Monday, December 11, 2017

Top 15 Albums of 2017

Making a list of favorites has been hard especially in the area of music. 2017 was another great year of music in various genres. This list has Christian and non-Christian albums that were released in 2017:

15. Sing On by the Sing Team

14. The Crucifixion of Jesus by Fernando Ortega

13. Light Up The Stairs by The Welcome Wagon

12. The Beauty Between by Kings Kaleidoscope

11. Psalms, Hymns, & Spiritual Songs by Emerald Hymns

10. Exiles by Seeker & Servant

9. Evolve by Imagine Dragons

8. Gone by Red

7. Rise & Worship by Nathan Clark George

6. Logan (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Marco Beltrami

5. Stranger Things 2 (Soundtrack from the Netflix Original Series) by Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein

4. Still Jesus by Shai Linne

3. Worthy by Beautiful Eulogy

2. Prayers of the Saints by Sovereign Grace Music

1. Everflow by Austin Stone Worship

Music Monday: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent by Red Mountain Music

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Book Review: Bearded Gospel Men by By Jared Brock and Aaron Alford

For the past few years, there has been a growing trend (no pun intended) of men growing beards. I am not sure if Duck Dynasty started that craze or what. The point is men are growing beards. Many Christian leaders have also taken on this task while others have not for some reason. Maybe some of them haven't escaped puberty or their wives have promised no kisses from them if they grew one.

Some Christian leaders have looked at men who have grown beards as those who are wise, but is that really true or just another joke? Whether people take the beard trend serious or just as comical, it has been getting a lot of attention. There is also an awareness that one thing the church is lacking it men. Sure we have men in the church that lead, but the other men seem to have checked out. Thankfully, there have also been a growing awareness of men who need to stand and be leaders in their families, churches, and communities. Jared Brock and Aaron Alford has taken the comical side of growing beards and the serious side of manhood in their book, Bearded Gospel Men.

The comical side goes with tips on growing beards, pics of bearded men with a phrase that goes with it like it was a meme in a book, and even on page on the bearditudes. The serious side takes a look at ordinary men who took a stand for Christ whether it was against a false teacher or immorality. Granted all of these men have had a beard, which makes one wonder if you have to grow a beard to be a Christian man (I am not being funny on this one). There have been men on social media that have questioned not only one's manhood, but also one's Christianity when it comes to them not having a beard. My question is when did having a beard make you a Christian or more godly than those who don't have one?

I did not see anywhere in the book where the authors were advocating that having a beard means you are a gospel-centered man and growing in your walk with Christ. They did say that like growth a beard requires time, so does growing as a Christian. As I continue going through this book, I guess I was not getting the humor that went with it and did not see what the point of it was. Yes, they did show men who took at stand for Jesus, but they did it in a more devotional style rather than a biography. I guess this book just didn't do it for me.

Thanks Booklook Bloggers for letting me review this book.

Monday, December 4, 2017

ESV Sale All December Long

Its Christmas time, which means remembering the birth of Jesus and buying a gift for someone you love. For many Christians, they would like to give a loved one a Bible or even one for a new believer. Bibles can be expensive, which makes people tend to go for the ones that cost less.

I have some good news for you, all month long Westiminster Bookstore is offering all ESV Bibles published by Crossway at 50% all month long. This sale includes:

ESV Reader's Bible, Six-Volume Set

ESV Study Bible

ESV Ultrathin Bibles

ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible

ESV Pastor's Bible

The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

As I mentioned earlier, this sale lasts to the end of December.

Click here for more information.

Music Monday: Unto Us by Aaron Shust

Thursday, November 30, 2017

We Were Not Made To Feel Good All The Time

Don't believe the lie that always struggling to obey God is a worse lot in life than disobeying him with peace. God did not make us to "feel good inside" (or outside) all the time this side of heaven; he made us to share in the sufferings of Christ, that we might also share in his resurrection. And the reality, for many, is that the resurrection kind of life in these areas of death isn't always postponed until the life to come. But you won't know that until you're willing to go to the cross for as long as it takes to die.

Adapted from The Imperfect Disciple by Jared C Wilson

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Worship Is The Aim Of Every Stage Of Redemption

In regard to predestination, "he predestined the praise of his glory" (Eph. 1:5, 14). Not just to know it but to praise it. The aim is worship.

In regard to creation, the heavenly beings cry out, "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things" (Rev. 4:11). Everlasting worship in heaven happens precisely in response to God's creating all things.

In regard to Christ's incarnation and saving death, the angels of heaven cry, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12). The glory of Christ's saving work will be worshiped forever.

In regard to propitiation, and the great work of Christ's decisive wrath-removing ransom, heaven worships with a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Rev. 5:9).

In regard to the sanctification of God's people, Paul tells us that the ultimate aim of being "filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God" (Phi. 1:11). Not just glory but also praise. Which makes explicit that the aim of holiness in the Christian life is that God is worshiped.

And in regard to the consummation of all things at the second coming of Christ, the aim is not just that his glory might be seen, but that it might "be marveled at among all who have believed" (2 Thess. 1:10).

Adapted from Reading the Bible Supernaturally by John Piper

Monday, November 27, 2017

Essentials for a Healthy Community of Faith: Shared Ministry

The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. When Moses' father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.” Moses' father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves (Exodus 18:13–26).

As the story continues, Jethro gave some counsel to Moses telling him that he was trying to do too much. Moses had been attempting to settle multiple disputes. He was like the police, the law, the counselor, the department of motor vehicles, the judge, the theologian, and the pastor all in one. This task was too heavy. Get this picture:

The people stand around all day waiting for an appointment (v. 13). Jethro says, “What are you doing?” (v. 14). Moses basically says, “They need me. I have to tell them what to do” (vv. 15-16). I love Jethro’s response: “What you’re doing is not good” (v. 17). Why? Jethro tells him: “You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you” (v. 18).

In regard to the church, our situation is not exactly the same, but part of what Moses was trying to do is shepherd the people. He was trying to take care of them and instruct them in the ways that please God. Shepherding is hard work. One person cannot do it all. This is similar to Acts 6. There were not enough apostles to take care of the widows, so the church appointed some qualified men to do that, and the apostles would focus on prayer and the ministry of the word.

As a pastor, I can sympathize with Moses. Sometimes people ask, “A ‘Pastor’—is that a full-time job?” I almost laugh when I hear that! It is sort of like the question, “Does your wife work?” I actually tried to think about what I do. Here are a few things:

Sermons to prepare, worship services to prepare, vision to cast, mission to execute, meetings with elders to attend, people to counsel (some outside our church), bills to pay, phone calls to make, books to write, websites to monitor, funds to raise, outside speaking engagements to prepare for, groups to meet, classes to prepare for and teach, conflicts to resolve, reference letters to write, blogs to write, questions to answer, leaders to disciple, ministries to oversee, a building to work on, missionaries to send and support, people to pray for, visits to make, fellowships with other pastors to attend, social events to attend, weddings to officiate, funerals to lead—and more!

Before you are tempted to feel sorry for me, remember that my flock is nowhere near as large as Moses’! Imagine, six hundred thousand men, plus women and children! So, what solution gets put forward? The solution for Moses is the same solution for us: share the ministry.

Notice how Jethro counsels Moses. Jethro told Moses to fulfill his ministry (vv. 19-20). Moses was a mediator. He was taking the people to God in prayer and God to people in teaching. Jethro did not tell him to stop doing these tasks. He simply told him that he should develop some organizational structure and get some help.

Jethro told Moses to find capable leaders to help care for the people (vv. 21-23). He was to find “able men,” from among the people, who would be capable of serving in this capacity. They were to be “Godfearing” men. God-fearing men realize that serving God is serious business, regardless of how big or small the job is. They were also to be “trustworthy” men. These are men you can count on. You do not have to question the motives of trustworthy men. They were to “hate bribes.” They would be impartial, honest, and not in it for money. So these were leaders who would be capable and full of integrity. They were going to do the work with Moses.

Moses became the court of last resort or “supreme court” of Israel (v. 22). He remained as judge but delegated most situations to the other men. They “will bear [the burden] with you” Jethro said (v. 22). Notice the result: (1) God will direct you; (2) you will be able to endure; and (1) the people will go in peace (v. 23). In other words, this is best for everyone.

How do we apply this? What can we learn about shared ministry? As mentioned, our situation is different, but there is still the general connection to shared ministry and pastoral care. Let me point out two principles. The New Testament shows us how we should understand shared ministry. A healthy community practices shared ministry by having a plurality of qualified elders who care for the flock (Acts 20:17; 1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet 5:1-4). But the elders do not do everything. They oversee the ministry of the church. They equip God’s people to do the work of the ministry (Eph 4:11-16). Every member is to serve. Of course, Jesus Christ is the head, the chief Shepherd, and everyone must submit to Him. Under Him, He has appointed elders/pastors as undershepherds to equip God’s people to do ministry together.

Therefore, healthy communities of faith practice shared ministry by having an “every-member ministry.” While some are appointed to leadership, every Christian has a part to play in the body of Christ. Every Christian is a “priest” (Exod 19:6; 1 Pet 2:5-10). You can pray for people. You can care for people. You can teach others. Every Christian has spiritual gifts to use for the good of the body (1 Pet 4:10). Healthy communities of faith have active members serving, loving, and praying. Generally, those who serve best do not care about being known or having a title. We should do this in the spirit of “[carrying] one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2).

In verses 24-26 we see that Moses listens. He demonstrates humility. He receives counsel—even from his father-in-law! Will you follow his example and follow the counsel of the wise?

As a community of faith, we need power; we need to speak the good news; and we need a shared ministry. As a community of faith, we—like Jethro and Moses and the elders—gather around one table. We also rally around the cross, our banner, and we enjoy fellowship with one another because of the work of our great mediator, Jesus Christ.

Adapted from Exalting Jesus in Exodus by Tony Merida

Music Monday: An Updated Classic and A New Christmas Album

There are times, you should never mess with a classic even it if is your own stuff. In Steven Curtis Chapman's case, he redid a classic and made it better. This year marks the 25th anniversary of one of his greatest hits, "The Great Adventure." Hard to believe it has been 25 years since this song was released. He even made a music video to that song, which you will see some clips of it in this video, which is the updated version of Chapman's classic. This song also features Bard Millard, who is the lead singer of MercyMe.

Now that the Christmas season is here, that means for most of you, it means to break out the Christmas music. That also means its time for the new album from Folk Angel. This is their ninth album and its a good one.