12 Step Progam: How to Commit to the Church (pt. 1)

I know it has been a couple of weeks since I last posted on the topic of the church, but I wanted to post two more posts on the church this week.  Specifically I want to provide some ways that individual Christians can practically commit to their local church.  This is certainly not a comprehensive list, but hopefully it will be helpful.

I. 12 ways to commit to the local church

1. Show Up

This is a pretty simple one.  Show up.  Whenever there is a gathering of God’s people try and be there.  Make it a priority to be involved in as many ministries as your family can handle.  Don’t starve yourself spiritually by hardly ever being at church.  Sure, there will be times when you would like to “take a night off” or “your just too tired” and sometimes that is ok.  However, on those days when you would like to skip out on church ask yourself what you are going to be doing instead.  Is it going to be more profitable for your soul and the kingdom of God for you to miss church?

2. Prepare for Sunday

J.I. Packer reminds us how important Sunday worship is with these words, “We must never let our Sundays become mere routine engagements; in that attitude of mind, we shall trifle them away by humdrum formality.  Every Sunday is meant to be a great day, and we should approach it expectantly, in full awareness of this.

Here are some practical tips for making your Sunday a great day:

  • Make the Lord’s Day a priority for the Week.
  • Prepare your heart for worship with scripture and prayer
  • Go to bed early the night before
  • Give yourself enough time to get ready and be on time
  • When you arrive remind yourself of the significance of what you are doing.
  • Stop going to sleep in service, and start keeping notes.

3. Stick around after the service

This may sound like a strange one, but I think that it is an important one.  Usually when we arrive to the church on Sunday (or whenever) we are rushed to get where we need to be in time.  This leaves very little time for fellowship, or encouragement.  If you are the guys running out the back door as soon as the final amen is said then you are going to miss out on a lot in the life of the church.  You don’t have stay forever, but you are not going to be exposed to radiation poisoning if you stick around for a few minutes after the service.  I can’t tell you how many people I know who have left churches because they didn’t feel like the church welcomed them, or because they didn’t feel connected to the people of the church.  Almost always these were the people who were lacing up their shoes during the final prayer to make it out the door in record time.  Next Sunday try sticking around for a little while after church.

4. Serve

Commitment to the local church means serving the local church.  It means that you show up for church ready to serve rather then consume.  Find ways that you can help fill the needs of the church.  You don’t necessarily need to start a formal ministry in order to serve, just be helpful.  Look for areas where you think something is lacking and try to fill that need.  Don’t go tell the pastor that you would like to serve and then wait for him to tell you exactly what to do (although sometimes you might need help getting started). Whether it is encouraging someone with a phone call during the week, changing the trash in the church, or showing up to mow the church lawn just find ways to minister to the church.  Be proactive about serving.

5. Obey

Commitment to the church requires obedience.  First, it requires obedience to God, but secondly it requires obedience to those whom God has providentially put over you. Hebrews 10:17 makes it clear that obedience is an important part of the process.  This does mean that you have a cult like allegiance to any leader.  But understand this, when you are a part of a church you have a biblical responsibility to respect and obey the God-ordained leaders of that congregation.

6. Pray

It is absolutely critical for you to be praying for the needs of your local church.  Ephesians 6:18 says that we need to always be alert in this matter.  When we are praying for the needs of our church then it will not only be used by God, but it will better equipped to serve our church.  We will know the needs that need to be met, we will know the people, and we will have a greater love for those we are praying for.


Getting Ready for the Start of the NFL

Those of you who know me are probably shocked at this headline (seeing as how it is still baseball season).  However, this week I had an article posted at bpsports.net about the upcoming NFL season.

The entire article can be read HERE.  Here is an excerpt:

The first thing that comes to my mind is, “Big deal, it’s still baseball season!” After that thought, as I try and get myself excited about another NFL season, my mind always seems to come back to 2 Thessalonians 3:10. Here the apostle Paul writes, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.”

To find out why this verse comes to my mind go check out the article.

A Modest Suggestion

In working with youth and young adults the issue of modesty comes up quite a bit.  More and more I feel like the stick-in-the mud preaching against playing cards and mixed bathing if I even bring up the topic.  However, it is a topic of vast importance.  I say this because the bible deals with the issue of modesty.

In thinking through this issue (for ministry and as the father of two daughters) I came across some helpful thoughts.  A while back on the Sovereign Grace blog C.J. Mahaney wrote on the topic of modesty.  To summarize Mahaney: You need to be modest.  Not in the way you dress.  But in your heart.  When you have a modest attitude it will result in modest actions (and dress).  The primary issue, though, is your heart.  Mahanney provides some helpful thoughts on how to check our hearts by looking at our actions:

Modesty means propriety. It means avoiding clothes and adornment that are extravagant or sexually enticing. Modesty is humility expressed in dress. It’s a desire to serve others, particularly men, by not promoting or provoking sensuality.

Immodesty, then, is much more than wearing a short skirt or low-cut top; it’s the act of drawing undue attention to yourself. It’s pride, on display by what you wear.

This does not mean that we should let ourselves go and look like “pigpen” all the time.  Mahaney’s wife, Carolyn, made this astute observation:

God is the creator of beauty. God delights in beauty. All we need to verify this fact is to consider the beauty He created all around us: whether it is an elegant flower, or towering trees, or a meandering river, or billowy clouds or the majestic night sky. Every time we stop to take in one of these breathtaking scenes on display in God’s creation, we can’t help but be convinced that He delights in beauty!

[B]ecause we are created in the image of our Creator, each of us has this propensity to make things beautiful. That means, when we decorate our homes, or plant a lovely flower garden, or seek to add some form of beauty to our surroundings, even when we attempt to enhance our personal appearance—we are actually imitating and delighting in the works of our Great Creator.

Additionally, clothes are not the only test of a modest heart.  If you are more concerned with what someone else is wearing than your own wardrobe then you are missing the key element of modesty: humility.  In fact, no where in Scripture are we told to make sure that other people are dressed modestly.  It is unfortunate if someone dresses immodestly and tempts us to sin (This is why Mahaney tells you girls that “You’re truly serving your brothers in Christ by your obedience to God’s Word” through modesty.), but our responsibility is to deal with that temptation in our own hearts rather than in the wardrobe of another person.

This is an important issue for guys and girls alike.  It is absoulutely vital that you are working with your children/parents on this issue.  It will be difficult and you may hate to get involved/have their involvement on wardrobe, but this is the only way to be modest and serve your brothers in Christ.   Be mature enough to realize this (parents you especially), and be humble enough to be modest.

One last thing for the ladies.  Ask your dad (or husband if you are married) what he thinks of your outfit.  He may have no fashion sense whatsoever, but he will be a big help in keeping your wardrobe modest.

Book Review: Esv Bible Atlas

There aren’t too many books that I would consider to be “must have.”  In fact, from a biblical perspective your are supposed to have exactly what God has provided for you.  However, The ESV Bible Atlas is about as close to “must have” as you can get without coveting.  In my opinion this newly released Bible atlas has set the standard for bible atlases just like the ESV Study Bible has set the new standard for study bibles.

You may be thinking that you wouldn’t get much use out of an atlas, however this resources is valuable for a number of different applications.  Here are just a few of the uses you can get from this resource:

  1. First of all, it provides a wealth of background information on various topics pertinent to bible study.
  2. Secondly, the narrative of the atlas provides a brief biblical history that is helpful for setting specific bible passages within a historical theme.
  3. Third, the pictures are amazing!  I have never been to Israel so I say this from a inadequate vantage point, but this is the closest you can come to seeing the terrain of the Holy Land without leaving your home.
  4. Fourth, the maps are extremely helpful.  Because of the quality and size of the maps it makes it much easier to use.  I used it this week as I was trying to work through the North Galatia vs. South Galatia controversy.
  5. Fifth, the illustrations make abstract passages vivid.  Some of the same illustrations found in the ESV Study bible are in this atlas—the only difference is that they are larger and on heavier paper.
  6. Six, the indexes provided are remarkably thorough and allow you to find map/illustrations/info that pertains to whatever passage/topic you are studying.
  7. Finally, when you purchase a hard copy of the atlas you are also provided with a CD containing the files of pictures/maps/illustrations.  In other words, what you see in the book you can have for your own use.

For these reasons and more the ESV Bible Atlas has a prominent place on my self.  It does what bible atlases have done in the past, but it does it better.

Why Should You Worship the God of the Bible? (audio)

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to preach on the topic of worship.  Specifically, I dealt with the question “Why should you worship the God of the Bible?”  It is certainly not an exhaustive treatise on the subject, but hopefully it is sufficient.  You can Download Here: Why Should You Worship the God of the Bible?


You can stream it here: http://gbcb.org/site/audiodownloads.asp?sec_id=140002342