Friday, October 24, 2014

What Is Encouraging About Rising Leaders in the Church?

Tim Keller, D.A. Carson, and John Piper talk about what encourages them from their interactions with upcoming church leaders

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book Review: Beat God To The Punch by Eric Mason

I have said it once and I will say it again, never judge a book by it's title unless the author is a well known prosperity false gospel teacher. When I heard Eric Mason had a new book being released I was excited because I was blessed by his last one, Manhood Restored. The title of Mason's new book, Beat God To The Punch, really threw me off because it almost sounded like some weird teaching. What does it mean to beat God to the punch?

Another thing that is threw me off is that Paul Tripp and his mustache (if you know who I am talking about, you get the joke) wrote the foreword to the book which I know Tripp will never put his name with a book with some hokey theology. The subtitle to the book says, "Because Jesus Demands Your Life." So the question remains, what is Mason's new book all about? After reading the book I can tell you that Beat God To The Punch is not some weird theological 180 Mason nor Tripp have taken. This is book is about grace and it is also about discipleship.

Mason wrote that beating God to the punch "involves willingly bending one's life to Jesus now, and forever. Practice begins by trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the dead as a substitutionary atonement for your sins. Upon the return of Jesus, all will acknowledge His Lordship. On that day, those who are forced to bow will experience the punch of God's wrath. Those who willingly bow at the appointed time of salvation will be missed by God's wrathful punch because God hit Jesus on their behalf" (pg. 2). Beating God to the punch is about missing the full wrath of God to those who deserve judgment. All true believers stand in grace and will miss the wrathful punch. Those who experience grace will give Jesus everything in their lives which is discipleship.

As I mentioned, this book is about discipleship, however, it is more about grace than discipleship even though Mason ties both of them in his teachings. Mason wrote that Jesus is the embodiment of grace so when we follow Jesus we also follow the grace of God. Without the grace of God there is no hope as we follow Jesus. Grace does not keep us from suffering but help us through the valley as we go through suffering.

Every year there seems to be at least one book that surprises me. Mason's book happens to be one of them. Maybe because the title is very catchy. The title of the book might come across someone's eye in a Christian bookstore and pick it up. He/she would read it then realize they need God's grace more than they ever thought they did. I highly recommend this book. It is well written and easy to read. This book is a strong contender for my top five books of the year.

Thanks Broadman & Holman for letting me review this book.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

Music Monday: Playlist Based on Prodigal God Study

As I mentioned last week, we are starting a study based on Tim Keller's bestselling book, The Prodigal God. I have created a playlist on Spotify based on this study. Please pray for us as we start this study in order to ignite the fire to plant a gospel-centered church in Wichita Falls.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Fruit of the Spirit is Not The Same As The Gifts of the Spirt

There is a common misunderstanding among Christians, which is the difference between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. Some think there is no difference at when reality is there are. The Bible says, "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace" (1 Peter 4:10). In 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4, we are told different gifts that believers have been given "the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7).

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to each believe upon our faith in Jesus and is to be used to serve the body of Christ. Not every believer has the same gift. Some preach, some teach, some are good encouragers, and some serve faithfully without recognition.

How is this not the same as the fruit of Spirit? The Bible says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Galatians 5:22-24) Notice we have said gifts but we have not said "fruits" when mentioning the fruit of the Spirit. Darrin Patrick wrote this in his book, Church Planter:

In the original Greek, the word "fruit" in verse 22 is singular. Paul is not listing a kind of spiritual menu by which some people choose love, others choose peace, others choose patience, and so on. Rather, all these qualities together constitute the fruit that a Christian man produces.

As I like to put it, the fruit of the Spirit is one big package that a Christian gets through the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. You get them all at once and you get all of them because they the fruit of the Lord's labor in your life. What did Jesus say? "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5).

Friday, October 17, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How Can You Love Your Brothers and Sisters In Christ?

Jesus said we are to love one another (John 13:34-35). Many Christians just do not know how to. Joe Thorn wrote a post on 10 ways for believers to love their brothers in Christ:

1. Put Them First
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." (Phil. 2:3)

Self-denial lives at the center of love. True love denies self and supports another. Putting others first should be more than an act of humility, but an act of affection. It's not that we think so little of ourselves, but that we feel so warmly toward our brothers and sisters in Christ that we are happy to lay aside our interests and preferences so that another may experience blessing.

2. Seek Their Good
"always seek to do good to one another" (1 Thess. 5:15)

Love does more than put someone else first. One's desires may be destructive, or their path may lead to danger. Love will seek their good, their betterment, their advancement. The questions we ask must be, "How can I personally help my brother do well?" "How can I serve my sister so that she prospers in faith and life?"

3. Ask for Their Forgiveness/Forgive Them
"forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." (Col. 3:13)

If you love your fellow saints then you will ask for their forgiveness when you sin against them, and will freely forgive them when they sin against you. Sin grieves the heart of a believer for in it we know we have sinned against the Lord, hurt someone made in the image of God and recreated in the image of Jesus Christ. And as a people who have been forgiven of far worse crimes than have been committed against us, we must also forgive those who sin against us.

4. Listen to Them
"be quick to hear" (James 1:19)

Love listens. Just as God hears us when we call to him, so must we listen to others. We need to listen in order to gain understanding either of truth, or of the one speaking. Until we listen to another we are ill-equipped to know their needs and seek their good.

5. Include Them
"Show hospitality to one another without grumbling." (1 Pet. 4:9)

Hospitality is a welcoming of others into your life. Love includes; it draws near to others and invites them in. It will not dismiss people because they are different or difficult, but will pursue them and offer them a place at the table. Love looks around, sees the uninvolved or unknown, and extends a hand of welcome.

6. Be Generous
"You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way" (2 Cor. 9:11)

God has given you what you have for more than your own personal enjoyment. You are called by God to steward what he has entrusted you by sharing it with others. Love seeks to give, and give big. As John Calvin said, “the legitimate use of all our gifts is a kind and liberal communication of them with others.”

7. Sacrifice
"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (Jn. 15:13)

Generosity is important, but it's easy to pick and choose what we will be generous with. Many today have an easier time parting with their money than their time. They would rather be generous with their wallet than their calendar. Such "generosity" is giving without real sacrifice. Love, in denying self, goes farther than an easy offering. Love gives untill it hurts. If you love your brothers and sisters it will be seen in your willingness to sacrifice what you have, and even yourself, for their good.

8. Tell the Truth
"let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." (Eph. 4:25)

Love doesn't lie. In fact, it speaks truth. This isn't about offering true opinions, but truth itself. It is willing to offer hard words when needed. Love corrects, rebukes even, but not from a mere love for truth. It is also connected to a sense of concern and compassion for people.

9. Encourage Them with the Gospel
"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." (1 Thess. 5:11)

Love doesn't flatter, but it does encourage. Biblical encouragement is a kind of preaching; a gospel word offered to those who need it. Love points people to Jesus Christ, in whom we see love in its brightest display. Those around you need to hear how the good news of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, remains good news for them today. It's not just for the lost. It is for the found. For without it we drift back to false hopes, doubts, and fears.

10. Pray for Them
"pray for one another" (James 5:16)

If you love your brothers and sisters you will pray for them. It is sad that we so often quickly;y promise, "I'll pray for ya!" only to walk away and never approach God on their behalf. Even sadder is that those who need the prayer are happy enough with the false promise. They appreciate the nice thought, and think it's better than nothing. But it's not. It's just nothing. Love prays. It seeks God's action in their lives. It pleads with God for greater grace on behalf of others. And to this God responds.

There are many other ways in which we should be loving one another in the church, but here's a start. Let us love not "in word or talk but in deed and in truth." (1Jn. 3:18) We can do this because we have come to know the love of God through the death of Jesus Christ. We have been saved by love (Rom. 5:8) and for love (1 Peter 1:22).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Update on Church Plant-October 14, 2014

It has been a while since I gave the latest update for the church plant that I am apart of in Wichita Falls. Things are coming together as we speak with a few things that we are still working through. We still do not have a launch date for the church just yet but we do have an upcoming Bible study that I am very excited about.

Starting this Monday, we are having a study based on Tim Keller's The Prodigal God. We are having this study in the conference room at our local Jason's Deli in their conference room. One of the reasons we are having the study there is that it is in a central location for everyone attending can come. Another reason is the place we originally planned for fell through. By God's grace, the manager at Jason's Deli has graciously allowed us to use their conference room which is located at the back of the restaurant.

Here is a promo of that study:

As far as a church name, we have several ideas such as Sojourn, Redemption, Veritas, and even Pilgrim, which is unique because I do not recall any church with the name Pilgrim. We do have one hotel in the area that is going to give us a cheap rate for us to use their facilities when we launch plus it is next to a park so there is opportunity for children to play and possibly a church wide picnic following the service.

Things are moving along great. Excited for the study and what God is going to do. All of us believe God is about some great gospel work in Wichita Falls. I am humbled that He has allowed me to be part of it. I love the men I am working with to get this new ministry going. Continue to pray for us.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

Around The Web-October 10, 2014

Why Is The Ascension So important? by Jeff Robinson

Manhood 101: Rest by Dave Jenkins

There is going to be a reboot of Ghostbusters with an all female cast

Will Christians Be Secretly Raptured? by Jermaine Rinne

This video is entitled, "When God Himself Speaks to You," which features John Piper

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Book Review: Songs of a Suffering King by J.V. Fesko

The book of Psalms has always been one of my favorite books of the Bible. I love the depth of the prayers as well as the honesty of the one who is writing the Psalm. The Psalms, like the rest of the Bible, points us to Jesus Christ.

J.V. Fesko, Songs of a Suffering King, takes the first eight Psalms and teaches the reader that these psalms are pointing to Jesus. For example, writing about Psalm 1, Fesko said,

Christ was the One who did not walk, stand, or sit in the counsel, path, or seat of the wicked. Christ delighted Himself in the law of His heavenly Father; not only was He completely obedient to it but he also meditated upon it day and night. Jesus told His disciples: "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work (John 4:34).

A short book that contains sound doctrine and healthy teaching on the Psalms. I recommend this book for anyone studying the Psalms and/or the Old Testament.

Thanks Reformation Heritage Books for letting me review this book.

Who Am I?

Paul Tripp addresses identity in this short video.

Books by Paul Tripp:

A Quest for More

Dangerous Calling

Sex and Money