Archive for the ‘Featured Resource’ Category
Posted on February 12th, 2013 by David Burnette
Speaking of Jesus’ sobering warning in Matthew 7:21-23, pastor David Platt says the following in his recently released book Follow Me:
“These are some of the most frightening words in all the Bible. As a pastor, I stay awake some nights haunted by the thought that many people sitting in church on Sunday may be surprised one day to stand before Jesus and hear him say to them, “I never knew you; away from me!” (7-8)
Platt’s words are reminiscent of an illustration from Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan’s classic allegory. Bunyan speaks of an entrance to hell from the portals of heaven. Follow Me is aimed at helping us avoid such deception.
We need to know precisely what Jesus means when He utters those two simple, yet loaded words: “Follow Me” (Matt 4:19). The fact that many will be surprised on the Day of Judgment to hear that Jesus never really knew them is precisely why we must understand what it means to follow Christ today.
“We are all prone to spiritual deception – every single one of us. When Jesus says these words in Matthew 7, he’s not talking about irreligious atheists, agnostics, pagans, and heretics. He’s talking about good, religious people – men and women associated with Jesus who assume that their eternity is safe and will one day be shocked to find out that it is not. Though they professed belief in Jesus and did all kinds of work in his name, they never truly knew him.” (8)
This month we will continue to feature excerpts from Follow Me. If you or someone you know has never seriously considered what the Bible has to say about following Christ, this resource would serve as a great spiritual check-up.
Posted on February 5th, 2013 by Cory Varden
Two simple words: “Follow Me.” Many people profess to be Christians without truly considering what it means to follow the Lord Jesus. This is more than an invitation to pray a prayer. It is a summons to lose your life. And find new life in Christ.
Pastor David continues to challenge some of our common misconceptions and cultural Christian norms concerning what it means to be a follower of Christ. While Radical focused largely on what we leave behind (the American Dream, for instance), Follow Me encourages us to take an honest look at the One whom we move toward and embrace. This book compels each one of us to examine the validity and vitality of our own personal faith. “Follow Me” is a life and death message for all who claim the name of Christ.
“The book you hold in your hands is all about living your life with peace as a disciple of Jesus and ending your life with confidence as you make disciples of Jesus. This book is about the exhilarating journey of eternal life that awaits every person who truly responds to Jesus’ simple invitation: “Follow me.”" (p.xix)
So, have you responded to that foundational command – “Follow Me”? To find out more about the book you can click here.
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 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?”
Posted on January 15th, 2013 by Cory Varden
“A representative of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) spoke in a high school class on the merits of abortion. A student asked the teacher if I could come to present the pro-life position. When I arrived a week later, the pro-choice instructor informed me that his students had voted 23-1 for the pro-choice position.
I presented the case for the humanity and rights of unborn children. I showed intrauterine photographs demonstrating the development of the unborn at the earliest stages abortions are performed.
After class, the teacher said to me, “If we were to vote again, the outcome would be different. Minds were changed.” Then he added something remarkable: “You know, until today I’d never heard the pro-life position.”
We pride ourselves on being open-minded and providing a fair and fact-oriented education. Yet here was a fifty-five year old social science teacher with a master’s degree who’d never once heard the pro-life position. He had uncritically accepted the pro-choice position from others, and his students had done the same.”
I wonder how many people would fall in the same category that Randy Alcorn describes in the opening pages of his book, Why Pro-Life?. Let us work diligently to make sure that the people around us do not fall into this category. Let us at the very least make sure that people are making informed decisions about such a weighty matter. I commend this book to you as a great resource is addressing this issue.
Posted on December 18th, 2012 by David Burnette
We normally highlight a book as a featured resource each week, but Andrew Peterson’s Christmas album, “Behold the Lamb of God,” certainly qualifies as an edifying Christmas resource. If you haven’t heard it yet, you can go here and listen. The album is creative and the lyrics are full of biblical content. Peterson captures not only the very earthy and human elements of the events surrounding the nativity (see “Labor of Love”), but he is also able to place Christ’s coming within God’s overall plan of redemption.
The song below, “Deliver Us,” speaks to the reason Jesus came as it was announced to Joseph by the angel – “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). Israel’s exodus from Egypt and their return from exile were only pointers to a greater redemption, a redemption that was at the heart of Christ’s coming at Christmas:
Our enemy, our captor is no pharaoh on the Nile
Our toil is neither mud nor brick nor sand
Our ankles bear no calluses from chains, yet Lord, we’re bound
Imprisoned here, we dwell in our own land
Deliver us, deliver us
Oh Yahweh, hear our cry
And gather us beneath your wings tonight
Our sins they are more numerous than all the lambs we slay
These shackles they were made with our own hands
Our toil is our atonement and our freedom yours to give
So Yahweh, break your silence if you can
How often I have longed
To gather you beneath my gentle wings’
– Here’s the live version posted by Kevin DeYoung earlier this week:
Posted on December 5th, 2012 by David Burnette
If you’re looking for a resource on making the most of the Christmas/Advent season for the glory of God, don’t miss Noel Piper’s book, Treasuring God in our Traditions.
This book is extremely practical, highlighting a number of different ways to weave our traditions into the fabric of our “everyday lives” for the ultimate goal of treasuring our great God. In addition to the everyday traditions, Piper also includes chapters on Christmas and Easter. From the introduction to her chapter, “Especially Christmas,” she says,
“Christmas is only one small part of a whole year of living, working, and ministering in our churches and to our neighbors, of meeting our family’s physical needs, of teaching our children. Just one small part of the year – but with our hearts and spirits open in anticipation and excitement, what an ideal opportunity for remembering and teaching.
We’ve seen in earlier chapters how important it is to plan our “everyday” traditions so that we reflect our view of the world and God. How much more important our planning is for celebrations of a world-shaking event like God being born a baby so that we can be reborn as his children.” (76)
Also included in this chapter:
- A brief summary on the meaning of Advent
- Thoughts on various Advent symbols, including candles
- Suggestions for manger scenes
- Thoughts on reflecting God’s generosity during Christmas
- A section tiled “Thinking About Santa”
Posted on November 27th, 2012 by Cory Varden
It is possible though by no means certain that Christianity may be more plausible to you now that you’ve read this book. You may have been personally moved by some of the descriptions of our world’s need, your own condition, and Christ’s mission in the world. What if you are ready to explore what it means to put your faith in Christ? Where do you go from here?
We usually begin the journey toward God thinking, “What do I have to do to get this or that from him?” but eventually we have to begin thinking, “What do I have to do to get him?” If you don’t make that transition, you will never actually meet the real God, but will only end up believing in some caricature version of him.
I invite you to take this journey toward God and let this resource help you overcome your skepticism in the journey towards repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
Posted on November 20th, 2012 by Cory Varden
In our featured resource this month, The Reason for God by Tim Keller, science and its relation to belief in God is tackled. Has science essentially disproved Christian beliefs? Must we choose between thinking scientifically and belief in God? Keller begins by saying,
The first reason that many people think science has disproved traditional religion is that most of the major faiths believe in miracles, the intervention of God into the natural order.
It is common to believe today that there is a war going on between science and religion.
Keller doesn’t side step the fact that miracles are hard to believe in. Even the apostles struggled at times with what they experienced, but the miraculous is particularly important for Christian belief. We celebrate both the incarnation and the resurrection every year. The pages of the New Testament are filled with accounts of miracles.
His (Jesus) miracles are not just proofs that he has power but also wonderful foretastes of what he is going to do with that power. Jesus miracles are not just a challenge to our minds, but a promise to our hearts, that the world we all want is coming.
This is a difficult issue, especially in our day, that Christians need to be prepared for and Keller provides some intriguing insight into it.
Posted on November 13th, 2012 by Cory Varden
Last week I introduced Tim Keller’s, The Reason for God, as our Featured Resource for this month. One of the first things that Keller addresses in this book is the concept of exclusivity. Keller states…
During my nearly two decades in New York City, I’ve had numerous opportunities to ask people, “What is your biggest problem with Christianity? What troubles you the most about its beliefs or how it is practiced?” One of the most frequent answers I have heard over the years can be summed up in one word: exclusivity.
Keller does an excellent job of addressing this issue and summarizes and closes this section by saying,
We cannot skip lightly over the fact that there have been injustices done by the church in the name of Christ, yet who can deny that the force of Christians’ most fundamental beliefs can be powerful impetus for peace-making in our troubled world?
I invite you to explore more in-depth how Keller unpacks this common hurdle to Christianity in our day.
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