Posts Tagged ‘theology’

Bill Yarbrough teaching on Christ centered preaching with the pastors from Lo Mejor del Trigo

Bill Yarbrough teaching on Christ centered preaching with the pastors from Lo Mejor del Trigo (LMT)

It’s so encouraging to see the gospel make a difference in the lives of our friends on both sides of the border.

Christ-centered preaching

This week Bill Yarbrough went with me to the Lo Mejor del Trigo (The Best of the Wheat) pastors meeting. Bill gave a presentation on Christ-centered preaching. It warmed my heart to see the pastors smiling, laughing and enjoying learning about what for some of them would be a different emphasis in their preaching.

The pastors were laughing, because Bill has a good sense of humor, and he compared and contrasted what might be the opposite of Christ centered preaching. There is always the danger in preaching of placing burdens on people that they cannot bear. The problem is when we over emphasize our effort (moralism), and under emphasize Christ work for us on the cross and through his resurrection.

Moralism vs. the Gospel

Jesus spoke harshly to the scribes and the Pharisees for laying burdens on the people that they themselves could not bear. There is a danger when moralism is preached instead of the cross. I think most pastors, if they are honest, would admit that they have fallen into this trap before.

In Matthew 23:2-4 Jesus criticizes the religious leaders:

…For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and they lay them on the people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. —Matt. 23:3b-4 (ESV)

The Spirit gives life, but the law kills. The law isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t life giving. It can only warn us what not to do, or what we should do. Only the gospel gives us the power to live the life that God wants us to live.

Paul encourages the Corinthians to live in the new covenant that Christ brought:

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. —2 Corinthians 3:4-6 (ESV)

Bill Yarbrough teaching the pastors at LMT

Bill Yarbrough teaching the pastors at LMT

Most people in ministry serve, because they love Jesus, and they want to help others. Yet if we are honest, we all struggle with a bit of Pharisaism. This is true of pastors as well as those that are attending the church.

If the church doesn’t preach the gospel, then people will get weighed down by burdens they were never meant to carry. They will eventually leave the church, or live a lifeless Christianity. The gospel is life giving. That’s why Christ centered preaching is so important.

Gospel Renewal

Our prayer is that the gospel would so permeate the San Diego – Tijuana border that the border is renewed and revived. It’s a work that only God can do. The Lord works through his church – his people!

Pray with us that Christ will be preached in such a powerful way on the border that we will see many lives transformed. O, that the light of Christ would shine brightly! O, that Christ will be lifted up and glorified in a powerful way!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Dave preaching at Lo Mejor del Trigo in Rojo Gomez

Dave preaching at Lo Mejor del Trigo in Rojo Gomez

God’s Math in Tijuana is the same as it is anywhere else around the world. The Gospel + nothing = everything!

On Sunday I spoke at one of the Lo Mejor del Trigo (The Best of the Wheat) churches in Rojo Gomez, which is an area in eastern Tijuana.

It was so encouraging, because there was a great group of people. Pastor Abraham Velazquez asked them to invite their friends and family to the service. They did just that!

The Message of Grace

I preached on Galatians 1:1-9. I love this passage. Paul speaks somewhat harshly to the Galatians, because they are turning to a different gospel. Then he adds, not that there is another one. If you change even the smallest part of the gospel you lose it all together. The gospel of Christ, is that Jesus is the only way. It is through Christ’s sacrifice and his resurrection that we receive the grace of God. We can’t add to the perfect work that Christ has already done for us.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.  —Galatians 1:6-9, ESV

The simple message of the gospel is that in Christ alone are we saved, by grace alone, through faith alone. It’s elementary math, but unfortunately we often like to add to this formula that God has laid out for us.

Dawn, Dave and David Jr. with Abraham & Martha Velazquez and their children

Dawn, Dave and David Jr. with Abraham & Martha Velazquez and their children

My good friend, pastor Abraham told me that he’s been preparing his people and preaching about grace. At first they resisted the message of grace. They thought he was teaching that it didn’t matter how they lived, but that is not the point. If you believe that you can live in sin you’ve missed it altogether. It’s just that we don’t get to God through our good works.

Another big part of the teaching of grace is that only the gospel can truly change us from the inside out.

Through Abraham’s preaching and the work of the Spirit the Lord had prepared the heart of the people. They were ripe to receive the message.

A Wonderful Response to the Gospel
David Jr. and Dawn with the young couple that visited the church for the first time

David Jr. and Dawn with the young couple that visited the church for the first time – pray for God’s continued work in their lives.

After the message I asked people to come up for prayer if they felt they had a need in their life. Many came up! Then I wondered how we were going to pray for them all, but little by little Dawn, Martha, Abraham and I prayed for them.

One woman, Rosa gave her life to Christ. A young couple who came for the first time asked prayer for their marriage. They came with many needs, and I believe the Lord’s Spirit touched them and brought healing to their broken places!

Pray for pastor Abraham and his wife, Martha. They are a beautiful young couple who love and serve the Lord. God has given them many gifts, and he is blessing them as they serve at the church in Rojo Gomez.

Thank you Lord, for giving me and my family the opportunity to minister to these dear friends.

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Edgardo Avila - leading the Spanish speaking church

Edgardo Avila – leading the Spanish-speaking church

God helps those who help themselves, right?

Many Americans think that they can find this verse in the Bible, but search all they want and it is nowhere to be found.

Abram and Sarai’s dilemma

The pastor of our Spanish church, Edgardo Avila spoke on Genesis 16 on Sunday. This passage describes how Abram and Sarai began to doubt whether God would come through and give them their promised child, a son, an heir. Sarai decided to give Abram her servant, Hagar as his wife. Abram did take her as his wife, and Hagar conceived and a whole lot of problems were born with her son.

Abram and Sarai decided instead of trusting God, instead of waiting on the Lord that they would take things into their own hands. You could say they believed that God helps those who help themselves.

This message really hit me. In some areas of my life I’m tempted to rush ahead, instead of trusting God. In a sense, I feel like I have to help God make it happen. It’s so good that God is full of mercy and grace, because he still used Abraham and Sarah in spite of their misstep. He is also amazingly graceful to us.

Choose God

When you come to a fork in the road, and you have to decide whether to trust yourself, or trust God, choose God. He is all-knowing and he is abundantly loving. Choose him every time, no matter how difficult it may seem. You will never go wrong if you choose to trust in the Lord and his faithfulness. All his promises are yes, in Christ Jesus!

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Church

Kingston Road Church

Are denominations biblical? Recently I told a friend of mine that I didn’t think denominations were biblical, and I haven’t heard from him since I made that statement. Now it’s possible that there is some other reason our contact has diminished, but I have a hunch that I may have offended him.

My intention was not to offend, and I don’t mean to offend anyone else that reads this. The point I was trying to make is that God is interested in building his kingdom, and seeing his kingdom expanded on the earth. One of the ways that happens is as his people come together, and serve together in unity.

Lessons in Our Lord, Jesus Christ’s Prayers

Jesus taught us to pray,

“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

—Matthew 6:10

In John 17 Jesus prayed in his high priestly prayer, right before he was delivered over to be crucified, that the church would be unified.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 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. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

—John 17:20-23

Christ prayed that the church would be unified so that the world would know, in essence that we are representatives of Christ on earth, and that we are loved by the Father. We are to be witnesses, so that the world will believe in Christ.

The Importance of Unity in Kingdom Work

My point isn’t that we are in sin if we are in a denomination. My wife and I serve for a denominational mission. I’m more concerned that we strive for unity within the church, and seek to partner with other ministries to see the kingdom expanded on earth as it is in heaven.

I do think that denominations serve a purpose, and God does use them for kingdom work. Just as we have people with different personalities, each church has a personality and it appeals to some people more than others. They do a better job of reaching a particular segment of society.

Tim Keller – Movement Dynamics

Dr. Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City has a helpful short video. He speaks of the importance of catholicity of spirit (largeness of spirit). “No church is perfectly balanced and no denomination is perfectly balanced … we all need each other that’s the beginning of catholicity of spirit.” Understanding that we all need each other and working together for that end is kingdom work. It makes the Father’s heart glad.

What is your Opinion?

Maybe the question of whether denominations are biblical or not isn’t the best question. What do you think? Maybe a better question is how can the church put aside her differences for the sake of the kingdom? How can we demonstrate true catholicity of spirit? I’d love to hear from you – let me know what you think.

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Noah's Ark (1846), a painting by the American folk painter Edward Hicks

Noah’s Ark (1846), a painting by the American folk painter Edward Hicks

On Sunday I have the privilege and the challenge of preaching in Spanish at Harbor Mid-City.

As I’ve prepared for the message all the meaning in Noah and the Ark foreshadowing the coming of Christ really hit me. Some simple, yet profound truths. Those who were in the ark were saved from God’s judgement, just as those in Christ are rescued.

God’s fury burns as demonstrated by 40 days and 40 nights of rain. That rain brought death and judgement to most. Wow, just think of what Christ suffered for us on the cross.

I don’t stop to think about that often enough. If we don’t realize how much God hates sin, then we minimize the penalty that Christ paid for us. It wasn’t just that he died on the cross, but he bore our sins.

Christ cried out on the cross. He cried out for his Father.

“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

–Matthew 27:46b (ESV)

How painful that moment must have been for the Father and the Son!

Dave preaching at Lo Mejor del Trigo

Dave preaching on another occasion at Lo Mejor del Trigo

It’s hard enough for me to watch my children suffer, and yet this was far greater. They had a perfect relationship. There is much mystery to the relationship between the Father and the Son, especially at that moment.

I praise the Lord also that he was pleased with the sacrifice of his Son. The Son satisfied the Father and his wrath. He was our substitute.

“Thank you, Lord for giving me the opportunity to study this passage in Genesis and teaching me more about your love for us. Your great sacrifice for us. How much you hate sin. O, that I would loath sin as you do. Please speak through me as I share your Word in the morning.

Friends, I appreciate your faithful prayers for me and my family. I’d like to ask you to lift me up before the throne that I might bring the Word of God in a way that honors our Lord and edifies his people.

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Dave Presenting at Covenant Seminary

Dave Presenting at Covenant Seminary

On Tuesday I was at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. I presented our work on the border to the students there. In God’s wonderful grace I met some great students! Young people who want to serve the Lord, and who are preparing themselves to be on mission with God.

I remember when I first went to the Covenant last April, I wondered what kind of students I would encounter? I thought, “maybe they are going to give me a lot of push back? Maybe they won’t agree with my philosophy of ministry?” I thought that might be the case in part, because in seminary it is a place where you study and think through how things ought to be.

Seminary is a great place to learn, but sometimes when it is removed from the messiness of life it can become a bit idealistic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I wondered how it might influence how they received my presentation of our work on the border. I know about the idealistic tendencies in part, because I can remember going through some of that while I studied in seminary.

Despite all my doubts, I have been very impressed by the quality of students I have met so far at Covenant. The school has a reputation for preaching grace, and the students I’ve met also seek to exhibit grace in their lives.

Interacting with students at Covenant

Interacting with students at Covenant

I’m thankful that the Lord connected me with these students, and I look forward to seeing what he will do. Who will come and join us?

Our need is for those who have a passion for God, his mission and the gospel to serve with us. This also includes those that haven’t been to seminary, but have the gifts and character necessary to minister in a cross-cultural setting.

Dawn and I continue to pray that the Lord will raise up workers to join our team. We look to the Lord to bring us the right people. Those that God is calling to serve with us, who have the necessary gift mix to make an impact on the border. Of course, not everyone will be a good fit, so we are also praying that the Lord will protect us from the wrong people.

Apart from praying we are actively looking for those that the Lord might be calling to the border. “Lord, give us wisdom where to look!”

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeOnTheBorder.org

Blue Like Jazz

Blue Like Jazz

My wife and I just went and saw the movie, Blue Like Jazz. It peaked our interest, since we both read the book.

I agree with some of the other reviews that I’ve read. It’s hard to capture Don Miller’s stream of consciousness that he uses in the book, and then translate that into a movie. I liked the movie, although I would warn that this isn’t an overtly “Christian” movie.

It does tell the story of Miller’s life. It focuses on some of the dysfunction in his family, and some of the elements that are unhealthy in the church. This possibly leads to some stereotyping of Christians, but it is Don’s story. I felt like that was key for me to keep in mind when I was reading the book, and watching the movie.

Kathryn Frazier shares a helpful summary,

Steve Taylor’s trademark satirical humor shined in his screenplay through snappy dialogue and clever imagery, with an over-arching feel that –as the character Penny put it–“We all have our crap.” We sure do.

I loved the resolution. I suppose in part, because there was a positive ending. There was transformation in Miller’s life. After being very bitter, and frustrated with the church and God, he repented. He might not describe it that way, but he recognized his own shortcomings. He realized and confessed that he was ashamed of Jesus, and of being associated with him. He recognized that there are unhealthy elements in churches, and that he was part of the problem. Then he began to confess his sins, his shortcomings to the other students. In doing so he was professing the gospel.

I liked the way he confessed to being afraid to admit that he loved Jesus. He thought of Jesus as the nerd that you know, but don’t want to associate with, because it makes you look bad. I think this is something many Christians struggle with. We are ashamed of Jesus, because we live in a culture that is increasingly hostile towards Christ and Christianity.

Obviously, this is my take, and I’m in no way a professional movie critic. I do like the message of recognizing our sins, even the sins of the church and then asking forgiveness. This is a better option than getting defensive. The world needs to see the difference that the gospel and grace makes in our lives. A good place to begin is with repentance. As Luther states, “all of life is repentance.”

Here are some other reviews that you might want to check out:

Blue Like Jazz the Movie FTW

Blue Like Jazz: A Movie Review

Blue Like Jazz: Thoughts of a Christian Viewer

I’m curious to hear other’s views. If you’ve read the book or saw the movie, what do you think? Did you like it? Did you have concerns about the way they portrayed Christianity and the church?

In His Grip, Dave

DiasoLifeontheBorder.org