Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why Bother Being Good?

IRVINE, CA—Saying he doesn’t even feel like trying anymore, 8-year-old Max Bledsoe expressed his strong disappointment Monday after learning that his parents’ love is unconditional. “I always thought they loved me because I’d actually earned it .  .  .  ., 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bible Reading Resources - Updated for 2014

As part of our Covenant Renewal focus for the first two weeks of January 2014, I'd like to post a variety of resources for people who are interested in developing the spiritual discipline of regular Bible reading.  I'll begin with a few overview comments and then move from beginning steps to more intense Bible reading programs.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Life Together: Confession Together

Several times over the past few months, our worship has included a more structured time of corporate confession, confession of faith and corporate prayer. It is a more “liturgical” practice than has been typical of churches in our evangelical and Reformed family. The conversations I’ve had with folks afterward have all been interesting, and mostly positive.

These “experiments in our corporate worship” grow primarily out of my concern for the lack of deep roots - deep in the Spirit, Scripture, thinking and community - that seems to be the experience of many American believers. I look around and see a very “make it up and figure it out as you go” sort of individualistic faith. Take our rightful emphasis on a “personal relationship with Jesus” place it in a consumer focused culture and slim it down with hectic, overcrowded lives and what is left seems very different than the faith that turned the world upside down as recorded in the Book of Acts.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Missional Ministry Presentations from Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic

Several times each year pastors and elders and interested parties from EPC church in North and South Carolina as well as West Virginia and Virginia gather to meet.  It’s a great time of fellowship, business, worship, planning, prayer and training.  I have always looked forward to this get-together, even when it means travel and expense.

At our September meeting at Trinity EPC in Florence, SC we had a particularly outstanding training time.  Not one, but TWO outstanding presentations that gave me so much inspiration, instruction and good things to ponder, that I want to make them available through my blog to all comers.  Here they are:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Marketing Fraud!

I love this book!
Anyone who has been at Christ Covenant for more than a few weeks knows how I love the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  I love it for myself and am glad to share it with everyone – including the intended audience: children.  You can see it on your left here.

But look at the book on the right.  Look similar?  Indeed?  Is it at all similar?  Absolutely NOT!  Think that is a mistake?  Don’t bet on it!

The book to the right - A Jesus Storybook You’ve Never
I wouldn't even put this book in an outhouse!
Heard About: 20 Extra-Biblical Tales From the Untold Story of Jesus’ Childhood – is a marketing fraud of the first order.

It is a “child’s edition” of stories from Gospel of Thomas.  The Gospel of Thomas has been known and been around for centuries.  Most scholars would place it centuries AFTER the life of Jesus and the four Gospels in the New Testament.  It is widely reputed as of no historical reliability.  It was rejected by the early church and the people closest to Jesus not because it was different, but because it was untrue and unreliable.  That happens with other stories to this day!

Healthy Numbers For A Sunday of Ministry

When I go to the Doctor, they always take my pulse and blood pressure.  These are two quick measures that relate to my health.  So what are the measures of church health?  What are the “metrics of ministry?”

Most people look quickly to attendance and giving because they are pretty straightforward to measure and do say something about church health.  But everyone agrees that by themselves, “noses and nickels” are ineffective and incomplete measures of what real health is for the Body of Christ.

Southern Baptists were famous for counting Sunday School attendance rather than membership or worship attendance.  This gets closer to a measure of health, because Sunday School classes typically have a stronger relationship component than the worship service.

If I could get an accurate measure of two things, I would be most interested in each person’s depth of “Interactive Relationship with God” and “Living by Gospel Grace.”  I’m not sure I can aptly measure that in my own life – beware of self-deception – much less the life of anyone else, but you get my picture.  If those two roots are healthy, I’m thinking that a number of other “fruit” – prayer, Bible reading, giving, service, evangelism – would flow from them.

So, I’m not sure I’m closer to an adequate measure of church health for Christ Covenant, but I’ll tell you three numbers that I am celebrating from yesterday, August 18: 3, 29 and 115.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Running The Race Of Your Life

Today, I preached the Gospel of Grace from Hebrews 12:1-3 with a focus on the phrase, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  The obvious metaphor is that of an endurance race.  In my preparation, I gathered the stories of two families I am close to who each faced a race of faith that was at one point similar, but became very different.  They both involved Down syndrome.

This past Thursday morning, I came across a post on TheGospelCoalition.Org site that pointed me to the ESPN story on the White family.  Though I did not use the entire video in the sermon, it is so moving and connects so well with what I hoped to say, that I want to make it easily available for you.  I’ve included some other resources as well.

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