Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Sanctifying Shepherd

“. . .As a pastor, I understand my responsibility is not to the community; it is not to the culture; it is not to the people down the street. I’m not supposed to be entertaining to them, clever enough to suck them in. I’m not going to redefine the church so that nonbelievers are happy and content, and enjoying it. My responsibility is a very simple one. And it is to follow the great Shepherd in the pursuit of the sanctification of His flock, through the Word. That’s my mandate. And my reward will be based on faithfulness to that. Or my lack of reward will be based on unfaithfulness to that.” 

Excerpt from John MacArthur (Resolved Conference 2009).
HT: Daron Roberts

Friday, October 30, 2015

A New Dawn at FBC, Freeport

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Over the past seven and half years many faithful servants have worked hard in effort to reestablish a God-centered, Word-driven, "9 Marks," local church in Freeport.  Much blood, sweat, and tears have been shed along the way.  In the same vein, many attempts have been made to halt these reformational efforts.  Like Nehemiah, we sometimes were forced to fend off spiritual opposition with a (biblical) sword in one hand (for example see this, this, and this), while continuing to rebuild the city walls with a (biblical) trowel in the other hand.   By the grace of God, the depth and direction of First Baptist Church is once again in harmony with the clear precepts and priorities of Scripture (see Acts 2:42, Colossians 1:28-29, 1 Timothy 3:15, Jude 3). 

With so many Evangelical churches today falling wayside to the consumer-driven expectations of juvenile Christians the Holy Spirit's revitalizing work, combined with the Divine Gardner's pruning activity(John 15:1-2), is cause for celebration! 

As we enter into our 171st year of ministry we ask that you would join us in praising the Lord.  For "He who began a good work....will be faithful to complete it!" (Phil. 1:6)

A New Dawn:  Sunday's near unanimous vote to adopt a beefed up doctrinal statement/philosophy of ministry was a major milestone in the life of this local church. Many outside sources were used as we reworked this governing document.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Major Ministry Milestone in Freeport

This past Sunday the congregation at the First Baptist Church of Freeport approved leadership's revised Constitution by a 96% to 4% margin.  Leadership believed that these revisions were important because they reflect with greater clarity what we believe the Scriptures teach and because it better represents our biblical philosophy of ministry (per Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 1:28-29; 1 Tim. 3:15). 

As most of you know, the journey over the past seven and half years has been anything but easy.  Along the way I have tried to summarize some of the setbacks, roadblocks, and challenges here with you on Post Tenebras Lux.  All I can say right now is that after experiencing the low valleys in ministry it gives you a much greater appreciation for the spiritual mountain peaks!  

In writing this I am in no way suggesting that we have arrived as a church.  Perish the thought!  The moment you believe that lie is the moment you start to decline spiritually (both individually and corporately). 

The Apostle Paul makes this point abundantly clear in Philippians 3:12-14Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The following note, from a seasoned pastor friend of mine (who use to minister in a nearby city), sums up this moment better than I can put it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Bible Is Not a Cafeteria!

One of the best ways to ensure that the body of Christ is exposed to the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth- is sequential, Text-driven, expositional preaching (Acts 20:27)!

Topical and thematic preaching is much safer because the pastor can pick and choose which truths to communicate and which ones to pass over.  The will of the consumer is regularly feed so that the people generally only hear what they want to hear (see 2 Timothy 4:3-5).  Who wants to come to church and hear sermons about God's narrow view on divorce and remarriage (Matt. 19:1-11), the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation (Rom. 9; Eph. 1), the promise of persecution from the world against faithful disciples (John 15:8-16:4), the cost of discipleship (Luke 9:23-24), etc.?

Verse-by-verse preaching forces the pastor to deal with countercultural texts.  Many times I am left with the choice to either betray God (2 Tim. 2:15,) by not expounding the real meaning of such and such a text, or to honor Him, and let the chips fall where they may; (which is not wise if job security and pay raises are idols of your heart).  Too many pastors today treat the Bible like a cafeteria where they take what they want and leave the rest behind.  The fruit of this approach is what you see today in the American evangelical church!  May God forgive us and help us to preach more like Jesus (with boldness, love, and passion).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Pastoral Ministry Isn't Stressful! (A Little Tuesday Humor)

This made me laugh.  Enjoy!

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.

Monday, October 26, 2015

4 Questions to Ask as You Study the Scriptures

"Whenever we study the Scriptures we should ask ourselves the following questions:

1) What does it teach us?

2) In what areas of our lives does it rebuke us?

3) What healing, restoring, transforming effect does this teaching have?

4) How does this section of Scripture equip me to serve Christ (and the body of Christ) better?"

Sinclair Ferguson, Faithful God: An Exposition of the Book of Ruth (pg. 10)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

We Are Not Saved From Trouble; We Are Saved In Trouble!

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"We are not saved from trouble; we are saved in trouble."  This is not only the testimony of this pastor-blogger, it's the confession of every believer that is seeking to build Christ's church, God's way!
As Miller notes, "As long as a Christian is in the world he will be pressed as through by a great mob; he will be crushed in spirit as through great crushing weights were lying on his chest; he will know spiritual anguish like that of a mother in labor.  This, Jesus has told us.  When he speaks, therefore of peace, it is not the peace of unruffled days but the inner confidence of the warrior who is weary, thirsty, outnumbered, and wounded, but who fights bravely on, confident of the outcome, assured of victory.  We are saved not from trouble; we are saved in trouble."   John 16:16-33 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Feed My Sheep

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My chief task as your lead pastor is to be like a mother bird during the week- and your faithful giving frees me up to gather spiritual food that I might feed you the best biblical diet possible when we come together on the
Lord's Day.

(John 21:27, Titus 1:9-10; 1 Timothy 5:17-18; 2 Timothy 4:1-5)!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Peace and Courage in Christ

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"If, therefore, we desire to be Christians, we must not seek exemptions from the cross, but must be satisfied with this single consideration, that, fighting under the banner of Christ, we are beyond all danger, even in the midst of the combat."

John Calvin commenting on John 16:33.

Jesus said to them, "Take courage, I have overcome the world!"

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Live in Light of Eternity

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And Jesus was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself.  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:23-26)

"The sands of time are sinking" and "the dawn of heaven breaks." 

Therefore, "I have born scorn and hatred, I have born wrong and shame,
Earth's proud ones have reproach'd me, for Christ's thrice-blessed name.
Dark, dark dark hath been the midnight, but dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel's land." (Anne Ross Cousin, 1857).

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them,  and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.  And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." (Rev. 21:3-5)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

O Sacred Head Now Wounded

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"Might not the angels wish to weep in sympathy with Jesus?  Who can forebear to sorrow when Jesus stands insulted by menials, reviled by abjects, forsaken by His friends, blasphemed by His foes?  It was enough to make a man's heart break to see the Lamb of God so roughly handled." Charles Spurgeon (MTP, 24:617).

While commenting on John 16:20 Jim Boice writes, "The world, so far from sorrowing at the loss of Jesus, actually rejoiced that He was out of their way and would no longer be a bother to them." 

"So it remains today that people are glad for Jesus not to be in the world, preferring his crucifixion to His righteous reign" (Richard Phillips, John Commentary, volume II, p. 356).

Friday, October 16, 2015

The State of the American Church Today

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John Calvin's description of the disciples pre-Pentecost sounds an awful lot like the (childish) contemporary Church (see Eph. 4:11-16).

"They were so slow that the slightest difficulty of any kind made them hesitate; for as children who are learning the alphabet cannot read a single verse without pausing frequently, so almost every word of Christ gave them some sort of offence, and this hindered their (spiritual) progress."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Don't Be a Fair Weather Christian

"It is a poor faith which can only trust God when friends are true, the body full of health, and the business profitable; but that is true faith which holds by the Lord's faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father's countenance is hidden. A faith which can say, in the direst trouble, 'Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him,' is heaven-born faith."   Charles Spurgeon