Mar 23, 2015

Why I love pastoring an established church:

There it was -- another article posted today on Facebook for the world to see dressing down the church. Its content was predictable, talking about the church's march towards irrelevance and showing all of its flaws. The theme was clear -- the established church was an old dog that needed to be taken to the back forty to be put down. 

I am tired of people ragging on the established church. I am tired of internet trolls who think that internet shaming is the way to love God’s bride. Sadly church bashing seems to be the sport for many well meaning christians. 

Why do I love the established church? 

1. Multigenerational worship. 

Every Sunday my children have the treat of watching senior adults, median adults, and young adults worship together. They have the opportunity to hug, watch, and be loved by people who come from multiple generations and multiple backgrounds.
 In recent days, there has been a movement away from multigenerational churches. Since none of us can get along about how to do church, we all just choose to worship in different services or in different churches. 

One of the treasures of the established church is that multiple generations show humility in what they want (even though worship isn't about us at all) so that they can celebrate the unity that comes from being one in Christ. In the established church, singing together matters more than worship preferences. 

2. A proven discipleship structure. 

Our Sunday lineup has 2 major staples. 1. Bible Study and 2. Morning Worship. We have other ministries, but the foundation of our church rests on these two weekly events. These two events show what is important in our church. We gather in small groups to study God’s word, and then we gather as a body to worship God and have God’s word preached. 

I remember going through seminary reading a book called “Revitalizing the Sunday Morning Dinosaur.” In many ways the Sunday morning routine is seen as old and outdated. 

In the established church, intrinsic in its structure, is a reliance on God’s word. I love being part of a body that intentionally meets regularly to study and be changed by the word of God. 

3. Genuine fellowship

Recently in our church we have seen several of our members pass on to be with God. In this I had the pleasure to watch as our church came together to mourn as a community. When we hurt it was more than just a single class, it was the church. 

Most established churches don’t have the fancy coffee shops or the newest trends in small group ministries. What we have is people who live life together.  

I have seen personally when we lost a family member that our mail box had more cards than could fit. As we have walked through the struggles of parenthood, we have moms and grandmas (and great grandmas) who walk with us. 

The more I learn about fellowship the more I learn it isn’t something that can be programmed. Fellowship with your church is something that is lived. I can tell you that every established church I have ever served in has been a place where genuine fellowship is lived out among its members. 

4.  Doctrinal standards. 

My church is a Baptist church. We are not ashamed of it. The established church is almost always denominationally affiliated. 

Trends tell us that denominational affiliation is on the decline. They tell us that if we desire to connect with younger generations that we need to drop the denomination from our name, and really from our church. 

I think it is a dangerous step to walk away from denominations. Denominations have served to help set a standard of belief for the local church. When you attend a Baptist church there are certain convictional expectations you have for that church. 

With the decline of denominations, many churches are choosing to simply be independent (calling themselves Community or Bible Churches). What happens in this instance is that the doctrinal stability of the church is directly tied to either the church planter or leadership team. In many  churches who have forgone affiliation, a new member has to go deep into the organization to understand their core convictions. 

With the established church there is often little doubt about where it stands doctrinally. With us, we accept the Baptist Faith and Message and guide for our doctrinal beliefs.

5. Denominational cooperation. 

This past Christmas our church skyped with two missionaries in Colombia. Our church was a part of placing these two on the field. We have never met them (though we will), but we cooperate with churches throughout America to send missionaries to spread the gospel in what is called the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program. 

As an established church we are loyal to the Southern Baptist Convention. We participate with them so that we can keep missionaries on the field. In independent churches missionaries often have to travel from church to church annually or biannually to raise support. As a church who is connected to a convention, our missionaries have the freedom to stay on the field for years. 

I love my church. I love pastoring a church that has buildings that are older than me. I love that this church will continue to minister to our community after I am gone. I love being the pastor of an established church. 

Feb 2, 2015

Should You Watch "50 Shades of Grey"?

“If it doesn’t hurt anyone, then its not wrong.”

“You may struggle with it, but it’s not one of my struggles.”

“Whats good for you is good and whats good for me is good.”

There are few topics that I can preach, blog or speak on that draw reaction like sexual sin. For most people sexual sin is an incredibly touchy subject as we all know someone struggling with it. We all have friends and family who have gone down that road and more and more our reaction is not to intrude into their own personal preferences. 

If we are honest, many of you are dealing with sexual sin in some way shape or form. 

We have wrestled with homosexuality and the definition of the family. We have grown accustomed to the new and modern family. In the end we have become the frog in the pot who simply no longer realizes he’s being boiled. 

We as a culture are no longer offended by sexual sin. It is so prevalent before us that we no longer recognize it. In fact, some form of sexual sin is normal in most people’s lives. 

Next week the movie 50 Shades of Gray is hitting theaters on valentines day. The movie is based on a book which is a detailed pornographic novel written for women. 

I am going to step out on a limb here and say that it is a sin to watch this movie. 

GASP! Why? Watching this movie doesn’t hurt any one?!?!

This movie does far more damage than you realize. This is who it hurts…

1. You empower an industry of prostitution.  You are paying men and women to preform sexual acts on screen for your jollies. You are employing the new world of internet and film pornography. No matter how you frame it, by watching this movie you are paying to be sexually stimulated. You are complicit in modern prostitution. 

2. You are hurting your spouse. When you get married, (either now or in the future) a person becomes one flesh with their spouse. The bible teaches distinctly that lustful eyes are no different that adulterous actions. If you go and watch this movie you are inviting adultery into your marriage bed. 

3. You are  hurting your sex life. Pornography’s long lasting effect is that it numbs your desire for your spouse. The longer you look at pixalized nudity the less you will desire your spouse. It will kill your sex life. 

4. Ultimately you alienate yourself from God because your sin is against God.  When David committed adultery with Bathshebia, he penned the words of Psalm 51 “against You and You alone I have sinned.” Watching this movie is choosing to sin against God. 

Over and over in scripture we come to understand that sexual sin is sin against God, yourself, your spouse and and your sexual partner (whether literal or digitized). Christian friends, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” “Put to death what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion and evil desire.” Do not enslave yourselves to the foolishness of pixelated prostitution, but instead live for Jesus. 

Jan 13, 2015

My Hospital Visit

I went to the Hospital today. As a pastor this is nothing out of the ordinary. I probably make at least one trip a week to visit my church friends as they are walking through pain. I was visiting my friend Tex who is walking through a difficult battle with cancer. 

In many instances as I make these visits I come hoping to bring joy and faith to my church members who are hurting. I come to pray for and walk with them as they battle all kinds of diseases. 

This visit was different  than my normal visit. Instead of ministering to my friend, I was ministered to by him. Instead of building up a brother’s faith, my faith was strengthened as I saw a friend stand firmly through pain in the grace of Jesus Christ. 

I am a believer that pain often pain removes our pretenses and shows us for who we really are. It often brings our guard down to the core of who we are. As I sat in this hospital room I saw a man overflowing with the presence of Jesus Christ.

This morning at our Men’s bible study I taught that we are the “fragrance of Christ”. The simple idea is that as we live our lives day to day, Jesus Christ would be so evident that anyone close to us would see it. 

There was no doubt that every nurse and doctor that took care of my friend Tex came to experience the aroma of Jesus Christ. 

In your life, do people experience the aroma of Christ? Does you attitude and words display the love of your savior who sacrificed Himself for you? 

I pray that I would show God’s love to every person who is around me. I pray that also for my church. 

Jan 5, 2015

Narcissistic Love

This week at Memorial Pasadena we are talking about love. As I have thought over what to communicate to our church body, a simple idea has hit me. Have we mistaken world changing Jesus love for unintentional narcissistic love? 

Here is what I mean, back in the 1970s a song was popular which went “I want you to want me, I need you to need me, I love you to love me, I’m begging you to beg me.” I wonder if this is what love has become in churches today. We love everyone who loves us. We love people who make us feel good about ourselves.  We love people who care about us. For many of us the cornerstone of our love is unintentional selfishness. 

The world around us is become more segmented by the day. The gap between races, economics, politics and peoples is growing wider. 

When I read scripture, I don’t see a “want you to want me” kind of love. I don’t see a love that seeks only people who affirm it. What I see is a love that reaches across boundaries to love those who are different. I see a love that continues to love when it is scorned. I see a love that goes out of its way to sacrifice itself for others. 

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I guess my heart has been convicted of my own unintentional narcissistic love. I love people who love me. I have a feeling, though, that its not just me. I wonder if the great problem of evangelism in our modern time is that we don’t love people with a world changing Jesus love. 

This week will you look around at who you love?  Do you love other people with an unintentional narcissistic love, or do you love them with a world changing Jesus love? 

Oct 14, 2014

Houston, Is It Time to Panic?

Today my news feed blew up as my hometown of Houston in many ways declared war on many prominent churches. If you are late to the party, the city of Houston subpoenaed sermons and private correspondence of local churches that recently went head to head with the city over the issue of transgender citizens. In full disclosure, I am a suburban pastor who is not affected by this overstep of the government, but I do have a front row seat as one of the listed churches is just a stone’s throw from my house.

Living in Houston is very different than living in much of the Bible Belt. In Northern Texas and Oklahoma, much of Christianity is assumed into the common culture. It is not so here. Where Oklahoma is the Jerusalem of the Bible Belt, Houston is its Corinth. We are the port city that embraces cultures and lifestyles from around the world. The decisions of the mayor’s office were not a shock to us. I think all Houstonian pastors have seen the slow march of toleration that will eventually criminalize the church.    

All of that said, it is not time to panic. We should not be surprised. I think for the first time in several generations God may be working to wake up His church. On this day I am not pessimistic. I am realistic that this may be the beginning of a longer road of persecution for us. I am not frightened. On this day the churches of Houston have the same hope that they have always had and that is in God who is greater than any government, cause, or people.

Much may change in the coming years in America, but I guarantee what matters will not.

1. God sits on His throne leading His people to their final redemption.

2. No nation will ever carry out a plan that God did not know and that He will not use for His glory.

3. The genuine churches in America will continue to serve God no matter what it costs them.

4. The word of God will be preached regardless of the consequences.

5. No matter what man may do, God will prevail.

Persecution is not new to the living church. In fact, God’s hand is most clearly seen when the world around us seems the darkest. 

As the church was born in the first century persecution followed right behind.  The first church subpoena was delivered by Saul.  Scripture says that Saul “was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.” How did the church respond? Scripture says “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”

Today is not a day of despair for the church. It is a day of hope. American believers have lived gospel complacent lives for long enough. Through this persecution the church will arise, Jesus Christ will be proclaimed, and the hand of God will move in this city.

Sacrificing My Self Righteousness

I love rules. I do. I am a believer that the world would work SO MUCH better if everyone just followed the rules, or at least my rules. 

I am the type of person who when he sees a lane closing on the highway gets over as soon as possible… and then gripes at every car that passes me. 

I am the type of person who wants to make sure everything is fair, always without exception. 

I love rules. 

As I have pastored and live among christians who are in many ways rule followers I have noticed a trend among us. We often become so driven towards the rules that we forget that we are the people of grace. As believers we become so passionate about following God that we forget that everything we have is given by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 

Why is this important?

God, who created the rules, gave us a gift when we not only failed at the ruled but also rejected the rules all together. He died so we can have life. 

We are the ones driving full speed knowing that our lane will end. It is Jesus who sits at the front of the line sacrificially giving up his spot for us. 

Why is this important? 

As believers we are called to live for God while at the same time, offering grace and sacrificing ourselves for those that don’t. 

Sacrifice is not easy nor is it fun, but the heart of Christianity is found is this God honoring task.

How can you sacrifice yourself this week? 

Oct 13, 2014

Monday Motivation: Sacrificing Yourself

Recently I have been thinking of how to use this platform to best edify and grow the body at Memorial Baptist Church. Every Monday I am going to attempt to post a vlog (video blog) encouraging you and challenging you from the previous day's sermon.

Yesterday we talked about what it means to sacrifice yourself. 

Sacrificing Yourself from Wes Faulk on Vimeo.

How have you sacrificed yourself this week?