A Fun Film

December 31, 2009 at 9:34 am | Posted in Books and Movies, Marriage | Leave a comment

Totally entertaining.  It was, for us, the best movie of the year:  Amazing animation, very funny, deeply moving, an awesome adventure, good morals, pro-family, no bad language, and no sexual overtones.  My family just watched “Up,” and it is all of that which I’ve described.  Certainly the best all around entertainment on film we’ve seen in a long time.  We laughed, we cried, we cheered.  From Pixar Animations Studios, I’ve seen Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Wall-e, and Finding Nemo.  All of them have been fun entertainment, excellent movies in my estimation, but Up surpasses them all.

Some lessons that could be discussed from this movie include:  Faithfulness to keep promises; faithfulness in marriage; moving on after major life changes – especially to continue investing in significant things.  If you need some great New Year’s entertainment, try this fun film.

Joy to the World!

December 24, 2009 at 7:24 am | Posted in Theology, Worship | 1 Comment

              On the way home from a worship service one day, the preacher’s son complained that church music was boring.  His father challenged him, “If you think you can do better, then you write a song for us to sing.”  Young Isaac, who had a propensity for rhyme, took on the challenge, and the result so impressed his father that he taught it to the congregation, and they also loved it.  So he wrote a new song for the church every week for the next two years!  Thus began the career of Isaac Watts (1674-1748), often called “The Father of English Hymnody.”  He published hundreds of songs which influenced all English speaking churches for generations.  We still sing some of them in churches today.  Many of Watts hymns present his Puritan, Reformed theology in profound or memorable ways.

            Possibly Isaac Watts’ best known song today is “Joy to the World.”  The lyrics of the later, probably lesser-known, verses present great theological thoughts for Christmas.  Notice the Reformed themes of glory, sin and grace:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Have a glorious, Christ-filled Christmas!

Some Thoughts on the “Senior Pastor” Idea

December 21, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Posted in Questions for Pastor Glenn, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

PJ Tibayan has written a number of posts on the idea of a “senior pastor” in church.  I just ran across these today.  I agree with most all his arguments and conclusions.  Here is an article that links many of his thoughts.

http://pjtibayan.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/resources-on-the-biblical-basis-of-senior-pastor/

I had to comment because of the unique roll I play here at Village:

These comments and links are great.  For years I’ve disagreed with the senior pastor idea for many of the reasons you cite here.  Currently I am the “Preaching Pastor” at a Baptist church in Colorado.  We are an elder led church with four lay elders and two pastor or full-time elders.  The other full time pastor handles education, counseling and administration.  I teach and preach.  I also lead the staff meetings and prepare the agenda for the elder meetings.  I’ve been here for over seven years, and so far, it has worked well.  I have three observations about this arrangement that you might find interesting.

First, no mater how often it is explained, I am viewed by many as “the” pastor or as the “lead pastor,” because I am the one up front.  Some people have even challenged the arrangement saying, “but certainly you are (or in some cases, must be) the leader of the others.”  The idea of lead/senior pastor is so engrained in the minds of Christians in this culture, that they can’t understand what we believe is the biblical model.

Second, some church growth experts will tell us that this team approach to ministry is a slow and inefficient way to make decisions.  With that I must agree.  However, I have seen too many abuses of the one-man-in-charge approach, and I know the depths of my own depravity, so I don’t want to be the one man in charge.  I would rather be inefficient and right, than efficient and wrong.

Third, for this model to work, everyone must be a team player.  Any pastor who thinks he is in charge, or thinks he should be in charge, could never work in a real elder-team environment.  Unfortunately, I have met way too many men in ministry who take a “God called me, so I am the leader” approach to the church.  That attitude ignores the seriousness of sin.

Blessings in Jesus,

GG

No Profound Thoughts

December 18, 2009 at 12:37 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, False teaching | Leave a comment

            I haven’t written in this blog because I haven’t had any profound thoughts in over a week.  Now that’s a horrible thing for a teaching pastor.  Imagine that!  The preacher has nothing to say!  But I realize today that not everything a preacher says needs to be exceptionally profound.  A lot of what a preacher says should be reminders of the same old truths.  One of my life verses is Matthew 13:52, which reminds me of this matter.  Jesus said, “Every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”  New treasures as well as old.  Sometimes we need to give up the idea of profound or novel or new and just remind people, and ourselves, of the fundamental doctrines of God and grace.  Of course, even our profound thoughts must be tied to the fundamental doctrines.  Too many preachers look for only the novel.

A Psalm for Christmas

December 8, 2009 at 11:04 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts | Leave a comment

            This weekend I read Psalm 78, the second longest psalm and second longest chapter in the Bible.  It occurred to me that this psalm is a great Christmas reminder.  There are three sections I noticed, and each has a nice holiday teaching.  Verses 1-8 talk about passing the faith on to the next generation.  Examples include verse 4 “We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.”   The purposes for passing on the faith are these: “That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, and not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation.”   What better time is there than the holidays and the traditions we build around them, to teach the great Christian truths to our children and grandchildren.  Let’s make sure the traditions we emphasize and those we build anew are ones that teach Jesus.

            The second section (verses 9-39) is really a few sections together that form a pattern of God’s goodness to his people, their rebellion against him, and his mercy in spite of their rebellion.  Over and over the passage mentions the rebellion and stubbornness of the people in the face of God’s goodness.  He brought them out of Egypt and through the Red Sea, but “they still continued to sin against Him, to rebel against the Most High in the desert.” (13-17)  He gave them water from the rock and bread right out of heaven, then he gave them the meat they craved, yet, “in spite of all this they still sinned and did not believe in His wonderful works.” (20-32)  Instead the people “would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues.” (36)  Even through all of this “he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath.” (38)   That is our story of rebellion also, and in spite of us, God shows us his mercy.  Christmas is a reminder that God offers his grace to us as sinners.

            The third section (40-72) again tells a story of God’s goodness, demonstrated by the plagues in Egypt, followed by his people’s rebellion.  But in this section, God’s mercy was shown in a different fashion; here he gave the people a shepherd.  “He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people.”   God gave them a good shepherd to lead them.  So too in our situation, God, in spite of our continued rebellion against him, sent us the Good Shepherd, his Son Jesus.  Christmas is the time to remember God’s mercy in sending us a Shepherd.

Making the Gospel More Attractive

December 5, 2009 at 12:24 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Theology | 1 Comment

            In Titus 2:9-10 Paul says we should make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.  That comment is in an interesting context.  So often, in our world, making the teaching about God more attractive means either changing the content of the message or changing the methods used to present that content.

            The first of those two means I strongly oppose.  In fact, this book of Titus is all about sound doctrine; the theme verse is 2:1 – “speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”  If we change the content of the gospel, it really isn’t any gospel (i.e. good news) at all.  This is seen especially in the matter of sin.  Too many presentations of the “gospel” water down the fact that we are utterly sinful, but without establishing the matter of our sinfulness, the necessity of the cross is done away with, and Jesus becomes just a friend or helper in our spiritual journeys or a guide who helps reveal God to us.  But the good news of the gospel is that Jesus died for our sins.  Thus watering down our sin, to make the gospel more attractive, is not presenting the gospel at all.

            The second way Christians make the gospel more attractive is by changing the methods we use to present it.  I am in agreement with doing this, as long as it is the gospel we present and as long as we don’t violate scriptural principle with our new methods.  However, in Titus, it is not the methods that Paul is talking about when he says to make the gospel more attractive; it is character.  Notice the entire sentence of that phrase: “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”  What makes the teaching of God our Savior attractive is the character of the slave toward his master; not back talking, not stealing, pleasing his master with his work, and proving trustworthy.

            Maybe we should concentrate more on our godly character than on changing our methods of presenting the gospel.  Maybe that concentration would make for more effective evangelism in the long term.

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