Conflict. When I was in high school, over 12 years ago now, one of my favorite bands was Conflict. Conflict was a punk band from the UK who stood for anarchy, autonomy, and nihilism. This was back before flat irons and hot topic. Liberty spikes were made with glue, a hand held iron and an ironing board. You couldn't buy belts or bracelets with spikes in them, so we took leather belts and hammered them in there with blood and sweat. It was good times. As I've grown older I've realized that conflict isn't just a band but something human beings are constantly caught up in.

When faced with conflict people tend to do one of two things, fight or flight. They either engage and let the fists start flying whether they be verbal or physical. Or they internalize and shut down and essentially run away. Neither of these options are good for the Christian person, whether it is interpersonal discord between two individuals or whether it is the clashing of ideas.

First the interpersonal. The Bible is clear that Christians are to love. We love our God and we love our neighbor. When conflict arises, and it always does, to either fight or flight is not love. So what are you to do when faced with conflict? There are four main things the Bible calls for in conflict:
  1. THE METHOD - You go to the person and talk to them one on one, "alone" (Mt 18:15-20).
  2. THE GOAL - When you go to the person, you go with a goal of restoring them with a "spirit of gentleness" (Gal 6:1).
  3. THE WORDS - While talking to the person you "speak the truth in love" (Eph 4:15)."
  4. THE RESPONSE - Regardless of how they respond, you are to be "kind, tenderhearted and forgiving toward them" (Eph 4:32).

Second the clashing of ideas. The Bible is clear that there is in fact truth and Christians are to know the truth. When conflict concerning what is true arises how are you to know if one position is correct and what position that is? What if there are two or more "scholars" who disagree? Four guidelines help us in this task.
  1. TRUTH - There is one true and right position on all matters, God's (Rom 3:4).
  2. FALSEHOOD - All untrue positions on all matters are of the devil (Jn 8:8).
  3. CERTAINTY - God desires for us to know the truth (1 Tim 2:4).
  4. SOURCE - God's Word is the truth (Jn 17:17).

Whether conflict occurs because of something happening in a relationship or over an idea or a mix of both, the way we are to deal with it is the same. We are to care for the person more than we care about the issue of conflict. We are to take positions on everything the Bible speaks and not allow ourselves to only believe things which the devil does not stir up conflict over.

Conflict occurs in our lives because we are sinful group of people who often do stupid things, think stupid things, or stupidly communicate good things. The easy ways out are either exploding into fight mode or retracting into flight mode. Christians have a new way to handle conflict. With love and confidence. It isn't easy, it takes time, it takes work, and it take guts both when working with a person and/or an idea.

May God help us as a church we strive to grow up in true biblical belief and love toward one another and all who are not yet a part of us.

- Pastor Duane
I am addicted to checking the free section on craigslist. I check it at least once a day, sometimes several times a day. There is all kinds of great stuff on there. Couches, copy machines, spas, sports equipment, typewriters, tools, TVs, books, baby clothes...Most recently I read about a boat, with a trailer!!! Completely for FREE! As I write this, the first three things in San Diego are as follows: "Free Working White Toilet" "Free Firewood" and Free "Mid 70's Dodge Commander Motorhome." This got me thinking, why is it we like things that are free so much?

Most things that are free are usually a scam, some trick to try and get you to spend money you shouldn't. But not craigslist. It's the real deal. The only problem is if something is actually good it goes quick. Just last week I tried to go get a surfboard advertised for free. There was supposed to be a surfboard and a whole list of other stuff for free. I got there only a few hours after the post and it was all completely gone...not one thing left. Apparently a lot of other people are into free stuff too.

Perhaps part of it is the simple fun of a discovery. We are all secret treasure hunters. Modern day pirates. We all wish there was a secret cave in our backyard with hidden treasures beneath. That is why everyone likes the movie "Goonies" and why everyone like things that are free. But I think there is something deeper going on.

I think it has something to do with the sin of works and our desire for the grace of Jesus. Maybe that sounds like a big jump to you, so let me break it down for you. Life is hard. Work is hard. We all know. Think of the best day you've ever had...who hasn't said on those days..."Man I wish everyday was like this!" We all wish we did not have to work. The problem with work is it takes a lot of toil to do. A lot of energy, effort, and struggling to actually produce something good that we like, want, and feel we deserve.

The problem is we all know deep down we really don't deserve anything good. We know ourselves better than we know anyone else and we know we are not that great. We know we don't deserve anything for free. Anything we get that is good we have to work real hard for. That's why our biggest desire is for things that are free. Because we are beings built for grace.

Grace. What is grace? Grace is something totally free that you don't deserve. In fact it is more than that. Grace is something good that comes on top of not just not deserving anything but actually deserving something different. It's like if you robbed the dude who's offering something for free on craigslist and he knows it and goes ahead and gives you his free boat anyway. I think our love for things that are free has something to do with our desire and deep down need for grace.

Grace is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. The gospel is the good news that while we were not seeking or loving God he came into the world to live life the way it is supposed to be lived. The way we haven't. And then Jesus went and died on the cross for the debt to justice we deserve for robbing God of his glory by living such irreverent distortions of the good life he created us for. The gospel at it's heart is something totally and completely free...it is the free gift of salvation in Jesus provided for all who trust in him, no work involved.

I believe we all like things that are free because we all know we really need Jesus. To work for salvation is just too much work. Who could ever do an eternity's worth of work except the eternal son of God. Jesus does that work for us and then gives us the fruit of his labor for free. So the next time you get excited about a free Nintendo on craigslist, think of Jesus and remember that you're very want and joy for something that is free is a reflection of your deep down need for his grace.

Much love to you all and soli deo gloria to Jesus the Savior.
- Pastor Duane
I don't wear a white collar and black robe or fancy suit, I don't do a whole lot of angry yelling, I don't have some ingenious scam to get people's money, I don't get off on telling people what to do, and I don't have some holier than thou complex...so I'm not sure I qualify by today's typical standards to be a pastor. I've been told people often wonder what it is I actually do all day throughout the week. So this entry is about what "the pastor" is and how that works out during a week in the life of Pastor Duane.

The Word "Pastor"

In the very beginning of The Resolved Church I didn't say I was a pastor because the main term in the New Testament for the leaders of the church is "elder." So I told everyone I was their elder and people just either laughed secretly in their head or gave me this really confused look because I don't have any grey hair yet. On top of it people started just calling me pastor anyway and I gave up on correcting them, went ahead and accepted the title, and now I even sign my email and journal entries "Pastor Duane."

I bucked against the term because the word "pastor" in it's most specific sense means shepherd and is a gifting not every church leader is or excels in. The pastor gifting is mainly one who leads by serving the church in counseling. For an in-depth scholarly Biblical treatment of this check out chapter 5 of my Master's Thesis: www.theresolved.com/downloads/ntevangelist.pdf

But in our day and culture "Pastor" just means a leader of the church, so I figured it was a terminology battle not worth fighting right now, and I hope sometime down the line that our cultural understandings will shift. For now though, it's fine. I'm "a pastor" of The Resolved Church and that is true and the term is fine and needed. It is important for us as a church and those who would partner with us here in San Diego to know that there is a "pastor" present.

The Pastor Scholar

Before I get to what my week looks like I want to point out an issue I think is important for our specific church and Jesus' church as a whole to know and that is pastors must be scholars. Our new Plural Elder document outlines in full the role and responsibilities of a pastor (www.theresolved.com/downloads/pluraleldership.pdf) so if you're looking for what Scripture says a pastor is to be and do then go there. My purpose here is to make a brief contention that in order to be and do several of the things Scripture calls a pastor to do the pastor must be a scholar.

By "scholar" I mean a learned man who is trained and able to converse and study on a high academic level. Titus 1:9 says a pastor must hold firm to sound doctrine and be able to refute those who oppose it. This means for example, a pastor must be able to read a commentary and understand it. He must be able to read historical and systematic and biblical theology and know what is being said and be able to contend with it on that level if need be. The pastor should be able to write a scholarly book that is print worthy with footnotes and everything. For if he cannot, he is not able to refute. This also means a pastor must know, be learning, and or know how to work with and translate Greek and Hebrew (the languages the Bible was originally written in).

This is what a pastor in Jesus' church has always historically been throughout the history of the church. It has only been within this last century that leaders in Jesus' church have allowed people to be pastors who have not been properly trained. Too often today it seems to me that many think just anybody can be a pastor. Perhaps this is why we have seen so much moral and doctrinal failures in pastors during this last 100 years? The idea that a pastor would not know Greek would be absurd to any Pastor who ever lived prior to the 20th century. Yet today, sadly it has become a rarity for pastors to know and use Greek. And lest you think, hey wait, wasn't Jesus apostles just simple unlearned fisherman? Yes, when they were first called Jesus. But don't forget, they spent three years in academic and spiritual training with God himself before he released them out on their own.

Okay, I feel better now that I got that out of my system. It's a good thing I'm not the pope of Christianity or I'd fire half the pastors in existence right now. But praise Jesus for his sovereign grace (Phil 1:15-18).

A Week in the Life of Pastor Duane

One of the most challenging things about being a church planter is you are the only paid staff in the beginning (if paid...I received next to nothing the first year and half), which essentially translates into you wearing a lot of different hats which may or may not be your primary giftings. You become everything from the preacher to the janitor.

Some things have changed, at least on Sundays. I no longer unlock and lock the building each week, make sure everything gets set-up and set-up right and then later gets neatly put away...but I handle the business relationship with the people we rent from, return phone calls to the church each week, get the mail at the post office and go through it, deal with about a dozen emails a day, upload last Sunday's manuscript to the web, make regular trips to kinkos for Theo 101 class or leadership development, regularly go to Evangelical to handle the books for our booktable, I handle the church calendar, appointments, food and materials for our bi-monthly family meeting, and deal with the printer for any printed materials we need...and all that is just the deacon work I do. Thankfully God is beginning to raise up and bring some other people along to pick up the slack.

My week is divided up pretty strictly. My week starts on Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday are both days fully given to the church. I treat it like any other job and clock in at 6am. There's always a journal entry to write, a bi-monthly newsletter to write for outside supporters, phone calls to make and/or return. I try to get all my counseling meetings and administrative duties done on Tuesday, though it rarely works out like that. I typically have around 5 meetings a week with people, whether they be one-on-one discipleship, leadership development, pre-marital counseling, connecting with other pastor(s) in San Diego, or an Acts 29 regional meeting or assessment. On Tuesday I work until about 6pm in the office and then I either go to lead the Biblical Manhood small group or I have an evening dinner meeting either with a church leader, someone in the church needing some pastor time, or with a non-Christian I'm reaching out to. Tuesday is my longest day and usually ends around 9pm.

On Wednesday, my goal is to spend the entire day in deep study for Sunday's sermon. To see what I do during that time you can check my past entry on how I study (CLICK HERE). A lot of times I need to meet with people that can't on Tuesday, so meetings will often end up on Wednesday as well, mixed in with sermon preparation. I end my day on Wednesday around 4:30pm so that Amy can go to work for a few hours as a hair stylist at Say Lula Salon (www.saylula.com) and so I can have a date night with my daughter Adina. She is almost 9 months and we either go to the park, the mall, a toy store, the beach...and it is the highlight of my week! When we get home I get to feed her, change her diapers, give her a bath, dance with her, and then put her to bed. I love it.

Thursday and Friday I work for a measly $12 an hour from 6:30am to 4:30pm (two ten hour days) at New Alternatives, a group home for abused kids. But I get full medical and dental benefits for me and my family and I get to interact with non-Christians quite a bit. When I get home I'm usually emotionally exhausted and we have family time and I end up falling to sleep around 9pm.

Saturday is a church work day again and is sort of a catch all day. I start at 6am and sometimes have meetings, sometimes there are little administrative things I have to take care of...but my biggest goal on Saturday is to write my sermon manuscript and to spend a significant amount of time meditating and praying over it and the people in our church. Often this involves a few phone calls checking in with our leaders, planning for leadership meetings, overseeing the mid-week groups, and making plans for the next few weeks months for our church.

Sunday is another work day for me, after preaching, counseling after service, teaching class in the evening, and sometimes a post-class meeting...I am happily worn out at the end of the day. I sleep better on Sunday evening better than any other day in the week. It is my Friday (what Fridays are to most people).

Monday is my day of rest. I lock my office, phone, and computer up and take the whole day off. It's mostly a family day together, although I usually do get up early and go surf and read for a little while. On Mondays as a family we love to go to the park, a pool or the beach together...this year we actually got passes to Sea World which has been a blast. We usually BBQ or eat out somewhere or get ice cream. It's total atypical family action. In the evening after Adina has gone to bed Amy I and will usually sit and have a glass of wine and talk about Jesus. Monday is an awesome day. To read about the importance of a day of rest and why it helps me to be a better pastor check out this journal entry: (CLICK HERE).

Well, that's my week. Hopefully maybe that gives a few of you a little more confidence that I'm not just goofing around all week.

- Pastor Duane
This last week I returned from the Acts 29 Lead Pastors Retreat in Vail, Colorado. It was a great time to get away with my wife Amy and to be refreshed and ministered to by the Acts 29 family. So I thought I'd use this entry to talk a little bit about what Acts 29 is and what being a part of it means for The Resolved Church, where I am a pastor.


Acts 29 is a network of churches committed the gospel and to church planting. There is no Acts chapter 29 in the Bible. The last chapter is 28 and ends abruptly with Paul shipwrecking on a trip to Italy and then ending up in Rome. The theme of the book of Acts is the spread of the gospel, the book follows the script of it's thesis found in Jesus command to take him and his message to "Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8)." It has been noted by several pastors and scholars throughout the years that the abrupt ending appears intentional from the author in order to communicate the continuance of the mission "to the end of the earth."

Ever since the days of Acts and throughout the history of Christianity the gospel mission has always spread through church planting. Thus Acts 29 derives its name from a commitment to continue writing the last chapter of Acts by taking the mission of the gospel to the end of the earth through church planting.

The two main spearheads of Acts 29 could be called theology and mission. Acts 29 is a network devoted to the sound theology of the gospel and the spread of that gospel. Currently there are one-hundred and twenty-nine Acts 29 churches representing over 29,000 people in five different countries. The plan and the goal is to plant another 1,000 churches in the next 20 years, spreading throughout all the communities and countries of the world.

What does Acts 29 do and what does it mean for The Resolved Church that we are part of Acts 29?


As Acts 29 has matured it has become not an easy network to get into. There are over 200 applicants a year who go through an extremely thorough and rigorous assessment process so that as many churches as possible will truly be planted and not fail. Research has shown that 80% of church plants today do not survive. In contrast Acts 29 is leading the charge in successful and healthy church planting by being a network who cares a lot about the men who apply and don't just hand out money to anyone who thinks it might be cool to plant a church.

The assessments involve not only an extensive application including written papers describing one's conversion, call to ministry, and their theology...but also a DISC test, an entrepreneurial test, submission of a sermon, a full disclosure of personal finances and past sins, a church planting plan, personal references, demonstration of ministry experience and the hardest thing of all...an in person meeting with the potential planter and his wife with three or more current Acts 29 church planters who grill the couple with questions for two hours. After all that a potential planter is either "Recommended," "Recommended with Conditions," "Potential with Strong Conditions," or "Not Recommended." It is gnarly.

Part of my role and responsibility as an Acts 29 pastor has been to be on these assessment teams. What is good about it is you really get to know the couple and are usually able to discern where they are at with what God is doing in their life and the other pastors and I are able to come alongside and support them in whatever the next step is in pursuing God's call.

The Acts 29 Family

In many ways Acts 29 is like a family because there is a real closeness and love between all the pastors. I have personally grown to deeply love and rely on several relationships with the men in Acts 29. Church planting can be a pretty lonely thing at times because pastors are simply weirdos unlike anyone else on the planet. So it is good for the soul to have some other weirdo friends...who over the years really have become family. You experience this family aspect of Acts 29 in many ways, not only through doing assessments together with the other pastors but through an online forum, coaching, the yearly retreat, and regional meetings.

All Pastors who are accepted get access to a special Acts 29 online forum, where the pastors can connect and exchange of ideas, counsel, prayer requests and praise reports. Personally, time and time again it has been super helpful and encouraging to me.

In addition to the online forum, where all the pastors communicate, Acts 29 now also has a coaching program. For the last few months I have been coached by a seasoned pastor named David Pinckney from New Hampshire. This coaching has been very helpful in aiding me as the lead pastor to be the best pastor, focusing on strengths and weaknesses all so that our church will grow and be successful and healthy.

The yearly retreat is for the lead pastors and is paid for by Acts 29. The network covers the cost of lodging and food for the retreat. This is what we just came back from in Vail, CO. During the retreat you get to get away with your wife, hang out with a bunch of other pastors, and there is a guest speaker each year.

This year Gary & Betsy Ricucci both spoke. They are the marriage pastors at Covenant Life Church in the Sovereign Grace movement and the authors of "Love that Lasts." They charged us to love Jesus and keep him first and then to love each other and our family above all things, especially the church. It was super great to worship, be preached to, and be prayed for in small groups with the other pastors. We've returned feeling rejuvenated and excited for the next season of ministry in our lives together and in The Resolved Church.

The Resolved Church is in the Southern California region and I get together for a lunch with the Acts 29 pastors in our region about once every two months. In the New Testament you see direct relationships between the churches and the Acts 29 regional meetings provide a way for us to connect with our sister churches in the area both in ministry things we can do together and also in accountability, prayer, support for one another in any needs we might have.


A couple years ago, Acts 29 developed a thing called "The Resurgence" which puts on events and puts out information to help churches and and individuals "live for Jesus so that they can effectively reach their cities with the gospel by staying culturally accessible and biblically faithful." In the past years Acts 29 and Resurgence has put on several theological intensives to educate and build up pastors and their churches covering topics like "Text and Context," "Dwelling in the City," "Continuous Worship," "Reformission" and several others.

I have been to several and each time they are challenging both intellectually and spiritually. It is my goal to go to a conference once a year and to take some of the leaders from our church along with me. The events always provide an invaluable direct result in furthering the ministry of The Resolved Church through the things learned at these intensives. They are like going to a seminary class all day for three days. Your brain hurts afterward but then challenges to immediately go and put some new things into practice.


Unlike some other church planting networks, Acts 29 isn't so much about money but about the things worth more than money...relationships, family, good theology, and successful church planting. We don't receive any money from Acts 29 as a church plant and the one financial commitment we make as an Acts 29 church is to give 10% of all the money which comes in toward church planting. For The Resolved Church, that means we are saving 10% of our money for a future church plant out of The Resolved Church. Currently we have $2445 saved up for the time when we are ready to plant another church! We are excited for the day when God brings along the right dude that we can send out with money and a group of people for the mission of the gospel.

Up until now, Mars Hill Church in Seattle has been the main financial supporter enabling Acts 29 to exist and function. Presently as Acts 29 has grown, it has outgrown the finances Mars Hill Church continues to provide, which is a good thing! So the Acts 29 board, which consists of all pastors, has unanimously decided to give 1% of their 10% commitment to church planting, to Acts 29 and are encouraging, though not requiring, all the other Acts 29 churches to do the same. So this year, The Resolved Church will start giving 1% of our future church plant fund to Acts 29.


If you look at the doctrine webpage of Acts 29 it says there are four defining features to the network. First, we are Christians. Second, we are evangelicals. Third, we are missional. And Fourth, we are reformed. After those positive affirmations there is a whole list of things Acts 29 is not. I won't take the time to explain each of the above terms or note the things which we are not but just encourage you to go to the website and check it out. Within that outline the distinctives become clear (things like a family first focus and plural male eldership in church government), which are made known not for the sake of division or debate but so that men with like minds might gather together with a single hearted focus and passion for the mission of the gospel.


What is abundantly clear is that Acts 29 cares a lot about the two spear heads of theology and mission. Because of that some of the most well known Christian leaders, some of the brightest minds of today and some of the movement leaders of the past are now looking to Acts 29 as the next generation of Christians to carry on the gospel mission (The Gospel Coalition). I feel really privileged be a part of such a great network which truly seems to be on the cusp of what God is doing during this stage of human history.

Mark Driscoll concluded our retreat time together and charged us to be a movement which does not become a museum but stays on mission by holding on to the truth and holding on to it with humility. If we can remain a humble group of people we will be able to exert a lot of influence in this world but if gravitate toward power and control the movement will die and the museum is just around the corner. As you can tell if you actually read this ridiculously long post, being part of Acts 29 is a big deal and means a lot. Praise Jesus for bringing it about and may he continue to bless it as we charge ahead in his mission for the sake of his fame.

- Pastor Duane


Acts 29 website: www.acts29network.org
The Resurgence website: www.theresurgence.com
The Gospel Coalition: www.thegospelcoalition.org
"Lead" pronounced lɛd has the atomic number 82. It is a soft metal and is both malleable yet heavy. It is used in the construction of buildings, batteries, bullets and in bringing up the body of Christ. For the last three months I have been working diligently to: provide a document outlining our convictions and goals for leadership in the church, establish a clear process for developing leaders from within and attracting solid leaders from the outside, and lastly supplying accountability and support for the time between now and when The Resolved Church will have other elders besides me. This journal entry is devoted to outcome of that labor.

Step One - Plural Eldership Document

As part of the Acts 29 Network, we The Resolved Church prescribe to their doctrinal statement and have also signed a covenant committing to plural eldership as the model of government we follow for leadership in our church. If you are unfamiliar with what plural eldership is, we now have a document you can read which biblically explains and clarifies what we are striving to attain and develop into. You can download it HERE or view it here: www.theresolved.com/leaders.htm

Step 2 - Leadership Development Process

Putting things into order and appointing elders is a process which takes place over time. Two main avenues have been created both for attracting potential leaders from the outside and developing leaders from within. First is a document describing what the actual process is in our context for one to become an elder at The Resolved Church. Second is an internship course, designed to provide a structure and a format for hands on training. You can read the leadership development document HERE or view it here: www.theresolved.com/leaders.htm You can also read about the Internship Course on that page or download the prospectus HERE

Step 3 - Exposure of the Virtual Elders

We have reached a stage in The Resolved Church where the development of leaders and the public exposure of our virtual elders is a necessary part of our growth and health as a church. Virtual, means these "elders" are not full fledged elders in the biblical understanding (see the above document) but are really more like pseudo elders who provide support and accountability for Pastor Duane. They are men who are outside the context of our local church body, who, if they were part of our church, would be qualified to serve in that role. All three of the virtual elders have really been already functioning in this role with Pastor Duane for a couple years now. Exposing them is meant to give our church confidence and security in our current leadership state until we reach a true biblical plural eldership. Our Virtual Elders are Gary Warkentin, Ted McCann, and Nathan Downey. You can now see their pictures and read brief biographies about them on our bios page: www.theresolved.com/bios.htm

Well, this entry didn't really talk about how much lead (lɛd) it takes to be a leader...I assure you, it's a lot. :) To be malleable and yet heavy is not easy. But with a confidence in the Bible's teaching and call for plural elder leadership, as well as some solid guys to help us in the time between the time, I am confident that God will get his glory, Jesus will be shown as the chief Shepherd, and that He will build his church.

Much love to you all,
- Pastor Duane
Activism. Lisa from the Simpsons. She's always got some project or issue she is concerned about and frustrated that no one else is. Wikipedia defines activism as "intentional action to bring about social or political change."

In San Diego, maybe because it's a big city, maybe because it's a city that lives much of its life outdoors, or maybe it's because we are one of the biggest melting pot places for eveything...but there's a ton of passionate activism grassroots action in this city. Lisa Simpson is loud in SD always saying we should do this and be a part of these things. But rarely it ever grabs. What's the reason for our pessimism or better yet, our apathy? Maybe it has something to do with the possibility of real change? Maybe Jesus has something to do with it? Think about the activism of Jesus...

The first recorded words that Jesus preached are "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15)." That is a powerful statement when we realize the full weight of what the Kingdom of God entails.

A kingdom is ruled by a king. Jesus says he is The King and that people enter his kingdom through trusting in him. Jesus says his kingdom will one day be shown to be a real kingdom for all to see...yes crowns, thrones, knights, princesses, feasts, a powerful material and the whole deal.

Before that could happen Jesus said he must first accomplish his mission of showing what type of king is...compassionate, wise, and lays down his life for his people. That was the Jesus first coming. Jesus says the outward, full display of his kingship and his kingdom will be shown when he comes back to earth again sets up his physical rule ( Mat 13:41,43; 25:34; Lk 17:20-21; 2 Pet 1:11;)

When Jesus returns he says his government will rule over the whole world (Rev. 11:15), it will last forever (Matt 19:16,23), there will be perfect justice in all the land (Matt 25:34, 46), there will be no physical human suffering (1 Cor 15:50), there will be ever increasing joy and pleasure (Rom 14:7), and the deathly course of the plant, animal, and astronomical world will change into an order of life and peace (Is 11:6-9).

If there is such thing as real activism...lasting, social or political change, that's for sure what be seeking, would it would want, who wouldn't want to live in a kingdom that was like that?

The beauty of the gospel is it makes true activism possible, because it grounds activism in a heart that is changed by Jesus, has entered his kingdom, and knows what it is like and where it is headed. So, of all people, Jesus' followers who follow him as king ought to be anxiously looking forward to the time when he will set-up his visible kingdom in full.

Between now and the time when Jesus' kingdom is fully realized we are in an in-between time, a now and not yet time, a time for the fruit of the gospel to be at work. Much of its work can and does happen through kingdom deeds. Deeds which anticipate and look forward to Jesus future reign. That means that all things, whether it be what we eat, what we drive, what we spend, how we are treating the land, who is being neglected or experiencing in justice...all those things are gospel issues.

It is my prayer that The Resolved Church will truly become a city within the city and that begins with us caring about activism. Not because it is cool or because it is something that we are supposed to care about, but because Jesus has cared for us and he cares about those, much more than we could even imagine. Every time his future is expressed now, it is a picture of the gospel, which truly changes hearts and lives. The sad thing is so much of the activism happening in our city doesn't have anything to do with Jesus. Christians in large are not known for caring injustices or the environment or physical health. That ought not be.

With that said, below are some activism related documentaries and organizations I've recently become familiar with. Check 'em out and begin to think what "you" can within the context of the ministry of our church, to exemplify the future kingdom of Jesus in our city so that people will see and hear the gospel that Jesus loved and died for us so that we might be changed and find our glory in him.

Documentary: Maxed Out
Documentary: Save Trestles!
Documentary: Who Killed the Electric Car?

Organization: Adbusters
Organization: Alpha Project
Organization: The Belmont Foundation
Organization: Climate Crisis
Organization: Creation Care
Organization: Girls Think Tank
Organization: Kiva
Organization: Stop the Traffik.org
A sermon is an interesting thing. It's a speech of course, but it's always a persuasive speech. In Ephesians 4:16 the Bible calls the church a body of people who each have different gifts that work together. My gift is my mouth. As the pastor of a young, small church plant I do a lot of things, from counseling, to pre-marital sessions, to administration, to leadership development and oversight, but most importantly I preach. This entry is devoted to sharing with you all how I prepare for a sermon.

The very first thing I do is pray. I pray the words of Psalm 119:18, that God would open my eyes to see the wonderful things in His word. Then I pray 2 Timothy 2:15, that God would help to be a man who has no reason to be ashamed, but rightly divides His word of truth.

After prayer, me and text start hanging out. I read it in English and then I ask it every single question I can think of it. I try and come up with as many questions as possible and think about the text from as many different perspectives as possible. What does this mean? What is the flow here? What if this isn't true, why do some people think it is not? Then I go looking for answers for my questions.

I begin to look for answers, first by translating the text from the original language it was written in (Greek for NT, Hebrew for OT). I try to get a feel for the mood and the flow of the passage. If there seems to be a key word or two of emphasis, or a word that really makes the whole sentence or paragraph function, then I do some in depth study on that word, usually using Kittel's 10 Vol. TDNT, Moulton & Miligan's Vocabulary Articfacts, Colin Brown's 4 Vol. NIDNT, and of course the lexical standard BAGD.

The next thing I do is look into any historical or cultural backgrounds which might be inherently present in the text. Things like dress, work, objects, time of year, land, language, people group, way of life, etc. In this quest, Fergueson's Background of Early Christianity, Joachim Jeremias' Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus, The IVB Bible Background Commentaries, and Clinton Arnold's 4 Vol. ZIBBC are really helpful.

Third I begin to work through theological issues. I ask questions like, what does this say about God, man, man's relationship with God, man's relationship with each other. Are there connective conjunctive words which form arguments or give reasons for things, words like "so that" or "therefore." I begin to ask what other passages of Scripture say that might be similar to the verse I am working with. I ask how it would have sounded upon it's first reading. I ask what will be the most hard for people in San Diego to hear, for non-Christians and Christians, I try to estimate what the knee jerk reactions will be. I also like to use systematic theologies at this point to see what they might say about my text. I particularly like Louis Berkoff's, William G.T. Shedd's, and Wayne Grudem's.

The most important theological question however, is asking how the passage finds it's fulfillment in Jesus. In this last endeavor, which is perhaps the most important, I strive to avoid both the errors of dispensationalism (people saved different ways at different times) and typism (reading Jesus types into things he wasn't intended to be, like Rahab's red cloth). Geerhardus Vos, Ed Clowney, and Tim Keller have all been excellent aids and examples for me in that.

Then, lastly I go to the commentaries. Commentaries are like checking the answers at the end of a math book. Once I've already done my own personal study I generally have some opinions and can converse with the commentators one way or another, to agree or disagree and often see things I didn't see before on my own study. I usually read about 10 commentaries on a given text.

Once my study is done, I begin to try and figure out what the movements will be in the sermon, whether they be in a strict outline form or more of a story form. Once I have a general feel for how the sermon should go, I begin to think of connecting points for the hearers, whether story illustrations from the Bible, my personal life, or from something else. I take a distinctly missional perspective on this point and try and think of some things either from the news or pop culture to connect with people on.

The very last thing I do is write out a manuscript. My manuscripts are usually about 7, single spaced, typed pages. That makes for a 35-45 minute sermon. Once printed, I read through the sermon at least twice, mark or underline or circle certain key words or phrases, and then I go pray by myself over the sermon a for awhile. The whole process usually takes about 20 hours at least.

I'll save my preaching techniques for another entry. But that is where my sermons come from. The preaching of a sermon is a whole different task with it's own techniques and challenges. But it's all worth it and hopefully this entry gives you a better idea of what I go through each week so that those I shepherd get a good meal.

Much love,
-Pastor Duane

When it comes to the subject of hell, preachers tend to either yell and scream about it and treat it like it gives them some sort of right to be jerks to people...or preachers tend to totally avoid it and reason it away with things like universalism, annhilationism, or arminianism. What is the proper biblical view of the use of fear and hell in preaching the gospel? To that question I offer the following answers.

Some would say it is manipulative and wrong to try and scare people into believing in Jesus. Interestingly, John H. Gerstner wrote a chapter called "Justifying a Scare Theology" in his book, Jonathan Edwards, Evangelist. In it he makes several four great points. Here they are:

1. There is a natural uneasiness with the subject of hell (Pr.29:25). One of the principle things which makes one lost is thinking there will be no punishment (Gen.3:4). The consideration of hell is actually one of the first things which tends to rouse sleeping sinners. Gerstner quotes Edwards here, "Natural men cannot see anything of God's loveliness, his amiable and glorious grace, or any thing which should attract their love, but they may see his terrible greatness to excite their terror...and be made sensible of the terrible majesty of God."

2. Some talk of it as an unreasonable thing to fright persons to heaven, but I think it is a reasonable thing to endeavor to fright persons away from hell. They stand upon its brink, and are just ready to fall into it, and are senseless of their danger. Is it not a reasonable thing to fright a person out of a house of fire? Or is it not the duty of a parent to warn their child running toward the edge of a cliff?

3. There are two varieties of fear, a right and a wrong fear of God. Gerstner quotes Edwards again, "Those that have a sinful fear of God fear God as evil but a right fear fears him as great and excellent. A sinful fear makes men afraid to come to God. A right fear makes men afraid to go [away] from him." A right fear of God fears not experiencing the love of Jesus and being close to him.

4. All men want to avoid pain and cultivate pleasure. The gospel does not deny us pleasures but on the contrary brings legitimate ones which heighten pleasure rather than destroy it because it comes with reason and conscience in harmony. On the contrary the wicked man enjoys his pleasure at war with himself. True faith in Christ is not a mere desperate or nominal acceptance of him as a ticket out of hell, but a genuine, affectionate trust in him for the very loveliness and excellency of his being.

It is these guiding principles that despite the difficulty of the topic, have given me great confidence as a preacher preaching God's Holy Word. Jonathan Edwards is best known for his sermon, "Sinner in the Hands of an Angry God." Because of that sermon many caricature him as an angry, hellfire and brimstone, people hating, sourpuss. Few have ever actually read the sermon or anything else Edwards wrote. I'd encourage you to give it a read, CLICK HERE and notice how much the subjects of joy and mercy is constantly woven in-between its lines.

It has been a great goal of mine to learn much from Edwards the Evangelist. When you read him and really read him, two things have stuck out to me...

First, his puritan practice of estimating what is going to be hard for his hearers to hear, knowing what the knee jerk reactions to God's word will be from people. I have learned from Edwards that sometimes, simply just acknowledging that a passage is difficult and that some people may think such and such when they hear it, actually goes a long way. Once you have identified where a person is at in their thinking, then you have a beginning point to try and take them from. In many ways, you've already won them over, so that even if they have difficulty with your conclusion they will follow you because you were concerned for what they were thinking. In addition, it helps teach people to believe the Bible no matter what it says, even when it is hard.

Second, I have learned grace and compassion from Edwards. He longed for people to see and know the love of Christ. In the entire body of his works he undoubtedly talks more about heaven and joy and pleasure than he does hell. And the grace of the gospel was always his conclusion. He never said anything out of spite or meanness or an attempt to misuse the Bible or manipulate people, he spoke of out a genuine care. I have learned that if you tell someone a hard thing but tell them you only say it because you love them, that too goes a long way and they will stop and think whether they really ought to then listen to you. The love and pleasure of God is always the goal, Edwards wrote a whole book on that called, "The End for Which God Created the World."

So is it right to preach about hell? Hell yes it is. Is it wrong to avoid it or to use it to mistreat people? Yes, and painfully so. Let us as followers of Jesus not shy away from the topic of hell but present it lovingly and fearfully so that sinners might flee to the redemption provided for in the gospel.

- Pastor Duane

Below is a link to the works of Jonathan Edwards, he is difficult to read at times but is well worth the mining:
The Works of Jonathan Edwards - Vol. 1
The Works of Jonathan Edwards - Vol. 2

I would suggest the following books contained in the collected works:
- Concerning the Divine Decrees (The most solid thing I have ever read on theodicy [the problem of evil].)
- Religious Affections (The joy and pleasure of the true Christian)
- The End for Which God Created the World (How and why it is important that God does everything for his own glory.)
Jeremiah 29:4-7 "Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Well I spent last week in New York at The Dwell Conference hosted by the Acts 29 Network and the Redeemer Church Planting Center. We met in this old Unitarian Universalist church building. Its architecture was amazing though I could not help but feel a little weird worshipping in a building whose leaders sold out the gospel to the religion of pluralism. They actually had a big painting of Jesus at the last supper, with special curtains made to cover him up. Here's a picture for you:

The conference was beneficial in several ways. One, for me spiritually, to be preached to and fed and not be the one preaching. I was blessed to be rebuked and challenged and free to worship without my normal pastoral responsibilities. C.J. Mahaney was particularly convicting as well as my friend Darrin Patrick. C.J. drove home the need for Pastors to have a regular plan and method of making themselves open to correction by their wives and leaders. Darrin drove home the need for Pastors to always be living intentionally missional lives with non-Christians.

Second, the conference was a blessing for me relationally, to connect with new pastor friends and spend some time with old friends. I had the privilege of meeting several men who are in the planning or recently planted stage and was able to both impart wisdom and get some good feedback. I also had the privilege of meeting my church planting coach, David Pinckney. David is probably ten years older than me and pastors an Acts 29 church of a few hundred people out in New Hampshire. David has been a blessing to me both in encouragement and in challenging me with several tools to aid us in The Resolved Church plant.

Also, I had a chance to spend some time with Mark Driscoll one of the evenings after the conference sessions. For some reason I've sort of held Mark in superstar status in my head before and probably still do in some ways...but I was blessed by his humility and openness of friendship toward me. Mark asked about how The Resolved Church was doing and encouraged us that we are on the right track as we are maintaining our missional drive without compromising our dedication to the true gospel.

Lastly, the conference was a blessing in that it stretched my thinking regarding how we might fulfill the mission God has called us to for the The Resolved Church to be a glory driven, gospel centered city within the city. Tim Keller spoke twice and outlined a biblical theology for Jesus' church to follow after the patterns he and the apostles through missional incarnation, a cross centered message, and kingdom deeds among the city. Missional incarnation tells the story of a God who created us in his image and then came in a manger to rescue us because we have all defaced that image. Jesus' cross gives us our righteousness through his perfect life given to satisfy the debt of wrath we owe to God, thus all of our life is found in and through the cross. Kingdom deeds point to Jesus kingship and his imminent return to make all things new and thus every earth, human, and social issue is a gospel issues as it points to the fulfillment of Jesus' soon and coming kingdom.

Thanks to all who gave a little extra financially in order to send me to this conference. You'll be hearing about it more in up and coming weeks as we seek to implement some of the things learned there. It is my joy to be your pastor.

Soli Deo Gloria.
- Pastor Duane