Making Sense Of Waldo Canyon

a mountain west of Colorado Springs burns as a result of the Waldo Canyon fireNow that we here in the Colorado Springs region are ready to begin picking up the pieces in the aftermath of the Waldo Canyon fire, it seemed appropriate to address the many questions that people will have. Already I’ve heard the question, “Why did this happen?”

In coordination with Pastor Jason Parker, of High Country Baptist Church, we’re creating a website that provides biblical information and resources in order to help people make sense of the devastation. It’s called Waldo Canyon Fire Answers.

Your feedback is appreciated.

-Tracy

What Is God Doing In Human History?

Moses and the 10 commandmentsIn this week’s seminar the goal will be to finish the survey of the Bible and looking at what God has been doing in human history and to see how that all relates to evangelism. God’s labors over the last 6000 years all direct us to have a proper view of our role and responsibility in proclaiming the gospel, because history culminates in the person and work of Christ: the work that he has done, is doing, and will do in the future.

In the last post we left off with Abraham in Genesis 22. This week we want to look at the following major events and people in the rest of the Bible. We’ll be moving through this part quickly, so hang on!

The Passover (in the book of Exodus) – shows us the declared judgment against Egypt and the promised salvation of the Jews through the passover. Christ and his sacrificial work as the antitype Passover Lamb is seen in cleansing God’s people from their sin, thus enabling them to avoid the wrathful judgment of God.

Moses (also in Exodus and Deuteronomy) – shows a type of Christ as deliverer of, and intercessor for God’s people. Shows us Christ’s work for his people in both of these capacities.

Read More…

God’s Work In Human History

Continuing our look into evangelism, we need to finish investigating God’s work in human history. In the last post we had just started seeing God’s work and had to leave off right after His command to Adam to not eat the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What happened next in the narrative is crucial to our understanding of the need for evangelism.

Genesis 3:1-13 explains the temptation of man by Satan and man’s transgression of God’s law. You’re probably familiar with the story: Satan spoke to Eve, convinced her that the fruit on the forbidden tree was to be desired for many reasons, she chose to disobey God, and Adam followed along with her. Now they have sinned, and realize they have disobeyed God so they hide from him.

After this, it says that God walked in the garden and called to Adam, “Where are you?” We must acknowledge that what was happening here was not that God couldn’t find Adam. Rather, God sought out Adam to reveal himself to him; to confess what he had done. After Adam revealed his sin God pronounced the consequences on the man and woman and begins to make some revelations about what he will be doing in the future. While speaking to Satan, he mentions that there will be One coming whom Satan will wound. We don’t get any more information about this One in this scene, but we’ll begin to see more and more of Him as we progress through the Old Testament. Read More…

What On Earth Is God Doing?

spurgeon on evangelism

19th century preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said that evangelism ought to be the "chief business of the Christian: indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every believer." But why? Why should Christians evangelize? We're studying that question in a current seminar series on evangelism.

In beginning a study of evangelism, one may not think it’s relevant to start in Genesis, however, if we want to get a full view of evangelism, and especially the question of why we should evangelize, we must start with what God’s thoughts are about the subject, and what he has been doing in human history for the last 6000 years.

So, last Sunday, in our seminar series on evangelism at High Country Baptist Church in Colorado Springs, Genesis 1:1 is where we started.

Of course, Gen. 1:1 is the definitive statement about the origins of everything. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” but we can also read in vs. 26 – 28, and v. 31

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

What do we see happening here? Read More…

Evangelism Seminar in Colorado Springs

Beginning April 1st, I’ll be teaching a 13-week long seminar on evangelism at High Country Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. My point in mentioning this is not to make anything of the fact that I’m teaching, but to lead into a series of blog posts here that will summarize each week’s seminar classes.

Anyone who would like to attend is more than welcome to come. I don’t claim to be an expert or have all the answers, but my hope is that everyone in the classes (including me) will learn and be challenged to have a heart more for evangelism.

Our seminar will include 12 classes over the next 13 weeks and we’ll be studying topics such as:

  • Why evangelism? Why should YOU be involved?
  • What is evangelism?
  • What is not evangelism?
  • What is the proper message?
  • What obstacles are there to evangelism in general and for you, personally?
  • How to overcome the obstacles?
  • How do you get started?

To help us in the How To part, we’ll be studying through the Two Ways To Live booklet, as well as looking at the Christianity Explored program.

As John MacArthur says, evangelism is the one reason the redeemed are still on earth, and Spurgeon comments that it is the “chief business of the Christian: indeed it should be the main pursuit of every believer.”

So, we want to dig deep in this series to find out how we should be thinking about this urgent issue. There will be some real and serious challenges made in this series which may stretch, pull, or push us out of our comfort zones (as long as we’re not resistant!).

The purpose of this series will be to 1) give us a biblical way to think about evangelism so we can see what God’s thoughts are about the subject; 2) impress upon all of us the crucial nature of our involvement in evangelism, meaning that we ought to actually be doing it, not just supporting missionaries with our offering money; 3) to convince you that evangelism is not as scary as it seems; and, 4) to give you some tools to actually do it. If you feel like you have some sort of launching point or foundation, it will probably not seem so scary (we hope).

Some of you may object to using someone else’s method for evangelism, and I generally object to canned approaches, too, however, let’s try to remember that a canned approach is better than a clammed approach!

As we begin, let’s take a little quiz on evangelism. All the questions will be True or False. Read More…

Biblical Evaluation of ‘church’ in America – Pt. 2

Eerily reminiscent of a movie I saw when I was a teenager, the “worship” band at a local contemporary, seeker-friendly, culture-relevant church hits the stage.

In the last post, I acknowledged that there’s really nothing more I can add to the volumes of critiques written about the phenomena known as the contemporary church in America. Having been recently challenged, however, to evaluate a local gathering of a seeker-friendly, culture-relevant youth group in terms of an adherence to biblical standards, I’m writing this series of articles in the hopes that, as the title of this blog suggests, those who are thirsty for God, the truth, and His way of salvation and holy living, may be similarly challenged to weigh their involvement in such groups according to the standards of the Bible.

It is also my intent to try to avoid any arguments that may provide a young person the opportunity to claim that I don’t like his youth group simply because of my age and any perceived generation gap. The goal will be to earnestly evaluate any group or meeting based entirely on whether or not it can be said of it that it honors God because it meets and acts in ways endorsed, prescribed, and/or dictated by the Bible, which is our entire rule of life.

The Mother Ship in the 70's film, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"

Where does one begin? There are several aspects of such a meeting that should be examined individually, perhaps, but certain aspects overshadow others. By itself, the preaching at this youth group had some very good points. The young man who is the pastor jumped right in by saying that his was not a “drive-by” message. By that, I presume that he meant that what he was going to say should be taken simply as a spiritual “fix-it-and-make-it-feel-better” kind of therapy talk, but would deal with a transcendent topic, “Who God Is.” This subject, the person of God, should inform every other area of our lives, and in fact, God, because of who He is, demands and deserves control of your life. The content and delivery of the sermon, however, will have to wait for an upcoming post so as not to make these posts huge.

We’ll have to begin with the medium in which the whole experience occurred, for in our culture especially, the medium IS the message. What do I mean by, “The medium IS the message?” Essentially, it is that whatever medium is used to deliver any message becomes the foundation of the message itself. For example, imagine you were in the middle of Iran and witnessed someone like Kenneth Copeland or Benny Hinn show up to conduct a “crusade.” You would see them arrive in their personal,

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland

multi-million dollar, private jet, be shuttled to the arena in their hired limosine, and take to the stage dressed in their $3000 suits. Now, to make the picture really complete, imagine that before the sermon, there was a testimony time and the speaker, giving her testimony of how Jesus is her savior and Lord, was none other than Carrie Prejean, the former Miss California who blew her opportunity to become Miss America because of her politically-incorrect answer at last year’s top beauty pageant.

Why have I conjured up such a ridiculous scenario? Well, before I get to the biblical evaluation of such meetings, I have to first establish that the format and the container of any message will convey something important about the message. In such a situation, it wouldn’t matter at all what the message was. Miss Prejean and the preacher could preach a very sound message, but the container of that message would convey something entirely different to the Iranian audience. In fact, it would actually be worse if they connected the preaching of God’s word to the container I have presented in my hypothetical situation because it would further ingrain into the minds of the hearers that Christianity is immoral, covetous, sensuous, and wicked. If the message were doctrinally sound, would they perceive such a thing by the words spoken? No, it would be gained from the way it was presented.

Unfortunately, our culture is really in the driver’s seat right now when it comes to dictating how the church’s messages are delivered, and, as Henry Van Til said, “Culture is religion externalized and made explicit.” What does that mean? It means, simply, that that which man worships in his heart is made evident by the things he values and does. A culture is the ideas, customs, arts, and skills of any people which are transferred and communicated to the next generation.

We’ll examine the medium used to deliver the message to the contemporary, seeker-friendly, culture-relevant church and see if it aligns more closely with our culture or with scripture in Part 3.

Thanks for reading.

-Tracy

Biblical Evaluation of “church” in America, pt. 1

Dozens of authors and bloggers have already weighed in their opinions on “what’s wrong with the American church,” and it really seems that any further additions will be superfluous. Last week, however, I happened to see this video parody, and it made me curious.

25 years ago, I began attending a local church which, at the time, had about 150 people. Today, it is a full-blown megachurch, boasting 14,000 members (though in actuality, those numbers probably take into account anyone who has ever been there, not those who currently attend – IMO).

Since it’s been about 16 years since I attended this church, and I have since been in very small, and very conservative  assemblies, I thought I would check out their “young people’s group” on Friday night. Even though I felt like I could have probably scripted the entire meeting just from having attended there for 9 years, and from seeing  the volumes of videos on the Internet, there were 2 reasons compelling me to attend. One reason was for my own personal amusement. I wanted to see how closely this group’s meeting aligned with the parody video I referenced above. The other reason was to be able to speak intelligently to any young person, especially my own 6 children, about what I think is good and what is wrong with such a meeting. Or, to put it more correctly, what I see that is biblical, and what I see that is not biblical. It didn’t seem right to be confronted by someone saying, “Oh, well you’ve never been there, so you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Wrong. Been there.

Admittedly, I have not been there consistently, and I don’t plan to be a regular attender, so there is the potential that what I observed could be “out of context,” but, I’m pretty confident that what happened there last Friday was representative of a typical Friday night’s meeting. All in all, though, I hope to engage young people on a scriptural basis. Hopefully, there may be some young people out there who are willing to sift through scripture to see if their meeting lines up with what pleases God and with what He has established as a pattern for us in our worship and service of Him. This should, in theory, avoid the accusation, “You don’t like it because you’re old,” or “It’s not part of your generation, so you won’t be able to relate.” Since the Word of God transcends generations, and concepts of young and old, we should be able to evaluate a meeting like this, or any other meeting, for that matter, even a very small, very conservative one.

To be continued in “Biblical Evaluation of ‘church’ in America, Part 2.”

Thanks for reading.

-Tracy

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