Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bro. Matt's Blog Has Moved!!!!

Yep, that's right. I have decided to totally 'redo' my blog and be as 'radically intentional' with it as possible.

Click here to go directly to the blog called "The HEART of Pastor Matt".

See you there!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Clarification From Yesterday's Message on Encouragement

Yesterday morning I preached the second in a series of 8 messages on the 'one another's of the New Testament. "Encourage one another " was the focal command for yesterday. One of the four reasons I gave for obeying this command was this:

"3. Biblical encouragement is a primary means God uses to keep us saved."

I based this statement from what the author of Hebrews says in Hebrews 3:12-14 - "Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelievingly heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort/encourage one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end."

Let me assure everyone reading this blog: Matt Pearson believes in the doctrine of eternal security!!! The Bible is loud and clear about that from the beginning to the end. Denying that denies much of the Bible and the beautiful grace of God in salvation. My hope is that God will keep me saved today and tomorrow and forever; not in Matt Pearson's works.

But I also MUST let the Bible speak and let the Bible drive my convictions and theology and doctrine, not my preconceived ideas and notions. I believe in the doctrine of eternal security AND I believe Hebrews 3:12-14.

Now, according to Hebrews 3:12-14, if some things don't happen, believers might fall away from God. They are commanded to : (1) take care; (2) encourage one another; and (3) hold firm their original confidence to the end. If they don't, they might develop an evil, unbelievingly. heart and become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin - leading them to fall away from God and not share in Christ in the end.

Since I believe that I cannot lose my salvation, then when I read that text, I have a choice to make. I can:
(a). Ignore it because even if I do drift a bit, I am okay; or...
(b). Diligently heed the command/warning, seeing it as a gift of God's grace for me and the church to stay saved.

Which do you think is more biblical? Which defines a child of God more concretely? Of course, (b) is the correct response.

Now. If I do not obey, am I still a Christian? Maybe. If I ignore this/these command(s) I either demonstrate either (1) I never was saved in the first place; or, (2) miss God's best for me, get convicted by the Spirit of God, and by His grace press on to heed this grace for me in the
days ahead.

Jesus said in Matthew 24 that the one who endures to the end (by following Him in obedience) will be saved. Likewise, Paul said to work out your salvation with fear and trembling in Philippians 2.

So, do I believe that once a believer is authentically saved by the grace of Christ and the Spirit of God that he/she will ALWAYS be saved? You betcha. But I also believe (because of texts like Hebrews 3:12-14) that this includes the fact that God graciously uses means to keep us saved, one of them being that the church heed the command to encourage one another to the end.

Why else is the Bible here? Was not the majority of the NT written for churches??? Why is it all there unless it is to be used as a means to keep the church graciously and gloriously saved?

Why would we need each other if we could get by as believers all by ourselves? We can't!!! This is why God graciously gave us each other.
God graciously uses means to keep us saved, so diligently and intentionally encourage one another TODAY. By doing so, you reveal the Spirit's work in your own heart (bringing confirmation to your soul of God working in and through you); AND you just might be a means God has ordained to keep a brother or sister from falling away from the living God.

Clarification From Yesterday's Message on Encouragement

Monday, June 6, 2011

Discussion Questions for June 5th, 2011 Sermons

Due to the '242-Sharing Life Together' Series on the 'One Anothers' of the New Testament this summer, all discussion questions for the Sunday morning messages (June-July 2011) can be found at this link at the Wynne Baptist Church web-site.

As for the message on Haggai, I preached last night, I will simply encourage you to consider the implication questions I posed at the close of the sermon. You can watch or listen to the message here.

Here are the questions I left you with last night:

1. WBC, Consider Our Ways: A Superior Temple, and the Display of God’s Glory Remains Incomplete…What are We Doing about It?

2. WBC, Consider Our Ways: The Amount of God’s Spirit You Experience and Your Practice of Obedience…Is there a Connection?

3. WBC, Consider Our Ways: God Keeps His Promises…Do You Believe It?

Give them Grace - Parenting Book Referenced Last Night

Last night, I referenced/recommended Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson.

You can order the book directly from Amazon by clicking here.

I also mentioned a very helpful interview with Elyse Fitzpatrick about the book. You can listen and/or watch the interview here.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bible Reading Plan that Takes Jesus' Approach to Scripture

Earlier this week, I came across this Bible reading plan by Jason DeRouchie.

Click here to link to where I found it (Desiring God) and to a link where you can download the plan in a PDF format.

Here are its unique features:

1. Proportionate weight is given to the Old and New Testaments in view of their relative length, the Old receiving three readings per day and the New getting one reading per day.

2. The Old Testament readings follow the arrangement of Jesus’ Bible (Luke 24:44––Law, Prophets, Writings), with one reading coming from each portion per day.

3. In a single year, one reads through Psalms twice and all other biblical books once; the second reading of Psalms (highlighted in gray) supplements the readings through the Law (Genesis–Deuteronomy).

4. Only 25 readings are slated per month in order to provide more flexibility in daily devotions.

5. The plan can be started at any time of the year, and if four readings per day are too much, the plan can simply be stretched to two or more years (reading from one, two, or three columns per day).

Monday, May 9, 2011

What About the Books on Brief Heaven and Hell Experiences???

There is alot of talk out there about books such as 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven is For Real and 23 Minutes in Hell.

Randy Alcorn thinks through this issus (these issues?) here.

A particularly helpful quote:

"Acts 17:11 tells us that the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily "to see if what Paul said was true." Now, if ever in human history you were going to assume that another person's words were true, not finding it necessary to double-check against the Scriptures, surely it would be with the Apostle Paul. Yet the Bereans were commended for carefully scrutinizing Paul's words in light of Scripture. If Paul's words needed to fall under the judgment of God's Word, obviously mine do, and Don Piper’s do, and Todd and Colton Burpo’s do.

"I do believe that something is seriously wrong if people take more time to contemplate and discuss Colton Burpo’s account of petting Jesus' rainbow-colored horse, or of Jesus wearing a crown with a pink diamond, than they do studying what the Bible actually says about Heaven. The back cover of the book says 'Heaven Is for Real will forever change the way you think of eternity.' I would say, 'Seek to let the Bible alone change the way you think of eternity.'"

Resources to Aid in Parenting with a Gospel Focus

Yesterday morning I mentioned several books that would be helpful for any parent longing to see their children grow knowledge of and love for the Jesus of the biblical Gospel.

Click the links below and you will go directly to Amazon:

Another book that is forthcoming looks like it is going to be outstanding (by a very Gospel-centered and trustworthy author) as well is:

Give them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson

At The Gospel Coalition web-site, they link to this helpful talk entitled "How to Teach Children and Youth the Gospel Story."

Also, tomorrow night (May 10, 2011) Desiring God will be interviewing Paul Tripp (Tedd Tripp's brother) on the topic of "Getting to the Heart of Parenting." I am sure it will be very, very helpful for any and all parents - especially when it comes to applying the Gospel.

FYI: Helpful Resources for Seeing Christ in the Old Testament

The Gospel Coalition has grown to be one of my favorite websites to visit for solid, helpful resources concerning all things evangelical.

One of my favorite aspects about it is its attention to helping followers of Christ to read and understand all of the Bible as Christian. In other words, it helps us see the connections between Jesus and the Old Testament.

Yesterday morning I preached from Luke 24, where Jesus walked with a couple on the road to Emmaus and walked through the Old Testament, making all the connections to Himself. In other words, He showed them how the Old Testament spoke of, predicted, and prepared for the coming of the Messiah. (See Luke 24:25-27)

For helpful resources on how to grow in your understanding of how to read and understand the Bible from this perspective, click here. The Gospel Coalition is doing a tremendous service to the church by making these interviews, articles, workshops, etc. available.

Also, The Gospel Coalition recently hosted a conference where this (Christ and the Old Testament) was the entire theme. Click here to go directly there. Enjoy. May our hearts burn together as we learn the Scriptures with the proper Gospel lens.

Discussion Questions from May 8th, 2011 Sermons

Yesterday morning I preached a message entitled "Enormous Emmaus Emotions caused by the Ever Enlightening Emmanuel" from Luke 24:13-35.

You can watch, listen, and/or download the message here later today.

Here are some questions to enhance your understanding of the text:

1. Why was the couple on the road to Emmaus so sad and hopeless? How can you relate to their hopelessness? Have you ever said to yourself, "I had hoped..."? What about?

2. How did Jesus' resurrection change all of that? Why is His resurrection from the dead such a big deal and what are some of the implications of it?

3. What did Jesus do differently with the Old Testament (from what they were used to doing) that caused their hearts to burn? What does this say about how Jesus expects the Old Testament to be read and interpreted? (See Post - "FYI: Helpful Resources for Seeing Christ in the Old Testament" Later Today)

4. According to this text, what causes hearts to burn for the things of God? What does this mean for your own heart? What does this mean for the hearts you have influence over?

5. What do you think happened that caused the couple from Emmaus to (finally!) recognize Jesus? How is this similar to what happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (See Genesis 3:1-11)?
For further treatment on this thought, click here for a very helpful and detailed article by Dane Ortlund.

6. What did the couple from Emmaus do the moment they 'recognized' Jesus as the resurrected Messiah? What does this say about what 'grasping' the resurrection should effect in us?

Last night I continued the 'Overview' series through the Minor Prophets ("The 'Not So' Minor Minors"). Last night's message was on Habakkuk. The title was "Habakkuk: From Hacked Off to Hallelujah." Click here (later today) to watch, listen and/or download.

Below are some questions to add to your digestion of the book:

1. Why was Habakkuk so angry the first time? (See Habakkuk 1:1-4) Why was he so angry the second time? (See Habakkuk 1:12-17) Have you ever complained at God for doing/allowing something to happen in your life that you didn't have categories for? What were/are they?

2. How did you handle it when these circumstances entered your life?

3. What were the 4 actions Habakkuk took to move from being 'Hacked Off' at God to saying 'Hallelujah' to God?
Which of these actions seem the easiest? Why?
Which of these actions seem to be the hardest? Why?

4. According to Habakkuk 3:17-19, what happened to Habakkuk through this deal?

5. How does the book of Habakkuk mirror the story of the Gospel?

6. According to Habakkuk 2:14, where is everything headed and why does God do everything He does? How does knowing this change the way we (believers) should look at the world?

7. Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted 3 times in the New Testament. Where are they and what is the thrust of meaning behind each quote?

Monday, May 2, 2011

I CANNOT Believe It's FREE!!!!

For anyone interested....

I learned today that Paul Miller's EXCELLENT book A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World is FREE for Kindle.

Click here to get it and/or buy the hardcopy on Amazon.

I also learned today the Tim Challies' new book The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion is available for free as an Audio Book for the Month of May. Click here to download it for free.

Helpful Evangelistic Website

Below is a link to a web-site by Christianity Explored. I have been extremely impressed by resources they have put out in the past related to personal evangelism. They have just revamped their website and it is very 'seeker' friendly related to helping those without Christ understand more about Christianity and what followers of Christ believe and such.

Use it for yourself and reference it to those whom you know and love who are searching for answers related to the things of Christ.

Christians and Osama Bin Laden (UPDATED)

Okay, so this will be somewhat brief...I will link to some additional resources below that I think will be helpful and for further reading.

I have had several request my thoughts on the death of Osama Bin Laden.

I found myself having some very mixed emotions last night, to be real honest.

On one hand, I was thrilled! I mean, a mastermind who was dead set on killing as many as possible was gone?!?! That, to me, was a really good thing.

On the other hand, I was grieved. How could I be happy that someone is dead? Especially someone who is (more than likely) in hell and will stay there being tortured throughout eternity?

Then I checked Twitter. Oh my.

First I read people rejoicing. Then I read others who were rebuking those for rejoicing. Then I read where people were sharing the same mixture of feelings that I had. Then I read Bible verses that countered others who had posted Bible verses. Yikes....made me glad I don't have a Facebook account!!!!

So how should Christians think about this deal?

I read a tweet by J.D. Greear this morning that really helped me balance this thing out some. He, more or less stacked two verses on top of one another and stated (in essence) that we need to wrestle with both truths.

(UPDATE: J.D. Greear blogged some thoughts here)

The first verse he referenced was Proverbs 24:17-18 - "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him."

He also referenced Ezekiel 33:11 which says the LORD takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

Amen and Amen.

But he also (this is the part that was helpful) referenced our need to rejoice in the fact that justice was shown AND weep for the loss of life (especially one doomed to hell).

God is just and demands justice. He is a LOVER of justice. Justice was served. One who was responsible for thousands of people dying (and who knows if others were being planned?) was now dead. Rejoice.

But God does not rejoice in the death of wicked. Weep.

I think the biblical response is to balance both: rejoice and weep. Rejoice on the biblical one hand and weep on the biblical other. Both are biblical, thus, both are right.

Does Paul not himself say that we believers live in that world? "Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing"??? (see 2 Corinthians 6:10). It is okay to live in that tension. We need to wrestle with it and, at the end of the day, be totally biblical at all costs.

It is a reminder, seeing the people rejoice and the Americans dancing in the streets and such, of all of humanity's struggle with justice. We all want it. We all need it. We all know that if it were practiced on us from the God of the universe then we ourselves would be destroyed. In fact, we cannot understand the Gospel fully until we understand justice. We deserve far worse than Osama Bin Laden got last week from American soldiers (who, by the way, are incredible heroes!!!! Thank you troops!). We deserve to be destroyed by God Himself due to our sin against Him and cast into an eternal hell. Another man, Jesus, was killed in our place. Justice has been served! Our penalty has been paid...by another! Hallelujah.

So, at the moment, my counsel would be to wrestle with the tensions of rejoicing in justice and weeping in death.

AND, please Christians, take every opportunity to go to the justice and grace of God found at the cross of Jesus. The death of Osama Bin Laden can be a remarkable way to evangelize! May it be.

Click here to a couple of other posts (notice: I HAVEN'T READ THESE - they just seem to be very interesting and helpful - from a place I trust).

Justin Taylor has updated some links to the above link I posted earlier here.

Friday, April 29, 2011

God's Waterfall of Blessing - UAE (Part 5)

"Vision, Clarity, and Being 'All In.' "

Personally, this is the blog post I have been most looking forward to write. I was affected by everything that happened last week. God is at work in Dubai (see post #1); the Compassion Kit Parties are remarkable ways to show and tell the love of Christ (see post #2); the Compassion Kits are phenomenal tools to present the Gospel (see post #3); and the follow-up plan is done with acute discernment and with excellence (see post #4). But for me, all of these things were highlighted, if not dominated, by a spirit of the men (and families) God has called there doing these things. It was/is a spirit that rebuked me. It was/is a spirit that challenged me. It was/is a spirit that encouraged me. It was/is a spirit that I believe allowed me to see the fruit of what I was seeing while there. It was/is a spirit that I long for. It was/is a spirit I don't see much in the lives of pastors and church leaders. It was/is a spirit that I don't see much in missionaries around the world. It was/is a spirit that I haven't had but hurt to possess.

The spirit I am talking about is a spirit of passion to see the kingdom of Christ advance with violence.

I saw it in the eyes of the guys we worked with. I heard it in their words. I watched it in their daily routines. I envisioned it as I heard them dream. I saw it in their wives. I saw it in their kids. I saw it happening before my eyes.

As a matter of fact, one night I was having coffee (Starbucks of course...what else is there?) with the visionary of this deal and asked him, "what gets you out of bed in the morning?" I was expecting to hear something like, "I don't want these people to go to hell" or "I want Jesus to get the glory He deserves for all mankind." Though these are definitely things he wants, that is not what he said. He said, "Man, I want to see the kingdom of Christ advance across this region." When he said that a light went on. "That's it" I thought. That's what I have been seeing in these guys and their families but haven't been able to put my finger on it. These guys have totally given themselves to the advancement of the kingdom of Christ where God is massively at work in Dubai, UAE.

They have big dreams.

They have a HUGE vision.

They have massive plans.

Their dreams, vision, and plans have unmatched clarity to them.

Here's the thing, however: I know alot of people who dream big and cast a vision and make clear plans on paper. But I haven't seen many people actually try to outwork their vision and plan and dreams. There is a HUGE difference between having a plan and casting a vision and dreaming a dream and then just hoping it all comes together and actually going to MAKE SURE it all comes together.

I fear that I have seen, in my own life and in the lives of countless others, good ideas and big dreams and great visions stay on paper in the hopes that God will bless and do the work for me/them.

Not these guys. They are resolute. They are "all in." They are determined to make their vision and dreams a reality and work with all of their might to see the kingdom of Christ advance while God is pouring out His waterfall of blessing there. As one of them told me several times, "There is no Plan B." In other words, they aren't thinking about what happens if it doesn't work. They aren't thinking about what happens if they need to do something else. No, no. Their hands are on the plow and they are not looking back or to the side (see Luke 9:57-62). They are looking straight ahead, waking up every morning - seeking His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) trusting the Word that one day the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God (Habakkuk 2:14).

Before I left to go on this missions experience, I asked several people to pray that this trip be a life-changing experience for me. That I would come back a different Matt Pearson than when I left. God answered that prayer. I praise His name for it and thank Him for allowing me to stand under His waterfall of blessing for a couple of days and rub shoulders with some white-hot servants of His who are zealous for the kingdom to move with force.

Anybody can plan. Anybody can dream. Anybody can cast a vision. Few, however, have the guts and the courage; few make the time and the sacrifices; few get their hands dirty and adjust their schedules; few have a zeal and a passion for it to be done; few actually believe that the world can be turned upside down for Christ; few are willing to do the hard things when no one is looking.

Could it be because most are zealous for their own kingdoms to advance with violence?

Have mercy on me, oh God, and replace my love for Matt's kingdom with an unparalleled passion for Yours to be spread violently around the world.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

God's Waterfall of Blessing - UAE (Part 4)

All week long I have been posting some thoughts regarding my recent mission experience in Dubai, UAE.

Monday, I wrote a bit about why I call this series "God's Waterfall of Blessing."

Tuesday, I wrote about what is called "Compassion Kit Parties."

Yesterday I tried to describe what "Compassion Kits" are all about.

Today, I want to briefly describe how the guys in Dubai are following up with those who attend the Compassion Kit parties and/or surrender their lives to Christ during one of these parties. Prior to my going to Dubai, several from the church where I pastor had heard of men putting their faith in Christ, but did not know if any follow-up/discipleship was going on. I myself was unclear, thus my curiosity was high. My curiosity increased when I was told that the primary purpose of the "Compassion Kit Parties" was not to see men saved, but to get them involved in a story group. Really? The primary purpose? Yes. Let me explain...

As I explained on Tuesday, the parties served several different parties, complete with an invitation to respond to the Gospel. Many men responded and asked Jesus to save them and be their Lord and Savior. These men (along with others at the 'parties') were quickly encouraged to be a part of a story group that would meet soon thereafter. The purpose of these story groups are two-fold: First, for those who did trust Christ to grow in their understanding of the Bible and the Lord they just surrendered to. Second, there were many (being that all sorts of religious backgrounds were represented in the room) who were intrigued by the Person and teachings of Jesus, but still wanted to know more. The story groups, which (to put it simply and basically) are weekly oral teachings of the biblical storyline led by a trained national (lasting anywhere from 10 weeks to 24 weeks), would both disciple those who trusted Christ and/or help answer questions those who were curious about Christianity - hopefully bringing more to Christ. Thus, the story groups are CRUCIAL to the work in helping solidify decisions made during the 'parties' and to further evangelize those wanting to know more before embracing Christ.

You can see why the story groups were/are the primary purpose!!!!! Needless to say it got me thinking about how this sort of thing can/needs to be incorporated in the states.

The guys directing and leading out in this ministry are also very intentional about ensuring these men who trust Christ understand their need of being baptized - to which they follow up on until the men are dunked!

I will type more about this tomorrow - but for now suffice it to say that the overall vision for this ministry is HUGE and is backed with remarkable clarity and feet to the work. The guys I worked with last week don't just hope to see some men saved so they can write back to the states about how many men raised their hand at a party where they got some free stuff. No, no, no. These men are intentional and extreme about advancing the kingdom of Christ - where God is pouring out His waterfall of blessing. Yes, they want to see men saved. But not just a few. They want to work and plan and lead and direct and organize and arrange ministry to where those who are saved make disciples who make disciples who make disciples...in order to see a movement rock the whole place.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New Book for 'The League' - Summer 2011

Having read Tempted and Tried, by Russell Moore, I feel compelled to take 'The League' guys through it this summer.

Click here for a description of the book and to view the promo video.

The plan for the summer is as follows:

June 2nd, 2011 - Chapter One: "Wrestline With Demons: Why Temptation Matters"

June 9th, 2011 - Chapter Two: "Slaughterhouse Drive: Why You're on the Verge of Wrecking Your Life (Especially if You Don't Know It)"

June 16th, 2011 - Chapter Three: "Starving to Death: Why We'd Rather Be Fed than Fathered"

June 23rd, 2011 - Chapter Four: "Free Falling: Why We'd Rather Be Right than Rescued"

June 30th, 2011 - OFF

July 7th, 2011 - Chapter Five: "Desert Reign: Why We'd Rather Be Magnified than Crucified"

July 14th, 2011 - OFF/Mission-Wynne

July 21st, 2011 - Chapter Six: "Where the Wild Things Aren't: Why You Can't Resist Temptation (Especially if You Can't See How)"

July 28th, 2011 - Chapter Seven: "(Not A) Conclusion"

What is "The League"??

Any male who wants to get up at the crack of dawn to be at the church at 5:45 am to eat biscuits and gravy, sausage and bacon, etc. and discuss a chapter in a designated book.

What does it cost??

The cost of the book will be $10.00 (Bro. Matt will order and have available for purchase prior to the first summer meeting) and the breakfast is free (w/donations appreciated of course...to offset the cost).

God's Waterfall of Blessing - UAE (Part 3)

For the past two days, I have been writing brief posts related to my recent mission experience in Dubai, UAE. On Monday, I gave a brief description as to why I have entitled this series "God's Waterfall of Blessing." Yesterday, I gave an overview of what happens at what we call "Compassoin Kit Parties." Today, I want to explain what Compassion Kits are and why they are used.

First and foremost, I would encourage you to click here to familiarize yourself with what Compassion Kits are all about. In fact, click here to get as practical as you want to be.

In short, Compassion Kits are boxes about the size of shoe boxes (perhaps a little larger) that contain items such as socks, a T-shirt, chocolate, soap, deoderant, a toothbrush, and a phone card. All the contents have been intentionally thought through - they are meant to be a small blessing to the laborers in the labor camps.

They are more than a tool that opens the door for a Compassion Kit party (see yesterday's post). When these men, who have been away from home - some of them for over 4 years - see some guys from North American walk in with a gift, knowing that others from the states have purchases and assembled these kits, they know that someone cares for them.

The ultimate goal, of course, is not JUST to leave these guys with a box of stuff that may or may not last them a month. The goal of the kits is to show that we love them, point to the One who loves them infinitely, and 'buy the right' to show and share the Gospel with them, hopefully leading them to involve themselves in a story group (see tomorrow's post).

Believe me, I have seen it first hand...IT WORKS!!!! God is using these kits to bless the nations! He really is. Men responded to the kits with graciousness. They listened to the stories that were shared by the men who brought the kits. Some responded by trusting Christ. Many agreed to be in a story group to learn more about God and His word in oral form.

The Compassion Kit crew have a goal of getting 50,000 Compassion Kits by September 11, 2011. I think it can happen...back up - I KNOW it can happen. I know it because I believe God's hand is in it.

Again, click here or here to see how you can be directly involved in Compassion Kit assembly and distribution. Talk to your pastor about getting your church involved. Be a part of being on the front lines of where God is working in bringing the nations to Himself by participating in these shoe boxes called 'Compassion Kits.' They will be used to further the kingdom.

What are you waiting for? Do it!

'Til the Whole World Hears...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

God's Waterfall of Blessing - UAE (Part 2)

Yesterday I began the first of five in a series on my recent mission experience in Dubai, UAE. As I mentioned yesterday, it was one of if not THE most incredible mission experiences I have ever been on in my life. God is pouring out His waterfall of blessing and I got to sit under the water for five days. Life-changing to say the least.

The primary task for the volunteer team I was with (team members: Kevin Bolin, Ben Browning, and Karl 'Big Daddy Eats a Fat Burger on the First Day' Garner) was to help with what is called 'Compassion Kit Parties' in various camps each night.

Here is a run down of what took place before, during, and after the parties:

- Prior to our coming, believers in the camps had been already trained and committed to inviting their friends, coworkers, etc. to a 'Party' in a certain room (a small room where around 12 men would sleep at night) where they would eat some food, play a game or two, hear some stories, and receive a gift (the gift was a Compassion Kit...more on that tomorrow).

- Those who were invited would show up at the designated room at the designated time. Each night was different as far as attendance was concerned. The first night, my group had 82 in attendance! Other groups would have 40, others 25, and so on. You can imagine, a room that was crowded already with 6 bunk beds, how cramped a room with 82 men in it must be!

- Once everyone we thought was coming had arrived, the guys we work with would start the 'party' off by welcoming everyone and then passing out bags of chips (we brought with us) and cups of Pepsi or orange soda (we also brought). After the snack (which usually lasted no more than 10 seconds!), the guys would lead out in a game (a form of indian wrestling and arm wrestling in a room with 82 men - don't ask, just go and see for yourself). Following the game, one of the North Americans in the room (where the volunteer group comes in...we have been sitting off to the side praying they do not ask us to indian wrestle one of these men who look like they could pick up the building they had been working on all day) would be set (scheduled ahead of time) to tell his personal testimony (with a translator of course). One of the guys would then follow that up with a line or two about how Jesus changed this person's life and would use that to transition to the 2nd story told (called the Hook Story) about a man whose life had been radically changed by Jesus (story of the demon possessed man from Mark 5). The story was told by another of the volunteers in the room (through a translator) in narrative fashion, not read from the Bible - the men in the camps were/are oral learners. There would then be a transition from this story to the 'Gospel' story from Luke 19, and Jesus' encounter with Zaccheus.

- This would, in turn, lead to a call for a response to the Gospel; a prayer with and for those who were led to respond; and then an appeal for those present to be involved in a story group (more on that Thursday).

- We would not leave until the story groups were identified and a time and place for them to meet was established. Having as many men as possible involved in story groups was/is the ultimate goal of these Compassion Kit parties ("What? You mean to tell me seeing these men saved was not the ultimate goal...what kind of ministry is this?" Again, hang on until Thursday to hear more on that...it's really good).

- After ALL of that, several men would go out to our vehicles and get the boxes of Compassion Kits and hand them out, one by one, to each of the men who was present at the party. The what and why and how you can do a Compassion Kit is for tomorrow's post.

- At this point, it would be anywhere from 11 or 12 at night and we would have about an hour and a half drive back to where we were staying. Needless to say (especially since Karl "I'm Gonna Eat Somebody's Hand Off If I Don't Eat Now" Garner was with us!) we stopped on the way home and ate as much Burger King/Popeye's Chicken/Baskin Robbins' milk shakes as we could put down in order to settle us down for a couple of hours sleep (breakfast would be soon!).

Many men came to faith in Christ as a result of these parties and numerous men agreed to participate in a total of 7 story groups that started as a result of these parties. It was a wonderful week. Seeing men from different religious backgrounds trust Christ for the first time reminds you that this is why you exist: for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom.

'Til the Whole World Hears...

Monday, April 25, 2011

God's Waterfall of Blessing - UAE

I just returned from one of the most, if not THE most, incredible mission trip experiences I have ever had the opportunity to participate in. There is so much floating around in my mind regarding it and much I want the world to know (or, at least the two or three people who read my blog)!

My plan is to take a different aspect of our mission trip experience each day this week and talk a bit about the ministry going on in Dubai, UAE (United Arab Emarites).

Here's the plan:

Monday (Today!) - Explain the Title of the Blog Post series

Tuesday - Compassion Kit Parties

Wednesday - Compassion Kits

Thursday - Story Groups/Baptisms

Friday - Vision, Clarity, and being 'All In'

Late December 2010, a dear friend of mine packed his and his family's bags (and house and car and job and school) and headed for Dubai, UAE to be a part of the work God is doing there. Last week I had the chance to play a small part of that work.

What is God doing there you ask? Hence the title of the Blog Series for this week regarding the mission experience in Dubai. When I was asked why I am going to Dubai the week before Easter on a 'last second decision' trip I responded by saying that it seems as if God has chosen to pour out His waterfall of blessing on this place and I want to stand under the water for a while. I had not seen it firsthand. I had only heard about it through reports from my friend and his wife. But having gone I can say with integrity: "God is blessing in Dubai and I got to stand under the waterfall for a week!"

I will explain more in the coming days about what all is involved with the ministry there, but suffice it to say for now that my friend has partnered up with another guy (who actually believes that he can change the world by the power of the Gospel!!!) who has envisioned a plan to reach the nations there in Dubai. They are currently seeing dozens upon dozens of men from other religious backgrounds come to faith in Christ; join story groups to learn the Bible in oral form; be baptized; and lead others to faith in Christ. Some are even being led of God to go back to their home country (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Ethiopia, just to name a few!) and advance the kingdom strategically and intentionally there. Needless to say, then, God is moving in what has formerly been considered some of the hardest people groups/religious groups to reach with the Gospel.

The guys who a spearheading this ministry are there with Compassion Kits under their arms and messages of hope in their hearts and are seeing many men trust Christ, be discipled by the Word, and then be trained to tell more about this message of hope. I've never seen anything like it.

For now, God's waterfall of blessing is being poured out in Dubai and surrounding areas where these labor camps are located. The kingdom is advancing. These guys and their families have been led to be a part of where God is working and they are joining in the movement.

Easter 2011 Sermon Discussion Questions

Yesterday was a GREAT day to be at Wynne Baptist Church! I thoroughly enjoyed being back in the USA and celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. The passage I preached from was Luke 24:1-12 and the title was, "Security in the Details." You can watch, listen, or download the message here later today.

For those interested in thinking through/discussing the sermon truths further, here are some questions to help prompt some further thinking:

1. In his introduction, Bro. Matt said that Jesus could not be one god among many. Is this true? Why or why not?

2. Why do you think the historical validity of Jesus' resurrection has been attacked so hard for the last 2,000+ years?

3. Of the 10 details mentioned in Luke's account of the first Easter Sunday, which one gripped you the most? Why?

4. Do you see any other details Luke provides to help us believe in the reality of Jesus' resurrection?

5. Why do you think Luke is so careful to provide as many details as possible? (see Luke 1:1-4).

6. If Jesus did indeed rise from the dead, what does that mean for your life?

7. If you are a follower of Jesus and have submitted to His Lordship, what does this mean for your life? (See Luke 24:46-47)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Nahum Helps the WBC Faithful Prepare for Easter

Okay, so maybe it was a stretch, but I thought it would serve the WBC body well, when reflecting on the enemies of God and His people (Nineveh - read Nahum 1-3), it would be a good time to think about those who will be destroyed without Christ that live in our own city and neighborhoods.

Thus, a good time to remember how to come with a servant's attitude for those who will be on our campus Easter Sunday, right?

You be the judge as to whether it was a stretch or not. Click here to watch, listen, or download the message from last night (should be up later today).

Here are the challenges/suggestions I made for active WBCers for Easter Sunday morning:

- Begin parking as far away as possible so others can have easier access.

- Intentionally look for guests who may need help finding their way.

- Intentionally look for those sitting by themselves before a worship service.

- Invite someone to come to church with you Easter Sunday

– Pick up a copy of God is the Gospel by John Piper and give it away! (See Desiring God's special here.)

- Be willing to sit in the lobby on Easter Sunday.

- Wait until guests are in and settled prior to taking your seat.

- Practice the Golden Rule before, during, and after your time on this campus.

- Be willing to serve in the nursery one service and attend another service.

- Invite a guest to your family lunch.

- Have a neighborhood-wide Easter Egg Hunt next Saturday and intentionally get to know your neighbors.

Can you think of any more???

Discussion Questions from Sunday Morning, April 10th

Yesterday morning, I had the very difficult task (for me anyway!) of preaching on a huge chunk of Scripture - Luke 23:32-56. Some of the most fascinating verses of Scripture throughout the Bible.

I covered all of the verses at once due to a last minute mission trip to Dubai that I am privileged to go on (and will therefore be out of the pulpit this Sunday), AND because I wanted to be preaching on the resurrection Easter Sunday morning (of course!).

You can watch, listen, or download the message here later today.

Here are some questions I hope will help you navigate through and apply the passage with more depth and insight:

1. Why is it important that we see how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament?

2. Is it really a big deal that we believe Jesus was totally innocent when He was crucified? Why?

3. Could Jesus have ‘saved Himself’ from dying on the cross AND at the same time ‘saved others’? Why or why not?

4. How does the fact that Jesus told a wicked criminal that he would be with Him in Paradise give you hope?

5. Have you heard various thoughts about where one goes after they die? Have you heard various ideas as to where Jesus went when He died? How does Luke 23:43 resolve that?

6. What was it about the repentant criminal’s confession that made it authentic and effective for salvation?

7. What had the centurion witnessed in Jesus that caused him to praise God and declare Jesus’ innocence?

8. How have people seen “Christ in you” that would cause them to be shocked and changed like the centurion was?

9. Joseph of Arimathea, along with other women (see Luke 23:49 and Luke 8:1-3) sacrificially gave (time, reputation, money) for Jesus’ sake. What are some practical ways you can demonstrate your desire for Jesus to get the glory He deserves from all peoples?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Secret Church Simulcast at WBC !!!!

I am extremely excited about hosting the Secret Church simulcast with Dr. David Platt on Good Friday - April 22nd, 2011.

Click here to register if you plan on coming to WBC's campus to watch.

Click here to find out more information about the simulcast.

We will be selling Platt's new book Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God for a discounted price before and after Secret Church. It promises to be another hard, yet needed and wonderful book.

Currently Reading - And THOROUGHLY Enjoying!!!

I am currently reading several different books that I think would be of interest of anyone who 'happens' upon this blog. I post the links below, fyi...

About to begin:

God and Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC by Chad Gibbs (Chad will be at WBC on April 28th, 2011 for 'The Main Event'!!!)

Confessions of a Reformission Rev: Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church by Mark Driscoll (the WBC staff is going to read this together)

Random, Yet Helpful, Articles of Interest

I have had good intentions of linking to some great posts/articles I have come across over the past week and a half or so. However, I haven't been 'radically intentional' (ha!) about it.

Below is a list of some very, very good articles/posts/videos that I encourage any and all to read for further edification and sanctification in Christ.


To Love Your Neighbor, You Must Know Your Neighbor by Ben Stevens (Talk about being radically intentional!!!)

Functional Universalism video by David Platt (Talk about being SUPER 'radically intentional'!!!!!)

I See Your Crack by Katie Baker (Radically Intentional Modesty)

Pride and Anxiety by Danny Franks

Above the Clouds by Danny Franks

A Mighty Rushing Wind by Danny Franks (my personal favorite)

Discussion Questions from Sermons Preached on April 3rd, 2011 at WBC

Yesterday morning I preached from Acts 2:42-47 in effort to cast a vision for the summer and our future here at WBC. You can watch, listen, and/or download the message here.

Here are some questions to help you further apply the truths presented:

1. What is the overlapping theme of the 4 actions they 'devoted' themselves to in Acts 2:42?

2. Do you think Luke was exaggerating in verse 44?

3. How can it be that "all" who were together had "all" things in common? How is that possible?

4. If they gave themselves to the apostles doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and the prayers - what might we learn from them as it relates to unity with our spouses? our children? our Christian friends? our Christian co-workers? our fellow WBC church members?

5. What do you think the outside community saw in these followers of Jesus that led to "the Lord adding to their number day by day those who were being saved"? (see Acts 2:47)

6. What might your neighbor see in you that would make him/her want what you have?

7. Other than church attendance, how is your life different from your neighbors/co-workers?

8. What might the city of Wynne see in us that would make them want what we have?

9. Do you plan to be a part of a 242 - Sharing Life Together small group this summer? Why or Why not?

Last night I preached an overview of the book of Micah. Click here to get the notes and/or watch, listen, download the message.

After listening to or watching the sermon, take 20 minutes to read through the book of Micah.

What are some characteristics of the LORD that cause you to be amazed in wonder, thinking "Who is like the Lord?"

How does knowing this about the LORD give you hope in the midst of what you are facing right now?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Florida Baptist Witness and Tom Elliff

The Florida Baptist Witness reports Tom Elliffs vision and agenda in a Q and A session here.

This article also links to his address with the trustees last Wednesday morning, March 16th, 2011.

A portion (perhaps my favorite part!):

"When you speak of unreached people groups, you editors are very well informed on this because I know you follow closely what we do. But you know that there are 6,734 unreached people groups. Now we would consider an unreached people group [to be] a group of people, an affinity group, that they are ethno-linguistically similar, that does not have at least two percent of the population in what we'd call the evangelical faith. Now that's an unreached people group. Of that 6,734 that we currently know, 3,800 are what we'd call unengaged people groups. That means no one has taken it upon themselves to draw up a deliberate strategy, take the Gospel on the ground there. They're unengaged. They're not unengaged by the soft drink industry. They're already in there. They're not unengaged by the pornography industry. They're already in there. And that's a shame. If anybody ought to care more about their product, so to speak, than the soft drink industry and porn industry, it ought to be believers in Christ. How in the world can we let these people be unengaged?

"So I will be bringing to the convention in Phoenix a proposal that brings together many of the elements that are already in place with the International Mission Board. Our church and partner services have worked on how do we engage these people. They have all the pieces. We're going to put these together and by the grace of God, beginning with this year's convention within 12 months we pray that at least 3,800 churches in the Southern Baptist Convention–that's not even a tenth of our churches, would cowboy up and say, 'We are going to strategize, we're going to pray, and we're going to do everything we can with the ultimate goal of seeing that there are boots on the ground among those people.' And I think it would be a wonderful thing if the day came when many, many churches across our convention had missionaries among churches appointed by the IMB on the field in those people groups, doing nothing but coordinate the work of their churches among those people. That would be a dream come true."

May it be, Lord. May it be.

Russell Moore on Why Hell is Forever

Very good and intriguing article by Moore here.

He offers two reasons on why hell is forever:

"First, the revolt against God is more serious than we think it is. An insurrection against an infinitely worthy Creator is an infinitely heinous offense. We know something of this intuitively. This is why, in our human sentences of justice, we sentence a man to one punishment for threatening to kill his co-worker and another man to a much more severe punishment for threatening to kill the nation’s president.

"Second, and more important, is the nature of the punishment itself. The sinner in hell does not become morally neutral upon his sentence to hell. We must not imagine the damned displaying gospel repentance and longing for the presence of Christ. They do indeed, as in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, seek for an escape from punishment, but they are not new creations. They do not in hell love the Lord their God with heart, mind, soul, and strength.

"Instead, in hell, one is now handed over to the full display of his nature apart from grace. And this nature is seen to be satanic (Jn. 8:44). The condemnation continues forever and ever, because the sin does too. Hell is the final “handing over” (Rom. 1) of the rebel to who he wants to be, and it’s awful."

Ways to Pray for IMB President, Tom Elliff

Last night I gave the WBC congregation seven ways we (as requested by him when he addressed the IMB trustees last week in Dallas, TX) as a church and a convention can be praying for Tom Elliff, the newly elected President of the International Mission Board.

Here are the seven requests:

1. Illuming awareness that he is an ambassador for Christ.

2. Pure heart.

3. Fullness of the Spirit.

4. Exhibit gifts and graces of the Spirit.

5. Never unwittingly place in Satan's hands a weapon to use to mock Jesus.

6. Protection from Satanic attacks toward family.

7. To be kept faithful to the vision.

How does Tom Elliff frame his sense of mission? By asking three questions framed around the Great Commission:

1. Is it biblical?

2. Is it balanced?

3. Is it bold?

You can read his entire acceptance speech here.

Interview with New NAMB President, Kevin Ezell

As mentioned last night in my address (if it's not a sermon, what would you call it???), I said that I would link to a recent interview Southern Seminary did with the newly elected President of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), Kevin Ezell.

That interview can be found here for audio and here for video.

I also mentioned that you could receive the Arkansas Baptist News no on-line. The most recent edition has a detailed article regaridng the 'massive overhaul' happening within the NAMB.

Click here to check an article with Ezell and click here to go to the home page for Arkansas Baptist News.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Calling all evangelical Christians (especially members of Wynne Baptist Church):

Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY has done the church another HUGE favor by hosting a panel with four leading evangelical thinkers on the Rob Bell issue and his new book "Love Wins."

Click here to the link where you can download the audio and/or watch the video.

It is very academic and around 90 minutes long. But I believe this is well worth your time, not just to know about Bell and what he purports in his book, but about much that evangelicals must be clear on in the days ahead. For our own souls, for generations coming along behind us, and for the glory of Christ.

Thank you Southern Seminary for helping the church!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Parents Celebrate 40 Years of Marriage

Over at her blog, my mom writes a tribute to my dad (and to the Lord!) for 40 years of marriage. What an amazing work of the grace of God to me in giving me the parents He did.

Here is how she concludes (perhaps you can get a taste as to why my dad is my hero):

"I'm very excited to be celebrating 40 years with this amazing man. There are some particularly remarkable attributes of his that I'd like to share with you.
1) Steve is a committed follower of Christ and spends time daily in prayer and Bible reading. The children and I have reaped blessings untold as a result.
2) Steve has always given me security and stability because I knew he would do whatever it took to provide what the children and I needed. In the early days of starting his vet practice in Hartselle, I knew in my heart that he would take a second job sacking groceries if there wasn't enough business through the clinic.
3) Not for a single minute in these 40 years have I ever had to doubt his love for me, or his faithfulness to me and to our marriage. What a precious gift that has been and continues to be. I have no doubt that he has read the Book of Proverbs at least 100 times in his life, and I have personally benefited from his commitment to the principles in Proverb 5:15-18:
Drink water from your own cistern, and fresh water from your own well.
Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets?
Let them be yours alone, and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed and rejoice in the wife of your youth.
4) Steve Pearson is a model husband, father, and grandfather. I love him with all my heart. I am blessed beyond measure to be his wife, and I would be so happy to spend 40 MORE years with him. Happy Anniversary, hon."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kevin DeYoung Reviews and Responds to Rob Bell's 'Love Wins'

Kevin DeYoung has written a very thorough and thought-provoking review of Rob Bell's book Love Wins.

Click here to read the entire thing (it's long). It will even allow you to download it as a PDF file.

Here is how he concludes:

"Just as damaging is the impact of 'Love Wins' on the nonbeliever or the wayward former churchgoer. Instead of summoning sinners to the cross that they might flee the wrath to come and know the satisfaction of so great a salvation, 'Love Wins' assures people that everyone’s eternity ends up as heaven eventually. The second chances are good not just for this life, but for the next. And what if they aren’t? What if Jesus says on the day of judgment, “Depart from me, I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23)? What if at the end of the age the wicked and unbelieving cry out, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:16)? What if outside the walls of the New Jerusalem “are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Rev. 22:15)? What if there really is only one name “under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)? And what if the wrath of God really remains on those who do not believe in the Son (John 3:18, 36)?

"If 'Love Wins' is wrong—if the theology departs from the apostolic good deposit, if the biblical reasoning falls short in a hundred places, if the god of 'Love Wins' and the gospel of 'Love Wins' are profoundly mistaken—if all this is true, then what damage has been done to the souls of men and women?

"Bad theology hurts real people. So of all the questions raised in the book, the most important question every reader must answer is this: is it true? Whatever you think of all the personalities involved on whatever side of the debate, that’s the one question that cannot be ignored. Is Love Wins true to the word of God? That’s the issue. Open a Bible, pray to God, listen to the faithful Christians of the past 2000 years, and answer the question for yourself."


Discussion Question from March 13th, 2011 PM Sermon

Last night I continued the series through the "Not So Minor Minor Prophets." We looked into the life of Jonah and what I considered to be the entire purpose of the book. You can watch, listen, or download the message here later today.

The title of the message was "Have a Corona with Jonah and Watch the World Go to Hell" and I focused on Jonah 4.

I leave you with one question based on this text and last night's message:

"Why Not Go?"

Discussion Questions from March 13th, 2011 Morning Sermon

Yesterday at WBC, continuing through Luke, I preached on Luke 23:18-25. The title of the message was "Missing Verse, Divine Murder, and Barabbas...What in the World?" You can watch, listen, or download the podcast here later today.

After having heard the message, here are some questions to aid in your continued application and understanding of the text.

1. Who ultimately was responsible for the killing of Jesus? What Scriptures can you use to verify your answer?

2. Why is this good news?

3. Read Proverbs 17:15. Did God commit an abomination against Himself? Why or why not?

4. How is what goes in this account with Barabbas a picture of the heart of the Gospel?

5. What does this text reveal about the heart of God for awful sinners?

6. How would 'counsel' a wife of one of the men whom Barabbas murdered who 'just happened' to be in the crowd the day Barabbas was released? How might you lead her in a discussion of the Gospel, knowing that God directed and ordered the whole thing?

7. Are there those in your life right now that you are refusing to forgive? How does the story of Barabbas free you to forgive others?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

One of the Most Important Paragraphs I Have Read Recently (Outside the Bible)

From J. I. Packer and Mark Dever's In My Place Condemned He Stood: Celebrating the Glory of the Atonement.

"Early in the visionary chapters of the book of Revelation, where images are prodigally piled up, one on another, in order to convey thoughts to readers' minds, the Lord Jesus announced as 'the Lion of the tribe of Judah' who will open the scroll for the consummation of world history (5:5). But the Lion appears not as a lion but as 'a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain' (v. 6 ESV). The Lamb appears thereafter twenty-eight more times, battling, conquering, shepherding, and finally functioning as the lamp that gives permanent light to his bride, the holy city, new Jerusalem, that is, the church perfected in glory (21:23, cf. 22:1-5). In this book, then, the slain Lamb is the key image for the Lord Jesus Christ. Where did it come from? Clearly, from (1) the Passover lamb, the blood of which shielded Israel from the destroyer at the time of the Exodus, plus (2) the God-prescribed ritual of killing a lamb, with the transgressor's hand on its head, as a sin offering (Lev. 4:32-35), plus (3) the required daily sacrifice of two lambs as sinful Israel's offering to its holy god (Ex. 29:38-42; Num. 28:3-6), plus (4) Isaiah's description of God's servant, the vicarious sufferer who became a sin offering, as being led 'like a Lamb...to the slaughter' (Isa. 53:7), plus (5) John the Baptist's identification of Jesus as 'the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world' (John 1:29, 36). And for the Lamb to be the lamp of the city of God means that the thought of the Son of God made flesh and slaughtered for our sins in order to save us will never leave the minds of glorified saints as they fellowshi with the Father and the Son and will frame all their thinking about everything else.

"So all we who hope for the life of heaven ourselves, and especially those among us who as pastors are statedly committed to prepare others for that heavenly life, will do well to adjust our thinking here and now to the absolute and abiding centrality of the atoning cross in Christian life here and hereafter and to labor to express this awareness in all our preaching, teaching, and modeling of Christianity, day by day."

Very, very thought provoking and would serve us well to 'chew on' for a while.

Order the book from Amazon here.

Surprised By Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels

In preparation of tonight's message on Jonah, I got some help from Tullian Tchividjian who wrote Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels.

Click here to order the book from Amazon.

The quote I plan to read tonight came from an interview done with Tchividjian regarding the book. I thought it provided a good summary of how the book of Jonah points us to Christ.

The interview, called "The Gospel According to Jonah" is here.

The quote is here:

“Jesus says that he is 'greater than Jonah.' He is the greater-than-Jonah who succeeded where Jonah failed. For instance, in sending Jonah as his messenger to sinful Nineveh, God showed his boundless grace and faithfulness. But centuries later, God sent another messenger to sinful mankind. Only this messenger went willingly and joyfully because he knew the heart of God. In fact, he was the heart of God. He would be called “the Word” because he himself was God’s message. He was everything God wanted to say to the world—all wrapped up in a person.
Instead of fleeing from God’s call in rebellion and running away from his enemies, this new messenger ran toward his enemies, in full submission to his Father’s will, despite what it would cost him. For 'we were enemies' of God (Rom. 5:10)—all of us—so much so that we rejected and crucified his Son.

"Fully knowing that this death was his destiny, this new messenger nevertheless pursued God’s rescue mission with a totally engaged heart. 'For the joy that was set before him,' the Bible tells us, he 'endured the cross' (Heb. 12:2) so that God’s enemies, you and I, could become God’s friends.

"Like Jonah thrown overboard, this new messenger would be a sacrifice, with the result that others were saved.

"This new messenger, like Jonah, would spend three days in utter darkness. But unlike Jonah, he would emerge with wholehearted determination to pursue his enemies with life-giving love. He went on this mission because he wanted to—not because he had to.

"When God’s mercy was shown to Jonah and to his enemies, Jonah was intensely angered. But this new messenger was the happy extension of God’s grace toward his enemies—not angry and embittered, but 'anointed . . . with the oil of gladness' (Heb. 1:9). Jonah is all about self-protection; this new messenger is all about joyful self-sacrifice. So Jesus and his Good News, rescue of sinners, is all over this story of Jonah."

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Oh Mya, Obadiah! Can God Really Do That?" Sermon Discussion Questions

Last night, the minor prophet Obadiah was introduced and overviewed from the WBC pulpit. If you missed the service, click here to watch, listen, or download the podcast.

Some discussion questions based on the message:

1. Does God have enemies? How do you know that? Would our society agree with this? Why or why not?

2. How do you know whether or not you are God's enemy or God's friend?

3. Edom was guilty in putting their hope/trust/security in things other than God (see Obadiah 1:2-4). Ask the Lord if there are areas in your heart and life that you look to for security other than Him. What should you do to adjust that?

4. How does the book of Obadiah show that God is sovereign even over sin? How might it seem as if God is being unjust in condemning Edom for doing what they did? If God is not unjust in what He did, how do we reconcile that?

5. How can it encourage us to know that God will always, without fail, fight for His children?

6. If the kingdom is the LORD's (see Obadiah 1:21) and Jesus is the King of God's kingdom (see Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), how does one get to be a subject of the kingdom of God? (See John 3:36)