Tuesday, April 15, 2014

T4G Recap (Part 2 with Audio Links)

I was privileged to attend Together for the Gospel last week in Louisville, KY (and even wrote an update after Day 1).  If you don't know, this is an every other year gathering of pastors in the evangelical stream.  We come together from different denominations but are united by one message: the good news that sinners can be right with God because of Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, died and rose again, reigning today from heaven.  This year's conference theme was taken from Romans 1:16 and how we should be unashamed in the Gospel.  Here's how the messages shook down:

Mark Dever: The Certain Victory of Christ's Church an Encouragement to Evangelism
Thabiti Anyabwile: The Happiness of Heaven in the Repentance of Sinners
Al Mohler: The Open Door is the Only Door, the Singularity of the Gospel in a Pluralistic Age

Kevin DeYoung: Never Spoke A Man Like This Before: Innerancy, Evangelism and Christ's Unbreakable Bible
David Platt:  Relenting Wrath: The Role of Desperate Prayer in the Mystery of Divine Providence
Matt Chandler: Christ Is All

Ligon Duncan: The Gospel By Numbers
John MacArthur:  Mass Defection: The Great Physician Confronts The Pathology of Counterfeit Faith
John Piper: Persuading, Pleading and Predestination: Human Means in the Miracle of Conversion

(All of these sermons are available for audio or video download, so enjoy!)

These men are my heroes.  To a man, they have served faithfully and marked me through their service in the Word.  So, when I get a chance to hear them live at one conference, it's like the All-Star Game.  But, God used these sermons in many ways to cement and solidify my heart in Gospel reality.

On top of this benefit, I was able to attend with brothers in Christ who love Christ and me.  They asked hard questions, pressed for fellowship and provoked me to good deeds.  We drive intentionally (12 hours) to have plenty of windshield time to dream, discuss and have unhurried time with one another.

So, I'm grateful for this opportunity.  It was a great week.  I'm still digging out from being gone, but found it to be a rich time.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Holy Week Help

Here's a quick round up of 2 resources I'm utilizing this week...

1) John Piper's Devotional Love To The Uttermost.  Here's their description:
Love to the Uttermost: Devotional Readings for Holy Week is designed for Lent 2014. The readings begin on Palm Sunday, end on Easter Sunday, and aim to focus our attention on Jesus he displays his love to the uttermost (John 13:1). These meditations on the self-giving love of Christ are all excerpted from the preaching and writing ministry of John Piper.

This resource is available as a Mobi (Kindle), EPub (iDevice), or PDF.  Enjoy.

2) In conjunction with Justin Taylor's book, Final Days of Jesus (my review here), there are videos being posted every day related to each day of Jesus' final week.  Here's the Palm Sunday and Monday versions for you to enjoy:

My hope is that these resources bless you and your worship of the Risen Christ this holy week.  

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

T4G Day 1 Recap (#T4G)

I'm privileged to attend the 2014 Together For The Gospel conference.  This is a conference I've attended since its inception in 2006, so this is my fifth time attending (it's held every other year).  This year, I'm attending with one of our elders, a friend our church supports in India and another friend in ministry from St. Louis.

We began our journey on Sunday and finally arrived late Monday.  We grabbed supper with another couple our church supports to check in on their ministry.  We took in a pre-conference called Band of Bloggers.  This conference included some rock star bloggers from my neck of the evangelical world and discussed how platform building relates to the Gospel.

The afternoon session began with Mark Dever introducing the conference theme (Being Unashamed of the Gospel) and encouraging us through Isaiah 36-37, that God won't abandon us in the amazing task of making His fame known to others.  Thabiti Anyabwile continued our afternoon session by helping us see how heaven rejoices in the news of repenting sinners from Luke 15.  Our evening session was Albert Mohler holding relentless to the exclusivity of Christ, specifically in Acts 4.

Some other highlights included seeing old friends.  Gatherings like this assemble some of my best friends in ministry.  So being able to connect with them and make new friends is a tremendous encouragement.  The singing (7000 mostly MEN!) of songs old and new is always a highlight.  One song that stuck out to me last night was All Creatures Of Our God and King.  There were two new verses introduced for that song:

All the redeemed washed by His blood,
Come and rejoice in His great love.
Oh, praise Him! Alleluia!
Christ has defeated every sin;
Cast all your burdens now on Him.
Oh, praise Him! Oh, praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

He shall return in pow'r to reign;
Heaven and earth will join to say
Oh, praise Him! Alleluia!
Then who shall fall on bended knee?
All creatures of our God and King!
Oh, praise Him! Oh, praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

I'm, again, so grateful to get to participate in this conference.  So, thank you Meg, family, church and others that enable me to enjoy such a thing.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Weekend Recap - God's Righteousness

My 4/6/13AM sermon, God's Righteousness from Romans 3:21-26 is now online.  The sermon was about God and what He's done to make sinners right with Himself.  This section of Scripture is what many consider to be the most important verses in the Bible.  I hope you'll listen and see if you can feel the importance of these verses.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekend Recap - All Under Sin

My 3/30/14AM sermon, All Under Sin from Romans 3:9-20, is now online.  This sermon was a hard one to preach (as a sinner) but one in which the good news of the Gospel shined so brightly that it brought great encouragement.  Until sin is bitter, the Gospel doesn't taste sweet.  So, this sermon got at the reality of our sin and then drove us to a Christ-centered dependance.  I hope it's encouraging to you.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review - Final Days of Jesus

I had the privilege to read and offer this short review of Crossway's The Final Days of Jesus earlier this month.  This is a fascinating work and one, quite honestly, that you'll want to have in your library.  It's written by Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor (here's a link to Justin's blog on this book, which gives you a feel for its visual layout).

The table of contents is simple: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.  One week.  This book is about one week, but it's not just any normal week.  It's the one week in which the lives of so many people have been changed.  It's the final week of Jesus Christ.

This book takes this final week, imports all the Biblical texts describing this week, harmonizes them, and gives the reader commentary on what's happening and why it's so important.  I read this book when lent began a few weeks ago and remember thinking that it would be an amazing book to work through on the Palm Sunday through Easter week.  Even if that doesn't work, though, this book would prove profitable in helping readers know what happened in this final week of Jesus Christ.

I know this statement will get my nerd card stamped for another year, but this book is cool for its graphics and charts.  I grew up reading the encyclopedia and love those little stat corners of the USA Today.  There are parts of this book where huge amounts of data are cohesively presented as a picture or chart.  Having these are almost worth the price of the book.

So, I'm happy to recommend this book to you.  Read it and allow what the Bible says about the greatest person who ever lived come into clear focus.  Your life won't be the same by looking at the Final Days of Jesus.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Book Review - What's Best Next

I've always appreciated Matt Perman.  When he worked for Desiring God, I consulted with him on an important issue we were facing in church life and found him to be full of wisdom with theological support.  I've also benefitted from his time at other conferences.  He's been approachable and always, in my interactions with him, been seeking to live out what he's now written in this book, so I would highly recommend this book.

What is this book?  It's entitled What's Best Next.  How The Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done.  It's a book on how the Gospel informs productivity and, admittedly, Matt believes he's written something that is unique.  I can't find a weakness in this book.  I'm one of those people who find themselves where the knives go in the knife drawer.  I'm an organized person and have some borderline disorder tendencies when it comes to order (just ask those close to me).  I've read books on productivity, getting things done and maximizing my life and time.  But, in this book, the great content of those books is fused with a life that exists for something eternal: God's glory and the good of people.
I've already given away 3 copies of this book and we're considering using it as a Sunday School text at our church.  I think many could benefit from so many specifics in this book.  It breaks into 7 parts: 1) Making God Supreme in Productivity, 2) Gospel Driven Productivity: A New Way to Look at Getting Things Done, 3) Define: Know What's Most Important, 4) Architect: Create a Flexible Structure, 5) Reduce: Free Up Your Time for What's Most Important, 6) Execute: Do What's Most Important, 7) Living This Out.  Matt's style of writing is easy to read and includes helpful summaries and blocks at the end of each chapter and for the book as a whole at the end.

There are so many great recommendations and practical outworkings in this book.  My favorite parts were the first 2 parts where a theological foundation is laid for why we should be productive and how this is about more than self-serving tendencies.  It's about wielding all of our time and energy in a way so that God is glorified and people are served.  These are things that are worth giving your life for and are eternal.  They're in desperate need of being Gospel-informed.  Matt gives these connections and from there presses us into application (which is another super-helpful feature of this book).  It will not be my go-to book when I'm stuck in slow progress and evaluating how to maximize my time and energies.  

I hope you'll read and allow God to stir your heart through Matt's service to us.  What a blessing to have this book.  Now, there's only one question: What's Best Next?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Weekend Recap - God, The Just

My 3/23/14AM sermon, God The Just from Romans 3:1-8, is now online.  This sermon aimed, once again, at the heart of those with empty, faithless, religious practice, urging them to repent and rest in Christ alone as their right standing before God.  I hope it's an encouragement to you to rest in Christ as the only standard of your righteousness.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Working Together - one of my posts on the H2Go blog

Here's a post I wrote for our CBC H2Go blog entitled Working Together:

Too often, working together isn't the reality when we think of church life.  If we don't like something that's happening, we pack up our toys and head for the church down the road that is doing those things that we like (at least until the next thing we don't care for pops up).  But, God's vision for the church is much more glorious.  He envisions His people to be wholly engaged, working together for His purposes.  Hear how this is described in Romans 12:4-5 "For as in one body we have many members and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another."  God's vision then isn't minimizing the diversity that exists, but to allow that individuality to shine as it comes together for one big purpose.  

What can you strive to do today to be more wholly engaged to our body?  What might need to change?  What do you need to repent of?  How might you need to act?  Today, step into God's vision and be wholly engaged in His work for you - His glory in a united church on mission under grace.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weekend Recap - 3/16/14

My sermon from 3/16/14AM entitled True Heart Religion from Romans 2:12-29 is now online (or you can watch the entire service).  The sermon got after religious people and our failure to trust in Jesus from the heart, resting instead in religious practice as a means of impressing God.  My hope through the sermon is that people can to rest in the Gospel.  I hope it proves edifying to you.

Friday, March 07, 2014

My Weekend - Disciple Now

Blessed to have an opportunity to serve my former student and (still my) friend, Dale Baker, and the students God's entrusted to him at Parkway Baptist in my hometown, St. Louis.

Our theme for the weekend is "a heart for God" and we'll be looking at how our hearts function (Biblically speaking not medical journal mumbo jumbo) and how our hearts can be changed by the Gospel.

Would you join me in praying for a great weekend for these students and asking God to raise up from this group worshippers who give Him glory.  And, if you think of it, pray for me, that I would serve in God's strength so that He's glorified through me.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Weekend Recap - Impartial Judgment

My 3/2/14AM sermon, Impartial Judgment from Romans 2:1-11, is online.  The sermon really went after God's desire for us to be humble before Him, in light of our sin, fleeing our self-righteousness and hiding in Christ.  I hope it's an encouragement to you as you struggle to fight to honor God in the way think about sin, others and yourself.

This week also featured the launch of Crestview Live (live stream of our service).  You can watch an archived video of that sermon on the Live page, starting around the 29:30 mark of the 3/2/14 AM Service.

Monday, February 24, 2014

LRC Email - Hard Stuff

Here's my 2/24/14AM email to Leadership Reno County alumni:

“This leadership stuff is difficult.  I mean I have wonderful ideas it’s just all these people around me that need to change.”  Sure we don’t verbalize much of this sentiment, but isn’t it laying dormant as a very real reality in our thoughts?  We’re not the problem…all THOSE people are.  Today, I want to remind you of one of the competencies at the core of our engaging in acts of leadership: Manage Self.  When we are thinking that everyone else is the problem, we’re forgetting that leadership starts with you and must engage others.  Today, then, it might be the case that you have a managing self issue more than a “THOSE people” issue.  Know your strengths, vulnerabilities and triggers.  Know the story others tell about you.  Choose among the competing values waging war in your heart.  Get used to uncertainty and conflict.  Experiment beyond your comfort zone.  Take care of yourself.  As you engage in these managing self behaviors, you’ll jump start your engagement and undoubtedly be more effective.  So, today, do the hard stuff—change yourself—and see if this doesn’t help you make progress in this issues you care about.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Weekend Recap - Wrath Revealed

My 2/23/14AM Sermon, Wrath Revealed from Romans 1:18-32 is now online.  The sermon unpacked how God's wrath should drive us to be a people not defined by the sins we struggle with, but by our relationship to God in the Gospel.  God is just to punish each and every sin.  We are driven to be a Gospel people in light of this.  I hope it was an encouraging sermon to you and hope you had a great Lord's Day.

Monday, February 17, 2014

LRC Email: Head and Mouth

Here's my Monday Email to Leadership Reno County Alumni on 2/17/14:

We’re always on the look out for new and exciting ways to press you into thinking differently, to not be about “work avoidance” (anything below the threshold of change above) but to get into the “productive zone” (the orange highlighted area in the middle).  Hopefully, my Monday emails get you to think about these things (or at least keep them on your radar).  Here’s a short summary of a recent experiment we tried with the current Leadership Reno County Class.

In their book, The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky suggest that one of the reasons we don’t break into the productive zone by lingering in work avoidance is that we often don’t “speak the unspeakable”, giving language to the more provocative interpretations that are going through our minds.  On any issue, there are 2 conversations happening: the conversation you or someone else is saying publicly and the conversation inside your head related to the public conversation.  Usually, only a small portion of the “in my head” conversation emerges in the public convo.  And, what emerges is “polite banter” which we call “Kansas Nice.” 

So, think about a time when the head and mouth didn’t line up.  What could have been voiced?  What progress might the group achieved as you voiced your “in the head” conversation?  It’s not so much about others hearing you roar as much as helping the group or organization make progress on what you care about.  Today, then, think about how the head conversation needs to inform the public conversation and see if it doesn’t help you break out of work avoidance and engage the productive zone more effectively.