Friday, December 30, 2011

Deep Emotions

Here are a few lines from John Piper's book, Brother's, We are not Professionals:

"Emotions are like a river flowing out of one's heart. Form is like the riverbanks. Without them the river runs shallow and dissipates ont he plan. But banks make the river run deep. Why else have humans for centuries reached for poetry when we have deep affections to express? The creation of a form happens because someone feels a passion. How ironic, then, that we often fault form when the real evil is a dry spring." (p. 133)

"Many pastors are not known for expressing deep emotions. This seems to me especially true in relation to the profoundest theological realities. This is not good, because we ought to exerience the deepest emotions about the deepest things. And we ought to seak often, and publicly, about what means most to us, in a way that shows its value.

Brothers, we must let the river run deep. This is a plea for passion in the pulpit, passion in prayer, passion in conversation. It is not a plea for thin, whipped up emotionalism." (p. 134)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

God's Love

Today, our adult choir presented the musical "The Love of God at Christmas". Knowing ahead of time what the musical was about, it prompted me to go to 1 John 4:7-11, that excellent passage where we find the words "God is love" along with the exhortation emphatically stated a couple of times, "let us love one another".

In our study of that passage, we must be careful not to overlook the connection of God's love with the cross of Jesus Christ: "in this is love, no that we we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins"

In the death of Jesus in our place and for our sins the love of God was clearly seen as Jesus took upon himself the righteous wrath of God that we deserved.

In making this connection, we observe four things:
1) The definition of God's love is declared by the cross of Christ
2) The depth of God's love is measured by the cross of Christ
3) The demonstration of God's love visible by the cross of Christ
4) The direction of God's love is indicated by the cross of Christ

One of the fears I often have at this time of year is the sentimentality that we seem to have attached to the season to the degree that it overshadows the purpose and meaning of Jesus' coming.

We can clearly see...the love of God at Christmas in the cross of Christ.

Monday, December 12, 2011

True and False Conversions

Last night in our bible study, we examined Acts 8:9-25. This is Luke recounting of the gospel going into Samaria through the servant Philip. In the narrative, Simon appears to make a "profession" of faith. He is even baptized and then follows Philip around. We find in the text several clues that this was a "conversion of convenience" rather than a "true conversion" - i.e., 8:12-13 and 8:20-23.

Simon represents many "church members" today. They have made an apparent "profession" of faith, but there is no substance to that faith. It is what James calls a "demonic faith" (James 2:19). 

So, what is conversion? Here are some thoughts on the subject.

Conversion is a term used to describe the result of regeneration in a person that exhibits repentance from sin and faith toward Jesus.

The root of conversion is regeneration. The fruit of regeneration is repentance and faith.

JI Packer writes about regeneration: “The concept is of God renovating the heart, the core of a person’s being, by implanting a new principle of desire, purpose, and action, a dispositional dynamic that finds expression is a positive response to the gospel and its Christ”

Other phrases used in scripture to describe this truth: being born again; born from above; granted spiritual life.

Again, from Packer on repentance: “The change is radical, both inwardly and outwardly; mind & judgment, will & affections, behavior & life-style, motives & purposes, are all involved. Repenting means starting to live a new life"

Now, from John MacArthur: “True salvation is not mere profession or ritual act. It is the divine transformation of the soul from love of self to love of God, from love of sin to love of holiness.”

Let's summarize: Conversion, therefore, does not only point back to a one-time experience, but conversion begins a revolutionized life toward a continual lifestyle of repentance and faith pursuing Jesus as the master and lover of one’s soul.

What are some contributing factors to false conversions today?
- Neglect of teaching on regeneration
- Neglect of teaching on total depravity & the reality of spiritual deadness (cf. Ephesians 2:1-10)
- Our natural tendency toward religion - the performing of external rituals as the "essence" of faith
- Man-centered evangelism - easy-believism; decisionism; sinner's prayer treated as a magic formula
- Self-deception

What are some results in our churches from the presence of un-converted church members?
- Many people have a false assurance of salvation
- Church membership is not "meaningful"
- Many people are concerned with the external of religion only; lots of religious people
- False converts are in leadership positions who have no spiritual depth trying to make spiritual decisions that are spiritually discerned, but do not have the Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14-3:3)

What are some questions we can ask to asses the truth of someone's conversion? These are not infallible, just a starting point.
- Do you love Jesus? Are you pursuing Jesus to know him more fully and obey him completely?
- Do you hate sin? Are you growing in your amazement at the fact of God's grace in your life?
- Are you broken over your sin?
- Do you desire to grow in Christ and not just do more "religious activity"?
- Do you desire holiness in your life?
- Is there a progressive direction in obedience in your life?
- What kind of spiritual fruit is being borne in your life?

Where there is spiritual life, there will be spiritual fruit. If it's living, it's fruitful. If it's dead, it won't have fruit--it may have leaves, but not good fruit.

Monday, November 28, 2011


This is from John Piper:

"The essence of lukewarmness is the statement, "I need nothing." The lukewarm are spiritually self-satisfied. To find out whether you are among that number, don't look into your head to see if you think that you are needy; rather, look at your prayer life. It doesn't matter what we think in our head, the test of whether we are in bondage to spiritual self-satisfaction is how earnest and frequent and extended our prayers for change are."

In Line

This Sunday at our church, we are going to begin a Christmas series entitled "In Line". By God's grace, I plan to preach from the genealogy of Jesus from Matthew's gospel. The idea for this series comes from a sermon I heard by my Greek professor (at least I'm pretty sure it was him; it has been a long time) Dr. David Alan Black called - "The Gospel According to Four Women" - from the genealogy of Matthew. So, Dr. Black, if you ever read this, through the Holy Spirit, you get the credit for this series, at least the idea. So, thanks.

Often times we miss the connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament, and we also gloss over (read: "skip") the genealogies when we see them in the bible. So, our focus on this series of talks (i.e., sermons) will be the beauty of God's grace-filled tapestry and his sovereign work in his redemptive plan to bring about our salvation. We will examine these two twin-truths from the vantage point of Matthew's inclusion of 5 women in his genealogy: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, "the wife of Uriah", and Mary.

What do we learn about God's grace and sovereign purposes from their inclusion? How does their inclusion evoke worship in our hearts toward the God of our Salvation?

Lord willing, the series will look something like this:

December 4   - Tamar and Rahab
December 11 - Ruth and "the wife of Uriah"
December 18 - Sanctuary Choir presents "The Love of God" Christmas cantata
December 25 - Mary

I hope that you will join us! Check out our church website for more information:

On the Blogs for Monday, November 28, 2011

Spiritual Discernment (very good reminder for the church)

Discipling Men in the Local Church

Without Excuse (this is so far over my is absolutely amazing!)

Christians and Alcohol (interesting perspective)


A True Theologian

The Devil's Playbook (good reminder about our common enemy)

Music (this was really cool!)

3 Things you need to know about sin

Ravi Zacharias answers a Muslim's Question (this is really good)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Praying for Renewal

From Seeking Him: Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival:

  • Pray that Jesus Christ will become the first love in each other
  • Pray that you will have an increased desire t read and obey God's Word and to Worship Him
  • Pray that any outstanding conflicts would be resolved
  • Pray that any family conflicts represented in your group will be reconciled
  • Pray that you you would be set free from any bitterness, anger, and worry, and that each life would be characterized by love, forgiveness, and God-centered trust
  • Pray that each one will cultivate a habit of turning to God first when faced with any kind of trial
  • Pray that God will renew your minds
  • Pray that each member of your group would experience true revival as you "Seek Him" together in the days ahead.
These topics for remind me of Psalm 24:1-6.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


One of the disciplines of the Christian life is prayer. One of the methods for prayer is called the “scripture text method”. This particular method uses a section of scripture to pray through the subjects that the text brings up.

The following is an example of this method using John 17:11-24. This particular passage comes from Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John’s gospel. The following is a guide that helps you pray through this text. Each subject given to pray for is based upon one or more of the verses in the passage. I would encourage you to read the whole chapter and then use this guide during your personal prayer time this week.
  • Pray for believers to live a Christ-like character before the world (17:11)
  • Pray that Christians will experience the complete joy of Jesus in their lives (17:13)
  • Pray for divine protection from Satan (17:15)
  • Pray that believers will live set apart and holy lives in Christ (17:17)
  • Pray for Christians to be united in mission and purpose (17:20-21)
  • Pray that believers will join Christ in His redemptive work and behold his glory (17:24)
This particular resource for prayer comes out of a little booklet entitled Prayer Prompts for Prayer Groups provided by our Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.

In the foyer area of our sanctuary, there is a bookcase. On that bookcase are several different kinds of resources to help you on your Christian journey with Jesus. I hope that you will avail yourself to any of these resources. They are free--use them for your own walk, get an extra one to give to a friend, or whatever--

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Justification by Faith

I was reading through an old sermon this afternoon and found this quote by Albert Barnes on the doctrine of justification:

"What is justification? It is the declared purpose of God to regard and treat those sinners who believe in Jesus Christ as if they had not sinned, on the ground of the merits of the Savior. It is not mere pardon. Pardon is a free forgiveness of past offenses. It has reference to those sins as forgiven and blotted out. Justification has respect to the law, and to God's future dealings with the sinner. It is an act by which God determines to treat him hereafter as righteous--as if he had not sinned. The basis for this is the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ, merit that we can plead as if it were our own. He has taken our place and died in our stead; He has met the descending stroke of justice, which would have fallen on our own heads if He had not interposed."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Does Doctrine Matter?

Yes, absolutely...and here is an article demonstrating why...

"Light up the Darkness" (outline from Sunday's message)

Philippians 2:12-16
Light Up the Darkness
October 2, 2011
  1. Introduction
    1. 2 exhortations based upon the call in 1:27-2:4 and the example of Christ in 2:5-11
    2. Paul makes his appeal to the church at Philippi based upon his affection for them; could have made it based upon apostolic authority, but chose not to - “my beloved” - my dear friends
    3. in these exhortations he calls for their obedience, not to himself but to Jesus
  2. Work out what God Works in (2:12-13)
    1. “work out” - carry out to the goal; carry something to its logical conclusion
      1. “your own salvation” - personal appeal to each member of the Philippians w/ the understanding that this “working out” will be manifested among the congregation of the people
        1. “salvation” - 3 aspects: past, present, & future
          1. Justification; sanctification; glorification
          2. ‘sanctification’ is referred to here - process whereby the Spirit of God takes the word of God and transforms us to be like the son of God;
          3. evidenced by the present tense verb “work out” that carries w/ it the idea of continuous action - “keep on working out”
          4. the ground of our sanctification is our justification--must not miss this truth
      2. “with fear & trembling” - appeals to the Philippians for them to remember their own personal weaknesses in this process; reminder of our inability to do this on our own
    2. appeal to “work out” is not a self-effort/pull yourself up by your bootstrap mentality, v. 13 - “for it is God who works in you” - cf. 1:6
      1. the basis for our being able to work out is the reality of God working in us through his HS
      2. “work” - refers to possessing the energy to accomplish something; that which enables a person to do something--it is the divine activity in our life that produces the divine enablement in our life
        1. the means of this working - Word of God & the HS
          1. Ephesians 6:17 - “the word of God which is the sword of the Spirit”
          2. Hebrews 4:12-13 - 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. 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.
        2. the effects of this working of God in us
          1. “to will” - thoughtful purposeful choice; gets to the level of our very desires; the effect of God’s work in us is the changing/transforming of our desires to conform to his will through the work of the Word & the HS
          2. “to work (do)” - refers to the energy & ability to do what God desires for us to do; to in fact do what pleases him - “for his good pleasure”--
            1. Galatians 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
            2. Philippians 4:13
    3. Our “working out” is the faithful & obedient response to what God works into us; it is our application in obedience to what the HS accomplishes in us through the transformation of our character
      1. B/c of the fall, our “will” (our want to; that thing in us that desires) is broken & defective;
        1. God turns our will (continues to change it) and works in us the desire to do his will; then he enables us & empowers us to obey his will; our obedience to his will is the carrying out to completion what God works into our lives
        2. apart from the HS enabling, we could not “work out” what God works in
        3. John 15:5 - “apart from me you can do nothing” - abiding
    4. Illustration: solving equations - give examples; give instructions; give steps to solving equations; ask questions to make sure the students’ understand it; then when it comes quiz or test time, they see an equation, they can apply what they have learned, what has been worked into their brain
      1. in a similar way, God works into our lives the truths of His word through teaching, instruction, & example; the HS not only instructs but also enables us to obey--to apply the truth that God has worked in us
    5. As God works in us & we respond in obedience to that work by applying to our daily lives, we experience spiritual growth, victory over sin, & a closer walk with the Lord
    6. Notice the 2nd exhortation Paul gives...
  3. Do all things without grumbling or questioning (2:14-16)
    1. exhortation may be in reference to the situation between Euodia and Syntyche (4:2) and their quarrel & also a more pressing reminder of the general instructions given in 1:27b & 2:2-4 w/ respect to the spiritual unity of the church & the example of humble servant hood that Jesus modeled
    2. “grumbling” or “questioning” - complaining & disputing & murmuring; attitude of disgruntleness & questioning what is true; carries over into a mentality of “criticism”
      1. mind is immediately drawn to the Israelites in the wilderness in Numbers--no water; no food; no meat
      2. We are all susceptible to this disposition at times; no wonder Paul talked about humility right before this exhortation
    3. One place this seems to show up particularly w/ respect to our witness as Christians
      1. How we treat waiters & waitresses at restaurants
  4. 4 reasons/purposes behind these exhortations - 3 of the 4 purposes have to do with the Philippians’ and our witness to the world around us; the fourth has to do with judgment day
    1. “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God w/o blemish in the midst of a crooked & twisted generation” - character
      1. idea of proving yourselves to be by having a character of holiness & godliness - a distinctiveness that is evident to the surrounding world; not a holier than thou attitude, but a humble holiness that rests in God’s approval & pleasing him rather than pleasing men & blended in
      2. Example: Daniel - stood in distinction from the culture around him
      3. James 1:27 - “religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans & widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world”
      4. Hebrews 12:14 - “strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness w/o which no one will see the Lord”
    2. “among whom you shine like lights in the world” - influence
      1. the stars in the heavens shine on a backdrop of darkness;
      2. as believers we have a backdrop of darkness in this world that is temporarily ruled by the prince of the power of the air who emanates darkness & evil, who has blinded the minds and hearts of people--in this kind of world God causes us to shine
      3. We are called to light up the darkness w/ the light of the gospel
        1. 1 Peter 2:9 - that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light
        2. Ephesians 5:8 - for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, walk as children of light
        3. Matt. 5:14 - you are the light of world
      4. how do we do
    3. “holding fast to the word of life” - mission
      1. holding fast here can also be understood as holding forth--to hold something out & present something
        1. inclined toward a combination of the two--first that we are held by the gospel & we hold forth the gospel as THE word of life
      2. People are living in darkness & blinded by the evil one
        1. And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-- among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Eph. 2:1-3)
        2. John 3:19 - “and this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and mean loved darkness rather than light, b/c their deeds were evil”
      3. the answer to the darkness is the light of the world--Jesus--we are smaller lights pointing to the greater light--we are like the moon reflecting the light of the Sun
    4. “so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain” - reward
      1. One day Paul would give an account of the church at Philippi & his ministry there; he wanted to be able to do that with joy & a sense of godly boasting of what God accomplished in their lives
      2. He wanted to be able to look back on his time there with joy and gladness of heart--the same could be said of every pastor--heavy responsibility b/c according to Hebrews 13:17 - “obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you”
  5. Conclusion
    1. Work out your own salvation w/ fear & trembling (personal exhortation w/ a personal & corporate manifestation)
      1. how are you growing as a disciple of Jesus?
      2. what is God teaching you that you are working into your life through application & obedience?
      3. how do you respond when the HS pricks your heart about something?
    2. do all things w/o grumbling & questioning (w/ respect to the body of Christ particularly)
      1. how’s your disposition in daily life?
      2. would the people around you describe you as a grumbler or complainer?
      3. are you a person who is easily agitated?
    3. these exhortations are cause for us to reflect upon our lives & our pursuit of a life that is worthy of the gospel, for us listen to the HS as he instructs us, even convicts us, and flee to the cross of Christ for cleansing & renewal as his people that we might truly “light up the darkness”

Blogs for October 3, 2011

Why bother with church? (interesting post)

Essay on Modern Spiritual Gifts (looks to an in-depth article and interesting)

Eternity Amnesia (interesting)

Ministry Load of Paid & Unpaid pastors/elders (interesting, good counsel)

Self-control and Gospel-change (good post)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Temptations We Face

In Exodus 32, we read the narrative about the Golden Calf. It is a very telling story concerning the “idolatry” that exists in all our hearts. We know the story well. Moses has been on the mountain for awhile. The people get restless and demand Aaron to “make” a god for them. They compile all their gold together, Aaron puts it in the fire, and “out came this calf”.

I had the privilege to hear David Platt preach this text a couple of weeks ago in chapel at Southeastern Seminary. He focused our attention on four temptations we will face as Christians, all of which are ever before us. I wanted to share them with you because his message from this text had a significant impact as I have been evaluating my own life and ministry.

Number one, we will be tempted to become leaders without convictions. In this, Platt pointed to Aaron’s failure in leadership in “giving the people what they wanted”--a god they could mold and shape for their own ends.

Number two, we will be tempted to celebrate salvation without dedication. Here scripture calls us to “supreme devotion and total abandonment”. Following Jesus is not for “lazy Christians” and it means more than fire insurance.

Number three, we will be tempted to manufacture worship without humiliation. They were really “worshiping themselves in the guise of worshipping God”. David then pointed out rightly that “the Word of God is sufficient to incite the worship of God”. He called our attention to Isaiah 66:2 that says, “All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”

Number four, we will be tempted to create a god without retribution. The reality of eternity and the wrath of God is not a game. It is real spiritual warfare that we are engaged in for the souls of men, women, boys, and girls.

May I encourage us this week to search our own hearts asking the question: Which one of these temptations am I most susceptible to?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Big Ideas of Philippians 2:5-11

During our Sunday morning gathering we are studying Philippians 2:5-11 in the context of Paul's exhortation to live a life worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1:27). These verses describe the humility of Jesus as the model for Christians to emulate within the body of Christ.

The big idea of this section of scripture can be captured in three statements as it fits the context of Philippians:

1. The unity/fellowship that exists within the Trinity is the model for the spiritual unity/fellowship that God desires in the body of Christ.

2. The humility of Christ that he demonstrated as the 2nd person of the Trinity is the example that God desires for Christians to follow in cultivating the spiritual unity/fellowship that God has purposed for the body of Christ as we exist as “one body” with “many members”.

3. The Holy Spirit “yearns jealously” to display this reality among the body of Christ for the glory of God the Father, the good of the body of Christ, and the sake of our community.

How are we doing at pursuing this kind of humility?

Monday, August 22, 2011

"God will never put more on you than you can bear"

“God will never put more on you than you can bear.” Ever heard that saying before? Ever said that saying? Ever heard someone preface it with, “the bible says...” So, does the bible actually say that?

Well, yes and no. The idea behind that saying comes from 1 Corinthians 10:11-13 - “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” The context is the area of temptation to sin, specifically the temptation toward idolatry. Paul is speaking about the Israelites and their tendency toward idolatry while in the wilderness wanderings.

However, listen to 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 - “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” Notice the particular phrase - “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.”

How do we reconcile these? I believe that the foundation of our answer to this paradox is a robust understanding and belief and trust in the sovereignty of God over the universe, including our own lives--particularly as it pertains to suffering. We begin here recognizing that whether God actively causes something or simply permits it or allows it, one thing is absolutely true--he is over it. He is the God over all creation.

Part of our response is in 1 Peter 4:12-16 - “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”

Blog News for August 22, 2011

God's glory or Grandma's Traditions (interesting)

Debunking Evolution in less than 3 minutes (this is cool)

The Critical Question for Every Generation (hmmmm...)

Insane Piano Skillz (this guy is good!)