Has Doug Phillips Repented?

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

Getting right to the point, there are two things to say: No one knows, and don’t count on it. Now, why do I even think it appropriate to go on record with my view of this? Because Christians have proven to be slow to think rightly about leaders who are exposed for scandalous sin, and that makes us quick to take them back as leaders. We have a soft spot for those who have taught us valuable things, and that can make us hopelessly naive, mistakenly ready for their return. SINFULLY ready for their return.

Let’s take a closer look at my two propositions:

Has Doug Phillips repented? No one knows.

Even if all the signs were positive – granting that purely for the sake of argument – no one would really know for quite some time. Though Proverbs 28:13 doesn’t explicitly use the word “repentance,” it contains the best definition of true repentance that I know: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Did you catch that? Confession ≠ Repentance. Confession is a subset of repentance. The other active ingredient is the forsaking of the sin, and knowing whether or not that has really happened takes significant time. Part 1, confession, is super-easy for a skilled communicator – and Doug is a very skilled communicator. Part 2, forsaking, is where the rubber meets the road. As John the Baptist warned the Pharisees who came to receive his baptism (or at least to gawk), there must be “fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8), and that takes time. Significant time.

Has Doug Phillips repented? Don’t count on it.

If we have learned anything from these revelations, it is that Doug is a very skillful deceiver and manipulator. He is good at it, and he has had a lot of practice. Knowing that, it would be foolish for any of us to put ourselves in a position to be deceived or manipulated by him now.

Doug was a shepherd. He was entrusted with sheep. Now, the Bible tells us the full range of what we need to know about shepherds and shepherding. It tells us how God shepherds in Psalm 23. God the Shepherd makes His sheep lie down in green pastures and leads them beside the still waters. The Bible tells us how Jesus shepherds in John 10. Jesus the Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. These things are what Paul calls under-shepherds to in Acts 20, as does Peter in 1 Peter 5. These must be the objectives of every local church elder. The Bible also warns of false shepherds in Ezekiel 34. These shepherds exploit the flock. These shepherds devour the flock. And God removes them in His time. Let us fear Him together.

Which kind of shepherd has Doug been? For years now, Doug has been an Ezekiel 34 shepherd, exploiting and devouring for self-satisfaction. He was entrusted with sheep to be a blessing to them, and instead he has been a curse. Is this not beyond dispute? And has not the Chief Shepherd removed him? Let us fear Him together.

Has Doug really repented? Time will tell, as the saying goes. And as it relates to Christian leadership, that can’t mean a week, a month, a year, or a decade. When it becomes known that a shepherd has cultivated a life of deception and manipulation for many years, such a man may not have enough years to reestablish himself as qualified for leadership.

Should Doug be forgiven? Absolutely. Anyone who has been forgiven much by the King must stand ready to forgive his fellow servants (Matthew 18:21-35).

Should he be trusted? Not on your life. At least not now. At least not soon.

So pray for him, but don’t mistakenly hope for his return to Christian leadership. And pray for his family. And more than that, pray for the woman who was exploited by a shepherd who was meant to be a blessing to her. Nothing short of the grace of God will bring her back from that, but He is gracious.

Nuggets from Puritan Preaching

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

One of the outstanding messages from the NCFIC “Worship of God” conference included some observations by Joel Beeke about Puritan preaching. I found two to be especially inspiring and helpful:

1. They detested “exposing their learning.”

Most of the Puritan preachers were very learned men. Reading them and gaining a sense of what they themselves had read is very humbling. It isn’t a stretch to say that modern preachers pale by comparison as a whole. But well-studied as they were, and hard as they worked in preparation for preaching, Puritan preachers labored to speak plainly and directly. They worked to pierce the heart, as well as to enlighten the mind. They wanted power in their preaching, not polish or flourish. They wanted to be faithful to the text and to be thoroughly understood, not to be thought smart. Every preacher should aspire to this.

2. They preached that the natural man was sinning with every tick of the clock.

Puritan preachers pressed on their hearers that every person was created by God for His glory, and so every second living for self and unreconciled with God was an utterly sinful second. This allowed them to lift up the remedy – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – in a beautiful and unparalleled way. It helped them to batter down the walls of self-satisfaction erected by those outside of Christ who needed to be convinced of their desperate need to fly to the cross for mercy.

Preachers of the gospel, join with me in aspiring to follow our Puritan forefathers by preaching to the heart as well as the mind, and by pressing the sinfulness of the unrepentant state on our hearers. These hearers will be better served as we do.

Wisdom for Family Worship

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

I have no idea how many times I have listened to this message from Jeff Pollard since he delivered it in Birmingham, Alabama in 2007, but the number certainly won’t fit on the fingers of one hand. It is my favorite sermon on the subject, and I gain something valuable every time I listen to it.

I highly commend it to you. Happy listening!

Bringing the Bible to Bear on Mental Illness

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

There are certain sacred cows that you touch at your own peril. One of these is how to approach mental illness, a term never used in Scripture, though obviously the Bible speaks to it. Which brings me to the point: this is an area hijacked by the wise of the world, who are happy to create terms, define them, and tell us what to think of them without once consulting the fount of all truth, the Bible. Christians obviously can’t accept this.

That is why I am so grateful to have been pointed to an article titled “A Biblical Response to Mental Illness and Suicide“. In it, Dr. Abercrombie, founder of the Biblical Counseling Institute, brings the counsel of Scripture to bear on a touchy topic.

I heartily commend it to you. It is well worth the investment of time to read it.

The Secret of Happiness in the Home

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

It is hard to find a Scripture text that is the equal of Psalm 128 in terms of describing a happy home and what it takes to have one. It was an honor to have drawn the assignment to speak on this topic during a recent NCFIC ”Master’s Plan for Fatherhood” conference in New York City.

My favorite line: “The secret is there is no secret. There is only God. God is the key.”

Happy listening, if you dare!

The Power of a Gospel-Centered Marriage

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

Of the talks that I was asked to give at a recent NCFIC conference in New York City, “The Power of a Gospel-Centered Marriage” was my favorite, but just by a nose (“The Secret of Happiness in the Home” was right on its heels).

My favorite line: “If you chase happiness in your marriage, you’ll end up miserable. But if you pursue God, you’ll end up happy. Happiness is a fruit.”

Happy listening, if you dare!

That Will Never Be Marriage

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

The progress made by the proponents of homosexual marriage is nothing short of breathtaking. If momentum means anything at all, it will only be another year or two until same-sex marriage has been so overwhelmingly accepted in the United States that those who oppose it won’t even have a significant platform for articulating objections. The advocates who have so skillfully advanced it will have the luxury of just shrugging and waving us off with disdain. In my lifetime, we will have switched spots.

Almost forgotten is the God who called all things into existence with only the words of His mouth. He is the One that keeps the debate from being over. God should never, ever be left out of any equation, because no matter what mankind says or does, He always speaks last, and what He says goes. In card playing lingo, every card in His hand is an ace of spades. Always the highest card. Always trump. Always.

And so that will never be marriage, no matter how many people say it is or how long they say it. Two men, no matter what they say or what they do, can never be married. Two women, no matter what they say or what they do, can never be married.  Because marriage is God’s, and no amount of momentum can ever change that. It is His institution, given in the first chapter of the book of beginnings. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it…’” (Genesis 1:27-28a). “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). This is God’s. This is marriage.

Is there another view to be had in all of Scripture? No. None. The last prophet of the Old Testament is simply representative: “You cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth.” (Malachi 2:13b-15). Three profound things are learned from the three questions in the text and their answers. God responds when His institution of marriage is dishonored, it is only God who can make two one, and He does so to increase those who honor Him. All three of these truths stand immovably between God’s creatures and any such thing as gay marriage.

And the New Testament seals this truth with stunning clarity. Having spoken at length about how husbands and wives must relate to one another, Paul says this: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32). This is why, just a few verses earlier, he said that husbands must act like Christ and wives must act like the church. Because this institution was created by God to play out the most sacred drama – the gospel drama – before a home and before a world. So Christians can never, ever accept homosexual marriage, because it fundamentally upends the gospel drama. It destroys the gospel picture that God created marriage to be. And so that will never be marriage.

I am setting reminders on my calendar to republish this each year for the next five years, because saying it once won’t be nearly enough. I will need to lay my eyes on these words again and again myself, and I’m guessing you will too. And when we read it, we will remember that God always has the highest card to play, that He always plays trump, and that He will act at just the right moment.

“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: ‘Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.’… Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” (Psalm 2:1-6, 10-12).

Brothers and sisters, our duty is to declare the truth of Scripture, never letting the light of that truth be extinguished by even the greatest multitude, and to pray fervently that when our God acts, it will be to grant repentance and faith to those enslaved to sin, and not to send the judgment we so richly deserve. May we be found laboring tirelessly towards those ends!

Voice Obedience, Soft Voice, First Command

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

Scott and Dan are both in Harrisburg, PA for the “History of America” conference. Scott sent this from a message that was givenby Paul Jehle last night:

“The pilgrim church was a holy commonwealth. They trained their children by voice obedience in a soft voice on the first command. Parents were put in stocks if a child disobeyed in public.”

Wow – voice obedience, soft voice, first command. However near or far from it we are, THAT IS THE TARGET. We need to be nearer and nearer and nearer to this target. When we can give instructions in a soft voice that are followed immediately the first time, it is likely that we have secured what Paul calls “in submission with all reverence” (1 Timothy 3:4). It is every child’s duty before God to honor his or her parents, and it is the duty of every godly parent to work diligently to secure that honor. That is part of what it means to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

So if we have in any way succumbed to thinking that the dutiful parents are the ones who are loudly and angrily correcting and commanding their children, we need to retrain our brains to think more biblically. Often the parents who are parenting most closely to the counsel of the word of God aren’t noticed at all, because they are able to direct their children once with a soft voice. The hard work of parenting – and hopefully of discipleship – has been done at home, and the wise and judicious use of the rod is yielding good fruit in public settings. This amazes worldlings when they see it, by the way.

May we be so thorough in parenting according to the Bible that our normal pattern is voice obedience, soft voices, and one-time commands, and the rare exception is public disobedience that requires a raised voice and retiring to a place of privacy where sterner discipline can be administered.

Now that is a target fully worth aiming at!

Profile of the Evangelistic Church

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

This was my topic for the NCFICWhite Unto Harvest” conference (October 2012), and it was a great honor and pleasure to speak about some of the things God has been doing in our midst. Happy reading!

In the category of evangelism, most local churches acknowledge the need for God to make us what we have not been. We look at our history, and it is painfully obvious that we need for God to give us progress. A lot of progress.

For churches like that, 1 Thessalonians 1:5-8 is an encouraging text. Paul writes, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” This precious local church received the pure gospel, they were firmly established in that gospel, and then it sounded forth in every place. The evangelistic church is not a mirage! Paul founded one and watched it come to maturity and fruitfulness.

May God give our local churches this testimony, as godly people in years to come see what God has accomplished among us. May they see that we have received a pure gospel, that we have been firmly established in it, and that this gospel has sounded forth in every place.

I was assigned the task of profiling the evangelistic church. Why? Is it that I lead a church which has arrived in this category, so that I can simply exhort other local churches to be like us? Certainly not! If you speak with the members of our congregation, the consistent self-analysis will be that when we were planted a year and a half ago, we were pitiful, and now we are mediocre. So we are not boasting in our mediocrity, but we can point with gratitude to progress that the Lord has given us, and it gives us hope to aspire to so much more, based on the pattern of God’s faithfulness that we have already seen.

There are a few important topics that this article simply presupposes, and doesn’t address. First, it is the pure gospel in view. That is certainly not a given, in this day when so many false gospels are welcome in the evangelical world. Second, a local church which is a mighty voice for the gospel is dominated by people who are actually born again. This too is no safe bet for the modern local church. Finally, evangelism is simply the starting point of the Great Commission, a subset that is only a sliver of what it means to disciple the nations.

Where to Start: Repentance

As I begin to paint the picture of the evangelistic church, there is an absolutely essential starting point, and if we miss this then we miss all. It stems from what Jesus says in Matthew 22:36-40, when asked this question: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

How should this be applied to the Great Commission, and evangelism in particular? In this way: Evangelism is a natural, inevitable outflow, not a separate category. If our churches are genuinely evangelistic, it will be because the love of God and neighbor pulses in warm hearts. Can it be said that we love God with heart, soul and mind, and yet His praise is never on our lips when we are engaged in conversations with the lost? Inconceivable! Can it be said that we love our neighbor when we are so governed by the fear of man that our “comfort zone” is more precious to us than an eternal soul? Unbelievable!

If we intend to become evangelistic, we have to understand why we have not been evangelistic. It will not do to simply say, “We need to make progress,” or “Evangelism is a shortcoming.” The truth of the matter is that our history is displaying the great sin of lovelessness, and we must repent. Our greatest need isn’t a great strategy or a training program, it is repentance. If we start anywhere else, we end up with a lot of short-term activity with no long-term change. To take our place in the Great Commission, we desperately need the long-term change.

Face the facts, brothers and sisters. Our love for God isn’t what we thought it was. Our love for our neighbor isn’t what we thought it was. The outside of the cup looks fine, but the inside needs attention. We should be broken by the implications of our coldness towards evangelism and repent. Then and only then are we ready for progress.

One thing I have learned in life is that, in any category, there are a very few levers that determine success or failure. True in business, true at home, true in relationships, true in evangelism. Pull those few levers with all your might, and you’ll be successful. Ignore them but pull the hundred smaller levers instead, and you’ll fail. Obviously, given that Jesus said all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two great laws of love, love is one of those very few levers that must be pulled with all our might.

Step Two: Fear God

Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Evangelistic churches have corporately gotten a grasp of this! If you look across the broad landscape of those churches, you find that God looms large and man is a small thing. Why don’t we share our faith? We’re petrified, and most of the time we don’t even really know why. Speaking to people about their soul is just scary, that’s all.

But when we fear God as we ought, we don’t fear man, because the fear of God is a controlling fear, a master fear that subjugates all of those other fears of circumstance and people that would otherwise rule us. And here is what we find: You don’t die. In fact, rather than being killed by proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, we are exhilarated and wonder what we were afraid of anyway!

Are you willing to live in slavery to the fear of man for another decade? Another year, month, week, minute, second? By the grace of God, not me! May God cause us to fear Him in a way that makes our comfort zone nothing in our own eyes.

Why haven’t our churches been evangelistic? Because we haven’t loved God or neighbor as we ought, and we haven’t feared God as we ought. It seems to me that these are the two big levers that will determine our success or failure. Are you surprised? Did you think I was going to spend the space on technique? Undoubtedly there are many tools that can help us be effective in how we share the gospel, but our big problem is that we share the gospel (or that we don’t, to be precise).

If our two primary levers are love of God and neighbor and the fear of the Lord, how do we stoke those fires? Attention to the ordinary means of grace: prayer and the word. Go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place. Open His word and become like a tree planted by rivers of waters, yielding its fruit in season. Nothing cultivates love for God and fear of God than being in His presence and considering His character and His ways. Love for neighbor, and specifically evangelism, will flow from that.

Next: Depend on God

Let’s agree: When you launch the Apostle Paul on his first missionary journey, you get to be called an evangelistic church. Now consider the account, recorded in Acts 13:1-3: “Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.”

They are waiting but ready. They are ministering to the Lord, fasting, and praying with all diligence, ready to act on whatever God would have them do. They listened. God spoke. They did. And the world was turned upside down. This is an instance where a mighty work of evangelism wasn’t initiated by “evangelistic activity,” at least not as we might define that term. It was initiated by waiting on the Lord through prayer and fasting. They were ready, but they were not thrashing around, executing whatever idea willy-nilly. Can it be said that we do more thrashing than praying? I think most of us would have to plead guilty. Evangelistic churches trust God, not themselves. They fast. They pray.

Of course, this is simply a subset of loving and fearing God, but it is worth a specific mention. May God fashion us into local churches who patiently labor in prayer, ready at any moment to obey. Does that mean that we do nothing until we sense the leading of the Lord? By no means! But it does mean that we allocate lavish amounts of time, individually and corporately, to seek the Lord and be before Him in humility. In our desire to be more faithful in proclaiming the gospel, we dare not simply launch a program and declare victory. There is so much more to Great Commission fruitfulness than generating activity. Wait on the Lord. Fast. Pray. Then go with the good news of Jesus Christ on your lips.

Something You Can’t Supply: Gifted Evangelists

In Ephesians 4:7-8,11-12, Paul describes something that we can’t do. We don’t even play a part. He says this: “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’… And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”.

A key element of local churches being equipped for evangelism is the placement by God of gifted evangelists. He Himself gives evangelists to churches in order to equip the saints to go and do likewise. So the text clearly isn’t saying that evangelism is the exclusive domain of a few gifted souls. The Great Commission is a commandment to every follower of Christ until He comes again. But God has supernaturally given some of His people the ability to do with relative ease and effectiveness what is relatively difficult and ineffective for the rest of us. We watch them in action and we are helped. They push us out of our comfort zone, stirring us up to love and good deeds. We should praise God that He has given these gifted evangelists to His church, helping us to be more obedient and more faithful. The body of Christ is indeed edified by their presence.

My experience over a couple of decades is that this coin has two sides. On one side is a gift given to the church for the equipping of the saints, an invaluable blessing. Sometimes the flip side is a youthful zeal that hasn’t been seasoned by much wisdom in the faith yet. Maybe this gifted evangelist has this formula embedded firmly in the brain: evangelism = street preaching, and if you aren’t doing it, you are the worst kind of compromiser. He has lost sight of the fact that he is operating in an area of supernatural gifting, and he hasn’t yet learned to appreciate progressive sanctification. He might be more impatient with his brethren than he ought to be.

What should the more mature do then? Be mature! Put your arm around that young zealot and give him the lenses through which to see his brothers and sisters in Christ, and the mercy and patience of Christ that he also enjoys. Believe me, to whatever extent he needs your wisdom, you need his zeal tenfold. Don’t despise the misdirected zeal, but gently redirect it.

Our Church: A Case Study

We needed progress, and we had been praying for progress, and it was the arrival of some gifted evangelists that God used to really move us forward. I praise God for sending them. I trust we will never be the same.

Here are some reflections on our experiences over the past year and a half:

-  It all started with “a bad idea.” One of our gifted evangelists wanted to buy a gas grill and a trailer, and set up in a parking lot on main street to serve hot dogs to the community on Monday nights. Being a know-it-all (as opposed to all-knowing), I knew that wouldn’t work. On the other hand, it was something, and we were doing nothing in the category of public outreach. As it turned out, week after week it totally exceeded all of my expectations. Anywhere from fifteen to thirty people from the community, people we would never have had contact with, would come, sit in a chair, and eat hot dogs with families from the church. The gospel was (and still is) regularly and boldly proclaimed.

My wife and I have an inside joke. I’ll be sitting with my feet up. She’ll be working away, busy as a beaver. She’ll ask if I would do this or that, always something minor that would help with her big list. Without exception, I will roll my eyes and say, “Do I have to do EVERYTHING?” Without exception, she will reply, “No, just SOMETHING…” Then we have a good laugh. It is that way with local churches and evangelism. It is an endless work, but we don’t have to do everything, just something. Sometimes it helps to just get moving. And yes, I perceive how this could be seen as a contradiction to the admonition to wait on the Lord, fast and pray. Trust me, it isn’t.

-  We have found evangelism to be self-feeding. Here is what I mean. A person feels paralyzed by the prospect of sharing the gospel, but from love of God and neighbor, and out of a healthy fear of the Lord, they do it. Now, is that person much more inclined to do it again, or much less inclined? Much more inclined by a factor of a hundred! It is exhilarating to hear the gospel on your own lips, and the accounts of all the ways God has been good and faithful to you. It reminds you of what it was like to be without Christ, and gives you a love for souls in that condition. Once you get started, you feel the momentum instantly. It makes you wonder what all the fuss was about, why all the worry, and it puts you on the lookout for the next opportunity. Are you tired of that nagging feeling that you have an area of major disobedience in your life? Then get rid of it!

-  Once you start, opportunities abound. Are you near a nursing home? That’s where the widows are! Go be a blessing to them. The nursing home that we approached was happy to have us come and conduct a brief weekly service. The gospel is preached, hymns are sung, the elderly are loved and honored. One of our families, headed by a gifted evangelist, wanted to serve a meal and preach the gospel in the common area of local government-subsidized housing. Several families rallied around that, and it continues today. What is the limit to the places with people who need the gospel? You don’t even need to leave your home. Bring your neighbors and co-workers to your dinner table, clear away the dishes and have family worship after the meal, show them a functioning Christian family that gathers daily to worship God together. You will be surprised at how many people have never once seen that.

-  This is not at odds with family discipleship. It is not “either/or,” it is “both/and.” In fact, it is a critical element of family discipleship. Don’t leave your family to go do evangelism (though that may be appropriate or even necessary from time to time). Find ways to engage in evangelism together. That does two things. First, it communicates to our children that we are deadly serious about obeying the Lord’s commandment to disciple the nations. The value of that cannot be underestimated, and the lack of it is a catastrophic gap in bringing up children in the training and admonition of the Lord. Second, it readies the next generation to engage in the Great Commission. If our children have been at our elbows a hundred times as we have proclaimed the gospel, they will be ready themselves. For a while, they will just be observers, but the day will come when they will be able to enter the fray as well.

-  Training is a lousy substitute for doing. Yes, there is a place for resources and studying and training, but some of the best training happens by doing. We can never let the lack of training be our reason for neglecting to share the gospel. Every Christian who has felt the crushing weight of the holiness of God and their own desperate need to be pardoned has the wherewithal for evangelism. Pray, then get to it.

Conclusion

So what is the profile of the evangelistic church? As in all things, the Bible defines it.

-  The evangelistic church is filled with people who have received a true gospel, have been firmly established in that gospel, and then sound it forth (1 Thessalonians 1:5-8).
-  The evangelistic church is growing in the great commandments of love (Matthew 22:36-40).
-  The evangelistic church is growing in the fear of God (Matthew 10:28).
-  The evangelistic church is seeking the Lord through prayer, fasting, waiting (Acts 13:1-3).
-  The evangelistic church has received gifted evangelists from God (Ephesians 4:7-12).

In Romans 1:16, Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” May our churches cherish the good news of Jesus Christ as the great treasure that it is, and may God make us bolder and bolder in the proclamation of it. I know this will be to the glory of God, and that it will result in the joy of His people.

 

Jason Dohm
Sovereign Redeemer Community Church
Youngsville, NC

My Parker Pen

Dear Sovereign Redeemer and other friends,

This is me and my Parker pen.

My Parker Pen

It goes with me everywhere. I can’t imagine not having it. I don’t know if it is the best writing pen because I don’t try other pens. When it finally stops working and the time has come to replace it, I will buy – you guessed it – another Parker pen. To what does the Parker Company owe such undying brand loyalty? My Dad carried a Parker pen. Just like this one. Period, end of story. I am forty-three, and I always carry a Parker pen because my Dad carried one and I love my Dad. I am deadly serious.

Dads are not like other men. They enjoy an enormous God-given advantage for influencing their sons. I know this as a son. I know this as a father who looks into the eyes of a son. Tragically, many fathers squander their advantage. My Dad didn’t. He used it. He used his God-given influence in my life to give me an incredible foundation to build on. He gave me a head start in so many different categories. My Mom did too, and it has made a tremendous difference in my life. I could never forget it, and I am crying while I type. So don’t laugh at my love for my Parker pen. It isn’t the pen.

Some Dads are reading this. I want to address you, to plead with you to recognize the advantage God Himself has given you so that you can disproportionately influence your sons and daughters. Use it! Leverage it for the glory of your Redeemer! It will make a world of difference in each life, and maybe one day you will notice that they have an irrational attachment to some silly thing like a pen, and you will know that you are dearly loved for who you are and all you have invested in them.