Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One

This time last year my wife and I were wondering if we'd ever sleep again. There were about four bags under each eye and we were walking around in a daze. It was our first weekend home with our firstborn, Asher. Well, a year has come and gone. Last week our little man turned one (or 12-months in mom-speak, I was informed you always refer to the months until 2 years- silly me). How easy it is to take these last 365 days for granted! Every one of them has been a test of patience, an opportunity to love, a tool for sanctification, a blessing to enjoy, and a gift from the Lord. My wife and I are on a mission to train up who we hope and pray to be a godly man. We know this is a weighty responsibility but what a joyful one it is as well! We're so thankful for Asher, for the year that has gone by, and for every additional day the Lord graciously gives us.

"Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a rewar. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate." -Psalm 127:3-5

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Global Church Vision from Every Local Church

One of my hopes and aims as pastor of Memorial Baptist Church is to lead us to be the kind of church that influences and aides other local churches and pastors in their efforts at healthy church reform. I pray we will be a launching pad of people to go out into the world, into their communities, and into other churches (as the Lord moves them) to help fan the flame of the gospel and Biblical truth. A real inspiration for me in this kind of vision is the ministry of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis and their pastor, John Piper.

JP has led his church to make every sermon, every conference session, and nearly every book that he has written available for free. He wants to get these resources out to has many people as possible with as few barriers as possible. While not every church is the size and shares the resources of a Bethlehem Baptist and not every pastor (not many actually) have the global influence of a John Piper, every local church should share such a vision. There are churches everywhere that have replaced the proclaimation of the true gospel with an easy-believism schtick or the prosperity gospel lie. Too many pulpits have starved the congregations they serve from Biblical expositional preaching and replaced it with canned motivational talks (which is like serving children twinkies- tastes great, gets stale fast, not filling, and unhealthy). These erosions have led to applications in church life and leadership that have undermined the purpose of the church-- to be the uncompromised presence of Christ on the earth.

So I'm thankful for men like John Piper, Mark Dever, Al Mohler and others who have a global church vision that they seek to be launched from every local church. We are striving to be a healthy, vibrant, Biblical church that can produce or equip other local churches to be likewise. Take advantage of these gifts to our church... these trailblazers of Biblical church reform.

John Piper's Online Books

Mark Dever's Leadership Interviews

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Book from a Faithful Herald

Jim Hamilton, one of my professors at Southwestern Seminary (now at Southern Seminary) and a man I consider a mentor in my life, has just had published through Crossway a new book which I am eager to read. Below is a preview video for the book. While I have not yet read this new release I can recommend taking every opportunity to be enriched through the ministry of Jim Hamilton. The Lord has been gracious to Jim and gracious to the church in giving us Jim. He is a faithful herald of Scripture- in the classroom and in the local church. I have no doubt that his passion for the gospel and for the Bible to be understood will leap forth from every page of this book, God's Glory in Salvation through Judgment.

James Hamilton - God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment from Crossway on Vimeo.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What to do on Sunday?

I'm going to hijack a post from Tim Challies' blog because it is so helpful. He offers some great suggestions (picked up from a Nine Marks article) on how church members can serve their church on Sunday morning.

He recommends that before the morning worship service you read over the sermon text, pray for the gathering of the congregation, think strategically about who to sit with (note: this is not disingenuous; it is thoughtful), arrive early, and greet newcomers.

During the service he recommends you "sing with gusto" (we are singing unto the King Eternal), help with logistics- or as I prefer- jump in and help "put on fires", guard your mind against distractions, listen carefully, and be conscious of your body language (those sitting near you will pick up on frowns or fading eye-lids).

Then he recommends some things for after the service... connect with newcomers (go to them and don't wait for guest to approach you), exchange contact information with them, start a conversation about the sermon ("what did you think about such and such statement?" or "that was something I've really been chewing on, how about you?"), ask someone (even a member you've known for some time) how they became a Christian, and don't rush out-- you might be rushing past opportunities the Lord has prepared for you to fellowship or minister.
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