Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

John Piper on the Holy Spirit's role in regeneration (TheResurgence). Salvation belongs to the Lord!

Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

Great words from the Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs from his classic "Gospel Worship."

"The reason men worship God in a casual way is because they do not see God in His Glory. If a man has ever had Isaiah's vision of the Holiness of God, he would be changed in an instant. But until men have seen God as He truly is they will be forever guilty of the very same rebuke that God gave to the wicked in Psalms 50:21 'You thought I was just like you'."

Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

Justin Taylor has posted this stunning observation from Sally Morgenthaler(Megachurches).

Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

http://youtube.com/v/lj3iNxZ8Dww

Bless her heart. I couldn't resist.

Posted on Tuesday, August 28, 2007 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

As the two previous posts demonstrate, the love of money is a sin that pastors cannot afford. Don’t misunderstand. Sinless perfection regarding lust for money is no more attainable in this life than is sinless perfection regarding lust for pleasure, lust for recognition, or lust for vengeance. Pastors battle these sins just as those do whom they have been charged to shepherd. But this is not an excuse for failure or complacency. Pastors must join the battle against these sins.

A money loving pastor exists in an impossible tension because his heart is divided. Jesus offers us a sobering warning: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:19-21, 24). Paul warned the younger Timothy that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (I Tim 6:10).

The sinister “genius” of the prosperity preachers is that they have devised a way not merely to excuse their lust for wealth but to celebrate it. Their multiple mansions, private jets, and lavish expense accounts, they declare, are the very signs of God’s blessing upon them. They have “gotten” it. They have learned to live in “victory!” They have sown their seed and it worked. Now, if the rest of us would just buckle down and sow our seed in their ministries then we may be fortunate enough to reach similar heights of blessing.

Two of the worst offenders are Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar who pastors, sadly, one of the largest churches in the U.S. Copeland once famously said, “If we are children of the King shouldn’t we be living like princes?” The aptly named Dollar recently swaggered across the front of his church telling his listeners that they ought to “biggee size everthang!” The “you can have it all” message of these men and others like T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, and Joyce Meyer erase the boundaries between loving God and loving money.

Love of money leads pastors into business ventures and various other distractions that steal away their time from study, disciple-making, and prayer. What is more he will surely rob time from his family as well. So, not only will his primary responsibilities as a shepherd suffer but so till will his wife and children. The tragic story of Randy and Paula White demonstrates this all too well (see previous post).

None of what I have written is meant to suggest that there is something inherently noble about poverty. Some of the most money-obsessed people I have known have been those who have very little money. I believe the key for pastors is the prayer found in Proverbs 30:8b-9: “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”

The people of God have a responsibility to take care of those who serve the Gospel in a full-time capacity. Scripture is clear on this. Nevertheless, pastors should not press their rights too strongly. The same Paul who affirmed the rights of Gospel ministers to be compensated refused to exercise that right in the Corinthian church. So careful was he to not be accused of ministering for the sake of money that he refused financial support from the Corinthians and instead made tents to support himself. He writes, “Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision…” (I Cor. 9:13-14).

Pastors should be models of godly contentment. “[F]or I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). No pastor can love God and money simultaneously. And the voracious appetite that some of America’s most prominent ministers display for wealth and luxury betrays their idolatrous and divided hearts.

Of course, my own heart is afflicted with the same divisions and idolatries. That is why I have to starve the lust to have more and more. If I feed it, it will become a beast. This requires that pastors must know their hearts well. They must know every dark corner that lies within. This is not a call to asceticism. The church must be careful to make sure the men who serve as shepherds are adequately provided for. At the same time, pastors must to learn to say “I have enough. I am content.”

Posted on Monday, August 27, 2007 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

Two well known "pastors" in the prosperity movement announced their coming divorce (MSNBC.com). This is a tragic report. It is a dangerous thing to follow men (or women). How can so many people follow preachers who have so clearly abandoned Christ for success and money? I am speachless.

Posted on Monday, August 27, 2007 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

Christianity Today has posted this interesting article on their live blog site (Christianity Today). It seems that Ted Haggard and his wife need money to fund their living expenses while they both pursue degrees in psychology and counseling. This is another prime example why pastors need godly accountability. The modern "pastor as CEO" model has not served the church well.

Posted on Monday, August 27, 2007 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

In a time when the Christian book industry is flooded by self-help and do-it-yourself Christianity it is always exciting to see good books come off the presses. R.C. Sproul, no newcomer to the Christian publishing business, has released another fine book. I am excited about it because it is a book that focuses on the doctrine of the cross. There are many new good books dealing with the cross and the doctrine of justification. However, most of these are written for a more academic audience. Happily, Dr. Sproul’s book is written with a popular reader in mind. It is only 167 pages long but it packs a lot of soul thrilling theology. The book, aptly titled The Truth About the Cross, helps prove the point that all good theology is doxological. That is, good theology moves the heart to rejoice and worship.

I am realistic enough to know that a book about the cross of Christ will not sell as many copies as books about how to discover your purpose in life or how to be “a better you” but those who do get a copy and read it will be richly rewarded. The Truth About the Cross will drive you deeper into the central doctrine of Christianity: the cross of Christ. It will drive you deeper into God’s Word. It will make you more grateful. It’s worth the read.

“The prevailing doctrine of justification today is not justification by faith alone. It’s not even justification by good works or by a combination of faith and works. The prevailing notion of justification in Western culture today is justification by death. It’s assumed that all one has to do to be received into the everlasting arms of God is to die.
“In some instances, the prevailing indifference to the cross mutates into outright hostility. I once was asked to deliver a lecture explaining the relationship between the old and new covenants. In the course of delivering this lecture, I referred to Christ’s death as a substitutionary, vicarious sacrifice for the sins of others. To my surprise, someone in the back of the room yelled out, ‘That’s primitive and obscene.’ I was taken aback for a moment, so I asked, ‘What did you say?’ He said it again with great hostility: ‘That’s primitive and obscene.’ At that point, I had recovered from my surprise, and I told the man I actually like his choice of adjectives. It is primitive for a blood sacrifice to be made to satisfy the justice of a transcendent and holy God, but sin is a primitive thing that is basic to our human existence, so God chose to communicate His love, mercy, and redemption to us through this primitive work. And the cross is an obscenity, because all of the corporate sin of God’s people was laid on Christ. The cross was the ugliest, most obscene thing in the history of the world.”
- From The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul

Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

Those of you who know me know of my loyalty to St. Arbucks. I love their strong coffee. I also make a habit of doing much of my sermon preparation at Starbucks. One of the great advantages of this practice is that I am able to meet people who are not a part of the Metro East fellowship. On blessed occasions I even get to meet people who don’t know Jesus. I remember sitting next to a table of teenagers who did not seem to know anything substantive about Jesus. However, their conversation was largely theological. They saw that I was studying my Bible and invited me into the conversation. It was clear that they did not understand the Gospel which gave me an opportunity to speak the truth about a salvation that was revealed in Jesus Christ and was had entirely by God’s grace. Another time I was reading The Atonement by the great Christian scholar Leon Morris. A lady at a nearby table asked me what “atonement” meant.

I have recently discovered a newer coffee joint in Wichita. It’s called Dunn Brothers Coffee. It’s a great place to hang out, study, and meet people who more than likely do not attend the local Southern Baptist Church. It’s large and provides cushy club chairs and tables. And, like Starbucks, their coffee is not for wimps. You’ll have to shave your tongue in the morning.

Anyway, Dunn Bros. is located in Old Town at the corner of 2nd Street and Rock Island road next to the new Marriot. Bring your Bible and keep your eyes open. Maybe I will bump into you there. Even better, maybe you’ll cross paths with someone who needs to the know the hope you have.

By the way, I am not receiving any royalties from either Starbucks or Dunn Bros. but perhaps that could be investigated.

Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007 by Todd Pruitt on 1517

Every society has a “culture” or set of shared beliefs, values, and practices which provides a common approach to understanding and dealing with the larger questions of life. “Where do we come from? What do our lives mean? What is most important in life?” The way those questions are answered will give shape to a people’s culture. Tim Keller observes that culture shapes:
· the way we treat the material world,
· the way we relate the individuals to the group and family,
· the way groups and classes relate to one another,
· the way we handle sex, money, and power,
· the way we make decisions and set priorities, and the way we regard death, time, art, government, and physical space.

It seems that there are an endless parade of people and groups seeking to influence culture. Artists, politicians, environmentalists, preachers, and scientists are all trying to conform the culture to their values. When we consider that these cultural influencers are often times seeking contradictory ends, the confusion and chaos that results should not be surprising.

The church has struggled for generations to understand how they should be influencing culture. At various times among various groups of Christians the approaches have included such things as achieving political power, gaining material wealth, monasticism, conservatism, liberalism, involvement in the arts, serving the poor, mass and personal evangelism, slick marketing, mega-churches, home churches, etc. The reason why some of these means have been at cross purposes is because Christians have not been able to agree about how, exactly, Christ intends to impact culture.

It ought to be acknowledged that there has never been a truly “Christian culture.” This-worldly Christian utopianism is just as misguided as communist utopianism. However, Christians ought to be keenly interested in seeing the culture reflect more of God’s love, justice, holiness, grace, and life-giving power. The Bible’s plot line gives us the meta-narrative we need in understanding and seeking Christ-centered cultural transformation:
1) Creation – God created a perfect and harmonious world.
2) Ruin – Through man’s rebellion against God the world has fallen into a state of brokenness. As a result, nothing is as it should be. Injustice, immorality, and death are all results of this brokenness.
3) Redemption – God has purposed to redeem His world and His people through the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of His beloved Son.
4) New Creation – Eventually God will restore His world and His people to the state of perfection for which they were created.

God’s redemptive purposes are larger than the salvation of individual sinners. The end toward which God is moving is New Creation. In His perfect time God will redeem all that has been lost due to the fall. God will create a new world (heaven) where His glory is man’s highest treasure. It will be a world where peace, justice, and mercy will have the final say over strife, injustice, and hate. The means by which this victory was sealed was the death and resurrection of Jesus. Since God sacrificed his beloved Son for this purpose then Christians who live in the days before the consummation of the new creation should seek to impact the culture with the justice, love, and mercy of God.

How does this happen? How should this happen in our own community?

1. Christians must not isolate themselves. Christians have to go where the people are. This may mean moving to more densely populated areas of the city. It may mean moving to less “churched” areas of the city. Christ impacts culture through Christians. We are Christ’s ambassadors but how will we represent Him if we are not engaged in a meaningful way with those who do not know Him?

Let us ask ourselves four questions:
a) Where do I live? Christians probably need to live in close proximity with other people. This may mean less security and less privacy but it will almost certainly mean more impact. We must see our homes as arenas for gospel ministry.
b) Where do I work? See your vocation as a means for advancing the gospel.
c) Where do I contribute? Are you working for the good of the community? Are you engaged in service, the arts, local ministries, etc?
d) Where do I recreate and relax? Begin to see your health club, golf club, coffee shop, swimming pool, front yard, etc as a place to engage people with the gospel.

2. Christians must be a counter-culture rather than a sub-culture. Christians have become skilled at constructing their own ghettos. We build our own book stores, make our own potpourri pots, produce our own “art,” make our own movies, and separate into our own groups. This is a sub-culture. It is a way of registering our complaints about all the things we oppose. It is a good way to escape from culture but will fail to impact the culture. And while it is important to stand against what is wrong, Christians must be known for more than simply what we oppose.

To be a counter-culture means that we offer to the world an entirely new way to live. Jesus told his disciples that they were a city set upon a hill (Matt. 5:14-17) whose lives would show forth the goodness and glory of God. Tim Keller writes, “We Christians are called to be an alternate city within every earthly city, an alternate human culture within every human culture, to show how sex, money, and power can be used in non-destructive ways; to show how classes and races who cannot get along outside of Christ can get along in Him; and to show how it is possible to produce art that brings hope rather than despair or titillation.”

3. Christians must be committed to the good of their community. When the church is healthiest she is actively working for the good of the surrounding community. Christians do not demand power and influence. They follow the way of their Master who shunned political power in favor of servant-hood.

The historian Rodney Stark has helped to explain why Christianity spread so widely in the urban areas during its first few centuries:
“To cities filled with homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as real hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachment. To cities filled with widows and orphans, Christianity offered a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity…I am not saying the misery of the ancient world caused the advent of Christianity…people had been enduring for centuries without the aid of Christian theology or social structures. I am arguing that once Christianity did appear, its superior capacity for meeting human problems soon became evident and played a major role in its ultimate triumph…for what Christianity offered was not simply a new urban movement, but a new culture.”

4. Christians must see their work as a sacred vocation. One of the great achievements of the Protestant Reformers and the 17th century Puritans was the recovery of the idea that all work is sacred. In other words, all work, whether preaching or washing dishes is sacred if done for the glory of God. The false dichotomy separating “secular” from “sacred” work, which still persists, effectively keeps many Christians from seeing their vocation as an arena in which they can engage the culture with the Gospel.

Christians must approach their work with a commitment to integrity and honesty. They must be willing to work hard as a means to bless their employer/employees and to honor their Creator. Christians need to know how to think "Christianly” about the world around them. This will lead to a better grasp of God’s common grace displayed in the daily and “ordinary” events of life including their work.