Friday, April 29, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days: Week 13 (April 29, 2011)

Tomorrow ends the 90-day reading plan through the Bible. I know for me, I have had a much harder time finishing this time than I did the last time. Maybe it was because of all the things going on in my life. I have missed many days and have had to do a lot of make up days.

This Week's Reading: Romans 15--Revelation 22

What I Learned From This Week's Reading: This week's reading contained most of the NT Pauline teachings. It seems that I find myself always going back to His writings as well as the other epistles in the NT. What's interesting is that the gospels teach us about Jesus' life. The book of Acts teaches us how the early church was impacted by the resurrection of Jesus. The epistles teach us the theology of Jesus worked out in real life. I love it!

What's Next: I wanted to poll some of you. I would like to read a book together through the nature of blogging and the Internet. Anyone game to read a chapter a week in a book and post some thoughts? I know some people have done this on other blogs, wondering what you thought about it? Anyone interested? Or the other thought is that I have been itching to write another Bible Study Guide like I did with John, 1 Thessalonians, & 1 John. Would anyone be interested in studying the book of James online as I post each week's study guide? I would love your input either through this blog, FaceBook, or Twitter. Thanks again for reading and following. I really hope we encourage each other in this process.

Thad B.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Portrait of Paul by Rob Ventura & Jeremy Walker

Several months back, I picked up this book simply because Reformation Heritage Books was selling it for $5 each at the time (sorry, not that price anymore). I purchased several copies, gave them to all the guys on staff and thought that at some point I would get to reading it. When I arrived in Ohio at my new church, I wanted to read a book with Ray, our youth pastor, and had an extra copy of this book and thought it might be a good book to go through together. It was.

In a Portrait of Paul, Ventura & Walker take their time as they walk through Colossians 1:24--2:5. Each chapter corresponds to the next section of Paul's text. It is their belief that in this text, Paul explains "a model and standard for the ministry of the Lord Christ. According to the Scriptures, spiritually healthy children of God should be part of a healthy local church and under the care of her undershepherds; this portrait of Paul will help you to make wise choices in every aspect of this vital matter. Here, churches looking for a pastor will find guidance in what a faithful man of God looks like. Christians looking for a church will find a tool by which they can assess the pastors of the flock in the light of God's Word, finding men to whom they can commit the care of their souls" (5).

Each chapter deals with a different aspect of the calling of a true minister of Christ. Then they adequately apply the passage to both to the "Fellow Christian" and the "Fellow Minister." I would say the bulk of the book is directed at the minister as He serves Jesus and shepherds His people. But there are some very helpful words of encouragement to all Christians as to how to respond to their minister. For instance, in chapter six, they deal with the "Subject of Paul's Ministry" which of course was preaching Jesus. After they unpack Colossians 1:28 as to what it means that Paul preached Jesus, they begin to apply it to the Christian & the Minister.

Fellow Christian: "Remember also that such a ministry to you . . . will never lead to an easy time or a casual life. If a man is faithful to your soul, you will not hear stories and jokes all the time. You will not always feel good about yourself. At times, you may see yourself as the least worthy sinner who ever crawled the earth" (107-8).

Fellow Minister: "Our duty is to make Christ known, publicly to proclaim Him, impressing Him upon the lives of men and women, boys and girls, closely, effectually, earnestly, and prayerfully, by the pointed tools of admonition and instruction . . . How shall we accomplish this? To begin with, we need simply to spend more time with Him . . . We must not read the Bible for our 'professional' needs, as a lawyer might turn to his statute books" (108-10).

It was a good book that made us both think as we read through a couple chapters each week. I recommend it to you. My only criticism of this book is that they seemed to deal with many of the same topics throughout the book. It was very repetitive. But, as you know, we need repetition because we often do not get it the first time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Forgotten Letter

Whenever you move, there are things that you find that you have forgotten about. During our move from Kansas to Ohio, I found a couple letters that my kids have written. One is by Karsten, my oldest son, to his mom about something he had done. It is a great letter and maybe at some point I will share it with you, but for now, I lost it again. The other is from our youngest son, J. T., who wrote to Santa Clause as a part of a school project. This was for a 1st Grade project. I thought I would share it with you since it touched my heart. I have left the spelling the way he wrote it. Ready?
Dear Santa,
I no you get lots of letters asking for presents. I am here to tell you the ture meneing of Christmas. The ture meneing of Christmas is Jesus and if Jesus wasn't born there would be no Christmas. There would be no presents. Merry Christmas Santa.
J. T.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Radical Together by David Platt

Radical Together is the follow-up book by David Platt to his bestselling book Radical. In this book, he takes the principles of his first book and tries to show they function best when they are sought together with a group of people in a faith community.

His main question throughout the book is "How can we in the church best unleash the people of God in the Spirit of God with the Word of God for the glory of God in the world" (3). The book is very easy to read. What I mean is the style of writing, not the content. The content is not easy to read because Platt calls us as Christians to be, well, radical. And he calls our churches to be radical. But radical for a purpose, for our calling is not this world or the physical possessions it offers, but to live for Jesus & the eternal. If that means we have less here so more people can hear the good news of Jesus, so be it. If it means I have to downsize my house so people can be taken care of physically, so be it. Or if that means our church needs to get rid of that program I just absolutely love so money can be freed up to take the gospel to some foreign tribe that has never heard of Jesus, so be it. That's the radical lifestyle.

This book is about how we do church. Are we going to give up those good things in our church that we really do not need in order to free up money to spread the name of Jesus, as a church. He says that a church "is a community of individuals who have lost their lives to follow Christ" (10). I don't think many Christians think about losing their life. I agree with Platt, but it is radical! He is asking churches (and particularly church leaders) to ask the question of what needs to stay and what needs to go. What programs or activities need to be eliminated, even if they are good ones, in order to spread the good news of Jesus further into this world.

In chapter five, he asks the church to think not about who they are going to reach in their local community, but in the world. Many churches target certain audiences. He calls them "Brook Hills Bob" (the name of his church is Brook Hills). Brook Hills Bob is the average person that will come to his church, and the thinking by many church growth experts is if you can figure out how to reach them, you will know how to reach your community. But Platt says they want to reach Brook Hills Baruti. Baruti is someone in some foreign culture who has never heard the name of Jesus. They want to reach him. The strategize and organize and work so that Baruti hears the gospel. Having this mindset changes everything. Listen to his words:
"This changes everything about how we do ministry at Brook Hills. If our goal is all nations, then our strategy cannot be defined by what will best reach people within ten miles of our church building. If our goal is all nations, then our strategy must always revolve around what will best reach people who are ten thousand miles from our church building. This does not mean we neglect Brook Hills Bob . . . we are going to reach Bob and all kinds of other people in our community. But as they come to Christ, we are going to encourage them to spend their lives spreading the gospel to Baruti" (89).
One last thing, this book could be used for small groups in a church. He has done a great job of putting study guide questions at the end of the book that will make you think. There are things that I am wrestling through with this book, but I am not sure if it is because it is wrong or I just don't like what that might mean for my life. Time will tell!
I received a copy of the book: Radical Together by David Platt from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Morning After: Why Jesus Had To Die & Rise Again!

Yesterday was my first Easter Sunday as a senior pastor of a church. It was the first time that I had the opportunity to influence what the service would look like. If you know me, I like to change things up from time to time. Some of my more conservative friends have even said it scares them that I like to tweak how things normally function. So I preached two sermons yesterday! Actually instead of a normal 45 minute sermon, I did two sermons between 20-25 minutes, with music in between the messages. It was a special morning, one offering, two messages. (You can listen to it or sign up for the podcast HERE)

Message #1: Why Jesus Had To Die

There are so many reasons I could have listed as to why Jesus had to die. In fact, John Piper has listed 50 reasons why He came to die. But I wanted to just focus on two reasons.

1. Jesus Died To Show His Love.

At the heart of the gospel message, the message of Jesus Christ, we find that He loves people. It is His love for people that moved Him to die for them. And His death for them proves that He loves them. Paul says in Galatians 2:20 that the Son of God "loved me and gave Himself up for me."

How do you know whether someone loves you or not? Isn't it how they treat you? Doesn't it have something to do with whether there is action to their words? Can you say that no matter who else Jesus loved, He loved you? There are many people that spend their entire lives being rejected by people. They have been made fun of, been ridiculed, mocked, and abandoned by family & friends. And Jesus stands here to say to them, "if you want to understand how much love I have to offer, look at the cross."  But His love in action was not just some moral good example.

2. Jesus Died To Forgive Our Sins.

The number one reason why people do not understand the cross of Jesus or why He had to die is because they fail to grasp or understand the need they have. It's a big need, a sin need that has separated them from God forever. And Jesus came to redeem people from their sins, to offer forgiveness of their sins (Colossians 1:13-14). Forgiveness happens not by being a good person or if simply the good outweighs the bad. It is not by giving money or coming to church or by saying our confessions. It comes when we believe & repent of our sins that Jesus is the only way to God! Colossians 2:13-14 say that Jesus has taken our sins out of the way, nailing them to the cross! Amazing!

Sermon #2: Why Jesus Had To Rise Again!

We celebrated yesterday that the death & burial of Jesus was not the end of the story, but just parts of the beginning. He rose again! The resurrection is critical and key to the message of Christianity. At the heart of the gospel is that Jesus was no longer in the grave.

1. Jesus Rose Again To Give Us Hope.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 that if Jesus was not raised from the dead then we are hopeless, the most pitied of all men on the earth. But if Jesus did rise again, there is joy & our faith is real and means something.

2. Jesus  Rose Again To Overcome Sin & Death.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He finally and completely took care of sin & death once for all. Here was the question that kept coming up to me last week as I studied: "Could Jesus have accomplished on the cross what we believe He did without being raised from the dead?" The answer biblically is NO. The cross & the resurrection are a package deal.

If Jesus died to take away our sin problem & the penalty (and power) of sin is death and Jesus is still dead, then He is still paying the penalty. The only way He could show that the payment for sin actually worked was to come back to life.

3. Jesus Rose Again To Prove He Is God.

Jesus proved the doubters once and for all that He is God when He came back from the dead. What that means for us is that we get to serve a living Savior instead of dead idols.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Day In Between

Last year, I wrote an article for the Hutchinson News that was published the Saturday in between Good Friday & Easter. I thought I would repost it here today. I actually received some negative emails about this article back when it published. I looked for a link to it, but couldn't find one. So here it is.

The Day In Between

This past month has been fairly important in my life. I successfully defended a doctoral dissertation, which means that you can now call me Dr. Thad (but please don’t). I also had a book published which I called Helping Johnny Listen. It is a book that I wrote to help people listen to preaching, something that is desperately needed and rarely talked about. Regardless of how important these events were, neither of them comes close to how important this weekend is in my life.

Today is the day in between. It is the day in between what should be the two most important days in any Christian’s life. It is the day in between the celebration of the horrible death of Jesus Christ and His glorious resurrection. I want to tell you why these two days mean more to me than finishing a doctorate or writing a book.

Yesterday, the Christian community celebrated the death of Jesus. In a tragic event, the only person to ever live that had never done anything wrong in this world was put to a violent, torturous, heinous death that only the worst criminal endured. Yet it was necessary! From the beginning of time, God showed that death is the appropriate punishment for sin. We are told that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Heb 9:22). Throughout the Old Testament, the death that temporally appeased God was an animal, which was part of the sacrificial system. This system looked forward to the Lamb of God, Jesus, who eventually came to this earth, lived a perfect life, and “died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). The death of Jesus, no matter how horrific it was, is the plan God had to bring people back into a relationship with Him. It made a relationship with God possible for me, which is why it is more important than any doctorate or book.

Tomorrow, the Christian community will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It is glorious because that heinous death did not end the message of Jesus. He came back to life and proved once for all His power over death and sin. Because Jesus is alive, we can say with Paul “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting” (1 Cor 15:55)? The resurrection of Jesus makes our faith mean something, because we do not worship a dead Lord (1 Cor 15:12–19). The resurrection of Jesus makes it possible for me to never fear death, which is why it is more important than any doctorate or book.

Is there anything that means more to you in this life than what these two days stand for? Is there anything more important to you than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Is there anything greater than salvation from sin and future glorification in heaven with your Savior? My prayer on this day in between these two great days is that all people will realize how important these days are, to the glory of Jesus!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days: Week 11 & 12 (April 22, 2011)

Reading Two Weeks Ago: Habakkuk 1 -- Luke 9

Reading This Past Week: Luke 10-Romans 14

Thoughts From The Reading: Okay, so I forgot to post the blog post last week. I am sorry. Finishing this reading has been one of those difficult things. I have had many things going on that have cut into my time to stay up on the reading. We recently moved into another rental house. I have been sick on and off for several weeks. But saying that, I am not trying to make excuses. I hope you are up to the reading. I think I might re-title this for me, The Bible in 100 Days (know what I mean?).

Anyways, this past week was really good because it was about Jesus! The longer I live and grow in Christ, I have come to love the gospel accounts of Jesus more and more. And specifically that today is Good Friday, we think about the death of Jesus Christ today, I loved reading much of this this past week. What did you enjoy?

Reading Next Week: Can you believe there is just one more week left in the reading plan? Keep going. I hope you have grown through this process of reading the Bible all the way through at this pace. Please share your thoughts below.

April 23
Romans 15—1 Corinthians 14
April 24
1 Corinthians 15—Galatians 3
April 25
Galatians 4—Colossians 4
April 26
1 Thessalonians 1—Philemon
April 27
Hebrews 1—James 3
April 28
James 4—3 John
April 29
Jude 1—Revelation 17
April 30
Revelation 18-22 (blog post day)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I needed to expand the style and type of books that I normally read. I made a decision that I would always have a book from the NY Times Bestsellers list that I would be working on. If I saw a new book on top of the non-fiction list, I would buy it and read it. So I logged onto the site and what I found shocked me. I found a book that I normally might read. Well, not normally read for enjoyment, but because I wanted to know more about what other Christians are reading.

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo has now been on the list for 10 weeks, but has been at #1 for 6 weeks in a row. So I grabbed the book and thought I would give it a quick read and review it. I am always skeptical when any Christian book makes it to #1 on this list. The day after I received this book, I noticed that Tim Challies posted a review of this book on his blog,, a site you all should read. I have resisted reading his review because I didn't want to be influenced by it. That being said, I would recommend that you read his insights, for I am fairly sure I know what he is going to think of this book even before I read it. I am sure he will go into more detail than I plan on going into for this review.

The book is accurately subtitled: "A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back," for that is exactly what the book is about. It is another one of those books where someone supposedly dies, goes to the afterlife, sees what is going on, and comes back to tell about it. It falls on the heals of Don Piper's book, 90 Minutes in Heaven. The little boy, Colton Burpo, was four years old when he experienced a ruptured appendix and nearly died. The book is written by Todd Burpo, his father, who is a pastor at a small church in rural western Nebraska.

As I read this book, I certainly felt for the family. This was the last of a series of tragedies that had fallen upon their family. And I felt for them as they prayed for the life of their son to be spared. I really can't imagine what that would be like. That's about where my sympathy or excitement for the book ends. There were many things in the book that I could take issue with. For instance:

  • Supposedly everyone in heaven has wings. (pg. 72)
  • Supposedly everyone in heaven looks like an angel and has a halo over their head. (pg. 73)
  • Supposedly he only spent three minutes in heaven, but was able to see many people and go many places. (pg. 76)
  • Supposedly the angel Gabriel sits on the other side of God's throne. Jesus is on the right, Gabe gets the left. (pg. 101)
  • Todd says the sweetest and simplest declaration of the gospel he has ever heard came when Colton said the reason Jesus had to die: "I had to die on the cross so that people on earth could come see my Dad." (pg. 111)
  • Our physical bodies in heaven are us in our prime of life, our younger versions of ourselves. (pg. 123)
  • Angels have to guard the entrance of heaven with swords in order to keep Satan out. (pg. 133)

As you can tell, there are many issues with this book, but my main issue is that it is written from the perspective of experience, more specifically, the experience of a four year old. I am certainly glad that people are excited about heaven after reading it, but why do we have to read a book about some four year old who supposedly went to heaven in order to get excited about heaven? Books like this get to the heart of whether we ultimately trust the Bible alone for truth. Do we validate our experiences in light of the Scriptures or do our experiences shape our understanding of what is true?

This is ultimately an attack on the sufficiency of the Scriptures. For a brief moment, let me share with you one passage of Scripture that compares the Scriptures with experience. In 2 Peter 1:16-21, Peter shares about the experience he had with Jesus up on the mountain when Jesus was transfigured before him (Matt. 17:1-8). He says in vs. 16 that they were not making things up. They were indeed eyewitnesses to the majesty of Jesus. Not only did they see Jesus, but vs. 17-18 says they heard God speaking. Two senses.

As you read that passage, you get the sense that Peter is saying there is no question of the experience he had with Jesus up on that mountain. They saw and heard. But then in vs. 19, Peter transitions to say that no matter what happened when they saw Jesus, there is an even surer prophetic word (KJV). There is something even more reliable than the experience they had, namely the prophetic word of God. The Scriptures are more trustworthy, more powerful, and even more insightful than the testimony of some four year old who says he went to heaven.

Strangely enough, at the end of the book, Todd acknowledges that the Bible needs to be the final authority. He says,
As a pastor, I've always been very conscious about what I share about heaven from the pulpit, and I still am. I teach what I find in Scripture." (149)
I guess I just found this particularly funny, since the previous 148 pages were filled trying to validate an experience as truth! If you do read this book, please read with discernment and ask yourself one question:

Why do I need a book like this in order to get excited about heaven?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why Christian Cliche's Aren't Helpful

We have all heard them. We have probably even used them. They are the cute little Christian sayings that we give to people when things are not going their way. Or they might be those Scripture quotations that we like to pull out of the air to be used for moments of wisdom. They are what show up on T-shirts or coffee cups, or even on a cute little plaque that sits on your desk or hangs on the wall. They are the Christian Cliche's. The more I think about them, the more I just don't think cute little Christian sayings are really that helpful to people. At least, not helpful without a context or explanation.

Some of you know about our housing situation. At the end of January, we moved to Ohio so I could take a senior pastor position at a church, Cornerstone Bible Church. We are now a few months into being here and our house still has not sold back in Kansas. We keep praying, many of you are praying, but for some reason the house just has not sold. In the meantime, we have not been able to put down the roots we so desire here in Ohio. We have been in a short-term rental, which has just sold. We have to be out in a few weeks and so we are moving this Friday to another short-term rental.

During this process, we continue to look for a home. We thought we had one a few weeks ago that would have been perfect for us. It was the size we were looking for and the location that wanted to be. In addition to that, it was a bank-owned property, so it was quite a bit cheaper than other homes. We were actually pre-qualified for it even without our house selling in Kansas (I never thought I would have a winter home in Kansas and a summer home in Ohio, just kidding). A few days after submitting the bid, we found out that we were the lowest of three bids (even though we offered 6k more than the asking price). To say the least, we were bummed.

And through this entire process, well-meaning people continue to say well-meaning things to us. By far, the thing we have heard more than anything else is this: "God must have something better for you." I understand what people mean by this statement, but in reality, what they mean couldn't be further from the truth. When people say that, I would venture to guess most people mean, "God has a better house for you." This is where it really doesn't work. I have two reasons why christian cliche's like this are not helpful.

First, They Give False Hope! 

Maybe God's will is that we will never have a house in Ohio. Maybe He wants us to rent for years. Maybe our house will never sell. Maybe God's will for us is that we do live in a small 3-bedroom, 1,000 sq. ft. house. Maybe the better that God has for us has nothing to do with the physical, but has to do with our hearts. In this process, I have been thinking about Paul's comments about contentment.
"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13)
Maybe what God wants in this process and the better that He has for our family is to LEARN to be content in all things, the abundance & the not. I get it! We are praying that if God needs to do something in our hearts in this process, that He would do it in his timing!

Christian cliche's like this to newer or younger believers give them false hope that if we obey Jesus, He will make us healthy, wealthy, and wise. As David Platt has written in Radical, we have been duped into a thinking of a Christian spin on the American Dream. Are we ready to believe Jesus, go where He leads us, and when we get there, we have nothing the world says is important? I want to say I am! But often I feel like the disciples, "I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!"

Second, They Often Take Scripture Out Of Context.

Do you see that phrase used in Philippians 4:13, used above? This is just one example and I could give so many more. What did Paul mean by "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." It certainly did not mean that you could play a good football game. In the context it had to do with living life in plenty or want. He had learn to be content in any situation God would have him in. Maybe that sounds nit-picky to you, but the power of the Bible are found in the right meaning of the Bible. If you fail to get the interpretation of the Scripture right, you fail to have the power of the Word of God.

So, what to do? If you feel like you need to use some sort of Christian Cliche, spend the time with the person and have a thorough conversation with them. Please don't think you can just pull one more bullet from the chamber and shoot it at the individual and it will help everything they are going through. Take the time and explain the Scriptures to them. Counsel them with the Word!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Morning After: A Life of Kindness

Yesterday, I continued in my series I am calling Kingdom Living. It is a look at the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5-7. This was #5 in the series and we found ourselves in Matthew 5:21-26, a very familiar portion of Scripture, but one that is very difficult to apply to our lives.  If you are unfamiliar with it, it is the portion of Scripture where Jesus says that you have always been taught that murder is wrong, but that the heart of murder is anger. If anyone is angry with someone, they have committed murder in their heart and they will stand condemned.

It is easy to understand what Jesus is saying, but it is very difficult to feel it. It is very difficult to think that before God, those feelings of anger or hatred or thoughts are just as bad as if I had taken a gun and shot them or a knife and slit their throats. Of course, we know there are different consequences in our physical world between killing and anger. Maybe that's why we think they are not as bad in God's eyes.

But what Jesus is saying is that they are as bad. Just because you have not taken a rock or an iron object (Num 35:16-21) or a gun or knife and not killed someone does not mean that you have fulfilled the righteous standards of the Law. Jesus is correcting the perversion the religious leaders had made of the OT Law. It had always been about the heart, not just external behaviors.

Do you have anger issues? Have you ever mocked or ridiculed the mental capacity or character integrity of other people? Then what Jesus is saying is that you are a murderer of heart. First John 3:15 says that "everyone who hated his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Obviously this is not a reference to if you have every had hatred in your heart, but John is saying what Jesus was saying. The person of the Kingdom does not LIVE with anger or hatred. The person of the Kingdom continually is shaped & molded into the person who lives with kindness.

Jesus then moves on to give a couple illustrations that the way to deal with anger issues is to deal with them radically. Even if you are at a place of worship and remember that someone has something against you, drop the act of worship and go make things right. Why? Because being reconciled to that person is itself an act of worship!

John Stott has said, "how seldom do we heed Christ's call for immediacy of action." Why is that? Why do we think it can wait? Let me encourage you that if you find out that there is something between you and someone else, drop what your doing and do everything you can to make it right. So what if you are completely innocent. Humble yourself and seek reconciliation. Make it your resolution that as far as it depends on you, that you will live at peace with all men (Rom 12:14-18).

A Life of Kindness, you can listen to it HERE! It is usually uploaded by Tuesday afternoon.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days: Week 10 (April 8, 2011)

Reading This Past Week: Ezekiel 13 - Nahum 3

Thoughts From The Reading: I have to tell everyone. It is confession time. I once again got behind in the reading. I am not sure why that is the case, but the thought actually came to my mind to raise the white flag. But I won't, I will keep going. I will catch up very soon.

A friend of mine, Mike, said the other day that Ezekiel 18 was his favorite part of that book. As I read that, I thought about my parents, my life, and my kids life. There certainly is something to be said that I will be held responsible for my sins, not my parents sins. And thankfully, my kids will be responsible for their sins, not mine. As I parent them, I have to keep in mind to continually point them to the gospel each day. For while they are held responsible for their own sins, they will be responsible for their own faith. May we pray for them.

Reading Next Week: Okay, so it is catch up week for me and maybe some of you. This week will will finish with the Old Testament and make our way through half of the gospel accounts. Last time I did this, when I got to this point there was a sense of relief and excitement. Not that I disliked the OT at all, but all that the OT was pointing to was now being realized in the message of Jesus Christ. So keep reading and rejoice that all the Law & the Prophets are now fulfilled in the accounts that you read in Jesus in these gospels.

April 9
Habakkuk 1—Zechariah 10
April 10
Zechariah 11—Matthew 4
April 11
Matthew 5-15
April 12
Matthew 16-26
April 13
Matthew 27—Mark 9
April 14
Mark 10—Luke 1
April 15
Luke 2-9 (blog post day)
April 16
Luke 10-20
April 17
Luke 21—John 5
April 18
John 6-15
April 19
John 16—Acts 6
April 20
Acts 7-16
April 21
Acts 17-28
April 22
Romans 1-14 (blog post day)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Video On Prayer

On Monday, Tim Challies linked this little video on his blog. I have watched it several times and really love it. I wanted to share it with you as well as you might not have seen it. I loved it for two reasons. One is that it is from some of the sermons of Matt Chandler. I have learned so much from Chandler as I have listened to his preaching over the past year. I am nourished on the Word of God from listening to him preach. The other reason I really enjoyed this video was because of the subject matter. It is about prayer. And he is very realistic that prayer is often difficult. And the way it was put together with the music of "Be Thou My Vision" was very powerful.

Please listen through the end of it! And may this impact your prayer this week!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Unsinkable by Abby Sunderland & Lynn Vincent

Unsinkable is the remarkable story of Abby Sunderland, who at the age of 16 attempted to sail solo around the world. Let me just say at the beginning, I couldn't recommend this book enough! The book is very well written and moves at a very rapid pace. There are very few books I have read in the past years that I simply had to make myself put down so I wouldn't abandon all my other responsibilities in life. This is one of those books!

I have only been on a sailboat one time in my life (quite a funny story that took place in Hilton Head on my honeymoon), so I am very unfamiliar with much of the nautical terminology that is used in the book. Although, I did realize after reading the book that there was a nice section in the back of the book called "Brief Guide To Basic Nautical Terms." That would have been helpful as I read it. Even though I didn't know the terminology, it was written in such a way that I could picture it in my mind.

Far and away the greatest thing I took from this book was that young people can attempt to do amazing things, and probably should be challenged to do them. I recently reviewed a parenting book that I reviewed, but this book taught me more about parenting than that one. I think I often times keep my kids from doing things so that they would be safe, because that makes me feel better. It would probably be better for me to encourage them to think big as to what they could do in life. Abby's parents, Laurence & Marianne, from the time their kids were young sought to teach their kids responsibility instead of watching TV or playing video games. This developed in her a desire to attempt things that people said was impossible. Abby herself says,

"It seems like people my age are over-protected today. Even to the point where a lot of parents refuse to put their kids in the position to make important decisions, to aspire to great things, because they don't want to put them in a position to fail. I mean, there are all these minivans driving down the road with bumper stickers that say, 'My child was Student of the Week at Smith Elementary,' or whatever. But guess what? Every child gets to be student of the week. It's like we, as kids, aren't expected or required to reach higher, to be different, to do anything special in order to get some kind of warm, fuzzy award. It's just weird" (92-3).

She ends the book with these very thoughtful words:

"I'm living proof that not everything works out the way you planned. But I have learned an important truth: In stepping out and trying to achieve great things, the only way I can truly fail is never to try at all" (199). 

Great book. You will be challenged if you read it. Let me leave you with a trailer for the book that might encourage you to purchase it and read it. Enjoy!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Morning After: A Life of Submission

Yesterday I preached one of the most difficult portions of the Bible I have ever preached (except of course my very first time preaching in college when I was assigned Galatians 4:21-31, look that one up). I have been working through the Sermon on the Mount at Cornerstone Bible Church, a series that I am so excited about for the life of our church. Yesterday, we arrived at Matthew 5:17-20, a message that I called "A Life of Submission." You can listen to it at our church website HERE (it's usually posted by Tuesday)

There is a reason why many preachers skip over this passage. I looked for a few preachers that I know have preached through Matthew and many of them integrated this portion with the next section. They spent 10 minutes on this as part of the overall picture and then moved on. I wanted to do that, but I felt we needed to set the stage for what the life of the person who is part of the Kingdom looks like in regards to the importance of the Old Testament.

My main point was that "those who are part of the Kingdom live their lives in submission to God's Word." All of God's Word, not just the New Testament portion of God's Word. Many times believers view the OT as the ugly stepsister to the NT. We get our instruction from the NT and the OT was just what people back in that day needed, but not us. If that is our attitude, then I think we are missing large portions of the Holy, Inspired, Relevant, Inerrant Word of God.

There were Four Reasons For Why We Should Submit To The Entire Bible!

First, They Are All About Jesus (vs. 17). Jesus did not come to abolish the Law & Prophets (a way to say the OT Scriptures), but He came to fulfill them. All the OT points to Jesus, they are about Him. Later in Matthew 5, He is going to make six statements something like this: "You have heard it said before . . . but I tell you." He is not changing the OT laws that have been written, but He is trying to correct the perversion the religious leaders had made of it. Jesus is the fulfillment of the moral laws, the prophetic prophecies, and the sacrificial system as described in the OT. It is not that every passage is about Jesus, but every passage in the OT has a road that leads to Jesus because it is all about Him!

Second, They Are Trustworthy (vs. 18). The OT will not pass away, but all that it speaks of will be fulfilled. That means that it is reliable. It is something that is not going to change. We need this in our day, for if the Bible is 100% accurate even down to the smallest letter or stroke, then it means our faith can be unshakable. That means we should willingly submit to it.

Third, They Are Important (vs. 19). The Law & the Prophets cannot be abolished, but they are broken all the time. Jesus seems to be saying in this verse that there will be differing rewards in the Kingdom based on what we do with the commandments. But the real question has to do with what commandments is Jesus talking about? Are we going to be judged on whether we wear clothes that are mixed with wool & linen together (Deut 22:11), and things like that? No in the sense of the sundry and moral laws of the OT, but Yes in regards to the intent of the laws. We cannot deal with the Christian and Law question without talking about our hearts. Jesus wants us to do the right things, but He is going to emphasize doing the right things for the right reasons. The law of the Kingdom has to do with your heart.

Fourth, They Are Life-Changing (vs. 20). All the Scriptures give us hope and show us how our lives are to be changed from an external to internal righteousness. The religious leaders of the day were externally righteousness, but our only hope is that our righteousness had better be much more than that. We need to understand that Hell is going to be filled with people who think they are righteous, but in reality, they are nothing more than superficial religious people. Our only hope is to have a righteousness that is foreign to us, one that God gives to those on the basis of faith. And in the OT & NT, that has always been on the basis of faith. And when He does that we begin to act differently. We are willing to submit our lives to Him and His teachings. We care about one another, not just externally, but really care in our heart for them. He changes us from the inside out.

That's a life of submission.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Bible in 90 Days: Week 9 (April 1, 2011)

Reading This Past Week: Isaiah 53-Ezekiel 12

Thoughts From The Reading: I promise no April Fool's jokes in this blog post. This section of Scripture started off with one of the best sections in the prophets--Isaiah 53. Some people might read the prophets and get depressed. They talk about judgment and persecution that is going to come upon those that do not obey God (which it seems is most of them). But every now and then, there are parts that show a glimmer of hope. There will be a Suffering Servant that will come and redeem the people from their sins. Like the sun poking through a dark cloudy day, we can see the mercy of God through these readings in the prophets.

One thing that really stood out to me as I read the book of Jeremiah was that God said He was going to bring Babylon in to destroy Israel (Judah). But then as you read on, He was later going to destroy Babylon for how they treated His people. God was doing a work and using the pagan nations to make right His people.

The other thing that got me as in Jeremiah was the situation when there was a remnant that came to Jeremiah asking what they should do. He tells them not to go into Egypt, but to stay where they were (even if that meant famine or war against other nations). He tells them that if they go into Egypt, they would be destroyed, but if they remained in their homeland they would be saved. Here is their response: "As for the message that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we are not going to listen to you!" (Jeremiah 44:16). Ouch! But how many times do I hear a message from the Lord and I dismiss it. It is easy to cast my stones at them, but I know I do it myself. Don't you?

Reading Next Week: I have once again posted the reading schedule for the next two weeks. A few encouraging things to point out to you. This will be the last week which will be spent entirely in the Old Testament. After this week, we will start to read more familiar parts of the Bible, and easier parts to comprehend. But keep going. There are some sweet portions of the prophets as you read them. Think about the balance between the justice and love of God.

April 2
Ezekiel 13-23
April 3
Ezekiel 24-35
April 4
Ezekiel 36-48
April 5
Daniel 1-8
April 6
Daniel 9—Hosea 13
April 7
Hosea 14—Amos 9
April 8
Obadiah 1—Nahum 3 (blog post day)
April 9
Habakkuk 1—Zechariah 10
April 10
Zechariah 11—Matthew 4
April 11
Matthew 5-15
April 12
Matthew 16-26
April 13
Matthew 27—Mark 9
April 14
Mark 10—Luke 1
April 15
Luke 2-9 (blog post day)