Smith has done much in previous books to show how much we are formed by certain cultural “liturgies.
Godspell?!? It’s on the stage at Phoenix Theater until May 20, 2018, and we just saw it. This is an emotional subject, in all honesty.
The great evangelist George Whitfield was known as a mighty preacher in his day. Many great expositors look to him as a model for faithful preaching. Steve Lawson, in his book The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield, writes, “Whitefield and Edwards became the twin instruments God used so mightily during the American Great Awakening.” This was a time in history in which people were being saved by the masses under their gospel-centered preaching and by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is also known as a revival in church history.
Is it too far fetched for us to witness a revival in the city of Phoenix today? Do we have faith that this could actually happen? Is it possible we could testify to thousands of people who are then saved by the good news of the gospel?
Oh, how I long to see that day! Do you? I’d submit to you that if we were going to tell our children and grandchildren about this “Great Awakening” in Phoenix, it’s going to be by the uncompromising preaching of the Word of God! To the degree that we are biblically rooted, relying on the Spirit of God to change the hearts of men and women, I believe we could see this happen.
God has gifted many servants of Christ with various spiritual gifts. Some have the gift of preaching and teaching. Some have the gift of prophecy and speaking in tongues. All gifts are for the edification of the church (1 Cor. 12:4-5). Nevertheless, one gift that Christians universally have is the gift of faith! However, preaching is an art and a gift that only some have—and it’s powerfully unique to bring people to faith in Christ because of the authoritative nature of the Bible. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. Since God is authoritative, His words carry that same authority.
The Spirit-powered proclamation comes from being biblically rooted in the Scriptures. This is the second value at Roosevelt Community Church because we desire to be directed by the Word of God!
Recently, I heard a sermon by David Platt, President of the International Mission Board. Platt’s message was titled "The Characteristics of God.” In his introduction, he asked, “How is your heart before the Lord?” The silence in the room was gut-wrenching.
But this is a very important question, isn’t it?
At Roosevelt, as we start our “RCC Values” sermon series to bring home to our congregation what we are about as a local church. In fact, while you’re reading this blog, in the words of David Platt, I want you to stop and ask yourself the same question: “How is your heart before the Lord?” I believe this encompasses what we mean by Jesus Devoted. The reality is if we are not devoted and committed to Jesus in our Christian journey, then how can we expect our spouses, our children, our friends, our neighbors, or anyone we come in contact with to experience Christ in a real, deep, and meaningful way?
Living in Phoenix, especially in the summer, we experience a lot of “dry heat.” I’m originally from the East Coast where humidity adds another layer of hotness that’s unbearable! Trust me, dry heat is much better; nevertheless, heat is heat! I believe our spiritual journey can be described as “dry heat” or even worse, heat with humidity at times!
The Bible has language for this. John 15:4-5 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Abiding in Jesus is synonymous with resting in Jesus, which implies that we are devoted to him.
But what does this devotion look like? I submit to you here ways to be devoted to Jesus:
· Praying for and with the people of God
· Going deep into the Word of God
· Living in Authentic Community
· Finding ways to serve in the church and beyond
· Worshipping the Lord in all that we do
Granted, there are more ways to be devoted (such as fasting, evangelism, giving), but here is a start. As we commune and spend quality time with Jesus, our relationship is real and vibrant.
My prayer is that Roosevelt Community Church would be a people who reflects the example we have in scripture by being Jesus devoted!
Shout out to:
1. John Piper and his poem, “The Calvinist.” Trust me, it’s not what you think it is, i.e. a dry ode to Calvnistic theology. I initially was just going to skim the poem, but I found myself drawn in and have since read it several times. It could really just be called “The Christian,” as it is an engaging poetic narrative about someone seeking to follow the Lord, along with all the joys, pains, struggles, and hopes that go along with that journey.
2. Jared Wilson and his “Thoughts on the Restoration of Fallen Pastors.” Sadly, pastors fall and they will continue to fall. But what happens next? While a pastor can always be restored to church fellowship, can a fallen pastor also ever be restored to vocational ministry? Wilson says, “probably,” but based on the following points:
1. Discerning godly grief is necessary
2. Restoration to the fellowship is not the same as restoration to the pastorate
3. [A fallen pastor] cannot restore himself, i.e. the church where the pastor has been at determines if and when a fallen pastor should be restored
Wilson goes on to offer this helpful quote from John Piper:
"Forgiveness comes quickly, expensively, and immediately, on repentance. But trust doesn’t, cannot.
"If a pastor has betrayed his people, and it has wounded a church grievously and wounded his wife grievously, he can be forgiven just like that. Wiped away. The blood of Jesus covers it. But as far as reestablishing trust, which is essential to a shepherd/sheep and wife/husband relationship, how long does that take? A decade? It takes a long time, a long time, until memories are healed.
"And very practically I think this is what I would say: A man who commits adultery, say, in the ministry, should immediately resign and look for other work. And he should make no claim on the church at all. He should get another kind of job and go about his life humbly receiving the discipline and sitting and receiving ministry, whether in that church or in another church. And then the church should turn that around if it believes it should, not him."
Lots of other good insights in blog post. Wilson finishes with this:
"The gospel is not expendable. But our ministries are. If you are a fallen pastor eager for restoration to ministry, I urge you not to see your time away or the discipline involved in the meantime as graceless. It in fact may be your next lesson in just how big God’s grace really is. You may cheapen grace rushing back into that pulpit, assuming you can only be validated by a return to platform, if only because you remain unwilling to see just how greatly grace can sustain you and satisfy you outside of the spotlight. He is good enough to supply your every need."