Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Coming on January 1 - Bible Reading Plan 2011

Good morning and Happy New Year to each and everyone of you!

Well, January 1, 2011 is right around the corner and that means it's time for our YEARLY BIBLE READING PLAN. This year our community will be following the READING PLAN laid out by the late Reverend Robert Murray M'Cheyne.
  • Robert Murray M'Cheyne (pronounced, and occasionally spelled as "McCheyne"; (May 1813 – 25 March 1843) was a minister in the Church of Scotland from 1835 to 1843. He was born at Edinburgh, was educated at the University of Edinburgh and at the Divinity Hall of his native city, where he was taught by Thomas Chalmers. He first served as an assistant to John Bonar in the parish of Larbert and Dunipace, near Falkirk, from 1835 to 1838. Thereafter he became forever associated with St. Peter's Church in Dundee, where he served as minister until his early death at the age of 29 during an epidemic of typhus.

This may be the most followed and most well known plan within the orthodox evangelical church. You will find that it covers 4 chapters a day, 2 from the Old Testament and 2 from the New Testament. If you should go to the website tomorrow and look under Bible Reading you will see some instructions for using this plan along with the weekly reading assignments. I plan to go over this in some detail when we launch on January 9. Would you pray with me that others join us in our passionate pursuit to know the Lord Jesus Christ by knowing His word?

The following is a helpful article that I posted on our blog site earlier in the month.

1. The goal is not the goal. I used to think that the purpose of setting goals was to achieve those goals. Makes sense, right? But I’m more inclined now to think that the purpose of setting goals is to create forward momentum. Whether or not I achieve the goal specified is almost immaterial. The act of goal-setting is successful if it moves me forward in a worthwhile endeavor.

I read an article in late 2008 by Karl Rove on his yearly book-reading competition with former President George W. Bush. In 2006 Rove read 110 books to Bush’s 95. The next two years brought two more victories for Rove. What stunned me, though, was the sheer number of books each man consumed.

So I brought it up to Kimberly and challenged her to the same. She trounced me in 2009. I might catch her this year, but if I do I’ll be indebted to Kimberly’s pregnancy, which makes reading a tad dizzying for her. My point? I read more books in 2009 than any year previous, and more books this year than last. I didn’t accomplish the goal of reading more than Kimberly, but the goal created forward momentum towards a worthwhile end.

What difference does it make if you complete a read through the Bible in one year? The goal is not the goal. The goal is a means to the goal, namely, glorifying God through an increased knowledge of and affection for him and his gospel through his word. Read More...



As you reflect back upon 2010

It seems that the week after Christmas and prior to the new year is a very good time for reflection. So allow me to ask the following questions:

What kind of year was it for you in terms of spiritual growth in Christ?

Do you know Christ better?

Can you say that you relied on Him more in 2010 than in previous years?

Are others around you noticing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control to name a few?

Have you made it a practice to preach the gospel to yourself daily?

If one of the pastors did a spiritual CAT scan on your 2010 would it reveal a Martha or Mary type of ministry?

Did you find yourself repenting much or little in 2010?

What idol did you continue to kill in 2010 so that it does not kill you?

Was 2010 a year where you still were seeking the approval of others instead of understanding at the cross Christ approves of you 100%?

Charlie Brown finally gets the meaning of Christmas

(Click on the photo above)

Years ago I was listening in Charlotte to a well known Bible teacher. This person told a great story about the debate he and his wife would have each Christmas regarding TV. They were asked by their first born if he could watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special. The answer was “NO” until one year they finally relented. After a while they noticed the young lad going to his room with a frown on his face. When asked what was the matter he looked at them and he stated “they never mentioned Jesus.” Well, that young man didn’t stay with the show quite long enough because this is how it ended.

One can never think too much of Christ

Christ is He who has the keys of death and hell. Christ is the anointed Priest, who alone can absolve sinners. Christ is the fountain of living waters, in whom alone we can be cleansed. Christ is the Prince and Savior, who alone can give repentance and remission of sins. In Him all fullness dwells. He is the way, the door, the light, the life, the Shepherd, the altar of refuge. He that has the Son has life–and he that has not the Son has not life. May we all strive to understand this. No doubt men may easily think too little of God the Father, and God the Spirit, but no man ever thought too much of Christ. ~ J.C. Ryle

Geneology of Jesus


A God-centered theology

From the Resurgence Blog Site
Most Christians can look back and describe the day they “accepted Christ.” This may have been some sort of physical act—a silent prayer, a walk down an aisle, a stick thrown into the fire to mark our new allegiance.

But the longer I have been a pastor the more “accepting Christ” rings hollow. To me it sounds more and more like a work—something we do to earn the favor of God. It’s a commitment, but that doesn’t mean there is faith. A gap exists between us accepting Christ and Christ accepting us.

Trust God's work, not your own
Good works do not please or appease him. Our favor with him is based on our trust in his work, not ours. And is that not what most exhortations to accept Christ mean? “Make a commitment and God will save you.” Not so subtly, we have preached commitment as salvation. And, then, even worse, growing in our walk with Jesus is reaching ever-higher planes of commitment.

Commitment is a result of salvation. Devotion to Christ flows from belief, not from volition. It is an act of heart, not will. Is it no wonder then, so many question their salvation? They question because they think their justification with God is based on commitment, and when their commitment wanes, they sense they might not really be a Christian. They are counting on their commitment to save them, not Jesus.

Woe to those who are deeply committed and blameless in their devotion—for, except by grace, they will never see their grand mistake. Do not put your hope in the fact that you have accepted Christ. Hope in the fact that Christ has accepted you.

Bible Reading Plan advice

If you’re planning to try again in 2011, let me offer a few thoughts that may serve you on your way.

1. The goal is not the goal. I used to think that the purpose of setting goals was to achieve those goals. Makes sense, right? But I’m more inclined now to think that the purpose of setting goals is to create forward momentum. Whether or not I achieve the goal specified is almost immaterial. The act of goal-setting is successful if it moves me forward in a worthwhile endeavor.

I read an article in late 2008 by Karl Rove on his yearly book-reading competition with former President George W. Bush. In 2006 Rove read 110 books to Bush’s 95. The next two years brought two more victories for Rove. What stunned me, though, was the sheer number of books each man consumed.

So I brought it up to Kimberly and challenged her to the same. She trounced me in 2009. I might catch her this year, but if I do I’ll be indebted to Kimberly’s pregnancy, which makes reading a tad dizzying for her. My point? I read more books in 2009 than any year previous, and more books this year than last. I didn’t accomplish the goal of reading more than Kimberly, but the goal created forward momentum towards a worthwhile end.

What difference does it make if you complete a read through the Bible in one year? The goal is not the goal. The goal is a means to the goal, namely, glorifying God through an increased knowledge of and affection for him and his gospel through his word.

2. Read different translations. A friend gave me this idea many years ago. He said that reading a wide variety of versions (from formal to paraphrase) would help me see things in Scripture that I wouldn’t notice if I read the same translation over and over. He was right. The first version I read through in a year was God’s Word to the Nations, a very simple translation. There were many times that the way GWN phrased something would direct me back to other translations and ultimately enhanced my understanding of Scripture. Read More...

Seeker Sensitive or Scripture Sensitive


He knows what you've been tweeting...


Diligence in Grace

All that believers have is undoubtedly of grace. Their repentance, faith, and holiness, are all the gift of God. But the degree to which a believer attains in grace, is ever set before us as closely connected with his own diligence in the use of means, and his own faithfulness in living fully up to the light and knowledge which he possesses. Indolence and laziness are always discouraged in God’s word. Labor and pains in hearing, reading, and prayer, are always represented as bringing their own reward. “The soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” (Prov. 13:4.) “An idle soul shall suffer hunger.” (Prov. 19:15.) ~ J.C. Ryle

Review for December 19

Since this was our last time together in 2010 I decided to bring a Bible devotion. I titled it “The Christmas Story and The glory of God.” However as I said in class today it could have been as easily called “The Christmas story and The doctrines of God.” We read from Luke 2:1-20 and I made the following 5 observations regarding this particular text.

Observation #1 - Jesus comes at the right time
Observation #2 - Jesus comes at the right place
Observation #3 - The manner in which Jesus comes
Observation #4 - The reason Jesus comes
Observation #5 - The response to when Jesus comes

Jesus comes at the right time
At the end of Luke chapter 1 verse 80 the curtain falls on the life of John the Baptist. And we don't know anything more than he was circumcised on the 8th day till his public ministry in the wilderness of Judea. But we do know that God was preparing John the Baptist to be the forerunner to prepare the way for Jesus Christ.

The curtain now rises on the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is going to be a birth not like any other birth. It will divide history into BC which means before Christ and AD which means “year of our Lord.” And not only will HIs perfect time of arrival divide the way we mark time on our calendars but it will divide the following:
Believer/non believer
God is the Father/the devil is the father
In Christ/in Adam

The Christmas story and the glory of God

Can you believe we are coming to the end of 2010? I posted on the website this week the first entry I made for 2010, click on this LINK. It starts with a prayerful challenge and ends with a hopeful summary of what the 2010 year might look like as we mature in Christ.
  • What kind of year has it been for you spiritually?
  • Are you engaged in a rich and deep worship of God not just on Sunday but during the week?
  • Do you know the Lord Jesus in such a way, that you are passionately pursuing Him through the word?
  • Is your life marked by the power of the Spirit in dealing with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and those in the church community?
  • In other words, when people leave your presence are they consistently seeing a demonstration of the greatness of the Lord Jesus?

We have been studying the "glory of God' through the Bible based on the following outline;
1. God purpose
2. Man's problem
3. God's provision
4. Man's priority

In the last couple of weeks I have emphasized the first two points in this outline but tomorrow I plan to focus on God's provision. What better way to do this than through the Christmas story given to us in Luke 2:1:20. Therefore, I want to encourage you to pray (preparation of the heart), read (renewing the mind), and devote on (set your minds on things above), these verses as they relate to the glory of God.

For you information this will be our last SS class until January 9, 2011.

Hope to see you all tomorrow, blessings in Christ and Merry Christmas,

How we began 2010, so how did we finish...

The Challenge when we started in January 2010
God the Father, who is holy, righteous, just, omnipresent, omniscient, self-sufficient and eternal has made a way for man to be in fellowship with Him forever and ever. This is man whose heart is evil and desperately wicked, who has done nothing but rebel against God from day one, who doesn't seek God or what anything to do with God and is at constant enmity with God. So how can this kind of man who is sinful, unholy, deceitful and undeserving stand in the presence of this God without being immediately condemned, judged and cast into an eternal fiery hell? It is because of the gift of God the Father which was His Son Jesus Christ. And in that gift God made a way through the death of Christ on the cross for our sins to be paid in full and for the righteousness of Christ to be credited to our personal accounts. My brothers and sisters in Christ, this must be meditated on daily so that we can be receivers of this amazing grace. Keep in mind there is no doing at this point there is only receiving. And the receiving is based on an external event that is an objective historical fact which is the death of Christ on a cross. As this grace falls on your heart and mind, God gifts a measure of faith which becomes the instrument that allows us to REPENT and BELIEVE. We then become a community of believers that receive grace daily as is falls into our lives based on the person and work of Christ, joy starts to rise in our affections toward God and the outworking becomes our love toward others. But I want you to see that it is the vertical relationship that drives the horizontal relationships and not vice versa. When you come into the 2010 year and do a spiritual evaluation and find many of the horizontal aspects of your life missing such as giving, serving, and fellowshipping, the key is to get back to the cross! Because as grace starts to be meditated on and embraced, then a joy for God will rise up and leads to an overflow of love for others in the horizontal sense.

The Summary
Don't make the 2010 year primarily about what you do but a year to mediate, pray and study about what has been done for you by Christ at the cross.
This is called making sure that you don't put the imperatives (the commands of Scripture) ahead of the indicatives (the reality in Scripture of what Christ accomplished on the cross). If you need a quick refresher on this just click on this LINK. Read More...

John MacArthur Q and A


The one who takes the Son...

This came from the Puritan Fellowship blog site and is what they currently use as their evangelism tract.

There was a famous painter who had a son. Father and son often painted together and were each other's inspiration. When World War I erupted, the son was sent to fight in the war, and was killed. When the father heard of his son's death, he was distraught, the grief tearing him into a thousand pieces. He became a shell of his former self and spent years limping through life.

One day the father heard a knock at the door and opened to find a young soldier standing there who, breaking out in tears said, "Sir, I am the reason your son died."
The father replied, "Well, what do you mean?"
The soldier said, "I was in front of a rifleman, and as the gun went off your son threw himself in front of me and died in my place. I am so sorry, but I want you to know that I esteem your son above all things and all people." He continued, "Look sir, I always wanted to learn to draw, and while we were in the foxholes your son tutored me. I know you're a famous painter and I'm just beginning to learn, but I painted this picture of your son and he means so much to me that I would really appreciate it if you would take this picture."
The father said, "Of course I will!" So the father took the painting of his son and, despite its crudeness, framed it in the best frame he could find and gave it the centre place in his gallery.

The importance of God's word

What is more important to man than God? He is everything. To know God is the primary, pre eminent pursuit of any human. And how is he, man, to study, to know God? God has shut Himself up, as it were, or limited Himself in His revelation to mankind through the channel of the written Word of God The Bible. This is the only authentic, true text to which we may turn. Anything God has of Himself or His blessings comes from Himself immediately, directly, and only to a human being through this book, God's Word. Consequently, to know God is to know the Bible; to know the Bible is to know God. If God is all important, then His Word is all important. In other words, The Word of God is as important as God Himself. As far as mankind is concerned, this is true. A hunger for God will mean, must mean, a hunger for the Word of God. Therefore, one must immediately realize if God's Word is as important as God Himself (for by it we can know and understand God), then how we interpret God's Word is just as important as God's Word. We must know exactly what it says so that we may know exactly what God says! - Buck Hatch, former professor at Columbia Bible College

New Bible Reading Plan coming January 1


Don't be deceived...

Let it be a settled principle with us, never to be satisfied with mere outward church-membership. We may be inside the net, and yet not be in Christ. The waters of baptism are poured on myriads who are never washed in the water of life. The bread and wine are eaten and drunk by thousands at the Lord’s table, who never feed on Christ by faith. Are we converted? Are we among the “good fish?” This is the grand question. It is one which must be answered at last. The net will soon be “drawn to shore.” The true character of every man’s religion will at length be exposed. There will be an eternal separation between the good fish and the bad. There will be a “furnace of fire” for the wicked. ~ J.C. Ryle

Bible Reading Plans

f you’re looking for a systematic plan to read the Bible in the new year, here are a few from which to choose. There’s a wide variety in these schedules: some take you through the whole Bible in a year, some are associated with devotional reading, and one follows the church liturgical calendar.

1. The 5x5x5 Bible Reading Plan. This comes from the Navigators who have developed a strategy for beginners, so to speak. The plan takes the reader through the entire New Testament in a year, and requires five minutes a day, five days per week. The third “five” refers to its “five ways to dig deeper”: underline key words, put the passage in your own words, ask and answer some questions, capture the big idea, and personalize the meaning.

If you are not regularly reading the Bible, this is a great plan to get you started. I also recommend it for parents to disciple their children in this discipline. (My former pastor, Dan Brooks, and his wife found it an effective strategy with their kids.) You can download the pdf here.

2. The Daily Office Lectionary from the Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Common Prayer has guided Christians in the systematic reading of the Bible for centuries. The Daily Office Lectionary offers select portions from all over the Scriptures, with special emphasis on the Psalms, Isaiah, and the New Testament. Crossway has made the Lectionary readings available each day on its website; you can also subscribe to its RSS feed or iCal format (plus Google Calendar, Outlook, etc.).

The practice of reading the Bible

Now that we’ve talked about the Word as a means of grace, our inclination to legalism, and some ways to prepare our hearts to read the Scriptures, let’s consider the practice of reading the Bible itself.

1. You don’t need a special place and time. There are certainly advantages to having a designated place and time for Scripture reading and prayer. That discipline is generally good. My problem, however, is that if I don’t get to my special place at exactly the right time, I feel as if it would be unprofitable to read the Bible anytime anywhere. (Yes, here again is the arrogant perfectionist within!) I must ask myself which is the better alternative: to skip reading the Bible altogether because I missed my time or place, or to spend some time somewhere in the Word? As helpful as it is to have a set time and place, the reality is you will have days, perhaps many days, when getting to that place at that time will be impossible. Keep your time-and-place discipline if you desire, but learn to be flexible. Because of the Spirit, God is present whenever and wherever you are.

2. When you see legalism in your heart, repent. When I recognize self-righteous or self-justfying thoughts, my tendency is to work harder to push them out, as if they were coming from without. Far more profitable would it be for me to recognize them as arising from within, expressing the waywardness of my own heart, and take them directly to the cross. Don’t let the possibility of legalism paralyze you; let your sin drive you to your Savior.

3. While you read, see yourself in the sinners of the passage. This is a great strategy to fight self-righteousness. We tend to read the Bible identifying with the heroes. We read the story of David and Goliath and see ourselves as Davids in the world, needing just a bit more faith to be able to face our giants. We read the account of Jacob’s sons and see ourselves as Josephs, being mistreated by those around us and awaiting the day when everything is set right. Reading the Bible this way feeds self-righteousness in our hearts, even if we admit that we’re not very much like David or Joseph right now. At root may lie a belief that if I work hard enough, I can be. Read More...

Preparing to read the Bible

The temptation to self-righteousness is strong, and yet we know it should not keep us from actually sitting down and reading the Bible. So what steps can we take to confront our sin, harness our minds, and hear the Word?

1. Pray Piper’s IOUS. John Piper uses acronyms for a variety of purposes (e.g., APTAT for prayer, ANTHEM for fighting lust). But the one that has been most helpful for me is IOUS. This is a simple way to remember four biblical prayers as we approach the Word:

Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain (Ps 119.36)
Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things out of your law (Ps 119.18)
Unite my heart to fear your name (Ps 86.11)
Satisfy me with your steadfast love that I may rejoice and be glad all my days (Ps 90.14)
I’ve found this to be a helpful series of prayers with which to begin a day. They remind me that I’ve awoken (a) inclined towards self-centeredness, (b) unable to see reality, (c) distracted and scatterbrained, and (d) empty–and that the answer to every longing in my heart is found in the gospel. These aren’t magical words, but they verbalize our dependence on God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

2. Sing a song or two. Another favorite preacher of mine, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, said that he would begin each day by singing a couple of hymns in order to “rouse his soul” to worship God. I’ve found this to be an extremely helpful practice, more helpful than simply listening to music while reading. There’s something about internalizing the words of a song and directing those songs heavenward that helps orient my heart with reality. My favorite hymnal for this purpose is Psalms and Hymns of Reformed Worship, from the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. My copy is text-only, but you can purchase one with tunes. Fred Coleman, who first commended this practice to me, plans to release a hymnal next year whose specific purpose is to assist the believer’s personal devotion to Christ. Read More...

We need to understand the language of the gospel

Natively, the gospel is a foreign language to us and we need to learn that the grammar of the gospel is shaped by the gospel itself. He noted how hard it is for us as Americans to learn Latin. The verbs go at the end end. We are a doing community and it’s hard for us to put the “doing” at the end. But the gospel teaches us to put our doing word at the end and Jesus’ doing word at the beginning—but our native tendency is to drag back the doing word and put it at the beginning, and then top that up with Jesus’ doing, just to make life a little better.

There’s a very clear grammar, he said, in the gospel. . . .

The Mood of the Gospel

We need to learn that the grammar of the gospel has its appropriate mood.

In our languages today we speak in the indicative mood and the imperative mood. The indicative mood is saying these are the things that are true. The imperative mood is saying these are things you need to do. And in the gospel, the structure of the grammar is always indicative gives rise to imperative. . . .

The Tense of the Gospel

There’s also a tense of the gospel: the present is to be rooted in the past. You need to go backward to what Christ has done in order to go forward in what you are to do. There is an emphasis of the already and the mopping-up operation of the not-yet.

The Prepositions of the Gospel

Do you remember how Paul uses prepositions in Galatians 2:20-21, where in a few words he summarizes the work of Christ:

The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me;
and therefore I am crucified with Christ;
nevertheless, I live, but not I; Christ lives in me. Read More...

The doctrine of God

Doctrine of God

Review for December 12

Yesterday we continued in our study of “the glory of God.” This is a critical doctrine to understand because the glory of God is the very theme of the entire Bible. I have said this before and will say it again. The goal of this class is NOT to go through the curriculum but instead have this curriculum go through us! Therefore next week we will continue to bath, immerse and saturate ourselves in the glory of God.

In any one week there are many things that take place in my life and in the life of those in our class. Pat and I try and summarize so of the key things that we want to make our community aware of during the year. In yesterday’s class I covered the following:

1. The CaringBridge site that has been recently formed for our brother John Pugh. If you want to go to this site then simply click on this LINK and follow the directions.

2. We begin a new Bible reading plan for 2011 on January 1. Therefore I am including a six article series on Bible reading as we start into the new year. In yesterday’s class read the first article that was posted last week. If you would like to read it then just click on this LINK.

3. I also gave a graphic preview of the next doctrine we are going to study which will be the doctrine of man. If you weren’t in class yesterday then as they say a picture is worth a thousand words so click on this LINK. Read More...

Understanding gospel centered living

Here is a great article from Tullian Tchividjian that will encourage you in what it means to live a gospel-centered life.

I’m ecstatic about the resurgence of gospel centrality taking place in the evangelical church. The idea that the gospel is not only for those outside the church but also for those inside the church; that it not only ignites the Christian life but is the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing every day, may seem like a new idea, but it’s really old. I’m glad it’s re-gaining traction, but as far as we’ve come, we need to go further.

For all the talk of gospel-centeredness, there’s still some fear and trepidation fueled by a common misunderstanding regarding the radical nature of grace. Even amongst the proponents of gospel-centrality, I still hear talk about there being two equal dangers that Christians must avoid: legalism and lawlessness.

Legalism, they say, happens when you focus too much on law, or rules. Lawlessness, they say, happens when you focus too much on grace. Therefore, in order to maintain spiritual equilibrium, you have to balance law and grace. Sometimes, legalism and lawlessness are presented as two ditches on either side of the gospel that we must avoid. If you start getting too much law, you need to balance it with grace. If you start getting too much grace, you need to balance it with law. But I’ve come to believe that this “balanced” way of framing the issue can unwittingly keep us from really understanding the gospel of grace in all of its radical depth and beauty.

It’s more theologically accurate to say that there is one primary enemy of the gospel—legalism—but it comes in two forms. Some people avoid the gospel and try to “save” themselves by keeping the rules, doing what they’re told, maintaining the standards, and so on (you could call this “front-door legalism”).

Other people avoid the gospel and try to “save” themselves by breaking the rules, doing whatever they want, developing their own autonomous standards, and so on (you could call this “back-door legalism”).

In other words, there are two “laws” we can choose to live by other than Christ: the law which says “I can find freedom and fullness of life if I keep the rules” or the law which says “I can find freedom and fullness of life if I break the rules.” Either way you’re still trying to “save” yourself—which means both are legalistic because both are self-salvation projects. Read More...

The Glory of God

Class in the morning will be totally focused on the glory of God. First I plan to take us through a 4 step process in evaluating this from the Bible.

1. His Purpose

Numbers 14:21 As I live, all the earth will be filled with the Glory of God.

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.

Psalm 72:19 Blessed be His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory!

Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

2. Our Problem

We don't exhibit God's Glory in our lives which is the essence of sin.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and are (continually) falling short of the Glory of God.

3. His Provision

God has provided The Lord Jesus for our need ‑ our falling short of His Glory.

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us...and we beheld His Glory.

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of His Glory, the exact representation of His nature.

John 17:22 And the Glory which Thou hast given to Me I have given to them.

Luke 2: 32 Simeon took Him in his arms and said, A light of Revelation to the gentiles, and the Glory of Thy people Israel. Read More...

NOT a prayer of salvation

I was ministering to a gentlemen years ago who didn’t know if he was saved. When I asked him to tell me about his conversion he told me a story similar to the prayer in this video. There is nothing in this prayer that indicates a receiving of Christ and His death on the cross to pay for sin. It is a very general, if you are up there somewhere then help me out down here because I am in trouble. How often have we prayed this way, instead of praying Lord use this hard thing in my life to show your glory!

Survey says...

Recently I listened to a program from the White Horse Inn that provided a number of surveys taken from fellow Christians. I thought you might find these audio clips interesting in light of our ongoing study of Bible doctrine.

Here are responses to the following statements:
1. The most important task of the church today is the transformation of culture. Click on this LINK

2. We need to make church more entertaining and relevant in order to appeal to the culture. Click on this LINK

3. The most important thing we need to communicate to our kids is that God is always there when they need Him? Click on this LINK

4. Christians should see the church as a resource provider and themselves as self feeders who make use of those resources. Click on this LINK

5. Since kids are bored with content generated lessons, so youth workers need to attract them with new and exciting things. Click on this LINK

6. The most important way of converting non Christians is to preach the gospel and with the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper. Click LINK

7. It is more important to be the gospel rather than to preach the gospel to others. Click on this LINK

We are saved from sin...

Do you think of salvation primarily in terms of what you are saved from? The apostle Paul uses the word save in Romans about 75% in the future tense. If you are wondering why, it is because he wants to make sure you and I know that we are saved from sin and God’s wrath. We spend so much time convincing people of God’s love that we rarely mention God’s wrath. I was recently sent this picture from someone in our class. There is great theology in this sign.


Dangers within

This is a series from Matthew Hoskinson on Bible Reading for 2011

Let’s start with our idol-manufacturing hearts. What specific temptations confront us when we approach the Word? Here are a few that I regularly face.

1. I use the Bible like a vending machine. There’s something in the box that I want (peace, joy, emotional release, whatever), so I must put in enough coins (minutes, chapters, devotion) to get what I want. This line of thinking perverts the idea of the Word as a means of grace, similar to the Roman ex opere operato view of the sacraments. It works because it was performed–or, “read your Bible, pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” But the Scriptures are a means of grace when we read it with faith in the One they reveal.The Westminster Larger Catechism puts it this way:

The Holy Scriptures are to be read with a high and reverent esteem of them; with a firm persuasion that they are the very Word of God and that He only can enable us to understand them; with desire to know, believe, and obey the will of God revealed in them; with diligence and attention to the matter and scope of them; with meditation, application, self-denial, and prayer (Q157).

2. I use the Bible to manipulate God. This sounds so ridiculous, doesn’t it? And yet we fall to this temptation all the time. We think that our consistent devotion merits freedom from fear and want, from sorrow and discomfort.

Steve Johnson, a wide receiver on the Buffalo Bills, received a lot of attention this week for dropping a potentially game-winning pass in the end zone and then blaming God. After the game he tweeted, “I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!! AND THIS IS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…”

I don’t mention Johnson in order to castigate him, but to point out that we are all alike. How many chapters of the Bible have been read, how many prayers have been prayed, in a vain attempt to get God to do what we want him to do? We view God the same way Elijah’s opponents viewed Baal. Give him what he wants, and he’ll give us what we want. Let’s pray for grace to identify this sin whenever it arises in our hearts. Read More...

Coming to a SS Community near you


Bible Reading 2011

We at Learning and Living go to the four corners of the earth to find you the best blog articles for spiritual growth and development. Therefore over the next few days I will be posting a series from Matthew Hoskinson that includes the following topics:

  • Reading the Bible in 2011
  • Dangers Within
  • Sitting Down
  • Reading
  • Plans
  • Final Thoughts

With the arrival of December come thoughts about next year and those dreaded new year’s resolutions. A frequent commitment that Christians make is to read the Bible through in a year. Yet many (most?) fail in this endeavor at least once in their lives. Such failure has led some to abandon the practice altogether, perhaps even to write it off as an altogether legalistic practice.

But this post really isn’t about reading the Bible in a year. It’s simply about reading the Bible. Believers recognize that the Word is a means of grace (Acts 20.32), that we cannot live on bread alone but by the very words of God (Mt 4.4). But once we get on a plan, the temptation to legalism is strong.

I’ve wrestled with this issue for most of my Christian walk–and still do! I’ll feel better about myself for sticking to a Bible reading plan and figure that God must hate me when I miss a day. Self-righteousness rises when I’m following a plan (“Oh, those poor Christians who aren’t as diligent as I! If only they knew how important the Word is! I thank you that I am not like them.”). And self-righteousness rises when I’m not on a plan (“Oh, those poor Christians who are legalistically enslaved to a schedule! If only they knew what grace meant! I thank you that I am not like them.”)

So the Scriptures are a means of grace that we transform into a stage for our self-justifying nature. Because of the nature of the Word we would be wise (obedient!) to attend to it, perhaps including a systematic plan for reading it. But because of the nature of indwelling sin we must guard against the Pharisee within. How do we handle this dilemma? Over the next few days I’ll share some thoughts that may serve you as you give yourself to the Scriptures next year.

CaringBridge site for John Pugh

There is now a CarinBridge site for our brother John Pugh. Just click on this LINK and follow the directions. The first screen is the one shown below. Fill in your email and then you will create a user name and password. After that you will be at the site for John that contains the latest information on his health as of today.

Homework and Class Update

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and yes there is homework in our Learning and Living the God-centered life community. For those of you that want to preview the notes you can do so by CLICKING ON THIS LINK. As you have heard me say from almost day one the theme of the Bible is the glory of God.
If we are going to live in that manner then we certainly need to study, understand and learn what it means - right? Well, during our time together Sunday my goal will be to cover as many of the glory of God texts as we can get through within our time constraints.


Christ has fulfilled every demand

If the Lord Jesus Christ had not literally risen physically from the grave, we could never be certain that he had ever really finished the work. If he has died for our sins, we must not only be certain that he has died, but that he has finished dying, and that there is no longer death. When God raised his Son from the dead, he was proclaiming to the whole world, I am satisfied in him: I am satisfied in the work he has done. He has done everything. He has fulfilled every demand. Here he is risen—therefore I am satisfied with him.

Not only that. The Resurrection proved that he has conquered every enemy that was opposed to him, to God, and to us. He has not only satisfied the law and conquered death and the grave, he has vanquished the devil and all his forces, and hell and all the principalities and powers of evil. He has triumphed over them all, and he proves it in the Resurrection. The devil cannot hold him; death and hell cannot hold him. He has mastered them all; he has emerged on the other side. He is the Son of God, and he has completed the work which the Father had sent him to do. - Martyn Lloyd Jones

Flash Mob sings Hallelujah Chorus

If you don’t get out much (that includes me) then flash mob might be a new term for you. Anyway here is an example of a “FLASH MOB” at a local food court that break out in the Hallelujah Chorus. By this time, many of you have seen this but for those who haven’t it is priceless.

Preparing the heart for the glory of God

This Sunday we continue in our study of the glory of God. May I encourage you to PREVIEW the notes by clicking on this LINK.

My plan is to start on page 14 as we look together at:

1. The PURPOSE of His glory
2. Our PROBLEM in relationship to His glory
3. His PROVISION for our glory
4. Our PRIORITY of His glory

The attribute of God's glory is critical for us to study and understand because this is the very THEME of the entire Bible. Doesn't it make sense that if the glory of God is the theme of the Bible, then this very thing should be the theme of our lives? As we study the doctrine of God's glory, my recommendation is that you underline and write the word GLORY in the margins of your Bible. Don't be passive in this study become proactive. READ the Scriptures that are referenced in the notes, THINK about how they speak of God's glory, PRAY that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes and LIVE in a way that demonstrates the greatness of the Lord Jesus.

Notice in the gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, the glory of God is mentioned twice in these verses regarding the birth of Jesus Christ.

Luke 2:6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:8 ¶ In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
Luke 2:9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
Luke 2:11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest,

Hosea 11:1-4 and the gospel of Matthew

The key to proper study of the Scriptures is to understand the overall plan of the Bible. Over the years I have observed and talked with many frustrated in their Bible study, reading and devotion because they simply don’t see the big picture. The illustration I like to use is getting a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle and putting it out on the cardboard table. For many the Bible is just like those thousand pieces and how they go together is but a mystery. Therefore the strategy I think that is best to implore is two-fold. First get the border established which in this analogy will be the essential doctrines of the Bible.
1. Doctrine of the Word
2. Doctrine of God
3. Doctrine of man
4. Doctrine of Christ
5. Doctrine of the Spirit
6. Doctrine of salvation

Second, we need to have a plan which I call the box top of the jigsaw puzzle. The plan can be described in 4 words.
1. Creation
2. Fall
3. Redemption
4. Restoration

I like to say that the plan of the entire Bible is “the unfolding and progressive redemption of mankind by God.” Therefore once a person can understand the plan and have the border in place then they are best equipped to study the Bible.

In this post I am going to share with you what Kevin DeYoung writes concerning the connection between Hosea 11:1-4 and the Matthew’s gospel. The reason is because you need to see how the connection exists between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Remember what Jesus told the two disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

So my question in this article is how are we to see Jesus and make a proper interpretation of Matthew 2:15 that cross references Hosea 11:1-4?


We have not because we ask not...

The Lord Jesus is far more ready to hear than we are to pray, and far more ready to give favors than we are to ask them. All day long He stretches out His hands to the disobedient and gainsaying. He has thoughts of pity and compassion towards the vilest of sinners, even when they have no thoughts of Him. He stands waiting to bestow mercy and grace on the worst and most unworthy, if they will only cry to Him. - J.C. Ryle

Market-Driven Christianity

by Dan Fortner, from Grace Gems.org

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men–or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men–I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

Religion in America is big business. Scads of money, powerful personalities, huge egos, and positions of prominence, influence, and recognition are at stake in the business of religion, just as they are in any other business. There was a time when the concern of churches and preachers in this country was the glory of God and the truth of God. Today, like any business, the concern is for success.

Christianity today is market-driven. The goal of all marketing is to make both the buyer and the seller satisfied. Consequently, market-driven churches, in utter abandonment of God’s glory and God’s truth, in their insatiable quest for success and recognition–do whatever it takes to win customers and keep them.

Be warned! False doctrine and worldliness always go hand in hand. Worldliness usually leads the way. The early modernists did not aim at destroying biblical Christianity. They simply tried to make Christianity palatable to an unbelieving world. It cannot be done. When Christianity becomes acceptable to unregenerate people–it has ceased to be Christianity!

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing!" 1 Corinthians 1:18

Gospel-centered praying

A prayer from Pastor Scotty Smith

Dear Lord Jesus,

While I still believe, with all my heart, you are the only Savior, I now see how more of my heart needs more of you and more of the gospel.

There is nobody on the face of the earth that needs the gospel today, and its transforming resources, more than me, and I am SO glad to be able to acknowledge this reality. I need you today, Jesus, as much as I did when you washed away all my sins and covered me with the robe of your righteousness.

You have saved me in the past, when I was justified by grace alone through faith alone; you are saving me in the present, as the Holy Spirit applies more and more of your finished work to my whole being; and you will save me in the future, when you return to finish making all things new, including ME!

Lord Jesus, though I’m never tempted to look to any other name for my justification, I am very tempted to look to other names and means for my transformation—worse of all, is when I look to me to be my own savior. But only you, Jesus, are able to save completely those who come to God through you, for you are always living to pray for us and to advocate for us (Heb 7:25). You are my righteousness, holiness and redemption, and that’s why I only boast in you today! (1 Cor. 1:30-31)

So I come to you today, Jesus, right now! Save me more fully from my fear of man, my need to be in control, my ticky-tacky pettiness. Save me from trying to be anybody’s savior. I want to get irritated far less often and to be spontaneous much more often. I want to “light up” more quickly when I hear your name, Jesus, and not be downcast, when I don’t hear my name.

That’s more than enough confession for one day… Indeed, Jesus, I must be saved, I am being saved, through your name alone. Hallelujah!

Preview for December 5

We are moving from the incommunicable attributes to the communicable attributes in our teaching regarding the doctrine of God. The first incommunicable attribute that we are covering is the glory of God, which happens to be the theme for the entire Bible. The way I teach doctrine and learn doctrine is to first of all get a definition, then an illustration where possible, and finally Scriptural support for the doctrine. Over the past two years I have touched on the glory of God from time to time. But now we are ready to go scuba diving in our study this doctrine. I am going to post all the study notes on the website so that you can review from yesterday and also preview what I will be teaching next week. In addition I would like to give you an assignment that goes along with your Bible reading. When we start the new Bible reading plan in January I want you to note each time the "glory of God" is mentioned from Genesis to Revelation. All you need to do is put glory in the margin of your Bible. I think you are going to be amazed how many times this is revealed throughout the Bible.

The study in the glory of God will never be something you move beyond, but further into as you continue growing in the Christian life. As I pointed out yesterday the focal point of God's glory can be seen at the cross. Look again with me at Romans 3:25-26:
Rom. 3:25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
Rom. 3:26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Read More...

What are the chief characteristics of a humble man?

1) A humble person, no matter how much spiritual growth, he never forgets his former sinfulness and his outward, undeserving commonness.

2) A humble person overlooks his own righteousness, and looks and lives upon the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.

3) For a humble person no work or service is “too beneath” or “too humbling” for him.

4) A humble heart will submit to every truth of God that is made known (revealed) to it; even to those truths that most offend.

5) A humble person lives not upon Himself, but upon the sufficiency of Christ alone.

6) A humble person prizes the least of Christ: the least smile, the least good word from him, the least good mercy from him, etc. She is thankful for a crumb from the table if she cannot get all of the Manna.

7) The humble heart can never be content to pray enough, hear enough, mourn enough, believe enough, love enough, fear God enough, joy enough, repent enough, loathe sin enough, nor be humble enough!

8) A humble person seeks to smite and mortify both great and “small” sins.

9) A humble person quietly bears burdens and takes blows, and will receive disrespect and dishonor and make no noise.

10) A humble heart withdraws all strength and credit from Christ alone. Read More...

We must hate sin

How incredible it is that we do not hate sin more than we do! Sin is the cause of all the pain and disease in the world. God did not create man to be an ailing and suffering creature. It was sin, and nothing but sin, which brought in all the ills that flesh is heir to. It was sin to which we owe every racking pain, and every loathsome infirmity, and every humbling weakness to which our poor bodies are liable. Let us keep this ever in mind. Let us hate sin with a godly hatred. ~ J.C. Ryle

Review for November 28

Nancy and I have been gone for two straight weeks so today was “Catch Up Sunday.” The catch up involved four specific areas:
1. Our trip to Los Angeles to visit Grace Community Church where Dr. John MacArthur is the pastor.
2. The Men’s Bible Study that meets on Tuesday night and the next three weeks, in which I cover “the sovereignty of God in our redemption.” We will be studying in Romans Chapter 9.
3. Retreat 2011 with Dr. Bruce Ware and why this is so important from Matthew 24. Also 5 essential doctrines in the American Evangelical Church and how they are getting twisted and distorted today This retreat could be a watershed weekend for many in our class. Therefore I am going to invest time encouraging those who attend our class to participate.
4. The transition from the incommunicable attributes to the communicable attributes. We started on the importance of the glory of God. And next week we are going to bring definition, Scriptural support and explanation to this important attribute.

SBS Class November 282010 Glory1

Video from Dr. John MacArthur’s Church we visited while in LA - click on this LINK

If you want to listen to the audio from today’s class - click on this LINK

Are you thirsty for God?

From the Buzzard Blog
You have to be hungry first. You have to be thirsty first.

You won’t truly appreciate a feast unless you’re really hungry. You won’t enjoy a cool drink of water unless you’ve been thirsty for a long time.

It’s the same with God.

The people who flocked to Jesus where the hungry and thirsty people. The fat, full, and bloated don’t come to God, the thirsty do.

You must be thirsty before you can really drink.

Jesus: Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

The woman: Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty…

God will put you in circumstances that starve you. He will take away your normal food and drink. He does this because he loves you. He does this to expose your deepest thirst. He does this to wake you up and make you alive. He has your best interest in mind. He will withhold the food, water, idols, and noise you normally fill yourself with until you feel the sweet pain of the deep thirst of your heart, the thirst that only God can quench.

You meet God when God brings you to the point that you cry out, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” God fills your thirst so that you can leave the old, empty wells behind.

Are you in the middle of a famine? Be thankful. God is starving you in order to truly feed you.

Quotes for the day

“Both the Bible and church history show that God has always unleashed mass movements of his Spirit through people who are desperate for God.”

“The gospel isn’t just where we begin; it’s where we Christians live. We don't move beyond it we just move further into it.”

“The gospel tells us that no amount of good work on our part can force Gods favor and no amount of bad work on our part can forfeit Gods favor.”

“The gospel says that because Jesus was strong for me, I'm free to be weak; because Jesus has won for me, I'm free to lose”

“My struggle isn't believing my performance can earn God's favor; my struggle is believing my performance can keep God's favor”
- Tullian Tchividjian