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Little Timothy Learned His ABC’s From the Bible”

Posted on May. 20, 2010

The Bible commentator, Lenski explains in his own words how Timothy learned the sacred writings,

Little Timothy learned his ABC’s from the Bible, learned to read from the Bible, and thus from earliest childhood spelled out “sacred letters.” As he spelled out this and that word, mother and grandmother told the story. Soon he could read a little, ask questions, hear more. A lovely picture indeed! I like it better than our method of today which supplies secular matter for the primers and holds back the sacred letters until later years.

(R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon, 839 [Columbus, O.: Lutheran Book Concern, 1937]) accessed from Pyromaniacs Blog on May 15, 2010.

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Visit Us On The Road

Posted on May. 19, 2010

Road Trip: We Are Collecting Stories of Biblical Reformation - What’s Yours?

There is a reformation of practices that is sweeping our land. We want to document them on our Road Trip Across America. Would you be willing to come to the meeting nearest you, ready to share your own story of reformation? If so, I would like to either put you in front of a video camera to get a 1-3 minute testimony or to get it in writing. If you would like to submit it in writing, please email to me, Scott Brown at admin@ncfic.org.

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John MacArthur on The Sufficiency of Scripture

Posted on May. 18, 2010

In the book, The Coming Evangelical Crisis, by John H. Armstrong, John MacArthur has a chapter on the Regulative Principle of Worship, entitled, “How Shall We Then Worship?”

He writes,
“How does the sufficiency of Scripture apply to worship? The Reformers answered that question by applying sola Scriptura to worship in a tenet historically called the regulative principle. John Calvin was one of the first to articulate it succinctly:

We may not adopt any device [in our worship] which seems fit to ourselves, but look to the injunctions of him who alone is entitled to prescribe. Therefore, if we would have him approve our worship, this rule, which he everywhere enforces with the utmost strictness, must be carefully observed. . . . God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by his word.

“Calvin supported this principle with a number of relevant biblical texts, including 1 Samuel 15:22: ‘To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.’ He also appealed to Matthew 15:9, which says, ‘In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’

“An English Reformer and a contemporary of Calvin, John Hooper, stated the same principle in this way: “Nothing should be used in the Church which has not either the express Word of God to support it, or otherwise is a thing indifferent in itself, which brings no profit when done or used, but no harm when not done or omitted.” And nineteenth-century Scottish church historian William Cunningham defined the regulative principle in these terms: “It is unwarrantable and unlawful to introduce into the government and worship of the church anything which has not the positive sanction of Scripture.”

“The Reformers and Puritans applied the regulative principle against formal ritual, priestly vestments, church hierarchy, and other remnants of medieval Roman Catholic worship. The regulative principle was often cited, for example, by English Reformers who opposed elements of high-church Anglicanism that had been borrowed from Catholic tradition. It was the Puritans’ commitment to the regulative principle that caused hundreds of Puritan pastors to be ejected by decree from Church of England pulpits in 1662.

“Furthermore, the simplicity of worship forms in Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregational, and other evangelical traditions is the result of applying the regulative principle. Evangelicals today would do well to recover their spiritual ancestors’ confidence in sola Scriptura as it applies to worship and church leadership. A number of harmful trends that are gaining momentum these days reveal a diminishing evangelical confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture. On the one hand, there is, as we have noted, almost a circus atmosphere in some churches, where pragmatic methods that trivialize what is holy are being employed to boost attendance. On the other hand, growing numbers of former evangelicals are abandoning simple worship forms in favor of high-church formalism. Some are even leaving evangelicalism altogether and aligning with Eastern Orthodoxy or Roman Catholicism.”

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What is the NCFIC?

Posted on May. 17, 2010

The NCFIC’s purpose is to correctly understand God’s unified vision for church and family, rightly diagnose the problems that impede this vision, and effectively communicate biblical solutions that rebuild family-affirming churches. We do not believe that family-integration is the only—or even the primary—issue in selecting or establishing a local church. But it is unquestionably a defining issue of our day as the modern church has lost the essential familistic culture that we see modeled in the New Testament.

The NCFIC is not a new denomination or confederation of churches but rather a network and resource for family-integrated churches and families seeking them. It is a ministry to America’s churches by Christian leaders who see faithful fathers and mothers struggling to find a meaningful, family-affirming relationship with their local church. All the men who work with the NCFIC believe in biblical church authority and are all under the oversight of their own local churches with regard to their moral life.

The NCFIC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration of the church and family for the glory of God. To this end, NCFIC provides a host of supportive resources including challenging articles, inspiring testimonies, national and regional conferences, instructive audiotapes, recommended books, pastoral training and a growing database of family-integrated churches near you.

Please meet us on the Road Trip Across America, and at our Love the Church conference this year. And don’t forget to look up our web site www.ncfic.com which is a treasure trove of resources for the reformation of church and family according to scripture.

We can be grateful that we are living in a time of reformation where God is bringing His church back to her roots in scripture. One of the marks of the current reformation is that church and family life are being re ordered according to scripture.

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He Who Follows Frivolity

Posted on May. 14, 2010

One of the messages we like to pound home is that young men should not spend their years of youth playing games. Here Solomon touches on one of the reasons why - it reflects a gigantic absence of “understanding,’ and the stupidity of following what is empty,

“He who tills the land will be satisfied with bread, But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.” Proverbs 12:11

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View Church Ministry Through ‘Family Lens,’ conference speakers urge

Posted on May. 13, 2010

A recent conference featuring Southern Baptist leaders reflects some of the important thinking that is being generated regarding age segregation, family ministry and the popular patterns of ministry that have prevailed in the last fifty years, “More and more vocational staffers and ministry specialists have in many churches led to one type of disconnect—extensive segregation, according to Waylan Owens, dean of the Terry School of Church and Family Ministries at Southwestern Seminary. While Owens agrees that some segregation is useful, he also cautions that dividing all ministries according to age or life situation or preference serves to dishonor parents, dishonor the senior citizens, and dishonor the children and what they can add to the faith experience of adults.

Speaking to the conference, Owens said, “Many times I go to churches and it seems there is always someone who wants to take my children from me. They take them to Sunday School, then to children’s church. The youth have their own Sunday School, their own worship, and their own Sunday night thing. I have gotten in trouble for wanting to keep my children with me.”

“Drawing on an agricultural picture from his West Texas background, Richard Ross described the landscape of church life as a cluster of silos—one for preschoolers, one for school-age children, one for students, one for adult ministries, and so on. “What we don’t need is one more silo that is the “family-ministry silo,” he said in sharing his vision for family-focused church ministry.

Speaking to hundreds of ministers and future church leaders at a conference co-hosted by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ross emphasized that ministry to families is not another program or age-group “silo” to manage. Rather, it is a way to view existing ministries while always keeping in mind the Deuteronomy 6:4-9 mandate for parents to be the primary spiritual instructors of their children.

“Figure out laterally how to put a family focus on it. Use a ‘home lens’ for everything versus creating a new silo,” he said.”

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When Someone Leaves a Church or is Disciplined – A Time of Vulnerability

Posted on May. 12, 2010

Churches are incredibly vulnerable at particular historical moments. Because of this, church leaders need to carefully shepherd their flocks to prepare them for that flash point when temptations are many. After all, “the tongue is a fire” and “a world of iniquity” and is often “set on fire by hell” (James 3:1-12). This is why there are many opportunities for unrighteous fire in a church. How many? As many as there are tongues, but multiplied by all the conversations that are generated.

There are two very sensitive “moments” that need careful attention – when someone leaves or is disciplined. During these influential opportunities, church leaders, church members and onlookers have particular responsibilities before God to “preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” They need to be extremely sensitive to how the devil will attempt to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

When someone leaves your church

When a person leaves, when a key family leaves or when an elder, deacon or a gifted leader leaves the church has entered a season of hyper vulnerability. Each of these situations have their own particular challenges. Let me suggest that the damage done can escalate according to the degree of prominence of the person leaving or is disciplined.

It is always difficult on people when beloved families leave a church. Through it all, we ought to strive for gracious and humble goodbyes, instead of tearing into one another. “For the law is fulfilled in one word, even this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another” (Galatians 5:14-15).

The vulnerability it creates for those who leave

Not only is a church like a “sitting duck” when someone leaves, the person or family who leaves faces a number of important decisions. He needs to grasp the fact that he has responsibilities before God to refrain from putting out a bad report. He needs to understand that, “whoever slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy” (Psalm 101:5).

The people leaving are also exposed in the sense that they may say things they should not - things that tear down and not build up - things that divide and defeat a spirit of love in the church.

The loaded messages you leave them with will stick in their minds for a long time. Even if you say nothing, just disappearing is also leaving a powerful message. The nature of goodbyes is important.

The challenges for the people who stay

The people who stay are probably the most vulnerable because they may feel hurt. They will inevitably grapple with feelings of confusion or anger or uncertainty. This can change people to vipers. Or it may make them feel insecure or that they have somehow missed something and they should leave too. These are the common responses that some people will have and they need to know their responsibility not to seek to use that as an excuse to find that tasty morsel that goes into the innermost parts of the belly (Proverbs 18:8).

When an elder leaves the church

When a key leader leaves, the people in the congregation are incredibly susceptible to a host of negative forces. Everyone in the church needs to be informed up front that if an elder (or even a family in the church leaves) they will be subject to temptations to anger, taking sides, gossip, speculation, rebellion, self righteousness, presumption, wrong conclusions and broken relationships. This situation is a perfect entry point for a host of misunderstandings. It is also a time where people are tempted to take a count of all the wrongs done to them by the people involved, instead of continuing to let them be covered over by love. When someone leaves it is almost inevitable that there will be a wake of hurt feelings. Most of the people will be asking: “Why are you leaving us? Why are you rejecting us? What is wrong with us? Who made you leave? Ok, what is the real story? Whose fault is this?”

Magnifying problems

In this environment it is common that people will magnify whatever real or perceived problems were there. They will be tempted to make too much of the problems that made the elder leave through speculation. Unfortunately, the sinful human mind often speculates in the wrong direction – toward disunity and anger and separating brothers.

A lust for information

There will be a few who will want to know more than they should know. People in our society believe that they are obligated to know everything about the situation. After all, we live in “gossip nation” where people feel they should know all the dirt. You will find that some people will be relentless in trying to get the “real” story. This lust for information often results in further fracturing of relationships.

But like many things where biblical communications should be followed, everyone is not entitled to know everything and there will always be some who will use this as a point of contention. It is here that a spirit of trust and honor toward those God has placed in authority be upheld.

In times like these, conversation should be tempered by the reality of the timing of the judgment of God. Paul said to the Corinthians, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Cor 4:4).

Temptations for onlookers in the community

Fellow believers in the community also have responsibilities to the Church of Jesus Christ, wherever it is organized as a local church. One of the heartbreaking aspects of people leaving is that you can often expect that some people looking in from the outside, will speak confidently and condemningly about things they know very little about. Often they will judge your leaving either as further reason for condemnation of the ministry and will naturally be found saying hurtful things. People who have harbored hurts or who have an axe to grind are commonly among these onlookers.

When a church member is disciplined

This causes hundreds of dangerous conversations and opportunities to sin. There are two particular vulnerabilities that the devil will attempt to capitalize on. The person being disciplined can be sinned against through the unrighteous conversation of other church members.

Likewise the disciplined church member is extremely susceptible to unrighteous anger and lashing back and making a mockery of the action taken.

Further, people in the congregation will be tempted to dishonor and disobey the authorities God has established in the church. The reality is that church leaders do not see everything perfectly and may make mistakes or even sin. However this is not a valid excuse to escape their authority that God has established in a local church.

What should church leaders do in times like these?

Don’t leave them unprotected - take action. People in the church often need to be reminded of the power of the tongue for evil, for “the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6).

If a church is unclear or untaught regarding the both the authority of the government of the church and the responsibility to govern the tongue, that church is extremely unsafe - poised for a terrible fire. It is a building ready to burn at the slightest spark.

Churches often never recover from the “tasty morsels” that went down to the “innermost being” (Proverbs 26:22). Reputations are destroyed, friendships are ruined. No one wins because love was not “covering” the “multitude of sins” and human failings that surfaced during these opportune moments.

Perhaps this is why Jesus issued very harsh warnings about the use of the tongue,

“Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:34-37).

How do you have loving goodbyes when it seems so hard and confusing? How do you react to someone leaving? In times like these, it is wise to heed the admonition,

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29).

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Church Killers

Posted on May. 12, 2010

A couple of years ago, I delivered a message entitled, “Church Killers,” that brings scripture to bear on the use of the tongue in church and family life.

“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” James 3:5-6

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A Church Covenant and Church Discipline

Posted on Apr. 29, 2010

One of the important clauses in our church covenant, is the one that spells out how church discipline works:

We will, if necessary, submit to biblically defined and regulated church discipline for the purpose of reconciliation with God and man and we accept that refusing to communicate or to flee is to usurp the power of the church and break this covenant. Matt. 18:15:20, Heb 12:11, 1 Cor 5:1-13, 1 John 2:19, 1 Timothy 1:20, 2 Cor 2:1-11, Luke 17:4

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The Regulative Principle in Practice - A Concise Statement from “The Deliberate Church” by Mark Deve

Posted on Apr. 28, 2010

“Working contrary to God’s processes often means working contrary to His purposes.”
    -    Mark Dever, The Deliberate Church, pg 28

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