Thursday, August 27, 2009
Okay, I know that the title threw you a curve ball. I am not a proponent of adding programs. However, I am quite amazed how complicated our brethren in other congregations are making the biblical mandates.
Instead of having an Accountability group, what happened to having godly friends? You see, God already gave us an accountability group. He simply calls them brothers and sisters in Christ. We assemble with them each week. We don’t have to meet on every 1st and 3rd Thursday in order to be held accountable, but rather, we meet weekly, on the Lord’s Day, and rejoice to see one another there. We check on each other during the week. We email, tweet, (if you tweet), call, write, (I still use envelopes and stamps, yes I am a dinosaur) and hopefully visit, every week.
Something “holy” has been attached to various programs as simple, godly principles are renamed into complicated programs that require a director with a spreadsheet to keep everyone in their places. One writer stated, “What we have is a joyful commitment to the practice of hospitality. We invite folks into our homes, and we visit the homes of others. There are no rules for this. We don’t have a dinner coordinator that makes each family play musical chairs with each other family, all while carrying around a casserole if your last name begins with A through G, and a dessert if R through Z. Instead we share table fellowship freely and happily.” I hope that describes us at Emmanuel.
Certainly, we have organized monthly family fun events…but then again, that is merely my attempt to rename organized communion among believers. It is simply a “get-together” where your children play with my children, and I get to visit with some godly dad’s and my wife visits with your wives. As well, Young men aspiring to be husbands, all the while, watching godly husbands lead their wives in a public setting and learning. Young women, busy with the married ladies, learning what a Titus 2 woman is really all about.
A dear brother and close friend called me the other day explaining that he thought I needed to counsel someone, and that he was no counselor. I reminded him that every time we open our mouths, we become counselors. We become agents for good or evil. We become the minions of hell, or the messengers of heaven. No one is immune to the title of “counselor” because that is what we do. Others watch, or listen to our conversations and become recipients of our information. Then they make decisions based on that information. Every time we have a get-together, we are further embracing the truth that iron sharpens iron. Or we are tearing down lives.
Let us live more simply. Let our fellowships be more spontaneous. Let our organized times be more glorifying to God.
Live simply. Live Godly.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Concerning the Lords day
When the original charter of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was adopted in 1858 it contained the following statement which continues as a part of the "fundamental laws." "Every professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist Church; and all persons accepting professorships in this Seminary shall be considered, by such acceptance, as engaging to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid down, a departure from which principles on his part shall be grounds for his resignation or removal by the Trustees."
Here is what it says concerning the Lord's day:
Here is what it says concerning the Lord's day:
XVII. The Lord's Day.
The Lord's Day is a Christian institution for regular observance, and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, resting from worldly employments and amusements, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.
Then, we move to an even older document, one accepted by Baptist and held to today by many (including myself) Spurgeon made it his churches official position on each item it addresses as he felt it best reflected a summary of his views. It was called the London Baptist Confession of 1689. It is in Chapter 22 that the issue of the Lord's day is addressed. Here is a portion of it.
7. As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God's appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord's day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.
( Exodus 20:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10 )
8. The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
( Isaiah 58:13; Nehemiah 13:15-22; Matthew 12:1-13 )
I don't think we are to be solemn, frowning, sad, depressed individuals on the Lord's day, and that is not even what is being suggested in either of the documents. Rather, This day is different, to be set aside for something better than the rest of the week. Common affairs are put away, recreations that might fall on another day must be examined under the light of what the day is all about.
We are a different generation to be sure, but have we improved our holy walk? We need to be removing excuses from the lips of men who can't make it to church on Sunday rather than participating ourselves in the very things that keep them away. Our godly walk should convict, or convince men that the Lord's day is in fact a special day, given to us by our gracious Lord.
Friday, August 7, 2009
It is not unusual that those who say much, will be more likely to be misunderstood more. The more miles a person drives the more likely he will be involved in an accident. A man who never goes fishing, will never catch fish.
Often, when speaking to others, or preaching from the pulpit, I say things that are grossly misinterpreted from what my original intention was. Listening to myself on recordings convinces me that at times I am not accurate with my presentation of even simple truths. Carefulness with my words is something that I must concern myself with if I ever expect to effectively communicate the truths of the gospel.
But it does not stop with the gospel.
Simple daily facts and stories can take on a life all of their own if I am not careful to speak each word with decided intentions. One may say, "This is too much trouble, I cannot worry about every word I say!" I would agree, there is MUCH trouble with this. The problem is REAL trouble comes from not weighing all our words in the balance.
How often have we hurt those we love by thoughtless words?
How often have we deceived others simply by not including all the pertinent facts?
I am guilty on all points.
Many times, it is senseless on our part and even unintentional, but it happens none the less.
Jesus encourages us to a careful watch over our mouths by reminding us in Mat 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Well, that settles it for me. I am sunk unless I repent. And thus I do. Daily. Sometimes hourly due to my failings.
Thus, with the psalmist I cry to God "Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips." Ps. 141:3
One would think this gets easier as you get older...hardly. Our minds not only fill up with more information, but we forget what we have committed to others and promised as well. So with the influx of information, we continue to falter in this area. But with all excuses aside, I must strive for perfection!
The mercy of those that say they love us must be relied upon in this instance. Forgiveness must be ready to be meted out to those who trespass against us in this area as well.
Let us think before we speak, and thus fulfill the scriptures: "Jas 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:"