Thursday, December 14, 2017

Men's Leadership Training and Discipleship

2017-18 LCBC Men's Leadership 
Once a month a band of brothers gathers together for fellowship, biblical instruction, and small group time.

This Saturday we hope to come together for super session #4.

Our men will have read chapters 6-7 in Steve Lawson's "Made In Our Image: What Shall we do with a 'User-Friendly' god?"  Chapters 5-6 of MacArthur's, "the Master's Plan for the Church."  Chapters 7-8 in Stuart Scott's, "The Exemplary Husband (plus the workbook)."  And chapter 6 of Timothy Witmare's "The Shepherd-Leader: Achieving Effective Shepherding in Your Church."

Please pray that God would use this ministry to make us more Christ-like leaders and more faithful men of God.  Ephesians 3:21

The 3 Key Words of Biblical Prophesy

Let's keep it real.  Prophesy and Eschatology can be difficult subjects to grasp.  As such, American evangelicals are tempted to not study large portions of sacred Scripture. 

This particular sermon tries to summarize Biblical Prophesy in 3 words.  These three words highlight two essential concepts. 

If you understand this message you will understand the crux of biblical prophesy and eschatology (the study of end times).  This sermon can be downloaded here   

If you choose to ignore these three key words you'll likely view prophetic Scripture as a 'riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."

If one believes that all Scripture is inspired and profitable (per 2 Timothy 3:15-17) then WE MUST TEACH THE WHOLE BIBLE.  To ignore the Old Testament is not an option.  To avoid eschatology and prophesy is not right either.  Hence this current series at Lake Country Bible Church.

On September 17 we will also begin a new series during the 9am Sunday School hour on Rediscovering Biblical Manhood and Woman in view of the contemporary issues of the day.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Method to My (Expository) Madness: Pulpit Goals in 2017

Year in Review
For many months my faithful predecessor Sal Massa worked tirelessly through the sacred text of Revelation.  Unfortunately, he was unable to complete his verse-by-verse expository series of Scripture's final prophesy before his retirement in April of 2017.  In order to not leave the faithful flock at LCBC hanging- I decided to resume this expository series in Chapter 19, in large part, because the end of the story is the very best partJesus always seems to save the best for last, doesn't he?!? (note John 2 and Rev. 20-22)  Before launching into Revelation ch. 19f the Spirit has directed my steps in some unexpected ways.  I believe this falls under the banner of Proverbs 19:21 and 16:9, Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.  The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

Pulpit Goals and Year in Review:  I began my new ministry with a stand alone sermon on "Satan's Strategies Against Christ's Church" wherein I lovingly warned the good people of LCBC of a few of Satan's sinister schemes.  In short, the Evil One would love to divide LCBC into various factions- "I am of Massa," "I am of Kolstad" (1 Cor. 3), etc.  I reminded the flock that Word-driven pastors are nothing more than "stewards" and "servants of Jesus Christ."  Jesus is the Lord of the Church and His inerrant Word is the final authority. Satan would also love for us to drift away from our biblical mission (note carefully Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 1:28-29; Matt. 28:18-20) and to alter the depth and direction of the church.  

In view of this initial sermon, we spent a month pulling apart one of the most important passages in all of ScriptureColossians 1:28-29.  This text reveals what a Biblical Philosophy of Ministry looks like.  These 4 core convictions are non-negotiable and much needed in an American context where "church growth theory" (subtly) dominates the evangelical landscape.  

The 4 components of a biblical philosophy of ministry are- 1) A Christ-centered emphasis;  2) A Teaching-focused church;  3) Leader's and members that are wholeheartedly committed to making mature disciples; (which goes against the trend of producing Heb. 5:12-14 pew fillers)  4) while maintaining the right balance; (i.e. maximum human effort yet total reliance on Him- v. 29).  A biblical philosophy of ministry helps the Lord's Church to stay on target (and to not get caught up in the latest fads- be it "social justice" causes, entrepreneurial methodology, etc).  Every congregation is prone to drift so this was a great passage to anchor my new ministry in.  

During my early months I also preached a summary message of Colossians, that was aptly titled, "HIM we Proclaim: The Sovereign Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ."  As my family moved from IL to WI I preached a stand alone sermon from Jude 22-23.  This passage charges every believer to "Rescue Souls as 'Ministers of Mercy.'"  

After finally getting my feet underneath me as the new Senior Pastor at LCBC we turned our attention again to the biblical study of prophesy/eschatology; (in effort to demonstrate 'pulpit continuity' between me and my predecessor).  I reminded the flock of God that the main character in the Bible (and Revelation) is the Lord Jesus Christ!  Eschatology is intended to fuel our worship and to encourage persecuted saints to persevere until the end!  As such, it was only appropriate for us to study verses 9-14 and to passionately proclaim "Worthy Is the Lamb That Was Slain."  

Next, I summarized Revelation 6-18 and the coming Tribulation in two sermons.  In this vein, I preached a message titled, "Christ Our Propitiation and the Future Wrath of God" (Rev. 6-18/1 John 4:10) and another called, "Angels We Have Heard on High Tribulation Remix" (Rev. 14:6-11).

In August I preached a few overview sermons of Revelation knowing that the larger Body of Christ is quite divided over the finer intricacies of eschatology/prophesy; (all believers agree in the 2nd Coming of Christ and long for heaven).  I called these macro messages "Revelation Pop Quiz" parts 1 and 2.  I preached these sermons to ensure that everyone was on the same page before launching into the depths of Revelation 19-22.  

This brief review brings us full circle to a final foundational series that I started back in September 2017.  Before resuming the action in Revelation 19, which highlights "the Return of the King," I hoped to accomplish two things.  1) I desired to make an airtight (biblical) case for futuristic premillenialism (which is the doctrinal position of LCBC).  2) I also wanted to show the practical and theological benefits of studying prophetic Scripture.  Prophesy charts pundits need to be reminded of this.

I stated that the Biblical Case for Futuristic Premillennialism is supported by Seven Lines of Reason:

It's- 1) The Fruit of a Consistent “Hermeneutic.”

“Hermeneutics” is 'the study of the principles and methods of interpreting the text of the
Bible as to ascertain the original intent of the Divine/human authors of Scripture.'  
Note my sermon on 2 Timothy 2:15 and our message on the "3 Key Words of Biblical Prophesy." 

2) The Unconditional Promises in the Biblical Covenants.

Per my messages on the great Abrahamic Covenant (here and here) and the regal Davidic Covenant (here, here, here and here).  Our study of Luke 1 will eventually highlight the promises of the New Covenant (note Jer 31).

3) The Hope of the Old Testament Saints and Prophets.
Per my exposition of Hosea 3.  

4) The End Times Teachings of Jesus Christ
See the Revelation of Jesus Christ as unveiled in the book of Revelation (note also passages such as Matthew 23:37-39; 24-25).

5) The Progressive Revelation of the New Testament.
Note my recent expositions Luke 1.

6) The Unified Testimony of the Early Church.
Forthcoming Sunday School lesson.

7) The Invisible Hand of Divine Providence (throughout the ages).

Forthcoming Sunday School lesson.

In recent weeks we have gone, line-upon-line, through the opening chapter of Luke's gospel.  I felt compelled to do this for two simple reasons:  I) Because the "Song of Mary" and "the Prophesy of Zacharias" are rooted in the Old Testament covenants and look ahead to what John reveals in Revelation 19-22.  2) Because providentially we moved into the month of December.  Experience has taught me that American Evangelicals enjoy "Advent" themed sermons around Christmas time.  Luke 1 is a timeless treasure trove of truth related to the birth of the long awaited Messiah and the Savior of the world.  Plus, the Messianic titles, "Son of Abraham," "Son of David," connect the New Testament with the Old (and further demonstrates the relevance of our series on the grand covenants of Scripture). I felt staying in Luke 1 was a win/win situation.

In God's good timing we will eventually dive headfirst into the text of Revelation 19 and work through the conclusion of this great prophesy, verse-by-verse.  Until then, buckle your seat belts and enjoy the journey!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Who Am I? & God's Original and Marvelous Design for Manhood and Womanhood (2 Sam. 7 and Gen. 1-3)

On October 29th I provided biblical instruction from Gen. 1-3 concerning "God's Original and Marvelous Design for Manhood and Womanhood."  During our Sunday School sessions I try and share numerous illustrations of "these are days of our life" under the banner of "the worldly world" and "the compromised church."

This is a relevant series because so many professing evangelicals have embraced the so called 'wisdom of the world' especially in the arena of God's design for men and women and gender/sexuality matters.  The Church today needs to know what they believe and why they believe what they believe lest we compromise the truth on the alter of "relevance and progress."  The largest megachurch in our area has gone down this very path and the ripple effect is still being felt around the entire metro-Milwaukee area.

During the worship service I concluded our four part series on the David Covenant.  One cannot rightly appreciate the N.T. Gospels or the book of Revelation if they do not have a good grasp on the grand covenants of Scripture. Chiefly, the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants.  The title of this sermon is "Who Am I?"  This exposition of 2 Samuel 7:18-29 highlights the Believer's proper response to the covenant promises of God.

For Further Reflection/Application:
Spend some time this week reflecting on past mercies, present blessings, and future promises!  Write this list down and spend time in prayer and praise! (use 2 Sam. 7:18-29 as an example)

If we set our hearts and minds upon the God’s promises with greater regularity how would it impact our daily lives? How would it help us to cope with the difficult trials and tribulations of this present world? How should it impact our prayer lives? Our worship? Our time in the Word?

"I'm Just Not Getting Much Out Of My Preacher's Sermons..." (pt. 2)

What's a Christian to do if they are just not getting much out of their preacher's sermons In some cases, it may be helpful to share this loving concern with one's pastor.  If you choose to do this, provide a few specific examples to help your shepherd understand more specifically where you are coming from.  Do this with humility and bathe everything in prayer (Prov. 3:5-6). Having said that, before setting up such a meeting you should acknowledge that the difficulties your experiencing may reside as much in your own heart/mind, or in your own unrealistic and/or unbiblical expectations, as it does in the human mouthpiece of the Word (note 1 Peter 4:10-11).  One must evaluate each situation on a case by case basis.  Of course in many real world situations the matter is both/and rather than either/or.

Biblical humility should temper your criticisms with the honest acknowledgement that your pastor has invested 4-8 years of his life via bible college and seminary and to countless hours preparing weekly expositions.   I remind myself of this very principle when walking into a medical clinic. Before informing my doctor that "I don't think he's doing his job right and needs to do this or that" I realize that the few hours I spent on Web M.D. does not make me a "subject matter expert" in medicine.  That's not to say we should never question a doctor.  Some medical professionals are really poor in what they do and we would be foolish to not get a second opinion (or to find another doctor all together).

In this vein, if your preacher has not received received adequate ministry training he may need to "go back to school" before assuming such a huge responsibility as is feeding the flock of Christ (see John 21).  Note Clint Archer's helpful article on "should men go to seminary before leading the church of Christ.".

Having said that, those in the pew should be humble enough to listen to their pastor's thoughts knowing that he's likely spent hundreds of hours reading books on expository preaching, has invested thousands of hours listening to classroom lectures on theology, hermeneutics, counseling, Scripture, and homiletics, and probably benefits from many of the same well known preachers that you do.  What Christian doesn't love the preaching ministries of Alistair Begg, Steve Lawson, and John MacArthur?  

On this note, one of the present dangers of the internet and the proliferation of "celebrity pastors" is that some Christians expect their local church preacher to sound just like you fill in the blank; not realizing that God does not give "five talents" to every servant (Matt. 25:14-30) and has given each individual a unique personality/style.  If your preacher does not herald the Word as well as John MacArthur (join the camp), this does not mean that this brother has not been called to the ministry.   All believers are expected to be faithful stewards of the talents that have been sovereignly dispensed on them by the Lord of the Church (see 1 Cor. 12-14; 1 Pet. 4:10-11; 1 Tim. 3:1f).  In this same vein, if you expect your praise leader(s) to sing like Matt Boswell or Chris Tomlin, or to write arrangements like Fernando Ortega or Bob Kauflin, you are setting yourself up for being a church member who is never content.  Be biblically realistic and remind yourself that the power ultimately resides in the Word of God not in the heralds of His Word!

Monday, December 11, 2017

"I'm Not Getting Much Out of My Pastor's Sermons!" (pt. 1)

photo credit:
What's a Christian to do if they are just not getting much out of their preacher's sermons In some cases, it may be helpful to humbly share this concern with one's pastor.  If you do this, provide a few specific examples in order to demonstrate the "head to heart" disconnect.  Do this with grace and humility and commit the matter to prayer.  This kind of prayer plea is surely welcomed by the God of the Word who longs for His people to grow and mature in the faith through the public preaching ministry of the Word (Col. 1:28-29; 2 Tim. 3:15-4:5).  God also wants (we) pastors to grow and develop so that our spiritual "progress might be evident to all" (1 Tim. 4:15).  Assuming that the specific criticisms that you have are biblically valid, extend grace by giving your minister time to grow and develop accordingly.  In some cases, you may need to leave and find a new local church that regularly offers MEAT (as opposed to MILK) per the admonition found in Hebrews 5:12-14 and 2 Timothy 4:3f.

Having said that, before setting up such a meeting you should acknowledge that the problem may reside as much in your own heart as it does in the human mouthpiece of the Word (note 1 Peter 4:10-11).  James 1:19 says "Let everyone be quick to hear and slow to speak."  The context of this statement is a believer in relation to the Word of God (note also James 1:22f).  Before judging or setting up a meeting to voice our concerns we should first examine our own life and heart in the spirit of Matthew 7 and Galatians 6.  

In the past decade a few helpful resources have been written on the subject of expository listening.  These are welcome additions as thousands of books have been written for preachers; (My favorite's preaching resources are Preachers and Preaching, Rediscovering Expository Preaching; Famine in the Land; He is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World; and Between Two Worlds). 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

December 10th Worship at Lake Country Bible Church

This Sunday's worship service will feature the LCBC kids choir, many great Christmas hymns, our India short-term missions trip commissioning, and an exposition of Luke 1:26-36; "The Christ-Child's Matchless Superiority." 

 During Sunday School we will continue our study on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in a Post-fall universe. SS starts at 9am and the worship service at 10:15am. Come let us Adore Him!  #LakeCountryBibleChurch

    "Fullness of grace in Man’s human frailty
    This is the wonder of Jesus.
    Laying aside His power and glory
    Humbly He entered our lost world.