Thursday, September 22, 2016


Minister of music Bill Brandenstein posted a helpful article this week that I wanted to share with my faithful readers.

"The sensationalism of public 'worship' alarms me. For years, I’ve been concerned and humbled by what I hear as I stand before God’s people to lead music: the congregation’s voices magnifying God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Although one biblical purpose for music is to edify and encourage one another, I find a healthy tension exists between facilitating praise, and feeling out of place while overhearing the God-directed, heaven-bound collective voice. It’s one thing, as an undeserving sinner permeated by my sin’s egregious blackness, to have Christ’s righteousness imputed to me and to be delivered into His kingdom of glorious light. As if that weren’t enough – and it’s way past “enough,” as if God’s grace would somehow be insufficient and less than wondrous if it stopped there – I am called to be not only Christ’s adopted son, but His ambassador! That is just outrageous and wonderful! And so I stand, His completely unqualified but gloriously equipped representative, encouraging the saints as we surround His throne with our adoration. My friends, what a miracle of divine grace this is! It is also, in a sense, eavesdropping. Being there in a Sunday service helping people sing is a place of both privilege and blissful discomfort while listening in on what is intended for God’s ears.

Meanwhile, pop culture has transformed much that is called “corporate worship” into a spectacle. Far too often now, public gatherings are a carefully manufactured music event driven by adrenaline and emotional manipulation, while seeking by any means necessary (artificial or otherwise) to craft it into The Ultimate Experience.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Pastor's Job Description: What Do You Do All Week Long?

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"What do you do as a Senior Pastor all week long?"  I have also been jokingly asked, "What is it like to only work one day a week?"  Since no two pastorates are exactly alike every minister of the gospel will answer this question slightly different; (my weekly schedule has itself changed over the years based on a number of variables).   A pastor's official job description is set forth in the following Scriptural texts: Acts 6:1-4; Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 1:28-29; 2 Tim. 2:15; 4:1-4; 1 Tim. 5:17-18; Heb. 13:17.

Here is a basic breakdown of my roles and responsibilities as I seek to faithfully serve the people of God: 

1) Preaching and teaching (2 Tim. 2:15; 4:1-5; 1 Tim. 5:17-18).  Weekly I prepare the Sunday morning sermon exposition and the Sunday School hour (teaching time).  Our church has embraced the priority of PREACHING and values verse-by-verse exposition as the main spiritual diet (John 21:27).   In my early years I also taught a weekly bible study during our Sunday evening service.   I currently teach a combined adult SS class and deliver a weekly sermon exposition during our worship service.  I also teach the T & T students during the AWANA year and provide a short devotional during prayer meeting when Awana is not in session.  For many years I spent a lot of time preparing teaching material for our men's leadership training and development ministry; (see #6).  The congregation and lay leaders have always given me ample time (see Acts 6) for expository study (Tuesday-Saturday) and for in-depth expository preaching during the morning worship service!  For this I rejoice!

2) “Leader among leader” responsibilities (1 Pet. 5; Heb. 13:17; 1 Cor. 11:1).  The week before our monthly leadership meeting I put together the monthly agenda.   I have always had a great relationship with our chairmen.  The chairman and I talk on the phone or meet in person as much as is needed.   As I have stated many times before faithful lay leaders are the backbone of the church.

3) Worship planningI put together the order of worship for the upcoming month.  I generally do this the last week of the month.  I often correspond with our lay praise leaders and with our secretary as I complete this task.  Our liturgy planning includes Scripture texts, praise songs, special offertories, Scripture reading/readers, etc.  Thankfully, our congregation has not engaged in any fruitless worship wars during the time I have been here.  Our service includes Worship through adoration, worship through prayer and offering, worship through hearing God's Word read, and worship through the exposition of Scripture, and worship through the ordinances (communion and baptism).

Sunday, September 18, 2016

How To Avoid Being Labeled a Boring Preacher

The goal of this short essay is to provide ten practical tips on how to avoid being labeled a boring preacher. 

First, preach the Word of God with passion and conviction.  As Alex Montoya points out, “Passion is the power, the drive, the energy, the life in the delivery of the sermon.  Without passion, the sermon becomes a lecture, an address or a moral speech.”[1] The apostolic mandate is to preach the Word not to merely teach the Scriptures (2 Tim. 4:1-4).  Lloyd-Jones once told someone, “If you do not know the difference between preaching and teaching then you have likely never heard a sermon before.”

Second, use vocal variety throughout your expository message.  If someone attempts to deliver a sermon in a monotone manner it will likely put the congregation to sleep during the first fifteen minutes.  

If the preacher goes back and listens to his sermons on their I Pod they should be able to determine if they employed good vocal variety throughout the sermon.  It should be noted here that an emphatic point can be made by lowering one’s voice (like Rick Holland) or by declaring the truth in a demonstrative way (like Paul Washer).

Third, prepare a sermon manuscript not academic lecture notes.  If one’s sermon notes could be mistaken for a theological journal something’s not right.  It is critical to remember that when writing a sermon you are preparing an oral manuscript to be heard with the ear.  John MacArthur’s sermon manuscripts on “Grace To You” look much different than his books on the same texts of Scripture.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Long-standing Historic Error Dies Hard: Why Reformed Christians Should Consider Premillennialism (pt 5)

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..."Sometimes the value of a good book is found in one sentence, one paragraph, one chapter, or in the case of Dr. Barry Horner’s Future Israel, in a nine page personal introduction. The testimony of Dr. Horner will no doubt resonate with many Text-driven students of Scripture. It will also challenge some of you as you desire to understand what the sacred Scriptures teach concerning the "end times." But before I share Horner’s eschatological journey allow me to quickly highlight mine.

I was a student at The Master’s College when I came to fully embrace and to appreciate the "doctrines of grace" for myself. Through the expository preaching ministry of John MacArthur and other gifted teachers at my home church (Grace Community) I began to appreciate more deeply the ministry of the Reformers and the Puritans. During this same time I began to question if my convictions concerning eschatology needed to be refined. After all, so many of my favorite theologians were Presbyterian and Reformed. I remember reading Gerstner’s, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth as well as Mathison’s Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God? From a theological perspective the argumentation in these books was convincing. At the same time however many of the Text-driven (exegetical) conclusions were lacking.

I decided to go back to the Scriptures in order to determine whether my end times positions needed to be modified or overhauled. As I made my way through the Old Testament Minor Prophets I found Charles Feinberg and Jim Boice’s commentaries to be faithful to the Text and to the point. Both scholars embraced premillennialism. By the time I went verse by verse through Romans 9-11 I was thoroughly convinced that the Word of God not only supports the doctrines of grace they also promote biblical premillennialism. In view of this I was not surprised when John MacArthur titled his main plenary address Why Every Calvinist Should Be a Premillennialist. Well enough about me. Let’s give Dr. Horner the floor one final time; (this part five in a series of selections taken from his personal introduction in Future Israel).

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Future Israel: Before You Become a Amillennialist (pt 4)

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Dr. Barry Horner's book Future Israel is a very helpful read when it comes to understanding eschatology and the place of national Israel. The following is a selection taken from his personal introduction (which is well worth the price of the book)...

"When all has been said and done with regard to the three major schools of eschatology, the real, overshadowing central issue concerns the person of Jesus Christ. It is the new covenant which He has established by His blood, and His present reign at the right hand of the Father, that should dominate our thinking and not some distinctive scheme of prophecy. So Reformed amillennialist George Murray commented, “It is Christ, rather than the Hebrew people, who is the subject of the Old Testament prophets.” (4) And of course, all the major schools of prophecy would heartily agree at this point, so that nothing in fact would have been trumped at all. The reason for this is simply that amillennialism, postmillennialism, and premillennialism are all based on their future perspective of history as it will be climaxed at the second coming or parousia of Jesus Christ that crowns the redemptive work of His first coming. In this sense, Jesus Christ is clearly central to all three perspectives, whatever their disagreements might involve. However, that being said, it must be borne in mind that the Lord Jesus Christ remains the quintessential Jew. We would even dare to say that He has lost none of His essential Jewishness. However, Murray continues, “To be sure, the nation was sovereignly chosen by God as the channel through which His oracles might be given to the world; but God no longer deals with them as a chosen nation.” (5) How incomplete is the allusion here to Rom 3:2 that ignores Rom 9:4 concerning those who “are [present tense] Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises.” For a professing Calvinist such as Murray to suggest that Israel has lost its election is not only astonishing, but it also flies in the face of Paul’s further explanation that “regarding the gospel, they [unbelieving national Israel, no the remnant] are enemies for your [the Gentiles’] advantage, but regarding election [the election, ten eklogen], they [unbelieving national Israel] are loved because of their forefathers [Abraham, Isaac and Jacob]” (Rom 11:28). How then can Jesus Christ be exalted when He, “the King of the Jews” (John 19:19), who declared that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22), has His Jewish brethren permanently and nationally defrocked?