Prayer for King’s Harbor Church

G&L-26

Dearest Father,

In our weakness, Your devoted love was stirred up on our behalf and You surrounded us with pastoral guardians from throughout the South Bay. Looking back, we now see that Your power is indeed made more perfect in our weakness. You have searched our hearts and answered prayers for healing through confession, repentance, and reconciliation by drawing us back to the Good Shepherd. You have disciplined us for our good, assuring us that in Your light we see light, we are forgiven, and find true liberty. Lord Jesus, refresh the souls of all who have walked together through this transition. Honor the volunteers, friends, and families who have sacrificed behind the scenes in less visible roles. May the faithfulness with which You have pursued us give us confidence that we are prepared for this next season of fruitful ministry.

Holy Spirit, grant King’s Harbor Church a time of green pastures and continued spiritual restoration as we live into the gospel together. Stir us to pray and teach us to discern good from evil, that we might fix our mind on the things that are above, growing a heart of wisdom for the times in which we live. We are grateful for our new pastor, Mike Dsane, and his wife, Sky. May they wear Your yoke, Lord Jesus, and not the yoke of our expectations.

Now may the good hand of God be evident in the King’s Harbor Church community both in word and in deed as we supremely treasure Jesus, our Lord and Savior. For from Him originates this Good News which is for all people and in which we stand! We ask these things in the glorious name of Jesus. Amen.

With love from Linda and Gregg Caruso

April 30, 2017

References to Scripture (in order from left to right)

Ps 125:2    2Cor 12:9a    Ps 139:23,24    John 10:11a    Heb 12:11    Ps 36:9b

1Cor 12:14    Ps 23:2a    Heb 5:14b    Zech 12:10    Col 3:2  Ps 90:12

Matt 11:30    Neh 2:18    Rom 11:36    Rom 5:2

Peace Out!

Prayer for King’s Harbor Church

Good Theology Expands the Soul

J.I. Packer on communicating the gospel truth to today’s culture.

Packer

James Packer is most famous for his [book] Knowing God (InterVarsity), which brought him to the attention of Americans in 1973 and has now sold nearly 2 million copies. It was, however, already his thirteenth book. Since then he has published another 26, and in each he aims to present, as he puts it, “truth for people.”

In addition to writing, he is a working theologian, teaching at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is also an assistant rector at St. John’s Church Shaughnessy of Vancouver, a congregation of 1,100. He assists in worship, oversees adult education, and preaches from time to time.

Leadership editors Kevin Miller and Marshall Shelley sat down with Dr. Packer and asked how pastors might best communicate the gospel truth to today’s culture.

For many, theology is a bad word. Why have you devoted your life to it?

It helps me appreciate the greatness, goodness, and glory of God—lifting up the sheer wonder and size and majesty of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In the providence of God, the Puritans and Calvin taught me that’s what theology is about. The truth I try to grasp and share is truth that enlarges the soul because it tunes into the greatness of God. It generates awe and adoration.

If this is theology, why do so many people find it objectionable or boring?

Too often theology has been taught in a rigidly defensive way: “This stuff you are to believe and share; these are the errors you are to recognize and reject.” Simply projecting orthodoxy that way doesn’t give much stimulus to the mind because the conclusion is determined before you’ve asked the question, and devotionally it is barren.

Such an approach shrinks the soul. Focusing on the greatness of God, though, enlarges the soul. Paradoxically, it makes you a greater person by making you a smaller person. It makes you humble. It lowers you in your own estimate. I’ve always tried to present truth so that it will humble the sinner and exalt the Savior, and so produce a Christian who’s of larger stature than one who simply knows orthodoxy and is prepared to recite it on demand.

What does God-exalting theology say to a culture like ours, which aims to exalt the self?

The business of religion, in many circles, has become trying to make people happy. Anything that enlarges my comfort zone is regarded as good, godly, proper, and to be integrated into my religion.

But true theology challenges the presuppositions of North American culture, both secular and churchly, both of which seem to be primarily concerned with the “right to happiness.” True theology calls on us to deny the claims of self and exalt God instead.

You don’t come across as someone who is confrontational, though.

You don’t usually get anywhere with self-absorbed people by throwing a challenge in their face. In-your-face style usually produces an indignant, negative reaction or withdrawal.

Instead, I’ve tried to infiltrate happiness-oriented minds with the thought that God might be greater than we imagine and might have a different agenda for us.

I build everything on biblical exegesis and application. John Calvin and the Puritans did that. And in preaching and writing, I find an enormous difference between the feel of putting out my own ideas and the feel of simply echoing and enforcing what God has said in his Word. You have liberty and authority when you allow the Bible to talk through you, a liberty and authority you don’t have if you’re offering your own ideas or cherished notions. By expanding on Scripture, all of which is God-centered material, I challenge self-absorption indirectly all the time.

Does that mean you’re opposed to a user-friendly or seeker-oriented approach to ministry?

Insofar as pastors are concerned to communicate with people where they really are, such concern is very good—but not if they tailor the message so as simply to give people what they want, in hope of increasing church attendance. I know of one or two professedly seeker-sensitive churches where nothing gets paraded or taught but the ABCs of the gospel—why an outsider will find the Christian life a happier life and how an outsider becomes a Christian. In those congregations, Christians of some standing and relative maturity are starving because there’s nothing provided for them.

Is it legitimate to appeal to non-Christians at the point of their admittedly self-absorbed need—for example, by offering marriage seminars to get them into church?

There’s great wisdom in the old adage “Scratch where it itches.” The question is what are you going to tell them about the particular problems on their minds. The really good evangelists, like Billy Graham, always say these problems cannot be solved unless the bigger problem of their basic relationship with God is also solved. Rightly they explain: “It’s a single package. We can’t put your family life straight unless you’re prepared to become a new creature in Christ.”

In light of verses about the blessedness and abundance of the Christian life, isn’t it legitimate to preach that true Christianity is a means to personal fulfillment?

It’s legitimate once you’ve guarded against the mistake that makes it illegitimate. The mistake is to suppose that I should think of myself as the center of the universe, and God as there for my comfort and my convenience—as if God exists merely to bless me. That assumption has to be junked.

We exist for God. God, in his great mercy, has promised that blessedness will accompany discipleship, but it’s got to be God first.

Without that, to say that Christianity is the secret of happiness is dangerous. Often evangelists who preach that way leave the wrong impression and confirm the egocentricity of folk, who then try Christianity as a formula for happiness. God is merciful and sometimes there is a real conversion and real regeneration. But even so, that kind of teaching is likely to produce sub-standard saints.

You don’t actually help the butterfly emerge from its chrysalis by cutting the chrysalis. If the butterfly doesn’t struggle from inside to get out, it comes out as a butterfly that isn’t strong enough to fly. People who get into the Christian life without ever being challenged to repent of their egocentricity are, at best, likely to remain stunted Christians. The struggle to change at this point is necessary for health and growth.

Repentance doesn’t seem to be a popular theme in preaching these days. Why is that?

It’s due to theological neglect. We don’t preach it, and people don’t understand it because we don’t have an awesome, horizon-filling, overwhelming sense of the greatness and holiness and goodness of God.

Thomas Chalmers, a Scottish pastor of the 1800s, spoke of the “expulsive power of a new affection.” That’s how true repentance is born; that’s how lives get transformed. The new affection is grateful love of a God who saved you, of a Christ who died for you. It means the things of this world grow strangely dim. Only a new vision of the purity and greatness and goodness of God has the power to expel selfish affections and so make repentance real.

Is it appropriate to use guilt to motivate people to repent?

We can’t help it. When people wake up to the fact that they’ve been defying and dishonoring God all these years, they’ll feel guilt if the Spirit is working in their hearts.

The next question will be “How can I get straight with God?” This means “How can I get rid of my guilt?” That’s when we can talk about, to put it theologically, penal substitution: Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.

I hear evangelists, especially youth evangelists, say, “People today simply don’t respond if you teach guilt and then highlight the Cross as the act of God putting away guilt; they don’t think of themselves as guilty.” Well, that’s our fault because we haven’t told them of their guilt. We haven’t made them recognize how thoroughly they’ve been dishonoring and defying God. We’ve left them on the egocentric happiness track.

Are judgment and hell themes, then, that today’s preachers can use?

They need to play a more prominent part in our message than they have in the last half-century. There’s been a strong reaction in Christian circles against imaginative presentations of hell, the fire and all of that. But people do need to know that lostness is a fact.

I have struggled with this a bit in writing against conditional immortality, which is the idea that human beings are not built to last forever, that endless existence is a gift that only the born-again receive, and that those who don’t qualify for heaven simply get snuffed out. It’s a form of annihilationism.

My concept of hell owes more to C. S. Lewis, whose key thought is that what you have chosen to be in this world comes back at you as your eternal destiny; if you have chosen to have your back, rather than your face, to God; if you’ve chosen to put up the shutters against his grace rather than to receive it, that’s how you will spend eternity. Hell is to live in a state apart from God, where all of the good things in this world no longer remain for you. All that remains is to be shut up in yourself.

In Jean Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, four people are in a room they can’t leave, and they can’t get away from one another. What Sartre presents is the ongoing, endless destruction of each person by the others. Though Sartre was an atheist, his nightmare vision of this process makes substantial sense to me as an image of hell.

This all sounds pretty harsh and confrontive. Can you get away with that today?

In my ministry of preaching to existing congregations, I don’t find myself up against people who are explicitly and defiantly making their own happiness the center of their concern. If I did, then I would say straight to them what I just said straight to you.

But I try to say strong things gently. An old English phrase captures the essence of my presentational style: “Softly, softly catchee monkey.” It is supposedly the wisdom of an Indian servant in the days of British occupation; he was trying to trap a monkey that was making a nuisance of itself, and he knew the way to catch it was to creep up on it.

Someone said that Charles Finney rode people down with a cavalry charge. Well, I’m not Finney. I set traps for sinners; I try to get them to see the truth by helping them think things through with me, so that they see for themselves that the only right way is the God-centered way.

We live in a culture in which people demand choices, in everything from candy bars to churches. How can we speak to people in this frame of mind?

First, the pastor needs to express constantly in one way or another, “Through my ministry, I trust God is going to speak to you, because my business is simply to let God’s Word speak its message through me. And we’ll study the Bible together on the matters the Bible treats as central. That’s what we as a church have covenanted to do. That agenda is non-negotiable.”

Then, in the course of preaching, the pastor has to say in some way, “The only real choice we have is whether we’re going to listen to God or not. Are we going to allow him to speak what’s on his mind, or are we going to make the rules and allow him to address us only on matters of our choosing?”

How do you preach from the Bible to people who may not care what it teaches?

I haven’t got a ready-made formula for doing that. All I know is that when people are born again and have a passion to know God and to deepen their relationship with God—just as a chap who’s fallen in love has a passion to deepen his relationship with the girl—everything in Scripture then becomes interesting.

I don’t know any quick and easy technique of getting people to study the Bible. So I try to preach about the goodness and greatness and glory of God in a way that I hope will generate the passion, but ultimately I can’t produce that effect. Only the Holy Spirit can.

What Bible books can be of most practical help for pastors?

The pastoral epistles in the New Testament, certainly, and the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament.

Billy Graham has read a chapter of Proverbs every day since his ministry started, and it seems to me that he was absolutely right to do that. Almost without exception he’s been able to keep his balance and talk sense about anything people have questioned him on.

The pastor needs to have all that wisdom of the Proverbs in his mind because a great deal of pastoral guidance is a matter of Christian common sense, following where Proverbs leads.

I’d also add the rest of the Bible’s wisdom literature. To echo Oswald Chambers, the Psalms teach you how to pray; Job teaches you how to suffer; the Song of Solomon teaches you how to love; Proverbs teaches you how to live; and Ecclesiastes teaches you how to enjoy. The more the pastor knows about these books—as well as James, the great New Testament wisdom book—the better.

What signals that people have moved from self-absorption to growing maturity?

Maturity was exemplified by the leaders of the church from the first to the nineteenth centuries, people whom I would characterize as “great souled.” There was a sense of stature, a sense of bigness about them that was directly related to the quality of their discipleship. It gave them dignity. It gave them poise and a searching insight. It meant that even when others rubbished or even martyred them, they generated respect.

Sometimes, though, they first generated a robust hatred. Richard Baxter, the seventeenth-century Puritan, was a man of stature who was hated. He got under people’s skin simply by his poise, passion, and integrity. Just by being a good man, faithfully serving God, he made people feel bad. John Chrysostom is another example, as were Athanasius and Calvin. I could name so many more.

What role does theology play in this maturing?

Theology is food for the hungry soul. What you have in the Bible, very often, is the raw material, the makings of the meal. We who preach and teach in our character as theologians are like cooks, and it’s our business to shape the meal. Good theology, when we produce it, will come as a meal for the soul.

Look at Luther, Calvin, Barth, and Augustine—even at someone as seemingly dry as Charles Hodge in his Systematic Theology. Hodge wrote his stuff for the classroom, most of it apologetics. But when he expands on gospel doctrines, he warms up, and it’s very good for the soul.

As you scan the near future, what theological issues will pastors increasingly face?

We’re going to have to fight much more against religious pluralism, the idea that all religions are on a par, that all religions are ways to God. It will take us also a couple of decades to get out of the swamp of what’s called postmodernism, where you have no notion of absolute truth. In the churches, we will have to be constantly speaking against that because God does speak truth.

We also need to recover a true understanding of human life, a sense of the greatness of the soul. We need to recover the awareness that God is more important than we are, that the future life is more important than this one, that happiness is the promise for heaven, that holiness is the priority here in this world, and that nothing in this world is perfect or complete.

That would give people a view of the significance of their lives on a day-to-day basis, which so many at the moment lack.

You have a liberty and authority when you allow the Bible to talk through you, a liberty and authority you don’t have if you’re offering your own ideas or cherished notions.

Good Theology Expands the Soul

Congregational Questions For Mike & Sky

Q&A

Questions for Mike and Sky

We did not include the few theological questions that were asked of Mike in this list.  If all goes well Mike will be joining the Eldership Team and they, as a group, will be the “keepers of the doctrine” at King’s Harbor Church.  Please keep in mind that the Elders did vet Mike theologically and they also invited two of the Pastoral Advisory Committee (local Pastors who came alongside and served KHC during a particularly difficult season) to interview Mike as well.

All that to say, if you have questions about where KHC stands theology, please visit our Doctrinal Statement webpage.  To see where KHC currently lands on the 5-continuum secondary issues click here.  If you’d like to know more you can contact the Elders and/or make an appointment to speak with one of them.

Questions for Mike…

Questions related to The Village Church:

Is there any current or future anticipation of affiliating with “The Village.”

The Village has been a gift to me professionally and even more so personally. There will always be a relational connection, but I do not think there will be a specific organizational affiliation.

Since your lead pastor, Matt Chandler, has also been part of leadership and involved with Acts 29, what are your thoughts on Acts 29?

I think Acts 29 has been and will continue to be an important voice in regards to planting churches. I am thankful for their evaluation process for pastors and church planters and the brotherhood their network aims to provide. This is a great potential option for a network affiliation.

What are some take-aways from your time at the Village Church that you might find useful at KHC, both for yourself personally and for the church itself?

Regarding takeaways for myself, soul care has been game changing. Being mindful of caring for my own heart and have places to confess sin and the safety to struggle with those whom I work beside is crucial.

I think for the church, I love how The Village operated in an active voice regarding the questions our culture was asking. I would love to see KHC develop a similar voice.

With great men and incredible staff of the village church and an opportunity with people who know you to pastor a large church in Texas, why are you leaving the church community you know, to come to a church in CA you do not know? How do you know the Holy Spirit is leading you to KHC?

I can’t say enough good about the way that the Lord was generous to me with my time at the Village. I think the Lord used the staff and elders there to affirm my call and readiness. But I also know that the Lord used that season to prepare me for this season.

Historically, the Lord has moved most profoundly in moments when I have felt an unusual peace in the midst of uncertainty or chaos. Throughout this process I have the Spirit giving me an unusual peace even though I am stepping into a new context and a bigger role than I have ever experienced.

Affiliation In General

At one time we were affiliated with Foursquare, and currently we have no affiliation. Do you have thoughts on KHC affiliating in the future?

I have hopes of affiliating with a denomination and/or that would embrace our Spirit-filled heritage and would hold us accountable to Gospel-centrality and biblical fidelity. I’m not sure who that will be.

Accountability

Can you describe how you would be accountable to the Elders? How do you see your role in the church in contrast to theirs?

Organizationally, the elders and I will be developing ministry objectives and revisiting them regularly. The open communication about these will create great synergy and accountability for me.

Organically, my accountability partner Trent will have all the contact info of the elders. As he and I meet weekly, if there are any habitual patterns of sin that I am not fighting faithfully, he will have the right and responsibility to share that with the elders. I also intend to be open with the elders regarding struggle and sin and confess those things to them quickly.

Vision

How do you see the first year going at KHC and do you have any particular vision for the church?

I am hopeful for this first year at KHC. I am thankful for Gregg’s faithfulness and the stability he has fostered among the church. In this first year, I want to further instill vision and identity into the people of KHC and develop our unique understanding of how the Lord has called us to serve the South Bay. Our ability to live out the Scriptures and walk in humble vulnerability is crucial for this first year.

How will you bridge the gap between those who do and do not embrace Calvinism?

I think there is a hope to remind both groups of believers that they agree upon more in Gospel than they disagree regarding secondhand issues. I also always want to point the body of believers to be charitable and humble listeners and let the Word speak for itself, beyond theological positions that are often summary statements of what the Scripture says.

Misc.

How do you think your experience as a Pastor Resident will help you during your tenure at KHC?

The greatest part of my resident experience is seeing and participating in the ways that our team of elders functioned. Understanding both the organic nature of pursuing consensus and the organizational demands of shepherding and guarding doctrine were gifts to me.

Do you feel that books/movies such as “The Shack” are okay- to help us have “open minds” about who/what God really is?

Disclaimer: I have not read or seen the Shack.

I always want to put things like the Shack in their proper place. They are not authoritative in any way and should not be used as a source for shaping an individual’s theology.

With that said, while the Shack is not authoritative truth, I think it points to things that are true. I think the response to the Shack gives us a unique insight into the how our culture perceives the Lord and gives us an opportunity to point them to how the Gospel presents a more true and beautiful vision of what they are seeking.

Traditional and Biblical sexual identity and ethics are today considered outdated and even oppressive. How would you maintain biblical standards of sexuality in your church while at the same time ministering grace and truth and love to those that are confused or uncertain about them?

This will be the increasing challenge for the church as Christian morality because less normative in every segment of culture. I think where we have often misrepresented the Gospel is we have missed the element of joy that the Lord intends for those who obey him. Obedience without joy is drudgery and joy without obedience is false. Proclaiming the Christian sexual ethic in the context of the Lord’s desire for our joy and flourishing is a different conversation than just rules. I also think being better listeners to those who would oppose our sexual ethic and being gracious in our Biblical response is crucial.

What is your priority for racial diversity in the church?

As important as I believe racial diversity is, it is not the Gospel. However, I do believe that it is a fruit of the Gospel. One of the most profound elements of New Testament theology is that people who were once not a people are now one new man in Christ (Ephesians 2). It seems that as the vertical reconciliation with the Triune God takes place, it equips men and women to reconcile across all demographic lines. Therefore, we should strive for this to be true among us.

How to you view the concept of truth? Telling the truth? Are feelings more important than truth?

Truth is an objective proposition that exists beyond interpretation or agreement. While feelings are important, they do not diminish or alter truth. Feelings are important indicators of how someone is interacting with truth, both positively and negatively, and while we speak truth we must be aware to respond to feelings rightly and guiding our hearers to truth.

Any particular focus you want to see KHC implement tangibly or intangibly?

I would love to develop the ability for KHC to live as community groups on mission. The ability for individuals to be confident in their Gospel fluency and the readiness of the church to receive those who are hearing the Gospel outside of our walls is an exciting prospect.

As a pastor how important is it to stay informed on what is happening in the church e.g. youth dept., music dept., etc.?

I believe the sign of a good leader is to not know all the details, otherwise so much of what an organization does runs the risk of being bottled necked.

I want to serve our team, but I also want to trust them to lead as God has gifted them. I think collaboration and feedback are key, but once parameters have been agreed upon, I want the staff to feel supported and free to use their gifts without fear of me hovering over them.

Can you share with us your most profound “God Moment” in the process of bringing you here?

I recently had a call with a brother who leads a church planting network in New York. In the course of our conversation, he said to me, “Sometimes the Lord reveals himself at Damascus (Acts 9), other times he reveals like Emmaus (Luke 24),”- meaning sometimes the Lord reveals in a sudden, dynamic way and other times, you walk with him slowly and realize how is he moving over time.

This process has been Emmaus. And looking back and seeing the Lord’s hand through all of this has been humbling.

Do you have plans to continue education for a degree in theology?

My hope is always to be a life-long learner, but I am not sure if that will take place at a seminary. This journey towards becoming a lead pastor alongside Sky and I’s hope for children soon have caused me to place a hold on continued education for the foreseeable future. That will be a conversation that the elders will consider as we discuss my professional development plan.

Do you feel willing, as much as possible, to commit to KHC and the South Bay for the Long Term? (My concern is that you might outgrow us quickly and move on to bigger and better once you get a handle on things here.)

Thank you, I think this question is such a charitable view of my potential. I am humbled.

Author Zack Eswine has commented that the seductive lie of American ministry is “bigger, faster, more famous”. So often the measure of good for us in Western culture is how renowned our church can become. May the Lord save us all from this. As much as we can, Sky and I want to be deeply rooted among a people for a long time. As the Lord wills, we want to grow old with a church where our kids were raised and we got to watch the Lord transform a city over time.

Marriage

What are some ways you make time for one another and your marriage when the weekends are often workdays for a pastor?

I strive to be home when I home. By this I mean, I try to detach from email and try to strictly limit my meetings that take place in the evenings.

Sky and I try to have slow Saturday mornings where we can have breakfast or brunch together. We also try to have at least two evenings during the week where it is just us- whether at home or dinner somewhere.

How do you guard your marriage?

It is all the little things. Sky has access to my computer, phone and iPad. We have friendships and older couples who we lean into for counsel. We work hard at being friends and I heed her voice when she expresses concern.

I also have great accountability among the brothers I walk with that calls us to ask one another the tough questions regarding temptation and sexual purity.

Questions for Sky…

Please describe for us how you pursue your personal relationship with God?

That’s a great question. I think my answer may reflect how many of you would respond-

  1. Study. I try to be in the Word on a regular basis without it becoming a ritual or a checkmark on my list. What has worked for me is the app, “She Reads Truth”. There are several plans and helpful tools within this app that have helped me to understand His Word and who He is, and to be in a rhythm of reading and growing.
  2. Prayer and Worship. This may seem silly, but I love to utilize my commute to and from work as a time for worship, focusing on Him, and lots of prayer! I always tell people- I’ll be praying for you every morning and afternoon! My commute was a stressful part of my day that turned into a really sweet time between me and the Lord. I also occasionally meet with a mentor in Dallas to have dinner and pray with afterwards. I’m praying that the Lord would bring me a mentor at KHC so that I can continue to mature- have a better prayer life, learn how to love deeper, learn how to know Him more.
  3. Community and confession. Spending time with other believers and confessing where I am weak. Confessing my sins with other believers, including Mike, has shaped better accountability in my life. I work with so many faith “giants” that have served in Bible Translation for years. Those people have become my mentors and have changed my life through their mentorship.

All this to say- sometimes I miss it. Sometimes I don’t read my devotional and I’d rather listen to pop music on my commute to work and I don’t make the time to be in community. Even though I work for an incredible ministry and my husband is a pastor, sometimes I get discouraged and become complacent in areas like my time, money, and energy. My hope is that when I stumble, I stumble forward hoping to be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith (Philippians 3:9).

How involved will you be at KHC? Active in Women’s Ministry? Would you be attending church and active with the congregation or more of a silent/behind the scene wife?

I want to know you and be known by you. To me, this means truly being in community with the women at KHC. While I realize the same depth of relationship with everybody is impossible, my desire is to know you and your story, whether that’s going on a coffee date, opening up our home for dinner, etc. My desire is to be known by you- that I would be more than a name and face to you, that you would know my passions, that you would be able to speak into my life, etc.

I want to serve you (the women of KHC) well. If the Lord sees fit to place me in Women’s Ministry, with joy, I would serve in that capacity.

Congregational Questions For Mike & Sky

Lead Pastor Role Description

KHC-RD

 

Lead Pastor General Responsibilities

  • Serve KHC as an Elder.
  • Encourage and shepherd the spiritual formation of the congregation as the lead teacher/communicator.
  • Provide directional and visionary leadership for the ministry of the church.
  • Nurture and communicate the mission of the church to all Staff, Leadership, and Laity.
  • Oversee and encourage multiplication of ministry (teaching, leadership, mission focus) by developing and empowering both the Staff and lay Leadership of the church.
  • Oversee the planning and leading of worship services.
  • Lead the staff through appropriate direction, supervision, evaluation, counsel, care, and accountability.
  • Work with fellow Elders to oversee the spiritual needs of the body and the integrity of the ministry as it relates to KHC’s values and mission.
  • Strategically represent KHC in the larger South Bay community.
  • Maintain consistent Christian testimony; stay fresh in relationship with Jesus Christ, effective with family, and creative in ministry. Maintain relational, spiritual, and professional trust with other Elders and Staff.

 

Lead Pastor Role Description

What About “The Shack”?

The-Shack-Movie-FB

Many of us have read The Shack and it was released as a movie on March 3rd.  Should we see it — or read the book if we haven’t?  Or, how do we talk to friends and family who will see the movie?

A few years ago Tim Keller wrote an essay containing his reflections of the book on the Gospel Coalition website (a great website — full of excellent resources).  I couldn’t agree more and he said it much better than I could!  The Shack has now sold over 20 million copies, so it would be quite helpful if we could engage in the cultural dialogue…

Over the holidays I read a good (and devastating) review of William P. (Paul) Young’s The Shack in the most recent print edition of Books and Culture: A Christian Review (Jan/Feb 2010.)  It was a reminder that I was one of the last people on the planet not to have read the book. So I did. So why write a blog post about it? It had sold 7.2 million copies in a little over 2 years, by June of 2009. With those kinds of numbers, the book will certainly exert some influence over the popular religious imagination. So it warrants a response. This is not a review, but just some impressions.

At the heart of the book is a noble effort—to help modern people understand why God allows suffering, using a narrative form. The argument Young makes at various parts of the book is this. First, this world’s evil and suffering is the result of our abuse of free will. Second, God has not prevented evil in order to accomplish some glorious, greater good that humans cannot now understand. Third, when we stay bitter at God for a particular tragedy we put ourselves in the seat of the ‘Judge of the world and God’, and we are unqualified for such a job. Fourth, we must get an ‘eternal perspective’ and see all God’s people in joy in his presence forever. (The father in the story is given a vision of his deceased daughter living in the joy of Christ’s presence, and it heals his grief.) This is all rather standard, orthodox, pastoral theology (though it’s a bit too heavy on the ‘free-will defense’).  It is so accessible to readers because of its narrative form. I have heard many reports of semi-believers and non-believers claiming that this book gave them an answer to their biggest objections to faith in God.

However, sprinkled throughout the book, Young’s story undermines a number of traditional Christian doctrines. Many have gotten involved in debates about Young’s theological beliefs, and I have my own strong concerns. But here is my main problem with the book. Anyone who is strongly influenced by the imaginative world of The Shack will be totally unprepared for the far more multi-dimensional and complex God that you actually meet when you read the Bible. In the prophets the reader will find a God who is constantly condemning and vowing judgment on his enemies, while the Persons of the Triune-God of The Shack repeatedly deny that sin is any offense to them. The reader of Psalm 119 is filled with delight at God’s statutes, decrees, and laws, yet the God of The Shack insists that he doesn’t give us any rules or even have any expectations of human beings. All he wants is relationship. The reader of the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Isaiah will learn that the holiness of God makes his immediate presence dangerous or fatal to us. Someone may counter (as Young seems to do, on p.192) that because of Jesus, God is now only a God of love, making all talk of holiness, wrath, and law obsolete. But when John, one of Jesus’ closest friends, long after the crucifixion sees the risen Christ in person on the isle of Patmos, John ‘fell at his feet as dead.’ (Rev.1:17.) The Shack effectively deconstructs the holiness and transcendence of God. It is simply not there. In its place is unconditional love, period. The God of The Shack has none of the balance and complexity of the Biblical God. Half a God is not God at all.

The Shack effectively deconstructs the holiness and transcendence of God. It is simply not there.

There is another modern text that sought to convey the character of God through story. It also tried to ’embody’ the Biblical doctrine of God in an imaginative way that conveyed the heart of the Biblical message. That story contained a Christ-figure named Aslan. Unlike the author of The Shack, however, C.S. Lewis was always at pains to maintain the Biblical tension between the divine love and his overwhelming holiness and splendor. In the introduction to his book The Problem of Pain, Lewis cited the example from the children’s text The Wind in the Willows where two characters, Rat and Mole, approach divinity. “Afraid?” murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.

“Afraid? of Him? O, never, never. And yet—and yet—O Mole, I am afraid.”

Lewis sought to get this across at many places through his Narnia tales. One of the most memorable is the description of Aslan.

“Safe?…Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

That’s better.

(If you’d like to read more, check out Al Mohler’s article on The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment.  You can find it here.)

What About “The Shack”?

What Is Christian Unity?

unity

 by John Piper

Unity among two or more people gets its virtue entirely from something else. Unity itself is neutral until it is given goodness or badness by something else. So if Herod and Pilate are unified by their common scorn for Jesus (Luke 23:12), this is not a good unity. But if Paul and Silas sing together in prison for Christ’s sake (Acts 16:25), this is a good unity.

Therefore, it is never enough to call Christians to have unity. That may be good or bad. The unified vote fifty years ago in my home church in South Carolina to forbid blacks from attending services was not a good unity. The unified vote of a mainline Protestant denomination to bless forbidden sexual acts is not a good unity.

What Makes Unity Christian?

Christian unity in the New Testament gets its goodness from a combination of its source, its views, its affections, and its aims.

Source

Paul tells us to “be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). I take that to mean that the Holy Spirit is the great giver of unity. “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

Views

Paul says that pastors and teachers are to equip the saints “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:13). In other words, the unity we pursue is unity in the truth. Of course, Christian unity is more than shared truth, but not less. Paul piles up the words for common-mindedness in Philippians 2:2, “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (see also Philippians 4:2). Everything is to “accord with Christ.” “May God…grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:5).

Affections

To be sure, unifying love in the body of Christ includes a rugged commitment to do good for the family of God whether you feel like it or not (Galatians 6:10). But, as difficult as it is for diverse people, the experience of Christian unity is more than that. It includes affectionate love, not just sacrifice for those you don’t like. It is a feeling of endearment. We are to have affection for those who are our family in Christ. “Love one another with brotherly affection” (Romans 12:10). “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). “All of you, have…sympathybrotherly lovea tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8).

Aims

Spirit-rooted, Christ-manifesting, truth-cherishing, humbly-loving unity is designed by God to have at least two aims: a witness to the world, and an acclamation of the glory of God. The apostle John makes the first of these most clear. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35).

“Christian unity includes affectionate love, not just sacrifice for those you don’t like.”                                                                                                                                              –John Piper

Jesus’s famous statements in John 17 are rooted in the profound spiritual unity between the Father and the Son, and with those whom God has chosen out of the world (John 17:6). “I ask that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). Note the witness to the world is that the disciples are in the Father and the Son so that the world might believe. This is vastly more — deeply more — than being related through a common organization.

The oneness that shines with self-authenticating glory for the world to see is union with the Father and the Son so that the glory of the Father and the Son is part of our lives. “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:22). That glory is owing to this: “I in them and you [Father] in me” (John 17:23). From this union with God, and the glory it gives, shines something the world may see, if God gives them eyes to see. God’s aim for this vertically-rooted, horizontal, glory-displaying unity is that he might “gather into one the children of God scattered abroad” (John 11:52).

The ultimate aim of such Christian unity is the glory of God. Hence Paul prays, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:5–7).

 What Implications Follow for Us?

  1. Seek the fullness of the unity-creating Holy Spirit.

“Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Seek to be led by the Spirit and to bear the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:1822–23) for these are the cogs in the wheels of love. If you are a stranger to the Holy Spirit, you will care little for the unity he builds.

  1. Strive to know and spread true views of Christ and his ways.

Seek to “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:13). “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Share, by every means you can, what you see of Christ. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16).

  1. Love Christians across boundaries.

Cultivate affection across differences for those who are truly your brothers and sisters in Christ. Hate serious blunders, not sincere brothers. Humans have never been good at this. And the philosophical and emotional climate today makes it even harder — since truth claims are only seen as a cloak for power-grabbing. But consider what Spurgeon says and seek to become like him. Notice the intensity of hate and love.

Where the Spirit of God is there must be love, and if I have once known and recognized any man to be my brother in Christ Jesus, the love of Christ constraineth me no more to think of him as a stranger or foreigner, but a fellow citizen with the saints. Now I hate High Churchism as my soul hates Satan; but I love George Herbert, although George Herbert is a desperately High Churchman. I hate his High Churchism, but I love George Herbert from my very soul, and I have a warm corner in my heart for every man who is like him. Let me find a man who loves my Lord Jesus Christ as George Herbert did and I do not ask myself whether I shall love him or not; there is no room for question, for I cannot help myself; unless I can leave off loving Jesus Christ, I cannot cease loving those who love him. (The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. XII, 6)

  1. Serve Christians across boundaries.

For the sake of a witness to the world, seek out ways to show love for brothers and sisters across boundaries — both the kind of boundaries that should be removed, and the kind of boundaries which commitment to the truth (and unity in the truth) forbids you to remove. Do this for the glory of God. Let Francis Schaeffer be your guide.

It is in the midst of a difference that we have our golden opportunity. When everything is going well and we are all standing around in a nice little circle, there is not much to be seen by the world. But when we come to the place where there is a real difference, and we exhibit uncompromised principles but at the same time observable love, then there is something that the world can see, something they can use to judge that these really are Christians, and that Jesus has indeed been sent by the Father. (Complete Works, vol. 4, 201, emphasis added)

Ambiguity and Hope

When all is said and done, ambiguities remain. What kinds of boundaries should define local churches, schools, denominations, conferences, para-church ministries, city-wide prayer gathering, evangelistic efforts? Nevertheless we are not without anchors. We are not without rudder and sails. We have the stars above and our trusty sextant. In reliance on the word and the Spirit, in humility we will arrive home — together.

 

What Is Christian Unity?

Christ the Mediator

christmediator

From Reformation Bible Study Notes on 1 Timothy 2:5

by R.C. Sproul

The saving ministry of Jesus Christ is summed up in the statement that He is the “mediator between God and men” (1 Tim. 2:5). A mediator is one who brings together parties who are out of communication and who may be alienated, estranged, or at war with each other. The mediator must have links with both sides so as to identify with and maintain the interests of both, and represent each to the other on a basis of goodwill. Thus Moses was mediator between God and Israel (Gal. 3:19), speaking to Israel on God’s behalf when God gave the law (Ex. 20:18–21) and speaking to God on Israel’s behalf when Israel had sinned (Ex. 32:9–33:17).

Every member of our fallen and rebellious race is by nature “hostile to God” (Rom. 8:7), standing under God’s wrath, the punitive rejection whereby as Judge He expresses active anger at our sins (Rom. 1:18; 2:5–9; 3:5, 6). Reconciliation of the alienated parties is needed, but can only occur if God’s wrath is quenched and the human heart, that opposes God and motivates a life against God, is changed. In mercy, God sent His Son into the world to bring about the needed reconciliation. It was not that the kindly Son acted to placate the harsh Father; the initiative was the Father’s own. In Augustine’s words, “in a wonderful and divine way even when He hated us, He loved us” (Commentary on John 110.6; cf. John 3:16; Rom. 5:5–8; 1 John 4:8–10). In all His mediatorial ministry the Son was doing His Father’s will (see “The Humble Obedience of Christ“ at Jn 5:19).

Objectively and once for all, Christ achieved reconciliation for His people through penal substitution. On the cross He took our place, carried our identity as it were, bore the curse due to us (Gal. 3:13), and by His sacrificial shedding of blood made peace for us (Eph. 2:16–18; Col. 1:20). Peace here means an end to hostility, guilt, and exposure to the retributive punishment that was otherwise unavoidable—in other words, forgiveness for all the past, and eternal, personal acceptance for the future. Those who have received reconciliation through faith in Christ are justified and have peace with God (Rom. 5:1, 10). The Mediator’s present work, which He carries forward through human messengers, is to persuade those for whom He achieved reconciliation actually to receive it (John 12:32; Rom. 15:18; 2 Cor. 5:18–21; Eph. 2:17).

Jesus is “the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb. 9:15; 12:24), the initiator of a new relationship of conscious peace with God, going beyond what was known under the Old Testament arrangements for dealing with the guilt of sin (Heb. 9:11–10:18).

One of Calvin’s great contributions to Christian understanding was his observation that the New Testament writers expound Jesus’ mediatorial ministry in terms of the three “offices” (defined roles) of prophet, priest, and king. These three aspects of Christ’s work are found together in the letter to the Hebrews, where Jesus is both the messianic King, exalted to His throne (1:3, 13; 4:16; 2:9), as well as the great High Priest (2:17; 4:14–5:10; chs. 7–10), who offered Himself to God as a sacrifice for our sins. In addition, Christ is the messenger (“apostle,” 3:1), who preached the message concerning Himself (2:3). In Acts 3:22 Jesus is called a “prophet” for the same reason that Hebrews calls Him “apostle,” namely, because He instructed people by declaring to them the word of God.

While in the Old Testament the mediating roles of prophet, priest, and king were fulfilled by separate individuals, all three offices now coalesce in the one person of Jesus. It is His glory, given Him by the Father, to be in this way the all-sufficient Savior. We who believe are called to understand this, and to show ourselves His people by obeying Him as our king, trusting Him as our priest, and learning from Him as our prophet and teacher. To center on Jesus Christ in this way is the hallmark of authentic Christianity.

Christ the Mediator