Register today for the conference in Newark. If you are interested in getting the mp3’s after the conference, please let me know and I’ll shoot em to you! Pray for the healthy church conference in South GA Oct 2 through 9th. www.biblicalevangelism.info
Dear Church Family,
This prayer request is one of personal labor, and I ask that each of you make petitions to the Lord for FBCN and for Robyn, me and the children. Throughout the past four years, we have been actively praying for God to multiply His church across California and into other parts of the world. Many of you have labored with us in this journey as we hold fast to the confession of our hope who is Jesus Christ, and many of you have seen God do many things as FBCN has been equipped to “go make disciples”.
As the elders have urged the church to be a planting church in 2009, 2010 and Jan of 2011, I know you have all been praying to this end. My role in church planting and expansion of the gospel has always been to equip and teach others the truth of God’s word, and we have seen God transform many lives and bring life to a body of believers.
This calendar year, we have seen God make opportunities for new birth in several cities, and my personal prayer has been that I could be used to assist and facilitate these churches as FBCN stands as a mother church to these mission churches. In May of this year, God struck my heart that maybe I was to step out in faith and answer the call to plant a new church. As we returned from the East Coast, God was clear that we were going to be doing just that. So our prayer began to change that God would make clear how and when this was going to take place.
By divine arrangement, God has shown us that the time is now and has opened the doors wide and given us a clear direction to indeed become missionaries and answer His call to church planting. Please pray for us as this is not easy and our love for you is great. Just as the churches we left in the past are still dear to our hearts and our ministry to them is yet to be severed, neither will your souls leave our concern.
The elders at FBCN have been aware of this possibility as we have all prayed for God’s timing and clarity. God is preparing them to continue to serve and lead you effectively as you have entrusted yourselves to their care in accordance with the scriptures. The elders that remain will continually labor for your joy in Christ.
My last Sunday preaching will be September 4th and after that time we will be in active missions status and head back to the rural south east for a season of fighting the good fight and defending the faith. Although I am the primary teaching elder for FBCN, the other elders have great care for you and will effectively lead this church to find another man who will teach in my absence. You have entrusted yourself to the word of God and through the calling and election of your elders, they will continue to watch over you, guide you and correct you as you stray, stay and work out your salvation together as a family. My ministry with you as your pastor of preaching is coming to an end, but my ministry with you for the kingdom is just beginning.
We will be actively returning to the Bay Area as the Lord allows to walk with you in ministry. We seek your prayers and for some of you, you might even pray how else God might have you participate in the efforts of church planting. I will be making a personal announcement this Sunday. We are holding fast to the word of God and His grace to sustain us all during this time of transition and rest assured that the continued pursuit of unity will be maintained in my absence, as will the strong affection for the gospel through the teaching of God’s word with zeal and truth!
For His Glory by His Grace,
The following are the words of Bishop JC Ryle and were shared with me today by a brother in ministry. Read and relish the great wisdom and truth straight from the word.
“…and counteth the cost…” Lk. 14:28
Let there be no mistake about my meaning. I am not examining what it costs to save a Christian’s soul. I know well that it costs nothing less than the blood of the Son of God to provide an atonement and to redeem man from hell. The price paid for our redemption was nothing less than the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary. We “are bought with a price.” “Christ gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Tim. 2:6). But all this is wide of the question. The point I want to consider is another one altogether. It is what a man must be ready to give up if he wishes to be saved. It is the amount of sacrifice a man must submit to if he intends to serve Christ. It is in this sense that I raise the question: “What does it cost?” And I believe firmly that it is a most important one.
I grant freely that it costs little to be a mere outward Christian. A man has only got to attend a place of worship twice on Sunday and to be tolerably moral during the week, and he has gone as far as thousands around him ever go in religion. All this is cheap and easy work: it entails no self–denial or self–sacrifice. If this is saving Christianity and will take us to heaven when we die, we must alter the description of the way of life, and write, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to heaven!”
But it does cost something to be a real Christian, according to the standard of the Bible. There are enemies to be overcome, battles to be fought, sacrifices to be made, an Egypt to be forsaken, a wilderness to be passed through, a cross to be carried, a race to be run. Conversion is not putting a man in an armchair and taking him easily to heaven. It is the beginning of a mighty conflict, in which it costs much to win the victory. Hence arises the unspeakable importance of “counting the cost.”
Let me try to show precisely and particularly what it costs to be a true Christian. Let us suppose that a man is disposed to take service with Christ and feels drawn and inclined to follow Him. Let us suppose that some affliction or some sudden death or an awakening sermon has stirred his conscience and made him feel the value of his soul and desire to be a true Christian. No doubt there is everything to encourage him. His sins may be freely forgiven, however many and great. His heart may be completely changed, however cold and hard. Christ and the Holy Spirit, mercy and grace, are all ready for him. But still he should count the cost. Let us see particularly, one by one, the things that his religion will cost him.
1. True Christianity will cost one his self–righteousness. He must cast away all pride and high thoughts and conceit of his own goodness. He must be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another. He must really feel as well as say the Prayer Book words, that he has “erred and gone astray like a lost sheep,” that he has “left undone the things he ought to have done, and that there is no health in him.” He must be willing to give up all trust in his own morality, respectability, praying, Bible reading, church–going, and sacrament receiving, and to trust in nothing but Jesus Christ.
2. True Christianity will cost a man his sins. He must be willing to give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God’s sight. He must set his face against it, quarrel with it, break off from it, fight with it, crucify it and labor to keep it under, whatever the world around him may say or think. He must do this honestly and fairly. There must be no separate truce with any special sin which he loves. He must count all sins as his deadly enemies and hate every false way. Whether little or great, whether open or secret, all his sins must be thoroughly renounced. They may struggle hard with him every day and sometimes almost get the mastery over him. But he must never give way to them. He must keep up a perpetual war with his sins. It is written, “Cast away from you all your transgressions.” “Break off your sins…and iniquities.” “Cease to do evil” (Ezek. 18:31; Dan. 4:27; Isa. 1:16).
This sounds hard. I do not wonder. Our sins are often as dear to us as our children: we love them, hug them, cleave to them and delight in them. To part with them is as hard as cutting off a right hand or plucking out a right eye. But it must be done. The parting must come. “Though wickedness be sweet in the sinner’s mouth, though he hide it under his tongue; though he spare it, and forsake it not,” yet it must be given up, if he wishes to be saved (Job 20:12, 13). He and sin must quarrel if he and God are to be friends. Christ is willing to receive any sinners. But He will not receive them if they will stick to their sins. [click to continue…]
Last Saturday as the elders and those in training for ministry gathered, the continued discussion on sin the life of the believer launched itself into a new puddle. As we splashed around for a bit an object lesson jumped into my mind. Writing on the board a list of sins from the brothers in the room gave a clear picture as to the measure of our depravity but also to the evidence of God’s grace in our lives. One of the brothers made the comment that for many professing believers that continue to sin actively and openly, it seems they hide behind the scripture and use the bible for an excuse for their sin. This comment opened a door of great dialog and here is how we landed our plane that day.
- Sin is always sin and it is an abomination to God because God’s worthiness is His holiness. Holy defines God. God is LIGHT John says and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
- Sin is always in the life of all humans. Although we grow in grace and are sanctified more and more, there is always sin. (Romans 7)
- As one grows in the Lord, he or she sins less, but is never sinless. (1 John 2:1)
- The sins of the “saints” are not purposefully visible but for the most part are the root sins of the heart and mind. (James 1)
- As a person acts on the sin of the heart and mind, it gives birth to more sin that compounds. (James 1:15)
- For the person who claims fellowship with God but continues in active and open rebellion, it is hard to see regeneration through grace in that life and thus, the reason for church discipline in the scripture – to prove the work of the Lord. (1 John 1:5)
This won’t be a long dragged out treatise on affection and eternal focus, it’s really a theological gripe stemming from a world-view that I should not fuss over because it is expected. I recently was forced to watch a hip-hop video that was auto played in my browser by a prominent artist who just released a new song revolving around his desire to live for himself. He made the statement that if haters laugh, they will stop when the “paper” or money piles up.
Not that we should have no money, but recently I see so many young people leave the faith to pursue the treasures of the world. It discourages me. The reason this happens is not because of the churches inability to draw and keep them, but because they never loved Jesus. Don’t crucify my generalization, but at large, the main stay of people who come to Christ (per se) and walk away were never His. Those who do walk, or rather step away who are His are drawn back by His grace. The temptations of the world are strong and highly seductive and many youth and young adults feel empowered to be successful financially and empowered by the prestige of worldly success. This is the problem we see with the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10 who desired eternal life, just not enough to give away his true love, his possessions of rot and decay.
I pray that each of us would look around our homes, at our bank statements and realize that there is none that doesn’t have idols. Even some of my favorite bibles can become idols at times. However, the reality for the children of God is that they pursue HIM above the world and what they have that is of the world they realize it comes from Him hand for His glory. Our stewardship of stuff is a clear indicator of our affection toward Christ. We should pray for God to help us be generous, frugal and focused on eternal glory rather that the glory that comes from men.
Just a minute ago I tweeted a statement that said, “For tha paper chasers, know that if it ain’t scripture paper it might as well be toilet paper… The World is DYING, #ChristAlone 1Jn2:15″ Many people began to comment privately to me in support of the truth behind it. Money and wealth (paper) is nothing but additives to the dung heap of this dying world. Pray for yourself and your siblings in Christ and for sure the lost around us that they might see and savor the greatest treasure of the cosmos; Jesus the Christ!
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy— wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
1 John 2:15-18
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. 47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Let us continue to pursue Christ by means of His marvelous grace. Thank Him for what we do have, but hold it loosely. I am very very thankful that my identity is in Christ and not the things of this dying world.
For His Glory by His Grace,
Because of the lack of true purity in the body of Christ through the decades, church discipline has been reserved for the mass murderers and public mass abusers of children. Everyone else seems to be immune, especially in their own hearts, to any time of accountability to holy living. In the last four years we have taught and taught on church discipline to the congregation and other pastors. We have taught the holiness of God, the call and purpose of the church and the effects of sin on the individual and the body of Christ. With all the right teaching, direction and instruction it seems that people would be welcome and ready for the true practice of discipline within the church, and for the most part they are as long as it is done in a counseling arena, helping people feel ok about their sin and just keep it to themselves. (Sarcasm)
When discipline actually becomes visible; when a person is actually brought before the church; this is when the true nature and power of the gospel is revealed in many hearts. In an attempt to disciple and settle so many confused minds and hearts concerning this issue, Dr. Sam Storms provides a really well developed question series on this issue that I have pasted below. I would love your comments as we all strive to continue in the faith for the Glory of God.
First, why is church discipline so neglected, if not ignored altogether, in our day? Among the many reasons that could be cited, here are a few. Perhaps the principal cause is a pervasive ignorance of biblical teaching on the subject (many believe that it is infrequently mentioned in Scripture and therefore unimportant; others are ignorant of the purpose of discipline and see it only as destroying the person).
Another factor is calloused, insensitivity toward sin; a failure to take seriously the offense of sin and a tendency toward unsanctified mercy in our treatment of the unrepentant. Undoubtedly the spirit of individualism also plays a role. We have lost the sense of community and mutual responsibility one for another. How often has it been said, as a way of justifying our passivity toward sin, “Well, it’s not really any of my business, is it?” Discipline is costly because my brother’s/sister’s business now becomes mine.
A misapplication of our Lord’s words in Matthew 7:1 (“Judge not, that you be not judged”) has certainly put hesitancy in the hearts of many in regard to dealing with sin in the local church. The fear of rejection also comes into play (i.e., the fear of being told by the offending party: “Mind your own business. You have no authority to tell me what I can and can’t do”).
I strongly suspect that fear of legal reprisal in the form of lawsuits has paralyzed many. Many people (even church leaders) simply dislike confrontation. Talking directly about personal sin with an offender is difficult; it makes us feel uneasy and uncomfortable; so why rock the boat? Many think that if we simply ignore the problem, in time it will go away. “Time heals all,” or so they contend.
I’ve known instances where discipline stalled from fear of driving the person away, especially if the offender is a major financial contributor to the church! Related to this is the fear of dividing and ultimately even splitting the church over whether and how and to what extent discipline should be applied (invariably many think the discipline was too severe, while others are convinced it was too lenient).
Many struggle with a false concept of discipline because of observed abuses. In their minds discipline is associated with heresy hunts, intolerance, oppression, harshness, mean-spiritedness, self-righteousness, legalism, etc. Related to this is the fear of being labeled a cult if we insist on too strict a code of conduct for our members.
Others resist taking disciplinary steps because it entails change. In other words, the power of tradition is hard to overcome: “We’ve never done it before and we’ve done o.k. Why risk messing things up now?” [click to continue…]
Over The last few months God has been showing me more and more just how much I need to be squeezed. I’m not talking about the squeeze as in the affectionate hug, I’m talking about a squeeze as in a cleansing squeeze. You know, like a sponge you are trying to rinse after washing the tires on the car. I’m talking about a pressing, molding, kneading by the hand of God to the point that I am no longer the same man I was before. Not that any of us really think we have arrived, but sometimes we think we have at least began to see the destination in some areas of our lives. It is at that moment that God reaches down and rinses some of that self-reliant dirty water out our minds and souls.
God is showing me how His squeezing removes from me things that have been stored up inside for some time. Those areas of ministry, family, study etc, that just stay where they are and I’m fine with them. I understand them just fine and they love me. Not that they are wrong or sinful, well not all of them, but they are content. But what I am learning is that if I am to expand in my faith, I must be willing to feel the burden of being rinsed so that there will be “room” for growth.
Just like a sponge; we are ready to absorb when we are dry, but a damp sponge can never fully absorb a “new” liquid, until the old liquid is finally ringed out. And don’t think of this metaphor as me saying that what we already have or know from God or His word is dirty, but it can become stale. We can get to where our testimony of God’s hand in our lives starts out with, “last month God showed me…” That’s a sad choice of words for a child of God. What is God showing us right now? Well, for me, God is showing me that sanctification comes in all shapes, sizes, ages and smells. Most of all, He brings about sanctification through trial and burden.
God’s sanctification of His children, though not pleasant at times, is always joyful. It’s joyful because the more He rinses us in His grace, the more like Him we become. Then our hearts grow weary of the flesh and the world and we crave for more of His holiness in our lives. We strive to run from sin and jump into His hand of discipline that shapes us into the saints that He has declared us to be.
The reality of growing in our walk with Christ comes through the squeezes or the rinses of trial, fire and sin. When we sin, God disciplines us, corrects us and shows us our wickedness and reminds us of His grace given through the flesh of Jesus Christ. When we face a trial or temptation, God provides us with the power to overcome the world through Christ. We are people created for His glory and His workings in our lives are forever near. The pressures of this world are not really something that we should pray against, for God to remove, but rather endure and run into the fire so that God would be shown glorious!
Through fire, the dross is burned and new growth emerges. Through death, a seed brings forth life. Through the tearing down of muscle comes great strength, such is the outcome of our faith when it is tested, burned and tried. Christ is our hope, He is our resolve, His grace is sufficient, but we would never know the reality of such glorious power without the burdens of this world to test our affections, actions and attitudes.
Be strong in the Lord today, hold on as God squeezes more and more of the world out of you to form you into what He has already declared you to be: holy. When we are fully dry and empty of our flesh, our sin and the affections of this world, then He dips us ever so deeply into the flowing blood of Christ to experience the remarkable and extravagant grace of His ineffable love.
4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
For His Glory by His Grace,
A few weeks ago I jotted down five areas where a pastor should spend most of his energy, time and passion. As promised, I wanted to come back to these five things and talk about them a little more detailed. The first of the five was “Feeding the Flock” and in my opinion, is the primary reason pastors are called, equipped and breathe air. Putting aside my opinion and dogma, let’s visit the scripture in regards to this thinking.
Let’s peek into John’s gospel for a brief moment:
John 21:15-17 (ESV)
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
In the New Testament, we see the calling of Peter to feed the lambs and the sheep. To tend to their well being and secure their existence through proper food. In John’s gospel we can discover what a pastor is actually supposed to feed the sheep. Some would say that feeding the sheep is ministry programs, good leadership skills, etc., however, Jesus has another thought about food. After Jesus radically saves the woman at the well in John chapter four, the disciples come back with food.
John 4:31-34 (ESV)
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?”
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
As Jesus explains later in John 6, He is the food and His food is to “be food” per se. We see that after Jesus feeds the multitudes in John 6, He escapes and they find him the next day in Capernaum. After they catch up to Him, this is the dialog.
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?
John 6:25-30 (ESV)
Jesus exclaims that HE is the true bread that comes down from Heaven. He is the only real food that matters and that His food, bread (words) will bring life to the dead and joy to the down trodden. Thus, we must greatly understand that the primary and over-arching purpose of the pastor is to feed JESUS to the sheep. Everything else is way down the line of importance. Christ is the preeminent one in all things, thus, He is the preeminent food for the church. [click to continue…]
Although there is much that will be said and speculated. The call of the church is for her to petition the Lord of all things for His sovereign grace in these matters with Pastor Mahaney as well as with all of us.
Mahaney’s board has stated:
“The charges against C.J. are serious, but his response has been one of self-examination and, when possible, specific confession to those sinned against. However, given the numerous events, people, and perspectives involved, the work of an independent panel will be vital to fully examining these charges and arriving at an objective conclusion, especially on those charges with which the board does not agree.”
“These charges are not related to any immorality or financial impropriety, but this doesn’t minimize their serious nature, which include various expressions of pride, unentreatability, deceit, sinful judgment, and hypocrisy.”
“I believe God is kindly disciplining me through this. I believe I have by the grace of God perceived a degree of my sin, and I have been grieved by my sin and its effects on others. I have had the opportunity to confess my sin to some of those affected in various ways by my sin.”
In light of this, let us pray for our brother, his ministry and greatly for the glory of God to be revealed through His grace. Let us also reflect continually on our own hearts, our own pride, our own wickedness and sin and resolve to tremble before the mighty hand of God who gives grace by His own desire, not of human decision or merit.
1 Peter 2:18-25 (ESV)
18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.
19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.
20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.
23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
An article detailing this can be read here: http://blogs.courier-journal.com/faith/2011/07/08/serious-charges-vs-popular-pastor-author-mahaney/
In considering what pastors are and are not supposed to do, if twenty people are asked, chances are one might receive sixty different answers. As I reflect on my own years in ministry, I too have changed that answer several times in many seasons and for many reasons. It goes without saying that culture, tradition, dreams, example and the like mold one’s view of pastoral leadership. In the corporate world of mega-church mentality and the “professional” pastor, it’s easy for many skewed views to surface surrounding the office of pastor and his role to his family, his flock and his faithfulness.
For reasons that need no explanation, I hope to shine a brief light on my own thinking as well as help one who might read this have adequate food for thought. With that, I leave the presupposition that all who would journey to these words would sum the whole of the argument does and should come from the scriptures and therefore, this article reasons in that light.
So, what are the top five duties of a pastor? Let’s see…
Feeding the flock. This sounds very trivial, but the primary role of a pastor is to feed the people who God has put under his care. This feeding is through the right teaching of the word of God for their joy, edification, doctrine, exhortation, admonishment and maturity. Everything that the church is supposed to do comes primarily through the teaching of the scriptures from the pastors. A church that is not fed the truth is malnourished and finds other meals to eat.
1 Timothy 3:2 (ESV) 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…
2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV) 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. [click to continue…]