Tag Archives: reformed theology

The Springs of Life

springoflifeIn today’s reading of Proverbs, 4:23 caught my eye –

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

This is a great verse in dealing with the day to day ups and downs of life. As we navigate the various challenges we all face, whether it be in our families, on the job, with our friends, or even in the local coffee shop – we have to be mindful, even intense, about protect our hearts.

Why? Because as the second half of the verse says, “…from it flows the springs of life.” Jesus said in Luke 6:45,

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good,and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

This is crucial in understanding the need to protect our hearts.

In this context, Jesus is talking about the fruit that a tree bears. He says that, “each tree is known by it’s fruit” (4:44) – meaning, a good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit. But, here’s the rub.

The fruit that is born from a tree is produced based on what the tree receives. If the tree consistently receives water and the nutrients in the soil around it are good – good fruit. If the tree never, or rarely, receives water and the soil around it is bad – bad fruit, if any fruit at all. The same is with your heart.

Everyday, we are all going to be treated kindly or harshly – it depends on the person receiving the treatment to judge the varying degree of kindness or harshness. You can’t control what people say, but you can control how you receive what they say.

If someone is kind to you – praise God for their kindness and worship. If someone is unkind to you – praise God for His kindness and worship. This is because, regardless of how you are treated, Matt 7:12 still applies –

“So do whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Those “springs of life” flowing from your heart consists of kindness, graciousness, mercy, understanding, and unrelenting forgiveness – all of which you have been shown in Christ – that you are, in turn, responsible for showing to others.

God, in His grace, showed those very things to us despite the MANY times that we turned our backs on Him – literally and figuratively.  We didn’t earn those things from Him; how and why do we expect others to earn them from us? Guard your heart in Christ, so that His life may flow from it.

Grace and Peace,
John

“Blogging Theologically” by Aaron Armstrong

blog

Today’s “Follow Friday” blog recommendation is “Blogging Theologically” ran by Aaron Armstrong. I learned about Aaron’s blog as I was first getting serious about my own blog. I took some time to take a look at what current writers were doing on their blogs and I stumbled upon “BT”.

I took a look through the site and one of the first trends I noticed about Aaron’s posts was his transparency. He is a brother who seemed to have no issue with telling his readers about his personal shortcomings. I appreciate his honesty.

Aaron’s site was one of the few that I saw, initially, that didn’t have posts that would be 4 – 5 pages if read on a word document. What I mean is, his site showed me that every single post doesn’t have to be really long and theologically deep in order to be God glorifying, people edifying, and worth posting. Many of Aaron’s posts are short (I understand that it a relative term) and to the point. Once you finish reading what he’s written, you don’t feel like you’re missing something. He puts his points across very well.

If you’re on twitter, follow him here.

The articles below are a few that I’ve enjoyed in my time reading “Blogging Theologically”. These articles are no way exclusive of the great writing he does on a daily basis, but there are just a few I’d like to point out:

  1. Choosing A New Preaching Bible
  2. Four And A Half Books I Shouldn’t Have Read As A New Christian
  3. Think About What You Read
  4. 3 Passages I Want to Preach (but have been afraid to)

Take some time over the next few days to check out this brother’s site. Grab a cup of coffee, your favorite reading device (smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc), and settle in for some good, honest reading. If you like what you read, recommend him to others.  Drop him a line if you can. Tell him that John sent you! 😉

Grace and Peace.

Have you already been to his site? What are your thoughts about it? Are there other sites you’d like to see highlighted for “Follow Friday”?

The 2014 Baptist21 Discussion Panel

On, Tuesday, 10 Jun 14, Baptist 21 held a luncheon during the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting. As it says on their website, Baptist 21…

…exists to contend for ‘the faith once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3).We embrace our past, believing this faith has been proclaimed in our Southern Baptist heritage. We work in the present, believing the Kingdom effectiveness of Southern Baptists will be in proportion to our fidelity to the Gospel. We cooperate for the future, believing the only hope for the people of the world is the Gospel of King Jesus.

I was fortunate to attend this luncheon and witness the discussion between the guest panel of speakers first hand. The panel was pretty amazing; an almost “who’s who” in the SBC, and there was no doubt that they kept the attention of all those in attendance. I won’t list their names here because Pastor Jonathan Akin introduces them on the video, but believe that the hour spent watching the video and listening to these gentlemen is an hour spent well.

Enjoy!

Weekend Reading #1 – 5/9/14

Here are some articles I’ve enjoyed over the past few days. Maybe you’ll enjoy them as well.

1. Tim Challies – The False Teachers: T.D. Jakes

Take a look at the other articles Challies has written in his “False Teachers” series here.

T.D. Jakes is associated with several troublesome teachings including the prosperity gospel and positive thinking. For our purposes, though, we will look at his teaching on the Trinity. Jakes has long been associated with Oneness Pentecostalism which holds to an unorthodox position on the Trinity. This position is known as Modalism or, historically, as Sabellianism.

You taught me from the word go that I’m not the center of your world, because I’m not the center of the world. And you told me who does have that position—the Lord Jesus. I was never allowed to rule our house, and you always made it clear that my opinions and preferences, though important, are not authoritative. Thank you for the times you were not able to spend time with me because you were ministering to someone else.

3. Hank Hanegraaff – Osteenification and What It Portends

Because Joel Osteen is the prime provocateur of a seductive brand of American Christianity that reduces God to a means to our ends. A message that beckons multitudes to the table of the Master, not for the love of the Master but for what is on the table. He is the de facto high priest of a new brand of Christianity perfectly suited for a feel-good generation. And while a host of pretenders (including Prince) follow in his train, Osteen is clearly the biggest of the bunch—according to People magazine, “twice as big as the nearest competitor.”

Go here to purchase the book for a donation of any amount.

4. John Zmirak – Why Young Christians Really Need to See the Film “Persecuted”

That gripping film depicts a time in the near American future when the state finally tires of having to accommodate the eccentric moral and doctrinal teachings that Christians hold dear. Those teachings prove “divisive,” and because they make claims of absolute truth they are hostile to “diversity.” So secular elites decide to bring the Christians into line—not with an iron fist, but a velvet glove. A glove full of money, a glove that pats believers gently on the head and shoos them into the background.

5. Raymond Bechard – Why Do Some Girls Matter More Than Others?

The girls woke suddenly to sharp sounds of the windows being broken, men shouting, and then…fire. Just as their confusion turned to panic the masked men burst into their dormitory, forced them from their beds and herded them into trucks. The trucks drove unopposed into the nearby forest holding 243 girls between 16 and 18 years old.

6. Chelsea Vicari – To My Fellow Millennials: Christian Persecution is a Social Issue

Among Millennials, the term “persecution” is a dirty word when applied to Christians. Society continues to paint Christians as “clamoring and crying” over nothing when we decry discrimination targeted our way.

7. This is a video my daughter had to watch and write an essay on for homework. It’s good. I appreciate her teacher assigning something like this.

Our Needs Are Met In The Cross of Christ

desert-cross

If perfect obedience to the law of God is the divine standard of righteousness-and it is-then there is not a single person who does not need to be justified before God. And if a single sin is sufficient to condemn us to eternal punishment, as the Bible says it is (see James 2:10), then everyone who has committed sin needs to be justified above all else. And if Solomon was right when he said that “there is no one who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46)-and our universal experience confirms that he was right-then God sent His Son to the cross to provide the solution to the greatest need of every person.

– “What’s So Great About the Doctrines of Grace”
Richard D. Phillips

My Friday Favorites – 14 Mar 14

Happy Pi Day! Yeah, it took a minute for me to get it as well – Pi = 3.14 (March 14)……I don’t like math. Anyway, here are a few links I’ve found interesting over the past week.

1. SBC Annual Meeting, 2014

– The Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting is being held in Baltimore, MD this year: 10 – 11 Jun 14. Excited would be an understatement.

2. The Most Difficult Ministry Decision I’ve Ever Made by Thabiti Anyabwile

– Emotional post from Pastor Thabiti. Please keep him, his family, and FBC of Grand Caymon in your prayers.

3. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus (Book Review) by Tim Challies

– Great summary/review of Nabeel Qureshi‘s book. I’m reading this one now and I am thoroughly enjoying it. If you don’t have it, I recommend picking it up.

4. How Churches Can Care for Their Pastor’s Children by Chap Bettis

– Insightful article on caring for the children of the family who is shepherding your family.

5. Darrell Bock on Fox News Talking about the Resurrection of Jesus

– Short but interesting video of Darrell Bock giving proof for the resurrection of Christ.

6John Piper GIFs

– Just funny.

7. Tracing the Line of the Promised Seed

– Pastor Voddie Baucham is just masterful at explaining the Bible. I so appreciate his passion for the gospel.

The Doctrines of Grace

“…the center of God’s will is the safest place in the world…”

-John Piper

7:06. That is the length of this video. That is how long John Piper will take to introduce to some, and reemphasize with others, why “the doctrines of God’s grace has been [his] life…”.

I have a deep and sincere appreciation for the Doctrines of Grace. In them, I am able to see the magnitude of who God is and the sovereignty that God claims. A magnitude that is unmatched by anyone and a sovereignty that He is duly owed. The Doctrines of Grace have shown me how utterly dependant I am on God and I am thankful for it. How can the creation be or do anything without the Creator? What is the use of a product without a Producer?

I don’t say these things to degrade our worth, but so that we look to the one who defines our worth, in Himself.

I enjoy this video not for the speaker, although I do enjoy John Piper’s ministry; but, I enjoy this video because of whom the speaker is speaking – God. The Holy, Sovereign, and Majestic One. Perfect in all His ways. Righteous in all He does.

“The Gospel Project” on Android! YES!!!

logo-defaultIt seems as though everyone in the “reformed” camp are *Apple fans. Nowadays, it’s commonplace to see everyone from Pastors to rappers communicating on their iPhones and preaching or speaking from their iPads.

Most, if not all, of the apps developed by reformed ministries are released on iOS before any other platform – including Android. I have to admit, as an Android user, it is quite frustrating. I can’t tell you how many apps are currently on the iOS that I would love to see on the Android platform. Take a look through the comments section of the many of the articles that introduce a new app released on the iOS platform – Android users are screaming for some love!

Enter “The Gospel Project” finally released on Android. I first learned of this project from the The Gospel Coalition website. I am extremely excited about it and I am grateful to Lifeway Christian Resources for releasing it on another platform. Lifeway is a great organization. Their resources are always biblically-focused, Christ-centered, and grounded in the gospel! As the education arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, they are dedicated to providing first-rate material for evangelical Christians. I’m sure you’ve seen the Lifeway Christian Stores in your area.

For those unfamiliar with this initiative –

The Gospel Project is a Bible study resource that invites Adults, Students, and Kids of all ages to dive deeply into God’s story of redemption through Jesus Christ. In every lesson, participants are immersed in the gospel and learn how when the gospel works on them, they become a part of the story, too, the very hands and feet in God’s gospel project.

Led by General Editor Ed Stetzer and Managing Editor Trevin Wax, The Gospel Project is designed to unify an entire church under a single Christ-centered curriculum. Separate study plans for adults, students, and kids ensure the proper focus and depth for each age group.

– The Gospel Project Website

Again, I am extremely excited about this program finally making its way to the Android platform and I look forward to eventually incorporating it in my family’s devotional time, as well as my personal devotional time. When you get a chance, take a look at their site and see how this resource can fit into your devotional life and even the life of your church. Grace and peace to you.

In Christ,
John

*I love my brother and sister Apple users. Y’all are good people! 😉

24 Jan 14 – Update: On 21 Jan 14, I made a comment on the original blog post regarding getting an message in the Google Play store about the adult app not being compatible with my device. (I am running a Galaxy Note 8.0 w/ Jelly Bean 4.2.2 – the app requires 4.0 and above.) My post was answered the same day and I was informed that someone was looking into the problem. Today, a Gospel Project (GP) representative (Erica) responded saying that the adult app should be fixed. It was! Thanks to the GP Team for such a prompt response and appropriate fix to the issue. Just another reason to pick up this app – the response time from the GP Team is remarkable!

“The Good Life” by Trip Lee (Book Review)

trip-lee-bookAt the young age of 26, Trip Lee (born William Lee Barefield III) has been working hard, by God’s grace, to glorify Christ. Trip is signed to Reach Records, he has released four albums, he has been on multiple tours (US and overseas), and he has been a guest rapper on a slew of singles and albums – that’s just his music career. As a minister of the life changing gospel of Jesus Christ, Trip has been pursuing a Biblical and Theological Studies degree from Boyce College (the undergraduate school of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), he has completed a Pastoral Internship with Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and he is a consistent speaker at some of the most biblically-centric conferences across the country. (I know I’m missing some other things God has allowed him to do.) Now, enter Trip Lee – the author.

The first thing I do when I pick up a book is take a look at the endorsements. If there are authors whom I read and opinions in respect, then the author has pretty much won me over. Granted, I usually read a few pages of the introduction or the first chapter, but endorsements by my favorite writers pretty much guarantees a sale. Trip Lee’s book, “The Good Life” shares its name with his most recently released studio album. (Which, by the way, is phenomenal. Get it here if you don’t have it yet.) To put it plainly, his book is about is about what it is titled as – the good life. Trip explains the good life as, “a life within our reach and yet beyond anything this world has to offer.”

Trip’s book consists of 12 short chapters divided into four easy to read sections. Although each section leads into the next, I believe that each section has the ability to stand on it’s own.

Section one introduces the reader to the good life. This section is three chapters of Trip comparing and contrasting what believers know to be the good life with what non-believers, i.e. the world, believes to be the good life. He slowly unpacks the three great liars in this life – “the world, the flesh and the Devil” (p.19) and lets the reader know how these lies have “promised the good life, but in reality they only kept us from it and leads us to death” (p.26). From this point, Trip beings to delve into the everlasting truths of the Savior.

Sections two and three are where Trip really starts to unpack the goodness of Christ. You can see from the chapter titles alone where he is taking the reader:

– Ch 4: The Good News
– Ch 5: The Good Book
– Ch 6: Good People
– Ch 7: Good Works
– Ch 8: Good Stuff
– Ch 9: Good Dreams
– Ch 10: Good Times

I appreciate how Trip is ever so careful to explain the gospel (what it is and the importance of it) and the scriptures. He is purposeful in the words he chooses and how he explains the concepts of repenting and being saved. But even further, he explains how there is nothing we, in and of ourselves, can do in our saving. He points the glory to whom rightfully deserves it – God. Even in his explaination of “how to live the good life” (section three), he is careful to give God the praise in his initiative of offering salvation to undeserving peoples.

The fourth and final section of the book is Trip explaining the good that comes from a good God. How we are called to have unwavering faith because “God has not promised to prosper, watch over, or bless those who rebel against Him” (p.141). He again encourages repentance and encourages the reader that no one, not even Satan himself, can hold your sins against you once you have submitted your life to the authority of Jesus Christ. He ends to book talking about the “forever good life” in heaven (p.152). An appropriate end to an encouraging book.

I particularly like he ends each chapter with an excerpt of the lyrics of a song from his album that relates to the subject matter of said chapter. Nice touch.

I believe Trip Lee has written an excellent book that I would feel comfortable recommending to believers and non-believers alike. I think it would be excellent to use in a teen study. I’ve thought about picking up another copy so that my daughter and I could go through it together. His writing is refreshing, energizing, and comfortable.  A reader decently versed in theology could tell that he is tackling some deep truths, but in no way is he speaking over the head of the reader. At 26, I believe Trip has a platform to speak to teens and young adults in a way that meets them on their level of life experience, and he can relate the scriptures to them in a way to show how meaningful and relevant the Bible is to their day to day lives. On the other side, he writes with a maturity that an older crowd, well versed in life and scripture, would have no problem gleaning some nuggets of truth from book about living a good life. Bottom line – this is a well done book by a godly brother whose life is genuinely lost in Christ.

Trip Lee’s blog
Trip Lee’s twitter

In Christ,
John

(This review was written on my own accord. I was not asked by anyone from Moody Publishing or Reach Records to write a favorable review of this book.)

Are They Talking About You As Well?

I look at the The Gospel Coalition (TGC) website every morning. For the past year or so, the TCG site has been for me, what CNN or Fox news is for others. It’s the site that I sit and read while I have my morning coffee and bagel. I have found numerous articles that have educated, encouraged, and enlightened me to ideas and topics to which I was not familiar.

There was one day in particular, that when I went to open the web page for my morning reading, I saw the post for the below video. I couldn’t wait to watch it. I saw three biblically faithful men having a round table discussion about people like me. The new preacher. The young preacher. The preacher who can count on one hand the number of sermons he has delivered. The preacher who wants to absolutely nail ever sermon he delivers straight out the gate. The preacher who so desperately wants to be faithful to God and fears compromising the text.

If you are like me, and you are new to preaching – or – maybe you’ve been preaching for a while, but need some pointers – I pray that this video is helpful. In my walk as a young preacher, I am always looking for advice and encouragement. I have been blessed to find that encouragement primarily in my Pastor and my church family. I have also found a decent amount here in this video. Especially the gallery metaphor that Pastor Tullian brought up. Enjoy!

The participants are:
PastorTullian
Russel Moore
Voddie Baucham