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A Battle I Decided I Needed to Fight

The Indispensable Center of Church and Family Life

Here is a summary of my opening message this morning at the Phoenix Reforming Church and Family Road Trip Stop.

The Indispensable Center of Church and Family Life

We are here to say that there are exciting aspects of reformation that are taking place around us. There are things happening in people and in churches that have not happened in the last 50 years.

True reformation is a fruit of something else – something more important and fundamental. True reformation comes out of one source: A heartfelt desire for the glory of God.

In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul teaches us this principle, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

The Lord Jesus demonstrates this in his conversation with His Father when he cried out, “Not my will, but Thine be done.

Habakkuk 2:14 communicates God’s supreme desire for His glory in all things when he declared, “For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.

All true reformation starts with the right answer to the first question of the Westminster catechism: “What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him for ever.

When the focus of our churches or our families is anything other than the glory of God we should expect them to be cursed rather than blessed.

If we change the focus of our families for our own sakes and because we want a better family, we have missed the mark.

If we change our churches to the pattern of age integration for our own sakes and to satisfy our own pleasures, we have missed the mark.

You can establish the “nine marks of a healthy church,” be “together for the gospel,” be “family integrated,” do family worship, but if it is not for the glory of God, it is rubbish.

This is the indispensable center for church and family life. Has God changed your heart so that it desires to glorify God? Do you believe He is your only hope? Is it He the one you truly admire? This is the heart of all true reformation.

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Reforming Worship – We Must Go All the Way

 

Friday night, Jason Young started his message with the 1828 Websters Dictionary definition of reform, “to abandon that which is evil or corrupt and return to a good state.” He then went on to explain that all reformations in scripture have this same quality. First is negative – errant form needs to be removed. Second is a positive – the authentic (right) needs to be put in place.

Drawing from his background as a brick layer, Jason pointed out that when you have a wall built wrong you have to go back to the place the first mistake was made. He said, “To reform the wall, you must tear it down all the way to the point it departed from the standard.”

After telling stories of reformation in the Old Testament and the New, he exhorted the audience “to remove unbiblical worship practices and replace them with ones God commands.” He said, “We must go all the way.

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The Brown Girls at the Ladies’ Tea in Oakhurst, CA

[vimeo 12866086 581 327]

 

Ladies’ Tea in Oakhurst, CA from NCFIC on Vimeo.

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Would I Want My Own Children in My Youth Group?

A Congregation Transformed

[vimeo 12866181 581 327]

 

A Congregation Transformed from NCFIC on Vimeo.

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The Light Switch Came On

[vimeo 12806029 581 327]

 

The Light Switch Came On from NCFIC on Vimeo.

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Reformation in Childbearing

[vimeo 12700759 581 327]

 

Reformation in Childbearing from NCFIC on Vimeo.

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A Glimpse at Some Family-Integrated Churches

Pictures from Oakhurst, CA

Here are our families pictured with the Mike Cox and Kevin Shaw families that worked so hard to organize the Oakhurst conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From Darkness to Light – Finding the Lost Book of the Law

Bremerton Regional Conference

Recently, our travels brought us to Bremerton, WA where we held our third regional conference. Craig Houston, pastor of Westside Baptist, prepared a wonderful place for our event at their church home in Bremerton. After a busy time of setup upon our arrival Friday afternoon, we enjoyed pizza and fellowship with all of the men and women who came to willingly serve alongside us for the two-day conference.

The Lord greatly blessed our time with all of the families that gathered together. There was such a sweet atmosphere as the Word of God was faithfully preached, songs were sung, and timeless truths of Scripture were brought to bear. This stop was truly refreshing and a joy as we all rejoiced in the truths of Biblical reformation together.

One of the most blessed parts of this stop was spending time with the Craig Houston family. Craig Houston has faithfully ministered in his church body for many years and continues to faithfully deliver the Word of God with clarity and boldness. Though the counter-cultural truths of Biblical reformation are often met with opposition in the church, the fruit of Craig’s faithful labors are evident in the joy and love witnessed in his church body. Craig and his wife have 10 beautiful children and kindly hosted a number of people from the road trip team. It was a joy to be in their home and share with each other the amazing providences of God in setting us apart and calling us to be a peculiar and set apart people… broken RVs and all.

We also want to thank all of the other hosts that freely offered their homes to host members of our team and provide a wonderful place of food and rest. These homes have been little havens to us as we’ve faced a rigorous travel schedule over the past week. It’s also been a great honor to sit with these families personally and hear the testimony of the work of God in their lives. This was one of our greatest goals as we set out upon this trip; to sit and spend time personally with people so that we could hear first-hand of the work of reformation that’s taking place across America.

Please pray that the Lord would continue to give us blessed times like these as we journey across the country in an effort to proclaim the glories of Christ, the sufficiency of His Word, and the greatness of His name.

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A Glorious Alteration in the Town

How a church affects the lives of the people in the communities they occupy is one of the critical marks of true awakening. This was demonstrated in 1735 during the pastoral tenure of Jonathan Edwards in Northampton,

This work of God, as it was carried on, and the number of true saints multiplied, soon made a glorious alteration in the town; so that in the spring and summer following, anno 1735, the town seemed to be full of the presence of God: it never was so full of love, nor so full of joy; and yet so full of distress as it was then. There were remarkable tokens of God’s presence in almost every house. it was a time of joy in families on the account of salvations being brought unto them; parents rejoicing over their children as newborn, and husbands over their wives, and wives over their husbands. The goings of God were then seen in his sanctuary [Ps. 68:24], God’s day was a delight, and his tabernacles were amiable [Ps. 83:1]. Or public assemblies were then beautiful; the congregation was alive in God’s service, everyone earnestly intent on the public worship, every hearer eager to drink in the words of the minister as they came from his mouth; the assembly in general were, from time to time, in tears while the Word was preached; some weeping with sorrow and distress, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their neighbors.

(Pg. 63, The Jonathan Edwards Reader, Yale Nota Bene)

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The Emotional Center of the Church

Here were my final words at Westside Baptist Church in Bremerton Washington this morning as we concluded our time there.

“Please turn to Galatians 6:14 where we will learn about the emotional center of a true church. We have been talking this weekend about what God has designed churches to do – the focus has been on the activity of the church. We have said that all that churches do should be done around the indispensible center of the church – the glory of God. So, if the volitional center of the church is the glory of God, and if the relational center of the church is the love of God and if the functional center of the church is the Word of God, then the emotional center of the church is boasting in the cross of Christ.

How do we know that? Paul, after explaining his authority as an apostle in chapters one and two, and the true nature of the gospel and the purpose of the law in chapters 3-4and what it means to walk in the Spirit in chapters 5-6, Paul now brings his letter to a conclusion. The apostle uses two words in Gal 6:14 that seem to be a summary of the letter. Imagine summing up a letter of this length with only two simple words. These words capture the passionate plea Paul has been issuing. These two words are, “God forbid,” and they announce the gateway for joy and blessing in every person and church that experiences them. These words describe what ought to be the emotional center of the church. The center of what the church feels is boasting in the cross of Christ.

The cross is meant to be one of those things that drives our emotions. What we love is what we “boast” about the most. You can get all emotional and teary eyed about lots of things in this life but there is one thing that is supreme among them all,“God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our lord Jesus Christ.” John Stott explains the meaning of the word boast: “It means… to boast in, glory in, trust in, rejoice in, revel in, live for.”

What you boast about is what you like; what you have affection for; what you think about; your hobby horse; what gives you a sense of satisfaction; what makes you swell with pride; what makes you happy; what you rejoice in.
Paul is saying, this is what the cross should be for you. It should be the primary object of your affections. Paul is wrestling with the saints in Galatia that it not happen that their lives would be centered around anything else but the cross.

To say, “God forbid” is like saying, “May it never happen to me.” This is a good prayer for ourselves and our churches.
May it never happen to me that I cease boasting in the cross. May it never be that I cease to be moved by the thought of the cross of Christ.  “God forbid!”

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“He Who Waters” – for the churches and families who have sponsored Road Trip conferences

We have been so blessed by your planning, promotions, support and hospitality. These churches and families are veritable hospitality machines. A few days ago we read this in our vehicle and our first thought was of those who have sponsored these Road Trip stops.

“The generous soul will be made rich and he who waters will also be watered himself,” and “he who earnestly seeks good finds favor.” Prov 11:25,27

Pictured are The Raimundos, McLean Va, The Noah’s, Greenlawn, NY, The Eckersons and Thomas’s in Boston, Mass. The Millers in Farmington, Maine. The Maretzki’s in Toronto, Ca. The Dorin’s in Des Moines., Iowa The Lyerla’s in Spokane, Wa, The Houstons in Brmerton, Wa, and tomorrow (Monday) the Cox family in Oakhurst, Ca… and more to come…

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