Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yesterday in the church planting class I'm taking Alexander Strauch taught on conflict resolution in the local church. It was superb. The outline of his latest book If you bite and devour one another served as the outline for our discussion yesterday.

Here are some helpful points he mentioned:

Knowing that there WOULD be conflict, Jesus said…

1. Go to the brother to whom you have offended -- Matt 5:23-24
2. Go to the brother who has sinned against you -- Matt 18:15-17
**You take the initiative. When someone has hurt you, YOU take care of it.

Lessons from the Church at Corinth:
THEME: Act in Love!

The pastor and the church leadership can and will set the attitude of the Church. How do you make sure you set the correct attitude?

Set the attitude of your church by:
1. By teaching
2. By your own attitude
3. By confronting the sinful attitudes straight up -- talk to people.

Lessons from the Church at Philippi:
Theme: Act in Humility, NOT Pride

Lessons from the Earliest Jewish Churches:
Theme: CONTROL the anger, tongue & criticism

Lessons from the Church at Galatia:
*Key Principle: Act in the Spirit, not in the Flesh

If we as believers can strive with all of our might and with full dependence on the Holy Spirit to live in these ways while implementing these key principles & themes, I trust that will prevent *some* conflicts in the local Church. But when conflicts do arise, let us be very faithful to act in the Spirit, not in the flesh.

James 3:13-18 — Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic (ἐπίγειος, ψυχική, δαιμονιώδης). 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A great example from David Brainerd:

I cared not where or how I lived, or what hardships I went through, so that I could but gain souls for Christ. While I was asleep I dreamed of these things, and when I awoke the first thing I thought of was this great work. All my desire was for the conversion of the heathen, and all my hope was in God.

I want that to be my passion today—and every day.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

After preaching two 50-minute sermons last night at the Santa Monica 3rd St. promenade — Luke 19 on Zaccheus and Titus 3 on the gospel — I have (re)learned some valuable lessons:

1. We must not look for physical results to gauge our effectiveness.

If so, I would have quit long ago. But I go with the promises of Scripture that God goes with the faithful proclamation of His word to accomplish His sovereign purposes. God promises to use it, so I must be faithful to herald the Word.

2. We must proclaim the full gospel fearlessly.

It is easy to shrink back when floods of people (strangers!) are walking at you. It's easy to omit the sin part, the hell part, the judgment part, the holiness of God part, the repentance part, the discipleship and obedience to Christ part, etc. But this would be unfaithful to the Word of God and this would not be the biblical gospel of Christ if I eliminated these elements from my preaching to make it more palatable.

3. We must let the scoffers scoff knowing they're blinded by sin and doing what sinners (can only) do without the sovereign enabling of the Holy Spirit.

Many walked by and mocked. Many reviled the Word. Many loudly proclaimed they are going to hell in order to party with friends. Some walked right up in front of me and the pulpit and gave me this bewildered and scoffing look while I proclaimed God's Word. But this is what sinners do. The natural man cannot receive the Word of God—how can I expect anything different until God the Spirit sovereignly draws His people to repentance and saving faith.

4. We must preach knowing that God is glorified in the saving of sinners and in the hardening of rebels; and each proclamation of the Gospel is never in vain.

I don't know how God is going to use what we preached last night. I may never know till I get to heaven. But praise God I preach for His glory and not for my glory (or else, again, I would have quit long ago!).

Please Pray For:
1. Issam - a Muslim man that I shared the gospel with last night who stood and listened to my entire sermon from Titus 3. I gave him the entire gospel and urged him to leave Islam and embrace Jesus as the only Savior and LORD.

2. A father and his family from Saudi Arabia - the father was mocking to his sons as they walked by and I was able to approach them and share the gospel with them and confront them on their self-idolatry and false-worship. Pray that God uses His Word to convict their hearts.

3. Pray for a few Roman Catholic men (Charlie and John) - they clearly were working their way to heaven by their good deeds outweighing the bad. And I told them "that's a a bad bet". I gave them the entire gospel, gave them Scriptures and even read the Word so they could see the verses from the text. Pray that God opens their heart to repent and believe.

4. Pray for the many who walked by and mocked. Pray that God would glorify Himself by bringing conviction to their hearts and that they would embrace Jesus as Savior and Lord and repent of sin.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tonight I'm preaching Luke 19:1-10 on the conversion of Zaccheus and have been consumed with the free and saving grace of Christ as revealed in the saving of such a sinner like Zaccheus—and me.

Whitefield also preached on this text and he said this:

Here then, as through a glass, we may see the doctrine of free grace evidently exemplified before us. Here was not fitness in Zaccheus. He was a Publican, chief among the Publicans; not only so, but rich, and came to see Christ only out of curiosity: but sovereign grace triumphs over all. And if we do God justice, and are effectually wrought upon, we must acknowledge there was no more fitness in us than in Zaccheus; and, had not Christ prevented us by his call, we had remained dead in trespasses and sins, and alienated from the divine life, even as others. "Jesus looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for this day I must abide at thy house."

Thus it is the great God brings home his children. He calls them by name, by his word or providence; he speaks to them also by his spirit. Hereby they are enabled to open their hearts, and are made willing to receive the King of glory. For Zaccheus's sake, let us not entirely condemn people that come under the word, out of no better principle than curiosity. Who knows but God may call them? It is good to be where the Lord is passing by. May all who are now present out of this principle, hear the voice of the Son of God speaking to their souls, and so hear that they ma live! Not that men ought therefore to take encouragement to come out of curiosity. For perhaps a thousand more, at other times, came too see Christ out of curiosity, as well as Zaccheus, who were not effectually called by his grace. I only mention this for the encouragement of my own soul, and the consolation of God's children, who are too apt to be angry with those who do not attend on the word out of love to God: but let them alone. Brethren, pray for them. How do you know but Jesus Christ may speak to their hearts! A few words from Christ, applied by his spirit, will save their souls. "Zaccheus, says Christ, make haste and come down. And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully."

Here is Whitefield's plea to his hearers to repent & believe...

Make haste then, O sinners, make haste, and come by faith to Christ. Then, this day, even this hour, nay, this moment, if you believe, Jesus Christ shall come and make his eternal abode in your hearts. Which of you is made willing to receive the King of glory? Which of you obeys his call, as Zaccheus did? Alas! why do you stand still? How know you, whether Jesus Christ may ever call you again?

Come then, poor, guilty sinners; come away, poor, lost, undone publicans: make haste, I say, and come away to Jesus Christ. The Lord condescends to invite himself to come under the filthy roofs of the houses of your souls. Do not be afraid of entertaining him; he will fill you with all peace and joy in believing. Do not be ashamed to run before the multitude, and to have all manner of evil spoke against you falsely for his sake: one sight of Christ will make amends for all. Zaccheus was laughed at; and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution. But what of that? Zaccheus is now crowned in glory; as you also shall shortly be, if you believe on, and are reproached for Christ's sake.

Do not, therefore, put me off with frivolous excuses: there's no excuse can be given for your not coming to Christ. You are lost, undone, without him; and if he is not glorified in your salvation, he will be glorified in your destruction; if he does not come and make his abode in your hearts, you must take up an eternal abode with the devil and his angels. O that the Lord would be pleased to pass by some of you at this time! O that he may call you by his Spirit, and make you a willing people in this day of his power! For I know my calling will not do, unless he, by his efficacious grace, compel you to come in.

O that you once felt what it is to receive Jesus Christ into your hearts! You would soon, like Zaccheus, give him everything. You do not love Christ, because you do not know him; you do not come to him, because you do not feel your want of him: you are whole, and not broken hearted; you are not sick, at least not sensible of your sickness; and, therefore, no wonder you do not apply to Jesus Christ, that great, that almighty physician. You do not feel yourselves lost, and therefore do not seek to be found in Christ. O that God would wound you with the sword of his Spirit, and cause his arrows of conviction to stick deep in your hearts! O that he would dart a ray of divine light into your souls! For if you do not feel yourselves lost without Christ, you are of all men most miserable: your souls are dead; you are not only an image of hell, but in some degree hell itself: you carry hell about with you, and you know it not.

O that I could see some of you sensible of this, and hear you cry out, "Lord, break this hard heart; Lord, deliver me from the body of this death; draw me, Lord, make me willing to come after thee; I am lost; Lord, save me, or I perish!" Was this your case, how soon would the Lord stretch forth his almighty hand, and say, Be of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid? What a wonderful calm would then possess your troubled souls! Your fellowship would then be with the Father and the Son: your life would be hid with Christ in God.

Remember your salvation story and let us be glad in the reality that Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

“Repentance is the vomit of the soul.”

—Thomas Brooks
A favorite song of mine from Aaron Keyes. Taken from the words of Psalm 62.

Find Rest O My Soul in God Alone

My soul finds rest in God alone, My Rock and my salvation,
A fortress strong against my foes, And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse, And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness, I’ll look to Him who hears me.

O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I’ll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.

I’ll set my gaze on God alone,
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul,
And He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.

O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah! hallelujah!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The difference between hell and sin.

God made hell. God did not make sin. Sin is the devil’s creature. Remember just how vile and wicked sin is. Every sin is shameful and reproaches the name of God. From the lest of the sins, to the most hidden of all sins, to the most inconsequential of sins, to the most common of all sins, and to the most culturally acceptable of all sins, let us remember that sin is falling short of God’s glory. The devil is the father of sin.

Yet remember that God made and created hell. God owns hell. God is present in hell to personally crush those who disbelieve in Jesus Christ. Remember, the torments of hell are only a burden to the sinner, not to God.

God made hell. The torments of hell are only a burden to the sinner but sin is a burden to God.

Let us remind ourselves as believers to be holy men and women in all we do. Let us hate our sin and strive to mortify it with everything we’ve got.

Recall what a Christian of old once said: Sin is the most hateful thing—for it is worse than the torments of Hell.

Yes, my readers, sin is serious.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Regarding holiness of life...

"It is beyond all question that this eminent piety is before everything else in preparation for the duties of the sacred office. It is before talents, or learning, or study, or favorable circumstances, or skill in working, or power in sermonizing. It is needed to give character and tone and strength to all these, and to every other part of the work. Without this elevated spirituality nothing else will be of much account in producing a permanent and satisfactory ministry. All else will be like erecting a building without a foundation. . . . Oh that at the very beginning this could be deeply impressed upon the hearts of young ministers! . . . Without it success in the holy office is not to be expected."

-- Thomas Murphy

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I posted this a while ago, but I found it again on my computer and felt it was worthy of a "re-post":

We have fallen prey to Decisionism: “Evangelical Bultmannism”

A key evangelical belief is that people must be called to make a decision concerning the claims of Christ. Thus when people decide that Jesus Christ has indeed lived and died for them, they are often said to have made a decision for Christ. There are plenty of biblical grounds for challenging people to repent and believe the gospel. That is not in dispute. The important thing is that the decision should be a decision to place one’s trust alone in the Christ who has done all that is necessary for us to be accepted by God and to inherit eternal life.

So, what is my problem with decisions, and why am I so provocative as to refer to decisionism as ‘evangelical Bultmannism’? I do this because I have experienced and witnessed the effects of calls ‘to decide for Jesus’ that have been made when almost no reason has been given why anyone should so decide. Rudolf Bultmann applied his existential philosophy in such a way that for him the historicity of the events of the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth is not the central issue. What matters is the telling of the story, which may or may not be historically factual, and the way this story helps us in our self-understanding and authentic decisions in life. While not endorsing Bultmann’s philosophy and historical scepticism, there are evangelicals who are so earnest in calling for decisions for Jesus that they seem to forget to tell people why they should decide for Jesus. I remember listening to a speaker at an evangelistic meeting whose only mention of the death of Jesus was a passing reference in his closing prayer. I was acting as an advisor to follow up on the after-meeting counselling. I spoke to a young couple who had heard the talk, gone out to the front, been ‘counselled’ and then brought to me. They obviously had not heard any gospel in either the address or the counselling. They had no idea about being justified by faith in the doing and dying of Christ. It seems that the decision can become everything. People are exhorted to turn to Christ, to receive Christ, to ask Jesus into their hearts, and the like, even when they have been given no substantial idea at all of who Jesus was and what he has done to save us.

It should be obvious how gospel-centered hermeneutics addresses this prevalent evangelical approach. Preaching the gospel does not consist in a few generalities followed by an impassioned plea for a decision. To preach the gospel is to state clearly who Jesus is and what he has done. People must be urged to make a decision in the light of the historical events of Jesus and what God says about these events. They must be urged to repent and believe, to put their whole faith and trust in Jesus as the one who has done what is necessary for us to be saved. The problem is not in the call for a decision. The error of decisionism is to dehistoricize the gospel and to make the decision the saving event. To that extent it expresses an existential hermeneutic

—Graeme Goldsworthy, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics, 174
The proper starting point for humility begins outside ourselves. Humility is forged in the fires of an unmistakably clear vision of God, a biblically rich and abiding perspective of the cross, and a robust sense of man's desperate sin-condition.

—Jerry Wragg

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

From David Livingstone's journal as he traveled (on foot!) across Africa:

"I place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in relation to the kingdom of Christ. If anything will advance the interests of the kingdom, it shall be given away or kept, only as by giving or keeping it I shall most promote the glory of him to whom I owe all my hopes in time and eternity."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Listen to this sermon on Psalm 109 — "How to deal with slander and verbal accusations in a God-glorifying way" here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Just got back from preaching four times at the Santa Clarita Men’s Retreat up in N. California. We had a wonderful time of fellowship, white-water rafting down the American river, fellowship, camping, and teaching around God’s Word. They called me to preach four sermons. Here they are with the audio links below:

1. Be a man who knows who your God is — Psalm 99
2. Be a man who really knows how to repent — Psalm 51
3. Be a man who leads at home — Psalm 78
4. Be a man of integrity — Psalm 101

May God continue to use His Word to challenge and change His men and conform us more into the image of Christ.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pray for me as I preach God's Word four times at the SCBC men's conference. My four sermon topics include:

1. Be a man who knows God — Psalm 99
2. Be a man who knows how to repent — Psalm 51
3. Be a man who knows how to lead in the home — Psalm 78
4. Be a man who knows how to live with integrity — Psalm 101

I covet your prayers.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

From George Whitefield as he proclaimed the gospel of Christ to the unsaved.

If you laugh at me, I know Jesus smiles. I cannot force a cry when I will; the Lord Jesus Christ be praised, "I am free from the blood of you all": if you are damned for want of conversion, remember you are not damned for want of warning. Thousands that have not the gospel preached to them, may say, Lord, we never heard what conversion is; but you are gospel-proof; and if there is any deeper place in hell than other, God will order a gospel despising Methodist to be put there. You will have dreadful torments; to whom so much is given, much will be required. How dreadful to have minister after minister, preacher after preacher, say, "Lord God, I preached, but they would not hear." Think of this, professors, and God make you possessors.

From an old hymn:

Lay your deadly 'doing' down,
Down at Jesus' feet.
Stand in Him, in Him alone,
Gloriously complete

Have you laid your 'deadly doing' down?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Here is a link to a sermon titled: the glory of God in missions by Paul Washer. It marvelously weaves the utter sovereignty of God in "making His Name great among the nations" and the responsibility that we have to go and proclaim the glories of Christ among the nations so that God receives all glory.

Download Paul Washer's sermon here.
Subscribe to RSS Feed Follow me on Twitter!