Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Proclamation by George Washington

George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

George Washington's actual signature

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Characteristics of A Qualified Church Planter

 (The following article is copied from the Acts 29 Blog, and written

by Scott Thomas, President of Acts 29)

Seventeen Characteristics of a Qualified Church Planter


by Scott Thomas, President of Acts 29

Besides sharing one Barbie-sized bathroom with 287 people for six hours, the most difficult thing about flying is keeping up with the ever-changing TSA rules. They now use Imaging Technology that can scan a person's body for exploding underwear or exploding breast implants (seriously).

The qualifications for a pastor have been the same for almost 2,000 years. (Don't tell the TSA or they might mess with it.) Jesus came as the perfect fulfillment of this list of qualifications. He is the Chief Shepherd of the Church and we are the undershepherds.

Before you run a battery of tests to determine if you have the qualities of a church planter, make sure you are first qualified as an elder. I found 17 distinct qualifications for a church planter in Scripture. All elders are guilty to some degree of violating these qualifications. Examine whether this is a pattern of your behavior to fulfill the "above reproach" category.

Above Reproach
(Titus 1:6, 7; 1 Tim 3:2)

This is the overarching, summarizing characteristic. You will find similar (but not identical) lists in First Timothy and Titus. Living a life above reproach is the first requirement in both lists and Titus repeats it. The other items on the list merely explain what "above reproach" means. If we peruse the two lists, as well as First Peter, we find 17 qualifications of an elder who is above reproach.

1. A Pastor must be devoted to his wife; one-woman man (Titus 1:6; 1 Tim 3:2).

The pastor's marriage illustrates Christ's love for His church—His bride (Eph. 5:22 ff.). A Pastor must love his wife exclusively with his mind, will and emotions and not just his body.

2. A Pastor's children must be in submission, though not perfect (Titus 1:6; 1 Tim 3:4-5).

If a man does not know how to manage his own family, he will not know how to take care of God's church. The first flock for a pastor is his own family as Pastor Dad. A Pastor's qualification for the church starts in his home management as he leads them in the discipline and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).

3. A Pastor is a faithful Steward (Titus 1:7)

Here the term used is overseer (Greek episkopos). It is not another office, but a functional title of the elder. It is what he does. He is a steward, a manager of God's resources and Jesus' flock. He takes responsibility, but not ownership.

4. A Pastor must be humble - not arrogant (Titus 1:7)

A pastor must constantly demonstrate the gospel by admitting when he is wrong and assuming responsibility and restoring relationships.

5. A Pastor must be gentle - not quick-tempered (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:3)

No man will be of any use in the kingdom that is quick-tempered. The difference between how Jesus demonstrated anger is that He was angry at the abuse of others in the name of religion and the dishonoring of God. We get angry at how it affects us.

6. A Pastor must be sober - not a drunkard (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:3)
This is not just overindulgence in alcohol but is idiomatic for any behavior that fuels addictive responses.
7. A Pastor must be peaceful - not violent (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:3)

A pastor is prone to inflict violence through his words. He is to be a peacemaker.

8. A Pastor must have financial integrity - not greedy for gain (Titus 1:7; 1 Tim 3:3; 1 Peter 5:3)

A pastor is to be upright in his financial dealings and not accused of pursuing money over the kingdom of God.

9. A pastor must be hospitable (Titus 1:8; 1 Tim 3:2)

A pastor's home is to be open for others to enjoy. A pastor's home is not a heaven on earth, but rather a place of ministry.

10. A Pastor must be a lover of good (Titus 1:8)

A pastor genuinely loves what is good. He does not just think he should love it.

11. A Pastor must be self-controlled (Titus 1:8; 1 Tim 3:2)

Self-control is a characterization of every area of a pastor's life: diet, time, mouth, exercise, relationships, sex, and money.

12. A Pastor must be upright (Titus 1:8)

He has integrity in his relationships and in how he treats others.

13. A Pastor must be holy (Titus 1:8)

His life is devoted wholeheartedly to Jesus externally and internally.

14. A Pastor must be able to teach (Titus 1:9; 1 Tim 3:2)

All of the other qualifications are character qualities. This is the only ability-based requirement. He is to be able to teach sound doctrine, not just be able to communicate in an excellent manner. His teaching can be to one or two, to twenty, to a hundred or to a thousand. Most of the churches in Crete were house churches. The elders were to defend the faith once delivered to the saints against the numerous false teachers that arose.

15. A Pastor must be spiritually Mature (1 Tim 3:6)
Positions of authority without spiritual maturity lead to the trap of pride. When pride grows in a man, sin abounds.

16. A Pastor must be respectable (1 Tim 3:7)

That does not mean that everyone must like him or even appreciate him. It means that there is no credible witness to an ongoing sinful behavior.

17. A Pastor must be an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3)

Elders are examples of Biblical expressions sexually, time management, marriage, parenting, worship, relationships and any other way. A pastor should be someone your sons could pattern their life after and the kind of man your daughter should marry.

What would you do if an elder violates one of these requirements? 1 Timothy 5:19-20 warns us not to accuse an elder flippantly. Matthew 18:15-18 gives us the steps: 1) Go to the elder alone, 2) If still unsatisfied, go with another person, 3) If still unsatisfied, let the greater eldership know. If accusations are verified and the elder remains unrepentant, rebuking that elder before all is the next biblical step.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Cross of Christ: No Hidden Agenda

Some organizations and religions are very secretive and protective, only revealing information about their agenda to those who've joined them, or have sworn an oath not to disclose what they see and hear within the walls of their organization.

Christianity isn't anything like this.
In fact, Jesus revealed as mush as He could about His intentions for being with mankind during His earthly ministry, and the Bible speaks openly and honestly about so many topics to anyone willing to read it. Christianity doesn't hide anything.

Whether it's about mankind...

The nature of God...

Who Jesus was...

Why our world is sinful...

How God views sin...

God's remedy for sin...

The fact that we're all sinners...

We all need forgiveness for our sins...

And that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation for all of mankind!

The truth of Christianity isn't blurred, obscured, or hidden to anyone. It's as open as it can possibly be, because God's desire is that all who are willing to repent of their sins and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, do so before they breathe their last breath on this earth. 

No hidden agenda...

No secret rituals...

No blood oaths...

No special underwear!

Just the plain truth about mankind's condition and God's amazing grace!
We needed a Saviour, and God sent Jesus to be such...

We needed forgiveness for our sin, and God sent Jesus as the only means of receiving such...

We needed to know love, and God sent Jesus to demonstrate such...

We needed to know the truth, and God sent Jesus to reveal such...

"Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."" -John 14:6

Do you believe.......?

Gospel-Centered Hip Hop W/Eric Mason, Lecrae, and Trip Lee