Category: LCC Vision: Teaching

Thank You Lord For The Local Church

We come to the end of yet another ministry year here at LCC and we as Staff and Elders couldn’t be more delighted at all that God has done in your lives and the life of our church family! The only fitting response it praise to the Father, Son, and Spirit for the fruit He produces in His children. We have seen marvelous growth through suffering, sorrow, joy and change. Thank you Lord for the local church called Leroy Chapel. We see you at work and we take no credit, simply ask for your glory to be on display more and more in the coming days!

This year in our Elder Blog we focused on the Vision Statement of Leroy Chapel – “To prayerfully advance Christ’s kingdom through: evangelizing, teaching, leadership development, and building the community of Gods people for the glory of God.” Our desire has been to help “work out” that vision with additional teaching each week that gets us all thinking about our role in the mission and vision of the church. We hope we served you well. If you have time, read back through some of the entries you may have missed. They are all tagged by the categories of  “LCC Vision”. But most of all, pray for God to do above and beyond what we could ask or imagine at your local church this summer and in the upcoming ministry year. We make plans, but God directs our steps, and we wouldn’t want it any other way!

  • Mark Spansel
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My Teaching Is Not Mine

A question I’ve heard quite a few times over the past few years, “JP, why do we teach about the glory of God so much?”  Today, my short answer is, “if we get that wrong our teaching will eventually miss the mark.”  Let me briefly explain from the life of the greatest Teacher.

(John 7:15-16) The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me…”

The religious specialists who took great pride in their educational bloodlines were not entirely correct.  What we should read here between the lines is, [insert snobbish tone] “this son of a carpenter has no pedigree.” He’s teaching but he didn’t even go to school!

Even though Jesus didn’t have the pedigree of say, Paul, Jesus was taught and he learned. Mary and Joseph were probably good teachers.  From a young age, Jesus spent time in the synagogue asking questions and discussing with biblical scholars.  Luke proclaims Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and men. (Luke 2) Eventually, Mark 1:22 leads us to believe Jesus taught with an authority that was very different than the learned men.  Was it his education that made the difference?

When Jesus said, “my teaching is not mine” he was not being self-deprecating, he was telling them why his teaching is different.  The religious elite weren’t focused on the glory of God, but were enamored with titles, accomplishments and educational pedigree.  It didn’t matter if what they were teaching was true.

Jesus’ exchange here teaches us why the glory of God is the foundational authority of our teaching.  Ultimately the power in our teaching has little to do with education but it has much to do with our delight and submission to the glory of the One who sent us to teach it.  Jesus goes on to say in John 7:18, “The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true…”

Friends, we teach about and unto the glory of God because that’s what Jesus did.  It’s not about educating people in theological loftiness.  Don’t get me wrong, the time we spend learning is as important for our teaching as it was in the life of Jesus.  But if we forget that the foundation of what we teach is about the glory of God, our teaching becomes theological musings at best.

Every time we hear something taught about the glory of God, I pray we have ears to hear.

  • Jeff Pierce

A Systematized Study of God

Our Vision Statement includes: “To see the Word of God permeate the thinking of every person so that they live a thoroughly Biblical worldview, based on a systematized theological foundation.”

In December, I wrote a blog about the intentionality of teaching the whole story of God. By this I mean we teach the progressive, historical, unfolding revelation of God, which finds its zenith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Another way to study the Bible is by focusing on a systemized theological foundation. The distinction is not either the whole story of God or systematic theology but rather, studying scripture through the lens of the whole story of God and systematic theology.

Some of you may be wondering why we should study theology at all. The answer is we study theology to have an organized understanding of the essential truths or doctrines of the Christian Faith. As believer’s our hearts desire is to know God, as best we can, and to learn what He has revealed to us in His Word, the Bible.

A systematized study has very practical implications. Much can be said, but I assert at least two valuable reasons for studying Scripture systematically. First, it is a good way to keep us firmly footed in the faith, hindering us from falling prey to incomplete or false teaching, heresy. Most heresies have a measure of truth compounded with miss-truth. A right understanding of doctrine firmly grounds our thinking  so that we are not “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14).

Secondly, systematic theology helps us be on mission as we share our faith and shape our dialogue, with non-believers. It has been my experience that non-believers are curious for answers to pertinent issues of our time, such as: evil, injustice, pain, sin, conduct, ethics, pleasure, suffering and the like. I have even been asked, straight-away, “Who is God?” Or, “What is this Gospel you keep talking about?” In effect, these questions are distinct theological topics which systematized theology readily answers. Think about it. You can learn what the Bible has to say about issues and thoughtfully rehearse an answer. Then, when friends and family bring these questions your way, you are “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15b).

For the believer, a correct understanding of God is not be avoided; it is to be pursued and embraced. As J.I. Packer often told his students, “theology is for doxology and devotion.” It should produce praise and result in obedient living.

  • Selby Brannon

More Than Mind Buckets

So many good things to teach and so little time.  Like every parent with young adults, I feel like my days are beginning to rush. I see loved ones and friends longing for peace and rest and joy and I want to be a help.  The lessons I’m learning in these days are beginning to affect what I am teaching and I want it to affect the way I teach. I’m learning that teaching must be more than just filling a mind bucket with right information.  There is a kind of gut-level magnetism in people’s soul that must be affected.  I long for others to be driven by and toward loving God himself.  Augustine said, “You [God] have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until our heart rest in you” (Augustine, Confessions).  I want to be a help pointing to the rest in God himself.

While I don’t completely know how this shapes my teaching yet, I am becoming keenly aware that everyone is moving in a direction.  One author put it this way, “We are not just static containers for ideas; we are dynamic creatures directed toward some end.” (James Smith, You Are What You Love).  The thing we love most at a gut level is pulling us, leading us, directing us toward an end.  Like a dog to a piece of meat, we can’t not move towards the thing we love most. We are moving in that direction because at a gut level, we love the end we are headed for.  How can we help move people in a direction of loving God most?

The end that Paul desired for his loved ones in Phil 1:9-11 and in so many other places was the abounding love of Christ. “This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.”  What a great end to long for, to direct us, to pull me along.

Where are you headed?  What do you love? What are you teaching your loved ones?

  • Jeff Pierce

Teaching That Does More Than Teach

As I write this I am away with Michelle on a lovely vacation enjoying a week of rest and refreshment. Vacation for me involves a combination of physical rest (laying on a beach), spiritual rest (reading lots of books), emotional rest (reflecting on things I don’t often have the time to slow down to consider more thoughtfully), and enjoying some of my favorite gifts from God (my amazing wife, the beauty of creation, and good food). I’ve been reflecting on the beauty of teaching and how I got to where I am and where I need to grow. Here’s some raw, sun-drenched thoughts in this blog post under the heading of LCC Vision: Teaching.

We have a great Vision Statement as a church. One that is big enough for us to pursue for decades, and yet small enough to pursue each day. I really like what we wrote under the section on teaching. It’s clear and directing – no wasted words, but also unable to capture subtleties and nuance. So let me fill some of those gaps in here. I aim at three things in my teaching and preaching (however well I may do at these on any given Sunday):

Clarity 

I want the Word of God to speak. That means that I have to get out of the way. How does a preacher do that? By simply explaining what God has revealed through the human writers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is not a set of ideas from which I gather a “theme” and then craft a sermon I think needs to be preached. Nor is it a book of advice for me to organize and spit out formulas. It is the living breathing Word of God, timeless in its meaning making it ever relevant to its hearers. This is the preacher as expositor – unfolding texts of Scripture, leaving no stone unturned, no question avoided, and no controversy ignored.

Beauty 

I want the Word of God to sing. That means that I have to exult in God as much as I exult in His Word. How does a preacher do that? By knowing the author – the very same God who created the heavens and the human heart. Teaching can be accurate and boring, clear and uninspiring, good for test-taking yet poor for joyful-living. This doesn’t mean the preacher needs all kinds of creative media, hype anecdotes, or timely cultural connections. It does mean that he needs to be keen to the beauty of God, His story, and His ever-present involvement in the world He created as the backdrop of redemption. This is the preacher as poet – pointing upward, pointing inward, and raising enough questions to raise the imagination of the hearers to the heavens.

Care 

I want the Word of God to comfort. That means that I have to know the Good Shepherd and how He loves His own sheep. How does a preacher do that? By following the Shepherd into both the valley of the shadow of death and onto the heights of joy. The sheep hear His voice and they know Him. The job of the teacher is to tune ears to hear His voice, clear foggy glasses to see circumstances through His eyes, and touch the incongruities of life and relationship to administer the care of the King. This is the preacher as shepherd – gentle answers to weak faith, strong words to rebellious wills, and worshipful praise to idolatrous hearts always in search of eternal purposes.

Pray for my growth as a teacher-preacher. Help me by listening with Spirit-directed ears, open hearts and eager obedience. Together let’s pray for the teaching of God’s Word to flourish at Leroy Chapel in 2017!

  • Mark Spansel

Christmas and the Whole Story of God

The Elder’s at LCC delight “to see the Word of God permeate the thinking of every person so that they live a thoroughly Biblical worldview, based on the whole story of God.”

Christmas time is one of my favorite times of the year – a time of getting together with family and friends. The parties are unique to the season with over-the-top lights, decorations, food, and in close circles, the giving and receiving of gifts.

Not everyone feels this way about Christmas. For some, Christmas time is depressing, anything but joyful. It is a time when minds are filled with bad memories, and a deep seated desire of avoidance – just wishing the whole thing was over.

There was a time, in which I was not fond of Christmas. Christmas Day was the day my father went home to be with his Lord. I mourned for the man. As a young adult, I was just getting to know him; and then, my dad was gone. It wasn’t until years later with the birth of children and a patient wife that Christmas became more properly reframed for me. As I have grown older, in time and faith, especially in the last four years, the arrival of the Christmas season has elevated my thinking beyond the parties, decorations, gifts, and even tragedy. I look to something more.

Today, when the calendar turns to December and Christmastime, my thoughts are as a father considering the heart of the Heavenly Father, who gave the greatest gift, His Son. The emphasis is not new in content but it is refreshingly new in the context of The Whole Story of God.

The Apostle Paul put it this way, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4: 4,5). God the Father did not send Jesus at any old time. Jesus Christ is the focal point of history, the center of what God was doing to redeem a people for Himself. In the Whole Story of God, the Birth of Christ ushers in the promised redeemer, who came to earth as a babe in a manager, lived a perfect life, died a sinner’s death and rose victoriously, for the justification of all who would believe. We await His return in the Culmination of the Ages. Absolutely nothing about God’s timing is haphazard. The Gospel message is simply too important to be managed without supernatural precision.

As Christians, our God is relentlessly writing His Story into the fabric of our lives. No matter the stage of your walk with Him, I am prayerful, that each of us will intentionally persist in refining our understanding of the Gospel message, properly framed by His Grand Story.

  • Selby Brannon

Prepare the Preacher

My dad used to say, “It’s really important to prepare the sermon, but it’s even more important to prepare the preacher.”

I always agreed with him, but deep down, it was a bit of a struggle. Because I love words. I love the limitless ways we can use words to describe the wonders of God and to paint pictures of the inner workings of our hearts and souls. I love the power of verbal communication to draw people into the realm of thinking about the things that really matter in life.

I love God’s word: its fathomless depth, its unswerving honesty, its sovereign artistry, its perfect consistency, and its living authenticity.

And I love to use the words God has given us to point to the Living Word. I resonate deeply with the hymn writer who penned the words, “I love to tell the story.”

But when my focus becomes the teaching itself, I can easily love preaching and teaching more than I love the people I am teaching and preaching to. I can become more concerned with crafting a message than allowing God to craft my heart. I can be wholehearted in my commitment to biblical teaching but halfhearted in committing that teaching to prayer.

I am learning – once again – that my Dad was right.

In these past few months, I have been so impacted – and significantly changed – as I have meditated often on Jesus’ words in John 15. And I can’t help but notice that Jesus doesn’t say that the one who bears much fruit is the one who most accurately and eloquently describes His words. He says the one who will certainly bear much fruit is the one who lives in constant intimate connection with Him and in whom His words are at home and very much alive.

Oh, I still love words, and will continue to use them to their fullest potential. It’s important that we faithfully prepare the teaching. But the real promise of fruit is when God prepares the teacher. I’ll leave you with E.M. Bounds:

“It is not great talents nor great learning nor great preachers that God needs, but men great in holiness, great in faith, great in love, great in fidelity, great for God – men always preaching by holy sermons in the pulpit, by holy lives out of the pulpit. These men can mold a generation for God.”

  • Dave Carroll