Monday, February 28, 2011

Disciple Man Talks about Gluttony

This article I believe is a must read for all believers, especially for Southern Baptists (me!). It is something we don't like to talk about and/or deal with, but something that I believe has been interfering with our relationship with God in unfathomable ways.

Here are some quotes I thought were helpful:

"...I was a glutton. An idolater. I had an idol in my life. An idol is anything that has more control over you than God does. I was a slave to food. And even now, even after all of that, I still struggle to keep food in its proper place in my life. We need to eat to live, not live to eat."

"Idolatry comes in many forms. It can show itself in more obvious ways. If you watch TV for hours on end, but never open your Bible you have an idol in your life. If you can not put the cigarettes down, knowing full well they are destroying your health, you have an idol. If you love your children more than you do your Savior… you have an idol! (Matthew 10:37)"

"And there is a flip side to all of this too. Being a 'health and fitness fanatic' can turn into idolatry too! Some people, while thinking that they are encouraging others to eat healthy, are really just heaping unnecessary guilt on them. There is a fine line between encouraging and gloating, and sometimes pride will sneak in there. It’s very subtle. Examine your heart before you “spur others on” to healthier living. All things should be done in love."

"And my friend, part of pursuing holiness sometimes means putting down the fork. Sometimes it means getting on a tread mill."

Paul Tripp on Confession

Over at Desiring God, Paul Tripp has posted Part 1 of an article on Confession.

Click here and it will take you directly to it.

A portion:

"Here is the point: no change takes place in a relationship that does not begin with confession. The problem for many of us is we look at confession as a burden, when it is actually a grace."

Book Referenced Last Night - 'Generous Justice' by Timothy Keller

Last night, during my message on Amos and the ensuing discussion regarding social justice, I referenced a book by Tim Keller entitled Generous Jusice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just.

So far, from what I have read (I am about half-way through the book), it is very very helpful.

One quote that I failed to read last night, due to time, was a quote Keller offers from a Scottish minister early in the nineteenth century:

"Now, dear Christians, some of you pray night and day to be branches of the true Vine; you pray to be made all over in the image of Christ. If so, you must be like him in giving. . . . 'Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor' . . . . Objection 1: 'My money is my own.' Answer: Christ might have said, 'My blood is my own,' my life is my own.' . . . then where should we have been? Objection 2: 'The poor are undeserving.' Answer: Christ might have said, 'They are wicked rebels. . . . shall I lay down my life for these? I will give to the good angels.' But no, he left the ninety-nine, and came after the lost. Have gave His blood for the undserving. Objection 3: 'The poor may abuse it.' Answer: Christ might have said the same; yea, with far greater truth. Christ knew that thousands would trample His blood under their feet; that most would despise it; that many would make it an excuse for sinning more; yet He gave His own blood. Oh my dear Christians! If you would be like Christ, give much, give often, give freely, to the vile and poor, the thankless and the undeserving. Christ is glorious and happy and so will you be. it is not your money I want, but your happiness. Remember His own word, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (pages 107-108).

Not So Famous Amos - Discussion Questions from February 27th, 2011 PM Sermon

Last night I continued with sermon #3 in a series through the Minor Prophets. Last night, the prophet who was the focus of our attention was Amos.

You can watch or listen to the overview of this book of the Bible here later today.

Some questions to pique your thoughts and interest in this much too neglected, but all too important Bible book:

1. What was unique about Amos and his calling to prophesy to the people of God?

2. How does 'doing' social justice reflect the character of God?

3. How could Bro. Matt state that how one treats the poor is a direct reflection as to how one understands their relationship with God?

4. How does the book of Amos point us to Jesus?

5. Which of the 5 "Amos Attitudes" mentioned by Bro. Matt most grips your heart?

6. In what ways do you need to repent having read through the book of Amos (assuming you hvae taken the time to actually read through the book)?

Some Discussion Questions from February 27th, 2011 Morning Sermon

Continuing in our study of Luke's Gospel, I had the privilege of digging a bit deeper in Peter's three denials of Jesus. The text was Luke 22:54-65. The title of the sermon was "Peter, Pain, and Mercy." It can be watched and/or listened to here later today (Lord willing).

Some questions to aid in your understanding and application a bit further:

1. What does this passage teach us about ourselves as humans?

2. What does this passage teach us about God and Jesus?

3. In what ways do you find yourself denying the Person of Jesus in order to protect/save your own reputation and honor?

4. In what ways has God allowed horrific, confusing, and unexplainable circumstances to occur in your life in order to make you into the person He has created you to be?

5. Bro. Matt read a poem by William Cowper yesterday entitled "God Moves in a Mysterious Way." How does this poem capture the point of the passage/sermon?

God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants his footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never failing skill,

He treasures up his bright designs

And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy,

and shall breakIn blessings on your head.

Judge not the lord by feeble sense,

But trust him for his grace;

behind a frowning providence

He hides a smiling face.

His purpose will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour;

the bud may have bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,

And scan his work in vain:

God is his own interpreter,

And He will make it plain.

[For a brief, yet potent, treatment of Cowper see John Piper's The Hidden Smile of God ]

What's Going on With Rob Bell?

Last night I showed a video clip promoting Rob Bell's new book entitled Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who has Ever Lived.

I got the clip and the blurb from the book here (Justin Taylor's blog).

I have sense come across a couple of other insightful and (in my opinion) helpful responses to this perceived trajectory toward blatant universalism.

Joshua Harris weighs in with his thoughts here.

Denny Burk with his thoughts here.

Kevin DeYoung posts some thoughts on hell here.

Zach Nielson's very wise and provoking thoughts on the whole matter as it relates to our hearts are here.

I would love to know what some of you think. With Joshua Harris, I too hope I am dead wrong and come out looking stupid for some of the things I said last night. But until shown otherwise, I will do all I can to help protect the sheep from being devoured by wolves.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Is Church Membership Really THAT Important?

I recently read Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches by Dr. John Hammett. Hammett is the professor of Systematic Theology and the Associate Dean of Theological Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The book was recommended to me highly be Dr. Al Jackson, pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn, Alabama. Anyone who knows me understands that if Al Jackson recommends that a pastor should read something, I run to read it! Needless to say, Hammett's book was a fascinating and intriguing read and has prompted my thinking on a lot of different issues related to membership in Baptist churches, in particular the one God has entrused me to lead.

Thus, I was intrigued to read that Matt Capps recently posted an interview with Dr. Hammett over at his blog. The interview is divided into five questions/parts:

1. Is local church membership really that important, is it even biblical?
2. In your opinion, what are the requirements one must meet for local church membership?
3. What are the privileges of being a member of a local church?
4. What are the responsibilities of being a member of a local church?
5. What, if any, are valid reasons for parting ways with a local church?

Below are the links to each of the parts:

From the introduction:

“Church membership is something that can be misunderstood. It’s not the same thing as the gospel, and certainly doesn’t guarantee someone’s place in heaven. But consider this – On a typical Sunday morning, of the more than 16 million members of Southern Baptist churches across the country, more than 10 million will not be present in a local church, that’s less than 40%. Where are they? Some are sick or on vacation, but many simply choose not to come, and have made that choice consistently for years. Somewhere along the line they joined a church, but their life shows no evidence that they know Christ. My fear is that they think somehow their church membership guarantees them access into heaven, but being a church member doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a genuine follower of Jesus. It should, but in many churches it doesn’t.

"Not only can church membership be misunderstood, it can also become meaningless. Churches where more than 60% of the members never even come and whose lives shows no sign of Christ’s presence make membership a meaningless mockery and expose such churches to the charge that they are full of hypocrites. All you can say is, “you’re right.” Church membership doesn’t guarantee that someone will live a Christ-honoring life. So some churches have deemphasized church membership. It doesn’t save you, and doesn’t make someone a better person, so what’s the value? While I want to keep the main thing the main thing, there can also be secondary things that have significant value. I think church membership is one of those secondary things.”

Children and Baptism

John Starke writes:

"The question among Baptists over whether to baptize small children is sensitive, and I’ve gone back and forth on it. There are several pastoral difficulties, and parents face many questions that they don’t often feel equipped to answer. Local churches who take conversion and church membership seriously have often taken a more conservative stance by implementing a certain age (say, 10, 15, or 18) before baptizing a child in order to guard against giving a young child false assurance or baptizing someone who isn’t truly converted."

Starke then proceeds and argues to go ahead and baptize. Click here for his take.

Trevin Wax argues it best to wait. Click here for his.
What do you think?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Christianity Today Weighs in on the Boy/Girl Wrestling Debate

According to Justin Taylor (over at his blog):

"Caryn Rivadeneira argues not only that it is permissible for a boy to wrestle a girl in an athletic competition, but that the example of Jesus toward women requires that he do so! You can read her full argument to see if you find it biblically compelling, faithful, or wise."

Taylor proceeds to agree with Mohler's article on the issue and links to a piece John Piper wrote regarding this sort of thing a while back.

What do you think?

Tragic Trajectory

Again, Dr. Al Mohler writes a much needed response evangelicals need to seriously think through and evaluate. This time he addresses President Barack Obama's decision regarding DOMA.

Read the entire article here.

His conclusion:

"The most immediate meaning of this announcement is two-fold. In the first place, it means that the constitutionally appointed defender of the nation’s laws, the Attorney General of the United States, has now been ordered to cease defending this single law in the courts. That alone is almost surely sufficient to spell the doom of DOMA in short order.

"In the second place, this announcement means that President Obama and his advisers now believe that the full legalization of same-sex marriage is both inevitable and without major political risk to the President and his plans for re-election. That, in itself, represents a moral earthquake. The President clearly believes that a sufficient number of Americans will either support or accept same-sex marriage — and this comes just a few years after a majority of the states passed constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage, and most by huge margins.

"The President has made his decision. The Attorney General has now made his announcement. Mark your calendars for yesterday. That day now represents a tragic milestone in the betrayal of marriage."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dr. Mohler on Boys Wrestling Girls

I thought this article was extremely intriguing and very well done.

Click here to read the whole thing by Dr. Al Mohler.

Here is his conclusion:

"This is insanity masquerading as athletic competition. The controversy over the Iowa state wrestling tournament reveals the fact that this debate represents a clash of worlds and worldviews. In one world — the world that increasingly demands the total erasure of distinctions between men and women — Joel Northrup is considered to be a religious nut. In this world, it makes sense that girls wrestle against boys and that society should celebrate this new development as a milestone in the struggle to free ourselves from the limitations of all gender roles. As if to make this point impossible to miss, Bill Herkelman, Cassy’s father, said: 'She’s my son. She’s always been my son.'

In the other world, Joel Northrup is seen as a young man of brave and noble conscience — a boy who defaulted a match rather than violate his conscience. The statements offered by Joel and his father are seen as moments of temporary sanity in a world going increasingly mad. The chivalry demonstrated at great personal cost by this boy athlete is to be celebrated, affirmed, and acknowledged as being deeply rooted in his Christian convictions — convictions about gender, modesty, the treatment of girls and women, propriety, decorum, and sexual purity.

In Rick Reilly’s world, and in accord with his worldview, it makes sense to say, 'Body slams and takedowns and gouges in the eye and elbows in the ribs are exactly how to respect Cassy Herkelman.'

In Joel Northrup’s world, and in accord with his worldview, that statement is nothing less than insanity.

I, for one, am proud to know of a boy and a family who refuse to consider girls and women as proper opponents on a wrestling mat — opponents to be bloodied, gouged, and slammed. Joel Northrup may have defaulted a match, but he refused to sacrifice his Christian conscience for a moment of earthly glory.

The general direction of the culture is clear: we are moving out of Joel Northrup’s world into Rick Reilly’s world. Along the way, something immeasurably more important than a wrestling match is about to be defaulted."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Christian Divorce Rate Myth

I was so glad to see this article by Glenn Stanton at the Baptist Press (thanks to the link by Tim Challies).

He begins his article with this truth claim:

"Many people who seriously practice a traditional religious faith -- be it Christian or other -- have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population."

May the rates drop lower and lower and lower as followers of Jesus marry as we are commanded.

McCheyne on Personal Prayer

This past Thursday morning during The League (a men's book study group at WBC - we are currently reading through Darrin Patrick's The Church Planter), I quoted Robert Murray McCheyne on prayer. The quote I read was from a talk John Piper gave on the biographical history of McCheyne at a recent pastor's conference on prayer.

You can watch or listen to all of the sessions here.

You can watch, listen, or read Piper's message on McCheyne here.

Here is the quote I read:

"I ought to pray before seeing any one [in the morning]. Often when I sleep long, or meet with others early, and then have family prayer, and breakfast, and forenoon callers, often it is eleven or twelve o'clock before I begin secret prayer. This is a wretched system. . . . Family prayer loses much of its power and sweetness; and I can do no good to those who come to seek from me. The conscience feels guilty, the soul unfed, the lamp not trimmed. Then, when secret prayer comes, the soul is often out of tune. . . .

It is far better to begin with God—to see his face first—to get my soul near Him before it is near another. "When I awake I am still with Thee." If I have slept too long, or am going on an early journey, or my time is in any way shortened, it is best to dress hurriedly, and have a few minutes alone with God, than to give it up for lost. But in general, it is best to have at least one hour alone with God, before engaging in anything else. . . .

I ought to spend the best hours of the day in communion with God. It is my noblest and most fruitful employment, and is not to be thrust into any corner. The morning hours, from six to eight, are the most uninterrupted, and should be thus employed, if I can prevent drowsiness. A little time after breakfast might be given to intercession. After tea is my best hour, and that should be solemnly dedicated to God, if possible. . . . [And] when I awake in the night, I ought to rise and pray, as David and as John Welsh did."

The Art of Marriage Seminar - Online for FREE!!!!

Last weekend (02.11.2011-02.12.2011) WBC hosted the 'Art of Marriage' seminar for married couples (and anyone else who was interested!). Put on by FamilyLife, it proved to be a very helpful and wonderful time of learning and reflecting and applying what our great God says regarding marriage.

Last week, FamilyLife announced that they have put the seminars on-line to watch for free. This is a remarkable gift from them to married couples and to the church as a whole.

If interested, click here to set up a (free!) account through FamilyLife.

When you have set up a login account, simply click through to watch the sessions.

The workbooks put together by FamilyLife were/are extremely helpful, not only during the seminar, but after the seminar as well for practical applications. WBC still has several sets of workbooks if you are interested in purchasing them. The workbooks cost $35 or you can order them through FamilyLife here.

I highly recommend purchasing the workbooks if/when you and/or your spouse work through the material together.

Thank you FamilyLife!

Sunday Night @ WBC: The Legacy of the King James Version

Last night, instead of preaching a normal sermon from a biblical text, I gave more of a 'lecture' on the history of the King James Version of the Bible and a brief summary of the different Bible translation philosophies.

You can watch/listen to the message here later in the week. You can also download the outline I used for the message here (click on 'resources').

I used several resources to prepare for the lecture and mentioned others of interest. Below are the resources used and/or mentioned last night.

The primary source I used on the history of the KJV was Leland Ryken's The Legacy of the King James Bible: Celebrating 400 Years of the Most Influential English Translation

Al Mohler did a radio interview with Ryken regarding the book and the legacy of the KJV here.

Study Bible's I referenced last night:

The biography of William Tyndale, written by John Piper that I referenced:

Two very helpful works on Bible translation and interpretation:

Discussion Questions from Sunday Morning - February 20th, 2011

Yesterday morning (02.20.2011) I had the privilege of preaching Luke 22:39-53. You can watch or hear the message here later today.

The title of the message was "The Great Exchange Begins With a Prayer and Kiss."

Always, the discussion questions will not make much sense if you haven't heard the message, so I urge to you listen/watch before getting to the questions. The following questions are here to help you further think through and apply the truth(s) of the text and the sermon.

The questions:

1. In what ways does Luke highlight Jesus being a 'Substitute' for sinners in these verses?

2. How is that Good News for you?

3. According to Jesus' demand for the disciples to pray and their subsequent sleepiness through it, how does this passage encourage you in your prayer life? How or why should followers of Jesus pray?

4. If it were you who were about to be arrested and crucified and your betrayer was a supposed 'best friend,' how would you have treated this 'friend'? If one of your enemies had his ear sliced off, how would you have reacted?

5. What was Jesus' response to Judas, the man who had his ear cut off, and the authorities who came to arrest Him?

6. What can this teach us about how followers of Jesus are to respond to their enemies?

7. How can the Gospel change the way we view our spouses who hurt us, or friends or family members who hurt us? How can we apply the Gospel toward those who (from our perspective) have mistreated us?

8. How might having the attitude of 'repaying evil with evil' give others a misunderstanding of Christianity?