Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Fun...Call Me Maybe

From the faculty and staff at Grand Blanc East Middle school where my son is a 7th grader...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Chapell on Sharing in Christ's Identity

The nature and benefits of sharing Christ's identity could be seen in a comparison to the modern gas stations that allow us to use our credit cards at the pump. I have learned to appreciate these pumps not simply because I no longer have to hike into the office of the station to pay, but because I don't have to go to the station at all. If my son needs the car, I can give him my credit card to use at the pump. At his current economy he usually doesn't have the means to get what he needs, so he uses the card with my name on it. With my permission and according to my desire, he assumes my identity. Though he cannot fulfill the conditions required for payment, my son has all of my credit available to him. He meets the qualifications required to use that pump because the machine gives him the credit that is really mine. My son, though he could not provide it himself, acts with my identity and, thus, has all the credit that I have earned.

Bryan Chapell
Holiness by Grace

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Fun...Four Extra Hot Dog Buns

I was reminded this morning of this scene from one of my favorite movies...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sinclair Ferguson on the Praying Church

The other day Ligonier posted a portion of a 2008 interview with Sinclair Ferguson. In it Ferguson discussed what most troubled him about the Church in our day. I found his words instructive and convicting.
Again there is the lack of prayer and of the Church praying. This is to me the most alarming, for this reason: we have built apparently strong, large, successful, active churches. But many of our churches never meet as a congregation for prayer. I mean never! What does that indicate we are saying about the life of the Church as a fellowship? By contrast, the mark of a truly apostolic spirit in the church is that that we give ourselves to prayer and the Word together (Acts 6:4). No wonder “the Word of God continued to increase and the number of the disciples multiplied” (Acts 6:7). If this is so, it should not surprise us that while many churches see growth, it is often simply reconfiguration of numbers, not of conversion. I greatly wish that our churches would learn to keep the main things central, that we would learn to be true Churches, vibrant fellowships of prayer, Gospel ministry and teaching, genuine mutual love. At the end of the day, such a Church simply needs to “be” for visitors who come to sense that this is a new order of reality altogether and are drawn to Christ.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...The Glory of Christ

"His glory is far too great for our small minds to understand so we can never give him the praise due to him. But by faith we can have some knowledge of Christ and his glory, and that knowledge is better than any other form of wisdom or understanding. The apostle Paul said, 'I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord' (Philippians 3:8). If our future happiness means being where Christ is and seeing his glory, there is no better preparation for it than to fill our thoughts with that glory now. So we shall gradually be changed into that glory."

John Owen
The Glory of Christ

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kings, Servants and the Yokes that Bind Them Together

In 1 Kings 12 we read about Rehoboam, who became king after his father Solomon died. When he ascended to the throne, the people came to him with a request.
“Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” (1 Kings 12:4)
Rehoboam realized that his fledgling kingship stood in the balance and knew that this was a moment that  would truly define his reign. He told them that he would answer their request in three days, and then wisely sought out the advice of the older men who had advised his father.
And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” (1 Kings 12:7)
Instead of acting on this advice though, Rehoboam also sought out the counsel of another group, and they advised him quite differently.
And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father's thighs. And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”(1 Kings 12:10-11)
Rehoboam unwisely heeded this advice and as a result, the people rebelled and his kingdom was divided.
I suppose that a whole series of sermons could be preached from this passage and there are many applications that we could take from it.

This morning though, as I read about Rehoboam, the descendent of David and Solomon, I could not help but think of another King who like him, was also a descendent of David and Solomon. One who understood what it meant to have and exercise power. One who knew what it meant to be served by others. Even so, this King instructed his followers,
It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)
And to all those who longed for relief from the heavy yoke under which they were bound, he proclaimed,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
May we always remember that he who had ALL power chose to become a servant, even to the point of dying on our behalf. And this he did in order that we might be freed from the burdensome yoke of sin and death. In response, may we be bound to him by his easy yoke, may we serve one another in his name, and may we be his servants forever!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Stephen Curtis Chapman Christmas Album

When I was in college, my roommate and I went with my girlfriend (now my wife of 17 years) and her roommate to see Stephen Curtis Chapman in concert. We traveled from the University of Missouri in Columbia to the State Fairgrounds in Sedalia by means of a Buick Regal that was almost as old as we were.

It was truly an adventure as we blew out a tire, almost blew the engine, and had a great night listening to and singing along with a man who to this day is one of my favorite Christian musicians.
I saw today that on October 16th Chapman is going to release a new Christmas album entitled Joy. It will include seven Christmas classics as well as six new songs that he wrote for the album. Click here for more information about the album, and for information about the 12 Gifts of Christmas Tour, you can click here.

How the Doxology Shapes Us

Far too often I talk to people who base the quality of a church's worship solely upon the type of music they sing on a Sunday morning. There are those who argue that the music and atmosphere of church should be similar to that of a rock concert, while still others can't even imagine calling it "worship" if it doesn't include a pipe organ.

In a world that is full of voices saying all kinds of things about what worship is (and isn't) or should (and should not) be, Zac Hicks is one of my favorites. The subtitle of his blog is "Seeking cultural relevance, biblical depth, historical engagement, & theological reflection in worship," and he somehow actually finds a way to bring these diverse yet admirable goals together!

Zac will certainly never be accused of being a member of the "organ only" club, but he still maintains a high view of the history of worship and the value of traditional liturgy. Today's blog entry was no exception as he extols the benefits of singing the ancient words of the Doxology as part of our worship. I love the way he begins:
One drop of water on a rock has little effect, but a steady dripping will eventually wear a hole into a seemingly impenetrable stone.Singing the Doxology every week is like getting a steady drip of life-giving Trinitarian water over hardened hearts.
So true. So profound. Click here to read the whole post, and gain a sense of how singing the Doxology can shape not only our worship, but our very selves.

A Word for Preachers...Mohler on the Grace of God to the Preacher

"Another critical point for the preacher to understand is that God has given him this calling not for his own benefit but for the benefit of the church. Look at what Paul says in Colossians 1:24: 'I rejoice in my sufferings.' he says, 'for your sake.' He ministered 'for the sake of his body, that is the church.' Our calling to preach is a calling to serve others, and it is given to us entirely by God's grace. We have been called out and granted a stewardship that we do not deserve and that we are not capable of fulfilling. Nonetheless, God chooses us to carry it out."

Al Mohler
He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why Exactly Should We Oppose Blasphemy Laws?

(image source)
This past week, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor in Iraq who had been sentenced to death for blasphemy, was acquitted and released after being imprisoned for nearly three years.

In the wake of this wonderful news, Russell Moore asked an interesting question in a blog post the other day: Why exactly should Christians oppose blasphemy laws. At first thought it would seem the answer is self evident: We should oppose them so that we have the freedom to worship God according to the Bible. But Moore states that we should be against all blasphemy laws, even those which favor Christians.
Fundamentally, this is because blasphemy laws and other uses of state power to enforce religious belief or worship are themselves a repudiation of the beliefs themselves. A religion that needs state power to enforce obedience to its beliefs is a religion that has lost confidence in the power of its Deity.

Christians should fight for the liberty of Muslims in America and around the world to be Muslims, to worship in mosques and to freely seek to persuade others that the Koran is a true revelation of God. This isn’t because we believe in Islamic claims but precisely because we don’t. If we really believe the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, we don’t need bureaucrats to herd people into cowering before it.

The gospel is big enough to fight for itself. And the gospel fights not with the invincible sword of Caesar but with the invisible sword of the Spirit. When we seek to freely persuade our neighbors, and not to coerce them, we are confessing that the Spirit of God is mighty enough to convict of sin, to pull down strongholds and fortresses of the mind and the conscience.
Click here to read Moore's entire post.

Mid-Michigan Conference on Reformed Theology

One of my favorite events each year at Calvary is the Mid-Michigan Conference on Reformed Theology. Since 2004 we have hosted this annual conference the Saturday of Reformation Weekend. Our twin goals are providing excellent teaching as well as developing fellowship among like-minded Christians across our region. The eight previous conferences have largely succeeded in meeting these goals, and there is little doubt that this year's event on October 27th will further accomplish them.

Our theme this year will be Genesis: Five Testimonies to Grace, as each of the conference's five speakers will share with us from the Bible's opening book. Our speakers this year (all pastors from throughout the region) are:
For more information (or to access audio from past years' messages), you can click here to visit the conference page on our church website. You can also download a brochure by clicking here

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Trueman on God's Work Contra Our Sin

"Indeed, one of the most amazing things about church history is the fact that the kingdom of God progresses so often in the teeth of the immortality and infidelity of the people and their leaders. To declare, then, that the church's current problems are is not to forge an unbreakable cause-effect link between our individual behaviour and the effectiveness of the gospel. And thank God that this is so! If such a link existed, who of us here today would ever have been converted? It is only through grace that God enables sinful men and women to lead others to Christ."

Carl Trueman
Reformation: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Word for Preachers...Stott on Humility and Preaching

“The main objective of preaching is to expound Scripture so faithfully and relevantly that Jesus Christ is perceived in all his adequacy to meet human need. The true preacher is a witness; he is incessantly testifying to Christ. But without humility he neither can nor wants to do so. James Denney knew this, and had these words framed in the vestry of his Scottish church, ‘No man can bear witness to Christ and to himself at the same time. No man can give the impression that he himself is clever and that Christ is mighty to save.’”

John Stott
Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today

Failing to Compete4Christ

Kurt Earl is one of the football coaches at Lincoln Christian School in Lincoln, Nebraska and is the author of Compete4Christ. At that blog he encourages Christian athletes to compete on the playing field (win or lose) in a way that brings glory to their Lord.

Today he had a blog post that came from a slightly different angle than he usually provides. It was entitled How I Failed to Compete4Christ. In it he described how the game's action had sent him into a tirade that left him, in his words, "going Bobby Knight on everyone."
The problem wasn’t what I said. It wasn’t like my sentences were laced with curse words. I think what I had to say the guys needed to hear. The problem was the way I went about it. My body language and the tone and volume of my voice were unacceptable. In fact, a friend of mine who was sitting with my wife in the stands said something like, “Kurt looked like a normal coach after that interception” to my wife. Therein lays the problem. I looked normal. I looked like the world.
Click  here to read the entire post and see what happened next, and be reminded with Kurt of how the gospel enables us to not despair in the midst of our failures.
You see, our failures are great opportunities to rest and soak in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In the midst of our mistakes our need for a Savior to stand in our place as the perfect sacrifice is obvious. Friday, as the reality of my mistake was sinking in, I was reminded that only through the power of Christ’s death on the cross am I forgiven and worthy of an eternity in Heaven. I was thankful that my shameful acts of sin do not count against me. Through faith in Christ I stand righteous before God.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Calvin on the Asylum of Prayer

"We are not made of iron, so as not to be shaken by temptations. But this is our consolation, this our solace -- to deposit, or (to speak with greater propriety) to disburden in the bosom of God everything that harasses us. Confidence, it is true, brings tranquility to our minds, but it is only in the event of our exercising ourselves in prayers. Whenever, therefore, we are assailed by any temptation, let us betake ourselves forthwith to prayer, as to a sacred asylum."

John Calvin
Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians (chap. IV. 6.)

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Word for Preachers...Zack Eswine on Christ-Centered Preaching

"According to Paul, the first essential for preaching is Chrsit. Regardless of the time and place in history that one preaches, biblical preaching is meant to be Christ-centered. Christ forms the content of our preaching (him we proclaim). Christ forms the purpose of our preaching (that we may present everyone mature in Christ). Christ is the power for our preaching (with all his energy that he powerfully works within me). To place preaching in the context of Jesus is to remember the redemptive movement of God for our sermons."

Zack Eswine, Preaching to a Post-Everything World: Crafting Biblical Sermons That Connect with our Culture