The End of an Era

This is the final post in 2thesource history. Please observe a moment of silence before reading further.

Five years ago I kicked off 2thesource as a tool for equipping the church at LifePoint. Half a decade, 702 blogs, and nearly 100,000 views later the sun is setting on this specific tool. I have been thinking for a couple of weeks about an appropriate send-off for this blog. I can’t think of anything. So I’ve decided to end it like I began it…with a blog post. I’m sure the originality of this memorial is already moving you to tears.

I’m still writing consistently, and will continue to do so. If you follow this blog, you are certainly aware that in recent months I have written less on this forum, as we started to utilize it more through staff and other leaders at LifePoint. Part of that began last summer as I started work on a manuscript called “To Be The Church.” Another part of that is the fact that we have learned to use so many new tools for equipping the church, that my attention has been diverted. At this point it has become clear that 2thesource has served its purpose. At the beginning of 2011 we needed a place to work out being the church, and this blog was by and large just that (for me and hopefully for you) for the last few years.

The new era:

We are currently employing a number of tools to equip the church to be the church. Going forward we are going to employ written, audio, and video mediums to saturate the world with the content we create at LifePoint. The difference is—we’re going to do it all from one place. That place, beginning later this spring, will be tobethechurch.com. If you visit that site now, you will be re-routed to a page on our church website (lpcvan.com) which features our weekly podcast show. Over the next few months we will be developing tobethechurch.com as an independent site, and we’re hoping for a launch sometime after Easter.

The new site will feature written content (blogs, e-books, articles, books), audio content (podcast shows of all varieties, original music from lpcvan music), video content (short teaching, sermon clips, video teaching, video podcasts), and other resources (sermon notes, graphics, chord charts, etc. for resourcing local churches).

For the next few months, our staff will be organizing, editing, creating, and preparing for the launch of the new site. For now, you can visit lpcvan.com, lpcvan on facebook or twitter, tobethechurch on facebook and twitter, and my new facebook page to track with the content we’re be producing in the meantime. Be sure to subscribe to our weekly podcast show, which will undoubtedly track our progress, as we get ready for this new venture.

If you are currently a subscriber to this blog, fear not, you will get the initial notification when the new site launches and you’ll be able to stay connected from there.

Good night my friends. Soli Deo Gloria.

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The Mission of Marriage

4783160968_a0f75d4875_b-2Michaelangelo is one of the most well known artists in history. One of his most incredible works is his sculpture of the Bible’s David. When asked how he achieved such a marvelous piece of work, he answered that it was actually pretty simple: He simply looked inside the block of marble, saw David there, and then chipped away at everything that wasn’t David.

Perhaps he is understating his work just a tad, but regardless, this was a special level of vision that Michelangelo brought to work that day. I think we could benefit if we brought a similar kind of vision to our marriages.

Often we look for spouses that will fulfill us, meet our needs, and help us reach our life goals. This is the cry of our culture: “Where is Mr./Mrs. Right?!” But what if that person doesn’t exist?

What if the purpose of marriage isn’t to fulfill you, but to change you? What if God isn’t calling you to be married so that you could be actualized and happy, but so that you could give your life to the task of serving another person that they may grow more and more into the image of Jesus? (Which will ultimately fulfill you and bring you joy, just not in the way you may have thought initially.)

Ephesians 5:25 teaches how men should treat their spouses: “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” But notice the next part of the verse: “[26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

This is profound and affects our entire understanding of marriage. The Lord doesn’t only tell us guys how to treat our wives, but he tells us toward what end to love them! As men we are supposed to follow the pattern of his love and the goal of his love: sanctification. In other words, God put us in our spouse’s life to help change her into the image of Christ, and on the other hand, he has given you/will give you a spouse to help change you into the image of Christ. This is the mission of marriage.

Therefore, married people: embrace the mission. Don’t become so fixated on the sin and faults in your spouse that you forget that God has put you in your partner’s life to change them. If you spend more time complaining about your partner’s sins than you do praying about it, or discussing it with them with truth and grace, you’ve lost sight of the mission.

Singles: adjust your perspective. You’re not looking for a statue of perfection, but something like a block of marble, someone who is willing to be chiseled by God and by their spouse into a statue to the glory of God. And remember – you need someone who is willing to devote his or her life to doing the same in you. Marriage is not about self-fulfillment as much as it is mutual self-denial.

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Learn the Gospel

 

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How do we communicate the Gospel in an increasingly pluralistic world where our claims of truth find a very different reception from even a generation ago? Can we be truly effective in our present-day context if we lack a biblical understanding of the Gospel message? At Lifepoint Church, we want to equip you to be the church in our community and be biblically literate. We also want to equip people to better understand what and why you believe the Bible and the mission God has tasked his followers with.

I want to introduce to you the Center for Leadership Development (CLD) offered at LifePoint Church.  The CLD is an extension of Western Seminary and is designed to give high-quality, affordable and theologically-sound resources to help train current and future ministry leaders. The CLD is designed to help you understand better what you believe, how to communicate a clear Gospel message to a challenging world, and how to maintain a personal walk with Christ that supports and empowers your witness. To incentivize those who want to take full advantage, there is a one-time fee of $40 for the entire CLD track. If you choose to take all the classes, it is still the same price. A certificate is given upon completion.

On Sunday, February 7th, we are offering a 7 week class on the topic, “What is the Gospel?” which is part of the CLD track. This class will cover What is the Gospel and what does the Gospel mean for us today? We will discuss these questions and other questions that will strengthen and bring focus to your Christian walk. Space is limited, so sign up now. Classes are offered at three different times: 9:30am, 11am, or 12:30pm. Click here to sign up.

 

Posted in 2theSource, Biblical Truth, Discipleship, Gospel, Theology | 1 Comment

Introducing: LifePoint Volleyball

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In a few weeks, LPC Sports will be taking it to the next level as we kick off our brand new LifePoint Volleyball League.

On Monday nights, each team will put on their gym clothes, dawn the court, and have a blast playing to become the first ever LPV Champions. It’s going to be a lot of fun and plenty of friendly competition. However let’s be clear – ultimately this is not about building a dynasty; it’s about building relationships.

So if you’d like to have some fun and meet some new people, sign-up and you will be put on a team. Simply complete this form to join the Volleyball action, and then pass it on.

DETAILS:

Mondays, games at 7 and 8 PM @ LifePoint Church Gym
• 8 Weeks: February 8 – March 28
• Open gym: February 1 (come shake off the rust!)
$10 per player
• Best 2 out of 3 games to 25 points (Rally scoring)
• All are welcome (16 and up)

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Biblical Eldership

It is now 2016! People tend to think about what really matters to them and establish some goals and new direction at the beginning of a New Year. At LifePoint Church we are doing that as a leadership team. This is why my first read for 2016 was a booklet by Alexander Strauch entitled Biblical Eldership.[1] It is based on the author’s full volume that bears the same title.

Church leadership and governance aren’t typically at the top of people’s priority list as they think about what really matters to them heading into a new year. LifePoint Church, though, is adamant about the church being the church! We aren’t simply an organization, a movement, or a place where like-minded people get together to rally their cause. We are a church; a local expression of the body of Christ. We are the family of God, called by God to belong to him and to spread his gospel around the world.

In our insistence that the church be the church we recognize how important it is that something like church leadership and governance is done right. LifePoint Church is led by an elder team. They are a solid group of men whose lives reflect the gospel and who are committed to serving the church as biblical elders. In 2016 we are going to be digging deep into the biblical texts, church history, and books like Strauch’s Biblical Eldership. This, so we can grow in our understanding of the Lord’s ways and lead the church well.

For others who care about such things I recommend Strauch’s work. He is sound in his exegesis of the biblical passages that deal with eldership and he had done his homework with regard to church history. The following are a couple of highlights to whet your appetite for the book:

According to the New Testament, elders lead the church, teach and preach the Word, protect the church from false teachers, exhort and admonish the saints in sound doctrine, visit the sick and pray, and judge doctrinal issues. In biblical terminology, elders shepherd, oversee, lead, and care for the local church. (7)

Biblical eldership, however, can’t exist in an atmosphere of nominal Christianity. There can be no biblical eldership in a church where there is no biblical Christianity. (11)

The local church must in all earnestness insist on biblically qualified elders, even if such men take years to develop. (27)

Most important, biblical eldership guards and promotes the preeminence and position of Christ over the local church. (39)

Here’s to a great year of exploration and growth as we serve our Lord together!

[1] Strauch, Alexander, Biblical Eldership; Restoring the Eldership to its Rightful Place in the Church, (Lewis & Roth Publishers, 1997).

Posted in Administration, Biblical Truth, Book Reviews, Church History, Discipleship, Ecclesiology, Elders, For Pastors, Leadership, Management, To Be The Church | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Read the Entire Bible: 6 Benefits

holy bibleI recently finished Revelation 22, the final chapter of the Bible. Several months ago I started in Genesis 1, and begin plowing straight through. I was a freshman in college the first time I read through the entire Bible in a year, and it is a goal I have tried to accomplish many times since. To be honest, I’ve lost steam in the prophets the last couple of years, never even making it to the New Testament. I’ll read or memorize texts in the NT pretty regularly, but I think it’s been at least three years since I made it all the way through. I’m glad I did it again this year. I’m definitely going to shoot for this goal in 2016. Here are six reasons why I’d challenge you to join me:

1) It’s a goal that takes time out of every day of the year.

Depending on the print size of your Bible, reading through it in a year usually means reading about two and half pages (three to four chapters) a day. For most people, this will be between ten to fifteen minutes of Bible reading a day. There is a big difference between 10-15 minutes and 30 minutes. There is a huge difference between 15 minutes and 45 minutes. You learn very quickly that staying on rhythm with this takes daily discipline, and that’s a good thing.

2) It guarantees you will see the “Big Picture.”

Individual Bible verses are like gold nuggets of truth, promises that you can fit in your pocket. Reading through the entire book in a year is gaining access to the gold mine.

3) It will help you handle the Bible responsibly.

Every text has context. Without context, you can’t understand the true meaning of a text. An individual Bible verse may look like a gold nugget, but it could easily be fool’s gold. It may not actually mean what you think it means. Context changes everything. When you read through entire books of the Bible, groups of books, OT/NT, and eventually the whole thing—you grow in your understanding of the parts as you see the whole.

4) It will force you to grow in spiritual discipline.

See #1.

5) It will help you discover things you had no idea were there.

I’ve read through the Bible in a year over a dozen times, and each time I find something new. It’s not an exaggeration to say that each week, if not each day, I find something I didn’t notice before.

6) It will position you to hear from the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.

I can’t tell you how many times my daily Bible reading has unearthed a word from God (literally) that directly correlates with something I am going through or about which I am praying. Reading through the Bible in a year, which forces me into every single day, regularly opens my ears to the Holy Spirit.

These are six of the many reasons to read through the Bible in 2016. I think I’m going for it again. What do you think?

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Overweight Baggage

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We all have strengths and weaknesses in life and I can readily admit that one of my weaknesses is not knowing how to pack light for a trip. Although I have become better over the years, I have found myself more times than not shifting items out of my checked bags and into my carry-on to avoid overweight baggage fees. In fact, I have practiced the art of making my carry-on bag look light as a feather when I lift and place it in the overhead bin so that no one will be suspicious of its weight.  As sweat drips from my brow and my arms want to shake, I keep a soft face and pretend the bag is light. The attendant asks if I need help and I kindly decline for fear they would feel the weight of my bag and send it below. The strategy has worked flawlessly… that is until an overseas trip I took this past September.

To my horror, I saw that they had a flight attendant coming around actually weighing our carry-on bags. “That’s it!” I thought, “I am doomed.” I was hoping somebody would make a scene, a disgruntled customer perhaps, a baby crying, or even better- a toddler in a tantrum- something to distract the attention of this attendant while I walked through the line….but no scene took place. The attendant took my bag, weighed it and told me it was way overweight. I would need to check my bag and they would give me a complimentary “bag” to place necessary items in. In my mind I am thinking, “These are my necessary items, that is why they are staying with me.” I had an overnight layover before I would even reach my destination. Needless to say, I did not make a scene (at least outwardly) and I took the complimentary “bag”. I am pretty sure a paper bag would have been more durable than the “bag” they gave me and I am pretty sure the gummy bears, chips, Snickers bar, three pairs of shoes, and five books (to name just a few of my items) in my carry-on may not have been as necessary as I would have liked to admit.

As I reflect back on the incident, I am reminded that sometimes that is how many of us approach life. We can have all these “necessary items” that we do not want to depart from. The problem is that all of these items can weigh us down. I am reminded of Hebrews 12:1 “..let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Am I carrying a weight in my life that is hindering me in running the race set before me?

Several common areas that can hinder the race:

  1. Misplaced Identity: Your worth is not defined by what you do, by what you have, your family, your church, or your past. Your worth needs to be defined by God.
  2. Overpacked schedule: We don’t have time to run the race efficiently.
  3. Pride: So often we want to handle things in our own wisdom and in our own strength. Instead, humble yourselves before God and be surrendered to his will- ask him for wisdom and strength that comes from him. Seek wisdom by studying His Word and be in community with other believers.

 

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Take Off the Bubble Wrap

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As a new parent, I no longer fear holding a baby, changing diapers, or knowing what he wants. The name of the game right now is simply “Keep him alive.”

Check.

Now I have new fears. Pretty soon the name of the game will become, “Shape his character, teach him about life, and introduce him to Jesus.” That’s kind of a big deal.

I find myself watching news and reading articles that once were irrelevant to me. Whenever the public school system is in the news, I no longer change the channel but listen intently, wondering (to be honest, fearing) what challenges my wife and I will face raising our son in a few short years. I’ve joked (only half-joked) with my wife that we can just wrap him up in bubble wrap and make sure he never leaves the house.

Recently in one of my classes at Western Seminary, Gary Thomas encouraged me to rethink the bubble wrap idea and to be careful to not raise my children to be scared of failure. He shared this quote by *Dr. Melody Rhode:

“The phrase ‘growing pains’ goes beyond aching knees to describe aching hearts and disappointed souls – essential experiences on the path toward maturity. If we ‘protect’ our children from all risk, challenge, and possible rejection, they likely will become developmentally stunted and will therefore remain immature.”

What parent doesn’t instinctually want to keep their children from adversity? However I was convicted by the reality that our attempts to protect our children from failure can sometimes set them up for it.

The “growing pains” that come from failure is hard to watch as parents, but it’s necessary for our children’s growth. First of all, failure will develop their character. Only in the light of failure will they develop humility, perseverance, and courage to try again. Only when they fail will they have the opportunity to learn, grow, and experience the success of handwork.

Not only will failure help them grow and develop into a mature person, but it will also help them spiritually. It’s failure that will help them understand their need for a savior! Children who win all the time, who only do things they are awesome at, and have never faced a challenge, aren’t aware of the fact that they aren’t perfect and have weaknesses and needs. It’s only when we take off the bubble wrap and let them experience failure that we give them space to discover their needs and learn to ask for help. By allowing them to understand a basic premise of humanity, “I need help,” we are planting seeds that will one day blossom into their reliance upon the gospel about a God who’s power is made perfect in our weakness.

*Dr. Melody Rhode is a Christian who works as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in Bellingham. See her profile here.

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Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad?

The Muslim religion is prominent in American culture. Islam is in the American news cycle daily. Currently there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world and Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion.[1] Yet, many followers of Christ are uninformed about Islam and confused about what their responsibility toward Muslims might be. In fact, many are so uninformed that they believe Allah, the god of Islam, and the God of the Bible are one and the same. Are they?

In his book Theology in the Context of World Christianity Timothy Tennent includes a chapter entitled: Is the Father of Jesus the God of Muhammad? Do you see where I got the title for this blog? Pretty creative huh? Seriously, Tennent’s question is a pressing one for Christians who are earnest about the integrity of Christianity and the global mission of Christ.

In this chapter he traces the etymology (word origin), history, and usage of the world “Allah” and concludes that though there are etymological links between the word “Allah” and the Jewish words for God, nonetheless, they are not the same. Pre-Islam, the word Allah was used generically to refer to deity. But as Islam came on the world scene the word Allah quickly began being used as the personal name for the god of Islam, which is not the God of the Bible. The god that Muhammad claimed to represent as a prophet is not the God of the Bible. Muslims believe that Muhammad is the last and final prophet sent by God to humanity. Wait? The Bible presents Jesus as the full and final revelation of God! So, the Qur’an and the Bible can’t both be right.[2] Moreover, Jesus himself said that no one comes to the Father except through him.[3] That means that no Muslim knows the Father of Jesus; who is God Almighty. Since Jesus and Muhammad made conflicting claims to truth and conflicting claims about God they can’t both be right.

Keep in mind, Christianity and Islam are both monotheistic religions. That means both groups hold that there is only one Supreme Being. Think about it, there can’t be more than one Supreme Being. It would be a contradiction. So, is Allah God or is the God of the Bible God? They are not the same being, so which one is Supreme and which one is false?

Tennent wrote, “From the Islamic perspective, we Christians do not know the ‘God of Muhammad’ because we have rejected the revelation of the Qur’an. We have turned away in unbelief.” Further, as Christians, our beliefs about who Jesus Christ is and what he accomplished on the cross, alienates us from their god. The good news is that though we are alienated from Islam through our belief in Jesus, we are reconciled to God.[4] Tennent reminds Christians of something vastly important, that, “A Muslim without Christ remains alienated from God. Muslims stand in need of a reconciliation that cannot come through human effort but has been freely offered through Jesus Christ.”

We conclude definitively that the Father of Jesus is not the God of Muhammad. That leads Christians to embrace the commission that Jesus gave his followers for Muslims. We are to share the good news of God’s salvation with them, a salvation that is only realized through faith in Jesus.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/04/02/chart-there-will-be-almost-as-many-muslims-as-christians-in-the-world-by-2050/

[2] The Qur’an or Koran is the book that Muslims consider sacred. It is supposed that Muhammad received the words of the Qur’an by revelation from the angel Gabriel.

[3] John 14:6

[4] Romans 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18; Col. 1:22

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The Myth and the Reality of World Peace

babelWorld Peace.

What would it be like? What would it look like? How different would the world operate if humankind could all get on the same page?

These are questions many people have stopped asking. The dream of world peace is just that for most people: a dream that tantalizes the fancy for a moment, only to disappear quickly as we wake up to reality.

The Bible has two stories about world peace. One is world peace on humankind’s terms; the other is world peace on God’s terms. The first account is in Genesis 11:1-9.

All humans spoke the same language, and were striving for the same goal: to build a city for themselves with a tower to the heavens. They were out to make a name for themselves, a human culture centered on self-actualization. The tower of Babel wasn’t so much about reaching heaven; it was about invading it. The Serpent’s voice still echoed in their minds “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be open, and you will be like God.”

God mercifully wrecked our plans. The Tower of Babel was a monument of confusion. It was humankind’s attempt to become gods, to live out world peace without the God of peace. We lost a common language, but we are better for it. A single language is only useful if those speaking it tell the truth. If human communication perpetuates the lie that we can be gods, it’s better to misunderstand one another. In this context, confusion is mercy. If we’re going to speak lies to each other, a language barrier is an act of God’s mercy.

When God reached out to humanity, he didn’t do it from afar. God didn’t sit in the heavens and send a lighting bolt of confusion to thwart human progress. He came down (Genesis 11:5) because the myth of progress had us on a road to self-destruction.

God coming down in mercy is at the center of the Bible’s second story of world peace. Jesus came down and hung on a cross to ransom people from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 5:9). God’s mercy dispersed us into nations with different languages; God’s grace will put us back together again.

Human-centered world peace built a monument of arrogant confusion and ended in disintegration. God-centered world peace is the end of the story. Because of Jesus the story will end, not with humankind’s tower of arrogance reaching into the heavens, but with God’s heaven coming to earth.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22:1-5

 

 

 

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