Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Fun...Caught on Camera

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Keller on the Dignity of Work

"We were built for work and the dignity it gives us as human beings, regardless of its status or pay. The practical implications of this principle are far-reaching. We have the freedom to seek work that suits our gifts and passions. We can be open to greater opportunities for work when the economy is weak and jobs are less plentiful. We no longer have any basis for condescension or superiority; nor is that any basis for envy or feelings of infidelity. And every Christian should be able to identify, with conviction and satisfaction, the ways in which his or her work participates with God in his creativity and cultivation."

Tim Keller
Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Importance of Secondary Doctrines

In an age where many are (rightly) emphasizing the centrality of the gospel and uniting around this common focus, it can become all too easy to minimize "non-essentials" to a status of "non-importance." I really appreciated the helpful  corrective friend and fellow-Michigan pastor Jason Helopoulos offered in a guest post at Kevin DeYoung's blog today. His post included the following quote from 19th century Scottish Presbyterian Thomas Witherow:
Let a man once persuade himself that importance attaches only to what he is pleased to call essentials, whatever their number, and he will, no doubt, shorten his creed and cut away the foundation of many controversies; but he will practically set aside all except a very small part of the Scriptures. If such a principle does not mutilate the Bible, it stigmatizes much of it as trivial. Revelation is all gold for preciousness and purity, but the very touch of such a principle would transmute the most of it into dross.
Jason went on to write, 
Let us unite around the Gospel. Let us be clear in emphasizing and proclaiming it. Let us underscore the importance of justification by faith alone. Let us continually point ourselves and others to the substitutionary atonement of Christ.

But as we do this, let us never say or act as though the other doctrines and teachings of the Scripture are unimportant. “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). We can continue to uphold that which is at the heart of our faith and all the while not neglect or relegate the “secondary” doctrines to that of unimportance.
Click here to read the entire post.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Word for Preachers...Lloyd-Jones on Hesitancy to Preach

"Indeed it seems to be the case that the greater the preacher the more hesitant he has been generally to preach. Oftentimes such men have had to be persuaded by ministers and elders and others to do this; they so shrank from the dread responsibility. This was true of George Whitefield, one of the greatest and most eloquent preachers ever to adorn a pulpit. And it has been true of many others. My argument is, therefore, that a man who feels that he is competent, and that he can do this easily, and so rushes to preach without any sense of fear or trembling, or any hesitation whatsoever, is a man who is proclaiming that he has never been ‘called’ to be a preacher. The man who is called by God is a man who realises what he is called to do, and he so realises the awefulness of the task that he shrinks from it. Nothing but this overwhelming sense of being called, and of compulsion, should ever lead anyone to preach."

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones  
Preachers & Preaching

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Heidelberg Catechism Question 1

Q.  What is thy only comfort in life and death?

A.  That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

Heidelberg Catechism, Question #1

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Word for Preachers...Stott on How We Handle Scripture

"It is certain that we cannot handle Scripture adequately in the pulpit if our doctrine of Scripture is inadequate. Conversely, evangelical Christians, who have the highest doctrine of Scripture in the Church, should be conspicuously the most conscientious preachers. The fact that we are not should cause our heads to hang in shame. If Scripture were largely a symposium of human ideas, though reflecting the faith of the earliest Christian communities, and lit up by an occasional flash of divine inspiration, then a fairly casual attitude to it would be pardonable. But if in Scripture we are handling the very words of the living God, 'words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit' (1 Cor. 2:13), God's words through men's, his own witness to his own Son, then no trouble should be too great in the study and expression of them."

John Stott

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tim Keller's Every Good Endeavor

I just ordered and am very much looking forward to reading Tim Keller's newest release, on the topic of vocation. It is entitled Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work, and below is a brief video preview of the book.

Every Good Endeavor from Redeemer City to City on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sermon: Living as Sojourners and Exiles

Like most of us, I've spent a lot of time recently thinking about politics, government and the election. A week ago Monday I posted A Christian View of the Election...and the Four Years that Follow which was among the most widely read blog posts I've written. Then on Sunday I preached a sermon entitled Living as Sojourners and Exiles,dealing with how exactly we are to live as Christians in America. The following is an excerpt from it:

Freedom is among our most cherished ideals in America. And America has unquestionably blessed by God. Our standard of living and our set of freedoms are unparalleled in human history. For this, we have much to be thankful.

Even so, America is not the “City of God.” Rather she is the city to which we have been exiled. As such, we must heed the words of Jeremiah when he says, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find our welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7) But we must not make the mistake Mitt Romney made a couple weeks ago when he proclaimed that “this nation is the hope of the earth.” No! The hope of the earth is Jesus Christ and him alone. For there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. And when the Bible speaks of a city set upon a hill, it is not speaking of America, but of the Church – that Church which Jesus Christ builds and tells us that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it! (Matthew 16:18)

Let us therefore, like our father, Abraham “look forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God,” (Hebrews 11:10) for there is a day coming when “The kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15)

So we trust not in earthly kingdoms or Presidents. Not in politicians, Democrat or Republican. For if you place your confidence in politicians, you will be disappointed. And if you place your ULTIMATE confidence in them, you will ultimately find yourself devastated.

Rather we trust in our King who has once come and who is to return! And as we await that return, we live as sojourners and exiles: People who are honorable. People under authority. And people who are free.

Click here to listen to this and other sermons of mine in their entirety.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Testimonies of Grace in Genesis

A couple weeks ago, we at Calvary had the honor of hosting the 9th annual Mid-Michigan Conference on Reformed Theology. Our theme this year was Genesis: Five Testimonies to Grace. Each of the conference's five speakers chose a character from the Bible's first book and demonstrated from their lives how we might see the prevalance of the grace of God, even before the Law had been given! Our speakers were:
Click here to access audio from this year's conference (as well as from that from the previous eight years).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Russell Moore on Honoring the President

After a long night (and a far longer campaign), Russell Moore's blog post this morning really resonated with me and reflected much of what I've tried to communicate to others throughout this election cycle. The whole post is certainly worth reading, but if you must only take a quick glance, try the following paragraph:
"Christians, above all people, should pray for and show respect for our President and all of our elected officials. After all, unlike those who see politics as ultimate, we recognize that our political structures are important, but temporal, before an inbreaking kingdom of Christ. We don’t then need to be fomented into the kind of faux outrage that passes for much of contemporary political discourse. And, unlike those who see history as impersonal or capricious, we see behind everything a God who is sovereign over his universe."

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom...Chapell on the Cross of Christ

"The cross of Christ is the warrant for confidence in God's promises of ultimate good, despite great heartache. Jesus' agony did not indicate that God failed, or that the faith of the one who died was weak. The suffering caused and inflicted by evil (Psalm 22:16) still was within God's will (Acts 2:23) and served a purpose so loving, so powerful, and so good that our eternity changed as a result (Isaiah 53:4, 10; Matthew 26:31; Revelation 13:8). Through Jesus' resurrection, we learn that our God has power over evil, but through the cross he gains power over hearts. Though the human mind will reach its frayed end trying to reconcile earth's tragedies with God's goodness, the heart remains bound to God, knowing that the provider of the cross can mean no ill. Making much of the blood is neither maudlin nor manipulative; rather, the sacrifice of Christ is the heart's ultimate solace in times of great pain."

Bryan Chapell
The Hardest Sermons You'll Ever Have to Preach

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Christian View of the Election...and the Four Years That Follow

I've posted the following thoughts before, but given that the election is tomorrow, I felt like I wanted to re-state these truths (with a few very minor adaptations to fit our current context).

Tomorrow is election day in the United States of America. Not only will the presidential election be held, but votes will be cast for and against many other candidates and issues.  As an American, you have a right to express your opinions and vote for the candidates that you feel best represent them. Some would argue that these are not just your rights, but your responsibility.  So go ahead and vote tomorrow.

As you vote though--especially if you're a Christian--I want to remind you of these important facts: Regardless of who is ultimately elected, 
  • They serve not just because they got the most votes, but because it is the will of God that they do so (Romans 13:1).
  • As such, and in light of their position, they are entitled to our respect (1 Peter 2:17).
  • We are to pray, intercede and give thanks for them (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Ultimately, we need to remember that whoever wins this (or any election), we must not fall into the trap of believing that their election will fix (or ruin) everything. Things are already pretty messed up, and that goes back not to any decision made by a politician, but to Adam’s decision in the Garden of Eden to forsake the will of God (Genesis 3:17-19).

There is One coming though who will set all things right. But He will not come to power on the basis of the electoral college in accordance with the laws of the land. Rather He will come with power that is already His in accordance with the promises of God (Revelation 21:1-5).

Regardless of political trends and election results, may our ultimate prayer tomorrow (and every day) be this: Come, Lord Jesus!

A Word for Preachers...Ferguson on Preaching to the Heart

"In the last analysis, this is what preaching to the heart is preaching to the heart is intended to produce: inner prostration of the hearts of our listeners through a consciousness of the presence and the glory of God. The result distinguishes authentic biblical preaching from any cheap substitute; it marks the difference between preaching about the Word of God and preaching the Word of God.

"The presence of this threefold openness, then, is most desirable in preaching. When there is the exposition of the Scriptures, an enlarging and opening of the preacher's heart, and the exposing of the hearts of the hearers, then the majesty of the Word of God written will be self-evident and the presence of the Word of God Incarnate will stand forth in all His glory."

Sinclair Ferguson
Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching