Thought for the Day

Michael Patton suggests the following as a means of stemming the tide of abandoning Christ:

"To lay theological foundations through critical thinking. To understand that the great commission is to make disciples, not simply converts. And most importantly, we must pray that God will grant a revival of the mind knowing that without the power of the Holy Spirit, no amount of intellectual persuasion can change an antagonistic heart."

With this I wholeheartedly agree! Read the whole post here.

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

Thought for the Day

“We should spend more time figuring out how to create a wider front door instead of focusing on how we can "close the back door"… even if that means losing people who give us a lot of money [there, I said it].”

This is part of a post over at Catalystspace entitled “10 Things That Drive Me Crazy About Working For A Church.”

This is something I’ve been concerned with in my years as pastor. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in trying to appease some. Doing so always results in the neglect of others.

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

Moving

Big change is coming to our family…

We’re moving to Texas!

I accepted a call to pastor First Baptist Church, Seagoville, TX, and we will be moving the week after Christmas.

This is such a big transition for us. When we moved here to Forest Hill, LA, after I finished seminary, the transition wasn’t so rough. We were expecting our first child and had come to our first pastorate. It’s not that those were minor changes, but they are nothing like the change that will take place. We now have 4 kids (all 4 years and under), a church family here whom we love dearly, and family just over an hour away (which has been a major blessing on numerous occasions). Then, I was finishing seminary; now, I’ll be starting seminary again! And, there will be significantly more work to do! There’s also the fact that this is familiar territory for us. We’ve been here almost 6 years now, so we know the lay of the land. In TX, it will be pretty much starting over!

Then there’s the actual moving part. Packing up a house indwelled by six people is a lot different than an apartment with only two! My library alone will require its own moving truck!!!

Pastoral ministry is always a challenge. New names, new faces, same ol’ issues. We look forward to these challenges, however, because we feel confident that this is where God has called us. So, we have a few more weeks here in Louisiana, which is weird to say because we were all born and raised here. But, Texas beckons us and we shall go!

In case you’re wondering, Seagoville is about 10-15 minutes southeast of the Dallas metroplex and even closer to Mesquite, which has everything in the world you could want.

I will be starting on my Ph.D. in NT at Dallas Theological Seminary in January, a venture that both excites and terrifies me! I have been out of school since 2004, so I’m a bit rusty when it comes to hardcore research. Preparing sermons every week has kept me involved in the languages (though time constraints limit things a bit), but keeping up with anything in the scholarly world of biblical studies is an added endeavor, one that does not receive the attention other matters do. So, on top of a family of 6 (that includes us parents!), moving all our stuff to TX, and beginning a new church ministry, I’ll have loads of course work, researching, reading, and writing to do…Sounds like fun, eh? :-)

But, we trust that this is God’s leading, so we must follow. If we cross your mind and you could utter a prayer for us, we would appreciate that very much.

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

On Using Notes

Here’s a question for you out there who preach/teach regularly in a church setting (I have in mind primarily pastors, but anyone may chime in!). What is your “policy” on using notes? If you use them, do you use a simple outline or copious notes that cover every jot and tittle of the text?

I have used both very detailed outlines and no notes at all. It really depends on how well I know the text. The problem I run into with outlines that are too detailed is that I feel anchored to the notes, as if I have to mention every little detail on the page. This can lead to dependence upon the notes that may detract from any Spirit-led spontaneity. On the other hand, using no notes at all may force a dependence on my own ability, which is not always so dependable! In light of this, I generally tend toward using a simple outline of major points with only a few major subpoints underneath. There are still times when I don’t use any notes at all, I just teach through the text.

So, how do you handle it?

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

Revival: Day 4

Tonight we concluded our fall revival and it was another tremendous service. I can honestly say that in the nearly-6 years we’ve been here, this has been the best revival yet. By “best” I mean that those in attendance were most receptive to God’s word and I think were genuinely moved by God’s spirit to a greater faithfulness to Christ.

It was quite a different experience to hear the Gospel of Mark preached, nearly in its entirety, in a matter of 5 sermons. I am left with the impression that this will be something I will one day consider, but only once I have gained a much stronger hold on the particulars of the individual sections.

The last sermon covered the events from Mark 10:46 through the end of chapter 16 (and, yes, Dr. Meyer believes correctly that the Gospel of Mark ends at 16:8!). These verses essentially cover the events that lead up to the crucifixion and death of Christ, culminating with the resurrection. Dr. Meyer focused on the cross and Jesus’ authority and control over the circumstances of his arrest, trial, scourging, crucifixion, and death, arguing (rightly) that Jesus was never surprised and things were never beyond his control/his Father’s will. No one took his life–he gave it freely. We see that in spite of all the injustice perpetrated by the Romans and the Jews, Jesus remained faithful and obedient to his Father’s will, even though it lead him down a violent and shameful path. Why? Because of his great love for us. So great was it that even in the face of injustice, mockery, blasphemy, torture, and savagery, Jesus gave his life as a ransom for many. May we never lose sight of the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice or fail to understand the weight of what happened on that cross.

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

Revival: Day 3

As you might expect, we had another great revival meeting tonight! Our attendance has been uncharacteristically high and I believe most everyone has really benefited from the teachings of Mark’s Gospel. Tonight, Dr. Meyer preached from Mark 9:14-10:45, continuing to unfold the narrative as it revealed the continued partial blindness of the disciples. What’s so striking, aside from the fact that Jesus chose these 12 disciples, is that it’s quite difficult to not put yourself in their place because we tend to make the same mistakes they did. Yet, Jesus taught them and used them as part of the founding of his church. The essence, then, of the message tonight was that being a disciple is sacrificial life, one that lives for the glory and honor of Christ and has no concern for the applause and laud of men.

I have heard a lot from the people attending this week and they genuinely seemed to be challenged by the sermons. I have enjoyed these messages as much as any I have heard lately (like Thomas Schreiner’s series on Revelation) not only because the word rightly handled serves to confront our errant theologies and reorient us to Christ, but also because I have newfound appreciation for the Gospel of Mark. Most of the discussion of Mark, at least that I’ve been aware of, has circled around the question of its role in the composition of the other synoptics. As you may know, source criticism and all the attention given to Q is well beyond my interests. This week’s messages, among other things, has given me the panoramic view of the Gospel as Mark saw it, and it’s been wholly fascinating! I may just have to give more attention to it!

We conclude revival tomorrow night, and I anxiously await to see how Dr. Meyer will conclude his series.

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason

Revival: Day 2

Tonight’s service was great! We are experiencing an increase in attendance for the evening services, which is not the norm from years past! Dr. Meyer delivered a fantastic sermon tonight from Mark 8-9 on discipleship. We have probably all heard a sermon or two on Jesus’ words concerning taking up your cross and following him, but tonight’s message was powerful. I guess it was hearing it from another who explained so much of the larger narrative context–it was simply wonderful.

One of the things that pastoral ministry has taught these last nearly-6 years is the lack of understanding of what it means to be a disciple. And I don’t say this as one who feels as though I have been the most faithful disciple–God knows I haven’t. But being in a position where one has to model the life of a disciple as part of teaching others with the goal of helping them to become better disciples, I see regularly the shortfall of my own obedience, or lack thereof. I so appreciated the message tonight because I heard with fresh ears the demands of discipleship–denial of self, bearing the cross, and following Jesus. Sounds so simple, yet it costs us everything.

Αυτω η δοξα,

Jason