Church Covenant Model

Church Covenant Model I had to work on for one of my classes

*This is NOT the covenant for Enon Baptist Church*

As members of Enon Baptist church, we affirm this covenant with one another by God’s grace, for our good, and for God’s glory.

Having been led as we believe by the Spirit of God to receive divine grace and repentance through the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 16:21; 20:21; Romans 10:9-10), surrendering our lives to Him (Luke 14:25-33), and being baptized in the name of the One and true Triune God (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:41; Romans 6:1-4), we come under this covenant together to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

Together, we acknowledge that God established the local church for the transformation of its members, and the sending of its members to carry out the Great Commission to become disciples who make disciples to the ends of the earth (Matthew 29:19-20; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 2 Timothy 2:2). We will not forsake meeting together and make it a priority to attend corporate gatherings (Hebrews 10:25). To strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; To give it sacred preeminence over all institutions of human origin.

Together, we want to see God change lives to His glory according to His plan, and acknowledge each member needs the help of the body to see that happen. We will exhort one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). We will pray for one another consistently (Philippians 1:3-6), and serve one another sacrificially (Romans 12:9-13). We will lovingly and genuinely confront one another and receive correction form one another as taught in the New Testament in regards to church discipline and restoration (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; Galatians 6:1). We will gladly, consistently, and sacrificially support our church, the poor, and missions around the world for the spread of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 9:7; 2 Corinthians 2:16; Mark 12:41-44).

Together, we will submit to the leadership of our church as they serve and care for the members  as they are led by the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 13:17; Acts 6:1-7). Remembering they have been entrusted by God to teach His Word, and we will call on deacons who meet the qualifications to be servants of this church (2 Timothy 3:1-17). If we move from this local church, we will commit to another local body as soon as possible where we can carry out the truths of this covenant and the teachings of God’s Word.

Together, we acknowledge that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and will fail at times in keeping this covenant. We will strive to work towards keeping the truths of this covenant, and exhort one wan other to do the same. When we fail we will seek correction, ask and give forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-23; Colossians 3:13; 1 John 1:9), pursue reconciliation by way of repentance (Acts 3:19), and flee from our sin by reestablishing accountability (Luke 17:3; James 5:16).

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship with the Holy Spirit be with us all (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Amen.

Why I Don’t Bribe Students to Invite

We live in a church culture that is numbers drive, and quite frankly I am okay with that. Numbers represent people and people matter. We should want every seat filled in our churches so we can faithfully proclaim the Gospel to all the hearers. Student Pastors sometimes take this a step further. They bribe their students to bring a friend

Gift cards, money, and more for whoever brings the most friends on a Wednesday. I don’t think it’s necessarily sinful to do this, but you will never seeing me do this. I commend Student Pastors for wanting to fill up their Youth Rooms (for the right reasons, hopefully) I take a different approach though.

You see, I believe when we do these gimmicks to invite people we are sending the wrong message. Your student is not inviting someone because they are lost in desperate need of the Gospel. They are doing for that dollar, or whatever prize is being given. The greatest reward to bringing someone to church would be to see their life transformed by the very Gospel that saved them. Do we really need to be bribed for that to happen? When we become children of God it should not even be a question. We have to tell people what we have in us. I don’t want my students to invite someone because they will be rewarded. I want them to invite someone because they have been changed by the Gospel and understand the importance of every human being on earth hearing this message. The Gospel is why I want my students to invite friends, not reward.

Here are a few reasons that our students may not be inviting their unchurched friends:

Students Don’t Get the Importance

We are failing to communicate the importance of this of bringing friends. It’s not about having a big youth groups, or an awesome time. It’s about seeing people walk from darkness into light. I have attended too many youth services where the communicator tries too hard to be cool. Just preach the Gospel, it works. It was good enough to save us, and it’s good enough to save many more. A message that is filled with jokes, little Scripture, and sinner’s prayer at the end is not communicating (in my opinion) the importance of sharing our message.

Take a series and go over this important command. Teach what Jesus said and what the disciples lived through to get this message out. Emphasize if you have been saved their are two options when it comes to sharing our faith: obedience or disobedience.

Haven’t Been Taught

In a lot of cases the students don’t know how to invite others. I always tell my students do not be “odd for God.” The two biggest fears in outreach are rejection and not knowing what to say. We have to encourage and help students get past these two big fears. Students are not going to do something they don’t know how to do. Again, walk through Scripture and be honest that it won’t always go the way you want it. You can’t expect someone to solve a calculus equation without being first taught how to solve it. Same with inviting friends, we have to teach our students how and why we invite people to church.

Go out with them and let them see how you invite others, which is my next point.

They Haven’t Seen Us Do This

Are we asking students to do something we do not do? I am blessed to be in the schools all during the week. I lead Bible Studies in one of our local middle and high schools, and help out at FCA at another two schools. When I am there I make it a point to speak with students, and invite those without a church to come with us. If they see us inviting the students might just do the same. As the old saying goes, practice what you preach.

I am not perfect at this and it is somewhere I am challenging myself everyday to become better.

They Are Lost

Another plausible reason is your students are not saved to begin with. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. You can bet that if your students are not Christians that they will not be inviting others to church. Faithfully preach the Gospel every week and pray for your students. As we see them come to know Jesus we disciple them. This is a very important thing that we must do with students. In our discipleship. I really believe this is where we can emphasize the importance of bringing a friend to church, and learning more about what the Scriptures say. Are we faithfully discipling our students? If not, maybe we should try to that before we bribe them to inviting friends.

I want my students to want to bring their friends.  Not because our youth group is cool, not because it will make me happy, not because it makes them feel good, definitely not so they will be rewarded, but simply because they take joy and satisfaction in following and obeying Jesus.

Worthless Prayer Meetings

I like Paul Washer. He is a missionary, preacher, teacher, and author. I like his passion, I like his teaching, and I like that he proclaims the gospel. I was listening to an excerpt from a sermon online that was entitled, “Worthless Prayer Meetings.” If you have ever been to a prayer meeting they can be very routine. Update on who is in the hospital, who is sick, who is out of church, and so on. A lot of talking and little praying. This may not be the case at your church, but it is the case for many. Paul calls it worthless and said something that struck a chord with me. He said, “we spend all our time all our time praying to keep saints out of heaven than praying to get sinners into heaven.” Wow.

Last winter during my second semester of seminary I had a prof pose a very interesting question to me. He said, “Jared, if God answered all of your prayers for the last year how many people would become saved?” He was calling me out and rightfully so, it cut deep. I spent much more time praying for myself than for others. I still struggle with this because like you I am selfish. It’s not wrong to pray for yourself. However, it says something when you are crying out with shouts of dependency of God to save those who need Him most. I am I praying more for me, or for the glory of God to be shown by the salvation of many. Missions is the heartbeat of our God, and should be a focal point in our prayer life.

Back to Paul’s quote, “we spend all our time all our time praying to keep saints out of heaven than praying to get sinners into heaven..” We spend a lot of time in the church praying for Brother Jones or Sister Williams to be healed than we do for those in darkness to come into light. For sinners bound for Hell to miraculously be saved and join in community with other believers. We are praying to keep people from heaven more often than praying to keep many out of Hell. We spend more time talking about others like gossip around town. It’s not wrong to pray for the sick, not at all. In fact we should pray for the sick and hurting. But are we praying for the eternally sick and dying? Or are we just sharing information about others we have not even stopped to pray for.

In the grand reality of everything Mrs. Johnson’s hip surgery is not as important as millions of individuals dying and going to Hell, many never hearing the gospel. Paul said many of you would say if it were your hip you would want prayer, and he said yes, but if his children were lost he would rather have prayer for them. Does your prayer meeting sound more like a medical convention, or for the reality of the Gospel to capture the hearts of the lost? We can and should pray for the sick and hurting, but we should also be falling on our faces before God asking Him to do what only He can do; save wretched sinners like He did with you and with me. I hope you are. I hope you are in your private prayer life, and in prayer meetings.

I am committing to add individuals I know are not saved to my prayer calendar. Different ones each day, continually. Will you do the same? I hope so, and I hope I hear stories of those friends becoming children of God.

Here is a link to Washer’s excerpt:

Why Christians Should Stop using “OMG”

In the middle of the book of Exodus God gave the people of Israel ten laws that many of us know about. These of course are the “Ten Commandments” that you may have had taught to you in church, or seen displayed in various settings. One of the commandments says this, “Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.” Let’s look at 4 questions we need to ask ourselves about taking the Lord’s name in vain. Then we will see why should stop using phrases like “OMG.”

What Does it Mean?

This is much more than cursing. Yes, that is an aspect of it but it is not the only aspect. So if you think, well I don’t say “GD” so I am good, I encourage you to keep reading. Swear words are really the least of our issues when it comes to taking His name in vain. Keeping yourself from swearing is like treating a symptom without addressing the problem. This perhaps may be the most broken commandment, or one of the most broken.

God’s name magnifies His power, nature, attributes. If not careful we can disassociate God’s name from who He is. We are not just misusing God’s name when we do this, we are abusing His name like the false prophets. That is not a category of people we want to be associated with. Our love and trust goes to God alone, that’s why we don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.

How Does This Apply to Us?

Bruce Ashford, Provost as Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, gives ten re-statements for the seventh commandment:

1) Thou shall not take you name more seriously than you take God’s name.

Think how someone misrepresents you to the world, is it offensive? When someones dishonors your name. When someone dishonors the name of God we should be all the more offended. Take His name much more serious than your own.

2) Thou shall not take the name Christian and contradict it with your life.

Show Christ great worth and value, and show Christ is better than anything the world can offer and greater than what death and suffering can takeaway. Look to Luke 14:25-33 to see the cost of taking the name of Christ. Live a life where our deeds match our words. Many people call themselves Christians without submitting to what it means to be a Christian. This is taking the Lord’s name in vain.

3) Thous shall not use God’s name lightly.

“People toss God’s name around like a drunken monkey at a biker rally, that carelessly and that often.” Look to movies and see how they refer to God. See people we know asking God to damn inanimate object and so on. Phrases like “OMG” cheapens the name of God. Do we need to say “oh my God” as often as we use it? Is celebrity gossip or a sporting event a reason to bring on the praise of God?

4) Thou shall not take my name vainly on Christian T-shirts, bumper stickers, or church signs.

Tacky Christian T-Shirts like: “Air Jesus: The only high I need it.” “FaithBook: God has sent you an invite, will you accept?”

Bumper Stickers: “God is my co-piolit” “Are you following Jesus this closely?”

Church Signs: “When God shuts a door He opens a window?” “Use Sonscreen to prevent sinburn”

This is taking His name very lightly. We again are cheapening the name of God. Jesus in not our homeboy, and statements like that show how litter we revere the King.

5) Thou shall not associate my name with anything it should not be associated with.

One example is the crusades, or war in general. It may not be wrong to ask God to assist you when protecting your family. However proclaiming He is on our side in war is dangerous. He has not given us the prophetic knowledge like Jeremiah and Isaiah to know that.

Also, even jokingly this is wrong. I recall the Auburn miracles last year and a lot of jokes about God being used in a manner that was not honoring. Friends, let’s be careful what we associate the name of God with. Football is not one of those things.

6) Thou shall not make a bunch of rules in my name.

Pharisees did this best. Didn’t want to break any of God’s law, but made many laws to prevent you from getting close to breaking God’s law. Good intentions subverted the whole process by confusing man’s law and God’s law. Because of this these men killed Jesus who was the only man worthy to carry God’s name.

7) Thou shall not use my name to bring honor to yourself.

We use His name to advance our own agendas, preachers can do this. I can run the risk in writing this blog. We can become guilty of glorifying our name, and that is sin. We don’t use His name so it draws attention to us, we use His name to point other to Him.

8) Thou shall not falsely describe me

Only God has the right to define who He is, through His self-revelation; His Word. That’s the problem with liberal revisionist theology. Falsely describing God into a god that they like and fits into their world view. Theology in this manner takes His name in vain. If we do not find it in the Word then we cannot use it to describe God. God has revealed what He has allowed us to know about Him, and it is all found in the Word.

9) Thou shall not mock me

This is referring to overt mockery. Someone like Richard Dawkins or others who publicly ridicule His name.

10) Thou shall not take the name Christian then cease to embrace who I am.

When we approach God’s name with sloppy and apathetic worship, lazy Bible Study, and so on it gives people a false picture of God. If a non-believer walks in to a service you want them to see that you are captured and beholding to all his truth, beauty, goodness, and power. Do they see that we really are clinging to the King? Have we really been made new as 2 Corinthians 5:21 says we will be. When people walk into church services do they see a gather of the saints submitting to the Holiest King, or apathetic and mundane people going through the motions?

Asking questions like, “how is the church benefiting me?” That question in and of itself shows we have missed the point of the church. The purpose of the Church is to glorify God by making Him known the ends of the earth. Do our churches display this, and the people of the churches display this, with their worship and lives?

What Are the Consequences?

When we take God’s name in vain it tarnishes His name, and diminishes His glory. Think over those ten restatements that Dr. Ashford presented. Are you guilty of them, any of them at all? If so, let us repent and flee from doing so. The thing is this is just one of the ten commandments. We need to evaluate ourselves. The Lord will not hold us guiltless. His name is above all else and He takes it very serious. Are we taking the name of the Lord seriously? Exodus 20:7 says He will not hold the man guiltless who takes His name in vain. Simple it is sin, and sin has consequences. Sin brings death.

How Does This Relate to Christ?

He is the only one who lives up to have God’s name attached to Him. He owned the name and lived up to it. This is why Christ was able to suffer the wrath of God for our blasphemy. He took on the our name, blasphemer, so we can take on His name, righteous one. He took our name so we could take His and sit at the right hand of God with His name. Because of His name at Baptism we take on the name of the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Immersed identifies us with the crucifixion, and and raised from the water it identifies us with the resurrection. This is why Believer’s Baptism by immersion is important. Not only is it a proclamation of the Gospel, it is a picture of the Gospel as well.

Christ is the name where people have committed ultimate blasphemy. Instead now, God does not hold those found in Christ guilty, but found Christ guilty on our behalf. Jesus overturned Exodus 20:7, God now holds us guiltless because Jesus is held guilty in our place. The name of Jesus rather than spelling our condemnation becomes the instrument of our healing and salvation. What a good and glorious Gospel! When we take the name of Christ then let us take with the blood that purchased. Let’s live a life worth of this calling.

Stop Using Trite Phrases Like “OMG”

Many will say that when they type “OMG” it means, “oh my gosh.” But it doesn’t the acronym stings for “oh my God.” Just ask any stranger what it means and they will tell you. It means one thing no matter if you want to make it mean something else.

God is holy, righteous, perfect, sovereign, loving, gracious, merciful, all powerful, special. If you believe this then why would you use His title as a dirty, throwaway expletive? Is His name to be associated with the things we attach “OMG” with? I think not.

Using “OMG” to share a ling on Facebook about how someone treats you, celebrity gossip, or a sporting event does not bring glory to the God. Do we really understand what we are doing when we use this? If not. I hope we do because God takes this very seriously.

How about this, only use God when you are actually taking about God. Let’s honor His name. Let’s take the name of God as serious as He takes it. If we really have been made new, let us show that in the way we speak and refer to God.

*Many of these thoughts come from a message I heard around this time last year from Dr. Bruce Ashford.*

Elections and Evangelism

I voted

Do you invite others to vote more than you invite them to Jesus? That is a serious question.

This election season I have seen a lot of individuals voicing their opinion on who to vote for. I have chimed in myself on certain issues. We have been asked to vote for men with integrity, honor, character, and so on. I have seen it said in local and state elections that a vote for a democrat is a vote for abortion, and that republicans hate the poor. I know Christians who have knocked on doors for a candidate, made phone calls for a candidate, passed out tracts for a candidate, pleaded for friends to vote for a candidate, and passionately defended their candidate on social media. Will we do the same for Jesus? Will you knock on doors, make calls, plead for friends and strangers to just listen to the Gospel, and defend Him? Has getting our favorite politician elected become more important than the spread of the Gospel for Christians? I pray that’s not true, I fear that for many it is. Voting is important and I am glad that people care. Every Christian I believe should take time to vote, and urge others to vote as well. I also think Christians should daily proclaim the name of Jesus, and urge others to do that also.

Over 90% of active church members (as high as 98%) will never share their faith with another person. They may share a verse on twitter, say they are a Christian on Facebook, or even mention it to a coworker. Still, they will not sit down and share the most important message they have ever heard with someone who does not know it to be true. The reality is that no sharing our faith is sin. Matthew 28 Christ commands, not suggest, that we go and tell others about Him. We are to go, disciple, baptize, and teach. Non-optional, failure to do so is disobedience to a Holy God that has sent us on mission.

In Romans 1 Paul tells us that all men have knowledge of God and are without excuse. Meaning that many will be born, live, and die without hearing the Gospel. That person will go to Hell. Scores of people in the over 3,000 unreached people groups (and 3,000 unreached and unengaged people groups) will never hear the Gospel because we are failing to tell someone about Jesus. Many Americans will tell you that if you are a Christian you will vote for a certain political party, and they will help a politician get elected. Volunteering money, time, and talents. Sacrificing so much for a campaign, but will they do the same so someone can finally hear the Gospel? Will you knock on a door, give out a tract, call someone, invite a stranger to church, and so on for the glory of God and spread of His kingdom? If we spend more time, money, and resources doing that for a campaign than the Gospel then we have declared what is most important.

So my prayer is this: if you are christian who spent anytime knocking on doors, making phone calls, urging people to vote, posting on social media about the election, and passionately shared your views with all who would listen. I pray you will do the same ten-fold for the name of Jesus. It’s an infinitely more important that message to be shared. Serve Jesus more than any candidate. Tell more about Jesus than you do about any candidate. Love Jesus more than the GOP, the Democrats, the Libertarians, and more than America. May it be abundantly clear in all our lives in the way we spend our money, time, and talents what and who the most important things is to us.

The questions I have been asking myself lately is am I sacrificing things for God, or sacrificing God for things? I hope you will ask yourself that question as well. May we push each towards righteousness, exhort one another, rebuke in love, and glorify God as we reach the nations with the most important message we could ever tell anyone.