This is appearing in tomorrow’s Biblical Recorder. You can view it HERE or read below
May 24 2013 by Micheal Pardue, BR Book Review
Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church
by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson and Eric Geiger (B&H Publishing, 2012)
It would seem natural that any organization that labeled itself a church would be Jesus-centered. However, it does not take many pages in the new book Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson and Eric Geiger, to realize that being Jesus-centered involves intentionally conforming the entire being of the church to the gospel of Christ.
The authors have delivered an authentic and practical plea for church leaders to consider their first love and the call of the Creator – the gospel of Christ.
Creature of the Word is a 256-page theological call for gospel-centrality in the theology, philosophy and practice of the church. The authors make it clear that this is not about having the gospel and the flavor of the week. The authors write: “It is one thing to see the gospel as an important facet of one’s ministry. It is quite another to hold firmly to it as the centerpiece for all a church is and does, to completely orbit around it.”
The authors believe that the loss of and misunderstanding about the gospel has led to a loss of power in the church.
Many churches, they lament, “have developed gospel amnesia, forgetting that the gospel not only creates and sustains the Church but also deeply shapes the Church. Present and future.”
Within these churches community is not being developed because the gospel is not central. People are not transformed when the gospel does not fuel their time together, they write.
When the gospel is not central, believers are robbed of their God-given opportunity and adoptive responsibility to be ministers of the gospel, exchanging it for consumer-driven religious experiences.
The authors do encourage those readers who realize the gospel is not the centerpiece of their church. They write, “Without Jesus, your church culture is useless. But because of Jesus your church culture can be transformed … and become transformational. … If you are frustrated with the lack of gospel-centrality in your current church culture, understand that cultural frustration always precedes cultural transformation.
“The frustration is good and beautiful if it leads you to long for the grace of Jesus to permeate your theology, philosophy, and practice. Being gospel-centered is, for the authors, in part, about having a firm theological foundation that works its way out into every aspect of the functioning of the local church.”
The authors have composed a book that is also amazingly practical. Obviously speaking from experience, they have captured many of the nuances of ministry and poured out for the reader how the gospel should run through the minutest veins of life within the local church body. So often with books of this nature the reader is inundated with theological insight, but is left to fend for himself when it comes to practical application.
Or, practicality is presented so narrowly that the church leader only finds it useful if he can completely reorient everything in the local body toward the newest programs presented. This book is neither. The authors honestly examine the makeup of church structure and give gospel-driven commentary on how even the most seemingly irreverent goings on of the church should be molded by the gospel.
They examine areas of obvious import, such as preaching the Word and the Jesus-centered leader. They also make an impassioned plea for a gospel-centered ministry to children, as opposed to a babysitting service, and a Jesus-centered student ministry in exchange for a moralistic, legalism driven attempt at indoctrination.
These are real-life applications that force the reader to examine the motives behind some of the most cherished idols of church culture – from the budget to the social ministries of the church – through the lens of the gospel.
The authors close the book with three important ways that “God lovingly removes our self-sufficiency, reminds us of grace, and emboldens us for the call of gospel-ministry: prayer, suffering, and celebration.” These three enable the church to define success on gospel terms. Creature of the Word is an exciting and convicting read. The authors display a passion, not just for the gospel, but for the local church. This book calls believers to gather together under the banner of the gospel, centering their lives and work on Christ.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Micheal Pardue is pastor of First Baptist Icard in Connelly Springs.)
I must begin by being clear that I am not naïve about the realities of terrorism. I am also not naïve that those realities often are and should be met with a return of force. I still remember vividly in March of 2003 as bombs lit up the night skies over Baghdad. However, this is not about a government or judicial response to the events of the last twenty-four hours in Boston, MA. Maybe this article is better titled, “How do Christians Fight Terrorism?” That, however, is not as enticing.
I have complete confidence that our brave law enforcement officers will find those who are responsible for these cowardly acts. I hope that they are able to bring down swift justice that is not encumbered by the bureaucracies that sometimes render that an impossible task. My message, however, is not to our government. From the point-of-view of those who have been set in authority over us, the solutions involve diplomacy, sanctions, and retaliation. The solution that believers in Christ have is much different—we have the Gospel.
We live in a world that is increasingly becoming a darker place. We see hatred and malice around each corner and on each newscast. The eradication of terrorism (along with any other vice that so entangles and threatens us) will not be a result of governmental agencies or political posturing. We will not find real solutions to terrorism with liberal political agendas or conservative political ideologies. We have seen both over the nearly twelve years since 9/11, and yet we turn on the news today to see the same stories that have caused us to become jaded and apathetic.
Maybe…just maybe, the answer is Jesus. Not the “Social Jesus” who only cares about our temporal needs. Not the “Good Jewish Teacher” who provides us a few good principles to live by. And most certainly not the “Buddy Christ” who serves as a “good luck charm, [who] keeps me from harm and saves me from speeding tickets.”
Maybe the answer for the world we live in is the ruling and reigning Son of God who died in our place. Maybe the answer is the suffering servant who endured God’s wrath so that we can have true life and true freedom. Maybe the answer is the Christ who offers deliverance to those who are captive to terrorism. Maybe the answer is the Gospel. Maybe the answer is Jesus.
There are 6,900,000,000 people in the world
—6,100,000,000 do not know Christ.
There are 345,000,000 people in the United States and Canada
—260,000,000 do not know Jesus.
There are 9,600,000 people in North Carolina
—5,600,000 do not have a relationship with the Savior.
There are 90,000 people in Burke County
—40% or more do not claim a religious affiliation!
You could look at this and say that there are nearly a billion Christians in the world—85 million Christians in North America. You might read these statistics and see that there are four million Christians in North Carolina. These numbers may seem encouraging, but that would be the wrong way to understand the data. We live in a world of pervasive darkness, a nation full of lostness, and a community full of people who do not know the hope of Christ. We as believers have been called out of the darkness to be ambassadors for Christ and His Kingdom.
I believe that for us to combat the lostness that we find all around us, we must understand the one thing that eradicates lostness—The Gospel.
We live in a church age of programs and meetings. We are bombarded with this expert who says this or another who says something to the contrary. We witness churches that go to war over carpet colors and music styles.
I want us to shed the noise, at least for a few weeks, and dwell on the message makes programs look inept and experts irrelevant.
The Gospel is our focus, the Gospel is our mission, the Gospel is our hope and it is the only hope for those who are perishing. The message of Christ is GOOD NEWS and beginning on February 24, I want to lead us through the Letter of Paul to the Galatians as we will find that there is No Other Gospel.
Honored to be chairman of the Communications Committee of the BSCNC for 2013. Looking forward to working with NC Baptists to build commuication which I believe will lead to better cooperation.
Thanks to the Biblical Record for this picture.
For the last five years I have had the privilege of serving High Shoal Baptist as their pastor. It has been a wonderful time of ministry and personal growth. The church has allowed me to grow in my Christian walk and mature as a pastor. We have seen God do wonderful things in our midst. We have always served High Shoal in God’s time and Rachel and I have now come to understand that God has prepared us for another ministry.
Yesterday, the believers gathered at First Baptist Church in Icard, NC affirmed what we had been sensing for the last several month–that God was calling us there to minister with them as their new pastor. Each member of the search team affirmed this along with each member who was present for yesterdays service. This spoke volumes to Rachel and I and continued to remind us of the goodness of our God.
When our ministry concludes at High Shoal on Feb. 15 it will be a bitter-sweet day. We are excited about what God has ahead but sad to leave our dear friends behind. God has great things in store for High Shoal. He is already grooming a powerful leader for the church. My prayer is that God does a wonderful work and He gets the glory for all of it.
Five years ago today my wife and I welcomed our three sons into our home. The whole process of adoption is amazing to me. Their birth certificates have my name on them. They are my sons. I think this is why the Apostle Paul uses the imagery of adoption when he talks about what God has done to us in his salvific work (Eph 1:5). He has chosen us and made us His sons and daughters. My wife and I chose our sons and gave them our last name. Now they are ours. When God chose us He took in someone who was not His and He gave us His name. My sons (and my daughter we adopted two years ago) are my heirs just like my two biological daughters. God has also made us joint heirs with Christ (Rm 8:17). It is a beautiful picture of what God has done and it has profoundly changed our family. Have you thought about adoption? If not, remember how grateful you are that God did.
God is a jealous God. He will not settle for second place. He is not a backup plan. Notice in Deuteronomy 34 that He does not talk about the sinful nature of these “no people.” He does not say that He is glad His people are at least a little bit better than those people. He does not give them a pass because they also give Him some time along with the other gods they have fallen after. He demands their complete attention and dedication. Though they had no qualifications to be His people, He has laid out clearly His qualifications to be their God. Friends, when we grow fat on the things of God, our natural inclination is to turn away from God. I cannot ascribe this syndrome to anything but our Fallen, sinful condition. When the Devil sees that were are experiencing the greatness of our God, his only recourse is to tempt us to give the credit to gods that we had never known, ones that had come recently. He leads up toward being unmindful of the Rock that bore us. We can quickly forget the God who gave us birth—even Christ who gave us the New Birth.
So many believers quickly abandon God when things go well. Their family grows, their bank account grows, their circle of influence grows, and those things become so important that God must get in line and take a number. Now, let tragedy strike, and they run back searching for answers and help. There is very little gratitude to God for all that He has blessed us with. Our hope is often tied to stock markets and politicians—both of which have no power to save. Only Christ deserves our faith and dedication. The old hymn reminds us that Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.
I believe when we lose our focus and shift our priorities, we fall victim to those who are “no people” just like the nation of Israel. So many churches today have fallen victim to this temptation. Israel saw the gods of the nations around them. They had gods that supposedly did everything for them. They had many gods and Israel only had One. So they tried to add to their stable of deities. Churches today look around them and see that the world serves many gods—the gods of money, sexuality, prestige, and political correctness. These are tempting gods indeed. They offer worldly popularity and societal acceptance. They have found that with some tweaking of God they can worship at the altar of these other gods as well. The have forgotten that our God will not be mocked. He is a consuming fire who will not give up His place because of contemporary trends or political analysis. He has said, I the LORD do not change (Mal 3:6). What this tells me is that a condition of being blessed is faithfulness to God and His Word. When Israel forgot this they were abandoned.
This article was published by the Shelby Star:
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14 (ESV)
Friday, an unspeakable tragedy struck a quite community in Connecticut. Just after students were finished pledging their allegiance to our country, a crazed gunman took from them their fundamental right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This community, I understand, is statistically one of the safest in the United States, but that did not prevent one of the worst acts of violence in our nation’s history.
As I was eating dinner with friends and family, one of my seminary classmates received a call detailing the tragedy that was unfolding hundreds of miles from our lunch table. Having six children myself, all of which were sitting with us, my heart was immediately broken. How could someone do something so terrible?
My friend’s heart was drawn to the Scriptures, as he was keenly aware that the Evil One had been at work in the mind of the troubled man who carried out this senseless act of evil. I wondered aloud how anyone could deny the existence of evil when it was put on display for all to see. Many have and will continue to ask how God allows such things to happen—why do we see these things happen with such frequency? However, it was not God, but a sinful man who forcibly entered Sandy Hook Elementary. A man whose mind was long corrupted by a Fallen world. Our culture so strongly desires to see God out of everything, we should feel blessed He doesn’t abandon us all together.
In the moment when my heart was broken by this breathtaking news, a question arose in my mind—one that enveloped my mind as I went to sleep Friday and has constantly greeted me since: What is to prevent this from happening to my children? I have children in two public schools. Three of my children are the same age as many of the children killed on Friday. I cannot imagine how those parents feel nor how my fellow clergymen in that community will begin to comfort their congregations. The more I read about this tragedy, the more it seems that there were many measures in place to provide security for those children. Sometimes, when evil overtakes someone, tragedy is unavoidable.
However, as a parent, I want to know—I have to know—that everything is being done to protect my children, their teachers, and the administrators at our schools. I hope school boards have already met to determine how we prevent this from happening. I hope they are asking the questions that are necessary to secure our schools. Our schools are not as secure as they can be and now is the time to act. This tragedy shows us that we, as a community, have to do whatever it takes to be prepared. There are no reasonable people opposed to keeping our children safe. If evil attempts to visit our schools, my prayer is that we are ready to repel it.
Dr. Micheal S. Pardue
Parent of five children in North Carolina Public Schools
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