The original title for this post was, “Reading the Bible in 2071.” I mistyped the date. But then, that’s actually how some of us might approach Bible reading. It’s something we’ll get to later. A reading plan can help with this procrastination.
Remember Jesus’ words, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). He was talking about himself! You don’t need to read the Bible in a year, but in 2017 you can certainly read the Bible regularly if you haven’t. The New Year is a great opportunity to decide how you’ll do that.
If you’re looking for a Bible Reading plan, here’s Justin Taylor’s post from last year: “Reading the Whole Bible in 2016.” If you’re looking for more of a pattern for ongoing reading rather than a plan to read the Bible in a year, here’s a simple plan by Drew Hunter summarized in his recent Tweet: “No check-box, no guilt, Bible-reading plan: two Old Testament, two New Testament chapters per day. Finish a book, pick another.” It just might be for you.
While a read through Justin’s post should surface a good plan for you, here are a few plans to consider:
- Chronological Reading Plan: Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible, by George Guthrie is a unique resource. This Bible is published with a one year daily reading plan in mind, ordering the Biblical material chronologically along the Bible’s own narrative framework and includes a reading plan. George Guthrie has also published a one year chronological Bible reading plan, Read the Bible for Life.
- The M’Cheyne Plan with Daily Devotional Commentary: For the Love of God is a two volume series of books written by D.A. Carson providing daily reading to supplement the M’Cheyne reading plan. This plan, named after its designer and Scottish minister in the 1800′s, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, takes you through the Old Testament once and the Psalms and New Testament twice in one year.
- Several Places A Day: Crossway’s Daily Bible Reading Plan is available as a PDF form to print out as a series of bookmarks. This plan gets you through the Bible in a year, reading from several different places in the Bible each day. Crossway has published 10 reading plans to supplement the ESV, including RSS, email, audio, and print versions daily. Also, the Discipleship Journal “Bible Reading Plan,” by NavPress, takes you through the entire Bible by reading from four different places each day.
- Just a List of Chapters: The Bible Reading Record, by Don Whitney, is a simple list of every chapter in the Bible. With this, you can read at whatever pace you like and keep track of what you’ve read until you’re through the Bible. This, of course, wouldn’t necessarily be a one year plan, but it could be. To get through the Bible’s 1089 chapters in a year, you need to read an average of 3.25 chapters a day, which comes out to about four chapters per day if you commit to reading five days each week.
- A Plan for Following God’s Redemption Plan: The Bible Eater is a simple one-page print out with a list of every chapter in the Bible of you to read on a certain rhythm and check off as you go. This plan highlights the Bible’s chapters that are especially significant for grasping the Bible’s storyline centered in Christ.
If the Bible is new to you, or if you haven’t personally invested in knowing the Scriptures through regular reading, listen to Ryan’s sermon on Psalm 1, “If You Wanna Be Happy for the Rest of Your Life….” And if you need some help reflecting on some of the spiritual dynamics involved in our struggle to read the Bible, check our Ryan Kelly’s article, “How’s Your Bible Reading Going?.” Finally, for a list of helps in understanding the Bible as you read it, check out the previous DSC post, “Help for Understanding the Bible.”
If you’re reading the Bible, you can’t get away from it: light is everywhere.
The Bible opens with creation when God turns on the lights with the words, “let there be light” (Gen. 1:3). The Bible ends in a world without a sun, “for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb (Rev. 21:23). In between is a story about light and darkness. When God promised a Messiah, he said, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light (Isa. 9:2). Israel walked in darkness instead of the light, but this Messiah would be a “light to the nations” (Isa. 49:6). Speaking of the salvation of his people, Isaiah wrote these climactic words: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you” (Isa. 60:1). And, today, what God did in creation he is doing in our hearts: “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus, the light of the world, shines on us and through us to the world (Jn. 8:12; Mt. 5:14).
From December 18 through the month of January we’re going to work through a series of sermons on the biblical theme of light. Ryan and Trent will tag-team on this series. Here’s where we’re going:
- December 18: Genesis 1:3 and 2 Corinthians 4:4–6
- December 24: John 1:4–9
- December 25: Light in the book of Isaiah
- January 1: 2 Corinthians 3:12–18
- January 8: Ephesians 5:8–14
- January 15: 1 John 1:1–10
- January 22: Matthew 5:14–16
- January 29: revelation 21–22
That’s the plan, though we may fiddle with it a bit.
Invite your friends to a service this Christmas season. Remember that we have two services on Christmas Eve—4PM and 6PM. Join us at 6PM if you’re able to free up space at the more heavily attended 4PM service. Then, on Christmas Day, we’re looking forward to one full single service at 10AM.
This is the second in a two-part interview with Josiah B., DSC’s new Minister of Local and Global Missions. In Part 1 we learned a bit about Josiah’s background and how he met Janice. Here in Part 2 we’ll learn a bit about Josiah’s approach to evangelism and missions, as well as some of the larger influences on Josiah’s life.
In Part 2 we’ll focus here on some questions about evangelism. Let’s start where we must: what is the gospel?
The Gospel is the Good News that although we were undeserving hell-bound sinners, God loved us and sent His Son to live the life we should have lived and die the death we should have died. This God-man was buried and rose again on the third day, promising eternal life and the forgiveness of sins to all who turn away from their sin and trust in Him alone for their salvation.
In your daily life, in what ways are you cultivating evangelistic opportunities? How have you helped others to do the same?
We invest in our neighbors by taking time to linger and have conversations about life with them, pray with them, show them hospitality. Because I spend a lot of time with students, and they bring a lot of unchurched friends to church with them, I also have the opportunity to build relationships with those students who do not know Christ. I then model evangelism for the students I am discipling by taking them alongside with me as I intentionally have conversations with those lost students. I also try to use the same vendors and build relationships with outsiders in that way. For example, our church in Oklahoma hosts events to attract local kids and families to the church, and my responsibility is often ordering a bounce house. I gladly use this as an opportunity to call a local Jordanian man who happens to rent this type of equipment. He brings the equipment and comes to collect it afterward. Each time he comes, he stays and lingers with me, and we have long conversations. He often asks me questions that give me straight-foward opportunities to share with him the reason for my hope in Christ. It is sometimes hard for those of us who spend the majority of our time in a church building to have meaningful relationships with the lost world, but I have found that if I am strategic and go to the same people each time, then I can build relationships with them and get more opportunities to share the gospel.
What are the two best books you’ve read on evangelism and why?
My perspective on evangelism was really changed through reading both Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus by J. Mack Stiles and The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever. First, Stiles showed the value of building an evangelistic culture within the church. Many Christians want to leave evangelism to vocational ministers, or to justify big productions as their sole means of participating in the Great Commission. However, with a biblical approach, the entire church is involved in this Great Commission. The second book by Dever realigned my evangelism strategies. He argues that while apologetics, feeding the poor, inviting people to church, etc. are all good and necessary things, they are not evangelism. When we do these things, we might be tempted to pat ourselves on the back for a job well-done, but Dever reminds the reader that if the gospel is not shared, evangelism has not taken place. This book is a kick in the pants to believers to go and evangelize!
How would you shepherd the person who says, “I don’t really think sharing the gospel is for me. Other people are good at that but I seem to struggle”?
I would encourage a person to re-evaluate how they define success in evangelism. Since we know that ultimately we cannot change hearts (that’s God’s job!), we need to take the emphasis off of the response of the individual, and instead be more concerned with being faithful to what Christ has commanded us. The Great Commission is for all believers, not just for those who are the most persuasive or articulate. Also, for the person who is struggling, I would say that evangelism is like any other discipline in that it requires some practice to feel more natural. Just like I must discipline myself to read God’s Word even in seasons when I don’t “feel like it,” I must also practice the discipline of evangelism, even if it does feel a little awkward at first, because in time it does get easier and feels more natural. If someone is eager to share but has never done so before and is nervous about it, I like to encourage them to practice sharing the gospel with a loved one. There’s no pressure, and once the message of the gospel comes out of our own lips a few times, we’ll find that we are better prepared in a more spontaneous situation where we might feel nervous. God is faithful. He empowers us by his Spirit. We just need to be obedient, and by His grace, He’ll help us.
Now, for some general influences on your life. What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?
I would say I’m very fond of the book of James. Growing up in the Bible Belt, many people talk a lot about faith, but you won’t hear so much talk about works. There’s a lot of talk about blessings that are often material in nature and the good things God has stored up for a person, but you won’t hear a lot of acknowledgments about how God’s good will might actually involve trial and suffering in a person’s life. Since being a teenager, the book of James has always been an encouragement to me to put on good works through faith. We are saved by faith alone, but faith is never alone. I think this message is especially important for a culture swept away with “easy believism” thinking that having warm fuzzies in their heart at one time in the past and saying a prayer equates having a saving faith in Christ. I am also so encouraged to read James’ admonishment that we can embrace the trials that God allows in our life with joy, trusting that our faith will be refined in our suffering and that He will be brought glory.
What book or author has had the most impact on your life, besides the Bible?
It was upon reading The Pleasures of God by John Piper that I first felt a desire to go overseas in order to preach the Gospel to those that do not have access to it. In this delightful book Piper describes the transcendence and magnificent beauty of God, and he calls readers to persuade others to delight in a God who is worthy of all of our praise. Through this book the Lord stirred up in me a desire to see others delight in God unto His glory. This book ultimately persuaded me to change my M. Div. focus from pastoral ministry to international church planting.
Tell us about the most influential sermon you’ve heard?
The most influential sermon I’ve heard would have been from my pastor when I was a young child. I don’t remember all of the specifics, but he did spend some time talking about hell. At the time I realized that I was separated from God and didn’t have a right relationship with Him. This led me to later talk to my dad, and after hearing the Good News that Jesus died for sinners like me, I repented of my sins and trusted in Jesus and my Lord and my Savior.
How do you like to spend your down time? Any hobbies?
I enjoy cooking, baking bread, and roasting coffee.
Okay, now a few left fielders. What is the dumbest thing you did as a kid?
I was probably around 5 years old, and my brother would have been about 9. He had a fundraiser for school, and my mom showed her loving support by buying a chocolate bunny. She hid it up high in a cabinet, not knowing that someone had been watching! Being the cunning five-year-old I was, I got up in the middle of the night, climbed up high, reached into the cabinet, and procured my prize. I crept through the hallway, slipped into the bathroom, and quietly enjoyed my midnight snack in solitude. When I was finished eating the entire chocolate bunny, I responsibly placed the wrapper inside the trashcan (I wasn’t a barbarian, after all!) for my mother to subsequently find the next day. The dumbest thing about this story? A couple years later my brother got a chocolate snowman, and it disappeared and was disposed of in the very same way.
Any odd talents that we should know about up front?
After years of working in student ministry, I have developed a stare that can make a middle school boy reconsider his actions.
What’s your favorite animal, and why?
Cows, because they are delicious.
Without going to the internet, do you know what a Lobo is? An Isotope? Carne Adovada?
A Lobo is a wolf and the mascot for the University of New Mexico. The Isotopes, if I am not mistaken, are a minor league baseball team. (This came up in my interview!) Carne Adovada is a meat dish. I don’t know what that last word is, but it’s obviously meat.
And, for one last question, red or green?
On a Sunday in August we introduced you to Josiah B., a man we were considering for Minister of Local and Global Missions. More recently we announced that we invited Josiah to come and that he accepted. Well, he’s here!
Josiah is on site and starting to get acquainted with our history and plans for missions. What a task that is! He’s excited and so are we. Janice and his children are still in Oklahoma but hope to be here soon.
Josiah is busy getting acquainted with the history, specifics, and relationships for missions at DSC. He was kind in this transition to take some time to answer some questions for us. In Part 1 we’ll learn a bit about Josiah’s background and family. In Part 2 we’ll learn about some of the more profound influences in his life.
We’re so glad to have you here. Thanks for doing this interview with us. How are Janice and the kids?
Thank you for asking. They are really excited to be coming to DSC and we’re all praying the house sells quickly so they can move to ABQ soon! Our youngest two, Juliet and Blaise, are doing great. We’d ask for your prayers for Janice and for our oldest, Charlotte. Janice has been struggling with a new diagnosis of a rare disease called Alpha-Gal Syndrome, which is thought to be due to a tick bite. It involves a severe allergy to all red meat (=mammal) products, and because by-products are hidden and unlabeled in so many foods (even salt and sugar and enriched flour!) it’s been a struggle to avoid reactions, and lately she’s been very sick. As for Charlotte, it was recently concluded after many tests that she has a stress fracture in her lower spine due to an accident this summer and will need to wear a back brace for at least three months. The doctor said there is a chance she may never fully heal, so we are asking for prayers that the Lord would intervene if it His will and use this trial in her life for His glory.
You’ve been in ministry for about ten years now. Tell us, briefly, where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing.
Yes, I have been in ministry since college, but that wasn’t originally my plan. In college I was studying accounting, and I desired to go work for the FBI. During one of my classes I met an international student, and I desired to share the gospel with her, but I had no idea how to do that cross-culturally. So I went to the Baptist Collegiate Ministries and asked the director for advice. As a result I became very involved with their international student ministry. I enjoyed it so much I then asked the director how I could become an assistant. Upon his advice, I applied to work as a missionary with the North American Mission Board serving as a college ministry intern, working with both locals and international students on the island of Maui.
After my 8 months in Hawaii, I made a “quick stop” that Fall back in Oklahoma to see family before moving to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Forth Worth, TX. It was during these brief weeks in Oklahoma that I met Janice, and since I moved to TX, we began a long-distance relationship. The following Spring, I moved back to Oklahoma, continued seminary at an extension campus, and asked her to be my bride.
That Summer we were married and moved to South Korea a week after the wedding. We taught English together for one year at a secular school. We both had a burning desire for missions, so we decided to do bi-vocational ministry overseas. After a few months living in Korea we starting meeting expatriates that also were learning how to adjust to life in Korea. We were able to teach them the ins and outs of living as an expat and in the process we invited them to our home Bible study. During this time, we saw one man come to Christ and a Bible study turn into a small church but I also realized that I needed to continue my education in order to be a better missionary. So when our term ended we moved to Texas so I could finish my seminary education. While I was finishing seminary I also served as a Youth and Associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Venus, TX. I completed the in-country portion of my International Church-Planting M. Div. degree in Texas while we had two children, and to complete my studies we moved overseas with the International Mission Board to serve Central Asian peoples living in Germany.
We spent two years in Germany studying both German and Turkish. We met weekly with German believers to disciple and equip them in the work of reaching their Muslim neighbors alongside us, and we also met weekly with a small congregation of Muslim-background believers to encourage them in their pursuit of Christ and in their efforts to reach their neighbors as well. We saw God do some really amazing things. We were allowed to share our faith so frequently and freely. For the first time we found ourselves being the only Christian in many different people’s lives. It was a really blessed time and made us all-the-more-passionate about spreading His glory among the nations!
After our two years in Germany, the “plan” was to become career missionaries, but the Lord had other plans. Due to budget cuts we were not allowed to stay on the field. After having traveled the world, the Lord surprised us by moving us back to our home state of Oklahoma where I have served as a Pastor to Youth and College Students for the past two years. We’ve been so blessed to be near family after having lived abroad for so long, and we’ve had such a great group of students to pour into. The people at our church in Tulsa have loved us well.
But ultimately, that passion for spreading God’s fame globally has stayed alive in our hearts, and while we are grateful for our time in Oklahoma, we took this position because it allows me to participate in the mission work of equipping and sending and going. We are thrilled that God has given us the opportunity to join this like-minded body of believers at DSC and participate with you in the Great Commission.
We had a chance to meet Janice during your visit with us in May. We admired how well you two interacted and cared for one another. I know the story of how you met Janice and how you entered the mission field are mingled. Tell us the story of meeting Janice and heading to the mission field merged.
As I mentioned before, I began doing international student ministry in college with the Baptist Collegiate Ministries. Janice was also doing international student ministry on the same university campus; however, she was doing it through her local church, and so our paths never crossed until I heard about how successful her church’s outreach to international students was, and I decided to go check it out. They were hosting weekly Bible studies in the home of an older married couple. Janice and I were so focused on talking to international students that we almost didn’t talk to each other, but at the last minute I came over to her, started a conversation about why we loved international student ministry, and eventually parted ways. Janice thought we would never see each other again because I was moving to Texas. I ended up pursuing a relationship with her anyway! We quickly bonded over our love for Christ and over our passion for sharing His Good News with those who have never heard. Our first date sounded more like a strategy session of asking how committed we were to obeying the Great Commission, and where we wanted to serve. Just 11 months after that first meeting we were married, and immediately set off to go do cross-cultural ministry in Korea. Our relationship began with cross-cultural ministry, and it has really been a defining and unifying passion throughout our entire marriage.
How did you first find out about DSC and what resonated most with you in learning about our church?
I first found out about DSC when I was searching through The Gospel Coalition’s job board. I read the description of your church, of what you were looking for in a missions minister, and I was extremely excited. I quickly sent you my resume. We promptly found your church’s blog and website, began listening to your sermons, and found you guys to be very thoughtful and like-minded in your theology. We were blessed by your devotion to Scripture as your authority and your desire to see Christ prized by all peoples. We longed to be a part of a church that shared our values. As we had already for years been following The Gospel Coalition’s website, we felt a kinship with you. Having the opportunity to meet you all in person and worship with you at DSC, our hearts rejoiced to confirm what we already knew!
The cultures in Oklahoma and Albuquerque are quite different. Why was Albuquerque appealing to you?
Yes, Albuquerque is quite different from “Green Country” (that’s the nickname for the Tulsa area where we’re moving from). We desired to move west of Oklahoma and out of the Bible Belt in order to be able to make a greater impact on lostness. Two summers ago I visited Santa Fe on a mission trip with my youth ministry where we did backyard Bible clubs. It didn’t take long for me to see the lack of biblical literacy present in New Mexico compared to Oklahoma, and as we’ve taken the time to study some general demographics, our hearts were tugged to go somewhere where there is less access to the gospel.
You’re coming to us from Oklahoma where you’re doing youth ministry. You have a background in missions. Why are you seeking a role in mobilization instead of going to the field?
Though our hearts are eagerly willing to uproot our lives and children and go to the ends of the earth to spread His Good News, the Lord has simply not allowed that for us at this time. Janice’s health problems have become too complicated to live overseas for the foreseeable future. We recognize that this is a limitation that God has allowed for His reasons, although mysterious to us at times, and we are at peace with that. We feel like God has allowed this opportunity to fulfill our heart’s desire to be more actively involved in mission work without needing to physically move overseas. I am hopeful that my past experiences living overseas will help me to serve DSC and love your workers who are living abroad. I am very excited about the opportunity to not only go myself, but to mobilize others as well.
From your experience, what was hardest part of being on the mission field? What was the greatest part?
The hardest part of living on the mission field for me was language. Learning language is hard. Speaking in a language that is not your mother tongue can be taxing on the brain, and sometimes you just want a break, but you may not get a break until you get home and the only person you can really, truly communicate with is your wife. It felt at times as though we were living on an island. We went to German church each week, but we weren’t actually able to comprehend and be encouraged by sermons until far into our stay there. That’s probably the other side of that difficulty. The lack of Christian community can be really hard. We had to listen to sermons online. It was rare to be able to sing praises with other believers in our mother tongue.
The greatest part was being able to share the gospel with people who had never heard it before. We had a friend we connected with, and the only contact he had previously had with Christianity was what he had learned in his Muslim school. Janice had a whole group of North African ladies who asked her to teach them what Christians believe, because they had always been so curious, but they had never personally known a Christian who would be willing to share with them.
You’ve completed a Master’s of Divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Tell us about that degree and how it will help you in your role here.
I completed a Master’s of Divinity with an emphasis in International Church Planting. I chose this degree because I was able to get the full benefit of a Master’s of Divinity in learning how to better interpret the Word of God so that I can faithfully preach the text. Yet I was also able to study missiology and learn how to plant churches in a cross-cultural setting. I was blessed to study under professors who had not only previously served as missionaries, but also as directors and mobilizers for hundreds of missionaries. I believe that my knowledge and experience gained in this program will allow me to better equip the church body to not only support our church planters but to also personally participate in the great commission.
It’s election season. As Americans entrusted with the hard-won privilege of self-government, we have a responsibility to participate in the process of electing those who serve us. Elections are wonderful and yet often unwieldy things. Elections are like giant negotiations between millions of diverse people as to who will lead all of us in a variety of roles: legislative, executive, and judicial.
The very nature of this mass negotiation means that total unity is never achievable. This is certainly true in the election of our nation’s President every four years. Yet, most of the time, a pretty remarkable degree of unity is found around at least two candidates, as various groups within our diverse nation let go of certain priorities in order for the chance to do good on others. America has worked exceptionally well.
Yet this election season reminds us that the political process is inherently tied to the people that engage that process. Winston Churchill put it this way: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried.”
Unfortunately, this election exposes the reality of an increasingly fractured—and, we must say, spiritually darkened—nation. The parties are pulling farther apart, and within parties there are sharper divisions. The nature of these divisions are often over matters of inestimable importance.
Yet there is a more dangerous prospect than the fracturing of the nation. If we’re not careful, the question of what to do in this election can harm not only the nation’s unity, but unity within local gospel churches.
Kevin DeYoung has done us all another favor by expressing some timely and needed ideas clearly in his piece, “Seeking Clarity in this Confusing Election Season: Ten Thoughts.” After saying that, for his part, he will not be voting for either major candidate, Kevin offers this exhortation to deference among brothers and sisters. We resonate with this spirit.
“This does not mean I think every Christian must come to the same decision in order to be a good Christian. There are simply too many prudential matters in the mix for Christians to be adamant that you absolutely cannot vote for so and so. Someone may think Trump is a lecherous oaf, but still conclude that his policies and judicial appointments have a better chance of being good for the nation. Likewise, someone may find Clinton’s position on abortion utterly deplorable, but conclude that Trump’s pro-life credentials are untrustworthy and that Clinton is less likely to be recklessly incompetent. Others may be convinced that an unpopular Clinton presidency may be better for conservative principles in the long run than a train wreck Trump administration would be. Some people may think voting third party is a waste. Others may figure it is one way to send a message that the system failed us this time around. Or maybe they really, really like Gary Johnson or Evan McMullin or whomever. Do I agree with all these arguments? No. But am I able to tell Christians that these arguments are manifestly unbiblical? No. They are conclusions that require prudential judgments. While our church might discipline a member for holding the positions Clinton holds or for behaving the way Trump has behaved, this does not mean we have biblical grounds for disciplining a church member who, for any number of reasons and calculations, may decide that voting for either candidate (or neither) makes the most sense. And if we wouldn’t discipline someone for a presidential vote, we should stop short of saying such a vote is sinful and shameful.”
Kevin has much more to say, and so much of it helpful. Read Kevin’s entire post here. Though it was written in the context of a different election, Kevin’s post, “What Am I Doing When I Vote?” offers us helpful distinctions for more careful thinking about what a vote is and isn’t. Evidence of Kevin’s perceptivity is the fact that this article from 2012 practically accounts for our present situation.
“First, I did not want anyone to think that the Gospel was tied to a political party. If I were to endorse a candidate, people would identify Christianity with that political label, and this would be a stumbling block to those of the opposing political party. Instead of endorsements, over the years I have preached on those issues which cross the biblical/political divide, such as abortion, the role of law, same-sex marriage, etc. But throughout I have always insisted that the cross of Christ must be held above political wrangling, particularly before an election. We must be able to say to Democrats, to Republicans, and to Independents, ‘All of you are lost forever if you do not put your faith in Christ.’
The second reason for my refusal was that I feared a politician I endorsed could turn out to be a disappointment, and I would then be embarrassed that I had lent my name (and by extension that of The Moody Church) to the man or woman who acted in an un-Christian manner.”
These are wise words.
If you read around the web or track with social media, you’ll be familiar with the strongly prescriptive and often condescending or dismissive spirit from all sides around the question who Christians should or shouldn’t vote for. Strong opinions are good, and even needed for robust self-government. But if we’re not careful, we can end up treating the voices of leaders we trust as a kind of extra-biblical papal authority. Let us remember that we account to God for our decisions, and let us with all seriousness live and vote like that is true.
Lutzer’s tone, along with Kevin’s, really is the spirit to model. Or at least it seems that way to this writer and Christian. Whatever you purpose to do this election, surely you have heard silly, misrepresentative, and wrong-spirited arguments against your decision. It’s good to remember, and even to self-consciously acknowledge, that not everyone who disagrees with you disagrees with you for those same reasons and in that same spirit. Kevin and Lutzer will likely vote differently, and yet they express their arguments and their disagreements reasonably and in a manner appropriate to the murkiness of the moment.
Finally, we simply must conclude with a word from Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. George, reflecting on the difficult options our political process has left us with, looks forward with perspective and offers these wise words on Facebook:
“. . . This is where charity is required. There is no point in getting angry at people for whom what is obvious to oneself in these appalling circumstances is not obvious. Every single one of us needs to do his or her best to think this thing through carefully and then follow the dictates of conscience, acknowledging and appreciating the fact that conscience might lead other reasonable people of goodwill to a different conclusion.
Whatever happens, whichever of these people is elected, those of us who believe in limited government, constitutional fidelity and the Rule of law, flourishing institutions of civil society, traditional principles of morality, and the like are going to have profoundly important work to do. And we will need to do it together. Let us not break the cords that bind us together in friendship and conviction.”
If that’s true for broadly like-minded Americans, how much more the church. As the Apostle Paul commands, let us eagerly “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Let us have strong opinions about this election. Let us speak and persuade and struggle together as Americans. Let us have stronger unity around the gospel as Christ’s church.
There are good men and women among us—even within our own church—who are serving or will one day serve in public office. Let’s pray for them, even as we pray for our national leaders. And if this election season leaves us disappointed, let’s not give up on participating. In a democratic republic, a nation ultimately get’s what it asks for. So let us not withdraw from the process, but participate all the more—with more wisdom, more attention, and more love for neighbor than we have before.
On October 9 we had the joy of witnessing the baptism of four sisters in Christ, two in each service. In case you missed one or both of the services, here are the video testimonies from those who were baptized. This time we did just one video for all of our baptism candidates.
As we listen to these testimonies, let’s remember together Jesus’ truly great commission to his disciples in Matthew 28:18–20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
[RSS and email readers, click here to view this video]
This is the second in a two-part interview with Scott Meinema, DSC’s new Minister over the areas of Biblical Counseling and Community Groups. In Part 1 we learned a bit about Scott’s background, how he met Janelle. Here in Part 2 we’ll learn a bit about the larger influences on Scott’s life.
In this second part to your blog interview, let’s start with a question at the heart of what you’re coming here to do: what is your view of how discipleship takes place in a church?
Great question. By discipleship I assume you have in mind the activity of introducing others to Jesus and /or helping them grow to become more faithful and mature followers of Christ. Discipleship takes place many different ways in the midst of life on life relationships. In other words, parents modeling Christ and teaching their children is discipleship. Husbands dying to self and sacrificially serving their wife is discipleship. Older men and women modeling Christ and teaching younger men and women is discipleship. Christ followers exhorting, encouraging, and serving one another is discipleship. Confession of sin to one another is discipleship. A Pastor’s teaching and preaching is discipleship. Discipleship takes place in Community Groups. What takes place in the counseling room is discipleship. Discipleship takes place whenever we are living in a way that demonstrates Christ to one another.
Now, a few questions about influences on your life. What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?
Genesis, because it gives us so much insight into the glory of God, his character, and his attributes. I love Genesis because we see God’s kingship of grace, mercy, sovereignty, holiness, and creative omnipotence. In Genesis we catch a glimpse of Christ and the gospel in various places and we learn our condition and need for a Savior. There are so many things that can be learned about relationships in Genesis. But I also like John’s gospel because he takes us back to Genesis and gives us the rest of the story. John unveils the very Word who became flesh and tabernacled among his people. John helps us to see Jesus, the true glory of God, in a way that is purposely veiled in Genesis.
What book has had the most impact on your life, besides the Bible?
That is a toss-up so I’m going with Desiring God by John Piper. I was surprised to learn that my pursuit for joy was actually good. The problem was that I was looking for joy in all the wrong places. The idea that real joy comes from our enjoyment of God was something foreign to me. Up till then, I saw religion more as duty but not in a relationship to delight in. I saw God’s commands as counter-joy not as something to run to because they offer blessings, protection, and joy from a Father who loves us and wants his best for us. That book helped recalibrate my thinking to see that all of life should be about glorifying God by enjoying him. I like what Piper says: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him”.
Tell us about the most influential sermon you’ve heard.
Well, I never heard it spoke but the most influential sermon I’ve read is John Owen’s “The Duty of a Pastor.” It is true North for anyone who ministers God’s word, particularly the pastor. Owen provides a rich buffet of truths but none more helpful for me then the point that the preacher (or counselor) must first and foremost preach to himself. In other words, it is difficult to lead others to a place you have never been to. The pastor must take in and apply the message to his own life first. He must not just think about it but feel it and act on it. He must experience the truth he is going to preach because that experience transforms and helps bring conviction to the delivery of the word.
Tell us a bit about one of two important mentors in your life.
One was a friend from when we lived in Chicago. God used Mark in my life to challenge my own knowledge of the Scriptures and of the God of the Scriptures. I recall one occasion when discussing a particular doctrinal issue, he asked if I had ever read the Bible with that one doctrine in mind? Of course I hadn’t and he proclaimed that I didn’t have a right to an opinion on that issue until having read to see all that God had said about it! Needless to say, I was not happy but went away and read with the goal of seeing what God said about the particular issue. To my surprise my previous opinion was way wrong. Mark helped me to think critically about the Scriptures, memorize the Scriptures and was the one who introduced me to John Owen for which I am grateful.
Another mentor would be our counseling supervisor, Dr. Bob Smith. I was privileged to spend over 100 hours in the counseling room with one of the early pioneers of the Biblical Counseling movement. Besides having a terrific command of the Scriptures, Dr. Smith is a faithful practitioner of the Scriptures. Week in and week out he faithfully applied the Scriptures to his own life and helped others do the same. He was transparent with his own fight of faith which made it easier for his counselees and trainees to be transparent and share their struggles. My favorite comment from Dr. Smith is when he would say, “my ears need to hear what my mouth just said.”
What was the most difficult time in your life as a Christian, and how do you believe this has this helped prepare you for the work the Lord has for you here?
We have had a number of difficulties throughout our marriage. I think it was John Piper who said that marriage is the most difficult relationship on the face of the planet. Marriage is one of God’s main sanctification tools. There is nothing like the marriage relationship to help us see our own selfishness. There is nothing like marriage that brings out my sinful and self-centered heart and need for change. There is nothing like the marriage relationship that provides me with opportunity to die to self and that can be difficult.
On the other hand, marriage can be joyful, wonderful and redemptive when marriage functions in the way our King intended. Seeing God’s goodness and sovereignty especially in the midst of our difficult circumstances and relationships is an important first step in ministering to others.
Okay, now a few left fielders we always ask our new ministers. What is the dumbest thing you did as a kid?
During the holidays my mom would make cookies, pecan cups and other deserts for the neighbors, friends and family. She would lock them in a freezer in a locked storage room so we would not eat them before they were handed out. She spent days baking dozens and dozens of these treats.
One year, I removed the hinges to both the storage room and freezer in hope of sampling a few of my favorite cookies and pecan cups. They were so delicious. The problem was that I couldn’t stop with one and this activity became a daily obsession over the next few weeks. Needless to say, there was very little left in the freezer when she went out there a few weeks later. We laugh about it now but my mom is in her 80’s and still recalls it with great clarity . . . and emotion.
Any odd talents that we should know about up front?
Not really but I can make the sound of dripping faucet.
That’s excellent and we need to hear it. What’s your favorite animal, and why?
Our dog, Addie. Addie is a Pointer / Brittany mix. She loves to run when she is outside and loves attention when she is inside. She is always happy and especially excited to to see me when returning from being away and she gets along well with our cat, Cassie.
Without going to the internet, do you know what a Lobo is? An Isotope? Carne Adovada?
I believe a Lobo is a dog of some sort. I remember UTEP playing New Mexico and the mascot was a Lobo. I am lost on the Isotope but I think it has something to do w/chemistry. Carne Adovada is Mexican dish of some kind.
And, for one last question, red or green? Green – can’t wait to roast our own!