Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Dr. Bruce Ware "The Exclusivity of Christ"

It was a wonderful weekend of teaching with Dr. Bruce Ware. Here a short video clip from our Sunday morning session.

Here is another clip of Dr. Ware teaching on the sovereignty of God. Click on this LINK.

A short clip of Dr. Ware teaching on “the Trinity.” Click on this LINK.

Retreat Fishing Trip

Dr. Bruce Ware and I were invited by the legendary fisherman and class leader Pat Jones. It was a brutal day on the water with 25 mph winds and lots of rain. However we did bring redfish in the boat.

And if you would like to see what happened after we got to our spot just CLICK ON THIS LINK.


Session #5

Retreat 2011 - Session #3

Retreat 2011 - Saturday Session

Live from Wild Dunes

Tonight I will be blogging live from the Wild Dunes Conference Center. Dr. Bruce Ware is our speaker for this weekend. The subject is “Friendly Fire” in which Dr. Ware is going to cover 5 of the essential doctrines that are being compromised within the evangelical church. Hopefully I will be able to blog each session as they occur and will highlight main points in Dr. Ware’s teaching. We start tonight at around 7 PM so drop by and hangout awhile on our website. I also plan to post the notes that he gives out for each of the lectures on various doctrines.

If you would like the audio from FRIDAY NIGHT Session #1 then CLICK ON THIS LINK.

If you would like the outline of the notes from the FRIDAY NIGHT session #1 then CLICK ON THIS LINK.

Retreat 2011 - "Friendly Fire"

Review for February 20

Isaiah Chapter 6

Living by grace

My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well—whatever ‘well’ is in our opinion—then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works, rather than by grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the ‘sweat’ of our own performance. Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to ‘try harder’. We seem to believe success in the Christian life is basically up to us; our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way. The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on my own performance is very freeing and joyous experience. But it is not meant to be a one-time experience; the truth needs to be reaffirmed daily. - Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace

Review for February 13

This past Sunday we continued to study the holiness of God. We are learning that this communicable attribute gives us some keen insight into the transcendence of God. In a day and time when much preaching and teaching has an over emphasis as to the love of God, this study regarding holiness helps to give us a healthy theological balance.

These notes will serve to cover our discussion and teaching next week as we look more specifically at Isaiah Chapter 6.
I think this is an excellent transition to the gospel series that will be starting officially on March 6 and run through Easter Sunday on April 24.

If you want the notes from our study on the holiness of God then CLICK ON THIS LINK
If you would like to see the video clip that was featured on Sunday simply CLICK ON THIS LINK

If you would like to listen to the audio simply CLICK ON THIS LINK

The struggles in Christian growth

One reason we don’t grow in ordinary, grateful obedience as we should is that we’ve got amnesia; we’ve forgotten that we are cleansed from our sins. In other words, ongoing failure in sanctification (the slow process of change into Christlikeness) is the direct result of failing to remember God’s love for us in the gospel. If we lack the comfort and assurance that his love and cleansing are meant to supply, our failures will handcuff us to yesterday’s sins, and we won’t have faith or courage to fight against them, or the love for God that’s meant to empower this war. If we fail to remember our justification, redemption, and reconciliation, we’ll struggle in our sanctification. - Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me

Christ alone

It is Christ, I need hardly say, of whom the whole New Testament is full. The Gospels are Christ living, speaking, and moving among men. The Acts are Christ preached, published, and proclaimed. The Epistles are Christ written of, explained, and exalted. But all through, from first to last, there is but one Name above every other, and that is Christ. ~ J.C. Ryle

It may be helpful to take a few minutes and listen to this version of “In Christ Alone” as your heart prepares for a time of devotion. Click on this LINK.

Beware of "church growth" strategies and movements

An article from Pastor Marty Fields

The first crack in the church growth edifice came a couple of years ago when church growth advocate George Barna expressed frustration that - since the full-blown implementation of church growth principles 20 years ago - there has been no net growth in the Christian church to speak of; in fact it has declined in America. He found that mega-churches have both a big front door and an equally large back door.

All mega-churches seemed to have accomplished is to kill off smaller churches that resisted the temptation to compromise Biblical Christianity.

The final nail came when Willow Creek Community Church - the “Mecca” of the church growth ideology - recently released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, on staff at Willow Creek, conducted the study. The conclusion? Senior Pastor Bill Hybels said, to his credit, “We made a mistake.” They didn’t make disciples - they made dunces.

Continue reading…

Seeing Jesus in all of Scripture

In Luke 24 there is an encounter between the two men on the road to Emmaus and Christ on Resurrection Day. The men in their sad and downcast disposition are in need of a Bible lesson and the Lord Jesus gives them one. This is a very important lesson because it taught them and it teaches us that Scripture must be interpreted in light of seeing Jesus. As a matter of fact Jesus say in Luke 24:17 that all of the Scripture is about Him. Luke 24:27 “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.”

I want to bring you resources that can equip you to better see Jesus when you read the Bible. So, in this article I have posted a section from Tim Keller’s book called King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, pp. 57-58: from Justin Taylor’s blog site. Read this article to see how Pastor Keller interprets the story of Jonah through the grid of seeing Jesus.

We have a resource that can enable us to stay calm inside no matter how the storms rage outside.

Here’s a clue: Mark has deliberately laid out this account using language that is parallel, almost identical, to the language of the famous Old Testament account of Jonah.

Both Jesus and Jonah were in a boat, and both boats were overtaken by a storm—the descriptions of the storm are almost identical.

Both Jesus and Jonah were asleep.

In both stories the sailors woke up the sleeper and said, “We’re going to die.”

And in both cases there was a miraculous divine intervention and the sea was calmed.

Further, in both stories the sailors then become even more terrified than they were before the storm was calmed.Continue reading…

What do you treasure?

Tired Christians

The gospel is first and foremost NOT about something you need TO DO but what has already BEEN DONE. If you spend your Christian life trying TO DO (efforts to please God with performance) and forget what HAS BEEN DONE by Christ, then you’ll always be working on the wrong end of the problem.

This animation represents “HOW” many today live within the context of church. Always doing, serving, going and performing but never reading, devoting nor resting in what Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection. Are you aware Christian brothers and sisters
that there is obedience which dishonors God?

Do this do that the law commands
But gives us neither feet nor hands
A better word the gospel brings
It bids us fly and gives us wings!

Years ago Alan Redpath, one of the great preachers of his day said. “BEWARE OF THE BARRENNESS OF A BUSY LIFE.”

How to see the UNITY of Scripture


It's back to Romans 6

Since we studied Romans 6 for two months I thought many of you would appreciate this article.

Doug Moo, commenting on Romans 6:1-14 and the exhortation to “become what you are becoming.”

Balance on this point is essential. “Indicative” and “imperative” must be neither divided nor confused. If divided, with “justification” and “sanctification” put into separate compartments, we can forget that true holiness of life comes only as the outworking and realization of the life of Christ in us. This leads to a “moralism” or “legalism” in which the believer “goes it on his own,” thinking that holiness will be attained through sheer effort, or ever more elaborate programs, or ever-increasing numbers of rules. But if indicative and imperative are confused, with “justification” and “sanctification” collapsed together into one, we can neglect the fact that the outworking of the life of Christ in us is made our responsibility. This neglect leads to an unconcern with holiness of life, or to a “God-does-it-all” attitude in which the believer in which the believer thinks to become holy through a kind of spiritual osmosis.

Paul makes it clear, by the sequence in this paragraph, that we can live a holy life only as we appropriate the benefits of our union with Christ. But he also makes it clear, because there is a sequence, that living the holy life is distinct from (but not separate from) what we have attained by our union with Christ and that holiness of life can be stifled if we fail continually to appropriate and put to work the new life God has given us. Jeremiah Bourroughs, a seventeenth-century Puritan, put it like this: “…from him [Christ] as from a fountain, sanctification flows into the souls of the Saints: their sanctification comes not so much from their struggling, and endeavors, and vows, and resolutions, as it comes flowing to them from their union with him.” (The Epistle to the Romans, 391)

A new translation called "The Massage"


Are you tired of hearing that the Bible is inspired, inerrant and infallible? Do you want something that doesn’t deal with sin and God’s wrath, the shedding of Christ’s blood as the propitiation for our sin? No problem, the seeker-friendly and pragmatic church folks have just the bible for you, it’s called “The Massage.” Hey, your life is tough enough, so when you come to church or read a “bible” translation you want to feel good. When you read “The Massage” the emphasis is you. Don’t you want to know how to have your best life now? So, if you are tired of hearing about doctrines like justification, sanctification and election that only cause people to divide then this is the book for you. If your SELF ESTEEM and SELF ACTUALIZATION don’t improve ten fold simply send this book back for a full refund. Well, why are you waiting? Get feeling better about yourself today. Call now as operators are waiting to take your order.

If you haven’t heard our latest commercial then CLICK ON THIS LINK.

Bible Devotion in Mark 6

Our Bible reading for today included Mark Chapter 6. In this chapter we have one of two miracles that are recorded for us in all four gospels; the feeding of the five thousand and the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

One of the first things I notice in Mark 6 is the compassion that Jesus has for the people manifests itself in His teaching them. We need NOT overlook the importance in the church of feeding the sheep because is represents the very compassion of Christ.

Second, Jesus is going to teach His disciples a very important lesson but unfortunately they aren't going to get it. How often through the word is Jesus trying to teach us today and we like the disciples just don't get it? Imagine the set up in Mark 6 by turning on the video player of your mind. Here we have between 15-20,000 people, night is coming on and the group is hungry with nothing to eat. We know there is no village in the surrounding area that can accommodate the food requirements for this many people. Jesus allows all this to sink in for His disciples so as to provide the following test. Go out into the crowd and take an inventory of food and get back to me. Do you think Jesus already knew? So what is the point for His disciples? Answer - to have them recognize that the situation before them CANNOT be solved using human strategy, planning or ingenuity. In other words what confronts the disciples in regard to feeding this crowd is the IMPOSSIBLE. But guess what they should know and what we should know "NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD."

STOP-LOOK-LISTEN, these are three words I learned years ago when having my devotion time. Don't go to fast and ask questions of the text when you read. For example, is it possible that God might put you in a situation that looks impossible, so that He can test your faith to rely entirely on Him. Notice what He tells the disciples "GO LOOK" in other words go check out just how impossible it is by seeing just how few resources are available. But then check out the precious lesson that follows. And I want to draw your attention to 4 verbs.
1. HE TOOK - yes He did but ask yourself this question, what did Jesus take? Answer - all that they had. Brothers and Sisters, Jesus doesn't want a slice of your life HE WANTS IT ALL! When we come to Christ we need to be prepared to give it all.
2. HE BLESSED - without going into much detail you can trace this all the way back to the promise God made to Abraham. The moment you receive Christ the only relationship you have now with God is one of blessing. This is true for you 100% of the time whether you recognize it or not.
3. HE BROKE - not this is where the health, wealth and prosperity gospel people miss the text. The Christian life on planet earth involves both blessing and breaking. It is different for each person but no Christian escapes the breaking.
4. HE KEPT GIVING - This verb is written in the PRESENT TENSE which means continuously, habitually, and in an ongoing manner. Now put it all together when we come to Christ we say Lord Jesus I give it all to you, everything I have it is yours. And He takes it, blesses it, breaks because it is after breaking that Christ can give you away to others. Continue reading…

The Cross Centered Life

“Christ discharged the debt of sin. He bore our sins and purged them. He did not make a token payment which God accepts in place of the whole. Our debts are not cancelled; they are liquidated. Christ procured redemption and therefore he secured it. He met in himself and swallowed up the full toll of divine condemnation and judgement against sin.” - John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied

Gospel Driven Sanctification

This from Tullian Tchividjian’s blog site

Sinclair Ferguson. reminds us that any piety and pursuit of holiness not grounded in, and driven by, the gospel will eventually run out of gas:

The first thing to remember is that we must never separate the benefits (regeneration, justification, sanctification) from the Benefactor (Jesus Christ). The Christians who are most focused on their own spirituality may give the impression of being the most spiritual … but from the New Testament’s point of view, those who have almost forgotten about their own spirituality because their focus is so exclusively on their union with Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished are those who are growing and exhibiting fruitfulness. Historically speaking, whenever the piety of a particular group is focused on OUR spirituality that piety will eventually exhaust itself on its own resources. Only where our piety forgets about us and focuses on Jesus Christ will our piety nourished by the ongoing resources the Spirit brings to us from the source of all true piety, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sinclair reminds us that the secret of gospel-based sanctification is that we actually perform better as we grow in our understanding that our relationship with God is based on Christ’s performance for us, not our performance for him. In fact, those who end up getting better are those who increasingly realize that their relationship to God does not depend on them getting better. This means, as I said in a post a couple weeks ago, that Christian growth does not happen first by behaving better, but believing better–believing in bigger, deeper, brighter ways what Christ has already secured for sinners (Col. 1:12-14).