Month: March 2013 (page 1 of 2)

We Should Study Systematic Theology for the Gospel

The Gospel doesn’t need you. You need the Gospel.

So don’t misunderstand me. We don’t study because the Gospel is weak. We study because we have been commanded to defend the Gospel. When presented in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel is powerful. Consider our responsibility in Jude 3-4:

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

bible-jude Continue reading

Dealing with Conflict

Working conflictI had a student ask me for tips on how to handle conflict. I thought I would share my thoughts here.

First, let’s be honest. If you haven’t dealt with a lot of conflict it has the potential to make your palms sweat, your blood pressure rise, and your brain malfunction. You must control your emotions rather than have your emotions control you. Conflict is inevitable. Handling it well can make the difference between a successful resolution or a nervous breakdown. Here are some tips.

1.         Eternal Perspective:

This is the most important part to handling conflict in a way that glorifies God. At home when disciplining the kids, it must be about shepherding their heart toward God and not satisfying your anger. At work, you have a responsibility to disciple or impart spiritual wisdom into those around you. You can help an employee improve or recognize a weakness. If you are past that point, then you can help them understand their gifts and what job would allow them to succeed. Everyone wants to succeed which sometimes means moving to a different and more satisfying job. Continue reading

We Should Study Systematic Theology for Others (cont.)

Practical Application

Fitting White in MadagascarSpring2012

  • iPhone…check
  • bag of candy…check
  • deflated soccer ball…check
  • Polaroid Instant Camera…check.

You are ready to go. You’re going to impress everyone with your knowledge of how to draw a crowd in those African villages. Between your instant photos in villages that don’t think you are stealing their souls and your bags of candy, you’re about to become a rock star.

But, purgatory awaits–some call it international travel. Three plane flights over two days to get to your remote destination. As a seasoned traveler, you have a plan. Tylenol PM, eye mask, noise cancelling headphones, and neck cushion all tucked away in your carry on bag with a change of clothes just in case.

Finally, you land. A hot shower washes the sleep from your eyes, a film of filth gathered at 40,000 feet, and the stiffness from your knees being crammed against seats made for Pygmies. Continue reading

Should Every Sermon Be 3 Points and a Poem?

thomaswhite preachingI hope not, and I hope to explain a better way to look at sermon development that will allow for creativity and faithfulness to Scripture.

I learned a method called the “key word” method. The method served me fine for many texts, but I found great difficulty coming up with new and unique key words, and I also found difficulty preaching narratives or parables. While at Southwestern Seminary, I learned a new philosophy of preaching that doesn’t implement a particular “method,” but allows the text to determine the structure of the sermon–we call this text driven preaching.

While examining a text, you determine whether the passage dictates a deductive, inductive, or inductive/deductive approach. I’ll explain the different approaches in another post, but it would sidetrack this discussion so just stay with me for now. My point for today is to show the differences between a text driven sermon versus three points and a poem.

Let’s briefly look at Matthew 18:21-35 the parable of the unforgiving servant. Continue reading

We Should Study Systematic Theology for Others (cont.)

Theological Formulation

Jesus–the Sunday School answer to every question in church, right? You know who Jesus is. Jesus is “your homeboy.” Well if you think so, then you need to continue reading. Homeboys don’t command obedience, and the Bible calls us slaves to Christ, but you are not a slave to your homeboy.

For some, all they know of Jesus comes from sermons that have only given the subject a cursory treatment, and let’s not blame the pastors. I mean, how much can you really do in thirty minutes when the congregation expects a good story and specific application or they start playing games on their iPad?

This is why you must supplement good preaching with systematic study. Even the best text-driven sermon on Jesus could cover only one passage well. Yet just a basic systematic study should cover the four major Christological passages. These passages demonstrate that Jesus is fully man, fully God, existed for all eternity, and much more… Continue reading

Revive This Nation Update from Tues. and Wed.

rtn-web-logoEvery year through Revive This Nation, God moves. Sometimes He moves in the heart of preacher preaching his first five sermons to call him to a lifetime of service. Sometimes, front lines pastors receive encouragement from a fired up student while imparting years of wisdom in that same young mind. Sometimes, people get saved, ask for repentance, marriages are restored, and lives are forever changed as people encounter a risen Lord. I am blessed to be part of it all. If you take the time to read through just a few of the reports from Tuesday and Wednesday, then I think you will understand why. Perhaps next year, your church would like to participate in Revive this Nation 2014.

Here are some of the updates from Tuesday and Wednesday night services:

Tuesday

  • Shredded a young couples divorce papers in the church office today as they agreed to forgive, love again & let Jesus bring healing. #rtn13
  • I am a flawed unworthy vessel proclaiming a flawless and worthy God. #rtn13
  • Ate lunch w/ awesome family headed to mission field. Tonight altar full of people praying. God is moving at Sand Spring.#rtn13
  • Ppl are visually affected by the Word. But reluctant to openly respond. Pray for the softening of their hearts. #RTN13
  • GLORY TO GOD…78 y/o Chairman of the Deacons and his wife came tonight to repent and rededicate their lives to Christ. Hallelujah
  • Great to b n the house of The Lord 2nite! The Spirit’s movin n Morganton. Lives r being changed and people r drawing close to Jesus! #RTN13
  • PTL Altar full tonight. I preached on biblical view of family. We cannot be the families we need to be until we all submit to Christ #RTN13
  • Had a great service tonight. Had a man come forward to confess that he has been away from God and wanted to come back to him #rtn13
  • Preached on boldness in witnessing tonight. One lady is going to witness to her husband of 45 years! Pray for her. #RTN13
  • Text message WV: 2 prayed to receive Christ tonight! 2 came requesting believers baptism & several more for repentance of sin! #rtn13
  • Prayed with a confessed alcoholic tonight. Knows he needs The Lord but isn’t willing to take the step yet. Please pray! #RTN13
  • Preached Exodus 32 on idolatry tonight in New Boston, a lot of tears all around. May God replace our foolish idols with Himself! #rtn13
  • text message from Mike Morris in AZ: one profession of faith last night. #rtn13

Wednesday

  • Martin came to Christ Sunday morning. Pastor & I just led his wife to the Lord! #rtn13
  • Fantastic final service tonight! God worked on many hearts about reaching the lost & whole church prayed for me afterwards. #blessed #rtn13
  • God saved 3 teenagers tonight in Weaver, AL! #rtn13
  • Great final night at Sand Spring in KY. People at altar crying out to God, one husband and wife reconciled. Lives changed. Priceless. #rtn13
  • Text message from Marissa IL: Great news Tonight we had a 10 year old girl accept Christ! #rtn13
  • Hugs and tears tonight. Christ worked through a lady pleading for healing between her and her abusive father #rtn13
  • No professions of faith, but Revival occurred-most especially in my heart. Coming back with certainty in Gods calling to preach! #rtn13
  • Had a great time @FBCOB this week. They have three new candidates for baptism, & two other new members. Lives blessed including mine! #rtn13
  • One salvation tonight in Poncha Springs, CO! Many encouraged and excited for the Lord. Praise the Lord! #RTN13
  • Text from Cameron WV: 2 more praying to receive Christ as savior! One of them a deacons daughter! Praise the Lord! #rtn13
  • There’s a new name written down in glory from Morganton tonight. Others revived & challenged to share the Gospel #RTN13 Oh the power of the Gospel!
  • We’re talking revival and dry bones coming to life! Saints revived and the lost saved! Answered prayers in Riley…Thank God!! #rtn13
  • I’m so grateful for the investment that FBC Junction has made in my life. Thank you. #RTN13
  • God has been so gracious to move mightily in FBC Wellston, OK this week. A husband & wife came to Christ, & many at altar to pray.
  • Bittersweet to be leaving this body of believers in Wellsburg, WV. God is doing great things here. Thank you for having me. #RTN13
  • text message from Mike Morris: two more professions of faith tonight. #rtn13

Thursday most of our Southwestern preachers will head home. Please pray for safety as they travel, and also pray that the Lord continues what He has started both in the hearts of the preachers and the churches who participated in Revive This Nation 2013.

Revive This Nation Update from Monday Night

rtn-web-logoHere is the latest from Monday night’s services.

  • Text message: evangelism for 3 hours, 45 mph winds.1 house gun drawn; bit by dog at another. Last house led Meth dealer to the Lord! #rtn13
  • Text message from WV: 3 more pray to receive Christ as Lord today. Many more prayed for lost by name! #rtn13
  •  Text message: High school girl in Kersey, PA professed Christ today. #PreachTheWord #ReachTheWorld #rtn13
  • Many confess sin publicly and ask God for deliverance and rescue! Believers freed up from anger bitterness self image & fear tonight #RTN13
  • Met 2 girls from China. 1 girl’s father is a gov’t official. Her faith in Christ will bring her grief. pray 4 her father 2 find Jesus #rtn13
  • Young man came forward confessing Christ and desiring baptism. One young lady joined the church. Saw many men praying w/ their wife! #rtn13
  • Two young ladies professed faith in Christ tonight. #RTN13
  • Altar filled tonight with people giving up anger in their hearts. One indicated she needed Christ but didn’t profess. Pray for her. #rtn13
  • Lady in tears tonight forgave her husband for a wrong. God takes bitter and makes it better when “I” get out of the way. #rtn13
  • Preached Matt 18:21-35 Unforgiving Servant. Had 1 man rip of record of wrong he kept in wallet for 4 years. God still Move. #rtn13
  • PTL…Love seeing men come to the altar to repent and choose to Stand Firm! #RTN13
  • Two rededications last night. Another joined the church. #rtn13
  • The Spirit of the Lord came. There were several rededications and two separate couples recommitted their lives to the Lord and to each other.
  • Revival has picked up! 15 to 25 to 40 last pm in snowstorm. Can’t wait 4 tonight. lights went out at end of sermon #rtn13
  • Nothing like #RTN13; Climbing into baptistry w dry clean only suit to baptize new sister in Christ. Isaiah 55:1-3

These are representative of what God is doing all over the nation. Please continue to pray the preachers and the church tonight and tomorrow night. Most importantly, pray that God will convict us of our sin and that our nation will repent and turn to Him whether that happens this week or after our preachers have returned home. Let’s all pray for God to Revive This Nation. For a complete list of preachers and churches click here.

Sunday’s report is listed here.

Revive This Nation Reports

rtn-web-logoI have received reports from all across the country. Here is a sampling:

  • I can’t figure out the Twitter thing but Jesus showed up and one was saved one rededication.
  • 2 men came forward tonight. 1 confessing porn addiction another adultery.
  • Young girl named Hannah got saved tonight at Jackson Avenue Baptist Church in West Virginia. Love #RTN13
  • Six professions of faith tonight on the left coast! #RTN13
  • Pray for Tia and Keenan both 17. They chose to follow Jesus this morning! #RTN13
  • Holy Spirit fell in Fortuna, MO tonight! Several people reconciled to God and the name of Christ was glorified! #RTN13
  • 4-5 people came to the altar tonight to commit to do things God’s way and repent of doing things their way. Keep praying for us! #RTN13
  • God is awakening some dry bones here in Illinois! Privilege preaching and ministering to these people #RTN13
  • Young girl drove off only to return minutes later for baptism and membership. In tears over the churches’ acceptance. #RTN13
  • Was told 2nite that small group study is going right along with the messages Amazing how God works! #RTN13 excited to go out & visit 2morrow
  • Beast feast w/ venison BBQ, Blue Grass Band, plenty of people, & Gospel preacher. It’s go time! #PreachTheWord #rtn13
  • After service-“you’re hitting me where it hurts and I don’t like it, but I know its God talking so I’ll be back tomorrow”-Glory to God #rtn13
  • No professions made public this morning at Union Hope, but the altar was filled with God’s people praying for laborers and the lost #RTN13.
  • Spoke 3 times at Sand Spring BC in KY. Great church, great pastor, & staff. Several came forward & one made profession public! #rtn13
  • The suit has been lint rolled. Coffee has been downed. Notes have been reviewed. Full Windsor knot. Prayed up. Ready to preach! #RTN13
  • Baptized students this morning for the 4th week in a row& have more to come! Excited about what God is doing! #FBCOB #ThriveFBCOB #RTN13
  • Pray for my new friend Alvin. Still has neuropathy after 4 surgeries. Wife in tears over it this morning. Needs trust not bitterness #RTN13
  • Was thrilled to see several come to the altar this morning at FBC Junction to submit whatever they were holding back to Christ. #RTN13
  • Wow what a night! Praying over a student missionary, amazing music, & @tommykiker brought the Word and finally desserts! #REVIVAL #rtn13
  • 8in. of snow. Meeting with Bob Bray, director of missions in MN. Strategizing the best way to reach Rochester for Christ! #rtn13
  • Lots of liberty in preaching. Some moved to tears at the love of Christ this am. Several Mormons heard the true gospel this evening #RTN13
  • Praise the Lord! A gentleman named Martin gave his life to Christ this morning! #rtn13

There are many more, but you can see why I am so encouraged. Perhaps my favorite is this one.

“I got here safely and adequately prepared to face the weather…Sunday morning, awesome, one dedication and looking forward to evening.  This is the real America; everywhere is white not as snow but with snow (That’s real America for an African). The communication network platform for my phone (and some other ones) is bad here, no guarantees at every point. To God be the glory for everything.”

Please continue to pray for God to move in a mighty way. You can see the full list of preachers and church here. We have three more nights of services, and the effort to Revive This Nation must begin in each one of us. If believers in the churches encounter the risen Lord and live for Him, then we may truly see the spark that Revives This Nation.

Will Your Last Words Be the Same as Hugo Chavez?

130305_hugo_chavez_lg

(AP Photo/Andres Leighton, File)

“I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die.” General Jose Ornella says that these were Hugo Chavez’s last words. He elaborated, “He couldn’t speak but he said it with his lips.”[1]

I don’t know where Chavez will spend eternity. Only the Lord can see into a man’s heart. What I do know is that the Christian has a faith that carries beyond the grave. Our hope does not rest in this body. Reading a comment today that Chavez amassed 2 billion dollars of wealth, I can’t help but think of the parabolic story of Jesus recorded in Luke 16:19-31.[2] You may know it as Lazarus and the Rich Man or the story of the Great Reversal.

22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.

For the Christian, hope comes not in material possessions of this world, but in the promise that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us; the promise that to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ; and the promise that He will one day return. One day, we will receive a glorified body free from the sinful stains of this world.

Pastors will find a relevant sermon illustration in the last words of Chavez, and I hope that you will consider your own last words. May they not be looking back upon what you leave behind, but looking forward to what comes next. If you don’t have that assurance, you can through repenting of your sins and putting your faith in Jesus Christ.

We Should Study Systematic Theology for Others

Jesus commanded His disciples and now commands us in Matt. 28:19-20,

Matt. 28-19-20, “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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

We have seen the rise of an unhealthy and unnatural division between evangelism and theology. One cannot do evangelism properly without good theology and one cannot possess good theology without a passion for evangelism. A further dichotomy between the subjects of evangelism and missions complicates any discussion of the Great Commission. Starting wherever God places us, we must evangelize to the ends of the earth with a personal plan for participating in reaching the nations with the Gospel and with teaching them all that we have been commanded.

We have not completed the Great Commission until we have taught “all nations” to observe all that God commanded us. How do you teach all that God commanded if you do not know what God commanded? Systematic Theology allows us to understand so that we can teach others the commands of God.

ultra2-01Think about it like an arrow. Most people in society would be able to identify an arrow if you asked them what it was. But the unknowing person may overlook many intricacies of an arrow. A typical arrow has cresting, fletching, a nock, and a tip. All of these may vary from arrow to arrow for a specific purpose. Understanding the details of an arrow allows you to teach someone else more than just that it is an arrow.

  • Cresting can be seen on the shaft of an arrow. In days gone by, the cresting allowed someone to identify the arrow as theirs should they find it in a field. In modern times, it functions as an advertisement for its manufacturer.
  • The fletching (some may refer to as feathers) sit at the back of the arrow and affect its flight. The bigger the tip or the greater the natural bend in the shaft, the heavier the fletching needed to keep the arrow straight. Some arrows have fletching for hunting birds so that it does not fly too far and others have fletching for penetrating large animals like deer or bear.
  • The nock allows the arrow to be situated properly upon the string and to keep the arrow in place until released. Without a proper nock, the arrow cannot be released accurately.
  • The tip must be designed for the right purpose. A field tip is used for practice because you don’t want to dull your hunting tips while shooting at targets. A broadhead has razor sharp edges and comes with varying diameters of cutting patterns to harvest larger animals. Some archers use spring loaded or mechanical blades so that the arrow will shoot more like the field point they practiced with, and other archers like fixed blades so that they don’t have to worry about the blades opening properly upon penetration.

My point in all of this is to demonstrate to you that an arrow is not just an arrow. Much needs to be learned by someone who wants to demonstrate knowledge about arrows or to teach others about arrows, and I don’t consider myself an expert in this field.

The same holds true with the Gospel. It is simple enough for a child to understand it and complicated enough that a theologian will never completely explain it. Somewhere between the child and the theologian lie the rest of us who must do our best to learn all we can and then share that truth to the ends of the earth. We must study Systematic Theology for others.

Editor's Note: This is post 6 in a series of 12.
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