Monday, July 30, 2012

Sermon: It's Not About Me!

I suppose people in all times and places have had a certain level of narcissism. It is our tendency to see the world from our own vantage point, and such a limited perspective will inevitably lead to a sense that the world revolves around me.

A couple months ago I wrote a blog post about this topic and referenced 1 Timothy 1:15-17. Yesterday I preached from this passage, dealing specifically with our need to gain a better perspective on self, a better perspective on others, and (ultimately) a better perspective on God. Audio is available here for you to listen to or download.

A Word for Preachers...Eric Alexander on Prayer's Role in Preaching

"So there is a world of difference between true biblical preaching and an academic lecture or a rhetorical performance. We are utterly dependent on the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. Thank God, he uses the weak things of this world to confound the mighty, and the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are (1 Cor. 1:28). This is why it is absolutely essential to marry prayer to the ministry of the Word. In our ministries prayer is not supplemental; it is fundamental.

"Of course we subscribe to the principal that this work is God's work, not ours.' We subscribe to that because we are biblical Evangelicals, but the logical corollary of that statement is that prayer is a fundamental issue in the ministry of the Word, as in every part of our labor, and not, as we tend to make it, a supplemental matter."

Eric J. Alexander
What is Biblical Preaching?

Friday, July 27, 2012

RefNet: 24-Hour Christian Internet Radio

I have long wondered, with such of plethora of options out there, why I could never find a Christian TV or radio station that could be counted upon to offer consistently sound teaching. There are certainly great teachers who are on the air, but inevitably they share the airwaves with others who are somewhere along the spectrum between "poor" and "heretical."

In light of this, imagine my excitement yesterday when I found out about Refnet, a new ministry of Ligonier Ministries. Refnet is an online radio station, streaming with solid content 24 hours a day. You can listen via your computer or through the free app that is offered through the iTunes App Store. Programming includes preaching, teaching, Bible readings, news, music, audiobooks, biblically-based audio drama produced & more.

Friday Fun...Now That's Playing a Piano!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...C.S. Lewis on Pride

"It is a terrible thing that the worst of all the vices can smuggle itself into the very center of our religious life. But you can see why. The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this does not come through our animal nature at all It comes direct from Hell. It is purely spiritual: consequently it is far more subtle and deadly. For the same reason, Pride can often be used to beat down the simpler vices. Teachers, in fact, often appeal to a boy’s Pride, or, as they call it, his self-respect, to make him behave decently: many a man has overcome cowardice, or lust, or ill-temper by learning to think that they are beneath his dignity -- that is, by Pride. The devil laughs. He is perfectly content to see you becoming chaste and brave and self-controlled provided, all the time, he is setting up in you the Dictatorship of Pride -- just as he would be quite content to see your chilblains cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer. For Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense."

C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ryken on Self-Righteousness

"Those who are confident about their own righteousness are not justified…Unless you consider yourself the worst of sinners – knowing the sinful attitudes of your heart are as dishonoring to a perfectly holy God as any sins can be – you are still learning what it means to be a Christian, because genuine Christians are firmly convinced of the wretchedness of their sin."

Philip Ryken

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Word for Preachers...Chandler on Proclaiming Gospel Reconciliation

"Thinking about gospel reconciliation in concentric circles, we are reconciled first to God in Christ, then to one another in covenant community, and third to what God is doing in the renewal of all creation. To put it another way, think of the gospel as a stone landing in a pond. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are the cause of many ripples; they are the epicenter of God’s work in the world. The first ripple is our personal reconciliation to God. The second ripple establishes the body of Christ, as we are reconciled to each other. The third ripple is the missional posture of the church as we mobilize to proclaim the fullness of reconciliation in the gospel. In essence, we are reconciled to reconcile."

Matt Chandler
The Explicit Gospel

The Attraction to Legalism

This morning I saw a really helpful post by Matthew R. Olson entitled The Attraction to Legalism. In it he discusses how easy it is to become a legalist, and how hard it is to identify yourself as such. He makes the following point:
I have heard the argument, “I am not a legalist, because I believe that salvation is by grace through faith and not of works.” Wrong. Legalism is more than just a false doctrine of justification; it is also false doctrine of sanctification. Paul made this very clear in Galatians. They had begun “by means of the Spirit” and were now attempting to live their lives “by means of the flesh.” It is possible to be an orthodox Christian and still be a legalist. The same error that plagued the Jews, and early church, is alive today—in all of our churches.
Indeed, legalism is an enemy of the gospel and can ever so easily threaten each our churches. I recommend that you click here and read the entire post.

(HT: David Crabb)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Questions in the Face of Tragedy

In the midst of the tragic shootings in Aurora, Colorado, we are left once again asking the same questions such terrible events inevitably prompt: Why did this happen? What is it we could have done differently to avoid such a terrible occurrence? Who ultimately is to blame? Collin Hansen's blog post at The Gospel Coalition looks back to another horrific murder, and offers the best response to these questions I've read yet. In it he writes: 
Jesus knew exactly who to blame for his impending execution. He stared into the faces of the chief priests and scribes who sought his death. He answered to Pilate, who signed his death sentence. And yet, when he looked out on these murderers from the excruciating elevation of the cross, he prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).
No cry of why will satisfy our search for a reasonable explanation to the horrors of this age. But the God-man who cried, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" comforts us in our grief (Matt 27:46). Even more, his unjust death and ultimate triumph in resurrection is the very means by which we can begin even now to enjoy never-ending peace with the "Father of mercies and God of all comfort" (2 Cor 1:3).
Jesus had no illusions about why the nations rage. They rage in their sin, against their God, going so far as to put God in human flesh to death. But such evil plots in vain, because the ascended Jesus promises to return in justice. He will hold his and the Aurora movie theater's murderers to account. And he will usher in the safety and security of the new heavens and new earth for all who believe in him.
"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4).
You can read the whole post here.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Fun...A Little Bit of Joy

(HT: Challies)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pensive, Doubting, Fearful Heart

I heard this song this morning for the first time. Originally a hymn penned by John Newton, it has been updated here by Red Mountain Music. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

(HT: Challies)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Schaeffer on Non-Christians

"When we have the opportunity to talk to the non-Christian, what (if not the formula mentality) should be the dominant consideration? I think this should be love. I think these things turn on love and compassion to people not as objects to evangelize, but as people who deserve all the love and consideration we can give them, because they are our kind and made in the image of God. They are valuable, so we should meet them in love and compassion. Thus, we meet the person where he or she is."

Francis Schaeffer
The God Who Is There

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Praying through the Psalms

"By using the Psalms, you will find that instead of seeing God as a cosmic vending machine, you will grow to know him as your Father in heaven. You will drink deeply of his grace. You will find your nourishment in his truth. Prayer becomes about something more than information. It fosters transformation."

Stanley D. Gale
Why Do We Pray?

Monday, July 16, 2012

J.D. Greear on the "Sinner's Prayer"

J.D. Greear offers some real helpful, balanced perspective in a recent article in Christianity Today entitled, Should We Stop Asking Jesus Into Our Hearts?
Belief and repentance are the only prescribed biblical instruments for laying hold of salvation. They might be expressed in a "sinner's prayer," but they are fundamentally postures of the heart toward God. It is possible to pray a sinner's prayer and not have repented and believed. It is also possible to repent and believe without articulating such a prayer.
He continues,
Salvation (is) obtained by simply resting on the two "facts" God had promised about Jesus: he was crucified as the payment for our sins; he was resurrected as proof that God accepted the payment. Just as Abraham was saved by believing God would keep his word, I was saved by believing he had. 
 Click here to read the whole article.

(HT: David Crabb)

How Are Our Prayers & God's Soverignty Related?

Recently I've been working through the Basics of the Faith series of booklets published by Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing. I've found that the booklets in this ever-growing series (now numbering 30+) are extremely accessible and helpful in giving overviews of their various topics.

In reading Stanley D. Gale's Why Do We Pray?, I came across this nugget that I thought I'd share:
"How do our prayers relate to God's eternal plan? The answer is that God has ordained our freely offered, honestly expressed petitions as his appointed means to accomplish his eternal purposes."
Somehow, in a way I don't (can't?) fully understand, God's power is at work in and through my prayers, not working independently from God's sovereignty, but rather as an agent of it. So let us pray!

A Word for Preachers...Lloyd-Jones on Expository Preaching

"We must ever remember that Truth of God while meant primarily for the mind is also meant to grip and to influence the entire personality. Truth must always be applied, and to handle a portion of Scripture as one might handle a play of Shakespeare in a purely intellectual and analytical manner is to abuse it. People have often complained that commentaries are "as dry as dust." There is surely something seriously wrong if that is the case. Any kind of exposition of "the glorious gospel of the blessed God" should ever produce such an impression. It is my opinion that we have had far too many brief commentaries on and studies in Scriptures. The greatest need today is a return to expository preaching. That is what happened in the time of the Reformation and the Puritan Revival and the Evangelical Awakening of the 18th Century. It is only as we return to this that we shall be able to show people the grandeur, glory and majesty of the Scriptures and their message."

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Romans: An Exposition of Chapters 3:20-4:25, Atonement and Justification

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Fun...Writing Country Music

Have you ever wondered how to write a successful country song? Andy Gullahorn shares the answer...

(HT: Challies)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Chapell on True Standards of Holiness

"It is very hard, but biblically necessary, not to judge others because of their disagreement with our judgment regarding scripturally uncertain issues. An 'Aha! moment' occurred for me in ministry when I learned to ask a key question about advising others: Is it more wrong to allow what God prohibits, or to prohibit what God allows? This is actually a trick question because both alternatives are equally wrong. Either alternative would put me in the position of Lawgiver. God allows only himself the prerogative to determine holy standards."

Bryan Chapell
Holiness by Grace

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Word for Preachers...Trueman on God's Presence in Preaching

"One of the reasons, I think, that preaching is often not done well is that people who preach don't understand what they are doing. That's a rather blunt way of putting it: They do understand a certain amount: They know they're going to read the Bible, they're going to exegete the passage, et cetera, et cetera, but they need a bigger theological understanding of precisely what is going on.

"In the Middle Ages, we could put it this way: We could say, 'God's presence is mediated to the people as they gather as a church through the Sacrament.' That's why your eyes focus on the table when you walk into Cologne Cathedral. The most important thing is 'Where does God, if you like, come down and meet the people?' In the Sacrament."

"...With the Reformation,  God's presence is mediated in the Word. Have you ever thought about it? When you preach on a Sunday, you are not just passing on information. You are not just giving enthusiastic talks. There is a sense in which, when you preach, you are mysteriously mediating the presence of God to your people."

Carl Trueman
Why the Reformation Isn't Over
Together for the Gospel 2012