Friday, October 18, 2013

God's Freedom in our Work

What makes for a really good sermon?  What makes for a really good church service, or a really good small group gathering?  Another question (for another time) would be what constitutes “really good” in relation to a sermon, service, etc.  For now, my assumption is that “really good” = truly biblical and immediately-recognizable as helpful and life-changing. 

Here’s my attempt at giving a brief stab at the answer….

There is nothing that we can do on our own to ensure that a sermon, a church service, or a small group is really good.  So, THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT is at stake here.  John 3 teaches us clearly that, like the wind, we cannot manipulate or harness the Spirit of God.  God the Spirit is free to move as He pleases.  He is free to take a sermon and bless it so that the hearers immediately recognize God’s power.  He is free to take a gathering of God’s people—large or small—and bless it so that time stands still and the presence of God is evident.  Or not.  This is the fundamental point.  Do we know this and seek for this?  Do we not only believe in the Holy Spirit, His freedom and sovereignty, etc. but also seek after His presence and blessing in the Christian work that we undertake?  Is this our primary burden when preparing for sermons, services, small groups?  

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Books to Commend

I recently finished reading two books that proved to be enjoyable and helpful.  One, Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen, is a classic that was written almost 100 years ago.  The other, The Conviction to Lead by R. Albert Mohler was written within the last year and is all the buzz among reformed evangelicals talking about leadership.

I read Machen with a friend in our church, and so that added to the joy of reading this classic.  I had wanted to read it for many years, but now I've finally completed the task.  It is very well-written and engaging.  To be sure, it is a defense of historic, orthodox Christianity in the face of modern, "liberal" Christianity.  But, I believe that it is quite possible to understand our Faith even better when it is cast against the backdrop of error.  So the book was written to be a defense of the historic faith, but it does not come across as negative in tone.  

I admit that my wife and I chuckled a bit when we first saw advertisements for Mohler's book on leadership; perhaps it is not the best dust jacket design.  But, what's inside is well worth the time and money.  There are 25 easy-to-read chapters, and almost all of them are very insightful and practical.  This is not a pragmatic book about leadership, but Mohler does not neglect application as he unpacks his most helpful theory on the subject.  I definitely recommend both books.  I would also recommend listening to John Piper's biographical address on Machen and tuning-in to Mohler's daily podcast.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

I'm a Thief!

I want to unashamedly steal the tagline used by the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville.  Having been a student there, I am familiar many times over with these words:  For the truth, for the church, for the world, for the glory of God.  

How simple, and yet how spot-on!  I desire that Crossway Church have this same mindset.  We exist for the sake of the truth, for the sake of the church that Christ loves, for the sake of a world in desperate need of Christ, and ultimately for the glory of God.  Notice the bookends on this tagline.  Without truth at the front-end, we immediately go astray.  Without the glory of God as our fuel and goal, we aim for something far too little.  

Thursday, January 3, 2013

How to Study Your Bible

What is essential to being able to really understand the Bible? A knowledge of the biblical languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek? How about modern technological tools such as Bibleworks or other software?

Well, these can certainly be helpful, and the original languages are clearly important for scholars and leaders in the church. But, as I read the latest edition of Southern Seminary's magazine, I was reminded of some simple and great teaching that I received from Dr. Rob Plummer years ago. Here's what he writes in answer to a question about the role of modern technology in his own study and preparation for sermons:

"From my experience, nothing compares to Luther's advice: Oratio, Meditatio, Tentatio (Prayer, Meditation, and Trials). As we approach the Scripture, we begin with a humble posture of prayer. Then, we soak meditatively in the Scripture--seeking the Spirit's illumination. Thirdly, we trust the sovereignty of God in teaching us the beauty, truth and comforts of Scripture through the trials we face. These experiential realities then enable us to convey passionately the truth we know to others. Of these three core elements, only Meditatio is served through technology--potentially enabling us easier access to texts and tools to think, sing, pray and speak the Scripture in meditative fashion."

There you have it; thanks Dr. Plummer! At its best, technology is a servant. The enduring realities of life and of Bible study don't change.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

To Know Him More

"Here I am an ant, and as I view a nest of ants so dost thou view me and my fellow-creatures; But as an ant knows not me, my nature, my thoughts, so here I cannot know thee clearly. But there I shall be near thee..." - from the prayer "Heaven Desired" in the Valley of Vision

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Crossway Church Covenant

Hopefully, you've had the chance to look at our statement of faith. Another very important and foundational document for our church is our covenant.

Just like the statement of faith, our church covenant is not meant to rival Scripture in any way. That being said, however, there is a key similarity to the function of the doctrinal statement. Both documents help us to know and agree upon what the Bible actually says. Contrary to some popular opinion, Christians are people who believe certain definable truths and who live in a certain observable way. So, our statement of faith and our covenant are helpful summaries that members of Crossway can rally around, agree to, and seek God's help in attaining.

In other words, we know we want real, vibrant Christian community at Crossway, but what does that look like? A good starting place is a church covenant. In reality, this is the essence of what it is to be a church--we "covenant" together to live as a church in a way that pleases God. And, we only do this in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Check out our church covenant, and, if you are not a part of a local church, come get to know us more at Crossway.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Where We Stand

Crossway Church is thankful that we can present our Statement of Faith at this time. One of the most important and foundational documents for our church and for who we are, this statement sets forth what we believe. In reading our statement, you will find that it represents historic Christian beliefs. We are Protestant/Evangelical, Baptist, and Reformed in our beliefs about God's grace in salvation.

With a few revisions, our statement is an abbreviated form of the Baptist Faith and Message, 2000 (our article on "man" looks back to the BF&M 1925 as well). We chose this particular Statement of Faith not only because of its wide acceptance and proven faithfulness but because it uniquely helps us to put forward what we believe. For example, we wanted a statement that reflected our emphasis on the one God as triune, and this statement teaches biblical truth about each person of the Trinity. The article on salvation, in the same way, gives both an overview and particular details of our redemption in Christ.

Other things that we really appreciate about this statement include these:

- No one, specific position is represented in the article on "Last Things," but the glorious Bible truths about the end times are clear.

- The statement overall is general enough to highlight historic Christianity but specific enough to help us express our stand on sometimes controversial issues (e.g. the office of pastor is limited to men).

- Doctrinal statements aren't limited to "theoretical" issues alone. So, article IX identifies our belief in the priority of the Great Commission (while article V identifies what we believe to be the sure foundation for the success of this gospel call).

Enjoy reading our Statement and being reminded of central truths!