Friday, March 9, 2018

The Importance of Obedience

I was recently reading through Romans chapter 1 and came across verses 28-32 and realized the profound impact they have on parents and children in discussing obedience. In these verses, God gives a list consisting of,
"not see fit to acknowledge God, … [given] over to a depraved mind, [doing]things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil,… without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful, [and] give hearty approval to those who practice them."
Right in the middle of the list of all these "very bad things" He also states, "disobedient to parents" (v.30). Often times we take disobedience lightly. With smaller kids we make it more of a joke to laugh about. With older kids we say, "What did you expect, they're a teen." These verses, however give a pretty clear picture of how God views disobedience. It is horrible! It is not a small thing to be joked about or a minor infraction to be ignored. To God it is on the same level as that of "murder" and "hating God." In 1 Sam 15:23a God states, "For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry." Very interestingly, both resulted in the same punishment… death (v.32).
Lev 20:27, "Now a man or a woman who is a medium or a spiritist shall surely be put to death. They shall be stoned with stones, their bloodguiltiness is upon them."
Deut 21:18-21, “If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear."
God hates disobedience! There is no other way to say it. He hates it! He hates it so much that he views it as warranting death. Is it any wonder then that Solomon writes, "My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you" (Prov 3:1-2). He recognizes his son's very life hangs in the balance of his obedience to his father's instruction.
There is a contrast to disobediences leading to death as well, however. Paul writes, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.“ Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land" (Eph 6:1-3). Thus there is not only a curse for the disobedient, but there is also a promise of blessing for those who obey, namely life and a good one at that.
It is a picture of the carrot and stick… disobedience brings death, obedience brings life.
How does this affect us then?
1)     If you are a child to a parent… take heed. These are very serious and weighty things. Your very life is what we are talking about here. Don't belittle your disobedience. Don't write it off as something everyone does, or as a very small thing. God does not (even if your parents do) and it is to Him you stand accountable.
2)     If you are a parent recognize this is a very serious issue… your child's very life hangs in the balance. Demand obedience, do so consistently. Punish for disobedience, do so consistently. This is not done from a punitive heart upset by how your child makes you look, or because they've bothered you or your little kingdom, but rather for their good. What God calls big sin and treats as big sin you should call and treat the same. On top of this, know your own obedience to God is determined by how you deal with your kids in this (Prov 13:24, 29:17, Eph 6:4).
3)     If you are a parent I would encourage you to present these truths to your kids. Say with Moses, "… I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live… " (Deut 30:19). I would also encourage, that this not just be a onetime conversation either, but should come up regularly in both their times of disobedience and obedience.
Whether you are a disobedient child or a disobedient parent there is hope! We each have a Savior who "was obedient to the point of death" (Phil 2:8) to deal with our disobedience to God and bring us back to Himself (Rom 5:6-9, 2 Cor 5:21, Eph 2:1-10, Heb 4:14-16, 1 Pet 3:18). We need to bring your sin and disobedience to the cross. There is forgiveness, healing, & hope for a rebellious, disobedient heart like yours and mine! (1 John 1:9).

Phil Smith

Monday, February 19, 2018

Two Degree Movement

Diane, our office manager (and great friend!), sent me a link to a blog this week. There were some great things to ponder in regards to a church’s outreach.

Our purpose statement at BCC is to glorify God by proclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord and prepare His people to worship Him forever.

Let me ask you:
As you think over how you have spent your time since the new year, how much of that time has been spent in proclaiming versus preparing? 

Consider this: Add up how much time have gone to worship service, Sunday School, care group, a BCC training class, a Bible study, giving counsel/getting counsel, making a meal for a fellow church family, etc. Now compare that to how much time you have spent serving the lost, communicating gospel truths to someone who doesn’t know Christ, being intentional to have the unsaved into your home, etc.

My guess is that our time in “preparing” far outdistances our time in “proclaiming”. That is not always a bad thing, but if this distance is constant, I wonder if we need to shift things a little in our personal lives as well as in the ministries we serve in at BCC. 

The blog post Diane sent helps us see how to do this. The blogger quotes a book:
"The author argues for something he calls the Two-degree Rule. His question is essentially this: What would it look like to move the needle of the compass two degrees away from insiders and toward outsiders?
And, what would it look like to move the compass in each and every ministry? Even better, what would it look like to move the compass in the heart of each and every church member?

Here’s an example from the author’s book: Delivering meals.
Man are we good at delivering meals to people in our churches who just had a baby, are recovering from surgery or are grieving a loss. I mean, we are amazing at this. But, what if we delivered meals to our neighbors, co-workers or family members who don’t know Jesus? What if our church’s meals ministries moved the compass two degrees away from insiders and toward outsiders?
So, if you’re interested in becoming a church that is truly focused on reaching the lost, you probably don’t need an outreach department.
What you need is for your church, from the ground up, every person and every ministry to move just a little toward outsiders."

BCC’s outreach ministry doesn’t have a committee and doesn’t do a lot of big events. Why? We want to help each ministry move two degrees—from meal sharing to youth ministry to care groups. Let me know if you want to be a part of the Two Degree Movement!

Pastor Ben

Friday, January 19, 2018

How Can a Perfect God Call the LGBT Lifestyle Sin?

The following is an edited email conversation with a college student asking for help in sharing biblical truth with a friend who has embraced our culture’s view on the LBGT lifestyle. My hope in sharing this is to give you some logical principles and arguments against popular culture’s false assumptions. My hope is that this will prompt more thought and dialog in your sphere of influence about how you might be more winsome yet courageous to speak the truth into the darkness of this enslaving philosophy. 


Hi Mr. Kloter, quick question. I’m talking with someone about God. They are a massive supporter of LGBT. 

How can a perfect God can call the LGBT lifestyle sinful when it’s something they can’t change about themselves?

I know we’re supposed to love them and point them to Christ and all, but how can they be Christians while ignoring/participating in sin they can’t really change?
Can an LGBT person be a Christian since repentance means the need to turn from and avoid LGBT behaviors?

I know I can be forgiven for my own sins and with God’s help and with encouragement from others, I can fight and begin to conquer that sin, but a LGBT person can’t really just not be gay anymore can they?


Dear __________,

First, consider the presuppositions of the person/people you're engaging.

1. He/she is making judgements about God's standards.  Consider asking, "What standard are you using to determine right/wrong or good/bad?" You need to learn the source of their truths/beliefs. Help them understand that your truth-source is from the God who made you/them. 

2. The label "gay" is not helpful.  A wiser way to think of people is whether they’re lost or saved, believer or unbeliever, child of God, lover of God or enemy of God. This helps us think of the LGBT person as “on the same bench” as any other individual. Their struggles and temptations are not unique from others at the root level (Rom. 3:23; 1 Cor. 10:13).

3. Therefore, I would argue that “gay” or LGBT is not an identity. These labels simply describe attitudes and desires of the heart that manifest themselves in predominant ways. When a sinner is saved, he/she is radically transformed, they are a “new creature,” they are no longer defined by the beliefs, habits and behaviors of their past (1 Cor. 6:9-16; 2 Cor. 5:17). The transforming grace of the Gospel makes people new and different with new insights, wisdom, desires, and power to change to become more like their Lord (Phil. 2:12-13). 

4. Consider discussing the fact that if he/she is able to make judgement claims, they must also allow for the fact that God is not only free to make his own judgements, but has the authority to do so as Creator.

5. He/she described God as perfect, so you have common ground. A perfect God’s Word is also perfect, without blemish, flaw or error. Furthermore, God's perfect word does not lack anything that you would need to know in order to deal with this issue, or any other, for that matter.

6. Since God’s Word is perfect, then God's perspective on homosexuality is perfect when He calls it sin (Lev. 18:22, 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).

7. Note that he/she assumes that homosexuality is a genetic predisposition. On what basis is he/she making this claim? How does he/she know this? What is their truth source? Even if science may discover a gene that is more common in those with this predisposition, it doesn’t change God’s “predisposition on homosexuality. He calls it sin. He calls the sinner to confess, repent and turn from sin and turn towards righteousness. He offered His son in love to enable the homosexual to be free from this and to enjoy fellowship with Him.

8. He/she assumes that homosexual behaviors cannot be changed. This is true. Their only hope is to repent and believe the Gospel. God does not command a change without giving them the power to do so. That power is given as a gift of grace through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of His Son, so that the LGBT might live in a harmonious relationship with this perfect God. That's not unloving, that's amazing.

9. He/she claims God is unfair. This is correct; God IS unfair. He offered his sinless son to die for people who hate and reject him. He offered his sinless son to die for people who are sinners and deserve Hell. That is the greatest act of unfairness recorded in human history.

10.  He/she asks for fairness. Fair treatment of sinners by a perfect God would mean their eternal punishment. Every human deserves Hell, nothing more, nothing less (Rom. 3:23, 6:23).

11.  All sinners, including the LGBT (they are not unique 1 Cor. 10:13), can become a Christian by repenting of sin (turning from their sin and rejecting their own self-righteousness) and trusting fully in the righteous life of Christ for their own righteousness, and trusting fully that Jesus' blood paid their eternal debt.

12.  Any person who truly has been "born from above" (Jn. 3:3) will grow in hatred towards sin (Pr.13:5), including LGBT thinking and behaviors (Eph. 4:17-24), and they will grow in their desire to grow in holiness (Ps. 40:8).

Kent Kloter

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Five Steps to Making the Most of Your Time: Why I Don’t Do New Year’s Resolutions

I’m not a tremendous fan of New Year’s Resolutions. In the last week or so, Casey and I have seen the population surge and dwindle at our favorite fitness center. 

I am a bigger fan of Ephesians 5:15–16 which says, 
[15] Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, [16] making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. (ESV)

I like to use my time wisely, and I have tried so many methods, it could make your head spin. I think I have finally found one that works, is easy to follow, and is easy to replicate. I have tried explaining it to a handful of folks, and no one has fallen asleep yet, so stay with me.

Here are my five steps to making the most of your time:
1) Start from the Bottom Up. 
See the diagram in this post. Resolve that your purpose in life is to glorify God—nothing else. Consider passages of Scripture like 1 Corinthians 10:31, 2 Corinthians 5:9, Psalm 1:1-2, and Ephesians 2:8-9 as passages that can firm up that resolve.

2) Your Roles and Responsibilities Flow Up From Your Purpose. 
Make a list of all of your roles and responsibilities. There are personal roles...
Child of God

And there are ministry roles...
Elder overseeing Outreach Ministries, Buddy Program, Community Compassion Ministries, etc.

You might have others…
Work team manager
Rotary Club member

3) Decide a Time Period for God-Glorifying Projects Related to Roles/Responsibilities.
I decide upon projects I can accomplish for every role during a certain time period. It is easy for me to think fall, spring, and summer semester, but it might be easier for you to think about quarters. You decide. Some roles have multiple projects, some have one, and some may not have a project for your current time period. 
I list these projects at the start of each semester.
Some samples are...
Child of God:
Study Colossians for 2-3 hours a week.
Memorize a passage of Scripture every two weeks.
Read spiritual books for at least a half hour 4 times a week in the evenings 

Elder overseeing Outreach Ministries:
Ask someone or a couple to direct the Donut Run and Run for the House
Ask someone or a couple to direct Community Days summer outreach
Contact care leaders about getting an outreach coordinator for each group
Plan out spring semester schedule for a class called: Making Convos Gospel-Centered

Some of your projects might have multiple steps. If so, write out each step.

4) Make a Weekly To Do List
In the past, I could not tell you what I should start working on at the start of a week. My answer would have been, “Whatever is right in front of me.” I had no sense of priority. In step 4, go over your projects every Sunday night or Monday morning and make a weekly to do list. This helps you to not loose track of projects and also helps you know what is best for you to work on. This also helps me to think through what are the best things for me to do not only in my work, but also with home projects, discipling my kids, and planning time with Casey.

5) Make a Daily To Do List
Each morning, I look at my Weekly List and decide what to do that day. Of course some things are daily things (especially those related to being a Child of God), but not all are. I don’t put down too many things so I have some flex time to put out fires. 

Hope this helps! I use the Evernote app across all my Apple devices to do all of the above, but you could use paper and pencil for this if you wanted to. Let me know if I can help you!

Pastor Ben

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Few Thoughts on the Magi & Us

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of teaching our EDGE, Middle School during Wednesday youth covering the topic of the magi. I learned a great deal from my time of preparation and teaching both personally and biblically and wanted to share a few of those thoughts with you…

1) I find it very easy to take my understanding of Scripture and the things I've learned even from childhood at face value. I find I can do this with both the Christmas story and just in general with Scripture. Rather than coming with new eyes of wonder, asking questions, & seeking to learn and grow in my understanding and joy in God, I can stop with only my cursory understanding, not have really interacted with God and His Word, and actually miss the whole point of my time with Him in His Word. It is a battle we each must do on a daily basis as we read the Word, but I think especially as we ponder the Christmas story anew.

2) The story of the Magi is much more awesome, necessary, and full than I could have ever imagined! I would suggest the whole story is given by Matthew very intentionally. In fact, I would suggest it was given as a very strong proof for the Jewish people to let them know Jesus was their Messiah. Let me see if I can present my logic on this and both prove it to you as well, while also exciting your heart with our amazing God's planning and fulfilling of His Word through Christ…

Matthew's gospel seems to follow a great deal of the order of Isaiah as well as draws a good portion of his Old Testament quotes from the book. Thus it seems reasonable to think that Matthew not only knew the book of Isaiah well, but would draw from not only its prophecies but also its pictures to prove the validity of Jesus' Messiahship for the Jewish people.

Observation Questions:
We read of the Magi in Matthew 2:1-12 and from that passage I would suggest a number of questions that might lead to a better understanding of Matthew's purpose and our inclusion of this in the Christmas story.

Why a Star?
– Why of all ways would God choose to use a star to lead the Magi to the Messiah? He certainly could have simply used a dream as He did later in 2:12.
Why from the East? – Why outsiders from the people of Israel? God used angels to bring the shepherds. Could he not have used them to bring the nobility of Christ's nation? Or for that matter, why weren't the leaders of Israel who told the Magi the location of the Messiah in 2:4-6 summoned by the star themselves?
Why those of High Rank or Nobility? – While we cannot be sure there were 3 or that they were kings as the song states, we do know from the gifts and role of these men in their own land that they would be of a high rank. Why would those of importance and governmental roles be important in this story of Christ and his birth/early childhood? Why not simply bring shepherds from other countries like God did in Israel (Lk 2:8-20)? 
Why Gifts? – Why did these men bring gifts at all? The shepherds in Lk 2:8-20 didn't bring anything. And since they did bring gifts, why these gifts? Why not bring more practical/beneficial gifts to Jesus and His family such as livestock, clothes, food, or other such necessities or sustainable benefits?
Why the superabundance of joy in their response? – In 2:10 Matthew writes, "When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy." … think about that… They rejoiced… exceedingly… with great … joy. Matthew seems to be super emphasizing the joy of the Magi if you couldn't tell. =) So why so much joy emphasized?

So here is my suggestion that seems to answer all these questions… A few prophetic statements and pictures from Isaiah. Some of these are well known and already connected to Christ's birth. Others are seen to still need to take place at His Second Coming.

Isaiah 9:2-3 (NASB), " The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them.
You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. … For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this." (emphasize mine)

Isaiah 49:5-7 (NASB), " And now says the Lord, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him (For I am honored in the sight of the Lord, And My God is My strength),
He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to  restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and its Holy One, To the despised One, To the One abhorred by the nation, To the Servant of rulers, “Kings will see and arise, Princes will also bow down, Because of the Lord who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen You.”" (emphasize mine)

Isaiah 60:1-3, 5-6 (NASB), " “Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 2 “For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. 3 “Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. … 5 “Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you. 6 “A multitude of camels will cover you, The young camels of Midian and Ephah; All those from Sheba will come; They will bring gold and frankincense, And will bear good news of the praises of the Lord." (emphasize mine)

Isaiah refers to a light that would rise in Israel that all the nations will come to and be exceedingly glad in His presence. He speaks of nobility from other lands coming to worship Him. He talks of them bringing specific gifts that would honor the King. Ultimately these prophecies won't see their full fulfillment until the End Times as we see in Revelation 21:22-27. However, God in His great grace, even in Christ's First Coming seems to gives us a taste toward the full completion of His prophecies through the Magi. They are the partial picture in His 1
st Coming of what will be completed fully in His 2nd Coming. They and their story in Matthew are both a seal on the faithfulness of God's promises as well as a validation of their Messiah King, Jesus, the Savior of Israel and ultimately, all people.

Just a few thoughts of application for us as we ponder these things…

1) How are you doing at slowing down, reading, & pondering God's Word and the Christmas story?
2) As you read Mat 2:1-19 you see the Magi as men who recognized the value of Christ and pursued Him and His presence at great cost of time, effort, and wealth. Do you look like the Magi in your pursuit of being in the Lord's presence?
3) Upon finding Jesus the Magi rejoice greatly, bow down in worship, and offer their expensive gifts to Him. Does your life reflect a joy in the Lord, a submission to His rule and reign, and laying down of all you are and own to Kingship?

May the Lord bless you and your family with a very Merry Christmas as you ponder the Magi and the Messiah King in the manger!