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Archive for February, 2015

When did churches start turning the lights down during the musical portion of the worship service, and why? Bob Kauflin answers that question here. It’s worth a read.

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End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James Swanson is an excellent book. Swanson primarily traces the actions of President Kennedy and his killer Lee Harvey Oswald before and after the President’s murder in Dallas, November 22nd, 1963. The book is well-written and it’s a good read (you’ll want to keep reading and not put it down). Swanson provides some interesting details about the creation of the “Camelot” myth that still frames the Kennedy years (his wife Jackie wanted to make sure that John’s presidency was remembered in a certain way – “one brief shining moment” that will never be repeated – which a compliant, fawning press corp made certain). Even if you aren’t particularly interested in history, you’ll enjoy this book and you’ll learn a lot.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on John 4:20-24 (for a second time). Here is a one-sentence summary of my sermon: Worshiping in spirit and truth applies to how we worship as a church and as individuals – taking God, His Word, and His people seriously.

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When he was young, John MacArthur made a commitment to know the Word of God. More than fifty years later, it’s clear to see that his desire has been fulfilled. He has been pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California since 1969, where he has faithfully preached and taught God’s Word and provided an example of excellent shepherding.

For the first time, a book-length biography has been produced by noted historian Iain Murray, and it’s excellent! Those who’ve listened to and read MacArthur are aware of some of his background and life, but Murray goes a bit deeper. In doing so, he provides answers to who MacArthur is, why he does what he does, and what motivates him.

God has used MacArthur, and the ministries, organizations, material, and individuals that have come directly or indirectly from him, tremendously in our generation. His influence will extend to every generation until the return of Christ, in my opinion. Murray captures that influence well.

MacArthur continues to be a great example and encouragement to me and many other pastors because of his faithfulness to the Word of God. He’s unwavering in his commitment to preaching the Word in a verse-by-verse manner. He’s a model and a mentor to pastors that he hasn’t even met – that’s rare today.

Read Murray’s book and listen to MacArthur’s preaching and read what he’s written. All will be worth your while.

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Worship-image

This morning I had the privilege of preaching on John 4:20-24. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Worship – focusing on and responding to God – that God requires is heartfelt and regulated by the Word of God.

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As we near St. Valentine’s Day, these thoughts by Paul Tripp are especially important. He gives us a description of love based on God’s Word. It’s well worth reading and thinking about. You can read it here.

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Spurgeon on Preaching

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Ah, my dear friends, we want nothing in these times for revival in the world but the simple preaching of the gospel. This is the great battering ram that shall dash down the bulwarks of iniquity. This is the great light that shall shatter the darkness. We need not that men should be adopting new schemes and new plans. We are glad of the agencies and assistances which are continually arising; but after all, the true Jerusalem blade, the sword that can cut to the piercing asunder of joints and marrow, is preaching the Word of God. We must never neglect it, never despise it. The age in which the pulpit is despised, will be an age in which gospel truth will cease to be honored…God forbid that we should begin to depreciate preaching. Let us still honor it; let us look to it as God’s ordained instrumentality, and we shall yet see in the world a repetition of great wonders wrought by the preaching in the name of Jesus Christ.

(Preaching! Man’s Privilege and God’s Power sermon of Nov. 25th, 1860)

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I had the privilege this morning of preaching on John 4:15-26. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Drinking the living water Jesus offers means realizing your thirst, recognizing and confessing your sin, worshiping God, and believing in Jesus.

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I just finished reading The Hole In Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung, and I have to say I loved it. DeYoung writes well and his book is brief (150 pages including questions for each chapter), which makes it a quick, but excellent read.

Within the last ten to fifteen years, there has been a resurgence of emphasis on the gospel. That’s a good thing and there’s nothing wrong with it considering what the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. But some, like DeYoung, think the pendulum has swung too far. Yes, God has delivered us from the penalty of sin (which is called justification), but He’s also in the process of delivering us from the power of sin (which is called sanctification). According to DeYoung, passion for the gospel has overshadowed the pursuit of godliness and holiness. He writes,

The hole in our holiness is that we really don’t care much about it. Passionate exhortation to pursue gospel-driven holiness is barely heard in most of our churches. It’s not that we don’t about sin or encourage decent behavior. Too many sermons are basically self-help seminars on becoming a better you. That’s moralism, and it’s not helpful. Any gospel which says only what you must do and never announces what Christ has done is no gospel at all.So I’m not talking about getting beat up every Sunday for watching Sportscaster and driving an SUV. I’m talking about the failure of Christians, especially younger generations and especially those most disdainful of “religion” and “legalism,” to take seriously one of the great aims of our redemption and one of the required evidences of eternal life – our holiness.

J.C. Ryle, a nineteenth-century bishop of Liverpool, was right: “We must be holy, because this is one grand end and purpose for which Christ came into the world…Jesus is a complete Savior. He does not merely take away the guilt of a believer’s sin, he does more – he breaks its power (1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; Heb. 12:10).” My fear is that we rightly celebrate, and in some quarters rediscover, all that Christ has saved us from, we are giving little thought and making little effort concerning all that Christ has saved us to. Shouldn’t those most passionate about the gospel and God’s glory also be those most dedicated to the pursuit of godliness? I worry that there is an enthusiasm gap and no one seems to mind. (pp. 10-11. Italics in original.)

This is a good book on an important topic, and well worth your time. God’s grace is amazing, but it doesn’t stop with forgiveness; holiness is included. I’m with DeYoung in saying we need to close that hole.

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Month in Review

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In January…

began reading through the Bible again this year (this time in the English Standard Version, and out loud together with Karen!). We’re using the Literary Study Bible.

We rooted for the Oregon Ducks as they beat Florida State 59-20 in the Rose Bowl, and, sadly, watched them lose to the Ohio State Buckeyes 42-20 in the championship game.

We loved the movie “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” Very well done with an excellent ending.

We ate lots of good chili and were entertained at the First Annual Chili Cook-Off and Talent Show at Cross Creek Bible Church.

began a series in the adult Sunday School called “Issues Facing the American Church.” So far, we’ve answered the question of “Is Jesus the only Savior?” (The answer is “yes,” without hesitation!) The exclusivity of Christ is an issue because the world despises and denies it. The second question we’re currently answering is “Is faith in Jesus Christ necessary for salvation?” (The answer is “yes,” without hesitation, again!)

finished reading America: Still the Best Hope by Dennis Prager. There are a large number of good ideas contained in the book. I don’t agree with everything Prager says, especially about theology, but the book is definitely worth a read.

I’m in “”one-derland” (if that’s how you spell it!). What’s that? I’ve been under two hundred pounds for two weeks, for the first time in a number of years!

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