Archives For Jordan Standridge

Ministry is hard.

easyYou’re probably thinking, “No duh, Jordan.” But there was a time that I actually thought that it was going to be easy. I’m prone to make the same mistake over and over again. When I sat in my pre-marital counseling, I thought that marriage was going to be relatively easy. Then, before we had our first child and we took our parenting class, I thought, “Man, this is going to be a piece of cake.” And then there were times sitting in seminary classes that I thought, “Sounds pretty simple to me!”

But then I got married, and even though my wife is the most gorgeous and godly woman I know, I still can’t stop from being selfish towards her at times, and despite the fact that I’ve listened to hours of Tedd Tripp’s thoughts on parenting, I still struggle when my children sin against me, and even though I went to the best seminary in the world (yes, I know I’m biased), ministry is still incredibly difficult. Sitting in a classroom is one thing, but actually experiencing the ministry is another.

Recently, as I had the opportunity to teach on Luke 9:1-9, I was overwhelmed with the concept of giving glory to God in our ministries. How does God get glory from us doing ministry? For over a year Jesus had done everything, and it was going pretty well. Yes, He was almost killed a couple times, even in His own town, but thousands were being healed, thousands were having demons cast out, and, as you read the verses right after this section, you see that thousands upon thousands were following Christ so far that they didn’t have food to eat and He had to feed the hungry crowd. Jesus was doing ministry perfectly.

And in these verses, He decides to step back for a time and sends out the twelve disciples to go do ministry for the first time.

Jesus didn’t have to do this. He could have done it all. The Trinity could have decided before the foundation of time to never create humans or to not allow human beings to share in ministry, and yet God decided to not only create humans but for human beings to be the instruments He would use to bring glory to Himself.

And so, Jesus sends out the twelve, but it is quite obvious here that the disciples are completely dependent on Christ. We throw around the words “give glory to God” very often in the church, but I believe this passage actually gives us the opportunity to define this term a little better.  In fact, Jesus gives us three gifts that drive us to admit or dependence on Him and that ultimately allows Him to receive all the glory and praise.

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biblepulpitWe are less than a month away from the Shepherds conference and the anticipation is building as we are looking forward to another incredible week. I get that I am biased, but I do believe it is the best conference to go to. Grace Community Church does an incredible job serving the pastors who come, it is great to see so many old friends and make some new ones, and, most of all, it always seems like the various speakers preach their best sermons during this conference.

This year’s theme is going to be “We Preach Christ” and it will be honoring the 500th year of the protestant reformation you can watch the conference at the conference website. To whet our appetite a little I’d like to highlight a sermon preached by Steve Lawson two years ago. The focus of the conference that year was on the inerrancy of Scripture.

He began his sermon by quoting Spurgeon who said, “O Friends, if I did not believe in the infallibility of Scripture—the absolute infallibility of it from cover to cover—I would never enter this pulpit again.

Then, Steve Lawson declared, “Because the Word of God is inerrant, it is, therefore, by necessity, invincible. And because it is absolutely pure, it is absolutely powerful.”

He also added, “The Bible is like a beautiful diamond that has many different cuts, and, when you hold it up to the light, each beauty is refracting the light of each different side and no one symbol of the Bible can communicate the whole. So, it requires many different metaphors, many different analogies, to even begin to try to put its arm around the totality of the invincible power of the inerrant Word.”

All in all, this sermon was very quotable, so I’d like to share with you his outline, as well as some of my favorite quotes, that I hope will give you a gist of what he said. Of course, it would be best to listen to the sermon itself as it would be encouraging to any heart that treasures the Word of God.

Here are Steve Lawson’s seven metaphors that the Bible uses to describe Itself.

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A couple weeks ago, my kids saw a man and his son out in the park, so they quickly asked if they could go outside. It was a great chance for my kids to play with someone and for me to get to know a neighbor. It turned out to be a great Gospel opportunity.

He was a guy who grew up in Peru, currently working for an airline company. He gets to fly all over the world for free, and he told me that he can’t wait to make it to Italy one day, specifically Rome.  When I informed him that I grew up in Rome, we were practically best friends. Then he asked me what I do. When I informed him that I worked at a church, he played it cool like he was ok with it. He had already told me that he grew up with Catholic grandparents, as well as a Jewish grandpa, all practicing in their respective religions. He never mentioned anything negative about them, nor about religion at all. And then he told me that he was an atheist. As we continued our conversation, it was very pleasant. He couldn’t understand why there are so many religions, so I explained to him the differences between what I believe and most other religions. He had many questions about the Bible’s reliability which I did my best to answer, and then I got the chance to encourage him to read his Bible. He confessed to a fear of death, as well as some doubts about atheism. Right before we went home, we took out our phones and became Facebook friends. All in all, a wonderful conversation, and one which I was very thankful for.

And then I looked at his Facebook.

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mormonsThe other day I was getting ready to take the kids to our park when there was a knock on the door. Thinking it was a present from Amazon, I looked out only to find an even greater present: three Mormon missionaries. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. A long time goes by before your last visit and you start getting excited about the next time Mormons come knocking at your door. Every time I see Mormons, I get this sudden urge to talk to them. And every time I walk away discouraged and saddened for how blinding their religion is. And the cycle continues. Over the last few years, I’ve had many interactions with Mormon “elders.”

Mormons are usually very sweet people. They genuinely believe their religion, and they do believe that what they teach is the truth. They believe their religion is best and that you will be happiest if you follow it. But what is fascinating is the training that they receive before coming to your door. They are taught to focus on the positives. They are all about image and the way they present themselves. They are, in fact, salesmen, and they sell their product through smiles and offering “hope.” Over the last couple of years, I’ve asked Mormons what they are selling. I say, “Ok, you guys have come all the way to my house and to my door, what do you guys want me to do?” “What are you guys offering?” and whether it was Virginia, California or a random Chick-Fil-A in Georgia, they all said, “Happiness in this life and hope for the next!”

Their training teaches them to smile big, to not argue, and to focus on the positives of their religion. They are trained to talk about family, and about being with family for eternity. They are discouraged from bringing up controversial topics. No matter what you say, it seems like they nod as if they agree, and when you point out to them that they shouldn’t be agreeing, they agree with you again and say that they agreed with most of what you said. In other words, they are taught to be “winsome.” And this winsomeness ultimately manipulates some people into giving this false religion a try.

I’ve noticed over the years that some people in the church do the same, even some preachers are tempted to do this from their pulpits. We put on our best face. We ignore the difficult topics the Bible talks about and just focus on the love of Jesus. We focus on family as well, and on more happiness in this life and hope for the next. And as I think about the Mormon religion, I see three areas in particular where Christians are tempted to behave similarly.

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holding-handsI still remember the hike I was on when I was confronted. A couple from our church noticed that my relationship with my girlfriend was unhealthy. We were not sinning sexually, but they thought that we were being unwise. We were spending far too much time together. I arrived at the Masters College with a desire to serve the Lord for the rest of my life, I had never dated before and was not prepared to enter into a relationship. Little did I know that on the first day of school I would meet the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. We began hanging out, and very soon we were studying together, having meals together, and pretty much spending hours a day together. And despite the fact that we were being pure, we were risking a great amount.

Looking around today it is quite difficult to find a couple who is dating wisely. Many people sleep together (even some within the church), and those who don’t, seem to get to the point where they are acting married soon after they begin their relationship. Some spend far more time together than most married couples do. They text each other dozens of times a day, they have most meals together and they spend full days together. They may call each other names of endearment, and talk about the kind of furniture they want to buy for their home together. Maybe they refer to each other as “my guy” or “my girl” before there is any real commitment. And even if they are staying sexually pure there can still be areas that need to be re-evaluated within their relationship. Of course, there must be time spent together in order for them to get to know each other to determine whether they ought to marry. I don’t know your heart or situation, nor am I the Holy Spirit, all people in a relationship must look to their own heart in order to determine whether they’re acting married in any way. Following are five dangers to consider when in a dating relationship that looks like a marriage.

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brave-dadRecently as I was reading John MacArthur’s book Brave Dad, I found a section in which He gives “Ten Crucial Lessons Every Father Should Teach”. Obviously, MacArthur is known for his expository, verse by verse teaching. But sitting under his preaching for almost ten years I always loved his “lists” many he came up with while sitting at a restaurant writing on napkins. Obviously, it wasn’t the bread and butter of his ministry, neither should it have been, but when you’ve preached through the whole New Testament and know the entire Bible so well, you are bound to see patterns in Scripture and are able to come up with lists like these.

MacArthur takes these lessons out of Proverbs 1-10 and though he directs it from fathers to sons, it is obvious that mothers and daughters can benefit from this list as well. He also adds a warning at the end of this section showing how our failure to teach each of these areas gives the devil the opportunity to teach the exact opposite.

  1. Teach Your Children to Fear God

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7).

Macarthur talks about the fact that we must teach our kids the attributes of God. When we do so properly they will come to fear him. Not only will they fear Him in a reverential way but also they will fear sinning against Him, this will help your children to recognize that God is worthy of honor and invokes in them a desire to live righteously. In order to teach this properly the parents must fear God as well and in turn, sin will be hated in the family. If we don’t teach our children to fear God, the devil will teach them to reject and hate God.

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bannister_and_landyIt was May 6th, 1954, and a miler named Roger Bannister became the first human to ever have run a mile recorded in under four minutes. That world record lasted only six weeks, when an Australian, named John Landy, beat his record by more than a second. The rivalry was not over though, as the Empire Games were scheduled for August of the same year, and Landy and Bannister were set to square off in one of the most anticipated races in history.

The two runners could not have been more different. Landy loved to set the pace and start off strong, he usually led most of his races from start to finish. Bannister was different, he liked running from behind most of the race, only to take over first place in the final lap. The final proved those stereotypes right as Landy led for most of the race, with Bannister behind by quite a big margin going into the final lap. But then, something happened; the crowd started cheering as Bannister made his move and Landy began to get nervous, and in a moment of panic, Landy broke racing’s number one rule, don’t look back. As he looked over his left shoulder, Bannister went zooming by on the right to take first place in the race that would be forever remembered as the “miracle mile.”

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santa-spurgeonCharles Spurgeon had a love-hate relationship with Christmas. Because of the Roman Catholic influence over Christmas festivities (especially in England at that time) he wasn’t a huge fan of it and went back and forth over encouraging his congregation to celebrate Christmas.

In his sermon called “The Birth of Christ” preached on December 24, 1854, he ended his sermon saying,

Now a happy Christmas to you all; and it will be a happy Christmas if you have God with you. I shall say nothing to day against festivities on this great birthday of Christ. We will to-morrow think of Christ’s birthday; we shall be obliged to do it, I am sure, however sturdily we may hold to our rough Puritanism. And so, ‘let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavend bread of sincerity and truth.’ Do not feast as if you wished to keep the festival of Bacchus; do not live to-morrow as if you adored some heathen divinity. Feast, Christians, feast; you have a right to feast. Go to the house of feasting to-morrow, celebrate your Saviour’s birth; do not be ashamed to be glad; you have a right to be happy. Solomon says, “Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.”

“Religion never was designed To make your pleasures less.”

Recollect that your Master ate butter and honey. Go your way, rejoice tomorrow, but in your feasting, think of the Man in Bethlehem; let him have a place in your hearts, give him the glory, think of the virgin who conceived him, but think most of all of the Man born, the Child given. I finish by again saying, —

“A HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL”

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book-giftOver the past year, our bookstore — with suggestions by our pastors at Immanuel Bible Church — has featured a book of the month. The books have come from all different categories and with Christmas about a week away I thought you might find a list like this helpful. I’ve also included in this list books I have read over the past year, and books I have given away this year for ministry.

Productivity

Do more better by Tim Challies – This was my favorite book to read and to give away for 2016. Most people I know want to improve in their organization and discipline, and I think this book does a great job shepherding a heart as to why we ought to be more disciplined but also gives very helpful tips as to how to actually accomplish that.

For married or engaged Couples

What did you expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage By Paul Tripp

John Piper says about this book, ““Noel and I listened to most of this book driving in the car! Wise words. Authentic experience. Provocative application. Turned a long trip into a fruitful two-person marriage seminar.”

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It was Christmastime at London’s Garrick Club, and British writer and producer Frederick Lonsdale was asked by actor Seymour Hicks to reconcile with a fellow member. The two had fought in the past and never restored their friendship. “You must,” Hicks said to Lonsdale. “It is very unkind to be unfriendly at such a time. Go over now and wish him a Merry Christmas.”  So, Lonsdale crossed the room and spoke to his enemy. “I wish you a Merry Christmas,” he said, “but only one.”

That is not reconciliation.

All of us can relate to the sentiment Seymour Hicks was trying to convey. Everyone feels the pressure of being a little bit more charitable at Christmas. Perhaps it is the festive occasion or the fact that everyone is looking forward to eating well and opening gifts, but we all feel a need to be more joyful.

For Christians, though, it isn’t enough to be more peaceful out of obligation, or because of the fact that it is just what you do at Christmas. We are called to be at peace all of the time with all men because of the very fact that we have experience peace with God.

If you’re a Christian you know what it means to be unreconciled.

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