Archives For OBC

This past weekend Dr Bruce Ware, professor at Southern Seminary, was at Omaha Bible Church teaching on the Majesty of God. In addition to being a terrific writer Ware is also a tremendously gifted preacher/teacher. The sermon titles themselves below are edifying.

Beholding the God of  Merciful Holiness (Isaiah 6)
Bruce Ware on Isaiah 6

Beholding the God of Redemptive-Covenantal Love (Isaiah 43)
Bruce Ware on Isaiah 43

Beholding the God of Sovereign Supremacy (Isaiah 45)
Audio not yet available.

Additional info:
Dr Ware’s bio at Southern
Dr Ware’s books

I am looking forward to attending the Men’s Breakfast tomorrow at Omaha Bible Church. Here is the info:

Omaha Bible Church is excited to have writer and cultural analyst, Ted Kluck join us for a Men’s Breakfast on April 23rd at 9 a.m.  Ted will be speaking on the Art of Manliness in two sessions on Saturday morning from 9:00 to 11:00. Breakfast will be served starting at 8 a.m. (map)

Ted Kluck is the author of several books, on topics ranging from Mike Tyson to the Emergent Church. Both Why We’re Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church (with Kevin DeYoung) won Christianity Today Book of the Year awards. His work has also appeared in ESPN the Magazine and Christianity Today.

I recently finished another one of Ted’s books The Reason for Sports and plan to review it soon. It was a good read.

If you are local, make plans to attend (it’s free). It should be a good time of encouragement in Christ.

In the previous two posts I talked about the benefits and the drawbacks of using the campus model as a bridge toward church planting.

The Benefits of Using the Campus Model as a Bridge to Church Planting…

The Drawbacks of Using the Campus Model as a Bridge for Church Planting

In this post I want to highlight a few convictions or priorities that I have about church planting in the future.

Continue Reading…

Yesterday I wrote briefly about some of the advantages, as far as I my experience, to using the multi-campus model as a bridge for church planting. Many churches are using this method and having success with it.

Today I take the other side. I want to highlight the drawbacks to the multi-campus model in church planting. Please note that this is based on my experience, which is limited. I am not impugning a method across the board (nor am I promoting it). I am making some post-game observations of the process.

It is interesting that some of the strengths from yesterday actually become drawbacks long-term. In other words, some things are extremely valuable up front but as time goes by and the ministry develops they become disadvantages. As Tony Horton of P90X fame has said, “Nobody said this would be easy.” Exactly. There are a lot of moving parts.

Let’s begin.

Continue Reading…

In the last ten years we have seen a significant increase in the number of churches adopting a campus model for ministry. In this model the church replicates itself in another area while maintaining a close connection and identity to itself (the main location). There are many different ways that churches go about this. I will not attempt to cover them all here.

Instead, I want to talk about what we did at Omaha Bible Church (OBC) as we moved to plant Emmaus Bible Church (where I currently pastor). We used the campus model as a bridge toward church planting.

In the next two days I want to highlight the pros and the cons of this approach.

Today it is the pro side. Why was the campus model a good bridge toward church planting?

Our Context
OBC is a growing church with young leaders. There is a lot of motivation to press on in gospel ministry. This climate led to a desire for church planting.

Continue Reading…

I am really looking forward to the upcoming conference at Omaha Bible Church. This is due in large part to the fact that Stephen Nichols is going to be the featured speaker. I have reveiwed many of his books here in the past. Some of my favorites include his biography of Martin Luther and Jonathan Edwards,  his book on the “American Jesus” (Jesus Made in America), the book on the Reformation- How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World, a church history book for kids-The ABC’s of Church History, and his work on the early church entitled For Us and Our Salvation.

(Note: If you are looking for good deals on these and other titles from Nichols, see this page on Amazon for a complete list.)

One of the things I like about Nichols is how he helps make history interesting. He does this by writing (speaking) in a creative way and having a finger on the theological pulse of today as well as yesterday. In this way we are able to not only learn facts about history but also lessons. This is the goal of this conference.

Here are the details:

9:00 a.m. – Jan Hus, Martin Luther, and Sola Scriptura

10:30 a.m. – The Life of Luther and Commitment to the Church

12:00 noon – Lunch at Omaha Bible Church

1:00 p.m. – The Cross and Discipleship: From Martin Luther to Dietrich Bonhoeffer

2:00 p.m. – Conference ends.

The cost of the conference is $5 per person with a maximum family expense of $10. The registration fee will be collected on the day of the conference. Included in the cost is lunch (children included).

Childcare and a simultaneous children’s training session will be provided for children up to the fifth grade.

Omaha Bible Church is in Omaha, Ne. More details, including directions and registration can be found on their church website here.

Emergent, Seeker Sensitive, traditional, liturgical, purpose driven, etc. Pastors and church leaders today seem to have many options for how they approach the ministry of the local church and specifically the Sunday gatherings.

In the past I have often been rather harsh in my criticism over the pastors who seem to be so eager to try out whatever fad or method comes down the evangelical stream. My frustration was based by in large on my convictions, which are strong.

However, I don’t think I’ve ever asked myself why. Why do they do this? Why are they so attracted to pragmatism? Why are they so eager to bite at something that might work?

I have sat face to face with a seasoned and, by many standards, successful church growth pastor from the Willow Creek school. I have asked these questions.

By in large the answers pivoted on a desire to see people come to Christ and the ministry of the church to expand. In other words they have a burden for people and believe in their message.

What drives these guys?
But as I talked to him and processed what else I have read and seen in this movement I was struck by another reality. This reality is the pressure to produce or succeed.

I think this really drives these guys.

They are under pressure from leadership and themselves to produce results; and produce them quickly.

So what do they do? The grab what would logically work and has some record of quick results. Many believe that it will work and it is working.

Another option…
However, I want to propose another option. This option is not quick. It is not easy. It is does not liberate you from burdens. But it does a couple of things, a) it works, b) it makes you dependent upon God’s grace in your midst.

What I am talking about is centering all of church ministry on the ministry of the word. Specifically I am talking about an expository pulpit ministry and a dynamic discipleship ministry. This verse by verse preaching within the context of Scripture with an eye towards the Bible’s overall narrative point helps to feed and equip hungry and thirsty people. And further because the ministry is word (gospel) centered and people focused (contra program focused) then it has immediate integration with and application to life.

But here is the down side: it takes time. Sometimes this takes a lot of time. And the ironic thing is, because so many guys are ‘doing church’ according to these various fads and methods that seem to be rooted in the pragmatic methods of business than the pastoral epistles, there is a lot of pastoral elbow grease that needs to go into cleaning out the biblical grid of church. This takes time. It also takes time with new Christians. It takes time with mature Christians. This is hard work, many times, without immediate results. However, what you do have immediately is the affirmation and consolation of Scripture that it is what is right (Eph. 4.13-17; 1 Tim. 4.13;  2 Tim. 4.1-4).

I’m seeing it ‘work’
I also want to say that I am beginning to see more and more ‘results’ if you will. I am seeing more and more people who are growing in their understanding of, love for, and obedience to the Savior. Their are many, from various backgrounds, some in regeneration and others in revival, with the common experience of growth and delight in Jesus. So I say from both Scriptural convictions and personal experience that it does work. A word centered, preaching heavy, discipleship focused ministry will work. It just takes time. But, it is so worth it.

I received this email from an OBC member after I tried to ‘contextualize’ an illustration regarding Nebraska football and rivalries. According to this email, I stumbled over several Cornhusker tripwires. He helped set me straight. I am still laughing because I know he is serious. My apologies if your state or school took some fire in this post.

One very improtant error in your sermon, and it’s happened once before, so I better mention it.

Nebraska fans don’t care about Iowa (I asssume you mean Iowa State). If they beat us, then we deserve to beat and we are really bad. But they do not have our respect.

Nebraska fans have two rivals. Oklahoma is a much respected progam, and if they beat us, we can live with that. If we win, we know it is worth a lot.

Colorado is evil. We hate them. If we beat them, we’re just glad the game is over. If they beat us, we hate them more, and we’re glad the game is over. We do not respect them. (We’ve been known to fire coaches even if they win this game.) We do not tolerate them. We cannot run up the score on them, because no game in NCAA history has ever ended with a spread wide enough for us to consider it running it up against Colorado. No amount of “bullitein board” material on either side can increase animosity more than it is to start with.

All other teams in the Big 12 North are usurpers to the throne and are expected to have occasional good years but still don’t have the total package of Nebraska. All Big 12 South teams that weren’t in the Big 8 are really just non-conference games played later in the season on a rotating basis.

We don’t have too many real Nebraska fans (born and raised) in our midst on Sunday mornings, but for those of us who are, it would be less distracting if you could get this right.

We are having a men’s conference at Omaha Bible Church next month. The focus will be on the priority of demonstrating faithful Christian leadership. The intention is to take and chase down how the reality of the gospel so profoundly impacts & informs the life and service of the Christian man. There are indeed requirements. There are duties. There are responsibilities that flow out of our new life in Christ.

Furthermore there is little secret that since the fall of man these responsibilities have been ignored, abused, and perverted by some. Hence the need for the conference.

We were looking to make things a little edgy. So here is our marketing attempt:

Now the logic is this: just as this fat guy in a sun dress is out of place and offensive so too is the spiritual cross dressing of men who don’t act like men. Too many guys in churches are shamelessly prancing around in their spiritual sun dresses and mascara. On the other extreme there are many guys who think that leadership is being a jerk and suppressing people like a tyrant. In either case men need a biblical calibration. The conference aims to, like a loving friend, intervene and instruct in the practice of Christian masculinity.

So if you are an OBC guy then you need to be there. And if you are not, but are local, feel free to join us. Check the website for more details.

The elders’ of Omaha Bible Church have decided to make the switch from the New American Standard Version to the English Standard Version as the primary preaching, teaching, reading, memorizing, and ministry Bible of the church.  What follows below is an excerpt of the announcement including some of our rationale for the switch.

The pastors have been reading through the ESV for more than a couple of years in our own personal devotions. We have been carefully and prayerfully considering this change. We recognize that there are other good translations (including the NASB!) so this is by no means a shift to becoming an ‘ESV-only’ church. We just simply think that the ESV is the best translation for Omaha Bible Church to put in the hands of our people.

There are three big reasons for the change to the ESV.

1) The ESV is an excellent translation

By excellent translation I mean that it is a word-for-word translation as opposed to a thought-for-thought translation. This becomes critically important for us because God did inspire thoughts but rather words (2 Tim. 3.16).

Furthermore, the ESV also emphasizes and demonstrates a high literary quality. In other words, the translators have worked hard to ensure that the ESV maintains the high literary quality of the Bible. The translation reads better than many others and it has a greater sense of literary beauty. We have used the NASB for a number of years and really enjoyed the attention given to the word-for-word translation from the original. However, the same care was not given to preserving the Bible as a literary treasure.

The ESV helps us to have a word-for-word translation with a high literary value.

2) The ESV appears ‘here to stay’

As I mentioned above we did not make this switch casually. We have been carefully evaluating the translation, the publisher, and its growing support for some time now. We recognize that while the ESV is popular it is not merely trendy or faddish. It seems as though that many of the churches who are serious about studying the Bible, exposition, the primacy of the gospel, and the Sola’s of the Reformation are using the English Standard Version.

The ESV appears positioned to be the translation of choice for serious minded Christians in this era.

3) The ESV has strong support

Crossway is the publisher of the ESV and they have done a fantastic job thus far. Specifically I am thinking about how they seem to be so ardently resolved to make the Bible accessible in a variety of mediums. This may have something to do with the fact that Crossway, unlike so many Christian publishers, is actually owned by believers!

Some examples include where the Bible is easily searchable. You may also listen to the Bible as Max Mclean reads it to you. In addition the ESV Study Bible is a wonderful gift to the church. The Study Bible includes detailed commentary by various scholars as well as very helpful articles on such things as ethics, history of salvation, hermeneutics, Bibliology and Archeology. All of this to say, Crossway is forward thinking and working hard to come alongside the church and put the Bible in peoples’ hands.


As a church we aim to make the glory of God central by unfolding and applying the Word of God. Therefore we want to help believers to read, understand and apply the Scriptures. The English Standard Version seems like the best translation for us to use for the pulpit ministry as well as daily reading, memorizing and meditation.

Just a quick reminder that this Saturday at Omaha Bible Church Phil Johnson will be talking about 5 heresies that refuse to die.  The Men’s Breakfast is free (food included).  If you are in or around Omaha it would be great to have you join us.  And yes that is Phil on the horse.

The truth of the gospel is unchanging and more and more it seems as though the attacks against it are a reoccuring cast with the same basic script. In effort to aid our faithfulness today we want to be informed by the reoccuring attacks on the gospel throughout church history.

At the next Omaha Bible Church Men’s Breakfast we will be taught by Phil Johnson (of Spurgeon Archive & TeamPyro fame) about 5 heresies that refuse to die. This promises to be a great time for all who love Christ and his glorious truth. Make plans to join us on Saturday 4/4 at 8 am.

(location and map to OBC)

The truth of the gospel is unchanging and more and more it seems as though the attacks against it are a reoccuring cast with the same basic script. In effort to aid our faithfulness today we want to be informed by the reoccuring attacks on the gospel throughout church history.

At the next Omaha Bible Church Men’s Breakfast we will be taught by Phil Johnson (of Spurgeon Archive & TeamPyro fame) about 5 heresies that refuse to die. This promises to be a great time for all who love Christ and his glorious truth.  Make plans to join us on Saturday 4/4 at 8 am.

(location and map to OBC)

This past weekend’s conference at Omaha Bible Church with D.A. Carson was a tremendous blessing on so many levels. When we were planning the conference we had prayed that the churches in the local area would be strengthened through a more biblically faithful understanding of suffering. By God’s abundant grace these prayers have been answered.

Dr Carson spoke 3 times on Saturday on the topic of Making Sense of Suffering. The messages were not stand alone but rather they built upon each other. Carson gave us 6 theological pillars for understanding suffering. Carson helped us to see suffering from the view of the beginning (Genesis) and the end (Revelation). He also did not spare a healthy and hearty explanation of how the gospel is at the very heart of understanding suffering. Overall, it was, in my somewhat bias view, one of the best conferences I have been to.

Audio to three sessions:

Making Sense of Suffering – Session 1

Making Sense of Suffering – Session 2

Making Sense of Suffering – Session 3

Also the audio from Sunday am at OBC:

Gospel Reflections on Trials and Suffering

Carson is obviously in another stratosphere intellectually. However, he is so good at explaining things so that some of the new believers I spoke to were easily tracking, as well as many of our young people. Further, Carson was regularly seen throughout the day chatting with folks who wanted to interact a bit with what he was teaching. This intimacy is what made this conference special. Our auditorium can hold about 500 people, there were about that many there. In addition we had another 100-150 or so kids who were being tended to and taught with our children’s ministry.  Many thanks to all of those who made it a picnic and ate outside in the parking lot.

After the general sessions Carson taught a session on Biblical Theology in Ministry. This session was well attended by many pastors from around the local area. No doubt God will be pleased to bless this session in the ministry of many.

Audio for the Pastor’s Seminar:

Preaching and Biblical Theology

On a personal note, I was encouraged to meet many folks who are not from OBC who read this blog. I am thankful that we were able to talk and find encouragement that there are many different ministries here in the Midwest that are faithfully standing firm in and for the gospel.

You may see more photos from the conference by going to this FLCKR page. Many thanks to Angie Gottsch and here willingness to shoot the day for us.

Here is the audio for the conference from Dr. Carson at Omaha Bible Church this weekend. I will post some more thoughts and pictures when I get a chance. In the meantime, enjoy these delicious messages.

In addition, here is the audio from the pastors’ seminar in the afternoon.  This is well worth your listen as well.

Preaching and Biblical Theology (Pastor’s Session)
Listen –   Download (17MB)
**Update** I consolodated info from the conference here…thanks!!

To say that I am a little bit excited this weekend about having D.A. Carson come to OBC is an understatement. Dr Carson has been such an influential teacher and thinker for so many of us and we are truly thrilled to have him join us at OBC this weekend as he unpacks how to Make Sense of Suffering. Dr Carson will also be teaching a seminar for pastors and church leaders at the conclusion of the conference. If you are attending and are a pastor, make plans to get your sermon done today and stick around tomorrow. (more info on conference)

Based upon the pre-registration numbers we are looking at a near capacity crowd. This is a good thing. Thankfully the weather forecast appears to sunny and autumnal, which will be perfect as we accommodate the high numbers and move a couple of hundred folks outside for our lunch (think picnic).

If you have not registered yet, please just show up. We do have room available in the auditorium for the general sessions with Dr Carson. I plan to have a link to the audio up by early next week.

Also, if you are coming in from out of town make sure to come up and say hello tomorrow. It is always so encouraging to meet folks from around the Midwest who love Christ and his gospel.

We are thrilled to welcome back to Omaha Bible Church author, seminary professor and friend Dr. Don Carson to be the featured speaker at our annual church conference.

Dr. Carson has distinguished himself as one of the sharpest evangelical minds of our generation through his articulate promotion and defense of the faith.  Carson has written many helpful books, including The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, The Cross and Christian Ministry, and A Call to Spiritual Reformation.

However, it is his book on suffering that brought about this conference.  How Long O Lord is truly a clear and comprehensive treatment on a biblical theology of suffering.

The conference theme is “Making Sense of Suffering”.  On Saturday, October 4th, 2008 Dr Carson will equip attendees to maintain a biblical worldview in the face of suffering.  Attendees will enjoy three sessions of teaching from Dr. Carson, musical worship, and a catered breakfast and lunch.   Following the general sessions Dr. Carson will conduct a workshop for pastors dealing with the need for pastors to both preach and live the word.

The fee for the conference is an affordable $15/person or $25/family (this includes a catered lunch and breakfast).  We are also running a tandem conference for kids up to age 11 dealing with the same topic on an age appropriate level.

If you are in or around Omaha (and who is actually not close to Omaha?) make plans to attend and spend some time being encouraged and equipped by Dr Carson.

Finally, if you are a pastor or a church leader, make plans to stay and attend the session on pastoral ministry that Dr Carson will conduct at the conclusion of the conference (3pm).

Here is a link to the conference page that includes more information as well as a link to register.

This past Sunday at Omaha Bible Church we looked forward to the launching of a new campus in Sarpy County. As the preaching pastor of this new work the elders commissioned me at the conclusion of the service.  This was done tangibly through prayer and laying on of hands by the elders.

The reality of doing ministry with these guys day in and day out, working through issues, hammering out doctrine, praying for the glory of Christ in his church and the world, and having our hearts knit together really served to make this time special.  I have been close to these guys for three years as an intern here at OBC and now three years as a pastor, and they are truly brothers in Christ.  To have them lock arms with me and petition our glorious King for help and blessing in this ministry was truly awesome.

In addition our Senior Pastor Pat Abendroth preached like it was his last sermon.  His text was 2 Timothy 1.6-18.  And it was like one of our many conversations or pastoral meetings; he just exhorted unto pastoral faithfulness unto the glory of Christ.  It was awesome.  Pat has been every bit of a Paul in my life; a fact I am very thankful for.

A couple of highlights were the connection of the giving of the Spirit of God to the man of God and how the presence of timidity is contrary.  God has supernaturally given his Spirit to forge power, love and discipline rather than being a spiritual “wuss” as Pat said.  Furthermore, he exhorted us from Timothy to ‘guard the sacred trust’.  He drew a great picture with the corallary to the NFL offenseive lineman who is huge in his arms and legs for the purpose of protecting the treasure.  Pastors need to be bent on protecting the treasure, perhaps even intimidating to foes.  Great stuff.  Here is the audio if you are interested.  Pastors should listen.

Pastoral Imperatives | 2 Timothy 1.6-18

Also here are some pics.  Notice the emergent style lighting…oh, its dim.

(from right to left, Pat, Todd Swift, Rob Clay, Eric Ball, -can’t see the rest, Chris Peterson, Frank Barber & Dave Guthrie)

Eric Ball, Chris Peterson and me.  Chris has put up with many hours of questions from me as I siphon from his M.Div at Master’s.  We don’t usually hug, this is just a baptist moment.

Me and Eric Ball.  This guy is a stud Bible guy and very cool.  He is coming with us to South Campus.

And of course, a pic with Christie, my awesome joint heir of grace. (we usually hug).

A Sign for This Time

Erik Raymond —  May 15, 2008

Last night I came cruising up my street and there it was, a prominently displayed ‘for sale’ sign in my front yard. Of course I knew this was coming, we have been planning for this for literally months now. However, upon seeing the sign I was a bit overwhelmed.

We are moving from what I consider my ideal home; open floor plan, parquet floors (cf Boston Garden), a nice backyard view, affordable mortgage, centrally located in Omaha, and easy access to the interstate. I really like this house. But at the same time God seems to be making it clear that we are to move so that we can move forward with a church plant some 25 miles south of us. So perhaps some of my emotion comes from an unbalanced earthly attachment to this structure, but I tend to doubt it; I have come to grips with the need to move.

Instead I think there are a couple of other factors at work here. One of which has been the recent push by so many within our church family to help get our house ready to sell. Now I should say that my handyman skills rival a blind camel; I have little to nothing to offer. This does not mean that I don’t work hard, it’s just the effectiveness and success that I have trouble with. As a result we have had a steady stream of people at our house over the last 60 days or so. These folks are doing everything from putting in a new front door, to installing lights, to cleaning windows, to plumbing, to landscaping, to painting, to cutting wood, and on the list goes. The fact of the matter is, I simply could not have done what needed to be done. People with far greater talent and skill are working hard to help us move and be better situated for ministry at the new campus.

To make matters better, so many folks want to talk about how great our Lord is. I love this. They come and work and brag about Christ’s greatness! Christie and I have been repeatedly floored by the effect of God’s grace in the life of so many people. God has been pleased to wed service with a Christ-centered joy that produces in us such sustained rejoicing.

This causes me to think about the effect of preaching and teaching the Word of God. To the extent that we truly serve one another to the glory of Christ we do so by the attendance of the Spirit of God to the Word of God in building up saints of God to serve, ultimately for the glory of God. When people serve it should motivate pastors and teachers to study harder, for God is doing something in these people’s lives.

I think the other emotional extreme is the reality that we are doing this (moving and planting a church). Of course I have not been in denial, but this helps things to become really tangible. I know that I never will know what it really is like to give birth (nor do I desire to) however, the countdown to the first Sunday does seem to parallel the various trimesters. One thing is sure, July 13th is coming fast and will be here before I know it.

The reason for this post is ultimately to brag on Christ. He is doing amazing things both in our lives and the lives of those around us. We are praying that we would truly think like missionaries and pursue the expansion of the gospel into this community. We know this is the right thing to do. At the same time, it is refreshing, convicting, motivating, and worship-provoking to be surrounded by so many who are yelling with their hands of service, prayers, and words of encouragement to work hard and fill that city with Christ’s teaching (Acts 5.28).

John MacArthur Q&A

Erik Raymond —  April 19, 2008


John MacArthur audio is always valuable and encouraging. Awhile back he visited Omaha Bible Church and conducted a pastoral seminar, a radio interview and an evening message. The theme for the conference was “Standing for the Truth”.

I have provided the links below for listening or download. Enjoy!

Download A Seminar for Pastors

Download Question & Answer Session

Download Evening Sermon on The Gospel According to John

In addition, my friend Travis has quite an online reservoir of MacArthur audio on his website.

My job here, as I understand it, is to help you become more impressed with Christ. Sometimes that is done through book reviews, other times writing articles, or devotionals, or sending you to sites to read other stuff. Still other times there are sermons that I think would aid this end; today is one of those days.

Pat Abendroth preached a sermon this past weekend on the Great Commission from The Gospel According to Matthew that you need to listen to. He (rightly) anchored the great commission in the greatness of Christ. It touches on everything from the mandate to make disciples to the eradication of ethnic and religious barriers, to the indictment upon the smiling preachers who edit Jesus. It is flat out good stuff.

Take the time to either listen here or download the sermon to listen later. Trust me…you won’t be disappointed.

Download Jesus’ Universal Sovereignty /Matthew 28