Worth Reading 2

Halverson’s Vision for the Church

Posted by on May 24, 2015 in Articles | 0 comments

Halverson’s Vision for the Church

“Think of it this way. The program of our church is everything all the members are doing between Sundays. The church keeps house, goes to school, teaches, practices law, medicine and dentistry, runs business and industry, farms, works on construction jobs, researches in many fields, sits on school boards, city councils, county councils, state legislatures and congress. Between Sundays the church is involved in everything productive and constructive that is happening in our community. And it does so as a witness to Christ, to the glory of God, in His love and in the power of the Holy Spirit, sensitive to its accountability to Christ. “And what of the church work which is done in and for the church organization? Its purpose is to equip each member to do the work for the church Monday through Saturday. All the programs within the church are for the purpose of enabling the church to do the work of ministry between Sundays when she is invisible as a congregation.” Dr. Richard Halverson pastored First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, CA before spending twenty years as the distinguished pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church of Bethesda, MD. He spent the final ten years of his life and ministry as chaplain of the U.S. Senate. This excerpt is taken from one of the many books he authored, How I Changed My Thinking About the Church, p....

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James Boice on Children and Worship

Posted by on May 23, 2015 in Articles | 0 comments

James  Boice on Children and Worship

The goal we should ymnsave with our children is to bring them up to the level of the adults; that is, to enable them to begin to function on an adult level in their relationships to God. We have thought about this challenge at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and have developed a few ideas that we find work pretty well. First, we keep the children in church from a much younger age than we used to do. We still take the very little ones out for the parents’ sake as much as for theirs. We don’t want excessive distractions for anyone. But we keep the children in church from the second grade up. They can read at this age as well as participate, and we think it is good for our families to be worshiping together. Second, we prepare a children’s bulletin which the children pick up when the adults receive theirs. The children’s bulletin contains the text of such service items as the Apostles’ Creed, and there are side bars and added texts with arrows to explain what various words or phrases occurring in the service mean. The third page contains a one paragraph summary of the sermon with several questions about it for the older children and a “word alert” section for those who are younger. “Word alert” lists words they can listen for. Third, both the organist and I come to the opening exercises of the Sunday School to talk about the sermon and the hymns. I explain what I am going to be talking about and what the children should look for. I even ask them to pray that people who are not Christians may hear what God has to say and be converted. The organist tells about the hymns we will sing, who wrote them, and why we sing them as we do. James Montgomery Boice was a theologian, Bible teacher, and pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1968 until his...

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James Boice on Reformed Theology

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Articles | 0 comments

James Boice on Reformed Theology

Reformed theology gets its name from the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation, with its distinct theological emphases, but it is theology solidly based on the Bible itself. Believers in the reformed tradition regard highly the specific contributions of such people as Martin Luther, John Knox, and particularly John Calvin, but they also find their strong distinctives in the giants of the faith before them, such as Anselm and Augustine, and ultimately in the letters of Paul and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Reformed Christians hold to the doctrines characteristic of all Christians, including the Trinity, the true deity and true humanity of Jesus Christ, the necessity of Jesus’ atonement for sin, the church as a divinely ordained institution, the inspiration of the Bible, the requirement that Christians live moral lives, and the resurrection of the body. They hold other doctrines in common with evangelical Christians, such as justification by faith alone, the need for the new birth, the personal and visible return of Jesus Christ, and the Great Commission. What, then, is distinctive about reformed theology. Two of its distinctives are its Doctrine of Scripture and its understanding of The Cultural Mandate. 1. The Doctrine of Scripture. The reformed commitment to Scripture stresses the Bible’s inspiration, authority, and sufficiency. Since the Bible is the Word of God and so has the authority of God Himself, reformed people affirm that this authority is superior to that of all governments and all church hierarchies. This conviction has given reformed believers the courage to stand against tyranny and has made reformed theology a revolutionary force in society. The sufficiency of Scripture means that it does not need to be supplemented by new or ongoing special revelation. The Bible is the entirely sufficient guide for what we are to believe and how we are to live as Christians. The Reformers, and particularly John Calvin, stressed the way the objective, written Word and the inner, supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit work together, the Holy Spirit illuminating the Word to God’s people. The Word without the illumination of the Holy Spirit remains a closed book. The supposed leading of the Spirit without the Word leads to errors and excess. The Reformers also insisted upon the believers’ right to study the Scripture for themselves. Though not denying the value of trained teachers, they understood that the clarity of Scripture on matters essential for salvation makes the Bible the property of every believer. With this right of access always comes the responsibility of careful and accurate interpretation 2.  The Cultural Mandate. Reformed theology also emphasizes the cultural mandate, or the obligation of Christians to live actively in society and work for the transformation of the world and its cultures. Reformed people have had various views in this area, depending on the extent to which they believe such a transformation is possible But on the whole they agree on two things. First we are called to be in the world and not to withdraw from it. This sets reformed believers apart from monasticism. Second, we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoner. But the chief needs of people are still spiritual, and social work is no adequate substitute for evangelism. In fact, efforts to help people will only be truly effective as their...

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4 Important Reasons You Should Commit to Church Each Week

Posted by on May 1, 2015 in Articles | 0 comments

4 Important Reasons You Should Commit to Church Each Week

Not long ago, I was reminiscing with a pastor friend of mine about the previous couple decades of our ministries.  We both noted how commitment to the church seems to be at an all time low. As we discussed this, we both agreed that a decade or so ago, the core leaders of our churches normally seemed to attend church about five out of every six Sundays or so. Less-committed church goers would attend with less regularity, perhaps about half the time. Sadly, it seems that the core leaders today only tend to attend church about half the time (about 2 Sundays per month), and the less-committed attend even less than that. This is a tragic shift, and nationwide figures seem to be showing the exact same trend. People just don’t seem to be all that “into” God anymore. People are clearly busier than ever, and that does not help the situation. Others have been hurt or disillusioned by churches or “religious” people, so they use that as a “reason” for why they do not attend church often. However, most people just seem to be looking for something better to do on Sunday mornings than go to a church to worship and learn about God and His ways. Golfing, sleeping, sports, and many other things turn out to be that “better option” for them than church. I would like to suggest to you four reasons why church is a big deal – a REALLY big deal!  Let me give you some reasons why you should plan to be in church every single possible moment you can. Why You Should Make a Huge Commitment to Being in Church Whenever the Doors Are Open . . . 1) The local church is a central part of God’s strategic plan for your spiritual growth. I have often heard the statement, “Well, I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” On a slight technicality, that may be true, but it is certainly far-removed from God’s true plan. Jesus said, “On this rock [Peter’s statement that Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God] I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not be able to stand against it” (Matthew 16:18). You see, the church is Jesus’ idea, not man’s idea. It seems like we should pay attention to His plan since it came directly from Him. When a person says they don’t need the church, that is a departure from God’s plan. I would advise against that. 2) You are basically a composite of the five people with whom you spend the most time. When I was a youth pastor, I could easily see how friends could influence young people for either good or for bad. Now that I am a pastor to “big people,” I can see that tendency is true for them as well! Even adults are influenced by their friends and the people with whom they spend time. I have come to believe that we are basically a composite of the five people with whom we spend the most time. It is important, therefore, that we choose those people well. That is why it is so valuable for us to be in church every time the doors are open. We need to expose ourselves...

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