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This morning I had the privilege of preaching my final sermon as Pastor of Cross Creek Bible Church on Romans 1:16-17. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: We are not ashamed of the gospel – believe it, preach it, and live out it’s consequences for God’s glory and our good!

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September 3rd, 2017 will be my last day as Pastor of Cross Creek Bible Church. I announced it to the church about a month ago, but thought I’d give it a slightly wider audience here.

I have a strong sense that God is calling me into a ministry that focuses more on teaching and training. We don’t know what God has in store for us or where we’ll be next. We do know, without a doubt, that we can trust God to guide and provide for us.  I’m looking at schools, organizations, or staff positions in churches which would give me the ability and opportunity to teach and train.

It’s been an honor and privilege to serve as pastor at Cross Creek. Karen and I have nothing but love and affection for the congregation and leadership of the church. The Lord has used them to sharpen, encourage, challenge, and strengthen us, for which we’re incredibly grateful. We’re sad and, at the same time, excited about what God has for us in the next chapter of our lives.

If you would, please pray for Cross Creek during the transition to a new pastor. And if you would, please for Karen and me – that God would guide and provide, and that we wouldn’t be anxious or fearful. Thank you!

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If you don’t understand how sinful you are, you’ll never understand how gracious and merciful God is.

Greg Koukl, founder of Stand To Reason, asks us to participate in a thought-experiment to prove the point.

Have you read the Ten Commandments recently? Take a quick personal moral inventory by asking yourself these questions:

  • Have you ever given allegiance to anything else over God in your life?
  • Have you ever used anything as an object of worship or veneration?
  • Have you ever used God’s name in a vain or vulgar fashion?
  • Have you worshipped God on a consistent basis?
  • Have you disobeyed or dishonored your parents even once?
  • Have you murdered anyone, or even had harsh thoughts about someone (see Matt. 5:22)?
  • Have you had sex with someone other than your spouse, or even thought about it (see Matt. 5:28)?
  • Have you taken something that wasn’t yours?
  • Have you lied?
  • Have you hungered after something that didn’t belong to you?

Sound tough? It is. This is God’s Law. These are God’s requirements. Even in grammar school, 60% is a flunking grade, yet who among us has not violated each of these commandments many times, at least in spirit?

Reducing the Ten Commandments to only two doesn’t help, by the way. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40). Yet even the best of us violate these “minimal” requirements daily.

In your conversations, use both the Law and the Gospel. God’s Law is the mirror that shows us our need for the Savior. In Paul’s words, each of us is “shut up under sin” (Gal. 3:22). Our mouths have been closed, and we all have become accountable to God (Rom. 3:19). Saved by our own goodness? The Law gives us no hope other than Jesus’ righteousness.

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World chose The Prodigal Church: A Gentle Manifesto Against the Status Quo as one of it’s four top books in the category of accessible theology. Here’s a quote from the book’s author Jared Wilson:

Grace is what makes Christianity unique among all world religions and philosophies…None of us would have come up with the concept of divine unmerited favor. None of us would have invented the notion that we cannot be good enough or smart enough, that we could not somehow become gods ourselves.

Here are another few good quotes:

If the purpose of worship is to feel good, we stop worshipping God.

Preaching even a ‘positive’ practical message with no gospel-centrality amounts to preaching the law…Don’t treat the Bible as an instruction manual. Treat it as a life preserver.

What you win them with is what you win them to.

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As a pastor, I want to have some knowledge of what’s going on with the media and technology used during our worship services, but I don’t necessarily want to be an expert (I might be asked to run the sound booth!).

Lights, Camera, Worshipby Greg Zschomler is a crash-course in media and technical arts (as they’re called). Brief, easy-to-read chapters on subjects such as video projection, video production, graphics design, developing a web presence, social media, strategic stage lighting, theatrical production, costume and makeup design, audio reinforcement essentials, worship planning, and the building of volunteer tech teams.

I knew there was a lot involved in all of these areas, but I had no idea how much. There are a number of good suggestions in the book which could be easily implemented. Before reading it, I was concerned that the material would only be applicable to large churches, but not small churches (like the one I pastor). Those concerns were addressed with the realization that the basic principles apply everywhere.

Lights, Camera, Worship! is a good and necessary book. Tolls lege!

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Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands is a fantastic book. Paul David Tripp has made the case that all of us as Christians, and not just “professionals,” are able to counsel others. The subtitle puts it well: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change. 

Near the end of the book, he says,

Two things always come to mind as I finish teaching this material. First, I am hit with the utter simplicity of biblical personal ministry. It is not a secret technology for the intervention elite, but a simple call to every one of God’s children to be part of what God is doing in the lives of others. It is living in honest, humble, redemptive community with others, loving as Christ loved, and going beyond the casual to really know people. It is loving others enough to speak the truth to them, helping them to see themselves in the mirror of God’s Word. And it is standing with others, helping them to do what God has called them to do. It is basically just a call to biblical friendship! It is almost embarrassingly simple: Love people. Know them. Speak truth into their lives. Help them do what God has called them to do. (Italics in original)

It took longer than normal to read this book because there is so much information in it, and so much to consider. It should be used as a textbook if it isn’t already.

At it’s foundation, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands is a book about discipleship. It answers the question of how we can help each other grow in godliness. Read this book. It may take you awhile, but read it!

 

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What can someone from 1592 say about preaching that would be relevant to someone who preaches in 2016? Quite a lot, actually!

William Perkins (1558-1602), a preacher at Great St. Andrews church in London, was concerned about the poor quality of preaching in English churches. As a result, he wrote this book to counteract that trend and, at the same time, give instruction in good preaching (which he called prophesying). There are two main sections in The Art of Prophesying: Preaching itself and the call to ministry.

Overall, I found this book to be very edifying. It’s a good reminder of the basics of preaching and the preparation required, both exegetical and personal. The Art of Prophesying is a encouragement to me to continue using what came to be known as Perkins’ style of preaching: “read and explain.” This book would be helpful to those who don’t preach regularly, also, because it shows you what to look for in a preacher and a sermon. Tolle lege!

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