Monday, January 25, 2016

What are the Schemes of Satan?

“I have done this so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes.” -2 Corinthians 2:11

Satan is the great enemy of mankind, especially God’s people. In fact "Satan" means "adversary." The Bible refers to the devil by a number of names and descriptions. He is seen as "the anointed cherub" (Ezek. 28:14), "the ruler of demons" (Luke 11:15), "the ruler of this world" (John 16:11), "the god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4), and "the prince of the power of the air" (Eph 2:2). He is identified as a great dragon, a roaring lion, the vile one, the tempter, and the accuser. He is formidable, cunning, and powerful. Paul writing to the Corinthian church realized that Satan was working overtime in the church and emphasizes that we are to be vigilant and alert to his subtlety. Satan’s advantage is based upon one being ignorant of his devices or his methods. The devil’s devices by which he seeks to deceive God’s children, defeat God’s church, destroy God’s work, and denigrate God’s Word.

I. Distraction
The goal is simple get us to major on the minors and to minimize the majors. Satan seeks to distract us by getting us to focus our attention on the material instead of the spiritual, on methods rather than the message, on men rather than God. (1 John 2:15-16, 2 Timothy 2:4; Colossians 3:2)

II. Discouragement
One of Satan’s most potent weapons is trying to get you into a feeling of discouragement, so maybe you’ll give up. Discouragement is a lack of hope usually after a major victory. Many are confronted with it on Monday after a break through on Sunday. The Devil wants you to believe that things are worse than what they are and that you are the only one who cares. That is exactly how Elijah felt the day after his victory on Mt Carmel. (Deuteronomy 1:28, Numbers 21:4-5; Galatians 6:9)

III. Disillusionment
Disillusionment is the state of being disenchanted or disappointed by unfulfilled expectations. (Proverbs 13:12, Philippians 1:21)
·      “If you expect perfection from people, your whole life is a series of disappointments, grumblings, and complaints. If, on the contrary, you pitch your expectations low, taking folks as the inefficient creatures, which they are, you are frequently surprised by having them perform better than you had hoped.” - Bruce Fairfield Barton (1886-1967).

IV. Discontentment
Perhaps this should be labeled as unholy discontentment, unholy discontentment is being angry with God for the hand you have been dealt. (Numbers 21:5-6, 1 Corinthians 10:10, Philippians 2:14, James 5:8-9, Colossians 3:17)
·      “A godly man wonders at his cross that it is not more, a wicked man wonders why his cross is so much.” – Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

V. Discord (division)
A very simple but effective tool used by the enemy to destroy churches. Usually this takes the form of pettiness and is accompanied with unholy discontentment. (1 Corinthians 1:10-11, Romans 12:3-5, Philippians 1:27)
·      The problem with the church today is not corruption. It is not institutionalism. No, the problem is far more serious than something like the minister running away with the organist. The problem is pettiness. Blatant pettiness. – Mike Yaconelli in The Wittenburg Door

VI. Disassociation
The devil loves when believers do not fellowship: he loves it when we distance ourselves from each other. (Hebrews 10:25, 1 Corinthians 12:18-21, 1 Corinthians 12:25, 1 Peter 5:8)

“Don’t give the Devil an opportunity.” –Ephesians 4:27

Friday, January 22, 2016

Five Insights from Breaking the Missional Code

Breaking the Missional Code by Ed Stetzer and David Putman challenges church leaders and pastors to think like a missionary.  Missionaries on the field have always understood that there are cultural barriers and helps to understanding the gospel.  We must understand the culture in order to  evangelize effectively.  Here are five insights I gained from the book.  If you are a pastor I highly recommend that you read it.
  1. Avoid “Preference Slavery.” (52) Move from personal preferences into Missional Thinking.  As time progresses all churches tend to turn inwardly focused.  Inward focus must be challenged by missional thinking, seeing others as Christ sees them.  If we don't fight out inward tendency we will become slaves to our own preferences, and not Christ's slaves.  Never lose focus on the Great Commission!
  2. Have Intentionality in Ministry (see Chapter 3).  Many churches are drifting like a ship without a rutter.  As cultural winds and waves push, the church moves more and more off course.  We must have a biblical center and be intentional with our resources.
  3. The Author’s questions and discussion on Code breaking found on pages 81-83.  The authors give us some questions to help us begin to break the code in our own context.  Here are some helpful questions:
    1. Where are the unchurched/unreached?
    2. Who are the unchurched/unreached?
    3. Why are they unchurched/unreached?
    4. What is God doing among the unchurched/unreached?
  4. View Missions and Evangelism as codependent on each other. (3 & 226). What is the difference between missions and evangelism?  In other words in order to evangelize people we must first understand them.
  5. In church revitalization, start with spiritual renewal and begin with worship that Honors God and Connects with the Community. (139)  Insight number five was a huge insight.  In Eating the Elephant, Rainer and Lawless argue for beginning with outreach after renewal, but Stetzer disagrees.  I think that Stetzer is correct in his assessment.  If we were on the mission field and we did outreach, but failed to have a worship service that connects with the culture those who come to Christ will struggle to connect with God.  It is the same in our North American context.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

State of the Church Address

Chart 1.1 shows Sunday School Attendance, AM Worship Attendance, and Guests.

Looking Behind- Review

1. has received a total of 3,976 pageviews up from 2,958 pageviews last month in the last month- total of 1019 over December and to this point in January.

2. Attended Southeastern Seminary January 11-15, 2016.

3. January Bible Study 2016 is in 2 Corinthians, we will remain there during the winter.

2015 By the Numbers:

· Average Sunday Morning Attendance = 197

· Average Sunday School Attendance = 144

· Average Sunday Morning Guests = 5

· New Members in 2015 = 16

o 5 Baptisms

o 6 Letters

o 5 Statements of Faith

· Deaths of Members = 5

· Transfers out to other churches = 9

· Net Gain for the Year in Membership = 2

· Highest Attended Sunday = April 5, 2015 @ 281 in attendance (Easter Sunday)

· Lowest Attended Sunday = February 15, 2015 @ 116 in attendance (Snow Day)

Highlights of 2015:

  • Battery Saturday 2015!
  • Baptism of four children this week in one Sunday Morning Service. List includes: Rachael White, Andrew White, Don Singleton, and Asher Tyler.
  • Passing our Mission Statement: “To Know Christ And to Make Him Known.”
  • VBS 2015
  • Fall Harvest on October 31, 2015.
  • Larger Thank Expected Turnout for Griefshare this past Fall; a new face almost ever week.
  • Special Called Business Meeting in December with an 86% approval in favor of the new service! Looking forward to what God is going to do at our church in 2016.
  • Christmas Baskets Ministry:
    •  22 Children received Christmas Gifts
    • 9 Food Baskets were prepared and given out.
Looking Ahead- Preview

· Battery Saturday moved to April 2, 2016

· Return to Southeastern on June 16-24. Note: This will be the last weeklong seminary I will attend, year three is writing.

Monday, January 18, 2016

How do I know if I am being called to faithful gospel ministry?

“This saying is trustworthy: "If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work."” -1 Timothy 3:1

My calling to preach the gospel originated as a freshman in college at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The call came during a time of prayer and bible reading. The day it happened my mind was filled with images of Christ on the cross, the suffering, and the mission Christ left us. While in prayer, I asked the Lord to show me His Will. I asked if he wanted me to serve him in the ministry and preach the word. I didn’t hear an audible voice, there was no still small voice, and there was no burning bush there was however my Bible. I grabbed my bible desperately looking for an answer, opened it randomly and it fell to Second Corinthians chapter six verse three though thirteen, which describes the Apostle’s hardships in ministry. I became completely convinced that this was my decisive call from God to preach the word and minister faithfully to him. I went to my home church in the next few weeks, and they affirmed the call. Those verses that were used that day I have returned to many times for encouragement and reaffirmation.

1 Timothy 3:1 gives a general call to all who have desires, and a specific call similar to what is seen in Jeremiah 20:9. Pastor Vic Wallace, my mentoring pastor, use to say, “Do you have the desire to preach like a burning in the bones?” What he means is there a burning desire to preach the Word of God? It is an unquenchable need to preach the Word of God.

  • Discern Your Call Though Wisdom. Mystical readings outside the Holy Bible that discern “God’s Will” make for captivating stories, but fall short compared to the Word of God. The Bible says in Hebrews 1:1-2 that God spoke in the past though burning bushes, still small voices, even a donkey, but today he speaks through His Son. 
  • Have Your Local Church Affirm Your Call. While ordination exists more for tax breaks then as a biblical concept, an affirmation from your local church is vital to understanding if you are called to preach the gospel. Your local church should be able to see the gifting (Matt 28:14-20; John 21:15-17; Acts 6:2, 11:25-26; Eph 4:11; and 1 Tim 3:2) and qualifications (1 Timothy 3) being met in your life.
  • Understand that being a pastor is not the only way to faithfully served Christ.  If you have discerned that you want to live a life sold out to Jesus, Praise God you get the gospel! However, this does not mean that you are called to preach the gospel! In seminary I remember many who just floated into seminary, because they didn’t really know what they wanted to do and Bible College ended. Ask yourself hard questions like, what gets me really excited when I think about serving the Lord? What am I passionate about? What energizes me as I serve God? We need faithful lay leaders in local churches just as much or more so than we need faithful ministers of the gospel!