Sunday, January 31, 2010

More on Dr. Hunt's Call for Southern Baptists to Pray on January 31st, 2010

Though we are not meeting corporately today, I want as many as possible to from WBC to pray for the Southern Baptist Convention. As I posted here yesterday (see #13) I mentioned that the President of our Convention, Johnny Hunt, has called for all Southern Baptists to pray on this day specifically for our convention.

I noticed this morning that the North American Mission Board ( also has a couple of helpful suggestions/items of information.

Click here to go directly to the announcement about the day of prayer from the NAMB.

Click here for a helpful way to prepare your heart for seasons of prayer both corporately and personally.

Click here for suggestions on how to have a concert of prayer as a small group or congregationally.

May God grant our Convention favor until the whole world hears!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

No Church?!?!?! What Can I Do With My Family?

I don't know about you, but I absolutely HATE it when I cannot go to church on Sunday. I love being with the people of God, singing the praises of God, hearing from the Word of God, and praying to an all-sufficient God.

But there are times when the wisest thing for everyone is to cancel. It is very, very rare. But once every couple of years it seems to happen due to inclement weather.

Wynne Baptist Church is closed due tomorrow due mainly to the fact that our sidewalks and entire parking lot(s) are solid sheets of ice. Considering that tonight and tomorrow are supposed to be even colder than today, there just isn't much hope of it being cleared for safe passageway into the building tomorrow.

If you are like me, you already have cabin fever and are wondering what in the world can you do with your kids for ANOTHER day! Well, I can't offer you many suggestions on what to do with your kids, but I can make a couple of suggestions on how to lead your family in family worship tomorrow on the Lord's Day when there is no church building to go to in order to worship corporately. Here are a couple of thoughts:

1. Think of other churches who might be meeting and their pastors/staff and pray for them as they gather for worship.

2. Everybody think of their favorie hymn or praise chorus and sing a verse or two of each.

3. Have everyone share what they are most thankful to God for.

4. Pray for Mark Sandy, Josh Tacito, and Rick Wise as they prepare to go to Central Asia this Friday to work with the Shackelford's.

5. Pray for Lynne Gibel and Becki Dowd as they are with Kevin and Colette Black in the Pacific Rim.

6. Have one or two family members share what passage of Scripture they have been reading/studying and what God has been teaching them from it.

7. If you attended services last Sunday at WBC, review the discussion questions Bro. Matt provided to further think through the truths of the Word from his sermon. (If you do not have your notes, click here. If you weren't there last week and want to view the messages, click here.)

8. To prepare for next Sunday morning's message, read Luke 15:11-32. Considering the context of the text (mainly Luke 15:1-2), ask the family what they believe to be the purpose of the parable. Perhaps ask younger children to draw what they hear as you read it out loud.

9. To prepare for next Sunday evening's message and the observance of the Lord's Supper, talk with your family about the meaning and purpose of the Lord's Supper. Read Matthew 26:17-29, Mark 14:12-25, and Luke 22:7-23. Reread Luke 22:20 and ask why Jesus' blood makes the covenant 'new.' (It's okay if you don't know. It will be what we talk about next Sunday night...Lord willing!).

10. Visit Global Prayer Digest and pray for the Unreached People of the Day. Click here.

11. Talk about the bigness and greatness and majesty of God with your kids and how God can make it super cold when He wants to and He can make it super hot when He wants to.

12. Remind your children as to the importance of corporate worship and how authentic children of God LOVE to get together to encourage one another, challenge one another, rebuke one another, pray for one another, minister to one another, and love one another. Think about how different life would be for you spiritually if there were no corporate worship to go to every week.

13. Tomorrow the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Johnny Hunt, has called on Southern Baptist's to pray for the convention. As most all of you know, our convention is at a very strategic and important time in its history. Click here to read how Dr. Hunt calls for Southern Baptist's to specifically pray. Also, click here to read about the Great Commission Task force that has recently met and how to pray for them.

14. Invite a Christian family over from your neighborhood to do any or all of the preceding suggestions.

15. Invite an unchurched family over from your neighborhood to have a Bible Study and breakfast or lunch or brunch!

These are some some suggestions to get you and your family started. Please leave comments to this post adding any other suggestions you may have that I myself, along with others, can learn from and put into practice. Enjoy extra time with your family tomorrow and, God willing, I will see you next Sunday if not before.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Shack Stuff

From Justin Taylor over at Gospel Coalition

Shack Attack

I’m not sure exactly why now, but there’s been a spate of new reviews of The Shack of late.

Here are three new blog posts:

Tim Keller, “The Shack—Impressions

Albert Mohler, “The Shack—The Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

Fred Sanders, “Making the Most of The Shack

And here are three recent reviews:

Timothy Beal, “Theology for Everyone,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (January 15, 2010), pp. B16-17. [subscription required]

Katherine Jeffrey, “‘I Am Not Who You Think I Am’—Situating The Shack in a Christian Literary Landscape,” Books & Culture (January/February 2010), pp. 33-34.

James B. DeYoung, “Book Review: The Shack by William Paul Young” (PDF)

Tim Keller on The Shack

Gospel Coalition posted a good article by Tim Keller on Young's The Shack.

Click here to read.

Below is a portion of what Keller writes:

"...In the prophets the reader will find a God who is constantly condemning and vowing judgment on his enemies, while the Persons of the Triune-God of The Shack repeatedly deny that sin is any offense to them. The reader of Psalm 119 is filled with delight at God’s statutes, decrees, and laws, yet the God of The Shack insists that he doesn’t give us any rules or even have any expectations of human beings. All he wants is relationship. The reader of the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Isaiah will learn that the holiness of God makes his immediate presence dangerous or fatal to us...."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Calling All Shack Lovers: Please Read for the Good of Your Own Soul

According to Al Mohler,

"The publishing world sees very few books reach blockbuster status, but William Paul Young's The Shack has now exceeded even that. The book, originally self-published by Young and two friends, has now sold more than 10 million copies and has been translated into over thirty languages. It is now one of the best-selling paperback books of all time, and its readers are enthusiastic."

He then proceeds to write a very insightful article on the dangers of Young's work. At the end, Mohler includes helpful links to other insightful reviews of the book.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Great Quotes on Preaching

From Charles Spurgeon:

"Of all I wish to say this is the sum; my brethren, preach Christ, always and evermore. He is the whole gospel. His person, offices, and work must be our one great, all-comprehending theme. The world needs still to be told of its Saviour, and of the way to reach him. Justification by faith should be far more than it is the daily testimony of Protestant pulpits; and if with this master-truth there should be more generally associated the other great doctrines of grace, the better for our churches and our age."

From J.C. Ryle:

“Let us beware of despising preaching. In every age of the Church, it has been God’s principal instrument for the awakening of sinners and the edifying of saints. The days when there has been little or no preaching have been days when there has been little or no good done in the Church. Let us hear sermons in a prayerful and reverent frame of mind, and remember that they are the principal engines which Christ Himself employed when He was upon earth. Not least, let us pray daily for a continual supply of faithful preachers or God’s Word. According to the state of the pulpit will always be the state of a congregation and of a Church.”

Prompting Gospel Conversations

J.D. Greear has a great post on how to better invite Gospel conversations and how to incorporate them into your everyday life.

Click here to read his entire post.

For example, at one place he writes this:

"When in a conversation, I use an acrostic I learned years ago to help guide the conversation. F- Family; I- interests; R- Religion; E - Evangelism. Yes, that can seem wooden, I know... but it can also help you move a conversation along. Sometimes in talking about religion I'll say, "Do you feel like you have a relationship with God?" I get the most interesting responses back to that question. And usually, it provides me a chance to tell them my story... how I grew up in church but came to know God personally later. As I talk about how I came to know Christ, I make sure to give the Gospel along the way. People don't like to be preached to, but they do like to be asked their opinions, and they do like to hear your story."

Very solid and practical advice.

More Hype About Tim Tebow and the "Pro-Life"/Focus on the Family Super Bowl Commercial

Zach Nielson has some interesting posts on the swirl going on with the Tim Tebow ad.

Click here for a disheartening and very contradictory statement;


Click here to read of others who are calling for CBS to retract the commercial.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Russell Moore on the Wisdom of a Teen Getting a Tattoo

Russell Moore has a great response to a question about whether or not a teen should get a tattoo. You can read the whole thing here.

His conclusion:

"One more thing: a tattoo won’t stop you from wrecking your life, no matter what it says. The rebellious heart gets what it wants, and will do what it takes to get there. An immoral man can easily scoff at the tattoo, or even blaspheme as a result of it in the throes of his rebellion. Instead of working to embed the gospel on your skin, embed it on your conscience. Cultivate repentance, confession, and seeking the life of Christ. The answer for you isn’t your own skin ink but Someone Else’s nail scars."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Helping Haiti Through the IMB

The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention has put together a great page for ways and resources to help with the crisis in Haiti.

Click here and/or here to go there directly.

Click here to download a PDF version of a Prayer Guide for earthquake victims.

Interesting Posts Today in the Evangelical 'Blog' World

Though I have not had time to read these posts, there are several that look very interesting that I wanted to point out and set aside for reading later this weekend. Perhaps you will find them interesting too. These were found either through the Gospel Coalition Blogs, Zach Nielson, and/or Desiring God. Any others will be linked directly to where they were found.

1. Regarding the continued Haiti earthquake crisis:

2. Regarding the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade (January 22, 1973)

Two insightful posts by Kevin DeYoung. One here and the other here.

3. Random Posts of Interest.

Al Mohler on Parenting in Post-Modern Era. One post here, another here and radio segments here and here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

This Blew Me Away!

Kevin DeYoung recently posted an article about how long the football is actually in the field of play during an NFL football game.

Click here to read the article for yourself. Below is a blurb to whet your appetite:

"According to a Wall Street Journal study of four recent broadcasts, and similar estimates by researchers, the average amount of time the ball is in play on the field during an NFL game is about 11 minutes."

Great Supplemental Post Regarding Yesterday's Message(s)

Eric Johnson, over at Desiring God, has a great post about how to continue thinking about being pro-life to the core of who we are (see yesterday morning's message at WBC here).

Click here to go directly to his post.

Below are suggestions he gives on how to love our neighbors near and far:

1. If you're able, go. Go to Haiti and serve.

2. Donate to churches and ministries that are working in Haiti.

3. Volunteer in your city. Help immigrants learn English. Babysit a neighbor's kids. Buy a Coke at a local market and get to know the clerk.

4. Be ready to give an account for the hope that you have. As you serve, look for chances to talk about the good news of the Gospel. Ultimately, if we truly love our neighbors, we will care not only for their immediate physical needs, but their spiritual needs as well.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

More More Insightful and Helpful Links on the Haiti Catastrophe

Live with Haiti in Your Heart by Chris Tomlinson - Click here.

Haiti Disaster Relief through Sovereign Grace Ministries - Click here.

Children's Hunger Fund - Click here.

Food for the Hungry and Desiring God International Outreach - Click here.

I also read here that American Airlines are flying doctors and nurses for free to Haiti.
Call 212-697-9767.

Fascinating Picture from Haiti

I came across this picture via Interesting, is it not?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

From the IMB on the Situation in Haiti

Southern Baptists mobilize to help earthquake victimsSouthern Baptists are mobilizing to assess disaster relief needs after the largest earthquake in more than 200 years rocked Haiti the evening of Jan. 12.

The initial Southern Baptist disaster relief effort will be led by Florida Baptists, who have had ministry relationships in Haiti for more than 20 years and currently have six staff members who live and work in the country, said Jim Brown, U.S. director for Baptist Global Response, a Southern Baptist relief and development organization. The International Mission Board does not have long-term personnel stationed in the country.

Initial funding for the relief effort will be provided by the IMB’s disaster relief fund. You can contribute to the disaster response effort at

The North American Mission Board’s disaster relief office is organizing an emergency consultation with state disaster relief directors to coordinate response to the catastrophe, Brown said. Disaster relief teams in Mississippi and Kentucky are on standby for immediate response.
An assessment team is being organized by Baptist Global Response, IMB, NAMB and state convention disaster relief directors to enter the country as soon as possible, Brown said. They will work with Haitian Baptists to identify immediate needs that must be addressed and will draft mid- and long-term plans for an ongoing relief effort.

The 7.0 magnitude tremor hit 10 miles from the center of Port-au-Prince, a city of 3 million people, at around 5 p.m. Jan. 12, according to news reports. One source said the quake could be felt more than 200 miles away. The earthquake triggered a tsunami watch for Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

Multiple strong aftershocks continued to rock the country after the initial tremor, said David Brown, who with his wife, Jo, directs BGR work in the Americas. Reports from inside the country indicate infrastructure and many buildings suffered catastrophic damage. The main airport is closed; power and communications are down and security is a serious concern. Specialized search and rescue teams and military units from several countries are being rushed into Haiti to help secure the situation and begin relief efforts.

Apart from donating to the disaster relief effort via, you can help greatly by joining in focused prayer for Haiti’s 9 million people, more than 80 percent of whom live below the poverty line, said David Brown.

“Please pray for us as we assess and monitor the situation in Haiti after the 7.0 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks this evening,” Brown said. “The initial information indicates 2 million people in Port-au-Prince are directly affected. Please pray for victims and their families. Pray for wisdom as responses are initiated.”

The situation in Haiti is very fluid and additional information will continue to flow in on a daily basis, Brown said. Updates will be released as new information becomes available.

Prayer updates will also be available.

Dan Cruver: God's Scary and Assuring Adoptive Love

From Dan Cruver at Together for Adoption:

Adoptive love is incarnate love.

Don’t let that first sentence pass through your mind too quickly. Let it sit there for a few minutes. If you do, I think you’ll find that God’s adoptive love is both scary and assuring.
When God sent His Son to redeem us so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-6), He did not send him as an outside-in observer. He sent him as an outside-in rescuer. God the Son became one of us. He not only clothed himself with our humanity, he also clothed himself with our need.

God the Son became poor. He did not merely observe our poverty. He wore it. Our poverty became his own.

Jesus became poor so that we might become rich. He entered into our need so that we might enjoy his abundance. In other words, Jesus became an orphan so that we might become children.

I don’t know what this truth about Jesus does to you, but it lays me low, really low. It levels me. I really don’t even begin to care for orphans like Jesus cared for me. For the most part, I care for them from a distance, as an outside observer. I don’t imitate God’s incarnate love very well at all.

When I consider what God’s adoptive love did to meet my need and give me a home, I’m convicted to the core. If I’m honest, I actually find God’s adoptive love to be very scary. It forces me to realize that I’m a whole lot less like Jesus than I think I am. My adoptive love is not nearly incarnate enough.

But the truth about God’s adoptive love does not just level and scare me. It also assures me. It lifts me up.

When Jesus became poor so that I might become rich, he didn’t come because he knew I’d finally get my act together by 2010 (or 2050 for that matter). He came knowing that I would never get my act together. He came knowing that I needed saving in every second of my brief life. Jesus did not just live and die for me at my worst. He lived and died for me at my best. Jesus wore both the “best” and worst of my poverty.

God accepts me not because I care for orphans like I should, or ever will care for them as I should. He does not accept me because my life finally looks like Jesus’. God accepts me solely because of what Jesus has done for me and in my place.

The good news that Jesus become poor so that I might become rich both humbles and encourages me at the same time. The gospel both levels me and lifts me up simultaneously. It levels me by reminding me of how far short I still fall and lifts me up by reminding me that God has already accepted me.

Therefore, only as I look to Jesus will I learn to better incarnate God’s adoptive love. Only as I see that God has already accepted me because of Jesus can I really face my failure to follow Jesus’ example and actually do something about it. I’m thankful that God’s adoptive love is both scary and assuring.

AR Baptist State Convention and Aid for Haiti

From an e-mail I just received from Dr. Emil Turner (Executive Director for the AR Baptist State Convention):

Your state convention is actively engaged in a response effort to assist the people of Haiti who experienced the horrific 7.3 earthquake on Tuesday, January 12, 2010. You may want this information to share with your people tonight in prayer meeting.

· We are in contact with the Florida Baptist Convention which is leading the SBC's response to the tremendous needs of the people.

· We are communicating with Disaster Relief Units throughout the U.S. in the planning and staging of a Disaster Relief response.

· We have placed radio operators on standby to assist with the early communication problems.

Presently these are some vital ways that your church may assist in the disaster response to Haiti:

· Pray for the victims and the early assessment teams as they arrive and develop the ground response.

· Due the fluidity of the crisis, donations get needed materials to the affected area much faster.

§ One hundred percent of the money given through the Arkansas Baptist State Convention will go to the relief effort.
§ Credit card gifts can be given by:
· Calling the Missions Ministries Team of the Convention at 1-800-838-2272
· Going online at after 2:00pm tomorrow
§ Checks designated to Haiti relief can be sent to the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, 10 Remington Drive, Little Rock, AR 72204.
· The Missions Ministry team will have more information in the coming days concerning how volunteers can assist in the relief effort.

In Him,

Emil Turner

Miscellaneous Posts on the Haiti Devastation

If you are interested in supporting relief effort click here for 11 ministries mentioned by Desiring God.

If you are interested in reading a poem by John Piper related to the event, click here.

If you are interested in random resources relating to the event, click here from a post by Mike Polhman (via the Gospel Coaltion blog).

If you are interested in seeing pictures of the devastation, click here.

If you are interested in finding out more about and praying for affected orphans in Haiti, click here (via Together for Adoption).

Great Quotes I Read Today

This quote is from J.C. Ryle on being zealous for Christ:

“I have but one request to make, and that is that you will persevere. I implore you to maintain your zeal and never let it go. I urge you never to stop doing the things you did at first, never to leave your first love, never let it be said of you that the things that you did in the first part of your Christian life were better than the things you did in your latter years. Beware of cooling down. All you have to do is to be lazy, and to sit still, and you will soon lose all your zeal. You will soon become another person from what you are now. Oh, don’t think that this is a needless exhortation!”

This quote is from David Powlison on why we need to remember God (from Zach Nielson):

“We are simple people. You can’t remember ten things at once. Invariably, if you could remember just ONE true thing in the moment of trial, you’d be different. Bible ‘verses’ aren’t magic. But God’s words are revelations of God from God for our redemption. When you actually remember God, you do not sin. The only way we ever sin is by suppressing God, by forgetting, by tuning out his voice, switching channels, and listening to other voices. When you actually remember, you actually change. In fact, remembering is the first change.”

Monday, January 11, 2010

Questions from Yesterday's Messages (01/10/2010)

Yesterday I finished up the four-part series on "Becoming a Word-Driven Community."

The messages were mostly all practical suggestions on how to have a personal Bible study (am sermon) and how to use what we learn to "teach and admonish" one another (pm sermon).
The aim was to obey Colossians 3:16 as closely as possible.

You can view or listen to the messages here when they are posted later in the day. You can also download the outlines that were used for yesterday's messages here.

Personal/Discussion Questions from AM Sermon:

1. What is my current plan to spend time in the Word during 2010?

2. Have I memorized the concepts behind Psalm 119:18, 112 and Luke 24:45 in order to pray them as I approach the Lord from His Word?

3. When is the best time for me to do this?

4. Where is the best place for me to do this?

5. Why am I pursuing to do this? In order to check off a list of Bible reading? Or to meet with God, hear from God, see God, and do what He says do?

Personal/Discussion Questions from PM Sermon:

1. Who can you seek after to hold you accountable?

2. Who can you seek after to disciple?

3. Who can you begin to pour into to begin leading him/her to Christ?

4. If you are already doing one or all of the above, what is your plan to 'release' them to being disciple-makers themselves?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Way to Go Brit Hume!!

I think we need to pray for this man, don't you?

Check out the stand for the Christian faith this man is taking. Click here.
Update on January 9th, 2010:
Check out this article on proselytizing and the Brit Hume ordeal here.

Adoption as Basic Christianity

Dan Cruver, over at Together for Adoption, posts a great article by Steve Burchett on the nature of adoption and how it truly is basic Christianity.

Here is a blurb:

"Does this mean that every Christian should adopt? Definitely not. The church is one body made up of members with a variety of gifts and callings. However, the “body life” language of the New Testament reveals that though you may not adopt personally, you will eagerly uphold those who do with your prayers, listening ears, and resources (cf. 1 Cor. 12:14-27). The entire church will have a part in caring for these children and giving them what they need most: The good news of Jesus Christ.

On a trip to the Philippines, I was privileged to visit an orphanage. As I was walking away from one of the living areas, I heard a little girl crying out, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” I said to the director of the orphanage, “What’s she doing?” She responded, “She thinks you’re her daddy.” Some would tell the church that story and ask, “Do you hear the children calling?” That’s the wrong question. The better question, upon a consideration of James 1:27, is, “Do you hear God calling?”

Read the whole article here.

Bible Reading Plan for Shirkers and Slackers

A week or so ago, I linked to some great sites/places to go to to find some Bible reading plans for 2010. Go here, here, here, and here.

The one I mentioned (or, I plan to mention in Sunday's message) about 'Shirkers and Slackers' is here.

I have (so far anyway) found this one to be very helpful.

In case any of the above links aren't liked by anyone and you still are looking, I noticed Justin Taylor posted yet another link to a plan here.
Update: January 9th, 2010:
Desiring God Ministries puts all of these (I think) in one place here in a helpful post.

Happy Reading!

For Sunday Morning's Message

Sunday morning, I am going to be walking through ways to personally study your Bible. Some of the plans I suggest, I will be flying through and referencing my blog for further help, or if you missed something that you want to get for your personal use. Below are some of the plans I mention regarding studying a smaller passage from your Bible:

The Journalism Questions. Justin Taylor has two good posts in helping further with these here and here.


Also, from Don Whitney's Simplify Your Spiritual Life, he offers three approaches to help study and apply the Bible.

First, he suggests....

"So as you reflect on the text, do you perceive something God would have you…

- "Stop?
- Start?
- Believe?
- Confess?
- Pray about?
- Thank Him for?
- Communicate to someone?"

Second, he mentions the Philippians 4:8 method of asking questions of the Bible.

Ask the Philippians 4:8 questions…

What is true about this, or what truth does it exemplify?
What is honorable about this?
What is right about this?
What is pure about this, or how does it exemplify purity?
What is lovely about this?
What is admirable, commendable, or reputation-strengthening about this?
What is excellent about this?
What is praiseworthy about this?

Thirdly, he mentions asking the Joseph Hall questions of the text...

The Joseph Hall questions (The Art of Divine Meditation in 1607)

1. *What is it you are meditating on (define/describe what it is)?
2. What are its divisions or parts?
3. What causes it?
4. What does it cause, that is, what are its fruits and effects?
5. What is its place, location, or use?
6. What are its qualities and attachments?
7. What is contrary to, contradictory of, or different from it?
8. What compares to it?
9. What are its titles or names?
10. What are the testimonies or examples of Scripture about it?

*The most important question to answer is the first one.

For even further help and reading on this, there is a great interview with John Piper in Bible Study Magazine here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

10 Ways to Bless, Encourage, and Pray for Missionaries

WBC members can learn from this, continue what we are doing, and heed the advice given here.

In my opinion, this post was very helpful!

10 Ways to Encourage a Missionary
In an effort to learn how we can best encourage missionaries, I emailed some and asked how they would most like to be served and encouraged. This list is drawn from their responses, including many direct quotes.

1. Pray for them and let them know that you are doing so frequently.

“One of the most encouraging/inspiring things we receive from people is a quick note via email to say that they are ‘thinking’ of us.”

2. Send “real mail.”

“Send a small care package. Some little fun food items that we can’t get where we serve is a good idea.”

“One idea is to send a special package before an American holiday (like Thanksgiving) filled with things that we can use to decorate for that holiday.”

“Send us a birthday card. This doesn’t have to be some long handwritten note, just a little card – maybe even printed at home.”

“Real mail is always special. Really, the thing with real mail is more than just getting some nice stuff from home (which is nice), but it seems a more tangible reminder that the people I love and miss love and miss me too and are thinking of me.”

3. Pray for the people the missionaries serve and not only for the missionaries and their families.

4. Recruit others to pray for the missionary’s area of service (city, people group, etc.) or for the missionaries themselves.

“This can be an amazing thing to have a person or group of people actively supporting the work that we are doing overseas – becoming an advocate for our city/work. It really encourages us to know that there are people going to bat for us and raising more prayer support for the work.”

“Become an arm of our work in the United States. Some ideas include handling our newsletter distribution, website hosting (i.e., hosting a virtual website for the city), logistical arrangements, or short term team orientation.”

5. Go visit them with the purpose of serving and encouraging them in their work.

“Have a group of your people come to minister to us as we are seeking to pour out our lives to others. This could be hosting a small retreat in country for our team or something similar, or coming to prayer walk the city we live in.”

6. Send them updates and pictures of you and your family (by mail or email).

“It would especially be nice to receive end of the year updates or Christmas card pics. We want to stay connected to you! We love hearing from friends and family and enjoy keeping up to date on what’s happening in your life!”

“If you have a friend overseas, stay in touch with them. Don’t let cautions about being careful with spiritual language keep you from talking about the day to day “un-spiritual” things you would talk about if you met up for lunch one day. Sometimes the least spiritual emails are the most helpful, because somehow I feel less distant when friends talk to me like they always did before I left. Share updates on family, school, work, life, sports—whatever it is that you used to talk about with them.”

7. Ask questions about their work.

“Ask not only how we are doing, but ask about our work and try to learn all you can about the people or city where we are serving.”

“I know that this has been said, but truly CARING about the work is the best way to encourage us.”

8. Continue to be a Christian friend and continue to minister to them.

“Don’t stop being the church to us when we leave. Whenever security allows, spiritual conversations are good for our hearts. Missionaries struggle with the same sinful attitudes that plague Christians everywhere. Leaving home to live among unreached peoples, may be a step of faith in the process of sanctification, but it is not a step that roots out all sin. It is likely to lead to and expose all kinds of previously unnoticed and unexpected sin. Having friends that know me, are patient with me, and expect me to be the same struggling sinner I was when I left helps me stay humble when tempted toward arrogance, and hopeful when tempted toward despair.”
“Even for us with strong member care, it is helpful to receive pastoral care from the stateside church’s pastor who many times will know the missionary personally and have the history with them to be able to invest and mentor them and their family and marriage.”
“Ask us those hard questions. Do a little pastoral counseling with us.”
“Please don’t elevate us onto some false pedestal. We are normal people too who have been forgiven much and for some reason God called to live and minister overseas.”

9. Support them financially.
“Finding out if we have any specific needs and meeting those needs is great.”

10. Seek to encourage them when they are on stateside assignment.

“Let us talk to you and your congregations, and small groups. We want to share what God has been doing and would love the opportunity to talk about it, raise awareness and hopefully gain more prayer support.”

“Invite us out to lunch or dinner. Nothing fancy is needed. Remember we’ve just been in places where we may not have been able to even enjoy a little Mexican food.”

No missionary mentioned this to me in emails, but I know it is a blessing when someone shares their summer home or cabin for a missionary family to get away and relax for a few days.

“Let us know about any good books that are must reads. Tell us about any good resources that may benefit our personal growth or ministry work: things like conferences, training for ministry/leadership, and so forth.”

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Faith by Hearing's Audio Roundup

Faith by Hearing put together a list of their favorite audio posts for the year.

Really, really good stuff. Click here for their top posts.

Akin's Top 10 SBC Stories and Events from 2009

Over at the Baptist Twenty-One blog, Jonathan Akin put together a list of the top 10 most important events that occurred in the Southern Baptist Convention in 2009.

They are, at the very least, great reminders of very important things that happened this past year.

1. Missionary Work Overseas – It’s hard to imagine what it’d be like to grow up amongst a people and die without ever hearing the gospel. Yet, there are large numbers of peoples who still find themselves in this situation. That’s one of the key reasons that Southern Baptists continue to pool their monies and people together in order to reach these peoples and cultures. What’s it like to lead the first person from a completely unreached people group to Christ? Many have never done this. But, by God’s grace and great sacrifice by men and women, many more will have this experience. The nations need Jesus. In order to hear of Jesus, they need missionaries. That’s why their work is so significant to the SBC and the kingdom of Christ.

2. Changing Presidential Leadership – The significance of Southern Baptist entity heads is often under-appreciated. The decisions that these men make impact massive amounts of people for good or for ill. Southern Baptists are at a critical point in time with three key presidencies opening up. The Executive Committee, NAMB, and IMB presidencies are all open or opening soon. B21 is praying and asking you to pray for the men who will fill these positions. Placing the right men at the head of these entities will do much to advance the Great Commission.

3. Dr. Danny Akin’s GCR Sermon – Whether you’re talking about Dr. Danny Akin’s passion, his preaching, or, simply, his love for the Great Commission, it would be misguided not to mention his work in 2009 as one of the most significant stories. Standing behind the pulpit in SEBTS’s chapel, Akin delivered what would become a great rallying point (and point of controversy) in his GCR Axiom sermon. Clearly coming from a heart for nations, Akin set in motion a movement (or gave it a BIG push) that would change 2009 and, by God’s grace, the way SBC approaches the Great Commission.

4. Increased SBC Unity – By almost all accounts, there seems to be a growing unity in the SBC. That is, we are more unified today than we have been in past years. What this means or implies is up for some debate. Yet, B21 thinks that there is a growing unity around the Great Commission. For instance, at the B21 event at the SBC, the panelists came from all kinds of theological and methodological stripes. Yet, these men were unified around the Great Commission and the BF&M. Still more, the lunch for the 600 attendees was provided personally by SBC President, Johnny Hunt (a man that has embodied unity around the Great Commission as much, if not more, than anyone). Hunt, as many know, would disagree in many ways with the panelists. Yet, because of its Great Commission purposes, he supported the B21 panel. In fact, B21 believes that the unity that Southern Baptists presently enjoy, in large part, is due to the excellent leadership of Johnny Hunt. With men like Hunt leading the way, Southern Baptists have a lot to hope for in the coming days.

5. Union University’s “Southern Baptists, Evangelicals, and the Future of Denominationalism” – Dr. David Dockery has, amongst other things, turned Union University into one of the leading think tanks for Baptist life. Like in his past conferences, Dockery put together a line up that included the most significant and helpful voices in Baptist life. And they didn’t disappoint. Southern Baptists owe a debt of gratitude to David Dockery for putting this conference together, the effects of which we are still enjoying.

6. Higher Attendance at SBC Louisville – Okay, so it didn’t hurt that the SBC was in a town filled with young people and in the heart of the church-saturated part of the country. But, we’d argue, it is still quite an achievement to get that many people in this kind of economy to attend the SBC. Even if the economy wasn’t in the shape that it was (and is), it’s still hard to get people to spend their time at a convention. Come on, there are Southern Baptist associational meetings that know how difficult it is to get people to participate. The numbers at the 2009 SBC pointed to great life and health. It pointed, perhaps, to a resurgence in Great Commission engagement in the SBC. It will be interesting to see how many show up in Orlando.

7. Cancer Classroom – Several prominent Southern Baptists found out that they had cancer this year. This, of course, is terrible news. But, by God’s grace, these men who have taught the church so excellently in their preaching ministries are now teaching the church in a different way. They’re showing the church how godly men suffer. Johnny Hunt and Matt Chandler, to name a couple, continue to battle cancer. They continue to teach us of Christ. Pray for these men and that their cancer will provide great opportunity to advance the kingdom of Christ.

8. Christmas in August – After the heart wrenching news of the IMB financial shortfall, causing them to stop sending “M’s”, Southern Baptists responded to calls from Hunt, Akin, and others to take a special Lottie Moon Christmas offering in August. Thus, the “Christmas in August” movement was born. It’s this kind of responsiveness in which B21 finds great encouragement.

9. SBTS’s Sesquiencentennial – Southern Baptist Theological Seminary celebrated its 150th Anniversary. This is even more significant in light of an economic situation that’s included the closing of several schools’ doors. SBTS survived the Great Depression, Liberalism, and is currently thriving under the excellent leadership of Dr. Albert Mohler. Their story is amazing and a testimony to God’s grace. SBTS professor, Greg Wills, masterfully tells the story in Southern Baptist Theological Seminary 1859-2009. We’re praying for at least 150 more!!

10. GCR Task Force – There aren’t many things that you can get 95% of Southern Baptists to agree on. Clothing style? No. Worship style? No. GCR? Yes! When Southern Baptists were given the opportunity to affirm or deny the formulation of a Great Commission Task Force, they overwhelmingly voted for it. Thus, President Hunt put together a 23 member, GCR task force. The task? They are to examine the Southern Baptist entities and structure in order to bring an assessment to the 2010 SBC in Orlando. Everybody is looking forward to this report. They need our prayers. Sign up to pray here.

Should We Really Call it a 'Quiet' Time?

In preparing for this Sunday's message - "Becoming a Word-Driven Community: Intentional, Personal Bible Study" I came across a thought-provoking article by David Powlison on whether or not our times with the Lord should really be quiet?

I found it interesting and helpful. Perhaps you will too. Click here to read it on-line or here to print out a hard copy.

The Trellis and the Vine

I recently finished this book on the nature of the church and church ministry by Tony Payne and Colin Marshall. It is an extraordinary and very thought-provoking book.

Tim Challies has written an excellent review of the book that I encourage you to read it here.

The book is produced by Matthias Media publishing and you can go to their web-site here.

The WBC staff is currently reading Randy Alcorn's work on Money, Possessions, and Eternity. But I have already purchased for them the Trellis and the Vine and will be something we walk through together, thinking through what the material presented in the work means for WBC and the people here.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kevin DeYoung's '10 Questions for 2010'

These are GREAT questions to use personally and/or in a small group/accountability setting.

10 Questions for 2010

It’s the New Year and that means it’s time for resolutions. Of course, resolutions can be bad if you make vows you don’t keep or set standards for yourself without relying on the gospel to change you and forgive you. But if done in the right way I find resolutions a helpful way to clarify priorities and goals.

Recently, in our pastors group, we decided to be more precise in how we want to be held accountable. So we each set off to write a series of questions. My ten questions are below. They reflect my own weaknesses and temptations. If you are one of the three pastors I meet with every other week, you better ask me these questions. If you belong to University Reformed Church and like to pray for your pastor, feel free to use these questions to guide you in your prayers for me. For everyone else, feel free to tailor these questions in whatever ways might be helpful.

1. Am I spending time slowly reading God’s word and memorizing Scripture?

2. Am I having consistent, focused, extended times of prayer, including interceding for others?

3. Am I disciplined in my use of technology, in particular not getting distracted by emails and blogging in the evening and on my day off?

4. Am I going to bed on time?

5. Am I eating too much?

6. Have I exercised in the last week?

7. Am I patient with my kids or am I angry with them when they disobey or behave in childish ways?

8. When at home, am I “fully present” for my wife and family or are my mind and energy elsewhere?

9. Am I making sermon preparation a priority in my week or am I doing other less important things first?

10. Have I done anything out of the ordinary to cherish and help my wife?

Prayers for Orphans/Adoption Ministry

Over at Together for Adoption, Dan Cruver offers 10 Prayers for Orphans and Adoption Ministry for 2010. Click here to go there directly. I have posted them below.

I encourage you to join him in praying these this year.

By Dan Cruver:

Listed below is what I’m asking God to do in the church in 2010 for the sake of the orphan. Will you join me not only in praying but also in striving to be an answer to our own prayers? I am praying that:

1. 10 pastors in each state will preach a sermon for the first time that proclaims God’s heart for the orphan. Result: 500 churches begin thinking about how they can care for the orphan.

2. 10 pastors in each state will preach a sermon series that considers God’s work of adoption within the story of redemption and how it should inform our care for orphans. Result: 500 churches think about adoption and orphan care more deeply than they ever have before.

3. 10 pastoral staff teams in each state will prayerfully work through Russell Moore’s Adopted for Life to explore how they may equip and mobilize their people to care for orphans. Result: 500 pastoral staff teams uniquely positioned to mobilize and unleash their people for the sake of the orphan in unprecedented numbers.

4. 10 churches in each state will lead their church’s children through God’s Heart for the Orphan . . . and Me! Result: The next generation catches a vision for God-centered orphan care.
5. 10 small groups in each state will prayerfully work through Adopted for Life. Result: 500 small groups mobilized to care for orphans that have not yet been cared for.

6. 10 churches in each state will launch a vital orphan care ministry. Result: 500 churches caring for orphans in substantial ways for the good of thousands upon thousands of children.

7. 10 churches in each state will contact their local Department of Social Services to ask about how they might serve their state’s foster children. Result: 500 churches testifying to the glory of the gospel in both word and deed.

8. 10 colleges will have someone preach in chapel on gospel-centered orphan care. Result: Hundreds of college students commit to caring for the orphan through the local church.

9. 10 seminaries will have someone preach in chapel on gospel-centered orphan care. Result: Hundreds of future pastors and missionaries gripped by the importance of caring for the orphan by the power of the gospel.

10. 10 churches in each state will send a group of people to attend one of the following: Adopting for Life conference, Summit V, Tapestry (2010 conference TBA), or Together for Adoption Conference 2010. Result: 500 churches networking with other churches for the sake of orphans all over the world.

Imagine the results if God should so graciously choose to do far more abundantly than we ask or think . . .

Article on Dealing with 'Difficult Family Tensions' by Russell Moore

This was mostly for Christmas time, but there were some things mentioned just this morning in staff meeting that reminded me of the importance of this article written by Russell Moore.

Very helpful and convicting reminder for dealing with difficult people, especially family members!

Click here to read the article by Russell Moore.

Great Quote from J.C. Ryle

Wished I had had this quote for yesterday's sermons! Great challenge here from J.C. Ryle:

“Begin reading your Bible this very day. The way to do a thing is to do it, and the way to read the Bible is actually to read it. It is not meaning, or wishing, or resolving, or intending, or thinking about it; that will not advance you one step. You must positively read. There is no royal road in this matter, any more than in the matter of prayer. If you cannot read yourself, you must persuade somebody else to read to you. But one way or another, through eyes or ears, the words of Scripture must actually pass before your mind.”

Discussion/Evaluation Questions from Yesterday's Messages

In yesterday's messages, I begin a four-part series entitled "Becoming a Word-Driven Community."

The morning message (click here to listen, watch, and/or download the outline) focused on Colossians 3:16 and 2 Timothy 3:16.
Below are a few questions to help you further think through these truths.

1. The fact that the whole of the Bible has been "breathed out by God" means every word of it is from God Himself. How should this change the way we treat the Bible? Is this the way God has ordained for us to know Him?

2. Why is it important that we understand that the whole of the Bible points to the Person and Work of Jesus Christ?

3. According to 2 Corinthians 3:18, how does one change into the image of Christ? What does this mean we need to do with our Bible's?

4. For you personally, how can you intentionally "let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly"?

5. How are you actively obeying Colossians 3:16 and 2 Timothy 3:16 and Matthew 28:19-20 as it relates to 'teaching' and 'admonishing' and 'correcting' and 'training' and 'reproofing' and 'encouraging' and 'discipling' others?

6. How can you use the outlines Bro. Matt provides for WBC on Sundays with yourself? With your family? With a new believer? With a friend? With a co-worker?

7. How do you need to pray according to these scriptural truths?

Sunday night's message was a walk through Psalm 1. Below are questions to help think through the truths presented from the message:

1. What does it mean to be 'blessed' (see Numbers 6:24-26).

2. How does one get to be blessed according to Psalm 1:1-2?

3. What adjustments can be made in your life to go from being influenced by the world (verse 1) to being one who 'delights in' and 'meditates on' the Word day and night?

4. What specific actions can you take to meditate on the Word of God throughout the day?

5. What are the benefits to doing verse 2 (see verse 3!)? What does the psalmist mean when he says, "In all that he does, he prospers"?

6.. What is a 'wicked' person according to Psalm 1?

7. How is Jesus the Ultimate Rescuer according to Psalm 1:5-6?

8. How do you need to pray according to the truths presented in this psalm?

Friday, January 1, 2010

And One More Way Via the Web to Read the Bible Through

So this leaves us all pretty much without excuse. The choices for how to read the Bible through in a year are becoming more and more endless.

Justin Taylor posted a link to how the Journey church is promoting a Bible reading plan for their communityof faith. Looks interesting.

Click here to link directly to the site.

Yet Another GREAT Way to Read the Word Through in 2010

The Gospel Coalition has done the church a WONDERFUL favor by providing, not only a way to read the Bible through in 2010, but also a comment each day by D.A Carson. The devotional is taken straight from Carson's excellent volumes For the Love of God.

You can go there directly by clicking here. I strongly encourage those of you who are still looking for a solid 'through the year' plan to log on here every day of 2010. Or, it provides a link for you to subscribe via e-mail.