Thursday, September 28, 2006

SC Reading Group Thoughts

The purpose of the SC Reading Group is to glorify God. May our journey with Charnock to Christ's cross be a stimulant to that great end! I'm glad to be part of the group with you all. I'm looking forward to the many ways the Lord will aid my own growth in grace through your comments. Thank you for being part of the first SC Reading Group. Here are some thoughts for how we may help each other.

Group Meetings
: Thursday, 7a

30 Minute Weekly Meeting Suggestion: Aren't you thankful that our Lord can simultaneously listen to the prayers of many of his children! Similarly, can simultaneously post the comments of many users. I'm recommending that our group "meets" at 7a on Thursday mornings. My hope in making this suggestion is to maximize our time while also yeilding the greatest spiritual benefit.

Groups that meet in person have a significant advantage by being able to pray and share together. We can not reproduce that dynamic through a monitor. But, our "meetings" can at least have the same components, can't they? Suggested way to "meet:"
  • 7a - Spend 10 minutes praying by name for the sanctification of groupies.
  • 7:10 - Spend five minutes re-skimming your highlights, underlines, and margin notes in Charnock.
  • 7:15 - Spend 15 minutes "sharing" (typing) the thoughts that most significantly stood out to you in the week's reading. These thoughts can be direct quotes, paraphrases, or totally original thoughts that the reading stimulated in your heart and mind. Maybe, from time to time, Scripture references will come to mind that you would like to add.
Ok, ok, ok. I hear ya'. "Why," I can hear you objecting, "only 15 minutes to type? There's too much good stuff in Charnock to limit our meeting to 15 minutes of share-time!" Short answer: We have a great problem on our hands...there are 20 people in our reading group! If unlimited "sharing" occurs, then it would be impossible to be faithful with greater responsibilites (Family, church, work, school), and also benefit from everyone's thoughts. So, as much as is possible, try to type no more than 15 minutes worth of words. Don't worry so much about typo7s. Just share. For those who can spit out 10,000 words in 15 minutes, you need to quit your job and start working in a courtroom. Sometime later on Thursday, or throughout the week, I encourage everyone to go back to the "meeting" and read through everyone's comments. After all, that's why we're doing this in a group format. Note also, that 20 people typing for 15 minutes is 5 HOURS worth of typing. My hope is that most of you still hunt-n-peck. (Did I say that out loud?).

Reading Schedule: 11 Weeks

The Puritans were well known for the structure of their discourses. First doctrine, then application. Lest you or I be all head and no heart, or all heart and no head, we shall divide Charnock into sections of doctrine and application - aiding us, I pray, to be sought by God as those who worship in Spirit and in Truth.

* Ex: The group is to comment on pages 7-23 on Oct. 5, and so on...
  • Week 1: October 5 - pp. 7-23 (Recommend order 17-23, then 7-15).
  • Week 2: October 12 - pp. 25-42 - Doctrine
  • Week 3: October 19 - pp. 43-48 - Application
  • Week 4: October 26 - pp. 49-68 - Doctrine
  • Week 5: November 2 - pp. 69-100 - Doctrine
  • Week 6: November 9 - pp. 101-108 - Application
  • Week 7: November 16 - pp. 109-134 - Doctrine
  • Week 8: November 23 - Happy Thanksgiving
  • Week 9: November 30 - pp. 135-160 - Doctrine
  • Week 10: December 7 - pp. 161-178 - Doctrine
  • Week 11: December 14 - pp. 178-193 - Application
A fair question has been asked several times, and deserves to be answered publicly. "Why Christ Crucified?" Every book suggested definitely looked delicious. Certainly any of them would have been helpful. The lot fell to Charnock because of my burden to start with the center - the Person and Work of Christ - rather than our response to His Person and work (e.g.; prayer). After Charnock, I hope the group will continue (and expand!). If so, maybe a Christian living book will make its way into the mix.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Excited About The Ordinary?

Typically, ordinary and exciting do not go together. We want to make a case for why that should change.

God has ordained for His ordinary means of grace have the greatest Christ-likening effect on His people. Means such as daily personal and family devotions, regular exposure to His preached Word, engaged involvement in a local church, and an active life of prayer are all examples of means God ordinarily uses to conform His people to the image of His Son.

Sure, almost every Christian can point to at least one decisive, extraordinary, post-conversion moment when God graciously and Godwardly altered the trajectory of his or her life. Those are precious times, and should be deeply valued. However, we must not live for the zap of God's lightening bolt of transformation, succumbing to the notion that we will not be made more holy apart from some cataclysmic - near-death - episode. No, you see, God ordinarily transforms His people through His extraordinary grace by the use of ordinary means. Are you excited about the ordinary?

The Supremacy of Christ in A Post-Modern World

Jesus Christ has been, is, and will continue to be, supreme in every age. No era in history has leashed His power. Modernity did not thwart His purposes, neither shall post-modernity. Jesus Christ is Lord and God and He will receive the reward of His sufferings. He superintends climates, governments, and houseflies. He is thoroughly in control. He sustains and rules the cosmos. None will stay His hand.

I'm hopeful that the conference this weekend be a weapon in the Spirit's hand to exalt the already super-exalted One! If you'll be in attendance, I hope we'll have an opportunity to say hello.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

See You At The Pole

Wednesday morning at 7a hundreds of thousands of teenagers from around the world will gather at their school's flag pole to intercede intercede for various needs. Let's join these youth in prayer by asking the Lord to hear and answer every teen heart-cry that is pleasing to the Him (Even if you read this post after 7a on Wednesday, still pray for these students' prayers to be answered. Our Omnipresent God can retroactively answer your request for Him to answer a prayer that was prayed earlier today...I think?)

Let's not forget that history proves that is has been the Lord's good pleasure to birth an Awakening that was sparked through the prayers of young people. Oh, that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down (Isaiah 64:1)!

Abominable Prayer

Proverbs 28:9
He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, even his prayer is an abomination

Biblical Theology

Sounds strange huh? Isn't all theology "biblical?" That would be nice.

There are different arenas of discipline within the camp of biblical studies. Systematic theology, for example, is the discipline of categorizing and explaining certain doctrines put forth in Scripture (e.g.; God, creation, redemption). Studying each doctrine, within its own system, is one way to approach biblical studies. Another approach that, for me has been sorely undervalued, is biblical theology. Biblical theology is the discipline of studying the Bible as one book, discerning its unity, and seeing how God has unfolded His great plan as it is recorded in the biblical revelation.

As I'm typing, I'm also listening to Michael Lawrence's biblical theology sermon on creation. Very helpful! (Here is a link to Lawrence's five part biblical theology series).

I am also finding Vaughan Roberts, God's Big Picture: Tracing the storyline of the Bible, to be fulfilling his aim "to provide all Christians, from the new convert to the mature believer, with an overview of the whole Bible that will help them see how the different parts fit together" (10). Roberts provides the following eight-part outline for biblical theology:

Old Testament
1. The pattern of the kingdom.
2. The perished kingdom.
3. The promised kingdom.
4. The partial kingdom.
5. The prophesied kingdom.
New Testament
6. The present kingdom.
7. The proclaimed kingdom.
8. The perfected kingdom.

Find It?

Would all in our SC Reading Group please comment here and let us know if you tracked down a copy of Christ Crucified? Looking forward to the journey with you all. Still time to jump in!

The Nicene Creed

Written in A.D. 325, and revised in 381, the Nicene Creed has been an affirmation of Christian faith that has endured the test of time.
I believe in one God the Father Almighty; Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

CT Article

Here is the Christianity Today that was mentioned a while back.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Roll Call

The newest roll for the SC Reading Group is:
  1. Anthony Mathenia
  2. Brad Nelson
  3. Brandon Sheridan
  4. Brienne Smith
  5. Bryan Smith
  6. Clif Johnson
  7. Cody McNutt
  8. Debbie Thomas
  9. Jake Shivley
  10. Jim Suggs
  11. Jonathan Hopper
  12. Jordan Thomas
  13. Justin Tucker
  14. Kevin Wilkins
  15. Kirk Benson
  16. Melissa Sparks
  17. Nate "Dawg" Sawyer
  18. Ron Franks
  19. Shaun Hair
  20. Todd Smith
Still time to nerd-up! We will begin reading in just over a week. You comin'?

Preacher Boy

Edward Payson's (1783-1827) father, Seth, preached his ordination charge. O may fathers (and churches!) again want for our sons what the elder Payson wanted for his!
I can think with calmness, nay, with a degree of pleasure, of your suffering for righteousness' sake, and, should the world pour upon you its obloquy, its scorn and reproach, for your fidelity to your Master's cause, a father's heart would still embrace you with, if possible, increased fondness. But to see you losing sight of the great objects which ought to engage your attention, courting the applause of the world, infected with the infidel sentiments of the day, and neglecting the immortal interests of those now about to be committed to your care, this, O my son, I could not support. It would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. But is it possible, that in such a cause, with such motives to fidelity, and with prospects, may I not add, so peculiarly pleasing as those which now surround you, you should, notwithstanding, prove unfaithful? It is possible; for there is nothing too base, too ungrateful, or destructive of our own most important interests, for human nature to commit; and, unless the grace of the Lord Jesus preserve you, the glory of God will be forgotten, your Savior will by you be crucifed afresh, and his cause exposed to shame; your sacred character will become your reproach, and, instead of the blessing of many ready to perish, you will accumulate the curses of perishing souls upon your head. May your preservation from this awful fate be the theme of our future eternal praises. Legacy of a Legend, 148-9.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Unveiling: Christ Crucified - A Puritan's View of the Atonement

I feel like I'm breaking a big story? Though we will not make the evening news, the news is significant. Sanctifiying (and perhaps, justifying!) graces are in the offing! There is no work more prodigious on this side of eternity than the supernatural working of God in the soul of man. Nothing less is our prayer for the presently forming SC Reading Group.

I'm pleased to announce that the "group" has its first tasty morsel from the pen of the Puritan sage Stephen Charnock. Christ Crucified: A Puritans View of the Atonement will be our treat. There are at least two different printings of Christ Crucified, so a word about ordering your copy momentarily.

The Man:

Charnock (1628-80) is perhaps most remebered for his classic work, The Existence and Attributes of God. Though a prolific divine, preacher, and writer, little detail remains of his private life. Like his Lord, Charnock died celibate. During his final 1/2 decade of earth, he was a co-pastor of a nonconforming congregation in London - alongside Thomas Watson (What a blessed people!).

His Writing Style:

His writing is replete with doctrinal boulders, not bumper stickers, providing a firm ground on which to stand in the torrents of life. He knows that one-liners don't produce persevering faith. He knows that looking at our crucifed Christ will. Charnock "of all the Puritans is the most brisk and businesslike when it comes to saying things straight" (Packer, Intro). That, however, doesn't mean easy sledding. Be warned, "his style is intensely analytical, and his mind moves fast and verbalizes itself economically" (Packer, Intro). Unlike some labors, seeing God from Charnock's view is worth the extra work. No doubt, few have climbed to his altitude, but thank God he is willing, by his quill, to hoist us up.

Our Book:

Christ Crucified: A Puritan's View of the Atonement may contain, "not too little evangelical doctrine, but, if anything, too much, packed too tightly" (Packer, Intro). A problem, I trust, from which we do not suffer too often. If our reading must be slow, or repetitive, may the help herein contained cause our souls to greatly glorify our great God by producing in us a greater treasuring of His glorious Christ - indeed our atonement-achieving, crucified, resurrected and reigning Christ! May we, as the author of Hebrews exhorted, by the help Charnock provides, "consider Jesus."

Your Book:

For reading schedules and the same introductory material, I recommend each of us having the same copy (this one).

To save on shipping I wonder if one person would be willing to order bulk and be reimbursed by groupies? I have no interest in being that guy, but would be happy to see it develop (Plus I already have two copies - na na na na boo boo). If you want to coordinate the effort, let the group know through a comment on this post, and once that's happened, others are free to leave their name and how many copies they'd like. If it works out, lets say the cut off to add your name is 5p this Friday (9/22). It looks like South Woods has some copies available for $8. I also found copies (here, here, and here).

An Appetite Whetting:
Rocks and mountains cannot secure them that neglect so great a sacrifice, that regard this atoning blood as an unholy thing. It is as dreadful for men to have this sacrifice smoking against them and this blood calling for vengance on them, as it is comfortable to have it pleaded for them and sprinkled on them. Why will any then despise and neglect a necessary sovereign remedy ready at hand? Is it excusable, that when we should have brought the sacrifice ourselves or ourselves have been the sacrifice, we should slight him who hath voluntarily been a sacrifice for us, and cherish a hell merited by our sin rather than accept of a righteousness purchased at no less rate than the blood of God? This sacrifice is full of necessary virtue to save us; but the blood of it must be sprinkled upon our souls by faith. Without this we shall remain in our sins, under the wrath of God, and sword of vengance. (Charnock, 107)

Reading plans (to begin the week of October 2), and commenting suggestings will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In Only 400 Minutes

You can read the Pilgrim's an email.

Affirmation of Faith - IM #3

Throughout Christian history, God's people have been articulating - in writing - the core convictions of Christianity. Today, I spent some time thinking through, hammering on, and reaffirming my belief in the Grace Church Member Affirmation of Faith.

Lord willing, this Sunday evening at the third Interest Meeting for Grace Church, Nathan Sawyer will walk us through our Affirmation. The 15 Articles are:
  1. The Word of God
  2. God
  3. Jesus Christ
  4. The Holy Spirit
  5. The Trinity
  6. Providence
  7. The Fall of Humanity
  8. Regeneration
  9. Repentance And Faith
  10. Salvation
  11. Christian Conduct
  12. The Church
  13. The Ordinances
  14. The Last Things
  15. Christian Cooperation
Thinking through our statement caused me to wonder...How many people are expected to read - much less have actually read - their church's Affirmation of Faith prior to applying for membership? It is probably safe to assume the statistics are not awe-inspiring. Do you know the core convictions of your church?

Reading Group

Interested? There are plenty of pocket protectors to go around.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Something God CANNOT Do

Think of someone greater than Himself.

Kuiper On Evangelism

* * *
Let no one suppose that God's sovereign decree concerns only ends, to the exlusion of means. It cannot be said too emphatically that God has foreordained all that comes to pass. All embraces means as well as ends. To illustrate, God not merely foreordained that a certain farmer would reap five thousand bushels of wheat in the summer of 1961; He foreordained that that farmer would harvest that amount of wheat as the result of much hard work. Likewise, God did not merely decree that a certain sinner would receive eternal life through faith in Christ and that he would obtain faith in Christ through the gospel. The sovereignty of God may not be construed so as to rule out the responsibility of man.

* * *

R.B. Kuiper, God-Centered Evangelism, 38-39

Christ, of all my hopes the ground

CHRIST, of all my hopes the ground,
Christ, the spring of all my joy,
Still in Thee may I be found,
Still for Thee my powers employ.

Let Thy love my heart inflame,
Keep Thy fear before my sight,
Be Thy praise my hightest aim,
Be Thy smile my chief delight.

Fountain of o'erflowing grace,
Freely from Thy fulness give;
Till I close my earthly race,
May I prove it 'Christ to live'.

Firmly trusting in Thy blood,
Nothing shall my heart confound;
Safely I shall pass the flood,
Safely reach Immanuels's gound.

Thus, O thus, an entrace give
To the land of cloudless sky;
Having known it 'Christ to live',
Let me know it 'gain to die'.
Ralph Wardlaw, 1779-1853

A Passion For Missions

The Mid-South Regional Founders Conferece will be held October 5-7 at South Woods Baptist Church in Memphis, TN.

Q: Jesus, why did the Father talk to You about glorifying His name?

A: Not for My sake, but for your sakes.



Sunday, September 17, 2006

Grace Church - Interest Meeting #2

This evening's meeting was a joy. We thank God for His evident grace. Here's a recap of what we walked through tonight: (Again, this list is a result of our tweaking the help we found at 9Marks)

Essentials of Church Health:
  1. Expository Exultation - Worshipful expository preaching as the congregation's foremost diet
  2. Biblical Prayer - Actively seeking the Lord through biblically guided prayer
  3. Biblical Theology - Concerned with pursuing and promoting biblical maturity
  4. Biblical Gospel - Knowing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ
  5. Biblical View of Conversion - Understanding salvation as wholly a work of God
  6. Biblical Evangelism - Actively engaged in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ
  7. Biblical Requirements for Membership - Regenerate church members seeking to live their covenant commitments
  8. Biblical Church Discipline - Practicing formative and corrective discipline
  9. Biblical Church Leadership - Christ as Head, elders are His gifts for leadership, the congregation corporately affirms the will of the Lord, and deacons are Christ's gifts for service
  10. Biblical Reproduction - Intentionally making disciples among all peoples, particularly through church planting
Please continue to pray for us. It is apparent that many people are doing just that!

SC Reading Nerds

Looks like a Solus Christus reading "group" is coming together afterall. Go figure? Let's plan to begin our book the first week of October. I'll try to post a couple of times this week about our Nerd Herd and see if we can generate some more interest. Then, on Friday, I'll plan to divulge the title. That will give everyone a full week to track down the book, which should be ample time to order, receive, and be able to begin reading during the first week of October.

Although I've only read about 1/2 of God is the Gospel, we may take a different route? John Piper claims that all of his books say the same thing (not true, but that's what he says) and recommends only reading one of his titles. God is the Gospel is a wonderful exposition of II Cor. 4, but I'm guessing everyone on the list has read at least one Piper book already. If not, do so.

In keeping with part of the overal vision of this blog, I'd like to see us work through a lesser known title, and in so doing, hope to expose some of our readers to an author or book they wouldn't have heard of otherwise. Suggestions? New or old, but preferably not to thick!

Here's our geek roll:
  1. Brad Nelson
  2. Jim Suggs
  3. Jake Shivley
  4. Melissa Sparks
  5. Anthony Mathenia
  6. Clif Johnson
  7. Ron Franks
  8. Kirk Benson
  9. Jordan Thomas
  10. Brienne Smith
  11. Kevin Wilkins
  12. Debbie Thomas
  13. Jonathan Hopper
  14. Nate "Dawg" Sawyer
Come on, you know want to join!

The Best-Worst Sermon I've Ever Heard On The Subject

Contrary to popular belief, today's pulpits are not full of "fire and brimstone preaching." At least, that's what Don Whitney will tell you. In his sermon this morning at Union Avenue Baptist Church, he suggested that this morning's crowd would've been hard-pressed to remember the last time they heard a sermon on the subject of hell. If he would have singled me out as an example, he'd been right. Can you remember the last time you heard a sermon on hell?

With that being said, Don's message was the best-worst sermon I've ever heard on the subject of hell. I trembled at the magnitude of the infinte wrath of our Omnipotent God. Don was right in proclaiming that God is not absent in hell, but rather fully, infinitely, and eternally exposing the full-brunt of His righteous wrath against the eternally unrepentant. Hell is not an escape from God, but an endless enduring of the vindication of Himself against sinners. Appropriate solemnity, noticable trepidation, and biblical fidelity filled the sermon.

Once the sermon is posted (here) I would recommend two things; (1) Etch out 1 hour of a day, with at least one day's advance notice. Pray regularly before coming to that hour. Spend the first 15 minutes of the blocked off hour praying for Holy Spirit-empowered sensitivity of heart to the things of God, and (2) in the last 45 minutes listen, uninteruppted, to Don's message. This is a sermon that should be heard, but should not be entered into lightly. Be it known, there is no arm-twisting in this sermon. No "get 'em down the isle" antics. Just straight, plain, and clear biblical teaching.

The text: Matthew 25:31-46 - 25:41 being the focal text.
7 things Jesus teaches about hell in verse 41:
  1. Hell is real
  2. Hell is separation from God (In one sense)
  3. Hell is for all accursed ones
  4. Hell is eternal
  5. Hell is a fire
  6. Hell is a prepared fire
  7. Hell is eternity with the devil and his angels
  1. Hell is inevitable if you don't come to Christ. All one must do to go to hell is die.
  2. Hell is inescapable once you are there. There is no getting out.
  3. Hell is avoidable for all who come to Jesus Christ!
The entire spiritual disciplines conference was helpful, the sermon was soul-jarring.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Man Pleaser, The Will of Man, And the Will of God

Pilate is the man-pleaser who delivered Jesus to the will of man in fulfillment of the will of God!
Pilate said..."I find no guilt in this man." - Luke 23:4

Pilate summoned...the people, and said to them, "...I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him. I will therefore punish Him and release Him. - Luke 23:13-16

...Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again - Luke 23:20

[Pilate] said to them the third time, "Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; I will therefore punish Him and release Him." - Luke 23:22

And their voices began to prevail. And Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand should be granted. - Luke 23:24

But [Pilate] delivered Jesus to their will. - Luke 23:25

An Idea

I have experienced tremendous spiritual benefit through the years by being involved in reading groups with other Christians. I wonder if something like that could happen through this blog?

Maybe we could set a goal of 8 or more people who would agree to be part of our "group" (and since we meet in cyberspace, there's room for an unlimited # of people). Group members would agree to read through a certain portion of a certain book at certain specified times. Then, we could interact with the author through this blog on a certain day of the week. Make sense?

We would operate just like a reading group, but our "meeting" would be held at on a certain specified day of the week. On that day, I would create a post saying "________ (book name) - pp 1-22". Then I would attempt, in a paragraph or two, to summarize the author's main point for that particular section. Then, those in our "group" could chime in with comments (and anyone under the sun could interact with our comments), but at least we could stimulate one another's thinking, and hopefully, personal holiness.

Ok, it's only an idea at this point. Maybe a dumb one? If you're interested then post a comment (and perhaps a book that you've not already read but would like to read). I'm in. If we have at least eight people who will commit to finish the book and supply comments from the weekly reading it's a go. Hooray for book nerds!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Don't Forget

This weekend.

Cost at the door remains $12!

Friday, September 15
6:45p Welcome / Prayer
7:00p Session 1
7:50p Break
8:00p Session 2
9:00p Closing

Saturday, September 16
8:30a Prayer
8:40a Session 3
9:50a Break
10:00a Session 4
11:10a Break
11:20a Session 5
12:30p Closing

Sunday, September 17
9:00a Continental Breakfast
9:30a Session 6
10:30a Break
10:50a Don Preaches in Worship

* There will be snacks provided during all breaks.
* Tapes will be available for order for each session.

Interest Meeting #2 - September 17

Lord willing, this Sunday at 5p we will host the second Interest Meeting for Grace Church. You are more than welcome to join us. This week we will look at the biblical essentials of church health. How is health promoted in the life of a local church?

Although our list is admittedly not exhaustive, we could consider the essentials to be:

  1. Expository Exultation
  2. Biblical Prayer
  3. Biblical Theology
  4. Biblical Gospel
  5. Biblical View of Conversion
  6. Biblical Evangelism
  7. Biblical Requirements for Membership
  8. Biblical Church Discipline
  9. Biblical Reproduction
  10. Biblical Leadership
Notice a common thread? Clearly, our list is adapted from 9 Marks of a Healthy Church.


Friends. What a gift! That is, if our friendships are Christ-exalting rather than Christ-condemning.
Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been at enmity with each other. - Luke 23:12
"That very day" is none other than the day of Christ's crucifixion when he appeared before Pilate, Herod, and Pilate again. What a shame for a friendship to be forged in the crucible of Christ's condemnation! How were your closest friendships forged?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Reading the Gospels...With Anticipation

The four gospels are about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ - the God-Man. Written to be understood, and to compel us to love Jesus, these four biographies of the Person and work of Christ must not become stale to our taste.

I'm currently meditating through Luke's gospel. Today, I made it to the end of chapter 22. Jesus is in custody, has been denied, mocked, beaten, blindfolded, and in many other ways, blasphemed (Luke 22:54-65).

Yes, we know the end of the story. Praise God! But what about that night? Go there. Watch it unfold. Sit close to the warmth of the fire beside the slave girl, who, leaning over to you while pointing across the glow at Peter says, "This man was with Him too." Hear Rocky's tone of voice as he says, "Woman, I do not know Him."

Look at the grip the man has on Jesus' tricep. And notice the handful of mocking men standing beside Him. Did you hear what they just Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God? Oh, how heavy your heart is sinking as you watch Him take a punch to the jaw (A blow He never saw coming) for the 4th time. Then the blindfold? What are they doing to Him?

If you are there, you don't get the priviledge of fastforwarding to the next morning - and wouldn't want that anyway because that's when it gets even worse - when they mount Him on a timber; naked, shredded, and gasping for air until He dies.

That is where Luke leaves us until morning. Sleep on that! Isn't He God? Have you trusted a fraud? You left your job. They were right, you should have kept seeing patients, mending nets, keeping books. Now what? What now?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tough Texts - Hebrews 6:4-6

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

God's Plan For Theology

From Two-Age:

What is God's plan and purpose for theology?

"Theology is taught by God, teaches God, and leads to God." God's purpose for theology is the gathering of His elect people from every tongue tribe and nation into one new man in Christ by the resurrection of the dead to share uniterrupted and uncompromisable fellowship with Him for all eternity in perfect and perpetual worship and fullness of joy. In short the purpose of theology is the knowledge of God by His people, even as they are known by Him.

Anthony Carter's Blog

For over a year now I've been reading Anthony Carter's very perceptive blog. He has a passion to see the God-centered gospel of our glorious God speed ahead rapidly - especially among his own African American culture.

Here's a sampling of his many great posts:

Monday, September 11, 2006

Spiritual Formation Conference - Don Whitney

Union Avenue Baptist Church will be hosting their annual Spiritual Formation Conference this weekend (September 15-16). The guest speaker will be author and seminary professor Don Whitney.

I encourage to you attend if possible.

Husbands Love Your Wives As Christ Loved The Church And Gave Himself Up For Her

Here's a loving word from a husband to his wife.

How To Not Be Liked & Undermine Your Faith

I've done a few of these.

(HT: Tim Challies)

Recommended Reading

This recommended reading list is from the ministry of Alistar Begg - a pastor I continue to hear positive things about.

As is well said here, acess to books is a grace to us all.

1st Interest Meeting

Though it is hard for us to believe, the first Interest Meeting for Grace Church is a past event. We praise the Lord for those who were able to attend, and for the grace given to share why this new church is being planted. Please continue to pray with us for God to be glorified as we treasure Jesus Christ and spread His eternal joy.

A recap of what we shared:

Why Plant Grace Church?

In respose to the greatness of God, we exist to...

Glorify God
by treasuring Jesus Christ
and spreading His eternal joy.

How will Grace Church live her vision?

By living in dependence upon the Holy Spirit we will seek to...

Guide people to faith in Jesus Christ
Grow in biblical maturity

Go to the neighborhoods and nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Happy Birthday Son!

Andrew Jordan Thomas is 2 years old today. Party time!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Unconventional Commercial for A New Church

They probably think I'm crazy? Maybe they're right? Earlier this week I had an opportunity to announce Grace Church to about 150 medical students at UT Memphis. With a 90 second shot, here's what I attempted to say (I think I got the heart of it across):

Perhaps you are already well aware that God Almighty brought you to Memphis for more than your professional training? Maybe His intention, for some of you, is to connect you to a new church in downtown called Grace Church. Maybe, just maybe, His purposes for connecting you to this new church are for your spiritual edification, equiping, your being challenged, encouraged, instructed, rebuked, nurtured, disciplined, and all of the other things that come with being attached to a New Testament church. But, maybe there's even more to it than that? Perhaps God wants you to be attached to this church during your years in Memphis in order for this new church to assist in mobilizing you to use your professional skills as a means of gaining access to places and peoples of the world who are closed to Christian missionaries in order for you to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to unbelieving peoples so they too will give their praise to Jesus Christ Who alone is worthy (Yes, that's a run on sentence). We're starting an eight week series of Interest Meetings this Sunday at 5p - September 10 - at the Bridges center behind St. Jude to unfold our vision, values, and distinctives. We'd like for you to consider joining us for these meetings. If you are interested in a church like this, or have any questions about the church, Bryan and I would love to talk with you.
We had a few good conversations. We'll see if the Lord intends for any of these students to darken the door of GC in route to lighting the path for some of the unreached peoples of the world - like the most unreached; the Nadja Bedouin of Iraq?

The All-Seeing Eyes of God

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good. - Proverbs 15:3

Sheol and Abaddon lie open before the Lord, how much more the hearts of men! - Proverbs 15:11

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Interest Meetings for Grace Church - 3 Days Away

Thank you all again for your prayers as we are drawing ever closer to September 10, our first Interest Meeting for Grace Church. The meeting will begin at 5p.

If you are childless, and are willing to help us set up, would you email me (click my email at upper right of this page) and let me know you can be there at 3:30 to lend a hand? We need about 10 folks.

Thank you

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Sufficiency of Christ

Nathan's post reminded me of this hymn.

Jesus, Jesus, all-sufficient,
Beyond telling is Thy worth;
In Thy Name lie greater treasures
Than the richest found on earth.
Such abundance
Is my portion with my God.

In Thy gracious face there's beauty
Far surpassing every thing
Found in all the earth's great wonders
Mortal eye hath ever seen.
Rose of Sharon,
Thou Thyself art heaven's delight.

William Williams, 1717-91;
tr. by Robert Maynard Jones (Bobi Jones), 1929-

Quotable Godward Influencer - Herman Bavinck

The God who appears to Jacob determines the future. Although the God of Israel dwells in the midst of His people in the house which Solomon builds for Him, yet even the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, I Kings 8:27. he reveals Himself in nature, and lives along with His people, as it were; but at the same time he is the Incomprehensible, Job 26:14; 36:26; 37:5, the Incomparable, Is. 40:18, 25; 46:5, the One who is exalted infinitely above time and space and every creature, Is. 40:12 ff.; 41:14; 44:6; 48:12, the One and only true God, Ex. 20:3, 11; Deut. 4:35, 39; 32:19; I Sam. 2:2; Is. 44:8. Although He, indeed reveals Himself in His names, no name expresses Him adequately. He is without name. His name is wonderful, Gen. 32:29; Judg. 13:18; Prov. 30:4. The profundities of Deity are far too deep to be sounded by us, Job 11:7,8.
The Doctrine of God, 18.

God - Self - Sin - Salvation

I've found no better help to see the relationships between biblical theology and practical experience than the four-fold pattern laid out by Richard Owen Roberts in Salvation in Full Color.

He writes, A powerful relationship exists between what a person thinks of God, what they think of themself, what they think of sin, and what they think of salvation (Roberts, xi).

In his introduction, Roberts shows how:
  1. A Right View of God leads to
  2. A Right View of Self, then to
  3. A Right View of Sin, and finally to
  4. A Right View of Salvation
If correct, then seeing God for who He is in the Scriptures is indispensable for those who desire to be saved by Him. Isn't it only obvious that for someone to be saved he must know (at some level) the God who does the saving? This is not to suggest that Robert's is under the delusion that anyone has an exhaustive knowledge of God. But, there must at least be the beginnings of a biblically informed view of Him to begin the pattern. Agreed?

Excerpts from Roberts introduction:

A Right View of God
Many tolerate a view of God which is vastly beneath the revelation which God makes of Himself in the Holy Scriptures.

Contrary to the thinking of many, God is not evolving into a softer, more cuddly Being, but is as full of righteous indignation now as when He flooded the earth, destroying the civilization of Noah's day and when He poured fire and brimstone from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah.
A Right View of Self
Every person who maintains a view of God as high as is set forth in the Bible is forced into a correspondingly low view of self. No man can be great in his own eyes when his eyes are fixed on the high and lofty one whose name is holy, who alone is great. Conversely, a degraded view of God promotes an inordinately high view of self.
A Right View of Sin
A high view of self invaribly leads to a distorted view of sin. The proud sinner demands the right to determine what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behavior for himself. His pride forbids him to bow to God's definition of sin, and his arrogance enables him to snub his nose at God's threatnings and warnings.

In that pride prevails both in the world and in the church, new definitions of sin are issued and degradation marches like an army of locusts across the land.
A Right View of Salvation
A distorted view of sin naturally leads to a corrupted view of salvation. If, by human definition, sin is of minor consequence, then the need of a God-sized salvation is eliminated.

If it is not New Testament salvation, and if it is not the salvation of historic Christianity, is it salvation at all?

Tough Texts - The Lord Relented

Exodus 32:14
II Samuel 24:16
Amos 7:3
Amos 7:6


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Nuggets of the sufficiency of Christ from a suffering saint

Some of you may be aware that it was nearly three weeks ago when my grandfather went home to be with the Lord. I called my grandmother yesterday to check on her and let her know I have been praying for her and feel it necessary to pass on a few excerpts of unprompted Christ-exalting nuggets she gave me.

'God has been gracious and good to me, how can I ask for more?'

'I've been trying to focus more on the blessings than the loss'

'I've been praying for God to have glory for what we went through...I mean, for how He took us through it'

'I will be okay because I have the Lord and family. I have concerns that lie ahead but I need not worry about them...He will take care of me'

For what it's worth, my grandmother has no idea I'm posting her comments. This is nothing more than Christ exuding from her life! May the Lord grant us grace when the trials come to hope in Him! Psalm 27:13-14

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Wyatt Baptist Church

Please pray for me and the congregation of Wyatt Baptist Church this weekend as I will have the priviledge of preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ to them from Matthew 7:7-12.

Desiring God - New Website

Desiring God has totally revamped their website. The interface is usable and the site contains much much more than the previous one. Check it out.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Quoted in CT

Last week an email from a friend brought my attention to the fact that I was quoted in the latest issue of Christianity Today. Since then a few more calls and emails have come from those who saw the quote. The article (Which should be online here sometime soon?) takes a look at the rise of Reformed Theology among the younger generations in American evangelicalism.

Overall, I have very little excitement about the rise of reformed soteriology among younger generations. I've known more than my fair share of self-centered, prideful, arrogant un-Christlike Calvinists (As could also be said of many that I've met who profess Christ but deny the foundational tenets of a reformed soteriological framework).

The main issue is whether or not we love Jesus Christ. Do you love Him? Love Him? Love Him? Jesus was not a Calvinist. Calvin, I believe, was a Jesusist. As is evidenced through his commentaries, not to mention The Institutes, he loved Jesus Christ with a God-given love that excelled all other loves. Again, do you love Him? Is He - Jesus Christ - your Supreme Treasure?

Calvin, insofar as I can discern, believed and articulated the biblical teaching of God's sovereign rule over all things - including the salvation of individual sinners (e.g., here and here). He was not willing to limit the scope of God's providential reign - because of what he read in Scripture - over all things both big and small.

Regarding the salvation of sinners, God is gracious to save any, and indeed will save some, and at what a cost! To be loved by God - at the expense of the life of His only Son - is truth that ignites an eternal devotion to Jesus in the affections of all who have tasted such a great salvation! (Posthumously, it was the followers of Calvin - not Calvin himself - that developed the acrostic TULIP as a way of summarizing his teachings on salvation. This was done particularly as a means of defending against the biblically erroneous soteriological framework that was being promoted by Jacobus Arminius).

Overall, I think Collin's Christianity Today article is a fair treatment of the growing trend and is written even-handedly. Mark well, At the end of the day it will not matter how many Calvinists there were. All that will matter is your paramount allegiance to King Jesus Christ or the lack thereof. If such allegiance exists in you, it will be evidenced by a Holy Spirit-enabled progressive conformity into the image of the Jesus you love so supremely. A progression that is impossible to divorce from biblical fidelity. Therefore, may biblical theology come to bear as heavily on our consciences as possible and may the result be an instantaneous and eternal treasuring of Jesus Christ!

May God be greatly glorified through the salvation of many sinners in Memphis, TN through the ministries of Grace Church! Pray with us to that end. Pray for us to treasure Jesus Christ above all else.