Friday, October 26, 2012

How Would You Describe Your Church (updated)

Recently I was asked to write something for the Bethany Place website (currently down, it's being reworked) that describes our church. It’s an interesting challenge. I wonder what you would say about your church? What means the most to you about your church? Here’s my effort so far. What have I omitted? What would you change? I would love to hear your thoughts:

Bethany Place Baptist Church is an elder led congregation located on the Southside of Richmond. We affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.

There are many people of tremendous character who love and faithfully serve God through our church. We have tremendous leaders in place in our children’s and student ministries who creatively and compassionately serve. There are many other areas utilizing people of diverse abilities and passion for ministry. Members and attenders also serve by meeting practical needs of people all over the Richmond area through formal and informal ministries. Bethany Place has long been committed to missions with missionaries all over the world who were at one time members of our church. We have a mission’s house on the church property for the purpose of providing housing for missionaries while on furlough.

We believe the Bible to be without error (inerrant and infallible.) We seek to worship God passionately and faithfully as described in Psalm 95 and John 4:23-24. There are both contemporary and traditional elements of our services. We seek to faithfully share the good news of Jesus as He instructed in Matthew 28:18-20, not satisfied with only delivering the good news about Jesus, but aim at making disciples of Jesus. In fact, we are seeking to make disciples who make disciples as described in 1 Timothy 2:2. We do this by welcoming people into our church family and by teaching the whole of God’s word as Jesus described in Matthew 28:19-20. We seek to be a church credibly speaking to our culture motivated by love for God and love for people. Finally, we constantly work to develop a welcoming culture that loves well those within the body and those whom God brings to our fellowship.

Recently we’ve worked on a restatement of our church’s vision. Here is where that stands at the moment, though we believe we have more work to do. “To be a church who through God’s power transforms and equips lives for his service in daily living.”

So there it is. Too long, right? There is tremendous evidence of God at work in our church body that needs to be celebrated. I’m not sure what to leave out. How should we say it? Seriously, I will make an effort to incorporate your thoughts if I can, especially if it helps make it shorter rather than longer!

This Sunday at Bethany Place I am continuing a series on Romans 8 called Building Confidence. Last Sunday we got off to a great start. Attendance was strong and with more guests in the service than any one Sunday all year. I hope to see you here Sunday ready to worship, seek God in his word, and ready to welcome everyone you encounter. Sunday’s message is titled, Pleasing God from Romans 8:5-14. I can’t wait to share with you the results of my work of wrestling with God through this text. You can read the text, outline and discussion questions below.

Pleasing God

Romans 8:5-14
Building Confidence: A Study of Romans 8, Part 2
1.    Recognize our natural hostility to God
Romans 8:5–8 (ESV)
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

2.    Be stunned that the Holy Spirit lives in you
Romans 8:9–11 (ESV)
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

3.    Murder your bent to sin and seek God’s leading
Romans 8:12–14 (ESV)
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Questions for further reflection and discussion
What evidence do you see that popular opinion in this country believes most everyone goes to heaven when they die?
How would you describe the two approaches to life described in Romans 8:5-8?
Whom do these verses describe as being hostile to God?
The teaching of this passage is that those who have been saved have the real presence of the Holy Spirit living inside of them. What affect would it have on you if were constantly aware of this truth?
In what sense are believers not “debtors” to the flesh? Reading this verse in a few other translations will help answer that question.
What does it mean to put to death the deeds of the body?
How can a person consciously seek to be led by God?

How Would You Describe Your Church



Recently I was asked to write something for our website that describes our church. It’s an interesting challenge. I wonder what you would say? What means the most to you about who we are as a church? Here’s my effort so far. What have I omitted? What would you change? I would love to hear your thoughts:

Bethany Place Baptist Church is an elder led congregation located on the Southside of Richmond. We affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.

There are many people of tremendous character who love and faithfully serve God through our church. We have tremendous leaders in place in our children’s and student ministries who creatively and compassionately serve. There are many other areas utilizing people of diverse abilities and passion for ministry. Members and attenders also serve by meeting practical needs of people all over the Richmond area through formal and informal ministries. Bethany Place has long been committed to missions with missionaries all over the world who were at one time members of our church. We have a mission’s house on the church property for the purpose of providing housing for missionaries while on furlough.

We believe the Bible to be without error (inerrant and infallible.) We seek to worship God passionately and faithfully as described in Psalm 95 and John 4:23-24. There are both contemporary and traditional elements of our services. We seek to faithfully share the good news of Jesus as He instructed in Matthew 28:18-20, not satisfied with only delivering the good news about Jesus, but aim at making disciples of Jesus. In fact, we are seeking to make disciples who make disciples as described in 1 Timothy 2:2. We do this by welcoming people into our church family and by teaching the whole of God’s word as Jesus described in Matthew 28:19-20. We seek to be a church credibly speaking to our culture motivated by love for God and love for people. Finally, we constantly work to develop a welcoming culture that loves well those within the body and those whom God brings to our fellowship.

Recently we’ve worked on a restatement of our church’s vision. Here is where that stands at the moment, though we believe we have more work to do. “To be a church who through God’s power transforms and equips lives for his service in daily living.”

So there it is. Too long, right? There is tremendous evidence of God at work in our church body that needs to be celebrated. I’m not sure what to leave out. How should we say it? Seriously, I will make an effort to incorporate your thoughts if I can, especially if it helps make it shorter rather than longer!

This Sunday at Bethany Place I am continuing a series on Romans 8 called Building Confidence. Last Sunday we got off to a great start. Attendance was strong and with more guests in the service than any one Sunday all year. I hope to see you here Sunday ready to worship, seek God in his word, and ready to welcome everyone you encounter. Sunday’s message is titled, Pleasing God from Romans 8:5-14. I can’t wait to share with you the results of my work of wrestling with God through this text. You can read the text, outline and discussion questions below.

Pleasing God

Romans 8:5-14
Building Confidence: A Study of Romans 8, Part 2
1.    Recognize our natural hostility to God
Romans 8:5–8 (ESV)
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

2.    Be stunned that the Holy Spirit lives in you
Romans 8:9–11 (ESV)
You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

3.    Murder your bent to sin and seek God’s leading
Romans 8:12–14 (ESV)
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Questions for further reflection and discussion
What evidence do you see that popular opinion in this country believes most everyone goes to heaven when they die?
How would you describe the two approaches to life described in Romans 8:5-8?
Whom do these verses describe as being hostile to God?
The teaching of this passage is that those who have been saved have the real presence of the Holy Spirit living inside of them. What affect would it have on you if were constantly aware of this truth?
In what sense are believers not “debtors” to the flesh? Reading this verse in a few other translations will help answer that question.
What does it mean to put to death the deeds of the body?
How can a person consciously seek to be led by God?


Friday, October 19, 2012

Confidence


It’s been said that what the most important person in your life thinks of you, greatly affects how you feel about yourself. For example, if you are married, the opinion of your spouse matters tremendously to you. If your spouse loves and respects you, you can withstand not being loved and respected by others. But if your spouse doesn’t respect you, it is far more difficult to feel good about yourself.

It may be easy to say that God is the most important person in our lives. Perhaps we mean that to the best of our understanding at any given point, but the reality grows over time if we keep pursuing God. Still, if God is in reality the central figure in your life and as you understand more of who he is and how he sees you, this creates the possibility of a confidence beyond what you’ve imagined. However, it seems we have to be reminded. We walk with God by faith and our faith needs constant refreshing by encountering God through his word. It is there that the Holy Spirit reminds us that when God looks at us, when he looks at one of his children, he does not see our sin; rather he sees the righteousness of Jesus.

It’s possible to know these things in your mind but still not be greatly encouraged by it. It’s only through looking closely at scripture, and through that look to be drawn closer to God, that you can begin to sense God making these truths real to you. When that happens, confidence soars. There’s no place for arrogance; such a realization of the love of God doesn’t lead us to want to look down our noses at other people. Rather it fills us with gratitude that we can live with confidence and rest knowing we are secure in Jesus and in what he has done for us.

This Sunday I'm beginning a series preaching through Romans 8. I believe the exploration of this text will lead to a breakthrough in the way you see these matters. I hope you won't miss a single week either in person or through the podcast. You can see the text, outline, and discussion questions below.

God bless you and I look forward to seeing you Sunday,

Gene

Delivered

Romans 8:1-4
Confidence: A Study of Romans 8, Part 1

You can take confidence now because

1.    God delivers you from the penalty your sin deserves

Romans 8:1–2 (ESV)
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.


2.    God did for you what you cannot do for yourself

Romans 8:3 (ESV)
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,



3.    God gives you credit for Jesus’ perfect life

Romans 8:4 (ESV)
in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Questions for further thought (they are harder than normal)
What evidence do you see of a spiritual battle going on inside your mind?
What does it mean to be in Christ Jesus? 
To what extent do you struggle with forgiving yourself for past sins? How does this passage address that problem?
In what sense is the Old Testament law “weakened by the flesh”?
Why does just trying to be a better person not help a person to become right with God? 
What is it that God does that the law cannot? 
What is the righteous requirement of the law?
What evidence in there in this text that obedience is still important?