You’re Gonna Wanna Read This: 4/18/18

One of these articles that I recommend, I believe is critical. It is from a woman’s point of view on pornography–as a woman who was addicted. Also blogs on Martin Luther, corporate worship, etc. Happy reading!

Jesus’s Compassion for Those Who Love Porn

Luther at the Diet of Worms

Attending Corporate Worship (Personally, I can attest to the first reason, after being a command of course)

Being Heavenly Minded So That Your of Earthly Good

Why You Should Read the Westminster Confession

Who Will Save Superman

You’re Gonna Wanna Read This!

Here are some blog articles that I have come across that I would recommend you read.

5 Reasons Pastors Get Depressed (and why they don’t talk about it)

The Most Misunderstood Poem in American Culture

Jonathan Edwards and Why I am a Cessationist

How Do We Encourage Our Children to See the Church as Valuable?

21 Key Christ Figures You Should Know

3 Reasons “Bad Little Johnny” Needs to be In Church

I have heard this about a dozen times since being a pastor and every time I hear it I’m baffled.  It goes something like this: “Johnny’s been bad today, so I’m not letting him come to church/church event.”  I try to hide my confusion, but I’m not sure how well I do, because it usually starts the person on further explanation.  No explanation can assuage the heartache that I feel when I hear those words.  I’m not sure parents have thought through why this is such a detriment to their children.

I want to give 3 quick reasons I believe that it is a big mistake to keep little Johnny from church as a punishment.

  1. If Johnny has been bad—if he has sinned—then he needs to hear the gospel. If he is not yet a believer, he needs to hear that sin has more consequences than being grounded or spanked. Sin has the consequence of hell. He needs to hear that Jesus paid the penalty for all who believe, and that if he will trust in Jesus, he will be saved from sin and hell, and will have a relationship with God through Jesus, indwelled by the Holy Spirit.  If a parent deprives little Johnny of that message, it is to all of their detriment, but especially little Johnny’s.
  2. Little Johnny needs to know that even when he is bad—even when he has sinned—he can still go to God. If a parent keeps their “bad” child from church, it very well could lead to the idea that when they are bad they cannot go to God at all. Even if these words are never spoken (“God doesn’t want bad children in ‘his house.’”) the meaning very well may be conveyed.  Little Johnny needs to know that God is always willing to receive the humble and repentant.  He never leaves nor forsakes.
  3. Little Johnny needs the church members to be examples to/for him. The writer of Hebrews wrote that we are to remember our leaders and the outcome of their lives and imitate them (cf. 13:7). If Johnny is kept away from the church, he is kept away from godly mentors and examples.  There are men and women who will help teach him why his actions were wrong (if you let them know).  His teachers/pastors care about him; let them show you and him.

Perhaps you are thinking that your church doesn’t share the gospel; all they do is have fun.  If that is true, then you not only need to keep him out that one day, but withdraw him.  However, before doing that, speak with the teacher. Ask if the gospel is presented and how often.  Perhaps you request that it be done more often.  If it isn’t done at all and the leader/teacher refuses to do so, then go to an elder/pastor.  If there is still nothing done, investigate the church as to its faithfulness to the gospel.  Is this the only place that the gospel is abandoned or are there other places?  If no/little gospel seems to be the norm, then it may be time to leave altogether and find a gospel-centered church.  But whatever you do, don’t keep Johnny out of church due to punishment.

Am I wrong?  Let me know.  Perhaps there is a side of this of which I have not thought.  I’d love to have your comments.

You Need Your Local Church, and Here’s Why

Do you ever watch the nature channel?  Me neither.  But you probably know a little about lions.  Lions are typically nocturnal hunters.  They go around looking for prey around the twilight hours, from dusk till dawn.  Stealthily they seek their prey, ever so quiet, waiting until the gazelle or antelope or whatever they’re having for dinner is least expecting them.  Often they look for the weakest of the pack/herd, perhaps one that is injured, younger, or sick.  Without warning, that lion (or lions) attack, separating the animal from the pack/herd.  Before the poor animal knows it, he’s dinner.

Peter wrote, “Be sober–minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV).  He was not writing this letter to an individual, but to multiple churches–local churches with multiple people within.  When he stated that the devil is looking for someone to devour, he was not being hypothetical, he was being specific.  This was warning to the church, not simply individuals, to be on the lookout for Satan. “He is prowling around like a lion,” Peter was writing.  “He’s staying hidden.  He’s stealthy.  He’s just waiting to pounce on someone in your congregation.”

As Christians, God has put us together with a group of people.  A flock, a herd, a pack.  On our own, we are dead-meat.  We might as well be out there in the middle of a field just waiting to be attacked.  We might as well just call out, “Here kitty, kitty.  Come get me.”

Most Christians know that isn’t the way to live.  We know that we’re supposed to be part of the pack.  Some of us get jaded and leave the pack.  Some of us are jaded, but begrudgingly stick with it.  Yet, even knowing what we are supposed to do, we often are not “part of the pack.”  We’re present; we’re accounted for, but we aren’t actually there.  We’re doing our own thing.  We’re minding our own business. We’re not looking out for others, and others are not looking out for us.  In fact, we aren’t even looking out for ourselves!  It’s no wonder so many have been pounced on by that roaring lion–the old devil.

Look what Peter wrote though: “Resist him, firm in your faith,” (1 Peter 5:9a, ESV). He is writing that to every person in the church.  Going back to English class, you may remember the idea of the understood you, except this one is the understood plural you.  (You all) resist him, firm in y’alls faith.”  We come together to resist Satan.  If the devil can, he’ll separate us from each other.  He will get the weak one alone and destroy him/her.  As a church, we are not to scatter, but gather.  We come together to protect the weak.  In fact, Paul wrote just that.  “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all,” (1 Thess. 5:14, ESV).  We don’t run away when the devil strikes.  We are not to abandon our fellow Christian.  We are to rally around them (and they are to allow us to do so).  One believer by himself/herself is no match for a lion, but a pack that comes together, can resist, and beat back the deadly foe.

“Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world,” (1 Peter 5:9, ESV).  Even as local assemblies we can take heart that local bodies of believers all over this planet are dealing and fighting with the same issues with which our congregations–our packs–are dealing.

If you are not in a local church, you need to be in one.  They are your lifeline.  They are your protection.  They are your fighters.  We stand firm together.  Grant it, church’s have gotten away from this idea of relying on each other, trusting each other, allowing each other to help in our fights, but it ought not be so.  As Gandhi would say if he were a Christian (and alive), “Be the change you want to see in the church.”  Start to watch out for the hurting, the weak, the doubting, the fainthearted.  Lift them up in prayer.  Pray with them.  Call them.  Check in on them.  Disciple them.  Help them fight when the lion pounces.