Confessions for the Anxious Heart (pt 1)

In her 2002 article, “The Science of Anxiety,” Christine Gorman writes,

It’s 4 a.m., and you’re wide awake–palms sweaty, heart racing. You’re worried about your kids. Your aging parents. Your 401(k). Your health. Your sex life. Breathing evenly beside you, your spouse is oblivious. Doesn’t he–or she–see the dangers that lurk in every shadow? He must not. Otherwise, how could he, with all that’s going on in the world, have talked so calmly at dinner last night about flying to Florida for a vacation? (http://ti.me/OzO59A )

This experience sounds all too familiar for many of us! Read More→

What is the Role of Theology in Youth Ministry

Does theology bore young people or build an important foundation for their future fruitfulness? I recently came across the article Why Theology and Youth Ministry Seldom Mix on the Gospel Coalition website and was encouraged to see it reflect our heart here at SRBC. It emphasizes the need to teach our young people the truths of God’s Word instead of seeking to entertain them. When theology is properly prioritized and applied in youth philosophy we can be confident that God will honor His Word and the church will be built through the lives of our teens. My fear is that we often wrongly present theologically based teaching as contradictory to practical application and godly living. The Scripture continually emphasizes that right doctrine leads to a Christlike life. John Bunyan summarizes how a proper focus on Christ liberates the believer to pursue God. Read More→

Glorifying God in Your 9 to 5

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Beginning with Worldview
It is a bit of a misconception to suggest that a secular worldview is one that is void of God. On the contrary, many secularists do believe there is a place for God, but it is a very limited place. A secular worldview is not necessarily one that eliminates God; rather, a secular worldview is one that compartmentalizes God. “Secularization did not cause the death of religion,” says theologian Walter Kasper. It did, however, relegate it to “one sector of modern life along with many others. Religion lost its claim to universality and its power of interpretation.”[1] In other words, a secular worldview is one that allows God to inform some parts of life, but not all. The Creator is marginalized. A secularist may invite God into certain rooms, but He is not permitted access to the entire house.
Leslie Newbigin, who spent many years as a missionary to India, tells that this kind of compartmentalization of God is a Western phenomenon. Few cultures around the world encourage a division between the sacred and secular or the public and the private. Faith is something that is intended to permeate all of life. “In most human cultures, religion is not a separate activity set apart from the rest of life.”[2] For sure, this is one of the ways that the “world” has affected the modern American church.

Bible Translations at Suber Road Baptist

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Introduction
Throughout Scripture the biblical writers presuppose that God intends that His Word be understood by His people.[1]Deuteronomy 6:6-7 assumes that fathers are able to teach their children the Law of Moses. In another passage Moses tells that the Word of God is clear and understandable:

For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. (Deut. 30:11-14)
The New Testament is equal in its affirmation of the clarity of Scripture. Most notably, Jesus assumes that His listeners are able to read and understand the Word of God. Six times in the Gospel of Matthew the Son of God asks, “Have you not read …” When confronted by the Pharisees Jesus tells them, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mat 9:13). The assumption in passages such as these is that the misunderstanding lies not with the text of Scripture, but with the hearer.[2] It has also been pointed out that most of the letters in the New Testament are written to churches, not to pastors and/or elders. These biblical writers take for granted that ordinary, average church members can understand their epistles. Some passages of Scripture even assume that children are in the listening audience (such as Eph. 6:1-3).[3] In light of this evidence we must conclude with Paul that “if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2 Cor. 4:3).

Practical Implications of the Story of the Bible

From time to time, it is helpful to step back and reacquaint ourselves with the overarching story that the Bible tells. Reflection on this topic is important because of our tendency to “miss the forest for the trees.” We often get so focused on our favorite passages, doctrines, books, or sections of the Bible that we miss THE Story. The Story of the Bible is the story of God accomplishing His plan of redeeming His broken creation. Theologians have divided the story a number of different ways, but here at Suber Road Baptist Church we like to divide it as follows: Read More→

Fork in the Road: Decision Making in the Proverbs (pt. 3)

In this post we are going address the third key ingredient to decision-making in Proverbs: Submitting to the Lord’s will. Read part 1 and part 2 in this series.

III.         Submitting to the Sovereign

In the process of decision making, the most important ingredient is God Himself. Proverbs repeatedly encourages the reader to consider the Lord’s role in one’s decisions. Several things can be said about the Lord’s role in one’s decisions. However, it is important to note that in all of these things the theme of God’s sovereignty is constantly present.

The first thing to which Proverbs alerts the reader, is that the Lord is the one who gives approval to your plans. He is the One who answers. Prov. 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” This verse brings the reader face to face with the reality that while he may seek wise counsel and make good plans, it is ultimately the Lord who determines the outcome (cf. Prov. 16:33) Read More→

Fork in the Road: Decision Making in the Proverbs (pt. 2)

Previously we noted that, according to Proverbs, there are at least three key ingredients to wise decision making: advice, planning, and most importantly, submitting to the Lord. In this post we are going address the second of these: planning.

II. Making Plans

Having a well thought out plan and direction is emphasized throughout Proverbs. Wise decisions are not usually made “on the fly,” but involve weighing the options. For those who will take the time to plan, the chances of success increase. Prov. 21:5 says, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” This proverb reminds the reader that there are no short-cuts when it comes to being successful; those who are willing to pay their dues by making adequate preparations and working hard find great blessing awaits them. As with all the proverbs, this is not an iron-clad promise. Rather, it is a general principle which recognizes that, generally, planning and hard work pay off (cf. 14:23).

Read More→

Fork In the Road: Decision Making in the Proverbs (pt 1)

A Fork in the road

Making decisions is a part of life. It is something that we do constantly. There are simple decisions, like what to eat for lunch. There are also more complex decisions, like who to marry, what kind of friends to have, what career to pursue, or what house to buy. In all of these things, God’s people should be especially concerned with making decisions that honor the Lord. Several questions naturally arise as a result:

  • How does one go about making such important decisions?
  • What guidance does the Scripture offer?
  • How is biblical wisdom seen in the decision-making process?

According to Proverbs, there are at least three key ingredients to wise decision making: advice, planning, and most importantly, submitting to the Lord. Our goal is to examine these three ingredients and explain how each of them contributes to wise decision-making in Proverbs.

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The Most Needful Thing in Evangelism

Why do we struggle with evangelism? Over the years I’ve heard (& used) a variety of excuses: “I’m not an outgoing person.” “I don’t know how to talk with people.” “I’m afraid I’m going to get asked a difficult question.” These concerns are reflected in how we prepare for evangelism. Often our emphasis in evangelism training is mainly on how to talk with people or answer specific objections (e.g. roll playing, reading apologetics books, etc.).

While these things are a great blessing and definitely have their place, sometimes I believe we get the cart before the horse. These things are not bad, but they can never replace a robust understanding of the Gospel. We must take the time to map out the theological topography of the Gospel. Any real preparation to reach our society must begin here. This is the most needful thing in evangelism. This may sound like a no-brainer, but this is often the last aspect of our preparation for evangelism. We assume that our knowledge of the Gospel is sufficient. For many, however, this knowledge consists of not much more than the information contained in a simple tract. The sad reality is that if someone asked us to give a clear but thorough presentation of the Gospel many of us would fail the test. Even the ability to define key concepts like “justification” or “repentance” is wanting in many believers. Friends, this should not be! Most of us are concerned about defending our faith, but how can we do so if we don’t know how to articulate accurately the faith we want to defend?  Again, I’m not downplaying the need for apologetics and a missionary mindset as we reach our culture. However, the best place to begin is with a thorough knowledge of the Gospel.

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2011 New York City Mission Trip

Deuteronomy 10:18 says, “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.”

NYCLast week 20 teenagers and 6 adults from our church family went to New York City to work with a church planter in Manhattan. Our ministry primarily involved serving in the food pantry ministry of the church. This ministry receives thousands of dollars worth of food each week which is distributed to the poor and needy in the community. This food is distributed over the course of five services during the week in which the Gospel is preached. Anything left over is often taken directly to the needier areas in the city and distributed out of the back of a vehicle. Our teens sorted the food, distributed the food, and ministered in song during the services. We also held two open-air outreaches and an open house at the church in which we had the opportunity to tell many of Christ. While there are a lot of things we could say about this mission trip, here are just a few of the things the Lord taught our group.

1.  The Providence of God

The trip began with our bus breaking down only two and half hours from home. The repairs needed were serious and we had to have the bus towed. Not knowing whether the trip would now be possible, we returned home. Yet, the Lord had another bus waiting for us. A sister church graciously allowed us to borrow their bus for the week (literally) on a moment’s notice. For that we give thanks as we see the providence of God in the whole situation.

2.  The Provision of God

It is difficult to imagine ministering to the poor all week without walking away with a profound sense that God has blessed our lives far beyond what we need to survive. This lesson was repeatedly driven into our hearts over the course of the week. It was also a blessing to see God’s provision of bread open opportunities to tell of the True Bread that has come down from heaven.

3.  The Power of God

Much of the team’s ministry took place from midnight to 2am. Such long hours continually pressed home the need for God’s grace and strength for service. It is easy to keep tempers under control when our lives our fine. However, after several days with little sleep, the charade soon comes to an end. The reality of our need for the Lord quickly sets in, as our frailty becomes more apparent. This reality must drive us to the cross all the time.

4.  The Word of God

One of the things that I believe everyone on our team will acknowledge is the need to dig deeper into the Scriptures, to know what we believe and why. Often we have a naïve view about our knowledge and ability to accurately communicate the Gospel. Such trips (like this one to NYC) serve as a wake-up call to our spirits. The city has a way of stripping the confidence of Christians who live in fairly religious communities. The cold truth is that we don’t know the Gospel as well as we should.

At Suber Road, our desire is not merely that missions get done through the church, but that the church gets done through missions. In other words, we desire the Lord to glorify Himself by growing us through our experiences on the mission field, both at home and abroad. That is exactly what the Lord accomplished this past week.