Wednesday, May 26, 2010

If God had texted the Ten Commandments

M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.

ttyl, JHWH.

1.no1 b4 me. srsly.
2.dnt wrshp pix/idols omg’s wrk on w/end
5.pos ok – ur m&d r cool
6.dnt kill ppl
7.:-X only w/ m8
8.dnt steal
9.dnt lie re: bf
10.dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

Monday, May 24, 2010

23 Years of Ministry

Today marks 23 years since I was “set apart” or formally “ordained into the ministry” by my home church in Three Oaks, Michigan. I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing about the things that God has allowed me to do for Him over the years. I don’t deserve to be saved, let alone serve as one of God’s messengers. Yet, because of His grace, the Lord grants me the wonderful privilege of proclaiming the Good News.

In 1987 I never could have imagined that I would have the privilege of serving a little country church in Michigan (those dear saints endured a 21 year old rookie minister learning how to preach); then moving to a wonderful church in Virginia, winning many to the Lord, developing deep friendships, and ordaining several young men into the ministry. Nor did I have any idea that I would come to Fort Wayne, Indiana to serve with another great church. God has blessed me with the privilege of preaching in many places, (Revivals, Campmeetings, etc.), meeting some great saints along the way. Thank you Jesus!

I’m just as “fired up” today as I was 23 years ago. Like the prophet Jeremiah, I can say, “His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot!” With the apostle Paul, I say, “I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” Thank you to everyone who has encouraged me and supported me through the years.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pulpit Provocateurs

I listen to a lot of sermon podcasts and have noticed a disturbing trend. That is the language that some preachers are using. Words like crap and pissed and screwed; or euphemisms like flippin’ or frickin’; or scatological humor – these are becoming commonplace. Seriously.

Perhaps this is an effort to be cool or relevant, but I believe we are losing the power and authority of the Word of God and the role of the pulpit (whether you have a literal pulpit is not the point). Preachers will point to the Apostle Paul’s use of scubalon in Phil. 3:8 (a shocking word that some contend should be translated crap or sh*t in our vernacular), or his wish that the Judaizers would emasculate themselves (Galatians 5:12).

The argument goes something like this: “Paul used shocking words, so I can do so also.” But the reason these examples are notable is that they are so rare! And I've got a news flash for you bro – you are not an inspired apostle!

I’m not a stuffed shirt or a prude, but c’mon guys! Really?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Young, Restless, and Restorationist

As a minister I often read and sometimes travel in circles outside the Restoration Movement, in what is broadly called evangelicalism. I have noticed an interesting phenomenon occurring among this group , a resurgence in Reformed Theology (i.e. the teachings of men like John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John Knox, and others). In 2009, Time Magazine listed The New Calvinism as one of the Top 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now. Young people who have been attracted to this have been called, “Young, Restless, and Reformed” in numerous articles, books, and blog posts. Dissatisfied with the status quo that they are experiencing in their congregations, they are starting to read, study, and promote some of the core doctrines that launched the Protestant Reformation.

These facts may fascinate some folks, but why am I writing about them in a column that is supposed to promote Restoration Movement principles? The answer is simple. I’m wondering whether the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ can demonstrate a similar rebirth. Does our movement have significant numbers of people who can be identified as, “Young, Restless, and Restorationist”? If so, how can we motivate and mobilize them to spread their enthusiasm among our churches and the world? If not, can such a passion be created, and how can it be done?

The plea of our forefathers to restore New Testament Christianity needs to be rediscovered by a new generation (actually, multiple generations are good candidates for exposure to this subject). The very principles that once made the Restoration Movement the fastest growing movement in North America are just as valid today as they were 200 years ago. The early slogans still ring true:
Where the Scriptures speak we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.
No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible.
Do Bible things in Bible ways; call Bible things by Bible names.
In matters of faith, unity; in matters of opinion liberty; in all things, charity.
Surely there are people in their 20’s and 30’s who have grown weary of the “same old church thing” and would be eager to embrace a return to the church as depicted on the pages of the New Testament. Our Calvinist friends have demonstrated that young people are not averse to things of a spiritual/biblical nature. I urge you to pray for the Lord to raise up leaders in our movement who are able to capture the imaginations of our young and bright believers. The purpose is not simply to perpetuate the movement or to elevate human leaders like Alexander Campbell or Walter Scott. Rather, the goal should be to promote the truth that has eternal value.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Ernie Harwell

I didn't start listening to Ernie Harwell until I went to college. But wow, that guy was an outstanding broadcaster. The Tigers were very good in those days (mid 80's) winning the world series in 1984, so I listened to a lot of games. Several of my college friends were Tigers fans, so it was hard to avoid. They don't make 'em like Ernie anymore.