Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Love Affair with God's Word

Piper had a great post yesterday entitled Read Your Bible More and More.  The post was very helpful in helping me see how intake of God's Word is not legalism.  But I loved these quotes from J.C. Ryle's Practical Religion  (p.136):
Do not think you are getting no good from the Bible, merely because you do not see that good day by day. The greatest effects are by no means those which make the most noise, and are most easily observed. The greatest effects are often silent, quiet, and hard to detect at the time they are being produced.

Think of the influence of the moon upon the earth, and of the air upon the human lungs. Remember how silently the dew falls, and how imperceptibly the grass grows. There may be far more doing than you think in your soul by your Bible-reading.
Today, go to God's Word and be very much affected..

Monday, January 30, 2012

Desiring God Pastor's Conference 2012 LIVE

As I mentioned, I have the privilege of being up in Minneapolis, MN (where it is quite mild this particular winter) for the Desiring God Pastor's Conference.  If you're not able to be here, the entire conference is available for free online as a live stream.  Here's the info:
If you aren't able to make it Minneapolis this year for the conference, that doesn't mean you have to miss it. The entire conference will be live-streamed, for free. And this year in addition to English it will also be live-streamed in Spanish, Chinese and Russian.
Live-Stream Schedule (EST)
8:30 - 9:30 PM Doug Wilson - "Father Hunger" in Leading the Home
10:00 - 11:00 AM Crawford Loritts - Lessons on Biblical Manhood Learned from His Father
11:30 - 12:30 PM Darrin Patrick - Being and Building Men for the Local Mission
2:45 - 4:00 PM John Piper - Biographical sketch of J.C. Ryle
8:30 - 9:30 PM Doug Wilson - "Father Hunger" in Leading the Church
10:00 - 11:00 AM Ramez Atallah - Pastoring with Vision, Creativity, and Courage in Hard Places
11:30 - 12:30 PM Speaker Panel - Doug Wilson, Darrin Patrick, Crawford Loritts, Ramez Atallah, John Piper
2:00 - 4:00 PM A Conversation with Doug Wilson and John Piper - The Supremacy of Christ in All of Life: The Pastor and His Worldview

Take advantage of this amazing opportunity and join me here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekend Prep - DG Pastor's Conference

Much of my time this past week and into this weekend has been devoted to preparing to be gone to the 2012 Desiring God Pastor's Conference.  There are some amazing videos online talking about the scope of this conference and I am blessed to get to travel with another Elder and 2 younger guys.  I'm hoping God gives us all a vision of what it means to be a man of God in ministry.  Typically, they stream sessions live, so if this conference interests you, check back on the conference website for info.  And, if you're reading this, would you please pray that God would begin a work of grace in the heart of all those who attend.  He's the One responsible for any kind of lasting change.  Thanks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

YouthFriends...(My Story)

Last night, 1/24/12, I had an amazing opportunity to share my story of volunteering through YouthFriends.  I thought I would post some of what I shared last night...

Most everyone wants to live lives that make a difference.  We struggle though to know either where to begin or what to get involved with.  I was in that place as a pastor about 15 months ago.  I knew I needed to be involved in people's lives, but didn't know where to start.

It was at that time, that YouthFriends Director (at that time) Diane Caton came to a gathering of Hutchinson Area Pastors and spoke of the great needs we have in our community.  There are numerous schools that have a large population on free and reduced lunch.  There are especially needs for male role models in schools.  Walking out of this meeting and hearing of that need, I signed up immediately.

After the brief training, I was eventually assigned by YouthFriends to be a WatchD.O.G. at Lincoln Elementary School.  In my brief time there, I've noticed 3 benefits of serving as a volunteer:

1) Relationships.  As a volunteer, I get to know the amazing people that serve in public education in our community.  I get to interact with teachers and staff.  This, coupled with the amazing staff at Communities That Care/YouthFriends positions me to succeed because I am related to people who believe in success.  I also get to relate to students.  I get to befriend and encourage children of all ages by serving in the school.

2) Change.  As a volunteer, I get to a birds-eye view into change at these levels.  I get to see students making progress.  In the case of Lincoln, I have seen the entire culture of a school change in a short time (more a testimony to the people there not me).

3) Focus.  Volunteering provides me to give a small amount of time to affect long term change.  My small investments are like throwing money in an interest bearing account for a long time.  The longer the investment, the richer the return.  Serving children in elementary school may position me to be a part of something bigger down the road in their lives.

I closed by thanking the volunteers and urging people to share their story so that others can volunteer and know these rich benefits.

If you're not involved serving the community in some way, why not consider partnering with YouthFriends to make a difference.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend Recap - Christ's Work Is Done

My sermon from 1/22/12 entitled Christ's Finished Work from Hebrews 10:11-18 is online.  In this sermon, I sought to provide listeners assurance, much like the author undoubtedly did for his original hearers, of the comfort and rest that are ours in Christ.  Specifically, because of what Christ has done, we are wholly adequate to God and have forgiveness of our sins.  That's something real and tangible that resonates with us today.  I hope it's an encouragement to you this Monday morning as well.

In the evening, we gathered in small groups.  What a blessing to experience community on the Lord's day.  Hope you had a profitable day.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What Are You Thinking About During Lord's Supper?

This was a provocative question Justin Taylor asked recently and he provided a helpful answer from J.I. Packer:
I don’t think we can ever say too much about the importance of an active exercise of mind and heart at the communion service. . . .
Holy Communion demands us of private preparation of heart before the Lord before we come to the table. We need to prepare ourselves for fellowship with Jesus Christ the Lord, who meets us in this ceremony. We should think of him both as the host of the communion table and as enthroned on the true Mount Zion referred to in Hebrews 12, the city of the living God where the glorified saints and the angels are.
The Lord from his throne catches us up by his Spirit and brings us into fellowship with himself there in glory. He certainly comes down to meet us here, but he then catches us up into fellowship with him and the great host of others who are eternally worshipping him there.
We are also to learn the divinely intended discipline of drawing assurance from the sacrament. We should be saying in our hearts, ‘as sure as I see and touch and taste this bread and this wine, so sure it is that Jesus Christ is not a fancy but a fact, that he is for real, and that he offers himself to be my Saviour, my Bread of Life, and my Guide to glory. He has left me this rite, this gesture, this token, this ritual action as a guarantee of this grace; He instituted it, and it is a sign of life-giving union with him, and I’m taking part in it, and thus I know that I am his and he is mine forever.’ That is the assurance that we should be drawing from our sharing in the Lord’s Supper every time we come to the table.
And then we must realize something of our togetherness in Christ with the rest of the congregation. . . . [We should reject the] strange perverse idea . . . that the Lord’s Supper is a flight of the alone to the Alone: it is my communion I come to make, not our communion in which I come to share. You can’t imagine a more radical denial of the Gospel than that.
The communion table must bring to us a deeper realization of our fellowship together. If I go into a church for a communion service where not too many folk are present, to me it is a matter of conscience to sit beside someone. This togetherness is part of what is involved in sharing in eucharistic worship in a way that edifies.
—J. I. Packer, “The Gospel and the Lord’s Supper,” in Serving the People of God, vol. 2 of Collected Shorter Writings of J. I. Packer (Carlisle: Paternoster, 1998), 49-50.
I don't know what you think about while the elements are being distributed, but tomorrow, as we take this as a church, let's practice looking to Jesus and see if this really doesn't enter us into communion with Him.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Weekend Preview - Hearts for God

This coming Lord's Day (1/22/12AM), we plan to get into Hebrews 10:11-18 and see the difference that Christ's finished work has made in our lives.  One big theme will be what new covenant promises are applied.  Here Ligon Duncan says it so well:
So, what is at the heart of the New Covenant promises? A people whose hearts are hearts for God. They have His will written on them. They are being made holy. They are being sanctified. They are being conformed to the image of God. They are being formed in the image of Christ. This is the one thing that is promised in that prophecy. And the author of Hebrews is saying, "Look, when you look up and see Christ at the right hand of God, you know that promise has come to fruition in the lives of His people..."
Therefore, in light of this truth, let's come anticipating to revel in these things once again.  We have a great God and Savior who has stewarded all the blessings of salvation for us and finished the work.  He's seating waiting for the great and glorious day when He will reign forevermore.  Come ready to praise your victorious Savior this coming Lord's Day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Music Recommendations - Stephen Miller

I love good music.  I'm always checking out new music to find songs that can help our church corporately give praise to God.  I was hooked by a recent recommendation on this album and have listened to it and agree it is worth your time.

Stephen leads music at Journey STL (yes, home town props).  There are all kinds of Gospeliscious resources abounding in evangelicalism now.  Praising God for the amazing mercy He's shown us in His Son has always been one of my favorite themes.  Grab this project, then, and be encouraged.  The project is available today on Itunes, Amazon or on Bandcamp.  Enjoy.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Holiness Is Possible...

It's amazing that most of our conversations about holiness begin with what needs to be done.  For instance, someone comes and asks, how can I pursue holiness?  The answer we give (in the church) is typically read your Bible, pray, enter community.  And, while all of these things are worthwhile things in pursuing grace, I'm convinced we need to start by looking to the Gospel.  My sermon from 1/15/12 was entitled Holiness Is Possible from Hebrews 10:1-10.  I tried to show from God's Word that holiness is possible not in shrewd rule keeping, but in Christ and His once for all sacrifice for sinners.  Hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Holiness Is Possible, Really!

This coming Lord's Day, Lord willing of course, my Sunday AM sermon will be on Hebrews 10:1-10. I've entitled the message Holiness Is Possible. Seems like many think of holiness or sanctification as an elusive thing.  It's more like a goal, but something that we don't know a real experience of.  But, in this text of Scripture, we are told that we can have real hope for being holy and approaching a holy God because of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  The old covenant spoke of limitations, but the good news is that we can be near God through Jesus.  I hope you come ready to praise God for the joy and holiness that is yours in Christ.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gospel Project, Chandler, David & Goliath

Trevin Wax posted this video yesterday highlighting how to be Gospel-centered in looking at the Scriptures.  This video is part of the promo for the Gospel Project and features Matt Chandler in a 3 minute clip on how to view a simple story like David and Goliath through Gospel Centered lenses.  Enjoy.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Affliction, God's Word and Help

My sermon from 1/8/12 entitled Affliction and God's Word from Psalm 34 is online.  Each year, following Piper's model, I've found it helpful to start the year with a sermon related to prayer and kick off a Week of Prayer, then follow it up with a sermon related to God's Word.  Yesterday, I wrapped up this brief 2 week excursion by preaching on how God's Word helps in affliction from Psalm 34.  The big point was to taste and see God in His Word and He will lead you (through His Word) to fear Him and praise Him.  Hope you have a good week feasting on God's Word.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Weekend Preview - Affliction and God's Word

This coming Lord's day, we hope to be back in Psalm 34 to be shaped again to be a people of God's Word.  I was asked by someone yesterday how Psalm 34 relates to the Word.  So, here's my attempt at whetting your appetite:

In vv.1-3, we are told that the humble hear and are glad.  What does afflicted or humble people here that gives them joy in the midst of their affliction?  Well, on one level, we have to say that it is God's Word.

In vv.4-10, we are told to taste and see that God is good.  Where do we do this?  How do we know God is good?  By simply looking at creation's marvel?  Yes, but we don't stop there.  It is in His Word that we know God is for us and not against us.  We need the special revelation that comes from savoring Him in His Word.

Finally in vv.11-22, we are told to come and listen to learn the fear of the Lord.  What are we listening to?   The Word of God.

Quite simply, God's Word is what we need to hear and as we do, we'll be equipped for affliction when it comes (and it will).  My hope this coming Lord's Day is to encourage you to go after God in His Word.  Hope to see you there.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Praying to Our God

My sermon, Praying To Our God, from Psalm 34 is online.  This sermon, which served to kick off our church's Week of Prayer, sought to encourage us to be a people of prayer by showing that God gives joy, listens to our prayers and comes near to help us.  We distributed our Week of Prayer devotionals and had an enjoyable morning looking heavenward for help.  I trust you had a glorious Lord's Day kicking off the New Year.