Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Available Bible Reading Plans

Justin Taylor has provided a very helpful post on various Bible reading plans for the upcoming year. Read through what he has provided and find one that is most conducive for you and the way God wired you to comprehend His Word. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Piper on Prayer

Every year, John Piper leads his church (Bethlehem Baptist) in a week of prayer. It begins during the last week of the year and ends during the first week of the new year. He preaches sermons on prayer on each Sunday at the beginning and end of the prayer week.

This week, Desiring God offers some helpful resources on prayer that have been posted by Piper.

Sermon on prayer - December 28th, 2008.

Blog post of scriptural promises of answer to prayer.

Blog post of John Newton's personal struggle with prayer.

Blog post of reasons why to use the Bible when praying.

Let these posts encourage you and challenge you to be more prayer-filled in 2009.

2008 Stories

Al Mohler and Collin Hansen have put together two great Top Ten Lists of noteworthy news stories from the past year.

Mohler's article, "Ten for the History Books from 2008" focuses on news stories that have changed the course of history and demand evangelical attention. You can go there directly by clicking here. Later today, he plans to discuss these stories on his radio program.

Hansen's article is found in the current issue of Christianity today and focuses on the top theological stories from 2008. You can go there directly by clicking here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

J.C. Ryle on the Importance of Spending Much Time in the Word

A quote that I brought with me to the pulpit yesterday but did not have time to include was one that was given over a hundred years ago by bishop J.C. Ryle.

He said:

"You live in a world where your soul is in constant danger. Enemies are round you on every side. Your own heart is deceitful. Bad examples are numerous. Satan is always laboring to lead you astray. Above all false doctrine and false teachers of every kind abound. This is your great danger.To be safe you must be well armed. You must provide yourself with the weapons which God has given you for your help. You must store your mind with Holy Scripture. This is to be well armed.Arm yourself with a thorough knowledge of the written word of God. Read your Bible regularly. Become familiar with your Bible. . . . Neglect your Bible and nothing that I know of can prevent you from error if a plausible advocate of false teaching shall happen to meet you. Make it a rule to believe nothing except it can be proved from Scripture. The Bible alone is infallible. . . . Do you really use your Bible as much as you ought?There are many today, who believe the Bible, yet read it very little. Does your conscience tell you that you are one of these persons?If so, you are the man that is likely to get little help from the Bible in time of need. Trial is a sifting experience. . . . Your store of Bible consolations may one day run very low.If so, you are the man that is unlikely to become established in the truth. I shall not be surprised to hear that you are troubled with doubts and questions about assurance, grace, faith, perseverance, etc. The devil is an old and cunning enemy. He can quote Scripture readily enough when he pleases. Now you are not sufficiently ready with your weapons to fight a good fight with him. . . . Your sword is held loosely in your hand.If so, you are the man that is likely to make mistakes in life. I shall not wonder if I am told that you have problems in your marriage, problems with your children, problems about the conduct of your family and about the company you keep. The world you steer through is full of rocks, shoals and sandbanks. You are not sufficiently familiar either with lighthouses or charts.If so, you are the man who is likely to be carried away by some false teacher for a time. It will not surprise me if I hear that one of these clever eloquent men who can make a convincing presentation is leading you into error. You are in need of ballast (truth); no wonder if you are tossed to and fro like a cork on the waves.All these are uncomfortable situations. I want you to escape them all. Take the advice I offer you today. Do not merely read your Bible a little—but read it a great deal. . . . Remember your many enemies. Be armed!"

(found at Between Two Worlds blog)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Truth Out of the Mouth of a Professing Athiest

I urge you to take 5 minutes of your time and watch this clip. It ministered to me, convicted me, and challenged me. Read this quote and then click on the link to watch...

Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible

“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, ‘Well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward’…How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

An Interview With One Who Has Memorized Much Scripture

Tim Challies interviewed Ryan Ferguson on Scripture memorization.

Interesting Perspective on Barack Obama's Choice to Have Rick Warren Pray on January 20th

Al Mohler has written a very helpful and interesting piece on the recent scandal that has erupted due to Obama's choice to have Rick Warren pray at his presidential induction next month. You can read his blog article by clicking here.

Mohler also did a radio broadcast with this as his main topic. Click here to download and listen.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mohler's Blog on How to Use a Study Bible

A written blog of what was discussed on his radio program on Friday.

Click here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Six Reasons Why the Doctrine of the Virgin Birth is So Important

1. The sufficiency, inerrancy, and integrity of the Scriptures.

2. The Superiority of Christ above all things.

3. It Demonstrates The Deity of Christ AND The Humanity of Christ.

Luke 1:35

4. The Eternal Existence of Christ.

John 1:1-2, 14

5. Without the Virgin Birth We Have No Authentic Salvation

(1) The fact that Jesus did not have a human father means that he
did not have a sin nature like every other human being has.

(2) Salvation can only come from the Lord.

Genesis 3:15
Galatians 4:4-5

(3) The virgin birth happened in order to reverse the curse.

Genesis 4:1
Matthew 1:25

See Romans 5:12-21

6. The Entirety of Our Hope is at Stake

Remarkable Advent Calendar of Images from Hubble Telescope

Click here and allow the images to lead you to worship our infinitely powerful Creator God.

Al Mohler and Justin Taylor on Bible Translations and Study Bibles

Friday on the Albert Mohler radio program, Dr. Mohler and Justin Taylor discussed which Bible translations are the best and which study Bibles are the best. For those interested, it was a very profitable and helpful discussion on the issues. You can listen or download the program by clicking here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Quotes From Those Denying the Virgin Birth

Yesterday morning I began a series of messages entitled "Christmas Apologetics." The first two messages in the series deal with the Virgin Birth. In setting up the seriousness of the issue before us today, I listed and quoted from a number of different people who do in fact deny the literal virgin birth of Christ.

Below are the quotes that I gave you yesterday. I simply am cutting and pasting from my sermon manuscript. Please note, however, that I retrieved all of the quotes from two main sources.

The first from Al Mohler's web-site. Click here to find numerous articles he has written and posted regarding the Virgin Birth.

The second from the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) web-site. Click here for a host of articles written in the area of the Virgin Birth.

Here are the quotes/comments I presented yesterday:

A writer for The New York Times, Nikolas Kristoff has written: “The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time…most biblical scholars regard the evidence for the Virgin Birth…as so shaky that it pretty much has to be a leap of faith.”

John Meacham, a writer for Newsweek, wrote that “the Nativity narratives are the subject of ongoing scholarly debate over their historical accuracy…almost nothing in Luke’s stories stands up to close historical scrutiny.” He argues that the infancy and birth narratives were simply invented by the early church in order to answer awkward questions and develop a fully-orbed theology and understanding of Jesus. He claims that Matthew and Luke wanted to tell the story of Jesus’ birth, but had little to work with.

John Dominic Crossan, a Roman Catholic Scholar, and a member of the “Jesus Seminar” movement discounts the biblical narratives about the virgin birth as invented theology.

Bishop Joseph Sprague of the United Methodist Church said that the “myth of the virgin birth was not intended as historical fact, but was employed by Matthew and Luke in different ways to appoint poetically the truth about Jesus as experienced in the emerging church.” He claims that Jesus was born to human parents and did not possess trans-human, supernatural powers.

Cecil Sherman, at one time a Southern Baptist, but later became the coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship said, “A teacher who might also be led by the Scripture not to believe in the virgin birth should not be fired.”

Harry Emerson Fosdick, a 20th century Protestant preacher, preaching from the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church in New York City said that Christians, “may hold quite different points of view about a matter like the virgin birth.” Though he held the doctrine to be true he insisted that others, equally Christian, could disagree with those who believe in the virgin birth to be historically true.

Chloe Breyer, Episcopal priest at St. Mary’s Manhattanville Church in West Harlem wrote this in an article entitled “The Earthly Father—What if Mary Wasn’t a Virgin?” :
… the infancy narratives from Matthew and Luke must be squared with some startling silences, alternative Greek translations, and a couple of snide comments from Jesus' hometown critics. Paul never mentions the virgin conception and in Galatians describes Christ as "born of a woman." John's Gospel says nothing on the subject of Jesus' conception. And Mark describes the shocked response of the synagogue-goers of Jesus' hometown of Nazareth when Jesus as an adult returns to preach and teach as God's chosen one. The Nazareth Jews presumably would have known better than anyone about the irregular timing of Jesus' birth. "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?" his parents' neighbors ask one another. Since Jewish men of the time were identified in relationship to their father…scholars take this remark as an insinuation about Jesus' parentage--one that was so offensive that the later Evangelists Luke, Matthew, and John changed it.

Alan Jones wrote Reimagining Christianity
From the book…
"I believe the Bible and the creeds but not literally, and I'm no atheist. I love the tradition and am nurtured by it. I have a great devotion to Mary the Mother of God but am agnostic about her literal virginity-- or, to put it bluntly, I couldn't care less about it." Page 31
"For my part, I won't allow those who insist on a literal interpretations [sic] of these myths and doctrines to deprive me of my devotion to her [Mary]. Was she literally a virgin? I don't know...But much of the emphasis on virginity arose from a negative and destructive view of sexuality. So I doubt very much whether Mary was literally a virgin..." Page 175

Al Mohler Comments on the Current Issue of Newsweek

Last night in my message on Jude, I referenced the current issue of Newsweek and its apparent desire to show how the Bible actually 'supports' a gay lifestyle rather than the opposite. Al Mohler has posted a very good review on his blog. You can read it here.

Another Christmas Idea

Last night I thought of another great Christmas idea, especially for those people who already 'have everything.'

I subscribe to World magazine. It is a bi-weekly news magazine from a Christian perspective. I love it! It is like receiving Newsweek or Time except the reporters and writers all know and love Jesus! You can read more about it and order a subscription here. At the top, right-hand corner of the webpage you can find where to give the magazine as a gift. Again, I highly recommend it for your own personal reading and/or for a gift for someone you love.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Great Christmas Ideas

As I shared this morning, several of you have called me and asked for recommendations regarding different books to buy for various people at Christmas. Below is a list of the books I brought to your attention and links to where you can order them on-line.

Children's Bibles:

Study Bible:

Bible Study Resource:

Christmas (Advent) Season Resource:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

John Piper on the Book of Ruth

Below I provide links to four messages given on the book of Ruth. They are all four preached by John Piper at a UCCF conference September of this year.

These, in my opinion, are remarkably done and correctly interpreted by a brilliant and passionate biblical pastor and scholar. Enjoy!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Wayne Grudem on Why God Chose to Send Jesus the Way He Did

"If we think for a moment of other possible ways in which Christ might have come to the earth, none of them would so clearly unite humanity and deity in one person. It probably would have been possible for God to create Jesus as a complete human being in heaven and send him to descend from heaven to earth without the benefit of any human parent. But then it would have been very hard for us to see how Jesus could be fully human as we are, nor would he be a part of the human race that physically descended from Adam. On the other hand, it probably would have been possible for God to have Jesus come into the world with two human parents, both a father and a mother, and with his full divine nature miraculously united to his human nature at some point early in his life. But then it would have been hard for us to understand how Jesus was fully God, since his origin was like ours in every way. When we think of these two other possibilities, it helps us to understand how God, in his wisdom, ordained a combination of human and divine influence in the birth of Christ, so that his full humanity would be evident to us from the fact of his ordinary human birth from a human mother, and his full deity would b e evident from the fact of his conception in Mary’s womb by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit."

(Taken from his Systematic Theology)

In Memory of the Beloved Hilda Daniel

Yesterday I had the honor of performing both the funeral and the graveside service of Mrs. Hilda Daniel. When one thinks of Wynne Baptist Church, one cannot help but think of her. She was a dear, precious, loving, merciful, compassionate, and Holy Spirit filled servant of Christ Jesus and His Church. I am grateful to God for her and the impact she had on my life in the brief three years that I knew her.

I have included the outline of my message below. Two verses in the pastoral epistles compel us to learn from older widowed women. Titus 2:2-4 says, “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women, likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.”
Likewise, 1 Timothy 5:5 says, “She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day…”

Here are eight lessons I learned from Mrs. Hilda:

1. An encouraging word brings life to weary bones.

Proverbs 15:30
says, “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.”

2. A frail 87 year old can be active in missions.

3. Secular retirement is not the same as spiritual retirement.

4. A lover of Christ and His Church will do anything necessary for the sake of His great name and the joy of others.

5. Going through an Economic Depression will teach dependence and priorities…and you CAN live through it.

Psalm 119:67, 71
says, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word…It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”

6. An adoring husband makes for a thriving wife and family.

Proverbs 31:28-30
says, “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.’”

7. It really is ALMOST possible to obey the Great Commandments.

Luke 10:27
says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

8. Death is a hope and a longing when your treasure is Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:21-23
says, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which shall I choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fireproof: A GREAT Movie and Must See for Believer and Unbeliever Alike!

This past Monday night (11.24.08) Katie and I finally got the opportunity to go to the movies and watch "Fireproof." It was an incredible movie that I highly recommend to all followers of Christ and to those who do not yet claim to call Him Savior and Lord.
Below is a brief review of the movie, simply including some of the thoughts I have had since we left the theater Monday night...
What Fireproof Gets Right:
1. Fireproof gets the GOSPEL right.
The scene where Kirk Cameron (Caleb) surrenders his heart to Christ is wonderfully done. The one sharing the Gospel (Caleb's father) does a great job explaining sin, our need for sin, and that Jesus is the only One who can save us from our sin. Thank you for getting this right!
2. Fireproof gets the connection between the GOSPEL and MARRIAGE right.
In the same scene mentioned above, Caleb's father does a great job showing how God loves us unconditionally and covenantally (in Christ) despite our sins and how marriage is to be demonstrated in the same way. The truth that marriage cannot be right and healthy and what God wants it to be apart from understanding salvation in Christ was communicated. I do wish, however, that this truth would have been expounded on a bit further. But the fact that it was there is a huge positive in my book.
3. Fireproof gets evidence of salvation right.
In the movie, after Caleb surrenders to Christ, several behaviors emerge: First, he commits to pursuing his wife regardless of her reactions to him. Second, he repents of his pornographic addiction/problem. Third, he uses his money which he had saved up for a boat to help his ailing wife's parents. This is important for the world to see. Genuine salvation brings about a change. A change of heart. A change of attitude. A change of affections. Fireproof gets it right.
4. Fireproof gets the crucial need for 'elder' accountability right.
In both instances, what helped steer the husband and wife back toward the other was hearing the truth from an older, godly person. This is SO needed today. It is extremely biblical and something I loved seeing in the movie and desire to see more of in real life.
5. Fireproof gets the 'real life' issues right.
The production crew of this movie did not put together an "easy" movie to watch. What I mean is, they tackled tough "real life" issues such as pornography, adultery, verbal abuse/anger, job demands, divorce papers, etc.
6. The final clip was a quote of Romans 5:8.
Great touch! I was pleased to see this verse flash on the screen as I was walking out.
Two Mild Concerns:
1. Caleb's wife (Katherine) never deals with her sin.
Though this is assumed, we never see a discussion about or a repentance of her sin of near (if not full blown...depending upon your definition) adultery. Granted, she did what she did due to what was not happening at home. But that never excuses us to sin. She is responsible for her own sin. I wished we would have seen her and Caleb deal with it a bit more. These are real issues that really hurt and leave the other spouse scarred. This was a small concern I had.
2. The taste of 'add Christ to your life and all will go well' syndrome.
I know. I know. I am being WAY too critical at this point. I do not believe that this was ANYONE's intention. Those who put this film together did NOT have this in mind (at least, I don't think they did). The purpose was not to show that if you have Christ, all goes well. The purpose was to show that without Christ no marriage will truly ever work the way it is supposed to, much less endure hard and difficult times. However, for a movie to be good, it must always end well. In this case, as with Facing the Giants, it all ended well. People came to Christ and it all worked out the way it is supposed to work out.
Please hear me: I am glad that oftentimes this is the case and that oftentimes, Christ does come and change a heart and marriages are saved and ballgames are won. However, there are also a host of other instances where this does not happen. Sometimes the spouse continues with the divorce. Sometimes the game is lost. Sometimes the wife never does get pregnant. I guess I just get concerned sometimes that Christianity is so often seen as a 'crutch' to enhance circumstances in our lives instead of passion for Christ that reigns and rises regardless of surrounding circumstances. Christ was the hero of Fireproof. I believe that. However, as with any movie made for theaters that aims at attracting large audiences, all must end well with the earthly circumstance. Sometimes that simply does not happen, yet Christ is still glorious. I left with that taste in my mouth (or, should I say soul) and it was another mild concern for me.
I urge anyone who hasn't seen the movie to go. These mild concerns in no way, shape, form, or fashion would cause me to discourage anyone from seeing it. Rather, these are just mild cautions I have and reflections I have had since Monday night.
Christ does change lives and marriages and football teams. Hallelujah! Christ rules over all things. Let us all worship and bow down and submit to the One who is exalted and sits at the right hand of the Father.

Another Great Quote from Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

While preparing for Sunday morning's message (relating Christmas to the Lord's Supper), I came across the following quote from chapter 2 in Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus. Joseph Ryan quotes John Donne (from The Book of Common Prayer) who said:

“The whole of Christ’s life was a continual passion; others die martyrs, but Christ was born a martyr. He found a Golgotha, where He was crucified, even in Bethlehem, where he was born; for to his tenderness then the straws were almost as sharp as the thorns after, and the manger as uneasy at first as the cross at last. His birth and His death were but one continual act, and his Christmas Day and his Good Friday are but the evening and the morning of one and the same day. From the crèche to the cross is an inseparable line. Christmas only points forward to Good Friday and Easter. It can have no meaning apart from that, where the Son of God displayed His glory by His death.”

Tremendous Thanksgiving Message

This morning while I was exercising I listened to this message on Thanksgiving. It was preached by an elderly gentleman, Richard Owen Roberts, whom I had never heard of. In the message, he provides one of the most (if not THE most) comprehensive and convicting messages on Thanksgiving I have ever heard. I encourage you to take time to listen to what the Lord laid so strongly on his heart.

Two suggestions as you listen:

(1) Know ahead of time that it takes him a little while to get to the subject matter on Thanksgiving. It's okay. Be patient and stay with him!

(2) At moments it may seem a tad dry. However, the content of what he says is so important. Hear what he has to say and how he uses Scripture to show how crucial being thankful is. Stay with him. It will be worth it!

I would love to hear from you this thanksgiving. Let me know what you are most thankful for and why. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bible Reading Plans for 2009

Between now and January 1, 2009 I plan to post links to as many solid Bible reading plans as I can. Any that I come across, I will do my best to post them on this blog. Please feel free to post a comment with any suggestions you have regarding a good Bible reading plan that has been beneficial for you.

This first plan I found at Click this link and it will take you directly to four different plans to aid in your personal Bible reading time.

Remarkable Advent and Christmas Devotional Book

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus is a remarkable work put together by Nancy Guthrie. The work contains 22 chapters in which Guthrie took portions of sermons and writings from host of solid Christian preachers and authors throughout evangelical history. Each chapter offers the reader a different truth about the glory of Christ and Christmas.

You can order the book for yourself by going here, here, or here.

You can view the preface and the first two chapter by clicking here.
You can view sample material from the book by clicking here.

Churchgoer Giving and the Christmas Spirit

Consider this very frightening quote from a recent survey (from this article) regarding religious giving since the Depression:

"In fact, fewer than 5 percent of churchgoers actually tithe 10 percent of their income; the average, according to numbers from Empty Tomb, a Christian research group that puts out annual reports on church giving, is now 3.4 percent, or 21 percent less than what dust-bowler counterparts gave during the worst of the Great Depression. Figures show that churchgoer contributions have been cascading downward since the 1960s. Religious conservatives do give more. Problem is, they only give nominally more and other groups give next to nothing."

Now. Take that statistic and couple it with this quote from J.I. Packer from Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus:

"This Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity--hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory--because at the Father's will Jesus Christ became poor and was born in a stable so that thirty years later he might hang on a cross. It is the most wonderful message that the world has ever heard, or will hear.

We talk glibly of the "Christmas spirit" ... the phrase should in fact carry a tremendous weight of meaning. It ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of him who for our sakes became poor at the first Christmas. And the Christmas spirit itself ought to be the mark of every Christian all the year round.

It is our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians--I will be more specific: so many of the soundest and most orthodox Christians -- go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord's parable, seeing human needs all around them but (after a pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet them) averting their eyes, and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. Nor is it the spirit of those Christians - alas, they are many - whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice, middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the sub-middle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves."

Wow. Does the Spirit of Christ really dwell within us? If He does, how is it that we are living and functioning and hoarding for ourselves the way we do?

Disciplines of a Godly Man - "Man to Man" Men's Luncheon Series

Yesterday (11/24/08) at Men's Luncheon I mentioned that Kent Hughes recently delivered three conference messages on the Disciplines of a Godly Man. You can download the audio of the messages by clicking here.

Also Hughes' book I used this year, Disciplines of a Godly Man, can be purchased at Amazon by clicking here.

The Next Five Minutes Video

This past Sunday morning, I showed a videa entitled "The Next Five Minutes." I borrowed it from The Church at Brook Hills where my good friend David Platt pastors in Birmingham, AL.
You can view it via the Brook Hills web-site by clicking here, or you can watch it along with the message I preached this past Sunday by clicking here.

May the next five minutes of our lives NOT be like the last five minutes!

Monday, November 17, 2008

You Might Have the Desire to Be Rich If...

Yesterday morning, during my message from 1 Timothy 6:9-10, I mentioned 10 scenarios that if true might mean you have the dangerous and sinful desire to be rich. Here they are...

1. If you play the lottery and/or gamble in other capacities, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.

2. If you use your credit card to purchase things you cannot afford or immediately pay off, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.

3. If you desire to move and/or change jobs for the sole purpose of making more money, though you and your family are growing spiritually and being challenged spiritually, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.

4. If you assume God blessed you with a raise or a great crop or a plethora of business so that you can upgrade your possessions you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.

5. If your entire mood is affected by the up or down swing of the stock market you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.

6. If the way you voted in this past election was solely based on the present economic crisis, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.

7. If you think more about what you might get for Christmas instead of what you can give for the sake of love for others, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.

8. If you base your tithe amount off of what you have at the end of the month instead of what you make, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.

9. If you think Bro. Matt’s challenge to give more to Lottie Moon than you spend on Christmas gifts is absolutely absurd, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.

10. If God has called you to missions, but you refuse to heed it due to not wanting to sell everything and receive a much smaller salary, you might be guilty of having the desire to be rich.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Shack: Incredible Fiction, Horrific Theology

Several WBC'ers have asked me my opinion of William Young's The Shack. Most of the opinions I have shared have been based on another. However, I have purchased the book and begun reading the book. My assumptions and opinions remain the same at this point. The Shack is great fiction. It is a fun-fiction book to read. Likewise, it is a reminder of the 'relationship' we can have with God and that I believe He wants to have with us. However, the God represented in The Shack is simply not the God of the Bible. For anyone who is interested, I recommend three different places/sites to read and/or listen to reviews of this book. They can do alot better job than I can at reviewing and, from what I have read and heard regarding what they have to say, I think they are right on track.

Tim Challies' Review of The Shack (Or, click here if you cannot get the other site to appear).

Paul Grimmond's "We Need More Shack Time" from The Briefing magazine.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Devotional Reading Recommendations

I was recently asked my opinion on a specific devotional book of which I had never heard anything about (the book nor the author). That prompted me to think about what books (devotional) I would recommend to anyone who asks. In what follows, I list several books that have been used of the Lord to help me grow in my love of Him and His Word.

2. Pierced by the Word: Thirty-One Meditations for Your Soul by John Piper

3. Taste and See: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life by John Piper

4. A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life by John Piper

5. For the Love of God: A Daily Companion For Discovering the Riches of God's Word by D.A. Carson.

6. Drawing Near: Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith by John MacArthur

7. Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon (A Devotional Classic!)

8. The Best of E.M. Bounds

9. Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey by Jerry Bridges

10. Daily Readings from the Life of Christ by John MacArthur

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Five Who Changed the World

Tonight, prior to beginning a brief series on the book of Jude, I recommended three books to the flock of WBC. Links to the ESV Study Bible and the The Jesus Storybook Bible can be found elsewhere on this blog. The book I mentioned by Danny Akin, however, can be found here. As I mentioned, he preached a biographical sermon series on each of these missionaries. You can listen to the messages by clicking here and download the sermon manuscripts by clicking on the messages and clicking on the "manuscript" link.

Dr. Akin's web-site is, not "" as I stated tonight.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post-Election True/False Test for Christians

I found this test at Founders Ministries. I thought the test was well worded and a much needed reminder on a host of different levels for a host of different serious things for believers.
Take the test for yourself and ask the Lord to help you continue doing what followers of Christ are to always be about doing no matter what.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, Jesus will still be King.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our responsibilities as Christians will not have changed one iota.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the greatest agent for social change in America will still be winning the hearts and minds of men and women through the gospel, not legislation.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my primary citizenship will still be in this order - (1) the Kingdom of God, (2) America, not vice-versa.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the tomb will still be empty.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the cross, not the government, will still be our salvation.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, our children will still be more concerned with whether or not we spend time with them than with who is President.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my neighbor will still be my neighbor, and loving him/her will still be the second greatest commandment. (Do you know the first?)

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the only way to see abortion ultimately overturned will still be winning men and women to a high view of life through the gospel of Christ.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the only way to see gay marriage ultimately defeated will still be winning men and women to a biblical view of marriage through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, my retirement will still not match my treasure in Heaven.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, "Jesus Is Lord" will still be the greatest truth in the Universe.

True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, we will still know that God is in control.

Great Word on Praying for Our New President Elect

Insightful thoughts and challenges for how believers are to think about and pray for Barack Obama. Click here to read Ligon Duncan's thoughts on the matter.

Proposition 8 in California Passes


Read the Baptist Press news article here.

A Wonderful Childrens Book

To be honest, I haven't even read it to my children yet because I couldn't put it down long enough to do so last night! I ordered The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones for Luke and Seth and was amazed by what I read. What captured my attention initially was the sub-title that read: "Every Story Whispers His Name." Of course, this was referring to the fact that every story in the Bible whispers Jesus' name. My heart leaped and said, "Amen!" Sure enough, when it arrived in the mail yesterday I had the opportunity to read the first portion of the book. I was blessed by its accuracy and aim to help children see the story of Jesus in the Bible (which, by the way, is the entire purpose of the Bible!). Lloyd-Jones does not try to show how everything in the Bible points to the children reading it. No. She helps children (and adults!) do what the Bible is really aimed at doing: showing us our need for God and our desperate need for the Savior He sent into the world on our behalf. Thank you Lloyd-Jones!

Of the book, Tim Keller said:

“I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian—from pew warmers, to ministry leaders, seminarians and even theologians! Sally Lloyd-Jones has captured the heart of what it means to find Christ in all the scriptures, and has made clear even to little children that all God's revelation has been about Jesus from the beginning—a truth not all that commonly recognized even among the very learned.”

These are my thoughts exactly. Get the book for your kids. Get the book for yourself. Get the book for your friends. In my opinion it is an easy, down to earth way, of understanding the whole point of Scripture.

Please pray that Luke and Seth would not only allow his mother and I to read the book to them, but that they would "get" the point behind it and be enthralled with their Maker!

The Morning After: Praises, Prayers, a Biblical Pursuit

Last night history was made. Last night Barack Obama became the first ever African-American President elect of the United States. My mind has been filled with thoughts as I have contemplated this. What follows is a meager attempt to be as biblical as I can be as I try to help myself and the WBC flock think this through from a Christian perspective.


Yes, there are praises to God for what happened last night.

1. John McCain's concession speech displayed wonderful grace. The way he handled defeat is a model all of us (especially believers!) need to observe and copy. His humble submission to American democracy AND to his new President was (although sad) very refreshing.

2. An African-American President. Though I strongly abhor most of what President-elect Barack Obama stands for and believes in, there is a sense in my soul that is grateful that America has reached a place where African Americans are treated like every other human. This is the way it should be. I was not opposed to Barack Obama due to the color of his skin. I was opposed to him due to his convictions (or lack thereof!) and non-biblical beliefs. Apart from that (and this is still in my opinion no reason to elect a man for President), however, I am thankful that America has come this far in the racial war.

3. God instituted what happened last night. Therefore, let us submit to His Lordship and rejoice.

This is the day that He has made. Yesterday was a day He made. Tomorrow is another day He will make. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. We may be sorrowful and fearful of things to come, but we are to be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.

4. Jesus is Coming Soon! I know you are probably thinking at this point that I say this because of the anti-Christian stuff that is probably coming to America. Though this may be true, I must confess that is not what is prompting this praise. What prompts this praise is the way Chicago, much of North America, and alot of others around the world rejoiced when they heard the news of who was our next President. Jubilation was everywhere. Excitement streamed across the world, it seemed, as the news made its way to various places. If that is how it is when a mere man is elected as President, can you imagine how incredible it is going to be when Jesus descends from glory and returns to earth? Oh I cannot wait! What I observed last night was a tiny, inkling of a picture of what is to come when Jesus returns to take us home. Oh come Lord Jesus! My soul longs, yes even pants for You!


I urge you to pray 1 Timothy 2:1-7 now more than ever. Just because the man you may not have wanted to be President isn't the new President-elect does not mean you stop praying. Now we need to pray this more than ever! My eyes were brought to tears this morning as my 3 year old son Luke and I were watching Obama's speech from last night on my computer. When I had his breakfast fixed we paused to say our blessing and I urged Luke to pray with me for the man he was watching with me on the screen. We did pray for him. May we continue now more than ever to pray for our President.


As followers of Christ and as those who profess complete and total trust in the Lord, we must respond with biblical convictions and with a Christ-like, Christ-filled Spirit. We are to give to God what belongs to God and give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. We are to trust that what happened last night was an act of God and be subject to the governing authorities. We are to remember that those who resist governing authorities will incur judgment from God Himself.

Now, I must admit that I have a lot of thinking and wrestling and work to do regarding how to balance submission to governing authorities with being light and salt in a dark and bland world. I will need the help of God's Word and His Spirit to know how to discern when and how to do both when doing both seems to be at such odds in this case. It compels me to read through the New Testament with a new lens on my eyes, for Jesus and Paul and John and James and others lived during times of extreme persecution of those who believed on Jesus Christ. Yet, incomprehensibly, they taught submission to authorities. This will be a wrestling indeed and I encourage each of you to wrestle with the Lord and His Word and trust in His Spirit to help us in the days and months and years ahead. We must be biblical in all that we do and learn how genuine believers are to trust in the fact that God instituted this new President, submit to our governing authorities, and let our light shine before men all at the same time.

I encourage you to check out the following posts I have found in other places to help us begin to think biblically about how followers of Jesus are to respond in times such as these...

Thoughts from Eric Redmond (Second Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention and an African American)

*Please note that I have not, as yet, had time to read through all of these articles. However, I respect these men and trust that at the very least will help us begin to process and think biblically about what is ahead for America and especially Christians in America.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sound Advice and Counsel For a Very Important Election Day

I urge any and all followers of Jesus to click on this link and read Dr. Al Mohler's thoughts, advice, and counsel on this election day. In my opinion, he is exactly right on all points and I am grateful to God for men like him who understand the times and help gear Christ's followers in a Gospel-oriented way. May God help America today and may He help us believers in the days ahead...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Commission Stories On-line

While preparing for the upcoming November sermon series on giving, I came across yet another helpful tool provided by the International Mission Board. It is a web-site called "Commission Stories" and is designed to inform, update, educate, etc. about what God is doing through Southern Baptist missionaries around the world. Great stories! Great pictures! Great video! Go to the site and learn more about how God is at work and see who some of the people are He is using. Be careful: He may call you to go too!

Learn about Lottie!!

The International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention has done all of us a favor by putting together a web-site to help educate about the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and how it is currently at work around the world. I urge you to go there and spend some time reading about how God is using the offering Southern Baptist's take up every year to further His kingdom and bless those He has called out to serve.

You can also learn how to make Lottie's famous cookies by clicking here. If you make a batch, PLEASE bring them by my office and let me try one (or two!)!

Calling All Parents!

Tedd Tripp, the author of Shepherding a Child's Heart and Instructing a Child's Heart recently led a conference for parents in Seattle, Washington. Though I have not listened to these sessions yet, I have found Dr. Tripp to be extremely helpful and sound when it comes to raising children to know and love God with their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

You can go to this link here to download either the video or audio of the conference. Enjoy and let me know your thoughts!

Places/Sites to Visit for Last Pre -Election Day Contemplation

I have found that some solid voices in the evangelical world have posted thoughts, videos, radio broadcasts, etc. that are helpful as we approach the final hours leading up to election day 2008. Below are links to some of these sources. It's not too late to be informed. Be diligent to think theologically, critically, and biblically about the issues and what all is at stake in this deal. Prayerfully approach tonight and tomorrow as you vote, talk with others, and watch the returns.

A Townhall Discussion of issues and what is at stake in this election by Al Mohler.

A video of John Piper discussing his thoughts on the Presidential election. He also offers a perspective on a woman running for the office of Vice President as well as a prayer for the election. All of these can be found on the blog.

A thoughtful response and perspective by Justin Taylor to Piper's thoughts.

Pastoral Prayer for Wynne Baptist Church - Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Heavenly Father, I am overwhelmed this morning that You, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe would choose to listen to the weak cries of sinful saints on behalf of the nations. I am even more overwhelmed that You would choose to bless this body of believers with a heart for You to be glorified around the world. Thank You, Lord, for sending Jesus on our behalf so that we might now approach Your throne of grace with confidence and be free to spend our lives radically for the expansion of Your name and reputation around the world.

Steadfast Father, my heart is heavy and anxious and eager this morning because of the change that is before us as a nation and a church. More than likely, less than 36 hours from now, our nation will have a new President. This Sunday our congregation will be led in worship by a different face. Yesterday, around 150 people from this flock committed to a short-term mission trip in 2009. A dozen or so committed to long-term (2-3 years or career) mission service with their lives. Might this be the year of the harvest? You have brought new families to our church. Adults, teenagers, and children are being baptized. Things are changing, Lord, and I/we need Your help to lead us in the days ahead. Remind us all that we are desperate and helpless sheep, who have been selected by the Ultimate Shepherd, to feast and flourish in Your pasture as You direct us. May we never be found guilty of being led by another.

Sovereign Father, I believe in my soul that the best days are yet to come here at Wynne Baptist. We have yet to begin to give what we can truly financially give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, other mission entities, the poor and impoverished, and our church. We have yet to begin to see how many of our teenagers and children will be called out to go to the hardest places in the world with the Gospel. We have yet to begin to see how You might want us to best and most effectively reach our beloved city of Wynne with the Good News. We have yet only faintly begun to taste and see how good You are. We do not know the future, but how good it is to know the One who does.

Glorious Father, come and show us Your glory. Come and give us a sense of urgency and deep compassion in our souls for others to see Your glory from our mouths and our actions. Give us unity and love for one another as Satan despises and hates and is horrified by what he observes from WBC and will try everything he can to tear us apart. Bind him from our midst I pray! Cause our hearts to love Your Son more affectionately. Give us a hatred for sin and a fear of living rebellious, disobedient, and mediocre lives. I/We look to You to do for us, in us, around us, and through us what only You can do. Make us dependent upon Your Spirit. Lead us to pursuits that would only work if Your Spirit were to do powerfully do it through us. Do far more than any of us could ever ask, imagine, or think…not so WBC would be talked about…but so that You might be seen and shown for the majestic God that You are.

In the Wonderful Name of Jesus I/we pray….

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The President, Issues, and GIC 2008 - Sermon Intended to Preach - 10/26/2008 cont'd

“Parental Rights”

The second issue I will merely mention and be extremely brief on. It has to do with parental rights and responsibility over their child’s lives. Two instances that have occurred in California are now on the radar screen of many Americans, even the two men running for the office of President.

The first has to do with whether or not a parent should be notified prior to a minor proceeds with having an abortion. This will be “Proposition 4” on the ballot in California and if enough people vote against this proposition, a minor will be able to go to the doctor and have an abortion without telling her parents, but not allowed to have a simple vaccination shot prior to notifying her parents (if I am understanding this correctly).

The second has to do with whether or not the government has the right to control parents on whether or not they choose to home school their child. Earlier this year in March, an appeals court in California ruled that parents without proper credentials could not homeschool their child.

Here is how The San Francisco Chronicle introduced the story (from Al Mohler's web-site):

"A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution."

From The Los Angeles Times (from Al Mohler's web-site):

"Parents who lack teaching credentials cannot educate their children at home, according to a state appellate court ruling that is sending waves of fear through California's home schooling families. Advocates for the families vowed to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Enforcement until then appears unlikely, but if the ruling stands, home-schooling supporters say California will have the most regressive law in the nation. "This decision is a direct hit against every home schooler in California," said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which represents the Sunland Christian School, which specializes in religious home schooling. "If the state Supreme Court does not reverse this . . . there will be nothing to prevent home-school witch hunts from being implemented in every corner of the state of California."

So, in California, it is becoming a matter of state law not to allow parents to educate their children the way they choose or desire. Please hear me now. I bring this up not to make a case for or against home schooling. That is not the purpose of my bringing this up. I bring these two cases up because I am concerned of the government having way too much control over parents in how they raise their children. If it starts with issues of abortion and home schooling now, who knows how far down the line in the future the government can have control over parents.

On this issue, of allowing parents the right to choose how and where their child is educated, the two primary candidates running for President are again divided.

John McCain supports government vouchers being granted that allow parents to educate and place their children in the school of their choice.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, opposes government vouchers being granted that allow for parents to decide how their children are educated.

This is according to American Family Association’s Voter’s Guide.

I simply mention…

The 5th commandment (Exodus 20:12)
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25
Ephesians 6:1-4
Colossians 3:20-21

All are texts that remind us that God has ordained and arranged the family and society as operating in such a way that parents are responsible for the upbringing and direction of their children. It is the God-given duty and right and joy and privilege and responsibility of the parents to bring their children up. The ultimate aim, of course, is that they grow in the grace and knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus.

The President, Issues, and GIC 2008 - Sermon Intended to Preach - 10/26/2008

Due to the nature of the service tonight (10/26/08), I chose not to preach what I had originally planned. Below is a synopsis of one of the issues (gambling, lottery, etc.) I planned to address from a biblical perspective. In the following post, I will present the second issue (parental rights over their child's education) I had planned to address...

On the Ballot in Arkansas on November 4th…

“Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 3”

(Abbreviated Description) A constitutional amendment authorizing the General Assembly to establish, operate, and regulate state lotteries to fund scholarships and grants for Arkansas citizens enrolled in certified two-year and four-year colleges and universities in Arkansas.

A “FOR” Vote…

…would amend the state constitution to all the creation of state lotteries to fund college scholarships and grants.

An “AGAINST” Vote…

…would not allow an amendment to the state constitution. Arkansas will not implement state lotteries.

*Information taken from

How would God vote on this amendment to the state constitution (and, hence, how would He want His people to vote?)?

6 Biblical Themes/Truths Prompting an "Against" vote from God's People:

1. Jesus and the Rich in Luke’s Gospel…

Luke 12:13-21 – “Rich Fool”
Luke 16:19-31 – “Rich Man and Lazarus”
Luke 18:18-30 – “Rich Young Ruler”
Luke 19:1-10 – “Zaccheus”

2. Paul urged believers to have an ethic of work in order to get so that you might give.

Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”

3. The Christian life is one of “becoming poor” so that others might “become rich.”

Luke 9:58 says, “The Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”

2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.”

Philippians 2:5-11

4. Jesus and Paul both spoke strongly against wanting to become rich.

Matthew 6:24
1 Timothy 6:6-10

5. Godly wisdom discourages oppressing the poor and encourages hard work.

Proverbs 6:6; 13:4, 11; 14:21, 31; 19:17; 21:25; 22:16

6. Jesus does not need ‘Lottery Money’ to build His church.

Matthew 16:18

Al Mohler said, “The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview related in God’s Word. The basic impulse behind gambling is greed—a basic sin that is the father of many other evils. Greed, covetousness, and avarice are repeatedly addressed by Scripture—always presented as a sin against God, and often accompanied by a graphic warning of the destruction which is greed’s result. The burning desire for earthly riches leads to frustration and spiritual death.”

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thomas's Story - Part III

Continued from 10/24/08...

"Thomas’s father had never missed one of his son’s games. Moreover, it was his father who taught him how to throw a curve ball, how to put his body in front of a grounder, and how to turn a double play. In fact, Thomas’s father was the coach of his first T-ball team. However, when I asked whether or not he led his son (and his family) in worship, his only response was, “I never even thought about it.”

In other words, this man had spent countless hours and immeasurable amounts of energy teaching his son how to be a ballplayer but hadn’t done a thing to teach him how to be a Christian. When I pressed him on this issue, he said, “I thought the youth pastor was doing a good job of that.” The point here is so obvious that I hesitate to state it. When it came to baseball, he had coaches and leagues, but he was the one providing private instruction in the backyard. However, when it came to spiritual matters, he passed the buck.

When it came to game time, he was not willing to miss (and wore that fact as a badge or honor), but when it came to church, they thought nothing of being absent for weeks and at one point months at a time. This family was worshiping a rival, and their son’s life was the fruit of their idolatry. There were certain things for which they were willing to sacrifice all. Unfortunately, their son’s walk with the Lord was not one of those things. Is there any wonder that a young man in his situation would miss church? Is there any doubt that a young man in Thomas’s situation would be hard-pressed to find the courage to resist having a few drinks with the guys on the squad?

Sadly, this story is very familiar to those of us who have been around the church for a while. In fact, many of us see ourselves as we read between the lines. We live in an age where many gods vie for our allegiance. What’s worse, these gods try to convince us that if we bow down and worship them, they will give our children what the God of the Bible cannot give—success by worldly standards."

Parents: May God help us to raise godly boys and godly girls who love the Lord God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thomas's Story - Part II

Continued from 10/23/08...

"Upon hearing Thomas’s story, I tried to console this grieving father as best I could. He cried for a while and then asked me a question that I don’t think he wanted answered. “Where could I have gone wrong?” he asked as he shook his head in disgust. Over the next several days he and I unpacked the situation and dealt with some very tough issues. I am not suggesting that this case is cut-and-dry, but we did find some very familiar patterns.

First, Thomas’s lack of commitment in spiritual matters was not as strange as it seemed. As I talked with his father, I learned that Thomas was more than just a naturally gifted ballplayer. This kid had been playing baseball since he was six and started taking private instruction at nine! He had been part of a traveling squad at age twelve and was an all-star at every level. This man and his wife had gone to great lengths to see to it that their son became the best baseball player he could be.

This also meant that during the summer and fall their church attendance was sporadic at best. Like many parents, they found themselves traveling to tournament after tournament and praying for the opportunity to be out on Sunday since that meant they were playing for a title somewhere. What they didn’t realize is that they were teaching Thomas to prioritize baseball above the Fourth Commandment. They were teaching Thomas that he should honor the Sabbath and keep it holy unless it’s baseball season.

Thus when Thomas went to college and had to choose between going to church and hanging out with his teammates, the foundation for his decision had already been laid. When he had to choose between extra time in chemistry lab and extra time in the batting cage, he knew intuitively which choice to make. And when he had a choice between sitting on the bench for the first time in his life or taking a shortcut to a bigger body and a faster bat, he struggled for a while but eventually made his decision based on the one thing that had directed his path since he was six years old.

In other words, Thomas’s lack of commitment to spiritual matters laid the groundwork for his moral compromise. Christianity was never the center of Thomas’s universe. It was always something on the periphery. Church, and more importantly Jesus Christ, always orbited around baseball, the bright, shining star at the center of his universe. Does this mean that every young ballplayer will experience moral compromise? Certainly not; nor am I arguing that we should abolish all sports. I am simply arguing that anything that causes us to compromise our beliefs can (and probably will) become an idol. Some people will only worship that idol halfheartedly, but some will sacrifice all on its altar."

Part III Continued Tomorrow...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thomas's Story - Part I

A while back I read an account in Voddie Baucham's book Family Driven Faith. It is a very compelling account of how we as parents often miss the most important thing in our child's life while being blinded by other lesser (much lesser!) pursuits. Due to the length of the account, I am going to divide it up into three parts in as many days. If you are a parent, please consider the implications of this story and proceed to do everything possible help your child not to waste their lives on trivial things.

Thomas's Story - Part I

"Not long ago I sat down with a grieving father. He wasn’t grieving because his child had died, but over something potentially far worse. His son, Thomas, had grown up in church. He was a good kid. He was a fixture in the youth group, he dated a girl from the church, he went to Disciple Now weekends, Youth Camp, and AYEC (a Baptist youth outreach), and even participated in a mission trip his sophomore year in high school.

However, when he went off to college, things changed. His parents had heard of the dangers of “secular” schools, so they guided him toward a Christian university. He was an outstanding athlete and had won a baseball scholarship. Thomas’s story was not just typical—it was exceptional. He had done all of the things Christian parents desire for their children—good grades, great friends, active in church, popular, and off to college on an athletic scholarship. So why was his father grieving?

As it turns out, there was a darker side of Thomas’s life. Things were lurking beneath the surface that his mom, dad, youth pastor, and Sunday school teacher never saw. Once he was away at “All-American Christian University,” this darker side began to surface.

First, Thomas stopped attending church. He occasionally attended the large weekly Bible study on campus or the area-wide college service hosted by a large church in town, but he was not plugged into a local body of believers. Moreover, there was no sense of personal holiness, no pursuit of Christian disciplines.

Next Thomas began to struggle a bit in class. He had always been an A/B student, but now he was struggling just to pass his midterms in some of his classes. Upon closer examination of his academic struggles, they found that Thomas was staying out late and drinking heavily and often missed classes.

Finally, Thomas was suspended from his baseball team when a random drug test revealed that he had taken anabolic steroids. The father was so distraught that he did not allow Thomas to return for his second year. He opted instead to place him in a local community college until the young man could “get his head on straight.”
Part II continued tomorrow...

Human Prayers and God's Global Purpose

While preparing for the message this Sunday morning (October 26th), I came across this quote from John Piper in his book What Jesus Demands from the World:

The Lord’s Prayer shows us the astonishing nature of prayer. It puts in the position of greatest importance the prayer for God’s name to be glorified, God’s kingdom to advance and triumph, and God’s will to be accomplished on earth the way it’s happening in heaven. This means that God intends to use human prayers to accomplish His most ultimate and universal purposes. For example, Jesus tells us to pray for the workers that will be required to spread the gospel to all the nations. ‘Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’ Yet nothing is more certain than that the kingdom of God will triumph. Jesus said, ‘I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’ (Matthew 16:18; 24:14). There is no uncertainty about the triumph of God. Nevertheless, in God’s providence it depends on human prayer.
This implies that prayer is not only the duty of man but a gift of God. Jesus will awaken in his people the spirit of prayer that asks for everything it will take to accomplish God’s purposes in the world. The prayers of Jesus’ followers and the purposes of God will not fail (p. 112)

Brothers and sisters in the Lord: Let us pray....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Helpful Questions to Ask When Studying the Bible

In his book What Is A Healthy Church Member (we just finished it as a staff!), Thabiti M. Anyabwile offers some helpful instruction and questions to ask when studying your Bible. In his chapter entitled "A Biblical Theologian," he says...

Adopt the New Testament's Attitude Toward the Old Testament

...the Bible is one story about God's redeeming for Himself a special people. When studying the New Testament, train yourself to link what you learn there to the Old Testament. Ask questions like these:

  • How is this passage a fulfillment of something promised in the Old Testament?
  • How is this New Testament idea different from or similar to an Old Testament teaching?
  • In what way does this New Testament passage clarify, unveil, or amplify something from the Old Testament?

Asking these questions will help to underscore the unity and diversity of the Bible and its message. An excellent book to study with these questions in mind is the book of Hebrews. Study Hebrews and be amazed at the supremacy of Jesus Christ demonstrated in the Old Testament.

Study the Old Testament with Jesus and the New Testament in View

As you read and study the Old Testament, ask yourself how it fits together with the revelation of the New Testament. For example, ask:

  • Where does this passage fit in the time line of redemptive history?
  • How does this passage point us to Jesus?
  • How does this truth about Israel relate to the New Testament idea of the church?
  • How is this passage foundational for an understanding of New Testament Christianity? How is this idea or teaching in the Old Testament continuous or discontinuous with the New Testament?
  • Which New Testament passages help me to answer these questions?

Calling All Serious Bible Students: Run, Don't Walk, to Get these Resources!

Below I post two books/links for anyone interested in wonderful Bible study helps.

I just received the ESV Study Bible and so far have loved every part of it! Please be sure to click on this link and go and read more about all the articles, maps, tools, etc. this study Bible includes. You can purchase it directly from by clicking here.
FYI: when you purchase the print version of the Bible, you automatically will have access to the ESV Study Bible on-line, which contains everything in the print edition via the internet as well as an option to have passages verbally read as you read/study.

G. K. Beale and D.A. Carson's Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
is a wonderful resource for finding out how New Testament authors used the Old Testament in their writings. It makes the entire Bible and the plan of God come alive!

You can purchase it directly from by clicking here.

More Links, Articles, Broadcasts, Sermons, etc. on Abortion and Homosexuality

Below are yet some more links and information I have come across regarding the issues I have discussed from the pulpit the last two Sunday nights.
Whether you read and/or listen to items linked here, more than anything I urge you to pray for God's will to be done on November 4th and for Him to show you how you can best be salt and light now and in the days ahead for His name's sake.

Article (Blog) posted by Al Mohler on the Homosexual Debate: Part I and Part II.

Al Mohler's Radio Program (Friday's edition) regarding the Homosexual Debate. For those of you who may listen to this, pay attention especially to how Dr. Mohler handles the comments and questions asked by callers to the show. His responses are very helpful for Christians in how to best respond to wrong thinking on this issue. Also, though I am not completely sure, I have a pretty good feeling his radio program (which airs Monday-Friday) will be focusing alot on the election over the next two weeks, so you will want to be sure to tune in.

Barack Obama's Position (from his web-site) on the Issues: Abortion and Homosexuality

John McCain's Position (from his web-site) on the Issues: Abortion and Homosexuality

An insightful and intriguing message by Dr. Russell Moore regarding the issue of Abortion.
Click here and then scroll down to the message delivered by Moore on Oct. 16, 2008.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

James 3 Video and Link to Conference Messages on the Use of Our Tongues

Read James 3 from your Bible and then click here to watch a video illustrating the passage...

Very insightful and very convicting.

For recent conference messages on the Power of Words (from Desiring God Ministries), click here. Great stuff! Excuse me...God stuff!

More Insightful Thoughts on the Abortion/Pro-Choice Issue in the Presidential Race

For those of you who attended WBC on Sunday night, you know I started a series of messages entitled: "The President, Issues, and Global Impact 2008." I plan to focus on several pertinent issues that directly affect how a follower of Christ should vote in the upcoming election. The first message dealt with the issue of abortion. The title of the message was: "Sanctity of Human Life, Abortion, Stem Cells, and God." You can listen or watch the message on-line by going here.

This week I have come across several good on-line articles, discussions, and radio broadcasts on this issue. For those who are interested, I encourage you strongly to link on some of the sites listed below and continue to develop a Christian worldview on the issues and be able to discuss these issues intellegently with others.

Blog article by Al Mohler entitled: "The Abortion Question and the Future"

Al Mohler radio broadcast entitled: "Pro-Lifers for Obama?"

Robert George's article entitled: "Obama's Abortion Extremism"

Justin Taylor's summary of Robert George's article: Click here (very helpful summary!)

An article for those who are tired of talking about the issue, read this article called "Fetus Fatigue."

Justin Taylor quoting John Piper on fasting for the unborn: Click here.

For those of you who were not here on Sunday night and did not receive the voter's guide I passed out, you can go there directly on-line by clicking here.