Thursday, October 9, 2014

Taking the Sermon Home

If you are convinced that worshipping together as a family in church is important (like me),

and if you have a preacher who takes a doctrinal stance in his teaching that can be heavy at times as an adult, much less as a child (like me),

then you have probably wondered from time to time how to help your children understand and embrace the sermon (like me)!

I’ve recently began using this method for our family worship and have found it very helpful. I believe it would work for children of any age.

For our family worship on Monday, we review the sermon together. 

  1. First, we sing one of the songs that we sang in church the day before. This helps in a number of ways. It sets the tone for family worship, provides a connection between church and home, and invites the participation of our kids because they choose which song to sing.
  2. Second, I ask general questions to begin jogging our memories. What was the title? text? three points? I follow up with questions like, “What does this word mean?” or “How does that point explain the scripture?” As answers (or blank stares) are given, I am able to clarify anything that was missed or needs further explanation in the sermon.
  3. Third, I go to a deeper level, making sure we have understood the sermon and are seeking to apply God’s Word in our lives. So I ask questions like “What really stood out to you from the sermon?” or “How can we apply this point in a specific way in our lives?” or “How can we pray about this?” These questions help ensure understanding and allow for points of application.
  4. Fourth, as we discuss the sermon, it gives me the opportunity to do what God has called me to do - disciple my children. It opens doors to teach, point out where God is working in our lives, where we need prayer and grace, how we can live for Christ and reach out to others, etc.
  5. Fifth, we pray. I try to include praise for what God has taught us in my prayer. Again, hoping to take every moment as a teaching opportunity.

Whether this simple method or another, I encourage families and couples and singles to take the sermon home, mediate over the text, and seek ways the Spirit may apply the Word of God to our day to day lives.


May the Word of Christ dwell in us - richly!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When Jesus Says, "Truly, Truly, I Say to You"

Every word of Jesus recorded for us in Scripture is equally truthful, important, and essential for us to embrace, believe, and pattern our hearts and lives accordingly. Indeed, that is true of all of Scripture. So this post is not about establishing degrees of truth in Scripture. All Scripture is truth. However, there are those occasions when He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you…” What is Jesus conveying in this language, and how are we to respond?

When Jesus says “truly”, He means for us to know that what follows is unquestioned divine revelation to man. He is about to speak absolute, propositional truth, ultimate reality. When He says, “truly, truly”, there is no doubt that He is placing emphasis on what follows and means for every listener/reader to pay special attention. When He says, “truly, truly, I say to you”, He is indicating that He is directly addressing the following truth statement to His listeners/readers. He is not placing truth out in the open in some abstract way for us to ponder or debate. He is calling us to a decision about Him! We should feel the weight and force of those words every time we read them, for as all Scripture is inspired by God, when we read those words, Jesus is directly addressing us, the readers, with absolute, certain truth. Truth that will bear massive consequences in light of how we respond to it.

For example, in John 5:25,28-29 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live…for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgement.”

Massive, absolute truth given to us by Jesus as recorded in God’s sacred word. How are we to respond? Jesus actually tells us exactly how we are to respond in another absolute, truth claim in the previous verse. In v24 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life.”

We are to believe, and in believing, we are among those who “hear” and in hearing have eternal life! Jesus leaves no room for the nonsense of postmodernism’s rejection of absolute truth or the so-called streams of Christianity that deny, reject, or refuse to affirm the absolute truth claims of Scripture. Refusing to “hear” is unbelief. Refusing to embrace the propositional truth claims of Scripture are evidence that one remains spiritually dead. 


Life, abundant and eternal, is found only in Jesus Christ. He not only made this claim, but He proved this claim in His life, death, and resurrection. When Jesus says, “truly, truly, I say to you”, we are to hear; we are to believe. In so doing, we have saving, everlasting life in Him! He means for us to do more than merely pay special attention; He means for us to believe and be saved from sin by trusting in Him!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Calling Parents Back to Their God-given Joy and Responsibility



Family Driven Faith: Doing What it Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God. Voddie Baucham Jr. Wheaton: Crossway, 2007.

This is one of those books that comes along every so often and causes quite a stir throughout the church, not only by its content but also by its implications. To some it sounds so radical, so out of the box, even shocking. In the final analysis though, it is very biblical. The shock value and the wake up call this book represents only goes to show how far we may have moved from a simple and precious biblical standard.

So what's so shocking? Parents are called by God to be the primary disciplers of their children. Now that may not sound so unusual at first glance, but when you begin understanding the ramifications of such a calling, it forces Christian parents to re-evaluate how they parent and churches to re-evaluate how they minister. Now the wide-eyed faces appear!

Voddie Baucham, through personal experience and application of key biblical texts, outlines in this book how taking on the role of primary discipler for his children transformed his life, started the making of a new church model, and calls on all Christian parents and churches to seriously consider how the Bible prescribes raising our children.

In terms of strengths, this reader thoroughly appreciates Baucham's contribution and would highlight at least three. First, Baucham encourages parents to not only embrace the Bible's call to be the primary discipler of their children but he provides anecdotal illustrations to enable parents to catch the vision and begin the journey. Second, Baucham stresses how the church has, even with good intentions, structured itself to allow parents to set aside their role and rely solely on the church. This is not God's will for the home. As parents teach and discipline their children, the church is meant to reinforce and support. Third, since this reviewer was only familiar with the content apart from reading, Baucham's approach was far more inviting, charitable, and balanced than previously suspected. Granted, if one disagrees with Baucham's conclusions, he will be tasked heavily to prove his own point because it is clear that Baucham has carefully thought through any objections. However, the tone is not dogmatic but rather graciously challenging.

No doubt the impact of this book surfaces when you finish reading. Parents will need to think through with much prayer and confidence in Scripture how to discipline, how to educate, and how to disciple their children. This may call for a radical change in priority, scheduling, and perspective. Churches, particularly leadership, will need to think through prayerfully and biblically how it is structured so that corporately and within each ministry the church is supporting and encouraging families. Some adjustments may be minor - some may be massive!

In terms of weakness, there is only one that stands out. Baucham's resulting metaphor for the church is that it is to be a "family of families." While that rightly emphasizes some glaring corrections the church needs to make, it doesn't fully satisfy the NT presentation. It seems that the NT church is rather a brand new family, one composed of families for sure, but one also composed of singles, believing children without believing parents, and believing spouses married to unbelievers. No doubt Baucham and his church has a strategic way to incorporate these into the church, but the metaphor indicates these believers are somehow not "completely" in the church because they are not members of a believing family within the larger believing family of the church. However, to be entirely fair, Baucham acknowledges in his preface that this metaphor was intended to be a statement on the structure of the church, not the nature (p.7). So in essence, this weakness vanishes with this clarification. In the same way, however, the church model, family-integrated church, may unintentionally place an unnecessary burden upon those members who do not fit because they do not come to church as part of a complete believing family unit. The fully family-integrated model could cause frustration for singles, single parents, divorcees, and children who are the only believer in the home. That's not to say these hurdles cannot be overcome through intentional design by the family-integrated church. It is only to say not every believer belongs to a believing family unit. So the question becomes how do these genuine believers, genuine members of Christ's body, fit and feel welcomed into the family-integrated church model. How do you meet them at the "front door" without them turning away from first impressions? Is there some elbow room for these considerations in the FI model? Have these considerations already been acknowledged and alleviated in the FI model?

That being said, the model should not discourage parents and churches from fully examining this book's helpful, biblical corrections and encouragements. Having grown up in the traditional model of church ministry and having in recent years discovered the joys and trials of educating, biblically disciplining, and intentionally discipling my own children, this one is a must read for every parent and church leader.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Avoiding Legalism and Moralism with the Commands of Scripture

Any time we are presented with a list of commands, like the 50+ commands found in Romans 12-14, we are prone to head down one of two dangerous paths: legalism or moralism.

Legalism is the pursuit of keeping a list of commands, biblical or man-made, in order to make yourself right with God. Paul just spent 11 chapters arguing against keeping commands in a legalistic fashion. First, he argues that we are all sinners, so it does no good to try to keep a list of commands to be right with God because we’ve already missed the mark. We can’t undo by keeping the law what we’ve already messed up by breaking it. Second, the Jew already tried the way of the Law, and he is not right with God because he is a lawbreaker. Third, that’s why God made the way of salvation by faith in His Son and not by the law.

So when it comes to the 50 commands in Rom 12-14,or any other biblical imperatives, we must not view keeping these commands as earning salvation or favor with God. If we do so, therein lies an eternal danger. If you think that salvation is in the keeping of the commands, it is possible for you to make yourself obedient to these commands to a certain degree and totally miss heaven.

Moralism is slightly different but just as dangerous and just as prevalent as legalism. Moralism views Christianity as simply a moral code, a list of do’s and don’ts. Moralism is not trying to be right with God by keeping commands, moralism believes it is right with God by simply being a good person. However, the Christian faith is not simply good works; the Christian faith results in good works. The failure of moralism is the absence of viewing good works as being dependent upon faith and grace. In a moralistic view, Christianity is just being a good person. The eternal danger is that it is possible to be a “good person” to a certain degree and totally miss heaven!

So how do we avoid legalism and moralism when it comes to Paul’s list of 50 commands in Rom 12-14 or any biblical commands? 

There is a biblical paradigm found throughout Scripture that gives us the answer. The paradigm is that as God has been so merciful to us in Christ to save sinners, we respond to Him with lives of worship. The commands of Scripture are simply clarifying for us how we worship God with our lives. In Romans 12:1, this paradigm is stated as “the mercies of God” and our response as “living sacrifices.” Remember, Paul calls this our spiritual worship! 

We avoid legalism and moralism by viewing these commands as the way we worship God with our lives, the way we respond to the mercies of God in our salvation. Legalism is not worship. Legalism is not responding to God’s mercies by laying down our lives in humble obedience. Legalism is trying to obtain God’s mercies. Moralism is not worship. Moralism is not responding to God’s mercies by self-denial for the good of others. Moralism is simply abiding by a self-imposed standard with no regard for the worship of God. But when we are in awe of how sinful we are and yet God has been so graciously merciful to us, we respond to His mercies by laying down our lives, resisting the world, and filling our lives with God’s Word. It is not an attempt to make ourselves right with God, it is our willing, proper response for being made right with God. It is not simply being a good person, this life is worship! 


If we approach the commands of Scripture as the way we worship God in response to His rich, eternal mercies to us in Christ, we avoid the eternal dangers of legalism and moralism!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Divine Mercies Produce Sincere Worshippers

Worship is the willing, proper response of moral beings to the revelation of the Triune God. By divine initiation, God graciously discloses Himself, His purposes, and His will to man. Man, in response to God’s gracious initiation, worships God. This is my understanding of the biblical definition and portrayal of worship. God tells us something about Himself or His acts, and we willingly respond to Him in appropriate ways, which He has also revealed. This is worship.

In Romans 12:1 when Paul says, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the mercies of God” by “mercies” he is referring to our eternal, secure, everlasting salvation! He has been building this case, doctrine upon doctrine, through the first 11 chapters. We are saved because of divine initiation. Our salvation has nothing to do with us because we have all turned from God and rejected His revelation (ch 1-3). Therefore, God is credited with every single aspect of our salvation. He has totally, completely, eternally saved us. He sent His Son to pay for our sin so that we can be saved if we would just believe (ch 3). Having believed in Christ, He sent His Spirit to indwell us as believers and sanctify us as believers that we would no longer serve sin but serve Christ (ch 4-8). He made sure through sovereign election that we would believe because if He did not choose us before time we would never have chosen Him in time (ch 9-11). 


God has been incredibly merciful to us in every phase of salvation. He has acted. He has initiated. Now living our lives as worship to God is our willing, proper response to divine initiation. So Paul says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Spiritual Connection Between the Heart and the Mouth

Ever blurted out something really hurtful and then immediately apologized with some kind of excuse, hoping the excuse will automatically wipe away the inflicted harm? The excuse usually runs something like, “I’m sorry. I don’t why I said that. I’m tired and today has been a frustrating day. That’s not really me. That’s not how I actually feel.”

Well……actually…..it is. We just don’t like to see, admit, or confess our own horrible selves when they show up! The Bible reveals though that what comes out of the mouth was birthed in the heart - the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Consider these biblical assertions on the relationship between the heart and our actions or words.

1. Matthew 12:34 - For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

2. Mark 7:21-23 - For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

The hard truth is that when we blurt out hurtful words, entertain unholy thoughts, secretly engage in sin, or speak ill of someone behind his back, it is a reflection of our hearts. Sin has taken root, it has been cultivated, and now it has blossomed! More often, it blossoms in what we say or how we say it. (James 1:14-15)

Rather than deny our sin through some lame excuse, better to own up to it, apologize for it, confess it to God, ask forgiveness, and seek the strength to sever the root of sin from our hearts! (I John 1:9)

On the other hand, our mouths do not only reveal when sin has taken root in our hearts, they also reveal when grace is growing in our hearts!! Note carefully how David describes the relation between grace at work in his heart and the song of praise on his lips. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.” Psalm 28:7

Let us pay close attention to the words of our mouths, for they are reflecting something about our hearts. When our words are unholy or unhealthy, let’s confess our sin to God and ask that He fill our hearts with faith, humility, and grace. When our words are pleasing to God and edifying to others, let’s praise God for His grace in our lives and beg Him to continue to fill us with His Spirit!!


The mouth reveals our true selves, our inner selves, our hearts. When they show us sin, sever the root! When they show us grace, give God the glory!!

Is the Real Jesus the Biblical Jesus?


Who is Jesus? By R.C. Sproul. Orlando: Reformation Trust, 1983, 1999, 2009.

Philosophers, bible critics, theologians, spiritualists, atheists, and even hollywood has their own versions of the "real" Jesus, which, of course, conflicts with the biblical account of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. Some say Jesus thought he was God's Son, or the title was thrust upon him postmortem by his followers, or maybe he was at least a moral teacher of good things. However, none of these descriptions suffice for salvation! If the real Jesus is the not the Jesus of Scripture, we will never be saved!

Sproul takes a look at the primary source, Scripture, and examines the titles and life of Jesus. The conclusion is remarkably clear and evident. Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Son of God! As long as we do not dismiss the eyewitness accounts (which we never do in any other type of examination), the conclusion becomes obvious. The real Jesus is the biblical Jesus!

ShareThis