You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category.

In light of the uproar regarding the recent assembly at the Dunkerton school, I feel compelled to offer a few observations on the subject. This issue goes much deeper than whether or not the group who gave the presentation crossed a line or even that the school administration acted responsibly or not.  I knew nothing about the planned assembly and was not able to attend the “make-up” meeting held on Monday night.  Therefore, I don’t think it wise to enter that argument. 

However, I DO believe that we should look at the larger issue here and act in response to the spiritual reality that is being writ large across the face of our community.  I was present at the school board meeting, and for the life of me, I cannot see that it accomplished anything useful.  It DID demonstrate the reality that Satan is active in our town. I don’t remember when I have witnessed so much rancor and malice among so-called civilized people. 

A significant component in the life of a follower of Christ is the ongoing battle against the unseen spirits of darkness in our midst.  Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  (NASB)  We should no longer live under the delusion that our little town school is unaffected by the evil influences of the government’s oversight of public education.  On the one hand, we have been reminded that a Christian message has no place in public school because of the standard of so-called “separation of church and state.”  But the reality is that our school is indoctrinating the students with the destructive lessons of “tolerance and diversity” which are destroying the fabric of orderly society and the sanctity of the home. Once again, we see that EVERY viewpoint is valid — EXCEPT biblical Christianity! 

We have to ask ourselves some hard questions about how the body of Christ should respond to such evil in our midst.  Shouting and accusing will not help.  The church of the Living Lord Jesus needs to fight the spiritual battle that has come to us, and our most powerful weapon is prayer.  I see this trouble as a long-overdue invitation to seek the Lord’s face and favor for the sake of our school and community.  Let’s find ways to serve the school with Christian love and compassion and in the process flood the halls and streets with prayer.  We cannot fight the devil in our own strength, but the Spirit of God fights for us as we submit ourselves to Him and cry out to Him in prayer.

We also need to repent of our sins of passing off parental responsibility to the school (and the church, for that matter).  Christian parents needs to teach their kids about truth and sin and salvation, which is found only in Christ Jesus.  Let us rise above the petty and self-serving cries of hurt feelings and offended sensibilities and demonstrate the gospel by our lives.  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. {Eph 6:10 (NASB)}

Thanks to Challies.com, I just read an article that I commend to every member of every congregation.  Tim Challies does the leg work daily to discover interesting and important blogs and articles on the web, and this one comes from Stephen Atrogge, titled “The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Pastor.”  You can read the whole article here.

I’ll summarize it for you.  What’s the best thing you can do for your pastor?  PRAY for him!  He suggests these ways to pray in particular:

So how can you pray for your pastor? Here are a few practical ways:

  • “Pray that they will have spiritual and emotional endurance. Being a pastor is a wonderful job, but it can also be a very draining job. I need endurance to continue working with joy.
  • Pray that they will have rich fellowship with the Lord. The pastor’s power comes from the Lord. I need God to meet me and refresh week after week.
  • Pray that your pastor will be protected from temptation. If Satan can take down a shepherd, the sheep are much more vulnerable. I need the Lord to protect me from the temptations of pride, greed, lust, impatience, and a host of other sins.
  • Pray that your pastor will preach with power. Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, a sermon will be nothing more than an eloquent boatload of crap. I need the Holy Spirit to put power behind my words.

There are many more ways to pray for your pastor, but this should get you started.

So please, I’m begging you, pray. Your pastor depends on it.”

Giving credit where it is due, this list is copied from Stephen Altrogge’s blog, “The Blazing Center,” dated Feb 28, 2012.

It’s been so long since I posted here, I was wondering if this blog was still operational.  I guess it is, so here goes.

I’m a Southern Baptist pastor in Iowa.  We’re not exactly in the Bible belt, and that means that in our part of the country, Southern Baptists (and Evangelicals of all stripes) are few and far between.  For instance, the latest demographic information I’ve seen on our part of the state reveals that for Iowa’s eastern 31 counties, there is a population of about 1.3 million and 37 SBC churches and missions.  That works out to approximately one church for every 35,000 residents.  Needless to say, we have much work to do here.

Our Baptist Convention of Iowa is a very small organization, when compared to the prominent Southern Baptist strongholds in the South, which means that we have been heavily dependent on outsiders for financial and practical support since Southern Baptists first came to Iowa, some 50 years ago.

For the past couple of years, the North American Mission Board, who is the major source of our funding, has been re-organizing in an attempt to be more effective at reaching North America with the gospel of Christ.  The bottom line of all this re-allocation of funds is that Iowa, along with all the other pioneer areas, is losing significant dollars that we have come to depend upon for many years.  We have a new reality in which to live and minister.

We all are confused, because NAMB keeps changing the rules, and I suppose we just have to get used to it because NAMB is a bureaucracy as much as any government agency.  It’s our own creation, and we have to live with the facts.  As I see it, our situation is not far removed from the larger political climate of this nation.  We (Americans in general) have become a people accustomed to entitlement.  The so-called “Occupy Movement” is a vivid illustration of this fact.  But like the Greeks, we need to recognize that the reservoir of resources is limited.  The government simply cannot continue to place money in every empty hand that is extended, and the same applies to the North American Mission Board.  What’s more, unlike the government, NAMB can neither print money nor raise taxes.  They have to face the reality that limited resources means that only the highest priorities can be funded.

Iowa Southern Baptists have become accustomed to living on the dole.  I don’t like it.  Nobody likes it.  But it’s true, and we MUST take a long, hard look at our organization so that we make the most of the resources we DO have and quit whining about what was and what could have been.  Our associations are going to have to find new ways to do our work without a NAMB-funded Associational Missionary.  Our state staff is already spread too thin, like butter on too much bread (a nod to my LOTR-loving friends), and the situation isn’t likely to improve any time soon.  As someone has wisely said, “It’s time to put on our big girl pants!”  During the Great Depression, people adapted to the reality or they starved to death.  We’re going to have to do the same.

As I see it, here’s what’s at stake –  How long will we grieve that which is lost at the expense of doing the work our Lord has given us?  Does the work of the gospel have to come to a stop just because the money is drying up?  Is it possible we ought to look at this situation as an opportunity to trust God to supply our needs?  Do we believe Philippians 4:19, which says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  I can attest from personal experience that much of the time, it is in those times of direst need that God does His most miraculous work!

I’ve heard that some congregations have been withholding Cooperative Program funds as a means of protest.  I beg you, brethren, please re-consider this approach because it affects us all when such things happen.

Tim Challies’ podcast from Feb 21 discusses the matter of entitlement in our society, and it goes far beyond the situation I’m discussing here.  Nevertheless, I encourage you to view the post and listen to the podcast because I think it is very pertinent for us all.  You can view the post and listen to the podcast here.

Pay attention to these words of David Murray,

“As a Christian, I believe in one entitlement.

I’m entitled to Hell. That’s the only entitlement I have. That’s all I deserve, because of my sin. Anything else is grace, an unmerited bonus from the God of all grace. I don’t deserve a breath of life, a crumb of food, a drop of water, a stitch of clothing, a cent in my wallet, or an hour of education. I’m not entitled to one friend, one vacation, one verse of Scripture, or even one sermon. I’m certainly not entitled to salvation and heaven. I’m entitled to damnation and Hell.

That sense of entitlement makes me seek mercy, receive mercy, enjoy mercy, and be merciful to others. To paraphrase the Apostle Paul, “What have I that I did not receive as a free gift of divine grace? How therefore can I ever boast as if I had actually been entitled to it or earned it?”

So, there are basically only two ways to live: with a proud and angry sense of entitlement or with a humble and thankful sense of responsibility.

To summarize, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).”

In light of this bold truth, I ask, To what are we entitled?

I just read an article by Trevin Wax that challenged me tremendously.  It’s titled, “What You Celebrate as a Church is Just as Important as What You Believe.”  I believe this guy has been reading my (our) mail!  Please take a few minutes to read it, then tell me what you think.  I truly want us to celebrate the gospel as a priority.

Here is the link.

Thanks to Todd Benkert for posting it on Facebook.

The September 28 issue of the New York Times carried this thought-provoking article.  It opens with these words, “Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.”  I was interested to learn that atheists and agnostics scored better on a quiz dealing with general issues of religion than the people who hold to those religions.  I think it underscores the fact that for too many Americans, religion is based more upon feelings than fact.  If we are ever going to see the world won to Jesus, then we ought to pay more attention to knowing what we believe, why we believe, and how it makes a difference in our lives.

The article quotes Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, who says, “I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people,” Mr. Silverman said. “Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That’s how you make atheists.”  I think Mr. Silverman’s ideas are living proof of the biblical truth that the human mind is darkened and dead to spiritual things, unless the Holy Spirit awakens understanding.  I would argue that giving a Bible to someone is more likely to make a believer than an atheist, because it is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.”

Friends, we have to be diligent to love the LORD our God with all our MINDS,  as the Great Commandment says.  As I said in the sermon this past Sunday, “We have to do better!”

You can read the entire article here. By the way, I got six out of six correct in the sample quiz (that’s a relief!).

My apologies to the two of you who occasionally take a look at this blog for not putting anything up for so long.

Now for something new.

For quite some time, I have been struggling to try and define an accurate, biblical doctrine of the Church.  The way we currently “do Church” just seems to be missing something on so many fronts.  The more I study and read, the more I am convinced that the Western Church is far more individualistic than the New Testament pattern.  Just this morning, I ran across a stunning article in “Christianity Today” that scratches where I have been itching for so long.  Joseph Hellerman has written a landmark (in my humble opinion) contribution that every Christian ought to give serious consideration.

He states, “Despite what we know about spiritual growth, nearly all churches in America are characterized by an unwillingness of members to commit themselves deeply to their respective church. For some, it means church hopping; for most, it means keeping the church at arm’s length—that is, living as if the individual’s life is primary and that of the church is secondary. . . The early Christians had a markedly different perspective. Jesus’ early followers were convinced that the group comes first—that I as an individual will become all God wants me to be only when I begin to view my goals, desires, and relational needs as secondary to what God is doing through his people, the local church. The group, not the individual, took priority in a believer’s life in the early church. And this perspective (social scientists refer to it as “strong group”) was hardly unique to Christianity. Strong-group values defined the broader social landscape of the ancient world and characterized the lives of Jews, Christians, and pagans alike.”

It’s a fairly lengthy article, but please take the time to read it entirely.  You can find it here.  Also, I would recommend, Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris, The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, and Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck.  There are other worthy books, but these are the most recent I’ve read and the freshest in my mind in terms of influence.

As far as I can tell, Hellerman’s article offers a clear description of what the Bible calls koinonia, or fellowship.  Without this kind of community, the Church will always be lacking in power, influence, and effectiveness.  My prayer is that I can lead the congregation I serve toward achieving this kind of fellowship.  As I often say, “There is no “I” in Church!”

While our attention is rightly turned to the issue of life and specifically, abortion this week.  Let’s make sure we remember that sexuality is a much larger issue than abortion alone.  Please read this article from today’s USA Today –  Teen pregnancy, abortion rates rise

If you can stand a real eye-opener, be sure to read the comments at the bottom of the page.

Let’s teach the kids the right things and do it ourselves.

Thanks to my dear friend, Matt Perry, for calling attention to this article on his own blog.  It’s by Josh Harris and the original is here.  If you care about the Church of Jesus, and particularly the congregation of which you are a part, the read this carefully and prayerfully.

WRONG REASONS TO LOVE THE CHURCH

Do you love the church? Romans 12:10 tells Christians to “Love one another with brotherly affection.”

The affection and love we’re to have for fellow-Christians is to be based on the work of Jesus Christ for us. It’s not about elitism, it’s not because Christians are better than anyone else, it certainly isn’t because Christians are necessarily more lovable. We love the church because we love the Savior who redeemed the church.

Acts 20:28 tells us that Jesus obtained the church with his own blood. Is this what your love for the church is based on? If it’s anything less, it won’t last long.

  • Don’t love the church because of what it does for you. Because sooner or later it won’t do enough.
  • Don’t love the church because of a leader. Because human leaders are fallible and will let you down.
  • Don’t love the church because of a program or a building or activities because all those things get old.
  • Don’t love the church because of a certain group of friends because friendships change and people move.
Love the church because of who shed his blood to obtain the church. Love the church because of who the church belongs to. Love the church because of who the church worships. Love the church because you love Jesus Christ and his glory. Love the church because Jesus is worthy and faithful and true. Love the church because Jesus loves the church.

Excerpted from the sermon “We Are Here to Love the Church.”


On Wednesday, Dec. 30,  I received an e-mail from Don Whitney’s “Biblical Spirituality” ministry.  He poses “10 Questions to Ask at the Start of the New Year.”  I share them here in hopes of fostering a sense of purpose and intentionality for our lives in the year ahead.  Please read and consider these prayerfully.

Happy New Year!

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity

Mohler on the future of the SBC

Vodpod videos no longer available.