Saturday, December 03, 2005

Site Redesign (minor)

I was struck today by the number of brothers in my church who are now blogging - and well! I like to read all their blogs - they have great stuff (even if Son Of Man, JLF81 and I am Batman all have some conspiracy to blind me by their hideous white font on black background!) So, I began a new little section on my sidebar ----> highlighting these blogs from the rest.
And I don't think I am just being some kind of a homer... these guys are all writing good stuff! You will be blessed!

Renaming the GTA Blogger Brunch

Blunch anyone? Huh?!!?? - The Twin Towers of Faith!
Dave and Ken have a great idea here!

Friday, December 02, 2005

What "the Doctor" Has to Say About This Sunday at GFC

"Now here we really are looking at one of the most difficult problems that can confront anybody who ever reads the Bible, even more difficult than that of our last study. There is nothing, I imagine, in the whole range of the scriptural teaching which causes such offence to the natural man and to many uninstructed Christians as this very statement: ‘For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore’ — the general conclusion to the two cases — ‘hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. ‘ It is the ‘hardening’ that is the rock of offence."

- Martyn Lloyd-Jones commenting on Romans 9: 17-18 (the topic of our Sunday morning sermon this coming weekend, d.v.!)

The Point? Pray!

O Christmas Tree: The Origin and Meaning of the Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree: The Origin and Meaning of the Christmas Tree

One pastor's research on that fine-smelling balsam fir in my living room!

Toronto Baptist Seminary Book Sale

Redeeming The Time: Toronto Baptist Seminary Book Sale
Kirk Wellum gives a helpful heads up to the approaching Toronto Baptist Seminary Book Sale!!!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Toronto Evangelical Bloggers Brunch

Toronto Evangelical Bloggers Brunch
The fisherman (a.k.a. Ian Hugh Clary) has posted an invite to all Toronto-area evangelical bloggers to meet for brunch on Saturday, January 21st. He suggests the Burlington/Oakville area... hmmm, not so sure how G T A that is... but I will defer!
All you GTA bloggites will hopefully be there!!
Tim Challies and Michael Haykin are scheduled to say a few words. Ian might get a full GTA Bloggers Store set up by the sounds of it, too!
See you there, d.v.!!

Chruch Planting - Not an Option (Part III)

Part Three: Some practical suggestions

1. Begin with prayer

· Perhaps small Bible study too... but you must build “dependence” into the warp and woof of the church from the start

2. Focus more on supplicating than advertising...

· Learn to pray about very specific needs and desires and catalogue how the Lord answers those prayers. (Eg: we needed another elder)

3. Make glorifying God the main priority

· Teach yourself and the people of the church that bringing God glory is more important than results, accomplishments, etc

4. Solid worship needs to be the priority, not programs for every age

· Somehow maintain a steady course of study and preaching – preach Acts! Then preach a gospel. Save Romans for later...

5. Expect great things – attempt great things.

· Do not have committees. Just take one thing at a time, involve others in decisions where that is prudent, commit matters to much prayer, be willing to be wrong and to be corrected, and do something! Don’t just talk about doing things – try to do them!

6. Use many different means of evangelism

· Church website

· Flyers door-to-door

· Give everyone in church business cards with service times and location on it

· Get involved in community events where prudent

· Teach your people how to share their faith (

· Don’t over-committ to one methodology – did Paul the apostle?

· Knock on doors

7. Train those who come to speak to others about Jesus

· Model and train personal evangelism

8. Don’t try to do all things for all men – know who you are as a church (strengths and weaknesses) and stay focused

· There is a temptation when you are small to cater to the loudest voice so that you will not lose people... you need to know who you are and that generally begins with the pastor.

9. Shudder at sheep-stealing and avoid at all costs

· Make it hard for people to leave their own church to come to you

· Demand a letter from or meeting with church they are leaving – church plants attract grumpy sheep!! Beware!

10. Protect your pastor

· Enormous amount of stress

· Begin plant with a promise of a sabbatical at 5 year mark

· Be willing to do more than you have ever done in church before to take some of the pressure off

· Ensure your pastor has deep relationships with other pastors who will hold him accountable and encourage his soul

11. Make use of the mother church

· Try to facilitate fellowship between congregations

· Pray for one another

· Depend on their years of experience and do not be afraid to ask for advice

12. Get free from mother church

· I think a church should be self-sufficient within 5-7 years max

· Work with supporters to develop a schedule of decreasing support so all parties are aware

13. Avoid programs for church planting

· Far too much uniqueness in each work – focus on Biblical mandates

14. Make all your plans movable!

· God may have you go another direction in a heartbeat and you don’t want to be stuck going off on your own tangent!

· Acts 16:6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul [3] had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

15. Be willing to let it fail

· Not every evangelistic endeavor by Paul succeeded – if we place more emphasis on success than the glory of God we are laying a faulty foundation

16. Only send proven pastors to the work of church planting – it is no place for a novice.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Nikopedia: Enjoying Witnessing Lately?

Nikopedia: Enjoying Witnessing Lately?
i am batman has a new blog that looks great! You will want to see for yourself. Nick is a part of our church and was used by the Lord to help me in my own evangelism. He asks the million dollar question in this post, but I would suggest you look through all his posts as they are all quite helpful.
Way to go, Nick!
Keep preaching Jesus and modeling it for us!!

Church Planting - Not an Option (Part Two)

Part Two: Planting churches in our context

(By context I mean 2005 North American, post-modern culture)

1. The culture does not change the method

  • Seeker-sensitive
  • Emergent
  • Purpose-driven
  • All are essentially attempts to adapt our message (or the God-ordained method) to our culture. Will not take the time to refute each individually other than to say that my belief is that the Gospel message and method are the same today as they were in the days of Jesus.

2. Central to planting is preaching

· Evangelism and Proclamation mark the effective church plant

  • Acts 8:1 And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. 4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.

3. Prayer is instrumental to everything

  • Ephesians 6:18 To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

4. An emphasis on developing the genuine relationships described in the NT

  • See every NT epistle! At least one third is dedicated to “how to live” instructions...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fair is Fair? Where the Logic of Civil Unions or Same-Sex Marriage Must Lead

Fair is Fair? Where the Logic of Civil Unions or Same-Sex Marriage Must Lead: "Like it or not, this is where the logic of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage inevitably leads. If marriage rights are divorced from heterosexuality and procreation, a refusal to accept virtually any formalized relationship anounts to just another form of discrimination." Such is the conclusion to Al Mohler's brief piece on the trajectory of same-sex unions that many of us have been pointing toward for years (always with the pat reply: "you're just using a red herring!"). In this case, the "Couple" is a non-homosexual, non-incestuous mother and daughter who just want the same tax and social benefits offered to the two women down the street.
There is a similar, albeit more twisted article in this week's Maclean's. Here we are told that "polyamory is not to be confused with polygamy..." To the uninitiated, polyamory is the desire to have a girlfriend, tell your wife about it and carry on both relationships simultaneously. The Bible has another word for this!
The article ends with this not surprising comment:

"Another worry, however, stoked partly by the legalization of gay marriage in Canada, is that polyamorists will push for group marriage. On this issue, Luc, who started Polyamory Canada in 2002, seems to reflect another popular sentiment among polyamorists: "Social unions are possible without marriage." He says he's not aware of any campaign for group marriage in Canada. But there has been some discussion among polyamorists about creating a system of legal contracts around issues such as child custody and family rights."

One man and one woman until separated by death is the only right relationship. Everything else is a perversion.

Church Planting - Not an option!

I was delighted to present a workshop on Church Planting at our recent Sovereign Grace Fellowship General Assembly. In conversations with Kirk Wellum before the time, we realized that much of our material was pointing in the same direction, thus we decided to combine our workshops rather than run them opposite to one another (Kirk taking personal evangelism and me taking the actual planting of a church).

There was a great deal of interest sparked by this limited look at fulfilling the Great Commission, and the ideas and discussions generated by it were very exciting. For every 3 points I covered, there are 30 more that could be added, but I thought it might generate some thinking on the part of my bloggish friends (see tomgee – I didn’t’ write “blogosphere”) if I were to post the raw outline of the presentation here.

I will post in several parts, the largest of which will be this first one:

Part One: The Biblical Model

An opening text: Acts 13:1-12

1. Proven Men

· “Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul”

2. Already qualified as pastors

· “prophets and teachers”

3. Sent by one local church in agreement with the Holy Spirit

· “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit...”

4. Traveled to areas where the gospel was not known

· Seleucia, Cyprus, Salamis...”

5. Preached using various means

· “they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews”

· “‘And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.’ Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”

· Acts 13 “46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,

that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.”

· Acts 17: 16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took hold of him and brought him to the Areopagus

· Acts 19: 8 And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.

6. Stayed for varying lengths of time

· Acts 14:3 “they spent a long time there” (Iconium)

· Acts 16:11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days.

· Acts 18:11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (Corinth)

· Acts 19:10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. (Ephesus)

7. Eventually established a church and appointed leaders

· Acts 14:19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

8. Moved on to plant other works

· Acts 20:2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia.

9. Returned to visit the planted church and encourage them and unite them to other believers

· Acts 14:24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. 25 And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, 26 and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled.

· Acts 16:5 “So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

· Acts 18: 23 After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. (3rd missionary journey)

10. Reported back to mother church

· Acts 14:27 And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 28 And they remained no little time with the disciples.

Monday, November 28, 2005

America the Beautiful

My family just returned from a delightful few days in Northern Indiana giving thanks to God with our extended clan for all His good gifts. It was a great time.

But “being in America” is always a lesson in culture, Christianity and the real world. I come back to godless Canada with this conclusion: the “great experiment” called the United States of America will only succeed as long as the dominant religion of that union becomes Christianity.

True Biblical Christianity results in a person whose life is changed to reflect that of the Creator. He seeks to always speak the truth; he remains sexually pure; he does not hold grudges against enemies; he gives up what is his in order to prosper his neighbour; he finds life in Jesus, not in stuff; he cares for the land he takes his living from as that which God has made and given him stewardship over; he seeks to be the servant of every fellow citizen; he prays for his leaders; he values integrity and reputation over money and houses; he lives to please God first.

When such a man lives in a free country, rules are few and peace is prevalent. When the majority of the populace lives this way (albeit imperfectly), the union is strong and there is a certain beauty in it.

When a free country loses sight of God – worse, acts like they know Him when they truly don’t – then nothing but societal rot awaits.

My own view is that America is in decline. I don’t write it as a “north-of-the-border-America-hater,” but as one who has deep roots in and owes much to the land of the free and the brave.

I suppose none of this is too profound, but it makes me want to pray for revival in America more than ever before! The only solution to every problem America faces is the conversion of millions. The only event that will stop the slaughter of the unborn; the rising murder rate; the litigation overload; the hording of wealth and overlook of the poor; the churches in name but not in reality; the obesity rate; the STD rate; the tax rate; the political nonsense; the lack of the fear of God... is not another hurricane. Nor is it seeker-friendly churches or emergent churches or Baptist churches or more books or bigger conferences or more Christian marketers or another Billy Graham or a Moral Majority. America needs Jesus Christ. O that God would raise up a second Whitefield from perhaps some other distant land to come to America and speak the unchanging gospel of repentance and faith!

I love America. But America will never last without God.