No Mixtapes Required: Evangelism Myths pt. 1

images“You need to have a relationship with someone before you can share the gospel with them.”

If you believe that you might as well believe in unicorns or that Catfish is documentary filmmaking. Why? Because this is a myth that the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” whispered in your ear. The true God, the Holy Trinity, has commanded us to declare the good news to strangers and friends alike.

This whole pre-evangelism friendship requirement is complete hogwash. The Bible doesn’t command us to make strangers into friends before we point out the shackle of sin and the key of the gospel. That is just a lie.

Consider that…

Jesus asked only a question or two of the rich young ruler and the Samaritan woman before striking at the heart of their sins.

Peter didn’t know everyone he preached to on Pentecost and yet he called them murderers.

Paul didn’t become best buds with all the guys on Mars Hill before pointing out the foolishness of their false gods.

There is one requirement that a person must meet before you preach the gospel to them. They must be alive. That’s it. You should preach the good news to anyone that has blood pumping through their veins.

You don’t have to take them out for drinks. Friend them on Facebook. Or share a carefully prepared mixtape.

Two quick “qualifying” points…

First, this doesn’t mean you need to be a rude or nasty. However, speaking plainly and directly is often labeled rude and nasty by our pomo culture. Don’t fret. That isn’t how God sees it.

Second, this doesn’t mean that timing is a moot point. Listening and getting to know someone isn’t a sin. It is actually a very good thing. When to bring up the gospel with someone does involve discernment. But we all usually wait too long and if you are waiting because “you gotta make deposits before you make withdraws” stop it.

You want relationships. Good. Preaching the gospel makes brothers. Just don’t get the cart in front of the horse.

When your son leads you in worship

I didn’t grow up singing many songs about Jesus unless you count Phil Collins’ use of “Lawd” in a couple his tracks. But… I’m learning them now!

Nonetheless, I’ll be playing catch up for quite some time when compared to my peers that grew up in Christian homes. Their parents, if they were faithful, taught them at least some of the glorious psalms, hymns, and songs of the Church.

What a blessing it is to grow up in a Christian family! But that has to start somewhere with someone, right? With that in mind, it is encouraging for me to watch my oldest son help lead our congregation in worship this past Palm Sunday.

He is the fine looking blond boy wearing a red shirt in the front row. How many hymns will he know when he is my age? How many will my grandchildren know? The very thought makes me tear up! While I’m on the subject, be sure to check out the resources on Clearnote Songbook. It is an excellent tool to train up your family in the worship of the Lord.



A Broken Down Christmas Gift

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Smoking Van“What is that smell?”
“I think it is our van.”

The smoke that rose from around the edge of the hood confirmed my wife’s suspicion. I needed to get us off the road. My initial attempt to move our minivan into the turning lane was met with unanticipated resistance.

Ugh. I immediately knew what was going on. We had just got the power steering leak “fixed” a few weeks back in preparation for this Christmas trip to Cincinnati. Something had clearly done come unfixed.

I managed to get the Town and Country into the parking lot of a nearby United Dairy Farmers. There are at least two good things about UDF. First, they are open on Christmas Eve. Second, they stock a lot of power steering fluid.

Sadly, it didn’t matter. The fluid splattered onto the concrete seconds after I poured it into the reservoir. This wasn’t a small leak. It was a waterfall that sucked its source dry in moments. I needed the advice of a professional.

My Bloomington mechanic told me that he was very sorry that I was stranded 3 hours away from home on Christmas Eve. He said he would be happy to look it over when we got back in town. He said not to drive it without fluid in the reservoir or it would ruin the pump. He said to get it fixed if I had to and he’d make it right. I said, “Okay.” What else could I say?

I called around town but apparently most mechanics in Cincinnati have families… Continue reading

Biblical Fatherhood Hinges on Biblical Sexuality

413u9M4i8vL._SY300_The following outline is taken from the closing chapter of Werner Neuer’s Man & Woman in Christian Perspective. It is a very helpful tool for anyone that is seeking to understand why sexuality should be a central focus of the church. It is also relevant to the subject of this blog. Biblical fatherhood is ultimately a function of biblical sexuality. You can understand one without understanding the other.

I don’t like a few of his terms (e.g. values, gender, etc) and sterilized approach to application. Those things aside, it remains one the better summations I’ve read on the subject. I hope you find it useful.

Summary of Main Points and Conclusions

1. The biblical view of the sexes can be summed up in three points:

a. The unconditional affirmation of sexuality within divinely set boundaries as a good creation of God.

b. The full equality of man and woman because both were made in God’s image and fully redeemed in Christ.

c. The distinction of male and female, which involves different tasks for the sexes and a different position of man  and woman.

2. The biblical ordering of the sexes consist in the man being seen as the head of the woman and the woman as supporter of the man (Gen. 2).

3. Headship for the man means:

a. The task of leadership and direction in marriage, church and society.

b. The acceptance of this leadership in dedicated selfless love, imitating Christ.

4. The position of supporter for the woman means:

a. Loving subordination under male leadership.

b. Completing the man by her special gifts as a woman.

5. The biblical ordering of man and woman (male superordination and female subordination) is an ordering in love, is sanctified by love and is also limited by it.

a. It is sanctified by love in that it reflects the eternal, inner trinitarian love of God (1 Cor 11:3) and the covenant of love between Christ and the church (Eph 5:22ff.).

b. It is limited by love, since love makes impossible every type of arbitrary male despotism and every slavish subjection of women.

6. As an ordinance of creation the biblical ordering of man and woman fundamentally applies to everyone, since it rests on the created nature of male and female.  Continue reading

Father to Father with Pastor Andrew Dionne

Screenshot_2013-07-03-18-11-20-1Father to Father is a weekly Q&A column with a godly Christian father.  This week Reforming Fatherhood is interviewing Pastor Andrew Dionne (check out his blog).  If you like John Frame (as I do), you should love Pastor Dionne. He is the man behind the unusually helpful Frame-Poythress website.  

Introduce yourself to my readers.

I’m the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I was an associate pastor at Christ the Word Church in Toledo, OH for just over seven years and, before that, a pastoral intern at the church formerly known as Church of the Good Shepherd in Bloomington, IN.

How long have you been married?

Sarah and I have been married for 14 years.

What is a breakdown on your children (ages & sex)?

Anna, 10, female

Ezekiel, 8, male

Thomas, 6, male

Esther, 4, female

Magdalene, 2, female

What is your vocation?

Pastor, Trinity Presbyterian Church.

Anything else you want to say?

Ephesians 3:14-15. The first Father has imprinted fatherhood everywhere on His creation. Remember that.

I was sad to hear that you lost a child to miscarriage last November. As you know, I had a stillborn daughter last year. The experience really opened my eyes to the prevalence of miscarriages and stillbirths. Overall miscarriage rates are estimated to be somewhere around 17-22%. That being said, there is very little written to help guide and instruct the fathers of miscarried babies. What counsel do you have for a man who finds himself in a situation similar to yours?

Sometimes bad examples teach better than good examples. So, perhaps I can be some help here. My counsel would be to be a better husband to your wife than I was. The miscarriage occurred right after we came through some extreme difficulties in the church that had me wondering how much longer God would have me pastoring in my current position. So, when the miscarriage came, I was more focused on it being another blow to me rather than a deep sadness to my wife, who had carried the baby in her womb (she miscarried about six weeks into the pregnancy). My wife is generally very “low maintenance,” being hardy stock from Wisconsin, but I have banked on that too many times. If we could go back to that time, I would have spent more time with Sarah helping her through her grief. Also, what we discovered was what a wonderful balm our five children were to us during this time.  Continue reading

Fatherhood as a Pathway to Revival

The Apostle reminds us that at a time of apostasy, at a time of gross godlessness and irreligion, when the very foundations are shaking, one of the most striking manifestations of the lawlessness is “disobedient to parents” (2Tim 3:2)…When will the civil authorities learn and realize that there is an indissoluble connection between godlessness and a lack of morality and decent behavior?…The tragedy is that the civil authorities—irrespective of which political party is in power—all seem to be governed by modern psychology rather than by the Scriptures. They all are convinced that they can deal with unrighteousness directly, in and by itself. But that is impossible. Unrighteousness is always the result of ungodliness, and the only hope of getting back any measure of righteousness into life is to have a revival of godliness. That is precisely what the Apostle is saying to the Ephesians and to ourselves (Eph 6:1-4). The best and the most moral periods in the history of this country, and every other country, have always been those periods that have followed mighty religious awakenings. This problem of lawlessness and lack of discipline, the problem of children and of youth, was just not present fifty years ago as it is today. Why? Because the great tradition of the Evangelical Awakening of the 18th century was still operating. But as that has gone, these terrible moral and social problems are coming back, as the Apostle teaches us, and as they have always come back throughout the running centuries.

Present conditions therefore demand that we should look at the Apostle’s statement. I believe that Christian parents and children, Christian families, have a unique opportunity of witnessing to the world at this present time by just being different. We can be true evangelists by showing this discipline, this law and order, this true relationship between parents and children. We may be the means under God’s hand of bringing many to a knowledge of the Truth. Let us therefore think of it in that way.

From Life in the Spirit in Marriage, Home & Work by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981). You can learn more about him here.

Father to Father with Pastor David Baker


559062_371620882951354_209289871_nFather to Father is a weekly Q&A column with a godly Christian father.  This week Reforming Fatherhood is interviewing missionary, church planter, ex-S.W.A.T. team member, artist, pastor, and all around unique guy, David Baker. He is great brother in the Lord, so please give him your ears! 

Introduce yourself to our readers.

My name is David Baker and I am happy you have found the Reforming Fatherhood blog. Please read it with open hearts and strive to be Godly fathers before God.

How long have you been married?

I’ve been married to Marta for 23 years.

What is a breakdown on your children (ages & sex)?

My son Jonathan is 21, my daughter Rachel is 19, my daughter Sarah is 16 and my son Joseph is 13.

What is your vocation?

I am the pastor of Christ the King Church in Indianapolis, IN.

Anything else you want to say…

We are a church plant of Clearnote Fellowship on the southeast side of Indianapolis. If you or anyone you know is looking for a church please contact me.

You’ve worked as a member on a S.W.A.T. team. What counsel do you have for fathers that work in dangerous vocations?

Prior to being called to the ministry I was a police officer. This was also a calling, in a sense. It was a helpful experience that prepared me for the ministry in several ways. Some of the things it exposed me to were death and suffering. As for the danger, we are all a heartbeat away from eternity whether we are at a desk job or on a S.W.A.T. team. We just don’t know which heartbeat will be our last and how the end will come. The important thing is to be ready. Not in a macho way, but in a God fearing way… Continue reading

Future Men: Sons Like Jesus

I often skip over the introductions of books. Maybe I’m alone in this habit but, if I’m not, be sure you don’t skip over the introduction to Future Men. I found it to be real helpful.

I think there are two ditches that dads tend to find themselves in while attempting to stay on the road of biblical fatherhood. To the left, there is a ditch of faithless fathering. To the right, there is a ditch of directionless fathering. Neither are entirely distinct from each other. Both are deadly. Wilson addresses both of these ditches in his introduction.

A lot of Christian fathers have a system and a set goals for their children. They are the man with the plan. And that is a good thing. A man should have a plan. Fathering can’t be directionless but more on that in a second.

A plan isn’t enough. Executing a plan isn’t even enough. And it doesn’t ultimately matter if it is biblical or not. Why? Because, as Wilson says, boys take a lot faith. Wilson writes, “Faith conquers kingdoms, faith stops the mouth of lions, faith turns armies to flight, and faith brings boys up to a mature and godly masculinity.” So many dads have a plan but no faith. They are fathering in unbelief… Continue reading

Future Men: A Crash Course in Archery

Our boys are under attack. Young males are in the crosshairs of our godless society. Way back in 2000, Christina Hoff Summers wrote an article in The Atlantic entitled, “The War Against Boys.” In a key section, Summers wrote:

Oblivious of all the factual evidence that paternal separation causes aberrant behavior in boys, Carol Gilligan calls for a fundamental change in child rearing that would keep boys in a more sensitive relationship with their feminine side. We need to free young men from a destructive culture of manhood that “impedes their capacity to feel their own and other people’s hurt, to know their own and other’s sadness,” she writes. Since the pathology, as she has diagnosed it, is presumably universal, the cure must be radical. We must change the very nature of childhood: we must find ways to keep boys bonded to their mothers. We must undercut the system of socialization that is so “essential to the perpetuation of patriarchal societies.

Pretty crazy stuff, right? Gilligan doesn’t want our boys to be men. She doesn’t want them to be like their fathers unless their fathers are effeminate. She wants boys to be girls or, worse yet, to be androgynous.

Now, what we must remember about Gilligan is that she is flesh and blood. And what we must remember about flesh and blood is that it isn’t where the real battle rages. Our battle is with spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). In short, the devil is the one gunning for our boys. Gilligan is just one of his many stooges. Continue reading

When a Child Dies

“Independent of everything else, of all other factors, the fatal sickness or accident of a child is simply the occasion for God to do a certain work in him. That work is to take the child home to heaven.

My mother put it this way: “If Jesus were here on earth and told you, ‘I’d like Danny to be with Me; I want to take over his teaching and his training,’ you’d gladly give him up. And He’s done that, by taking Danny to heaven.”

We don’t own our children: we hold them in trust for God, who gave them to us. The eighteen or twenty years of provision and oversight and training that we normally have represent our fulfillment of that trust.

But God may relieve us of that trust at any time, and take our child home to His home.”

The Last Thing We Talk About: Help and Hope for Those Who Grieve, Joseph Bayly p. 65-66