Monthly Archives: May 2011

Do Not Be Anxious

Matthew 6:25 Therefore I tell you, do no be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, not about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

D.A. Carson comments:

Because transient earthly pleasures do not satisfy and do not last; because moral and spiritual vision is easily distorted and darkened, because a choice must be made between God and money, because the kingdom of God demands unswerving allegiance to its values, therefore do not worry, and in particular do not worry about mere things.

But let us consider a more subtle connection…. Jesus has been minimizing the ultimate significance of material possessions; and no doubt not a few among his hearers find themselves wondering “but what about necessities?”… Jesus answers that just as earthly possessions can become an idol which deposes God by becoming disproportionately important, so also can earthly needs become a source of worry which deposes God by fostering distrust.”

Seven Thoughts on Time Management

Some excellent thoughts from Doug Wilson. You can find the whole post here.

  1. The point is fruitfulness, not efficiency.
  2. Build a fence around your life, and keep that fence tended.
  3. Perfectionism paralyzes.
  4. Fill in the corners.
  5. Plod. Keep at it. Slow and steady wins the race.
  6. Take in more than you give out.
  7. Use and reuse. State and restate. Learn and relearn. Develop what you know. Cultivate what you have.

Why Do We Gather

The book of Hebrews instructs Christians not to neglect meeting together (10:25). The Christian community immediately following the departure of Christ established the tradition of gathering at least once each week–on Sunday morning–to encourage one another and worship by means of hearing the word, singing psalms and hymns, praying, and participating in baptism and communion. So as followers of Christ we have it both as command and tradition that we should gather regularly for worship.

We can’t recapture all the words that were taught in those early churches. No doubt they were directed towards the unique concerns and shortcomings of the early church (as evidenced by the writing of the epistles), and no doubt the teaching varied in its “flavor” due to variations in the education of those who taught, the variety of gifts of those who taught, and their various interests and vocations, since many who taught would not have been vocational Bible teachers.

But it seems clear that their gathering was to encourage one another. Their gathering was an expression of their devotion to apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. In other words, the clear example and teaching of the New Testament is that Christians gathered for their own good. To be built up in doctrine and in love. To be encouraged in faith and perseverance.

This is all very important to keep in mind when pastors sit down to begin planning and designing their community’s Sunday morning gathering. The goal of the gathering is primarily for the building up of the community of believers. This starting point trickles down to the music that is chosen, the text that is preached, whether a pastor will even choose a specific text to be preached, the videos that are shown (or not), and the prayers that are prayed. This starting point will be reflected in the illustrations that are used in preaching, the doctrines that are taught (or not), and the explanations that occur between the various elements of the service. In all of this planning, the building up of the community of faith must remain central.

Adoring Christ: Communion with God

This lesson called Adoring Christ: Communion with God,  taught by Dr. Tim Keller is from a class entitled Preaching Christ in a Post-Modern World, co-taught by Keller and Dr. Edmund Clowney.

The lesson is an excellent examination of the difference in operation between personal graces and public gifts. A preacher may appear to excel in public gifts and yet turn up quite shallow in regards to the grace at work in his heart. Keller calls the preacher to taste of Christ in experience before preaching Christ in public.

Keller says, “The Puritans knew about the difference between the operation of your gifts and the operation of your graces. For you to know the difference is very, very important”

Jonathan Edwards in a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13 says:

“Many bad men have had these gifts. Many will say at the last day, “Lord Lord have we not prophesied in thy name? And in the name cast our devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matt 7:21) Such as these, who have had… gifts of the Spirit, but no special and saving [work] of the Spirit? Gifts of the Spirit are excellent things, but they are not things which are inherent in the nature, as true grace and holiness are…. gifts of the Spirit are, as it were, precious jewels, which a man carries about him. But true grace in the heart is, as it were, the preciousness of the heart, by which. The soul itself becomes a precious jewel…The Spirit of God may produce effects on many things to which he does not communicate himself. So the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters, but not so as to impart himself to the waters. But when the Spirit by his ordinary influences bestows saving grace, he therein imparts himself to the soul…. Yea, grace is as it were the holy nature of the Spirit of God imparted to the soul.”

One last note, this lesson includes an excellent “mini-sermon” on Jesus first miracle at the wedding in Cana (John 2), in which Keller argues that “Jesus is the wine” and we must taste of him and experience him as satisfying.

A Radical Optimism

May our optimism be informed by the hope that attends the reality-embracing freedom of the cross. Sinners in a sinful world redeemed from the curse of sin and awaiting the glories of a sinless existence. Optimism is beyond appropriate.

“Yes and I will rejoince, for  I know that through your prayers and the help of the SPirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”    II Corinthians 4:1

“How do you handle discouragement?  … Some of us can become impatient, some of us may give in to murmuring, some of us may opt for some form of self-medication in hopes of just drowning the discouragement out.  What kept the apostle Paul from throwing in the towel was the mercy of God.  When you know you deserved death, and you get life, it changes everything.  Paul never got over having experienced the mercy of God in his life – of being able to get what he didn’t deserve.  That gives Paul the power to persevere.  Paul’s secret is that he never lost sight of it.  He never got over God’s mercy, and throughout his life it changed everything. Mercy was Paul’s medicine.”

-Rev. Paul Beck, preaching here

HT: Gavin Ortlund

The Return of the King

Mike Wittmer writes:

The Return of the King

Harold Camping received a lot of attention for declaring that Judgment Day would begin around dinner time on May 21, 2011. Few people believed him—even his receptionist admitted that “no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen” (Matthew 24:36)—and generally his prediction was panned by everyone. The secular world had much fun at Camping’s expense, planning apocalyptic survival parties and replaying R.E.M.’s rock song, “It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine).” Even those who interviewed him didn’t take him seriously. One anchor closed her segment on Camping with a knowing smirk, “Let’s hope he’s wrong.”

        That’s where all who love Jesus must disagree. We are the first to say that Camping’s aim and method were wrong. No one can predict when Jesus will return, and Camping’s convoluted and implausible argument for May 21, 2011 was not particularly promising. We were right to declare that Camping was wrong, but we also should have wished that he wasn’t.

        Christians should feel a twinge of sadness every night when we turn in to bed, for we have lived another day without the return of our King. The Lord’s Prayer includes the line, “May your Kingdom come soon” (Luke 11:2). As far-fetched as Camping’s prediction was, his spectacular miss should prompt us to reassess our deepest longings. Will we only scoff at his delusion, or will we also remember that we should want our Lord to return?

        Perhaps we aren’t excited for Jesus’ return because we’re too easily pleased with the present. As one preacher said, “It’s hard to pray, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ when your kingdom has had a good year.” Thank God for the good life you presently enjoy, but don’t allow his current blessings to distract you from the Christian’s prayer: “Our Lord, come!” (1 Corinthians 16:22).

Ed Stetzer on Rock Star Pastors

This post is far from recent, but it really is good at diagnosing problems that are present in varying shades. These problems are most easily identified amongst “rock star pastors” but are also readily identifiable in every pastor, regardless of the crowd’s size.

Stetzer identifies 4 problems:
  1. Personal Imbalance
  2. Hindering Community
  3. Approval Addiction
  4. Hindering the Church’s Future
And he proposes 4 fixes:
  1. Focus on Equipping
  2. Take a Sabbath
  3. Adjust with the Economic Time
  4. Preach the Glory of God