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August 25, 2014

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By: Nathan Eshelman, Author
Gentle Reformation
D. Min. Admissions Counselor, RPTS

I have been a fan of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for many years. I love the art of language and the skill it takes to document the ever changing and living tongue of the anglophonic people.

This week all nerdly eyes were on Oxford as they announced the word of the year. This is an annual event at which a new and influential word is chosen based on how it has come into the language. Sure, it’s not the Superbowl, but some of us get pretty excited about these things.

Did you hear what this year’s word is? Selfie.

Yep. Selfie.

What is a selfie you might ask? The OED defines selfie as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

Why is this so interesting? The selfie is not just a way of putting yourself out there for the tweeters of the world to see. The selfie is a reflection of the corporate fallen heart of mankind.

Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

Notice Jesus’s presupposition? You love yourself. Isn’t the selfie merely a symptom of the problem that Jesus here illustrates? Man loves himself. Woman loves herself. This is foundational. As fallen beings, our focus of love is not first and foremost towards God. It is not towards neighbor secondly, where both Leviticus 19:18 and Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:39) tell us love is to be directed.

Instead we love ourselves. Self-love is a symptom of man’s fallen heart. The selfie illustrates our need for the gospel. We do not know ourselves as we ought. We do not see a fallen heart and guilt before God. We see our selfie as wonderful and exceptional. The philosopher and poet, Shel Silverstein, wrote:

If my face could only twist,
Then I could give my cheek a kiss
And whisper in my lovely ear,
“You’re so beautiful, my dear.”
And look into my eyes and see
Just how much I’m in love with me.

Personally, I am glad that selfie is the word of the year. It allows us to talk about human nature due to Adam’s rebellion so long ago. William Perkins, the father of Puritanism, said, “For you will never be filled with the good things of God till you are emptied of self-love and self-liking. For this cause let us purge and empty ourselves of all our own righteousness that God may fill our hearts with his grace.” (Exposition of the Apostle’s Creed)

Selfie is an ugly word for sure. The word is symptomatic of our ugly fallen hearts which are in need of the grace offered by the one who emptied himselfie to the point of death, even death on a cross.

So let’s be honest- we are selfish selfies. May we find grace to deny ourselfies as we cling to Christ that he might cure our selfish fallen hearts.

Selfie

August 18, 2014

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Tracy finally reached the end of herself. For twenty-eight years she had been in a relationship with a cheat and a drug addict. Her life was “…a roller coaster, loads of ups and downs. Some times I ask myself when will I ever get off? I have had enough.” She became desperate for the strife and pain to come to an end. Tracy had never been to church and really didn’t know many Christians. Later, she put it this way: “I believed in God, but I thought to become a Christian you had to be perfect. Christians were good people who looked down on us.”

Caroline grew up in a rough part of Edinburgh. Her first experience of church was going to Sunday school as a child. “When I was younger I went to Sunday school because we got free sweets.” As a young teen she turned to drugs and alcohol. “I discovered cannabis, we soon discovered ecstasy and alcohol…I got into the habit of jumping from one relationship to another, always feeling lonely. I just went through life feeling something was missing.” She became pregnant while in a short-term relationship. The father got in trouble with the law and was sentenced to life behind bars. Her only release was more drugs.

Female Outreach WorkersTracy and Caroline both live in schemes, housing developments in Scotland. And both of their lives took a sudden and unexpected turn. Caroline’s friend Tasha encouraged her to start going to a Bible study. Tracy’s husband experienced an extraordinary salvation and encouraged his wife to come to church with him. Both Caroline and Tracy encountered the person of Jesus through the witness of his church. They have been transformed.

Tens of thousands more unreached and unsaved women live in Scotland’s schemes. Many are addicted to drugs and alcohol. Some are trapped in prostitution. Others have experienced a life of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Most are struggling just to provide a safe and loving home for their children.

Female Outreach Workers are essential to successful gospel ministry in Scotland’s schemes. 20schemes is actively recruiting women who will make a two-year commitment to this unique mission field, and join one of our church-planting teams.

Our vision is to see healthy, gospel-centered churches planted or revitalized in housing schemes all across Scotland. There is a desperate need for biblically faithful women to join the work—to befriend and disciple women just like Tracy and Caroline, and to be a part of what God is doing to build his church where there is no church.

Would you pray about joining us? We are praying for many faithful women to begin the journey of becoming a Female Outreach Worker with 20schemes.

To find out more about how you can partner with 20schemes, or to apply to join us, visit 20schemes.com.

August 11, 2014

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Book Summaries

Some people love to learn but don’t necessarily enjoy the act of reading…while others love to read but can’t find the time to read all those enticing books! Does this describe you? If so, or if you just want to learn more and save time, then the book summaries at Books At a Glance will help you to read more quality, Christian books…in less time!

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A book summary is similar to the “executive summary” concept that’s so popular in the business world; it condenses the main points, thoughts, and arguments of a book into bite-sized pieces, so that you can get the gist of the entire book in only the time that it takes you to read the 7 - 10 page summary.  

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Book reviews are very valuable, however they generally merely assess the book, whereas a book summary will enable you to become thoroughly familiar with the key points in a book in just 7-10 pages, so that you will easily learn the main points of the book in just one sitting and so that you will be certain that you’re making a wise decision before purchasing the book. Click HERE to get immediate access to these summaries.

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Keeping up with the massive onslaught of quality Christian books can be overwhelming! However, with the book summaries from Books At a Glance, you will finally be able to keep current with hand-selected, quality Christian books with virtually no infringement on your (already) busy schedule! With these book summaries, you’ll learn and grow, and you’ll also keep current with the “hot” books that your fellow parishioners are reading…”hot” books that may or may not be helpful to them! Our goal is to keep you informed.

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Whether you’re reading these book summaries from your computer or on-the-go from your mobile device on our mobile-friendly website, these book summaries will keep you informed of new and significant Christian books. These books are hand-selected by Fred Zaspel and the Books At a Glance staff, and summarized by our well-qualified staff of pastors and professors.

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Go to www.BooksAtaGlance.com right away to register and gain access to these valuable summaries. They will help you learn more, faster, and you will no longer be frustrated by not being able to keep up with good Christian publications!

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August 04, 2014

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Missing JesusThe “Great Story” of God’s Word is all about Jesus. And so, as his followers, we must also be. But when you get right down to it, how exactly do you be Christ-centered? What do you do to become an all-about-Jesus Christian?

The thing is, God isn’t asking us to do something …  he’s inviting us to see something.

Jesus entered our concrete world, and to our great joy became bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. Then he ascended, and he won’t enter our range of vision again until his return. But he’s not gone. He’s not far removed from us way up in heaven somewhere. Even though we can’t see him with our physical eyes, he’s still here.

Artists know that to make an object look faraway they have to paint it small and faded. And when we think of Jesus as distant from us, he can seem to get smaller and fade from our sight.

That’s why we are called to see him with eyes of faith.

… we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

When Ray Ortlund handed the reins of Haven Ministries to me, he admonished me to keep the focus on Jesus. In that time I also became convinced that the lack of Christ-centeredness is one of the greatest problems plaguing the church today.

That’s why my wife, Janet, and I wrote Missing Jesus: Find Your Life in His Great Story as an encouragement to believers across the spectrum to behold their Savior with fresh eyes.

I’m thrilled today because our partners at Moody Publishers have agreed to make the Missing Jesus eBook available to you for $3.99 from their retail site, ShopMoodyPublishers.com.

I’d also like to thank Tim Challies for his encouraging reviews on Challies.com and also in WORLD magazine. And I’m especially thankful for the chance to share Missing Jesus with you today. I hope it will be a blessing and encouragement to you.

—Charles Morris

“Missing Jesus begins with the acknowledgment that at certain times we all feel as if we’re missing something. We have put our faith in Christ and we are following Him, but something still seems to be missing. There are a thousand answers to this and more, and most of the Christian books pouring off the printing presses claim to have the solution. Charles and Janet Morris look past easy and novel answers and point instead to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we’re missing anything, we have probably lost sight of the Savior. In this book they offer glimpses of the gospel from many different angles, each one more powerful than the last. If you need encouragement, you’ll find it here.” (Tim Challies, World Magazine)

July 15, 2014

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What Are Book Summaries & How Will They Save You Time?

SponsoredModeled after the “Executive Summaries” so familiar to the business world, a book summary condenses the theme, thoughts, and arguments of every chapter of a book, so that you can learn the main points of the book in only the time that it takes you to read the 7-10 page summary. Consider the time that this will save you!

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Easily…Keep Current with the Hottest, Newest, and Best of Christian Books

We here at Books At a Glance are very serious about selecting new, theologically sound, informative, and relevant books from the top Christian publishers to summarize. Keeping up with all of the new books can be daunting and impossible, and we simplify that process for you. What’s more is that all of our summaries and reviews are written by well-qualified scholars and pastors, and this service is heartily endorsed by our board of reference.

Keep Up with Culture & Contemporary Religion

Whether it’s the smiling pastor of a mega church who proclaims the “Prosperity Gospel” in a new book, the claims of Islam, how homosexuality is working its way into the Christian church, a new cultural or theological movement, or just the newest “fluff Christian” paperback, it is vital for you to keep up with these kinds of topics for a few reasons: 1) so you aren’t duped by their tactics, 2) to sharpen your overall discernment, and 3) to know how to help fellow parishioners keep from falling prey to the enemy

Your Go-To Source for All things Books

In addition to getting access to 1-2 book summaries per week, you will also have access to book reviews, author-interviews, and our author blog. By keeping up with these easy-to-read summaries and reviews, you will easily keep current and on top of what’s newest in Christian publications.

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July 01, 2014

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We’re Village Church. For four years we’ve been preaching the gospel on the West Coast of Canada and have seen Jesus do amazing things in the lives of people who call the lower mainland home. As our church grows beyond 3000 people, we’re looking and praying for a Community Groups Pastor who can pour into the 1000 people that are in our community groups and grow community group engagement to 70% of Village Church.

The person we’re looking for is passionate about what we’re passionate about. They get excited about Jesus, building Jesus-centred community, and reaching culture so that people in our city, nation, and all over the world meet Jesus and are transformed.

If you think you’re the person we’re looking for, click here for more information, because we would love to connect with you. And if you’d like to learn more about us, watch this recording of our 2014 Vision Sunday message. Join the movement and apply to work at Village Church.

Village Church

June 25, 2014

Why does Church Plant Media refer to “customers” as “partners”?

We view the churches and ministries that we serve as our partners in the gospel (Philippians 1:3-5). This means that we do not view ourselves as a web design company with customers; we view ourselves as a gospel-centered company that provides websites for church and mission. Because of this, we view the people whom we serve as “partners” and their websites as our stewarded partnership.

Call to discuss how we can “partner” together on mission: (800) 409-6631 x 1.

Web Stuff Wednesdays

June 17, 2014

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Johann Heinrich Alsted wrote: “The article of justification is said to be the article by which the church stands or falls.”  The Reformers sought to recover this vital doctrine, which is at the very heart of the gospel. Brave men such as John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Heinrich Bullinger, Theodore Beza, John Knox, and many others gave their lives—often literally—to defend this quintessential doctrine of grace.

But the Reformation recovery of these great truths was immediately threatened by two very different, but equally militant, movements—the Counter-Reformation and the Radical Reformation. While the Counter-Reformation of the Roman church rejected Reformation doctrines such as sola scriptura by asserting the authority of the papacy, the Radical Reformation rejected sola scriptura in favor of mystic subjectivism.

The Reformers wrote a great body of literature to guide the church through the time’s treacherous waters. But in the generation after the Reformation, there remained little in the way of a comprehensive, rigorously systematized synthesis of Reformed theology to precisely communicate and preserve the Reformers’ legacy.

CollectionIn the midst of this battle for truth, the gifted scholar Amandus Polanus provided the Reformed churches with one of the earliest and most extensive Reformed systematic theologies: the Syntagma Theologiae Christianae. This monumental achievement synthesizes the body of Reformed theology into a coherent and rigorous system. Not only does it preserve and defend the Reformers’ original theology; it also presents it in a precise, nuanced way.

The Syntagma covers all the topics addressed in standard theologies, but with a skill and precision that has few equals. Richard Muller describes Polanus’ treatment of the attributes of God as “Perhaps the clearest and fullest summary of the entire paradigm.” Polanus is also eminently practical and addresses the church’s needs with an extensive treatment of Christian ethics. “[Polanus] portrays the state of emerging Reformed orthodoxy in the crucial years between Theodore Beza and the Synod of Dort… . Polanus is a bridge between the pristine Reformed teaching and orthodoxy, scholastic in constructing theology with academic precision and logical rigor but, with a strong doctrine of God, oriented to christological, soteriological, and practical concerns” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology).

Polanus’ importance in preserving the Reformed tradition and shaping its development is undeniable. Robert Letham writes, “Amandus Polanus is one of the most significant dogmaticians of early Reformed orthodoxy … . As a consolidator, a preserver of the tradition, he brings the whole field of theology together into a systematic unity… . His intent is to meet the needs of the church of his day, a generation or more removed from Calvin and facing new challenges which require fresh and perhaps clearer and more rationally developed solutions… .”

As a student, he was trained at Basel by Calvin’s successor, Theodore Beza. He later became an influential professor at Basel, where he instructed important figures such as Johannes Wollebius and others who would become the next generation of Reformed theologians and ministers. Polanus’ work served as one of the primary sources that would go on to influence the enduring Reformed confessions, such as the Canons of Dort and the Westminster Standards.

For centuries, this seminal work was required reading at Reformed seminaries. Now, Lexham Press wants to produce the first-ever English translation of Polanus’ Syntagma, previously available only in rare Latin editions—but we need your help. The more pre-orders we get for this classic work, the more quickly we can get it to you. Pre-order your copy of Polanus’ A System of Christian Theology today, and join Polanus in preserving the legacy of the Reformation.

“If you love Reformed theology, if you want access to classic Reformed texts, if you want to learn Reformed theology from the sources that informed the Synod of Dort and the Westminster Assembly, then this is the sort of project that you should support.” 
—R. Scott Clark, professor of church history and historical theology, Westminster Seminary California

Check out our other projects that will bring to you, for the first time ever in English, important authors and their untranslated works, such as Geerhardus Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics, The Sermons and Lectures of John Calvin in English, and The Latin Works of John Owen in English.

June 11, 2014

Are Church Plant Media websites easy to update?

Yes, all Church Plant Media-powered websites come with a user-friendly Content Management System (CMS) that gives you control over your website content. It is not only easy to update, but fun to use as well. Without any need to know programming languages, you can add and edit your text, photos, navigation, events, sermons, blogs, audio, video, photo galleries, mobile site, password protection, and much more.

Our CMS has been completely custom-built by our team and was created specifically for gospel ministry. This ensures that churches and ministries get the features they need without having to wade through the features they don’t need. A big benefit of using our CMS is that you don’t have to cobble together different plug-ins to get a non-church CMS to do what your ministry needs.

Call us to learn how we can relieve your website burden: (800) 409-6631 x 1

Web Stuff Wednesdays

June 03, 2014

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Reformed Baptist Seminary is a church-based ministerial academy that provides a full theological curriculum as either a Master or Bachelor of Divinity degree. It also offers a streamlined 32-credit program. Both programs can be completed via online learning as well as through our modular format live classes.

We’d like to invite you to join us for a five-day seminar on Creeds & Confessions this fall. This is a great way to meet some of the men involved in this ministry and explore RBS as a potential way to do your seminary training. Click on the banner below for more information.

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Use these links to find out more about enrolling on one of our degree programs and to receive updates about module class offerings, seminary news, and free resources:

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