Monday, April 30, 2012

VBS Isn't Just For Kids...

Here's an article I wrote for our church's newsletter...

There was a day when Saturday morning cartoons were a reality for some of us.  One of the staple commercials you could count on was that silly rabbit trying to get a bowl of Trix, which always ended with the children chiding the rabbit and saying, “Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids.”  I fear that when it comes to thinking about Vacation Bible School, many in the church have that same feeling.  We hear about ministry opportunities and say to ourselves, “VBS is for kids.”  And, while it may be true that much of the energy is directed to serving children, I’m hoping to show today that VBS isn’t just for kids.  There’s much benefit to be had by the church at large through VBS.  Here’s some reasons:

1) VBS helps bring people together in service.  Most of us know that the law can be summed up as loving our neighbor as ourselves.  We know that we are to, through love, serve one another.  And, VBS is a great opportunity to come together with other like-minded believers and serve.  This, in turn, helps build the unity of our congregation.  When you are “in the trenches” with another believer seeking to serve, you will begin to be drawn close to that individual.  This is what makes the church strong.

2) VBS builds consistency in your relationships with others.  VBS is a week-long event.  So, rather than just bumping into others in our church on a Sunday, you get the opportunity to fellowship with others day after day.  Each night will present its own opportunities to glorify God and your consistent involvement in this will encourage you spiritually.

3) VBS looks outward.  Much of our difficulty in the church comes when we are inward focused.  We can become so intent on what we want and we would like to see happen, that our joy becomes tied to whether or not our desires are happening.  Each year, however, VBS is a call to remind you that church life doesn’t revolve around you.  There are others who need served.  Specifically, we get the opportunity to serve children. 

4) VBS communicates love for our neighbors who are younger than us.  When you think about church life, you probably devote most of your energy to things that don’t involve children (unless you’re a parent of a child and/or involved in an ongoing ministry to them).  What I love about VBS is that it gives adults and teenagers the opportunity to show children how dearly loved they are.  We rightly feel this in our hearts.  But, VBS puts feet to those feelings, showing children that we are excited to make known eternal truths to them.  VBS allows us to tangibly love not just in words but in actions and truth.

Finally, 5) VBS allows you to practice a spiritual gift.  Most of us know the importance of exercise or at least moving around so that atrophy doesn’t occur.  God has uniquely gifted every believer in the church to serve.  How often do you use those gifts?  Are you looking for an opportunity to use a gift you don’t use as often as another?  VBS is a great way to jump in and serve, employing your spiritual gift for the good of others.

So, those are a few reasons why I would encourage you to be involved in our VBS, June 10-14.  There is more info on it in other parts of the Edifier.  VBS isn’t just for kids, it’s for people like you and me who want to be a part of something that glorifies and enjoys God, forever.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Faith's Obedience and Look

My sermon from 4/29/12AM was entitled Faith's Obedience and Look and came from Hebrews 11:8-10.  This got to help in our faith from the example of Abraham.  Throughout the Bible, Abraham and faith go together, so it made sense in this chapter showcasing faith in the Bible, we would find Abraham.  Our writer wants us to learn that faith is how the righteous live, or, in this context, it is how we persevere in this world.

Abraham gave us a lot of help by showing us how an active faith is tied to immediate obedience.  Believing God is who He is should cause us to obey Him and what's He revealed to us in His Word.  Further, faith has a look to it.  Faith is consumed with eternity.  If there's ever anyone in the Bible who could have rested in a promise, it would have been Abraham, but Hebrews 11:9-10 showed us that Abraham lived in the promised land as a foreigner because he was looking to a future promised by God Himself.  There are many applications for us in this passage, then.  I hope you were helped by it and live this week with a faith that displays itself by obeying and looking heavenward.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation

Being devoted to centering my life in the Gospel and seeking to be defined by nothing less has been an amazing journey for me over the past few years.  It probably began when I became a Senior Pastor, preaching each week, trying to shepherd a hurting church through some difficult days and I kept coming back to the message of first importance.  I attended the first Together For the Gospel in 2006 and something resonated with me.  It was at this point I set out to preach through Mark's Gospel, then Colossians and am currently in Hebrews.  Through these expositions, I've come to love and appreciate the core truth of my faith, the Gospel, more than ever.  Whether it's the pure words of Jesus explaining who He is and what He came to do or the Apostle Paul demonstrating how Jesus' supremacy looms large in all of life or the writer of Hebrews showing that in all the Bible there is none quite as majestic as the Divine Son, Jesus has become the point of my preaching and ministry.

In light of this truth, I often press home the fact that God's not impressed with our religious devotion.  It's not our practice of spiritual disciplines that determines our spiritual status, that is reserved for the Gospel alone.  I've been really helped in recent days, then, by Tim Brister (there might not be a more Gospel-centered writer on in the internet) and his musings on Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation.

Here's the graphic he's posted to whet your appetite:
This understanding flows from Triperspectivalism (the three fold offices of Christ, prophet, priest and king). So far, the posts include:

I dare you, therefore, to wade out into the Gospel and watch it fire your devotion to our God Himself.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Weekend Recap - Collision Course on Inescapable Headship

On Sunday PM, 4/22/12, our Men met to discuss issues of manhood.  We watched a video entitled Inescapable Headship.  Here it is:

Here's a transcript:
Scott Anderson: Doug, you’ve written, in your book on Reforming Marriage, you’ve talked about the nature of headship and authority in the home and I think the phrase that you use is that there’s inescapable leadership in that if you understand the indicative nature of what’s being said about man being the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. Talk a little bit about that and how does that relate, how does that transfer over to the realm of pastor in the church and so on.
Doug Wilson: Right, it’s interesting that Paul, for example, doesn’t tell husbands to be the head of their wives. They are the head of the wife. The husband is the head of the wife, he says. The command is to love your wives. Husbands can love their wives or not. When a man disobeys, he is unloving and when a man is obedient, he is loving. But a man can’t disobey in such a way as to not be the head. He’s inescapably the head. So if he abdicates or if he runs away, he runs off with another woman, the empty seat at the dinner table in that family is dominating that whole family it becomes that family’s story. His headship, his abdication, his infidelity are all examples of twisted or bent headship, but it’s headship. It’s really influential. It has a huge impact on his wife, kids and so forth. So he can’t opt out. He can’t shrink away and say, well, I’m going to be a nullity in this family, I’m going to be inconsequential. He can’t do that. He can say I will not love, I will not praise, I will not sacrifice. He can be disobedient. But he can’t be disobedient to the point of ceasing to be the man, ceasing to the husband, ceasing to be the father.
By way of Application, we looked at these Scriptures: 
1 Corinthians 11:3 -But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
Ephesians 5:23 -
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.

Here's some further questions to consider:
• What does it mean for the husband to be “head”?
• How do these texts understand our headship will be practiced?
• What is one area in which you can be more effective in headship?
• Pray about these things at your table.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Conscious Choice

Each Monday, I write a small piece on leadership for my Leadership Reno County group and today my email was posted on the Kansas Leadership Center blog.  Here's the content:

I was recently thinking about Intervening Skillfully into a situation and in that competency, I came across that line: “make conscious choices” and the thought occurred to me, what is a conscious choice?  How does this kind of choice differ from others?  Hopefully, my musings on this will help you think about intervening skillfully through making conscious choices.
The KLC Quick Guide asks some questions that help define it: “What is our typical approach to intervening on issues like this?  What new intervention approaches might be necessary?  What type of leadership interventions are needed from us right now?”  Again, so many of our interventions are, to quote something I’ve often heard in church life, “the way we’ve always done them.”  We’re not seeking to be effective, but rather to step in like we typically do.  Making a conscious choice means pausing a second to consider if the particular situation you’re addressing requires the same old, same old or if there is a way that you might be able to intervene that would be more effective.
Making a conscious choice requires great management of self, a thorough diagnosis of the situation and a consideration as to how our actions can best be maneuvered to energize others.  So, this works together, with all the competencies, to have the most robust and powerful impact on others.  That is a conscious choice that makes a difference.  Therefore, today, let’s intervene skillfully through making conscious choices and see if we don’t just achieve better outcomes in our leadership opportunities.

Weekend Recap - Noah's Faith

My 4/22/12AM sermon from Hebrews 11:7 entitled Faith Obeys is online.  The sermon sought to draw some application from Noah's faith.  Specifically, faith takes God's Word seriously before an unbelieving world in light of the inheritance that is ours in Christ.  I hope you have a good week reveling in these and other truths from God's Word.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weekend Preview - Noah, Faith & Obedience

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

Noah.  We don't think of him as a man of faith.  Sure, he received grace from God.  But, our verse for this Sunday shows that he was a man who heard a clear (unseen) message from God.  And as he exhibited faith in God, it served to save and condemn.  

Come this Sunday and learn how Faith Obeys...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

T4G12 Recap - Part 3

Having summarized T4G through Wednesday, here's a summary of Thursday.

We got off on another strong start from Ligon Duncan and his sermon The Underestimated God: God's Ruthless, Compassionate Grace In the Pursuit of His Own Glory and His Ministers' Joy (audio/video).  This exposition of 1 Kings 19 helped each attendee identify with Elijah, who wanted God to do amazing things for His glory, but wasn't allowed to see those things at the moment he wanted them.  This proved to be a great follow up to Platt's message in helping us continue to trust our God.

In the afternoon, Matt Chandler walked us through Revelation 21 & 22 to see The Fulfillment of the Gospel (audio/video).  Most people's lives are wrapped up in the here and now, but this vision of where all of history is headed will sustain us through trials and help us see the aim of our work for the Gospel.

Finally, John Piper rounded out the conference by unfolding Jude 24-25 and how Glory, Majesty, Dominion and Authority Keep Us Safe For Everlasting Joy (audio/video).  We ought to be stunned that we are Christians and Piper explained how God allows this to be so.  It was one of the best sermons on the subject of perseverance that I've heard and was a great encouragement to see how God will get the glory for salvation by keeping us from the past, through the present and into the future.  

This was an amazing conference.  The sermons seemed to build on each other and continue to help me see a greater, deeper, richer and fuller picture of the Gospel.  I would encourage you to take advantage of the free audio and video resources and allow your soul to be refreshed in the Underestimated Gospel.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

T4G12 Recap - Part 2

Yesterday, I summarized my trip to Louisville and the happenings on Monday and Tuesday.  In this post, I would like to summarize Wednesday, which was a full day.

Our day began with Thabiti Anyabwile asking Will Your Gospel Transform A Terrorist? (audio/video)  This exposition of Paul's letter to Timothy ended with the point on celebration for all that our powerful Gospel is able to accomplish.

Quickly after Thabiti's sermon, Kevin DeYoung came and urged us to pursue holiness with Spirit-Powered, Gospel-Driven, Faith-Fueled Effort (audio/video).  There's lots of discussion these days as to how the Gospel relates to holiness or, as DeYoung said, how the good news produces good works.  DeYoung answers calling on us to simply obey, which is not against the Gospel of grace.

After some afternoon breakout sessions, we had our final talk of Wednesday in the evening with David Platt speaking on Divine Sovereignty: The Fuel of Death-Defying Missions (audio/video).   Many felt that this was the most memorable sermon on missions they had ever heard (including Lig Duncan and John Piper).  It was certainly an amazing sermon from Revelation 5.  There were moments where I stopped taking notes because of what was being said.  God was certainly up to something through this.  We can only hope that this kind of sermon will result in amazing application like we've never before seen so that all the nations worship at the Savior's feet.

I'll wrap up my summary of everything tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

T4G12 Recap - Part 1

As you may or may not know, last week was a slow week blogging because I was with 8000 some odd others at the 2012 Together for the Gospel Conference.  I enjoyed an amazing week with some guys from Crestview.  We left Easter Sunday and got in to St. Louis that night, then drove on into Louisville on Monday.

On Monday night, we attended the Dinner and Dialogue at Southern Seminary.  The food was amazing and the dialogue included Josh Harris, Carl Trueman, Matt Pinson, Jeff Bethke and J.D. Greear, hosted by Russell D. Moore.

On Tuesday, before the conference began, I took in the Band of Bloggers meeting.  This panel included Owen Strachan, Timmy Brister, Justin Taylor, Collin Hansen, and Tim Challies.  These are the uber-bloggers of the Christian world.  This panel included some great discussion as to how our tone should be on blogs and how we can be light to our world.

Finally, then, the conference began on Tuesday.  The lineup was pretty amazing and I still almost have to pinch myself to think that I actually got to be a part of this.  

C.J. Mahaney began with a talk on The Sustaining Power of the Gospel (audio/video).  This message really opened the conference up by setting the tone and helping all present see how the Gospel is able to help us in the midst of our ministries, sustaining us to persevere through hard times.

Next up was Al Mohler, offering one of the best sermons I've ever heard from him on The Power of the Articulated Gospel (audio/video).  This simple unfolding of Romans 10 helped all present know the importance of verbalizing the Gospel.  

Finally on Tuesday, Mark Dever gave a warning on False Conversions: The Suicide of the Church (audio/video).  There's a fine line of tension drawn in raising this subject matter, but Dever was up to the challenge and helped me see how God can be honored through holding the line of His Word.  

(I'll summarize more tomorrow)...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend Recap - Faith Pleases God

We enjoyed another great Lord's Day at Crestview yesterday.  My sermon, Faith Pleases God, from Hebrews 11:5-6, got at Enoch's example of faith and how faith must draw near to God, who exists and rewards those who seek Him.  Another big takeaway is that it is impossible to please God without faith.  One who draws near to God must believe.  Faith is vital.  Or, to put it another way, faith is our pathway to pleasing God.

In the PM, my small group got together and discussed faith.  All in all, it was a great day.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Easter Weekend Recap - Jesus Christ Our Lord

You can't get away from Jesus at Easter.  Yesterday, at Crestview, my sermon was entitled Jesus Christ Our Lord from Romans 1:3-4.  In this sermon, I tried to give an overview of who Jesus is and how this relates to the special nature of Easter.  Specifically, we saw that Jesus is God's Son, fully man and declared powerful in His resurrection.  Hope you had a great Easter Sunday.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Weekend Preview - Easter

As you probably know, this coming Sunday is Easter.  It's an amazing day to gather together and worship, celebrating Jesus and His life, death and resurrection.  This Sunday, in the Scriptures, we will be looking at Romans 1:3-4 and specifically who Jesus is.  I invite you to join us.

We will have an Easter Brunch at 8:30AM.
Sunday School at 9AM.
Worship at 10:15AM.

There will be no evening activities this coming Sunday.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Good Friday Service

Our church is privileged to join together with Union Valley Bible Church for a special Good Friday Service coming Friday, April 6 at 6:45PM.  This service will be held at their building on the corner of 30th and Halstead.  I invite you to come and celebrate Good Friday with us.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

On the Elders...

There have been some good resources emerge lately on Elders, Deacons and Church Leadership.  Thought I'd connect to those here.  Even if you are casually involved in church life, you would do well to listen in / read up on some of these things, so that you can better pray for / support your local church leaders.

Andy Davis wrote a great post on how to lead elders meetings.  We follow a pretty strict model of taking time for prayer, discussing something devotionally oriented to help us in our work, and then talking "church business."  Andy's article helped get some ideas going on making these meetings more helpful.

A recent 9Marks interview discussed Thabiti's new book Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons.  This, also, had much to commend to the local church leadership and the church at large, helping us think and consider the long term leadership plans of the church.  I'm hoping to get all of our elders and deacons to listen in on this.

We have huge work to do, but it is a joy.  Therefore, receive these tools as opportunities from God to more faithfully serve Him.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Weekend Recap - Sheep

Yes, we are all like sheep, at least that's what Isaiah 53:6 says.  This means that we are weak, prone to go astray and Isaiah says we've actually done it -- we've turned every one to his/her own way.  But, our great hope this week (and every day) is that on Christ was laid all of our iniquities.  My sermon from 4/1/12AM entitled Like Sheep from Isaiah 53:6 reveled in these truths.

In the evening, my small group finished Jerry Bridges' book Respectable Sins.  To say this book affected us is an understatement.  God used this to not only reveal sin, but to deepen our dependence on the Gospel.  There are so many good elements and fruit that my group shared.  If any of you are interested, Bridges kept pointing to Thomas Chalmers' Expulsive Power of A New Affection.  Click that link and digest that content to see what Chalmers (and Bridges) were driving at.

Have a great Holy Week this week.