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Archive for April, 2008

Have you given much thought to how you are going to spend the economic stimulus check that is coming your way, possibly as soon as this week?

Perhaps you have spent too much time thinking about it. John Piper has some words that challenge us to consider whether or not we will exalt Christ or self with this money? Click below:

Economic Stimulus Payment & Christ
by John Piper

(ht: Justin Taylor)

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Apr
26

On Divorce and Remarriage

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I have spent the last two days studying the issue of divorce and remarriage in Scripture in light of our study on church leadership and the ensuing questions. There is much heated debate regarding this topic, and in some cases there is more heat than light.

My desire has been to attempt to divorce this issue from personal “feelings.” Of course, that is easier said than done. In my attempt, though, I have consulted several sources, including some online articles and blogs. I would like to point those out and encourage you to do your own exegesis of the pertinent texts: Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18.

Below are some links to helpful discussion:

“What God Has Joined,” a Christianity Today article by David Instone-Brewer

Response to Instone-Brewer’s CT article by John Piper

Divorce and Remarriage Personal Position Paper by John Piper

Statement on Divorce and Remarriage by Bethlehem Baptist Church

“Clarifying the NT Teaching on Divorce” by Andreas J. Kostenberger

“Divorce and Remarriage” by John MacArthur

The classical Protestant position has been laid out by John Murray:

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Apr
24

Young, Restless, Reformed

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I have just a few pages left of Collin Hansen’s new book, Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists, and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

Hansen traces the resurgence of Reformed theology among twenty to thirty-somethings beginning with the Passion Conferences to Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church. While there has been much ado about the emerging church, evangelicals failed to realize that an even larger evangelical surge has taken place – young people who long for a grand view of a sovereign God and who have a passion to see the nations come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

If you are curious as to where this resurgence is taking place, then buy a copy and read. It is a fun and fast read. Also, for fellow Southern Baptists, the chapter on Southern Seminary is worth the price of the book. It helps put into perspective the Calvinism debate in SBC circles.

Enjoy!

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Apr
21

T4G – Audio Now Available

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I am sitting in my study, wiped out after three days in Louisville, two days at our men’s retreat, and a day of preaching. Throughout all God was extremely gracious!

The Together for the Gospel conference was tremendously encouraging. You may now download the audio here. I would encourage you to listen to all of them!

As I have time, I will begin posting again after a week of reprieve. May God grant us the grace to continue steadfast in the gospel of grace.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Apr
17

T4G Update

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We have had a wonderful conference thus far! I’ve also had opportunity to catch up with many friends and make many more new friends.

R. C. Sproul preached a convicting message on the atonement – Jesus Christ becoming a curse for us. John Piper and C. J. Mahaney will speak this morning.

Please pray for our safe travel back home this evening. I long to see Jeanine, the girls and my High Pointe family.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Apr
15

Arrived Alive!

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Daniel and I arrived safely in Louisville this afternoon for the conference. I arrived in Madison, Indiana and am spending time with dear friends. Madison is where we lived before moving to Austin. It’s a beautiful small town on the Ohio River. Here’s just a small glimpse of God’s creativity-Clifty Falls State Park.

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As we continue our study on church leadership, we had the opportunity to focus on the ministry of deacons this Lord’s day. Actually, as I think about the ministry of deacons, I am reminded by the oddness of the phrase “ministry of deacons” because in the Greek, words in the diakonos group can be translated as ministry/minister, service/servants, etc. Therefore, the phrase ministry of deacons can be translated the service of servants or the ministry of ministers or the diaconate of deacons. You get the picture – the phrase is redundant because to minister or to serve is to “deacon.” And that is precisely what we learned this Sunday.

We were reminded that the deacon’s ministry was to serve tables. I have gone to some lengths to emphasize that the issue of church leadership was not a matter of pragmatism but a matter of the gospel. If the gospel is the power of God for salvation, then the gospel must be proclaimed; however, since Satan attacks the advancement of the gospel, then we are also required to protect this gospel. We saw how in Acts, Satan tried to stop the advance of the gospel through persecution (Acts 4 & 5) and hypocrisy (Acts 5). In Acts 6, we see how he sought to hinder the gospel through distracting conflict. Had the apostles given themselves to address the fair distribution to all widows, they would have been consumed with this task and the gospel would not be proclaimed. They saw this and asked the church to select men for this task, men who would be willing to “serve” tables. God is interested in service, not titles.

Now, the didn’t just choose warm bodies; they chose men who were full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom. So we see that like the elders, the deacon’s qualifications required them to be above reproach. This is what we see in 1 Timothy 3, as Paul addresses the qualifications of deacons. Like the elders, the deacons were to be above reproach in the personal lives, their home lives and their spiritual/doctrinal lives. God is interested in holiness of character, not gifts or talents.

There is great joy in service, and we are reminded that all are servants in Christ’s body. Yet, God calls certain men to lead in specific ways in His church in order that the gospel would go out and in order that the gospel would be guarded from enemies both within and without the church. May God raise up such men at High Pointe.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Apr
14

Principles of Church Leadership

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The Lord was gracious to us once again this Lord’s Day at High Pointe! It is a great joy to look at God’s Word together each week. As we continue our study on church leadership, there are several leadership principles that emerge from the Scriptures for the church of Jesus Christ.

First, the leadership pattern that God established in creation, where man is to lead, protect and provide is carried over into the church.
This makes sense when you think about it. Why would leadership in the church be different? If men were to lead, protect and provide in the home, why would God reverse the pattern in the church? I realize this is a source of great controversy in many circles, but I think it is only controversial if you believe equality is contingent upon particular roles (in other words, if you believe that people are equal only because they can fulfill the same roles). However, we know this is not true, for equality is based in the fact that all of us are created in God’s image, though we may have different roles. If roles were the basis of equality, then elders would be higher in status over all who are not elders, including men.

Second, leadership is not about office or title; it’s about service. When we understand that of the 95 times some form of the word “deacon” is used in the New Testament, 90 times it refers not to an office but to service or ministry, we are reminded that all of us are called to serve in the church. As a matter of fact, elders and deacons likewise are servants of Christ’s church. What we see in Scripture is the assignment of particular men to specific ministries in order that the gospel would be proclaimed and guarded. As John Stott notes in his commentary on Acts, while all are called to service, some are called to specific service within the church. Churches must beware of men who want the office or title but do not have the heart of a servant.

Third, leadership is not about gifts or talents; it’s about holiness of character. Though I am sure we can come up with more leadership principles, I think these are important. The world likes to follow talented and gifted people. God has so designed His church that He takes those whom the World rejects and equips them for service. As we learn in the selection of David as king over Israel – while man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart. God chooses His leaders in such a way that the hopes of the church would rest on Christ and not on men.

May God raise up an army of men for His church that understand the basic biblical principles of church leadership.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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Apr
14

Together for the Gospel 2008

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I will be traveling later today to Louisville, Kentucky to attend the Together for the Gospel (T4G) Conference. If you would like to find out more about the conference, go to their website here.

I will have an opportunity to spend Monday with friends from Indiana; then, on Tuesday, we will all drive to Louisville for the conference. Pray that God would greatly bless our time there and that it would bless our ministry at High Pointe. I will try to update you with highlights during the week.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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As we prepare to study the office of deacon in the church of Jesus Christ in general and at High Pointe in particular, I thought it would be helpful to ask the following questions that the elders worked through in seeking to gain a clearer understanding from Scripture as to the office of deacon:

I. The word deacon
A. What does it mean?

B. How is it used in Scripture?
1. General
2. Office: Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8, 10, 12

II. Relevant Scriptures:
A. Acts 6
1. What conclusions may we draw from this passage?

B. Philippians 1:1
1. What conclusions may we draw from this passage?

C. 1 Timothy:
1. 3:8
a. What conclusions may we draw from this passage?

2. 3:10
a. What conclusions may we draw from this passage?

3. 3:12-13
a. What conclusions may we draw from this passage?

III. Relation of Elders to Deacons
A. What are the qualifications of each office?

B. What makes the offices different?

C. How do the two offices relate to one another?

D. How do these offices relate to one another and to the staff, congregation, etc.?

IV. Summary conclusions
A. How should deacons be selected?

B. For what work/ministry should deacons be selected?

C. How should deacons serve (how long)?

Grace and peace,

Pastor Juan
Acts 20:24

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