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  1. Death to Life: A New Album from Brook Hills Music

    Posted on April 17th, 2014 by David Burnette

    Inspired by Secret Church 14, Brook Hills Music has just released this new album, “Death to Life.”

    Go here to get it from iTunes.

     

  2. The Mercy of Signs

    Posted on April 17th, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning

    imgres-1“And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.” John 6:2

    Throughout the Gospels, the word “sign” is used like this, referring to Jesus’ supernatural works. As I read about these many signs, it’s all too easy for me to thoughtlessly throw them in the “miracle” category of Jesus’ ministry so I can move on to deeper and more practical things.

    But this is short-sighted and careless. What is a sign? By its very definition, a sign is “something (such as an action or event) which shows that something else exists, is true, or will happen.” This means that Jesus’ many miracles were not an end in themselves. By referring to them as signs, Scripture makes it clear that they had a greater purpose. In essence, the miracles of Jesus were intended to reveal God to man.

    This means that our hope is greater than any here-and-now miracle. Our hope is the eternal Miracle-Worker. Jesus once said,

    “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—”Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” (Matthew 9:5-6)

    Jesus healed many people physically, but that was never his ultimate aim. According to the Father’s will, he had the whole sinner in mind. The fact that his goal was not just to temporarily heal the hurt but to eternally save the sinner means that his miracles are actually far more merciful than they appear. They reveal him as God, the only one who can forgive sin, and thus, they beckon the sinner to humble faith in him for salvation.

    Signs are not interesting stories about an ancient “super hero.” Neither are they mere miracles. They are merciful acts of a God who loves the fallen people he created enough to reveal himself to them. As we read about these signs in God’s Word (another gift of his mercy), let us cherish them for all that they are.

  3. The Missionary Question

    Posted on April 16th, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning

    The missionary question is not, “Where are there unbelievers?”
    The missionary question is, “Where are there peoples who don’t have any Christians among them?”

    HT: Justin Taylor

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    Heaven is for Real

    Posted on April 15th, 2014 by Radical

    As you may have heard, Todd Burpo’s best-selling book, Heaven is for Real, has been turned into a movie and it hits the theaters Wednesday (April 16th). Burpo’s four-year-old son allegedly visited heaven after being anesthetized for an appendectomy, and the book tells his story.

    Unfortunately, Heaven is for Real isn’t the only book of its kind to hit the shelves, or even the only best-seller. The popularity of these I-went-to-heaven books led David Platt to address the issue in Secret Church 13, “Heaven, Hell, and the End of the World.” Much of Pastor David’s critique is based on this resource put out by Phil Johnson of “Grace to You,” the ministry of John MacArthur.

    That so many believers are allowing these accounts of heaven to shape their thinking is a sad commentary on our ability to discern what is and what isn’t biblical. God’s Word, not personal testimonies, must be the measuring line for how we think of heaven and every other aspect of truth. Hopefully, the conversation surrounding the movie Heaven is for Real will give you an opportunity to share with someone how we know that heaven is for real, and most importantly, how to get there.

  5. Struggling With Prayer?

    Posted on April 15th, 2014 by Eric Parker

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    Have you ever struggled with getting started in prayer each day? D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones gives this really helpful encouragement:

    I have come to learn certain things about private prayer. You cannot pray to order. You can get on your knees to order; but how to pray? I have found nothing more important than to learn how to get oneself into that frame and condition in which one can pray. You have to learn how to start yourself off, and it is just here that this knowledge of yourself is so important. What I have generally found is that to read something which can be characterized in general as devotional is of great value. By devotional I do not mean something sentimental, I mean something with a true element of worship in it. Notice that I do not say that you should start yourself in prayer by always reading the Scriptures; because you can have precisely the same difficulty there. Start by reading something that will warm your spirit. Get rid of a coldness that may have developed in your spirit. You have to learn how to kindle a flame in your spirit, to warm yourself up, to give yourself a start. It is comparable, if you like, to starting a car when it is cold. You have to learn how to use a spiritual choke. I have found it most rewarding to do that, and not to struggle vainly. When one finds oneself in this condition, and that it is difficult to pray, do not struggle in prayer for the time being, but read something that will warm and stimulate you, and you will find that it will put you into a condition in which you will be able to pray more freely.

    D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching & Preachers, 181-182

  6. A Great Website on Missions is Now Even Better

    Posted on April 14th, 2014 by Eric Parker

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    Many of you may be familiar with Joshua Project. Joshua Project is an amazing resource ministry that can be used to learn about, pray for, and go to people groups all over the world for the sake of the gospel. We wanted to let you know that they have a new updated look that is sure to make it easier to learn more about the different peoples of the world.

    They make it easy to:

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    1. Find people groups by country, language, listings, and maps.

     

     

     

     

     

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        2. Find accurate global statistics.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 1.59.05 PM3. Find ways to get involved.

     

     

     

     

     

    Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 2.01.33 PM    4. Access media resources, articles and books, handouts and presentations, prayer guides, and more.

     

     

     

     

  7. Secret Church Interview with the Erwin Brothers, Part 2

    Posted on April 12th, 2014 by Jonathan Lenning

    Yesterday, we posted part 1 of an interview with the Erwin brothers about how the gospel affects their work as filmmakers. Today is part 2…

    Be sure you check out their upcoming movie, Mom’s Night Out. Also, we invite you to join us 6 days from now for a the Secret Church simulcast with David Platt as we dive into “The Cross and Everyday Life,” a topic that will cover the affect of the cross on both work and entertainment.

  8. Well Said…

    Posted on April 11th, 2014 by Cory Varden

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    The Bible is the Dividing Line, Denny Burk: In recent days, there has been a lot of division among “evangelicals” over the issue of homosexuality. But those with eyes to see and ears to hear know that homosexuality is not really the fundamental issue. The issue that “evangelicals” are facing is whether or not we will look to scripture as the supreme and infallible authority.

    Moralism is Not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think it is), Albert Mohler: One of the most amazing statements by the Apostle Paul is his indictment of the Galatian Christians for abandoning the Gospel. “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel,” Paul declared. As he stated so emphatically, the Galatians had failed in the crucial test of discerning the authentic Gospel from its counterfeits.

    The Uselessness of the Twitter Battles, Trevin Wax: I know what a Twitter battle is because I’ve engaged in them a time or two. After the last one, I came to the realization that these online interactions are virtually useless in creating and sustaining real and meaningful conversations about highly-charged issues.

  9. Voskamp_Hudson

    Sophie Quote

    Ann Voskamp and Sophie Hudson recently sat down with Pastor David and his wife, Heather, to talk about a number of topics surrounding this year’s Secret Church topic, “The Cross and Everyday Life.”  Ann is the author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are and she blogs at “A Holy Experience.” Sophie is the author of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, Family, and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon and she blogs over at “BooMama.”

    Ann and Sophie each bring a unique perspective to this discussion in their respective roles as wife, mother, author, and blogger. Yesterday we posted our interview with Ann about Secret Church and how the gospel impacts everyday life. Today we put Sophie on the hot-seat.

    Sophie …

    SophieTell us a little about your involvement with Secret Church and how it has impacted you.

    Sophie:  Since we’re members at Brook Hills, I remember the first time David announced that we were going to do Secret Church. I tried to listen really carefully as he went over some of the details–it would help us identify with the persecuted church, it would be six hours of intensive Bible study, it would be on a Friday night–and because I am so deeply spiritual, my first reaction was, “Oh. Bless his heart. I just don’t know that people are going to show up for that.”

    Clearly I’ve been given the gift of prophecy.

    I ended up volunteering to help at either the second or third Secret Church, and I was blown away. For one thing I was so moved by the sight of all the college students who showed up at our church and gave up their Friday nights to study the Bible. But the biggest thing for me has been that when you get to cover that much scriptural ground in one sitting, it is utterly encouraging (and oh-so-humbling) to be reminded of the consistency of God’s character, the depth of His love, and the sufficiency of the cross. So, despite my ROCK SOLID initial reaction, now I totally get why people all over the world participate in Secret Church via simulcast. It’s an incredibly edifying and convicting and affirming six hours. There’s no agenda other than the faithful proclamation of what God reveals to us through His Word.

    And I also think that the later Secret Church gets, the funnier David gets. But that is just my personal observation.

    You’ve got a new book coming out next year … can you tell us a little about what you’re working on? 

    Sophie:  Oh, it’s pretty much exactly like Radical and Follow Me, except I added in an exegetical take on the book of Leviticus because I was feeling bored and needed a challenge.

    I kid.

    It’s actually going to be another book of Southern stories. For my last book (A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet), David planned a ten-week sermon series on it but called it off after the first week because he felt like it had more rich theological content than he could possibly cover. Actually, that didn’t happen at all–the book is mostly about God’s faithfulness to us through our families. This new one, which I think is going to be called Home Is Where My People Are, is a little more focused on friendship and how God faithfully puts the right people in our lives at the right times. It’s scheduled to be released in February of 2015, but that’s all dependent on whether or not I finish writing it. FINGERS CROSSED.

    Your focus on family fits with an issue we’ll cover in Secret Church 14–how husbands and wives treat one another. So how should the gospel inform these relationships? 

    Sophie:  So you know how you’ll be at church and you’ll see a couple in the congregation who have this amazing zeal for service and they talk about how, from the early days of their marriage, all they’ve wanted is to serve the Lord together and make His name known and leave a rich spiritual legacy for their kids? I love those couples. But that is not the story of my marriage.

    When David and I got married almost 17 years ago, we didn’t have the faintest idea about how the gospel should inform our relationship. I mean, we wanted to treat each other well and love each other well and all that, but in terms of the parallels between the gospel and marriage … I don’t think we’d have been able to articulate that, even after growing up in the church.

    But here’s why it’s so cool that God doesn’t leave us where He finds us. By His grace, He has shown both of us that the gospel is not just the foundation of our marriage; it is the purpose of our marriage. We die to ourselves and love each other and sacrifice for each other and lovingly confront each other and support each other, not so that we can be happy, but so that God can be glorified. That doesn’t mean that marriage is daily misery that we endure, because the kicker to this whole thing is that there is such joy and contentment in lovingly surrendering and submitting yourself to another person. Marriage has been one of the most sanctifying experiences of my life, no doubt about it, but by the same token it has been such a privilege to see the Lord do amazing things in the life and heart of my husband. I am unspeakably grateful for that.

    As for parenting: How much time do you have? Every moment of parenting parallels something in my relationship with God. I can’t think about how much David and I love our son without thinking of one of my favorite hymns: “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure; that He would give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.” For me, motherhood has exposed every insecurity I have, every tendency to compare and keep score and feel like all the other mamas have everything under control and I’m the only train wreck in the bunch. But what I’ve learned is that I don’t have to be a perfect mama with a perfect child in order to be in the center of God’s perfect will. Motherhood is messy and wonderful and difficult and glorious; I will never get over how the Lord teaches us as we teach the little ones He’s entrusted to us. Yes, it can be a hard road to travel sometimes, but let’s not miss that the road leads us to healing, redemptive places.

    We’re also going to be talking about sports, and it’s no secret that you’re a huge sports fan—Mississippi State to be exact. So what are the dangers and blessings of sports as you see it? 

    Sophie:  Well, I’ve always been very level-headed and even-keeled where sports are concerned.

    And now I’m just gonna sit here and wait for some lightning to strike me (!)

    Listen. I love me some sports. My daddy and I always went to Mississippi State games (football, baseball, basketball – you name it) when I was growing up, and even now that is my favorite thing to do as a family. Just this morning, in fact, I felt a little giddy when I realized that the SEC baseball tournament is just a little over a month away because our family just enjoys the fire out of it.

    Given all of that, I am all too aware that sports can take on a significance in my life that is neither merited nor healthy. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stories and the games and the drama, especially living here in the heart of the SEC. So I am forever asking the Lord to help me keep that part of my heart and my life in check. It gets tricky with kids’ sports, too. As parents, we can take something that’s so good for our children–being on a team, sacrificing for teammates, learning to work with others–and taint that thing with our pride and our egos and our expectations.

    I have learned (and I am still learning) that there’s a big difference between enjoying something and elevating it to god-like status in my life. If sports are a hobby, that’s awesome. But if sports are an idol, that’s troublesome. Sometimes that means that I have to distance myself from the message boards, and I’ve pretty much quit listening to sports radio altogether. That’s not because those things are bad; that’s just because my preoccupation with those things can start to create a barrier in my relationship with the Lord and change my priorities in a way that’s not necessarily wise.

    All that being said, there can be so many blessings that come from sports. There are physical benefits from playing and participating, and sports are the source of so many of our favorite family memories. I just have to be careful to keep those things in perspective and remember that there is no place in Scripture where Jesus rang a cowbell and screamed, “Hail State.”

    As a wife and mother, why do you think this particular Secret Church topic is so crucial?

    Sophie:  It’s everything, isn’t it? I mean, I can have all the head knowledge in the world, I can quote Scripture and sing hymns and memorize the entire book of Psalms, but if I’m not lovingly putting the gospel into practice in my everyday life in terms of how I care for and respond to my family and co-workers and neighbors and people who don’t know Jesus, then some part of my so-called cross-centered life is out of line (I just re-read that last sentence and thought, Um, that’s pretty much the gist of 1 Corinthians 13, and really, Paul says it so much better). Sometimes I think I learn more about where I am in my walk with Christ when I’m standing in line for a car tag than when I’m spending the weekend at a women’s retreat, because the daily stuff is where I see the places in my head and my heart that aren’t fully surrendered (Can we please talk about the opportunities for sanctification that are available to us in the carpool line? Or at Chuck E. Cheese?). Our day-to-day routines are where the sacred and the ordinary intersect, so how we view the gospel absolutely affects how we walk it out in all the different areas of our lives.

    For more information or to register for Secret Church 14, “The Cross and Everyday Life,” go here.

  10. Voskamp_Hudson

    Ann Voskamp and Sophie Hudson recently sat down with Pastor David and his wife, Heather, to talk about a number of topics surrounding this year’s Secret Church topic, “The Cross and Everyday Life.”  Ann is the author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are and she blogs at “A Holy Experience.” Sophie is the author of A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, Family, and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon and she blogs over at “BooMama.”

    Ann and Sophie each bring a unique perspective to this discussion in their respective roles as wife, mother, author, and blogger. We decided to post their answers in two parts – Ann’s post is below and Sophie’s will appear tomorrow. In this first post, we asked Ann several questions about how the gospel impacts her everyday life.

    So Ann…

    What are you working on these days? (family, church, writing, etc.)

    Anna VoskampAnn:  There’s the raising and teaching of our 6 exuberant kids, including 4 teenagers, and then there’s the attempt to go deeper with the families in the small group that we host and lead. I’m also studying Scripture and writing the next book out of that time of studying. But you know, as our family has been reading and memorizing the book of John this year, I keep returning to John 6:29 (Amplified Bible): “Jesus replied, ‘This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in His Messenger].’” Jesus is saying that our realest work always is, no matter what we’re doing with our hands, to trust Him. Unless I choose again and again today to trust Jesus, what I am practicing is atheism, not faith. So no matter what the work is, the real work is to trust God and His unwavering, ultimate goodness and the complete and saving work of Christ on the cross. That’s the work everyday: I. Trust. You. Jesus.

    You’ve previously been involved with Secret Church through live-tweeting. What makes the topic “The Cross and Everyday Life” so important?

    Ann:  I will never forget the words David Platt preached the Sunday I was at Brook Hills, only a few weeks before Christmas. He said, “Your only hope for joy, your only hope for peace, your only hope for comfort, your only hope for strength and your only hope for love in this life … is found in the cross of Jesus Christ. Your only hope in this life is found in the brutal, bloody, humiliation of a naked man on a wooden post. My hope is that you go out of this building clinging to the cross of Christ.” And THAT is the crux of everything. Sometimes I wonder if we see the cross simply as our door into God’s presence instead of regarding it as our only air in God’s presence. We don’t get over the cross, but rather we spend a lifetime allowing God to get the cross into us. Christ said it on the cross: It is finished, and Christ finished it, but I am never finished with the cross. I need a cross-centered life if I am going to live the Christ-filled life. The cross is the sign of God’s lavish, unfathomable affection for us, and we need the cross daily because of these two realities: 1) How else can I remember that He loves me? 2) How else can I remember how to die daily? We need a place of execution in our lives if we’re ever to rightly execute a life of faith. Bottom line: If my life isn’t cross-centered, my life is off-centered, and the warping spin leaves me sick. My life needs centri-faith force and the centrality of the cross is the force that holds together my universe. Grace is my gravity and the Cross is my cosmos. If everything in my world is spinning out of control, is it because I’ve lost the centrality of the cross? The Cross isn’t just the kindling that ignites our Christian life … the cross is the very fuel of all of our life. If the the cross of Christ isn’t your everyday fuel, the fire you warm your heart around, then you grow cold. Your faith goes nowhere. So God never moves us beyond the cross; He moves more deeply into the cross, and then we are so moved by this grace that we move out into the world.

    In One Thousand Gifts you’ve written about being grateful for God’s everyday gifts. How do you see this idea overlapping with this year’s Secret Church theme? How does gratitude fit in with the gospel?

    Ann:  I read in Scripture that the gospel shapes us in two fundamental ways, much like what we see happening at the gathering of the Last Supper:

    1) The shape of the Christ-life is eucharistic — Jesus takes the bread and does what? He gives thanks, eucharisteo in Greek (the original biblical language). So the shape of the Christ-life is firstly eucharistic, full of gratitude for the incomprehensible grace of the constant goodness of God, thankfulness for the saving grace of Christ, endless gratefulness for the relentless love and companionship of Jesus and His tender sanctification of our souls. Because of Christ, the call on our life is nothing short of wholesale gratitude.

    2) We see how, at the Last Supper, the shape of the Christ-life is secondly cruciform. The shape of our lives should be cross-like, full of cross-like sacrifice. Jesus took that bread, gave thanks for it, and then broke it and gave it. How does our everyday life look like Christ did in that moment of breaking the bread, symbolic of His body, and of giving Himself away? How do we, on a daily basis, embody the cross, the sacrificial love that we’ve experienced, and then pass it on to a hurting world? If our lives don’t look eucharistic, full of gratitude, or cruciform, sacrificially shaped like the cross, then how will we bring the good news to the world?

    What do everyday routines and responsibilities look like for you as the wife of a farmer, a mom to six, a homeschooler, and a writer?

    Ann:  Gritty. Loud. A bit of a crucible. A gift. We have 6 kids, 8 to 18. All the kids work for 2-3 hours each morning in the barn doing barn chores, taking care of hundreds of sows and piglets. Then they come in for breakfast, then morning routines, which fold into math, Latin, grammar, and spelling. After lunch, we have read-alouds covering literature, history, science, Shakespeare, poetry, and then piano practices. I write in the margins, the fringe hours, early morning, late at night.

    TableBy far, the routine that most anchors our days and shapes us is that we eat around the table together three meals a day, and we never, ever leave the table without chewing The Real Bread. If you sit down to eat, you never leave the table without eating Words — you have time for Real Food. Because we just came to realize that the food served on plates … is actually dead food. The food we eat has to be kept in the fridge like a corpse, or it would rot. The food we serve on plates is dead food. But when we eat Scripture, we eat the only real food, for Christ is Living Bread. We are eating He who sustains all things, body and soul. When we eat His Words, we eat of the eternal Word. Deuteronomy 8:3 says, ” … man does not live by bread only, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Amplified Bible). The Word of God is what is living and active; it’s a Word that can revive the hungry, and when we eat the Book, the cells in the body, they rejuvenate, enlivened with the true strength. Eating Scripture three times a day as a family around the table … that’s the everyday routine, the one spiritual habit that has most changed us. A body, famished, needs to eat and there’s only one way to eat life. This was actually so paramount to us that we had a table built for our family (by the same carpenter who built the house I grew up in). The table was built out of barn beams and it has eight drawers around all around it, so each person has a drawer at the table with their Bible in it. So when we are done eating, each child opens his/her drawer and takes out real food and we read Scripture together around the table. Because really, to live Christ-centric is to live Word-Centric.

    –Stay tuned for tomorrow’s interview with Sophie Hudson. For more information or to register for Secret Church 14, “The Cross and Everyday Life,” go here.