Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Hope For Unite

Back in February, my church teams with another church to attend a Disciple Now weekend called, "Unite." We had several churches join us for that weekend which I am thankful for the partnership of these churches as well as the church that we teamed up with. What I did not know was what was coming out of it.

A month later, several youth pastors and I met to discuss the ministry of Unite. It was not just for a Disciple Now weekend, but to continue throughout the year. The purpose of Unite is to get the teenagers of our city's churches together for fellowship and equipping them for ministry. What also came out of this was to get a youth pastors network started. We had one in the city, but that has fallen through the cracks because most of the youth pastors who started that have moved on.

The goal of the ministry is to come together as the body of Christ where it is about Christ's church, not my church or your church. We are all on the same team. This is not about who has the praise band, the coolest website, or if their pastor wears skinny jeans (real men do not wear skinny jeans). Tonight is the first meeting of our new youth pastor's network which is a branch of Unite. We may come up with another name (youth pastors have to come up with a cool name for something).

Will we agree on everything? No. Most of the youth pastors I am working with know that if I have a an area of disagreement, I will voice it. The point is coming together as the body of Christ in Wichita Falls. My hope is that we would come together and the world will know we are disciples of Jesus and proclaim the gospel in every meeting whether it is just youth pastors or all the churches meeting together.

I ask for prayer as I help start this new youth pastors network so we can all work together and share what God is doing in our churches.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Music Monday: He's Coming Soon by Redeemer Church

This song is from an upcoming album by Redeemer Church in Round Rock, Tx.

He's Coming Soon from Tyler Daniel on Vimeo.

Book Review: Now That I Am A Christian by C. Michael Patton

As a minister of the gospel, I have the joy of seeing people coming to faith in Jesus Christ. What I love as a youth pastor to see students come to faith in Jesus after being led by someone within the church other than myself. One of my struggle in the past has been to find what books/materials to give these new Christians to assist them in their new life with Jesus. Some materials that have been produced usually give verses to memorize, which there is not a bad thing, and questions to answer with no application.

Crossway has published a book that is dedicated to help new believers as they start their journey in following Jesus, Now That I Am A Christian written by C. Michael Patton, president of Reclaiming the Mind Ministries. This book simply aids a new believer in what he/she needs to know about the Christian faith and how to live it. The book is laid out in two parts, orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Orthodoxy simply means "to straighten your doctrine" while orthopraxy refers to "right practice."

The first half, orthodoxy, deals with introductory teachings on the Bible, man, God, Christ, and faith. Each chapter is gives sound teaching but not as one would read a theological book. Orthopraxy deals with five practices that "all Christians of all time have agreed about" which are prayer, study, church, suffering, and mission. I commend Patton on teaching new believers on the importance of the church of the believer especially going over what is the church. I also commend him for teaching on suffering. To be honest, I have never seen any "new Christian" material that teach on suffering. Christians are caught by surprised from suffering is a result of bad teaching from people who discipled them. Sadly, some Christians hear learn about suffering either later in their walk with Jesus or as they experience it first hand.

After reading this book, I rejoiced knowing there is now a simple new believer's guide to give a brother/sister in Christ as they begin their journey. The book is solid yet simple. This would be a great book for one maturing believer to lead a small group of new believers or just one-on-one discipleship.

Thanks Crossway for letting me review this book.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Around The Web-April 18, 2014 (Good Friday Edition)

Today is the day we mourn the death of Jesus on the cross. Why do we mourn His death when He was resurrected? Because Jesus' death on the cross was the greatest injustice in the history of the world. Jesus died in our place for our sins and took upon Him the wrath of God. Today's edition of "Around The Web" is dedicated to this day.

It's Friday-But Sunday's Coming

3 Big Questions Kids Ask on Good Friday

It Is Finished (Good Friday)

A Prayer For Good Friday

This day should cause us to worship God and all that He has done through the finished work of Christ, so I leave with few worship songs:

"The Power of The Cross" by Stuart Townsend

"Jesus, Thank You" by Bob Kauflin

Jesus, Thank You from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

"In Christ Alone" by Keith & Kristyn Getty

"Love Shines" by Austin Stone Worship

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Prayer for Maundy Thursday

Scotty Smith:

Now before Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. (John 13:1) A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

Dear Lord Jesus, as I meditate and pray my way through these Scriptures, my heart is stunned, silenced and left in awe. What but the gift of faith can enable us to grasp the wonder of these words and the magnificence of this moment? What but the power of the gospel can free us, to believe and obey them? Grant us both, I pray, grant me both.

On our Holy Week calendar we call today Maundy, or “Mandate” Thursday. It’s a day in the history of redemption brimming over with glory and grace. Passover will soon become the Lord’s Supper—your supper. The promises of the Old Covenant are about to be fulfilled by the blood of the New Covenant—your life given as a ransom for us on the cross.

Having shared eternal glory with the Father, you now show measureless grace to your disciples. Having loved this ragtag bunch of broken men—who vied for positions of honor a few hours earlier (Mk. 10:35-45), and who would all scatter and deny you later that same evening—having loved them so well, you now show them the full extent of your love.

Your disrobing to wash their feet was with a full view to your being stripped naked to wash their hearts, and our hearts. What wondrous love is this indeed! How wide, long, high, and deep! (Eph. 3:14-19)

“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). This is the new and never-ending mandate you’ve given us as your disciples. The most obvious expression of our “getting” the gospel is our loving others as you have loved, and do love, us. Jesus, fill my heart with an even greater knowledge of your love, that I may love others, more spontaneously, sacrificially, and joyfully. So very Amen I pray, in your triumphant and tender name.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Concern Over "Heaven Is For Real"

Today is the day that "Heaven Is For Real" is released in theaters nationwide. I know several people in the church that are willing to see this movie while others just refuse to watch it. The movie is based on the best-selling book of Colton Burpo getting a glimpse of heaven during an emergency appendectomy. He saw Jesus, his grandfather (whom he never met), and even his sister who died in a miscarriage.

I have had debates with people in my church concerning the movie. I had one member say they would rather see that than "Noah" or "Son of God." I have read the book and thought it was just nonsense, and that the father, who is a pastor, should have gone to the Bible for the real glimpses of Heaven. We love to hear near death experiences because we want to hear if the afterlife is real.

My concern for Christians is that they will take this movie as a gift...message from God, like the Blood Moon. I am also concern is that Christians will not rely on the Bible for what God has given us about what Heaven is like. We believe the Bible is final authority for faith and practice yet when it comes to Heaven, we dismiss it in a heartbeat like teachings on the Second Coming of Jesus that is not faithful to Biblical teaching. One more concern I have is Christians taking there non-Christian friends to see this movie and think that is sharing the gospel with them (the same can be said about any other Christian movie).

Should a Christian go see "Heaven Is For Real?" Probably. I might see it just so I know what people are talking about but I know I will be in fight with some Christians who too gullible to believe almost anything without discerning if it is from God or not.

This video is David Platt talking about "Heaven Is For Real" and other Christian books that talk about trips to Heaven.

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.