Monthly Archives: January 2013

EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED

Even though I shouldn’t be, I’m always amazed at how my days never turn out the way that I expect. Take today for instance. The only thing I had on my “to do” list today was to work on my sermon for this coming Sunday. It is now 5:03 PM and I have not spent one minute on my sermon!

 

Trust me; I have not frittered away my day playing solitaire on the computer or surfing the Internet. I have kept busy all day; emails, phone calls (I now have two funerals to officiate this coming Saturday), a few impromptu meetings, some reading and prayer, and now preparing for two meetings tonight. But, no sermon preparation! Like I said, I shouldn’t be surprised.

 

I know you can relate. So often our good intentions don’t amount to a hill of beans! That is true more often than not. That is why I think that our attitude is really important, especially as followers of Christ. I think James gave us some great advice when he wrote:

 “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13 – 15)

 

“If it is the Lord’s will”, is the operative phrase. I need to remind myself that I must commit each day to the Lord. I must trust that he is in control, so that once I commit my schedule to him, he is in charge. That means I need to be flexible. I need to be sure I don’t cop an attitude when things don’t go as planned. I need to just roll with it and see where God takes me on any given day. He knows what I need to get done and that doesn’t always match with what I think needs to get done. That means I need to trust him. Does he really know better than me?

 

So, how has your day been? I hope you’ll join me in seeking to trust God with the old, unpredictable daily schedule. I think James probably knew what he was talking about. ;-)

 

Peace,

Dave

No Stupid Questions – Part 6

All the books of the Bible were written in many different time periods. How was it constructed into one combined book?

This is a very involved question. I’ll offer a simple and concise explanation here and point you toward some articles for further reading if you would like to go deeper on this issue.

The Old Testament was well established by the time Jesus walked the earth. The general criteria the Israelites used to determine if a book was scripture were 3 fold:

1 – Did the book indicate that God was speaking through the writer and was it authoritative?

2 – Was the human author recognizes as a spokesman of God (prophet or have a prophetic gift)

3 – Was the book historically accurate

In regard to the New Testament, it was largely established by around 170 AD. By 363 AD the 27 books we have today were recognized as the “only true books”. That was restated by councils in 393 AD and 397 AD. Many writings were circulating during these times, but the ones that we have today passed the following tests (among others)

1 – Was it Orthodox in it’s teaching (doctrinally consistent with the other scriptures)

2 – Was it written by an Apostle or someone close to an Apostle

3 – Was it widely accepted as true by the early church

For more information on this subject, click here and here

 

A person claims to be a believer but offers sacrifices for salvation prays for mercy & forgiveness- are they a real a believer?

Short answer…it depends. Here are a few thoughts:

  • It could be an indication that the person has not truly crossed the line of faith. If they are trusting in these things to make them right with God, they are trying to earn their salvation…which Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us is not how it works.
  • It could simply be an issue of education. The person may have crossed the line of faith, but doesn’t understand the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. Hebrews 10 talks in detail about this. It compares the OT sacrifices that had to be offered again and again with the sacrifice of Christ which was once for all time.
  • It could be the individuals way of trying to express their remorse for their sin. It’s unnatural for us to accept the free gift of forgiveness. When we know we’ve sinned, we have a tendency to want to demonstrate our remorse. A proper understanding of Hebrews 1o mentioned above and 1 John 1:9 helps us to understand that no sacrifice on our part is necessary.

Grace

Chris

NO STUPID QUESTIONS – PART 5

Why did so many people believe & follow Moses when he presented the 10 commandments but so many had a hard time believing Jesus as the Messiah/Son of God ?

An interesting question; I’m not sure there is a definitive answer but let me share a few thoughts:

  • Moses had a history leading these people – they had seen him face off with Pharaoh and triumphantly lead them out of bondage in Egypt. He was unequivocally recognized as their leader. Jesus, on the other hand, emerged out of obscurity with no prior history with the masses. In a sense – he had more to prove in order to be trusted and followed.
  • Many rejected Jesus because he didn’t fit their expectations of the coming Messiah. They were looking more for a political / military leader – someone who would deliver them from the oppressive Roman occupation. However Jesus instead spoke of the kingdom being within them and rendering to Caesars what is Caesar’s. Not the stuff they wanted to hear!
  • Lastly, the Israelites really didn’t believe or follow Moses very well either! They were constantly challenging his leadership, grumbling and rebelling. A case could pretty easily be made that the Israelites were as stubborn for Moses as they were for Christ.

 

 

What is the biblical view of women in ministry/serving in the church?  Do we believe in women as elders?

Let me give a very concise and simple answer to a controversial and complex subject.

Firstly, while this has certainly become a hot button issue within the church, we do not believe this is a core doctrinal issue and we encourage civility and grace with those whom we disagree.

With that said we believe men and women are equal in the eyes of God and together are co-heirs with Jesus Christ. However we have a conviction from Scripture that while equal – males and females have different God-given roles.  Different roles do not speak of inferiority or inequality – but simply different functions / roles. We believe there are a number of compelling reasons to conclude that Christ has entrusted the leading of the local church to men only.

To learn more of what we believe to be biblically true – read this: http://www.gotquestions.org/complementarianism-vs-egalitarianism.html

We recognize women with leadership gifts. Many women hold strategic positions at ACC and the work of faithful women within our church is absolutely amazing. Freedom is found to function as God has designed; the only opportunity not available to women is that of being an elder. (This has been the position of the church down through the centuries and I tend to believe the maxim: If you’re arguing with 2,000 years of church history – you’re probably wrong.)

Another great website for further reading on this topic is: https://www.cbmw.org/

 

Peace,

Dave

 

NO STUPID QUESTIONS – PART 4

Jesus was born on a certain day, and we celebrate it on 12/25. He died on a certain day. Why does Easter move every year?

An interesting question. Technically, we “should” celebrate Jesus death and resurrection around the Jewish celebration of Passover. Jesus gathered his disciples to share in the Passover meal – what we refer to as the Last Supper (Luke 22:7-8). That night he was arrested, was crucified the next day, (Good Friday) and rose on the 3rd day (Sunday). Passover moves around, so even if we did celebrate it this way, we wouldn’t have a set date.

The date of Easter is decided based on the lunar calendar. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of Spring. It can be anywhere from March 22 – April 25. This is due to the church absorbing and Christianizing some pagan celebrations. Which is also the case with the date of Christmas. I personally don’t have any issue with these dates being former pagan celebrations. They’ve been reshaped, repackaged, and redeemed. If the reason for celebrating Easter is the risen Christ, any day will due.

Why do we hold church on Sunday?

I love the idea of asking why we do what we do. Tradition for tradition sake is rarely a healthy thing.

A few places in the New Testament indicate to us that the early church met on Sundays (the first day of the week). Acts 20:7 talks about meeting together for the breaking of bread and then Paul continues to teach the believers late into the night (Eutychus falls out of the window, dies, Paul prays for him and he’s resurrected…a fun story AND a warning about falling asleep in church!). In I Corinthians 16:2 Paul instructs believers on the first day of the week to set aside money to give to the church.

Perhaps the most significant reasons we hold church on Sunday is because it’s the day that Jesus rose from the dead. He died on a Friday and the tomb was empty on Sunday (I Corinthians 15:3-4). While we should celebrate the resurrected Christ everyday of the week, Sunday seems to be a logical choice for the church to gather for worship.

Grace,

Chris

NO STUPID QUESTIONS – PART 3

How can a Christian respond to the death of a non-Christian?

The death of a non-Christian is a very sobering thing. Why? Because we believe that Scripture teaches that each person has an eternal soul and that death is the great dividing line (Hebrews 9:27, Luke 16:19-31); that a person’s eternal destiny is sealed the moment they die and pass from this world into the next; there are two possible states: heaven or hell. What a person believes about Christ will determine their eternal destiny (John 3:36). Sobering truths indeed.

So, it hard to know how to act or what to say when an unbeliever dies; we can feel very awkward and unsure.

Let me share just a few ideas on responding properly to the death of an unbeliever:

  1. Express sorrow and sympathy. Loss of a loved one is always difficult so tears and sadness are appropriate. Come along side grieving family / friends and weep with them (Romans 12:15).
  2. Resist the temptation to “talk the deceased into heaven”.  It is not being a truth-teller to draw unrealistic spiritual conclusions from a person’s life. The oft repeated phrase, “He’s in a better place” is promoting a false hope. Now, with that said, we never fully know a person’s heart and we can always hold out hope that perhaps there was an occasion when the deceased heard the gospel in their lifetime and responded.
  3. Point people to Jesus. In spiritual conversations you may subsequently engage in do not focus on the deceased but rather encourage others to consider their own immortality and to consider what they believe about Christ.

May the fragility and uncertainty of human life (James 4:13-14) motivate each of us to reach out in love to those around us and share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Peace,

Dave

NO STUPID QUESTIONS – PART 2

Passion2013Group

One of the questions that was texted in this past Sunday said, “How was the Passion Conference?  Scott, what is that green bracelet on your wrist?”

Well, I thought you’d never ask!

Last week my wife Kristen and I took a group of six college students and two high school seniors down to Atlanta for the Passion 2013 Conference.  This is a gathering of students in the 18-25 age range for the purpose of worship, teaching from God’s word, prayer, and raising awareness and funds for ending human trafficking and modern-day slavery.  This year’s conference drew 60,000+ students, and these “poor” college students raised over 3 million dollars to go to twenty different organizations such as International Justice Mission and others that are working all around the world to put an end to slavery in all its forms! Wow!!!

The worship times were powerful.  We were led in worship from some of today’s most prominent leaders and songwriters: Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Kristian Stanfill, Christy Nockels, Kari Jobe, David Crowder, and several others.  There is something so significant and inspiring about being in a stadium with 60,000 people all singing the praises of Jesus together!

We also learned from some great Bible teachers, including John Piper, Beth Moore, Francis Chan, Judah Smith, and Louie Giglio, the founder of Passion Conferences.  I was so encouraged by the conversations we had with our students about their faith, and hearing about all God is doing in their lives.  We had a great time together, and each one of us walked away with a renewed love for God and the challenge to be the generation that sees slavery ended in our lifetime!

After each main conference session, we were divided into community groups of 3,000 people each that met in different venues throughout the Georgia Dome and the Georgia World Congress Center.  Each person had a bracelet with a color that denoted what community group they were in.  So that’s what my green bracelet was for.  Within each community group, we broke into small groups of 8-10 people and discussed what God was teaching us throughout the week.

Below is a video piece that CNN did on the Passion Conference.

~Scott

NO STUPID QUESTIONS – PART 1

At ACC we have been very intentional about developing a culture where it is safe to ask questions. Any question. Without judgment.

God is not afraid of our questions. He does not call us to deny our intellect in order to embrace faith.

Asking questions is a great way to learn. We believe the only stupid question is the one not asked.

Therefore the month of January our Sunday teaching series is NO STUPID QUESTIONS. We have solicited many questions directly from our congregation. Yesterday in our worship services we did Pastors on the Hot Seat – Pastors Chris, Scott, and myself spent 30 minutes answering questions. We didn’t have nearly enough time to answer all the questions received so what remains will be answered through our blog – new posts each Monday and Friday. I hope you’ll check in here throughout this month.

Here are the 2 questions for today:

 

How can I influence my gay friend towards God?

Basically by the same way you’d influence any of your friends toward God: be a great friend to them, pray for them, and speak loving truth into their life as God gives you opportunity.

Unfortunately the gay community feels a lot of hostility and alienation toward biblical Christianity – to a large extent due to insensitive, thoughtless and downright mean comments and attitudes by supposed Christians. You will need to help break down those walls by being a person of grace and love to them.

Everyone has sin problems. Our focus is not to be their sin but on Christ who loved them enough to die for them – to bring wholeness and forgiveness. We are all sinners in desperate need of his mercy and grace

 

Is it possible to lose your salvation?

I believe the bible teaches that eternal life lasts – for how long? ETERNALLY. If a person supposedly had eternal life and then did not have eternal life – was that life eternal? Obviously no!

Just as it is not our job to earn our salvation – it is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9), so it is not our job to then keep our salvation. We are no more capable of securing our salvation than we are of earning it in the first place.

Check out just a few key Scripture passages:

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29

That is double protection – safely in the hands of the Father and the Son.

 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

Pretty all-inclusive – you cannot think of a force able to pull you away from God.

 

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30

The moment we cross the line of faith the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us. One of his many ministries to us is to seal us. That is the idea of guarding, assuring, and protecting. But, for how long? Until we sin? Then he abandons us? No – until the day of redemption! Until that day we are safely home in heaven.

 

Peace,

Dave

Resolution Let Down

Good intentions aren’t enough. It’s a reality we see play out over and over again when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions. Many of us make commitments with the best of intentions, but find ourselves falling short in achieving our goal.

In the past few years I’ve gotten very serious about fitness – distance running and long distance triathlon. I’d tried many times to lose weight and get in shape over the course of my life. While I experienced some short term success, long term, sustainable change seemed to allude me. As I’ve reflected on what was different this time, I’ve noticed a few things.

  • My motivation was different. In the past, it was to look good or impress someone else. This time, it was the birth of my daughter (my first child) that sparked the desire to change. I realized that the direction I was headed was unhealthy and that I was not going to be able to be physically active with her as she grew.
  • I had a plan. I got a specific workout plan and signed up for a running race. Each day I knew what my work out was supposed to be and I had a very real goal to be working toward.
  • I had support. I wasn’t doing it alone. I had some great friends who committed to training with me. We ran together often. We talked about how the training was going, and we encouraged one another.

Each of these things played a significant role in me accomplishing my goal. Likely there are some changes you’d like to make in 2013.  I encourage you to consider how you can boost your success rate by considering your motivation, laying out a detailed plan, and finding a good support network.

Grace,

Chris