Friday, July 3, 2015

What Has Become More Central In John Piper's Preaching

I am currently reading The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper and have enjoyed it thus far. He has stated in the book there are more central things he wants to communicate in his preaching. The following is an excerpt from the book which was also featured on a recent article from The Gospel Coalition:

Jonathan Edwards has not only remained one of my primary inspirations, but he has also brought increasing clarity and focus to some things that were less clear to me in the early days—things that are essential for good preaching.

In December 1744, Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon foreshadowing his book The End for Which God Created the World, which he completed eleven years later, three years before he died. The sermon’s title is “Approaching the End of God’s Grand Design.” It is the kind of sermon that draws me back again and again to Edwards, to rescue me from the spiritual stranglehold of small things. It’s this kind of seeing that creates a seedbed of Big-God Theology and Big-God Preaching.

Reflecting on this sermon, here are three emphases that have become clearer and more central to my preaching over the years.

1. A Clearer Sight of the Centrality of Christ

The first emphasis is the supremacy of Christ, the centrality of Christ, in the final end of God’s purpose in creation and history. The longer I have preached, the more prominent the Christological dimension of God’s purposes has become. Is it not remarkable that Edwards defines the “great design that God has in view in all his works and dispensations” as “to present to his Son a spouse” and “so to communicate himself through Jesus Christ, God-man”?

Or as he says later, “The one grand medium by which God glorifies himself in all is Jesus Christ, God-man.” It is not easy for a preacher to discern week in and week out whether his emphases are properly theocentric or Christocentric. Part of the problem here is with our spatial metaphors: -centric. There are times when God the Father, or God per se, is “central” to a text and to our perception of reality. And there are times when God the Son is “central” to a text and to our perception of reality.

Changing the metaphor from “center” to “end” or “ultimate goal,” what Edwards clarifies is that this emphasis on the centrality of Christ in God’s “grand design” is preserved not by making Christ the ultimate “end” but rather the ever-present, essential, indispensable, divine agent through whom God communicates himself and glorifies himself as the ultimate end.

This is clearly biblical.

God exalted Jesus Christ with a name above every name, so that “every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:11). The glory of the Father is the ultimate end through the exaltation of Jesus. “We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Rom. 5:11).

Whoever serves, [let him serve] as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pet. 4:11)

But what became clearer to me as my ministry matured is the utter indispensability of highlighting Jesus Christ, the God-man, as essential to the way God makes himself the grand design of creation.

These days I hear Paul’s words with greater weight than ever: “We preach Christ” (1 Cor. 1:23). “Him we proclaim” (Col. 1:28). “What we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor. 4:5). “To me . . . this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8).

I don’t hear this summons to preach Christ only in relation to one work of Christ, but in relation to the great end of all creation and history and redemption and consummation. It all really is “centered” on Jesus as the Great Actor of God’s design. All things—absolutely all things—“were created through him and for him” (Col. 1:16). This role in creation and all of history and eternity must be lifted up again and again in preaching. As plain as it is in the Bible, Edwards helped clarify that for me.

2. A Clearer Sense of God’s Self-Communication

The second clarification is that God’s great end—grand design—in creation is not only to glorify himself but to communicate himself. This has always been implicit in my understanding of how God is glorified by our being satisfied in him, but it has become clearer to me that God’s self-glorification is properly emphasized when we keep it connected to his self-communication. Edwards writes:

God’s end in the creation of the world consists in these two things, viz. to communicate himself and to glorify himself. God created the world to communicate himself, not to receive anything.

These two things ought [not] to be separated when we speak of God’s end in the creation of the world. . . . Indeed, God’s communicating himself and glorifying [himself] ought not to be looked upon as though they were two distinct ends, but as what together makes one last end, as glorifying God and enjoying [God] make one chief end of man. For God glorifies himself in communicating himself, and he communicates himself in glorifying himself.

The reason this clarification matters is that it protects God’s self-glorification from being disconnected with his self-giving. Almost no one finds fault with saying, “God gives himself to us.” Few people find fault with saying, “God gives himself to us for our enjoyment.” But many people find fault with saying, “God glorifies himself.” Nevertheless, it is clear from the whole scope of Scripture that he does.

Therefore, to help people embrace the whole truth, it is wise to keep these two truths together, especially since, as Edwards says, they are “one last end.” In all his self-glorifying acts in the world, God is revealing and giving himself to all who will receive him as their portion and their treasure. His self-glorifying is not only a “show,” but a gift of himself.

3. A Clearer Comprehension of the Prominence of Union with Christ

The third clarification is the importance of the doctrine of union between Christ and his bride, his church. Edwards is striking in the way he relates the church to the ultimate end of God in creation.

The principal means by which God glorifies his Son in the world . . . is by providing him a spouse, to be presented [to] him in perfect union, in perfect purity, beauty and glory.

[Since God’s aim was to display the goodness of Christ, he chose a bride for him who was] fit not to give but receive good, one . . . that was remarkably empty and poor in herself . . . fallen, miserable, helpless: a state wherein [her] emptiness and need of goodness did more remarkably appear.

And because the design was that Christ should communicate goodness, therefore such an one was chosen that needed that Christ should suffer, and it was the will of Christ to suffer because suffering is the greatest expression of goodness and manifestation of kindness.

The great design was that Christ in this way should procure or obtain this his spouse, bring her to come to him, present her to himself and make her perfectly beautiful, perfectly and unspeakably happy. . . . And this is the way that God the Father intended to glorify his Son.

This “perfect union” between Christ and his church, “in perfect purity, beauty and glory,” is an astonishing way of seeing the ultimate end of all creation. The self-giving of God reaches its exquisite apex in the self-giving of the Son to his bride in bringing her to share his holiness and know a fellowship and union beyond all human comprehension (Eph. 3:19, “the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”).

I have come to see more clearly, as time has gone by, that imbedded in my understanding of God’s great self-glorifying, self-communicating goal in history, our union with Christ is essential. As it is pervasive in the New Testament, so it should be an ever-present backdrop or foundation for all that we preach.

Edwards has helped me see this, and I am thankful.

Recommended books on preaching:

Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God's Word Today by David R. Helm

Preaching: A Biblical Theology by Jason Meyer

Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Preach: Theology Meets Practice by Greg Gilbert and Mark Dever

The Hardest Sermons You'll Ever Have To Preach by Bryan Chapell

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

4 Obsolete Methods of Evangelism

There have been many methods of evangelism that churches have done over the years that seem to be not working very well. Some should not have even been attempted because it either promoted laziness or just wanted to make the lost person feel comfortable. I believe there are four methods of evangelism that are simply out of date.

1. Door-to-door evangelism.

Gone are the days when churches can simply go door-to-door in neighborhoods anymore. Is it because of persecution? No. People are not willing to open their doors in the evening after a long day at the office. Another reason is too many door-to-door salesmen turn out to be scam artists therefore people are not as trusting as they once were when someone comes to the door. In my neighborhood, Jehovah's Witnesses has stopped going to door-to-door because they see that it does not produce the results they were looking for. Not too long ago, I saw them camped out in front of Wal-Mart hoping to get people's attention.

2. Witnessing without words.

For years, the church has used St. Francis of Assisi's famous quote, "Preach Christ always and when necessary use words." I have heard preacher say you don't have to use words to evangelize. How did the early church go about evangelizing? They preached Christ boldly in the midst of persecution. Paul said, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes from the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). We have to open our mouths to proclaim the gospel. Not only do I call this method obsolete, but also one that should not have been attempted in the first place. And with our culture becoming increasingly hostile toward Christianity, it is the time to take this method out in the backyard and bury it.

3. Seeker-Sensitive services.

This is another method that not only is obsolete but another that should not have been attempted. This method was made famous by Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois where they would sing songs without the congregation getting involved unless they wanted to. They preach sermons that were culturally relevant without a high standard of preaching holiness and discipleship. Discipleship came later in the week especially if one comes to Jesus. Some of these churches don't even have crosses or anyone religious items in their church building. The service became all about the seeker rather than the Savior. Willow Creek even admitted a few years ago, that they have producing the numbers but not genuine disciples of Jesus.

4. Inviting people to hear the gospel at church.

Jeff Vanderstelt wrote in his book, Saturate, "Most American Christians still believe they have to bring their friends to hear their pastor teach the Bible and proclaim the gospel. But a large percentage of people in our country will never go to a gathering on Sunday to hear someone preach." Many Christians think that inviting people to church is enough in their witnessing efforts. I remember as Christian teenager inviting people to church and not one person showed up. What I should have realized then was it was my responsibility to proclaim the gospel to them which for some I did. Don't get me wrong it is still a good thing to invite people to a worship service. Studies have shown, if you invite a friend to a church service they will come, but don't let that be your reason for not telling people about Jesus. In book of Acts, we do see people get saved after a gospel sermon was preached but most of them got saved outside of a worship service. My kids got saved in our home not in a worship service. Yes, people will get saved in a worship service, but they will also get saved in their car, workplace, or at the golf course because of the Word they heard preached to them.

In a culture like ours in the 21st century, the church needs to figure out what methods of evangelism are still relevant and which are not. I pray churches will begin to see not just there 4 I have listed, but other methods that have been used that maybe don't need to be used ever again.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book Review: Baptist Foundations edited by Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman

We live in an age that does not like authority. What I mean is we don't like authority that does not benefit us. We like when those in governmental positions tell us what we are doing is okay, but don't like them when they say we are wrong. For the church, many do not like the authority that the church has established. Some churches have authority figures but they really do not exercise it because it might offend people. Is there healthy church government? Yes, there is.

Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman have put together a book that teaches about church polity called Baptist Foundations. Dever and Leeman wrote a few chapters in the book, but other Baptist leaders have contributed to it as well. In the Forward of the book, James Leo Garrett wrote that the doctrine of the church has always been a concern for Baptists, which is has more truth in this day and age. Why is church polity (government) important? Leeman goes over that in the introduction to the book.

Baptist Foundations deals with the historical cases for congregationalism and the purpose of the ordinances of the church which are The Lord's Supper and Believer's Baptism. This book also makes a really good case for the plurality of elders in the church. Many Baptists think it is not for their congregation because that is what happens in other denominations which that is not the case. There have been Baptist churches throughout history that are lead by elders. By the way, the book deals with what the Bible says about elders and deacons than all the other topics.

This book also talks about the importance of church membership. The individualistic nature of our society is one of the reasons why church membership has been going through a downfall for the last few years. Churches have not taken the role of church membership seriously. Some make it look like you will become a member of an exclusive club where you dress up and look down on people. Church membership is important because it symbolizes that we are members of the Kingdom of God and the church is an embassy of that Kingdom.

This book is important for all of those in a Baptist church to read whether you are a church leader or a layperson. I think people in a Baptist church have no idea why it is important for them to know what the church believes or why they need to governed by a healthy church. This is also good for those who are not part of a Baptist church to read and understand what we believe about the church.

Thanks B&H Publishing Group for letting me review this book.

Monday, June 29, 2015

My Roller Coaster of Emotions As of Late

I have experienced joy and sorrow over the past seven days for various reasons. For many of us that will happen quite a bit for me it just seemed one day I was joyful and the other day I was full of sadness. The Bible says that God is close to the brokenhearted which gives me great comfort knowing He does care in our sad times as well as the times we feel blessed.

First, I was sad to hear about Tullian Tchividjian's resignation because of an affair he had. Tullian always received a lot of backlash from people because he preached a lot of grace. Tullian was one of the Bible teachers that the Holy Spirit used to help me see the beauty of the gospel. I am praying for Tullian and his family. I know the gospel is bigger than one man except for Jesus. The gospel is all about Jesus. I pray that Tullian will take this time to see the beauty of God and how much He loves him despite his sin.

Second, my son got the chance to minister to first graders during a week of camp. He was a staffer for the Royal Ambassador camp at Camp Chaparral this past week. He mostly was a guide for them getting from one place to another. I am proud of my son for taking this role seriously. He expressed how tired he was from working the camp which I told him ministry is hard work and sometimes you are getting to get tired.

Third, this past Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage should be in all 50 states. Was I surprised? No, because they struck down the DOMA, which states marriage is between one man and one woman. If you were on social media that day, more like the past three days, your feeds were filled with rainbows from those who celebrated and those who are grieved. My first reponse was sadness followed by anger. The fact that these "unelected" officials struck down laws banning same-sex marriage that were voter approved. Also that Christians were celebrating with those who claimed victory over this. Christians who have pushed the word of God away so they can be embraced by the culture. For me, personally, I know I will be facing some hard times regarding this decision. I have a few family members who are celebrating that "love won." So when I see them, it is going to be an interesting and hostile time. I decided not to add my voice to growing amount of bloggers who wrote about the Supreme Court's decision Friday because most of them have said what needed to be said.

Fourth, I turned 38 this past Saturday. I am grateful to God for His grace in my life and allowing me to continue to be on this side of Heaven for His purpose.

Fifth, I mentioned a few months ago about leaving the church plant that I was getting started because of disagreements and personal attacks. I also mentioned we were attending Wichita Falls Baptist Church. Well we officially joined the church yesterday and I couldn't be happier about it. This church has been a blessing to my family and I since day one. The preaching and teaching has been spot on. The fellowship has been wonderful. The music has been Christ-centered. What is interesting is this is an Independent Baptist Church, but it is not one of those KJV only, women wear dresses, men wear a suit church.

So, as you can see, I have had quite the up and down week. One thing I remember is the sovereignty of God. He knows what is happening because He ordained it. Not sure why things happened but it is in His plan. He is surprised by anything that happens in this life. That gives me great comfort.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Should Fathers Baptize Their Kids?

The role of the father according to scripture is to lead their families spiritually. There are many ways for dads to lead their families as they walk with Jesus. I know as a father, it is a privilege to lead my family though I am not perfect at it as much as the next Christian dad.

In 2009, my son admitted that God saved him from his sins and wants to get baptized. After talking with him to make sure he wanted to be baptized to he follows Christ, I baptized him two weeks after Easter Sunday. About two years later, my daughter acknowledged Jesus as Savior and Lord. Once again I was given the opportunity to baptize one of my kids.

Some of you are praising God for the fact that my kids are saved and baptized. Some of you maybe questioning why was I allowed to do that while other are wondering can a dad baptize their child. I know for many of my Paedo Baptist friends, the answer is no. A pastor must baptize their child. For some of my Credo Baptist friends, the answer will be depends on the church.

I will like to share my opinion regarding dads baptizing their kids. If you read the New Testament, you will see scripture does not command for clergy only to baptize believers. We do see the disciples, John the Baptist, and Philip baptizing new converts, but there is no command that churches leaders are the only ones to baptize.

As I mentioned earlier, fathers are given a responsibility to "bring (their children) up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). You could say the dad is a pastor in their homes. They are the ones who teach their kids spiritual truth. Yes, moms do assist them, but dads are the ones to instruct children. So if a child comes to Christ whether in the home, during a church service, or at a church camp, I believe the father should be allowed to baptize their kids. Now, if the dad does not feel he should and let the pastor do it, that's fine. That does not mean the dad is removing himself as the leader of the home.

I mentioned that it depends on the church for dads to baptize their kids. If you are a pastor or church leader and tell a dad he cannot baptize his child, you are taking away the blessing that man has in joining with his child the joy he/she feels in honoring Christ through baptism. When I got baptized, I wanted my brother to do it. The church would not let him because he was not ordained at that time. My youth pastor did baptize me, but if I asked my dad to do it, he would have been told no he cannot.

In my walk with Christ and as minister of the gospel, I have only be given the opportunity to baptize two people. They are my kids. If they are the only ones I baptize on this side of heaven, I will be okay with that.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Book Review: Mormonism 101 by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson

Mormonism has been a hot topic since the 2012 presidential election when Mitt Romney ran for president. Many would compare Christianity with Mormonism and conclude they are the same religion. Many Christians are confused by Mormonism that some have even said they are Christians who believe differently than we do.

If you know the doctrines of Christianity, you will see, after doing a comparison study, that Mormonism is not Christianity. Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson have written an insightful book that gives even the most mature Christian an introductory guide in the Mormon faith called Mormonism 101. When one picks up this book, they will find it is not a short one. This book is very detailed and well written to help the reader understand about the Mormon religion.

This book begins with a history of the Mormon religion. How it got started and who founded it. As the book continues, the writers talk about what Mormons believe. What they believe about God the Father, Jesus Christ, the church, and even the Trinity. Sure this makes it sound like an information book to equip you as you encounter Mormons. What the writers do it take what Mormons believe and teach what the Bible truly says about these issues.

If you want a book that is direct and easy to read when it comes to understanding Mormonism in light of Biblical truth, then this is the book for you. It would be a great benefit for all church leaders to have a copy of this book on their shelves. If your church has a library, this is one to add.

Thanks Baker Publishing Group for letting me review this book.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Book Review: Thriving in Babylon by Larry Osborne

The book of Daniel is one of the most popular books of the Bible especially in the Old Testament. Many VBS lessons have come from it as well as youth sermons on how to live a godly live in the midst of ungodly people. Larry Osborne has written a timely book that draws a parallel from Daniel to Christians living in a hostile culture called, Thriving in Babylon.

If you know the story of Daniel, you know he was a Jewish boy who was taken into Babylon during the exile along with several other Jews. The first chapter of Daniel was about him taking a stand of not eating things that were against the Old Testament law and in the sixth chapter where he honored God by continuing to pray to Him even though there was a law to pray only to the king. Also we should not forget about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who would not bow the knee to a golden statue with the threat of death waiting for them.

Osborne admits in the book that Christians are living in a Babylon where it is godless and hostile toward their faith. He even writes about how many people call themselves Christians when they are really not. Osborne encourages his readers that there is hope. While the world is falling apart all around us, we as Christians have hope. 1 Peter says we have a living hope in Christ.

Osborne says that even though our culture is hostile towards Christians, we must always be obedient. Christians are called to love their neighbors and make disciples. The Apostle in the book of Acts were ones who obeyed Jesus' great commission in a hostile culture where the threat of death was lurking at their door. We also see that in Daniel where he was thrown in the lion's den and his three friends in the fiery furnace. Yes, they did make it out alive, but they were obedient even though they did not know they were going to live.

In making disciples, Osborne echos what many other Christian leaders have been saying the last few years. The church is God's plan A for making disciples. While the church is not perfect, it has always been part of God's plan for the gospel to be preached and disciples to be made.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a timely book because of how our culture has become hostile towards Christianity. This book is easy to read for anyone to pick up. I think churches will benefit from it whether as a group study or giving to each member to read on their own.

Thanks David C Cook for letting me review this book.

Monday, June 22, 2015

When You Are Going Through A Dry Season

There are times when Christians grow through a dry time. Your affections for Jesus are not stirred or the Word being preached is not encouraging you. What do you do during those times? Here is a brief video from Matt Chandler:

Books by Matt Chandler:

The Explicit Gospel

To Live Is Christ To Die Is Gain

Creature of the Word

Recovering Redemption

Friday, June 19, 2015

Book Review: A Fellowship of Differents by Scot McKnight

The church is made up of people who are not like you. It is hard for some to admit that but it is true. Many look for a church made up of people who are like them. I am not talking about beliefs, I am talking about preferences. When we look for a church that has people like us, we miss out on the fellowship we have in Christ and miss what the church is suppose to look like.

Scot McKnight talks about the church made up of different people in his latest book, A Fellowship of Differents. He wrote that the church is like a salad bowl meaning that it is made of people with different tastes. McKnight explains, "The earliest Christian churches were made up of folks from all over the social map, but they formed a fellowship of 'different tastes,' a mixed salad of the best kind." He goes on to say that God designed the church to be "fellowship of difference and differents," which I do agree that the church is made of people who different from one another. Yes, our common faith is in Jesus but we are all different. We all come from different backgrounds and have different upbringings as well.

McKnight goes on to say the church is God's social experiment to the world bringing people with differences together so they can show the world a new kind of family. While I agree to a point, I have a problem with the words, "social experiment." It is almost like saying God has this great idea and wanted to see if it would work which kind of downplays His sovereignty. I do agree that the church is a demonstration of God bringing in a people who are not similar to one another to show His glory and grace in a new family. When each one of us come to Christ, we become a new creation in Him.

Throughout the book, McKnight gives a lot of good teaching regarding how the church is a fellowship with people who are different and talks about the church can also be representing the Kingdom of God in the here and now. We can show the world how we love each other differently and how we pursue holiness.

I must admit that I have read only one book by McKnight and did not care for it. I have read some of his blog posts and find myself not reading after two or three paragraphs. This book is probably the best, in my opinion, he has written. I don't think it is an in-depth doctrinal book on the church, but it is one to have as a reference.

Thanks BookLook Bloggers for letting me review this book.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thriving Christian Church in a Hostile Culture

This past Sunday, our church went through John 15:18-16:4, which Jesus warns the disciples the world will hate you because it hated me first. In the past few years, we have seen our culture becoming more hostile towards Christianity. The question that D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper address in this roundtable discussion is can a church thrive in a culture that is hostile towards the gospel

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Praying for the Spiritual Growth of Those in Ministry

We encourage Christians to pray for their pastors. We pray that God will lead them as they lead the church. Most of the time, we think of God letting them lead the church to numerical growth rather than spiritual growth. Most of the time when we pray for pastors to lead the church to grow spiritually, we tend to forget to pray for their spiritual growth.

Some in the church have labeled pastors as "Super Christians" which the Bible knows nothing about. Pastors, elders, church staff, and deacons are just as human and frail as the Christian who works a 9 to 5 job. The Bible knows nothing of "Super Christians." No one, not even pastors, stops growing spiritually.

We also have the same tendency with missionaries. We pray that God will use them as they are in the field but we never pray for their spiritual growth. We love hearing about the work God is doing, but we never hear about the work God is doing in them. We never hear about the lessons God has taught them on the mission field. Missionaries are prone to wander just like the rest of us.

Those in ministry need to grow spiritually as those they serve. They need to read their Bibles like the rest of us. They are not immune from temptation and doubts. Those serving in ministry need to be lifted up in prayer but they also need to grow in their walk with Jesus.

As you pray for those in ministry, pray that their hearts are stirred towards Jesus. Pray they are continually reading and studying the Bible not for information but for transformation. Pray as they lead the church they will lead their families well. Pray they are seeking God through prayer and continuing to have communion with God through prayer. Pray they confess their sins and repent of them.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Music Monday: Messenger Hymns, Vol.2 by Matt Boswell

Why Don't We Read the Bible?

I am not a huge fiction reader. I cannot get my head around fiction. When someone is telling me a story, I wish they will get to the point. What I love about some action movies is they know how to get the audience's attention to make sure you know what is going on.

I love reading the Bible yet there are times I don't want to. I think some of you maybe in the same boat. Yet there are Christians who don't read the Bible at all. They hear it on Sundays and read it with the preacher, but they never take to the time to read for themselves.

Why don't we read the Bible? Erik Raymond has listed five reason why:

It Makes Us Uncomfortable

This is the reason that no one wants to talk about but everyone needs to grapple with. We love to be comfortable and yet the Bible aims to comfort us. So, why in the world would we avoid the Bible? It is because the Bible makes us uncomfortable before it comforts us. We don’t like this. Consider what Paul says about the activity of the Bible:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Consider the First Commandment: “”You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3).
•It teaches us truth: One who follows the Lord is not to have another other gods. He alone must be our only true God who rules us even as we glorify him. It teaches us truth by saying: “This is right.”
•It reproves us: When we are not putting God first by giving him his due worship because we are giving this to someone or something else. It rebukes our sin by saying: “That is wrong.”
•It corrects us: It points us back to what is right. Because we have been reproved by the Word we are pointed back to what we are supposed to be doing. It corrects us by saying: “Repent and serve the one true God.”
•It trains us: The Scripture tells us both what is wrong and how to do what is right. The moral law reveals to us, even the next 9 commandments, how to live with God as your God. It trains us by saying: “This is how you must live instead.”

If we have engaged in honest Bible reading we know that we have been confronted by God and his Word. This punctures our pride and unsettles us. If we aim to preserve comfort and protect honor then we will avoid this like someone who is out of shape avoids the gym.

But here is the truth: our hearts are deceitful (Jer. 17:9), they trick us. We believe the lie that it is better to live in the false comfort we are in rather than the comfort that God can provide. We lean upon the false savior of self and as a result guarantee that we will not be comfortable. It is only be being made uncomfortable by God that we can truly be comforted.

Action item: search your heart and see if you are avoiding God to preserve the idol of comfort.

It’s Too Hard

I think this is a rarity but there are some people who find the Bible very difficult. When they begin reading it they find they have crossed cultural, historical, and even religious lines. They are overwhelmed. In this situation they should seek some help. Ask a pastor or another mature believer for help. After some time with another Christian reading the Bible together, and through providing some basic tools and resources they should be well on their way. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God in the child of God to conform us into the likeness of the Son of God. We need the Bible. We have to do whatever it takes. This may take some time rolling up the sleeves, but it is definitely worth.

Action item: admit it and ask for help.

We are Undisciplined

In order to do anything of value consistently it takes discipline. However, if we sit back and do not live with intentionality we will not be regularly in the Word of God. Do you think an Olympic athlete hits snooze on their alarm when training? Never! Do they not get tired? Of course they do. But there is a critical point when discipline defeats the desire of the moment. It is when the mind speaks to the heart and says, “Hey, I’m in charge. It is time to get up even if I don’t feel like it.” Discipline takes effort. We don’t recline into discipline we must work at it. Is there anything more important than godliness to discipline ourselves for? Paul tells Timothy to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness (1 Tim. 4.7-8).

Action item: Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.

We Think it is Stale and Lifeless

Many people do not find themselves awed by the Bible. They avoid the Bible because it has been a long time (if ever) since they have found themselves truly moved by its truth. This reveals more of a problem with the person than with the Bible. The Bible is not boring, we are boring. Many of us are too infatuated with the trivial to even appreciate something of substance. We jump from one mindless triviality to another day after day and wonder why we have no appetite for the Word of God. The Bible declares that it is living and powerful (Heb. 4:12-13), and it has a long track record of being so. If we think the Bible is stale or lifeless then perhaps the coin of its central truth has not yet dropped. Maybe we have yet to see that God is truly good and that we are truly not. Until we are conquered by the truth of the gospel the Bible remains a book about God instead of a book about our God.

Action item: Examine your heart to see if you truly love God.

We Have a Dysfunctional Relationship with God

Years ago my wife was deployed in the military for months. She would send me letters (pre-internet days). When I’d receive them I would read through quickly and then sit back and think. Then I’d read through and examine patterns. “Why did she write so neatly here but more hurriedly here? What’s going on? Why are there hearts on these exclamation points but not these?” Then I would read it through slowly. I’d walk around thinking about it. Why did I do this? Because I loved my wife. Suppose it was different though. Suppose I got the letter and just tossed it over on the pile of other mail. And there it sat with junk mail and bills for a few days. I’d walk across the room and see it but instead of opening it up I would just ignore it as I watched SportsCenter or read the paper. You would doubtless call me a bad husband and say that our relationship was in trouble. You would be right. But isn’t this what people do with the Bible? God has spoken to us in the Word of God. It is his letter to us. How can a person say that they truly love God but throw his “letter” aside in favor of other stuff? How can they give it less attention than things that don’t matter?

Let’s be honest: if you don’t read your Bible it is because you don’t want to read your Bible. And to bottom line this further, this is indicative or your relationship with God. We cannot separate a love for the Word of God and the God of the Word.

Action item: If we do find ourselves not reading our Bibles we should examine ourselves to see the true substance of our relationship with God. Is it dysfunctional? If so repent and speak to God in confession. Then you will find yourself finding joy in God and his Word.