Developing a Culture

Today, I taught a combined Adult Christian Education class at Trinity.   The classes were "How We Got the Bible" and "Diagnosing Your Spiritual Health."  I also invited those who had just finished the new members' class.

So, this is a recap of the lesson with additional thoughts italicized.  I shared that one of the purposes of the class, and this post, is to help people better understand how we, as a church, use the Bible and live in community together.  At this ministry transition time, this is especially important.  

The lesson's title was "How to Use the Bible to Cultivate a Disciple-Making, Biblical Counseling, Caring Family Culture."

Hebrews 10:24, 25, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching" is not a passage that can be lived out from 9;45 to 12:15 one day a week.  It is meant to be lived out in relationship throughout the week.  Especially when you add verse 23 to the passage, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."  This hope-holding, spurring one another on, not giving up, and encouraging one another life is relationship-based, not event-based.  

The church is not an audience of spectators showing up to an event.  It is a fellowship of disciple-makers committed to the Lord and one another.  This fellowship is committed to giving and growing, not merely receiving.   

In Your Walk with God is a Community Project, Paul Tripp discusses an "intentionally- intrusive, Christ-centered, grace-driven, redemptive community."  For believers, Christ-centered is good. Grace-driven is good, redemptive is good, and community is good.  BUT intentionally-intrusive doesn't sound good. 



Matthew 28:19 – 20 tells us to make disciples, and this includes teaching for life and teaching them to observe.

Ephesians 4:11 – 16  tells us God gave specific people to EQUIP the saints, the church, to do the work of the ministry with the goal of unity and maturity in Christ.

Colossians 1:28 – 29 tells us we must warn and teach for maturity in Christi.


A Biblical Counseling Mindset includes but is not limited to...
Preaching that emphasizes life change.
Teaching that develops biblical thinking about life.
Seeking opportunities to promote life change.
Using opportunities in the community to connect with people who need Jesus.
Providing opportunities that allow people who are in the church to share struggles of life and find the help they need.
Ultimately, every member living in such a way that dependence on Christ is emphasized and encouraged.

In looking through this list, a common word in each is life.  Disciple-making is about life change for the glory of God.

More about this triangle will be posted on Thursday

With the transitions at Trinity Baptist Church currently, Pastor Jason moving on to another ministry, but the idea of Biblical Counseling has not left Trinity Baptist Church.  

Biblical Counseling will look different. 
Not a counseling pastor specifically focused on counseling.
There will be a continued emphasis and encouragement on Biblical counseling through many different means.
The constant encouragement of building godly, grace-filled, caring relationships that encourage spiritual growth.
The intentionality of our Adult Christian Education classes. teaching ministry,
The wise counsel of trained, Biblical, godly men and women like Richard VanVels, our pastoral resident, or recommended referrals outside of Trinity Baptist Church. 

An article that better explains this Biblical Counseling mindset is Counseling and Discipleship by Deepak Reju.   


Caring for families that God brings to us.  We want to intentionally and zealously disciple the families God brings to us.  This is done through Bible lessons, family resources, and our child protection policy.

Caring for Temporal and Spiritual Needs.  Check out this post from the Diagnosing Your Spiritual Health class - drodgersjr.blogspot.com/2024/01/concern.html


Spring classes 2024

The Adult Christian Education classes are designed for Biblical Discipleship.  Part of this discipleship happens through intentional teaching and meaningful membership - "the commitment Christians make to keep one another accountable for regularly gathering and centering their lives together on the Gospel." (Alex Duke, Crossway Link)

An illustration used to show what active membership/Biblical discipleship involves is the four-chair model.

In this model, the chairs do not represent places of rest and inactivity.  Each chair represents a stage in the growth process.  There is a movement to the right. 
Members of Trinity need to be evangelizing, sharing the Gospel, at their places of work, at their schools, with their neighbors, and in their families.  The message of the Gospel will be preached at church services and it can be shared in so many different places.

The goal of ACE is to provide the education and training needed to establish, edify, and equip believers to never become too comfortable with where they are right now.  

Our Sunday morning classes help Christ-followers move along the Establish - Edify - Equip process.  We know that throughout our lives we need to be continually established, edified, and equipped.  

  • Classes that ENGAGE God’s FOUNDATION are designed to establish believers in the basics of the Christian faith and Trinity life.
  • Classes that ENGAGE God's WORD are designed to edify believers who desire to know the Bible better.
  • Classes that ENGAGE God's WORLD are designed to edify believers who desire to know how God's Word connects to our lives and the world at large.
  • Classes that ENGAGE God's WORK are designed to equip believers who are ready to invest and help others grow spiritually.
(This description of the ACE classes at Trinity was originally posted February 2023)

The classes offered each quarter are intentionally meant to grow disciples and make more disciples. With this intentionality in mind, some classes are REPEATED more often.  This quarter's Stewardship and Missions/Evangelism are repeated because the topic is part of Trinity's heartbeat and we want each of us to grow in these areas.

In joining a class you are taking a step to grow spiritually and connect with other believers.  

With that general description of the ACE classes, here are the three classes being offered this spring.

Stewardship (Engaging God’s Work) - Fireplace Room Stewardship is taking responsibility for the things the Lord has entrusted to us. Being faithful with the time, money, and other gifts God has given us.  This will examine how to be faithful in these things.  We pray this class will help you glorify God in the way you use His gifts.

Song of Solomon (Engaging God's Word) - Chapel
An introduction to studying Wisdom Literature in the Old Testament.  This course is for believers in all walks of life: single, married, with kids, or no kids.  We will be discussing the importance of how this text points us to God while giving us a foundation for how to think about marriage.

Go Tell It (Engaging God's World) - ACE Room #3
Missions and Evangelism are not programs, classes, committees, or merely a part of a church.  Proclaiming the Gospel HERE and THERE should be in the culture of the church and in the heart and life of every member of Trinity.  This class will focus on the principles and practices of Missions and Evangelism.  The second part of the class will have two options:  How to Share the Gospel & What It Means to Be Sure of Your Salvation.



This week's question is "Are the Spiritual Disciplines Increasingly Important to You?"

The Christian Spiritual Disciplines are the God-ordained means found in Scripture by which we bring ourselves before God, experience Him, and are changed into Christlikeness.

Spiritual Disciplines are personal and interpersonal.

Spiritual Disciplines are biblical.

Spiritual Disciplines are sufficient.

The Spirit of God works through each of these disciplines in unique ways.

The Spiritual Disciplines are practices, not attitudes.

The Spiritual Disciplines are derived from the gospel, not divorced from the gospel.  Every Spiritual Discipline is meant to take us deeper into the glories of the gospel.

The Spiritual Disciplines are the means to godliness and not the ultimate definition of godliness.  1st Timothy 4:7.

You will not think of the disciplines as mere duty, nor simply as Christlike patterns to follow, but rather as the ways to experience life and light from heaven to your soul.

The Spiritual Disciplines are not by themselves the marks of Christlikeness as much as they are the means to it.

Devote yourself more to the pursuit of Christlikeness and the enjoyment of God through the Spiritual Disciplines than to the pursuit of efficiency and the completion of to-do lists.

Resist the temptation to believe in microwave spirituality or short-cut Christlikeness.

Stoke your spiritual life with at least one perceptible poke.



This week's question is "Do You Delight In the Bride of Jesus Christ?" 

From The Gospel Primer - 12. My Inheritance in the Saints 

The gospel is not just a message of reconciliation with God, but it also heralds the reconciliation of all believers to one another in Christ. Through the death of Christ, God has brought peace where there was once hostility, and He has  broken down the racial, economic, and social barriers that once divided us outside of Christ (Ephesians 2:14-16;        Colossians 3:11; 3:28; Revelation 5:9) 
Also, when God saved us, He made us members of His household, (Ephesians 2:19) and He gave us as gifts to one another (Ephesians 1:8).  Each brother and sister is a portion of my gospel inheritance from God, and I am a portion of their inheritance as well. We are significant players in each other’s gospel narrative, and it is in relationship with one another that we experience the fullness of God in Christ (Ephesians 3:17-19; 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 4:10; Ephesians 1:22, 23).

Hence, the more I comprehend the full scope of the gospel, the more I value the church for which Christ died (Ephesians 5:25), the more I value the role that I play in the lives of my fellow Christians, and the more I appreciate the role that they must be allowed to play in mine.

“One of the best tests of whether we belong to Christ is whether we delight in His delight, namely, the people who comprise His church.”

“Saints aren’t just the exceptionally devoted believers now in heaven, they are also the people who believe and live the Word of God in their workaday world on Earth.” 

“Delighting in ‘the saints in the land’ means finding irresistible joy in the presence and the ministry of Christ’s people, both in their      congregational form and as individuals.”

“Here are two of many possible suggestions for expressing this delight.”

  1. “Grow to see the bride of Christ and her work more as Jesus does.”
  2. ”Demonstrate your delight in the bride of Christ in ways that will make a real difference.”




Question 5:  Do you have a growing concern for the spiritual and temporal needs of others?

This week's question, at this time, is especially important.  "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words" is a quote that is very popular and not true.  Words must be used to preach the Gospel.  At the same time, those who have been saved and changed by the Gospel will desire to help those who have temporals.  "Those following Jesus can trace their progress in His likeness by tracking their growth in their concern for both the spiritual and temporal needs of others." (68)

It is not either word, Spiritual truth - the Gospel OR Temporal actions - Love and Caring for physical needs.  When someone hears and responds to the truth of John 3:16, they will live out the truth of First John 3:16.

Jesus' earthly ministry included teaching spiritual truths, meeting physical needs (healing and providing food), and dying as the perfect lamb of God for God's glory and our good.  

James 2:15 - 16 reminds us of how we should respond to physical needs.  "If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?"

10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health lists people through history who spoke truth and demonstrated love to others.

  • George Whitefield was a fruitful evangelist who started an orphanage.
  • William Wilberforce fought to end slavery.
  • William Carey worked against child sacrifice and widow burning in India.
  • George Mueller prayed and helped orphans.
  • "C.H. Spurgeon, remembered as the Prince of Preachers, built more than seventeen homes for elderly widows, two orphanages." (74)

Whitney gives three things to help you grow in your concern for the needs of others.

  1. Go to the Great Ophthalmologists.
  2. Look for the hurt in every heart and home
  3. Do something for the gospel and the good of others

I would like to add a fourth.  Remember how needy you were before you were a child of God.  

The last paragraph of this chapter serves as a great reminder.

Don't sit passively until you "feel led" to particular needs.  Go adventurously into your world with the gospel and the love of Christ, and you'll find Him guiding you to the needs He wants your to meet.  And as you become His instrument in meeting the needs of others, you'll find Him meeting many needs of your own.  (78)



This week's lesson never happened in person.

"Are You More Sensitive to God's Presence?"

You may have had a unique God experience at camp, during a quiet alone time, in a Sunday service, looking at a baby, reading a book, or so many other times.

"But how often are you aware of the presence of God?  If we take the teaching of the Bible seriously, perception of God should not be an occasional experience." (pg. 52)

Continual awareness of God's presence helps with growing in the spiritual disciplines, fighting besetting sin, and depending on God more and more.

The presence of God is made known in so many different ways.  Through the universal presence of God, his omnipresence is that God is everywhere but is not everything.  The Christological presence of God is the fact that Jesus is God.  God is present in the believer through the indwelling presence of God.  In sermons and specific work on earth, the perceptible presence of God is known.  God's heavenly presence is what heaven is all about.  People often focus on the streets of gold, the "mansion," and seeing loved ones.  But the new heaven and new earth will be about God.  The eternal presence of God will be known through love and mercy OR divine wrath and justice.

We need to seek God "through His Word; or through experiences which are founded on His Word (such as biblical worship); or through daily life in ways that are informed by His Word (such as doing our work "as to the Lord," Ephesians 6:7)."  Knowing God's presence must go through His word not our emotions and experiences.  

We can grow through God's Desertions.

These desertions are not because God has left us but rather because we feel he has left us.

“If, while reading this chapter, you’ve thought, I haven’t been sensing God’s presence much lately, take note that it’s one thing to long for a sense of God’s presence while not experiencing it, and another to live routinely with no awareness of His absence.”

Some Practical Ways to Grow In Our Awareness of God’s Presence:

  • Go often to where God has revealed Himself most clearly—the Bible.
  • Acknowledge His presence with you by talking with Him.
  • Seek Him in the manifestation of His presence given only in congregational worship.
  • Continually reaffirm the truth that He is omnipresent. God seems so far away.



More will be added after tomorrow's class.

According to Bloomberg, the middle of February is "Fall off the Wagon" Day.  This is the day when there is an uptick in fast food visits and a drop in weekly visits to the gym.  All too often, this same "Fall off the Wagon" trend occurs in the spiritual disciplines.  You start strong and committed but after a period of time, old habits, the busyness of life, and spiritual lethargy creep in.  There is a drop in Bible reading and an uptick in media consumption.  

10 Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health by Don Whitney contains some great questions to ask yourself throughout the year.  They will help you examine your spiritual life.

The question for the first Spiritual Health class of 2024 is "Are you more loving?"   For the other questions, go to tinyurl.com/tbctenquestions

There are at least two reasons why this is a great question to ask yourself.

The first reason is because love is a main characteristic of a Christian and a command in God's Word.

  • John 15:12  “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
  • John 15:17  This I command you, that you love one another.
  • Romans 12:10  Be  devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another  in honor,
  • 1 Corinthians 16:14   All that you do must be done  in love.
  • 1 John 3:16  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

“A Christian may advance in many areas, including the ability to witness, teach, or even preach, or biblical insight and knowledge, or faith, giving, and sacrifice, but these mean little without growth in the most important Christian distinctive—love (see 1 Corinthians 13:1—3)”

The second reason is because of the present culture.  When "love is love" is used as a slogan to promote sexual immorality, it is important to know what true, Biblical love is and how we should live in this world.

The chapter begins to offer an explanation of what love is using two questions.

What kind of love?

God-glorifying, supernatural love.

More than natural affections.  That is love shown in normal circumstances such as a parents' love for their children or love for a good friend.

Not "Does it please me first?" love.  "Any benefits it brings to others are a secondary to the question "Does it please me?"

Not "I'll love you if you'll love me" love.  "The test of Christlikeness is not the greatness of your love toward those who love you,, but the bounty of your love toward those who do not."

What are some areas (not all) where love shows itself?

Love for other Christians.  This love strengthens believers.  Read Galatians 6:10. 

Love for the lost.  Read Mark 10:21 and Luke 6:27, 32.  

Love for your family.  Read Ephesians 5:25

The chapter concludes with suggestions for maturing in the most Christlike of graces - love:

  • Meditate on love as the most important distinguishing mark
  • Let your heart be often warmed by the fire of God’s love
  • Discover assurance that God is your Father by loving as He loves
  • Delight in Imitating God
  • Identify those relationships where you most need to grow in love
  • Take the initiative in showing love, especially when you have little or no expectation of love in return.