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October 13, 2014

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to speak to a gathering of young adults from several churches across our city. I chose to speak about how any Christian (not only young adults) can make a church better and stronger. Here are some of the things I came up with: 7 things your church needs from you.

Your church needs you to…

…Be Humble

There is no character quality more important than humility. While humility does not come naturally to any of us, it can be learned, because here’s the thing: Humility isn’t a feeling or an attitude—it’s action. If you want to learn humility, you need to act humble. Here are 3 quick tips on becoming humble:

  • Find mature Christians who exemplify humility and spend time around them. Learn from them and learn to be like them.
  • Volunteer for the lowliest of tasks. Don’t ask to be in the public eye when you serve, but be content to stay in the back. Find joy in doing the lowliest jobs and do them when and where only Jesus will see.
  • Get to know Jesus. It was Jesus who said, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12). And it was Jesus who humbled himself the deepest and was exalted the highest.

…Prioritize Church

Every church has people who make the public gatherings of the church a low priority. These are the people who only come to church when it is convenient and who use any excuse to miss a day or miss a service. Every church desperately needs people who will make the public gatherings a top priority. Today is the day to begin elevating the importance of church in your life.

Let me give you two reasons:

  • First, you need your church. God made you part of your church for your good. You cannot do life on your own. You aren’t strong enough, you aren’t wise enough, you aren’t mature enough, you aren’t godly enough. Without the beautifully ordinary means of grace you encounter in the church, you won’t make it. Without the support of your brothers and sisters, you won’t make it.
  • Second, your church needs you. God made you part of your church for the good of others. 1 Peter 4 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” God has gifted you to be part of your church, and those gifts are to be used for the good of other people. So prioritize church as an expression of generosity toward others.

…Consider Giving God a Day

Why don’t you considering setting aside an entire day of the week and dedicating it to the Lord in a special way? We believe that the Old Testament law has been fulfilled in Christ, though there is some disagreement among Christians about the implications. But even if you believe that the Sabbath command is no longer binding on us, there is still value in learning from it.

It completely changes Sunday when you give the entire day to the Lord and his people. Now you’re not having to decide whether to take that class or join that club that meets Sunday afternoon. You’re not skipping church during exam time because you’ve got studying to do. You’re not leaving early to get home before the football game starts. Instead, you’re leaving behind all the cares of life, and even many of the joys of life, and dedicating an entire day to worship, to fellowship, and to serving others.

…Live Like a Christian All Week Long

It is easy enough to be a Christian at church, but then you get home. But then you go to work. But then you go to school. And then you’re surrounded by people acting ungodly, and even worse, you’re left along with your own thoughts and your own desires. Yet your church needs you to live like a Christian all week long.

Each of us faces different challenges and different temptations. But one key to living like a Christian all week long is spending time in Word and prayer every day. Make this a priority no matter how busy you are and no matter how crazy life seems. Make this something you do no matter how badly you’ve sinned and how little you feel like doing it. Pray day-by-day not only for yourself, but for your church. Take that membership directly and pray through it from A to Z, and then start over. Make your devotional life something you do not just for the good of yourself, but for the good of others.

October 13, 2014

Here are today’s Kindle deals, all of which are from Crossway: One with Christ by Marcus Peter Johnson ($0.99); Found in Him by Elyse Fitzpatrick ($0.99); He Who Gives Life by Graham Cole ($1.99); Engaging with the Holy Spirit by Graham Cole ($1.99).

Should Giving Always Be Kept Secret? - Randy Alcorn answers the question of whether giving should always be kept secret.

Cheating Video Poker - There is no real redeeming value in this article; it’s just plain interesting what people will do for greed. Also, it’s hard to feel sorry for casinos when people find ways to rip them off.

Relishing Baseball’s Postseason - Here’s Barnabas Piper on the joys of postseason baseball.

Reading As Spiritual Warfare - Redeemed Reader is a blog dedicated to reviewing books for kids, and they are featuring an interesting article about reading as spiritual warfare.

Activism in the Social Media Age - Clever.

Strange Fire Redux - John MacArthur is beginning a brief series looking back at Strange Fire one year later.

There is no idol like self. —Thomas Watson

Watson

October 12, 2014

For just a few minutes today, I’d like you to think about the things that matter most to you (which, I trust, are your relationships). And then let Michael Horton guide you via his new book Ordinary.

Think of the things that matter most to you. How do you measure your relationships? How do you “measure” your marriage, for example? When my wife and I talk about our relationship, we often have different takes on how things are going. Looking back over the course of our married years, we have seen many ways in which the Lord has bonded us together since our first year together. We can see steady growth and identify ways in which we’ve deepened in our relationship. But when we shift our focus to the short-term, the week-to-week, it becomes harder for us to get an accurate gauge on how we are doing. The extraordinary weekend retreat was memorable, but it’s those ordinary moments filled with seemingly insignificant decisions, conversations, and touches that matter most. This is where most of life is lived. The richest things in life are made up of more than Kodak moments.

Is it any different when you are raising children? The mantra among many parents today, especially dads, is “Quality Time.” But is that true? Think about all that happens in those mundane moments that are unplanned, unprogrammed, unscheduled, and unplugged. Nearly everything! Nicknames are invented, identities and relationships are formed. On the drive home from church, your child asks a question about the sermon that puts one more piece of the puzzle into place for an enduring faith. Everyone in the car benefits from the exchange.

I’ve used the “quality time” line before too, but it’s just an excuse. Can we really compensate for extended absence (even if we are physically present), missing the ordinary details of life, with a dream getaway or by laying out a thousand dollars to take the kids to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Any long-term relationship that wants to grow and be healthy needs those ordinary minutes, hours, days, months, and years. This is more than just enduring those moments passively. It requires engaging in intentional thought and effort as well as enjoyment.

Horton goes on to draw a comparison to the local church and the very ordinary Christian life, but I will have more to say about that in the near future.

October 11, 2014

I get my wife back today! Aileen has spent the last few days in Indianapolis to take in the 2014 True Woman conference. It sounds like she is having a great time, but I’ll be glad to have her back just in time for Thanksgiving (which, in Canada, we celebrate this weekend).

Here are today’s Kindle deals: Spiritual Warfare by Brian Borgman & Rob Ventura ($5.99); When God Weeps by Joni Eareckson Tada ($5.99); Hitler in the Crosshairs by Maurice Possley & John Woodbridge ($3.79); The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens ($3.99); Gifted Hands by Ben Carson ($3.99); Everyday Prayers by Scotty Smith ($1.99).

Here’s an interesting and quantified take on America’s Most Well-Spoken President - “We crunched the data on more than 600 presidential speeches and addresses to see how they changed over time, and had Bill Clinton’s speechwriter check the results. Our findings may surprise you.”

A Lens to the Front is a photo gallery from Iraq.

Thanks to Books at a Glance for sponsoring the blog this week. Sponsors help keep this site afloat by covering the costs associated with hosting and maintenance.

I always love to read Sinclair Ferguson on the Bible - “If Scripture is our final authority, exactly how reliable is it as the authority on which we should base the whole of our lives?”

The title of this one just about says it all: Let Your Dim, Sin-Stained Light Shine Before The World.

This article outlines one of the ways same-sex marriage will affect friendships. Esolen asks us to imagine a world in which the incest taboo is erased. In such a place, “You see a father hugging his teenage daughter as she leaves the car to go to school. The possibility flashes before your mind. The language has changed, and the individual can do nothing about it.”

Holiness is not the way to Christ. Christ is the way to holiness. —Adrian Rogers

Rogers

October 10, 2014

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays is sponsored by Frontline Missions. This is an amazing ministry that produces the Dispatches from the Front DVD series—a series I love. There will be 5 winners this week, and each of the winners will receive the complete collection of all 7 Dispatches from the Front DVDs.

CoversHere is what the ministry is all about:

Frontline’s key objective is to advance the Gospel, forming vibrant, Word-centered, disciple-making churches, especially in those regions of the world that have the least Light. We are driven by the same desire that animated the apostle Paul who said it was always his ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known (Romans 15:20). We pursue this goal by equipping Christians on the frontlines to reach their own people for Christ, by forming strategic partnerships with them, and by developing creative platforms in countries closed to traditional missions.

And here is the trailer for the most recent of the DVDs:

Enter to Win

Again, there are 5 prize packages to win. And all you need to do to enter the draw is to drop your name and email address in the form below. (If you receive this by email, you will need to visit challies.com to enter.)

Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday at noon.

October 10, 2014

We have a word for doing too little: lazy. We have a word for doing too much: busy. But we don’t have a word for whatever comes in between. Not a good one, anyway.

To say “I’m lazy” is to say “I have taken on too little.” To say “I’m busy” is to say “I have taken on too much.” But what word do we use when we have taken on just the right amount and are carefully balancing life’s responsibilities?

Laziness is a vice, the wallow of people who just don’t care. Busyness is a vice disguised as a virtue, the refuge of people who find their self-worth in activity and accomplishment. But what word describes the person who works hard, and works consistently, but who defines himself in more noble ways?

Lazy is a word of shame, as it should be. Busy is a word of pride, though it should not be. In truth, it is no more noble to be busy than to be lazy, because both are an egregious misuse of time and energy.

We need a word of virtue that fits in the space between busy and lazy. We need to use it, and we need to live it.

October 10, 2014

Here are a few new Kindle deals: Discovering the God Who Is by R.C. Sproul ($3.99); Still Growing by Kirk Cameron ($1.99); The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts ($3.49). And here are a couple that have just been published: New from GLH Publishing is The Gospel in Ezekiel by Thomas Guthrie ($0.99), and new from GCD Books is Called Together by Jonathan Dodson & Brad Watson ($3.99).

Follow Your Passion - Here’s why following your passion isn’t always a good idea.

Living with Ebola in West Africa - A sobering photo gallery from The Big Picture.

Glory Be to God - Jamie Brown has a free song for you. “As an Anglican, I was aware of the Te Deum being in our Book of Common Prayer, but as is the danger with most liturgical elements, I had gotten used to it.”

The Boring Parts - Nancy Guthrie tells us the best thing about the boring parts of the Bible.

The Key to Radical Generosity - The key to the best kind of generosity: God doesn’t need you. ”[I]t’s just that he’s not looking for people to supply his needs. He’s not short on money, talent, or time. He has never commanded us to go save the world for him; he calls us to follow him as he saves the world through us.”

Practical Evangelism - Here’s some very practical help on being a more faithful evangelist.

To really hear the gospel is to be shaken to your core. To really hear the gospel is to change. —Mark Dever

Dever