Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Meaning of Marriage Bible Study

If there is one book I can recommend to an engage couple to read together, it would be The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller and his wife, Kathy. This book gives the readers what the Bible says about marriage which is appropriate for our day and time.

I am excited to announce that there is a Bible Study based on the Kellers' book. Here is the trailer for it:

Westminster Bookstore has a special going where you can get a Meaning of Marriage Bundle for only $50.00. In the bundle you get 2 copies of the book, 2 copies of the study guide, and a copy of the DVD. This deal is only good till October 15.

Other Marriage books to check out:

This Momentary Marriage by John Piper

When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey

What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp

It Didn't Happen...Again

You might be asking again what didn't happen again. It was the return of Christ. Another Christian group predicted that Christ was going to return yesterday. It seems like this is a trend that will never end. Who can forget Harold Camping predicting the Savior's return on May 21, 2011, which did no happen. What's even more bizarre is that Camping changed it to October 21, 2011 and...well, you already know.

As far as I can remember, there have been many people who predicted the return of the Christ. In 1988, there was a book that was released called, 88 Reasons Why Jesus Will Return in 1988 which I am sure is out of print. Hal Lindsey released The Late Great Planet Earth in the 1970's which predicted the Rapture in the 1980's. Not only that not happen, but not one of his predictions came true, yet Lindsey is still one of the leading scholars in Prophecy in some Christian circles.

It can get very wearisome to hear all of these predictions and wonder when will this ever stop. We look in the Bible and we don't see any date for the return of Christ. The Bible says the day of the Lord, Christ's return, will come like a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:4; 2 Peter 3:10). Jesus said it himself that, "no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only" (Matthew 24:36).

I wish I knew why people guess the return of Jesus. I don't know if it's for profit or see many come to Christ, which sounds more like a scare tactic. When we hear a prediction on the return of Christ, we need to test it based on the Word of God. Of course, we already know it won't happen because Jesus said no one knows. My question is went someone predicts the return of Christ and Jesus does not come, did Jesus missed the memo? Did Jesus forget when He was suppose to return and that is why people are predicting His return.

Why is it some people think they know more about Christ's return than Jesus Himself? I guess these people have a better connection to God than Jesus did. When it comes to dates that God has already set in place, we need to remember what the Bible says:

It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority (Acts 1:7)

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you (1 Thessalonians 5:1)

What are we to do until the return of Christ:

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn (2 Peter 3:11-12).

For the grace of God...(is) training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-13).

Our mission is not to guess His return, but to serve as we wait.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Is It Okay To Take Sermon Notes?

On your average Sunday morning, the preacher will be giving his sermon with some key points for the people to remember. Some churches will have them on a powerpoint slide for everyone to see and write them down. Other churches will just have a fill in the blank sermon note guide to help them with the sermon. There will be some that has a spiral notebook or a moleskin journal to take their notes in.

Some might say this feels more like school that a worship service. While some may get that feeling, others might say it is a good way to remember the sermon. Granted most churches record their sermons to put them on the internet, whether on iTunes or their church website, so people can hear the sermon again. Some Christians think taking sermon notes is a bad idea while others think it is not. Let me give you a few reasons why taking notes during the sermon is a good thing.

First, this is more of me and may not apply to you, it will help you remember key points in the sermon. I have always found that if I write something down I have a better chance of remembering it better than hearing it or having someone else writing it down for me. Sometimes, our minds are to cluttered with other things that we may forget something. I remember my wife telling me a small list of groceries I needed to get. I did not write it down, so I forgot one thing. Thankfully that did not happen again. Same thing with a sermon. Sure we can go to that podcast to find what he said but you don't remember when, but if you write down it will help you remember.

Second, if you take sermon notes, it will be a great guide for family devotionals. Lets face it, there are not many great family devotionals in the bookstore outside the Bible. Having a time with your family talking about the sermon will help the kids because they were in children's church, if your church does that, or they feel asleep (that can happen).

Finally, it will make a great conversation between your church family as well as brothers and sisters from other churches. Community groups is a great way to talk about the sermon especially if the preacher is in yours. If you work with other Christians that attend another church, that would be a great conversation to have with them.

One word of caution, while taking notes in a sermon can be an important thing, the warning I have is do not treat the sermon as a lecture. The sermon is a time to hear the Word and meet the risen Christ. If you are starting to think the sermon as a lecture, maybe you need to tone down the note taking or just stop altogether.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Book Review: It's Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke

Have you ever grown up hearing about something that you believed until you heard that maybe you heard it wrong? We all have in some way or another. Growing up watching the old Three Stooges films, someone told me that Curly Howard died when an elevator cable broke and he fell to his death in the elevator. It turns out that is not how he died.

Some of you are probably wondering what does this have to do with Jefferson Bethke's new book, It's Not What You Think. The simple illustration from my misinformed childhood is an example of things that have been taught about Christianity that we may have gotten misinformed about. Some of you are going are thinking there are a lot of areas the church has gotten wrong over the years.

Bethke takes a look at the greatest story of all time which is the gospel and how we have been given a half gospel in some circles. We have forgotten that the gospel starts in the garden of Eden and makes it way to the cross of Christ. Bethke takes a look at Jesus coming the flesh which means that God became a human being who lived among us at one time. Christianity is not a future experience but a life to live right now and for all eternity and the Kingdom of God is here but not fully consummated.

Bethke does give theological truth in the book and does cite the Bible but not in a way that would make this book as go-getter when it comes to teaching Christianity to new believers and even those who are skeptical of the faith. I did not feel this book getting my attention as his previous book did. It seems little rushed and going all over the place. Not saying this is a bad book, but I think the material could be presented a little more clearer.

Thanks Booklook Bloggers for letting me review this book.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Music Monday: Sooner Count the Stars: Worshiping the Triune God by Sovereign Grace Music

This is the latest album from Sovereign Grace Music.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Video Conversation and Book Deals

Mark Jones and J.I. Packer has a discussion cultivating awe, Christian meditation, and knowing Christ.

Westminster Bookstore has some great deals going on right now:

Mark Jones' book, Knowing Christ is one sale and you can get a good discount when you purchase 5 or more.

Also J.I. Packer's classic book, Knowing God is on sale as well as one of his recent books, Taking God Seriously.

Leland Ryken has written a new biography on Packer.

Other books by J.I. Packer that I recommend:

Knowing Christianity

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

In My Place Condemned He Stood with Mark Dever

Also check out Packer on the Christian Life by Sam Storms

Books by Mark Jones:

Antinomianism: Reformed Theology's Unwelcome Guest?

A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life with Joel R Beeke

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Q & A with John MacArthur and R.C.Sproul

This past weekend was the 2015 Ligonier Fall Conference. One of the sessions was a Q & A with John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul.

Here are the messages along from the conference which was the theme was So Great a Salvation.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Book Review: H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick

It seems that leadership is one thing that is constantly talked about on our culture. Sometimes it is very negatively when we look at an organization and blame the ones in charge for the poor shape it is in. In the United States, we have a poll to determine if you approve or disapprove the job the President is doing. Sometimes it is very positive while other times it is not.

In our churches, when things look up, we praise the pastor then a few months later vote him out things go wrong. Sports are conducted in a similar manner. When the team is doing well, the coach is praised and even given a contract extension. When the team suffers, the coach is walking out the door is disgrace because he failed to lead.

Leadership is one virtue that people look for regardless of what organization or church you are in charge of. Everyone of us need some form of leadership development. Brad Lomenick is the president of Catalyst which is an organization that geared toward the next generation of leaders. He has written a book called, H3 Leadership. The H3 stands for Humble, Hungry, and Hustle. A leader should always be humble. When Lomenick talks about being humble he talks about being yourself. No one like a carbon copy of someone else. People want a leader to be themselves. Being a humble leader is not all wrapped up in himself. He considers others first and always makes God the first priority.

A leader is also hungry. A leader never stops learning. For pastors who stops growing in their walk with Christ, their church will suffer. A hungry leader tasks risks because they strive for excellence even though we are not guaranteed it. A leader is always hustling. They are always not afraid to fail. They are not fail to collaborate with their competitors and leave the world a better place.

This book is one of those that may have some good things for the church but at the same time it does not. Is some of this stuff good for an organization outside the church? Yes. Keeping God first is definitely one thing that all leaders in the church should do. The more I kept reading, the more it sounded like one of Andy Stanley's books on leadership. One thing Stanley is big on is the attractional model of building a church which I felt Lomenick's principles could lead to. This is a leadership book I would recommend for leadership advice but not as one I would go to for leadership development.

Thanks Booklook Bloggers for letting me review this book.

Book Review: Short Answers to Big Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity by Clinton E Arnold & Jeff Arnold

Many people have questions about Christianity whether they are a believer or not. Sometimes the best questions are the ones that can be answered in the simplest way possible. There are other questions that it might take a while for the answer to come.

Some Christians can be intimidated by some theology books such as Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology or John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion because of their size and depth. Some pastors want to take new believers through a simple book that answers some of the key questions of the faith as that person starts their walk with Jesus.

Clinton Arnold and Jeff Arnold have written a book that takes the biggest questions of the Christian faith and answers them in an easy to read format called, Short Answers to Big Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity. This book deals with questions that are asked all the time about the Christian faith and equips the reader with the understanding of each topic. The book deals with the issue of the inerrancy of Scripture along with if the Bible was written by God or man. Why are there some books that were left out of the Bible and has it changed over time?

The book also deals with topic topics such as why bad things happen to good people and hypocrites in the church. It continues to discuss the existence of angels and demons along with life after death. Of course you cannot have a book like this and not discuss who God is and how I get to know God. The book also deals with daily Christian living such as prayer, going to church, and even tithing, which some Christians are afraid to discuss that with new believers.

This book will be a great tool for those who disciple new believers whether it is one-on-one or a small group setting. This book will also be good for church leaders to have because it gives good answers to the most basic questions of the Christian faith.

Thanks Baker Books for letting me review this book.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Music Monday: Endless Hallelujah by Matt Redman

Our church is studying the book of Revelation during our Sunday School hour. Yesterday we looked at chapters 4 & 5 talking about all the saints, angels, and creatures around the throne of God. It is amazing that one day we will see it. One day we will gather with all the saints from every tribe and nation.

This song from Matt Redman is the last track on his classic album, 10,000 Reasons, and it is one of my favorite songs off the album. As you read the lyrics, think about the day we see Jesus face-to-face and our worship is never ending.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why I Stink At Youth Ministry

As I thinking about my years as a youth pastor, I came under the realization that I stink at it. Was it because I was unfriendly? No. Was it because I hated the job? No, although some parents and church members did not make it easy for me.

Here are three reasons why I stink at youth ministry:

1. I am not an entertainer.

I love having a good time with teenagers whether it is having a fellowship at Taco Bell or just hanging out. Yes, I have done fun activities with teenagers, but I am not an entertainer. I try to do magic tricks to get students' attention or have amazing guitar skills. In fact, I have no musical ability whatsoever yet some churches want their youth pastors to know some instrument. Did not know I was going into worship ministry too. I am not a clown, although I can be one when I am with friends. I did not go into youth ministry as an entertainer, but to equip students for ministry. I was never tempted to shout out, "Are you not entertained?" like Maximus did in Gladiator.

2. I don't have a "great" testimony.

I didn't come from a life of drugs or family dysfunction that God saved out of. I was not in a gang, didn't get into fights at school, or had a near death experience. I don't have cool stories about myself to tell the students so they can relate. I was not into much at school during my teenager years except being the president of my Christian club. Yeah, they I had the label of Jesus Freak before dc Talk made it sound cool in 1995. I was not an athlete (there goes my connection with football players), yet I watch sports, which is not enough with some churches. My testimony is God redeeming me from my rebellious nature which is the testimony of every Christian. What led us to Christ maybe different, but the story is the same. In youth ministry, a great testimony "sells", which has been in my experience.

3. I teach the Bible.

Not saying youth pastors do not teach the Bible, but in my experience teaching the Bible does not make you a great youth pastor. Wednesday nights always draws the crowds which is time to teach the Bible, yet some pastors I have worked with did not want that. Confused? So was I. I thought the main purpose of having a Wednesday night youth service was to teach the Bible, but it was not in some church member's mind. I will never forget hearing a deacon commenting they are glad the youth are at the church. The problem is while I was teaching to a small group, a majority of students were outside with no adult supervision whatsoever and the church was okay with that. One church told me I needed to tone down my teaching because one female student did not like it. Not a majority. One student. She ended up being the church's teenager who was spoiled by the church as if they adopted her.

There you have it. I stink in youth ministry for those reasons. If you are a youth pastor reading this, don't be discouraged about youth ministry. Love it, enjoy it. and thank God for your ministry.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Does Jesus Need Our Forgiveness?

There has been a video from Bethel Church, the same Bethel that has produced a few worship albums and even the band Jesus Culture, of one of their youth leader sharing a video of him and Jesus talking. This youth leader has been hurt by believers to the point that, according to the vision, Jesus tells this guy forgive him. He goes on to say as that believer hurt you it was if I was hurting you.

What is the problem with this? The fact that this leader in a church said that Jesus asked for forgiveness. What did Jesus do? Yes, believers are part of the body and Jesus is head of the church, but no where in Scripture do we see him asking the disciples for forgiveness because of the trials they are enduring or about to endure. In the book of Job, I don't see God asking Job for forgiveness for all the pain he went through. The same can be said about Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers. As the book of Genesis closes, Joseph told his brothers they meant for his harm but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20) because Joseph saved a lot of lives during the severe famine that plagued the land.

The Bible tells us, it us who needs to be forgiven by God. We are the ones who have committed treason against our Creator. If God ever asked us to be forgiven then He is no longer God. That means there is darkness in Him which makes 1 John 1:5 wrong. If Jesus asked for forgiveness that means He sinned and has been disqualified as Messiah. He Jesus has been disqualified as Messiah than we are in trouble. Christians have really lost their minds including me.

Who can forgive sins except God alone yet so Jesus sinned, does He forgive Himself? If that is the case then our theology is totally out of whack. We cannot forgive ourselves nor can we forgive our sins nor the sins of others. The Bible does tells us the only sins we can forgive are the ones that have been committed against ourselves.

All of us, in some way or another has been hurt by someone in the church. Yet Scripture says, to forgive one another, as Christ has forgiven you (Colossians 3:13). Jesus told us when we are at the alter, and something against our brother, we must go to that brother reconcile (Matthew 5:23). Do we find Scripture telling us to forgive God? No. You won't find it. The vision that this church leader saw was false. If God has given someone a vision that goes against His Word, then the vision is not valid. Jesus does not need any forgiveness, we are the ones who need to be forgiven.