Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

The Challenge

Here is the second video that summarizes the mission statement in our class. This covers the challenge for the coming year. Hopefully this will be a useful tool as you we all seek to learn and live the God-centered life.

Click on this

The Mission

Here is a video that summarizes the mission statement in our class. The goal this week is to provide each day a brief overview of the five points that I covered this past Sunday. Hopefully this will be a useful tool as you we all seek to learn and live the God-centered life.

Pat knows Red Fish

Somebody may be asking is Pat Jones really an outdoor kind of guy? He can make “turkey calls” in SS class but does he know how to bring home the bacon so to speak. Well for the second year in a row (a picture is worth a thousand words), I have documented Pat hammering the red fish in Charleston. It’s just a fact when Pat shows up the fish start to tremble.

So without further ado I bring you the Roland Martin of the inter-coastal... (if you happen to hear a comment about lunch at the Palm, that was a side agreement regarding lunch for most fish caught and put in the boat.)

Power of the Parables

My devotion in the past week had me in Mark 4. As you may remember we spent much time in the early stages of our class talking about the importance of the heart. And one of the main section that I taught on was the "Parable of the Sower" that is located in Mark 4. This is called the parable of all parables and the Lord Jesus told His disciples, if you don't understand this parable you will not understand any of the parables. The main point of the parable of the sower was "the success of the seed is in direct proportion to the condition of the soil." And we can learn that the elements within the parable had to be explained by Jesus to His disciples.

So when you read Mark 4:21-23 how are you going to handle or interpret this parable? May I suggest that first you read it and try to come up with a main point. It can sometimes help to just try and retell the parable out loud to someone else to see if you understand the basic story. Let's do so for this parable in the following way (go back to the first century with me). A woman who is a widow comes home at night after a full day of work to a one room home, with possibly just one window and not much else. Since oil is expensive and she is quite poor there is only one lamp for her to light as she comes into the home that night. As she enters and finds the lamp she must decide where to place it.

Check out the choices:
1. How about under a basket? Well that doesn't make sense because if the light stays under the basket she will not be able to negotiate around the home.
2. How about under the bed? Well that presents the same problem as with the basket and limiting the light that she needs in her home
3. How about on a lamp stand? Well that makes the most sense because as the light is on the lampstand it will allow her to most effectively see and walk in her home


Jesus and the Father

In our next teaching session on the Trinity we will be specifically be examining the relationship between Jesus and the Father. As we have talked about briefly but will see now in more detail is the ranking of these members of the Trinity. Here is a brief outline of what we will cover together on this subject. And later today I will post the notes in detail for you to study as time allows. Keep running the race, fighting the good fight, and keeping the faith!

Jesus and the Father


A Blast from the Past

Keep in mind that we are learning and living, as we build one doctrine upon the other, walking together through the Scripture. As we move forward I will strive to be diligent in not letting us wander from the truth we have already learned. Here is an important article from Dr. MacArthur on the meaning of Scripture and the importance of doctrine. During the first 10 months of our class we focused mainly upon the word of God and these we two critical components that we studied. I hope you enjoy!

What Does This Verse Mean "to Me"?

That's a fashionable concern, judging from the trends in devotional booklets, home Bible study discussions, Sunday-school literature, and most popular preaching.

The question of what Scripture means has taken a back seat to the issue of what it means "to me."

The difference may seem insignificant at first. Nevertheless, our obsession with the Scripture's applicability reflects a fundamental weakness. We have adopted practicality as the ultimate judge of the worth of God's Word. We bury ourselves in passages that overtly relate to daily living, and ignore those that don't.

Early in my ministry, I made a conscious commitment to biblical preaching. My first priority has always been to answer the question, "What does this passage mean?" After I've explained as clearly and accurately as possible the meaning of God's Word, then I exhort people to obey and apply it to their own lives.

The Bible speaks for itself to the human heart; it is not my role as a preacher to try to tailor the message. That's why I preach my way through entire books of the Bible, dealing carefully with each verse and phrase-even though that occasionally means spending time in passages that don't readily lend themselves to anecdotal or motivational messages.

I am grateful to the Lord for the way He has used this expository approach in our church and in the lives of our radio listeners.

But now and then someone tells me frankly that my preaching needs to be less doctrinal and more practical.

Practical application is vital. I don't want to minimize its importance. But the distinction between doctrinal and practical truth is artificial; doctrine is practical! In fact, nothing is more practical than sound doctrine.

Too many Christians view doctrine as heady and theoretical. They have dismissed doctrinal passages as unimportant, divisive, threatening, or simply impractical. A best-selling Christian book I just read warns readers to be on guard against preachers whose emphasis is on interpreting Scripture rather than applying it.

Wait a minute. Is that wise counsel? No it is not.

Quote for the day

“By Justification we mean – man’s acceptance with God, or his being treated as righteous in His sight – as the object of His favor, and not of His wrath; of His blessing, and not of His curse. The breach of the Law in its covenant form by the sin of our first parents, rendered it for ever impossible that either they, or any of their descendants, should be justified on the ground of their personal righteousness.” - J.I. Packer

The glory of God

Psalm 119 states “The heavens declare the glory of God...” and the beach does also with everything that you are able to see. When you look at the vastness of the ocean and the intricate detail of a small sea shell, one can see both the transcendence and the immanence of our God.

Devotion time

The purpose of our community is very simple and basic. 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!

In my devotion this morning I spent some time in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. This may be the most concise description of the gospel in the entire Bible. However I would like you to consider with me for a few minutes verses 1 and 2.
1Cor. 15:1 ¶ Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,
1Cor. 15:2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

I have highlighted the verbs in red.

Here are some general observations:
  • Notice what Paul is preaching - THE GOSPEL, and what the saints in Corinth are receiving - THE GOSPEL
  • Each of the verbs in the above two verses are in the indicative mood, which simply means the mood of reality. This is a fact or the way things really are.
  • Notice in 1 Corinthians 15:2 the word "SAVED", this verb is in the present tense which means habitual or continual and is in the passive voice, which means that which happens to you.
  • Finally observe the biggest little word in the Bible, which is the word "IF". If you hold fast to the gospel, unless you believed in vain.

At our Ridgecrest retreat on Friday night the teaching was on "holding fast to the gospel." And way is that so important? Because it is the very litmus test for a person to have the assurance they have truly been justified by faith.

So SS community may I ask you this question? Are you holding fast to the gospel? Are you continuing to be saved? Remember salvation has a three-fold meaning:
1. Past tense - justified
2. Present tense - sanctified
3. Future tense - glorified

The present tense sanctification (being saved) is the very evidence that you at some point in time were saved (justification). And what should the sanctification process look like in my life as a "born again" Christian? You and I need to be preaching the gospel to ourselves and we need to hold fast to this word of truth.

Oh, by the way, I almost forgot:
In the context stated above what might Paul mean in the phrase “to believe in vain”?

holding fast to the truth of the gospel (daily) with you,


Combined teaching of Trinity in church history

For your convenience I have combined the teaching for the last two weeks on the Trinity in church history. Hopefully these notes will give you a good overview as you dig into this essential doctrine for the church.

A trip down memory lane

The Learning and Living God-centered Life Community is coming up on its first year anniversary in August. As I was reviewing some of the photos from the first year it was reminding me of the leadership planning, community outreach, women’s ministry, monthly luncheons, care groups, missions and the joy of being the one another’s of the New Testament church.

As we head into the summer may I encourage each of you to be faithful in your Bible reading, devotion and study. This year we have talked a good bit about the difference in a heart that delights in the word of God and one that sees it as a duty.

I will be praying for you specifically that God will give you the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Also praying that you will walk in a manner to please Him as the Spirit empowers you and in all things, yes even the hard things that you will give Him thanks.

Nancy and I are enjoying a bit of vacation time but still studying,praying, planning and preparing for teaching the “DOCTRINE OF GOD” for the remainder of the 2009 year. Even though communication will be limited on the website until we are back, I will be twittering away while in Charleston. Have you had your tweet today?

Video Clip of the Week

Where are we headed?

Megachurch, the latest stats...

This article from the associated press this week I have posted for your consideration.

Despite their reputation as symbols of baby-boomer America, Protestant megachurches attract a younger crowd and more singles than the average Protestant church, according to large-scale study released Tuesday. The survey also found distressing news for a movement that took off in the 1980s and remains influential in evangelical Christianity: megachurch-goers volunteer less and give less money than other churchgoers.

Conducted by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford Seminary and Leadership Network, the survey of nearly 25,000 people who attend 12 U.S. megachurches was conducted from January through August 2008. It is billed as the largest representative national study of that religious demographic to date.

An estimated 5 million Americans a week attend roughly 1,300 U.S. megachurches, defined in the study as Protestant churches with attendance of 2,000 or more. To compare the megachurch data to Protestant churches of all sizes, the study relied on the U.S. Congregational Life Study of 2001.

Among the megachurch report's highlights:

- The average age of megachurch attenders is 40, compared to nearly 53 at a typical Protestant church. Nearly two-thirds of megachurch attenders are under 45, double the numbers in Protestant congregations of all sizes. The vast majority are between 18 and 44.

- Nearly a third of megachurch attenders are single, compared to 10 percent in a typical Protestant church. They also tend to be wealthier and better educated.

- Nearly all those surveyed -- 98 percent, including visitors -- described themselves as a "committed follower of Jesus Christ." Nearly a quarter hadn't been in any church for a long time before coming to the megachurch.

- Sixty-two percent of megachurch attendees said they had experienced much spiritual growth in the past year. But that does not always translate to behavior churches expect of members: nearly 45 percent of megachurch attenders never volunteer at the church and 32 percent give little or no money to the congregation.

"The ethos of the megachurch is to say 'You can't just sit there and spectate, that's not enough, you've got to do this or do that,'" said study co-director Scott Thumma, a sociologist at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. "But a lot of people said 'I'm perfectly happy coming here and doing that.'"

Divided loyalties also might play a role: just three-quarters described the megachurch they were attending as their "home" church, and many said they were attending more than one church.

Thumma said the findings don't necessarily mean that megachurches fail to foster involvement. The study found that significant numbers of even the least involved participants still give generously, have invited others to church and attend services weekly.

Pastor B.’s Editorial Response to the article above on the “Stats in the Megachurch”

This morning I posted an interesting article on our website regarding the latest mega church statistics. Here is a section of the article that I would like to comment on in this weekly update.


Review of June 7

In the lower right hand corner of the screen you can click and go to a full screen that will help to see the notes much better.

The audio for today’s class can be listened to directly or downloaded at SERMON.NET. It will be the first entry that appears and the title is “The Trinity in church history_part2.”

Planning is hard work

Nancy and I went over to Pat and Kay’s for some SS community planning for the fall. If you see some smoke in the pictures it is not from the burgers but from all the brainstorming last night. Of course the burgers were cooked with Pat’s special recipe and they were sooooooooo good! This coming year, by the grace of God things are going to be intentional, exciting and challenging. May I ask each of you to keep praying as we continue to learn and live the God-centered life.

Continued study of the Trinity

A special thanks to Dr. Wayne Grudem for his excellent teaching on this subject of the Trinity

Definition of the Trinity - God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God.

We see verses in which they say that the Father is God, the Son is God and the Spirit is God
Then we find verses that say that God is one

In the Old Testament we see and have hints of the Trinity
This doctrine of the Trinity is progressively revealed in the Scripture

Several passages in the OT suggest that God exists as more than one Person
• Genesis 1:26 - "Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;"
This comes across as it could be Inter-Trintitarian conversation

• Genesis 3:22 - Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us...
• Isaiah 6:8 - Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
• Psalm 45 - Psa. 45:6 ¶Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
• Psa. 45:7 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
• Psalm 110:1 - The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right handUntil I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” The Father is saying to the Son, sit at my right hand
• Isaiah 63:10 - But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy,He fought against them.
The Holy Spirit here is seen as distinct from the Father and the grieving is a personal feeling
• Hosea 1:7 - “But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the LORD their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.”
• Isaiah 48 - Is. 48:16 “Come near to Me, listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, From the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord GOD has sent Me, and His Spirit.”

Nancy and 4 Theologians

Can you name all four? And no smart comments like “I only see 3 theologians in that picture.”

Launch into the Summer series

On Tuesday night we completed our men’s Bible study which we titled “Launch into the summer.” In this 4 week series we looked at Romans 6:15-23 and last night concluded with Romans 8:1-13. I am often amazed how much we hear in our culture today about pragmatism and relevance. However when you read Romans 8:13 you don’t find something that tries to be relevant but rather that which is absolute. Last night we talked about “launching into the summer” as men who live out the Christian life by putting to death the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit. As a matter of fact Paul says if we aren’t living that way then we live according to the flesh and we are headed straight for hell. Let me say that again, if you are living according to the flesh then you will die (eternal death) but if you are putting to death the deeds of the body, by the Spirit then you will live. So last night I asked myself and the men at the study “how are you living?”

Below are my study notes on some of Romans 8:1-13. I will be praying for the men in our class that this summer will be a continual receiving of grace through God’s word, in such a way that lives will be demonstrating the very glory of God. This time of teaching has been a wonderful opportunity to get to know better the guys in our SS community. Men, if you were not able to participate in this study then may I appeal for you to set time aside, to dive into the word of God with us this fall.

Overview and Outline of May 31

Here is a brief outline of today’s teaching on the Trinity and church history. This may help in getting an overview of our lesson before you dive into the notes.