Trinidad, Day Two: Leaders Conference and Being Carried by Your Prayers

I stayed up too late reading last night.

I take that back, I stayed up until midnight Trinidad time (but still 9:00 pm Denver time) finishing Michael Shaara’s book Killer Angels, the second in the Civil War Trilogy by both Jeff and Michael Shaara from where the movies Gettysburg and Gods and Generals were based. Why was I reading these on a missions trip? The same reason why, when I had my Junior Recital at Palm Beach Atlantic University which was a culmination of every piano piece I had learned and was a huge part of my all-around piece for graduating, that I didn’t touch a piano the previous two days. Sometimes, thinking too much about what’s next is… too much. So, reading a book about the Civil War of all things seemed to help take the edge off.

Why would I have an edge? Today, we would be with pastors, deacons, and leaders in the area churches to talk about the family life of a Christian leader. Pastors are under great pressure to have a model family life–solid marriage, kids who are under control and follow Jesus, etc., etc. Pastors feel that pressure, the pastor’s wives feel that pressure, and the children most definitely feel that pressure.

On top of this, every person goes into marriage with their own brokenness. But God, through the gospel of Jesus, can and will restore us to His design and purpose. I prepared a bunch of notes, but it was as if God was taking me in a new and different direction to the same end: we must die to self, die in Christ, and submit to our spouses in the roles God has for us (Ephesians 5:21-6:4).

Ken and Dana broke up and led in prayer with a group, along with other pastors who helped in this breakout.

Every person received a copy of The Family Life of a Christian Leader by Ajith Fernando, the best book on the subject I’ve read. I pray that this will help them move forward.

Tomorrow is the dedication of the building here at Mt. Beulah Church in Point Fortin. They have redone the inside, added A/C units, and it looks absolutely beautiful. It’ll be cool enough that I can wear a suit for this august occasion. And bowtie!

Oh, did I mention going to the beach? I hesitated because Denver is expecting 3-6″ of much-needed snow. But for five minutes, I was out on the beach.

That face is due to sand and then rain. No, as the beard might indicate, I was not marooned and I do not need a volleyball named Wilson (Raye Ann!).

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Trinidad, Day One: Being with Extended Family

After a good night’s sleep and a nice breakfast, Ken, Dana, Roddie Taylor (the pastor of the church that heads up the missions work here), and I drove over to St. Mary’s to meet with the principal of the Fifth Company Primary School. The goal was to get a gameplan together to come into some of the classrooms and share about who we are (including who Jesus and the gospel are) along with some cultural exchange (in all likelihood, baseball).

As we were waiting for him, some children came up to us–why?–because they remembered Dana and myself from last September. While I understand that few Caucasians cross their paths and that helped distinguish us, they were so excited when they found out we would be at the school next week. Then we commenced in the universal language of the ‘high-five’ (about 25-30 of them in all) before we went in to talk with the Vice Principal.

Road problems and construction were at Olympian levels due to the heavy rains over the past few months. As a result, it took us extra long to make to St. Mary’s, making us opt for another way back. We were treated to some beautiful Trinidadian countryside filled with a lot of trees (palms and otherwise) and green, two commodities very scarce in Colorado.

We arrived back at Mt. Beulah Church in Point Fortin and were met with some long faces. In the process of installing some nice wall units that would provide air conditioning in the sanctuary, they encountered some electrical problems that, as I write this at 10:55 pm AST (Atlantic Standard Time), they are still working on this to get the church ready for their building dedication on Sunday.

[Which reminds me: Roddie told me something that brought me to tears. He says that when he announces that I am bringing a team to Trinidad to help the cause of Christ there, the congregation cheers. I told him that I don’t understand that, but we are happy to help. Then, he said this:

“Matthew Perry, you are a member of Mt. Beulah Evangelical Baptist Church.” That did it. My eyes welled up as I read that. To know that there is such a mutual love between us makes these last 23 years of connecting with the people of Trinidad like being with my extended family.]

The countryside, the reunion with friends, the colleagues who have joined me–I cannot wait to see what tomorrow will bring. But know this: my heart is full, my body is healthy, and I know I’m in God’s hands.

Jesus is enough.

Valuing and Treasuring Guests Who Visit Your Church

I know, some will find this sad that we have to help churches filled with people who have been rescued by Jesus be more welcoming to guests. But like anything, we can fall into habits without realizing it. Many want to be welcoming, but don’t understand how. May God help us in our churches to value and treasure with hope and joy guests that come to our worship gatherings.

Thank you, Hershael York, for helping us out.

On-Mission to Trinidad Next Week

cropped-cropped-20160926_0843451.jpgWe’ve been quite here on the Lead With Joy front. Between Christmas activities and illnesses, it’s made it tough to get posts out.

But we’re back.

On Thursday, January 18, three of us from Arapahoe Road Baptist Church will head on-mission to Trinidad and Tobago next week with the following missions:

  1. Meeting with local leaders to discuss the family life of a Christian leader;
  2. Be a part of a dedication service at Mt. Beulah Evangelical Baptist Church in Point Fortin;
  3. Meeting in elementary, middle, and high schools in the area to share with them about our country and about our citizenship in Christ (using the #3Circles Life Conversation Guide).
  4. Discipling a core group of believers in St. Mary’s to help them learn how to share the gospel (3 Circles) and disciple (using One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm).
  5. Tent preaching in the evenings.

Pray for us in the following ways:

  1. That we would be ready at a moment’s notice to share our hope in Jesus.
  2. That the seeds planted in the public schools would reap an eternal harvest.
  3. That we provide simple but effective tools for the core group to help gain traction for a thriving church in a tough area.
  4. That we would encourage the believers in the established churches through our prayer, the Word, and love.
  5. That we would help Christian leaders not separate home life from church life.
  6. For safe travel to and from my home way from home, Trinidad and Tobago.
  7. For the families we leave behind for those nine days.

Keep tabs here or watch on my page for videos we will post.  God has opened some major doors that we’ve never had opened before. Please pray for more opportunities and for a readiness to share the hope we have in Jesus.

The Treacherous Enemy Facing the Church Today (Tozer)

The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes “lord” in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal. Anyone can predict next Sunday’s service and what will happen. This seems to be the most deadly threat in the church today. When we come to the place where everything can be predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut. The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place where what has been determines what is, and what is determines what will be.

That would be perfectly all right and proper for a cemetery. Nobody expects a cemetery to do anything but conform. The greatest conformists in the world today are those who sleep out in the community cemetery. They do not bother anyone. They just lie there, and it is perfectly all right for them to do so. You can predict what everyone will do in the cemetery from the deceased right down to the people who attend a funeral there. Everyone and everything in a cemetery has accepted the routine. Nobody expects anything out of those buried in the cemetery. But the church is not a cemetery and we should expect much from it, because what has been should not be lord to tell us what is, and what is should not be ruler to tell us what will be. God’s people are supposed to grow.

As long as there is growth, there is an air of unpredictability. Certainly we cannot predict exactly, but in many churches you just about can. Everybody knows just what will happen, and this has become our deadliest enemy. We blame the devil, the “last days” and anything else we can think of, but the greatest enemy is not outside of us. It is within – it is an attitude of accepting things as they are. We believe that what was must always determine what will be, and as a result we are not growing in expectation.

— A.W. Tozer, Rut, Rot or Revival: The Problem of Change and Breaking Out of the Status Quo

Why it was necessary that Jesus Christ be true man in nature, in His body and in His soul, but without any sin

It was necessary that the Mediator of this covenant and this reconciliation be true man, but without any stain of original sin or any other, for the following reasons:

Firstly, since God is very righteous and man is the object of His wrath, because of natural corruption (1 Tim 2:5; John 1:14; Rom 1:3; Gal 4:4; Rom 8:2-4; 1 Cor. 1:30), it was necessary in order to reconcile men with God, that there be a true man in whom the ruins caused by this corruption would be totally repaired.

Secondly, man is compelled to fulfil all the righteousness which God demands from him in order to be glorified (Matt 3:15; Rom 5:18; 2 Cor. 5:21). It was therefore necessary that there be a man who would perfectly fulfil all righteousness in order to please God.

Thirdly, all men are covered with an infinite number of sins, as much internal as external; that is why they are liable to the curse of God (Rom 3:23-26; Is 53: 11, etc). It was therefore necessary that there be a man who would fully satisfy the justice of God in order to pacify Him.

Finally, no corrupt man would have been able, in any way, to even begin to fulfil the least of these actions. He would first of all have had need of a Redeemer for himself (Rom 8:2; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 3:18; 1 John 2:1-2). So much was necessary for himself before he could buy back the others, or could do anything pleasing or satisfying to God (Rom 14:23; Heb 11:6). It was therefore necessary that the Mediator and Redeemer of men be true man in his body and in his soul, and that he be, nevertheless, entirely pure and free from all sin.

— Theodore Beza (1519-1605)

How a Comma Brought About a Discipleship Coma

51l-g0rv2tl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Punctuation is important!  But a ‘coma?’

Look at the difference between these verses, one from the King James Version and another from the English Standard Version. First, the King James:

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Now the ESV (and most every other modern translation):

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Look at verse 12.  God gave leaders in the church:

  • For the perfecting of the saints
  • for the work of the ministry
  • For the edifying of the body of Christ.

That comma between “perfecting/equipping the saints” and “for the work of the ministry” is something that Robby Gallaty cleverly describes as “the comma that may have kept the church in a coma.”

The aim of your leaders in your church is not to do the work of the ministry exclusively, like a contractor hired by an organization to accomplish an assigned task, but as a shepherd showing the sheep how to be a flock.

He brings out another difference, this time in the Great Commission.  First, in the KJV:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Now the ESV (and all other modern translations):

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

It’s “teach” vs “make disciples.” There is a difference. Here’s Gallaty on the difference between the two.

They take this to mean that they share the gospel and then encourage people to “ask Jesus into their hearts.” They communicate information. But while communicating information is important, discipleship doesn’t end there. As we learned in our study of the Hebraic roots of discipleship, more is required to make a disciple than knowing facts about Jesus. Making disciples requires equipping and investing in a lengthy training process, particularly for new believers.  … A disciple is one who “is intentionally equipped with the Word of God through accountable relationships that are empowered by the Holy Spirit in order to produce Christ-likeness.” At the core, a disciple is not one who is in a static state of being, but one who continually grows and develops (Robby Gallaty, Rediscovering Discipleship, pp. 122-123).

For many, this is a paradigm shift of the first order, but it’s a necessary one.

  1. It’s not just up to the leaders to do all of the work, but to model by doing it as well as equipping.
  2. It’s not just about information dump, but a transformation of the heart and mind through teaching, investing, and equipping.

I cannot recommend Robby Gallaty’s Rediscovering Discipleship: Making Jesus’ Final Words our First Work enough!

 

 

 

Acceptable Mediocrity Among Preachers is Unacceptable

Paul Tripp posted this at The Gospel Coalition blog:

He was rushing out of the luncheon meeting with the staff of his church. Often at the end of a weekend conference, I will meet with the paid and volunteer leadership of the church, make a presentation, and answer their questions. It was about 2:30 p.m., and he was in a rush to get going because his sermon for the next day was hanging over his head. He had some errands to do, dinner with his family, and then sometime in the evening he would lock himself in his home office and try to put together his message for the next day. No matter what happened the rest of that day, no matter how much time he was actually able to devote to his sermons, and no matter how well his preparation went, and no matter how prepared he felt to deal with the text before him, he would get up and say something.

I wondered how many pastors were in the same place and had developed the same ministry habits. I wondered how many of them were throwing something together at the last minute; how many sermons were not given the time necessary for them to communicate what needed to be communicated. I wondered how many congregations around the world are plainly and simply being poorly fed by unprepared pastors. I wondered how many sermons end up being boring restatements of favorite commentaries or little more than impersonal, poorly delivered theological lectures.

I don’t need to wonder anymore. Having spoken at hundreds of churches around the world, I have experienced this Saturday afternoon sermon scenario over and over again. It has left me both sad and angry. No wonder people lack excitement with the gospel. No wonder they don’t approach Sunday morning with excitement and anticipation. No wonder they quit believing that the Bible speaks to the drama of their everyday struggle. No wonder they quit thinking their pastor can relate to what their life is like or answer the questions that tend to haunt them. No wonder so many people in so many pews sit there with minds wandering and hearts disengaged. No wonder it’s hard for them to push the last week’s problems or the next day’s duties out of their minds as they sit there on Sunday morning.

I am very concerned about acceptable Sunday morning mediocrity, and I am persuaded that it is not primary a schedule or laziness problem. I am convinced it is a theological problem. The standards you set for yourself and your ministry are directly related to your view of God. If you are feeding your soul every day on the grace and glory of God, if you are in worshipful awe of his wisdom and power, if you are spiritually stunned by his faithfulness and love, and if you are daily motivated by his presence and promises, then you want to do everything you can to capture and display that glory to the people God has placed in your care. It is your job as a pastor to pass this glory down to another generation, and it is impossible for you to do that if you are not being awe-stricken by God’s glory yourself.

Read the rest here (“Ambassadors of Glory for a Beaten-Down Church

Even the Acceptable Sins Will Kill You

6760271Many evangelical churches speak out against certain sins such as abortion, same-sex marriage, drinking, smoking, gambling, etc. Granted, some of these are specifically spoken of in Scripture, while some are more cultural and can be (can be) implied from Scripture.

I read through Romans 1:18-32 on Sunday morning during our Reading of the Word portion at the beginning of the service.  It’s dealing with how, even though creation screams out God’s eternal power and divine attributes that leave the world without excuse as to whether God exists or not, the lack of honoring Him or giving thanks to Him sets us on a downward trajectory.  They exchanged God’s glory for that which is created.  Therefore, God gave them up to their passions (Romans 1:24-32).  But look at the last paragraph:

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Paul begins to speak of ‘acceptable sins’–sins that we tolerate in our own lives and among the believers in a church.  Sins such as:

  • Gossipping
  • Slander
  • Disobedience to parents
  • The malicious person who disrupts

And many times, we put this caveat in:  “Oh, that’s just the way they are!”

And that’s the problem!  If that’s the way they are, and yet they refuse to (1) have an awareness of this fact, and (2) do not see a need nor have a desire to repent of it, then what will happen.

“Those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them, but give approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).  Acceptable sins!  And even acceptable sins can kill you–and you can be an accomplice to the death of others by our acceptance of these matters.

In our churches, we need to spend just as much time on these acceptable sins as we do on those sins we find (and God finds) unacceptable as well.

Otherwise, blood will be on our hands!