Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kevin DeYoung on the Gospel and Christian Busyness

I just read an incredible article written by Kevin DeYoung. He blogs here. I will post the article (warning: it's lengthy!) below. For me, it was extremely helpful. I pray it will be for many of you as well. Yes, I plan to make the staff read it too! The last sentence of the article reads this way (just to whet your appetite): "Because the secret of the Gospel is that we actually do more when we hear less about all we need to do for God and hear more about all that God has already done for us." Wow.

"On Mission, Changing the World, and Not Being Able to Do it All"

This is a topic I’ve thought about a lot. It is sort of a personal issue as well as theological, so this post gets a tad lengthy. I thought about posting this over several days, but I think people tune out over a week. Plus I want you to be able to read the whole thing at once, so that you don’t wonder where I’m going with this thread.

So basically, I’m posting several days worth of blogging today. I probably won’t post again for a few days, so if this is more than you want to read in one sitting, come back tomorrow and the next day and finish up. I hope something here will be helpful for you and give you freedom as you love and follow Christ.

Busy, Busy, Dreadfully Busy
I have always been a busy person. I don’t say this as any kind of pat on the back. Sometimes busyness is a good thing. Sometimes it’s not. It’s just the way things have been for me. In high school I ran track, cross country, played intramural basketball, did National Honor Society, marching band (French horn thank you very much), tried the Spanish Club, sang in a musical, did church twice on Sunday, Sunday school, youth group, and a Friday morning Bible Study. In college I ran a season of track, played several intramural sports, led our Fellowship of Christian Students group, went to voluntary chapel every time it was offered, sang in the church choir, sang in the college chapel choir, participated in the church college group, helped with Boys Brigade on Wednesday nights, went to church on Sunday, then Sunday school, then evening church, then our chapel gathering that could go until 11:00pm. I have always tried to do a lot of different things. I like doing things. I like being involved.

Needless to say, I was very busy in high school and college, too busy at times. But I found a way to manage my time, get things done, and do pretty well to very well at most things. But once I got to seminary my usual busyness, already a problem, was weighed down further by feelings of guilt, misplaced guilt I think. I was studying hard in my classes, going through the lengthy ordination process for my denomination, interning at my church, preaching once in awhile, singing in up to three different choirs, playing ultimate frisbee every Saturday, participating in an every-week accountability group, doing the usual church twice on Sunday plus Sunday school, plus midweek children’s catechism class, and I was leading the missions committee at seminary. I had lots of fun in seminary. It was a great time of life. But I also felt burdened, not only by all the things I was doing, but by all the things I could be doing. High school and college has plenty of opportunities too, but in seminary all of the opportunities were good, godly, this-is-what-good-Christians-do kind of opportunities. Sure, I did a lot, probably more than most, but I didn’t go to every chapel. I didn’t take advantage of every special speaker. I didn’t do much with the evangelism committee (only going into Salem to do street evangelism once on Halloween–yikes!). I attended a lot of prayer meetings, but those amazing Koreans always attended more. I didn’t have the time, it seemed, to do everything the Bible required of me.

And even if I could have found time to do all that was available, I knew that deep in my heart I just wasn’t as interested in youth ministry (to cite one example) as some others. My passion didn’t run as deep for the 10/40 window as I wanted it to. I just couldn’t muster sufficient enthusiasm for all the good causes and ideas out there. I couldn’t even keep up with all my prayer cards for all these good things.

Doing More for God
I understand there are lazy people out there (and believe me I can be lazy too sometimes). I understand there are lots of Christians in our churches sitting around doing nothing and they need to be challenged not to waste their life (seriously, I love that book and think Piper motivates for radical Christianity in the right way). I understand that many people in the evangelical world are far from generous with their resources and fritter their time away on inane television shows. But even with these important caveats, we really must be much more careful with out urgent and incessant pleas to “do more” for God. It’s the lazy and/or immature preacher who ends every sermon with a call to do more–more evangelism, more discipleship, more prayer, more giving, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. It’s the Seinfeld approach to application: “More anything? More everything!”

I know the “buts.” But people are selfish. People are insulated. People are pursuing the American dream instead of risk-taking discipleship. Amen to all of those concerns. We need to be challenged, but in ways we can actually obey, not pummeled into law-induced submission until we finally feel completely rotten about most everything in life and admit we aren’t doing enough for the poor, the lost, the children, the elderly, the least of these, fill in the blank. Is the goal of Christianity really to leave everyone feeling like terrible a parent, spouse, friend, or neighbor all the time?

I believe there will always be more indwelling sin in my life and I believe that I will never do a good deed perfectly. But I don’t believe God gives us impossible demands in which we should always feel like failures. For example, God wants us to be generous. That’s clear from the Bible. And while it’s true that so long as we have something we could always give more away, isn’t it possible that some people you know actually are generous. Sure, they could do more. We always can do more. But they are still generous. They are obedient to this biblical command.

When the pastor preaches on generosity the goal should not be to make every last person feel like a miserable, miserly wretch. Because unless you live in some Godforsaken locale, there are probably people in your church who practice generosity. A good sermon on generosity might spur them on to further love and good deeds but it should not leave them feeling like complete failures. We may all have reason to repent after every sermon. But we don’t have to repent for every issue brought up in a sermon. Sometimes, by God grace, we do get it right. The problem with “do more” Christianity is that no one is ever allowed to get it right. And the problem, ironically enough, with never allowing anyone to get it right, is that fewer people feel like getting it right really matters.

Thing One and Thing Two (And Thing Three and Thing Four...)
The Bible is a big book and there’s a lot in there. So the Bible says a lot about the poor, about marriage, about children, about evangelism, about missions, about justice; it says a lot about a lot. Almost anyone can make a case that their thing should be the main thing or at least one of the most important things. But what often happens in churches (or church movements) is that the person with the “thing” thinks everyone else should devote their lives to the “thing” too. So churches squabble over limited resources, and people feel an abiding sense of guilt over not caring enough or doing enough about the ten other things that other people in the church care about more than they do.

Maybe it’s because I’m Type A or left brained or a beaver or an ESTJ or a good pastor or a people-pleasing sinner, but I often feel like I could, perhaps should, be doing more. I could do more evangelism. I could pray more. I could invite people over for dinner more. Because of this tendency I actually prefer the “do not” commands of Scripture. “Do not commit adultery”–that’s tough if you take the whole lust thing into account. Obeying this command requires prayer, accountability, repentance, and grace. But it doesn’t require me to start a non-profit or spend another evening away from my family. I just (just!) need to put to death the deeds of the flesh, die to myself and live to Christ.

Not committing adultery is, of course, easier said than done, but the command doesn’t overwhelm me. Changing the world, doing something about the global AIDS crisis, tackling homelessness–those things overwhelm me. What can I do? Where do I start? How will I find the time? I have four small kids, a full-time job, I give much more than 10% away to Christian causes, I try to share Jesus with my neighbors, I pray with my kids before bed, I’m trying to be a better husband. So is it possible, just possible, that God is not asking me to do anything about sex trafficking right now?

Before you think I’m a total nut-job and scream “physician heal thyself”, let me hasten to add: I do understand the gospel. I know that all this talk of what I should be doing or could be doing is not healthy. I know that. And I’m really doing fine. I’m not on the verge of burnout or breakdown or anything like that. Most days I don’t feel guilty about all the stuff I’m not doing. But that’s only because I’ve learned to ignore a lot of things well-meaning Christians say or write. I’m only 32 and already I’m worn out by urgent calls to transform the culture or rid the world of hunger or usher in an age or world peace. I’m not a cynic, at least I hope not. I just realize there is only so much I can do. I also realize that right now that my main work is to lead my family, shepherd my church, and preach faithful sermons. If I do these things, by God’s grace, and grow in one more degree of glory this week (again, by God’s grace), should I still feel guilty for all that I’m not doing in the world?

Two Blessings Along the Way
Two resources were very helpful to me as I wrestled with all of this in seminary. The first was the senior sermon preached to my class by Gordon Hugenberger of Park Street Church. The sermon was based on John the Baptist’s words “I freely confess I am not the Christ.” Hugenberger’s point to a group of soon-to-be pastors was simple. “Look, you are just the best man, not the groom. You are not the Messiah. Don’t act like it. Don’t let people force you to be something you are not. Don’t let them expect too much from you. Confess to yourself and to your people: I am not the Christ.” I still have a copy of the sermon (thanks Joey) and listen to it from time to time. Many pastors would do well to remember this humble and freeing confession. And many churchgoers would be thankful to have their pastors let up on all the “go do the mission of Jesus” sermons. He was the Christ after all and we are not.

The second resource that helped me was a little book called Beyond Duty: A Passion for Christ, A Heart for Mission by Tim Dearborn, who, at the time of the book’s publication, worked for World Vision (and still may, I don’t know). Dearborn talks about all the urgent appeals in the church to “modify our lifestyles to enable a more just distribution of the world’s resources, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, build homes for the poor, tear down all barriers that unjustly divide humankind, enable the reduction of the world’s arsenals in pursuit of peace...” He argues that for too long the church has motivated people to mission by news of natural catastrophes, complex humanitarian disasters, unreached people groups, and oppressed and exploited minorities. We’ve been given statistics and we’ve been told all about the sad condition of the world. The take home from all this has been to give more, care more, serve more, love more, sacrifice more. The good news of Christ’s death and resurrection had been turned into bad news about all the problems in the world and how much more we have to do to make things right.

Again, I know what you are going to say: but we do need to love, serve, and sacrifice. Absolutely, we do. But here’s what else we need to realize:

1) We all have different callings. Every Christian must give an answer for the reason for the hope that we have, but not everyone will do beach evangelism. Every Christian should be generous, but not everyone will live in the inner city. Every Christian should oppose abortion, but not everyone who march in protests or volunteer at crisis pregnancy centers.

2) The church, not the individual Christian, is God’s body in the world. We all have different gifts and the body has many different members. Even if I never directly engage the issue of AIDS in Africa, the church (through individuals or corporately) can still be showing the compassion of Christ to these orphans.

3) Even Jesus left good work undone some days. Even Jesus got tired. Even Jesus couldn’t do it all (in a manner of speaking).

4) God is the one who does the work, builds his kingdom, renews his world. As Dearborn says, “It is not the church of God that has a mission in the world, but the God of mission who has a church in the world.”

5) Greater is he that is in me that he that is in the world. The most important work to be done in the world has already been accomplished.

On top of all this, we need to make sure our exhortations to do more rise to the level of God’s glory and sink deep into the gospel. If the exhortations don’t culminate in the glory of God then the youth people and the evangelism people and the poverty people are not really after the same thing. They are just competing interest groups in your church or in your mind. And if the exhortations don’t go deep into the gospel (and they often don’t), then we are just beating up others and ourselves with utopian dreams and masochistic oughts.

The gospel of Christ crucified for sinners is of first importance after all. So don’t forget: God loves you. God forgives you. God redeems you. God keeps you. God was here before you and will be here long after you. The truth, the world, the church, the lost, the poor, the children are not dependent upon you.

Light and Easy, No?
I’m not for a minute advocating a cheap grace or an easy-believeism. But the yoke still is easy, right? And the burden still is light, is it not? The danger–and it’s a danger I’ve fallen foul of in my own preaching–is that in all our efforts to be prophetic, radical, and missional, we end up getting the story of Pilgrim’s Progress exactly backwards. “Come to the cross, Pilgrim, see the sacrifice for your sins. Isn’t that wonderful? Now bend over and let me load this burden on your back. There’s a lot of work we have to do, me and you.” A cross, yes. Jesus said we would have to carry one of those. But a cross that kills our sins, smashes our idols, and teaches us the folly of self-reliance. Not a burden to do the impossible. Not a burden to always do more for Jesus. Not a burden of bad news that never lets up and obedience that is always out reach.

No doubt some Christians need to be shaken out of their lethargy. I try to do that every Sunday morning and evening. But there are also a whole bunch of Christians who need to be set free from their performance-minded, law-keeping, world-changing, participate-with-God-in-recreating-the-cosmos shackles. I promise you, some of the best people in your churches are getting tired. They don’t need another rah-rah pep talk. They don’t need to hear more statistics and more stories Sunday after Sunday about how bad everything is in the world. They need to hear about Christ’s death and resurrection. They need to hear how we are justified by faith apart from works of the law. They need to hear the old, old story once more. Because the secret of the gospel is that we actually do more when we hear less about all we need to do for God and hear more about all that God has already done for us.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Great Post on Leadership by Thom Rainer

I thought this was another excellent article posted by Thom Rainer. Again, he blogs here. I copied his post below:

"From Bad Leaders to Good Leaders"

Sometimes I just like to look through the old files.

They tell the stories of hundreds of consultations I led from 1988 to 2005. During that time I led the Rainer Group, formerly known as Church Growth Visions, to help churches all across North America. When I became president of LifeWay Christian Resources, I closed the company and Sam Rainer continued the work through Rainer Research.

The files I love to review are the stories of churches that made positive changes. Inevitably, each of these success stories has another great story within it. I then remember how leaders in these churches made changes in their own lives. Many of them didn’t believe at first that it was possible, and then God began to change them. He gave them strength they never knew they could have.

And they went from bad leaders to good leaders.

When Change Is Good

The bad leaders were not necessarily bad persons. But there was something about their leadership styles and efforts that was detrimental to the churches they led and served.
The good news is that a number of these leaders did make significant changes. They were willing to listen to input and seek God’s strength to move in a positive direction. As a consequence the churches they led became healthier as they made the changes.

Look at seven of these major transitions by the leaders. Every leader I studied in these files made at least one, and some made several, of the changes.

Seven Major Transitions
From Arrogance to Humility. While some of the weaker leaders lacked confidence, others were simply self-centered. Sometimes our congregational surveys would reveal this perception. It was heartening to hear some of the leaders acknowledge their self-sufficiency, and move toward greater humility.

From Caution to Faith. On the other hand, some of the leaders were fearful of doing anything significant lest they offend someone or engender criticism. When they made the positive transition, they began to take steps of faith. The critics did not go away, but the vast majority of the church gladly followed.

From Inwardly-focused to Outwardly-focused. It was not uncommon to see some of the struggling leaders focus all of their attention on the needs of those in the church. While those needs should not be neglected, a church whose ministries are primarily focused inwardly is already dying. These leaders led their churches in the spirit of Acts 6:1-7, from self-centered to missional.

From Activity-driven to Goal-driven. The Apostle Paul said, “I pursue as my goal . . .” (Philippians 3:14, HCSB). His mission was one that was goal-centered toward Christ. Struggling leaders make the activities and the programs their goals. Those who became goal-driven looked at the reason behind the activities and focused in that direction.

From Credit-seeking to Credit-deflecting. It was absolutely amazing to watch these leaders move from persons who sought recognition and credit to persons who only desired that God be given the glory. They were also quick to praise and compliment others and to give others the credit.

From Prayerless to Prayerful. Leaders are often so busy that they take little time to pray. Those who became great leaders knew the Source of their strength, and they made time to pray. And it seems that the more prayerful the leaders became, the more prayer-filled their churches became.

From Somber to Joyful. One of the greatest rewards of observing these transitions was to see leaders move from a near joyless disposition to people who “rejoice(d) in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). Their joy was contagious, and they led churches to become congregations of joy.

Stories Recalled, Lessons Learned

I did enjoy reviewing the old files. It reminded me again of what a great work God has done in the lives of many leaders. It reminded me again of the positive changes that took place in the churches they served.

But, above all, the files reminded me that those lessons should apply to me every day. If I’m not the leader God wants me to be, then I must stop leading. Still, I remembered in these stories that when we mess up, the God of all love and forgiveness will give us yet another opportunity.

Thank God for changed leaders.

Thank God for changed churches.

Thank God for changed lives.

And thank God that He can still change me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Platt on the Gospel and Its Implications

A wonderful video here of David Platt talking about the Gospel. Great stuff!
Thank you God for the heart of David Platt!

Al Mohler on the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention

I hope and pray every Southern Baptist will listen to and heed what Mohler challenges SBCers to in this SBTS Presidential Forum he gave on August 19, 2009.

You can click here to download and listen to the audio.

Or, click here to watch the video.

Mohler also indicates on his blog that he is restarting a new blog devoted to thinking through critical issues within the SBC. You can go there by clicking here.

Memory Verse Card Maker

Click here to go directly to a site that will help you make your own memory verse cards!

Very helpful tool that I hope many will use.

(I found this via Justin Taylor's blog at Between Two Worlds)

Thom Rainer on a Great Commission Resurgence Lifestyle

In my opinion, Rainer posted another very helpful article I thought some of you might be interested in. I think every serious Christian would find his questions helpful. He blogs here. I posted his article below...

"Ten Tough Questions for a Personal Great Commission Resurgence"

It could not be explained by coincidence.

Three people suggested it in an email. A good friend and Christian leader talked about it recently. And my pastor mentioned it in his sermon.

They all spoke of the need for Christians in general, and Christian leaders in particular, to share how God is working in their lives to lead a Great Commission lifestyle. We should not expect a Great Commission Resurgence unless we lead by example.

I am convicted.

Reflecting back in an earlier blog, I wrote about a need for my own personal Great Commission Resurgence. Two months later, I heard from several different sources that I cannot be the leader God wants me to be unless I have a lifestyle that reflects my words.
As a result, I have formulated ten questions for my own life. I don’t plan to be confessional and answer the questions in this forum. But I am responding to God about each of them.
But, without revealing my answers, I will tell you that I have a long way to go. I am consistently inconsistent.
Now, the ten questions . . .

Ten Tough Questions
Do I read and study my Bible daily so I can know what the Word says about a Great Commission lifestyle?
Do I pray each day that God will lead me to a Great Commission lifestyle?
Do I need to reconcile with someone so that God can truly use me in the fulfillment of the Great Commission?
Am I willing to change my lifestyle materially so I might give more and be less dependent on the things of the world?
Do I really show concern for the poor and hurting in this world and in my community?
Would my family testify honestly that I lead a Great Commission lifestyle with them?
Do I have a gentle and loving spirit that reflects the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life?
Do I major on minors?
Do I see the speck in others’ eyes without seeing the plank in mine?
Does my life reflect genuine joy?

What Really Matters

In my church last Sunday, Pastor Mike Glenn asked a series of tough questions as he preached from Jeremiah 36. At the conclusion of the questions he made this statement: “The world does not take us seriously because we do not live serious lives.”

Those words remain with me even now.

Am I really living a serious life for the Gospel? This life is too brief to play a game and call it Christianity. Too much is at stake. Eternity is in the balance.
You see, this blog is for me. If you happen to read it and think it applies to you, that’s fine. But I really need to worry more about me. I do have a long way to go before I can claim my own Great Commission Resurgence.

Lord, I choose to follow You more closely. In Your strength, let my own life reflect the priorities and passions of the Great Commission. And when I fail, convict me and forgive me that I might start anew. May others look at me and see You more clearly in my life. For Your glory Lord, use my life to make difference.

These things I pray in the name of the One You sent to die for me. It is in Jesus’ name I pray.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Great Word from Thom Rainer on Effective Leaders

Thom Rainer, who blogs here, posted this article on the seven traits of effective leaders this morning. Very insightful...

The article is below:

Leadership resources abound.

There are books, courses, conferences, coaching, and mentoring.

There is no shortage of leadership material. So I can’t even pretend to make any significant contribution to the discussion. But there is one area that fascinates me. It’s the matter of the leader’s personality. Again, I know that a plethora of materials and data exist on personality assessments and characteristics, so I’m not likely making any new discoveries or pronouncements.

The Personality of Leaders

Of course, my background is such that most of my observations have been about church leaders and other Christian leaders. In the process of over two decades of research and consultation, I’ve seen and worked with a lot of leaders.

Some of them are effective. Some are not.

And I’ve been fascinated to observe the personality characteristics of these leaders. Over the course of these twenty years, I’ve thus taken copious notes on leaders. I’ve found that some of the most effective leaders share common traits. That is not to suggest that they are personality clones. They do, however, have commonalities.

Seven Common Traits

Since my research is more subjective than not, I don’t want to suggest that this list of personality characteristics is exhaustive. Nor do I want to suggest that the order is one of a particular priority.
Okay, enough disclaimers. Here’s the list:

Effective leaders are loyal. They are loyal to God, their families, and the places where they serve. They are loyal to friends. And their loyalties are intense and clearly noticeable by all who know them.

Effective leaders are joyous and fun. One of the main reasons they are good leaders is because they have eager followers. People like to follow leaders who are fun and who demonstrate obvious joy in their lives. After all, who wants to follow a grumpy and joyless leader?

Effective leaders have a strong work ethic. In fact, one of the greatest challenges of these leaders is maintaining balance. They are prone to be on the task 24/7.

Effective leaders are self-aware. They are able to see their strengths and weaknesses with a great deal of objectivity. They seek out critical evaluations from people they trust to tell them the truth. Because they are self-aware, they are constantly seeking to improve.

Effective leaders take initiative. These leaders do not need to be prodded to complete a task. To the contrary, they go well beyond others’ expectation. Good managers complete an assigned task. But good leaders are regularly envisioning a better way and better strategy.

Effective leaders love people. Some effective leaders are extroverts; they are energized when they are around people. Other effective leaders are introverts. Put them in a crowd sharing small talk, and they will be drained by the end of the day. But both types of leaders have a love for people. They truly care about others. They embody servanthood.

Effective leaders are tenacious. You rarely hear about them giving up. While others may view a setback as failure, the effective leaders see it as an opportunity to move in another direction.

Personalities That Make a Difference

Notice what is not on the personality list. There is no mention of charismatic personalities. And though most of the effective leaders I have observed are pretty smart, they are not necessarily the most intellectual persons I have known.

The good news is that these seven personality traits can be learned. For sure, some traits may be more natural for some people than others. Still, none are beyond the capacity of any leader.
Do you really desire to be an effective leader? Maybe you need a personality change. Well, at least in part. Effective leaders are relatively few in number. But, in God’s strength, you could be added to a group who are really impacting the world with their great leadership personalities.

For Those Wanting to Keep Up with the Great Commission Task Force...

Ronnie Floyd, the chairman of the Task Force, blogged about their first meeting. I include it below. You can go straight to his blog by clicking here.

First Meeting of GCR Task Force is Behind Us

The first meeting of our Great Commission Resurgence Task Force is now behind us. We are so grateful for each member of this group, for their spirit, honesty, and contribution to this process. The Southern Baptist Convention has entrusted us with a big task that we must be good stewards in performing.I believe all of us left our first meeting in Atlanta full of hope and excitement, as well as feeling the burden of responsibility we have to our convention of churches. However, our responsibility is not just to our convention. We feel an even greater responsibility to the lost humanity on this earth. We believe we are accountable to the Lord for this task that has been placed upon us.

The final 30 minutes of our meeting was a press conference which I began by sharing the following words:

The Great Commission Task Force of the Southern Baptist Convention has gathered forour first meeting together. We began with an extended period of prayer and then immediatelygot busy with the job Southern Baptists assigned to us. We talked to each other — with serioustalk, honest talk — but we were able to do this within a context of Christian kindness andfriendship. I am thankful that we are already talking about big issues and looking at bigquestions. This is how I had hoped we would begin. We have a huge job to accomplish and alooming deadline before us.
This much is already clear — our great passion is the Great Commission. We yearn withall our hearts to see Southern Baptists be more faithful in taking the Gospel to the nations.With that as our passion, we will work long, hard, and tirelessly to develop a report thatwill unleash a passion for the Great Commission that will energize Southern Baptists andprioritize our work together. We are so highly honored by this task entrusted to us.

Hopefully this will encourage you. I believe God is answering our prayers.
Please remember, we are pressing towards our goal of at least 5,000 prayer warriors coming alongside of us. If you have not signed up to join us, please do so at: Our greatest need is for you to pray. Take it to your church, your Bible Study class, your Worship Ministry, wherever you go, and encourage others to join us. For the reaching of the nations, we need you to pray with us.

For those who have offered encouragement and your prayer support, on behalf of our group, thank you so much. It means everything to us to know you were and are praying. There were groups who even prayed while we are meeting, every hour we were meeting. Wow, praise the Lord for God’s people who want to see the nations come to our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.Sunday is coming and I am fired up to preach on, “Do You Live a Gospel-Centered Life?” Please pray for us and join us in one of our worship services.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Interview with David Platt at CT

Justin Taylor, at his blog, posted a link to an interview with David Platt given by Collin Hansen from Christianity Today.

Here is what Justin Taylor posted (complete with links):

Christianity Today:

David Platt has preached for seven hours straight. He can recite Romans 1-8 on the spot. He delivered the most powerful sermon in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors' Conference. People brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that his shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.

Okay, so the last item was Peter, not Platt. But enthused congregations are raving about the pastor of the Church at Brooks Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. Three years into his pastorate, David Platt is still only 30 years old. He earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he served as assistant professor of expository preaching and apologetics. Christianity Today editor at large Collin Hansen spoke with Platt to learn about the man behind the mythology and ask about how to build biblical understanding in the local church.

Read Collin's interview with him here.

Excellent Post by Randy Alcorn on Controlling One's Television Intake

Below I paste an article by Randy Alcorn on tips to help control and monitor one's television intake. Click here to go directly to his "Eternal Perspectives" blog.

How do I take charge of the television?

The fact is, you and your children will inevitably adopt the morality of the programs, movies, books, magazines, music, Internet sites, and conversations you participate in. GIGO—garbage in, garbage out; godliness in, godliness out. The cognitive is basic to the behavioral—you become what you choose to feed your mind on.Sow a thought, reap an action;Sow an action, reap a habit.Sow a habit, reap a character.Sow a character, reap a destiny."Above all else, guard your heart [mind, inner being], for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23).If someone wants to pollute water, he pollutes it at its source. If he wants to purify water, he purifies it at its source. Our thoughts are the source of our lives. All our lives flow from our mind, and through the choices we make every day we program our minds, either for godliness or ungodliness.

1. Keep track of how much time you spend watching. (It's much more than you think).

2. Decide in advance how much TV to watch per week. (e.g. No more than six hours, only two nights or weekends).

3. Use a schedule to choose programs for the week (perhaps at family time)— then stick to your choices.

4. Keep your television unplugged, store it in a closet, and/or put it in a remote part of the house (prevents mindless flip-on).

5. Periodically "fast" from television for a week or a month. Notice the "cold turkey" effects. (Avoids addiction, reminds you of all that can be done when TV off).

6. Choose programs that uplift rather than undermine biblical values.

7. Use the "off" switch freely. If it's wrong and you keep watching, you're saying "I approve." (Unless it doesn't present temptation and you're critically analyzing it).

8. Use the channel changer frequently. Even decent programs often have explicit commercial clips of the latest adultery-rape-murder-madstalker-child-kidnapper movies. (Put the channel changer in the hands of one of your kids, under your supervision—let him exercise his conviction).

9. Watch and discuss programs together as a family—to avoid passivity and develop active moral discernment through interaction. (Avoid the second TV set that splits the family and leaves children unsupervised).If this scene or program we just saw was biblically off base or promoted ungodly values, talk about how and why. (Discuss commercials too—have fun debunking them).If there's a program your child wants to watch and you think he shouldn't, consider watching it together one time and ask him to tell you whether or not he thinks Jesus wants him to watch it, and why. (Don't deprive him of moral-decision making—it needs to become his conviction, not just yours).Use programs as a teaching opportunity. "That's disgusting, turn it off" doesn't explain why we should set our minds on godly input and avoid what is ungodly. Use reasoned conviction, not unexplained legalism. Children must dialogue to develop ownership of values. Otherwise, when Mom and Dad aren't there, they'll watch because they won't have the conviction or courage to say "No."

10. Don't allow young children to choose their own programs—that's the parent's responsibility. As they get older, they can choose, but parents should always have veto power. Use it with sensitivity, but use it.

11. Don't use television as a baby sitter. Provide healthy alternatives, such as reading, projects, play and interaction with parents, siblings, and friends.

12. Spend an hour reading Scripture, a Christian book or magazine, or doing a ministry for each hour you watch TV. (It's not enough to get rid of the bad—go out of your way to renew your mind by filling it with the good).

13. Consider dropping cable, Showtime, HBO, or any other service that you determine is importing ungodliness or temptation into your home. (Many people who are fatigued find themselves morally vulnerable to flipping on ungodly programs late at night. In the moment of strength make decisions that will prevent temptation in the moment of weakness—get rid of the source when you can).

14. If you find you can't control it—or you're tired of the battle—get rid of your television.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Louisiana, Jonah 4, and the Great Commission

Tomorrow night (God willing) I will be preaching in Amite, LA at the First Baptist Church there for a youth revival. My plan is to preach from Jonah 4 and show how the entire book of Jonah is a plea from Jonah for the people of God not to waste their lives. Jonah was 'caught' by God loving and setting his affection on that which will be here today and gone tomorrow, while God's affection is on the nations of the world.

In preparing for the message, I visited a couple of sites just to get an idea of the Great Commission Task still before us. It is frightening, big, revealing, and convicting.

God, help us!

Piper on Preparing for Marriage

Today at Desiring God's web-site, a blog post by John Piper was posted regarding marriage preparation. The title of the post is "Questions to Ask When Preparing for Marriage." Considering the topic of conversation last night at E-family, I thought some of you might be interested in what he had to say.

Click here to go directly to this post.

Click here to read another post relating to the man's role as father/husband.

Links to Dr. Mohler's Article and Radio Program on Marrying Early

Last night during the Q and A time of E-family #6, I made mention of an article posted by Dr. Al Mohler earlier this week and and a radio program he did relating to an argument for early marriage. If you recall (if you were there), you will remember this came in the context relating to the question of teenagers and dating.

Below are the links to both of these. Very insightful and very interesting to say the least.

I encourage you to check both of them out.