Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Must Hear Al Mohler Radio Programs

So I haven't listened to them yet, but yesterday's (April 26th) and today's (April 27th) radio programs on the Al Mohler show have very intriguing topics that will demand my attention in the near future.

Yesterday, on April 26th, Dr. Mohler hosted Greg Gilbert and discussed 'What is the Gospel?' and Gilbert's book that bears that title. Go here.

Today, on April 27th, Dr. Mohler discussed how Christians today should think about and obey the Great Commission. Go here.

Must 'hears' from Mohler!

Interesting Article by Jim Elliff: "When Ball Becomes Baal"

Click here to read his article on putting sports in their proper place.

In the conclusion, he suggests the following:

"First, decide beforehand that there will be no contest between the church's essential activities designed for your family's spiritual growth and what the team plans for your lives. If you will talk this over ahead of time with your child and then the coach, there will be no confusion. Through the years I've found that many coaches respect that decision. But, it must be a prior decision, not one made on a case by case basis. When sports conflicts with Sunday worship or youth camp or a special spiritual activity, the decision has already been made.

"Secondly, determine that your children cannot play every sport. There is a sanctity to the home life that must be protected. You need quiet evenings at home. You need meals together. Just let your children know that you are excited about sports, but there are limits. You then determine what those limits are. For us, we attempt to have only one sport per year for each child.

"Finally, think about some creative choices. One of my sons played basketball, but the season was interminably long. I was also traveling. So, I would be gone speaking over the weekend, then, when I was home, I was out two or more nights sitting on the sidelines watching my son practice. It was not really "time together." This wasn't going to work.

"The solution came to me after prayer. I asked him if he would be willing to learn golf in the place of basketball. We could play together, along with his brother, and we could do it whenever we wanted. We could enjoy this for the rest of our lives. I've paid some extra money, but I've bought back some time with my sons and some good exercise for me also. It's a bargain.
God Himself uses sports language in the New Testament. He's not against it, unless it steals the devotion belonging to Him. All other gods have to go!"

Thoughts or comments anyone?

USA Today Article on LifeWay's Recent Research on Millenials

"Most young adults today don't pray, don't worship and don't read the Bible, a major survey by a Christian research firm shows.

"If the trends continue, "the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships," says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. In the group's survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% say they're "really more spiritual than religious."

Read the rest here.

In addition, read here a USA Today story reporting on Mark Driscoll's response to Millenials' honesty about their faith. An exerpt:

"...young people are more spiritually honest. The days of feeling some sort of cultural pressure to adhere to historic Christian truths is simply gone. Subsequently, we may not be seeing younger people less devoted to Jesus Christ but simply more people being honest so that those who in the past would have professed faith they did not possess or practice are simply being honest which is more admirable than being a hypocrite."

Three Main Steps to Starting Family Worship

James Grant has a wonderful post here on a simple, easy, yet intentional plan to start family worship.

Read the entire post here.

He suggests:

1. Plan to have family worship after an evening meal
2. Read through a good book (like this one)
3. Say the Lord’s prayer after reading the book

After expounding on each of these, he closed his post by referencing some other places to get some help on this subject. He wrote:

"As you advance at this, you can add more to it. I noticed that Tim Challiespointed to a website with lots of resources. Joel Beeke has a short booklet on this topic, and Terry Johnson’s book on the subject is very good and comprehensive; he will direct you to other resources as well. But whether you are starting out or have been doing this for a while, don’t make it into a burden. You will defeat your purpose if you treat this as a strict discipline. Your kids need to enjoy this, and if you include them and keep it simple at first, they will help you build it into more."

Discussion Questions from 04/25/2010 Sermons at WBC

Sunday morning I finished my sermon series on the proposed Purpose Statement for Wynne Baptist Church. The statement is:

"Wynne Baptist Church exists to be radically intentional about making disciples of all nations to the glory of Jesus Christ."

The 'what?' of the purpose statement: "Make disciples of all nations." (April 11, 2010 sermon)

The 'how?' of the purpose statement: "be radically intentional." (April 18, 2010 sermon)

The 'why?' of the purpose statement: "to the glory of Jesus Christ." (April 25, 2010 sermon)

Click here to listen or watch the message.

Click here to get the outline of the message.

Some discussion questions to aid your thinking/navigating/application of the message:

1. Of the five reasons given for doing this 'to the glory of Jesus Christ,' which reason most resonates with you? Why?

2. Of the five reasons given for doing this 'to the glory of Jesus Christ,' which reason most demands further attention and study from your personal life? Why? What will you do about it?

3. Why is it important 'for the glory of Jesus' that Christians operate out of a change Jesus wrought in us? (See reason #4)? How does reversing this cloud or drown out Jesus' glory?

4. Bro. Matt closed out the sermon looking at several passages in Hebrews. Hebrews 10:32-34, Hebrews 11:6, Hebrews 11:24-26, Hebrews 12:1-2, and Hebrews 13:12-14. What is the motivation in each of these instances to live 'radically intentional' lifestyles?

5. What is God doing in your life to help you be more radically intentional?

Sunday night, I continued the series entitled, "Lord, Teach Us to Pray." The purpose of the message was to show how so often our prayers are foreign to the way the Bible commends us to pray.

Click here to listen to or watch the message.

Click here to get the outline.

A very, very, very helpful book to enhance this study is D.A. Carson's A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers. Carson expositionally walks through each of Paul's primary prayers from his epistles.

Click here to get it from Amazon.

Some discussion questions to enhance your application of the Word:

1. Right down 5 prayer requests that have dominated your attention since the beginning of 2010?

2. Read the passages given from the outline and jot down some of the contents of the prayers.

3. Compare the contents of your prayers to that of the Bible's. What things are similar? What are different?

4. What seems to be Jesus' and Paul's main focus when calling Christians to pray? Why?

5. Which of the passages listed will you commit to learn and pray through for WBC and others?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Great Advice on Pastoring Your Family

Justin Hyde has a remarkably insightful and helpful post on how he pastors his family. Very solid advice for all parents (especially dads!).

Click here to read what he says in its entirety.

His main points are:

1. Have a routine.

2. Have intentional evenings.

3. Have time to play.

4. Have intentional mealtime.

5. Clean-up.

6. Bible-time.

7. Question and Answer time.

8. Family Prayer.

9. Bedtime.

10. Implicit and Explicit.

If you have a family, want a family, or know someone who has a family, this would be well worth your time to read.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bruce Ware on Being a Godly and Faithful Man

Owen Strachan has posted a very helpful link to a talk Bruce Ware gave on manhood. He also included Ware's outline.

Click here to read Strachan's post and link to Ware's talk.

Here is the 10-point outline of what godly manhood looks like:

1. Love. 1) Loving God increasingly w/ all my heart, soul, mind and strength; loving Christ and the cross; loving the gospel — these are the foundation for all else. Drawing from God all I need to be the man and husband God has called me to be is my strength and hope. 2) Loving my wife as Christ loves the Church — this is the umbrella principle for marriage; everything else flows from this responsibility and privilege (Eph 5:25ff).

2. Leadership. Biblical manhood involves cultivating, embracing, and exercising leadership initiative, especially spiritual leadership initiative. This is a principle that applies to young men and adult single men just as well as to married men. Cultivate, embrace, and exercise spiritual leadership initiative. In marriage, my love for my wife involves and requires that I exert leadership in our relationship. My headship of my wife means I’m responsible for her spiritual growth and well-being. And as a father, I’m responsible in ways that my wife is not for the spiritual development of our children (Eph 6:1-4). And again, to do this, I must be seeking God and growing personally. Only out of the storehouse of my own soul’s growth in God can I assist my wife to grow spiritually.

3. Example. Lead by example as much as by admonition and instruction. Set the example in: consistent times in the Word and prayer; in sacrificial service for your wife, children, church family members, and community needs; in giving faithfully, generously, and regularly of your finances; in humble admission of wrong-doing along with confession, asking forgiveness, and repentance. Fight pride, fight defensiveness, fight carnality before others.

4. Authority. All three points above imply and invoke the concept of male-headship. Yes, God has given special authority to husbands and fathers. Learn, though, the correct expression of healthy, constructive, upbuilding, God-honoring, Christ-following authority. Resist and reject the sinful extremes of 1) harshness, bossiness, mean-spirited authoritarianism, and of 2) laziness, apathy, lethargy, negligence, and abdication of authority to the women in our lives.

Learn to blend firmness with gentleness, truth with grace, a firm hand with a warm smile.

5. Acceptance. Each of us is unique as God has made us. We should accept others’ differences w/o thinking ourselves to be either superior or inferior to others. In marriage, my wife is unique, and so in many ways, she is not like me. I need to accept who she is, prayerfully and sensitively seeking to assist her in changing what is sinful and needs to be changed, and accepting what is “just different.”

6. Listening. One of my wife’s biggest and most real needs is my attentive and respectful listening ear. She loves to share her experiences, thoughts, ideas, feelings, concerns, hurts, joys, etc. I can minister to my wife more than one might think by offering her caring, responsive, and respectful listening and interaction. Learn to listen sympathetically w/o rushing to “fix it” solutions. Connect first heart to heart, then later heart to head. Establish regular times of mutual sharing (yes, mutual), keep short accounts, and act on what you hear and learn.

7. Understanding. I need to live with my wife in an understanding way (1 Pet 3:7), to learn her needs, her sensitivities. I should seek to know the desires and felt needs of my wife and, when appropriate and possible, fulfill these. I need to discover her “language of love” and make every effort to love her in ways she feels loved.

8. Work. A man’s main sense of identity, responsibility, and purpose is found in his work. Wives want to take pride in their husbands, and taking pride in their work is an important part of this. Women are not meant to bear the financial weight of a marriage or family, so husbands must work hard and responsibly. As important as work is to a man’s identity and fulfillment, we must not allow work to overshadow our commitment to and time with our wives first, and also to our children. Work hard, work well, work to the honor of Christ, and then put work to rest.

9. Sexuality. My wife is my only legitimate sexual experience, and I am hers. So, learning to love sexually with increasing skill and pleasure is vitally important to the satisfaction and intimacy of our marriage. See human sexuality for what it is — the good gift of God to be experienced in marriage, as God has designed.

10. Home. She cares much about our home. The “honey-do” list is far more important to her than she is likely to let on. In love for her, I must pay attention to her requests and treat them as important. But more important even than this is cultivating the “culture” and “ethos” of our home. Develop an atmosphere of appreciation, respect, kindness, service, holiness, happiness, gratefulness, contentment, forgiveness — all as expressions of our love for God and one another.

Interesting Take on Leaving Fake Gospel Tracts

Justin Taylor also posted an interesting take on those leaving Fake Gospel Tracts (via Jared Wilson and Zach Nielson). Read it here.

Wilson's counsel:

Best way to “witness” to a waiter/waitress I’ve ever seen is this:

1. Be friendly. Tell them you will be praying before your meal, Ask if you can pray for them. If body language, tone of voice and time permits, ask if there is anything specific.
2. Pray for them.
3. Leave a good tip.

And that’s it. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. You’ll be amazed at how many actual opportunities to minister to people in Jesus’ name comes from this.

How to Disarm an Angry Person

Justin Taylor posted the following over at his blog via the Gospel Coalition site. Helpful stuff from Ed Welch.

How to Disarm an Angry Person

Ed Welch talks here about how to respond when someone is sinfully angry at you. He ends with these practical-theological suggestions:

1. Don’t minimize the destruction of anger. You are getting shot at! Of course it hurts.
You are setting out to learn a disarming strategy that takes humility and love, and this is way over your head. As such, “Lord have mercy on me” is the order of the day.

2. Remember that angry people are blind to their own anger. They are the last to know that they are killing people. Instead, all they see is that they are right and others are wrong. Assume that they are spiritual lunatics.

3. Divest yourself of all the things you desire and cherish for yourself. Do you want love? Toss it and keep only the necessities, such as the desire to love. Do you need respect and understanding? It will only be an encumbrance. Get rid of it.

4. Move toward the angry person in love and humility. Fear runs away, anger attacks. Humility and love move toward. In a surprise attack they blindside angry people with weakness. Your timing will be important. Sometimes you can say something while the gun is aimed. Other times you will wait and speak later.

5. The person’s anger could have many reasons – you being one. But murderous anger is always wrong. At some point, from your place of love and humility, you will hold up the mirror and help angry people see themselves (Matthew 7:5).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wynne Baptist Church and Compassion International

I rejoice in the Lord that over 30 WBCers agreed to sponsor a child through Compassion International yesterday!

Praise the Lord! This is a HUGE way we are and can be 'radically intentional' about making disciples of all nations to the glory of Jesus Christ.

Click here to learn more about what will be happening in the lives of children around the world.

Also, click here for a new web-site specifically for children in helping them learn more about Compassion International and how to be better at showing compassion.

Discussion Questions from 04/18/2010 Sermons at WBC

"Wynne Baptist Church exists to be radically intentional about making disciples of all nations to the glory of Jesus Christ."

In part 2 of my series on the WBC Purpose Statement, I did my best to explain what is meant by the two-word phrase 'radically intentional.' Last week (part 1), my aim was to unpack the 'what' of the purpose statement (make disciples of all nations). Yesterday, my aim was to explain the 'how' of the purpose statement (radically intentional). God willing, next Sunday (April 25th), I will talk through the 'why' of the purpose statement (to the glory of Jesus Christ).

You can watch or listen to yesterday's message here.

Here are some questions for further discussion:

1. Read Matthew 5:14-16 and explain being 'radically intentional' in your own words.

2. I mentioned a host of different needs around the world as to why WBC must be radically intentional about making disciples of all nations. Which one(s) stood out to you the most? Why?

3. I also mentioned several examples as to what being 'radically intentional' looks like. What are some ideas you have about how you can be 'radically intentional' with your life? Regarding your family? Regarding your neighborhood? Regarding church? Regarding your city? Regarding the world?

4. Read Matthew 19:11-16. What did Jesus mean by 'perfect' here? Is it possible to be perfect and get to heaven by merely selling all you own and giving the proceeds to the poor? If so, how does that square with the rest of Scripture? If not, what in the world did Jesus mean?

5. What are some ways you can be radically intentional today? This week?

Also, on Sunday night, I began a series entitled "Lord, Teach Us to Pray." The outline was unavailable last night, so I will post it below, followed by a few discussion questions.

“What I’m Learning About WBC’s Urgent, Essential, and Non-Negotiable Need to Pray”

Psalm 60:11-12
Psalm 62

Examples of the priority of prayer in the Early Church:

Acts 1:14; Acts 2:42; Acts 3:1; Acts 4:31; Acts 6:4, 6; Acts 8:14-15; Acts 9:40; Acts 10:9; Acts 12:12; Acts 13:3; Acts 14:23; Acts 16:13, 16, 25; Acts 27:29; Acts 28:8

The results of the heavy concentration of praying:

1. Supernatural, Spirit-sent growth by authentic conversions.

Acts 2:47; Acts 4:32ff; Acts 5:14; Acts 6:7; Acts 16:13-14 (Lydia); Acts 16:25ff

2. Supernatural, God-sized missionary endeavors developed.

Acts 11:1-18; Acts 13:1-3

3. Supernatural, Jesus-exalting occurrences advancing the kingdom.

Acts 3:1ff; Acts 12:5ff; Acts 28:7-10

1. Restate Psalm 60:11-12 in your own words as it relates to prayer.

2. What are some phrases in Psalm 62 that encourage you to pray?

3. What are some things we can learn from the church in Acts about the way we do church?

4. What are some areas you need to rearrange in order to give yourself more time and energy to prayer?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Jerry Rankin and a Call for Integrity, Transparency, and Efficiency from the Cooperative Program

Jerry Rankin continues to blog about the need for a radical Great Commission Resurgence. His most recent article can be found in its entirety here.

Below are a couple of very strong, yet very accurate (in my opinion) quotes from his post:

"Nothing drives commitment and sacrificial support like a compelling, passionate vision. We ought to challenge Southern Baptists to give what it takes to reach our nation and a lost world and see that funds are prioritized to actually go for that purpose. If the budget is not met, offices and programs all need to be prepared to cut back, but for goodness sake, let’s challenge our churches to give to a God-sized vision rather than appealing to them to sustain the work of past years."

"Some radical efforts for operating more efficiently could go a long way toward encouraging more generous support."

"Giving is discouraged and credibility diminished when those supported by the Cooperative Program are unwilling to reveal salaries and benefits they receive. If one is embarrassed to publicly acknowledge what they receive for “serving” an entity, a state convention or the SBC, then initiative ought to be taken to reduce their salary. Confidence in giving to the CP would be greatly enhanced by leaders being transparent in what they receive and Southern Baptists knowing how much is consumed by salaries and administrative support."

"Again, I want to emphasize, I don’t think anyone is being dishonest. State budgets and SBC budgets are clearly outlined when convention action is taken. But the intricacies and complexity of how the Cooperative Program is used and where the funds all go is not really known and understood. Churches just can’t understand why more doesn’t go to missions and reaching a lost world. Lack of transparency and perceived inefficiency doesn’t encourage channeling even more funds into a generic denominational pool of funding."

Discussion Questions from 04/11/2010 Sermon at WBC

"Wynne Baptist Church exists to be radically intentional about making disciples of all nations to the glory of Jesus Christ."

Yesterday at WBC I introduced this purpose statement and preached the first of a three-part series unpacking its biblical meaning and how I long for it to apply at Wynne Baptist.

The statement divides itself into three parts:

The 'What?' of the Purpose Statement: "Making disciples of all nations."

The 'How?' of the Purpose Statement: "Radically Intentional."

The 'Why?' of the Purpose Statement: "To the glory of Jesus Christ."

Yesterday's sermon (which you can listen to, watch, and/or get the outline here) was an attempt to show from Matthew 28:16-20 how the 'What?' of the purpose statement is the 'What?' of the Bible.

Some discussion questions to enhance your thinking through the text and obedience to it:

1. What is THE primary command found in Matthew 28:16-20?

2. What three components make a 'disciple' of Jesus a genuine 'disciple' of Jesus?

3. Who is the command for?

4. Where are followers of Jesus told to make disciples?

5. What is the promise Jesus gives to those who give themselves to making disciples of all nations?

6. How are you doing at making this the priority of your life?

7. What are some ways WBC can more intentionally make disciples of all nations?

8. Do you think your personal schedule needs to be rearranged to make this a priority? Do you think WBC's current schedule and annual calendar needs to be rearranged to make and reflect this as our priority?

9. Are you being discipled by anyone? If not, would you be willing to ask God to put someone in your life who would be willing to?

10. What lost people are you intentionally building a relationship with for the purpose of sharing the Gospel of Christ with them?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Two More Very Important and 'On Target' Articles on the GCR

I hope you don't need my prompting anymore and you are checking it yourself, but Dr. Jerry Rankin has posted yet another very insightful and helpful article for every SBC entity, church, and individual.

Read the entire article here. It is a first in a series of articles entitled "Paying to Fulfill the Great Commission."

The heart of the matter, in my opinion, from Rankin:

"Knowing we are to witness and do missions doesn’t result in it happening. It will not be driven by guilt and another program of mobilizing for witness. It is only the compelling power of the Holy Spirit within us that will compel us to reach a lost world."

A second article is by Jon Akin from the Baptist Twenty One blog.

His article, "Difficult Decisions: 'Best' Versus 'Good' in the GCR Debate" can be read here.

The heart of the matter, in my opinion, from Akin:

"My point is that if we are going to reach places we are currently not reaching then difficult decisions between 'good' ministries and the 'best' ministries will have to be made."

As with Dr. Rankin's article, these types of questions and evaluations and thinking is not needed just for whole entities, but for every individual as well.

Discussion Questions from Easter Sunday - April 4th, 2010

Yesterday at WBC was an absolutely incredible day to celebrate and worship the Risen and Exalted Jesus Christ.

The title of the message was, "The Gardener? What Was Mary Magdalene Thinking?"

The main question I sought to answer was, "Why did John, inspired by the Spirit of God, record that Mary assumed Jesus was the gardener?" Or, "Why in the world did Mary think the risen Christ was the gardener?"

The outline I used to try to answer this question was as follows:

Genesis 1:26-31; 2:5-9, 15 Purpose of Existence

Genesis 3:17-24 Paradise Lost

Luke 3:21-38 A ‘Beloved Son’ and Rescuer

John 20:11-17 Right Relationship Restored

The answers I concluded the message with were three-fold:

1. It was still somewhat dark outside, Mary was in a state of horrified shock, and Jesus was in His glorified body.

2. As ‘the gardener,’ we are brought face to face with the reality that what Jesus has accomplished is a total restoration of what was lost in the Garden of Eden.

3. Seeing Christ for who He truly is requires a divine initiative and call by Christ Himself.

The message should be available for viewing and/or listening here later today.

For further thought and discussion, read the following two passages and think through the questions:

1. Read Romans 5:14. How was Adam a 'type' of Christ?

2. What are some ways Jesus fulfilled where Adam failed (see above passages and Luke 4:1-13)?

3. What are some things humans inherit from Adam? What are some things those who believe inherit from Jesus?

4. What does Jesus being our new human representative do to your soul?

5. In John 20:15, Mary was not able to comprehend who Jesus was. In verse 16, however, she knew without doubt who Jesus was. What was the difference? Has this happened to you? Explain why or why not.

6. Who are three people you need to intentionally share this with this week?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rankin Hits One 'Out of the Ballpark' - PLEASE READ

Dr. Rankin has done it again and this time, in my opinion, says everything that needs to be said and, I pray, grips Southern Baptists (all of us!) to repent.

I urge you to read the entire thing here.

The bottom line (I believe) for Rankin in this article is this (from Rankin):

"Could not the remaining 99 percent of our church members support the 1 percent who go as missionaries? What is the problem? It is a matter of disproportionate use of resources. We have determined we will do other things with our money than reach a lost world—comfortable spacious buildings and programs that serve the redeemed. We choose to keep most of the money at home while providing a token of resources to reach the rest of the world." (emphasis mine)