Don’t Get Caught Doing Well On What Should Not Be Done At All

It matters where you put your energy, and modern churches expend enormous energy trying to make Sunday schools and youth programs work. Here are two thoughts about this. First, a proposition to ponder: the practice of comprehensive age segregation is not found anywhere in scripture. Second, a principle to consider:

Don’t get caught doing well that which should not be done at all.

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Expository Listening on the Lord’s Day

Here is a helpful piece on Tim Challies Blog that may help you tomorrow on the Lord’s Day in your local church

Richard Baxter:

Remember that all these…sermons must be reviewed, and you must answer for all that you have heard, whether you heard it…with diligent attention or with carelessness; and the word which you hear shall judge you at the last day. Hear therefore as those that are going to judgment to give account of their hearing and obeying.

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Come to the Family Economics Conference – March 5-6

 

 

Use the discount code NCFIC and you will receive a $50.00 discount.

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SOS Conference Albums Still Available Online

Sufficiency of Scripture Conference Audio Albums are available online. We have both the full 36 message conference collection in CD and MP3 albums.

Click HERE to purchase them.

SOS Conference Audio Album — the full 36 message set includes the following messages:

Scott Brown: Do not Learn the Way of the Gentiles – Defining the Sufficiency of Scripture

• Douglas Phillips: The Defining Battles in the War Against the Sufficiency of Scripture

• Ken Ham: Our Declining Church and Culture: The Genesis Connection and How to Continue a Godly Heritage

Paul Washer: The Sufficiency of Scripture and the Gospel

• Dr. Voddie Baucham: The Sufficiency of Scripture for Manhood and Womanhood

• Douglas Phillips: The Sufficiency of Scripture and the Heart of the NCFIC

• Dr. Andrew Davis: Scripture is Sufficient for Personal Sanctification

• Dr. Joesph Morecraft: The Regulative Principle of Worship in the Old Testament
• R.C. Sproul, Jr.: Scripture is Sufficient for Suffering

• William Einwechter: English Bibles and the Sufficiency of Scripture

• Jeff Pollard: Scripture is Sufficient for Women’s Ministry Part 1: Teachers of Good Things

• Douglas Phillips: The Sufficiency of Scripture for the Laws of Nations

• Steven Breagy: Scripture is Sufficient for Child Discipline

• Dan Horn: But How Could a Loving God Say…?

• Dr. Andrew Davis: The Sufficiency of Scripture for Building Faith and Transforming Character

• Paul Washer: Scripture is Sufficient for Personal Evangelism

• Geoff Botkin: Applying the Sufficiency of Scripture in the Botkin Family

• Dr. Joe Morecraft: The Regulative Principle of Worship in the New Testament

• Kevin Swanson: The Sufficiency of Scripture for Family Life

• William Einwechter: God’s Law or Chaos

• Jeff Pollard: Scripture is Sufficient for Women’s Ministry Part 2: Keepers at Home

• Dr. Joseph Morecraft: Is the Sufficiency of Scripture a Bible Doctrine?

• Scott Brown: Scripture is Sufficient for Ministry to Youth

• Kevin Swanson: The Sufficiency of Scripture and Family Integration

• Paul Washer: The Sufficiency of Scripture for Evangelizing the Nations

• Dr. Joseph Morecraft: The Sufficiency of Scripture for Church Discipline

• Dan Horn: The Sufficiency of Scripture for the Importance of the Sabbath

• Dr. Andrew Davis: The Sufficiency of Scripture for Habits of Obedience

• Dr. Voddie Baucham: Youth Ministry

• Kevin Swanson: Scripture is Sufficient for Your Educational Decisions

• Douglas Phillips: The Sufficiency of Scripture for Culture and Aesthetics

• Dan Horn: Scripture is Sufficient to Define and Govern the Church

• William Einwechter: Scripture is Sufficient for Times of Spiritual Decline

• Paul Washer: The Importance of Biblical Family Life for the Spread of the Gospel

• Dr. Voddie Baucham: The Sufficiency of Scripture in the Disciple-Making Ministry of the Church and the Home

• Scott Brown and Douglas Phillips: Closing Charge
 

 

 

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Free Online Elder Discipleship Webinar

Please accept our invitation to a Free Online Elder Discipleship Webinar, January 19, 8:00-10:00 pm, on love in the church and Jonathan Edwards’ Charity and Its Fruits . Scott Brown, Dan Horn, Jason Dohm and Abe Van Wingerden will be on the line. We are offering this to give men a chance to see what it is like to participate in our webinar. If you like to participate for the rest of the year, then you can register here.

What are the Elder Discipleship Sessions are like?

Here is what those who participated in our first Online Elder Discipleship Webinar said,

“I would highly recommend the program based on my experience. This is the kind of thing I was hoping for, since my situation makes it difficult to travel to the ‘live’ events around the country.”


“This is a great way for busy men to spend time interacting with others that want to make Christ Lord of their lives and then to help reform the church to glorify God.

“The first session was a blessing in many ways: it was encouraging to see all the men signed up and listening, I enjoyed the input from all the leaders and felt that they all had a lot to add to the conversation, I liked the idea of an ‘antagonistic’ point of view from one of the leaders…

What an opportunity to collaborate with other men from across the country who are thirsting and hungering to know and love the Lord our God more.

Knowing that there are other brothers who are willing to wrestle with the Word and interact with one another for the purpose of understanding and obeying it is tremendously encouraging!

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Love – The Mark of the Christian

In our elder discipleship program, we started with the subject of love by reading and discussing Charity and Its Fruits by Jonathan Edwards. God forbid that we would have loveless churches. If we do, they may not be true churches at all. We will be having a Free Online Webinar to discuss this book again on January 19 and invite any man that is interested to join us.

Here is another resource: In 1970, Francis Schaeffer wrote a book entitled The Mark of the Christian in which he rightly identifies love as the chief identifying mark of a true believer. 

"My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:33-35)

You can read it here and buy it here.

 

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Setting Aside Qualified Men to Labor in the Word

Here is an article by Hope Baptist deacon, Jason Dohm
on paying elders for their labors.

The principle of paying church leaders is so widely accepted that in most circles an article on the topic would elicit a chorus of yawns. In family-integrated circles, however, there are many new churches being formed with an intense (and correct) conviction that ministry is not to be confined to a few professionals. While this focus on broad participation in ministry continues to produce many wonderful results, often an unintended outcome is a diminished emphasis on the importance of setting aside qualified men for the ministry of the word. In those instances, a clear Biblical teaching has been lost, and the church is the worse for it.

Consider Ephesians 4:11-13: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. One truth is evident – God never intended for the New Testament church to have a professional class to do the work of ministry. The saints do the work of the ministry, and that is how He builds up His body, through every member having honored roles and important, though diverse, functions (1 Corinthian 12:12-31). However, that truth should not cause us to neglect the companion truth that God gives the church qualified and gifted men to equip the saints for that work, with the results being unity of the faith, the knowledge of Christ, and maturity.

In 1 Timothy 5:17,18, Paul tells us something very important about those men that God has given to the church: “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,’ and, ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’”

From this passage, we learn:

A subset of elders are worthy of double honor, which is subsequently explained as including financial support.
Elders who rule well, and “especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (NASB), constitute this subset who are to be paid.
The underpinnings for this come from both the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 25:4) and the teachings of Jesus Christ Himself (Luke 10:7).

Paul expands on this in 1 Corinthians 9:9-14: “For it is written in the law of Moses, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.’ Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?
Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.”

Here Paul forcefully makes the case that those laboring in the word have a right to a living from those labors, even though he himself frequently forfeited that right to eliminate barriers to the gospel. We should recognize that the Scriptures make clear our obligation to pay elders who work hard at preaching and teaching, and that the forfeiting of that right ought to be at the discretion of the laborer. In other words, the primary teacher(s) in your church should make a case for not being paid, if that is their desire.

Why is this important? Well, we have seen that this principle applies to those who work hard at preaching and teaching, which implies the importance of having men who are both willing and able to consistently toil in the word. This is the point – the ministry of the word, done right, is an occupation in the truest sense. It occupies, and there are no shortcuts. This is why in Acts 6:2, the twelve, recognizing the absolute requirement for undistracted attention, say “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God”, and then in verse 4, “But we will devote ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word”. Here the specific distraction was ministry to widows, a worthy ministry indeed, but not their primary function in the body, and the solution was appointing deacons. In a similar way, providing for one’s family is a legitimate distraction (lest the man be worse than an unbeliever; 1 Timothy 5:8), and the remedy is making continual devotion to prayer and the ministry of the word financially possible.

Jesus both taught and practiced this principle. In Matthew 10:9,10, as Jesus was sending the disciples out two by two to preach, he says this, “Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.” These men were able to immediately and wholeheartedly engage in their God-given mission because they did not have to acquire the gold and other things needed – their labor simply merited their support. And again in Luke 10:7, when the Lord appointed seventy others, also sending them out two by two, He says, “And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.” Do you see the pattern? God has purposefully placed people with resources – money, homes, food, etc – so that the ministry of the word can flourish unabated and the glorious gospel of grace can go forth to the ends of the earth. To this end, Jesus Himself was a fulltime preacher who received his provision from others, as recorded in Luke 8:3, “…and many others who provided for Him from their substance”.

The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith summarizes it well: “Pastors are required to give constant attention to the service of Christ in His churches; they are to be engaged in the ministry of the Word and in prayer, and to seek the welfare of men’s souls as those that must give account to the Lord. It is therefore imperative that the churches to which they minister should give them, according to the churches’ ability, not only all due honor, but such abundance of this world’s material good as will enable them to live in comfort, without the need to entangle themselves in secular employment, and which will also suffice to enable them to exercise hospitality towards others. Such an arrangement is required by the law of nature itself, and by the express command of our Lord Jesus, who has decreed that ‘they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel’.”

What happens if we are cavalier regarding the exhortations of Scripture in this area? At least three things:

Our steady diet is bi-vocational teaching. God bless tent-makers. Having been an unpaid elder with a fulltime job, I have always been a tent-maker and I am thankful to be one. However, if the church’s steady diet is my teaching, as a man who provides for my family through secular employment, the fellowship loses. Teaching once a month or less, I can muster the time and energy to properly prepare to stand before God’s people to faithfully represent the truth of His word, knowing that next week’s schedule will be far more forgiving. Not so for the man who is required to do so week after week. Eventually, the realities of life will steal from his preparation, and the teaching – and the taught – will suffer. I know many such men. One of them confided to me that when he started the fellowship, he would spend a lavish amount of time in preparation for each Sunday, but that a year later he can only allot a few hours on Saturday. Has this brother lost his zeal for God and the church? Should we frown on him for his dwindling commitment of time? No – rather we will acknowledge that he cannot afford to be continually devoted to the ministry of the word, because that ministry must share with another essential obligation.
We create an opening for those who contradict sound doctrine. When we think of the ministry of the word, our minds normally go to the preaching of the Sunday morning message. However, as the qualifications for elders in Titus make clear, defending sound doctrine is a key element as well. Titus 1:9 lists this as the final qualification: “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” Establishing and defending sound doctrine takes a lot of time. At any given time, someone in your fellowship is talking to a friend, reading a book, or listening to a radio program that is chalk full of nonsense. In many instances, though, the nonsense is subtle, mixed with truth, and disorienting in the way that it initially seems to be logical and/or Biblical. This represents a threat to the church, and these situations can quickly take on a life of their own unless someone who is qualified has the time to gently address the issues without delay. For another of Paul’s exhortations in this regard, see 2 Timothy 4:1-5 – a powerful reminder of how central this function is for church leaders. False teachers and itching ears are not hard to find. Given the state of the modern evangelical church, we should not be naïve in thinking that this is a “once in a blue moon” function in a church. There is a regular requirement for careful, thoughtful study and response. Translation: time and devotion.
We tempt men to sacrifice their families and thereby disqualify themselves from eldership. O the shared guilt of shepherds and the church in this area! How many are the men who shortchange their wives and children out of a sense of duty towards the church. This can happen whether or not a man has another occupation, of course, but it is especially likely among men who provide for their families through secular employment and also carry the bulk of the teaching load, and it causes them to disqualify themselves from the very office which they are exhausting themselves to fill. This is very unloving of the church. Paul says that an elder must be above reproach in the management of his household (1 Timothy 3:4,5), having a wife and children who exhibit the fruit of lavish care (Titus 1:6), even while he faithfully executes his service to the church. We are not at liberty, brethren, to force or even allow men to choose between these obligations, and a key part of this equation is committing to set aside qualified men – through financial support – for continual devotion to the ministry of the word.

When I look back on my “career path,” I see a faithful God giving over-abundant resources to a very ordinary man, well beyond any reasonable expectation. Why has He done this? For my own comfort and personal security? May it never be! I passionately believe that the key reason God has given our family resources is so we would put them in play within the local church, so that our church would benefit from the continual devotion of at least one man to prayer and the ministry of the word. Simply put, God is staging resources to send laborers into His harvest. As Paul says in Galatians 6:6, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.” Let us commit together to honor certain qualified men in this way out of obedience to Christ and for the good of His bride.

Jason Dohm
Hope Baptist Church
Rolesville, NC

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Are People Afraid of Your Church?

Should people be afraid of the church? Actually, yes! In a day and age where we have all been taught to make people feel comfortable about our churches, here is some biblical thinking on the matter from Jim Savastio. There is a clear biblical pattern that when God is at work, people fear. In Timothy 5:19-20, 19, Paul instructs Timothy that the normal rebukes for sin in the church should produce fear and that, “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.”

In Acts 2:43, during the time of a great outpouring of grace upon the church we read, “Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.”

In Acts 5:5,10-11 fear gripped the community when it was learned that Ananias and Saphira died after being found lying, “Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things….10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.”

In Acts 19:16-17, when the power of God was exercised against men with evil spirits, fear fell upon all, “Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”

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Another Reason to Love the Church

Gresham Machen Reminds Us of Another Reason to Love the Church

“Is there no refuge from strife? Is there no place of refreshing where a man can prepare for the battle of life? Is there no place where two or three can gather in Jesus’ name, to forget for the moment all those things that divide nation from nation and race from race, to forget human pride, to forget the passions of war, to forget the puzzling problems of industrial strife, and to unite in overflowing gratitude at the foot of the Cross? If there be such a place, then that is the house of God and that the gate of heaven. And from under the threshold of that house will go forth a river that will revive the weary world.” (Christianity and Liberalism [1923], 180-81)

Gresham Machen Died 72 Years Ago Today, January 1 – He was fifty five. Darryl Hart remembers this compelling and insightful statement,

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Ways to Close Out 2009 and Begin Again

Here are three helpful tools for looking back on 2009 and forward to the new year.

For my favorite, see Doug Phillips on, “How to End the Year 2009”

For a wonderful way to guide all of the New Year see, The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

Here are some creative questions from Michael Hyatt for looking back at 2009, “Seven Questions to Ask About Last Year.”

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How Do I Find Time for This Elder Discipleship?

I know from some conversations that some are thinking, “How do I make time for this?”

Here are five points to consider:

First, your heart has to be in it. You have to be convinced that this is what you need at this time in your life. If it is, don’t let the opportunity pass. All good things require discipline, difficult decisions and energetic stretching of the hours of the day. It is worth it, but your heart has to be in it or the efforts will fall off.

Second, we would want you to be able to set aside 3-4 hours per week to read the books and meet with the group once per week. Some will finish the books and some will not. The books are generally not very thick so the book list is really not as massive in terms of sheer reading as it looks. There are more books than there is reading. Having the books as resources will also be a valuable asset for many years to come.

Third, for many men, it is easy to find 3-4 hours of reading per week if they refrain from surfing the internet, looking at blogs and chasing news stories one link at a time and watching funny video clips and other things. These things really add up. You may actually have more time in your schedule than you think because of misplaced priorities, time wasters and lawful research that may be better put aside.

Fourth, I recommend that men set aside specific times to do the reading. Two hours twice per week with no interruptions would be a nice way to do it, or some variation of that.

Fifth, have your children do the reading with you as part of their school. This will give lots of opportunity for you to discuss meaningful things around the dinner table and while you are sitting in your house, walking by the way, lying down and rising up.

Click Here for more information

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Elder Discipleship Update – What about Time and Money?

There are two major questions about the elder discipleship program that we are asked: “how will I find the time” and “how will I pay for it.”

First, how will I have enough time? We estimate that the reading will take 3-4 hours per week. How will you find that time? One thing to consider, is whether or not you can reduce time spent online or find other activities that might be set aside for a season. Most men spend a few hours online each week looking at web sites and such. A recent study indicates that the average person spends 13 hours per week online excluding email.

Second, how will I be able to pay for it? We calculated the time allocation of our staff to provide this program, and have established a $395.00 cost for the entire year. However, we want to be flexible and are willing to receive this in different ways. First, the easiest way is to pay the full amount upfront as advertised. Second, an alternate method is to pay 100.00 per month in Dec, Jan, Feb and 95.00 in March. Third, you can pay $33 monthly for the twelve months of the program. Lastly, we have several scholarships available. If you are experiencing significant financial difficulty and are not able to to pay monthly, please write a brief note describing your situation and desire to participate and we will consider you for one of the available scholarships.

We look forward to you joining us for the introductory online meeting this coming Tuesday to begin the Elder Discipleship Program.

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Free Online Copy of “Charity and its Fruits” is Available

Check out this free online version of “Charity and it’s Fruits” by clicking on this link.

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Family Tensions and Holidays – Check this from Russell Moore

Here is some very practical wisdom from Russell Moore on “A Word about Family Tensions and the Holidays.”

He says, “human depravity doesn’t go into hibernation between Christmas Eve and New Year’s.” I liked how he identified how temptation comes to us at holiday gatherings,

God will allow you to be tested. He’ll refine you, bring you to the fullness of maturity in Christ. He probably won’t do it by your fighting lions before the emperor or standing with a John 3:16 sign before a tank in the streets of Beijing. More likely, it will be through those seemingly little places of temptation—like whether you’ll love the belching brother-in-law at the other end of the table who wants to talk about how the Cubans killed JFK and how to make $100,000 a year selling herbal laxatives on the Internet.

Read the whole article and be improved.

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Elder Discipleship Update

Next Tuesday evening at 8:00-10:00 Eastern Time, we will be having our first online “Elder Discipleship” discussion. We are starting with a focus on Jonathan Edwards collection of lectures on 1 Corinthians 13, “Charity and it’s Fruits.”

If you have not yet signed up, click here to register.

I would like to give you some details for our meeting.

First, let me direct you to the updated detailed reading schedule we have posted here. You will notice that we have scheduled discussion for each book on the reading list. Each reading assignment is identified by the date corresponding with Monday of that week.

Second, notice that on the reading schedule, we have identified one scripture memory assignment for each quarter. We will begin each meeting reciting this text of scripture during the specified time period.

Third, regarding the time of meeting monthly. We have established Tuesday evening from 8:00-10:00 pm, Eastern time. We may change this from time to time, but our consistent pattern will remain the same.

Fourth, we will launch our password protected collaborative web site on Tuesday before we meet. We will walk through it’s capabilities and how to use it on Tuesday evening during our meeting.

Fifth, I would like to explain why we would begin with the book, “Charity and it’s Fruits.” We must acknowledge that we live in an era where people often lose sight of the importance of love in the church. It is clear from scripture that love fulfills the whole law. We have a tendency to make the church an encyclopedia of theology, rather than an epistle of love. Often, as we take care of the church of God, we forget the laws of love that are meant to govern everything else that happens in the church. In a time of transition and reform, love is often left out of the equation of church life, when Christ meant it to be central.

I am looking forward to our times together over the next year and that God will continue to sanctify us and teach us how to “conduct” ourselves “in the household of God.”

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