Wednesday, October 29, 2008
From Justin Taylor:
There's some great news coming from Grace to You, the ministry ministry of John MacArthur.
I'm told that starting next Wednesday, November 5 (the day after the election), Grace to You will announce a new policy, effective immediately, that all of their mp3 downloads of John MacArthur's sermons will be completely free.
That's 3500 sermons for free--with no strings (like required registration) attached.
Hats off to Grace to You for this generous move!
Make sure to visit the site next Wednesday.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Check out this event and the information at http://www.mache.org/FallSymposiumAnnounce.htm
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Life has been quite stressful these days, yet the Lord has been so gracious and so have so many of you. I am thankful to be your pastor at Grace Church and hope to be here for a long time. At the risk of sounding self-serving (although I think it is Church-Serving) I would like to share with you these words from a great book on pastoral ministry by R. Kent Hughes called Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. This is a book I read in college. Please keep the VanAckers and Patzs in mind as you read this:
Every pastor knows that the strength of the ministry rests on prayer, and that it is those faithful souls who pray regularly for him and the church who bring God's special blessing upon the ministry. This fact invites a marvelous "what if" scenario. What if not just a few but the entire leadership and congregation prayed in detail every day for the pastor and their church? What would happen to his heart, to his preaching, to worship, to evangelism, to missions? Can there be any doubt that the minister and his people would know greater enablement than ever before in their lives?
Prayer is where the congregation must begin in this whole matter of encouragement. Will you make a personal commitment to encourage your pastor by daily prayer for him and his work? If so, we leave you with this suggestive outline, from which you can draw your own prayer list.
Pray that he will be a true success: that he will be faithful, true to God's Word and hardworking; that he will be a servant, following the example of our foot-washing Lord; that he will love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength; that he will truly believe what he believes about Christ; that he will lead a holy life, and not succumb to the sensuality of our culture; that he will lead a life of deep prayer, following Jesus' example; that he will have a positive attitude free from jealousy.
Pray for his ministry--for his preaching, for time to prepare, for understanding the Word, for application, for the power of the Holy Spirit in delivery, for Sunday's services, for his leadership, for immediate problems he is facing.
Pray for his marriage--for time for each other, for communication, for a deepening love, for fidelity.
Pray for his children by name. Perhaps you might ask the pastor or his wife how they would like you to pray for their children.
As a reminder – Please join many from the church on Friday evening at the Holm home in Linwood for prayer. You are invited to eat together starting at 6:30. Prayer will begin at 7 PM. (contact Tony Cooper for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org )
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I don't know if you have heard or heard of James McDonald (of Harvest Bible Chapel) but he is a powerful preacher of the Word of God.
I urge you to download this sermon by McDonald called "God Energizes Preaching."
Download it, please and listen.
In this sermon, McDonald does a masterful job of defining and discussing the importance of preaching and the fact that God has ordained it to be practiced by His church and that He works mightily through preaching.
In this sermon he addresses the preacher and the preached. The whole sermon is worth its weight in gold.
God Energizes PreachingJames MacDonald: God Energizes Preaching I download I
Friday, October 10, 2008
Did you see the numbers on the DOW JONES lately? I did--even though I really don't know what they mean other than high is good and low is bad. This morning the stock market slide even further after a week of consistent descent -- from what I hear it recovered a bit since this morning.
How should a Christian think about this "Financial Crisis"? Is it just greed? Is capitalism a system of corruption that needs to go?
I suggest you read the follow two articles by Charles Colson and Albert Mohler.
"God Is in Control of the Financial Crisis" by Charles Colson
"A Christian View of the Economic Crisis" by Albert Mohler
Thursday, October 9, 2008
It puzzles me that many so-called Bible-believing Christians make pro-life issues in an election a marginal factor. They may disagree with the pro-abortion position but tolerate it by insisting that we should not be "single-issue" voters. I encourage you to read what John Piper says in this article on abortion and being a single-issue voter: (The entire article is here)
No endorsement of any single issue qualifies a person to hold public office. Being pro-life does not make a person a good governor, mayor, or president. But there are numerous single issues that disqualify a person from public office. For example, any candidate who endorsed bribery as a form of government efficiency would be disqualified, no matter what his party or platform was. Or a person who endorsed corporate fraud (say under $50 million) would be disqualified no matter what else he endorsed....Here is a helpful link to voter guides that relate to moral issues.
It's the same with marriage. No one quality makes a good wife or husband, but some qualities would make a person unacceptable. For example, back when I was thinking about getting married, not liking cats would not have disqualified a woman as my wife, but not liking people would. Drinking coffee would not, but drinking whiskey would. Kissing dogs wouldn't, but kissing the mailman would. And so on. Being a single-issue fiancé does not mean that only one issue matters. It means that some issues may matter enough to break off the relationship.
So it is with politics. You have to decide what those issues are for you. What do you think disqualifies a person from holding public office? I believe that the endorsement of the right to kill unborn children disqualifies a person from any position of public office. It's simply the same as saying that the endorsement of racism, fraud, or bribery would disqualify him—except that child-killing is more serious than those...
When we bought our dog at the Humane Society, I picked up a brochure on the laws of Minnesota concerning animals. Statute 343.2, subdivision 1 says, "No person shall . . . unjustifiably injure, maim, mutilate or kill any animal." Subdivision 7 says, "No person shall willfully instigate or in any way further any act of cruelty to any animal." The penalty: "A person who fails to comply with any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor."
Now this set me to pondering the rights of the unborn. An eight-week-old human fetus has a beating heart, an EKG, brain waves, thumb-sucking, pain sensitivity, finger-grasping, and genetic humanity, but under our present laws is not a human person with rights under the 14th Amendment, which says that "no state shall deprive any person of life . . . without due process of law." Well, I wondered, if the unborn do not qualify as persons, it seems that they could at least qualify as animals, say a dog, or at least a cat. Could we not at least charge abortion clinics with cruelty to animals under Statute 343.2, subdivision 7? Why is it legal to "maim, mutilate and kill" a pain-sensitive unborn human being but not an animal?
These reflections have confirmed my conviction never to vote for a person who endorses such an evil—even if he could balance the budget tomorrow and end all taxation.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Michael Horton: "The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider 'communion of saints' down through the age."
Larry Woiwode: "There is rugged terrain ahead for those who are constitutionally incapable of referring to the paths marked out by wise and spirit-filled cartographers over the centuries."
"Hey, have you prayed for or encouraged your pastor today? At the risk of sounding self-serving, could I suggest that every Christian church member consider one of their main ministries the ministry of encouragement for their pastors and elders. I received an email from one brother stating that he knew of over 20 pastors leaving the pastorate in one region of the U.S. I've had opportunity to interact with at least three pastors experiencing deep struggle. That doesn't include the normal battles for encouragement, joy, and perseverance that are just normal to pastoral ministry. So, have you prayed for your pastor(s) today?"
Please realize that we need it!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The nomination of Sarah Palin as the Republican candidate for the vice presidency has placed some conservatives in a double-bind. On the one hand, they have been disappointed with the less-than-thorough conservatism of John McCain, so the more “Reaganesque” position of Governor Palin comes as a welcome balance. On the other hand, their understanding of the biblical role of women leaves scant opportunity for a female to occupy the second-highest (and, potentially, the highest) office in the land.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Last Friday and Saturday I had the privilege of going to the Desiring God Conference in Minneapolis and the theme was -- "The Power of Words." I did not get to hear Dan Taylor on Saturday afternoon or Piper on Sunday morning but the four I heard were great.
This was the order in which they impacted me -- my rankings (top 3).
1. Paul David Tripp - War of Words - Getting to the heart for God's sake
2. Mark Driscoll -- How Sharp the Edge? Christ, Controversy and Cutting Words
3. Bob Kauflin -- Words of Wonder - What Happens when we Sing?
Here is the media links for video and audio of the talks:
The Tongue, the Bridle, and the Blessing: An Exposition of James 3:1-12
Panel Discussion - Piper, Driscoll, and Ferguson
Words of Wonder: What Happens When We Sing?
How Sharp the Edge? Christ, Controversy, and Cutting Words
The Life-Shaping Power of Story: God’s and Ours
Panel Discussion - Piper, Tripp, Kauflin, and Taylor
War of Words: Getting to the Heart for God's Sake
Is There Christian Eloquence? Clear Words and the Wonder of the Cross
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I grew up in a devout Christian tradition that did not regularly practice the raising of hands in corporate worship. Other physical forms were expressed in corporate worship such as: bowing the head, closing the eyes (mainly in prayer), saying “Amen” (and other phrases of affirmation), occasionally (but with restraint) clapping hands, standing, sitting and kneeling.
It was not until seminary that I was exposed to a church tradition where people (including the pastor) raised their hand or hands during the songs and prayer of a corporate worship service. At first this was very strange to me and I felt it was excessively “showy” and unnecessarily distracting. Although the change has been slow and progressive I have now come to not only think differently about “hand raising” worshipers, I have become one myself. As a pastor of a church, I regularly worship with hands outstretched based on a strong conviction of its appropriateness and helpfulness as well as a careful acknowledgment (I pray) of the importance of a sincere heart and the dangerous temptation of spiritual showmanship.
How should we think about the physical expression of raising hands in corporate (or private worship)? To answer this question, I would like to first ask three foundational questions that help us answer the question of “hand-raising”.
- What is the essence of worship? Before we can ask if hand-raising is legitimate we need to know what worship really is.
- What physical expressions of worship do we see in the Bible? What examples of worship do we see practiced in the Old and New Testament that should give us an idea of acceptable physical forms of expression in worship?
- What does the Bible command and prohibit in regards to worship? What does the Bible explicitly say about what we must do in worship and what we must not do in worship?
More to come...