Holy Week: in Context

holy week

Last year, Crossway published a series of short videos – one for each day of Holy Week, the final week of Jesus’ earthly life. The videos are extremely helpful in understanding the biblical, historical, cultural and theological context surrounding each day of this intense week of Jesus’ life. Understanding the context to these important events helps breath life into the narrative. Subsequently, we are then able to apply to our own lives the theological weight of Holy Week.

I’d encourage you to watch one per day throughout your week as you acknowledge and remember Holy Week. If you’re a couple videos behind – don’t be discouraged. They are short and I promise you won’t want to stop.

PALM SUNDAY

MONDAY

TUESDAY

WEDNESDAY

MAUNDY THURSDAY

GOOD FRIDAY

SATURDAY

RESURRECTION SUNDAY // EASTER

Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month: An Open Letter

An OPen Letter

March is Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month. I have many women to call, express my gratitude and send gifts to this month. More than that, as a pastor, I want to express my gratitude for my wife – as she stumbles to the Lord’s feet daily in her role as a Christian, pastor’s wife, and mom.

Brooke,

Thank you for your willingness to “live in front.”

The one thing that many people perceive they “want” is the very thing that those who have it do not want. Living in front is not easy. In fact, it can be brutal. With all of the misconceptions of what a pastor’s wife should look like and how she should live her life – the pressure on her to live in front of others can be extremely weighty, discouraging and life-taking. Laura Chandler, wife of Matt Chandler, the Lead Pastor for the Village Church in Texas has published a wonderful article titled Pastor’s Wives: 5 Misconceptions that I would encourage every church member to read. In addition, another beneficial article relating to pastor’s wives, 9 Secrets Your Pastor’s Wife Wishes You Knew, is a great reminder for us all.

Thank you for your willingness to sacrifice most every holiday.

Most Christmas dinners for us are to-go orders at the random Chinese place that happens to be open on Christmas Eve at 11 PM. That is because while all of the church families are meeting with their families to enjoy a big Christmas dinner before or after the service, the pastor’s and their families are usually at the church all day setting up and breaking down. Most Mother’s Days, pastor’s wives are acknowledged last by their husbands because Mother’s Day is on Sunday. Therefore, Mother’s Day for us is generally us celebrating hundreds of other mothers. Usually surrounding Thanksgiving, the church is serving hundreds of homeless families rather than sitting in our home preparing a grandiose meal. I can go on and on, but don’t miss the point. This is not a guilt trip for those that enjoy their holidays differently than we do. This is a thank you to Brooke for her willingness to sacrifice the “Traditional American Holiday” and making our holidays enjoyable and honoring to the Lord in the midst of all of the chaos and serving others.

Thank you for your willingness towards counter cultural stability and security.

Young pastors have the tendency to move around a lot. I am no exception. Sometime the moves are healthy and sometimes not. In all of the transition we are confident that God has been at work in us and through us. Within the last 10 years I have moved our family to 5 different homes and 5 different churches. I think I finally found my niche: selling car insurance…just kidding. The reality is that while most find their stability and security in longevity or owning a home, we have been able to find those things in God and in His providence. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” + Jim Elliot. We believe that every move has been us chasing after the Lord and what He is calling us towards.

Thank you for making me look better than I really am.

If I show up to a leadership training event or meeting with cute snacks and great food it is only because Brooke made it happen. If I seem like I have it all together it is only because I have a wonderful wife that is constantly asking questions and holding me accountable. I have been asked dozens of times how I balance all that I do. My answer is simple: I have an amazing wife that makes it easy.

Thank you for loving our home and being hospitable.

Brooke writes, “If God has gifted you with a home, he wants you to love it. He wants you to enjoy it. Have a heart for your home. When you do that, your home will become a fun place for the whole family, as well as your guests. It’s contagious when you walk into a home that you can tell the mom has a heart for. Is your home like that? Have a heart for your home. Be hospitable. Use your home that God has gifted to you to be a gift and a blessing to others.” Read the rest of her article, 4 Tips for Young Moms, HERE.

Thank you for spending most of your days with our kids.

At the age that our kids are at, their minds and hearts are like sponges – soaking up every last drop of affection and knowledge that they can get. While not every parent has the opportunity to do what Brooke does, I am thankful that she has chosen to be the primary teacher in our kid’s lives for this season.

Thank you for supporting my teaching, preaching, and writing ministry.

After preaching as a guest earlier last year I walked back to my seat to sing with the congregation and Brooke put her arm around me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. After the service concluded an older man walked up to her and commended her for her support for me. I love to teach, preach, and write. Thankfully Brooke enjoys when I do those things.

Thank you for pursuing Jesus daily.

Brooke’s humility would never allow her to admit this, but she is constantly pursuing Jesus. She is the living example for me of Paul’s words in Philippians 2:12, “… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Brooke is repenting of her sin daily and giving it to Jesus as she pursues holiness.

Thank you for living a life of prayer.

Brooke is SUCH a pray-er. She loves to pray. Again, she is the living example for me on how to live a life of prayer. She realizes that we can do nothing apart from the Lord and so she is always talking with Him about whatever it is that is happening. She keeps posted notes of Scripture all around our home so that it keeps our hearts focused on God’s word, which is a conducive atmosphere for continual prayer.

Thank you for understanding the spiritual battle of pastoral leadership.

This comes over time and with maturity. Brooke is in a spot now that she sees and understands the weight of the spiritual battle of pastoral leadership. In that, she is able to compliment me in whatever area I am dry or need help. She is constantly standing in the gap for me when I am down (i.e. physically, spiritually, and emotionally).

Thank you for enduring wounds that will forever be scars.

With as much transition as we have had, Brooke has been “shot at” many times. Brooke bears scars from ministry that will always be there. I’m thankful for her willingness to walk this road of ministry with me and her ability to give those hurts to the Lord.

+ crux mihi ancora

The Bathroom Bill

the bathroom bill

There has been quite the buzz this morning concerning HB 583, also known as the Gender Bathroom Bill. This conversation concerning the bill, initially introduced by Rep. Frank Artiles, has invaded every platform of communication from social media to the morning news, and even morning radio. WTSP published an article titled Gender Bathroom Bill Clears Florida Committee concerning HB 583. It is a bill that would make it illegal for a person to use a bathroom, dressing room or locker room designated for the opposite sex cleared its first hurdle Wednesday.

Rep. Frank Artile
Rep. Frank Artile
Rep. Janet Cruz
Rep. Janet Cruz

Along with several others, House Representative, Rep. Janet Cruz, responds, “This ridiculous legislation seeks to criminalize the transgender community. Are we really going to be known as the state that allowed such a hateful bill become a law?”

This can be a confusing conversation for many. Unfortunately, Christians tend to not have much of a voice regarding political issues. My hope is to communicate a response from a logical perspective from a Christian worldview. Okay, my cards are on the table. I’m a reformed, evangelical, Southern Baptist Pastor. I believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible. With that said, my response is not directly addressing the conversation from the viewpoint of being a pastor as much as it will from a contributing citizen of our community, as a husband, as a dad, and as a son.

The underlying issue with this bill, for good or for bad, is the matter of access, or lack thereof. The transgender community is emphasizing their need for equal access to public restrooms, dressing rooms, and locker rooms based on their desired gender as opposed to their biological gender. This is the reason Janet Cruz could refer to the bill with such strong language as “hateful,” as well as claim that it “criminalizes the transgender community.” Others, such as Frank Artiles, are concerned for the privacy and safety of the public. I am tracking with both camps. I understand and sympathize with both agendas.

The question must be asked, “Why would allowing transgender individuals into their personal desired public area affect the privacy or safety of others?” My personal response is that the privacy and safety of the community wouldn’t necessarily be compromised by the transgender community as much as it would be by an imposter. That is, a heterosexual male or female posing as an imposter to be able to gain access into the opposite gender area. In that, I agree with Frank Artiles in the sense that I do not see it fit to allow a biological and heterosexual man into the ladies room – or vice versa –  in order to pursue my daughter, wife or mom. All his or her plea would have to be is, “Well, I am transgender.” I will not support an agenda that allows that to happen.

I frequently use restrooms all over town that allow me to take my 4 year old daughter to the restroom without it being weird, as opposed to dragging her into the Men’s Room. So, there are restrooms that give legal access to any gender at every local mall and large public area. Therefore, if access is the issue, there is no issue at all. Not to mention, the law doesn’t even require that a business have any restroom at all.

HB 583 does not “dehumanize” the transgender community. If anything, it raises awareness to the fact that the answer may be to pass a bill that requires new structures to have 4 types of restrooms – Male, Female, Family, and Transgender or a gender neutral restroom. I would not have any qualms with that besides the fact that it puts the financial burden on companies to provide those accommodations. With that said, there would be no safety and/or privacy issue there.

As a pastor, I would say to the transgender community that I love you and that there is a need for an honest, open, and safe dialogue between us to pursue equality in a pluralistic society. I would welcome that. The answer is not to open up gender specific areas to any Jane or Joe that pulls the transgender card.

Clearing Up Your Christmas Misconceptions, Part 1

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This post originally aired LIVE on WATA 1450 AM, a local news and radio station located in Boone, NC as Pastor Stephen shared a mini-series called Clearing Up Your Christmas Misconceptions.

When it comes to Mary, our human tendency is to either make too much of her or to make too little of her. Here are several things we can learn from Mary’s life about the “person that God uses.” The text for this message was Luke 1:26-55.

OVERCOMING FEAR

You must overcome fear, in His power. Mary was going to have to overcome fear. Primarily, there are three types of fear that we see in Mary’s life that we must overcome for God to use us.

 

Fear of criticism. “What are people going to think of me?” While a young girl becoming pregnant in our day is the new norm, in that day it was not. No doubt, Mary had critics. I have found in my own ministry that whenever I am doing what I know God is asking me to do, there are always critics. Wherever God is at work there will always be critics. You must get over the fear of criticism. Know that it is not you who they are criticizing, but God. Therefore, don’t take it personal and get over it.

 

Fear of Inadequacy. “Who am I, Lord?” Mary was a young lady and most likely poor. Just an ordinary girl in a town of about 300 people where everyone knew each other’s daddy and grand-daddy. Mary, I am sure, had feelings of inadequacy. Allow feelings of inadequacy to be a tool for you to trust in Jesus’ all sufficiency. It’s not about you. It’s about Him. It’s not about what you can do, but it is about what He can do through you if you will trust him.

 

Fear of Change. “But my dream was to go to college and become a doctor.” I am sure that Mary, just like every other young lady today, had dreams and goals. She had a dream of her future life. She possibly even had made some plans on what her life would look like and becoming pregnant before marriage wasn’t in the plan. Change is something that is all too difficult for those of us in Western America. While we shout “change!,” we cringe at any change that might negatively impact us personally from our own perspective. If you like to be in control, you are going to have to die to that if you want God to use you. If you are going to trust God that means you have to get out of the driver seat.

TRUST HIS PROMISES

You must trust His promises. This is one of the areas where Mary is belittled. “

 

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:31-35) Mary is not distrusting God in this moment like many like to quickly claim. She is actually asking a legitimate question. Mary trusted God’s promises, which is quite evident in that she has impacted billions of people across the world. Know that you trusting or distrusting God’s promises DOES affect others. Your decision today may affect multitudes.

WILLING TO PAY THE COST

You must be willing to count and pay the cost. It cost Mary and it will cost you. It cost Mary her reputation for some 30 years. Most likely, until Jesus began His earthly ministry she was considered a weirdo and young fornicator who lied to herself and others. Even more, it cost her comfort. Can you imagine a 75 mile donkey ride at 9 months pregnant?

Mary was ordinary like you and I, but she was used by an extraordinary God who also wants to use you and I. Overcome your fear, trust in His promises, and count the cost.

What Should Christians Think About Sex?

sex

There is one topic of conversation, particularly, that gets Christians acting awkward: sex. Largely, there has been little to no conversations about sex within the church. Subsequently, Christians tend to not really know what to do with it.

There are 3 basic views of sex in our culture today.

 

SEX AS GOD

Sex, for some, has become a religion. By that, I mean sex gives them their identity, their purpose, and their motivation in life. All of who they are is influenced by their sexuality. Everything they do is centered on hunting for those they are attracted to, so that they might have the opportunity to have sex. This person’s life is dominated and ruled by their sexual passions and desire to have sex. When they are unable to physically get sex, they turn to media via their television, dvd’s, cell phones, and tablets.

It’s called, selfish sexuality. The goal for this person is to please themselves by means of sex. Sex rules their life, like a god. Romans 1 talks about how, at that time, even though the people knew that God existed, ruled and reigned over all, they chose to worship what He created instead of Him, the creator. This is still a war that we are battling to this day.

Here are some interesting statistics from Pornography Statistics: Annual Report 2014 by Covenant Eyes. In addition, I would encourage every adult, especially parents, to at least briefly look at these statistics to better prepare your kids.

 

SEX AS GROSS

For others, sex is gross, dirty and evil. This school of thought is rooted all the way back in ancient Greek Philosophy from guys like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. They would say that the physical is bad and that the spiritual is good. Therefore, the body is bad, but the soul is good. Consequently, for them life was just the process of shedding the outer shell (i.e. the body).

So, for them, sex or any type of bodily function was a gross, dirty and evil because it’s association with the physical body. And, believe it or not, this had an vast influence on the early church fathers.

  • Origen (3rd) allegorized the Song of Songs in order to take away the physical implications and castrated himself from a literal view of Matthew 19, “If anything causes you to stumble, cut it off.”
  • Tertulian and Ambrose (4th) preferred extinction to the human race over sexuality.
  • Gregory of Nissa (4th) said that Adam and Eve did not have sex until after the fall and adds that Eve became pregnant from a particular fruit that she ate in the garden.
  • Jerome (4th-5th) threw himself into thorn bushes whenever he would be tempted sexually.
  • At one point then (12th), the Catholic Church forbids priests from marrying and then begins regulating when and where married couples can enjoy sexual freedom.
  • In the Victorian Age (19th), there was an extreme modest view where they would begin to put linens over tables because if men saw the “table legs” they might lust.

While these may seem somewhat odd and extreme, it continues to our own day where for some Christians sex for good pleasure is gross. Various parents, in an effort to encourage their kids to abstain from sex, tell them that “sex is bad, dirty, and not good, so save it for the one person that you marry.” That’s just a weird statement in itself…save the bad and dirty for the one you actually love…

While sex rules over many, it is not God. In addition, sex is not gross. It can be gross, dirty and evil when used out of its intended purpose.

SEX AS A GIFT

For all, God says that sex is a good gift created and given for heterosexual marriage (Genesis 2:24).

Here are several thoughts on a biblical perspective and purpose of sex.

Pleasure – when we investigate the Song of Songs, children are never mentioned once. The whole book focuses on the marital intimacy between a man and a woman.

Children – Genesis 1:28, “be fruitful and multiply.” So, out of marital intimacy comes children. Many children are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:4).

Oneness – Genesis 2:24 – husband and wife were “one flesh” or “wife will “cleave”. So, through marital intimacy two “become one.”

Comfort – 2 Samuel 12:24 – when a child died a husband and wife were together intimately to comfort one another.

Protection – 1 Cor. 7 – You’ll be highly tempted to sin sexually if you’re not regularly together in an intimate way. So marital intimacy is a safeguard from sinning sexually.

To glorify God – God created our bodies for all of these reasons and when you do those things in the correct context it brings glory to Him. Therefore, marital intimacy brings glory to God in that we are functioning in the purpose for which He intended.

Lastly, here are some other helpful resources for you to enjoy and grow:

A Few Thoughts on Women, Men, Porn, & Sexual Assault by Jefferson Bethke

 

Family, Marriage, Sex, & the Gospel by David Platt

15 Last Minute Reminders for Halloween

halloween

1. Be a Missionary – Become all things to all men, so that some might be saved.

2. Connect with people that you might otherwise never connect with by them coming to your door or your church

3. Teach you kids about the historical theory of Halloween along with how Christ redeems stuff like this, including our hearts

4. Serve your city by donating candy or buying costumes for families that can’t afford them

5. Throw a party with good food and drinks

6. Have some hotdogs and a cold drink for families that come by to pick up candy

7. Set up a table with free Gospel-Centered books to give out for free instead of candy

8. Offer to pray for those who God sends your way (don’t be weird about it)

9. Just have fun with your kids

10. Use it as a way to help encourage your kids imagination for dressing up

11. Be considerate

12. Be safe

13. Use it as an opportunity to talk about Reformation Day

14. Focus your teaching (e.g. small group, sermon series, Sunday school, family devotions, personal devotion) on the reformation and the doctrines of grace.

15. Pray

Other Great Articles on Halloween:

6 Tips for Halloween

12 Simple Ways to Be On Mission This Halloween

Halloween: Carnal or Christian

3 Tips For Discipling Your Kids On Halloween

Pat Robertson Calls Halloween Satan’s Night

Schools Cancel Halloween

Dear Brittany Maynard: Why We Don’t Have To Be So Afraid of Dying & Suffering that We Choose Suicide

maynard

On November 1, 2014, Brittany Maynard plans to take her own life by swallowing a prescribed pill from her doctor in order to be in control of her own suffering by choosing, herself, when to end it all.

My wife and I, many of our friends, and I am sure many of your friends, have been praying for Brittany in this very bleak, raw, and real time in her young life.

In my desire to know more about Brittany Maynard’s story, I came across a beautiful letter written to Brittany by Kara Tippetts. I was so moved by her gentle, compassionate, empathetic, Gospel-centered spirit that I had to share it here. With her permission, here it is below. My hope is that you would also be moved to spend some time in prayer for both of these ladies and their families as they share their story publicly.


Letter by Kara Tippetts

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Dear Brittany Maynard,

This morning my best friend and I read your story.

My heart ached for you, and I’m simply grieved by your terminal brain tumor, for the less than 6 months the doctor’s gave you, you just past your 29th birthday.

With a heavy heart, I left my home and headed for my oncologist. I too am dying, Brittany.

kara-tippetts1-620x419

My oncologist and I sat for a long time with hurting hearts for your story. We spoke in gentle tones discussing the hard path you are being asked to travel.

I came home and my friend and I sat on the bed of my five year old and prayed for you. We simply prayed you would hear my words from the most tender and beautifully broken place of my heart.

We prayed you would hear my words that are on paper coming from a place of tender love and knowing. Knowing what it is to know the horizon of your days that once felt limitless now feels to be dimming.

So hear these words from a heart full of love for you.

Brittany, your life matters, your story matters, and your suffering matters. Thank you for stepping out from the privacy of your story and sharing it openly.

We see you, we see your life, and there are countless lovers of your heart that are praying you would change your mind.

Brittany, I love you, and I’m sorry you are dying. I am sorry that we are both being asked to walk a road that feels simply impossible to walk. 

I think the telling of your story is important.

I think it is good for our culture to know what is happening in Oregon.

It’s a discussion that needs to be brought out of the quiet corners and brought brightly into the light.You sharing your story has done that. It matters, and it is unbelievably important. Thank you.

Dear heart, we simply disagree. Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known.the-crucifixion-3

In your choosing your own death, you are robbing those that love you with the such tenderness, the opportunity of meeting you in your last moments and extending you love in your last breaths.

As I sat on the bed of my young daughter praying for you, I wondered over the impossibility of understanding that one day the story of my young daughter will be made beautiful in her living because she witnessed my dying.

That last kiss, that last warm touch, that last breath, matters — but it was never intended for us to decide when that last breath is breathed.

Knowing Jesus, knowing that He understands my hard goodbye, He walks with me in my dying. My heart longs for you to know Him in your dying. Because in His dying, He protected my living. My living beyond this place.

Brittany, when we trust Jesus to be the carrier, protecter, redeemer of our hearts, death is no longer dying. My heart longs for you to know this truth, this love, this forever living.

You have been told a lie. A horrible lie, that your dying will not be beautiful. That the suffering will be too great.

Today my oncologist and I spoke of your dying, of my dying, and of the beautiful partnership I have with my doctors in carrying me to my last moments with gentle care. For two thousand years doctors have lived beside the beautiful stream of protecting life and lovingly meeting patients in their dying with grace.

The doctor that prescribed you that pill you carry with you that will hasten your last breath has walked away from the hippocratic oath that says, “first, do no harm.” He or she has walked away from the oath that has protected life and the beautiful dying we are granted. The doctors agreeing to such medicine are walking away from the beautiful protection of the hippocratic oath.

There are also people who are speaking in ugly tones that make those of us who believe in Jesus seem unsafe, unkind, or unloving. Will you forgive us for the voices that feel like they are screaming at you from a heart that isn’t loving.

But in my whispering, pleading, loving voice dear heart- will you hear my heart ask you, beg you, plead with you — not to take that pill. Yes, your dying will be hard, but it will not be without beauty.

RM_Tippetts_0088
Kara-Tippetts-2

Will you please trust me with that truth.

More importantly, will you hear from my heart that Jesus loves you. He loves you. He loves you. He died an awful death upon a cross so that you would know Him today that we would no longer live separate from Him and in our death.He died and His death happened, it is not simply a story.

He died and He overcame death three days later, and in that overcoming of death He overcame the death you and I are facing in our cancer. He longs to know you, to shepherd you in your dying, and to give you life and give you life abundant- eternal life.

For everyone living knowing death is eminent- that we all will one day face this it – the question that is most important. Who is this Jesus, and what does He have to do with my dying? Please do not take that pill before you ask yourself that question.

It’s a question we all must ask, as we are all dying.

I recently wrote a book, The Hardest Peace, and I also blog about my journey of my living and my journey towards my last breath. It is not simply a story of dying of cancer, but of living this breath. It’s a book for each of us that has breath still to breath, to embrace our living, and to look upon our dying with grace.Living in BIG LOVE and meeting my end in love. Stunning, important, love.

But more than my book, I would jump on a plane tomorrow to meet you and share the beautiful brokenness of my story and meet you in yours if you would ever consider having me.

I pray my words reach you.

I pray they reach the multitudes that are looking at your story and believing the lie that suffering is a mistake, that dying isn’t to be braved, that choosing our death is the courageous story.

Nohastening death was never what God intended.

But in our dying, He does meet us with His beautiful grace.

The hippocratic oath matters, and those that are choosing to walk away from it need to be challenged.

My heart hurts that they have decided to swim from the shores of grace that it protected in our living and dying.

I get to partner with my doctor in my dying, and it’s going to be a beautiful and painful journey for us all.

But, hear me —  it is not a mistake — beauty will meet us in that last breath.

6 Tips For Halloween

Halloween_2

I am the proud dad of two kiddos; a 4 year old little princess and a 2 year old super hero. In recent years, our family has been invited to numerous Halloween parties, as well as thrown quite a few ourselves. It’s interesting for me to listen to and to watch Christians around this time of the year because, in general, many Christians aren’t really sure what to do with Halloween.

So…what are Christians to do with Halloween? Should we be involved? Should we stay away? Here are a few things to take into consideration as you discern how you, your family, and your church should handle Halloween.

1. Don’t Be a Weirdo

So many Christians are just flat out weird when it comes to Halloween. What I mean is they tend to withdrawal from the culture, lock their doors, and turn off their lights or go out to dinner so that they do not have to be “bothered” by lost people coming to their door steps or even get under the covers on Halloween night. Even worse, they will judge other Christian’s maturity level based on whether or not they do participate in Halloween. Be normal. Don’t be a weirdo.

2. Be a Missionary

Roll out your grill, cook enough chili dogs to pass out, get a huge bucket of candy, and talk to the people that voluntarily come to your house. The same people that will never step foot in a church voluntarily come to

3. Set Boundaries

Yes, set boundaries. I am not an advocate for Halloween. In fact, Halloween tends to be dark, bleak, and glorifies death. I would encourage you to use discernment through prayer and conversation as a family and then set the right boundaries as needed. There are times when we can and should say no if it is going to compromise our faith in Christ. Guard your children and their hearts.

4. Have a Conversation with Your Children

It’s important to talk with your children about Halloween (e.g. the history of it, the dark side of it, the missional opportunity in it, and the imaginative fun). Children are smart and Halloween can be a teaching time to share with your children and others the gospel of Christ. Talk to your kids.

5. Don’t Judge or Criticize Others

Lastly, don’t evaluate others based on whether they participate in Halloween or not. Good Christians can and do disagree on this issue. Some Christians feel very strongly about not celebrating Halloween while others have no problem with it at all. I believe that it is an open-handed issue and that each Christian must seek the Lord and obey their conscience. You have to decide what is right for you and your family when it comes to being involved with Halloween.

6. Have fun

Halloween is also just another opportunity for you to have fun with your kids. Decorate the house. Do crafts. Let their imagination run wild. Let them eat more candy than usual. Let them stay up late sorting their candy until they fall asleep in their costume without brushing their teeth. Let them be kids and have innocent fun with them.

Men of Valor Conference RECAP & Quotes

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This past weekend I was able to spend time with men like Shelton Quarles, Ellis Wyms, Anothony “Booger” McFarland, and Lou Piniella at the 2nd Annual Men of Valor Men’s Conference put on by Exciting Central Tampa Baptist Church in Tampa, FL. All of these guys, without exception, love the city of Tampa, FL and give generously ~ specifically to the kids in the area. They are all using the platform that God gave to them to give back to our community and speak into the life of our kids.

 

Additionally, I wanted to share my notes with you. Here are my most memorable quotes from the conference that have made an impact on my life.

 

 

BradWhite

Brad White, Senior Pastor of Lifepoint Church

“The words you say today shape your kids life tomorrow.”

“Your words today will haunt you tomorrow.”

“To raise a man, you have to become a boy.”

“Speak vision and potential over your boys life.”

“Every man asks the question, “Do I have what it takes?”, so speak a holy purpose over your boys life.”

 

 

darryl

Darryl Williamson, Lead Pastor of Living Faith Bible Fellowship

“Grace leads to action.”

“Grace makes you a fighter.”

“Grace leads to urgency.”

“Urgency requires preparation, which results in fitness.”

“Jesus didn’t go to the cross to make you more efficient.”

 

 

rv

RV Brown, Evangelist & Founder and President of Outreach to America’s Youth, Inc. (O.T.A.Y.)

“Men, make a difference. Pray over your wife.”

“A seed isn’t going to grow if it just sits there. It will die.”

“You have to plant it, cultivate it, prune it, and harvest it.”

“[Dads] Kiss your boys.”

“You can’t have a real legacy apart from the word of God.”

 

 

Pastor Coates in the Flagship Cinema that he pastors in

Patrick Coats, Church Planter of Kingdom Covenant Baptist Church

“It’s never too late to pursue a relationship with your son.”

“If he’s 25 or 55, it’s never too late.”

“Every son wants to know that his father is proud of him.”

“Always hug your boys no matter how old they are.”

 

 

Pastor Erik Cummings

Erik Cummings, Senior Pastor of New Life Baptist Church

“There are so many kids that need a dad in their life.”

“There may be one right in your own church, your neighborhood, or maybe even your own family that needs a dad to love them.”

 

 

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Jeff Parish, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks

“Most of the “enjoying your kids part” comes once they’re grown.”

“Once I become their friend, I lose the authority of their dad to say, “NO.”

 

Restoring a Brother

restoration_tv

While a primary piece of restoration within the church context is church discipline, my focus is primarily on the final goal of church discipline, which is restoration.

 

God is all about reconciliation and restoration. In fact, the purpose of separation and discipline within the family of God – the church – are for the latter.

 

 

 

There is a specific time for restoration.

 

 

1 Peter 5:10 – “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

 

 

While there are some generalizations to how this will look different for each person, there are also some specifics that are clear when looking at a timeline in how restoration should be done. In other words, there are things that need to happen as a preface to restoration.

 

 

Peter is sharp as he shows suffering for a little while as a preface to restoration. This is not talking about the type of physical suffering that Christ endured on behalf of all who believe. That was finished at the cross of Christ. The suffering that Peter is talking about is that of dealing with the consequences of the sin and brokenness that has occurred. Therefore, has the person who is in question wrestled with and declared war on the sin and brokenness at hand? Many times, this is fleshed out through church discipline.

 

 

Acts 3:19-21 – “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.”

 

 

Again, in Acts 3 it is evident that there is a time for restoration. And again, it is clear that there are things that must take place as a preface to restoration. Specifically, Luke says that repentance must take place. He goes on to say that the fruit of repentance is that the person is currently back in the presence of the Lord, implying that the person who has sinned has walked away from the Lord at one point. The picture of being refreshed by the presence of the Lord is that something has gone stale from lack of presence with Him and lack of belief ultimately culminating in finding pleasure in something other than the Gospel.

 

 

It is possible, and many times the case, which a person is so busy doing the work of ministry that he or she is missing the ministry that the Lord wants to do in them. We tend to get so busy in our lives that we fail to work on our lives. This eventually leads to sinful thoughts and ultimately acting out in “hidden” sin. It is then that repentance is key.

 

 

With that, it is not just personal repentance between the person and the Lord that is required, but it also includes repentance to those who were transgressed against and any and all involved.

 

 

Time is also important because the less time invested in something the less valuable the result will be. Time allows space for consideration of what has taken place and allows space for authentic repentance and sanctification.

 

 

 

There is a specific Person who does restoration.

 

 

Mark 8:25 – “Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”

 

 

There is no real restoration outside of the scope of Jesus. Jesus restores. He is the restorer. If any process has taken place without Jesus at the center, it was in vain and is mere behavior modification.

 

 

1 Peter 5:10 – “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

 

 

Moreover, Peter points back to Jesus. He “will Himself restore.” It is not our job to restore. It is our job to walk with the person on the journey of restoration by pointing them back to Jesus. Jesus confirms, strengthens and established the restoration. There is no other way for restoration to happen.

 

 

 

There is a specific role of restoration.

 

 

2 Corinthians 5:18 – “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

 

 

Jesus then invites the church to join him in the process of restoration by being a minister of reconciliation. This is a call to all believers. When there is evident sin in a person’s life, those in the sphere of influence are obligated to point to Jesus and the restoration that He offers.

 

 

When God reconciles us to Himself, He then invites us to speak on His behalf into others lives by always pointing to the Gospel and the fact that restoration is available.

 

 

 

There is a specific way to do restoration.

 

 

Galatians 6:1 – “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”

 

 

Additionally, there is a specific way to carry out the task of reconciliation. That is, with gentleness. There ought to be gentleness in our words and in our actions, which can be hard especially for those offended or even indirectly affected. Therefore, it is important to bring in unbiased pastors and leaders to mediate between parties to ensure gentleness is a primary component of the process.

 

 

Therefore, if the person who has sinned is not a member of a local church and has not submitted themselves under the leadership of a pastor this process gets all the more difficult. If this is the case, the first move should be for the person to get connected to a local church and to seek direction from the pastor.

 

 

This is also seen where Paul says, “Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” One of the best ways to “watch yourself” is to ask others to watch and keep you accountable as well. Therefore, there needs to be accountability throughout the process of restoration, not just the one who sinned claiming that they’ve repented and have had a heart change. There needs to be, no exceptions, others involved with accountability and direction.

 

 

Sadly, many are not committed to one local church, so they may have a hard time with getting a pastor to invest much time into their situation. Church discipline and restoration is actually one of the greatest benefits of being a member of a local church. Your vocation is not an excuse for not joining one church. I know scores of people who are doing ministry all over the country who are not committed to one local church and it is sad. Their excuse – “my vocation doesn’t allow me to.” Well than your vocation that you chose is not actually where God has called you because we do know from the Scriptures that He has called you to join a local church.

 

Some other resources for you to consider:

Is Church Membership Biblical? by The Resurgence

Discipline by 9 Marks

When Should a Church Practice Church Discipline? by 9 Marks