Monthly Archives: May 2007

Godly unity

Striving together 

For the past few weeks there as been much in the way of information dealing with ecumenicalism. This is defined as the initiative to assert and preserve unity among diverse religious groups. (ht. to I have blogged about it here, IrishCalvinist is currently doing a blog series on ecumenicalism, and our senior Pastor Patrick Abendroth did a sermon a few weeks ago called “Unity That God Forbids“. Today I want to write about the unity God encourages. This is based on a leadership session pastor Pat did a couple of years ago surrounding Philippians 1:27-30. The audio can be heard here: Striving Together For the Gospel. Philippians 1:27-30:

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Why do we strive together? What is the over-arching theme or reason for striving together? It is for the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ. This is the “big picture” as we strive together as believers in Christ.

Do you know the gospel? Is it your passion to know the gospel? This is the top priority for any believer of Jesus Christ. In order to be unified together for the gospel we need to know the gospel. The following are some phrases to keep in mind when thinking about how to approach the gospel with someone else. I think they can be very useful to prompt your mind with what to say when trying to articulate the gospel to someone.

  • It’s all God’s choice
  • Sin and the fall of man
  • Substitutionary atonement
  • Justification
  • Sufficiency of Christ
  • To the believer (Romans 1:16)
  • Repentance and faith (both are granted from God)
  • Resurrection

In verse 27 Paul tells the Philippians to strive together regardless if he is coming to see them or in his absence. In other words, do it even when no one is watching.  

According to Paul, also in verse 27, we should be standing firm in one spirit, and with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. We should be bold and courageous in the faith of the gospel. We will undoubtedly face many opponents of the gospel because in verse 28 we are told not to be frightened in anything from the opponents of the gospel. We should be on the lookout for false teaching, the largest opponent of the gospel. False teaching is deceptive, most often subtle, and will come in many disguises. The biggest defense we have against a false gospel is to know the true gospel. We will know the true gospel by studying the scriptures, in doing so we will in turn recognize a false gospel.

There is a very important part to godly unity from the audio mentioned above and that is the way we as believers strive together. Do we get bogged down in trivial conflicts of personal differences, or tastes? The proverbial “splitting the church over color of carpet” comes to mind. Do we bicker over the style of worship music used in service? Do we run to others and tell of our conflict with another? In other words: Is the biggest hindrance to unity, how we treat one another? No doubt we will encounter conflicts with one another as we strive together for the gospel because we are still flesh and fallen beings. We should always keep in mind the over-arching theme for our striving: The furtherance and progress of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we keep this in mind all the other stuff will wane as trivial.

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Posted by on May 31, 2007 in Ministry, The gospel, unity


A pivotal point in evangelism

Just recently I visited a blog site that listed some of the Asahel Nettletonmost recent messages they had listened to. One of those most recent messages was by one of the pastors (Erik Raymond) of my home church, Omaha Bible Church. The message was about Ashael Nettleton and was part of a series of messages called “Giants of the Faith” done by the pastors, elders and some lay leaders of our church. The audio can be heard here. I was curious because I don’t remember hearing that particular message so I listened to it.

Asahel Nettleton was indeed a giant among many of the faith. He lived at a time in history that had seen a great awakening in spiritual revival based on the truth of the scriptures. Nettleton was an evangelist who had great impact in the churches he was invited to speak in. Those churches encountered many conversions. In fact it has been reported that he was responsible for leading over 30,000 folks to Christ in a time when the population of the entire nation was only about 9 million. The uniqueness of those conversions was the large number who remained faithful to Christ. Asahel Nettleton never pastored a church or authored a book, and yet he was certainly been regarded as one of the most successful preachers in history. Nettleton held to the doctrines of grace and the sovereignty of God in all things.

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The Dangerous Book For Boys (Part 1)

This week Dr. Albert Mohler has commented frequently The Dangerous Book For Boysabout a new book just released called “The Dangerous Book For Boys” by Conn and Hal Iggulden. I have just purchased the book online at and await it’s arrival. Dr. Mohler gave the book a very possitive review. I cannot write any more about the book than to say read what is on in Dr. Mohler’s review of the book which can be found here. I have been looking for something to get my young adult boys away from the computer gaming systems. My wife and I finally had enough, and packed them all up and put them under lock and key. Now they will be looking for something to do after they get home from work instead of vegging out in front of the tube playing games. Lord willing they will get interested in some of the things that can be experienced and found in this book geared toward guys. I am looking forward to it.

After I have read the book I will provide my own review and experiences from it.


Posted by on May 24, 2007 in boys, Family, leadership


Questions of context and unity

A couple of Sunday evenings ago pastor Pat touched on a yoked oxensubject titled “Unity That God Forbids” surrounding the text in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1. This scripture text addresses the association of believers with unbelievers. Verse 14 begins with:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

Like most folks I adopted this verse as one that speaks to potential marriages between a believer and an unbeliever. The verse is often used out of context this way in the evangelical circles. But since I have learned a few things about bible study and the most significant method of biblical study is understanding the context. But this is not the focus of this posting. I will discuss context a bit later in this posting.

Pastor Pat brought us to this passage in order to support OBC’s stance in not supporting the Luis Palau Festival coming to Omaha this summer. Luis Palau is a very popular evangelist in today’s world. He has been called the Latin Billy Graham. I did not know much about the ministries of Luis Palau aside from hearing some of his sound bites on local Christian radio. Pastor Pat and the elders at OBC, as usual, have done their homework prior to yoking up with a certain ministries also involved in supporting the Luis Palau festival. OBC will not participate based on 2 Corinthians 6. We feel strongly that supporting such an event would be unifying with ministries that present an unbiblical gospel. Spiritual purity and union is the biggest concern the church at OBC has with getting involved. The bible clearly teaches us not to be yoked to unbelievers in ministry. (2 Cor. 6:14)The key to deciding who to yoke with in ministry is the gospel. Is the gospel another ministry teaches, a biblical gospel? We know that the gospel taught in many of the churches supporting the festival is not a biblical gospel. Thus the decision has been made that we will not support this festival as a local church.

One other thing I want to mention here is something I found after doing some personal research on the Luis Palau Ministries. What I found does not surprise me in a way since evangelicals have so watered down the gospel message it is unrecognizable. It is a sampling of a recent article or “script” posted on the Luis Palau ministry web site. The one in particular was titled Don’t Hinder the Gospel.  The article is based on 1 Corinthians 9. Whoever wrote the article (it reads like Palau himself is writing it)took this text scripture way out of context. He uses this “do not hinder the gospel” to support the ministry using contemporary Christian musicians  instead of traditional Christian musicians for the sake of the kids who would come to the festival. Thus not to hinder the gospel.

Paul is actually writing to the Corinithian church concerning the way he and his fellow laborers for the gospel of Christ supported themselves during their stay with them. Paul tells them that he did not invoke their right to ask for financial support from the church but supported themselves so that it would not hinder the gospel. The way Palau is using this section of scripture is a huge stretch to say the least. But folks have been using scripture out of context to support their decisions and behavior ever since the scriptures were written, and I suppose they will continue to do so until the Lord comes back for His own.


Posted by on May 21, 2007 in context, Luis Palau, Seeker Sensitive, unity


Relient K – Must Have Done Something Right

For any guy who has stopped to think about how fortunate, lucky, or blessed (of course it’s grace) he is to have that special lady by his side. You will be able to relate to this new song/video by Relient K. It’s just a fun song without much depth. Just tap your foot along.

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Posted by on May 9, 2007 in Music Video, Relient K, Women


Leadership Matters

This past Saturday morning I attended the Men’s Breakfast at my local church OmahaByron Yawn Bible Church. It was a great time of fellowship and worship. We had a guest speaker, Byron Yawn who is a close friend of our senior pastor Pat Abendroth. Byron is the senior pastor of Community Bible Church in Nashville, Tennessee where he has been pastoring for six years. Byron spoke to those in attendance about leadership. I will provide the outline he gave us Saturday. It was a great topic with a ton of information. The outline continues by clicking the link below. There is also a link to the audio of the session at the end.

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Born of water and Spirit?

This past week I was listening to an audio sermon on CD by Timothy Juhnke, seniorJesus and Nicodemus pastor of Faith Community Church in Kansas City, MO. I received the CD from Nick a new friend who has visited OBC on several occasions. Nick and I have the great state of Tennessee in our past in common. He gravitated to me when he spotted my bright orange Tennessee Vols jacket one worship day. Sorry I digress.

Pastor Timothy uses the expository preaching style that I love so much and he is taking his congregation through the book of John. The sermon Nick turned me on to is from last year and is on John 3:1-5. A religious leader from the Pharisaical sect whose name was Nicodemus comes to see Jesus in the middle of the night to ask him some soul searching questions. Nicodemus acknowledges that Jesus has to be from God. The Lord Jesus states that:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of heaven.

Exactly what does this “born again” mean. Nicodemus questions the Lord again displaying that he is unsure what Jesus is saying. The Lord then makes the statement:

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

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Learning to be content

Last night at OBC we had a guest speaker. Pastor Don White from Wahoo Community ChurchSerene lake spoke to us about contentment using scripture from Philippians 4:10-20. Contentment is an attribute of life that we all can learn how to increase. It is something that I struggle with and I imagine that I am not alone in this. Go to the Don White audio link to listen to the audio from last night.

I am going to transparent here. The reason I know I struggle with contentment is because I tend to overeat at times. I am learning that I overeat to gain instant gratification for my senses. There are things in my life that are outside of my control, mainly the behavior of adult children. So in my time of stress and anxiety over them I will turn to food. Whenever I have a conflict with my wife, I turn to food, and usually it’s food high in carbohydrates. Much of these things are outside of my control and in order to deal with it I eat. It is a weakness I am praying about more and more each day.

After last night’s lesson about contentment I am beginning to understand where I am failing in my contentment. The contentment the apostle Paul writes about in Philippians is a contentment much like joy. It is not determined by our outward circumstances. Paul’s lesson through his letter is to teach us to be content in all circumstances. The key to this contentment is found in 4:13 a verse that is quoted out of context as often as John 3:16. When we learn to trust in Christ for all things then we are truly learning contentment. For whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, these circumstances are the result of the decree of God. So if the sovereign God who directs all things has placed me in the situations I am currently in, He is also the same Lord who cares for me and knows what is best for me. The secret Paul says that he has learned is to trust in Christ in all things, whether he is in humble means or in prosperity, being filled or going hungry, having abundance and suffering need. Paul says:

I can do all things through Him (Christ) who strengthens me.

Last night Don White referenced another book that I have now added to my wish list. It is “Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” by Jeremiah Burroughs. Don spoke something either out of this book or out of his own study that really hit home with me. He said grumbling is offensive before the Lord. Grumbling is a huge contrast against contentment. In my circumstances I believe the grumblings from my circumstances is the comfort food I seek and consume. It is a hard lesson to learn but if is important to the Lord and it was obviously important to Paul, it should be important to me. If the contrast, grumbling, is offensive before the Lord, I need to learn to deal with my circumstances by trusting in Christ and not in my comfort food. True contentment is peaceful and quiet.