Thursday, May 27, 2010

Christ to our rescue

I am good at it
a skill
I don't think I ever
had to learn.
It resides in my
It is an anti-social
but it shapes my
I am able to look at people
and not see
My craving
reduces them to
vehicles that deliver or
obstacles in the way
of what I want.
My only
for me is that
You are not like me.
You are
and You are
delivering me
from me.

- "You are not like me" a poem by Paul Tripp, BDH, p. 162

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Owen - free of charge

Last Sunday I taught through John Owen's masterwork "Of Temptation" to help us in our own journey toward greater sanctification. Along the way I mentioned that Owen's three books on sin and temptation have recently been updated in a helpful way to make them more readable to a modern audience, yet retaining all the original substance.

Today I discovered that this modern reprint of Owen's works on sin and temptation is available on-line for free. You can find it here.

HT: Wade Talley

Friday, May 21, 2010

Want to go to jail?

One of the most overlooked and neglected but ripe mission fields in Minot is the Ward County Jail. For many years a handful of faithful men from Trinity have led a Thursday evening Bible study with inmates in order to point them to hope in Jesus.
Recently, Matt Carr informed me of their present need for men to help out. He writes,
"In order to hold a Bible study for the inmates, we need to have two male volunteers. We would love to find more Bible study leaders, but even if you don't feel equipped to lead, we'll take you! Having the second volunteer means the difference between being able to have the Bible study or having to cancel. If we have to cancel consistently, we will lose our time-slot, and other groups (including some representing non-Christian religions) would love to have it.
I have been a 'second man' for several years now, and my experiences attending jail Bible studies have been helpful in my own walk with Christ. Through the studies presented by the leaders, I have learned a lot. Through discussions with the inmates, I have grown in my ability to communicate what I believe. During the time I have participated in this ministry, I have seen many seeds planted and have even seen some take root and grow."
If you have questions or interest in this kingdom opportunity, please contact Matt (727-6808) or Dave Steen (839-3267).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Being godly hearers

Last Sunday I walked my Sunday School class through Richard Baxter's wise directions for profitably listening to the Word of God preached. Today, I came across a quote on the same topic worth sharing from Calvin's Preaching by THL Parker:

"The task of the congregation, as Calvin portrays it, is a continuous life-long battle against their own rebelliousness, apathy and arrogance in favor of God's teaching and call. The members of the congregation, no less than the preacher, need continually to pray, 'Come, Holy Spirit!'" (p. 53).

What a blessing to get to preach weekly to a congregation which delights in that task!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Can a person be a Christian Muslim?

In Matthew 10:34-39 Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

Nevertheless, this video reveals a new, very influential trend in missions:

Following Jesus from The Global Conversation on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Broken-Down House

In you've been following my posts in the past few weeks, you will have noticed many quotes and references made to Paul Tripp's book Broken-Down House. I read a lot of books - and I've read a lot of Paul's books (all of which are very good) - but I think this may be his best. In fact, this may be the single best book on helping us come to terms with our fallen condition and applying the healing power of the gospel to it that I've ever read. With that said, if you only have time for one extra-biblical book this year, make it Broken-Down House.
Here's Tripp, himself, describing what the book's about:

Friday, May 14, 2010


Are you waiting for something? Are you waiting for a job offer, for your children to become more obedient or for your husband to become a Christian? Are you waiting for your body to feel better, for people to become as impassioned about your ministry niche as you are or for Prince Charming to finally ride into town and sweep you off your feet?

We're all waiting for something.

Paul Tripp helps us realize that our waiting is not lost on God. In fact, God is up to something good - something eternally important - in our waiting.

"Waiting is one of God's most powerful tools of grace. God doesn't just give us grace for the wait. The wait itself is a gift of grace. You see, waiting is not only about what you will receive at the end of the wait. Waiting is about what you will become as you wait.

Waiting is hard for us because we tie our hearts to other glories. We so often live for the glory of human acceptance, of personal achievement, of power and position, of possessions and places, and of comfort and pleasure. So, when God's glory requires that these things be witheld from us - things we look to for identity, meaning and purpose - we find waiting a grueling, burdernsome experience. Waiting means surrendering your glory....Waiting gives you opportunity to forsake the delusion of your own glory and rest in the God of awesome glory.

Waiting is not an interruption of God's plan. It is His plan. And you can know this as well: the Lord who has called you to wait is with you in your wait."

- Broken-Down House, pp. 117-119

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Modern Parables

Feel like watching a movie this weekend? Try a few of these parables from the Gospels recast in modern settings. Great fodder for family or small group discussion.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A chance to grow deeper

During my message on Sunday, I challenged the men of the church - especially the married men with children - to take the theological lead in the home. That includes going out of our way to be growing and learning at ever-deeper levels biblically and theologically.

Unlike many of our Christian forebears, we are virtually surrounded by resources to build ourselves up in our faith today. Some of the best are available for free on the internet through Reformed Theological Seminary, the school through which I'm currently furthering my own education. You can access a theological treasure trove to take you deeper in Christ and the Scriptures through RTS here.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Legalism defined

Tomorrow morning in Sunday School we're going to hear the nearly 400 year old voice of Jeremiah Burroughs point us away from earthly-mindedness. Toward the end of our time together, we're going to attempt to understand how a holy passion which flees earthly-mindedness through, sometimes, making strict lifestyle choices, is different from sinful legalism. This is an important matter because the two are often confused today in Christian circles. What is sinful legalism? Here's a definition for you to chew on:

Sinful legalism = striving to obey the law of God in order to find rest of soul rather than resting in Christ's accomplishment of the law on our behalf, and/or imposing extra-biblical lifestyle requirements on oneself and/or others in order to sense acceptance from God.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Satan's limitations

A quote from our Men's Theological Training group material really encouraged me last night. If you're a Christian, I hope it encourages you, too. It should also give us more incentive to share the gospel with the lost in our world.

"The only weapon the devil can use [against us] is our sin. Nobody goes to hell because they are oppressed by the devil or even possessed by the devil. Nobody goes to hell because they are harassed by the devil or get shot at by the devil or given halluncinations by the devil. These are all smoke-screens to hide the one deadly power in Satan's artillery, namely, unforgiven sin. The only reason anybody goes to hell is because of their own sin. And all Satan can do is fight like hell to keep you sinning and to keep you away from the One Who forgives sin."

- John Piper, "Jesus Is Able To Help Those Who Are Tempted," on-line sermon at

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Boring faithfulness to the glory of God

It's Spring and that means - mission trip mailings! This time of year, many of our mailboxes are inundated with requests for prayer and money from young Christians heading to the four corners of the earth this summer on some mission trip. Many of the trips might be truly developmental, gospel-oriented and helpful to national churches. I hope they are. But, personally, I'd trade fifty, geared up twenty year olds heading out to save the world in two weeks for one twenty year old satisfied with staying home in order to humbly, quietly serve in his or her local church long term.

Yes, we need missionaries, but I can't help but wonder if what we need even more are young people commited to showing up for church each Sunday, eager to serve those around them in quiet, gospel-driven ways with no fanfare. That's the stuff the Kingdom of God is made of.

Kevin DeYoung explores this theme further in this article.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Our childrens' darkness

Last week, as I began preaching on 'Wise Parenting' from Proverbs, I talked about how wise parents understand their children from a biblical perspective - which includes coming to grips with the painful fact that our children's hearts are not naturally good but extensively depraved (see Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:10ff., etc.).

Modern Americans practically, if not self-consciously, deny much biblical truth. Perhaps the chief doctrine most quickly denied is the natural depravity of our children. I recently came across a telling example of that in Dave Cullen's journalisitc re-telling of the worst school shooting in American history in his book Columbine. As we all remember, the question on everyone's lips following the massacre was 'Why? What influenced Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to commit such a crime?' Cullen writes:

"National polls taken shortly after the attack would identify all sorts of culprits contributing to the tragedy: violent movies, video games, Goth culture, lax gun laws, bullies and Satan. Eric did not make the list. Dylan didn't either. They were just kids. Something or someone must have led them astray."

- Dave Kullen, Columbine, p. 107

Without minimizing the very real influence of wicked, outside forces, most people - especially parents - insist on seeing people as morally neutral, blank slates whose direction in life for good or bad is largely or entirely influenced by external agents. Not only does the Bible tell a different story entirely, it does so for a crucial reason. Unless we help our children understand their inherent wickedness (due to the Fall), they will never utter Paul's cry in Romans 7:24, "Wretched man that I am, who will rescue me from this body of death?" And without such a painful realization, they will never feel the joyful liberation of v. 25, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" As painful as it is for us to face, the best gift we can give our children is a compassionately communicated but straight-forward assessment of their dark hearts. Only then will our gospel proclamation to them be meaningful, life-changing and God-glorifying.