Monday, March 29, 2010

Jerry Rankin: "Southern Baptists...It has been 165 years!!!!"

I continue to grow in my love for Dr. Jerry Rankin. His blog posts, in my opinion, are always on target and right on the mark.

Today he posted an article (part 1) entitled "America and the Rest of the World."

Read the whole thing here.

What he says captures MUCH of what I believe is exactly right regarding our thinking on how and what to do here (in North America) evangelistically and the task left for the remaining 1.3 billion who have yet to even have any access to the Gospel.

Consider these two quotes that, I believe, are bottom line for Rankin and I pray become more and more bottom line for all SBCers:

"While there are a lot of lost people in America, how many have no access to a church? Our own denomination has 45,000 churches, plus there are tens of thousands of other evangelical churches and millions of Christian believers positioned to witness to the lost where we live.

"Southern Baptists, it has been 165 years! How long is it going to take before we are ready to assume our Great Commission task? That foundation is not getting stronger; it is actually crumbling! And it is not going to get stronger until we give appropriate priority to the mission to which God has called us as His people."

(emphasis mine)

And again,

"However, we could document the churches that are adopting unreached people groups, providing opportunities for volunteer mission trips, nurturing a climate for calling out missionaries and giving generously and sacrificially to missions. Invariably they are effective in local outreach and growth.

"A church or individual doesn’t try to grow with the intention of eventually being obedient to God’s mission. When we as a denomination, and as local churches, are committed to the Great Commission, God will bless us in what we need to do locally. The reason there is such spiritual lethargy, negligible growth and dying churches is because we are neglecting the reason God has called us as His people."

(emphasis mine)

YES! YES! YES! Thank you, Dr. Rankin.

What Happened the Weekdays During Holy Week?

All this week Justin Taylor is tracing (chronologically) what happened in and around Jesus the days leading up to His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection (Holy Week).

Click here to read what happened Sunday of Holy Week.

Click here to read what happened on Monday of Holy Week.

Continue by clicking here to read the rest of the week as they are posted.

Going through this personally or as a family would be a great thing to do for your soul.

Taylor also provides a way to walk through Holy Week via Google Earth. Click here and check out the information and maps provided! Really interesting stuff!

Discussion Questions from 03/28/2010 Sermons at WBC

Yesterday morning, Palm Sunday, I preached out of Matthew 21:1-17. The title was, "Palm Readings: Jesus Revealed through Donkeys, David, and Diapers."

You can watch or listen to the message here (should be posted sometime today).

Discussion questions to aid in your further thinking through the text are as follows:

1. Read Matthew 8:4, 9:30, and 17:9. Why did Jesus not want word to get out in public about who He was (the Messiah)?

2. Why do you think Jesus chose to 'go public' about who He was in Matthew 21 (the first 'Palm Sunday')?

3. Why is Matthew careful to point out that what took place (when Jesus rode into town on a donkey) was to fulfill prophecies from Isaiah 62:11-12 and Zechariah 9:9?

4. What do the prophecies in Isaiah 62 and Zechariah 9 say about the One who would be coming into Jerusalem on a donkey?

5. What does the word "Hosanna" literally mean? Compare Matthew 21:9 with Psalm 118:25-27.

6. What was Jesus communicating to the chief priests and the scribes when he responded to them with a quote from Psalm 8:2 in Matthew 21:16?

7. Were the crowds correct in their assessment of Jesus in Matthew 21:9?

8. Why did this same crowd demand that Jesus be crucified 5 days later (see Matthew 27:23)?

9. What were they obviously looking for in a Messiah?

10. What did Jesus come to do, ultimately?

11. In what ways do you perhaps treat Jesus the same way the crowd in Matthew 21 treated Jesus? How does your understanding of your ultimate problem being your own sin change the way you think about Jesus and other problems in your life? How does Jesus rescue you from the main and ultimate problem we have (sin)?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Discussion Questions from 03/21/2010 Sermons at WBC

So, I did not preach yesterday at WBC. But I was there and two wonderful preachers did preach the Word in a remarkable way.

In the am services, Jeff Gibson preached out of Matthew 16:13-25. You can watch or listen to his message here.

In the pm services, Bob Wilson preached out of John 14:1, 27. You can watch or listen to his message here.

Discussion questions to further your growth and understanding are as follows.

From the am message:

1. Who does Jesus Himself say He is?

2. What will the Christ do according to verse 21?

3. Why did Peter not like Jesus' remarks in verse 21 (compare Peter's response in verse 22 with his response in verse 16)?

4. What are the 'things of God'?

5. What consumes your mind most? The things of God or the things of man? Why? What can you do to change that?

6. What is required of one who desires to follow Christ? What are some specific, personal ways you can actively do this now?

7. Who do you say Jesus is?

From the pm message:

1. Are you at peace with who you are?

2. If you were to begin focusing on being approved by God alone, what changes would need to immediately take place in your life?

3. Are you at peace with where you are going? If you wind up getting to where you are headed, are you okay with that, or is there a 'change of course' that needs to take place?

4. Have you entrusted all of your future circumstances to the Father? If so, how do you know? If not, what needs to be given over to Him?

Russell Moore 'Right on Target' Regarding Christians and Politics

A timely word regarding the decision in Washington last night and how Christians to respond. Read the whole thing here. I highly recommend it.

An excerpt:

"It’s not that I think Christians should be disengaged from issues of justice (God forbid!). It’s just that I wonder if we wouldn’t represent Christ and his kingdom better if we did it with a certain tranquility of Spirit, a tranquility that signals we’re not afraid of the rise and fall of temporal kingdoms and their policies."

And again,

"If we were half as outraged by our own sin and self-deception as we are by the follies of our political opponents, what would be the result? If we rejoiced as much that our names are written in heaven as we do about such trivialities as basketball brackets, what would be the result?"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What's the 'Bottom Line' for Why Christians Should Be Concerned about the Passing of the Health Care Bill?

"The bottom line is current legislation will result in government funding of elective abortion, which will lead, as some experts project, to a 30 percent increase in abortions in America," Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press. "This legislation, if passed, will be the largest expansion of abortion since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973."

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins agreed. "Anything that the government offers to pay for, it gets more of. There's no question that you would see an expansion of the abortion rate in America [if the bill passes]," Perkins said during a conference call with reporters.

From a blog post by Al Mohler at his site:

"Americans may disagree on virtually every dimension of this health care bill, but this is now about far more than health care. As Rep. Stupak asserts, "This is life we're talking about." Unless adequate protections for the unborn are added to this bill, we are indeed witnessing a radical turn in this nation's moral character. Time is running out. The adoption of adequate protections for the unborn should be beyond debate."

Rankin on "Asking Hard Questions"

Again (in my opinion), Dr. Rankin is providing excellent wisdom over at his blog "Rankin Connecting". His wisdom is not just for all Southern Baptists and entity leaders to consider, but great advice and wisdom for pastors.

Read his latest post "Accountability for Results: here.

A portion:

"If Southern Baptists have assigned us the task of winning the lost, discipling believers and planting churches around the world, and they invest $300 million in supporting more than 5,000 missionaries, then they have the right to expect results of the IMB in terms of baptisms, new churches and people groups engaged with the gospel.

"I am grateful for the work of our entities, state conventions, associations and every aspect of our Southern Baptist network. I don’t mean to sound critical or question the effectiveness of any. But have we fallen into the activity trap, simply carrying on legacy programs and ministries we have been engaged in for ages without any honest assessment of results? Have we introduced and accumulated new programs, earnestly wanting to make a difference, but been unwilling to cease irrelevant and ineffective methods that continue to absorb and dissipate resources?"

Monday, March 15, 2010

Adopting for Life Conference Audio


Click here to listen, download, or watch (partial list) of all main and breakout sessions.

Click here or here to download, listen, and/or watch David Platt's message from Ruth 2.

Discussion Questions from 03/14/2010 Sermons at WBC

Yesterday at WBC, I preached from Luke 16:9-15 in the morning, and Romans 8:31-39 in the evening.

You can watch or listen and download outlines here.

Discussion Questions from the AM Message:

1. Write out Luke 16:9 in your own words.

2. What does it mean to serve God according to Luke 16:13? What's the relationship between serving God and serving money?

3. What is Jesus' point in Luke 16:10?

4. What is your personal financial strategy for making disciples of all nations?

5. According to Luke 16:11-12, what is the eternal fate of those who are not intentional about using their present financial resources to make disciples of all nations?

6. If you were to die today, or if Jesus were to come back today, would it be obvious that you serve God? Or would it be obvious that you serve money?

7. What evidence is there in your spending and in your personal financial budget that you will be entrusted with true riches in the age do come?

8. What are you going to do about your responses to these questions?

Discussion Questions from the PM Message:

1. Why is Paul left (almost) speechless (see verse 31)?

2. Go through the list of questions Paul asks in these verses. What are the answers to each question?

3. What seems to be Paul's main point in these verses?

4. Who are these promises for?

5. After contemplating these verses, which part of this passage is most encouraging? Why?

6. What does Paul mean by "more than conquerors" in verse 37?

7. What does all this say about God's love for you? Who took the initiative in loving you? Did you prove to God you are worthy of loving before He chose to love you? Do you think your actions now, then, can cause God to love you less? What is God's love for you based on?

8. How does knowing this about God's love for you prompt a radical lifestyle? What are some ways you can adjust your lifestyle or some risks you can now that you know God's love for you is eternally fixed?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dr. Jerry Rankin On His "A" Game (In My Opinion!)

Jerry Rankin has once again posted a very, very, very strong word at his blog regarding the state of our convention and reaching the nations with the lost with the Gospel (i.e., fulfilling the Great Commission).

Read the whole thing here.

Consider some strong excerpts:

"Why change? Because the world is changing and Southern Baptists are changing. When the changes external to an organization exceed internal changes, the organization is moving toward irrelevance and ineffectiveness. A management guru observed, 'An organization is in decline if it ever tries to adapt its work to fit its organizational structure.' It is a mistake to assume that continuing methods that were successful in the past will continue to be effective in the future.

"How entities are organized is simply the means to fulfill its objectives. The Southern Baptist organization and structure is not an end in itself. But to refuse to change and try to make a changing world fit our structure is foolish. What is the saying defining insanity as continuing to do things the same way but expecting different results? Everyone is saying, “We need a Great Commission Resurgence.” But the voices continue, “But don’t touch the state conventions, don’t change our SBC entities, don’t think about tweaking the Cooperative Program.” It doesn’t leave much room for making changes that can bring us back to become a spiritually vital, efficiently focused, cutting edge entity for reaching a lost world if most of what we do is off limits.

"The IMB is trying to reach a changing world. We can no longer presume upon the financial resources of the SBC for continuing to appoint unlimited numbers of missionaries."

And again,

"The Southern Baptist Convention is structured by a legacy of historic bylaws that make it immune to change. In fact, it is designed to resist change. No visionary personalities are able to lead us to navigate the challenging environment of the 21st century. We are in bondage to leaders of the past who established how we would do things in the 19th century, in 1925, and ever since. Generations of inhibiting policies have continued to accumulate over the years. Proposals for innovation or change are readily deflected as “out-of-order” or referred to the Executive Committee or the authority of the relevant board which readily dispenses with anything that would change its status quo.

"We must ask the right questions. What does the current situation and trends call for us to do right now? If we make the right decisions, where is this going to lead? We cannot wait until we get there, confronted with new obstacles and challenges; we must anticipate what will come next and be positioned to make the next innovative and strategic decision. And of course, to do what needs to be done and assure our relevancy in the future, we have to be courageous in deciding what we cease doing, no matter how effective it might have been in the past."

What he says in his post is great for all SBCers to consider, and really, offers some great wisdom and advice for leaders in all contexts and situations.

Regarding what he does when thinking about the future, he says:

We have tried to stay on the cutting edge of effective mission strategy by constantly asking four questions with regard to three primary areas—overseas strategy, constituent relations and organization. The four questions are:

• What is working and needs to be continued and reinforced?

• What is working but needs to be strengthened and adjusted to be more effective?

• What is not working and needs to be changed?

• What is not working, is no longer relevant, and needs to be eliminated?

We boil this down into a brutal effort to stay focused on the task by asking:
• What NOW?

• What NEXT?

• What NOT?

Great, yet difficult, questions for any leader to use for evaluation.

Thank you God for Dr. Rankin!

[March 21, 2010]
Since this original post, Dr. Rankin has written a follow-up post to clear any misunderstandings and apologize for any criticism against his friend, Morris Chapman. You can read his follow-up post here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Russell Moore and Past Sexual Sin

At his blog, Russell Moore posts his response about how much should one should know about a potential spouse's past sexual sin.

His post is excellent and extremely helpful on a number of levels. I strongly encourage you to go and read it for yourself here.

An excerpt:

"On the other hand, your dismissing him automatically on the basis of immorality is also dangerous. If he is repentant, seeing his past sin as hell-deserving but crucified, then you should receive him (all else being equal), just as you have been received.

"You are not 'owed' a virgin because you are. Your sexual purity wasn’t part of a quid pro quo in which God would guarantee you a sexually unbroken man. Your sexual purity is your obligation as a creature of God. And you have rebelled at other points, and been forgiven. If you believe the gospel, you believe the gospel for everyone, and not just for yourself.

"If your future husband is repentant, and forgiven, and yet you are 'tortured' by the thoughts of his past, then the issue for you is one of personal pride and a refusal to see oneself as a gospel-forgiven sinner."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Christian Alliance for Orphans - Summit VI

Several days ago, I was honored to be asked to be a part of the "Bloggers for Orphans" network.

Of course, I gladly accepted the invitation to post some 'extras' regarding orphan care and orphan ministry that will be taking place in the days to come.

Below is some information regarding an upcoming conference in Minneapolis, MN. I understand that a majority of people reading this blog will not be able to make it (though if you could make the effort, I think it would be well worth your time!). However, at the very least you can know it is going on and cry out to God for Him to continue to raise up more and more who will go and care for the fatherless.

Here is the information about the conference:

With Haiti’s earthquake drawing global focus to the plight of orphans, Christians from across America and beyond will gather in Minneapolis, MN, for the Christian Alliance for Orphans’ Summit VI on April 29-30, 2010. The objective: to inspire and equip Christians to “care for orphans in their distress” through adoption, foster care and global orphan care ministry rooted in the local church.

What you can look forward to:

· Featured speakers will include national champions of orphan care and adoption, including John Piper, Mary Beth Chapman, Tom Davis, Doug Sauder, Stephanie Fast, Jedd Medefind, and Al Mohler. Compelling voices from the global church will join as well, from Africa to Central America.
· Music will be led by Steven Curtis Chapman, Peder Eide, Desperation Band and other artists.
· More than 50 workshops delivering nuts-and-bolts for adoption, foster care and global orphan programs – designed for both laypersons and leadership
Orphan care resources for church ministries, as well as personal orphan care and adoption journeys
Breakouts will also include 5 “Hague Hour” Credits for Adoptive Families.
Q&A sessions and networking opportunities with respected adoption, global orphan and foster care organizations and veteran ministry leaders.
For Christians stirred by the plight of orphans, Summit offers the biggest and best opportunity of the year to learn how to act upon conviction. To learn more and register now, visit the Summit website here.

A taste of breakout topics:

· Haiti and the Local Church: What’s Next?
· Bridging the Great Divide: Building Positive Relationships Between Church Ministries and Government
· Understanding Childhood Development of Overseas Orphans
· A Lifelong Love: Keeping the Gospel at the Center of Orphan Ministry
· Church-Based Orphan Ministry 101
· Fundraising for Orphan Ministry
· Starting in the Right Direction: Helping Pre-Adoptive Couples Make Sound Decisions
· Now What? Helping Children Age Out of Foster Care
· The Financial Challenge of Adoption and How the Local Church Can Respond
· Engaging Church Leadership
· A Child’s Journey Through the Foster Care System
· How Does It Work? Models of Global Orphan Ministry Based in US Churches
· Practical Ideas of Orphan-Focused Events
· Understanding HIV/AIDS and the Orphan
· And many more…
And there’s more! Five sessions will provide pre-adoptive families with needed Hague credits.
· Adoption and Orphans: Becoming a Multicultural/Multiracial Family
· Adoption and Orphans: Attachment and Trauma (Part I and II)
· Adoption and Orphans: Grief and Loss
· Adoption and Orphans: Acclimating to a New Family Member

“American Christians are stirring to the needs of orphans both at home and abroad as never before. What’s thrilling is that even small ministries in local churches can make such significant impact. There are millions of parentless children worldwide, but a single statistic matters more than any other: it only takes one caring adult to make a lifelong difference in the life of an orphan.”
- Jedd Medefind, President, Christian Alliance for Orphans

Jerry Rankin With Another Powerful Post on the SBC and Fulfilling the Great Commission

Dr. Jerry Rankin, current President of the International Mission Board, posted another very potent article this morning at his blog.

Click here to read the entire thing.

A few excerpts:

"Many will be pointing out how the recommended changes will impact what we are doing as a convention—but isn’t that exactly the point! Watch for those who stand to lose entitlements of a system that hasn’t been moving us toward effective engagement of the lost. Dr. Morris Chapman found a receptive audience in speaking to the winter meeting of State Executives last month in passionately pointing out that the purpose of our denomination is not the Great Commission but cooperation.
"Apparently it doesn’t matter whether we impact a lost world or accomplish anything else as long as we cooperate together. In fact, it was said that the formula for Cooperative Program allocations must not change. I now understand why for 17 years I and my staff have been meeting with the budget workgroup of the Executive Committee, presenting our required report on funding needs, but nothing is ever done. It is just a meaningless exercise of denominational bureaucracy."

And in conclusion, he wrote:

"Cooperation is about us; it is self-centered, self-promoting and maintaining everything every entity is doing without any concern for priorities or results. The Great Commission is not about us, our programs and sustaining what we have always done; it is about others. It is about a lost world. It is about consolidating our resources and focusing our energies to proclaim the gospel to those who have never heard, to win the lost and see the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of our Lord.
I wonder which is God’s priority. Yes, He is pleased with unity among God’s people. He is honored by anything we do cooperatively for His sake. But not to the neglect of His mission! Cooperation is the means through which we work together, not an end in itself. Why couldn’t our cooperation be for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission? Now that would be a quaint idea!"

Great Commission Resurgence Task Force Articles of Interest

Within the last several days, some 'Big Names' from within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) have posted some insights and thoughts regarding the Convention and the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) Task Force.

Most recently, the President of the SBC, Johnny Hunt, posted an article here.

On Friday, the President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Danny Akin, posted an article here.

Earlier last week, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Al Mohler, posted an article here.

I am grateful to God that the 'Big Names' in our Convention are both passionate and committed to helping us chart a course for fulfiing the Great Commission.

From Johnny Hunt, SBC President:

"We have known great days in our Southern Baptist Convention, but it is more than just mere words when I say, “our best is yet to be.” It has been said, 'God rarely requires what is easily released.' I feel Southern Baptists have been in somewhat of a comfort zone. Now many are listening and watching to see just how serious we are about the unreached, unengaged, and the under-served of this nation and the nations of the world. I pledge with all of the loyalty of my heart to challenge every pastor that will listen to do their best in supporting our Cooperative Program, believing that it will cause the entire convention to rise, even in this economy, to give their greatest gifts ever. All of us must do more, and as we do, we will have greater resources to pierce the darkness for the express purpose that God may be glorified, His kingdom may be enlarged, and the church will be edified."

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Discussion Questions from 03/07/2010 Sermons at WBC

Today I preached out of Luke 16:1-9 in the morning and Romans 8:26-30 in the evening.

Sometime tomorrow (03/08/2010) the audio, video, and outlines should be up here.

Below are some discussion questions to think through from both messages.

From the morning sermon (Luke 16):

1. What exactly does the master commend his manger for doing?

2. How does Jesus compare lost people to saved people in Luke 16:8b?

3. Rephrase Luke 16:9 in your own words.

Evaluation Questions from the Sermon:

1. Where are you most ‘shrewd’ and how can that energy be intentionally channeled into a
disciple making strategy?
2. What is your personal strategy for making and nurturing disciples in Wynne and the world
from a financial perspective? Be clever!
3. What percentage of your personal budget is given to spread the kingdom and the cause of
Christ around the world? What can be cut or adjusted?
4. Do you know why you should be giving to WBC’s tithes and offerings?
5. Does your life resemble the Ultimate Financial Shrewd (2 Corinthians 8:9)?

In the morning message, I also quoted from Craig Blomberg in his book Neither Povery Nor Riches. Here is the quote I used:

“Jesus thus commands His followers to use the possessions of this life for kingdom purposes – to gain friends for themselves by making and nurturing disciples and putting God’s kingdom principles into practice so that His will is indeed done on earth as in heaven. Then those who have become Jesus’ followers as a result and preceded us into the eternal realm will welcome us when we arrive.”

From the evening sermon (Romans 8):

1. According to Romans 8:29, what is the purpose of your being on the earth?

2. According to Romans 8:29-30, the 'Order of Salvation' for Paul is: God Foreknew - Predestined - Called - Justified - Glorified

Define each of these terms in your own words.

3. Where is 'sanctification' in Paul's 'Order of Salvation'?

4. What role does the Spirit play in this? What role does Jesus play in this? What role does God play in this?

5. What thoughts come to your mind when you think that God knew beforehand that He would choose you and predetermined you to be saved and called you into salvation and justified you with God and will glorify you in the age to come?

6. What do you think God would want us to do with this knowledge?

7. How do you think God would want us to live with this knowledge?

I quoted from Russell Moore's Adopted for Life and Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Article IV in the BF&M 2000 reads:

IV. Salvation

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.
Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.

B. Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.

C. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God's purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person's life.

D. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Genesis 3:15; Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matthew 1:21; 4:17; 16:21-26; 27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32; John 1:11-14,29; 3:3-21,36; 5:24; 10:9,28-29; 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; 17:30-31; 20:32; Romans 1:16-18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3ff.; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18,29-39; 10:9-10,13; 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-25; 6:15; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-28; 11:1-12:8,14; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:2-23; 1 John 1:6-2:11; Revelation 3:20; 21:1-22:5.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Christian Audio (FREE!) Books of the Month

Christian is offering two wonderful books for free this month.

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a classic and a must read (or listen!) for any serious follower of Christ.

Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die by John Piper is another excellent source, especially to read (or listen to) as Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter approaches.

Both are available for free download during March. Click here to go there directly.

Thank you Christian Audio!

C.J. Mahaney on Parenting

Over at his blog, C.J. Mahaney interacts with a gentleman who asks C.J. how to protect and interact with children regarding hard thoughts about God. The entire dialogue is here.

The points he offers are great advice for parenting. They are as follows:

You have the privilege of introducing them to God the Father and describing the ways in which he is different from you, different from all sinful fathers, and how in any way you are like him it’s only because of grace that you reflect him. See Luke 11:11–13.

Your honest confession of your sin to your children will protect them from having hard thoughts about you or God.

Communicating your affection for them—and joy when you are with them—promotes both good and accurate thoughts about God.

Initiate time with them at both planned and spontaneous times. Don’t leave them with the impression that they get most of your attention when they disobey. Let them know you are so grateful for them and love being with them as much as possible.

Bless your children with many gifts in many forms! See Luke 11 again. Study your children in order to discern what gifts would genuinely bless them and then purpose to surprise them as often as possible.

Requiring appropriate obedience does not promote hard thoughts about God. This only happens when we do so in self-righteousness or anger. See point 2 again.

Frequently preach the gospel to them (and not at them). Reveal to your children just how far God has gone to show his love for sinners like us.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Much Needed Word from Jerry Rankin

I love Dr. Jerry Rankin and will miss him as our IMB President tremendously. Over at his blog, he has posted a very, very strong post on SBC Leaders who are in denial about the current state of the SBC and even the need to always evaluate it. If you are a Southern Baptist and care (really care) about reaching the nations with the Gospel, I urge you and dare you to read what he has do say.

Click here to read the whole thing.

A sample:

"I am incredulous that so many seem to be in denial of the trends. Everyone expresses concern about the 20-year decline in baptisms. When you consider that most of our baptisms are children or re-baptizing people already in our churches or born-again believers coming from other denominations, it is even worse than the statistics indicate. Any honest consideration of results and collective performance of what should be a powerful, spiritual synergy of 45,000 churches reflects we are not effectively winning the lost and making disciples in our own country or among the nations!
In spite of the fact our declining rate of growth has actually tipped to the negative side and the downturn is going to invariably gain momentum, blinded leaders are treating it as blip or temporary aberration. Some seem to actually believe we have 16 million Southern Baptists! I don’t think the New Testament provides an option for the concept of “inactive” or “non-residential” church members. When will we acknowledge we are not as big as we think we are and are getting smaller?
The fact that on the average Cooperative Program giving has not even kept up with inflation for 20 years doesn’t keep some from the delusion that a little more education and clever promotion is going to turn it around. Blaming it on the lack of stewardship on the part of people in the pew is a cop out. Could we not do a better job of focusing on things that would compel greater giving and stewardship? How about actual engagement in the mission of God rather than sustaining a denominational bureaucracy?"

Help us, Lord.

Dan Cruver on Recent Earthquakes and Adoption

Though I pray for orphans more than this, Thursday's are days I intentionally pray specifically for orphans around the world.

To get a few updates for specific prayer this morning I went to the Together for Adoption site.

I read a helpful post by Dan Cruver on a reflection on Romans 8, recent earthquakes, orphan care, and forward living. You can read it here.

His conclusion:

"One of the consequences of our forward-longing living is that whenever we care for orphans—doing what we can to alleviate their suffering and give them a better future—we point to the day when the earth will be made new. Not only do we give the world a glimpse of the renewed earth where orphanages will no longer exist, we also give orphans a foretaste of it."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Discussion Questions from 02/28/2010 Sermons at WBC

The following questions are to accompany/enhance/promote discussion from the messages preached yesterday at WBC. You can watch, listen, and/or get the outlines here.

The AM sermon, taken from Luke 15:25-32, was entitled "A Scandalous Religion: A Picture of Hypocrisy."

1. What clues from the verses indicate that the older son literally hated his father?

2. According to verse 29 the older son always served and obeyed his father. If he hated him, why do you think he continued to serve and obey?

3. What characteristic(s) of the father do you see in these verses?

4. According to verses 31-32, what did the older son not understand?

5. Why did Jesus leave the story open-ended?

6. Can you identify areas in your own life where you treat God like the older son treated his father?

7. Are you a Christian because of what God will hopefully do for you here on earth; or are you a Christian because you have been freed to celebrate the goodness of who God is?

8. What brings you more joy and delight and satisfaction: your self-righteous works that you perform; or the fact that your sins are forgiven?

The PM sermon, taken from Romans 8:26-30, was entitled: "God's Commitment to Our Conformity" continued from 02/21/2010. The 'meat' of the message focused on Romans 8:28.

1. According to Romans 8:29, what is the ultimate purpose for the believer here on the earth?

2. How does that relate to what Paul says God will do for some in Romans 8:28?

3. What are the two qualifications one must meet prior to being able to claim the promise of Romans 8:28?

4. What does it mean to "love God" and to be "called according to His purpose"?

5. Bro. Matt mentioned several instances of this happening throughout Scripture (Abraham, Joseph, Esther, Ruth, Job, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Jesus). Can you think of others?

6. What are some things that have happened in your life that God has used to conform you into the image of Jesus?

7. How does the promise of Romans 8:28 free you to live a radical life for Christ, as opposed to a mediocre Christian life?