Pillars of Church Life, Part 1



In this first session on church membership, Scott Brown outlines the nature and activities of a church. It is the Lord Himself who defines what a church is and what it does. The problem with church life in any generation is created when the leaders become captains of their own ships and create the church anew in their generation. In this message, Scott Brown outlines the important matters of what the Bible teaches regarding what the church is and what the church does. He first explains the nature and purpose of the church and then outlines what the church actually does in the world, according to scripture.

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A Man With a Message

God has appointed fathers to be men with a message, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.” Psalm 78:4
 
Men need to break the patterns of their fathers by delivering the right messages. The godly man is a man with a message. He has something to say. Men have a responsibility to declare certain messages. It is popular for we men today to create our own personal life message” or vision” that is unique to our personal lives. But Asaph warns us not to try to create a one of a kind, life message. No, our message is an ancient message which finds it’s source in the faithfulness of God, spelled out in the graphic simplicity that scripture provides.
Verse four clearly and succinctly describes what our message should be, what we are to tell the next generation. A man’s discipleship message to his family must include the following three elements: The praises of the Lord, His strength, and His mighty deeds.

A Father Full of Praise to the Lord

Asaph models the father who is filled up with the Praises of the Lord”.

He is a thankful man. The man who praises the Lord spreads enthusiasm for the faithfulness of God wherever he goes. He inspires his family by telling of the praises of the Lord. He is full of the good news of God’s mighty hand in history including his own history. It makes a big difference in the atmosphere of a household when a man sings for joy at the work of the Lord. He sees God working everywhere. He is truly a happy man because He knows that God is faithful and worthy of praise. This describes a man with an unshakeable joy in the Lord. He delights in Him. This man is not filled with head knowledge only. On the contrary, he walks around with a song in his heart. Truly, The joy of the Lord is their strength.”
Who can calculate the impact of a happy man who sings the praises of the Lord? 
 
Home Life Designed For Joy
 
You can usually detect godliness in a home by how much joy the people have registered on their faces. The face reflects the heart. Look at the faces in a home and most of the time, you can see how well a father is doing in filling his home with the praises of the Lord.
 
This is critical because. If a home is not full of the joy of the Lord, it will corrode and disfigure the knowledge of the true God and the hearts of the children will gravitate toward other things. But, Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance. In Your name they rejoice all day long…” (Psalm 89:15-18). And since God is the God of hope, a wise father fills his family with hope in God.”
 
Be an inspiration machine.
 
The only way a man can be full of praise to God is if he feeds himself on the good news recorded in Scripture. He finds his joy there. And the only reason he will feed himself with it is if he believes it is the happiest and most wonderful way. A man has no hope for being filled with the praises of the Lord unless he truly understands what David understood,
 
“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
 
Men who get too stressed out” need to reconsider what God says is acceptable behavior (the praises of the Lord) and what is not acceptable (being stressed out). Men say they are stressed out and it sounds so harmless, but in actuality, they are disobeying the commands to fear not’, and be anxious for nothing.” (Philippians 4:6) God’s households are designed for joy. Christian homes should be the happiest places on earth. This is only possible when a home is full of the knowledge of the promises of God toward them, and when a family believes that they are more than conquerors.” (Romans 8:37) For a home to be this way, it needs a father who is adept at spreading enthusiasm for the goodness of God.

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Read2018 Live Webinar – (Num. 16-36; Mk. 7-10)



At 3:00 pm EST, Scott LaPierre and I are going live to discuss the things we read over the past week as we are reading through the Bible. We will be on the line for 20 minutes to give some practical insights for families for the reading from the past week in Numbers, and Mark.

You can view the webinar here.

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A Holy Diversity or Youth Culture

We have long proclaimed the sinfulness of creating different cultures in the church based on age and affinity. Why? Because God’s design (revealed in scripture) for the church makes it a “body and a “family” composed of a diverse mix of ages and personalities and life stages. God brings this diversity together in “one body.” As a result we have criticized the creation of separate cultures in the church whether they be youth cultures or senior citizen cultures… God has built in a holy diversity into His Church. 

Stephen Nichols has written a good article explaining some of the pitfalls of a youth driven culture in his article, Youth Driven Culture.

He speaks to several of the drivers of the problem as follows,

 

“The subtle and not-so-subtle pulls of the idolization of youth manifest themselves in three areas. The first is an elevation of youth over the aged. This reverses the biblical paradigm. The second is a view of being human that values prettiness (not to be confused with beauty and aesthetics), strength, and human achievement. Think of the captain of the cheerleading squad and the star quarterback. The third is the dominance of the market by the youth demographic. That is to say, in order to be relevant and successful, one must appeal to the youth or to youthful tastes. These manifestations of our youth-driven culture deserve a closer look.”

 

A fickle church often falls prey to the pressure to play to youth, and thereby loses the diversity God has designed.

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How to Pray Without Ceasing

The Lord draws His children near in many ways. He is kind. One way He does this is to give us many reasons to pray in the normal course of life. This is demonstrated in the life of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible records Jesus prayers in many places in the Gospels. When did He pray? Why did He pray? While the list below is not exhaustive, it shows us a few of the situations where Jesus felt a need to pray.

1. A time of dedication – At His baptism, Luke 3:21
2. A time of decision – Before selecting His twelve disciples, Luke 6:12-16
3. A time of rejection – After His rejection at Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, Matthew 11:20–26
4. A time of sorrow – When a family was in need, John 11:41-42 
5. A time of tenderness – When little children were near him, Matt 19:13-15
6. A time of concern – With His disciples at the last supper, John 17

7. A time of departure – For His disciples before His ascension, Luke 24:50-53

In the same way that Jesus made the most of every opportunity to pray, so He provides His children many moments of opportunity so that we can dedicate them to the Lord; moments of change so that we can choose wisely during a time of decision; moments of scorn so that we can pray in our rejection; moments of heartbreak so we can turn to Him in our sorrows casting our cares upon Him; moments with children so that we can manifest the tenderness of Jesus; moments of reflection on the future, so that we can pray out of our concern; moments of saying goodbye so that we can pray in our departure. 

As God provides everything in His own time…”a time to be born and a time to die,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2) so He also provides for everything in between through thousands of circumstances in life to help us turn our hearts toward Him in prayer. One of commonest things is that we do not pray when we have opportunity. Circumstances are delivered to us by our Sovereign God each day.  Why? One reason is to drive us to Himself in prayer. In this way, the Lord helps us to, “pray without ceasing” (1Thessalonians 5:16-17).
 
The Lord commands us to pray without ceasing, but He does not leave us to ourselves… He brings a multitude of moments in our lives designed to stimulate us to pray. What a kind and compassionate Savior He is to draw us near!

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He Manifested His Glory



In John 2:1-12 we see how Jesus began His public ministry in a very surprising way. John the Baptist came “neither eating or drinking,” and was dressed in camels hair and a leather belt and deprived himself of the comforts of this life. Jesus, now enters the scene in sharp contrast. His first miracle shows Him celebrating, feasting and banqueting, sharing the joys of a wedding with his mother and his disciples. While John spurned wine, Jesus turned water into wine. Why would He do such a thing?

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Why Folks Resist Authority



In this audio message, Jeff Pollard explains the matter of elder authority from Hebrews 13. He begins by examining why people have such difficulty with authority.  He says,

“The clear and direct language of the text undoubtedly sounds foreign to modern American ears for at least four reasons: 

(1) Our inherently sinful condition: In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve cast off the authority of God’s Word. Because of this, all Adam’s descendants—Christ excluded—are born with a natural opposition to external authority. This sinful condition makes us vulnerable to 

(2) Our culture’s addiction to radical individualism: A self-worshiping culture like ours simply cannot and does not prepare the human heart to respect and submit to another human being. Submission to authority does not resonate with contemporary Americans—Christian or non-Christian. And this is one of the results of 

(3) The effect of the 60s upon subsequent generations: In 1904, the English occultist Aleister Crowley, known as “the wickedest man in the world,” was given a book by a spirit-entity: this spirit channeled the contents of the book through Crowley’s wife as Crowley wrote it down. Entitled The Book of the Law, its primary precept is “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” which became the slogan of the 60s: “Do your own thing.” While most people had no idea who Crowley was, his “do your own thing” life and writings influenced numerous musicians, celebrities, filmmakers, college professors, and others, who, in turn, intoxicated our culture with it. By its nature, “Do your own thing” is the antithesis of anything other than self-authority. As one writer puts it, “What Crowley stood for, ultimately, was self-gratification: no mere aimless indulgences but the healthy and liberating pursuit of one’s deepest will and desires against the soulless and shallow expectations of authority.” That is the satanic worldview and the reigning philosophy of most modern Americans—Christian or non-Christian. And they call it “freedom.” Finally, 

(4) The abuse of authority by church leaders: This is an unfortunate reality far too common, but consistent with fallen human nature and our culture. And when any of us suffers under the abuse of illegitimate authority, it subtly turns us against the use of legitimate authority. Because of the searing pain that abuse produces our hearts, we will do almost anything to avoid being abused by a church leader again. And that can lead churches to some very bad attitudes, decisions, and actions, as well as promoting a life of suspicion and distrust. Because of these four reasons and others, we do not like to submit to another human’s authority.

Nevertheless, in the churches of the Lord Jesus, our risen Savior is the Head—the Sovereign Lord and reigning Monarch of His people. He appoints elders to teach and to lead them authoritatively, according to His Word and Spirit. So, our message is entitled Elders and Authority (Part 1). May our loving heavenly Father grant us the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit so that we might hear the voice of Christ the Head of the church with clarity.

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Read2018 Live Webinar – (Lev. 19-Num. 15; Mk. 3-7)



At 3:00 pm EST, Mark Tuso and I will be on a live webinar to discuss the things we read over the past week as we are reading through the Bible. We will be on the line for 20 minutes to give some practical insights for families for the reading from the past week in Leviticus – Numbers, and Mark.

You can view the webinar here.

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Undone in a Minute – By Adultery

Playing with pornography? Flirting and texting? It’s the path of the death (Prov 5:5). Samuel James states it succinctly,

“Everyone knows that infidelity damages marriages, but not many people vividly imagine years of their work and arguments and advocacy going down the drain too.”  Samuel James

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The Place of Marriage in the Grand Scheme of Things

It is difficult to exaggerate the place that the Bible gives to marriage. Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a wedding (Mat. 22:2-14). Yet these words only begin to communicate the importance of marriage. e apostle Paul reveals in Eph. 5:22-33 that God created marriage for a very particular purpose: to visibly declare the glory of the love of Jesus Christ for His Church. This explains why the devil has always waged an unrelenting attack on marriage, seeking to pervert it, steal from it, and destroy it.

Why does the devil hate marriage so much? Is it because he simply desires to cause as much hate, alienation, discord, and disappointment as he can between spouses? Is it because he hates the o spring that comes from marriage? While these may be some of his reasons, consider that the devil hates marriage because he hates the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. God created marriage in order to give the world an earthly illustration of His love for His Church, His sacrifices on behalf of His Church, His union with His Church, His sanctification of the Church, and the glorious purposes that He has in mind for His Church.

Furthermore, a wife’s submission to her husband is an evidence that she believes the gospel, as her life pictures the Church submitting to Christ. In this way, a wife’s submission pictures a fruit of the power of the gospel. is is true because true belief in the gospel leads to a life of obedience, for “faith without works is dead” ( James 2:20). Scripture teaches that a wife is to “submit” to her own husband “in everything” and to “respect” him (Eph. 5:22, 24, 33). By a wife’s submission, she displays how the true Church obeys her Lord. When she does not submit to her husband, she declares a false gospel to the world.

Conversely, a husband who does not love his wife as Christ loves the Church is declaring that Jesus Christ does not love or cherish or nourish His Church and has not given Himself for her. is is how a husband declares a false gospel to the world through his relationship with his wife.

e Bible takes us back to the “old paths,” the good paths where marriage is properly understood and healed ( Jer. 6:16). 

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I Found It!



What does it mean to follow Jesus? How does it happen? What is the result of following Him? These questions are answered in John 1:35-51 where we observe five illustrations of the conversions of the first five disciples of Jesus during his public ministry. What happens to them? They see Jesus, and say, “eureka,” which means, “I found it.” And, they cannot help but tell others of His glory.

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A Father is a Detail Man

They say “the devil is in the details,” meaning that the details matter. It is the same with fathers, God obligates fathers to be men of details.  Specifically, “His wonderful works” (Ps 78:4).

This describes a man who knows the details of how God has worked. There are two categories of the works of the Lord. First, there are the works of God recorded in Scripture. This is the most important aspect of a father’s message – the recitation of the deeds of God recorded in Holy scripture. This is why it is critical that men lead their children to memorize Scripture. If children do not know the facts of God’s wonderful works, they will not know how to communicate them to others or know how to address well the difficulties they are facing.
 
Second, there are the works God has done since the writing of Scripture. These works can range from the time of the early church, to the ways that God has worked in your family specifically. How fathers interpret history makes all the difference in the world.

The results.

What are the observable results of a father’s good teaching? Asaph presents four results that will be observable in our children when they have been properly taught. This is a very helpful section in this psalm because it shows us how to evaluate the results of our teaching. (Notice that these results have nothing to do with career goals, financial security, or education. They have to do with the attitudes that fill everything our children do).  

Fathers must be on the lookout for the right results. What results should they expect to see in a home in which the truth of God has been fought for and bled for?

They Hope in God

The first result fathers should see in their children is that they “set their hope in God” (Psalm 78:7). The children described here are so confident in God that they are characterized by hope. This means that one of the most important goals of parenting is to present a child with a heart full of hope. How fragile they will be if they put their hope in anything else in this world.

They remember the works of God

The second result that fathers should see in their children is that they would “not forget the works of God” (Psalm 78:7).

Memory of the works of God is something that fathers need to help their children acquire. These truths should be etched in their memories so that they will come back to them in times of need. Their memories of Noah, Moses, Joseph and Job and the rest of the saints throughout biblical history.
 
Our children need to know the “works of the Lord”.  When they don’t know where their next meal is coming from, or they experience a job loss, a betrayal, a failure, a market crash, or a barren womb, will they be fretful and downcast? Or will they remember, that as God fed the children of Israel in the wilderness, so will He feed them. Will they remember that even though there was no food within a thousand miles and no way to grow it, that God fed the children of Israel with the ‘food of angels”?  When they are in danger, with no way out, will they collapse in fear? Or, will they think of the Red Sea and the words that were spoken there: “The Lord will fight for you” (Exodus 14:14).

 When they are tempted to complain because life is hard, will they fall into a period of depression, or will they think of how God provided water out of a rock in the middle of nowhere?
 
The mother of the great orator of the American Revolution, Patrick Henry, had the wisdom to take her son to church every week to hear one of the greatest preachers of the colonial era – Samuel Davies. On the way home from church, she would quiz him about the sermon. She would require that young Patrick recite the entire sermon – even reproducing the oratorical inflections for which Davies was famous. She was helping him forge these great principles into his memory. This kind of constant conversation about important things is critical. You are serving your children well by building the right things into their memories.
 
I am often astounded at how children find so much joy in quoting one liners from Hollywood movies they have seen. But, they can’t remember a single line from one of the great stories of Scripture. A faithful father will lead his family so that they are quoting the great “one liners” from Scripture. The objective of a father’s teaching is “that they might know them”

They keep His commandments

The third result that a father should see is that his children “would keep His commandments” v7.
 
Yes, we should be vigilant to see if our children are obedient. We should monitor their obedience, even though it is out of style in our “anything goes”, “everything is acceptable as long as you feel good about it” culture. There are two parts to obedience. The first part is a matter of the heart. Do our children have a heart for obedience in the sense that they desire to obey and are not kicking against authority? In other words, we need to know if our children believe that obedience is the superior way. Or is it just another rule that has to be followed because “that’s the way we do it around here! Do they have a genuine, visceral understanding of Psalm 19:11, “in keeping them there is great reward”
 
The second part of recognizing whether or not children “keep His commandment” is the outward part that expresses itself in words, actions, and attitudes.

The outward part is important because it reflects the inward part. This is why outward obedience is so important. It reflects the thoughts and meditations of the heart.
 
Parents are given the responsibility to secure honor and obedience in their children. This is one way that they break the patterns of the previous generation. They raise up a new generation of obedient children. In order to do such a thing, fathers must be detail men. They must communicate the specifics. Vague generalities won’t do. Broad strokes are thin strokes. God calls fathers to be men who traffic in the details of the “works He has done” (Ps 78:4)    

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Fear of God Devotional: Preaching Is the Key to Reformation



What is a key to reformation?

Gary Powers explains in this video that one of the keys to reformation involves the preaching of the Word of God. Often, in many churches today, the preaching occupies only a small part of the service or the content of the sermon is catered to what the congregation wants to hear. The preaching should be the focus of the sermon and the content should be based on the Word of God.   

2 Timothy 4:2 (NKJV) – “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”

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Live Webinar with Kert Martin – Leviticus 1-21; Matthew 27-Mark 3



At 3:00pm EST, Kert Martin and I will be on a live webinar to discuss the things we read over the past week as we are reading through the Bible. We will be on the line for 20 minutes to give some practical insights for families for the reading from the past week in Leviticus and Matthew – Mark.

You can view the webinar here.

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Fear of God Devotional: The Fruits of Repentance



What are the fruits of repentance?

Rob Ventura explains in this video that some of the fruits of repentance involve a fresh and renewed communion and fellowship with God and a conscience void of offense.  

One of the worst things a Christian can have is a bad conscience. We must confess sin to God. Those who cover sin will not prosper. We keep a good conscience through repentance. 

It is important to understand that repentance is not merely saying, “I’m sorry.” We must say, “I’ve sinned against you.” We must turn from sin. A false repentance will yield very little fruit. True biblical repentance will yield much fruit.

Proverbs 28:13 (NKJV) – “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

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