Monday, August 30, 2010

From David Alan Black:

Students, this semester I'm looking for a Gideon's Band -- men and women who mean business. I do not intend this to be an exclusive club, however! Let me encourage each of you to commit your studies to the Lord -- and yourselves. Don't just "get by." Excel in all you do, for His glory. Do not wait for graduation to become "ministers." This very day, right where we are, we can serve Him. And that includes honoring Him with our minds.

Remember: God is never pleased with mediocrity. "Holy shoddy is still shoddy" (Elton Trueblood).

HT: David Alan Black's blog
From the prince of preachers:

...[T]here can be such a thing as overvaluing this life, and multitudes have fallen into that error. Those overvalue it who prefer it to eternal life. Why, it is but as a drop compared with the ocean, if you measure time with eternity. Seventy or eighty years of dwelling here below, what are they when compared with infinite ages of existence in the presence of the Most High? I reckon that this present life is not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.

When men in fearful moments have denied the faith for the sake of saving their lives, they have overvalued this life; when to preserve themselves from the sword, or the fire, or the tortures of the rack, they have denied the name of Jesus, they have made a mistake and exchanged gold for dross. Alas, how many of us, in like condition, might have fallen into the same error! They overvalue this life who consider it to be a better thing than divine love, for the love of God is better than life — his lovingkindness is better than life itself. Some would give anything for their lives, but they would give nothing for God’s love.

HT: Daily Spurgeon

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tonight I have the great privilege of finishing another book of consecutive expository preaching—Revelation. Actually, this is my second time preaching verse by verse through this masterful prophecy and I am planning to teach through it once more in the near future (as I'm hoping I can do dissertation material on it).

My text tonight is Rev 22:10-21 on how to respond to Revelation (the book of and the entire biblical corpus) so that my hearers can make certain they are saved and "take the water of life without cost" (22:17).

I pray that God is honored as Christ is exalted and His Spirit works through the heralding of His Word. Come, Lord Jesus (22:20).

Revelation 22:12-13 — 12 Ἰδοὺ ἔρχομαι ταχύ, καὶ ὁ μισθός μου μετ᾽ ἐμοῦ ἀποδοῦναι ἑκάστῳ ὡς τὸ ἔργον ἐστὶν αὐτοῦ. 13 ἐγὼ τὸ Ἄλφα καὶ τὸ Ὦ, ὁ πρῶτος καὶ ὁ ἔσχατος, ἡ ἀρχὴ καὶ τὸ τέλος. (Translation — Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me to render to each one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

For anyone interested, our Church is launching a new community group for those in Simi Valley. The Bible study begins tonight and the topic of study is HEAVEN.

Click here for the proposed schedule of study.

If you have any questions, email me or contact the church: 818.341.5750.

Hope to see you there!
Last night I had the privilege of teaching Psalm 74. Psalm 74 may well be the most heart-wrenching psalm in the psalter thus far that we’ve studied. The Babylonians led by King Nebuchadnezzar have ransacked Judea, Jerusalem, and utterly destroyed everything. They raided the Temple and burnt everything. Psalm 74 responds to this horrendous difficulty.

If you were to ask any Jewish person what the most precious symbol of worship is to them they would immediately respond: the Temple. The Temple symbolized God’s presence and God’s protection. And for God to allow the (more!) wicked Babylonians to come and utterly destroy His people and His dwelling place on earth was utterly shocking for the Jewish people (and Habakkuk—just read his prophecy).

The application I brought out last night at our study was this. When the most devastating disaster invades your life how do you respond? Psalm 74 gives the response of the psalmist (a descendant of Asaph). But how would you and I respond?

Most of the psalm is questioning God, wondering why God would abandon and reject His very sheep whom He sovereignly redeemed and purchased (v.2). I love, however, the stark transition in v.12: “But as for God, He is my King from of old.” What a transition. Regardless of how bad things get; no matter how torrential the tornado swirls upon your head, remember that God is the King and that God is the Ancient of Days.

The psalmist then meditates on the unrivaled sovereignty of God revealed in his power over creation and the universe (vv.13-17).

The lesson for us to learn can be found here: when the most devastating event happens, reveal your heart to God in honest prayer, remember the power of God, and trust in God’s sovereign plan and deliverance.

In our day and age, we do well to learn this lesson and seal it upon our hearts and minds.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Here's a great note from my reading this week:

The first stage in serious Bible study is to consider the larger context within which a passage is found. Unless we can grasp the whole before attempting to dissect the parts, interpretation is doomed from the start. If I say, "Give it all you've got," you would rightly query, "What do you mean by 'it'?" and "How do I do so?" Without a situation to give the command content, it becomes meaningless. In Scripture the context provides the situation behind the text (Osborne, Hermeneutical Spiral, 21).

For instance, I received an email this morning from a lady in our church asking me the following question:
Who are the "great cloud of witnesses" surrounding us and why would it matter if they are there or not in order for us to throw off those things that hinder us? Why does he say SINCE we have the cloud then throw off... In difficult situations where we need to "grit" to do what he wants does the cloud of witnesses help? Are they "cheering" us on?

And here was my reply:
Great question. The context of Hebrews 12:1 comes right after Hebrews chapter 11. Hebrews 11 is called the "fall of faith" because it gives so many Godly men who have lived "by faith" in God in history (Abel, Enoch, Moses, Abraham, etc. etc. etc.). The catch phrase is "by faith..." So that is the "cloud of witnesses" that Hebrews 12:1 refers to. The reason why Hebrews 12:1-2 has "athletic words" is because it is a metaphor for a Greco/Roman athletic competition. The author's point is that we should act as though we're 'running the race of life' and throw off ALL hindrances to Godliness and run the race of life by faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Heb 10:38-39).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I received my class syllabus for my PhD seminar this Fall. The course is entitled: "Exegetical Studies of the Non-Pauline Epistles."

I turn to the first page of the syllabus and the topic of study for the entire course is "An examination of the book of Hebrews."

I guess that means my prof. is quite convinced Paul did not write Hebrews (as am I). I just thought that was quite funny. I am looking forward to delving into this magnificent treasure. Here's a part that excites my heart:

Hebrews 1:1-4 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

See my latest article on why you should think much about heaven. Many of these thoughts came from my sermon this morning.

Psalm 16:11 In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Pray for me. I have the responsibility of preaching on the glories of heaven. Lots of notes. Little time. Filled with joy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Now what would you think if you were driving and saw this sign?
As I've had time this summer (which hasn't been very much) I've tried to write a few one-page articles on various issues related to church ministry.

Click on our website to check them out:

The Ministry of Baptism

The Ministry of Communion

The Ministry of Preaching

The Ministry of Public Prayer

The Ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We live in a world full of males who have prolonged their adolescence.

They are neither boys nor men. They live suspended between childhood and adulthood, between growing up and being a grown-up.

Let’s call this kind of male Ban, a hybrid of both man and boy. This kind of male is everywhere, including the church and even vocational ministry.

Neither Boys Nor Men

Ban is a frightening reality in the church, but he is the best thing that ever happened to the video game and porn industries.

Our society is overrun with males who aren’t men. Assuming the responsibilities of husband and father makes a boy into a man, but Ban doesn’t like responsibility so he extends his adolescence and sets his focus squarely and supremely on himself.

Raising Up Real Men

These “man-wannabes” must learn how to progress toward manhood and become what David Gilmore calls “real men.” Real men “give more than they take... are generous, even to the point of sacrifice.” Being a man is about being tough and tender.

I have a son, Drew, and because of my keen awareness of and pastoral interaction with Bans, I know that my work is cut out for me when it comes to raising a godly man. I recently wrote a little prayer that reflects the kind of men we need. Drew and I pray this prayer together almost every night, for him and for me.

“God, make me a man with thick skin and a soft heart. Make me a man who is tough and tender. Make me tough so I can handle life. Make me tender so I can love people. God, make me a man.”

The Man, the Message, the Mission

The lack of godly men in our world is now a cultural crisis. We are not going to solve the problem by ignoring Ban and hoping that he eventually grows up. We are not going to solve the problem by encouraging women to take up the slack.

We might solve the problem by modeling biblical manhood and calling adult boys to forsake their youthful lusts and become the men that God is calling them to be.

We have Bans in our city, our neighborhoods, our churches, and our families. Ban needs godly men and women to show him that there is more to life than what he is currently experiencing. Ban needs to be more than just a male. He needs to be becoming God’s man who is being transformed by God’s gospel message and is wholeheartedly pursuing God’s mission.

HT: Darrin Patrick

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Luke 5:31-32 31 And Jesus answered and said to them, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."

The Pharisees constantly grumbled because Jesus ate with the outcasts and unclean of society—the prostitutes, the tax collectors, and others. On one occasion, Jesus remarked that it is not those who are well who need a physician but those who are sick. It's a very simple statement but in the physical realm no one would deny it. Everyone understands that it is only the sick who need the doctor and not those who are healthy!

Jesus transitions this to the spiritual realm and, as he often does, shocks his hearers with statements that are hard to swallow. Just as a healthy person does not need a physician but only a sick person does, so does a righteous person (=spiritually healthy) person not need repentance but those who recognize their spiritual "illness"—sin. Amazingly, he converses with the Pharisees here and they are the epitome of self-righteousness and self-sufficiency.

So for Jesus to boldly speak to them that he did not call the righteous to salvation he meant that he does not save those who think they are spiritually fine, spiritually healthy, spiritually righteous in and of their own good works. Rather, Jesus claims that he has come for the sinners who recognize their sin for what it is—sin. They see their wickedness as heinous in the eyes of a perfectly holy God. They see that their righteous deeds are as filthy rags before an all-perfect God.

The verse is terse, clear, and unmistakable. Those who think they are self-righteous and spiritually healthy are actually blind to the most aggressive spiritual illness ever, namely, sin. But it is those who see their sin, call it for what it is, and come to Christ as sinners in repentance seeking forgiveness that he will graciously and completely forgive.

Have you recognized your sin? Or are you one who thinks he is "healthy"?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Yesterday I preached one of the hardest sermons I've ever had to prepare and deliver. I titled my sermon: "Hell—A place of unending wrath, violent vengeance, striking conscience, banished isolation, and divine hatred."

My prayer beforehand was that I would not fear man. And praise God, I received some helpful and good feedback including many questions as well. It is perhaps the most neglected topic in today's contemporary churches and in modern day pulpits. Yet if we as pastors and shepherds truly loved the souls of our sheep then we would teach and not shrink back from teaching on this topic far more frequently that we often do.

You may listen to the sermon on hell here.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Preaching one of the hardest sermons ever — on the eternality and terrors of hell. Prayers are coveted.

Friday, August 13, 2010

We returned from our family vacation a couple of days ago and have been recovering since! While on the trip, I meditated on Jonathan Edwards' sermons on hell. At one point, he said that Christians must think on hell often. I would like to list a number of reasons why I think Christians should regularly meditate on hell.

1. It reminds you of the holiness of God. God is infinitely holy and nothing impure can be set before God's eyes (Hab 1:13). God is so infinitely holy that even the smallest offense against His holiness demands an infinite judgment. The holiness of God requires perfection. Obviously all human beings are unholy, defiled, stained, wretched, and wicked. Human sinners are enemies of God and fully deserving of all God's anger and violent justice for all eternity. God is love and God is merciful but these qualities of God by no means eliminate or trump the holiness, wrath, justice, and righteous anger of God for sin and violation of his Law.

2. It reveals the utter seriousness and heinousness of your sins. Even an angry word spoken is worthy of eternal torment. Jesus said that if you call your brother "fool" you are guilty of the fiery hell (Matt 5:22). Jonathan Edwards surmises that ones punishment in hell is equal to the sins that he committed on earth. He said that the longer one lives on earth rejecting the gospel of Jesus Christ the more that he stores up eternal wrath and judgment for himself in the fires of hell.

3. It shows you what you deserve at this very moment. All unbelievers are, as it were, walking across a worn cloth with holes at various places. At any moment, the person walking across that cloth could fall into one of the holes or the cloth could give at any moment and rip into shreds and the person would fall into eternal destruction. God said: the soul who sins will die (Ezek 18:4). There is no reason that any person on the earth is alive except by the sheer grace of God. No one deserves to live. No believer deserves to be saved. No person deserves another breath. No unbeliever deserves anything but eternal hell now. But it is God's merciful grace that restrains that unbeliever from dropping into the eternal pit forever and ever. God graciously grants them more opportunities to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The more one has opportunities to repent and the more he rejects those opportunities and succumbs to his stubborn and hard-hearted will he only stores up more wrath from God in hell.

4. It magnifies the glory of God's grace in saving such sinful wretches. The more one considers hell, the more it magnifies the glory of God's grace in saving such sinful and heinous wretches as you and me. We are trash and filth. We are unworthy of anything good. We are wholly worthy of everything bad. We are infinitely worthy of hell. But the fact that God has saved us from that wrath magnifies God's grace in saving sinners for His glory. This is why the believer must think constantly on hell. If you think constantly on hell and muse frequently on what you deserve it only elevates the undeserved and unmerited grace of God freely given to sinners such as us.

5. It serves as a fitting reason to evangelize with urgency, passion, and persuasion. If unbelievers could at any moment descend into the fires of hell, the blackest darkness, the unutterable torments, and shrieking cries for eternity, this should motivate the Christian to evangelize his nonChristian friends with some urgency and passion. He should endeavor to draw them to salvation. He should woo them to the Savior. He should show how satisfying Jesus Christ is and how unsatisfying everything else is. We must persuade and beg people to believe in Christ and be saved from the wrath of God. We must preach with urgency. We must preach the gospel to our unsaved friends as if we were standing at the doors of hell looking into the eternal abyss and the red-hot fires begging people who are drawing near those gates to repent, turn around, and fly to Jesus Christ for salvation. We must evangelize as though we have singed garments from the flames of hell because the reality of hell is so vividly imprinted on our minds. We must preach as though we believe in eternal hell. We must beg as though our hearers will never hear another gospel message again. This is why we must consider the reality of hell often.

6. It guards you from becoming self-centered (man-centered) as it causes you to be God-centered. All human beings deserve hell. Most human beings don't think they will go there—or that they deserve to go there. This is very man-centered as if everything revolved around "us." It's almost as if we are willing to say that God doesn't throw people in hell because we don't think God would do that to us. In other words, we're willing to suggest that God does things that are out of line with his own very character simply because of our "comfort." Thinking on hell and remembering that God does in fact throw people into hell—many people, hundreds of people, thousands of people, daily—not because of anything other than His righteous and holy character that demands justice. Considering this forces us to be God-centered in our theology rather than man (=self) centered.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Free CD giveaway here.

From The Gospel Coalition blog: On February 20-21 and 27-28, 2009, Don Carson presented a 14-part seminar entitled “The God Who Is There” at Bethlehem Baptist Church’s North Campus in Minneapolis. This series will serve the church well because it simultaneously evangelizes non-Christians and edifies Christians by explaining the Bible’s storyline in a non-reductionistic way.

The series is geared toward “seekers” and articulates Christianity in a way that causes hearers either to reject or embrace the gospel. It’s one thing to know the Bible’s storyline, but it’s another to know one’s role in God’s ongoing story of redemption. “The God Who Is There” engages people at the worldview-level.


1. The God Who Made Everything
2. The God Who Does Not Wipe Out Rebels
3. The God Who Writes His Own Agreements
4. The God Who Legislates
5. The God Who Reigns
6. The God Who Is Unfathomably Wise
7. The God Who Becomes a Human Being
8. The God Who Grants New Birth
9. The God Who Loves
10. The God Who Dies—and Lives Again
11. The God Who Declares the Guilty Just
12. The God Who Gathers and Transforms His People
13. The God Who Is Very Angry
14. The God Who Triumphs

About the Speaker
D. A. Carson (PhD, University of Cambridge) is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author or editor of more than forty books.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Last night I had the wonderful joy of preaching Psalm 71 — "As you grow older, learn from an elderly saint how to pray." I felt as though the last week I was intimately mentored by an old man who has lived life, experienced God's faithfulness, lived through the hostility from vicious enemies, yet affirmed his trust in God. I have been greatly blessed this week by my old friend (who is anonymous, just see the Psalm's title, or lack thereof, for evidence!).

I outlined the psalm by way of looking at how an old man prays. That is to say, we observed six prayers of this old man in Psalm 71:

1. You are my protection (1-4)
2. You have sustained me (5-8)
3. Don't forget me when I'm old (9-13)
4. Help me teach your truth to others (14-18)
5. You are unsurpassed in greatness (19-21)
6. You will hear my praise (22-24)

Then, at the conclusion of the psalm, I noted 10 ways to pray that I learned meditating on Psalm 71:

1. The simplicity of the prayers (childlike faith)
2. The biblical nature of the prayers (all rooted in biblical truth)
3. The determination of the prayers (he commits himself to do it)
4. The duration of the prayers (he never attains perfection, his desires are lifelong goals for the believer)
5. The length of the prayer (he prays a lengthy prayer—not a short, quick prayer).
6. The enemies revealed in the prayers (he even has enemies at his old age!)
7. The confidence of the prayers (he really believes God will hear and answer)
8. The commitment to teach the next generation in the prayer (he reveals the need to train up others)
9. The worship in the prayers (he praises God)
10. The God-centeredness of the prayer (he names God in a variety of names/titles and remembers God’s deeds and he remembers God’s character/attributes).

All in all, God taught me much this last week meditating on this masterful psalm. If you choose to listen, you may do so here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A sermon you really ought to listen to or watch. From Resolved 2009, John MacArthur preaches on the Sanctifying Shepherd.

Listen here.

Watch here.
It is a good question to ask, since the more common discussion (rightfully so) is, “How can your pastor minister to you?” Well, for church members who appreciate your pastor and are wondering how you can regularly minister to him in a meaningful way–here it is:

Send an email every Monday morning to both he and his wife and ask them how you can specifically pray for them this week.

Simple. Doable. But make no mistake, very meaningful! How do I know this? Because 6 months ago (after pastoring my church for 6.5 years) one of our members felt led by God to take this task upon herself to pray for me and my family regularly. She has been faithful to do so, even while out-of-town. She sends my wife and I an email every Monday grateful for the previous Lord’s Day, then asks how she can be specifically praying for us both. Fewer things have made my wife and I feel so cared for and ministered to than this lady’s efforts.

You might be surprised how infrequent the pastor has someone approach him and inquire how they can pray for him. Though there are many ways you can minister to you pastor, this is one that any church member can do with a little discipline, planning, and consistency.

Therefore, I challenge you to email your pastor this Monday. Thank him for his labor in the word and the sweet fellowship of the saints the day before he facilitated. Then ask for specific things from both he and his wife to pray for this next week. Trust me. You will bless, encourage, and minister to your pastor and his wife in ways you cannot imagine.

However, when the requests come back to you…make sure you are faithful to pray.

HT: 9Marks

Sunday, August 1, 2010

John Calvin writes:

Evil is so deeply rooted in our hearts that if we were told of our duty, it only half moves us. For this reason, St. Paul sets the example of God before us here [Phil 2:5ff]. He has forgiven us in his only Son. And without delay he adds our Lord Jesus Christ, who spared not himself when it was a question of our redemption and salvation. What, then, can break down all hardness in us, what can mortify all our excessive passions, what can correct all our cruelty, bring low all our pride and loftiness and sweeten all our bitterness, is to contemplate what God has done toward us. He has so loved the world that he has given up his only Son to death for us [John 3:16]."
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