Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Book Review: United: Captured By God's Vision For Diversity by Trillia J. Newbell

It is no secret that diversity in the United States is not an ideal held by many. Some Americans would rather deal with people of their own race and look at the other races with hostility. There are others that do want to embrace the idea of diversity and get along with people who maybe be of the same race. I remember as kid growing up in one neighborhood that I had many friends close by who were Africa-American as well as Mexicans.

The church of Jesus Christ should be the one place where diversity is held in higher standards, but it is not. I am remember one of my professors telling the story of a church where he was a guest preacher and an African-American couple came in to join the service. The people of the church asked the couple to leave, but my professor said they were his guests and if you want to leave, I will leave. After a few minutes, the church stood there ground and the couple was escorted out and my professor joined them. If you look at most of churches in our country we have your white churches, African-American churches, Asian churches, and Mexican churches, yet, the Bible says that Jesus died to reconcile us to God and each other.

Trillia J Newbell, talks about embracing diversity in her book, United: Captured By God's Vision For Diversity. Trillia is a writer for Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). This book is basically her own journey of embracing what God has called the church to be which is of all nations and tongues. She begins the book with her own story of how she found her new identity in Christ rather than her being a black woman. She wrote, "Being black is a part of my identity. But it isn't my entire identity" (pg. 31). She talks about being a dominately white church and the longing she had for community which is a God given desire. She got involved with her church and the lives of those she calls brothers and sisters.

The rest of book talks about Trillia's longing for diversity in the church including understanding what the body of Christ truly is. She wrote, "Diversity displays a true understanding of the grace of God" (pg. 62). She also said that Christ calling us to salvation is not based on ethnicity, "We are created equally. When Christ calls us to Himself, He does not look at who we are in terms of ethnicity, nor does He call us because of who we are in any other way except that we are dead and in need of new life" (pg. 95).

If Diversity is not anywhere close in your church, I encourage you to read this book. I am so thankful that Trillia has written this and was transparent in her struggles. I highly recommend this book.

Thanks Moody Publishers for letting me review this book.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reflections from T4G 2014

Last week in Louisville, KY was the biannual conference known as Together For The Gospel. This event draws thousands of people, mostly men serving as pastors, for worship and edification. Unfortunately, I did not attend but did see some of the live feed and looked at a lot of quotes on Twitter from people that were there. There have been a few posts reflecting on the conference that I would like to share:

Reflections on T4G: A generation gathered around the Throne by Dave Jenkins

My top 5 highlights from #T4G by Aaron Armstrong

Best Things I Heard at Together for the Gospel 2014 by Pat Aldridge

5 Motivations to Call Others to Repent by Casey Lewis

T4G Reflections: “Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling…” by Denny Burk

Recommended Reading:

Proclaiming A Cross-Centered Theology

Preaching The Cross

The Unadjusted Gospel

The Underestimated Gospel

Music Monday: Three Decades of Songs for the Church by Sovereign Grace Music

Last week, Sovereign Grace Music released an album celebrating 30 years of worship music. They took some of their favorites and asked a few friends to record brand new version of their songs. This album features Sojourn Music, The Village Church, Matt Papa, Austin Stone, and more. My favorite song from Sovereign Grace has always been, Jesus, Thank You. Brook Hills Church does a beautiful arrangement of this song that is brings me to tears as I think about what Jesus did for me. I hope you enjoy this album as much as I did. Once you hear this album, I encourage you to purchase it so you can download it on your ipod, ipad, iphone, laptop, or whatever device you have.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Around The Web-April 11, 2014

RIP Archie: Beloved character to die in July

Pro wrestler known as Ultimate Warrior dead at 54

Jill Duggar, one of the daughters from "19 Kids and Counting," is engaged

Stephen Colbert Announced as Replacement for David Letterman

Hollywood, Movies, and the Bible: Should We Rewind on How We View? by Darrell Bock

Ten Lessons From A Hospital Bed by John Piper

The Joy of Getting Unstuck by Brandon Smith

How to Handle Your Sin by Kevin DeYoung

Meet Tacko Fall, yes his name is pronounced "Taco." He stands at 7-foot-5 which means he is taller than Shaq. Not only can the kid dunk, he can hit the free throws.

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of Batman. Bruce Timm, producer of "Batman: The Animated Series," has come up with a short that was featured on Cartoon Network this week called, "Strange Days."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Are You Offended By The Gospel?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).

(In) every age, it is possible to be "ashamed of the gospel"...instead of eager to share it. The word translated "ashamed: also means "offended." How is the gospel offensive?

1. The gospel, by telling us that our salvation is free and undeserved, is really insulting! It tells us that we are such spiritual failures that the only way to gain salvation is for it to be a complete gift. This offends moral religious people who think their decency gives them an advantage over less moral people.

2. The gospel is also really insulting by telling us that Jesus died for us. It tells us that we are so wicked that only the death of the Son of God could save us. This offends the modern cult of self-expression and the popular belief in the innate goodness of humanity.

3. The gospel, by telling us that trying to be good and spiritual isn't enough, thereby insists that no "good" person will be saved, but only those who come to God through Jesus. This offends the modern notion that any nice person anywhere can find God "in his own way." We don't like losing our autonomy.

4. The gospel tells us that our salvation was accomplished by Jesus' suffering and serving (not conquering and destroying), and that following him means to suffer and serve with him. This offends people who want salvation to be an easy life; it also offends people who want their lives to be safe and comfortable.

Tim Keller, Romans 1-7 For You

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review: Salvation By Crucifixion by Philip Graham Ryken

Did Jesus have to be crucified on the cross to secure our salvation? Was there another way God could have atoned for our sins? These are questions people might ask as Easter approaches. Many Christians may never have thought much of the cross but only as an act of love toward mankind. Some wonder what the point of the cross truly was besides giving us a holiday to celebrate.

Philip Graham Ryken in his short book, Salvation By Crucifixion, shows up that the cross was necessary for our salvation. This book was based on a series of short messages that Ryken and James Montgomery Boice did for their congregation. Ryken writes about why the cross is so offensive to the people in Bible times and why it is still offensive to this day. Ryken continues on about how the cross has brought us peace with God and that every believer should boast in the cross.

This is another great resource for believers to engage with non-believers. This is also good for churches to hand during their Easter service. This book will also be a good small group study to go through not just for Easter but any time of the year. I was blessed by this book and highly recommended.

How To Create A Culture of Evangelism In Your Church

Dave Bruskas:

While many churches would consider themselves to be evangelical, I have personally found very few of these same churches to have a strong evangelistic culture.

I wouldn’t evaluate this through the number of conversions reported by churches. That is solely the work of the Holy Spirit. Instead, I suggest we look at some key indicators of an evangelistic culture from Scripture.

One of the greatest evangelists in church history, the Apostle Paul, gives us seven characteristics of a local church with an evangelistic culture. This isn’t a comprehensive list in any way, but I hope it is helpful nonetheless.

1. Preach Jesus

2. Lead By Example on Mission

3. Welcome Unbelievers

4. Love One Another Persuasively

5. Develop Leaders

6. Get Everyone Involved According to Their Gifts

7. Be Persistent

Read the entire post here.

Recommended Reading:

Marks of the Messenger by Mack Stiles

The Gospel & Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever

Evangelism and The Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer

The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How To Deal With False Teachers

Denny Burk:

In my last post, we looked at six characteristics that help us to identify false teachers. In this post, we will consider what pastors and congregations are supposed to do in response to such persons who emerge in their midst.

1. Correct false teachers.

2. Confront false teachers.

3. Discipline false teachers.

4. Refuse support for false teachers.

Read the entire post here.

Book Review: Passion: The Bright Light of Glory by Louie Giglio

In Christmas of 1997, my parents gave me an incredible Christmas gift. It was a ticket (no, not a speeding ticket) with a receipt showing they paid my way to attend Passion in Austin, Tx. It was an incredible gift because I have heard of this conference from my friends at Sagemont Church and the fact that this was started by one of my favorite Bible teachers, Louie Giglio. Louie Giglio was the camp pastor of my first youth camp in the summer of my freshman year in High School just before I got saved.

The Passion conference has grown over the years which also includes a number of worship CD's including the one from 1998 which I still listen to this day. One thing about Passion '98 that stood out was my first encounter with John Piper. I had no idea who this guy was or what in the world he was preaching because he seemed to present God as an arrogant deity, which, thankfully, I know now, that was not the case.

There have been many messages from Passion that have been dubbed as one of the greats by not only those in attendance but also by Louie Giglio. He has taken a collection of the best talks of Passion, including a few of his own, and have turned it into a collection in one volume titled, Passion: The Bright Light of Glory. The book started out with the history of the Passion conference and how it all came together. The rest of the book are talks from different conference that featured not only Louie Giglio and John Piper, but also Francis Chan, Judah Smith, Beth Moore, and Christine Caine. A very interesting collection of speakers from various theological studies as well as preaching styles. Probably the best chapter in the book was from John Piper when he preached, what many considered one of his best sermons, "Boasting Only in the Cross," which was given at the One Day event that happened at the Shelby Farms in Tennessee.

If you are a fan of Passion, this is a perfect book for you to have in case you lost your notes on certain sermons from a few of the teachers. If you are looking for a deep theological book, this would not be the book for you with the exception of Piper and Chan. In case you were wondering if that sermon from John Piper during Passion '98 was in the book. Sorry, it was not. I am still looking for it.

Thanks Booklook Bloggers for letting me review this book.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Music Monday: A People Redeemed by Redeemer Music

How To Identify False Teachers

False teachers were present in the first century church and are ever present in the 21st century church. Many Christians are not even aware they are following a false teachers unless someone points out to them that their favorite Bible teacher is one of them. Paul wrote, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1).

How do we identify a false teacher? Denny Burk wrote:

The apostle Paul wrote to Titus that pastors must not only preach faithfully but also “refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). The idea is very simple. Pastoral ministry is not merely a building up, but also a tearing down. As Paul would say elsewhere, it involves tearing down every speculation and lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). To fail to do this is ministerial malpractice and harmful to God’s people.

Given this obligation, it becomes all the more imperative to be able to identify false teachers when they emerge. Sometimes false teaching originates from outside of the church. Sometimes such teaching originates from within. The New Testament teaches that a more rigorous response is required when it arises within. Thus faithful pastors must learn how to identify and deal with false teachers...The Bible suggests at least six characteristics that commonly identify false teachers. Not every false teachers exhibits all of these characteristics at once, but often times they present some combination of these traits.

1. False teachers contradict sound doctrine.

2. False teachers promote immoral living.

3. False teachers deemphasize sin and judgment.

4. False teachers are motivated by greed or selfish gain.

5. False teachers cause division.

6. False teachers resemble the flock.

Read the entire post here.

PBS Takes A Look At New Calvinism

Friday, April 4, 2014

Around The Web-April 4, 2014

Christian Celebrity and the Conference Culture by Tim Challies

What Reformed Theology is Not by R.C. Sproul

Kevin DeYoung's new book, Taking God At His Word, is on sale for $10.00, but if you buy 5 or more, the cost will be $8.00.

Millennials and the false 'gospel of nice' by Daniel Darling

CEO of Firefox maker Mozilla steps down because of his contribution to Proposition 8 in 2008

Late Night talk show host David Letterman announces his retirement.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Review: Bonhoeffer on The Christian Life by Stephen J. Nichols

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man who was martyred for his faith at the age of 39 in Nazi Germany under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. His legacy lives on in the 21st Century with his books The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together. Eric Metaxas wrote about the life on Bonhoeffer in his excellent biography, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

Steven J Nichols, president of Reformation Bible College, has written a new book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer that deals with more of his teaching of the Christian life rather than his life. though the book, Bonhoeffer on The Christian Life, gives us a little background into his life. Nichols writes on Bonhoeffer's theology and teachings regarding a life living as a disciple of Jesus by carrying our cross as well living in community with fellow believers. The rest of the book deals with Bonhoeffer's teachings on living the Christian life and not being polluted by the world.

This is not a detailed biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer but it is a good book on his theology. If you have read Metaxas' book, then this would be a good follow up book on Bonhoeffer.

Thanks Crossway for letting me review this book.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Comfort Those In Suffering

Tullian Tchividjian once said, "Job's friends were great counselors, until they opened their mouth." If you read the book of Job as he starts blasting the day of his birth, his three friends were of no comfort to him. He told them, "I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all" (Job 16:2). I wonder how miserable of comforters or counselors we have been to those who were going through suffering.

I was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, I remember my pastor at the time asking me why God gave me cancer. I said I did not know why I was going through this. He proceeded to ask the question again. He offered no words of comfort as I was going through that season of suffering.

It is sad to say that some in the church are horrible when it comes to comfort those going through suffering whether it is the death of a loved one or getting diagnosed with a disease. We have the tendency, like Job's three friends, to say to that person to repent of whatever sin you have committed that has God angry with you. We always want to point the finger at someone or something when suffering happens. Don't get wrong, some suffering happens as a result of a bad decision someone else made or one you have made.

We are called to comfort those in suffering. James tells us that "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction" (James 1:27). Paul wrote that God is a God of all comfort, "who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Corinthians 1:4).

When one of church members, who is younger than me, was diagnosed with cancer, I went to see him in the hospital comforting him because I know what it feels like to be someone who just turned 30 and hearing that news. I remember telling him, "Don't let anyone tell you that because of your sin that God is punishing you." My words meant a lot to him because I had the feeling that someone either did or would have mention that.

When someone is suffering, we need to comfort them even it is just being in the same room with them without saying a word. Let us not be Job's three friend who were miserable comforters in his darkest hour.