Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Happy Thanksgiving

Psalm 100

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

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A blast from the past

Retreat 20100 was an incredible experience! Again I want to thank Dr. Bruce Ware for making room for us on his calendar. Here is a short video as Dr. Ware lectures on the sovereignty of God. If this gets you excited for more teaching then simply CLICK ON THIS LINK to see the notes and hear the audio sessions.

Delighting in God

I had the opportunity to teach at Allen Cleveland’s Bible study a few weeks ago. The lesson was about
How to Connect the Theological to the Practical walk we have we Christ.

Opening statement

A proper study of God leads to a delighting in God.

Because when you are most satisfied in God then God is most glorified in you.

A little background study on the glory of God

  • Ephesians 1:1-14 (glory in verses 6, 12 and 14)

So if the purpose of God in the Bible is His glory then doesn't it make sense to say that the purpose of my life is the glory of God. Conclusion: A study of God should produce Christians that live in a way that glorifies God. A proper study of God must lead one to delighting in God. I want to put legs to that statement for you.

4 points regarding the doctrine of joy from the Bible

  • Joy is a key and necessary ingredient in FAITH.
  • Joy is a gift that is freely giving by the Holy Spirit
  • Joy is spontaneous
  • Joy must be fought for in the Christian life.

Joy is a gift
Turn to Galatians 5:22

Joy is spontaneous
When joy happens it is spontaneous, you don't control it or demand it but rather you receive it.

Illustration: Putting up your index finger and putting it down. You can't do that with joy.

Joy is an essential ingredient in FAITH
2 Corinthians 1:24
Philippians 1:25

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Can life groups be effective in Biblical counseling?

I just read an excellent article from David Murray. He writes about a friend of his who has just written a book called Equipping Counselors for Your Church. As a quick side note here is a summary of what the book is about. [The book] assists churches to become places not simply with biblical counseling ministries, but of biblical counseling. My goal is not the production of yet another program or yet another ministry on the sidelines. My goal is the promotion of a congregation-saturated mindset of every-member ministry with an entire congregation passionate about and equipped to make disciples.

David writes that he is someone skeptical about this approach and he lists these 6 reasons. Let me say that I agree with the reasons and this is why we desperately need to rethink how we train up and develop life group ministry. Yes, it is vital to the health and growth of the church but how we do it I am not sure. Maybe this book will help but the reasons that are really the obstacles listed below are the real deal.

6 reasons for skepticism to approach listed in book above.

First, I’ve questioned the desire of many in the church to get involved in other people’s lives. The majority of people come to church and leave church without saying much more than “Hello,” “How are you?” “Good,” “We need to catch up.” It seemed to me like a quantum leap to not only get past small talk, but into the deepest and most personal kind of talk.

Second, I’ve doubted the ability of most Christians to speak wisely into other Christian’s lives. I’ve had a number of years of training and practice, and yet I still feel so ignorant of the Bible and very ill-equipped to deal with even the most simple problems in other people’s lives. What hope then for Christians with only a few classes on “Counseling” under their belt?”

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It's more serious than you know...

from the Resurgence blog site

In the US, this year 3,500 churches will close, this month 1500 pastors will leave the ministry, and today approximately 7,575 people will move on from church. Of those who move on, some never affiliate with a religion again saying they just “gradually drifted away from the religion.” America is experiencing, not only economic decline, but also church decay. Why?

Although there is no single reason for the collapse of the church, one has to wonder what would have happened if the pastors were not responsible for most of the ministry in these churches? What if the people who left, moved on equipped and committed to discipling others in the faith? What if these churches acted more like a community of disciples and less like consumers of spiritual goods and services? Wouldn’t the outcome be different? Churches would be more resilient and people would be less prone to drift. The church collapse is, in part, the result of a discipleship crisis.

The Discipleship Crisis

To rebuild the church, everyday people, leaders, and pastors must be taught and equippe
d to re-think and re-live Christianity. A “Christian” needs to be re-conceived as a person who shares their life and the gospel with others. The meaning of “church” has to be restored as the people of God on the mission of Christ—a people who posses an obligation of love to one another instead of a duty to a religious service. The role of “leader” needs to be reconfigured around discipling people not exerting influence. “Pastor” needs to be rebooted around the identity of disciple not the role of preacher. Christians, leaders, and pastors need to recover their fundamental identity as disciples of Jesus in order to renew their churches.

Rebuilding the church will require repentance on all levels. We need to turn away from finding our worth in our (important) roles and return to our (eternal) identity as disciples of Jesus. We desperately need to come back to being and making disciples of Jesus.

Why Discipleship Isn’t the Answer

Yet, contrary to what some might think, discipleship is not the engine of the church. The gospel is. Without the gospel, both discipleship and church fail. Without the driving force of the gospel, discipleship devolves into self-help religiosity motivated by conservative pietism. The church is reduced to a glorified non-profit in which people lose interest. But the gospel reactivates both church and discipleship!

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The two groups within the church

Until the Bridegroom comes there will always be some in the visible Church who have grace—and some who have no grace. Some will have nothing but the name of Christian—others will have the reality. Some will have the profession of religion—others will have the possession also. Some will be content to belong to the church—others will never be content unless they also belong to Christ. Some will be satisfied if they have only the baptism of water—others will never be satisfied unless they also feel within the baptism of the Spirit. Some will stop short in the form of Christianity—others will never rest unless they have also the substance.

The visible Church of Christ is made up of these two classes. There always have been such; there always will be such until the end. Gracious and graceless, wise and foolish, make up the whole Church of Christ. You are all written down in this parable yourselves. You are all either wise virgins—or foolish . You have the oil of grace—or you have none. You are all either members of Christ—or not. You are all either traveling towards heaven—or towards hell. ~ J.C. Ryle



This might be a problem if...

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from Crossway blog site


How do we know if we love something too much? Where is the line between a healthy enjoyment and an idol? Idolatry is often subtle. It can creep up on us in the form of good desires, like getting married or excelling in the work place. You may have created idols for yourself if:

You are crushed when you don’t get what you want.
When that end of the year bonus you have been anticipating for months is taken from you, does it shatter your joy?

You stake your happiness on getting what you want.

All of your friends are finding their soul mates and getting married, and you can’t even find a date. Do you resign to bitter hopelessness in your singleness?

You grumble and complain when you don’t have what you want.

Are you angry with God for not creating you with the supposed external beauty that everyone around you seems to have?

You demand what you want.

Have your humble prayers for healing from a physical ailment turned to angry demands of God? Do you feel you deserve to be healed?
When good gifts (like marriage, beauty, healing, or money) turn into idols, they become terrible and consuming masters. To destroy these idols, we must put them off by the power of the Holy Spirit. We need the Holy Spirit to give us a deep love for God that drives out all lesser loves and gives us power over our idolatrous desires, in both our thoughts and actions. Through the Holy Spirit, we find contentment.

If we have made an idol out of something good that does not need to be driven from our lives entirely, such as a desire for children, repentance comes in the form of prayer. Stop demanding that God give you children, but rather pray humbly, offering your requests to God but submitting to his all-knowing plan for your life.

Excerpt modified from chapter 4 of The Greener Grass Conspiracy.