Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ligonier's 'Bible in a Year' Calendar

Click here to download a PDF file of a calendar to read the Bible through in 2010.

I found this via Tabletalk Magazine from Ligonier Ministries.

Outline of Biblical History and The Main Chapters in the Biblical Storyline

Again, Justin Taylor has done followers of Christ a great favor by providing two posts from Graeme Goldsworthy's According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible.

The first is a helpful outline of biblical history. Click here to check it out.

The second is a summary of the main chapters of the Bible's storyline. Click here to read.

Both of these are extremely helpful in seeing the whole of the Bible and seeing better how it all fits together. Thanks to Goldsworthy for outlining it in his work, and thanks to Justin Taylor for including it as he did in his blog.

J.C. Ryle: "We Cannot Have Enough of Christ!"

Great quote here from J.C. Ryle:

“The New Testament begins with the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. No part of the Bible is so important as this, and no part is so full and complete. Four distinct Gospels tell us the story of Christ’s doing and dying. Four times over we read the precious account of His works and words. How thankful we ought to be for this! To know Christ is life eternal. To believe in Christ is to have peace with God. To follow Christ is to be a true Christian. To be with Christ will be heaven itself. We can never hear too much about Jesus Christ.”

Just a reminder, you can receive daily quotes by Ryle if you click here and follow the directions.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers

This Bible reading plan looks very interesting as well.

Again, Justin Taylor has done us a service by providing information about it and a link to download it in a PDF format.

Check it out by clicking here.

Don Whitney's 10 Questions to Start the New Year

These have been very, very helpful for me this week as I contemplate 2010. Be both challenged and blessed as you consider them...

10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. "Consider your ways!" (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.

Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It's so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we're going and where we should be going.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

In addition to these ten questions, here are twenty-one more to help you "Consider your ways." Think on the entire list at one sitting, or answer one question each day for a month.

11. What's the most important decision you need to make this year?

12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what's one way you could simplify in that area?

13. What's the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?

14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?

15. Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?

16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?

17. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?

18. What's one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?

19. What's one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?

20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?

23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?24. What's the most important trip you want to take this year?

25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?

26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?

27. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?

28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?

29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?

30. What's the most important new item you want to buy this year?

31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?

The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, just by articulating which person you most want to encourage this year is more likely to help you remember to encourage that person than if you hadn't considered the question.

If you've found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace—in a day planner, PDA, calendar, bulletin board, etc.—where you can review them more frequently than once a year.

So let's evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, "The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage" (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let's also remember our dependence on our King who said, "Apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).

Bible Reading Plans for 2010

Justin Taylor, over at his blog at the Gospel Coalition Web-Site, has done the body of Christ a HUGE favor by lumping together some of the best Bible reading plans available for the next year.

Click here for several plans.


Here for more.

Thanks to Justin Taylor for tracking these down and putting them in an 'easy-to-find-and-access' location for us!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Another Great Quote from J.C. Ryle on the Wise Men

Get these quotes sent to you everyday here.

“This is the kind of faith, let us remember, that God delights to honor. We see the proof of that at this very day. Wherever the Bible is read the conduct of these wise men is known, and told as a memorial of them. Let us walk in the steps of their faith. Let us not be ashamed to believe in Jesus and confess Him, though all around us remain careless and unbelieving. Have we not a thousand-fold more evidence than the wise men had, to make us believe that Jesus is the Christ? Beyond doubt we have. Yet where is our faith?”

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas: The Greatest Miracle

I found this over at Zach Nielson's blog. Great word(s) on the miracle of the Incarnation

Suppose I asked you to name the greatest miracle that ever took place? If you know the Bible you have lots to choose from. God rescued three from a blazing furnace. He closed the mouths of lions and demolished the walls of Jericho. Blind men saw; lame men walked. God parted the Red Sea and the children of Israel walked through on dry ground. But, none of these are the greatest miracle. Even God speaking creation into existence is not the greatest miracle.The incarnation is the greatest miracle that ever took place.The incarnation was when Jesus, though God Himself, was born as a baby in Bethlehem. God became humanity without in any way ceasing to be deity.According to theologian Wayne Grudem, “[The incarnation] is by far the most amazing miracle of the entire Bible – - far more amazing than the resurrection and more amazing even than the creation of the universe. The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe (Grudem, 563).”

Paraphrasing John Murray, “The incarnation means that God who never began to be . . . as God, began to be what he eternally was not (Murray, Vol. 2, 132). It is the most amazing, the most incredible miracle that will ever happen.

And, the reason Christ became humanity was that He might win the victory and deliver His people from sin.

J.C. Ryle on the Wise Men

Great Quotes from J.C. Ryle. Consider...

"The conduct of the wise men is a splendid example of spiritual diligence. What trouble it must have cost them to travel from their homes to the place where Jesus was born! How many weary miles they must have journeyed! The fatigues of an Eastern traveler are far greater than we in England can at all understand. The time that such a journey would occupy must necessarily have been very great. The dangers to be encountered were neither few nor small. But none of these things moved them. They had set their hearts on seeing Him ‘who was born King of the Jews;’ and they never rested until they saw Him. They prove to us the truth of the old saying, ‘Where there is a will there is a way.’”

“It would be well for all professing Christians if they were more ready to follow the wise men’s example. Where is our self-denial? What pains do we take about our souls? What diligence do we show about following Christ? What does our religion cost us? These are serious questions. They deserve serious consideration.”


“The conduct of the wise men is a striking example of faith. They believed in Christ when they had never seen Him – but that was not all. They believed in Him when the Scribes and Pharisees were unbelieving – but that again was not all. They believed in Him when they saw Him a little infant on Mary’s knee, and worshiped Him as a king. This was the crowning point of their faith. They saw no miracles to convince them. They heard no teaching to persuade them. They beheld no signs of divinity and greatness to overawe them. They saw nothing but a new-born infant, helpless and weak, and needing a mother’s care like any one of ourselves. And yet when they saw that infant, they believed that they saw the divine Savior of the world. ‘They fell down and worshiped Him.’

“We read of no greater faith than this in the whole volume of the Bible. It is a faith that deserves to be placed side by side with that of the penitent thief. The thief saw one dying the death of a criminal, and yet prayed to Him and ‘called Him Lord.’ The wise men saw a new-born babe on the lap of a poor woman, and yet worshiped Him and confessed that He was Christ. Blessed indeed are those that can believe in this fashion!”

Go here to subscribe to a different Ryle quote every day.

Al Mohler on the Santa Claus Issue

I listend to Dr. Mohler's program (from yesterday) this morning while I exercised. Very helpful, in my opinion, and thoughtful.

You can listen to it or download it here.

I appreciate those who have left comments on the previous blog post about Santa. Please continue to offer insights. All would agree (at least I think most who read this blog would agree) that as Christian parents, we must think through this issue, seeking wisdom from the Lord in what is most profitable for our precious children.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Interesting Articles about Tiger Woods from a Christian Perspective

From Al Mohler, click here.

From Tim Challies, click here.

How to Benefit from the Bible

Great article from James MacDonald here (I found this from Tim Challies).

His main points are:

Read it.
Question it.
Plan it.
Pray it.
Share it.

Santa Claus: Do or Don't Do?

I don't know how many who might actually read this have ever struggled with this issue or not, but Katie (my dearly beloved wife) and I have really wrestled with the whole Santa Claus thing. We both see pros and cons to either. Recently, however, I came across two different articles on the issue that has me thinking even harder about it. The first one is by Thabiti Anyabwile and the other by Noel Piper. I will post the links to where I found them below. I would LOVE to hear anyone's thoughts after having read the articles, offering personal insights into what you and your family have done in the past.

Thabite Anyabwile's article can be found here.

Noel Piper's article can be found here.

Please let me know your thoughts....

Monday, December 7, 2009

The TV Is My Shepherd

Wow. I found this at Pure Church. So true...don't you think?

The TV is my shepherd,I shall want more.

It makes me lie down on the sofa.

It leads me away from the faith;

It destroys my soul.

It leads me in the path of sex and violence for the sponsor's sake.

Yeah, though I walk in the shadow of Christian responsibility,

there will be no interruption, for the TV is with me.

It's cables and remote control, they comfort me.

It prepares a commercial for me in the presence of my worldliness;

It anoints my head with humanism and consumerism;

My coveting runneth over.

Surely, laziness and ignorance shall follow me all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house watching TV for ever.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

C.J. Mahaney on Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods wants his privacy back.

He wants the media entourage to disappear from his life.

He wants to be left alone so he can manage his personal problems in private.

Not a chance.

The story began unfolding in the early hours of last Friday when he crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a tree and a fire hydrant near his Florida home. He refused to speak with the police about the incident, raising curiosity about the circumstances. The story has now escalated into allegations of marital infidelity, and that generated a blog post from Tiger that stated, “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart.” This statement by Tiger has led most to believe that the allegations of infidelity are true.

Hunted by the Media

As expected, the allegations of adultery involving a public figure are attracting a media pile-on. This is a big story with a big audience and it’s a story that will not disappear soon. Tiger Woods is being hunted by the media. But let us make sure we do not join the hunt. A Christian’s response to this story should be distinctly different. We should not be entertained by the news. We should not have a morbid interest in all the details. We should be saddened and sobered. We should pray for this man and even more for his wife. And we can be sure that in the coming days we will be in conversations with friends and family where this topic will emerge. And when it does, we can avoid simply listening to the latest details and speculations, and avoid speaking self-righteously, but instead we can humbly draw attention to the grace of God in the gospel.

Hunted by Sin

But Tiger is being hunted by something more menacing than journalists. Tiger’s real enemy is his sin, and that’s an enemy much more difficult to discern and one that can’t be managed in our own strength. It’s an enemy that never sleeps. Let me explain.

Sin Lies

The Bible in general, and the book of Proverbs in particular, reveals an unbreakable connection between our character, our conduct, and the consequences of our actions. These three are inseparable and woven by God into His created order.

Deception is part of sin’s DNA. Sin lies to us. It seeks to convince us that sin brings only pleasure, that it carries no consequences, and that no one will discover it. Sin works hard to make us forget that character, conduct, and consequences are interconnected. And when we neglect this relationship—when we think our sins will not be discovered—we ultimately mock God.

Sin Hunts

We’ve all experienced it: Sin lies to us. We take the bait. And then sin begins to hunt us. One commentator on Proverbs articulated this truth like this: “The irony of a life of rebellion is that we begin by pursuing sin…and end up being pursued by it!….You can ‘be sure your sin will find you out’ (Num. 32:23…).”* In other words, sin comes back to hunt us. In light of this fact, sin is an enemy Tiger can’t manage. He can’t shape this story like he does a long iron on a par 5. Tiger doesn’t need a publicity facelift; Tiger needs a Savior. Just like me. And just like you. And if by God’s grace he repents and trusts in the person and work of Christ, Tiger will experience the fruit of God’s promise that “whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).


Tiger cannot intimidate this enemy like he can Pebble Beach or any of the field of professional golfers. And there is no privacy he can claim from this enemy, regardless of his resolve, his silence, or the name painted on his yacht. It’s likely Tiger only perceives the press hunting him out of a vain “curiosity about public figures.” But Tiger is being hunted and hounded by a far greater foe: the consequences of his sin.And this story should humble and sober us. It should make us ask: Are there any so-called “secret sins” in my life? Is there anything I have done that I hope nobody discovers? Is there anything right now in my life that I should confess to God and the appropriate individuals? And this should leave us more amazed by grace because there, but for the grace of God, go I.

Helpful Quotes from Bob Kauflin and David Powlison on Leading Worship

From Justin Taylor:

Bob Kauflin

“A worship leader should never say, “Sing it like you mean it.” We should always mean it.”

“People walk in every Sunday with the problem that everything in their lives has become bigger than God.”

“The worship leader links heart-stirring music with biblical truth . . . to let the Word of Christ dwell in people richly.”

“In both counseling and worship we can rely on technique and forget all we have is Christ.”

“Leading worship is a pastoral function before it’s a musical one.”

David Powlison

“Pay attention to the syntax of hymns. Some are about God, drawing our hearts toward Him. Others are unto God, giving our faith direct expression to God.”

“Counseling needs to do more than analysis and problem-solving; it needs to evoke the thing it seeks to create.”

“Biblical counseling is worship, and repentance, and faith, and hearing and loving and needing God.”

“Way more often than we imagine, people need reminding, not informing.”

“The world in which we counsel is the same world in which we worship & pray.”

“The word ‘technique’ is actually offensive in ministry.”

Great Challenge and Insight from Dan Cruver on Adoption

From the Gospel Coalition blog:

Caring For Orphans While Soaked with a Sense of Exile
by Dan Cruver

Yesterday, I was deeply moved by something that I read in a letter that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to his son Christopher. As I reflected upon his words, it occurred to me that he touches on something that is profoundly relevant to the global orphan crisis.
Tolkien writes:

"We all long for [Eden], and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’. If you come to think of it, your (very just) horror at the stupid murder of the hawk, and your obstinate memory of this ‘home’ of yours in an idyllic hour (when often there is an illusion of the stay of time and decay and a sense of gentle peace) are derived from Eden (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 110)."

One of the challenges for Christians in the Western world is that we are often guilty of trying to dry up our profound “sense of exile” with the non-absorbent paper towels of the incomplete joys of this world. That’s not to say that it is wrong for Christians to enjoy themselves in the here-and-now. God gives His children many good gifts that we are to enjoy now with gratitude in our hearts. But our here-and-now enjoyment was never meant to be the way we deal with the deep ache of exile. When we deal with our “sense of exile” by using God’s good gifts to self-medicate, we will find ourselves moving away from the world’s most needy rather than to them. Self-medicating people are not easily mobilized for self-sacrificial service.

The reality is that we are in exile. Eden has been lost. We are exiles in the here-and-now (1 Peter 1:1). The period of time in which we live as exiles is deeply marked by suffering and unrest (Romans 8:18). The presence of 143,000,000 vulnerable and orphaned children in the world is irrefutable evidence of that fact.

Although we find ourselves in exile – still soaked with a deep sense of Eden-lost — God has not left us to wander aimlessly within it. He has not left us alone to cope with our deep sense of exile through self-medicating behavior. No, Jesus entered into our exile, became a man of sorrows, was forsaken by the Father at the cross in order that he might lead us out of our exile into eternal belonging. Jesus endured the very worst of our exile in order that he might bring us home!

What Jesus did through his life, death, and resurrection has provided us with “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19-20) in the midst of our exile. As a result, we can enjoy the incomplete joys of this world without using them to deal with our deep sense of exile. Only when we rest in what Jesus has already done to one day bring us back home (Romans 8:19-23) are we able to move toward our world’s most needy.

The gospel takes those who are marked with a deep sense of exile, frees them from the “need” to self-medicate, and moves them out to serve the orphan, the widow, and the marginalized. Only by the power of the gospel can we do the self-sacrificial work of caring for orphans while soaked with the sense of exile.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Theodoret of Cyrus on the Divine Providence of Having a Rear End

So I am currently working on my PhD dissertation and had to share the following exerpt from a sermon given by Theodoret of Cyrus, probably around 435 A.D. The sermon quotation is found in the third sermon in a series of ten on the providence of God. The title of the sermon is "Demonstrations from the Composition of the Human Body."

Here's the quote:

"Mark another manifestation of His providence. The body provides the natural couch of the buttocks so that you can make a seat out of the ground or a stone and not be hurt by sitting on bare limbs. You are ungrateful notwithstanding. You fail to recognize the gifts, and rave and rant against the wisdom that makes such provision for you."

I must confess. I have never thanked God for my rear end. Thank you, Theodoret, for such a solemn reminder.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Whet Your Appetite for What's Coming to WBC in January!!!

January 8th and 9th, 2010, Wynne Baptist Church is hosting a "Shepherding a Child's Heart" seminar with Dr. Tedd Tripp. I am extremely excited about what we will learn during the sessions and honored that we have the opportunity to have Dr. Tripp come and be with us.

Dr. Tripp recently led a conference at Mars Hill church in Seattle, WA and Justin Taylor has posted the video and audio of the conference. You can go there directly by clicking here.

I would encourage you to watch, listen, and/or download to listen part or all of the conference. It will make you want to make sure you are here January 8th and 9th AND invite everyone you know who have children in their home.

The conference at Wynne Baptist is free and childcare will be available by reservation [church office #: (870) 238-3271]. I would love to see you there!

"This Shouldn't Be" from IMB Connecting

Consider the following blurb posted from "IMB Connecting" recently:

Missionary drawdown ‘just shouldn’t be’ In a day of unprecedented global missions opportunity and great harvest, Southern Baptists will be forced to draw down their overseas missions force in 2010 by as many as 600 missionaries, IMB trustees were told Nov. 10. Trustees adopted a $317.6 million budget for 2010 and learned that $7.5 million will need to be pulled from contingency reserves to balance the budget, leaving only six weeks of available reserves in case of major unexpected expenses. “When we take up $12 billion in our offering plates and 2.2 percent finally arrives to support [international missions] … it just shouldn’t be,” said Gordon Fort, IMB vice president of global strategy.

May God help us.

Get Desiring God for Free TODAY!!!

As I mentioned last night in the service, today is the last day Christian Audio is offering John Piper's Desiring God for free.

Click here to go straight to the site where you can order and download the MP3 version for free.

Click here to download the ESV MP3 version of the Bible ($7.49).

Christian Audio offers a different book every month that they make available to download for free, so check it out again on Tuesday (December 1st) to see what they make available then.

Powerful, Interesting, and Insightful Challenge for a Great Commission Resurgence

At the Baptist Twenty-One Web-site, a two-part (so far) article has been posted regarding the need for a Great Commission Resurgence. It is a manuscript of Walter Price's President's address to the California Baptist State Convention recently.

It is very powerful. It is very insightful. It is very interesting. I would love to hear any comments or thoughts any of you have on what you read.

Any future 'parts' will be posted and linked to when they are made available.

GREAT Christmas Ideas!!!!

For WBC members (and anyone else for that matter), I will try my best to post any good, solid Christmas ideas I come across.

This one I recommended last year and highly (real high!) recommend again this year. My family continues to enjoy reading through this wonderful Storybook Bible.

This year, Zondervan has put together a Deluxe Edition of the Bible. If you click here you can read all about it and even check out a different video each week that they allow anyone to watch relating to a story in the storybook Bible.

Click here to watch the Christmas Story version (via Zach Nielson's blog).

If you have children, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, etc. I would encourage you to get this resource for them.

Images of Islam from the Boston Globe

I encourage you to click on the link below and ponder the lostness and the work that followers of Jesus have before us. Warning: The pictures are haunting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tony Dungy and the Correlation Between Being Pro-Life and Pro-Adoption

Check out this video over at Together for Adoption. Great word from a remarkable man of God.

Russell Moore on Adopting for Life Conference

Honestly, I am not posting the article below by Russell Moore because I am trying to promote the conference. I think it will be a great conference, and if you can go, please do. But his words on the Southern Baptist Convention, some people's understanding of adoption, and his response as to how this is a Great Commission thing is helpful and, in my opinion, well worth your time to read.

Why We Are Adopting For Life

This past summer, my denomination adopted a resolution “On Adoption and Orphan Care,” while my sons stood in the crowded room watching. It was one of the most emotionally weighty experiences of my life.
I knew the resolution by itself wasn’t going to spark an orphan care movement among Christians. Neither is my book on adoption, and neither are a thousand manifestoes on the subject. Only the Holy Spirit can do that as local churches start to embrace a vision for orphan care.
The resolution, though, was meant to prompt some questions. If one person in that convention hall was moved to simply pray, “Lord, how would you have me minister to orphans?” then the resolution was a success in my view. If one pastor was prompted to ponder how he could preach on adoption, or lead a foster care ministry among his folks, then the work has started.
I was overwhelmed with emotion on the platform to see my sons, two little ex-orphans, looking out on a sea of yellow ballots as thousands of my brothers and sisters affirmed that we want to be the people who love fatherless children. I realized that, in an alternative story, my boys would still be in an orphanage, not knowing even the name of Christ Jesus. But there they were, watching the world’s largest Protestant denomination recognize there are hundreds of thousands of children as helpless and alone as they once were.
There’s a long way to go. Literally one day after the resolution vote, I received correspondence from an employee of a denominational agency saying that adoption and orphan care doesn’t fit under the “umbrella” of “evangelism and missions.” Tell that to the thousands of children who know Christ today because they are growing up in Christian homes, rather than in institutions or on the streets. And tell it to Jesus who says something very different to us (Jas. 1:27). Following the Great Commission requires moving beyond short-sighted definitions of “evangelism and missions” as rallies and revivals.
But something is afoot among Christian families and churches of virtually every kind. God is calling the people of Christ to see the face of Jesus in the faces of orphans in North America and around the world. All brothers and sisters in Christ who affirm a belief in the authority of Scripture are recognizing that the Bible tells us that pure religion is defined by “care for the fatherless.”
As those who should be defined by our commitment to evangelism, we must confess that there is no greater field as “white unto harvest” right now as children in orphanages, group homes and the foster care system, children who don’t know a parent’s love and who don’t know the name of Jesus.
When Satan wars against children, we should be the ones who have compassion on them, even as Jesus did and does.
My prayer is that twenty years from now there will be thousands of pastors, missionaries and church leaders who started their lives as orphans, but are now preaching the gospel of God their Father.
Not many years ago, through infertility, miscarriage and two little boys in a Russian orphanage, the Lord changed my understanding of the gospel, of missions and of myself.
The Bible, after all, tells us that human families are reflective of an eternal fatherhood (Eph. 3:14-15). We know, then, what human fatherhood ought to look like on the basis of how Father God behaves toward us. But the reverse is also true. We see something of the way our God is fatherly toward us through our relationships with our own human fathers. And so Jesus tells us that in our human father’s provision and discipline we get a glimpse of God’s active love for us (Matt. 7:9-11; cf. Heb. 12:5-7). The same is at work in adoption.
If you sense the Lord may be calling you to adoption, or if you want to start a discussion on orphan care in your church, I hope you’ll join me for the “Adopting for Life” conference February 26-27, 2010, on the campus of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
You may be wondering whether this will be a conference about the doctrine of adoption or “real” adoption. Well, one of the things that we’ll be discussing is the fact that you can’t talk about the one without talking about the other. Also, it is not as though we master one aspect and then move to the other — from the vertical to the horizontal or the other way around. That’s not the picture God has embedded in his creation work.
So we’ve invited a number of great speakers to “Adopting for Life” — speakers such as David Platt, Jedd Medefind and Justin Taylor, with worship led by Andrew Peterson — who will seek to equip us to create a culture of adoption in our families and churches. We’ll be answering questions such as, “What does adoption have to do with the Great Commission?”, “How can I pay for adoption?”, and “How can we start an adoption ministry in my church?” — along with so many others.
I would love to see you here in Louisville for the “Adopting for Life” conference, as we think together about how God might be leading us to be on mission with Christ for the sake of the orphans of the world.
Join me and your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as we talk about how we can carry out the Great Commission through adoption. After all, adoption is about more than a manifesto. Caring for the orphans of the world, in the end, is about the gospel of our Lord — and our brother — Jesus.
Russell D. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, where he ministers weekly at the congregation’s Fegenbush location. Moore is the author of The Kingdom of Christ and Adopted for Life.

[This post was found from Tim Challies Blog]

The Old, Old Gospel VS. The 'New' Gospel

Kevin DeYoung posts an article that is extremely insightful and full of discernment about what is commonly preached today, versus what is the true, biblical, and authentic Gospel.

Click here to go directly to his blog and read what he writes about this. I would love to read any comments any of you have regarding what he says.

Here is a quote from the article to whet your appetite:

"Please, please, please, if you are enamored with the New Gospel or anything like it, consider if you are really being fair with your fellow Christians in always throwing them under the bus. Consider if you are preaching like Jesus did, who called people, not first of all to a way of life, but to repent and believe (Mark 1:15). And as me and my friends consider if we lack the necessary patience and humility to speak tenderly with non-Christians, consider if your God is a lopsided cartoon God who never takes offense at sin (because sin is more than just un-neighborliness) and never pours out wrath (except for the occasional judgment against the judgmental). Consider if you are giving due attention to the cross and the Lamb of God who died there to take away the sin of the world. Consider if your explanation of the Christian message sounds anything like what we hear from the Apostles in the book of Acts when they engage the world."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tom Ascol on the Great Commission Resurgence

Tom Ascol, over at Founders Ministries, posted this article earlier this week. I have pasted it below. I find it interesting and, I fear, he is right on target in much of his evaluation about the SBC. I would encourage any and all comments to what you think about his opinions.

Why I am hopeful about the GCR movement

Over the last several months I have repeatedly been asked why I support the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) and the broader impetus that led to its formation. A full explanation would include some necessary nuances and caveats that transcend the limits of a blog post, but the main reasons can at least be summarized here. These are, quite obviously, my opinions.I believe:

The SBC is unhealthy to the point that if it does not significantly change, it will become irrelevant beyond recovery within a few years. There are many who share my concerns--some of whom have already checked out of convention life while others are headed that way if things don't change for the better.

The SBC represents loads of potential for being an instrument of great good in the kingdom of God. It has been such in the past, and still is in some degree at present, but the potential is greater than anything we have seen thus far.

There are some in the SBC whose vision for what the convention should be is theologically naive and missiologically counterproductive.

There are others in the SBC who don't think about theology and missiology at all.

There are still over 6000 unreached people groups in the world--2000 years after our Lord commissioned His church to make disciples of all peoples.

The leaders who are at the helm of the call for a GCR are trustworthy men. I disagree with them on some doctrinal issues. But I do agree with them on the most important points of doctrine and I believe them to be men of integrity who will not kowtow to political pressure, even if it causes them to stand against men they esteem and love.

The GCRTF could--and should--come back with radical, convention-shocking recommendations that are rooted in a vision to marshal our resources to reach the nations.

The call for a GCR could be the greatest hope of this generation to unite churches around the gospel, under the sovereignty of God, to give our utmost energies to making disciples of the nations.

I am 52 years old. I have zero interest in investing one more dime or one more minute in any religious organization that does not serve churches in the mission to reach the nations. Our church is ramping up our efforts and sharpening our focus in this area and we want to partner with other churches that have a similar vision. We want to be challenged, encouraged, strengthened and linked with like-minded churches with whom we share core commitments.

I believe that at least many on the GCRTF share these concerns and believe that the SBC can become a far more effective vehicle than it currently is to assist churches in their efforts to enlarge the kingdom of God. If these concerns are courageously addressed in the GCRTF recommendations, then the SBC will be challenged to pursue a path that could lead to our most useful days.I have been around long enough to have been adequately disabused of any denominational naivety. Programs come and programs go.

Bravado and superlatives seem almost endemic to SBC life. Some may be tempted to speak of the GCR and the GCRTF in such ways. I am not in that number. I am hopeful, but I am not naive. I pray for Ronnie Floyd and his committee every day and I encourage you to do so, as well.We desperately need what the best declarations coming from those involved in the GCR movement are calling for. So I have been and remain supportive of the effort and praying that the Lord will use this to awaken, empower and unite Southern Baptists for the renewed purpose of "eliciting, combining, and directing the energies of the denomination for the propagation of the gospel."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Adopted For Life On Sale!

Grace Books International is offering Russell Moore's Adopted for Life on sale for 40% off of retail.

Click here to find out more.

What a GREAT Word for Preachers!

I know that not many (I assume) who read this blog are preachers. There may be a few who are called, or will be called, to the Gospel ministry in the days to come. If so, the article I paste below will be worth your time. As I read the article below by Kevin DeYoung, I found my heart resonating with him and thankful for his words. By God's grace, He has been taking me through much of the same journey over the past months and years. Very intriguing and helpful article. I hope to go back to it from time and time and I hope to give it to upcoming preachers I have the opportunity to pour into in the years to come.

Here's the article below. I found it here. DeYoung blogs there and here. Enjoy!

Learning to be Yourself as a Preacher: From One Still Trying to Do Just That

by Kevin DeYoung

When Phillips Brooks famously defined preaching as “the communication of truth through personality” I do believe he was talking about your own personality and not someone else's. It has taken me awhile, but I finally feel like I have learned to be myself in the pulpit. Now whether this means my sermons are better or worse I can’t say. But being myself means my preaching is more genuine, more comfortable, and more sustainable. I know I have a lot to learn as a preacher, and I hope that ten years from now I’ll still get those awkward but true compliments–“your preaching has really improved over the years.” But at 32 I feel like I’m finally preaching the truth through my own personality.Like most young preachers, and not a few old ones, I’ve struggled to find my “voice” as a preacher.

When I was in college I started devouring the Reformers and Puritans. Everything I read seemed to be either hundreds of years old or was translated hundreds of years ago. As a result, my writing (I wasn’t doing much preaching at the time) sounded like I was aiming for the “just translated from Latin” award. My sentences were often elephantine. The grammar was antiquated and there were simply too many words. A very fine professor who affirmed me in many ways challenged me to write for my own century, not for the century of my heroes. It was painful advice at the time. I wasn’t quite sure I trusted him. After all, wasn’t it a mark of piety to use words like “behoove” “calumny” and “obfuscate”? Well, it wasn’t. I need to be myself and not put on puritan-sounding airs. (Incidentally, my cousin, and classmate during college, had a wonderful t-shirt at the time that read “Eschew Obfuscation.” And he was the one with a girlfriend during all four years! Go figure.)

In seminary I began to notice that many of my classmates sounded a lot like their homiletics professors. I still find this to be truth. It doesn’t matter where you go, preaching profs seem to crank out clones. Some of the blame may rest with instructors who place too much emphasis on their way of preaching–usually a way that works great for the teacher but doesn’t fit all the students. But some of the blame rests on the students too. We are desperate to latch on to some model so we end up copying wholesale what we see in those we respect, especially in those teaching us preaching. At Gordon-Conwell I saw lots of mini-Haddon Robinsons. This doesn’t mean all those students will turn out to be bad preachers, but they must realize there is only one Haddon Robinson. And they’re not it!

As much as I was blessed by Robinson’s sermons, I was more tempted to imitate other preachers. I’m sure that for the first years of my ministry I sounded at times like a (very) poor man’s version of John Piper. I was listening to so much Piper that I’m sure my prayers, my themes, and even the way I said “Joy!” was Piperesque. Don’t get me wrong, I make no bones about learning from Piper and being influence by him. I’d trade my sermons for his any day. But he’d probably be the first to say, “Preach the same gospel I preach. But you don’t have preach just like me.” It’s taken me several years, but I think I’m finally ok with not being John Piper. I just don’t think I have the same personality, let alone the same gifts.

Along the way there have been other famous preachers I’ve wanted to emulate. I wish I could walk through a text and use humor like Alistair Begg (with the accent too, of course). I wish I were as creative in my thinking and as culturally attuned as Tim Keller. I’d love to be as funny and humble as C.J. Mahaney. I’ve wondered at times what it would be like to do in-your-face as well as Driscoll, or be as smart as Carson (I tried saying "Eye-Ziah," but no one was fooled). Hey, I’ve even thought how cool it would be to communicate as cooly as Rob Bell.

Over the years, I’ve experimented with several different methods of delivery. I’ve preached without notes, with a half page of notes, and with a full manuscript because some preacher I love preaches each of those ways. But what works best for me and my style, at least at this point in my ministry, is to preach from a full set of notes that alternates between manuscripting and chicken scratch. Homiletics professors might hate me for saying this, but sometimes you just have to figure out what works for you. I’m sure there are certain principles that define all good preaching, but there’s also a whole lot “I’m not sure why, but this works for me.”

Since 2002, the year I was ordained, I estimate that I’ve preached almost 500 times (we have an evening service). And I think it took about 450 sermons to find my voice. This isn’t to say all those sermons were bad or untrue to myself. It’s not like I faked a Scottish accent or told stories about growing up in Greenville, South Carolina. But it’s taken me this long to realize the wisdom of Paul’s confession, “By the grace of God, I am what I am.”

One of the hardest things for any preacher to learn, especially young preachers, is to simply be yourself. Don’t put on someone else’s passion or humor or learning. And don’t take off your own personality because one of your heroes doesn’t share it exactly. Go ahead and learn from the best. But your congregation needs to hear you on Sunday, not an impression of the preacher you wish you were. Let your person constantly be refined by the Spirit of God, and let the truth of God’s word shine through your own personality. Preach as a dying man to dying men. And don’t forget to be your own man.

John Piper on Speaking at Angola Prison

Being that I am a NOBTS grad, the Angola Prison there is an extension of NOBTS, and John Piper had the opportunity to preach there, I was especially interested in his thoughts on his time there. Below is a recent article he posted:

One of the growing ministries of Desiring God is the outreach to prisoners. Those of you in the Philippian Fellowship hear about this more often than the rest of our website guests.

On Thursday a team of four of us stopped in at Angola Prison in Angola, Louisiana. Warden Burl Cain was very gracious to take us into his world, even the most painful part of it.

Here is what he said three years ago in Decision Magazine about this prison:

This prison is the largest maximum-security prison in America. It is one of the most famous prisons in the whole world. It has only murderers, rapists, armed robbers and habitual felons. The average sentence is 88 years, with 3,200 people in one place serving life sentences. Ninety percent of the inmates will die here. This is a place of hopelessness, so if Angola can change, the rest of the country’s prisons can’t say, “We can’t do this.”

For those who know prison culture from the inside, this place is astonishing. On a campus of 18,000 acres, which is mainly farm land, the prisoners raise virtually all their food and eat three meals for a total cost of $1.45 each. The fish and crawdads that we ate were from "the Farm.”
There is a local extension of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in the prison and about 140 prisoners are enrolled. There are six churches in the prison and they train their own pastors. They send trained “missionaries” to other prisons to plant churches. They do this without using any tax money. But O the money—and lives—it saves!

Violence in the prison is rare. Courtesy and respect is pronounced. The ministry team of women who were visiting at the same time we were said they were treated with more respect from prisoners here, than in many places on the “outside.” Public profanity is not allowed.

The 42-inch church bell hangs high over the chapel in a prisoner-built tower. They rescued the bell from storage where it had been put after falling and killing a man. Some of the prisoners say: The bell killed a man and we killed a man, but now the bell and we serve the Lord Jesus.
Warden Cain says: I am as nice as they let me be and as mean as they make me be. Given the job he is given to do, it is a good motto.

I saw the Warden’s “nice” as we sat for half an hour with G.B., a prisoner on Death Row whose death by lethal injection the Warden will oversee in January. There are over 80 on death row, some now for over 14 years as appeals go on. The Warden asked me to share the gospel with G.B. Never have I felt a greater urgency to say the good news plainly and plead from my heart. The thief on the cross is a hero on Death Row.

The Warden answered all G.B.’s questions about what the last day would be like and who from his family and the press could be there. He gave G.B. unusual privileges for these last seven weeks. He was manifestly compassionate while stating the facts with precision. I took G.B.’s picture with my phone and said I would pray for him. (Perhaps you would too.)
I preached with all my heart to those who could fit in the chapel, and to the rest by closed circuit television. G.B. (and three others on Death Row) told me they’d be watching. I pulled no punches:

For 90% of you the next stop is not home and family, but heaven or hell. O what glorious news we have in that situation. And believe me it is not the prosperity of Gospel. Jesus came and died and rose again not mainly to be useful, but to be precious. And that he can be in Angola as well as Atlanta. Perhaps even more.

How NOT to be a Missional Church

I found these posts by Jonathan Dodson very interesting.

I would love to hear your thoughts on some of these suggestions. Dodson lists three ways to ensure your church is not "missional."

1. Be Event Driven. Click here to read.

2. Be Evangelism Driven. Click here to read.

3. Be Social-Action Driven. Click here to read.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Great Date Night Ideas!

There are some good ideas in this list. “Tired of the old dinner-and-a-movie routine, but not sure what else to do on your date nights? Try these eight ideas to get your creative juices flowing!”

Suffering, Adoption, and the Gospel

Below is a post from Mike Pohlman from the Gospel Coalition site...

Suffering, Adoption, and the Gospel

Dan Cruver, director of Together for Adoption, has a moving couple of blog posts describing what he learned about the gospel of Christ through the suffering and death of his first son Daniel and adoption of his second son Noah Daniel.

Thank you, Dan, for your willingness to share the comfort you’ve received in Christ with those who may be in the midst of affliction (cf. 2 Cor. 1:3-7).

Part 1
Part 2

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Church's Role in Orphan Care

Via Zach Nielson's blog, I was led to this brief article from Matt Capps regarding the church's role in the global orphan crisis.

The post is below. Click here to go directly to his blog and to see a video apparently he and his church put together for Orphan Sunday.

"The very existence of orphans shows us that something has gone terribly wrong in creation. It’s been estimated that there are 143 million orphans in the world. Just for perspective, that’s almost half the population of the United States. In other words, that is 1 orphan for every 47 people in the world.

"As Christians we understand that the orphan crisis has a direct connection to the devastation of sin brought about by the fall of man. Consider the reasons why children are abandoned. These children have lost their parents because of war, genocide, natural disaster, disease, poverty, and the list goes on and on. The root problem goes back to the garden; sin is the “great orphan maker.” As Christians, we know that Christ destroyed the power of sin at the cross, and offers redemption by grace.

"As Christians we are adopted as sons and daughters and God uses us as the vehicles by which he demonstrates his love to a lost world. Think about it, the church is the community that gives the world a foretaste of the renewed creation, when all things will be “made new”. We have the responsibility of living now in light of what will one day be. And, who is more fully equipped to address the global orphan crisis than the church is?

"We are the people who have been entrusted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the eternal message of hope. We understand that “one day the very word orphan will be eliminated from the human vocabulary.” But until that day comes we as a church have a responsibility to proclaim the gospel not only in word, but in deed. Remember what James wrote, “religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

"Ed Stetzer has rightly said that “even the un-churched know that Jesus was involved in social justice, and they often wonder why the church is not. You are the church” I believe that God is moving in the global Church right now on behalf of these children. Let’s be honest, 143 million is a very large number. Now, some of these orphans end up in relatives homes, but many of them don’t. If these children survive it is because of orphanages, foster homes, and adoption. How can God use you in the work of orphan care?"

Personal Bible Study Help

Today at Justin Taylor's blog, he posts two articles on how to better study your Bible. The subject headings have to do with asking questions of the Bible to help one probe deeper into what it says.

The first one (written by Taylor himself) "Asking Good Questions of the Bible" offers some very simple and helpful advice:

One of the challenges of biblical interpretation is that some sentences–especially in Paul–can have so much information tightly packed into them. Skim the surface of them and you may have a general sense of what he’s saying, but God is in the details!

Here’s one suggestion. Try to put down on paper the various questions that the passage is answering. You might want to start with the standard questions (who, what, when, where, why, how).

Here’s one example: a single sentence from Romans 8:3-4:
By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

How do all these clauses relate to each other?

Here are some questions you can ask to find out:
What did God do?
He condemned sin in the flesh.
(Note: this is why Rom. 8:1 — “no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”–is true. God has to condemn sin; he will either condemn your sin, or he has already condemned your sin in the sacrifice of his Son. Unite with Jesus and condemnation is gone forever.)

How did God condemn sin in the flesh?
By sending his own Son [Jesus].

How did Jesus come?
In the likeness of sinful flesh.

Why (negatively) did Jesus come?
For sin.

Why (positively) did Jesus come?
In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled.

In whom?

In us.

Who are we (negatively)?
Those who do not walk according to the flesh.

Who are we (positively)?
Those who walk according to the Spirit.

The second post is a written interview with Gerald Bray on asking the right questions of the Bible. Very, very helpful and, in my opinion, sound advice:

Three Questions with Gerald Bray: On Three Questions to Ask of Biblical Texts
Gerald Bray is Research Professor at Beeson Divinity School at Samford University, and director of research for the Latimer Trust. This fall he is Scholar in Residence at Union University. He has taught theology for 30 years, is the author of numerous books, and is the editor of IVP’s Contours of Christian Theology series, penning its inaugural volume on The Doctrine of God. He is also the other of a large volume introducing the history of Biblical Interpretation. (Just to give you a sense of his learning and global interests, he is fluent in French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Greek and Russian.)
He’s graciously answered a few questions for us on the basic questions to ask when interpreting Scripture.

What are the questions we should ask when approaching a passage of Scripture?
The first question we must ask of every biblical text is simply this—what does it tell us about God? What does it say about who he is and about what he does?

The second question is: what does this text say about us human beings? What are we meant to be and what has gone wrong?

The third and final question is: what has God done about this and what does he expect of us in the light of what he has done?

Asking these questions and seeking answers to them will help us interpret the Spirit’s message to Christ’s people and to each of us as individuals.

What about sections of Scripture that seem hard to apply? I’m thinking, for example, of the genealogies of 1 Chronicles.
These genealogies bring us a message from God even if they appear on the surface to be barren and unprofitable. All we have to do in order to understand them is to ask the right questions about them and their meaning will be quickly opened up to us.

Let me ask you, then, to answer the three questions you posed above. What do they teach us about God?
They tell us that he is a faithful God, who keeps his covenant from one generation to another. Whoever we are and however far we may be from the source of our human life in Adam, we are part of his plan. Over the centuries we may have developed in different ways, lost contact with one another and even turned on each other in hostility, but in spite of all that we are still related to one another and interconnected in ways that may go beyond our immediate understanding or experience.

What do they tell us about ourselves?
They say that most of us are nobodies from the world’s point of view. We live and die in a long chain of humanity but there is not much that anyone will remember of us as individuals. At the same time, without us, future generations will not be born and the legacy of the past will not be preserved. We are part of a great cloud of witnesses, a long chain of faithful people who have lived for God in the place where he put them. Even if we know little about them we owe them a great debt of gratitude for their loyalty and perseverance when they had little or nothing to gain from it or to show for it.

What do they tell us about God’s dealings with us?
They tell us that we too are called to be obedient and to keep the faith we have inherited, passing it on undiminished to the next generation. They tell us that there is a purpose in our calling that goes beyond ourselves. Even if we are not glorified and leave little for posterity to remember us by, we shall nevertheless have made an indispensable contribution to the purposes of God in human history.

Noel Piper Blogs about Their Adoption

For anyone interested, Noel Piper (wife of John Piper), has posted several articles about the adoption of their little girl Talitha.

Her blog is entitled, "Let The Nations Be Glad."

Another Great Quote from Keller's 'Counterfeit Gods'

I cannot recommend this book enough. It has laid my soul bare and liberated me to pursue with all of my heart the one, true idol: the Lord Jesus.

Order it today! Buy several copies and give them away as Christmas gifts for people you love. They will thank you for it! Go here to order it from Amazon.

Another great quote I read this morning:

"Idolatry is not just a failure to obey God, it is a setting of the whole heart on something besides God. This cannot be remedied only by repenting that you have an idol, or using willpower to try to live differently. Turning from idols is not less than those two things, but is also far more. 'Setting your mind and heart on things above' where 'your life is hid with Christ in God' (Colossians 3:1-3) means appreciation, rejoicing, and resting in what Jesus has done for you. It entails joyful worship, a sense of God's reality in prayer. Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol. That is what will replace your counterfeit gods. If you uproot the idol and fail to 'plant' the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.

"Rejoicing and repentance must go together. Repentance without rejoicing will lead to despair. Rejoicing without repentance is shallow and will only provide passing inspiration instead of deep change. Indeed, it is when we rejoice over Jesus' sacrificial love for us most fully that, paradoxically, we are most truly convicted of our sin. When we repent out of fear of consequences, we are not really sorry for the sin, but for ourselves. Fear based repentance ('I'd better change or God will get me') is really self-pity. In fear-based repentance, we don't learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn't lose its attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake. But when we rejoice over God's sacrificial, suffering love for us--seeing what it cose Him to save us from sin -- we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God. What most assures us of God's unconditional love (Jesus' costly death) is what that most convicts us of the evil of sin. Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.

"...The gospel asks, What is operating in the placeo f Jesus Christ as your real, functional salvation and Savior? What are you looking to in order to justify yourself? Whatever it is, is a counterfeit god, and to make a change in your life, yo umust identify it and reject it as such."

(pages 171, 172, and 174)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Super Cool World Clock

Click here to check out the World Clock at the Joshua Project web-site. It is really neat and full of information.

Dan Cruver on "What Should Motivate Us to Give Financially for the Good of an Orphan?"

Dan Cruver, at Together for Adoption writes the following:

What should motivate us to give financially for the good of an orphan?
by Dan ~ November 12th, 2009

Here’s one way to motivate people to give financially for the good of an orphan: “If you make at least $30,000 annually, your income is in the top 7.16% worldwide. You are one of the wealthiest people in the world. Orphans are the poorest in the world. What’s preventing you from giving financially for the good of an orphan? You can certainly afford to give something!”

Here’s another: “‘You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich’ (2 Corinthians 8:9). You know what it’s like to be the poorest of the poor. Remember that you were at one time without hope and without God in this world. You were a spiritual orphan. But God in His great kindness sent His Son so that you might receive adoption of sons. When Jesus was forsaken by his Father at the cross, he suffered infinite poverty. He was forsaken so that you could be forever embraced. Look at how much you are loved! The love of the Father is your main wealth. When Jesus became poor for your sake, he gave you the eternal embrace of his Father.”
Both of these ways of motivation are legitimate. But the first seeks to motivate Christians merely on ethical grounds. The second seeks to motivate by overwhelming them with the wealth of love that is theirs in Jesus. Tim Keller, commenting on 2 Corinthians 8:9, writes:
Jesus, the God-Man, had infinite wealth, but if he had held on to it, we would have died in our spiritual poverty. That was the choice—if he stayed rich, we would die poor. If he died poor, we could become rich. Our sins would be forgiven, and we would be admitted into the family of God. Paul was not giving this church a mere ethical precept, exhorting them to stop loving money so much and become more generous. Rather, he recapitulated the gospel.
This is what Paul was saying. Jesus gave up all his treasure in heaven, in order to make you his treasure—for you are a treasured people (1 Peter 2:9-10). When you see him dying to make you his treasure, that will make him yours. Money will cease to be the currency of your significance and security, and you will want to bless others with what you have. To the degree that you grasp the gospel, money will have no dominion over you. Think on his costly grace until it changes you into generous people” (Counterfeit Gods, 67-68).

Yes, it is important to let people know what economic class they are in. We need to know how wealthy we are in comparison to most everyone else in the world. But if you really want to see people give, if you really want to see Christians become generous givers for the benefit of orphans, give them a fresh telling of the gospel. Melt their hearts with the good news of the gospel. Nothing motivates like the gospel. Nothing.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sermon Outlines from Yesterday Morning and Evening

Sunday Morning, November 15th, 2009

"A Godward View of Money According to Ecclesiastes"
Ecclesiastes 5:10-20, 6:1-6

Three Ways Money and/or Possessions are Meaningless in these Verses:

I. Wanting a lot of Money as Meaningless from Earth’s Perspective

II. Having A lot of Money as Meaningless from Earth’s Perspective

III. Owning A lot of Stuff as Meaningless from Earth’s Perspective (6:1-6)

The Key to a Joy-filled Life: Contentment with God (5:18-20)

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Philippians 4:11-13
1 Timothy 6:6-8

Moving Toward a Life with Contentment and Joy in God:

1. Work toward putting a cap on your current lifestyle.

2. Getting more money is to be viewed as a direct means of demonstrating your supreme love of God.

3. Believe that this current economic recession or strenuous year for a farmer as a means of God’s protective grace for your soul.

4. Ecclesiastes 5 and 6 is not only true of an individual or a family, but true for the way a church operates as well.

5. Do an honest evaluation of your heart to, seeking as to whether or not your hope and joy is found in money or in God.

Sunday Evening, November 15th, 2009

“For GOD Has Done…” cont’d
Romans 8:1-17

How is it that one can know for certain that this has actually happened? (vs. 5-17)

(3). There is a longing to destroy the sinful works of the flesh (vs. 12-13).

What we must recognize right up front in Romans 8:12-13:

(a). Recognize where I get this third way to be certain of salvation.

(b). Recognize that there is a direct connection between verse 12 and what has gone before it (“So then…”)

(c). Recognize that the Christian life is war with one’s self.

Ways to fight indwelling sin according to Romans 8:12-13:

1. Ponder and embrace why Paul does NOT say that believers are debtors to the Spirit.

2. Be confident that you already have the power to fight sin by the Spirit that is in you.

3. Know clearly, however, what your role is and that overcoming sin is not automatic.

a.Recall that the war is not with the deeds themselves but within the spirit before
the deeds are committed – Ephesians 6:10-12
b.Fight inferior pleasures with a superior pleasure – John 16:13-14
c.Fight lies with truth – Ephesians 6:17
d.Fight by hoping in the greater outcome: life – Hebrews 12:1-2

Some of God's Purposes for the Recession

Yesterday morning I mentioned that this current economic recession we are in is actually a gift of God's grace for our souls. We are being forced to evaluate and think through some of the things that really matter in our lives and what things are ultimately important. God is giving us the chance to hope in Him and remember that our hope is not in our bank accounts or in our stuff.

I had planned on quoting from John Piper who had preached a sermon on this very thought a year or so ago. You can read, listen to, or watch his sermon here.

He lists five possible purposes of God in the recession (I was going to list the five in my message). They are:

(Some of) God’s Purposes in This Recession

1. He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.

2. He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind.

3. He intends to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth.

4. He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.

5. He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.

Tim Keller Quote from Yesterday

During yesterday morning's message, I quoted from Tim Keller's book Counterfeit Gods. You can order it directly from Amazon by clicking here. I highly recommend it.

Here's the quote:

"Sin in our hearts affects our basic motivational drives so they become idolatrous, 'deep idols.' Some people are strongly motivated by a desire for influence and power, while others are more excited by approval or appreciation. Some want emotional and physical comfort more than anything else, while still others want security, the control of their environment. People with the deep idol of power do not mind being unpopular in order to gain influence. People who are most motivated by approval are the opposite--they will gladly lose power and control as long as everyone thinks wells of them. Each deep idol--power, approval, comfort, or control--generates a different set of fears and a different set of hopes.

" 'Surface idols' are things such as money, our spouse, or children, through which our deep idols seek fulillment. We are often superficial in the analysis of our idol structures. For example, money can be a surface idol that serves to satisfy more foundational impulses. Some people want lots of money as a way to control their world and life. Such people usually don't spend much money and live very modestly. They keep it all safely saved and invested, so they can feel completely secure in the world. Others want money for access to social circles and to make themselves beautiful and attractive. These people do spend their money on themselves in lavish ways. Other people want money because it gives them so much power over others. In every case, money functions as an idol and yet, because of various deep idols, it results in very different patterns of behavior.

"The person using money to serve a deep idol of control will often feel superior to people using money to attain power or social approval. In every case, however, money-idolatry enslaves and distorts lives."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jerry Rankin on the Great Commission Resurgence

Below is an article from Baptist Press reporting on a recent meeting between Jerry Rankin (current president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention) and the IMB trustees. I, personally, think his words, thoughts, and challenges are right on the mark and we would all do well to heed diligently what he advises.

SHREVEPORT, La. (BP)--If Southern Baptists truly want to experience a Great Commission resurgence, they must turn their backs on business as usual and be willing to make radical changes in their missions commitment and approach, Jerry Rankin told International Mission Board trustees Nov. 10 in Shreveport, La.Rankin, who plans to retire as IMB president July 31, 2010, believes the 23-member task force studying how Southern Baptists can be more effective in obeying the Great Commission will bring some radical recommendations to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting June 15-16, 2010, in Orlando, Fla."We should not be afraid of making radical changes. If we come out just kind of tweaking what we are doing to try to do it a little better, that would be most unfortunate," Rankin said. "We are at a watershed time in history, with an unprecedented opportunity. God has blessed us and we must not become ingrown and self-focused, committed simply to continuing what we are doing in the way we are doing it. We've got to be willing to change."

Rankin said he finds some merit in the idea of merging the denomination's international and North American mission boards but only to the extent that it helps Southern Baptists accomplish the mandate to take the Gospel to "the the ends of the earth" and "make disciples of all nations.""If we're thinking of combining [the two boards] just for the sake of efficiency, thinking it will release more funds to be more focused on our mission task, I think that would be a huge misperception," Rankin said.Trying to merge the two entities could merely wind up creating "a complex, bureaucratic structure that would dilute the effectiveness of what each of us is doing," Rankin said.On the other hand, the current geographic dichotomy between North American and international missions "doesn't make a lot of sense and is a detriment to fulfilling our Great Commission task," he said. Nearly every "people group we would ever hope to reach anywhere in the world is found right here in our own country," Rankin said. "If there could be a way to come to a global missions entity that is focused on evangelizing and planting indigenous churches and reaching all the peoples of the world, whether here or overseas, there could be some merit in that.... We could not afford to be diluted in [the] focus and application of our resources on taking the Gospel to all peoples.

"One challenge in facilitating a Great Commission resurgence among Southern Baptists lies in that "Great Commission" is not a term found in the Bible and people differ in their definitions of its mandate, Rankin added.While the Bible passage usually identified as the Great Commission -- Matthew 28:19-20 -- makes it clear that Christ's mandate is to make disciples of all the world's people groups, the words of Jesus in Acts 1:8 often are misunderstood, Rankin said.When Jesus told the disciples they would be His witnesses "in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth," He was outlining the progression the Gospel would take as it moved toward the "ends of the earth," Rankin said. Understood in the light of Matthew 28:19-20, the Great Commission is to focus on people groups that have yet to hear the Gospel and become disciples, he explained."Certainly God wants us to reach our home community, to evangelize our state, to minister to people in need," Rankin told IMB trustees. "But let's not misuse the Scripture to divert our attention from the focus of what the Great Commission is all about: reaching the ends of the earth, those that are yet to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"I am quite concerned we will miss [a Great Commission resurgence] if we miss that very foundation of what we're talking about when we talk about a Great Commission resurgence: to restore Southern Baptists to God's heart, God's priority as His people in reaching the nations and peoples of the world," Rankin said."If you define the Great Commission as anything and everything we do as a denomination, an increase in baptisms, more healthy churches, greater cultural impact on our society, there's not going to be a lot of change because we will just continue to do anything and everything the best that we can," Rankin said. "But I am convinced that God has blessed Southern Baptists, He has raised us up in numbers and resources, not to take pride in being a great denomination and how many programs we can implement and how well we can do them but to be His instrument to reach a lost world and fulfill His mission."

Rankin noted a recent report from Empty Tomb, a Christian research organization in Champaign, Ill., that Southern Baptists set a goal several years ago to fulfill the Great Commission and complete the task of reaching all peoples with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and calculated that if Southern Baptists could field 8,000 international missionaries, the remaining unreached people groups realistically could be engaged.The report, however, then went on to analyze what Southern Baptists do with the billions Southern Baptist churches receive each year and the amount of money actually allocated by the denomination to send out missionaries and finish the task of the Great Commission, Rankin said. The research organization's conclusion was that the Southern Baptist Convention has obviously implemented a goal not to fulfill the goal of the Great Commission, Rankin said. "We must be very careful of how we speak of other entities in our denomination. I know the leadership of our state conventions, our SBC entities, how conscientious they are, how sincerely dedicated to serving the Lord ... and the wonderful job they are doing. That's not the issue," Rankin said. "If we are to have a Great Commission resurgence, we've got to be willing to ask, 'How does it all stack up in relation to reaching the nations and getting the Gospel to the ends of the earth.'"

Mark Kelly, an assistant editor with Baptist Press, wrote this article for the International Mission Board. The picture posted above was retrieved from the Baptist Press web-site.