Monday, March 29, 2010

John Piper Takes 8 Month Leave

It has been announced that John Piper will be stepping back from ministry for a prolonged period in order to refocus his priorities. The integrity Piper demonstrates is a model worthy of emulation.

We've all watched ministers hide their issues only to see the dire consequences.
I am absolutley convinced that whatever a minister is willing to compromise for gain, he will eventually lose.

At RMS, we should hold men like Piper in high esteem. May I suggest everyone click on Adrian Warnocks post below and watch the entire video.


"I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, I love my Lord, my wife, my five children and their families first and foremost; and I love my work of preaching and writing and leading Bethlehem. I hope the Lord gives me at least five more years as the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem.

But on the other hand, I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What Are The Essentials?

I thought it might be of interest to share what we discussed at "The Gathering" Sunday morning. For a "thought experiment", we asked what components of the contemporary church could be deleted in order to emphasize the essentials of authentic N.T. body life.

Here are the answers: buildings, audio-video , bulletins, worship bands, 501 [c] [3] status, high profile-platform centered ministers, segregated children and youth ministries. Yet, all of these things are given pride of place today as identity makers for what a genuine church is. When in actuality, they are "xtra biblical traditions" that are in fact "non essentials" for corporate life.

My point for this experiment wasn't to extol a "primitive paradigm" advocated by some nor to promote the "regulative principle" advanced by others. Rather, we unpacked Acts 2:42-46 to demonstrate that the specified practices of the early church were intentionally produced by the Holy Spirit in order to solidify and sustain the sacramental life of Christ within the covenant community.

Dr. Luke records four essential components: Doctrine, Fellowship, Eucharist and Prayers. These Spirit induced practices are divinely designed to be foundational priorities for the corporate identity of all God's Covenant People. The early church gave them such pride of place, that all the Christ followers pursued them together with zealous devotion.

Queing off the meaning of the word "fellowship",we looked at expressions that flowed from their intentional "sharing of life" that should be re-prioritized by the modern church.

>Sharing their heart affection for one another through their relational greetings. 1 Peter 5:14

>Sharing their material goods in order to meet one anothers needs. Acts 2:45-47

>Sharing a common meal together called a "love feast". Jude 12

>Sharing table fellowship together with Christ through the Eucharist. Acts 2: 42-47

These expressions are the core essentials that the early church devoted themselves to with zealous constancy. Each "koinonia" practice is wrapped in the language of caring, sharing and belonging. Now that is genuine relational covenant my friends. Whatever extra's we do,we should never be guilty of deleting any of these.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Preach The Word With Gravity,Light and Air!

Leadership weekly newsletter has a fantastic article explaining why ministers who focus upon being dynamic and photogenic, deliver sermons that do not make an impact. Mark Labberton says there are three intangible qualities that give life when we minister: Gravity,light and air. Their absence in a sermon will be felt.

Here are some brief extracts for your reading pleasure. I found his comments to be worthy of contemplation. Hope you brothers do as well.


>....gravity... is not limited to a mood or personality or form. Gravity is the central pull on the preacher's life. What does the preacher's life demonstrate to be his true center as he dares to stand and speak in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?

>...light... does not serve itself but what it illumines. It's light that helps people see what matters, and to receive and engage with all that is available.

The preacher should shine the light of truth, understanding, empathy, wisdom, justice, compassion, and hope into the ordinary world and lives of the congregation. It is light to see by and to see with. It's not blinding or violating. It's the kind of light that reveals God to the people and the people to God.

This kind of preaching is in contrast to the much murkier light of mere cleverness or charisma. It's not the dazzling light of manipulation by which the congregation is captured by the aura of the preacher more than by the gospel itself. Instead, the preacher gets out of the way in order to let "the light of the knowledge of God's glory shine in the face of Jesus the Christ."

>... air like breathing grace. It is rejuvenating, motivating, strengthening. Alternatively, polluted air or a shortage of air makes life much harder. When I am listening to or preaching a sermon, I am hoping for some good spiritual oxygen with as little pollution as possible.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jackasses,Stallions and Mules

"Take your vitaminz" blog really summarizes the intentional"feminization of the church" and it's castration of Kingdom Manhood. Rise up men of God! rgh

"The problem I am seeing is that we are so desperate for good men that we are not sending them into the field. We take men designed to be warriors and we make them into ecclesiastical pacifists. All men start out as a jackass, are designed to be stallions but the church tries to make them mules: sturdy, less volatile, sterile.

I think the church has a dysfunctional codependent relationship with its men. Some pastors need affirmation from other men generally because their own absentee father never did. Conversely, the men need the pastor to do the work of the ministry so they don’t have to. As a result, the pastor works slavishly, often at the expense of his family, for affirmation and the men pay tithes and compliments to avoid the work of mission so their lives aren’t distracted away from their own goals—often financial gain or recreation. It’s a convenient relationship, but it’s not Biblical."

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Counsel From Charles Spurgeon in 1867

"I counsel you, my dear friends, when you have a choice of the ministry you shall attend, do not select a man merely for his learning, nor according to his standing in society, nor according to the excellence of his speech. Remember, all these may be but as sounding brass, and as a tinkling cymbal; they may just mean nothing, and less than nothing. "

"But, on the other hand, should the preacher be illiterate, if God’s Spirit evidently rests upon the man, and he speaks from his heart to your heart, and God has blessed his message to you, it will be better for you to frequent the humblest shed where God is present, than to worship in the most respectable edifice where you will have nothing but the words of man, without the living power of the living God.

My soul is more and more growingly convinced that the great need of some of us is not to cull the flowers of rhetoric tastefully, and polish our sentences, till they glide daintily into your ears, but to let the speech come forth with unchecked freedom, the outpouring of our hearts in simplicity under the power of the Spirit."

Ed Stetzer is presently serving as interim minister for a congregation that has experienced some very difficult days. His assessment of conflict and how we should navigate through is refreshing!

"Every church goes through struggle and conflict. That's what happens in a family regardless of its size or tribe. But what overcomes the obstacles, heals our wounds and unites us together on mission is the gospel. I hope it is at the center of your worship gathering!"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Preaching As Though We Had Enemies

The virtue of humility is deeply convictional and relationally costly rather than what some put forth as being compromising and cowardly.

Stanley Hauerwas postulates that if we Proclaim Truth with certitude, we are likely to be accused of being arrogant and authoritarian.

You mean I have been preaching with "humility" all these years?


"Humility derives not from the presumption that no one knows the truth, but rather is a virtue dependent on our confidence that God’s word is truthful and good.

Ironically, in the world in which we live if you preach with such humility you will more than likely be accused of being arrogant and authoritarian.

To be so accused is a sign that the enemy has been engaged. After all, the enemy (who is often enough ourselves) does not like to be reminded that the narratives that constitute our lives are false.

Moreover, you had better be ready for a fierce counteroffensive as well as be prepared to take some casualties. God has not promised us safety, but participation in an adventure called the Kingdom. That seems to me to be great good news in a world that is literally dying of boredom."

—Stanley Hauerwas, “Preaching As Though We Had Enemies,” First Things (May 1995), 45-49.