Monthly Archives: October 2013

Why Are We Putting on a Preaching Conference?

Tomorrow and Saturday, October 25-26, we will host our first annual Mile High Preaching Conference (soon known as the Mile High Pastors Conference).  Dr. Hershael York will be our special guest speaker, bringing a pastoral experience with an academic foundation that will help us preach the Scripture engagingly and enduringly.

So why go through this effort?  It’s a valid question.  The proliferation of sermons and conferences recorded and archived on the Internet makes some to believe that the days of going to conferences are over—now the conferences may come to them!

Yet, here we are.  Offering a conference.  Why?

  1. We can focus.  I could watch conferences livestreamed on my computer (and I hope the MHPC will have that capability soon), but when I do that, I multitask.  The speaker is in the background while I outline sermons, punch out emails, pause in case someone needs to talk, etc.  Granted, with smartphones at conferences now, we bring our tasks with us.  That’s another story.  But this format allows more for a time to put away distractions and concentrate on the topic at hand.
  2. We understand the importance of community.  Conferences like these provide opportunities for other pastors to come together to fellowship, encourage, sharpen, network, and challenge.  This cannot happen watching this over a screen in one’s office or kitchen table.
  3. Preaching takes place among an assembly, and a preaching conference should do the same.  The understanding of preaching is that of proclamation.  As Jason Meyer points out in his new book Preaching: A Biblical Theology, preaching is a stewardship received from God to herald out to our listeners so they will have an encounter with the living God.  While many wish for a discussion and a give-and-take during this time, the biblical understanding of the congregational assembly is that a preacher preaches the Word and we listen.  Our minds are renewed, our lives are transformed (Romans 12:1-2).   And as our lives are renewed and rejuvenated as pastors, that will only help those who are in our flock.  They will receive the benefits of a Spirit-charged pastor.
  4. This helps forge continuing partnerships in ministry.  When I left our state convention last week, I connected with friends such as our DOM Bob Ryan, our state missions director Jim Misloski, fellow pastors like Mark Hallock and Kevin Hasenack, and many other fellows that minister in my area.  But I had a chance to meet others who share my conviction and passion for preaching and ministry–and now we are friends in the faith.  We will partner in ministry here in Colorado for, I pray, years to come.

What about you?  What are some benefits you see in going physically and personally to a conference, over and against watching it online?  Please understand, I am grateful for this technology.  I will watch certain conferences when time and money permit otherwise.  But if I had a choice (and time and money), a personally attended conference is far better.

Agree?  Disagree?  Thoughts?

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The #1 Reason Why Folks are Leaving the Church (Even If They’re Not Physically Walking Out the Door)

All of us as church leaders lament the wide open back door that many churches that see many church members and attenders leave the church.  In my 20+ years of ministry, this is what I see. 

They hear the Bible in the pulpit, but see pragmatics in the pew, in programs, and in public.  To elaborate, they hear about how God’s Word is without error, cannot fall, cannot fail, authoritative, and even sufficient for all things in the faith and practice (and hear the Amens from many in the pew), but many fail to take that and put that mirror to their churches and their lives. 

We count on grace, but in the process we write our own laws based upon what ‘works,’ rather than based on the work that the Spirit reveals about who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He intends to do through us. 

Many pastors preach from the Scriptures, preaching with all their hearts from God’s sacred writ.  But for many churches, there is a disconnect between the pulpit and the person sitting in the pew.  Preachers preach the Bible, but in most other areas of the church, the Bible is not even opened or consulted—and thus, we show we do not feel the Bible is sufficient for all matters in the church.

Thus, we rely on pragmatics—that is, we rely on simply what works and what brings the most results.  Pragmatism was developed by the philosopher William James, declaring that the value of any truth was utterly dependent upon its use to the person who held it.  Bruck Kuklick reflected on James’ philosophy:

James went on to apply the pragmatic method to the epistemological problem of truth. He would seek the meaning of ‘true’ by examining how the idea functioned in our lives. A belief was true, he said, if it worked for all of us, and guided us expeditiously through our semihospitable world. James was anxious to uncover what true beliefs amounted to in human life, what their “Cash Value” was, what consequences they led to (from his introduction to William James’ ‘Pragmatism’).

How does this translate to how we view Scripture?  Subtly, but dangerously.  If we come to Scripture simply looking for the ‘cash value’ of what works for us, we miss the point of Scripture.  What may be ‘true’ for one person would be ‘not true’ for another, and so forth. 

Do we find ourselves ‘Amening’ something in the pulpit, but fail to plug that in to other areas of our church and our lives?  The people who are new to the faith, as well as those members who may be looking for authenticity, see the false dichotomy we set.  While the pulpit must speak loudly, our actions speak louder.

When we look for the bottom line of why we should do what we do, do we look to Scripture or to what works?  Here’s how our pastoral team will lead out in this.

  • We will preach that the intention of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church is to have discipled disciples discipling.  We long to make much of Jesus so others will make much of Jesus.  Then those ‘others’ will make more ‘others’ that make much of Jesus (see 2 Timothy 2:1-2).  This involves patiently equipping others to see the sufficiency of Christ and the gospel in their homes, workplaces, school, and with their friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors.  Thus, discipleship breeds evangelism, which breeds more discipleship. 
  • Regardless of the meetings we are in (deacons, stewardship, security, worship team, greeters and ushers, custodial, administrative assistants, etc.), the goal will be to see what must be done to plant that discipleship, gospel seed in the hearts of all who come and to remove whatever obstacle is in place to keep this from happening. 

More details as God begins to clarify and crystallize. 

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Dodgers Win Game Six—Sort Of: Humorous Standoff Before Game Six of the NLCS

Yes, the Dodgers lost 9-0 to the Cardinals of the National League Championship Series, and lost out on a trip to the World Series.

But they won this battle.  Great stuff!

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Seek His Face, Set the Pace, Make the Case: Five Reasons Pastors Must Vision Cast Biblically

As I sat and listened to our speakers at the Colorado Baptist Annual Meeting this past week in Grand Junction, one thing kept sailing through my mind:  pastors must set the pace and make the case biblically about how to fulfill the Great Commission.

My Discipleship Pastor (Adam) and I discussed quite a bit what we heard at the meetings, much of which was good.  Yet, we were reminded that we must be sure the indicatives of what Christ has accomplished and declared via His bodily death and same bodily resurrection fuel the imperatives (commands) in putting what Christ has done into action.

Why?

1.  Without the indicatives, all that matters is what you do.  Granted, believers need to do more.  James gives us numerous warnings that ‘faith without works is dead’ (James 2:14-25).  It’s not a faith-plus-works, it’s a faith that works, bearing fruit based upon what Jesus has accomplished.  Matt Chandler has reminded us repeatedly that the gospel must never be assumed, but must be explicit. 

2.  Pastors must set the pace.  Is our ministry based on our busyness?  Is our ministry based on our titles, activities, meeting attendance, or giftedness in preaching and teaching?  We may be setting the pace for our people that it is about the imperatives, for we are taking little personal time in the Word to look at the indicatives and promises God has kept in Christ.  Our congregations follow our lead (or lack of leadership) whether we like it or not. 

3.  Pastors must make the case.  Pastors must cast a vision that smells and tastes of God’s revelation (Scripture) both in broad and specific terms.  In broad senses, your people should know and be able to state in a sentence or two who you are, what you believe, and where you’re going.  The brief, broad understandings then seep into the rest of the specifics.  When your people understand the broad, they will use that as a filter and a paradigm for their respective tasks moving forward. 

4.  Pastors must make the case biblicallyDo we believe that the Bible is sufficient and clear in its prescription of what His church should be and do?  Many times, we approach meetings assuming that the Bible is in play, but set it aside in the day-to-day meetings.  Does the Bible have something to say about the vision of the church as relates to, say, stewardship and finances?  Security?  Playing the organ?  Decorating?  Fellowship Teams?  Systems analysis?  I contend that it does, thus connecting the broad vision and the specifics with the lubricating Word that keeps the train moving in Jesus’ name—literally.

5.  Pastors, pray for your people.  Influences pervade every facet of our lives—often unawares.  Pray that God would help your people recognize those influences for what they are.  And as the Scriptures reverberate in the warp and woof of the life of the church and the lives of individual believers, they will be able to see what is in harmony with God’s Word, and what is not.  That mature discernment is markedly absent in many believers (Hebrews 5:11-6:3). 

Seek His Face.  Set the pace.  Make the case.   

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Are You Assured of Your Salvation, Dear Christian?

Here’s two helpful video clips regarding our Christians assurance of salvation.  The first is from Todd Friel:

The second is from R.C. Sproul:

May this be of great help!

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Interview of Dr. Hershael York, Speaker at our Mile High Preaching Conference

hershaelI happily sent Dr. Hershael York some questions about his background and his passion for preaching.  He serves as Preaching Professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY as well as Senior Pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church, Frankfort, KY. He is a gifted preacher and communicator, and has authored an incredibly helpful book, “Preaching with Bold Assurance: A Solid and Enduring Approach to Engaging Exposition.”

For more information about the conference, click here.

 

1.   Why did you feel the need to write a book on expository preaching?

In my 20’s I read three books that changed my life and ministry. Walt Kaiser’s Toward an Exegetical Theology, John Stott’s Between Two Worlds (softcover | Kindle), and D. A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies (Softcover | Kindle). These books reshaped and revolutionized the way I thought about preaching. I became convinced of the power of the inspired text to speak for itself. Then, in my 30’s, I became acquainted with the work of Bert Decker, a leading communications expert. He helped me understand why I could hear two preachers deliver the same basic truth, yet one of them would bore me to tears while the other would excite and inspire me. I always knew that God used the human vessel to deliver the sacred message, but Decker helped me understand the importance of delivery. I wanted to write a book on preaching that combined all of those elements: a commitment to the text, to the authorial intent, and to the necessity of showing its relevance to a contemporary world by engaging delivery.

2.   What role do you see expository preaching playing in the life of the church?

Expository preaching is the nourishment of the body. Individual members may grow through their private devotions and Bible study, but the community of believers gets fed collectively by the public preaching of the Word.

3.   Who has been your greatest influence as a preacher?  Who is your favorite preacher?

My father remains my greatest influence, primarily because he taught me the stories of the Bible. He made it come alive. I would say, “Tell me some Bible stories” and he would choose the most fascinating stores and highlight the details in such a way that I felt like I was in it. His Bible stories were the main tool God used to give me a love for the Word. Apart from my dad, John Stott, Donald Grey Barnhouse, J. Vernon McGee (particularly his Sunday sermons preached in Church of the Open Door), and Adrian Rogers were major influences in my early years. In the years I’ve been teaching at Southern, Bryan Chapell, Alistair Begg, Russ Moore, Al Mohler, and Robert Smith have each had significant impact on my thinking and preaching.

4.   What role does the local church play in training preachers?

I am first, last, and always a churchman. The local church IS the training ground for preachers. Seminary has its role, but it cannot and must not supplant the church. Seminary does not qualify a man for ministry; the church does. Every seminary in the world could disappear and the church would be just fine. The opposite is not true, however. Without the church, the seminary has neither right nor reason to exist. Jesus loved the church and gave Himself for her. Churches ought never to think that seminary qualifies a man to be a pastor. That’s why we believe in ordination, a formal means by which a church can say, “We know this man. We’ve observed this man. He exhibits godly character, biblical knowledge, the qualifications of and aptitude for ministry, and we give him our blessing.” All a seminary can do is say “This man passed our academic program.” I’m grateful for seminaries and Bible colleges. They have their place and make the church’s task easier, provided that they are teaching what the biblical foundations to support the church. 

5.   What would be some of the basic areas you would cover in training lay preachers who have no theological training whatsoever?

Anyone who hopes to preach the Word needs a basic understanding of the Bible, so biblical content is the first place to start. Make them read the Bible, memorize the order of the books of the Bible, and the redemptive-historical view of Scripture that puts Christ at the pinnacle of revelation.

6.   What can we expect from you at the Mile High Preaching Conference?

I love preaching, talking about preaching, and talking preaching with preachers. I hope to impart some nuts-and-bolts knowledge of preaching (how do you account for genre and different kinds of literature, for example), but I especially hope to convey some real excitement about preaching.

If you’re interested in more information about the Mile High Preaching Conference, click here.

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Five Components for a Gospel Resilience

A gospel resilience sees the momentary afflictions in light of glory to come.   

We tend to despair and lose heart when it comes to our Christian faith.  Paul alluded to the afflictions, the perplexing, the persecution, and the striking down (2 Corinthians 4:8) that Christians receive due to their faith in that which is unseen and faith in the One who is now at the right hand of the throne, interceding for the saints. 

Paul writes to the Corinthian church in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 

From the text, we see five components needed to maintain a gospel resilience in your walk with Christ.

Conversion

The key sentence in this passage is, “Therefore, we do not lose heart.” Notice who he includes. He does not say, “Therefore, I do not lose heart.” Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” We, our, our, us, we. Plural. More than one. Here, he refers to the church, the people of God, the bride of Christ.

The apostle Paul did not always identify with the church. In Philippians 3, we see that Paul identified with his Jewish heritage and his ascending the ladder of the Pharisees’ world. “Circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:5-6). He followed the covenant of circumcision, thanks to the obedience of his parents, both Hebrews. He even came from the tribe where Israel’s first king, King Saul, came from. But he was decidedly conservative when it comes to the law. Any heresy against the law of Moses had to go, and he had the zeal and permission to do so.

But something changed. Paul could then say, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” He wanted to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and share in His sufferings! Where did this change come from? Why did he go from wanting to identify with the Pharisees, to then identifying with the very people he tried to destroy—and spend a lifetime suffering for it?

Conversion! He had been changed! He no longer wanted to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed. His mind had been renewed. He renounced the old self, the “outer man.” As he wrote the Ephesians, outside of Christ, “you were dead… but God made you alive.” You are no longer a child of mercy, but a child of grace—it is a gift, not of yourselves, not of your own works, but of His work in you.

Calling

Paul’s resilience remained through his calling from Christ. The phrase, “So we do not lose heart” is the second time we hear this, the first being in 4:1. The purpose of saying this was because this ministry he had from God was ‘received’—given by God. He did not ascend to this on His own. By God’s grace, God called him to salvation, and now God called him to service.

If Paul had decided to do this on his own, then when he grew tired of it, he would move on. When people began to afflict, persecute, and strike him down, he would see it as against him, and would be tempted to remove himself from situations where he would receive such grief. But God saw him, saved him, and sent him into His service.

When Paul (then Saul of Tarsus) encountered the risen Christ, he was led into Damascus because “for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank” (Acts 9:9). But the scene switched to another part of town to a follower of Christ named Ananias, whom God called to go and lay hands on him so he might receive his sight. As you may imagine, since Paul was a Christian-oppressor, he had reservations. The Lord then told him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:15-16). So he as a Jew would go to the ‘unclean’ Gentiles and preach to them the resurrection of Christ?

When God called me into the preaching ministry, I ran for about 18 months. Why? Because I worried. What about my music ministry? What if I have to leave my church? What about my students? Would I have to pack up and move to school? Where would God take me? I love these people—why should I have to leave them? My main issue was, who? Me! And He used those 18 months to bring me through much internal clarity about my motives. He brought me to a point to where I had to serve Him or I didn’t think I would make it.

When I surrendered, I felt this peace. I did not know what was in store for my family and me, but I know I had to surrender to God’s call.

Comprehension

Everywhere Paul went, he preached that which is of “first importance”—the resurrection of Jesus Christ. After Ananias’ visit, it says that “And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’” Later, it says, “But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ” (9:22). He did this everywhere He went. Why?

He recognized that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection were the foundation of the Christian walk.

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all of the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he also appeared to me” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).

Paul received this teaching, but also experienced seeing Christ. There was a comprehension to where he saw and understood that since Jesus rose from the dead, Christianity stands. If he didn’t, then Christianity falls! So him saying, “We also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus” (2 Corinthians 4:14), this is not wishful thinking.

Consecration

Paul noted, “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

Our outer body, that is, our flesh, is wasting away. There are two ways to think about this. One, is that our flesh in the physical sense is indeed wasting away.

But we can also look at this from a spiritual aspect. In biblical terms, the flesh is often referred to in a spiritual aspect as well. The flesh often means our sinful nature.

Paul goes on: “For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” Earlier, we listed off all that Paul endured for the sake of Christ. These, he calls ‘light’ and ‘momentary.’ Why? He recognized that the affliction and the tribulation and the persecution were the preparation. Consider how things are now:

  • Outer man wasting away –> inner man renewed daily
  • Light/momentary affliction –> eternal glory
  • What is seen in transient –> what is unseen is eternal

The more we rely on our ‘flesh,’ the more we rely on our outer man, the more we rely on what is seen, and the more we focus on the afflictions we face in this world, the less gospel resilience and perseverance we shall have. Yet, the more we recognize the treasure as opposed to the clay pot of ourselves, the more we focus on the unseen, this provides the perspective needed for gospel resilience.

Comfort

Paul continually brings in eternity. Our afflictions for Christ are preparing an eternal comfort in and through Christ. There are things for the believer that we cannot see. But it’s eternal and beyond anything we can compare with here.

At the beginning of this epistle, Paul begins the epistle with this beautiful passage:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

Notice how prolific the word ‘comfort’ is. False teachers said, “If you’re faithful, comfort will happen in this life.” The gospel comforts those who need comforting, so they in turn will comfort others with the gospel. A gospel resilience sees the momentary afflictions in light of glory to comeWhat we seen here is temporary, so we comfort one another by that which is ‘unseen’—that which is eternal.

There’s an old hymn that I just absolutely treasure:

Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder;
Why it should be thus all the day long?
While there are others living about us
Nevermore rested, though in the wrong

Farther along, we’ll know all about it.
Farther along, we’ll understand why.
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine.
We’ll understand it all by and by. 

When death has come and taken our loved ones;
Leaving our home so lonely and drear.
Then do we wonder how others prosper
Living so wicked year after year?

Farther along, we’ll know all about it.
Farther along, we’ll understand why.
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine.
We’ll understand it all by and by.

The Spirit of God helps provide the resilience while we are here, giving us the mind of Christ and understanding the thoughts of God.  This line to the counsels of heaven, along with the revelation of His Word gives us that holy perspective.

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Friday Funny: Sometimes He’s Happy—If He Gets the Chance to Sing

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Praying for Those Yet to Believe

Last night, we took time at our prayer meeting to pray for workers to go into the plentiful harvest (Luke 10:2).  The need is great.  Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can meet that great need.

Watch this video from the North American Mission Board about the need here out West.  Take a look and pray for us as we seek to be a light in the wild, wild West.

Below is a prayer guide for us as we pray for unbelievers.  May God continue to give us a desire for prayer and a bold heart to love the lost in prayer.

  1. Bring the person to recognize and understand his emptiness and purposelessness in life. Bring him to
    the end of himself so that he will turn to You.
  2. Cause him to hunger and thirst for more in life.
  3. Bring him to understand the truth of his condition without Christ and to understand what Christ has
    done for his salvation.
  4. Bring conviction of sin. Allow the consequences of his sin to cause him to desire a different life. Let
    him become fed up with his life as it is.
  5. Jesus, reveal the Father to him.
  6. Father, exalt Jesus in his eyes.
  7. Father, draw him to Yourself and Your Son Jesus.
  8. Guide and create circumstances that create a need, then show Your love through meeting needs
    through me or others of Your people.
  9. Bring godly people into his life that will influence him for Christ.
  10. Prepare circumstances in his relationships where a Christian (me if You choose) will have the
    opportunity to forgive him and thus reveal something of Your mercy.
  11. Open his ears to hear Your call.
  12. Allow him to see the unity and love of Your people in a way that he is convinced that Jesus must be
    sent from You. Convince him that Jesus is indeed the Savior of the world.
  13. Prepare his life to receive the planting of Your Word.
  14. Protect him from Satan’s attempts to blind him and steal away the Word that has been sown.
  15. Reduce the cares of the world around him that could choke the seed planted.
  16. Raise up intercessors in behalf of this person. Guide my praying for him.
  17. Reveal to me the time and the way for me to share a witness about You and to tell him about the
    good news of salvation.
  18. Bring him under the hearing and influence of Your Word through teaching or preaching. Create in him
    an openness to listen.
  19. Create opportunities for him to hear a witness for Christ from several different trusted sources. Use
    the timing and diversity of these witnesses to convince him that You are the Author behind them all.
  20. Cause him to recognize his need for a Savior.
  21. Lord, do whatever it takes to cause this person to seek after You. Break the hardness of his heart
    toward You.

Claude King, Final Command Action Manual (Murfreesboro, TN: Final Command Resources, 2001), 49-50.
Used by permission. You have permission to reproduce for use in your church or small group.

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9 Marks at Southeastern Evangelism Conference Videos Online

I had the privilege of visiting Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for the 9 Marks at Southeastern Evangelism Conference.  I had the privilege of hearing Danny Akin, Peter Williams, Mark Dever,  Thabiti Anyabwile, John Folmar, and J.D. Greear speak biblically, passionately, and God-glorifyingly about the need of sharing the gospel with the lost.

The videos of these talks are now online.  Take time to listen and drink deep!  Thankful for these men and for 9 Marks.

[UPDATE: Apparently, I am not able at this point to post these videos up. You can watch them here.]

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