Category Archives: Church Life

How John MacArthur Encouraged His Children’s Ministry Workers

What do you think is the value of the children’s ministry at your church?  In your estimation is it a ministry that simply keeps the kids from tearing each other images (62)apart for an hour so parents can hear the sermon?  Is it just baby-sitting or something more?

Here’s what John MacArthur said to his Children’s Ministry workers at one of their events last year:

…you (Children’s Ministry) are doing the greatest and most consistent evangelistic ministry this church has.  This is the primary evangelistic emphasis in this church…You (Children’s Ministry) are an evangelistic force and in my mind you are the greatest evangelistic force we have at Grace Community Church.

 


Another Benefit to Devoting Yourself to Fellowship

images (55)In Acts 2:42 we are told that the believers in Jerusalem were devoting themselves to fellowship among other things (i.e. – the apostles’ teaching, the breaking of bread, and prayer).  When we devote ourselves to fellowship – enjoying Jesus together, sharing with one another, serving the Lord together – we encounter God’s grace in and through each other to the point where coming into contact with a member of the body is to be reminded (almost instantaneously) of the Lord.

In my life this has played itself out in merely seeing another member of my local church.  In specific, there have been occasions in my life when my heart has been insensitive to the Spirit and plagued with sinful desire, and simply seeing another brother walk into the room begins to help me think of things that are “true…honorable…just…pure…lovely…commendable…worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).  Thoughts of who these people are (representatives of Christ and siblings with me in God’s family) and how they’ve ministered to me personally (with loving care and faithfulness) seep into my mind and begin to wash away the hardness of heart at these times.

My conclusion: devote yourself to the family of God and let them devote themselves to you to such a degree that to merely catch a glimpse of them will cause you to remember the grace of God and praise him for it!


How Should the Body of Christ Respond When One of its Members is Suffering?

In his book, True Community: The Biblical Practice of Koinonia, Jerry Bridges has a great quote concerning the experiential aspect of Christian fellowship.  In it he illustrates what should characterize the body of Christ whenever one of its members is suffering – we should behave like our physical bodies do:

Can you imagine the ear making the following comment to the eyes, “Say, did you hear about the serious trouble the foot is having?  My, my,images (35)isn’t it too bad?  The foot surely ought to get his act together.”  No, no, our bodies don’t behave that way at all!  Instead the entire body cries out, “My foot hurts!  I feel awful!”

Why does the body hurt when only one part is injured?  It is because all the parts of the body make up one indivisible whole.  And when one part hurts, no matter what the reason, the restorative powers of the entire body are brought to bear on that hurting member.  Rather than attacking that suffering part or ignoring the problem, the rest of the body demonstrates concern for the part that hurts.  This is the way the body of Christ should function.


Don’t Give Up on the Suburbs

images (34)In his book, Suburbianity, Pastor Byron Yawn addresses the damage suburban Christianity has done to the gospel and the church.  But he writes not simply as a critic, but as one who has a heart for suburbanites.  With all of the emphasis these days on church planting in cities and urban areas, I fear that many Christians have thrown up their hands and given up on the suburbs, but I appreciate Yawn’s heart for the people who live there and his desire to help them get back to biblical Christianity.  Here’s a quote from the introduction:

It’s important to understand that my target audience [in wiring this book] is the Christians wandering aimlessly out in the American suburbs, unaware that they are currently imbibing a designer religion that has no essential relationship to Christianity.  I’m writing to soccer moms and white-collar dads.  What we count as Christian was made in America.  It is not the faith once imported from the streets of Jerusalem.  The seeker movement, which reaped its bounty in the materialistic wonderland of the American suburbs over the last several decades, has left behind a biblically desolate landscape behind it.  Those who now wander through its vestiges Sunday after Sunday are unaware of the magnificent truth contained in the true message of the church of Christ – the gospel.  Much of what they have been told Christianity has to offer, it doesn’t.  But what they actually need, it does.  My heart hurts for suburbanites.  I want them to see it.  It is glorious.


When You See Kids Misbehaving at Church

images (15)My college Western Lit. professor called it “the cat cough”.  It’s that sound we make when we’re annoyed with some person or some circumstance.  We furrow our brow, flare our nostrils as if we’ve just smelled something foul, and let out a short, truncated burst of air from our lungs that says more about our mood in that moment than a ten-minute soliloquy.  The cat cough has popularly been followed by the word “whatever” with the younger crowd, but make no mistake, we’ve all let it fly.

I thought of the cat cough yesterday when I read a paragraph in John MacArthur’s book, The Master’s Plan for the Church yesterday.  In it MacArthur writes, “The families of a church should uphold each other.”  This is a statement that resonates with me because the weight of parenting has left me with a clear realization of how much I need other people who love God to also love my kids and help me point them to Jesus.  But this realization does not mean that I, myself, have always done a good job of doing that with our church members’ kids.

Later in the paragraph, MacArthur asks the question, “What is your reaction when you see unruly children?”  Sadly, for me, I have let the cat cough expel from my lungs on far too many occasions.  This response is a proud, un-Christ-like response that shames me to admit, but what should I do instead?  What should I put on after I’ve put off proud, self-righteousness?  After reminding myself of my great need and Christ’s sacrifice to provide for that need, I think MacArthur’s next question gives us a good answer: “Do you pray for them?”

Do we pray for those children and their parents?  Do we pray for the salvation of those kids?  Do we pray for their parents to have wisdom and balance in the way they approach disobedience?  Do we pray for them?  And I don’t mean in a falsely humble way like the Pharisee in the temple in Luke 18:9-14.  I mean praying like a person who recognizes that we are all dependent on the grace of God and if not for his kindness we would all be sunk.  Church, if the families in our churches are going to uphold each other, then we should start with prayer.


Discipleship Through Prayer

imagesBy God’s grace, we are working to create a culture of discipleship at Calvary Bible Church.  We believe discipleship is something that takes place not just within the formal programs and ministries of the church, but also informally, as people eat together in homes, talk over coffee, serve alongside each other, and work to meet each other’s needs.

One of the ways we encourage this is by exhorting the body to pray for each other with each other, so that prayers are being prayed for people while the one praying is standing right next to them.  How is this part of the discipleship process?  There are a few different reasons why we do this.  First, we believe that God answers prayers, and second, we know how easy it is to tell someone you’ll pray for them and then forget.  But I think there is another element to this that is particularly important to discipleship.  When you hear another person pray you are getting a glimpse into their relationship with God and this can be instructive, moving, convicting, encouraging, and downright inspiring.

I learned how to pray by hearing others pray, and in fact, I’m still learning how to pray by hearing others pray.  Perhaps, more than any other experience I have with Christians, hearing them pray draws me nearer to God.  Why?  I think it’s because a person’s prayers gives flesh bones and to their theology.  I hear what they truly believe; what promises they’re clinging to, what attributes of God they are banking on, and what facets of the gospel they are cherishing.  When I hear a person pray I understand more how doctrine should translate into my communion with God.

Isn’t this what see in the Psalms over and over again?  God lets us gaze into the heart of a man as he stands with sure footing on his theology to praise and plead with his God, as with David in Psalm 4:1:

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
    You have given me relief when I was in distress.
    Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O Church, you may think that you have no significant ministry to other believers because you do not serve formally in a ministry program. Or you may think that the most significant things you do in ministry are the things you do that have an official title attached to them.  Please do not neglect to pray for people out loud in their presence as a means of discipleship.  It is more valuable than you think.


Church, We Need Our Older Saints!

As a young pastor, I cherish the members of the older generation in our church who have a vibrant relationship with Jesus and are spending their latter years in faithful service to their King.  There is something so crucial that older saints bring to the life of a body of believers and I pray we see more of it at Calvary Bible Church.  I agree with what John MacArthur says in his book, The Master’s Plan for the Church:

I like young people because they are energetic.  But it’s sad if the energy comes only from its young people… If you’re a Christian but don’t apply God’s Word to your life, you’ll eventually become one of those inert older people.  You’ll reach fifty and want to retire images (5)spiritually.  You’ll say, “I’ve been going to church for many years.  I don’t want to get involved in evangelism; I’d rather leave that thing for younger people”… Today, the church is deriving its energy mostly from younger people.  We need the energy that younger people have, but we also need the power that seasoned believers have developed from their long, obedient lives.  An older believer should be ready to “blast off” into heaven from the energy he has built up.  


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