Conferences in Nebraska this October

There are a number of good conferences in my area this month. If you are nearby you may want to consider attending.

1. Carl Trueman Reformation Today: Three sessions on the Reformation with a leading historian and theologian. I am planning on attending this and taking a bunch of people from Emmaus. This event is hosted by Omaha Bible Church (info).

2. Paul David Tripp, The Heart of Parenting: Tripp is probably one of the most helpful voices in this conversation. I wish I were able to be there. This event is hosted by Evangelical Free Church in Grand Island (info).

3. Jim Eckman, Worldview Conference: Eckman is a former University President who continues to think through how to think biblically about current events. This is hosted by Cornerstone Baptist Church (info).

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Pastors Shouldn’t Have Trade Secrets

Prior to full-time ministry I worked for several years in a Fortune 500 company. As in most companies there were people who were highly respected experts. They were able to do their job well, advance, and experience great professional success.

At the same time, many seemed to do it mostly alone. They really seemed like loners who had their way of doing things and they did it well. One thing I remember is that not only did people keep their own trade secrets close to the vest, they also frequently knocked the ladder out from others trying to climb up with them. I am not describing a unique professional environment here. Many companies and professionals thrive on this type of competition.

Interestingly, as I was coming up the ladder professionally I was also considering whether or not full-time ministry was something that I should pursue. I would try to get time with church leaders to ask questions and get counsel. I found that my requests were largely ignored or worse—critically received. As I lived in the professional environment but was desirous of the ministry environment, I became frustrated (and embarrassed) that the church reflected an unhealthy and unbiblical business model.

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I Can’t Imagine Being a Liberal Preacher on Good Friday

It is the Thursday before Good Friday. I can’t wait to preach tomorrow night and then Sunday morning. I love preaching Christ every week, but there is something about the Resurrection weekend that is particularly special.

However, when I woke up this morning I was drawn to think about someone I don’t often think about: the liberal pastor. By liberal I am not referring to political affiliation but theological conviction. In particular, I am talking about those who either deny the reality of or diminish the priority of the cross of Christ and his resurrection.

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Sola Experienca is For Real.

There are many factors that make evangelism difficult. There is the internal spiritual alienation from God that renders the unbeliever unimpressed by God and therefore unresponsive to him in worship (Col. 1:21; 2 Cor. 4:4-6). Then there is the fog of worldliness that reinforces the heart’s unsubmissiveness to God and his Word (1 Jn. 2:16-17). We see this with the ongoing marketing of personal autonomy, self-discovery, and satisfaction in created things.

But there is another contributor to the fog that is very unhelpful. I am talking about the authority of personal experience. Today our personal experience and personal interpretation of that experience is the unquestionable authority that all must submit to.

Earlier this week I was talking to a number of unbelievers about Jesus. In the midst of the conversation one told me that he can see the future. He said that he has, on a few occasions, been able to see what was going to happen. He pointed to his buddy for confirmation and, as you’d expect, got the requisite head nod. I know that in this conversation I cannot slash the tires of his experience. If I even pull out the knife of reason or testing he will shut me down. Personal experience and our interpretation of it is the authority. We might call it Sola Experiencia. 

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20schemes Workshop in Omaha

If you read this blog then you very likely are rejoicing in the resurgence of church planting. This rejoicing leads to increased burden for gospel ministry to advance in all areas–rural and urban, affluent and poor. The gospel is for all people.

In our context, God has called us to plant a church in an urban, diverse context of Omaha. As we endeavor to be faithful we are reaching out to friends for help. This is why we at Emmaus are excited to welcome our friends from 20schemes to come for a Saturday morning training session on ministry in poor contexts. Mez McConnell will also preach on Sunday morning at Emmaus.

The details for the event are listed below. But here is the truth: it will be very helpful and very free. If you are anywhere near Omaha for the weekend of April 5th, then please come an join us. If you need a place to stay message me via the contact form.

Please register here.

here is the info—

Every ministry that endeavors to be biblical will ask the question: “How should we faithfully minister in our poor communities?” The question can be answered on multiple levels from the perspective of the individual Christian to the local church.

On Saturday morning, April 5th, Emmaus will be hosting 20schemes to consider how to faithfully minister in a lower income is a ministry based in Edinburgh, Scotland that is committed to seeing the poorest communities in Scotland transformed through the revitalization and planting of …

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The Grace of God Does Not Go Stale

I was greatly impacted by a meeting that I had nearly 15 years ago with my pastor at the time. During the meeting I was talking about my desire for ministry and a great burden for the gospel to be clearly preached and central to all that we do.

In the midst of the conversation the pastor got annoyed. His annoyance seemed to be connected to my burdens and how they communicated a referendum on his ministry.

At one point in the conversation he said something that left a tremendous impact on me. He said baldly:

When you get old you come to see that things don’t work out so neatly. We’ll see if you have the same passion in 10 years.

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Weather Whiplash and Kingdom Groaning

A couple of days ago we had to turn on the air conditioner in the house. The temperature outside was over 80 degrees and the temperature inside was nearing the same. This I did even though it bristled against my prideful resolution to wait until May to hit activate the arctic cool. Less than 48 hours later we were in a Winter Storm Warning. You can’t predict this stuff.

I read where someone said this is like Narnia before Aslan, always winter and never Christmas. Well, maybe not quite that bad. This type of thing is not unprecedented in Omaha (or other cooler climates). It actually snowed 2″ on May 9, 1945. I heard recently of a town in Colorado getting snow on the 4th of July.

This type of exaggerated fluctuation helps to remind us of the instability of the world around us. Paul tells us that the creation groans (Rom. 8.22). We witness unpredictable wind, floods, hurricanes, tornados, heat, and cold. Amid the weather whiplash of the last few days we join the chorus with creation awaiting the final liberation and restoration through Christ. Until then we groan in the slush alongside of the wilted tulips.

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Article on Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha Paper

This past weekend our local newspaper (The Omaha World-Herald) ran a story on some of the things happening in our church, Emmaus Bible Church. As you can imagine it was a great encouragement to us to have our paper take interest in what we are doing. But it was a double surprise to see the the article on the front page of the Saturday paper, on Easter weekend!

Without giving away the article, here is one of the lead quotes:

As Easter approaches, a youthful congregation marks the end of its first year in a striking church — 103 years old.

As the saying goes, what’s old is new again. But not too new.

“We practice cutting-edge, 16th-century Reformation theology,” quipped Pastor Erik Raymond, 36. “We’re very old-fashioned, but we try to do it in a fresh way — engaging, compassionate and authentic.”

The funny thing was that this question was in response to the writer’s question, “What new things are you doing to attract this growth?”What a blessing to testify to the enduring power of God’s Word to change lives and the beauty of Christ to captivate hearts. In a pragmatic, subjective culture, this is a fresh gust of the gospel breeze (on the front-page no less!).

Another interesting note. On Wednesday nights our kids come together for Bible memory, devotions, singing, and games. My wife teaches the kids music. One of her most successful methods in teaching the kids to participate and memorize Scripture …

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A Gospel-Centered Church Will Have Their Eyes Open to Racial Issues

It has been said that in order to be polite in conversation one should not speak of politics, religion, or money. What are the three taboos are for churches? I suggest, money, sex, and race. It is this third topic that I want to discuss in this post.

Why is the issue of race something that a gospel-centered church should deal with? Simply put, it is because the gospel deals with racial reconciliation through gospel reconciliation.

How do we get there and why is it necessary?

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What Does it Mean for a Church to be Gospel-Centered?

What does it mean for a church to be gospel-centered?

My friend and fellow Omaha pastor Bob Thune is extremely helpful when he writes in his book The Gospel Centered Life:

Churches often obscure the glory of the gospel by reducing it to something less than it is. Some understand the gospel only as doctrinal content to be believed. Others diminish it to a personal, subjective experience of God’s presence. Still others see it as a social cause to be championed. The gospel is none of these, and yet it is all of these. A truly gospel-centered church understands and embraces the fullness of the gospel as message, community, and mission.

GOSPEL MESSAGE

The Gospel is a message that is to be preached or proclaimed (Mark 1:14; Acts 14:21; Rom 1:16; 1 Peter 1:12). It is the story of God’s redemption of his fallen creation. It is the good news that God has acted in history to conquer evil, rebellion, and sin and reconcile sinners to himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor 15:1-12). A gospel-centered church is one where the gospel is proclaimed clearly, consistently, and compellingly and applied to every aspect of life (1 Cor 9:16-23).

GOSPEL COMMUNITY

The gospel is not just a message to be believed, but a power to be experienced (Rom 1:16). The gospel shapes a new community as those who were formerly God’s enemies are reconciled to Him (Rom 5:10) and adopted into his family (Gal 4:4-7). The church is not a place, …

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