Tuesday, October 29, 2013


By: Adam McClendon

Manhood is not an age thing, it’s a character thing.  Interacting with men who profess to know Christ is increasingly becoming frustrating in ministry and especially marriage counseling contexts.

Honestly men, it’s time to step up and stop blaming everyone else for your problems.  Stop blaming others for your sexual exploits, drinking, bursts of anger, laziness, gluttony, loose spending, etc.  Stop blaming mommy and daddy, wife and kids, bosses and co-workers, or anyone else.  Everyone is broken in their own way.  Everyone has been abused in their own way.  Your past does not define who you are and your wounds do not excuse you.  Sinful or shameful behavior is just that and is inexcusable.  

All too often society teaches that someone else is to blame for your problem or hey, take this pill and it will dull your pain.  Rarely are you taught to stop making excuses, take responsibility, and do what you are called to do.

Men, start leading your family, and stop expecting your wife to carry the load.  Stop playing video games half the night and looking at inappropriate, sexually explicit images, the other half.  Stop couch-potatoing it: eating junk, drinking sodas, watching Netflix until 1am, and then complaining when your wife doesn’t want to “sleep” with an overweight slob that has ignored her and done nothing to help around the house.  Stop treating your wife like a servant, and treat her like the treasure that she is.  You will be amazed the difference it will make in your home.

Men, God has given you the privilege of leadership.  All too often men want to privileges of leadership without the responsibility of it.  One does not go without the other.  Model godliness for the next year then go to lead your family and you will be amazed the difference it will make. 

‘Nuff Said.’


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Eight Truths about the Lord’s Supper Based on 1 Corinthians 11:23-30

By Pastor Brian G. Najapfour
Brian G. Najapfour is Pastor at Dutton United Reformed Church and author.
For a brief bio on Brian see: http://biblicalspirituality.wordpress.com/brief-bio/.

The Lord’s Supper is a:

1. Celebration with thanksgiving: “and when he had given thanks” (v. 24a).  If Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with gratitude to His Father, should we not also celebrate the Lord’s Supper with gratitude to Jesus for what He has done for us? Through the finished work of Christ we have received eternal life.

2. Commemoration of Christ’s death: “Do this in remembrance of me” (v. 24b & 25b). In the Lord’s Supper we remember Christ, specifically His atoning death. Christ died that we might live forever.

3. Command: “Do this” (vv. 25-26). It is an ordinance; and thus, believers in Christ must participate in this sacrament. A person who claims to be a Christian and constantly refuses to partake of the Lord’s Supper is living in disobedience to God.

4. Consecration: “Let a person examine himself” (vv. 27-30). The Lord’s Supper is sacred. Hence we also call it Holy Sacrament or Holy Communion. For this reason, God asks us to examine ourselves to make sure that we come to the Lord’s Table with a clean heart, a heart cleansed by the blood of Christ.

5. Communion: “When you come together” (vv. 17-22). In Holy Communion we are given a special opportunity to fellowship with our triune God and with our fellow believers.

6. Covenant: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (vv. 23-25). It is new in contrast to the old covenant. In the old covenant, we only have the blood of an animal; whereas, in the new covenant we have the blood of Jesus Christ—the blood that has the power to cleanse us from our sins.

7. Communication of the gospel: “you proclaim the Lord’s death” (v. 26). It is an acted proclamation of the gospel. Here the gospel is proclaimed not through the written word but through the sacred sacrament. In the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, the gospel of Christ is communicated to us.

8. Contemplation of the coming of Christ: “until he comes” (v. 26b). While in the Lord’s Supper, we specifically contemplate Christ’s death, we also meditate upon His Second Coming. Therefore, as we come to the Lord’s Table, let us not stop at Calvary. Let us also look forward to Christ’s glorious return. The Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of our heavenly banquet with Christ.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wrong Focus = Wrong Response

By: Adam McClendon

Marines use M-16 A2 service rifles and in boot camp, each Marine has to demonstrate personal proficiency with this weapon on the firing range from 200, 300, and 500 yards with no scope.  The rifle has an eye sight in the back with a front site post in the front.  Many people when first aiming tend to focus their eyes through the eye sight hole on to the target down range.  As a result, they often end up with a less than impressive result.  Their problem is a focus problem.  They are focused on the wrong object.  Instead, when shooting, you focus on the tip of the front sight post and line that up with the “out of focus” target.  This one tip will often enough fix the problem and bring much better results.

As stated in our July 30th blog post, Vanities of Vanities, Ecclesiastes is written from a humanistic perspective revealing that life without God is meaningless.  In Ecclesiastes 4:1-16, the wrong focus is presented by examining the life of the lowly (4:1-6), the lonely (4:7-12), and the leader (4:13-16).  Due to the length of the passage, it will not be listed here, but take time to read it when you can and notice one key thing.  What wrong focus does each category of people have in common?

Answer: self!  Each one is focused solely on how life is not working out to their ultimate advantage.  You will notice when you read the passage closely that each person is impacted personally by life and as a result, there is a tendency to focus on self.  The reality is that if you focus on yourself long enough you will find yourselves depressed, lacking, and wanting more.  You will find that you are not the center of the universe. 

So what is the solution in Ecclesiastes?  One solution is to reverentially obey God by focusing on the fact that God has given you the gifts that he has so that you can use those gifts in serving others in his name.  That’s it.  An others-centered focus is driven by the realization of who God is and what he has done for you. 

When you understand that you were served in the ultimate way by Jesus, it should motivate you in your service to others.  When you understand that Jesus became oppressed and lowly so that you could be an heir to the kingdom, when you understand that Jesus became the lonely outcast so that you could belong to a Christian community, when you understand that Jesus became the rejected leader so that you could reign with him, it changes your approach to this world.  

We all should be humbled by how we have been ultimately served in the cross and follow his example in serving others so that they can experience the richness of experiencing a life giving relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Not So "Peachy" Ministry

By: Dr. Monte Shanks. 
Dr. Shanks is a professor with Liberty Seminary online.

“. . . let us press on to maturity. . .” Heb. 6.1

I recently ate a peach purchased from a nearby store.  Peaches just don’t taste like they used to, and it’s not just me.  The fact is that today’s peaches come from commercial farms who grow peaches that have more to do with their aesthetics and durability rather than taste.  Believe it or not, it’s more about how they look then flavor.  The biggest problem, however, is that they regularly harvest peaches before they are fully ripe.  The idea is that they will transport better and then they will reach maturity at market; consequently, there is less waste in transport.  Less waste means a better bottom line.  There is just one major problem with this approach; generally speaking once a peach is harvested it stops ripening.  Consequently, if a peach is harvested before it is fully ripened it suffers “arrested development,” and the end result is that they just don’t taste as good as they should.  You may be wondering whether peach growers know this.  Of course they do, but it’s more about the business of staying in business.  People will always eat peaches, so who cares if they don’t taste as good as they used to.

Unfortunately, the same can be said of many Evangelical churches.  They are in the business of “Evangelicalism” and its aesthetics, which today has very little to do with actually producing mature believers.  This is also a fact and not an opinion.  Those of us teaching at seminaries are increasingly confronted with students who lack a genuinely mature faith, knowledge of the scriptures, and a functional understanding of theology.  This is true whether they are 22 or 42, 52, or 62.  For many churches Christian maturity doesn’t seem to be highly valued, much less an important goal or concern of the average church’s leadership. 

Many ministries are more worried about what their buildings look like, the number of people showing up, who is participating, the images they project, and what is going on rather than evaluating the “products” of their efforts. I had a telling conversation with a friend in seminary some years ago, and he was bemoaning that his church was dying, but he had hope that things would soon change.  I asked him what was the reason for his optimism, and he said that the church had decided to paint its sanctuary a different color.  I didn’t have the heart to say anything, but I remember thinking of how the early church grew while enduring severe persecution.  The persecution was so bad that at times believers meet in the catacombs under Rome in order to avoid detection.  They met in underground graveyards with corpses surrounding them; nevertheless they continued to reach more and more people with the gospel.  I couldn’t believe my friend was convinced that repainting a sanctuary was going help solve the problems facing his ministry.

Unfortunately, more and more churches are obsessed with similar approaches to ministry.  We are into the aesthetics of activities, and the unspoken attitude is that if we have the “right” aesthetics or do enough of the “right” activities then God will inevitably bless our efforts and we will see growth and have an impact. Such an approach to ministry usually requires “all hands on deck” (which generally never happens as anyone involved in church activities knows).  Such urgency regularly involves recruiting individuals for these activities who usually have no idea about why the event was planned, what the “goal” of the event is, or even of how to properly carry out the event.  In essence, we regularly “pick” people to participate in our activities and “transport” them into “leadership” roles and responsibilities before they are really fully equipped or trained for ministry—which in and of itself can have a detrimental effect upon the success of any event.  That being said, there is a more sinister outcome with this approach to “ministry,” which is that we inadvertently create within those we recruit the false impression that what they are engaged in is “ministry,” and that this is how “real” ministry occurs.  We unfortunately create within them a false paradigm of what truly constitutes actual ministry.

When we carry out church activities with this approach we are not discipling people in their relationship with the Lord or equipping them to become effective ministers of the gospel.  Ironically, we are doing the exact opposite; in reality we are arresting their development not only in their relationship to the Lord, but also how to reach others for Christ.  We are training them to be busy, to be active, and to be seen.  We are not training them on how to minister with Jesus and in his name.  And what usually happens with this approach to church growth is that sooner or later many—who might have otherwise continued to grown in their relationship to the Lord and might have become mature leaders of ministries—inevitably burn up and drop out of the entire “church thing.”  Often they become victims of our desperate need for manpower rather than people who become excited about reaching others for Christ.  And when the next person comes along and asks them to get involved at church often the reply is “I’ll think about it,” or “been there and done that.”  Church leaders need to wake up and realize that ACTIVITY does not equal MINISTRY.  Ministry can happen at any activity, but simply scheduling an activity does not mean that ministry will actually occur.  So, if your wondering what kind of role or impact you are having at your church then here is a quick test.  Take out a sheet of paper and write down what you are responsible for at your church.  If what you write down resembles more of a “to do list” then a list of names of people you are investing in, then you are on your way to becoming an “event coordinator” rather than a “fisher of men.”

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Being the Right Person

By: Adam McClendon

Focus more on being the right person than on finding the right circumstances.

All too often in life I’m trying to fix circumstances (including other people), blaming circumstances, being frustrated at circumstances, etc. 

What if, I focused on being the right person and not trying to find the right circumstances?  What if I lived understanding that like the surge of the ocean bad circumstances come and go?  They are often beyond my control and often temporary.  What if I spent more time applying the Scriptures to my spiritual life and less thinking about the other people that need this information?

In the end, God has been challenging me to focus more on being the right person than on finding the right circumstances.  That subtle shift is making a pretty big difference in my life right now.