Monday, August 31, 2015

For the Church Conference

I'm excited to be able to participate in the For the Church Conference August 31-September 1 at my alma mater, MBTS, in Kansas City.  Here's the lineup:
The theme of the 2015 conference will be “For the Church & Truth”, based on 1 Timothy 3:15; “if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.” Plenary sessions will be oriented around the role of truth in these five areas:
  • Truth and the Church
  • Truth and Shepherding
  • Truth and Leadership
  • Truth and Preaching
  • Truth and Culture
  • Truth and Missions
This two day conference on the campus of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is open to the general public and will feature free books, live worship, and course credit for Midwestern Seminary students.

If you're able, why not say a quick part for people participating in this event. We want God to be glorified through it.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Weekend Recap - Loving the World and the Believer's Identity

My 8/30/15AM sermon, Loving the World from 1 John 2:15-17 is now online.  This sermon was a difficult one for me to prepare for.  Part of the reason has to do with how much sloppy application is thrown around using this passage as the springboard.  I wanted to make sure I understood exactly what John was saying and then proceed accordingly.  The gist?  Our identity can't be wrapped in the world, after all the world is fading away with all that offers.  It's doing the will of God and abiding in the Father's love that is the "forever" stuff.  If our identity is there, loving the world won't be an issue.  Hope you're helped by this one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

God Made All of Me

Was privileged to get an early release copy and opportunity to review God Made All of Me: A Book To Help Children Protect Their Bodies by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb.

Here's how the publisher described this important book: 
God Made All of Me is the first children’s book by Rid of My Disgrace authors Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, and its goal is to equip parents to help kids protect their own bodies. It’s a beautifully-illustrated little book with a clear message: your body is designed by God and every part of it is good. It helps parents give their kids language and expectations for appropriate and inappropriate touch and set clear boundaries for how others should treat them. When you read the book yourself, I think you will feel more confident in guiding your kids; when you read it with your kids, you will have already started the important conversation that every family needs to have.

Unfortunately, in the day and age we live in, child abuse is far too common.  At times, I think, people with children almost feel paralyzed in addressing this issue with their kids and we certainly don't like to discuss it with others.  But, this children's book is help to not only model some language for these kinds of courageous conversations but give instruction to your children in this matter.  Please consider the importance of this book.  You can see why this book is important.  

On top of the importance and subject matter found in this book, it comes loaded with incentives when you pre-order: over $100 worth of free, related resources. These include the eBook for Rid of My Disgrace, a Journal of Biblical Counseling article, some catechism albums, and a whole lot more!  It would definitely be in your interest to pre-order if you feel drawn to utilize this book.

Recommend this book.  Share this post.  Point people to the book's site.  Let's be about the common good of our children by equipping them in this way.   


Monday, August 17, 2015

Gleanings from Long Term Ministry

My good friend, Brad, pastor at Old Powhatan Baptist, recently wrapped up his 8th year at one church.  Here's his reflections, which I would echo as I just wrapped 15 at Crestview.

1) Prayer is the heartbeat of ministry.
2) Strategy starts and ends with submission. (1 & 2 unpacked in part 1)
3) Family is essential for ministry.
4) My adequacy for the task and calling as pastor comes from Jesus. (3 & 4 unpacked in part 2)
5) The Holy Spirit changes people, not programs.  And, Holy Spirit changed people change programs.
6) Preferences are not the Gospel. (5 & 6 unpacked in part 3)
7) It is not enough to hold to the infallibility and inerrancy of God's Word.
8) We are not meant for trench warfare, but for the victorious advance of the Gospel. (7 & 8 unpacked in part 4)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

How Do You Know?

A big question that many of us grapple with has to do with assurance, or knowing that we have a relationship with Christ.  Here's how Andrew Fuller gave counsel to his daughter in a letter:

If, you dear, you do really enjoy the presence of God, and so see the greatness of your sin as to abhor it and yourself on account of it, that is certainly an evidence that God has chosen you out of the world.  If there be any doubt in the matter, it is whether those feelings which you enjoy be excited by the Lord's presence, and whether the sense you have of the greatness of your sin does lead you to bewail and hate it.  I do not mean to discourage you, or to suggest as if I thought otherwise; but it may be well for you to suspect your own heart, which is deceitful.  I may add, that if you think you "see yourself a great sinner," it may in part be because you at present know but little of yourself.  You are a much greater sinner, my dear, than you are aware of; and an interest in the dying love of Christ is of far greater importance that you have ever yet conceived.  But let not this discourage you.  Though your sins be as scarlet, yet the blood of Christ is sufficient to make you pure as snow.  The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.  Believe his gospel, commit your soul to him as a perishing sinner, and you will be everlastingly saved.  See Isaiah 1:18; 1 John 1:7; 2 Timothy 1:12.  Follow on to know the Lord, and you shall know him.  Call upon him in the name of Christ, that is, pray him to pardon and accept of you, and grant all your petitions, not for your worthiness' sake, for you are utterly unworthy; but for the worthiness' sake of his dear Son, who died for sinners. [1]

There is so much godly counsel and wisdom in these words.  Notice that Fuller isn't to give even his own daughter assurance apart from Christ.  It's there, and only there, that our confidence and worthiness is found.  So, how do you know?  Do you know Christ and His sacrifice for sinners?

[1] Andrew Fuller, "Letter 13: To Mary Fuller," in The Armies of the Lamb: The Spirituality of Andrew Fuller, ed. Michael Haykin. (Dundas, Ontario: Joshua Press, 2001), 135-136.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Weekend Recap - 8/9/15

Blessed by a great Sunday...  I was able to celebrate 15 years at one church and was very encouraged by all that people shared by way of encouragement.  My sermon continued a short 2 part series on the Church from Ephesians 4:1-16.  This week's sermon was entitled The Church's Work and helped show that all that we're called to do is easily enabled in the Gospel.  I hope it encourages you.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

You're Free From This World

Privileged to listen to this sermon from Ray Ortlund, Jr on Revelation 7:9-10 entitled You Can Touch The World.   The coming reality believers will know and experience in glory should matter today in the here and now.  Here's a sample from this sermon:

"...Our future changes our present.  We can get up by faith today and walk out of the mental prison of fearful self-concern.  You can be free from the grim and lonely fight for survival, because if you love Jesus, your future is as big as heaven.  And until you're there, God's purpose for you now is as big as the world.  In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

" there's nothing small and inconsequential in Jesus, not even you.  If you feel broken, and disqualified, and excluded--actually it's better that way--we don't need, boy, we do not need, more victorious Christians scolding defeated sinners.  We need broken Christians in constant repentance confessing their sins and telling others where they can take their sins: to Jesus the Savior of the world, because He can take it.  He can take it all.

" whoever you are, you can touch the world.  And you don't need this church to tell you how.  You have the command of Jesus to disciple the nations.  You have the power of the Holy Spirit.  You have the wisdom of God in the Bible.  You have God's great plan with His purpose supporting you, His smile approving of you, His throne of grace available to you through prayer.  You can touch the world.

(Starting at the 20:09 mark and ending on the 22:09 mark)

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Weekend Recap - 8/2/15

My 8/2/15AM sermon, The Church's Vision from Ephesians 4:1-16, is now online.  With a natural break in my 1 John series and mission reports and guest speakers on the horizon, I thought it would be wise to address some church life issues in a short 2 week series.  This sermon, helped refocus us on the church's vision from God's perspective: that we be one body with leaders developing ministry action for the body's maturity.  I hope it proves helpful to you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Reading Your Own Heart (as a pastor)

I've been blogging through a sermon by Andrew Fuller entitled "Spiritual Knowledge and Love Necessary for the Ministry" from John 5:35 (Post 1, Post 2), and I'll wrap up my thoughts with this post.  I've highlighted in previous posts how much I appreciate this sermon, but there is one part that stuck out to me in the end of this sermon.  In applying what this looks like for his listeners, he encourages them to read the lives of good men, to study and pray over the Word, to life the life of a Christian, and commune with God in private.  These are all excellent counsel, but it was this word that especially penetrating:

Read men, as well as books, and your own heart, in order that you may read others.  Copyists, you know, are generally bunglers.  There is nothing that equals what is immediately from the life.  We need always be making our observations, wherever we are, or wherever we go.  If we get a system of human nature, or experience, or any thing else, from books rather than from our own knowledge, it will be liable to two disadvantages.  First, it is not likely to be so near the truth; for systems which go through several hands are like successive copies of a painting, every copy of the preceding one is more unlike the original--or like the telling of a tale, the circumstances of which you do not know of your own personal knowledge: every time it is repeated there is some variation, and thus it becomes further removed from the truth.  Thus Agrippa showed his wisdom, when, instead of depending on the testimony of others, he determined to hear Paul himself.  Secondly, if it be correct, still it will not be so serviceable to you as if it were a system of your own working.  Saul's armor might be better than David's sling; but not to him, seeing he had not proved it.  

What's Fuller getting at in this quote?  As helpful as books may be, if we spend too much time in them, it might begin to distort reality.  We must live life, attend to our own hearts and work at the application of truth ourselves.  There are so many applications here from not preaching someone else's sermons or relying too heavily on commentaries to failing to apply and have a tender heart.  It's often been my experience that those pastors who lay the heavy load on people aren't too great at applying things in their own heart.  Those sermons with the ripest application for my hearers tend to be when I have worked hard to apply this to my own heart first.

I commend this sermon to you for reading again.  I have a PDF I'd be happy to email you if you click on the link at the top right of my blog.  Thanks.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Weekend Recap - Bare Essentials

My 7/19/15AM Sermon, Bare Essentials from 1 John 2:12-14, is now online.  The sermon examined the foundations of faith that exist in this passage from the wise pastor, John, to his readers.  In it, we find encouragement for all that we've come to expect from John as we journey to know that we have eternal life.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Heart Warmed with Divine Things

Building on a post I introduced last week from Andrew Fuller's sermon "Spiritual Knowledge and Love Necessary for the Ministry" (again, available as a free PDF if you email me), I wanted to show you how Fuller compels ministers to act by wrapping up this first section.  A quick reminder: under the first heading Fuller is helping us see that in the great work of preaching the Gospel, we need to understand the character of God, Christ, as Mediator, human nature as God intended, human nature depraved and finally how human nature is sanctified by the Spirit.  It's so easy for many pastors to say "Yes" to this.  Fuller feels this and right at this moment, says:

"You will need also, my brother, a heart warmed with Divine things, or you will never be 'a burning and a shining light.'  When we are thinking or preaching, we need to burn, as well as shine. When we study, we may rack our brains, and form plans; but unless 'our hearts burn within us,' all will be a mere skeleton--our thoughts mere bones; whatever be their number, they will be all dry--very dry; and if we do not feel what we say, our preaching will be poor dead work.  Affected zeal will not do.  A gilded fire may shine, but it will not warm.  We may smite with the hand, and stamp with the foot, and throw ourselves into violent agitations; but if we feel not, it is not likely the people will--unless, indeed, it be a feeling of disgust.  But suppose there be no affectation, nor any deficiency of good and sound doctrine; yet if in our work we feel no inward satisfaction, we shall resemble a millstone--preparing food for others, the value of which we are unable to appreciate ourselves.  Indeed, without feeling, we shall be incapable of preaching any truth or of inculcating any duty aright.  How can we display the evil of sin, the love of Christ, or any other important truth, unless we feel it?  How can we preach against sin, without feeling a holy indignation against it?  It is this that will cause us, while we denounce sin, to weep over the sinner.  Otherwise, we may deal in flings and personalities; but these will only irritate; they will never reclaim.  O! if ever we do any good in our work, it must be the effect of love to God and love to men--love to the souls of men, while we detest, and expose, and denounce their sins.  How could Paul have pursued his work with the ardour and intenseness which he manifested, if his heart and not burned with holy love" [1]

Sorry about the long quote there, but it is so needed even in our day and age.  The reason we don't preach with power is due, in part, to not having our own hearts affected by spiritual life.  So, what Fuller is calling us to here isn't just some fakity emotional thing.  He's calling us to have our hearts so burn as we consider the realities we preach that we do, indeed, burn AND shine.  I can tell the difference in my own preaching when my heart is affected by what I'm preaching and when it's not (and, obviously, Fuller's point is the people I serve can tell this too).  There are many applications but here's a couple of summaries:

For Pastors: wrestle with truth until you burn and have something to preach, then, unleash.

For Church People: pray that your pastor's heart would be affected by his study.

I have one more insight from this sermon that really affected me, coming soon...


[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, "Knowledge and Love Essential To Ministry" in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher, vol. 1 (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 480-481.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Weekend Recap - The Law of Love

My 7/12/15AM sermon, Law of Love from 1 John 2:7-11 is now online.  The key to our being the loving people we've been commanded to be isn't from digging deep, getting a positive vibe going or dialing in to the right mojo.  The key is abiding in Jesus.  This passage helps connect those who love with why they love: they know Jesus.  I hope it helps you.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Pastors Need Spiritual Knowledge and Love

I'm slowly plodding through Andrew Fuller's sermons and came across one that really resonated with a lot of what I think about the work that pastors are called to do.  This sermon was an ordination sermon that Fuller preached for a young minister's ordination on John 5:35 -- "He was a burning and a shining light."  It's entitled "Knowledge and Love Essential to the Ministry." [1]  I'd be happy to send a PDF of this short 5 page sermon to anyone who emails me (upper right corner of my site).  The call that Fuller gives is to live out the qualities of spiritual light and holy love in the work pastors do.

The simple outline:
Spiritual light and holy love are the qualities which Christ here commends...
I. In the great work of preaching the Gospel.

A) How necessary is it to understand in some good degree the holy character of God!
B) A knowledge of Christ, as the Mediator between God and man, is necessary.
C) A knowledge of human nature as created is necessary.
D) A knowledge of human nature as depraved is necessary.
E) A knowledge of human nature as sanctified by the Spirit is necessary.

II. In presiding in the church of God.

III. In the more private duty of visiting the people.

IV. In your whole demeanor through life.

a few things which Fuller found of use to conduce to these ends:
1) Read the lives of good men
2) Study the Word of God, above all other books, and pray over it.
3) Read men, as well as books, and your own heart, in order that you may read others.
4) Live the life of a Christian as well as a minister.
5) Commune with God in private.
6) Holy forth the word of life, not only by precept, but by a holy practice.

More to come on this sermon later...


[1] Andrew Gunton Fuller, The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc., ed. Joseph Belcher, vol. 1 (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1988), 478-482.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Keeping His Commandments

My 7/5/15AM sermon, Keeping His Commandments from 1 John 2:3-6, is now online.  Whether it's thinking that our good deeds can get us heaven or thinking that if we obey God will love us more, we're in desperate need of what God thinks about obedience and a relationship with Him.  I tease out these things in this sermon and hope it proves helpful to you.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Submitting to God's Word and Your Relationship With God

An importantly relevant word from Tim Keller on 1 John 2:3-6, which we'll look at this coming Lord's day:

"Unless you see the Bible as God’s Word … That’s certainly how Jesus saw it. That’s certainly how John saw it. Unless you see the Bible as the place where you can find God’s will, you can’t actually have a personal relationship with God. “What do you mean?” you say. Well, let me put it to you this way.

"Plenty of people say, “I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I do! I believe in much of what the Bible says, but there are many things in the Bible you just can’t believe anymore. There are things in the Bible we just can’t follow anymore. We realize there are contradictions, and there are some things that are primitive. So I believe in most of the Bible and in the general principles of the Bible, and I believe in Jesus, and I have a personal relationship in Jesus, but I can’t believe everything in the Bible.”

"Now let me show you what you’ve just done. First of all, there is nothing between the two positions I’m about to outline. When you say, “Some things in the Bible are right and some things are wrong,” the only way you can say that is if you have faith at the moment you’re saying that in some other source of authority by which you can sift through the Bible. In other words, as soon as you say the Bible is only partially right and partially wrong, the only way you can say that is on the basis of faith in some authority which is completely and always right.

"You can’t doubt everything at once. You can only doubt something from a platform of faith in something else. Here’s what’s going on. If you say even one verse in the Bible is not true but the rest are, what you’re actually doing is you’re saying, “My discernment, my experience, my reason, my feelings are a more sure authority for deciding what God’s will is than the Bible.”

"So either (and there is nothing in between) … Even if you say there’s one verse that’s wrong, either your experience and your judgment can sit in evaluation of the Bible, or the Bible sits in evaluation of your judgment. Either your feelings are judged by the Bible, or the Bible is judged by your feelings.

"I’ll put it another way. Either your understanding is judged by the Bible, or the Bible is judged by your understanding. There’s nothing in the middle. Now I’m not going to try to prove which one is right to you right now, and you certainly have the right to believe your judgment is valid, more valid than the Bible. You know, be careful. In the 1890s, there were people who were saying these are things modern people can’t believe anymore in the Bible. They’re very different than in the 1990s. They’ll be very different than in the 2090s. I’m not going to try to prove which is right and which is wrong.

"Let me just show you the implications and ramifications of what you’ve just done. There is never a place now where you can see a standard that can cross your moral will. Do you know what’s happened to you? Now that you say, “This doesn’t seem right to me. Yes, the Bible says it’s wrong, but I can’t believe that. Yes, the Bible says this is wrong, but I can’t believe that.”

"In other words, if something doesn’t feel right to you and the Bible says it is right, or if something feels right and the Bible says it’s wrong, now there is no possibility of moral discipline. There is no possibility of a higher standard than your own feelings and your own experience and your own judgment. What that means is you can’t have a personal relationship with God. You’re treating God like a microphone now. If it feels right to you, that must be God’s will. How will you ever know a God who can say even though it feels right, it’s wrong? Because now what feels right is right.

Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive. (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).  This particular citation is from a 1994 sermon entitled "The Freedom of Obedience"