Contentment in the Wrong Context Can Actually be Evil

a holy discontentment

This year, on Christmas morning, my daughter said something that made me reflect on an important reality particularly for me and in general for all Christians.

 

After opening gifts for about 15 minutes my wife and I hit the pause button on our morning gift exchange in order to get some breakfast going. Once we returned to the living room I told both of our kids that another gift would not be opened until all of the trash on the ground (wrapping paper and such) was picked up. “I’ll be your garbage girl,” my daughter joyfully exclaimed. It made sense. She was willing to do whatever she needed in order to pursue the fullness of her satisfaction: opening the rest of her gifts.

 

The truth is that she, nor her brother, are ever that excited about cleaning. In fact, they have an apathetic attitude towards it because they don’t believe at this point in their stage of life that it brings them any joy. The reality is that satisfaction and contentment in their fullness lead to complacency, apathy and the end of pursuit.

 

More popular is the subject of contentment, which is biblical and obviously important. Perhaps more popular because it makes us seem more mature than we really are. So, we cloak ourselves with being “content” in front of others, yet in our hearts we envy so many others for what they have and we don’t. Contentment is an important spiritual discipline, but it is only one side of the coin and should never be over emphasized at the expense of another biblical reality. Maybe just as important as contentment is a holy, or a right, discontentment.

 

A holy discontentment causes us to continue to pursue hard after a deeper level of satisfaction and contentment. After marrying your spouse how hard and consistent is your pursuit for her/him now that you’ve won them in marriage? Now that you’ve received your degree how hard and consistent is your pursuit toward continuing education?

 

Once we are satisfied with what we’ve attained we become complacent and apathetic towards a further pursuit of something we already “have.” Sadly enough this is a reality in our pursuit of God as well. We get comfortable with where we are at with God and become apathetic in our pursuit of Him. I’ve heard more that two dozen times, “I’ve been a Christian for 30 years. I’ve heard it all, but it’s good to be refreshed with the way different preachers preach a passage.” That, my friend, is apathy. We are never to old, to smart or too mature to not grow more in every area of our lives.We have never “heard it all” or have arrived at some place spiritually where we can stop intentionally pursuing God and just passively grow when it’s convenient.

 

Too many Christians all of the sudden reach some status of perceived maturity in some Christian discipline and then become complacent and judgmental towards others who may not be in the place that they are at. Oh, that’s great, you’ve read the Bible 30 times? Well you must be super spiritual. Read it again. Oh, that’s great, you have made over 20 disciples? Well you are the best disciple maker out there! Make more. Oh, that’s great, you give 18 percent of your income to your church? You are so mature and spiritual! Give more. Every Christian, from pastors to non-member, regular attenders of a local church is being sanctified in these different areas of spiritual disciplines and much more. Your status of where you land in any of these areas does not make you any more spiritual or more mature than another person. What is important is that we continue to develop a holy discontentment with where we are at so that we continue to press harder and grow more in every area as opposed to getting comfortable with where we are at.

 

The more satisfied we are with ourselves, we become less satisfied with God because “WE HAVE ATTAINED SUCH A GREAT STATUS.” This holy dissatisfaction causes us to press forward to continue to pursue a higher level of knowing Christ and to find our satisfaction in Him.

 

In addition to developing a holy discontentment is to remove anything in our lives that is hindering our relationship with God. While for some complacency is birthed out of past success or current status, for others it comes from being bound to past hurts and failures. Some are so chained to their past hurts and failures that they have lost their pursuit of God. They have accepted defeat. In both instances, we are called to wage war on and remove anything that hinders us from our relationship with God, which can only truly happen in community for the sake of accountability and encouragement.

 

The apostle Paul would go as far to say that those who do not have a holy discontentment consistently and are satisfied and content with where they stand in their relationship with God are enemies of the cross (Philippians 3:12-21). Meaning, if there is not a continual pursuit that flows from a holy discontentment and your satisfaction is in your won achievements than there may not be a real relationship to begin with.

 

My prayer is that you and I would either begin or continue to develop a holy discontentment in order that we would press in harder towards knowing Christ. Being content and satisfied with where we are in our relationship with God is a dangerous place to be. Moreover, be encouraged. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Lastly, in the coming days I will update this post with a link to the sermon I preached this past Sunday titled A Holy Discontentment from Philippians 3:12-21 where I explain more thoroughly on this topic.

Sermon link:  http://bldg28.com/sermons/28-sermons/

Crux mihi ancora

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Theology: General & Special Revelation

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Over the past 8 weeks, I have had the opportunity to spend time with and co-lead a group that we just called Foundations of the Christian Faith. In essence, the intention was to offer some sort of 101 class for those who were wanting to either learn for the first time and/or for those who wanted to be reminded of the foundational beliefs of the Christian faith in order that we would be led to worship.

A couple weeks ago, I taught on the doctrine of God. It was during this time that we had some great discussion and a few wanted to go a bit deeper. For the sake of time in the class we can only cover so much material, so I’ve decided to build upon what we covered in the class here.

By way of preface, this is still by no means an exhaustive study of God, but it does offer some additional information that is beneficial for us to revel in the beauty of the one true God. I’ll cover these things in a small series of posts moving forward.

It is helpful for us to begin with the question, “Why Theology?” What does that even mean?

Theos = God

Logos = word or discourse

Therefore, Theology is a “discourse about God.” So, by studying theology, we are saying that there is, in fact, a way to know God more…that God communicates with us about himself. So, how does that work?

Revelation of God

Revelation = unveiling or disclosure. Historically, we understand God revealing himself to us in two primary ways.

General Revelation. God has revealed His nature to ALL mankind, so that all humanity is aware of God’s existence. This is general in the sense that it is not unique to only believers. This unveiling of God is evident to all of humanity. Every person in every place is a recipient of general revelation (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-21). Therefore, there is no excuse for any individual anywhere to not seek out the one true God that is evident to them by way of his beauty and intricacy in all of creation. While a person does know that God exists through general revelation, they cannot know the Gospel through general revelation.

Special Revelation. Special revelation is much narrower than general revelation. While all mankind is a recipient of general revelation, not all are recipients of special revelation. Special revelation is unique to the believer and is communicated in a very specific way. I would say that special revelation is the equivalent of saying the Gospel. The Gospel is not an intuitive message. This is something that has to be revealed and/or communicated to an individual or group through either verbal or written communication (Hebrews 1:1-3; Romans 10:11-21).

Special revelation is two-fold.

  1. Revelation through the Scriptures
  2. Revelation through Jesus Christ (John 1:18, “explained/exegesis = to draw out or explain)

It is through special revelation that a person comes to know and love the person and work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we share the Gospel and do missions so that hearts and minds are opened through special revelation to the story of redemption through God sending his son, Jesus.

to be continued…

Holy Week: in Context

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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

7 Reminders When Satan Tries to Steal Your Joy

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One of the most gut wrenching biblical texts for me is Luke 4:13, “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him [that is, Jesus] until an opportune time.” It is quite sobering to think that even Jesus was a target for Satan. Naturally, we tend to look at Jesus as some type of super hero guy who didn’t deal with any kind of spiritual warfare, which is completely antithetical to the Scriptures and what we see in them. Why, then, would we think that we would be free from Satan’s tactics to steal, kill, and destroy? So,what can we do?

Satan has declared war on you and your family. He will do anything he can to keep you from trusting in the sovereign hand of God in your life, walking with Christ faithfully and believing that Jesus has already won the victory. I am reminded by this text that Satan is alive and well, and only leaves to come back at the opportune time.

When your day begins to look down, when your week begins to looks bleak and the month begins to look dark, here are 7 reminders for you that have helped me greatly.

Talk to God.

God, the Father, wants to hear from you. He desires you and a relationship with you where you will come to Him with everything. Not because He needs to stay informed, as if He doesn’t already know your thoughts before you think them, but because He desires a relationship with you. As you begin to talk with God about your burdens, He will begin to give you clarity of mind, as well as a confidence to continue to persevere.

Remember the Sovereignty of God.

In all that is happening, there are two BIG promises to remember. God has promised that “…he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 ESV). In addition, He promised, “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 ESV). God didn’t miss His cue to filter this season of warfare for you. In fact, there is purpose in it. Know that God has made plans for you and that His plans cannot be thwarted. He is sovereign over whatever it is that you are going through.

Remember who Jesus is.

Satan has been defeated by and through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived the life that you and I cannot live, died the death that you and I deserve, and rose so that we can also be raised with Him when God calls. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV). Know that this season that you are in is light and momentary in comparison to the weight of glory. What you see now is transient, but what you cannot see is eternal.

Remember who Satan is not.

Satan is not some ethereal being, he is very real. Satan is not God. Satan is not omnipresent, despite what you may have been taught. Satan is not the victor, but he has been defeated. Satan is not in ultimate control.

Remember the Spirit.

It is completely and utterly impossible for you and me to have any type of victory over Satan and his plans to destroy us apart from the reality, presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is the Spirit of God in us that influences us to believe God, moves us to faithfulness and gives us the strength to persevere. Be confident in the fact that your success in getting through this season has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the Spirit of God in you. Even more, remember Jesus words concerning the Spirit, “But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13 ESV). Joy within ourselves? We know from the context of this passage that Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of God within us that gives us Joy – not better circumstances. Therefore, in the process of remembering the Spirit of God, you are reminded that Satan cannot steal your joy because your joy comes from the Spirit being within you.

Remember others.

You are not the only one in a trial right now. It is extremely easy to become focused on self in a trial. Remember that there are others who are much worse than you at the moment. What could possibly be worse than what you are going through? How about the 2 billion people in the world who have never heard about Jesus and are far from God. Or the 20,000 people that die each day from either starvation or preventable diseases. Don’t just remember others to make yourself feel better about your personal situation, but remember others as a motivation to stay on mission.

Remember the church.

In the midst of your trial, do not forsake the assembly. Don’t retreat from community, but allow the church to come around you to encourage you, walk with you, pray with you, and keep you accountable during this very “opportune time.”

The Heart of the Matter

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The Requirement

Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “Blessed are the pure in heart, they will see God.”

So, Jesus is emphatically clear that the heart really matters. Jesus cares a lot about the heart of man. According to Jesus, we are to love God with all our hearts. In addition, if we want to see God, we must have a pure heart.

The Problem

The problem is what we discover in Proverbs 20:9, “Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin?”

The writer is posing a rhetorical question. The answer is no one can claim that they’ve made their own heart pure. Therefore, if one needs a pure heart to see God the implication is that no one can see God.

The question is, “Why do we do what we do?” “Why do we sin?” “Why are we impure?” Philosophy and religion, both, have attempted to answer this question. Here’s a few samples of what they have said.

  • Sigmen Froyd says, “Primal urges that we’ve picked up through our evolutionary processes.
  • Karl Young, a well noted psychologist, says, “Our problem is ultimately collective unconsciousness we’ve carried on from our racial history.”
  • Carl Rogers , an influential American phycologist, says, “We tend to overlook our goodness and we are impinged upon the culture that compels us to do bad things.”

In essence, “we are victims of genetics or environment, or heritage or upbringing.”

The Bible gives a real different diagnosis. It says that ultimately, we have a sin nature. We know that in Genesis 1 God created and everything was good. Fast forward to Genesis 3 when sin entered into the world through Adam, also known as the fall.

Additionally, the Bible teaches that we have inherited that sin nature from our father Abraham. We have a sin nature. It is not the functional sins in your life that condemn you to hell, those are just indicators that you have a sin nature and are already condemned to hell. You could live a perfect life and still be condemned to hell due to the sin nature that you inherited from Adam, also known as original sin.

When Adam sinned, we were all implicated. One of the great myths today is that we are all individual, autonomous human. We are not. You either have your sin nature from Adam or your righteousness from Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Adam sinned and we are all implicated. This is why the Psalmist was able to say that we are wicked from our mother’s womb and it is rooted all the way down in our heart.

The Safeguard

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.”

Keep an eye on your heart. The picture is that your life is like a river that is flowing from your heart, the spring. Therefore, the problems in your life have to be dealt with upstream. You can modify the river all you want to, but if the source is never addresses, eventually the pollution will come right back.

Therefore, the problems and struggles in your life are indicators of a health issue in your heart. Safeguards are great, but not that answer. They are helpful, but not the answer. If there are things you don’t want in a river, you have to go upstream and find the source of pollution. The affects are downstream, but the problem is upstream. The answer is not behavior modification, it is a heart issue.

History tells us, while not confirmed, that the early church father, Origen, from a literal translation of Matthew 9 castrated himself to keep from sexual temptation. That’s not going to work because it’s a heart issue. In the Victorian Age they began to drape linen over tables because “if men saw the legs of the tables, they might be sexually tempted.” That’s nice – and weird – , but it won’t work.

Jesus echoes the same thing.

Mark 7:20-23 says, “And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:14-23 ESV)

In this passage, Jesus is speaking to religious people and they had this ideology… “In here, I’m good” “Out there, it’s bad.” So the sin isn’t in me, it’s out there. “I’m a holy good person and the world is filled with evil.” “So as long as I stay away from it I can maintain my purity.”

Religious people tend to think this way “I am pure, the world is evil.” So, for them, the answer is stay away from the world. Jesus says, that’s not the case. He says that the world is not filled with “good people” and “bad people,” but it is filled with bad people who are either repentant or unrepentant.

So it’s not safe “out there”…and it’s not safe “in here.”

The Answer

The Bible, ultimately, says that the answer is regeneration.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”

This is a common theme in the O.T. God says this multiple times in Jeremiah. He says “I’ll give you a new what… a new heart.”

This is where Christianity is different than other religions. Other religions are about behavior modification, trying harder. Christianity is about getting a new heart. It’s not just doing better with the old heart…you get a new heart.

“…and a new spirit I will put within you…” So this is a gift of God, a work of God, and an act of God. We call it grace. The new heart has the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit and repents of sin.

Does this mean you’re perfect? No, it says a new heart, not a perfect heart. You’re still being sanctified. We still have to deal with the residue from our old sin nature and walk in the Spirit on a daily basis because the devil has come to steal, kill, and destroy.

Here are 14 marks of a new heart just from proverbs…

  1. Faith – 3:5
  2. Desires obedience – 4:4
  3. Is corrective – 5:12
  4. Teachable – 10:8
  5. Contentment – 14:30
  6. Loves wisdom – 15:14
  7. Cheerful – 15:15
  8. Helpful – 15:28
  9. Discerning – 16:21
  10. Persuasive – 16:23
  11. Humble – 18:12
  12. Intelligent – 18:15
  13. Beautiful – 27:19
  14. Repentant – 28:14

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.”

 

 

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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.”

 

 

parish

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.”

 

5 Things Every Young Pastor Should Know

5tips.tv

This is the second post in a series called 5 Things Someone Ought to Know. The first post was Your Pastor is Not Jesus: 5 Things Every Church Member Should Know About Their Pastor.

 

 

 

It is obvious that there is much to learn from those who have done well in ministry. For clarification, I am not saying, “done well” as if visible results are the only indicator of doing well. I am simply using the term in a general sense.

 

On the other hand, there is also much to learn from those who have not done so well. These leaders have a different type of wisdom and perspective on ministry. These leaders have learned how to do ministry primarily out of failure and mistakes. Sometimes the best wisdom of all is wrought through failure and mistakes.

 

Here are 5 tips for every young pastor that I have personally learned through mistakes and failure.

 

 

 

You’ll Never Know Enough

 

The first two tips are tough love. It is simple. You are not Jesus. You will never know “enough.” God is clear in passages like Isaiah 55:8-9 where we are reminded that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

 

We like to think of everything as nice and tidy, systematic order. God is a God of order, but we will never be able to understand it all while we are here on earth. In ministry, you are going to learn as you go with a lot of things. You are going to need to seek Godly counsel. You are going to have to tell people in their most needy moment that you “don’t know.”

 

I know guys that have allowed their expectation to be all-sufficient paralyze their ability to serve anyone. Every leader fails at something. In humility, stop allowing your inability to be sufficient to paralyze you. Every failure is an opportunity to believe in the reality, personhood and power of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

You’ll Never be Experienced Enough

 

Similar to the first tip about knowledge, there are guys who have let their inexperience paralyze them from doing any ministry. I knew guys in Bible College who didn’t serve a lick in their church because they “didn’t have the experience yet.” How do you get experience? SERVE. Don’t wait to begin serving.

 

You will never have “enough” experience. Ministry is not a system to be figured out and conquered, it is a physical and spiritual war.

 

 

 

Create a Dugout

 

This is probably the most important of them all. Don’t fall into the mentor trap. I did. It is a lie. The lie is that everyone needs a mentor and that once you find that mentor they will show you everything you need to know, be there for prayer, and give you all the training you need. The truth is that no one person has the time to pour into you as much as you need to be poured into except for Jesus.

 

Many make a mentor their functional savior. They look to this mentor as a mini god and expect things from them as if he or she were a mini god. This lie leads to despair, discouragement and even disdain.

 

It is much more beneficial to create a dugout. In baseball, your dugout is filled with men who specialize in a specific area of the game. The coach is able to call on whichever specialist he needs to get the job done. Similarly, young pastors should create a dugout of specialist.

 

I’m not telling you not to have a mentor. I’m telling you not to have one mentor, but 5-6 mentors who specialize in different areas. For example, I have 6 godly men and women in my dugout who all specialize in different areas of life (e.g. pastoral, ministry, family, theology, finance, church growth). Additionally, Jesus is the only person that can perfectly counsel you in any area. Don’t create a second personal pocket Jesus. The real Jesus already exists and wants to serve you.

 

 

 

 

Create a Personal Library

 

John Wesley told young pastors to “read or get out of the ministry.” Also, Teaching to Change Lives by Dr. Howard Hendricks is a great resource on this. The thought is this, a leader must follow if he is going to lead. Therefore, reading is a great tool to follow other great leaders who have gone before you.

 

The moment you stop reading, you stop leading. Continue to pour into yourself, so that there is something fresh and new to pour into others. Ask other leaders, pastors, and professors what books are staples in their personal library and pick them up.

 

I will use this opportunity to encourage you to go to seminary. Yes, I know Jesus didn’t. You are not Jesus. Neither did His disciples… You are not them either. I have several good friends who are pastoring and doing very well, but they were also blessed to be surrounded by a very biblical literate church who trained them informally. Read. Read. Read.

 

 

 

 

Don’t be in Ministry for a Job

 

Pastoral ministry is not for weaklings. You will be tested. You will be pushed past your limits daily. You will be a target. You will get hurt. You will be betrayed. You will have to make hard decisions that will offend many people.

 

If you are in pastoral ministry for a job, get out now and stop wasting your time. Here’s the kicker, if God has called you to pastoral ministry all of those things will pail in comparison to the experience of preaching God’s holy word, watching people make huge decisions for Christ, and living out their faith. It will be your joy to deal with those things in order to fulfill your calling.

 

If you are in it for a job, you will be miserable. Even more, you will end up leaving the ministry anyway, so save yourself the time and go sell insurance or build a house.

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