Archive for January, 2013
Posted on January 31st, 2013 by Eric Parker
Christianity Today recently interviewed David for their Leadership Journal. We wanted to highlight this interview because it gives a glimpse into the personal journey that Pastor David Platt and his family have been on since he taught at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
The interview covers David’s calling to be a pastor, his upcoming book entitled Follow Me, his reliance upon the Bible in leading Brook Hills, the universal call to disciple-making, and more. In addition, there are helpful gems throughout the interview concerning how each of us can be active participants in the Great Commission.
Posted on January 30th, 2013 by Eric Parker
- World Event
Just a few days removed from the anniversary of the so called “Arab Spring”, many people in Egypt are yet again protesting in hopes of obtaining some sort of a democratic society. Up until 2 years ago, Egypt was lead by Hosni Mubarak, whose presidency lasted for 30 years. The people, who were tired of the authoritarian rule of Mubarak and the military, forced Mubarak out of Egypt’s leadership in order to institute certain democratic liberties and privileges.
One of the main groups that provided major support in this effort was the Muslim Brotherhood. Once the revolt succeeded in ousting Mubarak, members from the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power through the election of Mohamed Morsi. Now, 2 years after Mubarak was displaced from office in order to begin to establish a more democratic society with a better economic future, it appears that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are not immune from a lust for authoritarian power either. Rioters have taken to the streets yet again in a fight for political and economic freedom.
The Heart of the Issue
What we are seeing in Egypt should not be surprising to us as Christians. We are used to seeing this when we read our Bibles. Time after time as you work your way through 1-2 Kings, you see the phrase, “So and so did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” No less than 30 kings throughout Judah and Israel’s history led the people into various forms of sin ranging from idolatry to social oppression. But why? Why are corrupt governments, dictators, and kings running rampant throughout world history?
The Christian has one simple answer: the Fall. Ever since sin entered the world through Adam and Eve, sin and Satan have had dominion over this world. Paul tells us in Romans 5:19 that “by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.” Not only have the many been made sinners through the Fall of Adam and Eve, but Paul also tells us that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel” (2 Cor. 4:4). When you have wicked sinners who are unable to see the truth of the gospel as beautiful fueling a rise to authoritative power on a national scale, then you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
What the people of Egypt, and of every nation, should ultimately desire is not a democratic nation lead by rebellious sinners, but an eternal kingdom lead by a righteous King. A kingdom in which righteousness, justice, and equality flourish. A kingdom that has no crime, no injustice, no pain, and no tears. We should all ultimately desire this kingdom because of the King. He is the King who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. He is the servant King who established an eternal kingdom through his sacrificial death. This is the King that all people should want.
May all Christians be thankful that we do not ultimately serve a government, dictator, or king here on this earth. May we say with the psalmist in Psalm 145:
“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations” (Ps. 145:8-13).
This year, The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL and Radical (Radical.net) will host approximately 50-100 pastors and church leaders from Sunday night to Wednesday morning, May 5-8. This Radical Intensive, “The Local Church and Global Disciple-Making,” is designed to serve pastors and church leaders who are interested in discussing how to infuse global disciple-making into the heart of their local church.
Come ready to explore it all … from the biblical basis of mission, to sending people out as short-term, mid-term and long-term missionaries, prioritizing the budget for global mission, and much more. It’s all on the table. Your senior pastor must be included in your church’s registrants. 2-4 total participants from each church are required, so it could be your senior pastor and 1-3 other church leaders. For more information and to register, go here!
Posted on January 30th, 2013 by Eric Parker
I was recently reading an anthology of C. S. Lewis’ works, and I came across this famous, yet insightful quote.
“There is no half-way house and there is no parallel in other religions. If you had gone to Buddha and asked him ‘Are you the son of Bramah?’ he would have said, ‘My son, you are still in the vail of illusion.’ If you had gone to Socrates and asked, ‘Are you Zeus?’ he would have laughed at you. If you had gone to Mohammed and asked, ‘Are you Allah?’ he would first have rent his clothes and then cut your head off. If you had asked Confucius, “Are you Heaven?’ I think he would have probably replied, ‘Remarks which are not in accordance with nature are in bad taste.’ The idea of a great moral teacher saying what Christ said is out of the question. In my opinion, the only person who can say that sort of thing is either God or a complete lunatic suffering from that form of delusion which undermines the whole mind of man. If you think you are a poached egg, when you are looking for a piece of toast to suit you, you may be sane, but if you think you are God, there is no chance for you. We may note in passing that He was never regarded as a mere moral teacher. He did not produce that effect on any of the people who actually met Him. He produced mainly three effects – Hatred – Terror – Adoration. There was no trace of people expressing mild approval.
C. S. Lewis, “The Business of Heaven: Daily Readings” in The Beloved Works of C. S. Lewis, 311
Posted on January 29th, 2013 by Cory Varden
“When God speaks, creation obeys. When he spoke the universe into existence, it happened (Gen 1:3-26). When he speaks into the cold, dead hearts of sinners, a new creation appears (2 Cor 5:17). When preachers exposit the Word of God and announce that Jesus is the Christ, the church is built (Matt 16:16-18). Whenever God’s Word is proclaimed, something comes into existence that wasn’t there before.
Even a casual observation of the evangelical landscape reveals that much of this church-building, Christ-centered, truth-driven, gospel proclaiming, expository preaching has turned into, well, something else. If the church is going to flourish, then something needs to change
If God’s people are going to be presented “mature in Christ,” then biblical, expository preaching needs to return to the sacred desk of the local churches.”
Excerpt from A Guide to Expository Ministry edited by Dan Dumas of Southern Seminary. I highly commend this great little resource to you. This book provides an insightful glimpse into what it means to preach, listen, and live in an expository manner.
Posted on January 28th, 2013 by Jonathan Lenning
Java Pesisir Lor of Indonesia
Persecution Rank: 45
About: The “Java Pesisir Lor” people are a distinctive Muslim Javanese sub-ethnic group. They inhabit the villages, small towns and cities which stretch south from the North Java
Sea to the hills and mountains that span two-thirds of the length of the island of Java. This
sub- ethnic group has more in common with the Islamic Malay-speaking traders and seafarers of other Indonesian coastal areas than with their Hindu-mystic Javanese cousins to the south. They are less emotionally reserved and in personal communication they can be direct and aggressive.
Although the majority of the Java Pesisir Lor people are farmers, fishermen, or both, the trend is for them to seek training for an increasing variety of urban and rural occupations throughout Indonesia. Every day the Pesisir Lor diet consists of a variety of rice and soybean-cake dishes, including vegetables and an occasional egg or bit of meat, always cooked with spices and served with either tea or coffee. Arabic clothing style and drama forms are the current rage. Pesisir “batik” cloth is an explosion of bright colors. The Pesisir Lor people’s preferred musical instruments are cymbals, drums and two stringed musical instruments, rather than the traditional five-tone Javanese “gamelan”. Reading the Qur’an and practicing martial arts take precedence over shadow plays and courtly dances. One-story bamboo-framed homes and modern brick homes are build side by side, both constructed with red tiled roofs.
The Pesisir Lor need better access to underground water sources and a better system of dams and irrigation. More large-scale industry needs to be developed throughout the area in order to provide a greater variety of work opportunities for the poor masses. Current channels for many of their industrial and commercial products are not adequate.
Nearly all the Pesisir Lor people profess the Sunni Islamic faith, but Sufi mystical beliefs are widely practiced. Orthodox “santri” Muslims seek divine favor through the mediating spirit of Sheik Abdul Kadir Jaelani and the public reading of his holy book, Manaqib. In contrast, mystic “abangan” Javanese perform the “Selametan Rasulan” religious ritual to seek the blessings of not only the prophet Mohammed, but also numerous saints, spirits and deities. Most orthodox Javanese seek to practice the nine guidelines laid down by Sunan Ja’far and Sunan Kalijaga, two of the nine original Islamic missionaries who brought Islam to the north coast of Java and whose graves there are venerated to this day. These nine guidelines include: religious law, reality, mysticism, wisdom, confession of faith, ritual prayers, alms, fasting and pilgrimage. Year around groups of the Javaneses Pesisir Lor people travel to these graves beseeching the ancient spirits for health, salvation and sustenance.
- Thank God for the 1.9% evangelical Christians among Indonesia’s Java Pesisir Lor people. Ask Him to give these brothers and sisters wisdom, boldness, and passion to proclaim Jesus.
- Pray that God equips, grows, and matures His church among the Pesisir Lor.
- Pray that the Lord sends laborers into the harvest among the Pesisir Lor.
- Ultimately, ask the Lord to unblind the Pesisir Lor’s eyes from deception of Islam and mysticism, soften their hearts, convict them of their sin, and kindly draw them to repentance as they place their hope and trust in Christ alone – the one true God.
“Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!”
Posted on January 25th, 2013 by Cory Varden
As we look back this week on the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade which legalized abortion in our nation for any reason, it seems appropriate to highlight some truly insightful and somewhat disturbing posts.
1. Abortion and the Gospel from Russell Moore: Too often, pastors and church leaders assume that, when talking about abortion, their invisible debating partner is the “pro-choice” television commentator or politician. Not so. Many of the people endangered by the abortion culture aren’t even pro-choice.
2. Feminist says baby is “a life worth sacrificing” from Denny Burk: This week marks the 40th anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision—a monstrosity that has presided over the legal killing of over 55 million human beings since 1973. And yet in the wake of this horror, the pro-abortionists are feeling the wind at their backs
3. We Know They are Killing Children–All of Us Know from John Piper: One biblical principle of justice is that the more knowledge we have that our action is wrong, the more guilty we are, and the more deserving of punishment (Luke 12:47–48). The point of this blog post is that we know what we are doing — all America knows. We are killing children. Pro-choice and Pro-life people both know this.
Posted on January 24th, 2013 by Cory Varden
Excerpt from an insightful article by Grace Thornton regarding migration and God’s sovereignty:
It was one meal out in Baltimore, not too different from what a lot of Alabamians do for dinner. Who could’ve known their conversation with a waitress would start a church planting movement in Asia?
Samuel and Young Cho didn’t know that going in — but they were open.
“When they met their server, a young girl from Nepal, they built rapport with her and shared the gospel. And then they met her friends,” said J.D. Payne, pastor for church multiplication at The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham.
The couple planted a Nepali church in Baltimore, reaching people the young waitress knew.
They didn’t stop there.
“They found out that she still had tight connections with people in Nepal, so they traveled to visit her friends there,” Payne said. “They took gifts from the Nepalis of Baltimore back to their families in Nepal, and they stayed in their houses while they were there.”
And they planted a church in Nepal — with 200 people. It has only spread from there, Payne said.
“That one Nepali server in Baltimore was just the first domino to fall in a huge chain of people coming to know Christ in Asia,” he said.
It’s a new door divinely opened to believers in the last few years — the chance to meet immigrants in the West and reach their home countries by using their existing social networks, Payne said. “What is the potential for what God can do with the movement of unreached people groups into our neighborhood? It only takes one Ethiopian eunuch to take the gospel back to Ethiopia.”
Read this entire article here. HT: Grace Thorton
Posted on January 23rd, 2013 by Eric Parker
Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection can seem more difficult at times in the postmodern West. Many people view truth as merely a relative concept. They understand truth to be tailor made to each individual person. So it is no surprise that religion in general, and Christianity in particular, is set aside as just one way among many ways to get to God (if he even exists!).
We usually feature a voice from the past from much further back, but John Stott who recently went home to be with Jesus, is so helpful for believers in this contemporary postmodern culture. He, along with others like C.S. Lewis, argue that the real issue that everyone must deal with is the historical person of Jesus. We must come to grips with Jesus. If Jesus is who he claims to be, then that has radical implications for relativism and all of its adherents. I offer you three excerpts from Stott on the divinity/humanity of Jesus, the self-centeredness of Jesus’ teaching, and the morality of Jesus.
Divinity/Humanity of Jesus
We regard him neither as God in human disguise, nor as a man with divine qualities, but as the God-man. We are persuaded that Jesus was a historic person possessing two distinct and perfect natures, Godhead and manhood, and in this to be absolutely and for ever unique. Only so could he be worthy not just of our admiration but of our worship (14).
Self-centeredness of Jesus’ Teaching
This self-centredness of the teaching of Jesus immediately sets him apart from the other great religious teachers of the world. They were self-effacing. He was self-advancing. They pointed men away from themselves, saying, ‘That is the truth, so far as I perceive it; follow that.’ Jesus said, ‘I am the truth; follow me.’ The founder of none of the ethnic religions ever dared to say such a thing. The personal pronoun forces itself repeatedly on our attention as we read his words (15).
Morality of Jesus
We are concerned then to show that Jesus stands in a moral category by himself. To concede that he was ‘the greatest man who ever lived’ does not begin to satisfy us. We cannot talk of Jesus in comparative, or even superlative terms. To us it is a question not of comparison, but of contrast. ‘Why do you call me good?’ he asked the rich young ruler. ‘No one is good but God alone.’ ‘Exactly’, we should have replied. ‘It is not that you are better than other men, nor even that you are the best of men, but that you are good—good with the absolute goodness of God.’ The importance of this claim should be clear. Sin is a congenital disease among men. We are born with its infection in our nature. It is a universal complaint. Therefore if Jesus of Nazareth was without sin, he was not just man as we know men. If he was sinless, he was distinct from us. He was supernatural.
John Stott, Basic Christianity, 30-31
Posted on January 22nd, 2013 by Cory Varden
“Pro-choice advocates argue, “Every woman has the right to choose what she does with her own body.” Ironically the choice of abortion assures that something like 650,000 females in the United States each year don’t have the right to choose what they do with their bodies. (That number is roughly half of aborted children, the other half being males, though as we’ve seen the rate of females aborted is even higher.)
The fact is that a female killed by abortion no longer has a life, a choice, or a body to exercise control over. All of these have been stripped from her by adults.
Despite the fact that he is choosing do do what he wants to with his own body, a man isn’t permitted to expose himself. There are laws against public urination, prostitution, drug use, trespassing, and even loitering, even though every one of them involves a choice to do something with one’s own body. Most of us agree with these laws, even though they restrict personal freedoms, but always in the interests of others whose personal freedoms they directly or indirectly violate.
My hand is part of my body, but I’m not free to use it to strike you or steal from you or hurt your child, or mine. Aren’t you glad the law prevents me from doing whatever I might want with my own body?”
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