Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Reading the Bible with humility

He that desires to read his Bible with profit, must first ask the Lord Jesus to open the eyes of his understanding by the Holy Spirit. Human commentaries are useful in their way. The help of good and learned men is not to be despised. But there is no commentary to be compared with the teaching of Christ. A humble and prayerful spirit will find a thousand things in the Bible, which the proud, self-conceited student will utterly fail to discern. - J.C. Ryle

Baptist Bestseller

From the Sacred Sandwich Blog Site

Questions and Answers

This is from “The Expositor” blog site.

Here are two questions and answers from the Westminster Larger Catechism

Q. 159. How is the Word of God to be preached by those that are called thereunto?

A. They that are called to labour in the ministry of the Word, are to preach sound doctrine, diligently,in season and out of season; plainly, not in the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; faithfully, making known the whole counsel of God; wisely, applying themselves to the necessities and capacities of the hearers; zealously, with fervent love to God and the souls of his people; sincerely, aiming at his glory, and their conversion, edification, and salvation.

Q. 160. What is required of those that hear the Word preached?

A. It is required of those that hear the Word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer; examine what they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God; meditate, and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.

Quote for the day

"If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lord's will but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumption, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Do not suppose that the Gospel is magnified or God glorified by going to the worldlings and telling them that they may be saved at this moment by simply accepting Christ as their Savior, while they are wedded to their idols, and their hearts are still in love with sin. If I do so I tell them a lie, pervert the Gospel, insult Christ, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness".

- Charles H. Spurgeon

Review for August 29

The Power Point notes for this morning’s class comprised 38 slides and we covered 28 of them. My recommendation is for each of you attending to read through these notes at least two times this week. Here is the main outline that I would like you go grasp from the teaching this morning.

1. The 3 key principles of learning how to learn doctrine.

2. We can’t fully understand God.

3. And yet the Bible says we can know God as He has chosen to reveal Himself to us.

4. It is very important to understand how the Bible teaches us to study the attributes of God

5. Finally we must have “Methodological Balance” when we come to the Doctrine of God

SBS Class August 292010

On your mark...get set...go!

The first two years in our Bible doctrine class has been a bit like going to the mountains in the fall. You start driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway and then you stop for a while at the various overlook’s and take a glimpse at the mountains. It is somewhat slow paced but you keep moving and as you continue to have the overlook views you pull over and take in the scenery.

However this year we are going to pick up the pace and head straight toward four essential doctrines that also match the plan of redemption from Genesis to Revelation (God, man, Christ and salvation). This week begins our official start through all the Doctrine of God material. There is much to cover and we only have 19 weeks to get it all in. So, I am going to ask each of you to take the study notes and allow them to aid you in the learning of these important doctrines. Hopefully there will be enough definitions, illustrations and support verses to keep you participating in study for some time.

This week I would like you to pay close attention to the following items:
1. The 3 key principles of learning how to learn doctrine. This is not just a class where I am going to teach you doctrine. But also I am going to do my best to teach you how to learn basic Bible interpretation. So when you come to class please understand that I am teaching on a specific doctrine and also trying to help you learn how to teach yourself properly from Scripture.

2. We can’t full understand God. The Bible does not contain everything that is known about God but all that we need to know to have an intimate relationship with Him. Read More...

The Word of God

from Moody’s Handbook of Theology

Study Resources for 2010-2011

Study Resources

The first book you see is Bible Doctrine. This is an excellent resource that is very reader friendly when it comes to the terms and definitions we will be covering this year regarding doctrine. I am planning to cover quite a bit of material as we push from week to week. Hopefully those in our class will review the notes but this book is an excellent tool for deeper study. My challenge in to get each of you to take what we are learning and teach others in your own sphere of influence. At the conclusion of this year my prayer is that you have a clear and concise understanding as you relate the Doctrine of God, Doctrine of man, Doctrine of Christ and the Doctrine of Faith to the overall plan of the Bible.

The second book The Gospel Primer is my favorite where it comes to teaching how to preach the gospel to yourself on a daily basis. Unfortunately many people today in the church think of the gospel on in terms of what got them saved. But the apostle Paul says that the gospel is the power of salvation unto God for all those who continue believing (my paraphrase for Romans 1:16). You don't just need the gospel to get saved but rather to continue being saved!

Understanding Neo-orthodoxy

Learning and Living is a basic Bible doctrine class. But from day one I have been exhorting the importance of Biblical hermeneutics when reading and interpreting Scripture. And I have said more than once we have three basic groups within the evangelical sector today.

1. Orthodox - this group believes that the Bible is the word of God
2. Liberal - this group believes that the Bible contains the word of God
3. Neo-orthodox - this group believes that the Bible becomes the word of God

I have also noted that the fastest growing segment in the evangelical church of the 30 and under group is that of neo-orthodoxy. Even though you may be unfamiliar with this movement it is large and I believe dangerous. Dr. John McArthur has written a concise article that will help us to understand better what those who are neo-orthodox really believe and what is their guiding hermeneutic.

Neo-orthodoxy is the term used to identify an existentialist variety of Christianity. Because it denies the essential objective basis of truth—the absolute truth and authority of Scripture—neo-orthodoxy must be understood as pseudo-Christianity. Its heyday came in the middle of the twentieth century with the writings of Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Paul Tillich, and Reinhold Niebaur. Those men echoed the language and the thinking of [Soren] Kierkegaard, speaking of the primacy of “personal authenticity,” while downplaying or denying the significance of objective truth. Barth, the father of neo-orthodoxy, explicitly acknowledged his debt to Kierkegaard.

Neo-orthodoxy’s attitude toward Scripture is a microcosm of the entire existentialist philosophy: the Bible itself is not objectively the Word of God, but it becomes the Word of God when it speaks to me individually. In neo-orthodoxy, that same subjectivism is imposed on all the doctrines of historic Christianity. Familiar terms are used, but are redefined or employed in such a way that is purposely vague—not to convey objective meaning, but to communicate a subjective symbolism. After all, any “truth” theological terms convey is unique to the person who exercises faith. What the Bible means becomes unimportant, What it means to me is the relevant issue. All of this resoundingly echoes Kierkegaard’s concept of “truth that is true for me.”

Tozer speaks...

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.” ~ A.W. Tozer

Preaching upgrade 2.0

From the Sacred Sandwich Blog

"Accurately Handling..."

Our banner verse this year is 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. During the year as I find articles or short devotions on this verse I will post them on our website. The following is an article from the Puritan Lad blog site.

What sort of book is the Bible? The answer to that question has great ramifications in how it is preached. Too often, the Bible is misused even by those who believe it's truths, but miss the ultimate story.

First, there are the therapeutics, who treat the Bible as a therapy manual. They are convinced that, whatever problem they may face, there is a specific answer to that problem if they can just find the right passage. If you are lonely, hurt, or depressed, the correct verse will fix your problem and help you "fulfill your purpose".

There are the enchanters, who use the Bible as a magic spell to encounter whatever issues they face. Just observe the popularity that surrounded the mysticism of the "Jabez Prayer" chants and the "Meal that Heals" potions from a few years ago.

Then there are the pragmatics. For these, the Bible is a how-to manual. They believe that. if you want to make more money, become more healthy, find the right diet, improve your relationships, or have better sex, there is a specific Scripture passage for each of these areas. (Note for modern evangelicals: The Bible does NOT teach us "how to have great sex").

Along these same lines are the legalists and the moralists, who hold that the Bible teaches us ways to please God by our works. Just "do good", and if you struggle, it is the job of the church to help you do better, usually resorting to pop-psychology and behavioral modification techniques.

However, while there are certainly practical teachings and wisdom that we can (and should) apply to our lives, the Bible is not a magic book, a therapy manual, a how-to instuction guide, or a book on ethics. The Bible, from beginning to end, is a story of redemption. It is how a Just and Holy God took His wrath, which was deserved to be poured out upon wicked and abominable men clothed in sin and deformity, and instead poured it upon His only Son. It is about God's love, not man's importance; God's grace, not man's worthiness. The Bible's main character is Christ, not the idols of "Me" and "purpose".

Let us not only live as those who believe the Word, but as workers who have "no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15).

Quote for the day

"In his book, "The Courage to Be Protestant," David Wells writes: "The born-again, marketing church has calculated that unless it makes deep, serious cultural adaptations, it will go out of business, especially with the younger generations. What it has not considered carefully enough is that it may well be putting itself out of business with God.

"And the further irony," he adds, "is that the younger generations who are less impressed by whiz-bang technology, who often see through what is slick and glitzy, and who have been on the receiving end of enough marketing to nauseate them, are as likely to walk away from these oh-so-relevant churches as to walk into them."

Start preparing for Sunday...

Last week was our introduction and launch into year three of our class. According to Nancy approximately 15% of those attending were visitors. My goal was to introduce myself to this community, give an overview and share banner verse for the year. So this brings me to the assignment which is to memorize 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. I also would ask you to do some extended devotion and meditation on this verse during this year. This week I put a short article on the website about the first verb in this sentence "Be diligent." And if you refer to the study notes I have broken down each of the key words and have left for you to study on your own "word of truth."

Doctrine of God - Sunday August 29, 2010

This coming week we launch full force into the "Doctrine of God" in particular to knowing God. Can we know God and how are we to know God? The Bible is not all that is known about God but rather all that God chose to reveal to us about Himself. So this coming Sunday I am planning to cover the following topics within this teaching on the doctrine of God.

We can never fully understand God

Since God is infinite and we are finite when reading the truths in the Bible it becomes like pouring a 10,000 gallon truth into a thimble. The Bible tells us that God is incomprehensible and we learn in Psalm 145 that His greatness is unsearchable.
Other Scriptures that we will refer to on Sunday will be: 1 Corinthians 2:10-12, Psalm 145 and 147, Psalm 139 and Romans 11:33.

And yet we can truly know God

Though we have finite minds and cannot know God exhaustively we can know true things about God as revealed to us through the Bible. The Scriptures tell us that God is righteous, God is love and that God is Spirit. This doesn't mean that we know everything about the righteousness or love of God or any of the other attributes that we will study.
Some Scriptures I will refer us to here will be: Jeremiah 9:23-24, John 17:3, Hebrews 8:11, 1 John 5:20, Galatians 4:9, Philippians 3:10, and 1 John 2:13. (The key word to notice in these verses is the word know.)
The opportunity that we have as Christians to have this personal and intimate relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is the greatest of all the blessings in our Christian life. Read More...

"Be diligent"

Yesterday in class I introduced our banner verse for the year which is 2 Timothy 2:15 - Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. Our growth in grace assignment for this week is to memorize this verse and one of our goals this year is to make this verse true in our lives.

Many of you know that we have discussed during the past two years what it means for a verb in the Greek to be in the imperative mood.

For example in our verse 2 Timothy 2:15 the word "Be diligent" is in the imperative mood which means mood of command. Here is what I want you to understand. God never demands from us (believers) that which He doesn't freely give to us. The command in the imperative actually becomes a promise because of the cross. So let's just briefly talk about the "Be diligent" in 2 Timothy 2:15. My concern is that when Christians hear a command without good categories they say "OK, I am going to be diligent." But the problem is if we are diligent in our flesh and we can be, then it is us that gets the glory! So the command "Be diligent" is best understood as something that only God can do through us in order to bring glory to His name. Therefore I need to pray for the diligence that He promises in order to secure this through the Spirit and not through my flesh.

A good example of this would be Abraham when he went into his handmaid Hagar. The child produced Ishmael was a child of the flesh. But when God comes and tells Abraham that he will have a child that God produces that child becomes Isaac and he is the child of promise. All that to say the command "Be diligent" can be produced as a child of the flesh which means we do it or a child of the promise which means God does it.

Review for August 22

This is our third launch into a new fall semester with our SS class at Carmel. As you know on this Sunday we normally have new people in the class so it becomes more of an introduction class than anything else. Nancy informed me that almost 15% of the people today were visitors. So thank you for bearing with some of the same things that you have heard over the years from me as in regard to my personal story. I am going to stress the notes this year so that I can keep moving in our learning the doctrine of God. Allow me to make an appeal to you to read through the notes one to two times during the week. I mentioned this morning that what I don’t cover in class I expect you to review on your own.

The banner verse for our class this year is 2 Timothy 2:15. I want to encourage you to memorize and study this verse for yourselves. Hopefully some of the notes that I have provided can be an aid in your study. Thanks to those who have been faithful to pray for our class and this upcoming year. I can’t tell you how excited I am about all that we are going to be covering as it relates to the doctrines of God, man, Christ and salvation. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to let me know.

SBS Class August 222010

Orthodox vs. Liberalism

The following quiz and answers may give you a good idea as to whether you are an evangelical orthodox or liberal:

Is the focus of Christianity what happens inside of you or what happens outside of you in history?

Is Jesus in your heart more important than Jesus in the manger, on the cross and on His throne?

Is Easter primarily about Jesus in your heart or Jesus being raised bodily on the third day?

Do you think of faith more as an inner experience than God's gift that is delivered to you through an external gospel?

Can you say that your faith has some value even if the empty tomb is not a historical fact?

Do you believe what you feel over the gospel of what you hear?

Do you think that people are basically good and just need better advice for how to live?

Do you think the essence of Christianity are deeds and not creeds?

Thanks to Michael Horton from the WhiteHorse Inn for these questions

Devotion in Malachi

Our Bible reading this morning was the book of Malachi.

Read prayerfully and carefully the following text from Malachi 2:7-9:
7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
8 But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts,
9 and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you do not keep my ways but show partiality in your instruction.”

Steven Lawson offers this assessment of many pastors in today’s churches:
In their zeal to lead popular and successful ministries, many are becoming less concerned with pointing to the biblical text. Their use of the Bible is much like the singing of the national anthem before a ball game—something merely heard at the beginning, but never referenced again, a necessary preliminary that becomes an awkward intrusion into the real event. In their attempt to be contemporary and relevant, many pastors talk about the Scriptures, but, sadly, they rarely speak from them. Instead, they rush headlong to the next personal illustration, humorous anecdote, sociological quote, or cultural reference, rarely to return to the biblical text. How can pastors expect dying souls to become spiritually healthy if they never give them the prescribed remedy? How can pastors expect sinners to be converted and Christians to be sanctified if they fail to expound God’s Word …?

Lawson then adds these words from Merrill Unger:
To an alarming extent the glory is departing from the pulpit … The basic reason for this gloomy condition is obvious. That which imparts the glory has been taken away from the center of so much of our modern preaching and placed on the periphery. The Word of God has been denied the throne and given a subordinate place.

Ellsworth, R. (2007). Opening up Malachi (47–48). Leominster: Day One Publications.

Ready, Set and Launch

Introduction on Sunday

Since this is our first Sunday into the fall launch I will take the opportunity to present our curriculum.
Also I am going to put forward our theme verse for the year which is 2 Timothy 2:15, along with some discussion on why we are a "learning" AND "living" the God-centered life class. In other words I am going to try and put some Biblical explanation for why it is important that both happen and not just one at the exclusion of the other. I also thought it may be helpful for me to give each of you a copy of the notes that I presented during the leadership session on Tuesday night.

Doctrine of God curriculum for August - December 2010

Learning the God-centered Life

Introduction (Starting August 29th)
2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

For those especially who are new or looking to plant this year in a SS class my goal this coming week will be to give an overall view of our class as it relates to: “Learning the Christian Life and Living the Christian Life.” Much of the information in this blog article will be presented to our community on Sunday.
This is going to be year where I will introduce what I think are the best resources available for Bible study such as Logos Bible study software. We are planning a night and this will be for the entire class sometime in October to have an in depth look at this particular resource.

An exciting part of our Learning the God-centered life will occur with Dr. Bruce Ware in February 25-27 as he presents to us The Doctrine of Christ.

Are you ready for some Bible?

Howard Hendricks, who is an excellent Bible teacher, says that the American Church is like a college football game. You have 50,000 people in the stands who are in desperate need of exercise watching 22 men on the field who are in desperate need of rest.

One of the goals of our SS community is to train and equip you in building the kingdom of God for the glory of God.
If you aren’t presently attending a SS class or if you are new to Carmel I would like to invite you to join us this Sunday-9:30 AM, at Carmel Baptist Church, in the Uptown Auditorium. During this fall semester we will be concentrating on the doctrine of God, as we look at the attributes that are specific only to God and those attributes which He graciously shares with us.

Since you are here at the website take a few minutes to look around. You will find notes from previous classes along with the audio of the teaching in July and August. Simply click on this LINK. Should you want to review the notes from class last week then click on this LINK.

Hope to see you this coming Sunday!

Reflection on Worship

Here is a good article by Trevor Wax on the subject of worship today in the church.

When it comes to worship, we are frequently told that form doesn’t matter. Style is not what’s important. I get that. I’m not downing contemporary music or advocating a return to liturgy, organs and hymns. I’ve been in contemporary worship services that have put me on my knees before the holiness and majesty of God. Cultural forms adjust and adapt.

But in worship today, there is a tendency toward casualness. The emphasis on feeling God’s closeness in worship may short-circuit the possibility of being transformed by a glimpse of the Transcendent One. There’s hardly any room for feeling awe in worship, and I can’t help but think that part of our problem is the form.

Form and content mirror one another. A church with serious Bible preaching is going to have a serious worship service (contemporary or traditional isn’t what matters, but serious it will be). A church with a feel-good preacher is going to have peppy, feel-good music.

Christians need to sense the weight of God’s glory, the truths of God’s Word, the reality of coming judgment, and the gloriousness of God’s grace. Trying to package the bigness of this God into most casual worship services is like trying to eat steak on a paper plate. You can do it for awhile, but at some point, people will start saying, “I want a dish.”

If you would like to read the entire article then click on this LINK.

Christians Beware!

“The heart of most religions is good advice, good techniques, good programs, good ideas, and good support systems. These drive us deeper into ourselves, to find our inner light, inner goodness, inner voice, or inner resources.

Nothing new can be found inside of us. There is no inner rescuer deep in my soul; I just hear echoes of my own voice telling me all sorts of crazy things to numb my sense of fear, anxiety, and boredom, the origins of which I cannot truly identify.

But the heart of Christianity is Good News. It comes not as a task for us to fulfill, a mission for us to accomplish, a game plan for us to follow with the help of life coaches, but as a report that someone else has already fulfilled, accomplished, followed, and achieved everything for us.”
—Michael Horton, The Gospel-Driven Life, p. 20

6 Questions for Bible Study

J.I. Packer gives us 6 questions we need to consider when we come to and study a section of Scripture.

(1) What do these words actually mean?

(2) What light do other scriptures throw on this text? Where and how does it fit in to the total biblical revelation?

(3) What truths does it teach about God, and about man in relation to God?

(4) How are these truths related to the saving work of Christ, and what light does the gospel of Christ throw upon them?

(5) What experiences do these truths delineate, or explain, or seek to create or cure? For what practical purpose do they stand in Scripture?

(6) How do I apply them to myself and others in our own actual situation? To what present human condition do they speak, and what are they telling us to believe and do?

J.I.Packer, Among God’s Giants: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, p138

Discipleship and God's word

Getting ready to get ready

Last week Pat and I were able to discuss at length vision and plan for our class in the 2010-2011 year.
As part of our dialogue we hit on the word discipleship. Specifically we talked about how it is used in the Bible and what we can learn from this word moving forward as a community. I thought it might be helpful to post this as we get ready to kickoff our fall launch this coming Sunday in the uptown auditorium at Carmel. This is a brief discussion on the subject but I think it makes the point of why making disciples is critical and also what the Bible says about how we are to go about it.

Go and make disciples

The word disciple is the Greek word "mathetes"(noun) and basically it means to be a learner or a pupil. It appears in the New Testament 268 times.

When we arrive at Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." In this verse the word disciple now appears as a verb instead of a noun. Also as a point of interest, it is in the imperative mood which as you know by now is the mood of command. So according to this verse you and I are commanded to go out and make learners of Jesus. How are we doing as a class and as a church in relationship to this command?

The next logical question for us to ask is how are we to make disciples? Well to get that answer let's look at what Jesus said in the following verses:
John 8:31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;
John 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

The word "continue" in John 8:31 is the Greek word meno and it means to remain in the same place over a period of time. And the Greek word for "word" is logos which means the entire word of God.
Now let's put all of this together in what the Puritans used to all Biblical logic. So if you are going to be a learner of Jesus (the great commission) then you are going to need to remain in His word consistently and diligently over a period of your lifetime. How are you ever going to be involved in making disciples if you are not a disciple?

Do you know the results that occur for those who make disciples? Just keep reading in John 8:32 - Jesus says they will know the truth. Now let me ask you a question "Who is the truth?" For that answer you need to check out John 14:6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. The answer to the question is Jesus is the truth! And how are we to know the truth? The key is for us as believers to abide in His word and as we do we become learners of Jesus. Think about it this way, how can you know and have a relationship with Jesus if you don’t know and have a relationship with His word? Read More...

Today's Bible interpretation "have it your way"

I just read an article by Shane Rosenthal called “You’re so Vain, You Probably Think This Text is About You.” He starts the article talking about the book by Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell called “The Narcissism Epidemic.” These authors have documented the slow and steady growth of narcissistic attitudes, behaviors, and assumptions in various aspects of American life and culture. Reality TV both encourages and normalizes self-centered behavior. Social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook encourage us to post pictures and updates about our minute by minute activities no matter how trivial, and child-centered schools reward kids merely for exerting effort, even if the actual work is substandard. Rosenthal goes on to say unfortunately our churches have not been immune to this cultural virus for according to Twenge and Campbell, American religion which used to challenge narcissistic attitudes and behaviors is now in many respects part of the problem. In today’s religious climate where churches compete for adherents as fast-food franchises do for customers, many religious groups simply give people what they want. Because reducing narcissism is not always pleasant, most people aren’t going to attend churches that demand humility.


Review for August 15

We are one week from our official fall 2010 launch. This was our pre-launch class regarding the “Doctrine of God.” Here are the three questions that we considered as part of this morning’s class.

  • What is at stake in pursuing a knowledge of God?
  • Does it matter if we know God rightly?
  • Does it matter if we grow in the knowledge of God?

I need to warn you, the curriculum for this year is going to be a bit like taking a sip from a fire hose. There are 19 teaching weeks starting next week through the end of the year. My goal is to complete our study in the doctrine of God within the 2010 year. Then as we turn the corner and head into 2011 we will study the doctrine of man until our retreat date at the end of February. At that time Dr. Bruce Ware will lead us into the doctrine of Christ and after that the doctrine of salvation that should take us into the summer.

Are you tired yet? If you are attending or a member of our class then may I encourage you to go through the notes on a weekly basis. There are going to be times when I will not be able to cover all the material in our time together on Sunday. Your responsibility especially when we come to the specific doctrines is to learn the definitions, illustrations that will help you to explain and also the Scriptural support. Read More...

Preparing for the August launch

Pat and Kay joined us in Charleston this week for our annual leadership planning session. Since we are starting year #3 of our class it was important that we roll up our sleeves and get to work. As you can see by the following photo it was tough but somebody needed to do it. Should you want to see more of this intense planning and grueling work session then just click on this LINK.

Click on photo above

What does love look like?

Andy Naselli over at Between Two Worlds gives an excellent summary of Paul David Tripp’s What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage. As a matter of fact Nancy and I were privileged to do some pre-marital counseling this past year and this is the material we used along with the Bible.

What does love look like?

Love is being willing to have your life complicated by the needs and struggles of your husband or wife without impatience or anger.

Love is actively fighting the temptation to be critical and judgmental toward your spouse, while looking for ways to encourage and praise.

Love is the daily commitment to resist the needless moments of conflict that come from pointing out and responding to minor offenses.

Love is being lovingly honest and humbly approachable in times of misunderstanding, and being more committed to unity and love than you are to winning, accusing, or being right.

Love is a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.

Love means being willing, when confronted by your spouse, to examine your heart rather than rising to your defense or shifting the focus.

Love is a daily commitment to grow in love so that the love you offer to your husband or wife is increasingly selfless, mature, and patient.

Love is being unwilling to do what is wrong when you have been wronged but to look for concrete and specific ways to overcome evil with good.

Love is being a good student of your spouse, looking for his physical, emotional, and spiritual needs so that in some way you can remove the burden, support him as he carries it, or encourage him along the way.

Spurgeon: Preach Christ or Go Home!

This is a post from Tony Reinke at the Gospel Coalition

The very idea of a “Christless sermon” appalled Charles Spurgeon. It was a plague he confronted repeatedly (and vividly) in his own sermons. Although sometimes overstated to make his point, his words are a healthy challenge today over 100 years after his death. Here’s a small collection of colorful quips:

“The motto of all true servants of God must be, ‘We preach Christ; and him crucified.’ A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home, and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.” [7/9/1876; sermon #2899]

“Leave Christ out? O my brethren, better leave the pulpit out altogether. If a man can preach one sermon without mentioning Christ’s name in it, it ought to be his last, certainly the last that any Christian ought to go to hear him preach.”[undated; sermon #768]

“Leave Christ out of the preaching and you shall do nothing. Only advertise it all over London, Mr. Baker, that you are making bread without flour; put it in every paper, ‘Bread without flour’ and you may soon shut up your shop, for your customers will hurry off to other tradesmen. … A sermon without Christ as its beginning, middle, and end is a mistake in conception and a crime in execution. However grand the language it will be merely much-ado-about-nothing if Christ be not there. And I mean by Christ not merely his example and the ethical precepts of his teaching, but his atoning blood, his wondrous satisfaction made for human sin, and the grand doctrine of ‘believe and live.’” [10/23/1881; sermon #1625] Read More...

The effect of sin

From John MacArthur’s - ‘Man’s Biggest Problem’

This is vividly illustrated in a story told many years ago about Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo da Vinci was painting his great masterpiece known as The Last Supper. He sought long for a model for Jesus Christ. At last he located a chorister in one of the churches of Rome who was lovely in life and lovely in features, a young man named Pietro Bandonelli. He used him for the portrait of Jesus Christ. Years passed, and as the painting was still unfinished, all the disciples had been portrayed except one, Judas Iscariot.

And now after all of these years da Vinci began again the search for a face. He wanted a face that was hardened by sin, he want a face that was contorted by lust and evil desire, and at last he found a dissolute beggar on the streets of Rome with a face so villainous he shuddered when he looked at him. He hired the man to sit for him as he painted the face of Judas on his canvas and when he was about to dismiss the man he said, I have not yet found out your name, to which the man replied, I am Pietro Bandonelli. I also sat for you as your model of Jesus Christ. The sinful years had disfigured the face, and that’s the way sin does it.

Are we under the 10 commandments?

From DesiringGod Website

No. The Bible says we're not under the law.

I love Romans 7:4-6. By way of analogy, it says that you are married to the law. And you better stay married because if you leave this husband and go marry another you are going to be called an adulterer. But if your husband dies, then you can go and remarry.

And then Paul draws the analogy out—a little complex the way he does it—saying that you died to the law. You aren't married anymore, you can have another husband, namely Christ. He's raised from the dead.

So, our approach towards ethics is different. We don't ask the question, "Am I under the law?" We are under grace. The law is already fulfilled perfectly by Jesus. We are in Jesus and as far justification goes, God sees it as completed for you, one-hundred percent. He says, "You've trusted my Son. You've been grafted in him. You are in Christ Jesus and he fulfilled the law perfectly. He covered all your sins." God sees you in and through Christ, therefore, as far as final judgment goes God is 100% for you. That is settled and nothing is going to change it.

Now, shall we sin that grace may abound? Paul says, "Dead men don't sin." If you've died to sin, how can you still live in it? The new birth is the writing of the law on our heart so that we are not under it, it is under us. It is just coming out.

Countdown to Launch

Preparation for launch

On August 22 we will begin year #3 in our learning and living the God-centered life community. If you have not read our class mission statement recently, then please do so as part of the preparation for the launch.

“We exist as a community to spread a passion for Christ in such a way that His word becomes the food and daily nourishment for learning and living the God-centered life. A life in which we are transformed by the power of the Spirit, by seeing the face of God in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

As in our first two years I will put a strong emphasis on the following 3 basics that are key in order to learn and live the God-centered life:

Bible Reading
Bible Devotions
Bible Study

The "prosperity" gospel

This article is from Dr. Michael Horton, professor at Westminster Seminary, who is the host of the popular national radio show The WhiteHorse Inn.

"Name it, claim it"; the "health-and-wealth" or "prosperity gospel" : these are nicknames for a heresy that in many respects is only an extreme version of perhaps the most typical focus of American Christianity today more generally. Basically, God is there for you and your happiness. He has some rules and principles for getting what you want out of life and if you follow them, you can have what you want. Just "declare it" and prosperity will come to you. God as Personal Shopper.

Although explicit proponents of the so-called "prosperity gospel" may be fewer than their influence suggests, its big names and best-selling authors (T. D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and Joyce Meyer) are purveyors of a pagan worldview with a peculiarly American flavor. It's basically what the sixteenth century German monk turned church reformer Martin Luther called the "theology of glory": How can I climb the ladder and attain the glory here and now that God has actually promised for us after a life of suffering? The contrast is the "theology of the cross": the story of God's merciful descent to us, at great personal cost, a message that the Apostle Paul acknowledged was offensive and "foolish to Greeks."