HUNGARY MISSION TRIP (2019)

For several years now, our church family has partnered with Baptists on Mission to work with local missionaries in Hungary. Our commitment to Nagyhalász, Hungary was solidified when we sent out a Fairview member to work among that people group. Because of our consistent work in the area, God has allowed our teams to lead English Bible Camps in a local school, and we have seen many children and adults repent of their sin and place their faith in Jesus Christ.

God willing, I will travel with a team from our church to teach Bible in the local schools in June-July. I am writing to humbly ask that you would be willing to pray for this endeavor, and consider supporting this mission trip financially. I am trying to raise around $2,000 by the end of May to cover the cost of this mission endeavor. If you feel led to give toward this mission, you can make a check out to:

Fairview Baptist Church

5608 Ten Ten Road, Apex, NC 27539

Put Matt Capps/Hungary in the memo line.

Or, you can give online at fairviewchurch.org/give by giving to the Hungary Trip and placing Matt Capps in the comment section.

Thank you so much for your consideration. I appreciate your prayers as we go to minister among the people in Nagyhalász, Hungary, and provide support to our missionaries in the area.

Sam Allberry, Matt Capps, and The Nashville Statement.

The recent publication of The Nashville Statement has provoked a lot of cultural criticism for the traditional evangelical Christian doctrine of sexuality and marriage. In a world where Christian doctrine is often confused, ignored, or even adjusted, such a statement attempts to define a set of beliefs that are consistent with what has been widely accepted as historic Christian teaching.

It has been interesting to read news articles responding to The Nashville Statment. I have not found many that allow for charitable disagreement or meaningful dialogue. Most of them seem to disparage this distinct Christian understanding of sexuality and marriage and those who hold to it. Sadly, this is no surprise. Many within the larger Protestant community have also lodged their criticisms as well.

First, the statement has been criticised because of the timing of its release. I understand the sentiment of this criticism.

Second, the statement has been criticised because of its tone. Written words are what they are. How you hear them, and whether or not you accept them as loving, depends on how you perceive the motivation of those who write them.

Third, one pastor commented: “When we issue statements rather than build relationships we are more like Pharisees and less like Jesus.” However, I do not think statements of belief and relationships are mutually exclusive. Jesus himself demonstrated a deep love for sinners while calling them to turn from their sin. The religious leaders in the New Testament met a different outcome than those who heeded Jesus’ truthful and loving words to “go and sin no more.”

Granted, Christians have not always been charitable or tactful in articulating our beliefs towards non-Christians in a loving way, especially when it comes to controversial matters. Tone and tact aside, we all have beliefs that guide and guard our communities. Tim Keller has a helpful analogy on the role of creeds in a community. (HT Tony Reinke)

“Imagine that one of the board members of the local Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Community Center announces, ‘I’ve had a religious experience and now I believe homosexuality is a sin.’ As the weeks go by, he persists in making that assertion. Imagine that a board member of the Alliance Against Same-Sex Marriage announces, ‘I discovered that my son is gay and I think he has the right to marry his partner.’ No matter how personally gracious and flexible the members of each group are, the day will come when each group will have to say, ‘You must step off the board because you don’t share a common commitment with us.’ The first of these communities has the reputation for being inclusive and the second for being exclusive, but, in practice, both of them operate in almost the very same way. Each is based on common beliefs that act as boundaries, including some and excluding others. Neither community is being ‘narrow’ — they are just being communities. Any community that did not hold its members accountable for specific beliefs and practices would have no corporate identity and would not really be a community at all.” (The Reason for God (2008), 39–40).

With these points made, I’d like to aim my reflections in a different direction.

We live in a pluralistic society. In our culture, the word pluralism has become much more than a religious mix. Pluralism has become an ideology, a type of political correctness. This kind of pluralism also calls for a specific kind of tolerance.

By tolerance, our culture does not mean, “to respect another’s view point, even if we disagree.” I could agree to that definition, I can respect someone I disagree with. Respect is the basis for honest dialogue even in the midst of disagreement.

Our culture seems to define tolerance as the “acceptance of different views.” The shift from “respect” to “acceptance” is notable. It communicates that you and I cannot bear to contradict one another.

Admittedly, The Nashville Statement draws a line in the sand, something Jesus himself often did on matters of Christian ethics. One of the things we must face is the reality that no follower of Christ can possibly embrace the full acceptance of different views, especially if they believe one is true and the other is false. This is true regardless of how you feel about the intent or tone of the statement. When it comes to matters of faith, we can discuss and disagree. It is ok. This is the hallmark of religious freedom.

Enter Sam Allberry. I do not know Sam personally, but he is known to many people because of his voice on the issue at hand.

In a society where much hatred and confusion is aroused by clear delineations on sexuality and marriage, Sam needs to be heard. Allberry is a Christian who experiences same sex attraction but chooses not give himself to such relationships because of his personal faith. He is single. Moreover, he affirms and defends the biblical view of sexuality and marriage. He also signed this controversial Nashville Statment.

When it comes to Christians struggling with same sex attraction and yet remain faithful to Scripture’s teaching, I would imagine that he is not unique. He is not alone. However, God has allowed Allberry a public platform to speak to these issues.

I am grateful for Sam’s courageous conviction, and how he has modeled his humble but confident faith, even in the midst of struggle. I think we as the Church need to learn from Sam. We need to listen. We need to be aware of others around us who may find themselves in a similar position.

All of us would affirm that the gospel is good news for all people, regardless of how our human brokenness manifests itself in our individual lives.

One of the reasons that The Nashville Statment is controversial is because it outlines what many evangelical Christians believe the Bible teaches regarding sexuality and marriage. It is controversial because it calls for repentance and faith.

Repentance is controversial because it presupposes that there is something wrong with us. Faith is controversial because it presupposes that we need to be saved from our sinfulness.

All of us have struggles related to sin. Sam struggles with same-sex attraction and other things, I am sure. I may not struggle with same sex attraction, but I struggle with 10,000 other things. Therefore, Sam and I are essentially the same. Broken sinners at the foot of the cross. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.

For this reason, Sam and I are also beloved children of God, covered by God’s grace through repentance and faith in Christ alone. This is the good news of the gospel.

The both of us desire to pursue holiness. Both of us war with our own sinfulness by the power of God’s indwelling Spirit, with the weapon of the Word, and in the midst of an army of fellow saints.

By the grace of God, we are what we are, simultaneously sinners and saints. We know dear Christian brothers and sisters, that we are all great sinners. We also know that Christ is a great savior.

If you are wrestling with this issue as one who struggles with same sex attraction, or as one who wants to better understand this issue, I encourage you to read Sam’s book “Is God Anti-Gay?”.

Summer Reading List

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I recently joined a podcast called “The Front Pew” with Chris Griggs and Ben Rudolph. The podcast is a conversation between three pastors in North Carolina about life, ministry, church and mission as they see it…from the front pew.

This past episode, we discussed the importance of reading and offered a list of books to read over the summer. Here is our list.

The Christian Life

Theology

Ecclesiology

Pastoral Ministry

Biography/History

Fun/Enjoyment

Take up and read!

Adopted Into God’s Family (1 John 3:1-10)

This was originally posted at The Biblical Recorder.

dsc02697I will always remember the moment that Laura and I received Solomon into our care. We were in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Our driver came and picked us up from the guest house and drove us through the city into the hills and up to a gated house full of orphaned children. Laura and I stood outside the gate while one of the agency case workers went inside, and after a few moments, our agency worker opened the gate and walked out into the street and handed us our son.

We turned and got back into the van and got situated. As the van pulled off Solomon started screaming and crying frantically. This little child had no clue what was going on. We were pulling baby Solomon away from everything he had ever known. But after a few minutes, he reached his little arms around Laura’s neck and tightened his grip and held on for dear life.

It was moving to see Solomon hold onto Laura, but what really mattered, was Laura holding onto Solomon. Laura and I knew where we were going. We also knew that he was our son.

Solomon came to understand this reality as time went on.

Since that moment, I have never been able to read passages like 1 John 3:1-10 the same: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

As J.I. Packer once said in his classic book, Knowing God: “If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father.”

As we live the Christian life, we must realize that years may transpire before the believer who is adopted by God may know that he is adopted, have a deep sense of feeling of it. We live in the comfort and hope of our loving Father’s arms. And as we grow, that reality shapes us more and more as we head towards eternity.

A Time To Speak

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Today, December 16th, a panel of Christian leaders will gather at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee to discuss race, the church, and what we can do from here. The Lorraine Motel is a significant location for this event. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed at the Lorraine Motel. Today, it is the National Civil Rights Museum in the United States and will be the host for this event.

Here’s a brief explanation from the event’s organizer, Pastor Bryan Loritts:

“We want to boldy declare there is hope…The grand jury’s decision not to indict the officers involved in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown has left many in our nation angry, saddened and hopeless…The fact that such heart-wrenching decisions have taken place some 50 years after the civil rights movement have left the children of those who marched in such places as Birmingham and Selma wondering if justice has not only been delayed, but has she finally and permanently been denied.”

A number of well-known Christian leaders will aim to bring their wisdom and love for the gospel in this discussion panel. As Ed Stetzer has said, “We want to listen well, dialogue on the issues, and point to Jesus.” Here are the pastors and leaders slated to take part in this discussion:

  • Bryan Loritts, pastor of Fellowship Memphis
  • Trillia Newbell, writer and author
  • Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Dallas-Fort Worth
  • Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey Church in St. Louis
  • Eric Mason, pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia
  • John Piper, chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary
  • Thabiti Anyabwile, assistant pastor for church planting at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
  • Voddie Baucham, pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, Texas
  • Albert Tate, pastor of Fellowship Monrovia in Monrovia, California
  • Derwin Gray, pastor of Transformation Church in Indian Land, South Carolina

The event is not open to the public, due to our location and our limited time there, but anyone can watch online on Tuesday afternoon from 4pm to 6pm CT (5pm to 7pm ET). It is expected to be widely viewed and discussed – so join in. The discussion will be honest and Christlike, and the hope of the panelists is that the viewers will benefit from their time together.

Click here to visit the website. 

The Powerful Story of a Christmas Truce

Perhaps you have heard the story from Stanley Weintraub’s book Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce?

In December of 1914 something amazing happened along the Western front during World War 1. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, parties of German and British soldiers began exchanging Christmas songs across the trenches. Essentially, they were battling each other with season’s greetings, at some points individual soldiers walked across enemy lines bearing Christmas gifts. On Christmas eve and Christmas day both sides agreed to a truce, an unofficial cease fire. These enemy war units ventured into what they called “no mans land”, neutral territory, to share their rations of food and sing Christmas carols together.

What a beautiful picture. Enemy troops coming together under the banner of Christmas. Coming together in peace to celebrate with one another. Just a small taste of what’s to come when Christ returns. As Isaiah 2:4 reads:

“He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”

In a world of chaos and war, where the effects of sin ripple through our lives and our lands – we all long for peace. And every now and then, we catch a glimpse of what is to come.

How To Recognize Our Arrogance

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“Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18, HCSB).

Chuck Lawless recently posted these “10 Ways to Recognize Our Arrogance” at Thom Rainer’s blog. I found it challenging and convicting, and wanted to share it here. Use these potential markers of arrogance to avoid such a fall.

1. You believe few people are as smart as you are.

Not many people actually say these words, but honest leaders must admit they sometimes think this way. Some reveal this thinking by their ridicule of anybody else “not quite up to my level.” Others assume they should be part of almost every discussion, regardless of the topic. If you assume few people can teach you anything, that assumption should cause you to evaluate your heart.

2. Your first reaction to negative is to be defensive or to cast blame on others.

If anything adverse (e.g., a lack of growth in the organization, a divided leadership team, a failed program) is always somebody else’s fault, you might see yourself as above such declines. In Jim Collins’ words, you may join falling leaders who explain away negative data and “blame external factors for setbacks rather than accept responsibility.”

3. Titles matter to you.

Check your signature line on your email. Look at your company’s letterhead and website. Read the bio you send to others who have invited you to speak. Consider your reaction when someone introduces youwithout noting your title. Think about how you introduce yourself. If your title has become your first name, you’ve crossed the line.

4. You assume your organization cannot fail.

The bottom line for you is this: your organization cannot fail because you don’t fail. You are intelligent enough to figure out the solutions. Your track record is so filled with successes that failure is unimaginable. And, even if your organization struggles, you can simply replace your co-workers; after all, you are convinced that finding people who want to work for you will not be difficult.

5. Not knowing “insider information” bothers you.

Arrogance is characterized not only by a belief we know almost everything, but also by a desire to know the “scoop” before others do. The most important people, we think, deserve to have the details first. If you get frustrated when you’re not in the information’s inner circle, you may well be dealing with arrogance.

6. You are disconnected from your team members.

Developing genuine relationships with employees is difficult as an organization grows. If, however, you see your team members more as cogs in a system than as valuable partners – or worse yet, if they perceive you view them that way – you may be haughtily operating as “a steam engine attempting to pull the rest of the train without being attached to it.”

7. Spiritual disciplines are secondary, if not non-existent, in your life.

Disciplines like Bible study, prayer, and fasting are more than simple Christian practices; they are obedient actions of persons who recognize their need for a strong relationship with God. If you are leading externally without spending time with God privately, you are leading in your own strength. That’s sin.

8. No one has permission to speak truth into your life.

Leaders who fall are often not accountable to anyone. Few of us are fully self-aware, and all of us deal with a heart that is “more deceitful than anything else” (Jer. 17:9).  Feedback is critical, particularly from those who can test whether we exhibit the fruit of the flesh or the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-26). If no one plays this role in your life, your lack of accountability is likely evidence of pride.

9. Other people see you as arrogant.

Take a risk – ask others what they really think about you. Talk to the people who report to you. Interview those who formerly worked with you, but then took other positions. Be specific in asking, “Do I ever come across as arrogant?” Even the most emotional (and perhaps exaggerated) responses likely reveal some level of truth. Hear it.

10. This post bothers you . . . or doesn’t bother you.

If these words bother you, you may be coming face-to-face with reality in your life. If they don’t bother you, you may be failing to see the arrogance that characterizes all of us.