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June 27, 2016


This sponsored post was prepared by Daniel Henderson, author of Old Paths, New Power.

For every Gospel action, there is an opposite and devious demonic reaction. In Acts 6:7 we see one of the great moments of spiritual resurgence in the early church. The apostles refused to be distracted from their salient priorities of “prayer and the Ministry of the word” (v. 4). Instead, they appointed seven others to handle the widow-feeding crisis. The result of this resolve was that “the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” By any estimate, this is a New Testament instance of revival.  

The advancement of Acts 6 was the impetus to the increased persecution. Antagonism by the Jewish authorities had already been dogging the apostles at every turn. Prohibitions against preaching the Gospel were enforced. The Jewish leaders had jailed the apostles and would soon launch a movement of martyrdom, starting in chapter seven with Stephen’s death by stoning.

The incredible power of the Gospel in Acts 6 became a threat to the Judaism of the day and to the ultra-pagan Roman society. At the same time, this revival served as preparation for the coming oppression, providing supernatural grace, transcendent resolve, and staunch boldness that would turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6).

A Preparatory Revival? 

Without question we, too, are in need of a momentous Acts 6 movement of revival and evangelism. I also cannot help but wonder if this will be the ultimate preparation for a coming sifting of the church. In all likelihood, a revival will advance the supernatural spread of the Gospel but will also fast-track the inevitable showdown between an intolerant culture and the truth of Jesus Christ.

To think that America is immune is naïve. As John MacArthur has noted, “Religious liberty isn’t promised to Christians… Persecution is.”* My friend Brett O’Donnell, who works for a variety of national and state political candidates, has his finger on the pulse of the culture as well as anyone I know. As we shared a recent dinner, he stated, “Daniel, your grandchildren will be the first generation to grow up in a society where being a Christian and being an American citizen is no longer compatible.”

A Hopeful Preparation

The best preparation for the future sifting is a return to the realities of resolute commitment to “prayer and the ministry of the word” that gave early church leaders a transcendent faith and extraordinary impact. I have personally witnessed this kind of devotion on multiple occasions within the house churches of China, where the greatest current-day revival and advancement of Christianity has occurred under the oppression of a Communist government. With no facilities, no social media, no large programs, Christianity has flourished. 

Back here at home, with all the training, technology, wealth, talent, and unprecedented opportunities we now have at our disposal, we are losing ground. So the sifting has begun. In all likelihood, it will become more focused and intense. Fortunately, the old paths of biblical ministry seen in the book of Acts are still able to result in new power to face the challenges of ministry in a post-Christian culture. It is time to experience a truly transforming approach as we make the next new thing the first old thing.

Old Paths New PowerThis devotion is adapted from the new book, Old Paths, New Power – Awakening Your Church through Prayer and the Ministry of the Word by Moody Publishers. DOWNLOAD A FREE EXCERPT at www.strategicrenewal.com.

John F. MacArthur, We Will Not Bow, A sermon preached at Grace Community Church

June 20, 2016

This sponsored post was prepared by The Word One to One.

The Bible You Have in Your Hand is Probably Useless. While this title may shock you, the shocking reality is that it’s probably true. All too often the Bible is left shut when we talk to non-Christian friends about our faith. This is what makes our Bible useless. Instead we might say we’ve been to church, or that we are a Christian. In doing so, we congratulate ourselves that we’ve mentioned Christian things, but actually we’ve been of no spiritual benefit to our friends and neighbours.

Can you imagine instead opening your Bible and sharing the good news of the gospel from the Gospels? That would transform your useless, closed Bible into being the open Word of God. We are convinced, as we’re sure you are, that when God’s Word is read, He brings life by His Spirit. 

There’s a resource that’s been developed over the last 10 years called The Word One to One. It was developed at St Helen’s Bishopsgate in London where Dick Lucas was Rector for many years. They found that they were in a similar position: People were having conversations about Christianity, but weren’t using the most powerful tool at their disposal – God’s Word. 

The Word One on One

Rico Tice, author of Christianity Explored says: “It’s genius. A wonderful resource. Why? Because as you meet with your friend one to one… it presents the God’s Word to them.

The Word One to One walks you and your non-Christian friend through John’s gospel, verse by verse. It breaks it down into manageable chunks of three or four verses at a time and then asks a question about it. Uniquely, it then gives all the answers. In our Adult Bible Classes, we’re used to trying to work out the answer. But our non-Christian friends haven’t got a clue what the Bible says so we want to provide the answers instead of embarrassing them. This also allows us (and our whole church family) to have great confidence – because we can’t get it wrong! Our friends can sit back, relax, download the information and then discuss what they’ve read from God’s Word.

So why not ask your non-Christians friend or neighbour two questions: 1) Have you ever looked at the Bible for yourself? 2) Would you like to? 

You’d be amazed at how many people have thought about reading the Bible but have never had the chance or the support to do so. We want to invite them to read it together – like a guided read through – saying “I could show you, shall we meet for a coffee and we’ll begin to look at it for ourselves?” 

When was the last ‘gospel’ conversation you had? When was the last time you opened up the Bible to explain the good news of the gospel with your friends? 

Val, grandmother of five, has been meeting a friend of hers for nearly a year now. “It has taken rather longer than most to complete the studies – well over a year. But that didn’t matter. What did matter was seeing God at work helping my new friend to a point when she would turn to me with a huge smile one afternoon and say: “Now I understand what it’s all about.” 

Thousands others have been using this resource and we’re delighted that people are seeing friends come to Christ as the Spirit of God takes hold of the Word of God and brings life. Who could you invite to look at the Bible one to one? As you sit down with your friend and read together, let the work of God be in action through the Word of God. 

To find out more visit www.theword121.com or www.10ofthose.com.

Making the most of The Word One to One from 10ofthose.com on Vimeo.

June 13, 2016

“My son, give me your heart” (Proverbs 23:26)

Masculine Mandate

If I had to pick just one verse on parenting from the book of Proverbs— the main source of our biblical wisdom on this subject— it would be Proverbs 23:26. Here we have the very pulse of the Bible’s teaching on a father’s relationship with his children, including God the Father’s relationship with us, His sons in Christ.

This verse provides the perspective behind all the wisdom passed from father to son in the Proverbs. In it, the father simply pleads, “My son, give me your heart.” This is the prime aspiration of a true father toward his children. All the advice and commands found in Proverbs flow from this great passion: the desire of a loving father for the heart of his child, and for that child’s heart to be given to the Lord.

The heart, of course, is the key to everything. “Keep your heart with all vigilance,” we read, “for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4: 23). Biblically, the heart is the entire inner person, including the thoughts, desires, affections, and will. The heart is who we are inside— the real, essential person; the person God wants to own completely. A wise father wants to reach his child’s heart, aiming for the willing offering of that heart both to himself as earthly father and to God as heavenly Father.

Note carefully that the proverb does not say, “My son, give me your behavior.” It is not difficult for us to use our authority so that our children obey us outwardly without giving us their hearts. In fact, this lowest-common-denominator form of fatherly leadership is exactly what we will fall into if we don’t actively seek a different and better result.

Neither does the proverb say, “My son, give me your physical presence,” as if all that matters is placing a child in the right places at the right times. Worship, for instance, is far more than being physically present at church on Sunday morning, although many parents content themselves with little more from their children.

This, then, is the purpose of parental discipling: ministering to our children’s hearts so as to gain a relationship of love with them and a shared heart-bond of faith in Jesus Christ. A father can spend years giving his child a Christian structure of church, Sunday school, Christian schooling, etc. If he then finds himself helpless as his young-adult child embraces rebellion, what has gone wrong? Too often the answer is that he never aimed for the child’s heart and, not aiming for it, never gained it.

So the great issue of parental discipleship is directing the hearts of our children to the Lord. Instead of a mere focus on behavior or bodily presence, wise and loving parents seek to touch and win the hearts of their boys and girls.

The question is, how? First, understand that the heart—even the heart of a child—can only be given freely; it can never really be taken. In part, therefore, this is a matter of a father leading by example. We must begin by giving to our children what we seek to receive from them. Before we can convincingly plead, “My child, give me your heart,” it must be evident to the child we have sincerely given our own.

Masculine MandateHow does a father do this? Richard Phillips answers in his book The Masculine Mandate as he seeks to help Christian men examine their hearts, embrace their God-given mandate, and by God’s grace, serve faithfully in whatever context God has placed them. Buy this best-selling book today and save 50%. Offer ends Father’s Day.

June 06, 2016

Summer is just around the corner—the perfect time to relax and feed your soul with a good book.

But what type of vacation reader are you? From the 1000 words-per-minute reader to those who start but never quite finish… take this quiz to discover your reading style, as well as the perfect books to pack in your bag this summer.  

At The Good Book Company we’re passionate about God’s word, God’s church and God’s wonderful gospel of grace. We want to help you and your family find true rest and refreshment by feeding on the Bible this summer. See our whole range of summer reading at www.thegoodbook.com

Whatever your reading style, don’t waste your summer—get stuck into a good book!

Don't see the quiz? Click here!

May 30, 2016

Books At a Glance is a Christian book summary service. We take the newest and most significant books that Christian publishers, such as Crossway, Zondervan, IVP, B&H, Baker, etc. publish, and then every week we take one or two of those books and condense them into a 7-10-page, chapter-by-chapter summary, so that you can learn the entire essence of the book in just the time it either takes you to read 7 – 10 pages…OR…read the AUDIO version of the summary. It’s really a HUGE time-saver!

Guess Who Else LOVES Books At a Glance?

(Can’t see the video? Click here.)

Click HERE to Get a FREE Book Summary!

The consistent feedback that we get from our hundreds of members is that this service does two things for you: 1) it helps you learn MORE in LESS time, and secondly, it really keeps you up to date with all the new books that keep coming out. As you know, it’s quite the undertaking to keep with all the new books that keep coming out! (Fill out this form to join, save time, and keep current with the newest in Christian publications!)

Here’s What You’ll Experience:

As you’ll see, there are over a hundred book summaries in the archive, and what we’ll do is send you a new summary or two every week, so that you can continue your learning and continue to keep current with all the newest and best books coming out…in just a handful of minutes per week!

Do You Like Audio Books?

In addition to written book summaries, you’ll also get full access to the professionally-recorded audio book summaries as well! These are a word-for-word reading of exactly what you’d read on the website. Most people love this, because you’ll be able to listen to the book summaries while you’re working out, jogging, commuting, or otherwise just on-the-go. What a great time-saver!

Get Started Learning and Growing TODAY!

Go to http://www.booksataglance.com/sign-up/ and register to receive your FREE book summary! If you’re frustrated that you can’t spend enough time reading and learning, then Books At a Glance will help you create the time you’ve been missing. If you’re struggling to keep up with all great new books being published, then Books At a Glance will help you stay on top of things much better. Lastly, if you’re serious about your spiritual growth through reading quality Christian books, then Books At a Glance just might be the tool or resource that you’ve been looking for!

Go to www.BooksAtaGlance.com to Get Started Today!

Books at a Glance

May 23, 2016

This sponsored post was prepared by Missional Wear.

Still trying to figure out the perfect gift for a father or graduate in your life? Dads and grads are very special to us, however, they can sometimes be a tough crowd to shop for. They aren’t always vocal about what they want or have a tendency to regularly purchase the things that they want making it difficult to come up with gift ideas. What do you get for the person who seems to have everything and has a library packed with unread books? Don’t worry, we have you covered! For several years Missional Wear has become the trusted source for quality reformed theology swag. They have kindly curated a few ideas that will solve your most challenging gift-giving conundrums!

Apparel

Missional Wear offers over 100 designs available on a variety of apparel styles and colors. Our standard tee has been a long-time customer favorite for those who appreciate a heavier tee. We are excited to announce the return of baby onesies and tri-blend tees that will be back in time for Father’s Day! Check back for regular updates to styles and new designs. Specializing in custom apparel has given us the ability to offer unique products like choosing a theologian’s face matched with a custom quote on the back. Create something that will make them smile!

Coffee Mugs

Coffee and tea drinkers will appreciate the vintage design of this camp-style mug featuring our brand new John Calvin and Charles Spurgeon insignia. This one is a clear winner and will easily become the favorite go-to mug. See more of the entire mug and drink ware collection!

Pint Glasses

A Five Solas or Spurgeon pint is a perfectly timed gift. Dad will get to enjoy drinking his favorite beverage from it all summer long! Create your own unique set by choosing from ten of our most popular designs.

 

Posters and Wall Decals

If you love the book of Romans as much as we do, you might just have to get the entire text printed on a poster. This poster has a pleasing design aesthetic with content that packs a powerful punch. It will undoubtedly be the prominent focal point of any wall on which it hangs. Check out our entire series with other popular designs including The Five Solas, Man’s Chief End, and The Resolutions Poster. Another office and dorm friendly gift idea is a wall decal. Decals are easy to apply and cleanly remove from the wall when you are ready to move on.

Still Unsure?

Gift Certificate

First, check out the entire catalog of products available at Missional Wear. We offer a wide variety of products and options that dads and grads alike will love! Sometimes a gift card is the way to go. If that is what you need, we offer both digital and physical certificates.

 

May 16, 2016

This sponsored post was prepared by Made to Flourish, which is a pastors’ network for the common good.

Skyline
When we stop to think about it, it is significant that the majority of church members spend most of their time not at church activities, but at work. Yet churches often have a hard time knowing how to equip their people for this important sphere.

In fact, the issue has been overlooked for so long in our churches that one might ask: Is it really the responsibility of pastors to teach their people how to connect their faith and work?

There are two pressing factors that indicate that the answer is “yes.” In fact, this is both an urgent and important need.

The Biblical Mandate

Since the lordship of Christ is holistic, pastors are called to equip their people to follow Christ in all of life—not just part of life. The workplace is a central aspect of most people’s lives. In fact, most of us spend more time at work than in any other single activity.

For that reason alone, pastors need to help people understand what it means to follow Christ at work. Is work just a means to evangelism? Or does it matter in itself? Is the work of an engineer less significant than the work of a pastor? Or do all occupations matter equally? How do you go about your work in a way that is informed by your faith?

People need to have answers to these questions, and part of the church’s task of discipling people for all of life includes providing those answers. Further, the Scriptures have much to say about our work (Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-4:1; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; Genesis 1:28; etc.). People need to know how to apply these truths in their own work.

As pastors and churches do this more fully, they begin to find that they are not simply being faithful to their call. They are also bringing great benefit to their people. For as congregants begin to understand that their work matters to God, it transforms their perspective on how they can serve God and others in their daily work.

When people realize that work is one of the chief ways that we partner with God to love our neighbor carry our faith into the world, it gives great meaning to the things they do every day—even the most mundane. Work becomes a form of worship, love, and greater fulfillment.

The Cultural Moment

We are also at a unique cultural moment. Tim Keller writes:

In the West during the time of Christendom, the church could afford to limit its discipleship and training of believers to prayer, Bible study, and evangelism because most Christians were not facing non-Christian values at work, in their neighborhoods, or at school. ….In a missional church today, however, believers are surrounded by a radically non-Christian culture. They require much more preparation and education to “think Christianly” about all of life, public and private, and about how to do their work with Christian distinctiveness. (Tim Keller, Center Church, 330)

In other words, because we are now largely in a post-Christian culture, people need to be equipped all the more intentionally for how to think about all of life from a biblical perspective.

Beyond this, more and more people are feeling the need to learn how their faith relates to their work. There is a growing movement of Christians who are hungry for this. As Greg Forster has said, “Work and economics will be at the forefront of the church’s attention in the coming generation.” The church is in a unique position to help.

However, this can only happen if churches themselves first understand the relationship between faith and work, and learn how to weave this understanding into their discipleship and their life as a church.  

That can sound like a tall order! Yet, it is a biblical responsibility and called for by our unique cultural moment. Which leads to the question:

So, How Do You Do This?

That’s why Made to Flourish exists. We are a nationwide membership-based organization which aims to provide pastors with relationships and resources to strengthen their ministries and help them connect faith and work for their people.

We do this through our monthly newsletter, online workshops and webinars, training events, and city network gatherings where you can meet with other local pastors. We currently have 12 city networks, 1,118 network members, and more than 1,008 network churches.

We know you are busy, so we aren’t seeking to add one more thing to your plate. Rather, our aim is to help you do what you are already doing more effectively.

If you are a pastor, would you join us? We invite you to apply to join the network on our site. Membership is free, and by joining, we’ll send you some of the best resources we know of on this important subject.

May 09, 2016

This sponsored post was prepared by the Biblical Eldership Resources team.

All leaders want to be successful. Success has its perks, but it also has its downside—and being highly successful can have a highly dangerous downside. A leader can become domineering and dictatorial, resulting in devastated lives, decimated churches and demise of ministries. Church leaders without sufficient accountability can fall into destructive leadership styles, immoral behavior or questionable ethical activities. Leadership can isolate and overwhelm a person with demands on their time and energy, making him easy fodder for the enemy of his soul. Burn out, fall out and space out is all too common. The worst part of all? God’s reputation takes a hit.

The solo or CEO style leadership model common in popular Christianity today may be the culprit, when it fails to mobilize and utilize the full breadth of spiritual gifting within the church. Many churches are moving toward a return to: 

Biblical EldershipLeadership by a plurality of biblically qualified, pastoral elders.

Notice the key words of this statement. “Plurality” speaks of shared leadership, which includes accountability among equals. When the apostle Paul and Barnabas established churches, “they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, [and] they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23). The contrast between “elders” (plural) and “every church” (singular) suggests a leadership team in each church, with no mention of one individual appointed to having more or independent authority. Accountability would be inherent in such a team. Today, just as in the early church, accountability inherent in team leadership is needed more than ever. The beloved apostle John warns about Diotrophes, “who loves to be first among them [and] does not accept what we say” (3 John 9). Leadership in the church helps stem the Diotrophes syndrome which all leaders struggle with, the tendency to resist accountability to others.

“Biblically qualified” refers to the character traits laid out in key biblical passages (1 Tim 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 5:1-4, Acts 20:28). We must not water down these qualifications or descriptors to an “acceptable” level. The highest standards must be maintained at all levels of church leaders, especially among the elders. “Pastoral” captures the idea of elders who actually shepherd the people of God, not just sit as a decision-making board. Peter wrote to the elders among the scattered believers, “[S]hepherd the flock of God among you …” (1 Peter 5:2).

What’s the answer?

So how does a church go about implementing a genuine, functioning elder form of church government and leadership? Is this model even feasible in our contemporary culture? And how can a church equip a steady stream of biblically qualified and functioning elders? 

Free videos & resources

 This short blog cannot answer all these questions, but the ministry of Biblical Eldership Resources does address these issues and more. Building on the seminal work of Alexander Strauch (author of the influential book Biblical Eldership), a team of seasoned church leaders has produced over 250 teaching videos complete with outlines and discussion questions. Appealing to every learning style, the sessions are compact (15 minutes long), interesting, practical and most of all, designed for busy elders and leaders. 

Biblical Eldership 2Whatever the level of leadership, there is something in BER for everyone, from basic biblical foundations of leadership, to transitioning to eldership, as well as practical teaching and training for all aspects of being an effective shepherd-elder. 

Biblical Eldership Resources provides its online content free of charge and is working with teams globally to build up pastor-elders world-wide. Check out the website.