Monday, December 27, 2010

Link to Bible Reading Plans

About two weeks ago, I linked some resources from a discussion based on the Thursday morning men's group, having read through David Platt's Radical.

Click here to go to that link and see the multiple links that will aid in your growth in 2011.

If I come across some additional Bible Reading Plans for 2011, I will do my best to post them here at this blog.

**By the way, Platt is finishing a new book entitled Radical Together. Pre-order it here.

Link to 'Almost Christian.'

Yesterday morning during the sermon I mentioned a book I was reading entitled Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church. The book was written by Kenda Creasy Dean.

You can link to it through here.

Discussion Questions from 12/26/2010 Sermon

Yesterday morning at WBC, we had a wonderfully full house for our 10:30 am (Day After) Christmas service. David led us in some Christmas hymns, we commissioned the team of 9 men heading to E. Asia this week, and Donna Smith sang 'O Holy Night.'

I preached from Matthew 1:18-25; 2:13-15; 2:19-23 and focused on Joseph's obedience. The title was "Trust and Obey for There's No Other Way to Be Happy In Jesus" (Or, "Delay to Obey, and You'll Be Sorry Some Day"). You can watch or listen to the message here later in the week.

Here are some discussion questions to think through:

1. Of the areas Matthew mentions Joseph's obedience, which one (from your perspective) seemed to be the hardest? Why do you think so?

2. What would have happened if Joseph had followed through with his original plan to 'divorce her quietly'?

3. What were some additional implications of Joseph's obedience (in other words, what else resulted from Joseph's obedience rather than the 'surface' benefits)?

4. What do these passages teach us about how to walk with God?

5. How is it that Joseph's obedience was influential in our salvation?

6. In what ways do you need to be obedient to the Lord in 2011?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Discussion Questions from Adoption Q and A Series Sermon #4

Yesterday I finished the "Adoption Q and A" Series with a focus on Jesus' Adoption. The title was "Was Jesus Really Adopted and Why Does It Matter?" You can watch or listen to the message here.

Of course, the answer to the question is an emphatic "YES!!!" Joseph did, indeed, adopt Jesus and bring Him into his family - making Him one of his very own.

Why does it matter? Yesterday, I offered five reasons:

1. The Messiah HAD to Come from the Line of David.
2 Samuel 7:12-16
Matthew 1:1, 6, 17 (See also Matthew 1:20)
Luke 4:31

2. Jesus as the “Son of David” Would Be Meaningless.
Matthew 9:27, 12:23, 15:22, 20:30-31, 21:9, 21:15, 22:42
Mark 10:47-48, 12:35
Luke 18:38-39

3. Jesus’ Adoption Implies His Having Come from Another Father.
Luke 1:26-35

4. Jesus’ Adoption Reminds Us of His Humanity and Growth as a Man.
Luke 2:40, 52

5. Jesus’ Willingness to Be Adopted Further Reveals The Extent of His Love for Mankind.
Philippians 2:5-11
Matthew 25:31-46

Here are some discussion questions to further help you understand/apply the truth(s) presented:

1. Had you ever wondered whether or not Jesus was adopted by Joseph?

2. Which of these five reasons regarding Jesus' adoption most surprised you?

3. Describe, in your own words, how Jesus' adoption demonstrates the reality that He was and is both 100% God and 100% man. What are some implications of this?

4. If Jesus came from the Kingly lineage of David and is, indeed, the promised Messiah - this means He is the everlasting King of the universe. What areas in your life need to be submitted to His kingly authority?

5. Read and meditate on Philippians 2:3-8 and Matthew 25:31-46. According to these texts, a person who follows Christ should diligently be doing what? How does your life demonstrate that Jesus' Spirit dwells within you?

6. Is God calling you to adopt?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Be Radically Intentional at a Christmas Gathering

Don Whitney has provided a very helpful list of questions to ask at a Christmas gathering. Great way(s) to be radically intentional with your family and friends this year!

Click here to read what he says about them.

Here are the questions:

What's the best thing that's happened to you since last Christmas?
What was your best Christmas ever? Why?
What's the most meaningful Christmas gift you've ever received?
What was the most appreciated Christmas gift you've ever given?
What was your favorite Christmas tradition as a child?
What is your favorite Christmas tradition now?
What do you do to try to keep Christ in Christmas?
Why do you think people started celebrating the birth of Jesus?
Do you think the birth of Jesus deserves such a nearly worldwide celebration?
Why do you think Jesus came to earth?

Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission by Darrin Patrick

Thursday morning Bible Study guys:

This morning I mentioned this book by Darrin Patrick. Click on the book itself and Amazon will allow you to 'Look Inside' at the Table of Contents and such.

Also, click here to watch Patrick talk about the importance of and need for godly men. What he says kind of sets the tone for the book.

Click here to read an interview with Patrick about the book.

Click here to view an on-line sampler of the book and some endorsements by leading evangelicals.

[All of the above links were posted by Justin Taylor at his blog 'Between Two Worlds.']
Let me know what you think!

Resources Discussed During Thursday's Men's Group

This morning, I had the privilege of wrapping up a study of David Platt's Radical with a group of about 20 guys. It was a great time of challenging one another with the biblical truths that David is so gifted at amplifying.

Chapter 9 concludes the book with a challenge not to just book the book on the shelf, but to actually do something 'radical' for a year. David challenges his readers to:

(1) Pray for the world.

(2) Read through the entire Word.

(3) Give sacrificially to a specific, church-based, Gospel-oriented cause.

(4) Spend your time on mission in another context.

(5) Be a part of a multiplying community.

I challenged the guys that met this morning to take this seriously, find some accountability, to pursue what was brought before us.

Here are some links of some of the things I suggested using the following resources through with these challenges:

Operation World

Click here to go to the web-site.

Click here to order the book.

Read more about Platt and the impact this book has had on his life here.

Bible reading plans...

Click here, here, or here (each of these are plans I linked from my blog last year).

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering - Click here to read and find out more about this all important offering.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Christmas Gift that Only My Blog Readers Would Appreciate

Today I received this T-shirt from a staff member just before evaluation time. I will let you guess which staff member it was.

Yesterday's Video (Link) and Quotes from Russell Moore and Margaret Sanger

During yesterday morning's worship service, we showed a video clip from Eric Ludy entitled "Depraved Indifference." Click here to watch the clip on You Tube.

I also quoted from Russell Moore, regarding his comment on Joseph's God ordained decision to go ahead and marry Mary.

From his book Adopted for Life:

“Joseph easily could have walked out to the city gates, shaking his head to his friends. ‘You’ll never believe the crazy dream I had last night.’ He no doubt would have denounced everywhere Herod’s pagan insanity in killing babies and toddlers. No one would have blamed him for putting aside his betrothal to Mary. In fact, he probably would have been praised at his funeral for his kindness in not calling for her to be stoned to death. Joseph could have married a pious Jewish woman, could have fathered several of his ‘own’ children. He could have slept easily at night, perhaps, and then died an old man. No one would have thought him to be evil or even negligent. But if he’d don’t that, he would have been standing with the spirit of antichrist rather than the Spirit of Christ. No one else was called to adopt this Christ-child, but he was. And because he believed his God, he obeyed him, even to his own hurt.”

I also quoted the chilling statement made by Planned Parenthood's founder Margaret Sanger (also taken from Moore's Adopted for Life):

"Adoption requires a person to devote time and resources to raising a child that is not genetically related. Adoption puts the future of a child in the control of a stranger. It’s easier for a woman to have an abortion, or for a family to refuse to think about adopting because evolution and biology conspire to thwart adoption. Evolution has programmed women to be nurturers of the children they bear, thus, adoption as a solution to abortion is a cruel hoax.”

Discussion Questions from Adoption Q and A Series Sermon #3

Yesterday morning, I was able to preach on the topic of spiritual warfare as it relates to adoption. The title was "If Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World, Why are there 147 Million Orphans? (The Fall, Satan, and Demonic Hatred of Little Babies)." You can listen to and/or watch the message here.

Some questions for further reflection:

1. How does Planned Parenthood exude the spirit of Satan in their agenda?

2. How might that same spirit permeate evangelical Christians and their outlook toward children? Toward orphans?

3. Of the Scriptures read and mentioned by Bro. Matt, which was the most compelling?

4. How did Joseph demonstrate the Spirit of Christ in his actions? How would doing the expected and convenient thing been Satanic in his case?

5. How did Jesus demonstrate His willingness to be 'inconvenienced' for the good and life of others?

6. What is your life most marked by: the Spirit of God or the spirit of Satan? Why do you answer the way you do?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Discussion Questions from Adoption Q and A Series Sermon #2

So sorry for the delay of these questions, but this has been a very busy week! This past Sunday, I preached the second in a series of messages on Adoption. The title of the message was, "Is Transracial Adoption Wrong? (Red and Yellow, Black and White - Are They Precious in Our Sight?"). You can watch and/or listen to the message here.

After you watch/listen to the message, ask these questions with yourself and others to further think through these truths:

1. Of the Scripture passages read or mentioned, which one (in your opinion) is the most convincing regarding God's plan for forming a group of people from around the world as a 'family'?

2. How might adopting a child of another race/ethnicity mirror the plan of God?

3. Are you okay with Jesus, the man you worship and have as an older brother, being Jewish? What if He were of African descent? What's the difference?

4. What are some ways society trumps what Scripture teaches regarding interracial adoption, families, etc.? What are some excuses you have heard as to why not to adopt of another race?

5. Why is it good news that God is not concerned with race or status or geographic location or religion, etc.?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Adoption, Race, and the Family of God

From Chapter 2 in Russell Moore's Adopted for Life:

"Our adoption means, though, that we find a different kind of unity. In Christ, we find Christ. We don't have our old identities based on race or class or life situation. The Spirit drives us from Babel to Pentecost, which is why 'the works of the flesh' Paul warns about include 'enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy' and so forth (Gal. 5:19-21). When we find our identity anywhere other than Christ, our churches will be made up of warring partisans rather than loving siblings. And we'll picture to the world an autopsied Body of Christ, with a little bit of Jesus for everyone, all on our own terms (1 Cor. 1:12-13).

What would it mean, though, if we took the radical notion of being brothers and sisters seriously? What would happen if your church saw an elderly woman no one would ever confuse with 'cool' on her knees at the front of the church praying with a body-pierced fifteen year-old anorexic girl? What would happen if your church saw a white millionaire corporate vice president being mentored by a Latino wage-earning janitor because both know the janitor is more mature in the things of Christ?

Here's where, I think the nub of hte whole issue lies. Adoption would become a priority in our churches if our churches themselves saw our brotherhood and sisterhood in the church itself rather than in our fleshly identities. For some Christians - maybe for you - it's hard to imagine how an African-American could love a white Ukrainian baby, how a Haitian teenager could call Swedish parents 'Mom' and 'Dad.' Of course that's hard to imagine, when so many of our churches can't even get over differences as trivial as musical style.

If we had fewer 'white' churches and 'black' churches, few 'blue-collar' churches and 'white collar' churches, maybe we'd see better what Jesus tells us when he says we've come into a new household with one Spirit, one Father, one Christ. In fact, maybe the reason we wonder whether 'adopted' children can 'really' be brothers and sisters is because we rarely see it displayed in our pews.

If this will ever happen, though, we have to learn to discover who we really are, together, as the adopted children of God. That isn't easy because our identity is constantly questioned-by our circumstances, by our consciences, by the accusing powers in the air around us."

Two Great Articles over at Desiring God

I would encourage anyone needing a challenge and some encouragement to read the following two articles posted at Desiring God during recent days:

1. An article by Michael Oh entitled "The Grace of God in Our Circumstances"

A portion of Oh's post:

"But even more important is the response of sharing spiritual blessing with the unreached peoples of the world. If you were born into a fundamentalist Islamic family what would you want Christians in America to do? If you were born into a family of a Shinto priest, how would you want Christians in America to respond? Knowing what you know today, certainly you would want them to share with you about eternal life through the Savior of the world Jesus Christ. Certainly you would want them to bring the Gospel to their nation and teach them about salvation for their souls and about eternal life. Certainly you would want churches and Christians in other nations to sacrifice financially to send missionaries to teach you the Bible, God's Word to this world."

2. An article by Paul Tripp entitled "The Shortest Distance Between Two Points"

Tripp's closing paragraph:

"So, David's prayer is an important request for all of us. All of us step off God's path in some way and all of us need restoring grace. Have you gotten off God’s straight path? Have you given yourself reason to take side-paths? How about praying, once again today, “Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path”? Thankfully, our Savior Guide doesn't leave us to our wandering. He relentlessly seeks us and places us back on His straight path and for that every son and daughter, still on the journey, should be deeply thankful."

New Book on Adoption Coming Out January 1, 2011

Click here to see the cover and read an excerpt from a new book called Reclaiming Adoption. Contributors include: Dan Cruver, John Piper, Scotty Smith, Jason Kovacs, and Rick Phillips.

A portion of chapter 1:

"I believe that a biblical understanding of God’s Fatherhood will cause us to be better able to look outside ourselves in service to others. If we are not confident of His love, our eyes will turn inward, and our primary concerns will be our needs, our lack, our disappointment, rather than the needs of those around us. As a result, we’ll be afraid to take risks or do the hard things even if they are necessary. Or we will do the externals of missional living as an attempt to earn God’s acceptance or to keep Him and our fellow-Christians off our backs. We will relate to Him as if we are wage-earners rather than as His dearly beloved children, the ones in whom He delights."