Archive for the ‘Featured Resource’ Category
Posted on July 8th, 2015 by Jonathan
Francis and Lisa Chan wrote a marriage book that isn’t about marriage. Contrary to what the title might lead you to believe, You and Me Forever does not tell you how you can get married and live happily ever after. In fact, the book is clear that, according to Jesus, no one will be married forever in heaven.
So what is You and Me Forever actually about? More the forever than the you and me. It challenges your perspective on marriage, prodding you to see it as a means to an eternal end rather than an eternal end in itself.
In some ways its aim is higher than the practical. However, such a lofty vision actually makes for innumerable rubber-meets-the-road implications. For example, rather than giving you clinical instructions on how to navigate specific conflicts with your spouse, Francis and Lisa might close a chapter asking you to write out ways that Jesus’ sacrifice on your behalf should affect the way you relate to your spouse. Such application fosters honest discussion between couples in which they rely on the Holy Spirit to speak through God’s Word. This heavenly focus leads to practical life changes, because it shifts baseline paradigms and allows gospel truth to tangibly address a wide range of specific issues.
As can be expected, they talk a lot about love, humility, prayer, and perseverance. But they also talk about missions, children, and your individual walk with God. It’s not your typical marriage book. But while it’s not strictly about marriage, it’s precisely what a marriage needs. Here are a few samples:
It’s not that we should love Him a little more than we love our families; our love for Him should be in a different category. He is far beyond us, so our love for Him should be far beyond our love for others. The gap between our love for God and our love for our spouses should be massive. The two are not worthy of being compared. (p. 33)
Make disciples. Our lives should revolve around these two words. Whether as individuals or as couples, our mission is to make as many disciples as we can during our time on earth. This takes priority over everything else. So assuming you haven’t done so already, you should sit down with your spouse tonight and figure out how to structure your lives around the command to make disciples. This command should dictate everything about your life: where you live, where you work, where you spend your money, how you spend your time – everything! You should not make a single decision without the words “make disciples” factoring in. (p. 98)
It’s time to stop looking to your marriage and your spouse to do the things that God promises to do for us. True strength, true joy, true fulfillment – these are all promised to us by God, and they can only come from Him. (p. 146)
Wherever you are in the journey, picture how you want this life to end. We make our best decisions in hindsight, so imagine yourself standing before God. How would your ideal life have looked? (p. 188)
You can find out more about You and Me Forever and how you can get a copy by visiting the book website.
“Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” So the saying goes, overused as it may be. But when it comes to studying the Bible, the “teach a man to fish” mentality has much to offer
Equipping people to self-feed is John Piper’s goal in the latest initiative from Desiring God – Look at the Book. In their creative introduction video, Piper explains that during Look at the Book teaching sessions, you’ll see the text instead of the teacher. While this is literally the format (the words of Scripture on your screen) it’s also the goal–to see, firsthand, the treasure that’s in the Bible. As you watch his pen circle, underline, connect, dissect, and “plunder each line for all it’s worth,” the man teaching fades in the glorious light of the truth being taught. The hope is that you walk away from each short session with skills that will assist you, as a student of the Word, in discovering more of God each day through your own study of the Bible.
Watch below to see Luke 12:32 come alive (your heart along with it) as John Piper leads you to look at the Book.
Click HERE for an outline of the Look at the Book session on Luke 12:33, as well as for some study questions.
Posted on October 8th, 2014 by Jonathan
Many of you probably have the Bible.is app on your phone. If not, you might consider getting it. Totally free of charge, it features audio, video, and over 1,500 Bible translations!
Most of you probably don’t have Bible.is KIDZ . . . and you should definitely consider getting it. Also totally free of charge, it engages children with Scriptural truths in fun and interactive ways.
Here’s a short video that gives you an idea of how it might work:
This is just another great resource from Faith Comes By Hearing, and organization whose mission is “to record and use heart-language Audio Bibles to bring His church together and make disciples from every nation, tribe, language, and people.” They are quick to point out that 50% of the world’s population is illiterate, rendering written translations of the Bible ineffective for a HUGE number of people. Their Bible.is app features over 1,500 languages, but they continue to work hard to add to the 844 languages in which they have audio recordings of Scripture.
Take advantage of these incredible resources–download Bible.is, Bible.is KIDZ, and the Deaf Bible. Then check out all the great work that Faith Comes By Hearing does to reach the nations with the Word of God.
Posted on August 19th, 2014 by Jonathan
Have you ever thought something along these lines?
“I wish I had an overview of (insert New Testament book) so that I didn’t have to jump into studying it blindly.”
Our vault may contain just the remedy.
Way back before people used the term millennial to refer to a generation, when iPods and cellphones were separate, and before simulcasts were in vogue . . . there was Secret Church 2: Survey of the New Testament. The aim of the study was simple, but not easy: complete an overview of the entire New Testament in mere hours. The mission was accomplished and, thankfully, this ancient bit of teaching has been preserved throughout the years on the Internet, through this link.
Although you’re welcome to use the online material totally free of charge, you can also purchase the even more traditional, paper form of the study guide in our online store to enable good, old-fashioned note-taking with a pen or pencil–we even invite you to write in cursive. And should your Internet connection speed be stuck in 2007, our scribes have chronicled the night on digital video discs (DVDs) for your convenience.
Don’t be afraid to take a step back in time and use this valuable resource. After all, when it comes to biblical interpretation, innovation is rarely the best policy . . .
Posted on August 14th, 2014 by David Burnette
Several new volumes in the Christ-Centered Exposition series from B&H have appeared recently:
- David Platt, James
- Tony Merida and David Platt, Galatians
- Tony Merida, Ephesians
- Danny Akin, 1,2, & 3 John
Here’s a brief excerpt from Pastor David’s James commentary on the agreement between James and Paul on the place of works in the Christian life. The following is based on James’s statement in 2:22-24 concerning Abraham being justified by works:
“Legalism is not at all what James is talking about when he talks about works. James refers to works/deeds/actions 15 times, and every reference he uses is positive. Why? Because every time James talks about works, he is talking about works that are the fruit of faith, which bring great glory to God. When James talks about works, he is talking about God-glorifying obedience; love for the needy, mercy for the poor, care for the impoverished–all driven by the love and mercy of God. These things are the fruit of faith in God. Sometimes Paul talks about works in the same way. In Romans 1:5 he speaks of the “obedience of faith.” First Thessalonians 1:3 and 2 Thessalonians 1:11 talk about the “work of faith.” And in Galatians 5:6 Paul says, “What matters is faith working through love.” So James and Paul are united on this point. James is not advocating works in the flesh done to earn favor before God, and Paul rejoices in works produced by faith that bring glory to God. Both James and Paul see faith and works working together, which is exactly what James says in 2:20-24.” (50-51)
From the editors (Danny Akin, Tony Merida, and David Platt) of the Christ-Centered Exposition series: “This series affirms that the Bible is a Christ-centered book, containing a unified story of redemptive history of which Jesus is the hero. We purpose to exalt Jesus from every book of the Bible.” These commentaries will not only be beneficial for pastors, but also for any Christian who wants to understand Scripture and get a grasp on the main theological points of each passage. They are not overly technical, and in addition to frequent points of application, each chapter also includes questions for reflection and discussion. This makes it adaptable for a small group study.
For other titles in this series, go here.
Posted on August 12th, 2014 by Jonathan
Mack Stiles is a businessman who also leads a student ministry in the United Arab Emirates. He’s currently an elder at Redeemer Church of Dubai, and he spent many years previous as a church planter. David Platt, who had the honor of writing the forward for Stiles’ recent book, Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus, said: “I truly cannot think of anyone better to write a book not just on cultivating the discipline of evangelism as a Christian, but on creating a culture of evangelism in the church.”
He was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us on this topic . . .
Mack, you define evangelism as “teaching the gospel with the aim to persuade.” Why do you put it this way, and how is this a corrective to many of the evangelistic constructs in our church culture today?
I love this question, because it’s really one of the critical heartbeats of the book.
When I look out at the evangelical community, be it church, or individual believers, or evangelistic outreach ministries, or even missionary efforts, there are so many ideas about evangelism. Most all of them, at least the ones I know, want to be rooted in the scriptures, most all of them are good hearted, nobody wants to offend non-Christians, all of them want to see fruit, but more often it seems that good hearted people don’t always have the big picture view about sharing our faith, and consequently they can spin into error by over or under emphasizing one part of evangelism over another.
The reason I’ve found this definition so helpful is that it’s really a boiled down, biblically rooted summary of the big picture concerning evangelism. So, it focuses on what we share (the gospel) and how we share (teach), the way we share (our aim), and the goal for sharing (persuade), such that each word in the definition is important.
It’s not a perfect protection, but it guards us against sharing other things besides the gospel, sometimes the way testimonies are given for instance. Sometimes I’ll hear a “testimony” and it has everything to do with how greatly they sinned, and almost nothing to do with the gospel. We want to share such that anyone has the information they need to come to Christ.
There’s so many things a big picture view guards us from . . . it guards us from manipulative methods that have more to do with sales techniques, or forgetting that evangelism is not only about numbers . . . that is our aim is to persuade, but God is the one, the only one, who can actually convert someone.
My only disappointment with this definition is that it took decades for me to put it together.
The second chapter of your book talks about what a “culture of evangelism” looks like. What does that mean and why is it significant?
A culture of evangelism is really about everyone working together to “teach the gospel with the aim to convert.” There is great joy to be a part of a community that is “on game” for a common goal of sharing the faith. A culture of evangelism is really an intuitive concept; ultimately it’s about the church focusing on being a healthy gospel centered, church, while supporting a culture of people who are sharing their faith. So it’s not the professional pastor, or the evangelism specialist, or those with the gift of evangelism, but the whole church speaking about Jesus.
It’s important to note that biggest danger to a true culture of evangelism is the evangelistic program. It’s similar to a culture of evangelism (or another way to say it is that it mimics a culture of evangelism) in a way because the entire community pitches in together for a program, but it’s not everyone sharing their faith. Just for the record, I participate in occasional evangelistic programs, but the best evangelism is when the church is filled with people all sharing their faith. The way I say it is that programs are to evangelism as sugar is to nutrition: small amounts are okay, too much will kill you. The big danger about sugar is that you can eat it and think you’ve eaten, but you haven’t had a real meal; the same is true about evangelistic programs, you can do one, but it doesn’t mean that you’ve really shared the gospel yourself.
Could there exist a culture of evangelism apart from the local church? Why is the local church so important when it comes to evangelism?
I think any ministry can have a culture of evangelism. Campus ministries should, mission agencies should, social programs should . . . but the best culture of evangelism is in the church. We need to remember that Jesus didn’t forget the gospel when he built the church. The gospel is inherent in what we do as church, at least in a biblical church: the gospel is in our songs, in our prayers, in the sermon, in the practice of baptism and communion . . . it’s all there. And primarily there in how we love one another. Think about it – Jesus says the love we have for one another in the church is a statement that we are truly converted. And when we are unified in the church, we show to the world that Jesus is the Son of God. Love confirms our discipleship. Unity confirms Christ’s deity (Jn 13:35, Jn 17:20-21). That’s a powerful witness that best happens in a convented community called the church.
How would you encourage someone who wants to become better at sharing Christ with people?
This may be the easiest question. And as tempted as I am to say that the way to become better in evangelism is to read my book, really the way to be better in evangelism is to do it. We need practice. It’s like marriage. For all the books written about marriage, the best way to learn about marriage is to get married.
The second thing is to risk. Everywhere I go people want to know why they aren’t having opportunities to share their faith, and my answer in most situations is that they take more risks. Talk to the mom next to you at soccer practice, let people know at work about your Christian life, get your courage up at school and see if a friend would read the gospel of Mark with you. It’s no good waiting around until the culture gets easier . . . it’s not going to anytime soon. And it gets harder in life, too. But God rewards risk. It’s really tied up in faith. I tell people that if you can’t risk you better find another god to love besides Jesus. If you think about it, we are really risking our life that the message of the gospel is true. And if it’s true, it’s worth risking what others think about us to share that truth.
Posted on May 8th, 2014 by David Burnette
This video interview with D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899 – 1981) from 1970 is made available from the MLJ Trust.
The website of the MLJ Trust has 1600 sermons from Dr. Lloyd-Jones to listen to and download. Go here to check out this great online resource for one of the great preachers of the 20th century.
Posted on April 23rd, 2014 by Radical
Here is the synopsis of What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said Follow Me?:
You may think you are a Christian—but are you sure? Jesus’ call to follow him is more than an invitation to pray a prayer. It is a summons to lose your life and find new life and ultimate joy in him. In David Platt’s book Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live he asks the question, “What did Jesus really mean when he said, ‘Follow me’?” What if we really listened to Jesus’ words and heard what he is saying? When people truly engage with Jesus’ personal invitation to follow him, everything changes, for he is worthy of all our trust and affections.
What Did Jesus Really Mean When He Said Follow Me? builds on the message of Follow Me to motivate readers to experience our grand purpose: to exalt the glory of God by spreading Christ’s gospel—to make disciples who are making disciples. This booklet is a great resource to share with others to discuss crucial faith questions in a personal and grace-filled manner and engage others to be disciple-makers in obedience to Jesus. Ideal for small groups or personal and mass evangelism.
Posted on April 1st, 2014 by Jonathan
As part of gearing up for Secret Church 14: The Cross and Everyday Life, we’ve been highlighting some of the ways that the cross comes to bear on seemingly insignificant daily tasks. So last month, we interviewed Gloria Furman on her new book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms. The below excerpt may give you an idea of what the rest of the book delves into as well as a good picture of how the gospel impacts every part of our everyday lives.
What is the Goal of Motherhood?
Motherhood is a piece of evidence of God’s triumphant agenda to give life despite the curse of death. It is a gift that points us to Jesus. As life marches on to the praise of God’s glory, we see a riveting display of the grace of our Father, who will fulfill his promise to give his Son an inheritance of nations to the praise of his glory. There’s no greater goal than that.
There are superfluous ideas circulating in the world that try to explain the goal of motherhood. Many of these ideas have a spiritual bend to them, describing motherhood as an expression of “the human spirit” or a metaphor for “Mother Earth.” As Christians we understand that any spiritual guidance for motherhood that attempts to connect a woman to God apart from the substitutionary atoning death of Jesus cannot ultimately succeed. Jesus’s claim to be “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) has implications for the way we view our role as mothers. The lens of the profound reality of the gospel is where we see motherhood for what it is—a mercy. Praise God for the mercy he has on us when even we turn this gift into a vehicle for our self-fulfillment.
With Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, all their progeny along with them were justly indicted and condemned to death. Despite their grievous sin, God not only allowed life but facilitated it and sustains it still today. The mercy shown to us at the cross of Jesus Christ is the pinnacle of God’s lavish grace. Herman Bavinck wrote, “Based on that sacrifice [Christ], God can wrench the world and humanity out of the grip of sin, expand his kingdom, gather up all things under Christ as its head, and one day be all in all. No one, not even Satan, can say a word against this.”
Even while we steal God’s glory and insist that motherhood exists to serve our egos and our reputations, God gives us more mercy still. Even while we wring our hands anxiously over God’s timing for our family, God graciously continues to fulfill his eternal purposes in creating each and every member of our family. Relieved of our self-oriented passions, we can rejoice in the reconciliation we receive through Jesus, embrace God’s purposes in our motherhood, and smile at the future as we look forward to the future grace that is ours in Christ Jesus. God designed motherhood to highlight his great mercy and point us to who we (and our children) were made for: the eternally satisfying risen Christ (John 17:24). The joys of today’s motherhood are true joys, but they are like shadowy reflections in a mirror. At the end of every day—chaotic and mundane alike—motherhood is about the adoration and enjoyment of our great God. The seraphim in heaven continually cry out, “And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isa. 6:3). We rejoice in motherhood today, as it is meant to direct us to worship God in everything we do as a preamble to the worship we’ll enjoy in heaven forever.
Even while we go about the exhausting work of motherhood that oftentimes feels so futile, we can be about what we’re going to be about forever. In Revelation 5 John sees a vision of the risen Christ, glorified and reigning. In verse 13 John tells us how everyone responds to Jesus: “And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’” Forever in eternity we will be praising the Lord, and even now we can praise him as we know Jesus Christ and him crucified for us.
The next time something blasé happens, like the laundry filling up (again), or discovering what’s left of (another) tissue box your toddler has curiously disemboweled, let your groaning turn into hallelujahs: “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples. For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Ps. 117:1-2). Remind yourself of the truths in God’s Word and be astonished as the Spirit reminds of you of what your faith-eyes have seen.
I like how Richard Sibbes described faith: “[Faith] is the noblest sight of all. And it is as quick as sight; for faith is that eagle in the cloud. It breaks through all and sees in a moment Christ in heaven; it looks backward and sees Christ upon the cross; it looks forward and sees Christ to come in glory. Faith is so quick a grace that it presents things past, things above and things to come—all in a moment, so quick is this eagle-eye of faith.”
Allow motherhood to incline your heart to worship, and bless the Lord who fills your hands with blessings. “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable” (Ps. 145:1-3).
Praising our great and merciful God is a mother’s anthem—the song she’ll be singing forever and ever.
Posted on March 20th, 2014 by Jonathan
In case you missed it, late last year, B&H Publishing Group released two books in their Christ-Centered Exposition commentary series from David Platt. Exalting Jesus in Matthew is taken from Pastor David’s six-month-long sermon series on the Gospel, and in Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, Pastor David provides commentary on 1 Timothy also based on a past sermon series (Tony Merida covers 2 Timothy, and Danny Akin covers Titus).
Based on sermons, these commentaries don’t read like an academic essays. They are highly accessible and will prove to be a helpful tool for anyone who wants to see Jesus more clearly as they study their Bibles, from individuals to small group leaders to pastors. Here’s a sample:
The beginning of the end.
That’s the best way to describe Matthew 21. For 20 chapters we have journeyed with Jesus from Bethlehem to Egypt to Nazareth, throughout Galilee, into Capernaum and Gennesaret, into the Gentile areas of Tyre and Sidon, to Magadan and Caesarea Philippi, and into Jericho and Judea. Now, for the first time in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus enters Jerusalem.
Matthew 21 records the last week of Jesus’ life. For three years Jesus had preached, taught, and healed, and now, during Passover week, He was entering the holy city. It would be difficult to exaggerate the significance of the events that transpire in the remainder of this Gospel. Over a period of eight days, Jesus entered Jerusalem, cleansed the temple, challenged the religious leaders, instituted the Lord’s Supper, got arrested, was tried, was crucified, and then was raised from the dead. This was the week all of creation had been waiting for. Back in the garden, God had promised the serpent, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:15). The Son of God ultimately fulfilled that promise, crushing the head of the snake by His death and resurrection. The events of this week, planned before the foundation of the world, were not just climactic for Jesus’ life; this was the climactic week for all of history! (Exalting Jesus in Matthew, p 277)
If you enjoyed that, then keep your eye on this series from B&H as other volumes will be appearing in the near future. May they serve you well as you proclaim Christ.
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