Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What and Why Do We Teach?

Jesus, the Master-Teacher, gives us a great illustration and a great model of what and why we are to teach. During Jesus' ministry many hated what He had to say. In fact, the religious leaders of the day said that He led people astray. They said that He had a demon and wanted to kill Him. But Jesus did not let it influence how He ministered.

Unlike Jesus, many today are influenced by and seek to teach according to the results of the latest surveys, popular opinion, cultrual trends, or by whatever is easiest for the speaker to prepare. Oftentimes such teaching is weak and composed of stories, riddles, and jokes that please the crowd and give the speaker a sense of satisfaction because people were pleased by his message. All this is often done with the intent to teach truth and help people.

But the Lord gives us a model of what and why we are to teach in His Word, particularly in John 7. The Lord was not in a friendly atmosphere and didn't care that His teaching was not always well-liked. In fact the text says that there were people there wanting to seize Him and kill Him. But Jesus still went there knowing that! Through His teaching He captured the crowd's attention and the attention of those who came to seize Him.

What was so amazing about His teaching? What was so unusal about it? Why was it so different from the teaching of the religious leaders of the day? Jesus was the son of a carpenter and didn't have the religious training of the rabbis, yet His teaching was so profound. John tells us why in chapter seven. The reason it was so profound and captivating was that it was straight from the Father (vs. 16), and it was rich and deep (vs. 15).

Jesus was able to capture the crowd's attention by His shear knowledge and explanation of the Word of God. He was not teaching for His own glory, but for the glory and will of the Father. The crowd and the officers there to seize Him never heard such teaching and never heard anyone speak as Jesus spoke.

Jesus' example should cause us to examine our own teaching, and to evaluate whether we are teaching the pure Word of God or that which tickles peoples' ears? Do we teach people the Word and expound it to them, or is our teaching filled with many stories and little Scripture? Jesus spoke in an educated way and amazed the crowd by the profundity of His teaching. You don't see the crowd here laughing. He was not seeking to entertain them or to make them think He was a great speaker/teacher. He sought to teach them truth for the glory and will of the Father, and was there to seek and save the lost.

After looking at the teaching ministry of our Lord we should feel compelled to examine our own teaching and ask ourselves what and why we teach. So WHAT are we teaching? Is it the pure Word of God? Does our teaching capture people, because of the depth and clarity of the truth presented? Or is our teaching of ourself seeking to please the crowd and glorify ourselves? Our teaching should point people to God, they should see Him high and lifted up. God should be supreme in our teaching.

And WHY do we teach what we teach? I think that we can sometimes be so focused on proclaiming truth that the motive and purpose of our teaching is to simply teach truth. And thus we give place to pride and take satisfaction that we taught truth. But the motive and purpose of our teaching should be to glorify God and do His will. The result of teaching with the proper what and why will be that which teaches truth.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Czech President Takes a Stand

Though the Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, is no believer and espouses evolution, I believe his position should be heard in his stance against the global warming crowd. He sees the global warming movement as an attack on that which is true and an attack on freedom, and I think he has a point. Let me quote him from his recent article.

The author Michael Crichton stated it clearly: “the greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda”. I feel the same way, because global warming hysteria has become a prime example of the truth versus propaganda problem. It requires courage to oppose the “established” truth, although a lot of people – including top-class scientists – see the issue of climate change entirely differently. They protest against the arrogance of those who advocate the global warming hypothesis and relate it to human activities.
Is this mentality also not so in the Church? Churches and pastors determining the future plans for their ministry according to "expert" advice of particular psychologists, pastors, and authors. Because these have had "success" in selling many books or drawing large crowds they are looked at as experts. Therefore many live and/or minister according to an "established" truth based on the advice of these supposed experts rather than upon the clear truth laid out in Scriptures as to the reality of ministering to people.

I would encourage you to read the entire article by President Klaus. He clearly sees through the global warming agenda and the attempt to paint a "truth" that doesn't exist in the minds of people for personal gain. Here is a man who is not afraid to stand for what he believes is right and to take on the supposed majority who claim to know what is best for the world.

Relating this to the Church...What "established truth" is leading the Church today astray? Who are the warriors for truth in our day? And how can we all be more active in taking a stand for truth as President Klaus is seeking to do in regards to "global warming?"

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Buy Truth

Many seek to act as though truth doesn't exist or that if it does you can't know it. But that is contrary to what the Scriptures, the living Word of God says. Not only does truth exists; truth is worth fighting for and it comes at a price.

Proverbs tells us that truth has value. Proverbs 23:23 says, "Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding." Its value is like the treasure hidden in the field that the man found and sold all he had to buy the field that contained the treasure (Matt. 13:44).

Truth is of such value that we should be willing to forsake all in order to have it. The psalmist rightly portrays this attitude in Psalm 119:72 - The law of Thy mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

What is it worth to you? What would you pay for truth?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Truth Buckler Training

Here is a photo of the new seminary being established here in the Czech Republic. It is here where we desire to help train up men to be bucklers of the Truth. About one mile from this location we hope to begin planting a church in the coming months where the men will serve and become better equipped to plant churches and shepherd God's flock. Please pray with us and for us.

Though the outside looks nice the inside is a disaster zone and is unlivable. Much work needs to be done over the next 2 months to get the building ready so people can live there. In the picture of the window you can kind of see inside that it is completely unprepared. This is where the students will be living come the beginning of September.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Next Phase of Ministry

We have now been exploring our next phase of ministry here in the Czech Republic for over two months. After much praying and much traveling the Lord has provided an opportunity for us to help with the start of a new church plant and new seminary in Pelhrimov, Czech Republic.

Pelhrimov is pretty much located in the center of the country as you can see from the map. It is one hour from Prague and one hour from Brno, the two largest cities in the country.

We have already begun looking for housing and are trusting the Lord to provide as He so amazingly did where we are currently living. The sooner we can move there the better so we can help get things going.

My primary role of ministry will be to help with the establishing of a local church, but I will also be teaching in the seminary. We agreed to a one year commitment at this point to evaluate if this is where the Lord would have us serve long-term. We are excited about this new way to serve Christ and would appreciate your prayers as we seek to establish a biblical church and help train up a new generation of preachers who will not be afraid to stand for Truth!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Spirit of Evangelism and the Heart of God

Through some of our travels in visiting various churches a brother shared something with me that I have not been able to forget. He said he was speaking with an older respected pastor here in the Czech Republic about evangelism. He said that this pastor told him the Czech Church has "lost the spirit of evangelism." Since hearing that I have not been able to let it leave my mind.

I recently preached Psalm 117. In that Psalm the psalmist calls upon all the peoples and nations of the world to praise and extol the Living God. It is really a missiological psalm, because the other Egyptian Hallel (Ps. 113-118) are all written to Israel, and this psalm is a call for all the peoples of the world to worship God. This psalm is therefore different from the rest in this group.

And in this Psalm we can see the heart of God. We can see God's plan and desire for all the peoples and nations of the world to give Him praise and extol His name. The Lord didn't just elect Israel and say forget the rest of the world. His redemptive plan was to be extended through Israel and reach all peoples, and this we can see in the Old Testament and New Testaments (Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:8).

The heart of God is for all the nations and peoples of the world to worship and extol Him. That cannot take place apart from evangelism. For the Church to lose the "spirit of evangelism" is for the Church to lose the heart of God.

What about you or your church? Have you lost the "spirit of evangelism" in your life and ministry? If so, you are neglecting what is dear to God. The last thing Jesus told His disciples to do was to make disciples of ALL nations. If we want to have the heart of God, if we want to glorify God we will do what is important to Him...call upon all the nations and peoples of the world to praise and extol Him. Hallelujah!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mercy and Truth

Proverbs 3:3 says - Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. As Christians, these two necessary virtues are to describe who we are. The word mercy in Hebrew literally means "lovingkindness, kindness, or steadfast love." Though we are to stand for truth as a buckler of God's Word we are not to let love or mercy depart from us. It is to adorn us outwardly and to be engraved on our hearts inwardly.

However, being loving to people is not enough. This love or mercy is not to stand alone. In fact this combination of mercy and truth is found through the Scriptures (Prov. 16:6; 20:28; 2 Sam. 15:20; Ps. 25:10; Hos. 4:1; Mic. 7:18-20). Love/mercy must be accompanied with that which is right and true. Truth must also possess and adorn us as does love or mercy. Truth without love is warned against in Ephesians 4:15, as we are told to speak the truth in love. You cannot separate the two.

Love without truth is deceptive and is an unfaithful love. Truth without love is often harsh and cold. Combine the two and you have a potent combination that God uses to transform hearts and give Him glory.

Proverbs 3:4 tells us what fruit this combination of mercy and truth brings forth - And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man. No one esteems someone who has no love or who is destitute of truth. What virtue is there in that?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Majority Rules?

Yesterday my brother sent me an email response he received from a Christian radio station. He wrote a letter to the station to express his dissatisfaction of their choosing to add a female "preacher" to their program schedule. The Pres/CEO of the station, as he calls himself, sent back a very rude and arrogant response, which was very surprising as my brother's letter was written very graciously and did not attack them in any way. Here you can see one line of the CEO's reasoning in defending his decision to add this female "preacher" to their station.

Station CEO - "We have thousands of listeners and a lot of women who listen and you are the only one out of those thousands that complained."

I like what Spurgeon would have said if the station CEO would have said this to him.

Spurgeon - "Some people say, 'Why, you are in such a small minority!' Yes, yes; but as a general rule minorities are right. Up until now, the majority has never been on the side of Christ, the majority has never been for God, the majority has never been with the truth."

When will the church in our age awaken? When will it take a stand against the spirit of the age and stand on the side of truth, the side of the minority?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The State of the Nation

James Dobson's Focus on the Family played a two-part message preached by John MacArthur on the National Day of Prayer. I post this, because it is great to see Christians rally around the Word and the broadcast is exceptionally well done.

Here are the links to listen to the message:

Part 1 - A Nation Abandoned by God
Part 2 - A Nation Abandoned by God

There is also a segment of one of MacArthur's messages posted on the website where he talks about MTV's survey on the "seven deadly sins."

Monday, June 4, 2007

True Meaning of "Be ready in season and out of season!"

I thought I would share a funny little story that truly portrays what the Lord told us to do in 2 Timothy 4:2 - "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season..."

We have been traveling the country looking at various ministry possibilities here in the Czech Republic. This past Sunday I was asked to come and visit a church and to share my testimony. So I was prepared to share what the Lord has done in our lives for about 3-5 minutes. However, about half way through the worship service the pastor got up to what I thought was introduce me to share my testimony. But he instead said, "at that this time brother and sister 'so and so' will come forward and sing for us, and then our missionary friend will come and bring the Word to us and share a little testimony."

I was stunned. I turned to the guy behind me who invited us to come and said, "am I supposed to preach?" He said, "yeah, do whatever you want." I looked at Sandy and said I am supposed to preach! I flung open my Bible to look for a text and in a matter of two or three minutes I was behind the pulpit expected to preach in Czech with no preparation, no notes, no anything! Just me and God and a Bible. On the way to the pulpit I asked the pastor if he was going to preach something after me and he said very kindly, "I will defer all my time to you, you can have the whole time of 20-30 minutes." By God's grace I preached a shortened version of a sermon I have done on Psalm 117, and then we enjoyed a time of rich fellowship with the saints.

It was a great reminder to truly always be ready, and to always rely on the Lord whether we are prepared with notes and an outline or not!