A Different Kind of Family Plan…

Pornography: Not something we like to discuss, I know.  But this is a incredibly pervasive sin, and not talking about it, just allows the sin to remain hidden.  So many of us struggle with this, and yet, most of us have no intention of talking with anyone about it.  However, as Elihu says in Job 34:21, God knows:

“For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps.” Job 34:21

God sees it all, and nothing is hidden from Him.  Here’s an article written by Tim Challies that outlines a specific plan for dealing with the reality of instant internet access within the context of the Christian family.  It’s a very helpful, instructive and detailed overview of ways to protect your children (and yourselves) from the potential pitfalls of the digital content, specifically porn, now available whist retaining the immense usefulness that the digital medium affords.  This is a good read regardless of how many are currently in your family, 1 to 21 if you will.

Here’s the article:

The Porn-Free Family Plan

~Geoff

Bookmark and Share
Published in: | on April 15th, 2014 | Comments Off

Just another Sunday?

Monday through Friday we have a routine and a plan. Make lunches. Lay out the kid’s clothes. Leave the house by 7:00 a.m. to beat the traffic. Check our calendar for appointments and deadlines. And so on. We know what it takes, and we’re committed to getting it done. Often, however, our approach to Sunday morning does not receive the same attention. If we’re honest, it’s not a priority.

For the believer, gathering together with the body of Christ, to worship our Lord, to hear from the Scriptures, to serve and be served, this should be the highlight of our week. If we have decided to follow Christ, we have already declared that He is our highest goal, our prize of greatest value. Yet, our actions often betray our true allegiance as bosses, clients, appointments, kids activities, get our best planning and preparation.

Preparing for Sunday worship is more than just a matter of punctuality; it is a matter of the heart. Equally, if not more important, are our expectations. Are we passive observers or active participants?

Jordan Kauflin, recently posted a blog on Desiring God called “How Do You Prepare for Sunday?” In it, Kauflin talks about common mistakes we make in preparation for Sunday morning, and he gives some corrective suggestions. I would encourage you to click on the link, read the post, and evaluation your own Sunday preparation.

–Pastor Dave

Bookmark and Share
Published in: | on April 14th, 2014 | Comments Off

The Gospel is not…

D. A. Carson comments on a very important issue that we must address in the 21st century church.  It is all too easy to redefine the gospel in terms that address gospel effects but are not the gospel.  The gospel of Jesus Christ results in transformed lives.  That transformation, in whatever form it takes, is the direct result of the transforming power of the gospel but those effects are not the gospel.  When we exchange the effects for the real thing we undermine the very gospel we proclaim to uphold.    This pattern has repeated itself time and again in the history of the church and it is a pattern we must be vigilant to avoid. Carson remarks,

“By contrast, the first two greatest commands—to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves—do not constitute the gospel, or any part of it. We may well argue that when the gospel is faithfully declared and rightly received, it will result in human beings more closely aligned to these two commands. But they are not the gospel. Similarly, the gospel is not receiving Christ or believing in him, or being converted, or joining a church; it is not the practice of discipleship. Once again, the gospel faithfully declared and rightly received will result in people receiving Christ, believing in Christ, being converted, and joining a local church; but such steps are not the gospel.

The Bible can exhort those who trust the living God to be concerned with issues of social justice (Isa 2; Amos); it can tell new covenant believers to do good to all human beings, especially to those of the household of faith (Gal 6); it exhorts us to remember the poor and to ask, not “Who is my neighbor?” but “Whom am I serving as neighbor?” We may even argue that some such list of moral commitments is a necessary consequence of the gospel. But it is not the gospel. We may preach through the list, reminding people that the Bible is concerned to tell us not only what to believe but how to live. But we may not preach through that list and claim it encapsulates the gospel…

Failure to distinguish between the gospel and all the effects of the gospel tends, on the long haul, is to replace the good news as to what God has done with a moralism that is finally without the power and the glory of Christ crucified, resurrected, ascended, and reigning,”

- Pastor Steve

Bookmark and Share
Published in: | on April 4th, 2014 | Comments Off

A Reminder About Marriage

The issue of marriage is constantly in the news. Attempts to redefine it confront us daily, often in the form of news reports, political maneuverings, pontification from “experts,” and human interest stories. It is so crucial that we remind ourselves what God himself has to say about marriage, and why it matters. For this we must turn to his Word, the Bible.

The Scriptures are so clear: marriage is ordained by God; it is to be between one man and one woman for life; and physical intimacy is to be limited to this relationship. But the Bible goes even further, revealing that marriage is also a representation of the gospel: husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her; wives are to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ.

There is great confusion about marriage all around us, but the teaching of God’s Word has not changed, become dated or irrelevant. May we boldly affirm–and model–the beauty of God’s gracious design in this most fundamental of divinely-ordained institutions.

 

Pastor Greg

Bookmark and Share
Published in: | on March 26th, 2014 | Comments Off

Dis Ciple Ship

The word discipleship is to Christianity what the phrase “based on a true story” is to Hollywood.  It could mean almost anything…  Or at least that what it seems.  This word gets bandied about quite a bit, but what do we mean when we use it? Hard question to answer, because in reality, discipleship covers a lot of legitimate ground in the Christian life. So maybe it would be helpful to define it within a specific context, like say, Student Ministries Small Groups. When we say that through these Small Groups, we hope, by the grace of God, to disciple young people, what do we mean?

Well, I found myself nodding right along with a man named Randy Pope, who was interviewed by the Gospel Coalition, about the intramural church discipleship program that he has been using to great effect with his flock.  It’s drawn directly from the template that Christ himself used, and that we see in Scripture.  It happens to be pretty much exactly what we are trying to accomplish in Student Ministries, and to a larger degree in the entire church.

If you’re not in a group like this, or being discipled by someone, and if you’re a mature (spiritually) believer, and you’re not pouring your life into someone(s), would you think and pray about how you might actively pursue becoming part of the discipleship happening here at SGCC?

Here is the interview with Randy Pope from The Gospel Coalition:

Note: You may need ear buds, or external speaker(s) to hear the audio, it’s pretty quiet.

[vimeo

Deep Before Wide: A Vision for Returning Discipleship to the Church from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

~Geoff

 

Bookmark and Share
Published in: | on March 19th, 2014 | Comments Off

Be ye funny, and do not sin…

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 9.18.03 AMLaughter is great. It is a human privilege. Animals may make us laugh. They do funny things on occasion (give your dog a spoonful of peanut butter if you don’t believe me). But animals are not intending to be funny. They don’t tell jokes. You won’t see a monkey at the zoo doing stand up, or a pig make a pun. Laughter is a gift from God, somehow tied to being made in his image.

Laughing with friends and family can be one of the greatest joys in life. I confess that I’m one of those who love a good joke, but can never remember them. Being a good joke-teller, like a good storyteller, is a gift. It can be developed, practiced, and caught by hanging around funny people, but by and large I believe you’re either born with it or you’re not.

Yet, like every good gift, when torn away from its God-centered, God-glorifying intention, it becomes another way to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. In other words, humor, like the rest of this fallen world in which we live is bent toward sin. Just think of how difficult it is to find a comedy from your local RedBox that does not contain a heavy dose of objectionable material.

Sadly, we often use humor like spiritual Novocain. The phrase, “It’s so funny,” will numb us to the reality that the content we are taking in is damaging to our soul, corrupting our view of God and His world, and stealing hours away from activity that might actually make a difference for eternity. If we are so bold to call into question the media discretion of a brother or sister in Christ, we are often met with the retort, “Well, what about the shows that you watch?,” or “You’re just being legalistic,” or the all excusing, “But it’s so funny.”

I don’t think this issue is new or peculiar to American Christians. In his book The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis describes this same tendency in 1940s England. Here is a brief excerpt…

The real use of Jokes or Humour is in quite a different direction, and it is specially promising among the English, who take their “sense of humour” so seriously that a deficiency in this sense is almost the only deficiency at which they feel shame. Humour is for them the all-consoling and (mark this) the all-excusing, grace of life. Hence it is invaluable as a means of destroying shame. If a man simply lets others pay for him, he is “mean”; if he boasts of it in a jocular manner and twits his fellows with having been scored off, he is no longer “mean” but a comical fellow. Mere cowardice is shameful—unless the cruel man can represent it as a practical joke. A thousand bawdy, or even blasphemous, jokes do not help towards a man’s damnation so much as his discovery that almost anything he wants can be done, not only without the disapproval but with the admiration of his fellows, if only it can get itself treated as a Joke. And this temptation can be almost entirely hidden from your patient by that English seriousness about Humour. Any suggestion that there might be too much of it can be represented to him as “Puritanical” or as betraying a “lack of humour.”

Humor and laughter are gifts from God. Let’s celebrate it. Let’s enjoy it. Let’s redeem it. Let’s show the world that they didn’t invent humor, or laughter, the Creator of the world did.

Be ye funny, and do not sin.

–Pastor Dave

Bookmark and Share
Published in: | on March 11th, 2014 | Comments Off

The Glory of the Gospel

This Sunday we will be looking at 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

In preparation for Sunday I found this quote from John Owen.  I pray it will help us prepare our hearts to come together on Sunday and behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus as we fellowship, sing and study His Word together.

Make up your mind that to behold the glory of God by beholding the glory of Christ is the greatest privilege which is given to believers in this life. This is the dawning of heaven.

— John Owen

The Glory of Christ (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), 22

 

Bookmark and Share
Published in: | on March 6th, 2014 | Comments Off

Our God Is King

The news is filled with reports of nations infested with chaos, uncertainty, and cruelty. Unfolding events in Ukraine, Syria, and North Korea serve as examples of this gl0bal epidemic. The tragic results of humankind’s rebellion against his Maker are on display for all to see. Yet against this backdrop the Bible boldly declares a truth of inestimable comfort–the Lord is sovereign ruler over all. We therefore have the assurance he is working all things according to his perfect ends.

There is a set of Psalms that particularly underscores this. This grouping–Psalm 47, 93, and 95-99–has been referred to as Psalms of the Lord’s Kingship. Each one highlights the rule of God in magnificent, eloquent ways. Since Psalm 47 is one of the featured selections in yesterday’s Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan, its message has been impressed on my heart once again. Note the references to joy as God is exalted as King over all the earth:

Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet. He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted! (Psalm 47, ESV)

In the midst of a troubled world, we have the confidence that the Lord is King; that he reigns over all nations; that he indeed is seated on his holy throne. We therefore can join with the Psalmist and clap, shout and sing to such a glorious God. May our lives be marked with this joy today.

-Pastor Greg

Bookmark and Share
Published in: | on February 26th, 2014 | Comments Off

If God Is Sovereign, Why Pray?

Have your ever asked yourself that? If we firmly believe that God is in complete control over everything and that whatever He has chosen to do, He does, what difference does it make if we pray or not?

How do we reconcile God’s sovereignty with our need to pray?

Isaiah chapter 62 gives us an interesting look at this question. In this chapter, God is addressing His people who are in captivity in Babylon. He says to them that He is going to give them a “bright future” (vv 2-5 and vv 8-12). How sure can God’s people be that God will do what He has promised? God swears by His mighty right hand that He will do it (v 8). And He also proclaims to the whole earth that He will do it (v 11). So God’s people can be pretty confident that God will do what He says.

But what is Isaiah’s response? Look at v 1 and vv 6-7. Isaiah’s response is to pray! And to get others to pray. In fact he orders them to “give God no rest” with their prayers until God does what He has promised!

God has sovereignly chosen to act in response to our prayers.

Would God have done what he promised in Isaiah 62 if Isaiah had not prayed? I believe that God would have raised up someone else to pray if Isaiah didn’t.

Why would God choose to act in response to our prayers? I think that there are at least three reasons:

  1. Prayer draws us into relationship with God. We have the amazing experience of coming into the presence of God Himself, and sharing our hearts with Him (Psalm 16:11; Hebrews 4:16)
  2. Blaise Pascal called it the “Dignity of causality”. God has given us the gift of asking Him to do something and He hears and answers us (Isaiah 65:24)
  3. God gets more glory when He acts in response to our prayers. If we are in a bad situation and God “gets us out of it” without us asking Him to, we might think that our situation changed “just because” or “we were fortunate” or “lucky”. We might not think about it at all. But if we are in a bad situation and call on God to “get us out of it”, when He answers us we give Him thanks (Psalm 50:15)

So if you want to have God answer your prayers….. pray for Him to do what He has promised to do!

Think about this; When you pray, “Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” God hears that prayer and moves His kingdom that much closer to earth. God would not tell us to pray for something and not answer us with a yes! So pray early, pray often and know that God hears and acts in response to your prayer.

–Jon Peirson, SGCC Elder

Bookmark and Share
Published in: | on January 29th, 2014 | Comments Off

I’d Rather Have Jesus…

John Calvin is quoted as saying that our hearts are “idol factories”, in other words, we find ways to continually turn things into idols.  An idol is essentially a created thing that we make an ultimate thing.  For some, sports is one of these things.  Most of us probably know that “guy” or maybe that “girl” for whom sports is the end all be all.  Millions of dollars are spent in advertising every year to encourage this level of idolatry.  Make no mistake, I don’t think sports are bad, I really enjoy sports and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But it seems that in some ways, sports has become more of an ultimate thing of late. Sports are wonderful and enjoyable and can be used to the glory of God, but they are not ultimate, sports are not everything.  But there is something that is: Jesus Christ.  We can make almost anything an idol, and it’s very refreshing to hear professional athletes at the top of their field, acknowledge that they’d rather have Jesus. That’s exactly why I wanted to share this clip that I saw the other night.

In this clip Mark Driscoll, who is a pastor in the Seattle area, interviews a few members of the Seattle Seahawks players and coaching staff.  At the time of this interview they we’re one more playoff game away from making it to the Superbowl, the NFL Championship Game.  They have since won that game this last weekend, and will play for the Championship (Superbowl) on February 2nd against the Denver Broncos.

Click the link below to watch the clip.

Seattle Seahawks Interview

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Colossians 1:15-23, ESV)

What a wonderful reminder that Jesus is more precious than ANYTHING else! Jesus is Everything!

~ Geoff

Bookmark and Share
Published in: | on January 21st, 2014 | Comments Off