Friday, September 19, 2014

Around The Web-September 19, 2014

South Carolina Pastor Receives Jail Time for Church Service Noise Complaints

God is Our Endgame by Jeff Medders

Loving One Another by Dave Jenkins

Crossway Announces Direct-to-Church

Acts 29 will begin a new podcast

Tullian Tchividjian explains why the gospel is a new operating system.

Donald Sweeting, president of Reformed Theological Seminary, talks with Mark Mellinger about bringing equipping the church to bring theology to life.

The guys at The Reformed Pubcast asked Chad Gardner of Kings Kaleidoscope the meaning behind the band name in this audio video.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Set Apart Before Birth

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus (Galatians 1:15-17)

In Galatians 1 we read how Paul was so amazed that the Galatian church was so quick to desert the gospel. The Galatian church decided to go to a teaching that was not salvation by grace through faith. Rather, their the teaching they embraced was salvation based on their own merit.

The Apostle Paul then goes on to defend the gospel of grace using his own story. He did not receive the gospel based on anyone's teaching nor did someone make it up, but it was giving to him by Jesus. Paul went on to say that he persecuted the church and even gladly received the teachings of his fathers.

This is where we pick up with Galatians 1:15, which says that Paul was set apart before he was born. Lets stop and think about that for a minute. We have all heard the passage in Jeremiah where God told the Prophet, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5). God knew these men before they were born and set them apart to do a mighty work. Was it because God saw potential in them? Not at all. Paul goes on to say that God called him "by his grace" and "was pleased to reveal his Son to me" (Galatians 1:15). Not because of anything Paul has done. Paul wrote to Timothy,

But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life (1 Timothy 1:13-16).

It was because of grace. Paul became a display of God's patience. Paul was set apart before birth to be a display of God's patience and grace. Same thing goes for all of us who profess Christ as Lord. We may not have the same testimony as Paul but we are all set apart before we were born, called by God's grace, and charged with proclaiming the gospel. Think about what the events prior to your salvation. Did you start seeking God? It was God working in your life so that the glorious news of the gospel will shine in your heart and the Holy Spirit worked in your life so you can respond to Christ in faith and repentance.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Book Review: A Vine-Ripened Life By Stanley D Gale

Jesus said, "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 15:5). What did Jesus mean by bearing fruit? Many people have associated bearing fruit to evangelism. If you are not leading people to Jesus, you are not bearing fruit therefore you may not be a Christian. While evangelism is the call for all Christian to observe, there will be times you will not lead anyone to Jesus because of the hardness of their hearts.

John 15 is a great passage that deals with our union with Christ, which has been so misinterpreted and misunderstood. Our union with Christ is about bearing fruit but this fruit is directly related to the fruit of the Spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23 which Stanley D. Gale addresses in his book, A Vine-Ripened Life. Gale wrote, "The fruit of the Spirit works in us is not apart from Christ, but is bound up in Christ. We abound in that fruit through abiding in Christ. The fruit of new life comes through union with Christ that flows from the inside out. It grows from the good soil of a changed heart that is transformed by God's Spirit" (pg.5).

The bulk of the book deals with how abiding in Christ leads us to generate the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. He goes through each fruit in order, which are, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). I am sure most of us can quote that in our sleep.

The book is very theological and written in user-friendly devotional format which new believers can read and understand. Also for those who have been in the faith for a while and have heard misinterpretations of John 15 as well as the fruit of the Spirit, this will also be a refreshing book to read and study.

Thanks Reformation Heritage Books for letting me review this book.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Around the Web-September 12, 2014

Three Ways To Pray and Support Persecuted Christians by Dave Jenkins

Randy Alston shared what changes have been happening at his church

I have joined Tim Challies in reading (in my case rereading) John Owen's classic, The Mortification of Sin. Here are his summaries for Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. If you want read along with me and Tim, get the book get a copy of the book or you can get this one.

4 Ways to Apply Grace in Fight for Holiness by Steve Bezner

Jared C. Wilson on how should a pastor apply the finished work of Christ in his ministry.

A Conversation with Jared Wilson from MBTS on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Coming Clean Before God

Does the Bible say we have to come clean before we become Christians? To this day, I have yet to find a passage that supports that claim. The Bible does tell us, "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool" (Isaiah 1:18). Notice this passage says come even though your sins are red like scarlet. That is like saying, come even though you are an evil person who deserves judgment. The passage does not say, clean yourself up then come.

Too many times, Christians are told that you must be keep your confessions up to date in order for God to bless you or God cannot use you. This sounds like some form of prosperity gospel. Keep confessing and repenting then God will make you blessed beyond your widest dreams. Please do not misunderstand me, God does require his children to confess their sins and repent from them, but not to get something from him. Our confession and repentance is a response to the gospel.

Yes, we are told to come clean before God. The Bible says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Though we are freed from the penalty of sin, we still have the presence of sin while we still live in our earthly bodies. Think about this, there are people in the Bible that God used that were not perfect nor were they clean before God came to them. Moses murdered an Egyptian yet God appeared to him in a burning bush. Peter was called to follow Jesus yet always wanted the last word, denied Jesus, and even was a racist. Paul murdered Christians and was on his way to arrest Christians when Jesus appeared to him. John Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas that led to those two splitting up yet John Mark a.k.a. Mark because writer of one of the four gospels.

You do not have to clean yourself up to come to God. You come to him just as you and when you embrace Jesus, you want to confess your sins and repent from them. Martin Luther said, "All of the Christian life is faith and repentance." We need to confess our sins and repent everyday. Why? We have a Savior and we are his children while still living in our earthly bodies still dealing with sin. If we do sin, there is good news:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

God Is The One Pursuing Us

Darrin Patrick:

When you’re reading the Bible, have you ever had that moment when you come across a spot in the text and just go “Uhh. That’s weird. That doesn’t make sense!” By the way, if you never have that experience, you aren’t reading the Bible!

The call of the first disciples is one of those moments. Jesus approaches two brothers, Andrew and Simon, as their fishing. He calls them to follow him because he’s going to make them fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). And they immediately leave their nets and follow him. Who does that? Who just goes up to random people like that? And what possessed these brothers to follow?

Now, if you try to read that through the lens of our contemporary culture, that whole scene is puzzling. But there’s a context to this call to discipleship. In the first century, if you wanted to be mentored by a rabbi, you would go to his school. You’d immerse yourself in his training. You would memorize a ton of verses. You would have to discern the interpretive take the rabbi had on scripture. Then agree to it. And then, after a period of time, you would ask to be his disciple. If he agreed, you would be apprenticed where you would learn to live like that rabbi, believe like that rabbi, and apply that rabbi’s teaching to your life.

This is not a bad vision for discipleship, by the way. But here Jesus turns this entire process on its head. He doesn’t wait for the disciples to pursue him. He goes after them. He calls them. And this is consistent with many other verses, but one that especially comes to mind is John 15:16. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain.”

Jesus is the one that initiates, who seeks, who pursues. It’s his call. As much as you might want to trust Jesus and live like him, he wants it more. And that’s really good news, because it’s really not about our commitment to him. It’s about his commitment to us.

When you see that it’s God’s call, you’re able to relax your grip on life. We’re actually enabled to follow in Jesus’ strength. We love him, the Bible says, because why? He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Jesus calls us before we call him.

Source: It's God's Call

Books by Darrin Patrick

Church Planter

Dude's Guide to Manhood

For The City with Matt Carter

Replant with Mark DeVine

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Update on Church Relauching - September 4, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I shared that was joining in relauching a church plant in Wichita Falls. I hope to give you as many updates as I can to let you know how the process is going. This is the first of many posts where I will share what is going on.

Last night was the first meeting I had with one of the pastor of Truth Bible Church. We talked about what are expecting and what are ministry structure is going to be. We did not put everything on paper but shoot ideas out like there have been in our minds for quite some time.

In addition to sharing our ideas, some recent developments have happened in the last couple of weeks. First, two older gentlemen are interested in joining in the relaunch which is a great thing because we do want our church to be multigenerational church. They are starting a Bible study in a couple of weeks that will hopefully get people interested in joining a gospel-centered church. Second, on September 17, there will be a meeting with members of the church, who are still active, to announce that Truth will be disbanding until we relaunch. We have not set a relaunch date yet.Third, it looks like we will have a building once (Lord willing) we get set to relaunch the church as an affordable price. Finally, I mentioned our church's name will be Truth Bible Church, however, we feel there may be either a name change or a slight alternation in the name. We are not sure at this time.

That is all I can give at this time. I am asking for prayer as we continue to make plans and discernment on when we need to relaunch the church. Hopefully, I will continue to give you many more updates if the Lord allows. Pray for our wives. Pray for our children. Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Five Tips for Leading Your Small Group

Kevin DeYoung:

As school starts back up, so will plenty of church-sponsored and church-related small groups. Some will study the Bible. Others will read a Christian book together. Almost all will have a designated leader or leaders. While knowing your Bible and having Christlike character are the more important factors, there are also a number of skills which go a long way in leading an effective small group.

1. Communicate early and often, and then follow through.

2. Think through your questions ahead of time.

3. Be mindful of group dynamics.

4. Know how to handle conflict.

5. Plan for prayer.

Read the entire post here

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Book Review: How Can I Be Sure? by John Stevens

Christians from time to time in some form or fashion struggle with doubt particularly with their salvation. I am remember in my earlier days as a Christian, I doubted my salvation because I did not feel saved. All my doubts were put as aside when a guest preacher from Alabama told me never to associate my salvation with my feelings.

From indwelling sin, lack of evangelistic zeal, even comparing their walk with Jesus to another Christian who seems to have it all together, or whatever the reason, Christians have various reasons for why they struggle with doubting their salvation. How does one overcome doubt? In his book, How Can I Be Sure?, John Stevens takes a look at what doubt is and answers questions regarding assurance of salvation.

In the beginning for the book, Stevens deals with the question about what doubt exactly is and why it can be dangerous for Christians to engaged in it. Next, he deals with overcoming doubt and how to be sure that God truly loves those he calls his children. Finally, Stevens talks about having a confident faith which he addresses having a closer walk with Jesus, being part of a community of believers, and allow suffering to produce maturity among other things.

As one who struggled with doubts over his salvation, I can say that this is something you cannot just overcome by yourself. I did not have any great books to go to when I was doubting my salvation, but now for those who do doubt, I can point people to this book. This book is good for Christians to go one-on-one with a struggling believer. This is also good for pastors to take a believer who is struggling with doubt through as well.

Thanks Good Book Company for letting me review this book.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Calvinism Debate

This past Wednesday in Chicago, there was a debate on Calvinism which featured Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones who wrote the book,
Proof: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace
, who are on the side of Calvinism. While on the side of the issue is Austin Fisher, author of Young, Restless, and No Longer Reformed, and Brian Zahnd, author of Farewell to Mars.

There are two parts to this debate. The first deals with unconditional predestination and the other talks about the cause of faith and repentance.

Friday, August 29, 2014