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John Piper spoke for the last time (as Senior Pastor) at Bethlehem Baptist Church last Sunday.  Here are some quotes from Piper from his last sermon (as reported by the Christian Post): “If you entice people with wealth, … ease, health, chipper, bouncy, light-hearted, playful, superficial banter in your worship service posing as joy in Christ, you will attract people, oh yeah, you can grow a huge church that way. But Christ will not be seen in his glory and the Christian life will not be seen as the calvary road that it is.” “I turn with dismay from church services that are treated like radio talk shows where everything sounds chipper and frisky and high-spirited and chattering and designed evidently to make people feel light-hearted and playful and bouncy,” he said. “I say, don’t you know there are people dying of cancer in this room? Don’t you know some are barely making it financially? … And you’re going to create an atmosphere that’s bouncy …? I just don’t get it. It’s not who we are.” More from the Christian Post article: So many pastors today try to attract people to Jesus with their lavish houses, cars and clothes, Piper lamented. But that’s not the way the Apostle Paul did it as recorded in the New Testament. “You shouldn’t ever attract anybody to Jesus like that because if they get attracted they’re not coming to Jesus. They’re coming to the stuff and the one who can provide it. Thank you very much Jesus for giving me what my fallen, selfish heart always lived for anyway,” he said. The Apostle Paul made it clear that the Christian life is not without suffering such as beatings, hunger, imprisonment and sleepless nights. But in the midst of those hardships, Paul’s spirit was never broken and all he could do was rejoice because he had Jesus. “We’re commending the value of Christ and we’re doing it exactly the opposite of the way that prosperity preachers do it,” Piper noted, preaching from 2 Corinthians 6. What Paul does is show that knowing Christ and having eternal life with Christ “is better than all the worldly wealth and prosperity and health that there is.” “We commend our life in ministry by afflictions, … calamities … It means that Christ is real to us, more precious than sleep, health, money, life … Wouldn’t you want a Christ that precious? “If not, Christianity is not for you.” // Read more here… Thoughts?
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Truth be told.  We’ve all been there. Conflict in church settings in inevitable. When should we stay and fight, and when should we leave? That’s a tough question. Joe McKeever makes an impassioned plea about the reputation of the Body of Chris when these conflicts happen. He asks the question (and I think it’s a good one):  Why can’t we just walk away and let ourselves be wronged? In some cases… it really is probably the best answer. Joe writes: Why not let yourself be wronged?  Why not just “take your lumps” and walk away? Do it… for God’s sake. His honor is at stake here. That should matter to you more than your rights. for sanity’s sake.Think of the sheer stupidity of what you are doing. for the sake of your witness. These court cases are an ugly blot on your community. for goodness sake. “All you are doing is providing fuel for more wrong, more injustice, and more hurt to the people of your own spiritual family.” Only the strongest can walk away from a fight he could win but for which the cost would be too high. 1) Consider the collateral damage to a fight. In brawls on television, furniture gets broken, windows busted, and onlookers injured. In “real life,” churches get destroyed, outsiders get disgusted, young believers get neglected, missions get sidetracked, and the honor of Jesus Christ takes a major hit. The weak among us–the carnal and the cowardly posing as the courageous and the conquerors–will insist these things will resolve themselves, that all that matters is setting someone straight. Back away from such a one. He is your biggest enemy and needs to be quarantined. 2) Consider what Jesus would do. They said, “Lord, speak to my brother. Tell him to divide the inheritance with me.” The trial lawyer in us wants to take that case. “All right, what are the facts? What would be fair? Why is that brother being so heavy-handed and selfish? What does justice require?” Jesus walked away from it. “Sir, who made me your judge? You be careful of greed. Life is not about how much you can possess.” (Luke 12:13-15) This does not compute, does it? For those of us willing to take up every case, who insist on righting every wrong and punishing every wrong-doer, we are not satisfied with the Lord’s answer. Jesus loses no sleep over not satisfying our sense of fair play. He had, as the saying goes, bigger fish to fry. Something He kept calling “my hour” and “the Father’s will.” He was trying to change men’s hearts in order to change their lives in order to transform their destiny. The temptation to take every detour that opened up, even those offering attractive soul-satisfying vistas and feel-good revenge settlements, must be resisted. 3) Consider who we are in Christ. Again and again, the Apostle Paul asks the Corinthians, “Do you not know?” that we will judge the world and the angels? (vv.2,3) that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom? (v.9-10) your bodies are members of Christ? (v.14) your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? (v. 19) The ramifications of these principles are mind-boggling. Because of who we are in Christ, we can walk away from lesser things, wrong things, and even good things. It’s all because we choose the best things. When you take your brother to court to get your rights, you are defeated before you start. (6:7) So, why not rather be wronged? // Read more here:  Church Conflict: Why Not Rather be Wronged?  OUCH. So… what do YOU think? I’d love to hear your comments below.  Come on… you’ve made it this far… what do YOU think about when you should stay and fight, and when you should walk away, even if you feel like you were wronged? Leave your comment below… Thanks! Todd
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Controversy
Here’s an interesting article written by Craig Keener at the AG Enrighment Journal giving some input on what Keener things the Apostle Paul really thought about women in ministry.  Here’s how Keener starts out… The question of a woman’s role in ministry is a pressing concern for today’s church. It is paramount first, because of our need for the gifts of all the members God has called to serve the Church. The concern, however, has extended beyond the Church itself. Increasingly, secular thinkers attack Christianity as against women and thus irrelevant to the modern world. Increasingly, secular thinkers attack Christianity as against women and thus irrelevant to the modern world. The Assemblies of God and other denominations birthed in the Holiness and Pentecostal revivals affirmed women in ministry long before the role of women became a secular or liberal agenda.1 Likewise, in the historic missionary expansion of the 19th century, two-thirds of all missionaries were women. The 19th-century women’s movement that fought for women’s right to vote originally grew from the same revival movement led by Charles Finney and others who advocated the abolition of slavery. By contrast, those who identified everything in the Bible’s culture with the Bible’s message were obligated both to accept slavery and reject women’s ministry.2 For Bible-believing Christians, however, mere precedent from church history cannot settle a question; we must establish our case from Scripture. Because the current debate focuses especially around Paul’s teaching, we will examine his writings after we have briefly summarized other biblical teachings on the subject. You can read the rest of the article here. So… what do YOU think?  What would the Apostle Paul say today about our infighting about the topic of women in ministry?  Would it be a big deal to him?
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Leadership
Kenny Silva (not Ken Silva… two entirely different people) writes… Virtually all of the leaders I know take on many different roles in their churches and organizations. On Sunday morning, he may be a prophet; standing in front of the congregation and teaching the Word. Afterward, he or she becomes the priest; speaking with and counseling hurting members of the flock. During the week, he or she becomes the hard laborer, fighting to build an organization that lasts. In the process of wearing so many different hats and doing so many different things, we can easily lose focus. I’ve learned an invaluable set of lessons from Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy. These lessons have to do with the roles and traits that we need to focus on in order to be most effective. You can find the entire text in 2 Timothy Chapter 2. Here are the traits: 1. Teacher – 2 Tim 2:2 This starts on Sunday morning and extends throughout the entire week.In addition to effective teaching in the Word, you’ve got to learn how to develop your people. Take the time to train them and mentor them. Give them the skills they need to succeed. Become a teaching leader. 2. Soldier – 2 Tim 2:3-4 A vision which costs nothing and demands nothing is worth nothing. The soldier fights for his or her vision. That soldier does not give in or compromise when placed under pressure. As leaders, we’ve got to fight for the vision that God has placed on our hearts. 3. Athlete – 2 Tim 2:5 The true mark of a great athlete is discipline. The athlete forsakes what he wants to do for what he needs to do. He exercises great self-control in the face of temptation. Leaders must be disciplined in their approach, always avoiding the deceptively good in order to reach the ultimately great. Find out the other four things here… How’d you do in your minor in Pauline Leadership? Todd  
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