Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Screen shot 2013-09-09 at 11.48.30 AM

 

The following section is from this past Sunday’s sermon.  To listen to the full audio version of this sermon, please click here: http://www.sermoncloud.com/wpgrenaissance/honoring-disciplining-and-choosing-elders/

 

1 Timothy 5: 17-18 | 17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially (in particularly) those who labor in preaching and teaching.  18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

 

I love that Paul gives a Scriptural mandate for providing for our elders:  Paul wants us to know that this is not just a demand from him, but is God’s gracious design in providing for the elders.  So he points us to the Old Testament and to the writings of Luke.

Deuteronomy  25:4 | 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,”

Now I love this reference by Paul because earlier we saw in the verse 17 that pastors should “labor” in preaching and teaching and this is a great metaphor for what a pastor/elder does – he is like an ox that helps the farmer, the farmer’s family and the city – I mean think of what a great benefit oxen were for centuries as they went before the farmer and carried the plow to break up hard ground so that seed could be planted and that a harvest may come.  And what a great metaphor for the Christian pastor.  A man who follows the leading of God the Father and works for the good of his church and the good of the city – as he prays and labors so that the hard ground of the human soul and mind can have the Gospel sowed deeply and so that spiritual harvest comes, so that all may benefit.  I mean this is good!  And Paul continues:

Luke 10:7 | and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

Interesting because Paul writes that just as an ox receives benefit from his work, that so a pastor should receive benefit from their work and that the laborer deserves his wages – so don’t muzzle them, don’t keep them from receiving, pay them well.  And something that is a little geeky that I’d love for you to notice as well is that in one foul swoop, Paul claims that both Deuteronomy and Luke are said to be “scripture” – He writes, “As the Scripture says” and then mentioned Deuteronomy and Luke.  Thus, these two books are given equal weight.  This is monumental!  Paul is saying, “just as God spoke through Moses and gave His infallible words through him, so now God is speaking through Luke and is providing for His covenant people again!”  So that both of these are, correctly, the Word of God.  So we should love the New Testament and the Old Testament.  Both of them are wonderful, both of them are there to lead us to Jesus, both of them should be read, adored, studied and cherished – for they are both the Word of God to us, His people.  Now, this also means that the Bible wasn’t considered to be the written word of God centuries later, like the Discovery Channel or History Channel will tell you – oh no, indeed during the very lives of the Apostles, Scripture was already being talked about and treated as God’s Holy Word!!  They were already saying that Luke and Moses were on the same level.  This didn’t come later – it was from the beginning.

And so we see that, one way to honor our elders is to provide for them a salary, to take care of their basic needs, because they are laboring in preaching and teaching, in protecting sound doctrine and in leading our church family.  And this is our responsibility as covenant members and as those who are benefitting from the ministry here at Renaissance – we are to take God’s words literally and to be generous people because God has generously built and provided for His church men who will give their lives to sound doctrine and are committed to laboring for your delight in the Gospel.  I mean think of that, Phil and I have willingly and gladly decided to give our lives to labor on your behalf so that you would delight in the Gospel – and when you flourish, we are delighted.  And when you struggle, we are praying.  And when hardship befalls you, we yearn to provide and protect you.  When you run headlong after sin, we pray for you and discipline you.  Because we love you.  Because we want you to delight in our gracious God more than in the things of this earth.

one hundred pianos

Screen shot 2013-09-09 at 1.22.23 PM

As a church, we talk a lot about living in community as we seek to glorify God together.  This has been a constant theme through the book of 1 Timothy as we have been learning that the Gospel, when loved and adored, naturally leads to daily, practical change in the lives of Christians.  And yet our pursuits to collectively declare the mystery of the Gospel to a world that desperately needs our witness cannot be our primary yearning.  No, our primary calling is first and foremost to love Jesus.  For we will become more like Jesus not by focusing on community, by naval-gazing and constantly reevaluating, introspectively;  instead, we will grow as a local church to show forth the Gospel as we constantly, consistently, and ardently love Jesus.  And by loving Jesus well, we will be filled with love for one another and rightly show forth Christian community to a world that desperately needs to see the mystery of the Gospel on full display.  And so, I’d love for us to be like the “one hundred pianos” mentioned in the following quote by A.W. Tozer:

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”

Let us strive for true godliness by considering Jesus:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

                                                                 – 1 Timothy 3:16

Image

Our church has been actively praying and working towards having all of those who call Renaissance their “church home” participating in discipleship relationships this Fall, especially with people who are considering Christianity and are hanging out with us in community as they investigate Jesus.  Some may question why discipleship is such a big deal, or why our church places such a high priority on discipleship, or why we encourage discipleship so prominently – and yet if we read the Bible, we cannot help but see the drastic importance of discipling one another as a means of seeing the Gospel advance here in our city, our nation, and our world.

Primarily, this comes from our church’s understanding of Matthew 28: 19-20:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (emphasis added).

Notice with us that, here, Jesus commands the disciples to go and make disciples, inciting them to baptize in the name of Jesus and teach the Gospel of Jesus.  And as you’ll notice, the main verb in these verses, strikingly, is not “go” but rather “make disciples.”  And how do we “make disciples”?  Well, Jesus tells us that we make disciples by:

  1. “go” (or, “as you go”)
  2. “baptizing”
  3. “teaching.”

Which means, if you are looking for the vision or mission statement of a local church or wondering “what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” that the clear answer is that God yearns for you who have been ransomed by Jesus to go and make disciples.  The call and the message is clear.  So you don’t have to worry about “missing God’s will for your life” if you are busy “making disciples” – because that is expressly God’s will for your life!  Wow, see the beauty and freedom in this for your life!  Therefore, for us to call ourselves Christians and yet to give our lives to anything other than “making disciples,” we are dismissing the fundamental plan of God for our lives and blatantly disregard Jesus’ charge to us.

And so, what are we giving our lives to if it is not making disciples?  Here are some good questions to consider:

  1. Are you making new disciples?
  2. Who are you discipling?

For if we yearn to see Winnipeg wrecked with the Gospel and desire to see salvation come to our friends, family members, and coworkers, we must give our lives to praying evangelistically and making disciples.

What does this look like?

Sharing the Gospel with your friends in everyday conversations.  We typically have this idea that we have to speak differently to our nonChristians friends about life (aka … what we are learning about, and how thankful we are that God has saved us).  But why do we change how we talk about life based on who we are around?  We should be so well versed in talking about the glory of Christ in practical ways with our Christian friends, free from Christian “jargon,” that if nonChristians were to listen in on our conversation it would make sense to them.  So why not talk about doubts, fears, frustrations, and Jesus’ goodness towards us with our nonChristians friends?  Why shrink back and not share in the same way that we would with our Christian friends?

We should also look for good opportunities to start Bible studies with our friends who aren’t Christians.  They might have questions about the Bible and be curious on studying what the Bible actually says and yet we have never asked them if they’d like to study the Bible or read through a book like “The Reason for God.”  Honestly, most of them find our religion fascinating when they hear about lives that have been changed drastically, from drug dealers and alcoholics to Bible believing Christian?!?  The only response to that is, “That’s something I’ve never heard before!!  Most people I know that are Christians have always been in church and aren’t people that I could ever really relate with!”

And don’t worry about getting denied with a “nah, that doesn’t seem like something I’m interested in now.”  If fear of rejection scared you, you would never have applied a job, never been out on a date, and would never travel.  And remember as well that God has sovereignly placed these people in relationship with you so that you can share the Gospel with them!  He meticulously gave you that friendship, that coworker, that family member, that relationship, so that you can share the Gospel with those people.  So don’t be timid, don’t talk in “Christian jargon,” and don’t worry about “screwing it up” as if that person’s eternal state depended upon how well you share the Gospel with them, because we know that’s a lie.

Quick story.  Recently Samantha and I had a conversation just like this about a few friends that we have (we will call them R & T).  One day I was praying evangelistically for our friends and asking God to save them, to protect them, and to let Samantha and I have a chance to share the Gospel with them and maybe invite them into a book study to explain Christian beliefs.  When I shared this with Samantha, immediately there was a bit of hesitation and uneasiness in her voice.  Those exact same fears of “I don’t think they’d be interested” and “I really don’t want to lose that friendship” arose to the surface.  After praying about the situation and planning a double date, however, Samantha was feeling a lot better.  And don’t ya know that, at the double date, we both had separate conversations the entire time with her and I both sharing the Gospel with our friends?!  Questions just kept popping up and our prayers were literally being answered in front of our eyes!!  Currently we are still praying for this couple and are waiting to see if their busy schedules will allow for some sort of book study this Fall.  Please pray along with us for their salvation, as we believe God has given us these friendships for the direct purpose of saving our friends.

ImageIf you’re anything like most of the people going to a Worship Gathering this weekend all across North America, you probably have no clue what your Elders will be preaching on, wouldn’t even think about studying the passage that is being preached beforehand, and probably also won’t have taken time to pray for your Elders as they are preparing the nourishment for our souls.  As an Elder who is going to be attending our Worship Gathering this Sunday Night and will have the opportunity to sit with my wife and be encouraged in the Gospel by having the Gospel preached deeply into my soul, I would love to put before you simple ways that I try to prepare myself, lead my wife well, and encourage my own heart to pray for Phil as he is preaching/teaching this week:

How to prepare well.  I’m not sure about you, but being a good Covenant Church Member brings me a lot of delight and pleasure (I’m hoping you find this to be true as well).  And being a good Covenant Church Member means more than simply showing up, not falling asleep during the sermon, and tithing (though those are all amazing things and we should endeavor to do all three of them this weekend).  And so how can we prepare ourselves?

  1. Know the sermon text and study it well. This is why Expositional Preaching is such a HUGE value for us as a church.  You may not know exactly how many verses we will be covering during that next Sunday’s sermon, but you can guarantee it will be between 3-12 verses (this week, we are in 1 Timothy 4:1-4).  And what do I mean by study the text?  Why not add that section of Scriptures into your reading every day during the week (or for the next three days)?  Imagine if you read the same text 5-7 times during the week how much more you will know and understand the flow of the argument!  This also helps you grow in understanding the Bible and prevents “baby bird syndrome.”  I don’t know if you know what I mean … imagine a baby bird being fed by it’s momma bird.  The momma bird eats, then regurgitates into the baby.  The baby bird can only have this type of food for so long before the bird needs to grow up and go chew and eat its own food, and yet most Christians are fine with filling empty seats every week and being filled by the Elder’s “leftovers” and never taking initiative to eat for themselves.  “How can I study?  I’m not a Scholar!” (you may be thinking).  And yet there are tons of free commentaries online and sermons you can listen to in order to study for that week (simply check out: The Gospel Coalition, The Resurgence, or Desiring God for thousands of podcasts and resources).
  2. Pray for your Elders.  Your Elders are going through many different situations that you are constantly unaware of (complying with government regulations, discipling, counseling those in grief, disciplining those within the church, etc.) on a weekly basis and are also striving by grace to love and adore Jesus and to receive their strength, ability and wisdom from God.  Their spiritual warfare fluctuates from crazy to insane as our enemy desires to destroy their character and ability to lead our church.  And at the crux of this, they are striving to represent the Gospel, Biblical authority, and to relay great messages of hope in Jesus for the congregation on a weekly basis, fighting against apathy, confusion over mission, and heretical doctrines that try to persuade you into believing lies about the Gospel.  Thus, preaching is a crucial time of warfare every week and your Elders need you praying on their behalf so that they approach the weekend filled with God’s message for our church.

So, starting this weekend, let’s start a pattern of being better Covenant Church Members.  Come prepared to hear God’s message for our church and having studied, prayed and petitioned for the Word of God to dwell in us richly.  Love you all, see you on Sunday Night.

– boz

redeeming your commute

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 12.56.29 PM

There are a few things that Winnipeggers know about … winter, snow, the Jets/Bombers, and our terrible road conditions that make traffic a nightmare, especially between peak rush hour traffic just about anywhere in our city.  And knowing that most Winnipeggers will spend between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours in their car today, we must think through how we should redeem that time, so that we don’t lose it for the next 40 years of our lives, and, instead, leverage this precious time for our benefit.  We must become better stewards of our time – and this is why I would have us think through how we can “redeem our commute” so that we utilize and leverage this time instead of wasting it singing along with Lady Gaga or Keith Urban (abysmal alternatives … I know).

1) Pray for your church, work place, and Gospel Community Group.  Instead of wasting time in your car thinking about nothing except how angry you are at the city developers … or lack thereof … why not spend that precious time praying.

  • Pray for your Elders and their families.  Pray that they would have great times of communion with God so that they can better serve our local church.
  • Pray for those within your Gospel Community Group. Pray for their spiritual maturity and for their lost friends and family members.  Pray for your area of the city and for God to show your GC how to be better at involving one another in the everyday, ordinary cracks of your life.
  • Pray for your coworkers, boss and friends, that they may be saved.  Pray for the safety of their families.
  • Pray for the nations, that Christians from a certain nation would be courageous in sharing the Gospel today and that they would see their nonChristian friends saved.

2) Listen to a podcast or audio Bible.  There are tons of great classes and conferences that you could listen to from amazing seminaries and local churches that are FREE and are waiting for you to download them.  Check out a few different Apps for your smart phone or Ipod like: “Desiring God,” “The Mars Hill Church App (Seattle),” or download the “Podcasts” App and download sermons from The Church at Brook Hills in Alabama or The Village Church in Frisco, Tx or Apostles Church NYC.  Also, check out free seminary classes from RTS Mobile App and listen to full length Church History, New Testament, Old Testament, or other various courses.

As a church, I would love to see our men and women redeeming their commutes for their joy and the glory of our King Jesus.  Let’s not waste our time and, instead, leverage every moment.

The Holy Knot

Screen shot 2013-09-09 at 2.35.26 PM

Last night at our Worship Gathering, we spent some time camped in 1 Timothy 3 learning about how Jesus has come to ransom and redeem the elect to be apart of the Household of God; meaning that now, by grace, we who were born not belonging to the same biological family, are now considered to be brothers and sisters through our mutual faith in Jesus.

And, surprisingly enough, this new family isn’t constituted by the members all looking exactly the same!  Oh no – for every nation, tribe and tongue is welcomed into this new family.  Likewise, every social class is welcomed and our God shows no partiality, for He is the God who loves to save all kinds of people!  We also see from 1 TImothy that the Leader of our new family is God the Father, that we are all now brothers and sisters, and we have deacons and elders to lead our little families to honor God as we are empowered by God the Spirit to make much of God the Son.

As you probably know from being a part of our faith family at Renaissance, we honestly strive to centre our lives around the glorious Gospel of Jesus to accomplish the mission of Jesus; namely, making disciples of all nations.  Primarily, we do this by opening up our everyday, ordinary lives to one another as we invite Christians and nonChristians into relationship with us so that they see the mystery of Christian community.  In so doing, we have seen lives wrecked by the glorious Gospel of Jesus as men and women see the profound difference that Jesus has made upon our lives.

The Difference of The Gospel Shared Through Community. Last night, Quentin shared about his friend Liz who shared the Gospel with him as they worked at Safeway.  As God drew Quentin unto Himself through various situations, Quentin sought out Liz and asked to come to our church … and God saved him.

Graeme went to his brother’s bachelor’s party after God had started to draw him unto salvation and through our friendship together by serving at a local Sports Drop-In near St. Boniface, God saved Graeme.

A few nights ago, some members of my Gospel Community threw a birthday party and invited some friends that we have been “gospeling.”  Through the course of that evening, honest conversations about the Gospel exploded into conversation and now, as a Gospel Community, we are praying evangelistically for their salvation.

One week ago, Samantha and I had some close friends at our house for desserts and their history of spending time in Catholicism arose, leading to a chance to “gospel” them.  The next day, we sent them information in French about the Gospel and are now praying that they listen to these podcasts and come back asking even better questions.

My Prayer For Us. And my prayer in sharing this with you is that you would see the beauty of opening up your lives, schedules, and hearts towards your NonChristian friends.  For salvation rightly and only belongs to our God and He loves to save – and He primarily saves through the faithful witness of local churches.  As our faith family accomplishes the works of God and is faithful to speak the Gospel of Jesus, people will be saved.

The Holy Knot.  John Calvin called this the “Holy Knot” of Jesus’ ministry, where Jesus both accomplished the works that God the Father gave Him and spoke the words that God the Father gave Him.  And just like we are commanded to do, Jesus accomplished the works and spoke the words of God the Father as He was empowered by God the Spirit.  Jesus, as fully human, chose to intentionally live out of His humanity and model for us a life that is empowered by God the Spirit to accomplish the words and works of God the Father.

So, let’s trust that community and our works can never save us, that Jesus is our righteousness and our innocence, and live out of our acceptance with God the Father as we accomplish the works that He has predestined for us to do and as we share the Gospel in community.

((photo courtesy of @TheResurgenceMedia))

The first time I saw “Baptism as Warfare” on the Resurgence website, I thought that this phrase was bizarre (the picture was pretty cool, but the meaning was a bit confusing) … I mean, how could baptism in general, or more precisely the baptism of a few people this weekend at our Worship Gathering, be considered “warfare” and exactly how should Christians think through their own baptism or the baptism of their friends, family members, or church family members?

Baptism as Warfare against “Self” and Sin. Every Christian being baptized this weekend knows two twin truths:

1) That they stand before God the Father covered in the innocence and right standing of Jesus and are empowered by God the Spirit for good works

2) And they are the worst of sinners.

And so in baptism, the Christian is thoroughly aware of their own inadequacies as they are publicly identifying with and trusting in Jesus.  This is why this experience, for the Christian, is of paramount importance as they are following the commands of Jesus, publicly shaming themselves by admitting their own inadequacy to please God the Father on their own efforts, and encouraging others to believe upon Jesus alone for salvation (to follow their example).  Needless to say, their flesh hates their obedience to Jesus; thus, we must be in constant prayer for strength and encouragement for our friends as they are waging war on their sinful flesh.

Baptism as Warfare against Satan. The Christian, by standing and proclaiming the mystery of the Gospel that saves them based upon no merit of their own, is blatantly opposing the kingdom of Satan by proclaiming their allegiance to Jesus and His Kingdom.  I mean, think about it, their testimony simultaneously glorifies Jesus, and His coming Kingdom, and taunts Satan, whose kingdom is temporary and fading.

And that is the beauty and the mystery of Christian baptism, one of the two ordinances given by Jesus to display the Kingdom of Jesus to a watching world that desperately needs to know of an imperishable Kingdom.

The Benefit for Local Churches.  There are also benefits for the Christians in attendance, as baptism reminds them of the Kingdom to come, of their own ransomed life that is to be leveraged for the glory of Jesus, and causes a pause for reflection to diagnose whether their hearts have become dull towards the promises of God that His Kingdom will advance as He is a God who loves to save lost sinners.  Thus, Christian baptism reminds stagnant or disillusioned Christians that the Gospel is advancing and is a rallying cry to remind us that God loves to save! A call to open our eyes and behold the fruit of the Gospel going forth and the power to save that belongs to our King!

The Benefit for NonChristians.  Christian baptism is also a clarion call to our friends who have refused to come to Jesus for salvation and this step of obedience on display beckons them to come and believe, to come and profess, to come and acknowledge Jesus as their only hope in life and in death.

So, this weekend, pray for:

  1. Our new Covenant Church Members as they take this step of obedience as they are waging war against self, sin and satan.
  2. Christians who will be present who have lost their urgency of sharing the Gospel with their nonChristian friends, family, and coworkers.
  3. Those who will hear the Gospel for the first time, that God would save them.

See ya on Sunday,

– boz