Friday Quote:

Great things are done by the Holy Spirit when a whole church is aroused to sacred energy: then there are hundreds of testimonies instead of one, and these strengthen each other.

Charles Spurgeon

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Curt Schilling: HOF?

132429404tcwurc_phYesterday Curt Schilling, pitcher for the Red Sox, announced his retirement.  After 20 years, and many great moments, he is calling it a career.  In the wake of this decision there is a lot of buzz over whether or not Schilling should be in the Hall of Fame or not.  Before I weigh in on this I want to make two disclosures:

  1. I couldn’t stand Curt Schilling as a ballplayer, especially when he was on the Red Sox.
  2. I think that the Hall of Fame should remain the Hall of “Fame” and not the Hall of “Really Good players that played in a large market with good media exposure.”

Now to the question at hand.  Should Schilling make the HOF?  NO!  He simply does not have the numbers.  He pitched in a lot of great games, and was an excellent post-season player.  But that is not enough.  Think about it this way, Schilling pitched for 21 years  (admittedly the first two he only appeared in a limited number of games) and accumulated 216 wins.  That is just over 10 wins per seasons.  Are those Hall of Fame numbers?  I certainly do not think so.  Later in his career Schilling proved himself to be one of the best big game pitchers of his generation, and a post-season legend.  But when you look at his entire career, the accomplishments just aren’t there.

If Schilling gets voted in the floodgates will be open.  Before you know it the Jack Morises of the world are going to be on plaques next to guys like Cy Young.  When that happens then we might as well move the baseball HOF to Canton, OH where it will be just as irrelavant as the football HOF.

Short-Term Missions (pt. 2)

Part 1

fisherofmen.JPGC. Requirements for Involvement in Short-Term Missions

To ensure that a local church is accomplishing its goals through short-term missions specific requirements must be established to determine what short-term projects the church will involve itself in.  These requirements will help the church leadership to determine what short-term projects will and will not be participated in by the local church.

The first requirement that must be met before the local church can participate in a short-term project is that it must be consistent with the purpose and goals of the church’s International Ministries. By participating in short-term projects that are not consistent with the purpose and goals of the church’s International Ministries the church will in effect be stealing resources that could have been used to accomplish its purpose.  For this reason the local church should not participate in those projects that are not consistent with the purpose of the church’s International Ministries program.

The second requirement that must be met before the local church can participate in a short-term project is that it must be a project that is tied to a known ministry of the church.  The local church leadership has the responsibility to know and be familiar with a ministry before they send members of their congregation overseas to participate in that ministry.  Ideally any short-term project that the local church involves itself in should involve an international worker that has been sent out by that church.  At the very least, the church leadership should be familiar with the international workers who will be involved in the project.

The third requirement that must be met before the local church can participate in a short-term project is that it must be approved by the international worker who will be involved in the project.  The local church leadership must be sensitive to the demands that a short-term project will put on the international workers involved.  The international worker involved in the project should be included as much as possible in the planning of that project to ensure effectiveness, safety, and to prevent long term damage on his ministry.

The fourth requirement that must be met before the local church can participate in a short-term project is that it will involve only those members of the church who are of an appropriate maturity level.  Because these projects can range from providing manpower for a building project to intense evangelism the maturity level that is needed to attend a trip must be determined on a case by case basis.  This means the church leadership must involve itself in the planning of such a trip to ensure that this requirement is being met.

The fifth requirement that must be met before the local church can participate in a short-term project is that the money for the project should not be taken from the general International Ministries budget.  Support for these trips should be raised by the individuals involved in them.  Additionally, these individuals must adhere to the following guidelines when raising their support:

  1. Ideally the needed funds to attend a short-term trip should come from your own earnings.
  2. If you find it necessary to raise additional funds you must restrict your solicitation to personal friends, and family members.
  3. Apart from special permission from the elders you may not solicit funds from the congregation as a whole.

At times the elders may find it necessary to suspend these guidelines for a special project (i.e. to help supply needed materials for a building project that will benefit a worker supported by the church or to send a candidate to the field for an extended evaluation).

Friday Quote: God’s Sovereignty

The situation is not what it seems to be.  For it is not true that some Christians believe in divine sovereignty while others hold an opposite view.  What is true is that all Christians believe in sovereignty, but some are not aware that they do, and mistakenly imagine and insist that they reject it.  What causes this odd state of affairs?  The root cause is the same as in most cases of error in the Church–the intruding of rationalistic speculations, the passion for systematic consistency, a reluctance to recognize the existence of mystery and to let God be wiser than man, and a consequent subjecting of Scripture to the supposed demands of human logic.

J.I. Packer
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
pg. 16

Short-Term Missions

fisherofmen.JPGThe topic of short-term missions has become a hot-button issues in the American church.  On one side you have people comitting the majority of their budget to short-term projects, and on the other side you have missionaries preaching agains the “sin of short-term missions.”

With all of the debate it is important for churches to have a plan in place.  Over the next few days (and into next week) I am going to be spending some time on the subject of short-term missions.  Specifcally I am going to be addressing the subject from the perspective of the local church.

Guidelines for Short-Term Missions

Every year more and more resources are directed toward short-term missions.  Because of the great impact that short-term missions has on International Ministries it is important for each local church to establish guidelines on how it will participate in short-term missions.  Each local church needs to define short-term missions, understand the purpose of short-term missions, decide when it will participate in short-term missions, and plan for how it will participate in short-term missions.

A. Definition of Short-Term Missions

There are almost as many definitions of short-term missions as there are churches participating in short-term missions.  Without a clear definition for short-term missions it is impossible to determine how the local church is going to approach short-term missions.  For this reason it is necessary for each local church to define how it is using the term “short-term missions.”  For the purpose of this document “short-term missions” is defined as cross-cultural ministry projects or endeavors lasting no more than two years.  Within this broad definition short-term missions can also be broken down into two more specific categories.  First, there are “short-term trips” that provide members of the congregation with exposure to International Ministries.  Because these trips will include lay members of the congregation and will be demanding on the International workers they must last no longer than twelve weeks.  The second category of short-term missions is “short-term ministries.”  These short-term opportunities can be used to provide a qualified worker to fill a specific and temporary need on an international field (i.e. a professor to fill for a semester), or as an opportunity for the church to assess candidates who desire to be International Workers.  Due to the nature of these trips they should be limited in duration to no less than twelve weeks and no more than twenty-four months.

B. Purpose of Short-Term Missions

In order for the local church to be effectively involved in short-term missions it must understand what short-term missions can and cannot accomplish.  The purpose of short-term missions is to enhance an already effective long term involvement in International Ministries.  Short-term missions can not replace long term involvement on an international field.  However, short-term missions can be used to increase the effectiveness of a church’s involvement in International Ministries in at least four specific ways. First, Short-term missions can be used to provide the members of the congregation with exposure to International Ministries.  Second, short-term missions can help churches to effectively evaluate candidates seeking to enter an international field.  Third, short-term missions can encourage and support international workers already on the field. Finally, short-term missions can also be used to accomplish specific tasks and work projects.

Mark 3:1-6 – An Illustration of the Blinding Effects of a Wicked Heart (pt. 3)

Part 1
Part 2

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

-Mark 3:1-6

III. The Reactions (vv. 5-6)

a. The righteous anger of Jesus

Jesus knew that He wasn’t going to get an answer from these guys, and so he didn’t with long.  Mark tells us in verse 5 that “he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart.”  Jesus looked at these men who had refused to admit their sin, and were actively rebelling against him, and He had two reactions.

First, He was angry.  This we can understand.  We get angry all the time, and my guess is that we too would have been angry at these guys.  But the anger that Jesus had wasn’t just any anger.  Jesus wasn’t upset because the Pharisees inconvenienced Him, or because they did things differently than He would have done it.  No, Jesus was angry because of their sin.  This is the kind of anger that Jesus had when he cleansed the Temple (11:15-19).  It is the kind of anger that God always has toward sin.  These Pharisees were trying to rob God of His glory, and they were actively rebelling against His plan.  This is what angered Jesus, and this is the sort of thing that should anger us as well.  Ephesians 4:26 puts it this way, “Be angry and do not sin.”

There was also something else that Jesus felt as He looked at these Pharisees.  He was grieved because these men had hard hearts.  To understand why this grieved Jesus we really need to understand the phrase “hardness of heart.” In the bible the heart is like the “mission control center” of our lives.  It is where we think, feel, and make decisions.  The word used here for hardness (πωρώσει) refers to a complete lack of understanding, dullness, blindness, or even obstinacy to the truth.  “This phrase is almost a stock expression in the NT for those who cannot or will not perceive the truth….”[1] This means that “Jesus’ critics are ‘set in their ways’, and their insensitivity (or ‘obdurate stupidity’, Mann) both hurts (συλλυπούμενος) and angers him.”[2] Yet, despite this hardness and obstinacy, Jesus is still grieved over their position.  He knows that as long as they are in this position of hardness they will be alienated from God with no hope of forgiveness.

After looking around at these guys for a minute Jesus turned his attention back to the man with the paralyzed hand “and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” Notice that “in this miracle Jesus does not touch the sufferer or use material means, but commands the man to do something with the affected limb.”[3] No one could have legitimately accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, even in light of the standards of the Pharisees.  Jesus not only outsmarted the Pharisees, but He also revealed His pure and holy character by compassionately healing this man.

b. The sinful rage of the Pharisees

In comparison with Jesus the Pharisees did not react so well to this conflict.  Mark tells us that after Jesus healed this man “the Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.”  Luke adds, in Luke 6:11, that they were “filled with fury.”  You might say that they left the synagogue that day in a blind rage over Jesus’ actions.  They were so angry that they went out and met with the Herodians.   Most likely these Herodians were Jews who, for political reasons, supported Herod Antipas.  They would have been political enemies of the Pharisees.  However, they were united by a common enemy in this case.  This partnership is somewhat surprising, “but their cooperation in order to silence a radical religious reformer is no more surprising than that of the various factions of the Sanhedrin in the arrest and trial of Jesus (see on 8:31). It must be remembered, too, that it will be their leader Antipas who executes Jesus’ predecessor John (6:17-28)….”[4] In other words, the Pharisees were willing to work with anyone in order to catch Jesus in their net.  They had no moral character whatsoever.  They were willing to do anything to “destroy” Jesus.

What a contrast to the way that Jesus reacted toward them.  Hendricksen desribes it this way:

Not only did the Pharisees leave the synagogue; the left in a huff.  They were furious (Luke 6:11).  The fact that a handicapped man had been delivered of his serious impediment, did not affect them in the least.  It did not make them feel happy for this man.  And it did not make them kindly disposed toward the Healer.  What riled them was that here, before the eyes of everybody, they and their traditionalism had suffered a humiliating defeat.  What a vast difference between Christ’s totally unselfish anger (Mark 3:5) and their thoroughly selfish resentment![5]

Conclusion:

Looking back at this passage it is clear that Jesus is the one to be valued, and the Pharisees are really the villains of the story.  We can see that relatively easily from our vantage point, but obviously the Pharisees didn’t see things this way.  They rejected the value of Jesus, and they were blind to their own sin.  They were totally biased against Jesus, and in favor of themselves.  As we think who these men were it is easy to be angry with them, and to be repulsed by their sin.  But the fact of the matter is that we are more like the Pharisees than we would like to admit.  We are certainly more like the Pharisees than we are like Jesus.

Scripture teaches that all men, apart from Christ, are in the shape position that these Pharisees were in.  Ephesians 4:18 says that “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” This means that apart from divine healing no one can be saved.  But thankfully that is exactly why Jesus came.  Romans 5:8 says that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Christ died for us so that we wouldn’t have to be like the Pharisees anymore.  He dies for us so that by placing our faith in Him we might be saved despite our hard hearts.

For those who have put your faith in Jesus you understand that it is still a struggle not be like the Pharisees.  Even though Jesus has done so much for us we sometimes have a hard time valuing Him above all other things.  We fail to see His value, and we fail to see our sin.  We must fight this temptation and value Jesus even more than we value ourselves.


[1] R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002), 151.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Cranfield, The Gospel According to Saint Mark, 121.

[4] France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 151.

[5] William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1975), 117.

Friday Quote

I’m not a big fan when people say “I’m great at vision, but I ignore the details.” To me, that seems irresponsible. It’s like saying, “what I like to do is create a bunch of work for people that I don’t like to do myself.” True, leaders can’t get too deep into the details. But they will have to delve into some — and then make sure that they have and can effectively give strategic direction to the other leaders on their team that are good at systems.

Matt Perman
Quote taken from a blog post on 3.12.09

You can read this quote in its context HERE, or you can read more from Matt Perman at his blog: What’s Best Next