children; 19 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, and 4 great-great-grandchildren. My wife, and my boys especially, were not able to spend nearly as much time with Momaw as I did; nevertheless, she had exerted a tremendous influence over them. How? It’s a result of her impact on me, but particularly her influence on Dad, as well as Mom. Momaw has left a helpful and fruitful legacy; a legacy that will touch people she hardly knew, and never knew, a legacy that will long carry on. Please understand that I am not referring to a legacy in a legal sense, such as bequeathing money or property, but in a figurative meaning; in terms of something handed down, hooks upon which those who will follow can climb, wells dug in valleys of sorrow from which others may drink and be refreshed. That is a legacy.

There is nothing like the reality of death to bring clarity to the living of life. Strangely enough that is one of the reasons why most of us want to harden ourselves against the prospect of death, because most of us do not want to think seriously about the issues of life. We want to live as if there were no yesterday and no tomorrow coming, and we can live simply in the moment, for the now, squeezing all the juice out of life that we possibly can and then we’ll deal with tomorrow should it ever come. But when we think for a moment or two, we realize how unrealistic that is, because sooner or later the camping trip of life will be over. And our tents (that’s our bodies) will be folded up and packed away, and we will head for an eternal dwelling, which the Bible says will either be in the presence of Christ, that is heaven, or absent the presence of Christ, that is hell. In the meantime, we walk this earthly sod, each one of us leaving behind a legacy.

All of us here have been positively or negatively influenced by the legacy of those who went before us. This is true whether or not we were personally acquainted with the person. I have never met the apostles Paul, Peter, and John or the beloved physician Luke, or any of the holy men who spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), but each of those men have greatly influenced my life. They have left a legacy, an enduring and immensely beneficial legacy.

In comparison with history, our lives are so brief; in comparison with eternity, our lives are but a wisp of vapor; a morning fog that burns away as the sun climbs in the sky. So how is that brief time being spent? All of us will leave a legacy. Our lives are like a canvas upon which we paint, and we will, sooner or later, leave behind a portrait. What will your legacy be?

Consider what Ecclesiastes 7:1-2 says:

A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that [is] the end of all men; and the living will lay [it] to his heart.

Solomon isn’t contrasting birth and death, or saying that death is superior to birth. He is contrasting two significant human experiences: the day you are given your name, and the day that name appears in the obituaries. The life lived between those two events, the dash between those two dates if you like, will determine whether that name leaves behind a lovely fragrance or a foul stench.

I wonder. Do you spend time in graveyards? Four years of my life were spent as a member of the 3d U.S. Infantry (TOG); an US Army infantry unit with the dual mission of defending the Capital and performing military ceremonies; including funerals. Subsequently, I spent a great deal of time in Arlington National Cemetery. I worked there. I did PT there; I have run up and down every road and staircase in the place. On the Memorial Days of ’92-’95 every soldier of my unit would place a small American flag at the base of every tombstone in the place.

I’ve spent a lot of time in graveyards, and graveyards are a great deal like obituaries in that they are striking reminders of my own mortality. I well remember as a young(er) man, in my late teens and early 20’s seeing a gravestone of a soldier who was my identical age. It is always interesting, or you may say painful, to see in a cemetery a stone with your own age engraved on it.

But we are all confronted with the fact that our lives will be summarized by the chipping away of a chisel on a tombstone, and the totality of who we are, and what we’ve done, will be marked by a dash of a couple or three inches. As in my case, March 23, 1973 dash whatever. The question is obvious, “What am I doing with the dash between the dates?”

What about you? What will be your legacy?

Monday, May 12, 2008

20/20 Vision for Ministry

As a pastor, particularly a young pastor, I am often asked: "What is your ministry philosophy?" The answer to that question is crystallized in Acts 20:20:

I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house.

There you have it. I call it a 20/20 vision for ministry because it's found in Acts 20:20, and because I heard Randy Patten call it that at a NANC conference several years ago. The idea resonated with me, and the phrase stuck with me.

The catchy phrase is not (the only) reason why Acts 20:20 resonated with my soul. There are three other reasons; the first being that this verse declares the concept of a total presentation of God's Word.

Paul reminded the Ephesian elders that he had declared any and all things that were profitable to them, and in verse 27 he explains what was so profitable. He said:

I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

As a pastor I will only be effective in ministry if I provide my flock and my community with a total presentation of God’s Word. I must rightly handle the word of truth. I must do as Ezra did during Nehemiah's governorship; clearly read from the Law of God and give the sense, in order that the people will understand the reading. The reason why I want them to understand the reading is so that they will live the reading.

In his final letter to Timothy Paul charged the young pastor to “Preach the word!” In the very next sentence Paul warned his protege that the time was coming when people would not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they would accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. Nevertheless, Timothy was to preach the word! Travis is to preach the word!

Paul had faithfully, boldly, consistently, clearly, charitably, and unashamedly proclaimed the gospel message of Christ crucified, buried, raised, and coming again. That message is foolishness to them that perish, but unto the saved it is the very hope to which they cling. Every pastor called by God to the Gospel ministry must do the same. There must be a total presentation of the Scriptures, because only they are inspired by God. Therefore the Scriptures are profitable for doctrine – what is right; for reproof – what is not right; for correction – how to get right; and for instruction in righteousness – how to stay right.

Paul’s method was a total presentation of God word, and also a special proclamation of the Word. Paul declared the whole counsel of God, and he did so publicly - "Have taught you publicly." The pulpit should be at the center of a church's meeting house because God’s word should be at the center of everything that happens there. The central focus of every church service should be the preaching of God’s Holy Word, and everything else that happens in our services is to prepare our hearts for the proclamation of and response to God’s Word.

Please understand, it is not “worship and the word” because you cannot have worship without the word! Everything that happens before and during our worship services is leading up to the time when God’s man in the pulpit opens up God’s word, and preaches God’s truth; giving people an opportunity to trust God’s Son or to rededicate themselves to God’s plan.

20/20 vision for ministry involves a total presentation of God’s word, a special proclamation of God’s word, and finally a personal demonstration of God’s word. Paul had taught the Ephesians publicly, and he taught them “from house to house”. God has a very simple plan for getting His word to people: go where people are. My life's aim, not only as a pastor but as a Christian, is to joyfully magnify Christ, to make Him look good, in all that I do!

A believer must personally demonstrate to the lost and saved alike the Lord Jesus Christ. To the lost demonstrate with your life and your words the gospel. To the brethren, be a source of accountability and encouragement, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Pr. 27:17). Minister to one another; help meet the needs of one another. In every possible way, with every person, and in every situation there needs to be that personal demonstration of God’s Word! Be intentional instead of accidental with your evangelism and with your ministry to one another.

A 20/20 vision for ministry involves a total presentation, special proclamation, and a personal demonstration of God's Word. I think it's a good plan.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Picking a President

Looks like I was wrong. I stated in this post that Hillary would not defeat Obama in Indiana. I stand corrected. Hillary was victorious in my Hoosier state; albeit by a narrow margin. I will say that the Clinton campaign was working the phones more than Obama's people. We received three Clinton calls to one Obama call yesterday.

It appears that Obama has virtually wrapped up the Democratic nomination, but Hillary
has vowed to continue the fight. She has most definitely put her money where mouth is. According to this article she has recently loaned herself $6.4 million. I believe that brings the total amount of personal funds loaned to the campaign to over $11 million. She is indeed the voice of the common (wo)man.

Of course, it matters not which candidate secures the Democratic nomination, because the DEMS will unify around their candidate regardless of how much blood they spill in the primary fight. Still, the Democrats need to choose a candidate, and the nation must elect a President. So how does one pick a president? I have blogged about this
before, but Jonah Goldberg's May 7, 2008 NRO article - Give the Voters a Clue - also speaks to this issue. His article is wittier and more intelligent that mine, but that should be expected. He is the professional, and I the amateur. He always seems to employ at least word that I must look up. Today's example: Daedalian. But I have not mentioned his article because of an obscure Greek mythology reference. The final two paragraphs of his article are what resonated with me.

Whatever the true import of Obama’s relationship with Wright may be, or whatever the proper weight voters should give to his view that poor whites “cling” to guns, religion, and bigotry because they’ve suffered under bad economic policies, or, for that matter, whatever Clinton’s “sniper fire” story says about her, it strikes me as absurd to argue that these data are meaningless but their stance on a gas-tax holiday is of enduring importance.

We pick presidents for their judgment and values. Anything that gives us a clue as to what those might be is not only fair game, it is the game.(Emphasis mine)

I could not agree more.

Your Church's Main Mission part 2

Christ has given his churches a Great Commission, but in a lot of churches and in a lot of believers’ lives it is the Great Omission. Our Lord has told us what is expected of us, and He has enabled us to accomplish that expectation. We are
enabled by Christ’s power.

Christ’s Power – v. 18

“Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” “All power” meaning “authority” and the freedom and right to speak and act. Jesus Christ’s sovereign authority is absolute and universal! During his earthly ministry Jesus demonstrated his authority (his power) over disease, over demons, over sin, over death and the grave. Christ had the authority to lay down his life as the sacrifice for sin, and he had the authority to take it up again (John 10:17-18). Christ is in control! He's the One who founded the church; authorized the church, and empowered the church to carry out and accomplish the main mission.

Let’s think about the context of Christ’s commissioning this first congregation. Remember that Jesus was talking to that first church, and the leaders of that church, the apostles, had been scared out of their wits. On Mt. Olivet they all forsook Him and fled. Now they understand that Christ has been raised again from the dead, but He tells them to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature! How?! They were like little rain drops in an ocean of humanity. They must have wondered how in the world they could accomplish this mission. Here’s how: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” It is by Christ’s authority and through his power that his church is to carry out this main mission. This was not an assignment for eleven individuals, but a commission for the church.
All the resources of Christ are at our disposal to accomplish this mission. What an encouragement that is! Through Christ we don’t lack any spiritual resource.

We have Christ’s power and we also have Christ’s plan.

Christ’s Plan – v. 19-20a

In Matthew 28: 19-20a the Lord provides us with a four-part plan in accomplishing the main mission. The plan is macro by design rather than micro;each church must work out the details of how to implement the plan.

#1 – Going
“Go” – this church is not to wait for the world to come to it. The church is to “go” to the world. The translation of this verb is interesting because it carries the idea of “having gone”. In other words, we could read the verse like this: “Therefore, having gone…”

You see, “going” is not so much a command as an assumption; the Lord assumes that His church will carry out His mission. It’s just part of the package. Christ never entertained the idea of a non-evangelizing church.

#2 – Winning
“…And teach all nations…” part two of Christ’s plan is winning souls; we go to win souls. “Teach” is the Greek word “mathēteuō” which means “make disciples”. What does it mean to make a disciple? It means leading someone to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and teaching that young believer to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Master. This is a command from the Lord to his church. It is not a suggestion for us to consider; it is a command for us to follow.

For me to say that we are to "win" souls does not imply that we bring about the salvation of a soul. Salvation is a miracle and it is all accomplished by the mighty, merciful grace of Christ. God has seen fit, however, to use us as gospel instruments. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. The Lord will use the faithful proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel to redeem souls.

#3 – Baptizing
“…Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Those we lead to Christ we need to connect to the local church. That new convert needs to be scripturally baptized; not to be saved, but because he is saved! Baptism is one of the initial acts of obedience that should follow a confession of faith in Christ. Believer’s baptism administered under the authority of the local church is the repeated pattern found in the NT. Baptism illustrates the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord, and it identifies the believer with a local church.

#4 – Teaching
“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Your church is not finished once someone is saved and baptized. That new convert needs to be instructed “in the way”. The church’s mission to evangelize carries with it the mission to teach. Remember, a convert is by definition a disciple, a pupil, a learner – “make disciples”. Biblical doctrine is not only a matter of what you believe; it is a matter of how you behave. The information is for application!

Newborn babies, however, cannot feed themselves, and neither can newborn Christians. Therefore they need to be instructed, and that means they need to be at church, but they also need a personal relationship with an older Christian who can demonstrate to them the practical aspects of the doctrines they are learning.

The church accomplishes its main mission through Christ’s power according to Christ’s plan, all the while securely resting in Christ’s promise.

Christ’s Promise – v. 20b

“…And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” In other words, if you obey the “go” then you may claim his “lo”. That is an awesome promise! We are promised that when we are going, winning, baptizing, and teaching, then Christ is with us always; enabling us to do the work and protecting us for the work.

Those who are lost do not seek after God, but the Lord does seek to save the lost. That task of seeking belongs to Christ’s followers; which is to say His churches. God’s passion is to seek and to save the lost. The Commission teaches us that, as does the parables of Luke 15. There is no doubt that the Creator desires to find and be reconciled to lost sinners, and that He rejoices when the lost are found!

We who have been found by Christ must never forget our former desperation, lostness, purposelessness, and hopelessness before the Savior found us (Ephesians 2:11-12). May we like Paul be always ready to preach the gospel and not be ashamed of it, for it is the power of God unto salvation unto everyone who will believe.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Your Church's Main Mission part 1

In order to justify its existence, an organization must know what mission it is to accomplish, and how it is to accomplish that mission. A grocery store that doesn’t sell groceries won'tt last long, at least not as a grocery store. A college bookstore that doesn’t sell textbooks won’t last long, at least not as a college. Those organizations cannot and will not last if they do not understand who they are, what their mission is, and how they are to accomplish that mission. This is not only true concerning groceries and colleges; this is also true of any church. While the main mission of a grocery store is to sell groceries, and the main mission of a college is to provide an education; the main mission of a true, New Testament church is evangelism! Let’s read Matthew 28:18-20,

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

This passage is the climax and the focal point of the entire Bible! This is the central message of the Scriptures, and it is the main mission of the Lord’s churches. The Founder of our institution has established our mission statement: go, make disciples of all nations, baptize the converted, and teach them the Scripture so that they may help in accomplishing the mission.
That is why this church exists. You have been placed by God in your community to evangelize your community.

For me to say that our main mission is evangelism is the same as saying our main mission is to glorify God. The two are not contradictory; they are not two distinct statements but are one in the same. This is because nothing so much glorifies God as His gracious and merciful redemption of hell-bound sinners! Christ said to the Pharisee Nicodemus…

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17).

God is glorified when a sinner is saved!

The main mission of your church (and every church) is to love, learn, and live so as to call sinners to Jesus Christ, because God is glorified every time an unbeliever is saved by His amazing grace. The Lord said in Luke 19:10,

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost”.

And since we are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20), we are to carry on His mission!

Our main mission is not fellowship, otherwise God would instantly take the saved to heaven where fellowship is perfect. Our main mission is not learning. If it was then God would immediately take us to heaven where God’s word is perfectly known and perfectly understood. The main mission is not praise. Heaven will be the best place for that too, the place where praise is perfect and never-ending.

There is only one reason we are here, and one reason alone. Our one reason, our main mission is “to do the work of an evangelist.” Frankly, if we're not doing that, we might as well be in heaven. If the church means for you just a place for fellowship, or just a place to come and soak up information, or simply a place to sing nice songs and praise the Lord, then you are failing to help this church accomplish its main mission.

Fellowship, teaching, and praise are essential parts of the preparation and the training for the main mission. Think of it this way; an athlete trains hard for his event, but the training is not to be confused with the running of the race. All the exercise and preparation you go through in your education is not to be confused with succeeding in your profession, and when the church meets for fellowship, teaching and praise, we are preparing for the running of the race and winning of lost people to Christ.

That is our main mission. That’s why we are here.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Finding & Facing the Holiness of God

(BE ADVISED: this post is over 3500 words; mainly due to large chunks of scripture quotations. Also, RC Sproul's Holiness of God was a significant resource for this post.)


Charles Colson wrote of his conversion in the book Born Again. In the midst of the Watergate scandal, June 1, 1973, Colson visited his old friend Tom Phillips. Phillips was President of the Raytheon Company, a firm Colson had represented before going to work in the White House, and he was about to start again. Colson had an ulterior motive for visiting his old friend and future employer. Here are Colson’s words: "I knew Tom had become a Christian, and he seemed so different. I wanted to ask him what had happened.” He was puzzled at Phillips' explanation that he had "accepted Jesus Christ." But he saw that Phillips possessed a peace that escaped him. When Colson left the house with a copy of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, he couldn't get out of the driveway. He says,

That night I was confronted with my own sin—not just Watergate's dirty tricks, but the sin deep within me, the hidden evil that lives in every human heart. It was painful and I could not escape. Ex-Marine captain, White House tough-guy, I was crying [so] hard, calling out to God. I didn’t know what to say; I just knew I needed Jesus. That was the night I gave my life to Jesus Christ…and He came into my life.

That is a familiar and wonderful tale, but it’s not the end of the story. Not only was the White House hatchet man willing to cry in 1973; he was also willing to repent several years later of a woefully inadequate view of God. During a period of spiritual dryness (If you are in one, take heart! More saints than you realize have had life-changing encounters with God right in the midst of the desert.) a friend suggested to Colson that he watch a videocassette lecture series by R.C. Sproul on the holiness of God. Colson said:

All I knew about Sproul was that he was a theologian, so I wasn't enthusiastic. After all I reasoned, theology was for people who had time to study, locked in ivory towers far from the battlefield of human need. However, at my friend's urging I finally agreed to watch Sproul's series.

By the end of the sixth lecture I was on my knees, deep in prayer, in awe of God's absolute holiness. It was a life-changing experience as I gained a completely new understanding of the holy God I believe in and worship.

My spiritual drought ended, but this taste for the majesty of God only made me thirst for more of him. (Loving God; pp. 14–15)

In 1973 Colson had seen enough of God and himself to know his desperate need of a Savior. Several years later something else wonderful occurred. A theologian spoke on the holiness of God and Charles Colson says that he fell to his knees and "gained a completely new understanding of the holy God." From that point on he had what he calls a "taste for the majesty of God." Have you seen enough of God's holiness to have an insatiable taste for his majesty?

In order to find and face the holiness of God we must begin with a definition, and the definition has two parts.

Holiness Defined

First, the holiness of God declares His “otherness” and “separateness” from His creation. God is essentially holy. Second, the holiness of God refers to His pure and righteous actions. God's actions are always righteous; there is absolutely no admixture of sin or evil with God.


Thomas Watson – “Holiness is the sparkling jewel of [God’s] crown…the name by which He is known” (Body of Divinity).

Stephen Charnock – “The holiness of God is His glory…[and] His crown…He is a pure and unmixed light, free from all blemish in His essence, nature, and operations” (The Existence & Attributes of God; Discourse X; pp. 110)

R.L. Dabney – “His holiness is the collective and consummate glory of His nature as an infinite, morally pure, active, and intelligent Spirit.” (Systematic Theology)

Those dead theologians did not make this stuff up! Their theological definitions of God’s holiness are scripturally rooted, and that is always a plus!

Isaiah 57:15“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place”. God is incomparable, infinite perfection.

Exodus 15:11“Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?"

1 Samuel 2:2“There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.” God exists in His own category. He does not conform to any standard; He is the standard!

Psalm 111:9“He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” You could substitute the word “reverend” with the word “awesome”; the words have the same meaning. This is why I personally do not like to be referred to as “Reverend” and why I work to restrict my usage of “awesome” to describing God and His work. There is a complete separation between God and sin. It is important for us to understand that because everything in Creation is tainted and affected by sin. God, however, is intrinsically and transcendently holy.

Habakkuk 1:13a“Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.”

Job 34:10“Far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.”

Revelation 15:4“Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”

God is intrinsically holy; just as light is the essence of the sun; holiness is the essence of God. God is primarily holy; He is the original and the pattern of holiness. God is efficiently holy; He is the only cause of all holiness in others. God is transcendently holy; His holiness is pure and unchangeable. (So says Thomas Watson in Body of Divinity.)

That is holiness defined. Let us now consider holiness manifested.

Holiness Manifested

In Scripture God’s holiness is not only defined but it is revealed.

Works

Genesis 1:31“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” It could not be anything else but good, because only perfection can come from a holy God.

Ecclesiastes 7:29“Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.” Sin disfigured and perverted man; not God.

Psalm 145:17“The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” Thomas Watson said that God “Can no more do an unrighteous action than the sun can darken”.

Heaven

In the Bible God has provided glimpses of glory, and when you look at heavenly glory you are faced with the holiness of God.

Isaiah 6:1-4“In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke."

Revelation 4:8 – When John was taken to heaven he saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and surrounding the Lord were the four beasts and the 24 elders. John said that “They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”

These heavenly beings are not content with, “Holy!” They are not even content with “Holy! Holy!” They must say it three times: “Holy! Holy! Holy!” They take it to the third degree; the superlative degree. No other attribute of God is praised like this. Not love, mercy, justice, or sovereignty; just His holiness.

Hell

Even hell is an evidence of God’s holiness, because sinners who are not covered by the righteousness of Christ, having their sins forgiven, must be put out of God’s presence. Hell exists because God is holy.

Law

The Law of God reveals His moral perfection. It is the ultimate standard of righteousness and the supreme standard by which right and wrong are judged.

Psalm 19:7“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul”

Romans 7:12“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”

Judgment

In God’s judgment His holiness is revealed. He always acts in accordance with what is right, because He is the final standard of what is right. Paul refers to the Lord as “the righteous Judge” in 2 Timothy 4:8, and Moses says in…

Deuteronomy 32:4“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

Isaiah 45:19b“I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

Psalm 19:8“The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.”

We might not think of righteousness and justice as being the same, but Biblically speaking they are identical. When God is just He is doing what is right; therefore, God is always just. Abraham asked God a rhetorical question that can have only one answer, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25b)

My fear is that we have become so accustomed to grace that we are now amazed by justice. I've been asked and I have considered many theological questions: “Why does God allow a church to split…a family to split…why do death, disease, and destruction exist in the world…why did 9/11 happen?

But I have rarely, if ever, been asked the question: "Why did God save me?" I wonder if we all harbor the idea, at least subconsciously, that we deserve it? I wonder; do we think that heaven just wouldn't be heaven without us?

Do we really find grace amazing?

Holiness Revealed

God is not required to show us grace. We are not owed grace. Justice is what we deserve, and the just punishment for all sinners is death. But here is where we are given the greatest revelation, the greatest manifestation, the most clear and understandable expression of God’s holiness is revealed in Jesus Christ. The incarnation; God becoming flesh and dwelling among us is the most brilliant revelation of God’s holiness set against the blackest back-drop.

The best way in which you can find and face the holiness of God is to turn your eyes upon Jesus.

John 1:18“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Everything that I want or need to know about God is declared by Jesus. He is the explanation. That word translated “declared” is the Greek word “exegeomai” – meaning “to unfold, declare, and explain; to make known.” From this word we also get the term “exegesis” – “to interpret”; which is what every pastor must do before he preaches and we must all do is we are to lead lives that are pleasing unto God. We must rightly interpret the text. John is telling us that all that Jesus is and does interprets, explains, and declares, who God is and what He does.

Hebrews 1:1-3“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" Christ is the exact imprint of God’s nature; the exact representation of the nature and the essence of God in time and space. Look at Christ if you want to know what God looks like. He is the exact representation of God’s nature.

With that in view let's look at Mark 4:35-41.
And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?
The topography of the Sea of Galilee is unique. The lake itself is 680’ below sea level, but it is bounded, especially on the east, by hills which are 2000’ high. These heights are a source of cool, dry air. In contrast, directly around the sea, the climate is semi-tropical with warm, moist air. The large difference in height between surrounding land and the sea causes great temperature and pressure changes. This results in strong winds dropping to the sea, funneling through the hills. Since the lake is so small and shallow, 200’ at its deepest point, it is easily churned up.

Their boat was being torn by a terrible tempest, but Jesus was asleep. The disciples were scared. They were in the throes of a raging storm; a storm that was violent enough to scare veteran fisherman who were accustomed to the sudden and violent Sea of Galilee storms. "Lord, don't you care that we're about to die?” The disciples were scared and annoyed at Jesus because He is soundly sleeping during their moment of need.

Matthew and Luke tell us that Jesus mildly rebuked the disciples – “Why are ye fearful…Where is your faith?” (Matthew 8:23-27; Luke 8:22-25). After rebuking the disciples Jesus looked at the same storm which had them panicked, and He said, "Peace! Be still!" At His command the wind ceased – not one zephyr in the air – and the sea was like glass – not one ripple on the lake.

I’m not sure what the disciples expected Jesus to do when they woke Him up. Maybe they wanted Him to help them pail out the water, batten down the hatches, I don’t know, but I guarantee you they never imagined that He’d start talking to the water and wind. But they were not on a boat with just an ordinary religious teacher. Instead, this is the One by whom, through whom, and for whom all things were made. He had and He used His authority over the forces of nature.

What reaction would you expect from the disciples? Perhaps, "Thank you, Jesus! That storm was a dozy; had us scared there for a moment." That wasn’t their reaction at all. I love how Mark states it in v. 41a, “And they feared exceedingly.” They were more frightened after the storm than they were during the storm. Now their terror was directed not at the wind and the waves but at Jesus. Why? Because the only thing more terrifying than being on a small boat in the midst of a terrible storm is being on a small boat with the One who commands the storm. "What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" (v. 41b)

We pigeonhole people in our minds. We look at people and make instantaneous judgments; dividing them into categories based on appearance, skin color, accent, education, and sports team affiliation. For the first time in their lives, the disciples met a person for whom they had no category. They were in the presence of a man who was in a class by himself. His otherness was so alien they were terrified.

We see this again in Luke 5:1-11. After fishing all night long and catching absolutely nothing, Peter pulls his boat onto the shore and begins to clean his nets. The Jesus gets on the boat and says, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught (a catch) (v. 4). Try to get inside Peter's mind when Jesus said that. “What does a carpenter know about fishing? I won’t tell you how to frame a house, don’t you tell me how to catch fish.” Maybe he thought it was a joke and he thought "He is the Lord, I’ll humor him."

They obeyed and into his net jumped every fish in the Sea of Galilee. If you were Peter what would you do? "This is great! I’ll tell you what, Jesus; let’s you and me go into business together! My boat and your know-how; we’ll split the profits 50-50." Isn’t that what any astute business man would do; cut a deal with Christ? That wasn’t Peter’s response. “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (v. 8) Jesus hadn't given a sermon on repentance; He just said where to throw the net. But in the presence of the Holy One, Peter became aware of his own sinfulness.

Unbelievers want to classify Jesus as a great teacher, humanitarian, egalitarian, morally superior philosopher. Sure, there are some who are critical, skeptical, and belligerent towards Jesus, but mainly unbelievers have a high opinion of the Lord. There are also many professing believers who want to limit Jesus to the ultimate self-help guru: “Try Jesus, He’ll help you with your finances, your marriage, your parenting, and your job” etc. In other words, those opinions relegate Jesus to a safe, manageable distance and position.

Ask yourself this question: Why did His contemporaries kill him? Jesus was not crucified because he said to consider the lilies how they grow (Matthew 6:28; Luke 12:27), but because He said consider the thieves how they steal. The world could not endure the holy One of Israel.

The ones who hated Christ the most were the ones whom the public deemed as being holy. But their holiness was counterfeit, and nothing exposes the counterfeit faster than the genuine. The first ones to recognize Jesus were the demons, and when they were in His presence they were terrified. “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.” (Mark 1:24) Even the demons quake at holiness.

What kind of Jesus do you desire? Do you only want a blessed Jesus; meek and mild, granting your wishes and bestowing you with prosperity? Or do you want Jesus the Master and Commander of nature; Jesus the most Holy One of God?

Me must not de-claw and de-fang Christ. People don't need that. We don’t need that. Our families and our churches, and each of us need to see Him in the fullness of His glory, in the majesty of His power, in the authority of His command. Nothing less will do for a dying world but a redeemer who is altogether holy. We don't know what Christianity is until we worship God and love Him for what and who He is and not only for what He gives.

Revival happens when we see God for who He is: majestic in holiness, and when we see ourselves as what we are: disobedient dust. Brokenness, repentance, unspeakable joy of forgiveness, a "taste for the magnificence of God," a hunger for His holiness; to see it more and to live it more: that's revival, and it comes from seeing God “glorious in holiness” (Exodus 15:11).

Some day God will blow and turn away every competing glory and make his holiness known in awesome splendor to every creature. But there is no need to wait. Humble yourself and go hard after the Holy God. Develop a taste for His majesty. God, who is ever alive, authoritative, omnipotent, resplendent, revered, holy, and glorious, makes this promise: "Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:12–13)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

All in the (Church) Family part 2

If you haven't already, read this post before you read the following.

Treat One Another Like Family

There are several different metaphors used in the Bible to describe the church. Such as a flock, or a body, and then there is the one that is implied in this passage – a family. Paul makes a parallel between how we treat fellow church members to how we treat our family members. The Bible says,
Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

Paul uses the analogy of a family to describe the church in Ephesians, Galatians, and 1 Corinthians as well. He refers to himself as the spiritual father of Timothy; “my own son in the faith” and “my dearly beloved son” is how Paul opens both of the letters to Timothy. There are to be similarities between the church and the family. We are to be a church family in all manners.

When you think of family you think of intimacy, openness, care, and love. At least, that is what a family is supposed to be like. I understand that there are some dysfunctional families in the world. Some of you understand that far better than I do because you have been there, or are still there. I thank God for the family in which I was raised. None of us were perfect, but we loved and cared for each other. Home was…
- A place of security and love.
- A place to be sheltered from things that would harm us.
- A place to be healed from wounds that we had suffered.
- A place to be fed and nurtured.
- A place to be disciplined.
- A place to learn and grow.


Local churches are to be like that as well!

Think about your local church? Do you love your fellow members like family? Are you committed and dedicated to your church like you are to your family? Do you treat fellow church members like family, or like strangers? Church shouldn't be a place where so many strangers or acquaintances come together a few times a week to hear some preaching and singing. Church should be like a big family, getting together to worship the Heavenly Father, and minister to brothers and sisters in Christ. Church is to be like a family.

Not Everyone in the Family is the Same

While it is evident that the church is to be like family, it is also evident that not everyone in the family is the same. Gender and age play a role in how we are to treat one another. And Paul mentions four specific types of family members: older men as fathers, older women as mothers, younger men as brothers, and younger women as sisters.

Treat Older Members like Parents
How are we to treat those who are older than us? The Bible says “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him.” We are to treat those older than us as we would our parents. How should you treat your parents? Do any of you know #5 of the Ten Commandments? It says, “Honor your father and your mother.” That is how we are to treat the older members of the church as well. The Greek word translated “rebuke” in 1 Timothy 5:1 is not used anywhere else in Scripture. It is a strong word that means “to rebuke severely, to upbraid and chasten”.

Listen, it's not my place to set my father straight. It's not my place to pull Dad aside and “lay down the law.” Are parents always right? Well, I'm one and I'm not always right. No, parents aren't always right, but they are to always be treated with honor and respect, and even gentleness. That is true of your biological parents, and it is how older members in the church are to be treated. You will never change an older person's mind by rebuking them or using harsh words with them. Hey, you may not agree with everything they do or say, but you must “entreat” them as if they were your parents. That word “entreat” means to “invite, call for, comfort.” Resist the temptation to try and strong-arm the older members of the church. Instead, we are to treat them as parents; to honor them.

Treat those Who are Your Age as Siblings
We are to treat those older than us as parents, and those more our age as siblings. How are you to treat your brother? Do you treat your brother the same as you do your father? No, you don't. You may be much bolder and more firm with your brother or sister than you can with your parents. Now, please listen, that doesn't assume some sense of superiority, but the occasion may arise when you need to confront and rebuke your brother.

If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. Luke 17:3

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. Matthew 18:15
However, if the need to rebuke or confront a brother should ever arise, we should take care to do that in a spirit of meekness and love. Paul said to the Corinthians and Galatians respectively:
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Galatians 6:1.
Treat the Younger Women ... with all Purity

I want you to take special notice of the last two phrases of v. 2. Paul is instructing us in how to treat women in the church and he says, “…the younger as sisters, with all purity.” I don't think anything can disrupt a church or destroy a church like inappropriate behavior between a man and a woman in the church. Whether they are either single, or married, or if one is single and the other married. Impure behavior will disintegrate a church and destroy its testimony and ministry. Churches can never be too careful in this area.

Young men, let me specifically address you right now. We must do as Joseph did and as Paul instructed Timothy to do and that is “flee youthful lusts.” We must treat the younger women as sisters with all purity. I have two sisters and I love them with all of my heart. I care for them with every fiber of my being, but it is a brother’s love for his sisters. Men, we must guard our heart, consider our behavior and always check our words, so that Satan cannot divide and destroy our churches through some inappropriate behavior within the church. Purity in the church – both doctrinal and moral – is imperative if the church is to function for the Lord.

How are we to treat each other? Like family: the older men and women as parents; the younger men as brothers, and the younger women as sisters, with all purity.