Tag: bible

Why the Reformation Matters Today

This coming Monday is Halloween, ending the second largest retail season of the year, only behind the Christmas season. While many people will celebrate with candy and costumes, for Christians, today represents a significant moment in church history. On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic Monk, nailed his 95 theses to the door of his church. Luther wrote these words out of a deep concern with the Roman Catholic Church’s view on several issues that Luther deemed unBiblical. His efforts lead to what is now referred to as the Protestant Reformation.

I don’t want to spend this entire post recounting the historical moments that both preceded and succeeded Luther’s actions on this day. If you want to read more about Reformation Day, I’ll provide a few links at the bottom. You can also read more from this blog post.

What I want to write about is how the Reformation impacts us today. Though they were flawed men and women, the stance taken by the Reformers 500 plus years ago is a model for us today. 

We must take a stand for the Gospel.

After Luther posted his 95 theses, he knew he would have to defend his claims. So he stood before the Emperor of Rome and, knowing he may very well lose his life, stated, “Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me, God.”

What Luther was standing for was the Gospel. While the church he served under said salvation can be earned or paid for or you can pay your relatives out of purgatory,  Luther read from the Scriptures that our righteousness was like filthy rags and the only hope for salvation is through Jesus Christ. After years of hating what he was reading in the Scriptures, he fell in love with the righteousness of God. Christ died for our sins and it is his righteousness that is placed on us.

This, among other doctrinal concerns, led Luther to take a stand against the Roman Catholic’s idea of the Gospel. His influence then is an example for us today. In the midst of so many false gospels, we must take a stand for the true Gospel of Jesus Christ; that salvation comes by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The church in Luther’s day wanted to make sinners look good, but as Luther put it: “Sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive.”

While we take a stand for the gospel, it also means we take a stand against false gospels taught by churches. Whether it’s the deceitful prosperity Gospel or a works-based gospel, we must take a stand for the Gospel. Taking a stand for the Gospel has never been popular, but if we fail to take a stand, then who will? The apostle Paul took a stand for Gospel priority by calling out those who abandoned the Gospel of Jesus:

[6] I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—[7] not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. [8] But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. [9] As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. [10] For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:6–10)

We must take a stand for the Scriptures.

Luther’s conflict with the church began when the church’s teachings collided with his understanding of the Scripture. He was a Scholar and when he realized that the church was teaching something contrary to the Word of God, he spoke up. He saw God’s Word as authoritative and should be available to all people.

God’s Word must be the authority in our lives. It’s how we learn about God, his grace, and his forgiveness through Jesus (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Holy Spirit uses Scripture to convict us daily. To limit its authority is a dangerous step towards apostasy. The church must teach and disciple believers on how to read and study the scriptures.  

We also must make sure that all we do within the church is founded on the teachings of the Bible. Our traditions, our theology, and our individual and corporate practice must be grounded in the Word of God. Luther stood up for the authority of the Scriptures during a time when the Catholic church claimed to hold all authority.

We must take a stand for God’s Glory.

It may sound odd, but the church today needs Jesus. While Luther’s church may have said “Jesus!”, everything else said other-wise. It was about the church, it was about the Pope, it was about money. It was about everything other than Jesus. Unfortunately, too many churches have become about other ideas other than Jesus.

If programs, methods, or anything else becomes more important than Jesus, then we’ve missed it. If we give over to more lights or more buildings or more “attractiveness” and set Jesus to the side, then it’s necessary to evaluate our churches. The Reformers understood that it was through Christ alone and it was for God’s glory alone. They weren’t out to make a name for themselves or for their church, they only desired to make a name for Jesus. 

Here are a few indicators that a reformation may be needed within a church:

  • If the worship is about how well done and entertaining the music is and not about who God is, then a reformation is needed.
  • If the preaching becomes about the speaker’s giftedness or focuses on relative topics and opinions and not about the teaching of God’s Word, then a reformation is needed.
  • If the church becomes inwardly focused and not focused on the spreading of the gospel to people outside the church, then a reformation is needed.

It’s never been about us; it must always be about God’s glory.

So much more could be said about the influence of the Reformers. Their impact 500 years ago should influence us to take a stand for Scripture Alone, Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Christ Alone, and to the Glory of God Alone. May we all be reformers in our churches.

Happy Reformation Day.

****

ARTICLES

What is Reformation Day? – ligonier.com

3 Things Every Christian Should Know About the Reformation. – thegospelcoalition.com

Here We Stood (a brief history of Martin Luther) – desiringgod.org

The Reformation and your Church – 9marks.org (This is a Fall Journal loaded with great articles on the reformation. Save this link and read/watch/listen to everything that is included.

DOCUMENTARIES AND PODCASTS

Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer – Watch this documentary in its entirety to discover the events God used in Martin Luther’s life that led him to rediscover the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Luther in Real Time – It’s 1520. Martin Luther has been declared a heretic by Pope Leo X, and his books are being burned. How much longer before Luther himself is thrown into the fire?

Enter the German Reformer’s dramatic story with Luther: In Real Time. First released 500 years after the events described, this podcast allows you to walk in Martin Luther’s footsteps from his heresy charges to his famous stand for the authority of God’s Word at the Diet of Worms. Share this podcast with people of all ages so they can hear—in Luther’s own words—what Protestants are protesting and why it still matters today.

What is the Protestant Reformation?

While many people are prepping their costumes and candy buckets for Halloween, October 31st marks a significant day in church history. On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic Monk, nailed his 95 theses to the door of his church. Luther wrote these words out of a deep concern with the Roman Catholic Church’s view on several issues that Luther deemed unBiblical. His efforts led to what is now referred to as the Protestant Reformation. Christians now see October 31st as Reformation Day.

For the next couple of weeks, we’re going to look at the Reformation and how it impacts us today, 500 plus years later. First, let’s take a brief look at the historical context leading up to the Protestant Reformation. Much has been written on the Reformation, so allow me to give a short summary, specifically looking at Martin Luther’s role in the Reformation. Additional resources will be provided below.

Leading up to the 1500s, The Roman Catholic Church had substantially departed from the teaching of the Apostles recorded in the New Testament and heretical teachings were being promoted by monks all the way to the Pope.

In July of 1505, a young man named Martin Luther was on his way home when he was nearly struck by lightning. Seeing he was in the throes of death, he cried out “Help me, St. Anne! I will become a monk.” And so he did, abandoning his plans to become a lawyer. At 21, Martin Luther kept his vow from that stormy walk home and became an Augustinian Monk.

When Luther was given the tasks to lead in his first Mass, he was overcome by his sinfulness and God’s greatness. He was barely able to make it through Mass and considered running away from his duties in fear of again being confronted by a Holy God. But he kept to his commitment and continued on, despite the insistent reign of fear of God in his life. 

Luther was very much in tune with the depravity of his own soul, spending hours and hours in the confessional booth. He wrote later on in his life, “Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction” (Selections, 12).

While Luther was deep in despair over his unworthiness, a close friend, Johannes von Staupitz, gave Luther several opportunities to teach from God’s Word and soon became a theological professor at Wittenberg University in Germany. It was through his preparations for his classes that the Holy Spirit struck the heart of the German monk and confronted him about his unrighteousness. It had been clear to this point that Luther despised all teachings on righteousness because he fully believed it was impossible to obtain it. It was here when he realized that righteousness comes by faith alone, Christ alone, for the glory of God alone.

This life changing gift of salvation spurred Martin Luther to eventually forsake the teachings of the Catholic church and stand firm to the teachings of Scripture. He proclaimed that justification came by faith alone in Christ alone and that no one deserved grace, let alone could earn it or pay for it. His teachings on the truth of Scripture caused an uproar within the Catholic Church, leading the Pope to admittedly deny Luther’s, and ultimately the Scripture’s, teachings as “A cesspool of heresies”. Luther didn’t care and stated as much when he nailed his 95 Thesis to the doors of his church.

Two great issues were at stake during the Reformation, justification by faith alone (sola fide) and the authority of Scripture alone in the life of the church and the believer (sola Scriptura). The efforts to return to the Apostolic teachings contained within the 66 books of the Bible was at the forefront of the Reformation. Men Like Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, and so many others wanted to see the church reformed or changed in such a way that tradition became secondary and God’s Word became primary.

Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Catholic Church and when asked to recant his teachings at the Diet of Worms in 1521, Martin Luther stated,

“If, then, I am not convinced by testimonies of Scripture or by clear rational arguments—for I do not believe in the pope or in councils alone, since it has been established that they have often erred and contradicted each other—I am bound by the Bible texts that I have quoted. And as long as my conscience is captive to the Word of God, I cannot nor do I want to retract anything when things become doubtful. Salvation will be threatened if you go against your conscience. Here I stand; I can do no other. May God help me. Amen.”

The life of Martin Luther and the men of the Reformation is a reminder that we too must stand firm on the teachings of God’s Word in the face of heretical malpractice and cultural denial. It is from God’s Word we know the universal need for salvation from God’s wrath and sin and it is from God’s Word we learn that this precious salvation comes to us through Christ and Christ alone. There is no other Savior. Here we stand.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

What is Reformation Day? – ligonier.com

3 Things Every Christian Should Know About the Reformation. – thegospelcoalition.com

Here We Stood (a brief history of Martin Luther) – desiringgod.org

Luther at the Diet of Worms. – Crossway.org

The Reformation and your Church – 9marks.org (This is a Fall Journal loaded with great articles on the reformation. Save this link and read/watch/listen to everything that is included.)

Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer – Watch this documentary in its entirety to discover the events God used in Martin Luther’s life that led him to rediscover the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Luther in Real Time – It’s 1520. Martin Luther has been declared a heretic by Pope Leo X, and his books are being burned. How much longer before Luther himself is thrown into the fire? Enter the German Reformer’s dramatic story with Luther: In Real Time. First released 500 years after the events described, this podcast allows you to walk in Martin Luther’s footsteps from his heresy charges to his famous stand for the authority of God’s Word at the Diet of Worms. Share this podcast with people of all ages so they can hear—in Luther’s own words—what Protestants are protesting and why it still matters today.

Redeeming the Sunday Morning Car Ride to Church

For close to seven years, my family drove in separate vehicles to our Sunday gatherings at Grace Life. I left early for setup and Julie came a little later with the kids. The roughly 20 minute drive was an opportunity for me to “preach” my sermon to the empty car and spend time in prayer. But that all changed when we moved into our new space. For the first time, my family rode together to church.

It took some time for everyone to get adjusted to our new routine. What I mean is, it took me a while to get adjusted to making sure the kids were ready to get out the door. It also changed the car rides for me. I was no longer a pastor headed to preach, I was now a dad taking his family to church. I had to repurpose our time in the car on Sunday mornings.

In Deuteronomy 6, the LORD tells his people the importance of keeping the truth of God’s words front and center and teaching them to your children.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. [5] You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. [6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. [8] You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. [9] You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:4–9

There’s a line here that’s relevant to this conversation: “When you walk by the way”.

In the Old Testament, people mostly walked when they needed to go somewhere. Today, we go places in our cars. No one, no matter how much they want to, can escape the moving car. The doors are locked and seatbelts are in place. It’s the perfect time to spend time in prayer and help your children love and value the local church gathering. You have an opportunity to prepare their hearts for church. Here’s what this can look like, but first, a few encouraging notes on “Ride to Church Discipleship”.

Anyone can do it. No matter how far along you are in your Christian faith, no matter how old your children are, and no matter if it is just you or just you and your spouse, anyone can participate in “Ride to Church Discipleship”.

Get your children involved. It’s easy to take charge of reading or praying, but reading isn’t advised while you’re driving. Getting your kids involved is easy and safe!

You only need a few minutes. Is your ride to church five minutes? That’s fine! You can accomplish “Ride to Church Discipleship” in just a few moments. Is it 20 minutes? That’s okay too! Find a landmark and begin “Ride to Church Discipleship” when you pass the landmark each week. This will also help establish a routine for your kids.

Here is what “Ride to Church Discipleship” looks like:

Have someone read the Scripture for the sermon.

Every week, we’ll share the text of Scripture for the next sermon so you can read ahead. (This coming Sunday’s sermon text is from Hebrews 11:23-30.) As a church, we gather together to hear God’s Word preached so we can know Jesus more and the power of His resurrection in our lives. Reading the Sunday morning text helps prepare our hearts for the gathering.

If you have a child who can read, have them read the text. The Bible is written in such a way that even new readers (with a little bit of help) can read. If the driver is the only reader, you can use the Bible Audio from The Bible App, read the text in the driveway before you leave, or when you are stopped at a red light. Even if your child is preschool or younger, reading Scripture to them is a great practice and the routine will be normal when it comes time for them to read.

 

Ask, “What are you most excited about gathering with the church this morning”?

It’s very easy to speak negatively about the church. It’s a tool the enemy uses and what he’s doing is using negativity about the church to bring disinterest to children. Many kids grow up to be non church attending adults because parents either spoke negatively about church or they didn’t make church a priority. Don’t let this be the case for your family. 

Talk to them about singing and praying and preaching and friendship. Explain the importance of the church as the people of God. Jesus did not establish the church for people to check off and check out. No, he wanted people to grow together in friendship and in their faith. Going all in in the life and mission of your local church is essential to the discipleship of your children.

 

Pray Together

Once again, have one of the kids pray and then follow it with a prayer of your own. Of course, praying with your eyes open is certainly acceptable! Be sure to pray for the preacher. (This week, pray for Lawrence Wilson as he preaches). Pray for our band as they lead us to sing to Jesus. Pray for their KidLife teacher. Pray for Grace Life Church. Pray for the Elders. Pray for people who the Holy Spirit places on your heart. Pray for missionaries around the world. The prayer doesn’t have to be perfect, but as we go by the way, we are showing our kids the importance of talking to God.

The car ride to church can be spent listening to the radio, sitting in quiet, playing with toys, watching videos on a device, or we can redeem those few minutes by spending time in prayer or disciplining our kids to love the church, the people whom Christ died for.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

A Statement on the Historical overturning of Roe v. Wade

A statement from the Elders of Grace Life Church:

There are moments throughout history that have long been forgotten and there are moments that will be remembered in history books. On June 24th, one of those historical moments occurred when the Supreme Court overruled Roe vs. Wade with a 6-3 vote. 

Six weeks ago, a SCOTUS opinion was leaked of this incredible possibility. The document showed the Supreme Court had voted to strike down the landmark decision. And this past week, they in fact did! To God be the glory!

Justice Alito writes in the document, “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Roe v. Wade is the name of the lawsuit that led to the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. The majority opinion found an absolute right to abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy.

For close to 50 years, abortion has been a legal option for unwanted pregnancies and has resulted in the deaths of approximately 63 million unborn babies. While Roe v. Wade stated abortion is a justifiable course of action, God’s Word deems otherwise. Abortion is a heinous and sinful act of murder; it is the taking of an innocent life created in the image of God. And thanks to this most recent ruling, abortion is no longer considered a constitutional right. In fact, to call it a right to begin with is in complete contrast to the teaching of God’s Word.

In 1973, the issue of abortion was taken out of the hands of the people. Now, it returns to our hands so we can continue to speak against abortion at the voting booth. The striking down of Roe is something we have prayed for and worked towards for many years. And frankly, it’s something many of us never thought we would see in our lifetime. We praise God that we were witnesses to this historical moment. 

The Word of God has much to say about life. 

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Psalm 139:13-14 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

These verses reveal to us that life begins at conception and that every life is intricately knitted together by creator God in the mother’s womb. This is why every Bible-believing Christ follower should stand for life. All human beings are made in God’s image, and God is not pleased with the killing of humans and the destruction of that image.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 9:6 Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

We must be careful that we do not see this ruling primarily as a political victory, nor that we miss the opportunity to speak into the lives of those around us. We may know people expressing a feeling of hopelessness in this situation, and what an opportunity to speak the true hope of Jesus into this discourse. Because our hope is not based on a law, or a government, or an elected official, but on the person of Jesus Christ Himself and He alone.  So let us encourage you to respond in the following ways:

1. Pray. Pray for our country. Pray for our world.  Pray for our leaders, from local and state authorities all the way to our national and even international leaders. We know that God establishes all authority.

Romans 13:1-5 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

2. Take care of the widows and orphans. In our local context, we support First Coast Women’s Services and some of you are or have served there. We can get you connected with them to be involved directly, or you can give to our Special Offering Fund to support them financially.

Exodus 22:22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

3. Share the Gospel. It’s not our job to convince people to take on our entire set of beliefs nor to expect them to act like Jesus if they don’t know Jesus to begin with. Let us not get caught up in arguments and instead tell people how Jesus has changed your life and reveal everyone’s need for salvation from sin.

Our Scripture verse for the next few weeks is Isaiah 6:5, which says

“And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; 
for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; 
for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts’!”

Let us not forget what it was like to be lost, and to see the weight of our own sin but also the freedom we have in Christ from being bound to it, and let that speak into our dealings with the world.


4. Show Christlike compassion. We pray that our response will be Christlike in approach, boldly standing in the face of this depraved act while also sitting with those reeling from a decision they may regret. We extend grace, patience, and love, just like the Savior has extended grace, patience, and love to us.

 

Let’s take a moment to pray today for our country and to celebrate the providence of God and the end of Roe vs. Wade. 

By His Grace,

Your Elders; Pastor Matt and Pastor Ben

Why We Have a Preaching Team at Grace Life

I can remember my first sermon clearly. I was taking a speech class my senior year of high school and since I already knew I would be going to seminary once I graduated, I decided to turn my speech into a sermon. The sermon was a short gospel presentation from Matthew 7:13-14.

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

I remember being extremely nervous and wanting to back out at the last minute. I remember seeing my mom and my youth pastor watching from the pews. I remember my blue shirt and red tie that was poorly tied. I remember this nervous tick my foot would do and wondering during the sermon why my foot was doing that and how I could possibly be thinking about that while I was preaching! Funny thing is, my foot still does it every once in a while.

I can’t remember the sermon points and no great revival was launched from that chapel sermon, but I do remember clearly thinking that this was something I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing: preaching the gospel to people who needed to hear it. 

This is what I’ve committed my life to doing as the Pastor of Grace Life. God has called me to deliver His Word to His people and to disciple and develop leaders for God’s glory. Part of doing this is training, equipping, and providing opportunities for other men to preach God’s Word to God’s people. This is why developing Biblical preachers within a local church is important to the doctrinal health of a local church. 

Over the summer, you will hear God’s Word preached from men within our church as they share with you the eternal truths found in Hebrews 11. These men are faithful men who love our church and support the gospel work within our church. They have studied diligently in preparation for their sermon, and I know they will be a blessing to you. They are to me. 

Here is why we have a preaching team at Grace Life Church. 

A preaching team serves as a reminder of the church’s need for God’s Word, not one communicator.

The pulpit I stand behind each Sunday to preach God’s Word is not my pulpit; it belongs to Jesus Christ, the Perfect One who died for His bride, the church. The Book I preach from is not my book; it’s the Holy Spirit Inspired Word of God that makes us wise to salvation and equipped to do every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And it is my belief that the most important component within a church is the preaching of God’s Word. Having more men capable of preaching God’s Word is a benefit to the health of the church.

Pastor Steve Lawson wrote this in the forward to his book on John Calvin.

“As the pulpit goes, so goes the church. In this hour, pastors must see their pulpits again marked by sequential exposition, doctrinal clarity, and a sense of gravity regarding eternal matters. This, in my estimation, is the need of the hour.”

The church doesn’t need a dynamic communicator, it needs the preaching of God’s Word. Charles Spurgeon says this:

​​“My brethren, if we are to see the church of God really restored to her pristine glory, we must have back this plain, simple, gospel-preaching. I do believe that the hiding of the cross beneath the veil of fine language and learned dissertation is half the cause of the spiritual destitution of our country. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. I would sooner say these few words and then cease my testimony, than utter the most splendid oration that ever streamed from the lips of Demosthenes or of Cicero, but not have declared the gospel of Christ. We must keep to this. This must be the hammer that we bring down upon the anvil of the human heart again, and again, and again. God forbid that we should glory save in the cross of Jesus Christ our Lord! God forbid that we should know anything among men save Jesus Christ and him crucified!”

A preaching team provides an opportunity to develop Gospel-centered, Biblically-driven preachers.

The development of Gospel-centered, Biblically driven preachers keeps the focus on God’s Word and not man. But there must be a space for these men to learn, grow, and actually preach to the church. It is difficult to become a gospel preacher within the church if you have no opportunities to preach to the church.

Preaching is not easy. Writing a sermon and preparing to preach it is very similar to writing a term paper. Several hours of research, writing, reading, and studying goes into the final manuscript that will be delivered to the saints on Sunday. This is after years of working to study better and after having several years of seminary training. 

For the men who will be preaching over the summer, they have had several months to work on their text of Scripture. They are doing their prep work in their free time while learning the ins and outs of deep study of the Bible and then putting the pieces together to form a sermon. They’re thinking about illustrations, applications, and transitions, and they’re wrestling with the final outline that will be heard on Sunday, all without the years of training that most preachers have. 

This process takes practice and patience. It takes encouragement and critique. It takes grace and prayer. It takes Holy Spirit strength to stand before the church and deliver the Word of God to the church under the weight of knowing their words will be judged one day. And when they preach God’s Word to us, we respond with joy for the preaching of God’s Word and encourage them and thank them for preaching to us.

A preaching team provides necessary rest for the main preacher

I think about the sermon text from Sunday night until I deliver it the next Sunday. It is not uncommon for me to spend 10-20 hours working on a sermon every week while also keeping up with pastoral responsibilities. Early on as a preacher, I didn’t realize the mental strain writing a sermon would bring, and there are seasons I find myself needing to be preached to instead of being the one preaching.

Having a preaching team helps me rest physically, mentally, and spiritually. I hate not preaching, but I’m a better preacher when I have weeks off on the sermon calendar. The Sundays I don’t preach allow me to take a vacation with my family and be fully present with them (instead of trying to outline the sermon in my head or on my phone.) The Sundays I don’t preach allow me to prepare for future sermon series and handle other pastoral responsibilities. The Sundays I don’t preach frees me to sit and listen to the preaching of God’s Word.

Having faithful men step in now to preach to our church allows me to rest and prepare. It makes me a stronger preacher. It makes me stop and breathe. It makes me look at God’s Word not for sermon prep, but for the much needed spiritual nourishment for my soul.

A preaching team aides in the planting, replanting, and revitalization of more gospel focused churches in our community

We want to plant more churches in our community and serve churches who are on the verge of closing their doors and one of the necessary components to these causes is having faithful men who can teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2). I believe that the Lord will raise up men within our churches to one day pastor church plants or serve as a guest preacher in a church with no pastor. Preaching has a Kingdom impact not just within our church, but in other churches as well. Having a preaching team opens up opportunities for us to make more disciples who make disciples. 

I am thankful for the men who will be preaching over the summer. When they preach, encourage them. Tell them how the Lord used their sermon to speak to you. Show up and listen to them, because they are heralds of God’s message. The text they will preach from is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

Resources for Fighting Sexual Sin

We concluded our Ten Commandments Sermon Series this past Sunday by looking at the Seventh Commandment. Typically, we would preach on the Seventh Commandment after the sixth, but Covid disrupted the sermon calendar, leading to the last sermon of the series being on the Seventh Commandment. If you haven’t had a moment to listen to the sermon, listen to it here.

Because of the depraved view of sexuality that is running rampant throughout our culture, it is important that we as Christians take every measure to fight against the sin of sexual lust. Jesus commands us to do whatever it takes to rid our hands and eyes of this disastrous sin (Matthew 5:27-30). As we all seek to pursue Christlikeness in all things, I want to provide as many resources as I can to help you in your walk with the Lord, both personally and parentally. 

 

PERSONAL RESOURCES

There are two gracious gifts the Lord has given us to fight sin that rightfully take place at the top of this list: the Scriptures and the Church.

Within the Scriptures, we see the depravity of our own hearts (Jeremiah 17:9-10). We see countless calls to abandon sexual immorality and to flee youthful passions (1 Corinthians 6:18-20; Colossians 3:1-5). We see the importance of confessing our sins, not just to the Lord, but to each other for the purpose of help and restoration (1 John 1:9; James 5:16; Galatians 6:1-10). The Scriptures and the Church are a reminder to us that God is committed to our holiness. His will for us is our sanctification!

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. – 1 Thessalonians 4:1–8

The Scriptures remind us, and the church should as well, that we are no longer condemned because we are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-2). To pursue holiness is to eradicate sexual sin from our lives. If you are fighting sexual sin, fight it with the truth and power of Scripture alongside brothers and sisters in Christ who deeply care for your soul (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Here are additional resources to help you in your fight against sexual sin.

ANTHEM a strategic acronym by John Piper

Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace by Heath Lambert

Pornography: Fighting for Purity – a 31 Day Devotional by Deepak Reju

Sexual Sanity for Women: Healing from Sexual and Relational Brokenness by Ellen Dykas

Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys who are Sick of Porn by Tim Challies

Covenant Eyes – Screen Accountability

 

RESOURCES FOR PARENTS

Parenting in a sexually-hyper culture is not for the faint of heart. Boys and girls are introduced to some form of pornography between the ages of 5 and 10. From a Christian perspective, the goal is not just to prevent porn exposure, but rather to teach God’s design for sex, establish clear and open communication, and acknowledge the dangers.

There is a difference between not allowing access to YouTube, social media, or even iPhones or iPads and teaching them God’s design for sex. Instead of a mindset of preventing porn exposure, we need to have a mindset of preparing for porn exposure. This provides action steps when your child is “accidentally” exposed to pornographic material (whether explicit or inexplicit such as provocative television commercials) or their eyes begin wandering at the pool or beach. Yes, we prevent, but we also prepare.

We prepare them for porn exposure by teaching them the truths of Scripture and the importance of accountability. If you notice, we take the same first measures in our parenting as we do in our personal fight against sexual sin.

Scripture teaches our children God’s design.  – Our children need to know that sex is God’s design between a married man his wife for life. We are proclaiming God’s design for marriage, sex, and gender because it is God’s design that is actively being attacked in our culture. We fight the lies of Satan with the truth of God. Any conversation concerning sex should be grounded in Scripture and celebrated as a gift from the Lord for a husband and wife.

Open communication leads to intentional accountability – Talking to your children about sex in an age appropriate manner makes you the expert on the topic. They hear it from you first before they hear it on the playground or in a video game chat. Most importantly, they hear the truth behind sex found in God’s Word. Regardless of the topic, teaching the truth of God’s Word to our children before they hear the lies of the world will serve them well.

Take the time to open the Bible and candidly talk to your children about God’s design for sex and their bodies. Here are a few additional resources that will help you in this conversation:

The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality by Luke Gilkerson

God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb

Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds by Kristen Jenson (Ages 3-6)

Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids by Kristen Jenson

Raising Teens in a Hyper-sexualized World by Eliza Huie

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ON GENDER AND SEXUALITY

God and the Transgender Debate by Andrew Walker

Good God, Gay Girl by Jackie Hill Perry

Transgender by Vaughan Roberts

What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung

 

I pray these resources will aid you in your fight against sexual sin, but more importantly, I pray your heart will find joy and satisfaction as you behold the beauty of the Savior. Please contact me or another Elder if you need counsel in fighting sin. Let’s pursue holiness with a pure heart.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

Making Jesus-Centered Disciples For God's Glory


Sunday 10am | 3180 County Rd 220 Suite 1 Middleburg, FL 32068

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