Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Some photos of our fellowship and outreach: Project NASCAR - Memorial Day Weekend 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
". . . I have found that it was not only radicals and cultists who had engaged in this type of End-time date setting; almost no Christian denomination has been immune from it. Even some whom we consider heroes of the faith have mistakenly engaged in these sorts of vain speculations." Francis X. Gumerlock, The Day and the Hour, (Atlanta, GA: American Vision Press, 2000), 2.
Monday, May 23, 2011
"We provide a Deacon Minute each Lord’s Day to encourage you from God’s Word to serve the body AND to keep you informed of service opportunities in the body.
Would you please turn in your Bibles to Matthew chapter 6? What we read hear is part of the Sermon on the Mount, specifically Jesus’ admonition on how we put into practice our Christian behavior. Obviously, the Christians listening had a poor example to follow in the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus said, starting in verse 1:
1“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3“But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 5“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6“But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Jesus went on to discuss how to pray and gave the model prayer as an example. Jesus is cautioning against wrong motives and the behavior associated with those wrong motives. Our goal as deacons is to assist in the organization and implementation of service to this body and our community. We do not want to be a stumbling block, nor do we want to cause others to become stumbling blocks by how we organize service. Some may have ideas on how we can better organize service. Would you help us?? Would you tell us what you believe is a better way? Very few take advantage of the quarterly Q&A time, and few send us emails, so maybe an opportunity to provide us with feedback anonymously would help. Hopefully you have a printed survey that we would ask you to fill out, and deposit in the offering box. If you want to go home and think about it or type it out, that is fine also, but we would ask that you get them back to us by next Sunday so we have time to review them before our next deacon meeting. Please tell us what you think, what your concerns are and how we can better serve the body. We want to hear your concerns and suggestions.
I was reminded yesterday morning just one way in which a church body is essential in serving a family in need. I wasn’t working yesterday and Sterling called. He asked if I was aware one of our long-time customers had passed away. I was caught off guard when I heard the name, / / Dennis Foster. Dennis was 38 years old, had two young daughters and was principal of Shadybrook Elementary School in High Point. I remember when I sold him his engagement ring. I believe it was in 2000, 12 years ago. I made a special trip after we closed one afternoon to a local jewelry store to see the ring he was considering since he was having trouble describing it. As of last night, 151 people had left their condolences and memories of Dennis on a website with his obituary, everyone commenting on his kindness and compassion. Over 300 people had “liked” a Facebook page called “Support for Crystal.” Crystal is his wife who will have surgery soon. There is a website with a sign up list organized by a someone to schedule daily care. The Fosters attended a local church and claimed to be Christians. I pray that their local church were / / and are prepared to care for this family. There is a young wife and two daughters under age 10 that are most likely still in shock almost 10 days after their loss. They are, no doubt, in need of much service, and will be in need of service for sometime. A young widow I spoke with in 2008 told me it was 6 months before she felt capable to do anything other than personal hygiene and going to work each day. She felt incapable of house work, food preparation, bill paying, decision making, etc. Can you begin to grasp the needs of this young widow? And the one I spoke with had no children. Your deacons have discussed this same type of circumstance and have tried to prepare. Your input may help us do a better job in our preparation.
We, as deacons, simply want to encourage you to serve and provide you with opportunities as they arrive. I pray that we are successful in doing that. Many here appreciate being made aware of opportunities but no one should feel that they must participate in every activity. God, through the Holy Spirit and His Word will compel His children to serve, and the deacons and Titus 2 ladies are glad to help you if you want the help. I pray God is glorified by our service.
Thank you for your attention and your willingness to serve Jesus. May God richly bless you."
Friday, May 20, 2011
Shepherd's Fellowship also wants to extend help to those who have been deceived by Camping's teachings. If you are reading this and you think Judgment Day is certainly going to happen this Saturday, 5-21-2011, please give us a call on Sunday, May 22nd, 2011 so that we can minister the gospel of Jesus Christ to you, for you have been deceived by a false teacher.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Why we should pray, pt. 1 - What is prayer
When we look at the topic of prayer, we see that it permeates Scripture. From Genesis to Revelation we encounter commands to pray, records or specific prayers of specific saints, and theological teaching on prayer. How often do we turn to the Psalms - essentially a collection of prayer-songs - for encouragement or devotional reading. It is difficult, if not impossible, to turn to a page of Scripture where we cannot find prayer. However, I would guess that most readers of this blog would confess that they do not pray enough. Why this discrepancy between the prayer-soaked pages of Scripture and our often parched prayer life? There are two primary reasons why we do not pray as we ought. First, we may not have a correct theology of prayer, and our understanding needs to be deepened or corrected. Second, we may know why we ought to pray yet rebel. If our problem is the latter, then repentance is necessary and none of this information will profit you until you have confessed and turned from your sin. However, if you need to be taught or reminded why to pray, I hope that this lesson is of great benefit.
What is prayer?
To come to an accurate theology of prayer, we first must understand what prayer is. It is just like learning math or science in school: you have to have some concept of what it is that you are studying and get the basic concepts down before you can apply those principles in live. The same is true of prayer - if we do not have a proper understanding of prayer, it can become nothing more than a legalistic item to mark off our spiritual “checklist.”
So what is prayer? I like Wayne Grudem’s simple definition of prayer as “personal communication with God” (Grudem, Systematic Theology). As we reflect on this definition, simplistic as it may initially sound, the more incredibly profound it seems. Scripture tells us that we are all by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), rebellious, and enemies of God. The primary effect of sin is alienation from God. There is no communication from man to God, and the only communication from God to natural man can be a proclamation of condemnation. In his natural, sinful state, man could not communicate with God even if he wanted to (but we know from Ps. 14 and 53, quoted in Romans 3, that none of us were trying to find God - in fact, we were all running away as quickly as we could). However, in Christ we have been reconciled to God. Now we are commanded to “dray near to [God’s] throne of grace, that we may receive grace and mercy to help in time of need.
So prayer is personal communication with God that is made possible only by the shed blood of Christ that was spilled at Calvary. If you think about this privilege of prayer that is ours in Christ, it is immeasurably more amazing than the privilege of the Old Covenant believer. Under the Old Covenant, there could be fellowship and communication between God and man but only through sacrifices and mediators. Under the New Covenant, Christ is the final sacrifice and our Great High Priest who made atonement for our sins. Our alienation has been ended and we have been brought near to God. This is a glorious truth and it is the foundation for our prayer life. Prayer is rooted firmly in the Gospel. Without the Gospel, there is no prayer.
As we continue studying prayer, please keep reflecting on this glorious truth that if we have been reconciled to God in Christ Jesus, we are able to communicate with Him personally through prayer. The simple realization that we can speak with our loving God should drive us to our knees! However, since we are human beings who still have to struggle against the flesh, we need constant reminders of why to pray.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Me: So Angie, if we can't *judge* people because of their sexual preferences, upon what basis do we say that its wrong for people to have sex with brown bears, zebras, and tree stumps?
I have taught Christians the word in my own congregation and preached it to unbelievers on the streets and college campuses of my own hometown for years and I have never seen a Westerner respond this way to the word. It is a sure mark of spiritual apathy in our culture when even our own preachers fail to realize and remind ourselves of the precious treasure found in the word of God. May God use this video to that end. O' God, would you rend our hearts for your truth and cause us to yearn to hear it like a little baby desires sweet milk!
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Thanks again for your follow-up query. You asked,
"The position that the correct interpretation of historical evidence can only be found through the lens of the true worldview, which is Biblical Christianity, is a fascinating one. Of course it is to suggest that there is no objective meaning to historical evidence, only a subjective one. This seems to pre-suppose the existence of God who is driving all evidence, which seems to reduce evidence to revelation. Am I on the right track or close to it?"
With all due respect, not close at all my friend. As noted previously, there are no brute facts in the mind of man, for all facts are pre-interpreted through a pre-existing grid that is already in place before the person evaluates the fact, experience, or data. This grid is known as a worldview. A worldview is defined as a web of beliefs through which all facts are interpreted and interrelated. Thus and again, the facts do not speak for themselves but must be interpreted. The interpretive lens through which a person develops conclusions about said facts as they relate to the rest of reality is informed by their already pre-existing worldview. For example, if you begin with a polytheistic Hindu worldview, you will fit Jesus in with all of your already pre-existing 330 million gods due to your pre-existent, presupposed, web of assumed, axiomatic beliefs. That's exactly what many Hindus did when Christian missionaries went to India. Same goes with naturalism, New Age, Islam, etc. Historical facts are no different.
My position is that there is an objective meaning to historical evidence, but in order to first determine that objective meaning to anything whatsoever exists in the first place, you must ditch naturalism because naturalism isn't a worldview that provides objective meaning to anything since it doesn't provide the necessary preconditions for the intelligibility of objective meaning. Matter in motion doesn't have meaning, it just is. Meaning comes from a Meaner, and Neitzshe was astute enough to recognize that if inherent, objective meaning exists, then God exists because objective transcendent meaning can only come from an objective, personal, transcendent Meaner, i.e., God. Naturalism, in its most consistent form, says that we create meaning and impute said creation to historical facts, hence, the birth of historical revisionism and literary deconstructionism. I wonder if the deconstructionists have deconstructed their deconstructionist textbooks? This type of self-referentially incoherence is the intellectual problem with all unbelieving worldviews, including naturalism.
Re: evidence and the existence of God; if you are a consistent naturalist, you can't even have a consistent philosophy of evidence. As noted previously, evidence assumes things that can only be true if God exists, namely, the immaterial, abstract, and universal laws of logic, the epistemic normativity at the back of logic and rationality, the reliability of the senses, and the principle of induction which lies at the back of all scientific investigation. But if there is no personal, transcendent, immaterial, uni-plural God, why ought I be rational? How does a naturalist account for the existence of the immaterial laws of logic that he uses to critique the resurrection when according to him, all that exists is particular, finite, material things? Given naturalism, how do I know that the future is going to be like the past based upon past instances of the future being like the past - i.e., the problem of induction? After all, according to the going theory for naturalistic cosmology, the universe essentially banged into existence without a cause and from no pre-existing material. If the entire universe can come into existence without a cause and from nothing, why can't you turn into a sperm whale in 30 seconds and water turn into fire tomorrow? However, if I first begin a priori with the existence of the immaterial, personal, transcendent yet immanent Creator God of Scripture, then I can account for such things.
"Anyway, it seems to be an interesting notion until you run across a piece of evidence that seems to contradict this worldview in which case the Christian worldview must still stand."
"The thought of ever losing an argument or a debate would seem to be remote."
Debate presupposes the existence of the very God that the naturalist denies. Debate presupposes evidence, logic, and rationality, things that do not make sense on naturalist lights. In seeking to deny Christian theism, the naturalist must borrow certain things from the very worldview that he denies in order to deny it. See The Theistic Preconditions for Knowledge by Dr. James Anderson to get more of an understanding of my position.
"Two questions, and don't feel it important to answer immediately. I understand that this type of exchange is not at the top of your priority list."
True, but that's because I'm a busy husband, father, and pastor, not because I don't appreciate the dialogue over issues of ultimacy.
"1--What, in your opinion, is the best historical evidence that argues for the Resurrection?"
The Bible of course, as understood through the lens of a regenerated mind. People do not repent and believe in Jesus because they were bombarded with historical arguments per se, they do so because they have been regenerated (cf. Matt. 28:17). The difference between myself and Bart Ehrman isn't historical facts, its the interpretation of said facts as understood by our preconceived worldviews and the Christian worldview is adopted not necessarily because we were intellectually forced into the Kingdom, but by virtue of God, through regeneration, causing us to perceive the truths of the gospel and embrace them as truth (2 Cor. 4:6).
"2--What, in your opinion, is the best historical evidence that argues against the Resurrection?"
In Church history, those who profess to know God but by their deeds they have denied him are a great impetus for an unbeliever seriously questioning whether the whole thing is true or not.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Hi Mr. XXXX,
Thank you for your query. You asked,
"Are you saying that it is more reasonable or more acceptable to affirm something because you find it in the New Testament than to affirm something because of scholarly consensus?"
No, I'm arguing that Christians shouldn't of necessity determine and argue for historical truths as described in the Bible by scholarly consensus. If the scholarly consensus agrees with Biblical truth, then that's wonderful. If not, then Christians have a presuppositional commitment to trust God's word over and above the scholarly, consensual interpretation of the data that denies it. When the unbelieving naysayer rejects the historical evidence for the resurrection as presented both in the Bible and in ancient extrabiblical literature, my view is that Christians should then begin to challenge the presuppositional commitments that lie at the back of the rejection of the historical evidence for the resurrection. While that task is being performed, it is imperative to present the antidote to that faulty worldview, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the correct interpretation of the historical evidence through the lens of the true worldview, which is Biblical Christianity.
Second, per the debate between Mike Licona and Bart Ehrman, Ehrman noted that it is the majority of supposedly believing New Testament scholars that actually believe in a bodily resurrection of Jesus, not the unbelieving ones. So, that use of "scholarly consensus" in Licona's case simply doesn't work since the historical facts of the resurrection apart from the work of the Holy Spirit aren't so overwhelmingly convincing that a reasonable person that isn't a supernaturalist of some sort can doubt it (cf. Matt. 28:17). The bottom line is that the "minimal facts" simply aren't as readily granted as Licona lets on. Worse, even if they were, what happens when the scholarly consensus changes?
Third, an illustrative example of this is the fact that the vast majority of biologists in the United States believe and teach the general theory of evolution; i.e., that all life evolved from a simple-single celled common ancestor @ 3.4 billion years ago. Regardless of one's views of the age of the Earth, the creation account in Genesis chapters 1-2 directly contradicts this theory, therefore, were Christians to adopt the "creation story" promoted by the scholarly consensus of credentialed biologists in the U.S., they would have to not only reject the teaching of Genesis, but also that of Jesus Christ (Mark 10:6).
Fourth, lets say that unbeliever does grant the resurrection of Christ. So what? They could easily say, "Okay, so you've proved that Jesus rose from the dead, but how does that prove that He is the Son of God who died on the cross for sinners? After all, strange things happen in this world, so why couldn't we just as well turn it in to Ripley's Believe it or Not?" Without the Biblical worldview, the resurrection of Jesus doesn't necessarily mean that He's the Lord of glory unless you first begin with the presupposition that God has revealed Himself in the Old Testament with its concomitant predictions of a coming Messiah (Luke 16:31).
The point is this: The Bible is the axiomatic platform upon which a Christian should begin all of their foundational thinking when dealing with any facts or data because the facts do not speak for themselves. Instead, all "facts" and "data" are pre-interpreted through an already existent presuppositional grid known as their worldview. Thus, if Bart Ehrman is a philosophical naturalist (which he is), miracles are impossible by default, and therefore the resurrection couldn't have happened regardless of what historical accounts say. Thus, we challenge the naturalism and provide the correct interpretation of the data via the grid of Biblical truth because as I said earlier, "the facts don't speak for themselves."
"Isn't this just another way of saying that it's in the Bible, I believe it, and that settles it?"
Yes. However, please don't misunderstand me to be saying that I think that Christians should reject historical, archaeological, or scientific evidence that is consistent with Biblical teaching. Quite the contrary, for such information is very helpful for (1) discipleship, (2) removing the remaining intellectual debris left over from an unbelieving past, and (3) answering questions. Nevertheless, Christians should recognize that unless they (and the unbeliever) begin with a Judeo-Christian worldview, they can't even make sense out of the concept of evidence in the first place since evidence makes use of logic, the reliability of the five senses, the inductive principle, etc, none of which can be accounted for given the presuppositions of naturalistic materialism.
"If so, it seems to suggest that we haven't come very far in any reasonable approach to Faith."
A Christian's apologetical methods should not necessarily be determined by the academy, the spirit of the age, or the demands of the unbeliever. They should be determined by the Biblical model of apologetics, preaching, and evangelism set forth by the apostles in the New Testament. Consider what one fisherman said about his own empirical, historical, eyeball experience of Jesus Christ at His transfiguration,
"For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased " 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." (2 Pe 1:16-1 NAU)Peter said that the prophetic word (i.e., the Scriptures) are a "more sure word" than his own personal, empirical experience of the transfigured Christ. This is because Scripture holds the highest epistemological status for the believer, whether the unbeliever accepts it or not. Thus, we should first and foremost preach Christ to the unbeliever regardless of their rejection of Him, for their problem isn't "the facts"; its the faulty interpretation of those facts as fueled by an unbelieving worldview that hates God (Rom. 8:7-8).
Friday, May 06, 2011
Key thoughts from this chapter:
- Our children obtain their worldviews from their belief about origins. Some of the most destructive teaching in this area is right under our noses.
- The teaching in our public school systems comes from an axiom of no absolutes and no ultimate truth. Teaching from this system has also infiltrated areas of the church, Christian school, and even home schooling materials.
- Just because something is labeled “Christian” doesn’t mean it is safe.
- Biblical discernment needs to be first taught to children as far away from an environment of ungodly peer pressure as possible. They need to know how to recognize the difference between good and evil and act upon the right way of thinking before being put under the pressure.
- Parents should never underestimate the damage that secular and humanistic teaching can have on our children despite the environment they are learning in.
- Be on the alert.
- Engage and get involved.
- Monitor carefully the environment and the material that is influencing your kids.
- Don’t assume that something “Christian” is safe.
- Condemn compromise.
Questions to consider:
- To what extent do you believe that Satan is behind the battles we face with secular humanism, peer pressure, and compromise? (Is that your opinion or can you back up your answer with Scripture?)
- What areas do you need to immediately investigate to monitor the influences on your child? Where has his or her environment been compromised? Does anything need to be confronted to defend the authority of God’s Word?
- Are there areas of compromise in your personal beliefs and actions that are having an ungodly impact on your children?
Resources and tools:
Answers Academy, 13-session apologetics teaching kit includes DVDs, leader’s guide, and workbooks, Answers in Genesis.
Terry Mortenson, Millions of Years: Where Did the Idea Come From? (Petersburg, KY: Answers in Genesis, 2005).
Terry Mortenson, The Great Turning Point (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2004).
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Monday, May 02, 2011
Repent! Place your faith in Jesus Christ and be saved from your sin! Then Rejoice in the giver and taker of life and His magnificent Justice and Grace!