Monthly Archives: October 2011

A Banquet Feast For All Time: The Beauty and Necessity of the Lord’s Supper

How did you feel when you walked into this place this morning? If you receive our newsletter or have attended our church the last few weeks and saw the announcement of the Lord’s Supper, did this make an otherwise important and special day of worshiping together even more important and special? Don Whitney even asked his readers, “Would you ever change your schedule and your priorities in order to be present at a worship service because the Lord’s Supper is to be served there?”[1]

What we observe this morning is not merely a man-made tradition, but what is known as an ordinance—this is something that Jesus Christ himself ordained for the church to do (the other being baptism). If this is all that Jesus ever told us about the importance of this ordinance, that would be enough for us to observe it. It’s of such great importance, that this is referred to in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians and alluded to in John.

Every fifth Sunday along with Resurrection Sunday and the Sunday before Christmas, we observe and celebrate what many call Communion or Lord’s Supper.The symbols of the bread and wine stand as a memorial to what Christ has accomplished to redeem his people.  The Lord’s Supper stands as a banquet upon which all of God’s people may feast.

1. Will you recognize whose Supper this is?

17But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

They were coming together, but they were not unified. In fact, coming together was not for better but for worse—it would have been better if some of them had stayed home. You see, in those days, they would come together for a full meal, then observe the Lord’s Supper, followed by a sermon.

Paul says that there were divisions among them. The word ‘divisions’ comes from the word schismata which mean in essence a difference of opinion. In the Corinthian church, there were many divisions. At the beginning, it was a division over which preacher they followed (“I follow Paul, I follow Apollos, I follow Cephas, I follow Christ”). Then there was division about Paul himself (he was unimpressive physically as well as in speech). There was division about how to deal with blatant sexual immorality in the church (1 Corinthians 5:1-13). There was division about the boundaries of marriage, divorce, and remarriage (1 Corinthians 7). There was division on eating food sacrificed to idols (8-9). There was division regarding women’s roles in the church, spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues. In other words, Corinth was a mess.

But here, there are divisions regarding the Lord’s table. A place where Jesus leveled the playing field so that all may come regardless of race, gender, your past—was now having the rich erecting walls against the poor. Look at v. 21-24:

21For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

They were eating this meal beforehand with such selfish, debauched attitudes (attitudes for which Christ died), then they would approach the Lord’s Table. Paul says, “These things among God’s people are not simply to satisfy your desires, but to fellowship with those standing on level ground at the cross.”

As we read this, you may have noticed something startling in how the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul. In verse 19, we read, “19for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” The word ‘genuine’ means those who have been tested and approved.

Does this surprise you? It’s amazing how hard many churches work to maintain the peace, keep the unity, smooth over doctrinal differences—all for the sake of harmony in the church. Ed Stetzer one time said to us pastors back in March of last year, “If you don’t have at least 10% of the people mad at you at any given time, you’re not doing what God called you to do.”

2. Will you remember why this Supper is celebrated?

Look with me at 1 Corinthians 11:23-26:

23For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Many tourists go to places all over the land to look at historical venue. Friends of mine went to see the monument at Gettysburg and found themselves genuinely moved as they walked over the battlefield. It stood as a memorial so they would remember the fallen men who died for their respective countries. Washington, D.C. has a number of places which are memorials (Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, etc.) that do not simply serve as historical markers but as reminders—so we may recall the cause, the sacrifice, give thanks, and live under the banner of freedom that they helped provide in this country.

Even though this is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, chronologically this is the first place to record this. Paul even says, “I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you.” He received this directly from the Lord Jesus. And in turn, he passed it along to the Corinthians (and ultimately to every generation since).

Notice something interesting here. Jesus took this meal on the Passover (we’ll show why this is important later on), the night prior to his crucifixion. Paul writes that the Lord took bread “on the night when he was betrayed” (v. 23). Paul could have written that Jesus broke bread on the Passover. He could have written that he broke bread on the night before his crucifixion. But he didn’t write that. Why?

The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to convey that this beautiful ordinance was established right before the most heinous sin ever committed by any man—that of Judas Iscariot betraying the Lord Jesus Christ. In the midst of great sin by one of his own disciples, this takes place. Why?

Go back to what was said about division. God uses division to show who is truly genuine. Here, he knows what Judas would do in the Garden—so he brought them together to strengthen them. When division hits in the church, God brings his faithful together to strengthen them. How? By reminding them of his work of redemption. He reminds them that they are redeemed through His work, justified thoroughly!

It seems that there was a man in England who put his Rolls-Royce on a boat and went across to the continent to go on a holiday. While he was driving around Europe, something happened to the motor of his car. He cabled the Rolls-Royce people back in England and asked, “I’m having trouble with my car; what do you suggest I do?” Well, the Rolls-Royce people flew a mechanic over! The mechanic repaired the car and flew back to England and left the man to continue his holiday. As you can imagine, the fellow was wondering, “How much is this going to cost me?” So when he got back to England, he wrote the people a letter and asked how much he owed them. He received a letter from the office that read: “Dear Sir: There is no record anywhere in our files that anything ever went wrong with a Rolls-Royce.” That is justification.

So Jesus pulls two items from the Passover meal: the unleavened bread and the wine to institute the new covenant in his blood. Ephesians 1:7 says that we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. Romans 3:25-26 says that Jesus was one “25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26). We are redeemed through the merits and mercy of Jesus Christ whose body was broken and blood was shed in order to be that Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! The work is finished—and we are to observe that work to remember and strengthen one another until that day. Doesn’t that sound like Hebrews 10:25?

3. Will you reckon with the Passover Lamb?(11:27-34)

Look with me at 1 Corinthians 11:27-34:

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

33So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

This supper connects us to the past and the future. Jesus celebrated the Passover, and while celebrating this, issued a new covenant in His blood! There is a solid connection. God ordained that this be observed on Passover.

In Exodus 12, we read about the people of Israel enslaved in Egypt for over 400 years. God had promised deliverance through Moses, and was about to do that very thing. The last plague on the people of Egypt was the Plague of the Firstborn. You see, for the Egyptian gods, they had placed ownership on

What does it take to get your attention on a matter? Usually something has to happen that is so far out of your control or so far out of the realm of what you think is possible that is shakes you out of yourself, your routine, your comfort zone. The Corinthians were treating their fellow believers shamefully! They were take the meal prior to the Lord’s supper as an opportunity for selfish, arrogant, divisive behavior—and thus were approaching the Lord’s table in a very unworthy manner (GK: anaxios). The result: being guilty of the body and blood of the Lord!

Given the selfless nature of the sacrifice of Jesus, how could they come to a symbol of that very sacrifice with such a contrary attitude? It was an utter abomination to the Lord—it made him sick. And he shows how seriously we must take his Table and the sacrifice this Table represents. “That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”

God exacts justice by warning those who commit the external physical sin of desecrating the Lord’s Supper by giving them physical sickness and, in extreme cases, death. They not only fail to discern their actions before God and others, they do not even see that their actions are even remotely sinful!

Recently, a pitcher from the Chicago Cubs was thrown out of a ball game for protesting (among other things) a blown call. He was so extreme in his actions, that he was suspended six games at a time when his team needed his arm! He did not police himself, and felt no remorse. He forgot that his actions affected his teammates.

How do you, dear Christian, approach the Lord’s Table this morning? Keep in mind that this is the Lord’s Supper. He ordained it, instituted, and made clear that only those who are in the Lord through repenting and trusting in Christ alone by his grace alone through faith alone may partake. One of my former pastors used to say, “If you belong to Christ, then this (the bread/cup) belongs to you.”


[1]Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church: Participating Fully in the Body of Christ (Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 135.

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Communication Lessons According to Lincoln

Doris Kearns Goodwin provided all Civil War lovers with a wonderful book entitled Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.  As the title implies, Lincoln’s cabinet consisted of men who were running for president or were political rivals to Lincoln leading up to the 1860 presidential election.  I just learned that this book will become a movie (directed by Spielberg himself!).

As a pastor and preacher, I am always interested in how leaders communicate.  For us, it’s always a work in progress.  In reading this work, Goodwin relays the account of the beginnings of Lincoln’s rivalry with Stephen Douglas.  At the time, the issue of slavery was bringing the Union to a tipping point.  Western expansion of the United States brought the issue of whether to allow slavery into these new areas.  The newly passed Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and allowed those new territories to decide for themselves if they would be slave or free—a doctrine known as popular sovereignty.  Stephen Douglas was the main proponent of this doctrine.  At the time, Lincoln was merely against westward expansion of slavery—a view that would increasing evolve into one who believed in emancipation.  Nevertheless, Lincoln, a young newcomer to Illinois political scene stood toe-to-toe with the veteran Douglas at the Illinois State Fair in 1854, soon after the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. 

In just a few short pages, Goodwin paints the picture of Lincoln’s communication skills, giving lessons to all of us who communicate. 

  1. Preparation:  “Before speaking out against the Nebraska Act, Lincoln spent many hours in the State Library, studying present and past congressional debates so that he could reach back into the stream of American history and tell a clear, reasoned, and compelling tale.  He would express no opinion on anything, Herndon observed, until he knew his subject ‘inside and outside, upside and downside.’  Lincoln told Joshua Seed, ‘I am slow to learn and slow to forget that which I have learned.  My mind is like a piece of steel, very hard to scratch any thing on it and almost impossible after you get it there to rub it out” (164).
  2. Conviction: “’He began in a slow and hesitating manner,’ Horace White noted.  Yet minutes into his speech, ‘it was evident that he had mastered his subject, that he knew what he was going to say, and that he knew he was right’” (165). 
  3. Connection to their history.  “While Douglas simply asserted his points as self-evident, Lincoln embedded his argument in a narrative history, transporting his listeners back to their roots as a people, to the founding of the nation—a story that still retained its power to arouse strong emotion and thoughtful attention” (165). “In order to make his argument, Lincoln decided to begin with nothing less that an account of our common history, the powerful narrative of how slavery grew with our country, how its growth and expansion had been carefully contained by the founding fathers, and how on this fall night in 1854 the great story they were being told—the story of the Union—had come to such an impasse that the exemplary meaning, indeed, the continued existence of the story hung in the balance” (166). 
  4. Clarity.  “Many of his arguments were familiar to those who had followed the Senate debate and had read Chase’s ‘Appeal’; but the structure of the speech was so ‘clear and logical,’ the Illinois Daily Journal observed, the arrangement of the facts so ‘methodical,’ that the overall effect was strikingly original and ‘most effective’ (165). 
  5. Ordinary language.  “Instead of the ornate language so familiar to men like Webster, Lincoln used irony and humor, laced with workaday, homespun images to build an eloquent tower of logic.  The proslavery argument that a vote for the Wilmot Proviso threatened the stability of the entire Union was reduced to absurdity by analogy—’because I may have refused to build an addition to my house, I thereby have decided to destroy the existing house!’  Such flashes of figurative language were always available to Lincoln to drive home a point, gracefully educating while entertaining—in a word, communicating an enormously complicated issue with wit, simplicity, and a massive power of moral persuasion” (166). 
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What Should a Pastor Look Like? Part IV: Training and Equipping Leaders

 

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Did you realize that leaders are God’s gift to the church?  No, this does not give license for leaders to stroke their own egos.  Earlier in Ephesians 4, Paul quotes Psalm 68:18 in how when, upon his ascension into heaven, he gave gifts to men—these gives were the leaders of the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers.  The implication is that these men called into these offices and tasks did not pursue this of their own accord—it was a calling outside of them, a calling from God Himself through Christ. 

When Christ called the disciples, we see that Christ chose them: 

13 And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons.

Why did God call these men and give these “gifts” to the church?  “To equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).  God gives leaders to help the saints get to work for the Kingdom, be unified in Christ, and to build them up for maturity!

How do we respond to this call to be trained in the faith? 

  • We can see it as a glorious opportunity to be of use to God and His work, equipped as “as you go,” Great Commission disciples;
  • We can settle into the notion that we know enough already to get by, so let the professionals handle the ministry stuff. 

When ministry is multiplied, much can be accomplished for the Kingdom. 

Questions for you:

  1. What opportunities are provided for you to grow and be equipped in the faith?  (Yes, Sunday morning sermons do indeed count more than you realize!)
  2. When opportunities are announced, what is your initial response?  (You’d be surprised at how many say, “I can’t do that!”  or worse, “Why should I do that?”  Oh for more who would say, “I will do that!”)

Pray for your pastors and be grateful at how they work to equip, unify, and mature the church.  They love their sheep (It’s all part of shepherding) and love their Savior!  How wonderful to have men of God wanting to see the church be all that God would have them to be.

 

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Sunday’s Sermon: Be of Sin the Double Cure (Acts 9:32-43)

(This sermon was preached at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY on Sunday, October 23, 2011.  You can listen to the mp3 here.)

Our Christian history has produced so many great hymns and songs with so many lines that just capture us. A man by the name of Augustus Toplady, an Anglican minister from the 1700’s who lived to be only 37 years old, wrote a number of hymns—but none rose to the popularity of Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me. The title of this sermon is taken from the first stanza of that hymn:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,

let me hide myself in thee;

let the water and the blood,

from thy wounded side which flowed,

be of sin the double cure;

save from wrath and make me pure.

Isn’t that a beautiful text? I especially like those last phrases, petitioning the crucified and risen Savior who bled and died to “be of the sin the double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.”

One of the great tragedies that has come along in American Christianity is the notion of just simply being “saved from wrath,” which is what justification is, where the penalty of our sin was paid for by our Savior’s atoning work on the cross. He took our sin that leads us to heaven and made us righteous and ready for heaven.

And that’s where we tend to stop! Yet, that’s not what God has called us to by any stretch of the imagination! He hasn’t simply called us to use Christ to get to heaven—if that’s as far as we go, that’s selfishly using Christ for our own benefit. He saved us so we may grow, mature and become pure before Him to bring glory to Him. And what could bring more glory to the work of Christ than taking selfish sinners and turning them and changing them into God-honoring, Christ-exalted, Word-driven, and Spirit-filled creatures?

As we look at Acts 9:32-43, we are reintroduced to the Apostle Peter after spending a good deal of time with Saul of Tarsus. As we find out later, Saul/Paul would spend the next eight years in his hometown of Tarsus, while Luke brings to our attention the most significant turning point in the ministry of the church with Peter and the Roman centurion Cornelius. In the meantime, we see Peter’s ministry along the coastline that’s following up Philip’s ministry to verify that the Spirit was truly taking hold.

First, we see that God saved us to sanctify us. Look at Acts 9:32: “Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda.” Luke usually describes the followers of Christ as “disciples.” But in this passage, he uses a word twice to describe believers, and that word is ‘saint.’

When we use the word ‘saint,’ it’s usually personal: “Oh, that person is such a saint—what a good guy.” Others use the word as something far beyond their level of spirituality. Roman Catholics use the term for a very few select, canonized people. Both are incorrect. Being a saint is not simply personal. It’s about position, pursuit, and passion. Position in that Christians are set apart from the rest of the world as holy witnesses in the world. We are atoned for, redeemed, purchased out of this world. We are also holy in our desire to pursue holiness. In Hebrews 12:14, Scripture says, “Strive for holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” Christians show they are Christians by their desire to pursue all things godly, and to be godly themselves—to kill sin in their lives! They long to be, as Romans 6:13 says, “slave to righteousness” rather than “slaves to sin.”

But with this comes a passion! We know about passion in this world. We have passion for our spouse, passion for our ball team with thousands of screaming fans, passion for all sorts of things that get our emotional blood boiling. Passion is seldom missing in our world—except in many of our churches.

But look at the passage here beginning in verse 33:

There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord (Acts 9:33-35).

Aeneas was a Christian (“saint”) who had a significant physical issue. Paralyzed and bedridden for reasons we do not know, we do know that Peter came on a pastoral visitation and looked at Aeneas, saying, “Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” In the Greek, we actually see that it can say, “Jesus Christ is healing you.” This is sanctification—where Jesus has saved us from the penalty of sin (justification), but for Christians he is healing us from the power of sin (sanctification). Peter made it clear who was and is responsible for the healing—Jesus Christ!

There is a great picture here. This man had been paralyzed for eight years! Doesn’t sin often paralyze us? We make progress, then we step into sin and we become stuck, discouraged, and thinking we can never escape it. Some people seem to shake off their sin soon after they are saved, while others struggle with certain sins for longer periods of time.

Christ has not forgotten about us—in fact, he’s still working on us. There’s an old song that I remember from when I was a child by Joel Hemphill:

He’s still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He’s still working on me.

But Jesus told him to ‘rise and make his bed.’ That bed was his dwelling for eight years. Sproul reminds us that beds are simply utilities—we don’t use them all the time, just for bedtime. So, we make them up (at least most of us do)! By him making up his bed, Jesus is saying, “Aeneas, that won’t be your primary dwelling anymore.”

Is this not the way it must be with our sin? As Christians, we don’t dwell under sin’s penalty, and we mustn’t dwell under sin’s power! Make up your bed, dear Christian! Move on from those things that sap the power of God out of you and feeds the power of sin and the flesh! If you give a bear honey, what will that bear want? More honey! If you give the flesh what it wants, it’ll want more. Feed the Spirit, and starve the flesh.

God saves us to glorify us!

Now, Peter has his attention turned to Tabitha, also known as Dorcas which means ‘gazelle.’ He comes to Joppa where she fell ill and died. In those days, they did not have Kerr Brothers or Betts and West funeral homes to take care of the dead like we have now. Funerals and viewings took place in the home. In this case, Tabitha was washed and taken up to the upper room of her house. Some men travelled about 10 miles to fetch Peter—word had gotten around about Peter’s endowment of the Holy Spirit!

Also, Tabitha’s death was devastating. We don’t know how she died, but we do know from the text that she ministered greatly to widows—widows in that time were those who were not only without spouses but also without immediate family! They had no social connections or recourse in any matter in that culture—so Christians came along to fill the gap in taking care of them. Tabitha’s name fits her passion: she was full of charity and good works, moving out quickly and efficiently in taking care of the widows. Her loss was devastating to that Christian community.

Some may ask, “Did they expect Peter to raise Tabitha from the dead?” The likely answer would be ‘no.’ Only five people had been raised from the dead from Spirit-filled men: three by Jesus, one by Paul, and here with Peter. It was a miracle then just like it would be now.

The question is, “Did Peter expect Peter to raise Tabitha from the dead?” He had never done that before—so he asked everyone to leave that room so he could concentrate and focus on the true task at hand—prayer.

Have you noticed how much of a role prayer and ministry of the Word takes in the book of Acts? In fact, if you were to shake everything out to its basic core, it’s this. And yet, for so many churches, prayer and the Word are either taken for granted or, worse, relegated to it being shortened. And with so many things clamoring for our time, the shorter the better!

Peter understood there is power in prayer! In 1 Peter 4:7, he writes, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” What Peter meant was that everything that needed to be accomplished for our salvation, everything promised in the Old Testament had come to pass in the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus! So we are not asking Jesus to be of sin the single cure (simply saving us so we can wait for his return), but of the double cure (make us pure). In that, we are called to be sober-minded and self-controlled, letting nothing distract us from what our pursuit of holiness and our passion for Christ!

He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, arise!” At first, she opened her eyes! What does verse 41 say, “And he gave her his hand [a true gentleman] and raised her up.” The word for ‘raised her up’ is the same word used for Jesus’ resurrection. You see, the picture of this miracle shows the real thing—we will be raised up in Christ and, as Peter presented her to the widows and saints, so will we be presented to the bridegroom, our Savior Jesus Christ!

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Moving to Colorado: A New Chapter in Ministry

It’s with sadness but also excitement that I write this article. As you may know by now, God is moving me to another chapter of ministry. I announced to our church family on Sunday, October 23 that I have accepted the call to be the Senior Pastor of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church in Centennial, Colorado in the Denver Metro area. By the grace of God, the vote was unanimous (154-0) as God opened the door for an exciting and very different opportunity.

But when one goes somewhere, one must leave somewhere. And I leave a church family that I have loved dearly for eight precious years. I have treasured the ministry and missions opportunities, the twelve young men and women who have come from our church and are in full-time ministry and missions, and those who have rolled up their sleeves to help Boone’s Creek spread God’s glory from our neighbors to the nations!

Why Colorado?

During the fast that happened at the beginning of the year, both Cindy and I at different times sensed that God was opening up a new door. That door, by His gracious providence, was to Colorado. Colorado? Turns out that Colorado has very low humidity—perfect for Cindy and her lupus (and accompanying joint pain). God’s call, while strange and scary at first, is one that God provides for in a great way.

But there’s another bigger reason: God has called us to a significant mission field. Denver is 95% unchurched with more Mormons than Southern Baptists out there (130,000 to 80,000). Within a five-mile radius of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church is 255,000 people (almost the size of Lexington)—not to mention that Denver has a population just shy of 3 million people! Yes, it is outside the Bible belt—so Christianity is not a cultural. In fact, for the majority, Christianity is either not on the radar or decidedly identified with the Mormon culture.

So God is sending me to a place that is in need of men and pastors to preach the Word of God clearly and passionately and to reach an unreached community one soul at a time. In the process, He is taking care of my wife and children better than I could ever dream of on my own.

I expect some will have very different reactions ranging from all extremes. Some have asked if it was something they did or could have done. To quote Jesus, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” I leave in spite of all of you, not because of you and with a clear conscience that I served you to the best of the abilities God has given me. You are family to me and always will be. But as my friend Cecil Short said, “I hate to see you go, but if God is calling you away from Boone’s Creek, then God is calling someone else to Boone’s Creek.” True! And I pray he is one to take you forward as fishers of men!

My last service at Boone’s Creek will be on Sunday morning, November 13. After Thanksgiving with my family in Virginia, I (and my dog Biscuit) will drive the 19-hour drive to Centennial to begin on December 1st, with my first Sunday December 4. Cindy and the children will stay behind to finish their semester at Blue Grass Baptist School. Pray for us during this transition!

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Moving to Colorado: A New Chapter in Ministry

It’s with sadness but also excitement that I write this article. As you may know by now, God is moving me to another chapter of ministry. I announced to our church family on Sunday, October 23 that I have accepted the call to be the Senior Pastor of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church in Centennial, Colorado in the Denver Metro area. By the grace of God, the vote was unanimous (154-0) as God opened the door for an exciting and very different opportunity.

But when one goes somewhere, one must leave somewhere. And I leave a church family that I have loved dearly for eight precious years. I have treasured the ministry and missions opportunities, the twelve young men and women who have come from our church and are in full-time ministry and missions, and those who have rolled up their sleeves to help Boone’s Creek spread God’s glory from our neighbors to the nations!

Why Colorado?

During the fast that happened at the beginning of the year, both Cindy and I at different times sensed that God was opening up a new door. That door, by His gracious providence, was to Colorado. Colorado? Turns out that Colorado has very low humidity—perfect for Cindy and her lupus (and accompanying joint pain). God’s call, while strange and scary at first, is one that God provides for in a great way.

But there’s another bigger reason: God has called us to a significant mission field. Denver is 95% unchurched with more Mormons than Southern Baptists out there (130,000 to 80,000). Within a five-mile radius of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church is 255,000 people (almost the size of Lexington)—not to mention that Denver has a population just shy of 3 million people! Yes, it is outside the Bible belt—so Christianity is not a cultural. In fact, for the majority, Christianity is either not on the radar or decidedly identified with the Mormon culture.

So God is sending me to a place that is in need of men and pastors to preach the Word of God clearly and passionately and to reach an unreached community one soul at a time. In the process, He is taking care of my wife and children better than I could ever dream of on my own.

I expect some will have very different reactions ranging from all extremes. Some have asked if it was something they did or could have done. To quote Jesus, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” I leave in spite of all of you, not because of you and with a clear conscience that I served you to the best of the abilities God has given me. You are family to me and always will be. But as my friend Cecil Short said, “I hate to see you go, but if God is calling you away from Boone’s Creek, then God is calling someone else to Boone’s Creek.” True! And I pray he is one to take you forward as fishers of men!

My last service at Boone’s Creek will be on Sunday morning, November 13. After Thanksgiving with my family in Virginia, I (and my dog Biscuit) will drive the 19-hour drive to Centennial to begin on December 1st, with my first Sunday December 4. Cindy and the children will stay behind to finish their semester at Blue Grass Baptist School. Pray for us during this transition!

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A Joyful Sound That’s Doctrinally Sound Where Skills Abound and Praise Resounds: Gospel Gripped Church Music

“I like the hymns!  I grew up with them!  They are part of the heritage and the heritage of the Church—and they alone should be sing in worship.”

“I like the choruses and the modern worship songs.  We are called to sing to the Lord a ‘new song’—and these new songs with the modern sounds are what should be sung to reach this generation.”

Conversations like this abound in the American evangelical church over this issue.  Writers have spilled much ink over this topic—usually under the umbrella of the topic of ‘worship wars.’  The hymns vs. choruses debate raged in the 1980’s and 1990’s—and seems to have died down a bit, thankfully.  (When I brought up the topic of hymns and choruses, one man in our church confessed that he had no idea what I was talking about—he made no distinction!  How happy I was!)

I grew up in the church heavily involved in traditional music ministry (choir, orchestra, piano/organ-backed congregational hymn singing, etc.).  I even earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in church music (B.S., Palm Beach Atlantic University; Master of Church Music, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) and was a music minister for 10 years before God called me into the pastorate. 

A joyful sound.  Yes, I am starting with attitude.  Musical skills are important (and I will address them soon), and doctrine is crucial, but if you want people to listen to what you sing, sing what you sing with joy!  The axiom “they won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” applies to this area as well.  Do we care about what we sing—or do we act as if we could care less?  Is it any wonder that the Psalms are filled with admonitions and encouragements to sing for joy (Psalm 95-100)? 

that’s doctrinally sound … Here we examine the actual content of a song.  Is the song doctrinally sound and Scripturally bound?  Sadly, fewer and fewer look at the words they are singing but simply to the singability and rhythm exclusively—and whether they can get them into an emotional ‘state’ worship.  Paul instructed Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).  One of the main functions of worship music is to teach about the glory of God and the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  Having certain emotions is not the main desire, but truth should be the fuel to those emotions.  The joy comes from knowing that what we are singing about (and, more importantly, Who we are singing about) is true!

where skills abound … Skills?  Am I saying that all worship leaders need to sing like Michael Buble? Play guitar like Christopher Parkening?  Play drums like Buddy Rich?  Piano like Horowitz?  No, not at all.  What I am saying is that the Psalmist implores those leading God’s people in worship to “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts” (Psalm 33:3).  When David was organizing the musicians for leading worship in the Temple, he gathered “all who were skillful” (1 Chronicles 25:7) in various instruments to lead.  Granted, this is relative.  Not everyone has equal skills, but everyone can offer the skills they have as an offering of praise to God.

and praise resounds.  What a witness it is to lead people to praise the living God who sent His Son for our justification!  To think how Christ bore the wrath of God toward our sin upon His shoulders to satisfy as a propitiation so we would not have to face the penalty that was due us.  What mercy and grace!  To this, we offer that sacrifice of praise.  We have come full circle. 

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How Strong Expositional Preaching Helps Counseling Ministries

Paul Tautges blogs at “Counseling One Another” and shares that “the abundance of counseling exists in the church because passionate, expositional, theological preaching that relentlessly exhorts its listeners to obey Jesus Christ does not.”  You can read his insights here.  Here’s the main quote:

A biblical counseling ministry will not be effective in churches whose pastors are unfaithful in the pulpit. In other words, discipling one another works best when it is built upon, and flows from, an undying commitment to faithful, biblical preaching.

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Summary of the Mission of the Church

We can summarize this mission by answering seven questions:

Who? Jesus gave this mission verbally to the first disciples, but it did not end with their deaths. As Lord of the church, he expects his followers to carry out this mission “to the end of the age.” Their mission is our mission.

Why? The authority for our mission comes from Christ. It is rooted in the Word of God and based on the Father’s sending of the Son. We are sent because Christ was sent, and we go in his name, under his authority.

What? The mission consists of preaching and teaching, announcing and testifying, making disciples and bearing witness. The mission focuses on the initial and continuing verbal declaration of the gospel, the announcement of Christ’s death and resurrection and the life found in him when we repent and believe.

Where? We are sent into the world. Our strategy is no longer “come and see” but “go and tell.” The message of salvation is for every people group—near, far, and everywhere in between.

How? We go out in the power of the Holy Spirit and in submission to the Son just as he was obedient to and dependent upon the Father.

When? The mission began at Pentecost when the disciples were clothed with power from on high with the presence of the Holy Spirit. The mission will last as long as the promise of Christ’s presence lasts; that is, to the end of the age.

To whom? The church should make disciples of the nations. We must go to every people group, proclaiming the good news to the ends of the earth.

(From What is the Mission of the Church? by Greg Gilbert and Kevin DeYoung, p. 58.)

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