Monday, May 30, 2011

Scott's Top 7s: Best 5-second Movies #4

Harold Camping and the End of the World

Last Saturday May 21st was the end of the world according to a self-proclaimed prophet and Bible Radio speaker Harold Camping. For anyone, like me, who missed it and didn't get raptured you can read about it here - and here. I know i don't really need to jump on the bandwagon but the article is great to bring any newbs to Camping's heresey, like myself, up to speed. Some comments are insane - there's even a flat out denial of Christ's exclusivity:"It has nothing to do with religion,” he said, noting Hindus and those of other faiths can be raptured. “If God has saved them then they're going to be caught up."For the Church's actual position on the 2nd coming - check Matthew 24:1-51 and Acts 1:6-7. Unlike Camping's calculations, Matthew and Acts have not been apologized for nor corrected.
The key to take from Matthew 24 is found in verse 44:

"Therefore you must also be ready,
for the Son of Man is coming
at an hour you do not expect."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

On Reading Books...

I for one am a 20page/hour reader. If I read any faster I'm not digesting nor do I find my self keeping with the flow of thought. Recently to help, Pastor John Starke offered up some of his own methods on reading, calling himself a slow-reader as well - he seems to be able to get through a couple books a month! His advice is encouraging and he's on the gospelcoalition so it can't be all that bad! He also mentions 3 classics at the end that are worth your time -

 Advice for Slow Readers - John Starke

What's your current/next classic you're working through? 

Scott's Top 7s: Best 5-second Movies #6

(this one actually took about 14 seconds but it's a good sum-up)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Best 2 Hour Date I've Had Yet

Almost two weeks ago Justine and I got to take a date through Mississauga, not Hamilton,  here in the g-shoe (that's Southern Ontarion for golden horseshoe). It was a pleasant 21.1 km stroll through the rainy mainroads to millionaire's row and finishing off by the lakeshore path. Justine has run a full before, this is my second half. Here are some action shots from May 15, 2011. We had a whole gang of us running: Matt, Jordan, Janine, Jessie, Sheryl, and the favourite Wilson - Katie.

I had a great time running to a few sermons and rocking out to the Mr. B's favourite Audible Sigh by Bill Mallonee & Hymns (III) by Page CXVI. Looking forward to the next one.  I was not really much of a runner before I started training for the first half with my dad. The first 5-6 runs really were hard, but once I learned my pace it became quite enjoyable. A great way to stay fit and healthy - combined with some celebratory pizza and chicken wings, you can't go wrong.

Scott's Top 7s: Best 5-second Movies #7

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spurgeon On Neglecting the Spiritual Life

From Spurgeon's artillery of illustrations in Barbed Arrows comes this simile on the neglect of spiritual life:

"The other day we read in the newspapers of two persons in America being found dead from "starvation and cold," and we also read that each of these persons was possessed of a considerable sum of money. We say, 'What fools!' Men with sums of money about their persons, or hidden away in their rooms, and yet suffering the ills of want till they actually die of hunger - what madness is this! Are those more sane who injure and dwarf their spiritual life for the sake of intellectual pride, or carnal joy, or the esteem of men? Is not the spirit infinitely more precious than the body? Brethren, if we starve at all, let us starve our bodies, and not our spirits. If anything must be stunted, let it be the baser nature. Let us not live eagerly for this world, and languidly for the world to come. Having the Divine life within us, let us not neglect to feed it and supply its wants. "

-Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Barbed Arrows: From the Quiver of C. H. Spurgeon (Toronto: Fleming H. Revell, 1896), 228-229.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Scott's Top 7s: Country-Love-Songs #3

I would have put up Tim McGraw by Taylor Swift but I recently posted that so to bug my brother Andrew I'll post the one I sung to him for the majority of our trip to Florida.
Mine - Taylor Swift 

Summer-School Motivation

Saturday, May 14, 2011

5 Mistakes Pastors Make

At a recent Southern promotional talk by Al Mohler at The Masters Seminary in Sun Valley California, I received a free Southern Seminary Magazine Vol 79, No 2 - entitled: Teaching About Jesus Through the Old Testament. This morning as I sprawled around in bed contemplating getting up, I decided to have a gander. I was surprised to see the amount of work they contribute herein. It's similar to SGF's Barnabas' magazine actually. It's got a compilation of contributors from Southern - in particular in this issue Schriener, Moore, and Mohler (of course) - some promotions for the seminary, current mission work, book reviews, yada yada yada. What really caught my eye was these 5 thoughts on page 20 by Professor H. W. York about common pastoral mistakes in teaching. Leading to potential divisive doctrines to their congregations he warns of:

1 - Uncontrolled emotion. A pastor cannot afford to let his congregation sense either fear or anger in him.

2 - Treating disagreement as unwelcome. If a pastor affirms loving and gracious disagreement, then he will seldom have to deal with the kind that is mean-spirited.

3 - Preaching a system rather than a text. When a pastor shows truth in the Scriptures, it's hard for people to disagree with it unless they are willing to deny the truth of the Bible itself.

4 - Avoidance of Biblical Tensions. Any pastor who presents only one side of an argument will never convince thinking people, to the contrary, will open himself to their equally simplistic rebuttals and denials.

5 - A failure to love. A pastor must never forget that God sent him to love the people, not merely to [inspire] them with Biblical facts.

Scott's Top 7s: Country-Love-Songs #4

Dance With Me - Johnny Reid 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Unbreakable Promises

I sometimes wonder if there is any more vital lesson for Christian living than this: that God has condescended to our weakness by making us promises, that he will never break them, and that faith reckons on his faithfulness by grasping hold of them. We sometimes smile at the Victorians' 'promise-boxes'. Biblical promises were printed on small pieces of paper, rolled up like miniature scrolls and stored in a wooden box for random selection in times of need. And, to be sure, that practice did wrench the divine promises from the context in which they were originally given. Nevertheless, I rather think that even such a naive trust in detached promises was better than the present-day accurate but unbelieving knowledge of the promises in their context. So many of us complain of spiritual doubt, darkness, depression and lethargy, of besetting sins and unconquered temptations, of slow progress towards Christian maturity, of sluggishness in worship and in prayer, and of many other spiritual ills, while all the time we do not use the secret weapon which God has put into our hands.

--From "Life in Christ" (Eastbourne: Kingsway; Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1991), p. 27. Thanks JRW Stott.

Scott's Top 7s: Country-Love-Songs #5

Forever, and Ever - Randy Travis

Monday, May 9, 2011

Church Membership: Bogus or Biblical?

I have heard too many people say "church membership is not required of Christians", "you don't find it in the New Testament", and "it's a recent invention". But just how true are these assertions? Are the NT texts silent or is there something we've missed? The following article by Pastor Chandler is worth consideration and prayer:

Is Church Membership Biblical?
By Matt Chandler May/June2011© 9Marks

“The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.”
— Cyprian, Treatise on the Unity of the Church, 6.

I was 28 when I became the pastor of Highland Village First Baptist Church (now known as The Village Church). I had had a rough go early on in my church experience, and at that time I was not fully out of my “disenchanted with the local church” phase.

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure at the time that church membership was biblical. Despite that, the Spirit had made it all too clear that I was going to be pastoring this small church in the suburbs of Dallas. That was one of the many ironies of my life in those days.

Highland Village First Baptist Church was a “seeker-sensitive” church in the Willow Creek mold and had no formal membership process, although they were actively working on one and wanted the new pastor’s input. I had a strong understanding of the church universal but wasn’t well versed—and, as I said, somewhat skeptical—about the church local. We started growing quickly with young and oftentimes disenchanted 20-somethings who usually had no church background, or bad church backgrounds. They liked The Village because we were “different.” This always struck me as strange because we weren’t doing anything but preaching and singing.

In conversations with these men and women I began to hear things like “The church is corrupt; it’s just about money and a pastor’s ego,” or “I love Jesus, it’s the church I have a problem with.” My favorite one was, “When you organize the church it loses its power.” Although something occasionally resonated in me with these comments (I, along with most of my generation, have authority and commitment issues), I found them confusing since they were being made to me by people who were attending the church where I was the pastor.


With conflicts already brewing over other doctrines that I viewed as far more central, I wondered if we should let this church membership thing slide and come back to it later. I was preparing at the time to preach through the book of Hebrews and “happened” to be in chapter 13 when verse 17 leapt off the page: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Two questions occurred to me. First, if there is no biblical requirement to belong to a local church, then which leaders should an individual Christian obey and submit to? Second, and more personally, who will I, as a pastor, give an account for?

These two questions started my search for a biblical understanding of the local church, and they began around the ideas of authority and submission.

Regarding the first question, the Scriptures clearly command Christians to submit to and honor an elder body (Heb. 13:17, 1 Tim. 5:17). If there is no understanding of local church membership, then who are we to submit to and obey? Is it anyone with the title “elder” from any church? Should you as a Christian obey and submit to those loons at Westboro Baptist? In order to obey Scripture, must you picket soldiers’ funerals, as the pastor of Westboro seems to imply?

Regarding the second question, the Scriptures clearly command an elder body to care for specific people (1 Pet. 5:1-5; also, Acts 20:28-30). Will I as a pastor be held accountable for all the Christians in the Dallas Metroplex? There are many churches in Dallas that I have strong theological and philosophical differences with. Will I give account for what they teach in their small group, how they spend their money, and what they do concerning international missions?


After considering questions of authority and submission, the second issue that came up in my study of the local church was the biblical teaching on church discipline.

You see it in several places, but none so clearly as 1 Corinthians 5:1-12. In this text Paul confronts the church in Corinth for approving of a man walking in blatant, unrepentant sexual immorality. The Corinthians are celebrating this as God’s grace, but Paul warns them that this type of wickedness shouldn’t make them boast, but rather mourn. He calls them arrogant and tells them to remove this man for the destruction of his flesh and the hopeful salvation of his soul. In verses 11-12, he pulls no punches: “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?”

It has been my sad experience that very few churches still practice church discipline, but that’s another article for another day. My question out of this text is simple: How can you kick someone “out” if there isn’t an “in”? If there is no local commitment to a covenant community of faith, then how do you remove someone from that community of faith? Church discipline won’t work if local church membership doesn’t exist.


There are other evidences to support local church membership in the Scriptures.

We see in Acts 2:37-47 that there is a numerical record of those who have professed Christ and been filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 41) and an acknowledgement that the church was tracking the growth (v. 47).

In Acts 6:1-6, we see elections take place in order to address a specific problem and accusation.

In Romans 16:1-16, we see what appears to be an awareness of who is a church member.

In 1 Timothy 5:3-16, we see a clear teaching on how to handle widows in the church and in verses 9-13 we read this:

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.

In this text we see criteria for who would or would not qualify for Ephesus’s widow care program. The local church in Ephesus is organized, and they are working out a plan.

We could go on and on here, asking questions about how we could be obedient to the commands of God in 1 Corinthians 12 or Romans 12 if we aren’t connected to a local covenant community of faith. But to unpack all the possible texts would require longer than I have for this article.


When you begin to look at these texts it becomes clear that God’s plan for his church is that we would belong to a local covenant community of faith. This is for our own protection and maturation, and for the good of others.

If you view church as some sort of ecclesiological buffet, then you severely limit the likelihood of your growing into maturity. Growth into godliness can hurt. For instance, as I interact with others in my own local body, my own slothfulness in zeal is exposed, as is my lack of patience, my prayerlessness, and my hesitancy to associate with the lowly (Rom. 12:11-16). Yet this interaction also gives me the opportunity to be lovingly confronted by brothers and sisters who are in the trenches with me, as well as a safe place to confess and repent. But when church is just a place you attend without ever joining, like an ecclesiological buffet, you just might consider whether you’re always leaving whenever your heart begins to be exposed by the Spirit, and the real work is beginning to happen.

What’s the bottom line? Local church membership is a question of biblical obedience, not personal preference.

Matt Chandler is the lead pastor of the Village Church in the Dallas, Texas area.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Images of Salvation

'Images' of salvation (or of the atonement) is a better term than 'theories'. For theories are usually abstract and speculative concepts, whereas the biblical images of the atoning achievement of Christ are concrete pictures and belong to the data of revelation. They are not alternative explanations of the cross, providing us with a range to choose from, but complementary to one another, each contributing a vital part to the whole. As for the imagery, 'propitiation' introduces us to rituals at a shrine, 'redemption' to transactions in a market-place, 'justification' to proceedings in a lawcourt, and 'reconciliation' to experiences in a home or family. My contention is that 'substitution' is not a further 'theory' or 'image' to be set alongside the others, but rather the foundation of them all, without which each lacks cogency. If God in Christ did not die in our place, there could be neither propitiation, nor redemption, nor justification, nor reconciliation.

--From "The Cross of Christ" (Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP, 1986), p. 168. Thanks John Stott & Happy 90th Birthday.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Worship Definition

Worship is the proper response of all moral, sentient beings to God, 
ascribing all honour and worth to their Creator-God 
precisely because he is worthy, 
delightfully so.

This side of the Fall, 
human worship of God properly responds to 
the redemptive provisions that God has graciously made. 
While all true worship is God-centered, 
Christian worship is no less Christ-centered. 
Empowered by the Spirit 
and in line with the stipulations of the new covenant, 
it manifests itself in all our living, 
finding its impulse in the gospel, 
which restores our relationship with our Redeemer-God 
and therefore also with our fellow image-bearers, 
our co-worshipers. 
Such worship therefore manifests itself 
both in adoration and in action, 
both in the individual believer and in corporate worship, 
which is worship offered up in the context of the body of believers, 
who strive to align all the forms of their devout ascription of all worth to God with the panoply of the new covenant mandates and examples that bring to fulfillment 
the glories of the antecedent revelation and anticipate the consummation.” 

D. A. Carson and M. Ashton, R. K. Hughes, and T. J. Keller, Worship by the Book (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 26. Now with a  definition like that you don't even need to buy the book! jk - it's worth a read.