Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
- A sermon by Charles Spurgeon entitled Crowding To Touch The Savior. I am dealing with this verse on the upcoming Lord's Day. It was great to see Spurgeon's passion for us to press in on Christ for spiritual healing.
- An article on What Today's Preachers Can Learn From Charles Haddon Spurgeon by Zack Eswine with Reformation 21. Much like what Lloyd-Jones says, Spurgeon calls for a fresh reliance on the Spirit Himself as a means to cure what ails our world.
- Also from Reformation 21, an article entitled Preaching To Obtain Humility by WIlliam Farley. This article demonstrates how humility is such a great need among pastors today and, on a deeper level, the need for pastors to rise up and boldly call their people to humility.
- The Journal of Biblical Counseling. Volume 24, Number 4. This issue dealt with the topic of anger. I loved many quotes in here and, as always, the Journal is so helpful from a pastoral perspective. Here is one quote to wet your appetite: "Anger is essentially very simple: 'I'm against that.'" (from David Powlison's article entitled Anger in Action in this issue.)
The most ultimate thing to see in the Bible about marriage is that it exists for God’s glory. Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. Most ultimately, marriage is the display of God. It is designed by God to display his glory in a way that no other event or institution is.You can listen to, watch or read this sermon here.
The way to see this most clearly is to connect Genesis 2:24 with its use in Ephesians 5:31-32. In Genesis 2:24, God says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” What kind of relationship is this? How are these two people held together? Can they walk away from this relationship? Can they go from spouse to spouse? Is this relationship rooted in romance? Sexual desire? Need for companionship? Cultural convenience? What is this? What holds it together?
Monday, January 29, 2007
Which leads me to today's post... Why has God given marriage? What is He seeking to accomplish by allowing a man and wife to leave father and mother and cling to one another in one flesh. Ultimately (and I do mean ultimately because there are many benefits of marriage and purposes for which God brings two together as one) God has given marriage as a means for two people together as one to glorify Him. God has created all humans in His image (Genesis 1:26ff). God does this work of creation to glorify Himself (Isaiah 43:7). The NT teaches that all things were created by and for Christ (Colossians 1:16). The writer of Hebrews urges us to hold marriage in high honor (Hebrews 13:4). Individually, God has created each of us for His glory. Marriage gets to be a unique picture of the glory of God on display. Two individuals, created in God's image for Him, come together as one to gloriy God. Does this take place in your life? Does your marriage glorify God? Does the testimony of your "togetherness" tell a story of the glory of God. God has done this. He has made marriage for His glory!
Yesterday, we looked at Jesus' healing on the Sabbath from Mark 3:1-6 in the morning service. I was amazed at how Jesus handled resistance and didn't allow it to stifle ministry. Even though He was angry and grieving over His oppenent's hardness of heart, He still healed the man with the withered hand. This is something we could all learn a little better.
Finally, last night, back in small groups, we hashed out further application of this by looking at how conflict is used the lives of believers and how we can respond to it in a way that glorifies God. It was a spiritually refreshing weekend.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Clarity is...I am very excited about hearing David Platt and listening to the music leadership provided by Kristian Stanfill. Leeland will also be in concert. Should be a great event. I am looking forward to engaging God's Word for purposeful application.
An experience in God's Word.
It’s that simple and that essential.
We are being faced with generations increasingly less familiar with the living and active Word of God. This problem is vital for us today.
“How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” How will they know?
Clarity is not a solution, but a challenge to you, your workers and your students.
A challenge to develop a passion for God’s Word.
A challenge to understand and engage the Bible as the complete story of God’s redemptive plan.
A challenge to live out daily the mission for your life presented in God’s Word.
You will hear God’s Word.
You will see God’s Word.
You will sing God’s Word.
You will speak God’s Word.
You will experience God’s Word.
And the Word will bring Clarity to your life.
Monday, January 22, 2007
There's no doubt that one of the greatest hindrances to keeping the gospel central in our lives is our creeping tendency toward legalism. It's an age-old foe to God's plan of salvation through faith alone. From teh earliest days of the church, legalism has sidetracked Christians and thrown them off course. It happens today as much as ever.In our morning service yesterday, we came face to face with a legalist in the form of the Pharisees questioning Jesus' keeping of the Sabbath. They thought their minute interpretation of the law would merit a good standing for them before God. Jesus turns their thinking on end, though, and declares that He is Lord, even of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28). C.J.'s definition here is so helpful. Don't get swallowed in the trap of a works-oriented gospel. God's work in you is rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ, or (to put it another way) -- IN THE GOSPEL.
Legalism isn't just a matter of someone who has higher standards or more rules than you have. A lot of us wrongly stereotype a legalistic person as someone who never goes to movies or thinks any music with a beat is evil. Legalism is much more subtle and serious than that--and far more pervasive than most of us realize.
Here's a simple definition I use: Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and justification before God through obedience to God.
A legalist is anyone who behaves as if they can earn God's forgiveness through personal performance.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Over the course of time, preaching the gospel to myself every day has made more of a difference in my life than any other discipline I have ever practiced. I find myself sinning less, but just as importantly, I find myself recovering my footing more quickly after sinning, due to the immediate comfort found in the gospel. I have also found that when I am absorbed in the gospel, everything else I am supposed to be toward God and others seems to flow out of me more naturally and passionately. Doing right is not always easy, but it is never more easy than when one is breathing deeply the atmosphere of the gospel.The booklet is available as a pdf download or by contacting the following contact info:
Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church,
1363 Linden Street, Riverside, California 92507
Looks like an excellent tool to use in family worship.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Session 1 -- The Call To Formative Instruction from Deuteronomy 6
In this session, it was very compelling to notice that after Joshua, there was a generation who came who did not remember all the Lord had done for the nation of Israel. This happened because of a failure to obey Deut. 6. Formative instruction happens in both formal (family worship) and informal settings. Tripp defined this kind of instruction not as a monologue or lecture but as "providing an interpretive lens through which children can see the world. You are holding the prism of God's Word before your children so that the light of ordinary living is diffused into a rich spectrum of Biblical color that dazzles and shows the glory of God int eh ordinary stuff of life." The reality is that we are impressing something upon our children. We are doing formative instruction every day whether we realize it or not.
Session 2 -- Giving A Vision For The Glory of God from Psalm 145
In this session, Tripp held out the idea that our children were created in the image of God for the glory of God. They were created to be worshippers. They are either worshipping God or idols. Children are instinctively created to be dazzled, awed or amazed by something. We need to hold out to them a vision of God that dazzles, awes and amazes them. We need to point them to the glory of God. As we show them, as Tripp states, "something of the being and excellence of God," they realize that there is something greater for which they were created and they can bow their lives in worship to Him. The most important calling of a parent is to help your children treasure Christ. This begins in us as parents. Our children need to see that we delight in God before they will be compelled. Tripp urged us not to be "idol polishers," who take delight in their children's delight of stuff. We shouldn't nurture other pleasures, which absorb their time and energy to develop special skills or performance abilities at the expense of God. When we do this, we are communicating that the extra-curricular is more important than God. "The greatest thing we can do for our children is to turn ourselves to the One who saved us and be transformed into His likeness."
Session 3 -- Giving An Understanding of Authority from Ephesians 6
This session oriented us to God's establishing authority in the world. Tripp asked, "Is your worldview big enough to support God's demands for authority." God has established authority in creation and God has established authority in the home. Children are to honor and obey their parents and the blessing associated with submitting to this authority structure is long life and it goes well with them on the earth. Proverbs 9:7-9 who two people - the scoffer/wicked man and the wise/righteous man. The responses of each of these men demonstrate while they are given this title. We need to encourage our children to respond to correction given by authority. A great summary was given by Tripp, "As you teach a biblical view of authority what you model for your children will be far more powerful than what you say. You may tell them how 'sweet and seemly' it is for them to live under the authorities God has placed in their lives, but if you ignore traffic laws, or complain about paying taxes; guess what will make the largest impression? YOu can say God has established authority in the church, but if you are a complaining church member, guess what they will believe? YOu can say it is good to be under authority, but if you admire people who are not; guess what they will believe?" Christ is our model. He submits to the Father's authority. He empowers our submission to be joyful and good.
Session 4 -- Giving An Understanding of the Heart from Proverbs 4:23
In this session, we began to turn the corner and see that since the heart is the wellspring of life, behavior cannot be understood or addressed biblically without reference to the heart. We need to press on and not just be concerned ultimately with external behavior, but what that external behavior is emerging from the heart.
Session 5 -- Overview of Corrective Discipline
This session dealt with a lot of practical ramifications of the previous four sessions. If this is the case, then how do we offer corrective discipline. Tripp demonstrated how using the rod is not only Biblical, it is necessary for the welfare of your child. He described the function of discipline and how it can be done effectively. The goal in discipline is always restoration to the circle of blessing. This is all tied to Sowing and Reaping from Galatians 6. Behavior modification is constraining and controlling behavior through a system or rewards and punishment. Biblical correction and discipline use the enduring truth of Scripture to instruct the heart and direct behavior. Biblical consequences must focus on the heart. This relates to how we communicate and shepherd the hearts of our children.
The reality is that this kind of labor is expensive. It takes lots of time and effort. For me, I simply can't sacrifice the shepherding of my own children for the sake of shepherding the church. This takes much wisdom and leadership. I am leading my son in a direction, whether I realize it or not. This stewardship is one that I want to be found faithful in. This conference was a tremendous means of grace is setting me on a good, solid, Biblical course for this high calling.
Scripture as Story: “I read Scripture as a grand story, the story of Redemption. When all of Scripture is read in this way, we will not see the individual stories as moral lessons or as mere examples of what to do and what not to do in life.”These quotes seem to be helpful in reminding us why we read the Scriptures. I am really enjoying using the ESV Daily Reading Bible this year.
Christ-Centered View of Scripture: “The grand story of Scripture revolves around Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Never Read a Single Verse: “Read at least a paragraph of Scripture when you read Scripture. But also try to read a book in one (maybe two) sitting(s). These books and letters in Scripture were written as a whole and were initially read in whole. We should strive to read each book in whole.”
Scripture as Spoken Word: “I believe we must also listen to Scripture being read in our personal time. You will pick up things from Scripture while listening that you may not pick up so easily while reading. You will most likely have more time to listen to Scripture than you will to read Scripture. Take all the opportunities to immerse yourself in Scripture—It is also a good thing to listen to the Scripture while reading at the same time.”
Scripture as Prayer: “The many times that I do not know what to say in my prayer times, I turn to Scripture and pray passages back to God”
Knowing God: “The purpose of Scripture is not that we become holy. The purpose of Scripture is to know this Triune God Who has revealed Himself in Scripture. Becoming holy is a byproduct of knowing God through Christ.”
Spend MUCH Time and Effort Studying Scripture: “I believe the blood, sweat, and tears we pour into understanding the Scriptures is immeasurable!”
Listen to Sermons: “There are so many Gospel-Centered preachers out there that have their sermons on the internet. Seek them out!”
Practice What You Read and Learn: “Accountability is huge in this area…. Place yourself under accountability so that you may learn to practice what you learn and read.”
Rely on Grace: “Grace is the thread by which all of these are tied together.”
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
If we don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.How I long to be used by God this weekend to draw our congregation back to those large things. This is the aim of fasting.
Justin Taylor has a post entitled "Ode To Free Will" that you simply must watch to see the outrageous follow of those who hold to Arminian (some would say outright Pelagian) tendencies.
Came across a blog this week by Michael Haykin on church history entitled Historia Ecclesiastica that would be worth your time to visit.
John Piper apologizes and responds about profanity.
Finished reading a book entitled Craftsmen by John Crotts. It is subtitled, "Skillfully Leading Your Family For Christ." The book explores what Proverbs has to say about walking in wisdom. Was a great, easy, devotional read.
Did take time to try the Casi Cielo at Hutchinson's Starbucks. This was an enjoyable coffee, very smooth.
On Monday, I enjoyed fellowship with the elders as we met for the first time this year. This coming Monday, the 15th, we meet with the deacons to work on some organization for 2007. So that has been some extra admin this week. Had some enjoyable fellowship over lunch this week.
This weekend, Meg and I are attending a parenting conference here in Hutchinson taught by Ted Tripp (of Shepherding a Child's Heart fame). I'm really hoping God shapes my heart. I want to be humble because I have so much to learn in being a godly parent. The conference is Friday PM and Saturday AM. We are looking forward to investigating God's Word on this crucial topic. On the Shepherd's Press website, Tedd writes:
Our temptation as parents is to focus on behavior rather than the heart. We see; we hear our children fighting and arguing. We make a pass at a drive-by correction, “You guys, knock is off. I don’t want to hear anymore of that fighting.”
Why do we focus on behavior? We know the Bible. We know all behavior reflects the heart. It is from the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). The heart is the well-spring of life Proverbs 4:23). We know that behavior is heart driven. Why do we “go for” the behavior?
The answer is simple. We see and we hear behavior. Behavior demands our attention. It creates messy problems that must be solved. The tendency to focus on behavior leads to all manner of behaviorism. We use the proverbial carrot or stick to control and constrain behavior. We try to motivate our children with incentives or disincentives that will motivate behavior that is appropriate.
Did I hear someone think, “So what’s the problem with that?” Well, there are several problems with behaviorism.
Behaviorism offers your children a false basis for ethics. The basis for ethics in behaviorism is, “What will get me what I want and avoid what I don’t want?” What is the basis for ethics in a biblical vision? In a biblical vision the basis for ethics is the being and existence of a God who is good and has told us what we ought to do for our good and his glory.
Behaviorism trains the heart wrongly. The heart and behavior are so intertwined that whatever you use to constrain behavior trains the heart. Manipulate behavior with guilt and you teach your children to be guilt-based children. Use shame and they become shame-based. Use the fear of man and they learn to worry about what others will think. Whatever constrains behavior trains the heart.
Behaviorism misses your child’s real need. His profound need is not correcting behavior that is bad; it is a heart that has strayed. His behavior simply mirrors the ways he is loving himself more than God or others.
Behaviorism will keep you from making the Gospel central in your correction and discipline. If behavior and behavioral change is your focus, your parenting will emphasize techniques for controlling behavior. It is impossible for the gospel to be the core of your parenting interventions when behavior is your focus. You will inevitably turn to other incentives or disincentives (carrot or the stick). But if your focus is the heart and the heart’s need for change the only hope you can bring to your children is Christ’s capacity to change us internally and empower us to live in ways that please and honor him.
Behaviorism will keep you from identifying with your child’s struggles. You will say things like this, “What is your problem? Can’t you ever share with your brother? I just don’t understand you.” But if you deal with the heart and the way selfishness works in the heart you will be able to identify with your child. “Honey, I know your problem. I understand how selfishness works in the human heart. I could write a book about selfishness and it would be a thick book. But, there is hope for people like you and me and it is found in Christ who can forgive, transform, and empower us to truly love others from the heart…”
Behaviorism may change your child for the moment, but the grace and power of the gospel will produce lasting change.
Finally, this Sunday, I will be giving a morning message on Fasting from Mark 2:18-22 and coming back to Titus 2:9-10 in the evening as we notice the effect of the Gospel. Should be a great weekend, Lord-willing.
Monday, January 08, 2007
After the AM service, we had a fellowship meal of our own at church and concluded with a prayer service. These were both beneficial things.
Andrew is feeling much better too, for those who have been praying for him.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
I am reading, for the first time, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones book Preaching and Preachers. This book consists of lectures originally given at Westminster Theological Seminary, when the Doctor lectured there in the spring of 1969.
Chapter One is entitled "The Primacy of Preaching." MLJ says, "my reason for being ready to give these lectures is that to me the work of preaching is the highest and greatest and most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called." Later on, he says, "The most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching." MLJ also gives some reasons for the decline int he place of preaching in the church: 1) "The loss of belief in the authority of the Scriptures, and a diminution in the belief of the Truth." 2) "A reaction against what were called 'the great pulpiteers', especially in the second half of the last century." 3) "The wrong conception of what a sermon really is, and therefore of what preaching really is." As preaching has waned, there has been an increase in: 1) "The formal element in the service." 2) "The element of entertainment in public worship--the use of films and the introduction of more and more singing; the reading of the Word and prayer shortened drastically, but more and more time given to singing." 3) "The giving of testimonies." 4) "Upon 'personal work' or 'counselling.'" MLJ then goes on to trace the development of preaching through the New Testament and church history.
Chapter 2, entitled "No Substitute" gets into some of the theological reasons for preaching. For instance, he says, "[The church's] primary purpose is to put man into the right relationship with God, to reconcile man to God." "The business of the Church, and the business of preaching--and she alone can do this--is to isolate the radical problems and deal with them in a radical manner." "I argue that in many ways it is the departure of the Church from preaching that is responsible in large measure for the state of modern society. The Church has been trying to preach morality and ethics without the Gospel as a basis; it has been preaching morality without godliness; and it simply does not work. It never has done, and it never will. And the result is that the Church, having abandoned her real task, has left humanity more or less to its own devices." Relating all this specifically to preaching, he says, "The preaching of the Gospel from the pulpit, applied by the Holy Spirit to the individuals who are listening, has been the means of dealing with personal problems of which I as the preacher knew nothing until people came to me at the end of the service saying, 'I want to thank you for that sermon because if you had known I was there and the exact nature of my problem, you could not have answered my various questions more perfectly. I have often thought of bringing them to you but you have now answered them without my doing so.' The preachign had already dealt with the personal problems." He concludes this chapter by saying, "All I am contending for is that when you enter a church, a society, a company of God's people, there is factor which immediately comes into operation, which is reinforced still more by the preacher expounding the Word in the pulpit; and that is why preaching can never be replaced by either reading or by watching television or any one of these activities."
Finally, then in chapter 3, "The Sermon and Preaching," he offers this definition...
Any true definition of preaching must say that that man is there to deliver a message of God, a message from God to those people. If people can listen to us without becoming anxious about themselves or reflecting on themselves we have not been preaching. Preaching addresses us in such a manner as to bring us under judgment; and it deals with us in such a way that we feel our who life is involved, and we go out saying, 'I can never go back and live just as I did before. This has done something to me, it has made a difference to me. I am a different person as a result of listening to this.' Preaching is that which deals with the total person, the hearer becomes involved and knows that he has been dealt with and addressed by God through this preacher.After reading just these three chapters, I long to be more faithful in this public exercise of my work.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
(HT: Justin Taylor)
I've been thinking a lot about my goals for the year and have arrived at the following, in no apparent order:
As in previous years, being overweight continues to bog me down both physically and ministerially. Possessing my vessel with honor in a way pleasing to God has to be something in which I continue to improve. Resolved, 2007, to pursue sound health by exercising and seeking to lose weight through a stricter diet. Great men of God have been resolved in this way. Jonathan Edward’s Resolution #20: “Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance, in eating and drinking.” I’ve witnessed firsthand this in the lives of godly men and don’t need to emulate them, but a God who is disciplined in all He undertakes. God help me to glorify you in my body.
Again, God has taken the initiative to place me in a local church to serve as a pastor-teacher. This is a serious responsibility. I recognize that one day I will stand before God and give an account for how well I have served and how I have pastored these people. Therefore, resolved, 2007, to be used by God to direct Crestview to deeper glorification and enjoyment of God. God has brought us so far and I want to continue to be faithful in honoring Him through this. As I preach, I want to become a better tool in the pulpit, so I resolve to improve my skills in this as I work through the Gospel of Mark. As a pastor, not only my preaching but also my shepherding should increase in its maturity. Therefore, I want to serve better by being, as M’Cheyne said, “A holy minister who is awful in the hand of God.” I want God’s leading and our following corporately to be a characteristic of my pastoral leadership. I rely on God for this pursuit.
God has seen fit to doubly bless me by not only allowing me to be happily married to Meghan, but also He has seen fit to call me to fatherhood over Andrew. It is daunting to exercise my role in the home with wisdom. So many weaknesses and so much growth seems needed. As a husband, Christ is the preeminent example of loving leadership. I continue to hold forth a desire to imitate Him. Fathering is a completely new adventure. I must train Andrew in the way he should go so that when He is old He won’t depart from it (Prov. 22:6). Therefore, resolved, 2007, to strive to glorify God by being a godly husband and father. With Meg, I must continue to lead and love her and Andrew requires much wisdom. I desire to present them both blameless before God on the coming day of judgment.
Spiritually speaking, I have noticed devotions and prayers grow cold in the passed year. This has been due in large part to my willingness to do the duty of disciplines without the joy. Therefore, resolved, 2007, to strive for as much joy as possible in God through the passionate pursuit of this joy in the spiritual disciplines. I plan to use the ESV Daily Reading Bible and pray IOUS. I want to nurture a warm heart, fired with love for God. I need to pursue not only the glorification of God but the enjoyment of Him. This is what I long for this year.
I was reading some blogs and found this great quote by Lig Duncan on Thabiti's blog. He was asked, "What are you doing with your life and why?" And responded: "When people ask me what my job is, I tell them that it is to minister to the people of God by preaching the Gospel. I:
1) preach the word;
2) love the people;
3) pray down heaven;
4) promote family religion; and
5) train the elders of the church.
Underneath all that, I'm called to live a godly life."
In a nutshell, these are all areas in which I long to be more found faithful in, this coming year. May God grant grace for such a thing...