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Tuesday, 08 September 2009

Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church
exists for three primary purposes:

1) To Magnify and glorify God the Father through our worship
and praise...

2) To Manifest the love of Jesus Christ through our ministry, service, and witness and...

3) To Multiply by making disciples of all nations through the power
of the Holy Spirit.

It is with joy that I can announce that the elders of Faith EPC and I have finalized our new Vision Statement for the Church (printed above). Let me tell you the story of how we arrived at the final wording.

My personal goal for my first year at Faith EPC was simply to get to know the people of the Church, to begin to truly love them as their pastor, and to establish a healthy equilibrium in my teaching and preaching ministry. Soon, my petitions to God began to morph. While my prayers consisted originally of “Help me to know and love my people!” after about nine months I began asking the Lord to “Help me to see the Church not as it IS, but how it COULD be.”  I had no idea that my prayers would receive such a deluge of insight from the Lord!

One of the first things that God showed me is that while the Church is already very healthy in most regards, we needed to have a vision statement for what we OUGHT to strive to be. After all, “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).

Late one night I began scratching words furiously into my bedside journal. “Show me who we must become!”  I prayed. I etched three words onto the page: Magnify, Manifest, Multiply. Those three words struck me in a powerful way. They seemed regal. They conveyed power and majesty. They were not flimsy or trite. I took the three words and divided them under three columns. “Magnify” (worship, exalt, lift up) seemed to be directed towards God the Father; He is, after all, the King whom we praise and adore. “Manifest” seemed best to describe the work of the Son, taking the love and holiness of God and bringing it tangibly into the world through His incarnation. As believers, we too must manifest (make evident, demonstrate, reveal) the love of the Son in our broken and hurting world. “Multiply” seemed to me to convey the great task of the Church, given in Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8, the Great Commission. This cannot be done without the power and attestation of the Holy Spirit. After finding all of these in Acts 2:42-47 rooted in the life of the early Church, I knew something powerful was afoot.

Next, I took the early form of the vision statement to the elders. I presented them with this reasoning for creating a vision statement in the first place:


1) Faith Church needs a coherent vision statement that succinctly defines our purpose as a church. By precisely defining what our priorities ARE, the elders of Faith Church will be better able to discern what programs, staffing, and events must be implemented in our local church context. In the same way, the elders of Faith Church will be better able to determine what programs and events DO NOT contribute to this end.

2) While Faith Church already has a mission statement (“Preaching Jesus; Changing Lives”), it seems to suggest that those who are not engaged in preaching are not central to the identity of the church. Our vision statement will supplement, but not replace, this.

3) A vision statement must be easy enough to memorize and yet profound enough to inspire our people to rally to a unified cause.  A coherent statement of vision allows our people to build excitement as we together give our lives in sacrifice and service.

As Presbyterians, we do not have one sole human leader in the Church; rather we have a board of qualified, godly men under the Kingship of Christ. Our leadership, of course, is patterned off of the New Testament design evidenced in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. For this reason, I gave the elders a sample of the Vision Statement and asked them to pray about it for a month. While the early sentiment was receptive to the Vision Statement as I had prepared it, and we likely could have adopted it in early August, I asked the elders to think deeply for another month and beg God to show us how to adjust it, tweak it, and conform it to His will for our Church.

On September 5th, the elders and I went on a retreat to Lakewood Retreat Center. Here after spending time together praying aloud for our Church, her growth, health, and sanctification, we sat down to finalize the Vision Statement. We carefully combed through each line, parsing words carefully. Ultimately, though many changes were suggested, the final form ended up being exactly like the original version! Though we tried repeatedly, we could not seem to improve the Vision Statement by either adding anything that did not make the wording cumbersome, or eliminating wording that could improve its brevity. With prayer, and a vote, the Vision Statement became official!

As I stated in the above “rationale,” my desire for the Vision Statement was to draft something succinct, yet profound. Let me explain some of the intricacies.

1) Notice that the statement is Trinitarian; it intentionally focuses the heart and mind on each person of the godhead in turn. Much like the Apostles Creed, the Vision Statement sequentially turns the heart to each of the three persons of the Trinity. First the majesty of the Father is upheld, next the incarnation of the Son is exemplified, and finally the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit is invoked.

2) Secondly, notice that the statement is built around three strong verbs beginning with the letter “M.” This device of alliteration makes the statement easy to memorize for adults and children alike. It can be summarized as follows, “Magnify, Manifest, Multiply.” By using the literary device of alliteration the statement is easy to commit to memory.

3) Finally, the statement builds from the inside out. The core goal of Faith Church is to begin with a passion for worship. We might call this our “blazing center” (to borrow a phrase from John Piper). Without worship as our central purpose, we are flat, hollow, and shallow. Yet worship must begin to move outward, consuming the whole of the Christian life. For this reason, we intend for our passion for God’s glory to move outward to the immediate vicinity in which our live are centered, i.e. our families, places of employment, and community. Finally, we desire to culminate our worship by faithfully discharging Christ’s Great Commission with our ultimate goal of spreading the glory of God throughout the whole world by evangelism, discipleship, and missions.

These three goals, magnification, manifestation, and multiplication are simultaneously attainable—yet inexhaustible. They can be done; and yet they cannot be completed. Thus, we march onward until Christ returns and we hear the words we have longed for “Well done good and faithful servants.”

Pastor Matthew

Posted on 09/08/2009 9:16 PM by Pastor Matt
Monday, 03 August 2009

Note: Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a reformed theologian and pastor during the First Great Awakening. His sermons were so passionate and God-exalting that they often caused people to tremble in their pews. Best known for his "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," Edwards left a legacy of great theological teaching on the majesty of God with an incomparable zeal for the truth of God's Word. As a young man, Edwards penned these seventy resolutions to govern his life.

- Pastor Matthew


The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards

Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.

Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad's of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find out some new invention and contrivance to promote the aforementioned things.

3. Resolved, if ever I shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

4. Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor suffer it, if I can avoid it.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

8. Resolved, to act, in all respects, both speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, or had the same infirmities or failings as others; and that I will let the knowledge of their failings promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove only an occasion of my confessing my own sins and misery to God.

9. Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.

10. Resolved, when I feel pain, to think of the pains of martyrdom, and of hell.

11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances don't hinder.

12. Resolved, if I take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.

14. Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge.

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.

16. Resolved, never to speak evil of anyone, so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account except for some real good.

17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.

18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world.

19. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump.

20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.

21. Resolved, never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

22. Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power; might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.

23. Resolved, frequently to take some deliberate action, which seems most unlikely to be done, for the glory of God, and trace it back to the original intention, designs and ends of it; and if I find it not to be for God's glory, to repute it as a breach of the 4th Resolution.

24. Resolved, whenever I do any conspicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.

25. Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.

26. Resolved, to cast away such things, as I find do abate my assurance.

27. Resolved, never willfully to omit anything, except the omission be for the glory of God; and frequently to examine my omissions.

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

29. Resolved, never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.

30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.

31. Resolved, never to say anything at all against anybody, but when it is

perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule; often, when I have said anything against anyone, to bring it to, and try it strictly by the test of this Resolution.

32. Resolved, to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that that in Prov. 20:6, "A faithful man who can find?" may not be partly fulfilled in me.


33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, establishing and preserving peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects. Dec.26, 1722.

34. Resolved, in narration's never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.


35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. Dec. 18, 1722.


36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it. Dec. 19, 1722.


37. Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself: also at the end of every week, month and year. Dec.22 and 26, 1722.


38. Resolved, never to speak anything that is ridiculous, sportive, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day. Sabbath evening, Dec. 23, 1722.

39. Resolved, never to do anything that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no; except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.


40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking. Jan. 7, 1723.


41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better. Jan. 11, 1723.

42. Resolved, frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church; and which I have solemnly re-made this twelfth day of January, 1722-23.


43. Resolved, never henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's, agreeable to what is to be found in Saturday, January 12. Jan.12, 1723.


44- Resolved, that no other end but religion, shall have any influence at all on any of my actions; and that no action shall be, in the least circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end will carry it. Jan.12, 1723.


45. Resolved, never to allow any pleasure or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, nor any degree of affection, nor any circumstance relating to it, but what helps religion. Jan.12 and 13.1723.

46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eve: and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.


47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so. Sabbath morning. May 5,1723.


48. Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or no; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of. May 26, 1723.

49. Resolved, that this never shall be, if I can help it.


50. Resolved, I will act so as I think I shall judge would have been best, and most prudent, when I come into the future world. July 5, 1723.


51. Resolved, that I will act so, in every respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I should at last be damned. July 8, 1723.


52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age. July 8, 1723.


53. Resolved, to improve every opportunity, when I am in the best and happiest frame of mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and consecrate myself wholly to him; that from this I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that I confide in my Redeemer. July 8, 1723.


54. Whenever I hear anything spoken in conversation of any person, if I think it would be praiseworthy in me, Resolved to endeavor to imitate it. July 8, 1723.


55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments. July 8, 1723.

56. Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.


57. Resolved, when I fear misfortunes and adversities, to examine whether ~ have done my duty, and resolve to do it; and let it be just as providence orders it, I will as far as I can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and my sin. June 9, and July 13 1723.


58. Resolved, not only to refrain from an air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversation, but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness and benignity. May27, and July 13, 1723.


59. Resolved, when I am most conscious of provocations to ill nature and anger, that I will strive most to feel and act good-naturedly; yea, at such times, to manifest good nature, though I think that in other respects it would be disadvantageous, and so as would be imprudent at other times. May 12, July ii, and July 13.


60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4, and 13, 1723.


61. Resolved, that I will not give way to that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes my mind from being fully and fixedly set on religion, whatever excuse I may have for it-that what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to be done, etc. May 21, and July 13, 1723.


62. Resolved, never to do anything but duty; and then according to Eph. 6:6-8, do it willingly and cheerfully as unto the Lord, and not to man; "knowing that whatever good thing any man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord." June 25 and July 13, 1723.


63. On the supposition, that there never was to be but one individual in the world, at any one time, who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true luster, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part and under whatever character viewed: Resolved, to act just as I would do, if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time. Jan.14' and July '3' 1723.


64. Resolved, when I find those "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26), of which the Apostle speaks, and those "breakings of soul for the longing it hath," of which the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 119:20, that I will promote them to the utmost of my power, and that I will not be wear', of earnestly endeavoring to vent my desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnestness. July 23, and August 10, 1723.


65. Resolved, very much to exercise myself in this all my life long, viz. with the greatest openness I am capable of, to declare my ways to God, and lay open my soul to him: all my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, hopes, desires, and every thing, and every circumstance; according to Dr. Manton's 27th Sermon on Psalm 119. July 26, and Aug.10 1723.

66. Resolved, that I will endeavor always to keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and speaking in all places, and in all companies, except it should so happen that duty requires otherwise.

67. Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.


68. Resolved, to confess frankly to myself all that which I find in myself, either infirmity or sin; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to confess the whole case to God, and implore needed help. July 23, and August 10, 1723.


69. Resolved, always to do that, which I shall wish I had done when I see others do it. Aug. 11, 1723.

70. Let there be something of benevolence, in all that I speak. 

Aug. 17, 1723

Posted on 08/03/2009 9:18 PM by Jonathan Edwards
You don’t have to attend a Presbyterian, Reformed, or evangelical church very long before you hear the name John Calvin bandied about. In fact,