Monthly Archives: February 2013

Gospel Gripped Fellowship Book for March: Developing a Healthy Prayer Life by James W. Beeke and Joel R. Beeke

March is coming up quickly–actually tomorrow. I am happy to share the book of the month. Developing a Healthy Prayer Life by James W. Beeke and Joel R. Beeke. The subtitle: 31 Meditations on Communing with God. Let’s take time to read this and post some insights from the Beekes and even our own insights. Let’s be a people of prayer!

Here’s the description found on Amazon:

Is your prayer life characterized by such things as sincerity, urgency, and delight? Engagement in prayer is a vital part of our communion with God, making a profound impact on our growth in grace. In this book, you will find thoughtful meditations on prayer in the life of the believer, as well as ample encouragement to cultivate this spiritual discipline in your own life. If you want to be more devoted to prayer, or simply want to assess the health of your prayer life, read this book. It provides both a helpful examination and a needed tonic for those concerned about growing in godliness.

What better way to prepare for Resurrection Sunday on March 31 than to saturate our lives in prayer? 

If you are on Facebook, you can join the Gospel Gripped Fellowship group and contribute to the conversation.  Otherwise, feel free to contact us via this website.  Let’s take time to pursue this discipline together!

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Seasoned with the Psalter: How Majestic is Your Name (Psalm 8)

1. God’s glory is set above the heavens (Psalm 8:1-2).

The everlasting God (LORD=Yahweh) is also the God who dwells among His people (Lord=Adonai). All of the earth and all of the heavens declare His majesty in the most incredible way possible—through that which the world calls weak and feeble (i.e., infants). God set His name and love on those who were least in number to declare His glory (Deuteronomy 7:6-8). The apostle Paul says that God works through those who are foolish, weak, low, and despised, so that all may boast in God through Christ (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

2. God’s glory is set on His imagebearers (Psalm 8:3-8).

In light of God’s incredible creation, we see the proper perspective of humanity. Why would God set His glory (v. 5) on part of His creation that seems so insignificant by comparison? Yet, putting humanity in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-31) brings Him glory—putting man just a little lower than the heavenly beings and giving him the privilege and responsibility to rule over creation. No other creature in creation is made in God’s image.

3. God’s glory is set on His Son, who became an imagebearer (Hebrews 2:5-13).

God the Son became an imagebearer of God, but still remained God the Son as well as the Son of Man. The angels are heavenly beings, yes; but we see that as Christ came as fully man and fully God, the Father put all things under His subjection. By dying, he tasted death for everyone; by suffering he made salvation perfect! By rising again, He brings life to all who believe.

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Magnify

God has set His glory above the heavens. His creation declares His majesty (Psalm 19:1-4). Even though we, the crown of His creation, are so small by comparison to the great wonders of creation, God still condescends to show us how significant we truly are—not because of who we inherently are, but because of the glory He has bestowed upon us. And God sent His Son to rescue His imagebearers and to give us His name and full glory as adopted sons (Galatians 4:4-7).

Mature

Many scientists and atheists (and even some in the Church) look at creation and yet neglect to praise the Creator. While they may have great scientific knowledge that may surpass many believers’, we know as followers of Christ the very one who made this. Maturing in Christ means a willingness to grow in His Word, and may even mean a willingness to grow in how God made and sustains the world! (See Isaiah 40:12-17; Job 38-42).

Minister

How many times have people (maybe yourself) looked up at the stars, knowing that some are hundreds, even thousands of times bigger than the earth, and wondered what significance you are? Those who hold to the fact that the earth and the universe was made by random chance have no Creator to praise or Redeemer to run to outside of themselves or some other finite human being. When people grasp Genesis 1, they see a Creator who made us, wired us, and loved us enough to rescue us from our sin and bring us to His Savior Son! We need to encourage fellow believers in this glorious truth.

Mobilize

God’s majesty is seen in all the earth! All peoples bear His image! May this truth help us point them to the Savior who made them and loved them enough to rescue us from God’s wrath and to His mercy. “For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5).

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The Ligonier National Conference 2013 Sessions Online Now

I so appreciate the ministry of R.C. Sproul and Ligonier Ministries.  Last week, they conducted their National Conference.  I wanted to pass along their sessions should you wish to listen.  Enjoy!

Optional Sessions:

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The Refreshing (and Disturbing) Honesty of the Washington Post Regarding the Marriage Issue

Patrick B. Pexton serves as ombudsman for the Washington Post—the liaison between the reader and the journalists. Pexton gives some refreshing (and disturbing) honesty in regards to their view of the marriage debate in our culture.  Refreshing in the sense that at least they aren’t claiming to be something that, in essence, they aren’t.  Disturbing in the sense that it’s now clear that there is a New Fundamentalism on the loose in our country–that’s just as bad as any hardshell religious individual we’ve seen.

The article gives some insight into the dialogue between some of the readers and the journalists—and in this case, the curiosity of why the Washington Post always covers favorably the so-called ‘same-sex marriage’ cause, and either ignores or treats with contempt those who hold to ‘traditional marriage.’

An excerpt:

The reader wrote that Post stories too often minimize the conservative argument: “The overlooked ‘other side’ on the gay issue is quite legitimate, and includes the Pope, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, evangelist Billy Graham, scholars such as Robert George of Princeton, and the millions of Americans who believe in traditional marriage and oppose redefining marriage into nothingness. . . . Is there no room in The Post for those who support the male-female, procreative model of marriage?”

Replied the reporter: “The reason that legitimate media outlets routinely cover gays is because it is the civil rights issue of our time. Journalism, at its core, is about justice and fairness, and that’s the ‘view of the world’ that we espouse; therefore, journalists are going to cover the segment of society that is still not treated equally under the law.”

What’s interesting (and Mollie Hemingway puts it so much better than I ever could) is that journalism is about reporting the facts—both sides—in order for the public to make up their minds. But this is the company line for many: “justice and fairness,” but only to those to whom they hold sympathy. That’s not fairness—that’s bias. And both sides of the equation can smell it a mile away. As a friend of mine used to say to someone who was trying to pull a fast one, “You’re not slick!”

The article goes on:

Alongside that do-gooder instinct is a strong desire for fairness because, being out in the world, reporters encounter a great deal of unfairness. We want to expose that and even rub your noses in it. In a way, we’re shouting, through our stories: “This is unfair! Somebody do something!” Conservative and liberal journalists alike feel this way.

And because our profession lives and dies on the First Amendment — one of the libertarian cornerstones of the Constitution — most journalists have a problem with religionists telling people what they can and cannot do. We want to write words, read books, watch movies, listen to music, and have sex and babies pretty much when, where and how we choose.

Yet many Americans feel that allowing gay men and lesbians to marry diminishes the value of their heterosexual marriages. I don’t understand this. The lesbian couple down the street raising two kids or the two men across the hall in your condominium — how do those unions take anything away from the sanctity, fidelity or joy you take in your heterosexual marriage? Isn’t your marriage, at root, based on the love and commitment you have for your spouse, not what you think about the neighbors?

That’s why many journalists have a hard time giving much voice to those opposed to gay marriage. They see people opposed to gay rights today as cousins, perhaps distant cousins, of people in the 1950s and 1960s who, citing God and the Bible, opposed black people sitting in the bus seat, or dining at the lunch counter, of their choosing.

I included this extended quote because I find it refreshingly honest! Why?

  1. Pexton clearly says that he is an authority on what is fair and just. But it’s only what he deems fair and just. Journalistic integrity used to mean reporting on all the facets of a topic. Now, it seems that many are wanting to make up for what they deemed unfair and unjust in the past to balance the scales. I found it refreshingly honest. At least they aren’t deluded into thinking they are being unbiased.
  2. I found it refreshingly honest that the whole skew against traditional marriage folks is that they really don’t want anyone telling them what to do!   We as evangelical Christians have been saying that for centuries.  And yet, we willIt’s very reminiscent of the last verse of the book of Judges: “And there was no king in the land, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:24).
  3. Pexton trots out the tired cliche of how segregationists in the South used the Bible to promote racism, making those who use the Bible to promote traditional marriage in the same family (“distant cousins,” mind you–but still from the same seed of hatred).  In the interest of fairness, it would be nice if these same folks who use such arguments would bring about that the majority of hospitals, orphanages, universities and all forms of structured education, and even government (among just a few) all came about through those who trusted Scripture and the God who inspired them.  We acknowledge the crusades, but come on–that was centuries ago and has been roundly condemned.  We acknowledge some Christians upheld slavery, but not all.  They were slaves themselves of the culture and absorbed those biases as well–just like this refreshingly honest ombudsman conveys.  
  4. This shows the laziness of journalists today.  Notice what he says in his article: in essence, if you are a traditional marriage advocate, they don’t want to hear what you have to say.  Honest?  Yes, but it’s disturbing.  I’m not naive enough to believe that evangelicals should get a free pass.  Maybe in days gone by, but those days have gone by!  In a conversation I had with another who used to be in my church (I even married him and his wife), but now has gone to where he is rabidly sympathetic to the Post’s viewpoint, he has admitted this in no uncertain terms, and claims that we evangelicals jump on anything that seems to promote our viewpoint.  He has claimed like so many that evangelicals jump on pseudoscience to advance their cause, and that it’s a double standard.  My response was that the gay advocate movement (as mentioned earlier) is the New Fundamentalism.  If you speak out against it, you will not be heard.  You should be fired, your findings in favor of traditional marriage should not see the light of day, and you should be confined to the family of racists, crusaders, and Salem witch trial advocates.

Again, I’m not naive enough to really believe that undiluted Christianity will be loved and cherished by everyone in the country.  Please.  But now that this refreshingly honest and disturbing report has come out, I am glad because now I know what they believe, they know what they believe, and now I know that they know what they believe.  And now they believe they have enough traction in our culture be more brazen about their beliefs.

Will we as evangelicals?  We must realize that some will hate us for simply proclaiming Christ.  And we cannot even rely on the First Amendment in regards to free speech if those who are in leadership ignore this and give only free speech to those who agree with their ideology (right wing or left wing).

I don’t know what the fall out, if any, will be.  But I recommend Mollie Hemingway’s response to this.

(Follow up:  Kevin DeYoung puts out an interesting piece on what someone needs to say who actually has the wherewithal in the public eye to hold to a biblically-centered Christian worldview.  Just as it grew old and tired for some at how the Moral Majority pushed their brazen agenda forward, the agenda that the Post embodies will be seen for what it is soon as well.)

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Are We a Fishing Club—Or Do We Actually Fish?

An excellent video by Igniter Media –check out their YouTube Channel!

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Why Our Church Cancels for Weather-Related Reasons

20130224-081119.jpgI’ve been spending the last few minutes or so letting our congregation here at Arapahoe Road Baptist Church know that our services today will be cancelled.  I cherish our times together, so whenever we do cancel, my heart is saddened that I won’t be able to be with our people here for the Lord’s Day.   So how do we go about determining this course of action?

  1. I take time to contact my chairman and vice-chairman of the deacons, as well as other deacons and leaders in the church to get their thoughts on the matter–via phone, email, or text.  Today, before I could say a word, they said that it would be best to cancel.  I say this because I do not do this unilaterally.  I go back and forth, because I love our worship times together, but I also want our people to stay safe.  
  2. Our primary level of concern is for the leaders of our small groups and worship times.  Why?  Most of our members will use their judgment as to whether to come or not–but our leaders are incredibly devoted to the Kingdom work here.  They will do everything within their ability to be here–even go through blizzard conditions.  They don’t want to miss an opportunity to share the gospel or to strengthen the saints in the gospel.  So we take this very strongly into consideration.
  3. We take time to remind them that the weather is not its own entity–God makes the weather.  I was reminded of Job 38 where God has his storehouses of rain and snow.  Another one of our small group leaders sent out another powerful passage from Job 37:5-7:  “God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend.  For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.  He seals up the hand of every man, that all men whom he made may know it” (ESV).  What a blessing to know that this snow did not come by accident–our Sovereign Lord is over all.
  4. Don’t waste the snow day!  Take time to worship our Lord, even in your home.  This isn’t a day off–it’s a day on in reading the Word with your family, having a great conversation, praising God for His awesome power in the weather (see #3), and praying for those who are struggling in this weather.  Send out some texts or e-mails to encourage others in the faith.  God tells us that we must gather together for worship together (Hebrews 10:25)–this is a command, a non-negotiable if we are able.  But if this is not a possibility at the appointed time, gather with Him and your family and friends at home.  Again, don’t waste the snow day.

What are some things you would recommend doing as a follower of Christ on a snow day?

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Our Lives Should Be New Testament Pages That All Can Read!

“Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

“In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” Titus 2:7

“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands, so that if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” 1 Peter 3:1-2

Unbelievers do not read the Bible, nor come to church to hear the gospel message. All that they learn about Christ and the Christian life–they must learn from those who bear Christ’s name and represent Him–as they view our character.

If all church members lived truly consecrated lives–holy, humble, separate from the world, loyal to Christ in business, in pleasure, and in all things–it would be impossible to estimate what the influence of the Church would be, by godly example alone. It is awful to think that professing Christians, by the inconsistencies of their personal lives, lead souls away from the Savior. We are all responsible for our example to others. Our lives should be New Testament pages that all can read!

“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” John 13:15

“Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21

(J.R. Miller, via Grace Gems)

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Leaders, When Considering a New Staff Member for Your Church, Consider…

Our church has just assembled a search team as God leads us to the man he has for us in the capacity of Pastor of Discipleship and Administration.  We look forward to seeing were God will lead us in this venture. Dave Howeth, our NAMB Coordinator, gave me some good tips the other day in regards as to how we should begin this process. What was so encouraging was how closely aligned with our desire to have interns serve at our church to give them an opportunity to exercise their calling .  This is a matter of prayer and care!

Allowed me to share with you what those 5 tips were:  calling, character, competence, culture, and chemistry.

  1. Calling: Has this man been called of God to salvation, toward holiness, and toward service in His Kingdom? Has he had other called men and other churches where he has served confirm this calling? Does he have a passion in exercising that calling?
  2. Character: Is this man a man of integrity in private as well as in public? As Dave Kraft has said, Too many are “hired on competency, but fired on character.” This items are not found on a resume.
  3. Competence: Has this man exercised his calling in other settings in an effective way? This is about getting things done as a leader. This is where a resume can come into play.
  4. Culture: Will this man help develop the culture we sense God directing the leadership and the church in general?
  5. Chemistry: Will this man enhance or detract from the chemistry of the staff with whom he will minister with every day. Will he work to build unity among the staff that he oversees and cultivate that unity among the ministry staff with whom he works? As one pastor has said, “Outside of your family, you will spend more time with your team than anyone else.” This ties into character and getting along.
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Our God is a God of Justice (Psalm 7)

1. God’s people will always have enemies—and He is our refuge (1-2).

David had enemies, in this case one from the tribe of Benjamin from where King Saul hailed. When David was anointed King, Saul’s tribe gave him trouble—as Saul did. Since David was a man after God’s own heart, and God anointed him King over His people, he could run to God for refuge.

2. God’s people will always have sinful issues—and we must repent (3-5).

We must always scrutinize the motives of our hearts. We may feel we are innocent, but our blind spots may hide our false motives and assurance. If we believe God will be just against the sins of others, then He will be against us as well.

3. God’s way is a way of justice—and on Him we must rely (6-11).

David brings up a gospel point: “Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness” (v. 8). While he acknowledges the need for God’s mercy and grace later, if David had stayed here, he would have been damned in his sin. He knows God “test[s] the minds and heart” (v. 9). May we ask for this as well.

4. God is a God of judgment—and we must be ready (12-16).

In order for faith to be of God, we must repent of the sin that offends His holy righteousness. Without repentance, there is no true faith. For those who do not repent, God stands ready with the sword, the bow, the weapons. Such is the wickedness of sin, the holiness of God—and the need for His grace and mercy in which we must stand.

5. God is a God of mercy—and we trust in His righteousness (17-18).

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Christ takes our sin and gives us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). We must not think that God is righteous when he sees ours over and against our enemies. We must realize that we are all “dead to sin” and enemies of God ourselves as well—and we need Christ’s righteousness put to our account. This is the reason we praise Him for His salvation and work of grace in us.

Magnify Christ

Beware of so magnifying God’s love (usually a sentimental love that we project upon him), that we neglect that He is a holy God who hates sin (especially in His people) and execute discipline in His people so they will repent, and execute justice against those who mock His name. He has a love for all creation, but a special love for His bride, His elect. He is working now to present His bride spotless (Ephesians 5:25-33). Praise Him for His work in you, dear believer, in removing sin from you and sanctifying you by His grace.

Mature in Christ

Those who are immature in the faith often look at other people’s sins before they see their own. David, at first, appeals to his own integrity versus the lack of integrity of his accusers. By the end of the Psalm, he recognizes his only hope is in Christ’s righteousness. While God calls us to identify sin when we see it, ask Him to test your heart and mind as the righteous judge to bring your sin to light. Then confess it, repent of it, and find restoration and sweet fellowship with your Savior.

Minister in the Name of Christ

When we interact with our brothers and sisters in Christ, do we present the full picture of God’s character? Yes, He is love, but He is also holy—one who will not be mocked. We will reap what we sow in this regards (Galatians 6:6-8). As you encourage and come alongside your brother or sister in Christ, give the full holiness picture of God (loving+just+righteous). We must work to make Christ formed in us—and as such, sin must not be a welcomed occupant.

Mobilize for the Cause of Christ

Most hold to the fact that God is loving, therefore will not hold us accountable. As you witness to others, show them that God is love, and that He loves us not to let our sin run rampant. We will be held accountable for our sins against the Maker and Creator of all things. We were made for Him—let’s call for others to repent of desecrating what He has made and trust in Christ who makes us new!

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When Should One Leave a Church? Voddie Baucham Explains

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