Making Disciples in a Millennial Generation , Part 1

From Voice magazine, Mar/Apr 2016. Used by permission.

We are facing a clash of generations in America. The Baby Boomers—the generation of “The Sixties,” Woodstock and The Beatles singing “You say you want a revolution”—are kicking and screaming into retirement;1 while the Millennials, the first generation of “digital natives”2 and the most-observed generation in history, are facing their 30s.3

Boomers don’t want to give up their positions of influence or control and Millennials don’t see value in Boomers’ old-fashioned methodology. Instead, the younger generation is creating a new way of doing things. This phenomenon is true with everything from pocket-sized computers (thinly disguised as cell phones) to the Church. Millennials are walking away from traditional churches en masse;4 plus, an entire new generation of pastors would rather plant new churches than minister in established, traditional churches.5 Read more about Making Disciples in a Millennial Generation , Part 1

What Is the Biblical Worldview?

Human beings are hardwired to behave on the basis of what they believe. We dream and plan, will and act, emote and communicate according to our perception of reality. Each of us possesses a conceptual filter by which we interpret the world around us and that interpretation fuels our decisions.

At first, this conceptual filter is largely innate. I observed a newborn baby girl recently who capably communicated to everyone in the room that life was good in her mother’s arms and torture anywhere else. But as we mature, we gain the capacity to develop rationally the contours of our filter. Emotions (one’s fear of heights, for instance), affections (such as one’s love for family) and life experiences (say, suffering) will continue to play a large role in determining how we interpret life. Yet we can refine and even reform our perceptions by deliberately constructing a worldview that orders our beliefs and transforms our behavior.

The Bible is predicated on the counter-cultural premise that the establishment of one’s worldview is not a matter of individual freedom. Rather, the Bible insists that God speaks and that it is our responsibility and joy to conform our worldview to what the Creator has revealed. We are called to submit to God’s counsel such that our perceptions of reality are filtered through the framework of revelation and then to ethically respond to the implications. Read more about What Is the Biblical Worldview?

The Nature of Regeneration

CHAPTER III - THE NATURE OF REGENERATION

BY THOMAS BOSTON (1676-1732)

I. For the better understanding of the nature of regeneration, take this along with you, in the first place, that as there are false conceptions in nature, so there are also in grace: by these many are deluded, mistaking some partial changes made upon them for this great and thorough change. To remove such mistakes, let these few things be considered:

1. Many call the Church their mother, whom God will not own to be His children. “My mother’s children,” that is, false brethren, “were angry with me” (Cant. 1: 6). All that are baptized, are not born again. Simon was baptized, yet still “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8: 13-23). Where Christianity is the religion of the country, many are called by the name of Christ, who have no more of Him than the name: and no wonder, for the devil had his goats among Christ’s sheep, in those places where but few professed the Christian religion. “They went out from us, but they were not of us” (1 John 2: 19). Read more about The Nature of Regeneration

The Gospel Applied: “The Look From Above” (Romans 12, Part 1)

The massive dome at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome rises nearly four hundred fifty feet in the air, with its interior is nearly one hundred forty feet wide. It is the highest dome you will ever see, but not the largest one. The dome of the Pantheon built in the second century is a few feet wider and Brunelleschi’s massive dome on the Duomo in Florence is a few feet wider still.

To me, what is striking about the dome found in St. Peter’s is that you can make out, if you look ever so closely, the shape of people walking around the catwalk who dared to take the elevator up to the dome for what I am told is a fantastic view of Rome. They look like tiny specks and perhaps ants, but they are people at a great distance above your head if you are within the massive church. Those who know me well, know that I enjoy watching from below, because—though some would call me afraid of heights—I like to believe I merely have a “more healthy respect for gravity.” 

What I can easily imagine is that the view from above is a different view. Read more about The Gospel Applied: “The Look From Above” (Romans 12, Part 1)

The Creation Narrative - Genesis 1 & 2 (Part 6)

Read the series so far.

Image & Function in Genesis 1:26-28

Another significant fact related by these verses is our creation in the image and likeness of God. We cannot here enter into all the debates about the imago Dei, but some few things should be said.

Firstly, God does not say “according to My likeness.” He says “Our likeness.” The “Let us” statement is no plural of majesty, since it appears to be ideational, and is to be understood (I believe) as a statement of plurality in the Speaker. The question arises then, in what way is God a plurality? This question is not fully answered until the NT era. Or, on the other hand, and as much OT scholarship insists, is the plurality meant to convey some sort of heavenly council scene, such as one finds in ANE accounts of the assemblies of gods? Read more about The Creation Narrative - Genesis 1 & 2 (Part 6)

The Importance of Presence in Ministry

Going Beyond Public Gatherings

God calls every believer to teach His Word to others at a grassroots level. To motivate and equip them to do this, He provides pastors. These are responsible to “hold nothing back,” devoting themselves to ministry in two venues: public gatherings and private settings (Acts 20:20). While both settings are necessary, it seems that prevailing Western models favor public gatherings over more personal settings. Perhaps this imbalance hinders our efforts to engage people in ministry.

We work hard at our public gatherings. Pulpit style. Stage lighting. Usher training. Multimedia presentations. Music of all kinds: congregational, choral, instrumental, solo, ensemble, instrumental and choral. Service orders and liturgies. Invitations (or not). Announcements. Special events. Dramatic interpretations. Guest speakers. Sound systems and auditorium acoustics. We give attention to all these things and more.

But do we give equal or adequate attention to the other important ministry setting? Do we devote ourselves to connecting with believers in personal settings to the same degree? Church ministry that occurs only (or primarily) at a central church building misses a key element of the “hold nothing back” approach that Paul emulates. Read more about The Importance of Presence in Ministry

What A Discouraged Pastor Should Do (Part 4)

(Read the whole series.)

Here’s a final look at some of Paul’s exhortations to Timothy when he faced discouragement. You can read Parts 1, 2, and 3 if you haven’t already. These are all taken from 2 Timothy.

14. Continue in what you have learned. (3:10-17)

The basics don’t change just because ministry is hard. Keep going back to the Word for your own personal encouragement. It is able to give you assurance and equip you to do the work of ministry.

15. Preach the Word. (4:1-4)

Read more about What A Discouraged Pastor Should Do (Part 4)

A Warning for True Believers Who Lack Faith (Part 8)

(From Maranatha Baptist Seminary Journal; used by permission. Read the entire series.)

Nature of Judgment

There are two basic views of the nature of the judgment mentioned in Hebrews 6:6–8. Some suggest that the judgment is that of eternal damnation.1 McKnight collates all the information concerning judgment from the entire books of Hebrews and concludes the following: “In light of the final sense of several of these expressions (cf. especially the harsh realities of 10:30–31, 39) and the use of imagery in Hebrews that elsewhere is used predominantly of eternal damnation, it becomes quite clear that the author has in mind an eternal sense of destruction.”2 The second possible interpretation of the judgment in Hebrews 6:6–8 is that it entails loss of God’s blessing and the onset of cursing (up to and including physical death).3 Gleason summarizes, “In light of the Old Testament blessing-curse motif, the judgment in view in Hebrews 6:7–8 is best understood as the forfeiture of blessing and the experience of temporal discipline rather than eternal destruction.”4 Read more about A Warning for True Believers Who Lack Faith (Part 8)