Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Why I Dress Up on Sunday (and Why You Don’t Have To)

For the past many months I have had the great joy of pastoring Lake Country Bible Church.  This local church is best known for two Christian virtues.  1) A deep and abiding love for one another (John 13:34-35) and 2) an intense appetite for the pure milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2-3).  These ministry hallmarks make shepherding and preaching to this congregation a real blessing.

One of the reasons I moved to Lake Country, Wisconsin is because of how like-minded we are.  LCBC and I share the same deep convictions relating to a biblical philosophy of ministry among many other things.  However, that does not mean that there are not any differences.  One such minor difference revolves around dress.  On any given Sunday I may be one of two or three men in a suit and tie.  For many weeks, I had members jokingly remind me that, “You don’t need to wear that here.”  I generally just smile and say something like “I know.”  So why do I choose to “dress up” so formally and why am I totally fine if the congregation chooses not to? 

Let me try and answer both of these questions for you. 

1) The Scripture places a premium on the heart.  External religion without genuine passion and love for God displeases the Lord (see Rev. 2; John 4:23-24).  Matthew 23 and the Old Testament book of Malachi also drive home this timeless truth.

One of the reasons why I am fine with a more informally dressed flock is because the members at LCBC still take worship very seriously.   Biblical worship needs to convey both holy fear and exuberant joy.   One without the other misses the mark.  David put it this way in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”  Tim Challies notes that “it is a matter of the heart before it is a matter of dress, and the heart is both tricky and deceitful.”

2) The Bible commands believers to dress modestly.   In some inspired instructions related to worship the Spirit of God calls women (in particular) “to dress modestly, with decency and propriety” (1 Tim. 2:8-15).  In short, worship is about glorifying God (Psalm 150) and edifying our brothers and sisters in Christ (Col. 3:16).  In view of this one should strive to not draw undo attention to themselves.  This could take place in terms of flaunting one’s wealth (look at me) or in showing off one’s body (look at me). Both of these things are common place in the world today. I mean isn’t that what most red carpet events are designed for?  However, this sort of practice is unacceptable within the body of Christ.  The heart of worship is that it's ultimately about Him (not me).  The Triune Lord of creation is the main attraction at LCBC.  I thank God for this. 

"As Iron Sharpens Iron, So One Man Sharpens Another"

Iron Men Begins September 23rd
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

The role of a biblical pastor is compromised of three essential tasks:

1) Preaching/teaching/feeding;

2) Leadership/biblical oversight;

3)Shepherding/discipleship/counseling.

In many ways the backbone of the church is compromised of mature, Word-centered, Spirit-filled, lay leaders.  Churches that go astray almost always have immature men at the helm.

By Divine design men are called to be spiritual leaders at home and within society at large. God also calls us to be Christ-like churchmen.

For as long as I have been a Senior Pastor men's leadership training and development has been top priority of mine. Please pray for us we seek to grow in our personal walk with the Lord, understand more clearly the Master's plan for His church, and grow in our discernment of what is the right and wrong direction to lead the Lord's people.  Our first super session will begin on September 23.  Please contact me for more detailed information.

Monday, August 21, 2017

When "Politics" and "Religion" Clash


Christians today need to be aware of the "grave danger of associating the cause of Christ with a (secular) political movement.  While Shane Claiborn and many others rightly bemoan Jerry Falwell, Jr.'s Christ-ifying of the Donald Trump administration, they fall guilty of committing the same offense, giving moral and Christian endorsement of causes, leaders, movements and events that are anything but Christ-like...."

"The social justice movement in America is a political cause, not a spiritual one.  It is predicated upon grievance, is fueled by resentment, and sees worldly power structures as savior.  None of this sounds like Jesus.  What is sounds like is the racist, white nationalist garbage it claims to despise...."

"The perpetuation of race a distinguishing and identifying element in the human experience is the precise opposite path anyone who desires racial reconciliation would counsel.  Yet this is precisely what social justice advocates facilitate by going so far as to deem any white person who promotes Martin Luther King's dream of a colorblind society a latent racist.  When they should be promoting the Biblical view of "one blood, one race," they elevate racial divides and make sweeping generalizations about races that are just as repugnant as the idiotic and hateful neo-Nazi signage."
the Gospel of Peace

"In a sane a world, the church of Jesus would be boldly confronting both of those manmade movements and presenting the better way forward (Gal. 3:28; Rom. 1:16-17). Unfortunately, at least for now, a portion of the church has chosen to identify itself with those who think politics and manmade power will solve a problem only God can heal."

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mack and Carr: A Better Way Fwd

photo credit: Pro Sports Daily
A better way forward.  NFL superstars Derek Carr and Khalil Mack showed the nation a better way forward while the National Anthem was played, and after the game, during their respective locker room press conferences.  Rather then enter the arena of racial politics Carr and Mack demonstrated the power of genuine friendship through a symbolic gesture of solidarity.  Hand on shoulder, side by side.

Their was no anti-police rhetoric.  No "black power" fists raised.  No Colin Kaepernick/Marshawn Lynch sit down(s) while the country's anthem was played.  Their was no politically charged (vulgar) press-conferences following the game.  Their was no pot shots taken at Democrats or Republicans.  It was just two close friends, one white and one black, demonstrating that Americans must come together as "one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all."

Our nation does not need more protests.  We simply need to flesh out the practical implications of the Biblical worldview of "one blood, one race."  Jesus put it this way, "Love God (supremely)....and love your neighbor as yourself."  Christians should model what 'brotherly love' looks like.  I cannot speak for the entire country, but in my circle of Christians friends (which stretches from coast to coast), I can testify that this very thing is taking place.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"You're a Racist" (If You Don't Think Exactly Like I Do) and Other Myths

"You're a racist!" "No wonder you pastor such a small congregation!"  This is what a fellow believer accused me of in the aftermath of the Michael Brown/Ferguson race riot situation back in 2014.  When this tragic situation unfolded in real-time a close pastor-friend asked, "What's the backstory behind the slanderous comments that were posted on your family's Facebook page?"  This individual assumed that these emotionally charged accusations came from a former, disgruntled church member who had a serious ax to grind.  I replied, "No brother.  This is someone who has filled the pulpit for me as a guest preacher on multiple occasions.  I thought he knew me, and more importantly, that my life example spoke for itself..." apparently I was wrong.  Or was I?

Have you noticed that every time a "racial controversy" takes place in our country history seems to repeat itself?  If a political conservative and/or a Christian (regardless of heritage or race) states a position, contrary to what the Liberal N.Y. Times and/or what those evangelicals who support the Black Lives Matter narrative promote, (such as Thabiti Anyabwile and Russell Moore), their perspective is quickly drown out in a chorus of "white privilege," "racism," and/or "hate speech" accusations.  As a result, many Christians, including quite a few church leaders, are afraid to offer up a nuanced perspective- even when in the same breath- genuine racism is soundly condemned; (be it "white nationalism" or "Antifa").
Christian Harmony 

The last thing any decent person wants to have said of them today is you are a "racist," "a sexist," and/or a hate-monger.   Black Conservatives (Ben Carson, Condi Rice, Allen West, Clarence Thomas) and African-American Christians are sometimes called "house Negros" and a host of even worse sinful pejoratives. I have witnessed individuals face this kind of slanderous fire storm just because they have the audacity to hold a different political/social viewpoint.  Contrary to popular opinion, words sometimes sting far worse than "sticks and stones" and can be even more destructive (see James 3).

To set this particular blog post into it's larger context.  Some time ago I posted an article titled, "Overcoming the Flames of Ferguson."  Before publicizing this blog post I asked a well known black pastor, whom I greatly respect (Voddie Bauchman), to review my "Christian opinion piece."  I am not afraid to uphold unpopular biblical truths but I also desire to do so without causing unnecessary offense.  I have no interest in being controversial just for the sake of gaining a larger audience.  Brother Voddie graciously agreed to read my blog and told me that he thought my article was biblically balanced and helpful.  After posting this same perspective on my Facebook page another black "friend" responded by calling me a "racist" (see paragraphs one through three).

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Disney Promotes Lesbian Parents On Popular Cartoon Show

Photo Credit Screengrab via GLAAD/Facebook
“Disney breaks new ground, introduces interracial lesbian parents” in popular children’s cartoon show ‘Doc McStuffins.’  Just when you think that our morally bankrupt nation could not stoop any lower we find a way to do so.  Romans 1:18-32 is playing out before our watching eyes.  I think every Christian would agree that the Romans 1 "wrath of Divine abandonment" is nothing to yawn about.

In a related article on msn.com the following commentary was given in view of Disney's latest pro-LGBTQ  cartoon.  “Disney has introduced a multiracial two-mom family, voiced by lesbian actors. On a recent episode of the Disney Channel show Doc McStuffins, Wanda Sykes and Portia de Rossi each voice doll-like lesbian mothers helping their children cope after an “earthquake” shakes up their house. The mothers, who are in a relationship, learn from titular character Doc McStuffins how to create an emergency earthquake kit to protect their family in the future.

The episode doesn’t necessarily focus on the lesbian mothers’ sexualities. Instead, their relationship is simply shown as a matter of fact. The scene has been hailed by GLAAD for its thoughtfulness and inclusive nature, paving the way for future representation of queer interracial families on TV.  “Children like mine deserve the chance to see their families reflected on TV, and this episode does just that in a beautiful and positive way,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said. “Shows like this reflect our real world, and today that includes the many children being raised by gay and lesbian parents who are all going to celebrate this story.

This isn’t Disney’s first step into LGBTQ representation. Earlier, the animated series Star vs. the Forces of Evil featured Disney’s first gay kiss. Disney also showcased their first lesbian couple on Good Luck Charlie, making their relationship central to an episode within the series.”

If the Old Testament prophets or John the Baptist were alive today what heavenly message do you suppose they would deliver to the ‘divided’ States of America?   I can guarantee you that the tone and content would be much different than what is heard on a typical Sunday morning in most churches. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Choosing a Church: the 10 Things That Matter Most (pt. 3)

WHAT MATTERS MOST

"If you’re ready to decide where to go to church – or not sure if the church you’re attending is where God wants you – you may be faced with difficult choices as well. A lot is at stake. Most of us have a lot of options. And most of us have a lot of preferences, too.  So how do we decide what matters most?

  ....When it comes to selecting a church – a “must-have” list and a “that-would-be-nice” list of qualities in a church. In this chapter, I want to help you with your “must-have” list.

TEN IMPORTANT QUESTIONS (# 6-10):

6.  Is this a church where people strive to live by God’s Word?

                No church can claim to live out God’s Word perfectly.  What’s important is to look for a church that is seeking not only to believe rightly, but also to live rightly.  It’s possible for a church to be doctrinally sound but have a culture of total apathy when it comes to applying the truth of God’s Word in everyday life.

                Our faith in God and our desire to honor Him with obedience and holiness will affect everything – from how we conduct ourselves at work to how we speak to our children at home.  If it doesn’t, something is wrong.

                That means that the church you’re looking for will seek to build a culture and community of both hearing and obeying God’s Word (see James 1:22).  It will seek not only to win converts, but to make disciples by helping them to mature in godly living in every area of life.

See R. Kent Hughes', "Calling a Worldly Church to a Godly Life."

See Kevin DeYoung's, "The Hole In Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness."

See J.C. Ryle's classic, "Holiness"


7.  Is this a church where I can find and cultivate godly relationships?

                We all need relationships where we can receive encouragement, accountability and care.  And an essential part of living out God’s Word is being connected to other Christians. Does the church you’re considering provide settings where you can enjoy biblical fellowship, mutual encouragement, and application of Scripture?  This will look different at different churches – some have official small group structures, others don’t but achieve the same purpose through other means.  What matters is that godly relationships happen.  And, of course, these kinds of relationships usually take time to develop.