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October 21, 2011

Hating Tebow - Denny Burk writes about why so many people hate Tim Tebow, the young, Christian quarterback for the Denver Broncos. “There are a lot of people out there pulling against Tebow, and I am not talking about football or the big game on Sunday. What I am talking about are the cynics out there who want Tebow not only to fail at football but also to fail at being a Christian.”

Smalltown Poets - The Smalltown Poets were one of my favorite bands until they took a hiatus. However, they are back with a new Christmas album that you can get for just $5. One of the songs is “In the First Light” which, unless I’m mistaken, was penned by Bob Kauflin (back in the GLAD days).

In the Danger Zone - Dr. Mohler looks at children in a digital age. Here’s a shocking statistic: by age 3 almost a third of children have a television in their bedroom.

Congregations Submitting - This is a good and important article, especially in light of a bit of controversy about congregationalism. “Do you see the dilemma? If the Bible located church authority exclusively in the elders, the idea of submission would be simple: the elders would make the decisions, and the congregation would submit to those decisions. But what does it mean for a congregation to submit to its elders when the congregation itself holds final authority?”

Mother Refuses Chemo - “Stacie Crimm didn’t get to share much time with her infant daughter, Dottie Mae — she’d made the ultimate sacrifice to give the little girl life.” Greater love has no mom than this…

TSA on the Highway - Wow, does this ever make me uncomfortable. “You’re probably used to seeing TSA’s signature blue uniforms at the airport, but now agents are hitting the interstates to fight terrorism with Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR).”

Invisible Drum Kit - I came across this classic Rowan Atkinson skit yesterday and enjoyed it again. It’s just amazing physical comedy.

Wisdom teaches us to wink at many of the injuries that are done to us, and act as if we did not see them. —Matthew Henry

October 20, 2011

Today we come to the fourth and final part of this short series on knowing and doing the will of God. In the first part of the series I laid a foundation of God’s complete sovereignty over the universe and in the second part I sought to show that God is speaking to us today and how God is speaking to us today. In the third part I wanted showed that God is speaking to you and revealing his will for your life. In this final installment I want to ask the big question: When it comes right down to it, how do I make decisions that please God?

I want to give you 3 questions that will guide you as you think about any decision or any situation and that will help you have confidence that you are doing God’s will for your life. As you consider that big decision, you need to ask these three questions in order.

Question #1

What does the Bible say about it? That’s a rather obvious question, but it’s one we sometimes miss. What does the Bible say about it? Is there a passage in the Bible that speaks directly to this issue or is there a principle that applies to it?

We need to look to the Bible because this is where we hear God’s voice. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 gives us direction when it says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Teaching, reproof, correction and training—that is exactly what we need when we are making decisions. There is nothing else God promises for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness. Feelings, circumstances and impressions can’t do this. Only the Bible.

What this means is that when facing big decisions, you need to search the Scriptures and to ask others to help you as you do this. This is a great time to talk to a parent or pastor or mentor or some other person to have them help you. They may have a greater knowledge of the Bible and can help bring the Bible to bear on your situation.

What you are especially looking for here is one of two things: a clear command that you must do something, or a clear command that you must not do something. If the Bible speaks directly to the issue, you’ve got to obey right away. When God speaks, we must listen and obey.

October 20, 2011

Open Doors - Here’s an update from Frontline Missions. “This is the calm before the whirlwind. A time to prepare to step through the long passage that will lead to eight countries in the next few weeks.  In Ethiopia and along the banks of the White Nile, we will shoot the fifth episode of Dispatches from the Front.”

Holding Hands - “An Iowa couple who was married for 72 years died one hour apart last week in the hospital as they held hands.”

Amazonia - Some spectacular photos of the Amazon rainforest.

Lord, I Believe - A Free MP3. “Zac Hicks + Cherry Creek Worship has taken that old and largely forgotten hymn and given it new life on their album Without Our Aid.”

Airlines - This is exasperating. You kind of wish they’d just cut all the extra fees and instead just raise fares.

When the law of God is written on our hearts, our duty will be our delight. —Matthew Henry

October 19, 2011

Our guest on this week’s edition of The Connected Kingdom podcast is ex-Mormon and now Christian author Latayne Scott. She answers questions like these ones:

  • How did you become a Mormon?
  • How were you converted to Christ?
  • Is Mormonism a cult?
  • Can a Christian vote for Mitt Romney?
  • What are the changes in and challenges to Mormonism?
  • How should we evangelize Mormons? Should we invite them into our homes?

Through Zondervan, Latayne has just published a new and updated edition of  The Mormon Mirage. You can also catch up with her at her blog Latayne.com.

If you want to give us feedback or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You will always be able to find the most recent episode here on the blog. If you would like to subscribe via iTunes, you can do that here or if you want to subscribe with another audio player, you can try this RSS link.

October 19, 2011

Today I am continuing this short series on knowing and doing the will of God. In the first part of the series I laid a foundation of God’s complete sovereignty over the universe and in the second part I sought to show that God is speaking to us today and how God is speaking to us today. Today I want to progress to showing that God is speaking to you today and revealing his will for your life.

God Is Speaking To You

We have looked to the Bible and seen that today God speaks to us by his Son, through the Holy Spirit, in the Bible, and that apart from this, he makes no promises to speak to us in other ways. This means that if we want to know the will of God for our lives, we need to turn to the Bible since that is where God has promised that he will speak to us.

If you look to the Bible to seek God’s will for your life, what will you find? You will find that God is speaking to you. He is speaking to you about his will for you, for your life. You will find verses like 1 Thessalonians 4:3 which says, “This is the will of God, your sanctification.” There is God’s will for you in the big picture. He wants you to be sanctified. He wants you to be holy. His will is clear! Just one chapter later we are told, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” God wants you to be thankful in all things, he wants you to rejoice in all things, he wants you to pray about all things. In other words, he wants you to be constantly aware of his sovereignty and to be constantly in communication with him, submitting your whole life to him.

There are all sorts of other passages like that. This is not the place to look at them all, but even if we did, the message would not change. The consistent message is this: God’s will for you is that you would live like a Christian, like a person whose life has been transformed by his power. God’s will for you is that you would seek to imitate Christ and that more and more you would serve as a greater reflection of Christ, prayerfully submitting yourself to him and his sovereignty. That is God’s will!

What you will not find? You won’t find the Bible saying, “You should marry this fine, Christian girl instead of that fine, Christian girl.” You won’t find the Bible telling you, “Go ahead and buy the Honda and I will bless you” or “Don’t buy that Toyota or I’ll remove my hand of blessing.” You will find lots of principles and lots of wisdom and lots of clear guidance on how you can honor God. But you will see that God does not reveal his secret will to you and he does not reveal his complete will for you. He guides you and he guides me and all of us in the same way and with the same words. The will he reveals for you is the will he reveals for me.

October 19, 2011

Joy Has Dawned - The Getty’s have a new Christmas album out and they are giving away one of the tracks as a free download. The song is a nice, Irish smash-up of “Joy Has Dawned” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.” The whole album is well worth the purchase.

Celebrity Pastors - I appreciated reading of some of the ways that James MacDonald deals with the celebrityism that follows him. Let me attest that it’s much easier in the abstract than in the moment to know what you’d do when someone comes up to you at church and asks to have their picture taken with you (or when someone says, “Will you sign my Bible?”). I appreciate that he has thought these things through and that he tries to react well.

When Fighting Temptation - Dane Ortlund quotes C.S. Lewis on fighting temptation.

Crybabies - This is an interesting take on all of the “occupy” protests going on these days. “North America and Europe, geographic epicentres of the Occupy Wall Street movement, are the fattest of fat cats, globally speaking. For any North American, least of all a Canadian, to claim economic kinship with the globally disadvantaged is silly. Mention that to an Indian. Mention it to a Chinese. Cry me a river, will be the likely response. Followed by a wry chuckle, or perhaps an expletive.”

Succession Law - Also from the National Post, an article on the English monarchy and its succession laws. It seems increasingly likely that the Reformation-era law forbidding a monarch from marrying a Roman Catholic will soon be abolished.

Ulrich Zwingli - Speaking of the Reformation, Steven Lawson is continuing his series of blog posts looking at the Reformers with today’s entry on Ulrich Zwingli.

I fear that what will surprise us most, when we see our Lord, will be the extent of our own ingratitude. —E.B. Pusey

October 18, 2011

Together for the GospelNext April will bring the 2012 Together for the Gospel Conference—the 4th of these bi-annual conferences. What began in 2006 as a meeting between friends has expanded into a very large event with thousands attending. With a new, bigger venue, next year’s event promises to be bigger than ever.

With the early bird registration period ending in just a few days (October 31), I was asked to mention T4G on this blog. I took the opportunity to speak to Matt Schmucker, who helps direct the event, to ask him a few questions that I’ve been thinking about as I consider attending.

2012 will mark the 4th T4G Conference. Before I ask how it has changed over 4 iterations, let me ask this: What is T4G at this point in time?

In the simplest terms T4G is an every-other-year event that brings friends together to encourage pastors in their task of shepherding. In a grander sense we hope God uses it to help define and defend gospel truths for our generation. In the midst of confusing mounds of digital opinions, it offers, Lord permitting, a little bit of clarity.

T4G began as a conversation between friends and the co-founders called upon some of their heroes in ministry. Noticeably different this year is the subtraction of John MacArthur and R.C. Sproul and the addition of Kevin DeYoung, Matt Chandler and David Platt. Can you talk about this shift? Is this still a conversation between friends or has it become something else?

Dr. MacAruthur and Dr. Sproul sadly were unable to attend for personal reasons. We will miss their contribution. The generation of rising preachers may have little idea how indebted they are to these men for their decades of standing for the truth. We are excited about having Kevin, Matt, and David as plenary speakers in 2012. They all spoke at T4G 2010 either in breakout sessions (David and Kevin) or a main session (Matt). These men have been building solid relationships for years with Al, Lig, Mark and CJ. A unique feature of T4G is the friendship between all the men. There is no lack of familiarity. The relationships are, I believe, what makes T4G stand. Besides, Mark Dever would have it no other way!

October 18, 2011

Yesterday I began a short series of articles on knowing and doing the will of God. In the first part I laid the foundation of God’s sovereignty over all that happens in this world, affirming God’s absolute and utter sovereignty. But I also said that God has given us freedom to make choices. This brought us to the heart of the issue of knowing God’s will—how can I know God’s will in such a way that I can consciously participate in it? Today I want to show how God is speaking to us in this time and this place.

God Is Speaking Today

Let me talk about the way God speaks to us through a series of 4 statements. We are taking God’s sovereignty, his secret will, as our starting point and building upon it with these statements.

The first thing we need to affirm is that God can speak to people in many different ways and guide them with their cooperation. The Bible is full of stories of God speaking to his people—God speaking to Adam and Eve in the Garden as he walked and talked with them, God speaking to Moses from the burning bush, God speaking to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream. In each case God told people his will and when God told them what he wanted of them, they were able to consciously participate in it, or they were able to reject it. Adam and Eve defied God even though they knew what he demanded of them. Jonah heard from the Lord and ran away. Abraham heard from the Lord and obeyed. All through the Bible we see God speaking and giving guidance and instruction. In all these ways and so many more, God spoke to people and guided them with their cooperation.

We need to be careful here. We are not looking to these examples and necessarily saying, “This is how God tells us he will guide us.” We are saying, “This is how God can guide people.” These are the ways in which God has proven he has the ability to guide people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we can expect him to guide us or speak to us the same way. So the question we need to ask now is, How will God guide us today in such a way that we consciously participate?

The second statement is this: today God speaks to us by his Son. It is instructive here to turn to the first verses of Hebrews where we read, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets.” That is what we have just said in our last statement, that long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke. But the author of Hebrews continues. “In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” In these last days, today, he has spoken to us by his Son. He has spoken and is speaking through Jesus. This is not meant to be past tense but present. And how has God spoken to us through Jesus? He has revealed himself, his own character and glory, in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus God has spoken to us about his plan of salvation—of the way he has chosen to redeem sinners to himself.