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This last week former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced to 30 months in prison for living the high life with the campaign funds he had been given. I read this story and it intrigued me. How did a person enter a position to serve the community of citizens only to live a life of being served by them? Didn’t he know? The judge who read the sentencing for Jackson and his wife (1 year sentence) stated “evidence points to only one conclusion, and that is that you knew better.” Jackson had a career few will ever have. He had an opportunity of a lifetime with potential and it was built on the trust of the people. Jackson began in an office of service, but he would eventually be overtaken by greed.
The Jacksons’ greed was manifested in over 3,100 illegal transactions. They included purchases such as a $43,350 gold-plated Rolex watch, TVs and elk heads (??). Mrs. Jackson used campaign funds for more than $171,000 in personal expenses. Items ranging from Disney vacations to fur coats, salon and day spas to sub-zero refrigerators. (more…)
Sometimes the problem with being missional is the church focusses on their neighbor and forgets about Jesus. This idea of being “missional” is popular with the new churches that are coming out, especially those affiliated with the Acts 29 Network. This Christmas weekend take note of the announcement of one of the local “Kaleo” (Greek for “to call”) churches in San Diego here. (more…)
The Anglican Church is always an interesting church to dialog with. Now they will have a new archbishop come March 2013 when Rowan Williams steps down. The short on the new archbishop is below. (more…)
Gal 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— Gal 1:7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. Gal 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. Gal 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (more…)
When churches first start being built, the whole process can be very draining. Generally, the person starting the church (referred to as a church plant) is the one planning on being the preaching pastor. They are responsible for gathering people, finding locations, logistics, and all of the teaching (obviously).
At the beginning of the year I learned of a guy who was starting a church nearby. I had practically never spoken with him but we had met. Eventually I was approached but it was under the mask of a friend informing me of his project seeking “prayer”. And my wife and I did pray for this most challenging endeavor. We remembered the efforts when we prayed as a family. Eventually he asked my family and I to consider being members. I didn’t oppose to being asked but actually expected it. However, being a church plant by nature we were looking for a more established church that was still solid in the teachings. I do think this church will be solid confessionally, however given how many churches close its doors each year, one can’t deny the risky venture. (more…)
Sometimes friends have shared in their frustrations over looking for a new church. I understand their frustration and hopefully this list will narrow down their churches and save time. Staying away from squish bomb churches where you’re waiting for the pastor to deliver or even from others that may be entertaining but later you find out they’re heretical. Not good.
These can be questions to ask your pastor or if the church answers them in their statement of faith, even better.
1. What is man’s biggest problem?
Seeker sensitive and felt-needs churches focus on man’s hurts and problems. The Bible says that man’s biggest problem is sin.
2. What must a man do to inherit eternal life?
Repent and trust is the Biblical answer. If the word “repent” is never used, say, “Thank you.”
3. How do you deliver the salvation message?
Ask the pastor to describe specifically what he says.Does he encourage people to simply say a prayer? Does he tell people to ask Jesus into their hearts?The salvation message should include: God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness, God’s response (hell), God’s kindness (Jesus on the cross), man’s response (repentance and faith).
4. How hard is it to become a Christian?
The “formula” is simple, doing it is not.It is not easy to believe.
5. How often do you talk about sin, righteousness and judgment?
Balance is key. This should not be the only emphasis, but it should be a regular emphasis.
6. How seeker sensitive is your church?
It is o.k. for a church to be “seeker aware” but seeker sensitive means that they lean toward
seekers and not the saved.
7. Who do you do church for, seekers or members?
“Both” is not acceptable. Church should be done for members and the unsaved are welcome to attend.
8. Do you dumb down your sermons?
If he says yes, he is probably not trying to wean his members from milk to meat. Answers like, “We try to make our sermons accessible to everyone” are sermons that are not meaty.
9. What is your mixture of topical vs. expository preaching?
Topical preaching is fine, but if a pastor never or rarely preaches expositionally (verse by verse), then you are going to be learning from the pastor and not God’s Word.
10. Do your sermons emphasize theology or are they relevant?
Everyone should say their sermons are relevant, what you are looking for is if they teach
11. Describe your youth programs.
If fun and games is the major (and usually first) emphasis, you have a youth program that is trying to compete with MTV.
12. Describe your evangelism programs.
Don’t just accept, “We have an evangelism committee.” Dig. Are they serious about saving
13. What church growth model do you follow?
Hopefully they don’t have one. Churches should be reaching out to the lost, but churches that are plugged into new church growth models tend to follow man’s modern ideas rather than the Bible.
14. How much do you give to missions and the hungry?
Again, this reveals the heart of the church. While most churches give to missions, many never consider the poor.
15. Do you believe the Bible contains no errors or contradictions?
No equivocation allowed here.
16. Do you believe in a literal hell and eternal punishment?
Jesus did (Matt.25).
17. When you distribute the Lord’s Supper, do you emphasize the need to examine
Paul did (I Cor.11:27-32).
18. Can a person who is living in a persistent lifestyle of sin inherit eternal life?
Sinners can certainly be forgiven, but practicing sinners cannot inherit eternal life (I John 3:8,9).
19. Does your church exercise church discipline?
Paul said we should (I Cor.5).
20. Do Sunday school teachers, nursery, and youth volunteers fill out an application to answer questions about their core beliefs, or are all volunteers accepted?
21.What are the essentials of the faith?
Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Salvation through faith alone, the inerrancy of Scripture.
22. Do you have a cross in your sanctuary?
Many remove it because they fear it will turn off seekers. If that is their response remember none seek after God and the unregenerate are already turned off. A cross ought to be there to remind us constantly.