Saturday, September 26, 2009

More Colorado Photos

We've added ten more photos, courtesy of Auntie Laura, to our Colorado 2009 Picasa web album. It's hard to pick, but below are a few of my favorites...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stop Dating the Church

I recently read a little book titled Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris and highly commend it to you. The strength of the book is not that Harris says anything that hasn't been said before, but instead that he provides an easy-to-read and concise argument for why professing believers should lay aside our independent and critical consumer mentality and instead begin to truly invest ourselves in a good local church.

Some of the most memorable and powerful words in the book are not from Harris but instead from his friends and mentors, like Pastor Mark Dever. Here's what Dever has to say on church membership:

“If you are not a member of the church you regularly attend, you may well be going to hell. I don’t mean for a second that you literally have to have your name on a membership card in a church somewhere to go to heaven. I believe in justification by faith alone in Christ alone by God’s grace alone. At the same time, in the New Testament is seems that the local church is there to verify or falsify our claims to be Christians. The man in 1 Corinthians 5 who was sleeping with his father’s wife thought of himself as a Christian."

"I don’t care how much you cry during singing or preaching. If you do not live a life marked by love toward others, the Bible has no encouragement for you to think that you’re a Christian. None."

"Do you want to know that your new life is real? Commit yourself to a local group of saved sinners. Try to love them. Don’t just do it for three weeks. Don’t just do it for six months. Do it for years. And I think you’ll find, and others will, too, whether or not you love God. The truth will show itself."

"Joining a church won’t save you. It’s only the death of Christ that saves you. He alone is our righteousness. But if He really is our righteousness, if we really love Him whom we have not seen, it will show itself by us loving those that we do see."
Harris also provides a list of ten important questions to ask when choosing a local church. I've listed the questions below, but I encourage you to take a look at this excerpt from the book if you'd like a fuller explanation of any particular point (like question #9, for instance).
  1. Is this a church where God’s Word is faithfully taught?

  2. Is this a church where sound doctrine matters?

  3. Is this a church in which the gospel is cherished and clearly proclaimed?

  4. Is this a church committed to reaching non-Christians with the gospel?

  5. Is this a church whose leaders are characterized by humility and integrity?

  6. Is this a church where people strive to live by God’s Word?

  7. Is this a church where I can find and cultivate godly relationships?

  8. Is this a church where members are challenged to serve?

  9. Is this a church that is willing to kick me out?

  10. Is this a church I’m willing to join “as is” with enthusiasm and faith in God?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mikey!

My first words to you, soon after you made your appearance, were, "I forgive you." They were joyfully given... but weighing in at 9 pounds, 4 ounces, 10 days late, with a super-quick labor that left me no time to even be given the option for drugs, and did I tell you that you weighed 9 pounds, 4 ounces? You were worth waiting for, Sweetie.

I don't usually cry after giving birth, but when the birth team announced your birth date with your birth information, I cried. We don't always know what God's plan is, but we do know that in giving you to us on the very (10 days late!) day that He did, He gave us a joyful sparkle on a day that will carry much sadness for Americans for many years to come.

We thank God for you, Mikey. You are a good kid. We love your enthusiasm for life, your love for others, and your good-natured, easy going personality. And you have slept through the night since you were two weeks old. Good kid!

We love you, Mikey.

Happy 4th Birthday!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Are You Equipped?

Good thoughts from Pastor Greg:
While the necessity of adequate training and preparation for effective usefulness is an inbred reality in our society, we in the church often fail to recognize the need for such training, education and preparation when it comes to spiritual matters. Believers sometimes forget that God has saved us and left us on this earth for a reason—to do something. He wants to use us to “bear fruit” for His glory (Jn. 15:8), actively pursuing the “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). We are not saved by good works, but we are saved for good works. And in order to be effectively used by God, we simply must be “equipped” – trained, educated, prepared. Eph. 4:11,12 speaks directly to this issue:

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…

The key principle here is that God has given gifted leaders to the church whom He uses to equip the saints – all believers – for the work of service (for the ability to minister and serve one another). The word translated “equip” here literally means “to set in order or to mend,” In the context of Eph. 4:12 it has to do with making someone completely adequate or sufficient for something. A form of the same word is seen in 2 Tim. 3:17, in a passage explaining why the inspiration and sufficiency of the Word of God is so profitable, “…that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

Read the full article

Friday, September 4, 2009