I’ll Do It My Way…

Church, is it worth your time? Does it matter that you go? Maybe I’ll just stay home and listen to Frank or Elvis. In my 40 plus years I’ve have been able to observe a large swath of American christianity. I’ve been to church all over the country and around the world. To get an idea of the variety of church’s just go to youtube and you can find all kinds of differences even within bible believing evangelicalism. Take a look out the car window as you drive around town and you’ll see the First Church of Us or the Second Church of Them, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Non-denoms, or the cool kids at Relevant, Vertical, Bridge, The Point, Life, Crossroads, Innovate(I sure hope not!) or my favorite original name, City Church. It’s seemingly endless. And with all this comes the usual negative comments.

Unfortunately, there is a common theme that I’ve heard repeatedly regarding the church and it basically boils down to ‘Jesus is good, church is bad’. Now, this is a generalization but the idea being presented is that: church’s are too divided, there are too many church denominations and of course they’re bad so who in their right mind would want or even claim to be in one, church is man’s organized religion, church denominations are divisive and fight amongst each other, there is no unity, Jesus wasn’t part of a denomination, the church’s creeds and confessions are old and out dated spirit-quenching religion, church should only be in houses, I have no creed but Christ etc. etc. and so, I’ll just do it my way.

Some of those criticisms are justly deserved, and yes, church can be held in a house, but, they miss the most important point. The church was ordained and commissioned by Jesus Christ and Christ is its head and the church is his body, Colossians 1:8 tells us, ‘he is the head of the body, the church’. Further in Ephesians 1:22 it says, ‘He put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body the fulness of him who fills all in all’. So yes, the church you see in front of you and all of its shortcomings is the way God has chosen to use to bring his people to himself.

So, why all the resistance to church? I would suggest the first issue is one of submission and authority. Hebrews 13:17 says we are to submit to our leaders and James 4:7 says to submit to God. However, we’d rather be our own final authority. Our natural tendency is to want to do things our way and so we rebel against God and what he’s built (Acts 2:27) by making church about us and not about God. Church should cater to ‘my’ needs, right? Paul repeatedly tells his fellow workers to appoint elders and overseers in the newly formed churches. The books of Timothy and Titus give us full lists of qualifications for these leaders who are to care for the church of God (Acts 20:28). However, when we reject the fellowship of Christ’s body (Heb 10:25) because we don’t like the music or the preaching or all the hypocrites or the presumed lack of unity or the discipline, we close ourselves off to the body of Christ, and so we are in a sense, rejecting Christ.

Next, by isolating ourselves from the church body we are forsaking our perfecting (KJV) or equipping (ESV). Ephesians 4 is very descriptive of all the benefits of being in the body of Christ, the church: we are built up, we help minister to others, we mature in the unity and knowledge of God, we stay grounded in sound doctrine, we learn discernment, we learn to love, and we grow up into Christ in love. Furthermore, returning to Ephesians 1:22, since the church is the fullness of Christ we receive grace upon grace from being a part of his body. John 1:16 says, ‘For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace’. We grow into the image of Jesus when we are with other believers reading, praying, singing, confessing, and bumping into one another in what my pastor calls ‘The Holy Jostle’!

Finally, the unity of the church universal is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We are unified in Christ. 1 Cor 12:12 says, ‘For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body’. We are bound together in Christ by his spirit that seals us to God the Father. If you trust in the person and work of Jesus you and I are unified.

Our unity won’t be gained when all the church signs read the same name. Unity won’t be achieved when there is only one denomination. Our unity is found when we gather together and worship the same Jesus Christ. It is beautiful to see the unity and power of Christ’s Church in its variety. We are the body, the church, Christ is our head and by his grace, we do it his way.

Coram Deo

Living and Moving

There is always a decision to be made. The split second decisions that come at us everyday and kind of decisions we wrestle with over great amounts of time. I have a tendency to question the decisions I’ve made and wonder if they have been the right ones. I second guess myself and generally have a default personal philosophy of ‘shoulda coulda’. This is simply an unbiblical frame of mind. On the contrary the Bible says in Acts 17:28,

‘In him we live and move and have our being’

Thankfully I am not wondering around autonomously in my own strength but my existence is set solidly ‘In Him’ that is, In Christ. I need to remember this and continually trust in God’s providence.

Scripture gives a lot of details in how active and involved the Lord is in our lives. Our plans, decisions and steps are firmly set in Christ. Because we are in him we can be sure that what we’ve done and where we’ve been is purposeful.

The Lord is sovereign in our steps. Proverbs 16:9 says, ‘The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.’ We pray in the 23rd Psalm that the Lord will lead us beside still waters and also to lead us in paths of righteousness. Next, at least in some aspect, our decisions are from God. Proverbs 16:1 says,’The plans of the heart belong to man,but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. A bit further in Proverbs 16:33 it says, ‘The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.’ And of course the Lord holds our whole life in his hands as Job confesses in Job 12:10,‘In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.’

In the plans that we make for our lives we can be assured that the Lord is with us and leading us. We can decide to do something and trust in the will of Lord. James 4:16 give us a clear directive in how to think about a decision, ‘Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ James is telling us to look to the Lord and rest in his sovereignty as we make our plans and decisions. So, If the Lords wills, I’ll be in class at Sangre de Cristo seminary the morning of June 3rd.

I need not be anxious or fumble around in a ‘shoulda coulda’ self- centeredness, but instead be encouraged by Gods active and personal involvement in my life. Romans 8:28 needs to permeate my thinking,‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose’.

I may not specifically understand how a particular move I made was part of God’s plan but when I put it up next to scripture and view it through the lens of his word I can trust in him and move confidently into the next decision and trust that it is part of his purpose for me and rest.

Corum Deo

Think on These Things

Are all my thoughts pleasing to God? Well, that’s a pretty easy answer. Philippians 4:8 (see below) impacted me this past year. Recently, as I was bouncing blog names around and trying to land on something meaningful I came across this verse in another article and for some reason the last four words popped out at me, ‘Think about these Things’. And there is was, the blog title. This verse is convicting to to think about because of what James says were inclined to do naturally. James 1:14 says, ‘But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire’.  However, the Apostle Paul encourages us and exhorts us in Philippians 4:8 to do the opposite,

‘ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’ That’s a pretty high standard and seems impossible.

The only way to think on ‘these things’ is by the ordinary means of grace through reading God’s word and the spirit’s activity in you. Lets take a look at Philippians 4:4-7 and see what Paul lays out in a few points to help us.  

‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness (gentleness) be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus’. 

Paul is thankful, he rejoices in the Lord, he says not to be anxious but to pray in all things, and then we see the good news, the Lord’s promise. He promises his peace, the peace of God that will guard our hearts and our minds. We can not do this in our own strength. Trying harder will not get us there. We can only think on ‘these things’ (verse 8) when the peace of God is in our lives actively guarding our hearts and minds, then we will think on things that are glorifying to God.

So, how do we do this? How do we get the peace of God? Read his word and pray. Read the words he has given us to read and pray. Ingest scripture into your heart and mind every single day and pray! Yes, it’s that ordinary.

I love how chapter 13 of the Westminster Confession of Faith puts it, ‘They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are farther sanctified really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his word and Spirit dwelling in them‘. God works ‘these things’ in you. Amen! (Phil 2:8)

We can pray in faith that by his word and spirit God will work in our hearts and minds and give us the peace of God and new thoughts that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. This is the gospel! God works for us and in us for his glory!

Corum Deo

Thank you for stopping by and reading! Also, Thank you to those who have followed the blog! This is the third post in three days but only to get some momentum going. Once classes start in June I will post once a week. Thanks again so much -Ben

A New Blog, Continued…

Elena and I moved to Tennessee twelve years ago and I finished my bachelors degree at Middle Tennessee State University. Since then I’ve been able to work in the music industry for nine years and have loved it. I’ve been very fortunate to meet some fantastic people and have had the privilege to work some amazing tours and events including cruising the Caribbean! For the past four years I’ve been touring with my old college mates from Mobile Alabama, Big Daddy Weave. It really has been the experience of a lifetime. But, my family’s needs are changing and the desire to be closer to home and church has become more pressing.

The thought of going to seminary has been in the back of my head for a long time. I just never thought it was something I’d actually do, but the Lord has certainly changed that. The decision has been an interesting one to wrestle with because of the obvious question most people ask, ‘are you called to be a pastor?’. The answer to that question is a fluid one, I’m open to where the Lord leads.

I do recognize a need. First, understanding the truth of scripture is needed today just as much as in any other time. Scripture has fallen on hard times in our post modern society. Post modernism is rampant in the church and Scripture is striped of its meaning and power by our feelings and our own preconceived ideas. The Westminster Confession of Faith says of Scripture, ‘The authority of Scripture for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received because it is the Word of God.’ 

Secondly, the visible church needs to once again be seen for what scripture says it is, Christ’s Church. Again, the Westminster Confession of Faith describes the church as, ‘the body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.‘ Eph 1:23. Further, ‘Unto this visible Church Christ hath given the ministry, the oracles, and ordinances of God, and the gathering and perfecting of the saints.’ We need to remind ourselves of this again and again. The church is the body of Christ and the fullness of Christ. We are not filled and built up on our own in isolation, but we are filled up by Christ in his church in the ordinary gathering and fellowship of Christ’s body.

So, we’ll see. There is a lot to do, a lot to learn, and a long way to go. Thanks for reading and I’ll ask for prayer again for energy and focus as this journey begins.

A New Blog

Thank you for visiting our new blog! This blog will be used over the next three years in order for our family to communicate with you and your family while I’m studying at Sangre de Cristo Seminary. Keeping in touch with our friends, family, and church is encouraged during seminary and I agree that it is a good idea. It is also a good way to close the distance and not feel as separated from my Tennessee home. I hope you enjoy our posts and I hope to hear from you as well!

In order to bring you up to date on our family’s plan to go to seminary I thought I’d give a brief history of how we came to this decision to attend Sangre de Cristo Seminary. The idea began to surface in the fall of 2017 and I wondered if it might even be possible. During the spring of 18′ Elena and I began to discuss what it would look like for our family to attend and by May we decided to test the waters and attend a few classes.

Last August we took a short trip to the seminary in order to take three classes and to evaluate if the family would like the idea of living in Westciffe Colorado. It was a wonderful time, the classes were great and we all loved being there and so, by mid September it was evident the Lord was leading us to make this decision. We are really looking forward to it.

Our family verse through this process has been Psalm 37:5, ‘Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him, and he will act’. The first seven verses of Psalm 37 are such a good reminder of what we should be praying for the Lord to help us do: Do not worry, Trust in the Lord, Delight yourself in the Lord, Commit your way to the Lord, Be still before the Lord and Wait.

Please pray that the Lord will help us do this as we prepare for this summer. Thanks for reading and be sure to leave a comment.