CONTRACT FOR MEN

I believe that men were created to live lives of significance. I believe men are born with the magnificent ability to lift up the lives of those around them. I believe authentic masculinity can make a difference in the world. Because I believe that, I agree to abide by and live my life by the following code and to inspire those who follow in my footsteps to join me:

A man is not passive – he takes initiative.

A man uses his God-given influence to serve others.

A man defends those who are weaker than he – he stands for what is right

A man protects and provides for his family.

A man bases his decisions on principles, not emotions.

A man is a man of the Word and of prayer.

A man is the spiritual leader of his family.

A man protects all women and children.

A man teaches those under his influence what he has learned.

A man does not quit – no matter how tough things get.

A man is patient, affirming, kind, and loving to his family.

A man is accountable to God and other men.

Taken from Rick Johnson’s book, The Power of a Man

Younger Pastors

One of my heroes of the faith is the president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Albert Molher. He is one of the great Christian leaders of our day and is helping raise up a new generation of Christian leaders. I was just reading an article on his blog http://www.albertmohler.com and I found it really encouraging. Even though my church is non-denominational and I am currently in the ordination process with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, there is much that I appreciate about our Southern Baptist friends. So even though this article has a Southern Baptist flavor to it, I trust you will appreciate it too. Here is the article:

Tonight I spent a really encouraging few hours with a group of younger pastors — men who are being greatly used of God to reach their own generation and far beyond. That experience made me really thankful, and also led me to think about why Southern Baptists should be especially thankful for the rising generation of young pastors.

1. They are deeply committed to the Gospel and to the authority of Scripture. They are men driven by conviction and the ability to “connect the dots” theologically. They understand the threat of theological liberalism and want nothing of it. They love the Gospel and have a firm grip on it. They are animated by a biblical theology that brings them joy and grounds them in truth.

2. They love the church. They have resisted the temptation to give up on the church or to be satisfied with a parachurch form of ministry. They love people, love the church, and see the Body of Christ in terms of God’s redemptive purpose. They like the gritty work of the ministry and are not afraid. They understand the joy of authentic Christian community and they give their lives to it. They are recovering a biblical ecclesiology in its fullness. They affirm and practice church discipline. They see the glory of God in an inter-generational congregation of believers growing into faithfulness together.

3. They are gifted preachers and teachers. They rightly divide the Word of Truth and they make no apology for preaching the Bible. They are dedicated to expository preaching and they actually know what that means. They may not use pulpits, but they do have something important to say when they get before a congregation.

4. They are eager evangelists. They are driven by an urgency to see lost people come to know Jesus and become both believers and disciples. They are innovative in methodology and boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They affirm that Jesus is indeed the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and they know that there is no other Gospel that saves.

5. They are complementarians who affirm the biblical roles for men and women in both the church and the home. They love God’s gift of marriage and the blessing of children, and they make clear that Christian discipleship requires faithfulness in marriage, family, parenthood, sexuality, and they embrace the Bible’s teaching concerning the roles of men and women. They motivate younger men to embrace God’s plan for their lives and lead. They talk openly about their joy in their wives and children. They change diapers.

6. They are men of vision. They apply intelligence and discernment to the building up of the church and the cause of the Gospel. They see and seize opportunities. They are planting and building churches that glorify God by reaching the world, preaching the Gospel, and changing lives. They are innovators and churchmen. They love a challenge. They would be embarrassed to aim low.

7. They are men of global reach and Great Commission passion. They long to see the nations exult in Christ. They know nothing of a world with fixed borders and nationalistic aims. They eagerly send, go, and give. They refuse to let their congregations fixate on themselves. They look at unreached people groups and hear the call.

8. They are men of joy. To be with them is to sense their joy and their lack of cynicism. They are not interested in complaining about the church. They are planters and fixers. They scratch their heads as they look at many denominational structures and habits, but they have not given up.

Most denominations now look to the younger generation and wonder if there will be any pastors, or if the younger pastors will love the Gospel, preach the Word, and commit themselves to the church and the Great Commission. Southern Baptists are now blessed to look at the rising generation of pastors and see so much that should bring satisfaction, hope, and joy. The younger you go in the Southern Baptist Convention, the more conviction you discover. There is reason for great hope.

I go to bed tonight having been encouraged by my time with these young pastors. I get to see this rising generation every day on the campus of Southern Seminary. I also know that none of this would be happening here if a generation of SBC pastors and leaders had not fought the good fight and recovered this denomination for the cause of truth, the authority of the Bible, and the furtherance of the Gospel.

All this will send a man to a thankful sleep.

10 STEPS FOR DEEPENING YOUR FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD

Adapted from Andrew Murray’s (1828-1917) book, A Deeper Christian Life, and appeared in a Decision Magazine article (November 2009).

The first and chief need of our Christian life is fellowship with God.

1. Begin each day by waiting before God and letting Him touch you. As I need every moment afresh the air to breathe, so it is only in direct, living communication with God that my soul can be strong. I must every day have fresh grace from Heaven, and I obtain it only in direct waiting upon God Himself.

2. To this end, let your first act in your devotion be a setting yourself still before God. In prayer or worship, everything depends upon God taking the chief place. I must bow quietly before Him in humble faith and adoration. Take time, till you know God is very near.

3. When you have given God His place of honor, glory and power, take your place of deepest lowliness and seek to be filled with the spirit of humility. As a sinner, you are not worthy to look up to God; bow in self-abasement. Sink down before Him in humility, meekness, patience and surrender to His goodness and mercy.

4. Then accept and value your place in Christ Jesus. God delights in His beloved Son and can be satisfied with nothing else in those who draw nigh to Him. Enter deep into God’s holy presence in the boldness that the blood gives and in the assurance that in Christ you are most well pleasing. This is the great object of fellowship with God; that I may have more of God in my life and that God may see Christ formed in me.

5. Christ is a living Person. He loves you with a personal love, and He looks every day for the personal response of your love. Look into His face with trust, till His love shines into your heart. Make His heart glad by telling Him that you love Him. He offers Himself to you as a personal Savior and Keeper from the power of sin.

6. Christ is to be formed in us so that His form or figure – His likeness – can be seen in us. Bow before God until you get some sense of the greatness and blessedness of the work to be carried on by God in you this day. Say to God, “Father, here I am for Thee to give as much in me of Christ’s likeness as I can receive.” The God who revealed Jesus in the flesh and perfected Him will reveal Him in you and perfect you in Him. The Father loves the Son and delights to work out His image and likeness in you.

7. The likeness to Christ consists chiefly in two things – the likeness of His death and resurrection (Romans 6:5). The death of Christ was the consummation of His humility and obedience, the entire giving up of His life to God. In Him we are dead to sin. As we sink down in humility and dependence and entire surrender to God, the power of His death works in us, and we are made conformable to His death. And so we know Him in the power of His resurrection, in the victory over sin, and all the joy and power of the risen life.

8. All this can only be in the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in you. Count upon Him to glorify Christ in you. Count upon Christ to increase in you the inflowing of His Spirit. As you wait before God to realize His presence, remember that the Spirit is in you to reveal the things of God. Seek in God’s presence to have the anointing of the Spirit of Christ so truly that your whole life may every moment be spiritual.

9. As you meditate on this wondrous salvation and seek full fellowship with the great and holy God and wait on Him to reveal Christ in you, you will feel how needful the giving up of all is to receive Him. Seek grace to know what it means to live as wholly for God as Christ did. Let every approach to God and every request for fellowship with Him be accompanied by a new, definite and entire surrender to Him to work in you.

10. “By faith” must be the keynote. As you wait before God, let it be in a deep quiet faith in Him, the Invisible One, who is so near, so holy, so mighty, so loving. Just yield yourself in the faith of a perfect trust to the ever-blessed Holy Trinity to work out all God’s purpose in you.

Begin each day thus in fellowship with God, and God will be all in all to you.

Pastors Newsletter – November 2009

As we enter into the month of November, the busyness of the holiday season is already upon us. Before we know it, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be over and it will be 2010! But before I rush the holiday season along too quickly, there are a number of excited things to look forward to at Hope Church over the next 2 months. October’s “Missions Emphasis Month” has helped prepare us for our annual Missions Conference which takes place the 6-8th of this month. I am so excited to see what God teaches us about how we can be better equipped to serve in our mission field of Crawford County and beyond. We will also be continuing our small group study where we work through the book of James on Sunday nights. If you are able to attend our adult Sunday School class, Steve Solinger and myself are teaching on “Biblical Economics.” We hear so much about economics these days but rarely is it from a Biblical perspective. This class is sure to be of interest to you. Also this month, we will be having our Thanksgiving service the Sunday before Thanksgiving, on November 22nd. Sometimes we find ourselves so busy during this time of year that we don’t take the time to reflect on all the blessings of the Lord. We have so much to be thankful for including the joy and delight we have in knowing God. The following Sunday, the season of Advent will commence as we look forward to the celebration of the birth of our King.

As you know, the Bible is central to everything that we do at Hope Church. Our mission statement makes this clear. “Hope Church exists to glorify God by learning, following, and sharing the Word of God and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, both locally and globally, through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. We have some unique opportunities to “share” the Word of God both locally and globally. This past month we purchased 200 Bibles through an organization called the “Bible League” and they will distribute those Bibles in Southeast Asia. What really makes me really excited about this opportunity is that each bible reaches an average of 15 people. That means that thousands of lives will be impacted through our giving. We also purchased another 200 New Testament Bibles that we will distribute locally through an outreach called “The Good News of Christmas.” Along with each New Testament Bible comes an invitation to our Christmas Eve service. I believe this is a great way to reach out to our communities and help provide hope to those who have no hope. Please pray that God would use this outreach opportunity for His great glory. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if some of those people decided to actually read the Word of God and perhaps even come and visit our Church? Continue to pray that God would use Hope Church as a powerful missionary agent in the surrounding area. We need to be united in our mission to reach the lost and spread the gospel to this world that desperately needs to experience the love of Jesus Christ. I want to encourage you to remember what we’ve been commissioned to do – to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Pastor Dan

Pastors Newsletter – October 2009

I absolutely love the fall in Ohio! It is truly beautiful and I can’t wait to see more of the fascinating colors on the trees that fall brings. I am also excited to see what God does this fall at Hope Church. Our small group starts this month where we will be working through the book of James. This will be a great time of learning and fellowship as we seek to grow together in our knowledge of God. At the end of the month, we will also be having our first Men’s Breakfast, which will be a great time of male bonding. If there is one thing that the world needs today, it is men who are willing to lead their families in a Christ-like way and exemplify Godly character in this ungodly world. The Men’s breakfast will be a great opportunity to talk about such matters. Perhaps the biggest happening at Hope Church this month is missions. I am calling October “Missions Emphasis Month,” as we seek to participate in the mission of God to this world. On October 25th, Brian and Christie Kessler will be speaking at Hope and sharing about their cross-cultural ministry experiences. The following Sunday, I will be preaching a sermon called “Thinking like a Missionary.” This will be in anticipation of our annual mission conference, which takes place November 6-8th, this year. David Holdcraft, a professor from Indiana Wesleyan University will be our featured speaker this year. In years past, we have invited missionaries in to share about their experiences on the mission field and to challenge us to live missional lives as well. This year, we are taking it one step further. In an effort to further encourage us to be the missionaries that God has called every Christian to be, we have invited David Holdcraft in to speak on the theme, Preparing for the Mission Field: Defending the Faith. So often we think of cross-cultural missionaries as the professionals and we are just the amateurs. But that is not what we find in the pages of Scripture. Every Christian is a missionary and our mission field is Crawford County. Let me take this opportunity to remind you of our vision statement. “The vision of Hope Church is to grow and develop followers of Jesus Christ who understand and live their calling as missionaries, spreading God’s love to the world.” As Charles Spurgeon puts it, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.” I hope and pray that your will take your missionary calling seriously and seek to bring God glory in all that you do.

The Knowledge of the Holy – by A.W. Tozer

I just finished reading A W Tozer’s classic work, The Knowledge of the Holy. This was the second time I’ve read through this book, but this time, I took it a lot slower and was all the more blessed in doing so. In the book, Tozer is pleading with the reader to know God and have a high view of God. In the preface, Tozer states, “The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our religious thinking. With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence.” I am always blown away at how relevant Tozer is for the contemporary church even though he was writing 50 years ago. Tozer proceeds to take the reader through roughly 20 different attributes of God. I was amazed at this man’s knowledge of God and his love for God. If you are looking for something that challenges your thinking about God and at the same time exults the majesty of God, this might be a good book for you to purchase. Here are some of the most memorable quotes from the first and last chapters of the book:

Chapter 1: Why We Must Think Rightly About God

“the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like.”
“The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of ten thousand temporal problems, for he sees at once that these have to do with matters which at the most cannot concern him for very long; but even if the multiple burdens of time may be lifted from him, the one mighty single burden of eternity begins to press down upon him with a weight more crushing than all the woes of the world piled one upon another. That mighty burden is his obligation to God. It includes an instant and lifelong duty to love God with every power of mind and soul, to obey Him perfectly, and to worship Him acceptably.”
“Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry, for idolatry is at bottom a libel on His character. The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is – in itself a monstrous sin – and substitutes for the true God one made after its own likeness.”
“The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God.”
“We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past.”

Chapter 23: The Open Secret

“When viewed from the perspective of eternity, the most critical need of this hour may well be that the Church should be brought back from her long Babylonian captivity and the name of God be glorified in her again as of old.”
“The secret is an open one which the wayfaring man may read. It is simply the old and ever-new counsel: Acquaint thyself with God. To regain her lost power the Church must see heaven opened and have a transforming vision of God.”
“The God we must learn to know is the Majesty in the heavens, God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, the only wise God our Savior.”

“Let me present a brief summary of these conditions as taught by the Bible and repeated through the centuries by the holiest, sweetest saints the world has ever known:

1. First we must forsake our sins
2. Second, there must be an utter committal of the whole life to Christ in faith
3. Third, there must be a reckoning of ourselves to have died unto sin and to be alive unto God in Christ Jesus , followed by a throwing open of the entire personality to the inflow of the Holy Spirit
4. Fourth, we must boldly repudiate the cheap values of the fallen world
5. Fifth, we must practice the art of long and loving meditation upon the majesty of God
6. Sixth, as the knowledge of God becomes more wonderful, greater service to our fellow men will become for us imperative.”

Now, that is simply a taste of what Tozer brings to the table in The Knowledge of the Holy. Hopefully, Tozer has encouraged you today to pursue God like you’ve never pursued Him before. I want to encourage you to dig into the Word of God and discover for yourself the One, True God. Most Christians only have a superficial, surface knowledge of God, but God wants to be known intimately and deeply by His chosen ones. Why not make it your life goal to pursue that knowledge of the holy?

Pastors Newsletter – September 2009

It’s hard to believe but the summer months of June, July, and August have came and went and now we are moving into the fall season. The kids are back at school and the weather is cooling. As is usually the case, the fall is going to be a busy season of activity and I wanted to keep you up to date on what we have planned for September. On September 13th, after church and starting at around 3:00pm, we are having a golf tournament at Valley View Golf Course. This promises to be a great time for all involved. On Sunday, September 20th, we are having a membership meeting from 6:30-8:30pm. Anyone can attend this informational meeting, and especially those who are interested in membership.

In this newsletter, I would like to take this time to remind you of the importance of unity. Let me explain what I mean by that because I am sure it brings many things to mind when you read that. In this context, I am using the word unity to describe a group of people who come together for a common purpose. Our mission as a church is to glorify God, and how that happens is truly remarkable. In the Bible, one of the metaphors that is commonly used is the Body of Christ. There are hundreds of different parts that together form our bodies, but they are all important and each serves a specific purpose. This is instructive because we know that when all the parts come together, you have a healthy, functioning, body. The same is true with the Body of Christ on earth, the Church. If half the parts are not functioning and not being used, you have a sick body that will never perform as it was intended. However, if all the parts are working and functioning together for a common purpose and mission, you will have a very healthy body that accomplishes incredible things. My application for this is quite simple. We need you! We need everyone who is part of this local Body of Christ that is known as Hope Church to come together as one. We must be unified. God has given each one of us Spiritual Gifts and if there are only 15 people out of 50 who use those gifts, we will never be used of God as we could be. So go ahead, find your gift and use it for the glory of God. Jesus Christ desires to live through you by the power of His Holy Spirit and use you. I am so excited about what God is going to do this fall, but keep in mind, we need you!

“Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Matthew 6:33