Monthly Archives: August 2008

ESV Study Bible Excerpts — This Looks Impressive

Some of you at my church have inquired about the new ESV Study Bible that is coming out. I must say, this study Bible looks impressive! To be honest, I had begun veering away from study Bibles in resisting the temptation to look at the study notes with the same solemnity as the Holy Scriptures.

Yet, this looks like a wonderful resource to help my people and me understand the Word better. The notes, the maps, the layout are all crisp and detailed. My only concern is the size. This is an almost 2,800 page Bible — a beast to carry around, I would assume. Aside from this, I eagerly await its release on October 15.

ESV has released some excerpts in pdf format:

Introduction to the Psalms, along with the notes for Psalm 1

Introduction to the book of Isaiah, along with the notes for the first two chapters

The entire book of Jonah

Introduction to Ezekiel, along with the first two chapters

Introduction to the Gospel according to Luke

Introduction and notes for chapter 1 of Colossians

Introduction to Revelation

A Reconstruction of Golgotha, the hill upon which Jesus died

Solomon’s Temple

Where Was Jesus Buried?

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"The Triangle of Christianity" Sermon Is Now Posted

I am in the midst of preaching a four-part series of “Getting Our Church in Shape.” The first sermon dealt with the Straight Line of Christianity in that we are to maintain continually our relationship with Christ at all times and at all costs.

This Sunday’s sermon was on the Triangle of Christianity. This sermon explores the reasons why we should join a local church. Here’s an excerpt from the first point dealing with “Growth and Maturity.”

God gives children to families so that we may be instruments of his to help them grow and mature. It’s amazing watching children grow and flourish how curious they get. Sometimes that curiosity is cute, other times that curiosity is quite dangerous. Being curious in watching the parents do something and then imitating them is cute. Being curious to see how a knife works or what happens if you jump from the fifth step of your stairs can be dangerous. Parents are there to help young children grow and mature to stay safe and to set an example.

We join a local church family so we may grow and mature in the faith. That commitment and investment in itself helps develop focus and disciple. We read in the New Testament how God used Paul, Barnabus, Silas, John Mark and others to plant churches all over Asia Minor. He intentionally planted churches in specific locations so people in those communities would have a place to get under the gospel.

Paul told the Colossian church in Colossians 1:28-29:

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

God has placed pastors and churches in specific locations to proclaim Christ. Paul says that I’m there to warn and to teach with all wisdom in order for Christians to grow and mature in Christ. This was where Paul’s struggle was — pouring himself out in local churches so that they would pursue Christ and cast off every other bondage and hindrance.

This is why Mark Dever, an expert on church matters, notes, “The preaching must be faithful to Scripture, personally challenging and central to the congregation’s life. You will only grow spiritually where Scripture is treated as the highest authority.”

Categories: church, Church Life, church membership, sermons | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Can We Trust Our Eyes — Even in Watching the Olympics?

2008 Olympics Logo

2008 Olympics Logo

Mark Alexander of the Patriot Post and fresh off his return from the Olympics in Beijing gives some firsthand perspective on what is and what is not being reported from China. Here’s an excerpt:

Having just returned from Beijing, where I was the guest with a corporate association, it is a bit disconcerting to watch NBC’s glossy coverage of the Olympic games, and China in general, and to endure the echo NBC’s coverage is receiving through other media outlets. The network dared not venture off the reservation, and its coverage offered no observation on the obfuscation outside the Olympic village.

Of course, it’s the Year of the Rat.

While in China, I enjoyed major Olympic venues, but I was far more impressed by meetings with several Chinese leaders of underground Christian movements, Chinese entrepreneurs, and other Chinese reformers.

Suffice it to say, I found China to mirror what I anticipated: A great people enslaved under the rule of the tyrannical Red Chinese government—1.329 billion people, in fact, who share none of the rights outlined in our Constitution, which most Americans take for granted.

(Click here to read the rest of this compelling article.)

Personally, I have enjoyed the Olympics, but have noticed that if I went solely by the coverage NBC and other media outlets give, I would never know of the oppression, Christian persecution, and other human rights’ atrocities that plague the Communist China’s government. The scandal surrounding the age of the Chinese gymnasts and their age (or lack thereof) should result in the removal of their considerable number of gold medals (but time will tell if this will prove to be an actuality).

Do We Believe What Is, Or Only What We Wish To Be So?

The lesson here is somewhat clear: we are not strong nor able enough to believe everything that meets the eye. We may approach our TVs and news outlets and believe everything they feed us, although our culture which is growing more skeptical of all things by the seconds seldom does not struggle with this nearly as much. Yet, even the most observant of us can fall under the illusion of something being true because we want it to be so.

Consider the following: I have difficulty with the notion that there are any people on earth who truly commit such crimes and atrocities against humanity as we have heard of the Chinese government. As a result, I don’t want to believe it and find myself looking for any and every newsbit to prove those other reports wrong. We often only process what we want to believe rather than what reality presents.

As a pastor, I see this happen frequently. Some clear teaching from God’s Word is brought out and it is the truth that bears His authority. Yet, too many do not wish it to be so, and thus say that it cannot be so based on a variety of desires, feelings, or notions that have anchored themselves in their psyche. Therefore, many who claim faith say they are “rational” or “balanced” or something similar. They long to be “balanced” because they find some things that make sense while they disregard other things based on their own notions of what is truth. That’s their balance.

Some do not want to present reality because they will be seen for what they are. As for China, they sweat at what Alexander calls the “porcelain facade” being broken or even cracked. Truth cuts through like a hot knife.

What about us? Do we put forth facades to deceive others of even God of where we stand and of who we are at our core? Christ came to give us His Word which serves as follows. Hebrews 4:12-16 says:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. [13] And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
[14] Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. [15] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. [16] Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Christ calls through all pretense. We will either see this now or see it later at the Judgment Seat. So let’s come to Him now with our masks and facades and learn a lesson from China. Perception is not reality. Truth is reality.

Galatians 6:7-8 says:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. [8] For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (ESV)

(c) 2008, Matthew Perry.

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The Lakeland Revival and Evangelical Gullibility

Ed Stetzer recently blogged about the “Lakeland Revival” taking place at the Ignited Church and the controversy surrounding the evangelist leading this revival named Todd Bentley.

He and other charismatics are asking a fair question: why do Christians become so gullible that they will follow someone with questionable moral attributes? “Mac” in the comments section noted that “Evangelicals are gullible because their faith is largely rooted in emotional responses from beginning (the ‘feeling’ or ‘conviction’ of being saved) to the practice–that is, the emotional manipulativeness of most evangelical services.

Are any of you out there influenced or know of someone influenced by this Lakeland Revival? If so, could you tell us why? If you know of someone influenced by this, what would you say about their theology and Christian maturity? What do you think of Stetzer’s assessment?

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"Reading the Bible for Personal Application" (iMonk Interviews David Powlison)

Michael Spencer, who serves at Oneida Baptist Institute in our beloved state of Kentucky and who runs the Internet Monk blog, interviewed David Powlison. Here’s the iMonk’s bio on Powlison:

David Powlison, M.Div., Ph.D., is a counselor and faculty member at CCEF and is the editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling. He holds a Ph.D. in History and Science of Medicine from the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a Master of Divinity degree from Westminster Theological Seminary.

Dr. Powlison has been counseling for over thirty years. He has written many books and articles on biblical counseling and the relationship between faith and psychology. Dr. Powlison is an adjunct professor at Westminster Theological Seminary and has taught across the world. David and his wife, Nan, have a son, two daughters, and one granddaughter.

Click here for the full and exceedingly helpful interview.

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Rick Warren Asks John McCain About Abortion

Again, Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange Valley, California, asks John McCain about abortion. What do you think?

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Rick Warren Asks Obama About Views on Abortion

Rick Warren is the pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. Over the weekend, he interviewed Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee John McCain. In this clip, he asked Obama two questions. How do you think Obama did in addressing these questions? Was he clear and lucid? What are your thoughts on the matter?

(HT: Denny Burk)

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The Razor’s Edge Balance of a Pastor, Part I

Summary: Have the emergent church folks got it right in saying that pastors shouldn’t not exert any type of ecclesiastical authority in the church, or have the more formal churches got it right when they try to separate themselves from their flock? This is the razor’s edge balance that pastors must find.

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First of all, let me say how glad I am to be back. Cindy and I went to Florida to celebrate our 10th anniversary. My sister let us use one of her timeshares at the Ron Jon Cape Caribe Resort in Port Canaveral. Then we went to St. Augustine about two hours north, then we went south to see some old friends in Clewiston. I had the privilege and the honor of preaching at the First Baptist Church of Clewiston where I served as Minister of Music and Youth from 1998-2001.

While down there, I really had an opportunity to revisit the place where God called me into the preaching ministry. I obtained my B.S. in Church Music from Palm Beach Atlantic University in 1994, then went to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to obtain my Master of Church Music, which I received in 1997. I went to FBC-Clewiston right after in March of 1998. I planned on having a long and wonderful ministry among those wonderful people.

God had other plans. A call to preach. Back to seminary. Serving in small churches. Children on the way. Times of joy and times of strain. While in Clewiston, we were financially set and were saving money like crazy. Since, with children and school, finances have been ultra-tight. Yet, being in God’s will has been a tremendous blessing and joy.

As I was pondering this, along with a sermon series I’ll be doing on Church Membership, along with my DMin project which seeks to make the case for the local church to take up the mantle of training preachers, I came across again for the first time (you know what I mean, right?) 1 Peter 5:1-4:

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: [2] shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; [3] not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. [4] And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory (ESV).

I asked the flock at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church here in Lexington, KY, to read this passage and craft it into a prayer for me that I would be able to navigate the razor’s edge of pastoring and preaching.

Pray That I Would Shepherd Diligently

Churches and the people of God are often referred to in the Word of God as a flock of sheep. Wiersbe helped me realize that sheep are clean and tend to flock together (a good thing) but have a tendency to stray, desiring to go their own way. Sheep are defenseless and in need of protection.

As so Jesus as our Great Shepherd has placed undershepherds to serve in shepherding the flock of God.Jesus, as he is in heaven working among the churches (Revelation 1:9-20), initiated his church in such a way that he places pastors (undershepherds) to oversee the people of God. Paul tells young Timothy in 1 Tim. 3:1-2

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. [2] Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.

I would read over this passage and think, “God, no way! Keep me as a music and youth minister, but do not call me as a fellow sinner — and a young fellow sinner at that — to oversee a people.” So for 18 months I wrestled. Yet the Hound of Heaven would not leave me alone! Finally, he brought me to a point where I finally submitted and left Clewiston to return to seminary training and a new area of minister.

Shepherds are not always called on to maintain the peace — sometimes that rod of staff is not just for comfort but for correction! Shepherds of God have a tough balance — pastors are among the sheep as the people of God, but also “over” the flock.

Yet, some pastors swing one way or the other. Some reject having authority, as the emergent church folks tend to do, and say, “It’s not about us having authority, but merely facilitating.” Yet, we are overseers. Hebrews 13:17 addresses this:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

As you can see, it takes prayerful study of God’s Word and a high degree of character to find the God-ordained balance he seeks.

(Tomorrow: Part II — Pray That I Would Shepherd Willingly)

Categories: Bible, ministry, pastor, preaching, Scriptures | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Should Sexual Immorality Amongst Our Leaders Matter?

Albert Mohler addresses some of the issues and answers them clearly.

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Introducing the new ESV Study Bible

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