Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday Hodge-Podge (6-28)

  • Douglas Wilson provides a recap to the friendly debate between Tullian Tchividjian and Kevin DeYoung on sanctification.
  • This is a very insightful article on the NY Times by a gay journalist who is baffled by his old friend and former "gay rights" crusader who has repented from homosexuality and found new life in Christ.
  • Here is a thorough piece on the textual debate concerning 1 John 5:7-8.
  • Kevin DeYoung gives us some thoughts on church music and singing.
  • John MacArthur recently finished preaching verse-by-verse through the entire New Testament (it took him over 40 years). This is an amazing feat and a commendable model for pulpit ministry. Below is the video of the final sermon of this endeavor on the the longer ending of Mark's Gospel (16:9-20).

Monday, June 27, 2011

The 100th Day of Prayer

Today marks the final day of our church's "100 Days of Prayer" emphasis. I've asked all our church members to commit time when they rise and before they lie down to pray for three specific things.

  1. We have been praying the Lord would be gracious to bring true revival to our hearts.

  2. We have been praying the Lord would increase true fellowship in our church relationships.

  3. We have been praying the Lord would use our faithful sharing of the gospel to make true conversions in our community.
This seasons of prayer has been accompanied with focused passages of Scripture to read and while I cannot speak for everyone participating I can attest to this being a truly sanctifying season. The Lord has made my heart extra sensitive and He has taught be afresh my need to depend on Him and pray with earnestness. I'm eager to hear from all who have participated as we gather this Wednesday, June 29 for a church-wide prayer and testimony service at 6:30pm. If you are not a member of our church please pray for us as we seek the Lord together.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday Hodge-Podge (6-21)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lebron the Villain?

I was never a big Lebron guy. I didn't dislike him but I didn't particularly root for him or watch him play. When his free agency began part of me wished he would have stayed in Cleveland just because as a Houston sports fan I know what it is like to lose a favorite player (especially when the rest of the team stinks) but it didn't move the meter much for me either way. If I were a 25 year old basketball player I'd probably rather live in Miami than Cleveland- especially if I'd never left home (he's from Akron, OH).

The whole ESPN "Decision" spectacle was not my thing. It turned me off... even though I certainly tuned in (wasn't that the point?). Still, it is his life. He wanted to play in a cool city with a couple of his buddies. He was willing to score less, distribute more, and bust his tail on defense to be part of a glamourous star-laden team that had a blue-collar approach. The team is in a work-in-progress mode as they fill in around the big stars and they still came within two wins of a championship. I'm not a fan of the players or the team but this crew will win 3-5 rings.

So what's the big deal? Why do so many people hate Lebron James? Because he took a better job? Because he wanted to live in a nicer place? Because he wanted to work and play with his buddies? Because he wanted to win more and was less concerned with his legacy? Sports talk radio and the rant and file sports fan villifies this guy. Why? He is controversial? Why? Has he broken laws? Abused his spouse? Done drugs or toted guns? Nope. His biggest crime has been sticking his foot in his mouth and his second "felony" is having a big ego. Those things will change with age but even now, do they deserve the hate?

I guess the bigger issue is why we feel the need to create villains and have someone to aim hate toward. This is the bigger issue. If you catch yourself watching a sports game and feeling hate toward a player, team, or ref you need to turn off the TV, walk outside, look up and realize the mercy of God is keeping you alive. Go back inside, enjoy the game, root for your team, and remember it is not personal. Don't be distracted from the real spiritual enemy that would stir that hate inside you.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Finding Strength in Weakness

Our family vacation has officially begun so I'll be keeping this short. We're looking forward to the rest- both physically and spiritually. This time will also mark a two-Sunday absence from the pulpit. I'm thankful for those preaching in my stead and it will be good for my congregation to hear new voices. However, I'm right in the middle of preaching through 1 Samuel on Sunday nights so I cannot help reflecting on what I've learned.

I'm continually impressed with how the LORD "flips the script" in that narrative. Instead of the physically mighty, outwardly impressive, boastful, and proud God chose to use the meek, unimpressive, small, physically outmatched, and humble. This does not mean we should not seek education, preparation, or be diligent to grow but we do not put our confidence in the flesh. God used the socially-disregarded (for her barrenness) Hannah rather than Penninah- the loudest hen in the henhouse. He brought the powerful yet corrupt house of Eli down by the prophecy of a little boy named Samuel. He rejected the tall and mighty King Saul for his pride and self-seeking nature and chose instead David, the runt of the litter from a shepherding family in Bethlehem.

So this vacation is not about getting rest so that I can be more self-confident but I'm thankful to the Lord who gives me times for rest and who carries me with His strength during times of battle and times of work. Paul captured it perfectly when he quoted Jesus who said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Paul responded, "Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Who told you what?

I'm often confronted with well-intentioned people seeking to justify their decisions on one phrase, "God told me..." or the more bold, "I heard God say..." This is problematic for a number of reasons. First of all there are some things God would absolutely not tell you. I've heard people say that God told them it was not their burden to bear to share the gospel with so-and-so. That is contradictory to the commands He's given to every believer such as Matthew 28:19-20. There is no way God told you not to share His good news or not to seek reconciliation with a brother or sister where separation has occurred or not to participate in the life of a local church. Justifying sinful behavior by falsely claiming God told you to do it is simply more sinful behavior. If a voice in the sky told you to sin, don't credit God, get an MRI (and repent).

The second reason this is problematic is that you don't need to claim some divine audible special revelation to do what the Bible clearly says to do. Serve others. Share the gospel. Be compassionate. Stay faithful to your spouse. Disciple your children. Claiming some trumpet in the sky order to do what the Bible already has made clear is just grandstanding and comes off vain. God told you to use your spiritual gifts and talents to serve in some area in your church family? Wow that's amazing! No, that's Bible. Just do it and stop drawing attention to yourself.

The third reason the "God told me" line is problematic is that His Word says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." In other words, Scripture is entirely sufficient to instruct us according to what God wants us to do. Of course the Holy Spirit indwells every believer and as John 16:13 says, "He will guide you into all truth" but this means He will help us to understand and apply God's revelation as given in His written Word.

God has given us brains and calls us to be discerning as to how the principles of Scripture are applied in our particular context. For example, I know God has commanded me to share the gospel. I've got to discern and seize those opportunities when made available. To claim some audible and special revelation infers that Scripture is not sufficient. Does God still speak to His people? Yes. He speaks to us through His Word which is given in the written Scriptures. He has given us His Holy Spirit to understand, discern, apply, and carry out His Word.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's a Girl!

Marriage and parenthood are probably God's two greatest tools for sanctification-- for me at least (single people without children are no less sanctified by the Lord). Raising Asher these last 18 months has been so full of joy but often I am confronted with my own sin. Every fit, every temper-tantrum, and every act of defiance (he learned an immediate dislike to the word "no") reminds me of my sinfulness and need for a Redeemer. Thankfully Christ has redeemed me and I pray daily that He would overtake my son and one day call him to repent and believe. Last night Asher went reaching and huffing for something on our book shelf. A toy? No. Daddy's Kindle? No. The car keys? No. One of his books? No. I picked him up so he could show me the object of his desires and it was our old Baptist Hymnal which we often open to sing with him and have family devotions. Once in reach he grabbed the hymnal. I set him down and he walked over, plopped down next to mom, opened the book, and looked at me as if to say "let's get to singing". We did. Those are joyful moments and I long for the day when he sings along in intelligible words with a heart for Jesus to match.

Now our joy will be doubled but in a new way. We are expecting our second child- a girl! When the tech reading the ultrasound told us I about hit the floor. I'm not prepared to enter the world of hair bows and pretty things. Dirt and toy swords is all I'm familiar with-- I was raised with two brothers after all. This is a whole new ballgame and I'm thrilled... scared to death, but thrilled. My wife and I are now preparing for Piper Clair to join our family in early November and preparing for the Lord to do yet more sanctifying work in our lives!

Friday, June 10, 2011

An Example of Gospel in Community

Below is a video of a sister church in Atlanta, GA that is really intentional about the mission of advancing the gospel of the Kingdom, radically reorienting their lives around the gospel, and living that gospel out in community. It is encouraging to see what the Lord is doing through these brothers and sisters.

Renovation Church - Atlanta, GA from Verge Network on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday Hodge-Podge (6-7)

  • Here are some great questions for a husband to ask his wife.

  • Jesus provides a great outline for loving and corrective discipline in Matthew 18 but that text has often been misapplied- D.A. Carson explains how.

  • Bill Mounce warns against the dangers of gossip and grumbling.

  • Tim Challies posted some incredible e-book deals over the weekend.

  • Houston's mayor has made an interesting (and fun) challenge to its residents to help balance the budget.

  • Below is a promo video for the prayer rally that Governor Perry is putting together on August 6 at Reliant Stadium... very interesting.

The Response Promo from The Response USA on Vimeo.