My Soapbox…

Posted: March 16, 2012 in Uncategorized
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So true! Enjoy!

One Cry

Posted: March 4, 2012 in Uncategorized
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This past weekend, I attended a weekend conference at College Park Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The topic was on Spiritual Revival and is it possible in our culture and time.  The quick answer is, yes it is!  The conference was really good and shared a lot of historical facts.  For this post though, I would like to share this video:

http://youtu.be/8mCkphkzhrw

The Local Church

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Church Membership, Local Church
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The Importance of the Church.

A while back I posted a a link of my pastor answering some hard questions, and one Sunday he answered some questions regarding the Church. I would urge you to listen to his sermon and to this one.

What is the importance of the Local Church? How important is Church Membership?

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that,
15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth
.–1 Timothy 3:14-15

Paul is writing to his child in the faith, Pastor Timothy, and here he says he is desiring to come to this church in Ephesus. However, Paul could be delayed. It is awesome that Paul thought he might be delayed because if he hadn’t we would not have this letter.

Paul wants us to know how to behave in the local church, which is the household of God. If you look at the verses leading up to this, Paul explains the roles of leadership and deacons, and how each role is to behave. Why would Paul spend so much energy and time giving detailed instructions on how to behave if it is not important.

The local church is very important! Another aspect to review is that Paul wrote 13 of the New Testament’s 27 books which are letters written to who? Local Churches. If almost 50% of the New Testament was written by the Apostle Paul and written towards local churches, it would be foolish to deny the importance of the local church. (Eph 2:11-22 talks about the household of God also!)

Sadly, many Christians think they can pursue Jesus without His bride. The Church is compared to as the body of Jesus and Jesus is referred to as the Church’s “head.” so by saying you can have Jesus without His church is first to deny what Jesus loves and to say you can have the head without the body. “I don’t need the body, I have the head.”. That’s ridiculous! (Please listen here for more detailed information)

What about Church membership?

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”–Hebrews 13:17

First, the leaders it talks about here is the elders who have been placed over you in the local church. Elders are select men who care for our souls and labor for us and we need to submit to them and submit them in such a way that there labor is joyful-do not cause them grief.

The way we submit to them is joining membership of a church, if you have been attending a church for a while and just have not became a member yet, why haven’t you? You are not submitting to their leadership, which then in turn means you are not following what Scripture says here.

If you have been attending for a while and believe in the doctrine of the church and what the church is about, please pray about joining the local church soon. If you do not agree with the church, pray about what church you should attend and join that one.

“Every Christian should join a church because Scripture requires it. Granted, there is no direct command in Scripture that says, “Every Christian must join a local church,” but two factors in Scripture indicate that every Christian should be a member of a local church.

Jesus established the church to be a public, earthly institution that would mark out, affirm, and oversee those who profess to believe in him (Matt. 16:18-19, 18:15-20). Jesus established the church to publicly declare those who belong to him in order to give the world a display of the good news about himself (John 17:21, 23; see also Eph. 3:10). Jesus wants the world to know who belongs to him and who doesn’t. And how is the world to know who belongs to him and who doesn’t? They are to see which people publicly identify themselves with his people in the visible, public institution he established for this very purpose. They’re to look at the members of his church. And if some people claim to be part of the universal church even though they belong to no local church, they reject Jesus’ plan for them and his church. Jesus intends for his people to be marked out as a visible, public group, which means joining together in local churches.

Scripture repeatedly commands Christians to submit to their leaders (Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-13). The only way to do that is by publicly committing to be members of their flock, and saying in effect, “I commit to listening to your teaching, following your direction, and to submitting to your leadership.” There’s no way to obey the scriptural commands to submit to your leaders if you never actually submit to them by joining a local church.”–9 Marks Ministries

Please love and commit yourself to the local church! It is and should be a beautiful place!

In Prayers,

-Justin

Lazy Jedi

Posted: February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Next post: Church Membership

“No, Mr. President”

Posted: January 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Resolutions

Posted: January 15, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Every year, a new year rolls around. I have never been one that has been in favor of Resolutions. I have always viewed them as one legalistic chart that people rarely complete. This year, my mind, heart, and attitude has changed regarding Resolutions.

Being a Christian, Resolutions do not need to take place on the new year, but they can. Resolutions should also be done with realizing change is only possible through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Jonathan Edwards all had Resolutions they were working on. Obviously, the goal is to be more like Christ, but if these amazing leaders had Resolutions, why shouldn’t I? Am I better than them? Do I have it more together than these leaders? Absolutely not! If the leaders had resolutions, I definitely need resolutions.

My Resolutions for 2012:

-I refuse to watch any sort of TV before bed until March 2012. Instead, I will read prior to falling asleep. I will reexamine in March if I will bring back watching Netflix or Hulu before bed.
-I will read my Bible everyday and read/say a prayer from the Valley of Vision.
-I want to thank Jesus for what He accomplished on the Cross daily…
-My joy is not found in people, places, or pleasure for myself, but in the all satisfaction death of Jesus…I am a Christian Hedonist.

These are most of my Resolutions for 2012. Change is only possible because of Jesus.

Because of Christ,

-Justin M. Davito

Mission Strategies

Posted: December 22, 2011 in Uncategorized
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The book of Acts in the New Testament of the Scriptures explains how the Church was started. However, what does Acts say about missional strategies or strategies for missionaries? Acts chapters 13-19 give Christians five principles for missional living and missionary strategies.

The first aspect of missional strategies would be missionaries need to be worshipping God and dedicating themselves to the Lord (Acts 13:1-3). Prayer is very important in any ministry. As we see in Acts 13, it is no exceptional to forget prayer for missionaries seeking to spread the Gospel to others. How should this affect missional strategy?

Missionaries, mission organizations, and even Churches need to recognize that they are not the ones who do the saving of the lost souls. Who is it? It is Jesus Christ alone! God alone! The Holy Spirit convicts the hearts of the lost but may use a missionary as a tool to do just that. God uses prayer to accomplish His will. The goal is to make much of Christ (Acts 13:2), “worshipping” God. Is that not the goal of missions? Missionaries need to be praying and even fasting over lost souls that God would save those the missionaries are pursuing (Acts 13:2-3). Praying, fasting, and worshipping God are key are mission strategy. It is foolish if anyone thinks that salvation is up to him or her. Christianity is not a religion based on men, but on God. God is the one who calls, God is the one who saves, and God is just choosing to use men to accomplish this. A missionary’s desire should be to call all to join them in worship (Acts 13:2).

Secondly, a joyless missionary is not really a missionary. There is absolutely no reason a missionary of the gospel should be joyless. The only thing a person has to be worried about is spending eternity away from God and burning in Hell. However, Jesus already took care of that. We do not have to be worried about anything! Joy is based off of what Christ has done, which is why missionaries can have joy during the most difficult circumstances. For example, when Paul and Silas were thrown in prison for the Gospel (Acts 16:25). These missionaries had joy. Missionaries should have joy and be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52). Again, how does this affect the mission strategy?

What is the goal of missions? The goal of missions is to make Christ know, worship Him, to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever (Rev. 4:11). Why would anyone want to come to Christ when they see no joy in the missionary’s life? Joy is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. If joy is a part of the Holy Spirit, than logically and scripturally a missionary should be joyful. The only way to have true joy is in Jesus Christ, because of what He has accomplished (Acts 13:52).

What then if a missionary is not joyful? This does not necessarily disqualify him or her from service in this ministry, however they do lack the knowledge of what God has truly done for them. Sadly, this is true for many missionaries. But why then are they sharing the Gospel? What is motivating them? If a missionary is Spirit filled, joy should be an outcome of that. If the missionary is Spirit filled, then they are saved and understand what Jesus has done for them, this is crucial for missionaries who are God’s messengers to teach the lost, but in order to have their most impact they must have an outflow of joy in God (Acts 13:52; Acts 15:3).

The third aspect of missionary strategy would be preach the Word (Acts 14:7; Acts 14:21; Acts 16:10; Acts 18:28;). What is the desired outcome? New life in Jesus (Acts 19:6). A missionary must be able to teach, preach, and explain the Word of God. This is not to say they need to go to Bible College, though it would be recommended. This does not mean to say they have to be excellent communicators, though this is very helpful. This does not mean they do not have to be pastors, though this can be helpful also. It means that they must have an understanding of the Word and can communicate it accurately in the setting they are preaching to or engaging with (Acts 18:25-26). Missionaries also need to have a learners spirit so they may understand God’s work more accurately (Acts 18:26). Preach the Gospel is essential! It is the reason missionaries exist and are sent (Acts 13:3).

This affects mission strategy because it is the very reason Churches send missionaries. Missionaries must preach. They must teach! This is not to avoid or dismiss the importance of engaging the culture, but they must do it in such a way that the gospel is not compromised in any form or fashion. The gospel is the very reason missionaries can have joy! It is the very reason missionaries want to go and reach others. It is the very reason we want others to worship Christ.

What about women preaching? This is a very important topic and very relational to the mission strategy. Women can teach others who do not know Christ. In fact, they can even teach others more about Christ. However, not in a Church setting or when they are exercising authority over a man in the Church. But if they are engaging the culture like they should, and then teaching them, it is not wrong because they are not exercising the authority over a man which God has made specifically for the man to do (Acts 18:26).

Missionaries are made to preach the word. They need to be able to do preach in order to be a successful and a proper missionary (Acts 16:10).

Fourth, along with preaching the word, it is not enough to just teach it sometimes or occasionally, but teach it boldly (Acts 14:3; Acts 18:26; Acts 19:8). Missionaries cannot be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16). They must be convinced of it and preach it boldly! Two of the greatest missionaries of all time preached it boldly here in Acts! Missionaries today need to do the same! If this is true, how does this affect the strategy of today?

With new missionaries, how are they proclaiming the truths of God now? Are they preparing for ministry? Are they currently proclaiming God’s word boldly where God has placed them now? When a Church sends a missionary, the Church should not question whether or not he or she will be preaching the gospel but be confident that he or she will preach it whenever he/she can. It is their desire and love and then must preach the Word of God! They must proclaim it boldly. This is how God has chosen to make His name known, if a missionary does not do this, the mission will most likely fail.

Along with worshipping God, being joyful in Him, preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and proclaiming Christ bolding, the fifth and final aspect is planting Churches.

Planting Churches is crucial and Acts records Paul and Silas doing just that (Acts 14:23; Acts 15:41; Acts 16:5). Paul and Silas were sent from a Church (Acts 13:1-4) with the Holy Spirit. These great missionaries were sent from a Church, it is kind of important. Building Churches and planting new Churches is very important! It takes work; The church must have the proper structure and leadership to maintain its spiritual health.

From a missional strategic standpoint, why is planting a Church vital? First, it is important because two of the greatest missionaries ever set forth an amazing example for others to follow. However, it also affects the strategic standpoint because discipleship making is key and it should last. A missionary can only be in one place at a time. A Church builds the community, and teaches others who then will go and teach others also (Acts 14:23; Acts 14: 28; Acts 15: 3-4; Acts 15:41; Acts 16:5; Acts 18:23; Acts 19:9). A missionary needs to be discipleship building/making. Who then can go and make more disciples. It should look like when someone throws a rock into water. Once the rock drowns in the water, the affects of the rock cause a ripple, more ripples, etc…A missionary needs to cause a ripple effect and he does this by building churches.

Another way building churches supports the strategic aspect of missions is that life change should happen. The Church is the primarily means to preach and make disciples and life change happens (Acts 19:6-10). Paul and Silas did a lot of real miracles that were evident to everyone by the means of the Holy Spirit and it often times affected the person physically, in America the change often times is more internal but has a similar affect that these missionaries did. The Church exists to reveal sin and to make Christ known so others will worship Christ. The Church is how Christ primarily is made known and this aspect of missions should not be denied.

As Acts 13-19 gives excellent examples and principles for missional living and missional strategies. These chapters tell us to worship Christ. A Baptist Scholar, John Piper has said, “Missions exists because worship doesn’t (Piper).” These chapters also tell us to be joyful in Him. What an amazing idea that Christians, pastors, and missionaries can be joyful in God no matter what is happening around us. Thirdly, missionaries must be preaching the Word, preaching the gospel! Along with preaching the gospel, preach it boldly! The final aspect of missions as it specifically relates to Acts is building Churches so that true discipleship making will never cease. This is the goal anyway because missionaries should never cease the desire to have all the nations worshipping God.

Works Cited
MacArthur, John. “13-19.” The MacArthur Study Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2010. 1612-625. Print.
Piper, John. “Missions Exists Because Worship Doesn’t – Desiring God.” Home – Desiring God. Desiring God, 05 Sept. 2011. Web. 06 Dec. 2011. .

Man Up!!!

Posted: December 1, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Men, Man Up! Women are more of a “man” than many of us are!! This is a movement for men to MAN UP!

Siri

Posted: November 28, 2011 in Uncategorized
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You either love it or you hate it!

Do Not Rob the Poor

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.
“—Luke 21:1-4 (Similar text is Mark 12:41-44)

These verses normally are in reference to giving, how we should give, etc. This would be the normal Baptist preacher text on giving. In fact, I am more Baptist than not. As a matter of fact, I am going to argue that this text has little to do with giving. Bear with me, my fellow theologians.
The first thing we notice in the text is that Jesus looked up. What was he doing before? Jesus was looking down. Very good! Now, he looked up. Jesus looked up from looking down and saw the rich putting in big amounts into the offering plate. While looking up, He saw a very poor widow put in two copper coins, all that she had–All that this poor widow had to live on.

This is where most of my friends and preachers would spend their time explaining we need to give like the widow. Sadly, many do not understand the context of the text (which is why I wish all pastors would preach exegetically through a book of the Bible, and not a topical series—perhaps, this is for another time).
To understand the context, let’s look at the verses prior to this very popular text on giving. Remember, the original manuscripts had neither chapter divisions nor verses, those were added for our benefit to find the texts, or little paragraphs segment division.

And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
—Luke 20:45-47

Is it not interesting that the context right before Luke 21 is referring to the Scribes devouring widows? This is the context right before the great giving text. Let us not just end there though. What about after the giving text? Let’s take a look.

And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”And they asked him, “Teacher, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once.
“—Luke 21:5-9

A few observations here: From the end of Luke 20 to Luke 21:9, it is talking about the Scribes who run the temple. It appears that many who hold the traditional view of the widow think the verses before are talking about the Scribes and warning us there, and then all of a sudden the story of the widow is given, and then back to the Scribes and the destruction of the temple. If we truly think about that, the context just does not fit. The temple will be destroyed. Why? The temple was taking advantage of the widows. Now, let’s look at the widow again.

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
—Luke 21:1-4

The traditional view on this is that the rich are in the wrong for giving out of their abundance. Is this not what some of the Church in Corinthians did? They gave according to their means (2 Corinthians 8), and yes, some beyond their means. Huge act of grace, so awesome! But is this what is being communicated about the widow? No, it is not. Jesus is not commanding nor commending the widow here. These verses are the verses that follow Luke 20 warning about the Scribes and then Jesus shares this account with us to prove the corruptness of the temple and the Scribes. Jesus never says that we are to give like the widow. Let me try to show you what I mean.

Some argue that we need to give like the widow. Yet, believe it or not the ones who teach this do not give all that they have (apparently, like the widow). Prosperity gospel (heresy) teachers say to give all we have to receive more money back. Though, some biblical scholars still say we need to give like the widow yet they do not give like this. The Disciples do not give like this. Jesus had stuff on earth. Yes, Jesus died and gave us everything we could have—Salvation! This alone should be motivation to give. Why? Because of what Christ have given to us. That is the gospel! This is the gospel!

Baptist preacher, John MacArthur explains a few different possible interpretations on the text.

One, Jesus is teaching that the measure of a gift is not how much you give but how much you have after you give. But that’s the measure of the gift. The measure is not the amount of the gift, but the amount left over. And that’s the lesson the Lord is trying to teach us and many have waxed eloquent on that lesson.

Another option, a second one is that the true measure is the self-denial involved, the cost to the individual which is a just another way to say the first one. But that the percentage given is really what the issue is relative to one’s expression of self-denial in that percentage. Obviously, the woman gave the highest percentage…everything. So it’s about the percentage you give.

Third possibility also related to the other two, is that the true measure of any gift is the attitude with which you give it. Is it selfless? Humble? Surrender? Expressing love for God, devotion to God and trust in God? The widow, we are told, had the least left behind, gave the highest percentage and must have had the best attitude.

Fourthly, and this is another option that some have suggested, that the gift that truly pleases God is when you give everything and take a vow of poverty. And all of these and combinations of all of these are defended by virtually all those who write on this text. Teachers have waxed eloquent on all of them

MacArthur continues to explain the problem with these interpretations.

Now at this point I will confess to you, in spite of the popularity of these views, in spite of the universality of these views, none of these explanations makes any sense to me….none. In fact, all of those interpretations are imposed on the text and you know how I feel about imposing things on the Bible text….not good. You say, “Why do you say they’re imposed?” Because Jesus never made any of those points. Jesus never said anything about what’s left behind, what percentage, what attitude, or do the same and give everything. He didn’t. Jesus never makes any of those points. He does not say the rich gave relatively too little, they had too much left over. He doesn’t say the rich gave too low a percent. He doesn’t say the widow gave the right amount. He doesn’t say the rich had a bad attitude and the widow had a good attitude, or good spirit. He doesn’t say that. In fact, He doesn’t say anything about their giving except that she gave more than everybody. He doesn’t say why or with what attitude, or whether she should have, or shouldn’t have, or they should have, or shouldn’t have. Her outward action is all that you see. It is no more or less good, bad, indifferent, humble, proud, selfish, unselfish than anybody else’s act. There is no judgment made on her act as to its true character. There is nothing said about her attitude or her spirit. She could be acting out a devotion. She could be acting out of love. She could be acting out of guilt. She could be acting out of fear. We don’t know because Jesus doesn’t say anything. Doesn’t say anything about the rich, doesn’t say anything about the widow, doesn’t draw any conclusions, doesn’t develop any principles, doesn’t command anything, doesn’t define anything. Why? Because none of that matters.

Jesus never commands us to give like the widow. If we are suppose to, I would expect Jesus to say, “Go and do likewise.” But He doesn’t, does he?

What is explained here is a false religious system. This is not true Christianity at all. This is also exactly what happened during the reformation. The Catholic Church was corrupt, like the Scribes, and stole from the poor and the needy. They had the widows buy indulgences, the indulgences were assurance that they would get into heaven. The lower class was taken advantage of. The religious system of the day was exactly like the Scribes who took advantage of the widow.

Think about it this way. How would you feel if a poor widow, who has only $2.75 to live on, and she attends your Church? The widow is in need. Yet, the Church said she has to give all she has to live on. How would you feel about the religious system taking advantage of a widow who needs help, yet sadly the Church takes all her money? She has nothing! Get that! Nothing! She can no longer buy Roman Noodles or Chicken Noodle soup. She has nothing left! If you are like me, you would say that Church is corrupt. Yet, while looking at the widow, many elevate her which is imposing on the text. This lady is victimized!

MacArthur later says that the giving of the widow angered Jesus. Yes, angered Him. Just like today, if a Church does not take care of a widow, it is not true Christianity like what James says true religion is (James 1:27). To see more of what MacArthur says on the text, you may read his sermon here: Abusing the Poor

MacArthur goes into more detail explaining the false religion.

The text is not about giving. It is about a victimized poor widow who is being taken advantage of by a false religious system.

Isn’t it amazing? Of all the little things…of all the little things that could have been the trigger to set off the destruction of the temple, it was one illustration of an abused widow… Father, we hear this message and we know that it’s consistent with Your heart because You care for the downcast and the poor. Jesus came and He fed the crowds. Jesus came and He healed the sick. Jesus came and He poured out love and grace to all who would come to Him and said His burden is light, His yoke is easy…a contrast to the wicked false religious systems that prey on people, especially the defenseless and the destitute and the desperate and the hurting and the needy. Lord, would You bring that to an end and would You exalt Your true church and the true Christian faith. This we ask only for Your glory. Amen (MacArthur)

-Justin M. Davito

Posted: November 21, 2011 in Uncategorized
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