Like swallowing chocolate covered arsenic…

I have been convicted about how I use my words. The conviction is part of the reason I picked up this book, and more conviction came as I read this book.

I criticize because I think I know better.

I mock because I think I could do better.

I belittle because I think I am better.

These ought not to be so. They are symptoms of a sinful heart. In “Resisting Gossip,” Mitchell defines gossip in this way, “Gossip is bearing bad news behind someone’s back out of a bad heart.” And while it is tempting, pervasive, and easy, there is hope in Christ for those who gossip and those who are hurt by it.

I would recommend “Resisting Gossip” to individuals and small groups in personal reading, Bible studies, or church groups. It will be a challenge whether you have been on the receiving end of gossip, or the carrier. It will help to define, spot, and deal with gossip in your own heart and in your circle of friends.

Click here to read a full review, and consider picking up this short book and reading through it with a friend.

Mitchell, Matthew C. Resisting Gossip: Winning the War of the Wagging Tongue. CLC Publications, 2013.

Events from 2014: Ordination

 

At the beginning of May a council was called to evaluate my doctrinal beliefs. Men from all over Minnesota came to read my doctrinal statement and ask me questions. There were pastors, teachers, missionaries, elementary school friends, college friends, seminary friends, and others. Upon their recommendation, Liberty Baptist ordained me on June 15th, 2014.

Seth Ord Pastors Three men spoke at the service, Jeff Straub, Don Odens, and David Grotzke. The reason each of them took part in the service was because they all have played a large role in my formation as a man and pastor (not to mention Crystal and I have lived in each of their basements for over a month at a time!)IMG_3631 We thank God for the experience we have received over the years and the way he has shaped our lives.IMG_1421 Edt

God’s Grace Evidenced

IMG_3337

We were able to spend last weekend with the Chinese Christian Church of Woodbury (3CW) for their annual retreat. Seth was invited to be the presenter for the English speakers. The retreat took place at Camp Victory near Zumbro Falls, MN.

IMG_3340

The retreat was a lot of fun for various reasons, but we wanted to share a few of the ways we saw God’s grace evidenced through 3CW.

  • The church family was open and friendly
  • They were genuinely interested in our lives and asked good questions
  • The whole body acted as a family. I enjoyed hearing the teens and children address the adults as “Uncle” and “Auntie”
  • Smiling was the default facial expression
  • Their joy could be seen and heard
  • They were very generous in multiple ways
  • They went out of their way to include multiple language groups in their corporate worship time
  • They shared their snacks!

IMG_3338We thank God for 3CW and look forward to seeing how God uses this church family to minister to the world.

 

Churches Encouraging their Supported missionaries

This is a guest post by Dave Mumford. He and his family have been ministering in France for many years, so I asked him to help us think through how we as churches can better encourage our missionaries.
__________________________

Churches Encouraging their Supported missionariesIMG_2133

A biblical precedent?

Before we delve into this exciting topic (for supported missionaries, that is…) it might be good to consider whether churches have a particular responsibility to specifically encourage “their” missionaries, and to what extent.  It is assumed that faithful churches, interested in reaching out to various parts of the world through a missions program, will send funds, and offer at least some prayer support.  Do they necessarily have a responsibility besides that?

Paul and Barnabas were sent out from Antioch, and their report was heard (no doubt in some detail) in Acts 14. They were greatly encouraged by the interest of some in the congregation. Nothing tells us that the Christians in Antioch felt a special responsibility to buy the pair new sandals, provide them with some extra parchments, arrange for haircuts and beard trims, etc.

I suppose the pragmatic answer to the question “How much more involvement must churches have, in addition to financial and prayer support?” is: how effective do they want their missionaries to be? Do you want to be a real encouragement, or not (really)?

Here are some ways churches and individual supporters can have added impact:

1. At the risk of sounding a bit pious, one of the most helpful things churches and individuals can “do” to assist their missionaries is maintaining their walk with the Lord right there in the United States. It is always disheartening if the missionary perceives a church to be less concerned about spirituality and evangelism than in the past. If the pastoral staff and the core of the church members are walking with God, the support base is solid, no matter what the financial status. Spirituality does not necessarily produce ample funds, but at least the foundation of the sponsoring church will be stable.

2. Missionaries are grateful for prayer and interest. The ”and”  is because it is no doubt possible to pray for missionaries somewhat half-heartedly (I am guilty of this at times…).  When folks from the US, despite their busy schedules, tell us they are praying and communicate interest in overseas ministry, it is very encouraging. Conversely, one of the more discouraging things about reporting to churches in the US is the many people that file right past you without hardly any acknowledgement. Perhaps there not sure what to say. There’s a possibility that they are quite busy, and do indeed have an important appointment awaiting them (note the optimism here; very un-French…) but in many cases I’m afraid folks aren’t very concerned about missions. Granted, you would do well to not waylay an unsuspecting missionary candidate in a 45 minute conversation. I did have one missionary friend who just could not escape the conversational grasp of a certain elderly lady. She seemed to be waiting for everyone to leave. After what seemed like hours, she whispered to him “you have bad breath…” By that time, there was no one left to care.

3. News: Most missionaries appreciate at least of semblance of news from their supporting churches. By “semblance of news”, I mean: a new pastor or any other major change in the church. Perhaps one capable, well-motivated individual could be responsible for updating all the missionaries on the happenings of the church twice a year or so. It is true that the missionary could consult the church website, but with 20 to 40 churches a piece, most missionaries simply don’t have the time.

4.  Practical help is of course always welcome. Sending cards, letters or packages overseas is appreciated (it is not that useful to send a note or card to the mission board home office: they simply scan the greeting card and email to you. Somehow a scanned Hallmark card does not have the same effect). A magazine subscription is a great idea, particularly for the wives. Currently Cyndie is receiving Better Homes and Gardens via a friend, and churches have sometimes enabled other magazine subscriptions. You might possibly check with the missionary you are seeking to encourage to see if there is a magazine that would be of benefit to them. Mail and especially small packages are a special treat; and depending on what is sent, can greatly encourage the MKs, too. My all-time favorite missionary package story? As a boy of about 11-12, my parents received one from a church in the US.  There were 5 of us kids and I’m sure we were a bit excited. The box was opened, revealing a fair amount of brand-new, and no doubt, hand-crafted potholders! We searched in vain for some American candy bar, etc. I’m sure the women’s missionary society of the said church (sure hope it wasn’t the men’s group!) really meant well, and no doubt worked hard. It’s just that we were expecting something more profitable (for our stomachs).

Use your imagination: think of what might be helpful to your missionary friends, or simply ask them. For example, one year some friends out west designed our prayer card, then had them printed up, all at their expense. Those same friends loaned us a vehicle for 3 weeks. (Vehicles are a “biggie” – often the bane of a missionary’s furlough.) A kind gentleman is western Minnesota has allowed us to use a vehicle free of charge free of charge for several short furloughs.

Any time a person actually goes out of their way to actually think: “How could I be of help to our missionaries?”, it is helpful and, presumably, glorifying to God.

5. Financial area: Missionaries know times are tough in the US. The “normal” ones appreciate all the help they receive, and are not under the impression that churches owe them anything. Some churches are able to do a bit more around Christmas time and designate a special offering. Many a present was bought here for our kids with funds that originally came from gracious churches. As we tell our girls when they receive some of these gifts:  “thank the churches!!”.

If the pastoral staff is being adequately taken care of, and there are funds available, I don’t think too many missionaries would turn down a raise in support. Everybody appreciates a raise: it lets you know in a “tangible way” that you are appreciated, and presumably, doing a decent job.

Stop Dating the Church by Harris

Harris, Joshua. Stop Dating the Church! Sisters, Or.: Multnomah Publishers, 2004. 

Hardcover: 140 pages

Point: Jesus Christ loves His Church, and so should we.

Path: Harris describes the life of a church dater, or church shopper, who refuses to commit to a real relationship with the Bride of Christ. He explains why we need the church, how to love the church, how to find a church, and how to get the most out of church.

Sources: Harris shares life experiences from confessing church daters. Writers such as J. I. Packer, Donald Whitney, Mark Dever, and C. J. Mahaney all have impacted the author.

Agreement: The central theme of this book is sorely needed. We must listen closely in a time when we can go to any church we want to get our “fix” of socialization, spirituality, positive thinking, “worship”, or entertainment.

Jesus Christ died for His Church. Settle down and love what He loves. Loving Her means planning, sacrificing, serving, and committing.

I appreciated his plan for making the most of Sunday.

Disagreement: This is a good book to put into a church dater’s hands. It isn’t comprehensive. With that said, I would have appreciated a little more depth in the various categories. I think that I would hand this book out first, then follow it up with some of the 9Marks books.

Personal App: Am I loving what Jesus loves?

Favorite Quote: “Because the local church is the key to spiritual health and growth for a Christian” (15).

Stars: 4 out of 5

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.

If this review was helpful, let me know here.

John 15:12-17 – Love each other

Pastor Odens spoke on John 15:12-17 this past Sunday. He explained and applied Jesus’ command to love each other.

Big Idea: Christ calls every believer to engage in nonstop love for every other Christian.

Three characteristics of that love:

1. Self sacrifice (13)

2. Openness (14-15) you are my friends

3. Commitment (16) I chose you

It would be worth you time to listen to this command that we often neglect. Do so here

Internet Church 2.0

Series Intro: What is a New Testament church? It is not a building. It is not a social club. It is not something you “do.”  Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 11.12.14 AM

OverviewPart2Part3; Part4Part 5Part 6; Part 7

I would suggest that there are certain components which must be part of any assembly which would call itself a biblical “church.” Without these you cannot have a church:

  1. Gospel believing individuals
  2. Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
  3. Recognizably covenanting together
  4. Regularly meeting around God’s Word
  5. Under legitimate leadership
  6. Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

—————————————————

The preceding study has led us to an important question: “Can you have a purely online church?”

This is an important question not only because of where we are headed in this technological age, but where we already are. Believers around the world are coming together online. Are these gatherings NT local churches?

First, let’s consider the positive aspects of an “online church” (Many of these were offered by the technologically savvy at Liberty Baptist)

  • Easy to watch so it can be evangelistic
  • There can be continuity for those who move, have to travel, or are sick
  • Accessible
  • Affordable (no building is necessary to maintain, no expense for gas to drive in)
  • Safer for those in persecuting countries
  • Cross Cultural and Worldwide
  • Discipleship and Missions can be faster and cheaper
  • There is a wider selection to chose from
  • Translated easily
  • Not awkward to have to get up and leave
  • Not as attached

Now, let’s consider the negative aspects of an “online church”

  • No physical contact
  • Power outages
  • No physical outreach to your community
  • What about time zones?
  • Lack of accountability and commitment
  • Government tracking
  • Who leads?
  • How can you fellowship?
  • Church Discipline and discipleship cannot be exercised effectively
  • Some don’t have the technology

Now that we got those out of the way, let’s deal with realities. (So often discussions get clogged up with positive or negative results instead of dealing with truth claims. None of the positive elements make any difference if it can’t be a church, and none of the negative elements should stop us from calling it a “church” if that is in reality what it is.)

According to my definition – which we are still able to argue about if you want – a NT local church is composed of these essential components:

  1. Gospel believing individuals
  2. Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
  3. Recognizably covenanting together
  4. Regularly meeting around God’s Word
  5. Under legitimate leadership
  6. Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

Now, which of these can we have online and which can we not?

  • You can have gospel believing individuals
  • They could have been baptized, but in order to be baptize the church has to stop being online and has to be physically present at some point.
  • They can covenant together
  • They can regularly meet around God’s Word
  • They can have legitimate leadership
  • In order to administer baptism and the Lord’s Table the church has to stop being online and has to be physically present at some point.
    • Baptism – see above
    • Lord’s Table – How is this distorting the picture of Christ’s death if we mail out the elements?

 

Can you have an actual online “church”? I would answer, No. At some point it has to come offline (baptism and Lord’s Supper). Can you have a church that primarily meets online? Yes, you can.

Now the question is, is that what is best for you?

You can have an online church in the same way you can have an online family. You can have a father who lives in China, a mother in South Africa, and children scattered throughout South America. Is it possible? Yes. Is it healthy, vibrant, and how it is meant to be? No. Why? Because that is not how we were made by God. We were made with physical bodies to be physically present in one place.

Jesus has given this incredible reality called the New Testament local church. It can have spots. It can have wrinkles and warts and less desirable parts, but it His Bride. He died for it and is giving it life.

How would you answer the question?

A picture is worth a thousand words: NT Church.7

Series Intro: What is a New Testament church? It is not a building. It is not a social club. It is not something you “do.”  NT Church.7

OverviewPart2Part3; Part4Part 5; Part 6

I would suggest that there are certain components which must be part of any assembly which would call itself a biblical “church.” Without these you cannot have a church:

  1. Gospel believing individuals
  2. Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
  3. Recognizably covenanting together
  4. Regularly meeting around God’s Word
  5. Under legitimate leadership
  6. Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

—————————————————

Let’s take a look at the sixth essential component of a NT local church: Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

We have already considered Baptism here, so this post will focus on the Lord’s Table

A. Different views

  • Real Presence – the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ (transubstantiation)
  • Sacramental Union – Christ is supernaturally present along side the bread and wine (consubstantiation)
  • Real Spiritual Presence – the real spiritual presence of Christ is present during the meal
  • Ordinance – Christ is remembered during the meal

B. Paul in 1 Cor 11:17-34 (The following outline was taken from Bauder, Kevin T. Baptist Distinctives and New Testament Church Order. Schaumburg: Regular Baptist Press, 2012.)

The Lord’s Table provides believers with the opportunity for a crucial look:

  • A look back to the cross of Christ (11:23-24)
  • A look up to the risen Christ (1 Cor 15:1-8)
  • A look around at those who are part of the body of Christ (11:17-20, 33)
  • A look within at sin (11:27-32)
  • A look forward to the return of Christ (11:26)

A NT Church has the unique privilege and responsibility of visually enacting the Gospel in two ways – Baptism and Lord’s Table. These cannot be taken lightly. As a body we come together to remember, celebrate, and proclaim Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and return. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is. We need to hear and see the Gospel more than we realize.

Who’s Who: NT Church.6

Series Intro: What is a New Testament church? It is not a building. It is not a social club. It is not something you “do.”  NT Church.5

OverviewPart2Part3; Part4; Part 5

I would suggest that there are certain components which must be part of any assembly which would call itself a biblical “church.” Without these you cannot have a church:

  1. Gospel believing individuals
  2. Baptized in demonstration of their conversion
  3. Recognizably covenanting together
  4. Regularly meeting around God’s Word
  5. Under legitimate leadership
  6. Administering Baptism and the Lord’s Table

—————————————————

Let’s take a look at the fifth essential component of a NT local church: Under legitimate leadership

A brief outline of NT references will have to suffice for our short summary here:

A. Led by elders

  • Terms (Titus 1:5-7 and 1 Peter 5:1-2). There are three overlapping terms used for this man: Elder, Pastor, Overseer
  • Responsibilities (Eph 4:11-16; 2 Tim 4:1-5).
  • Requirements (1 Tim 3:1-7).

B. Served by deacons

  • Responsibilities (Acts 6:1-7).
  • Requirements (1 Tim 3:8-13).