Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

  1. The Right Kind of Fear

    Posted on November 12th, 2014 by David Burnette

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    Ask most Christians what it means to fear God and they will probably begin by telling you what it doesn’t mean.

    Fearing God doesn’t mean that we cower before our Maker, nervous that he might wipe us out simply because he’s in a bad mood. God isn’t a cruel and erratic despot. While that’s certainly true, there’s another error that we are probably more susceptible to in our day. We often need to be reminded that God deserves our fear.

    Steven Lawson talks about our “unhealthy casualness” toward God (1), a clear sign that we do not fear him rightly. Even if we prefer to use words like reverence and awe instead of fear, there’s a danger that those words will ring hollow if we don’t have a right view of God. To fear God rightly we must continually behold his majesty as it is revealed to us in the pages of Scripture. The result is what Lawson calls a “heart attitude of worshipful submission to [God]” (2).

    If the idea of fearing God seems like it’s only for super-Christians, consider Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” In other words, fearing God is Christianity 101—it’s the posture that every child of God ought to assume. Again Lawson notes, “At the very core of saving faith, there is always a healthy, holy fear of God that causes a believer to tremble” (3). Fear is the only proper response to the God who is unmatched in holiness and unlimited in his power. However, this kind of fear doesn’t mean that we downplay God’s grace and focus only on his justice, as if his attributes could be neatly separated.  Nor does it mean that we must always have a serious look on our face when talking about spiritual things.

    Fearing God isn’t joyless.

    The God we fear is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:6). This is why the Psalmist says, “But with you [God] there is forgiveness, that you may be feared” (Ps 130:4). This is the same God who is revealed to us in the message of Christ crucified, so fearing him necessarily involves an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Still, there’s a weightiness to this fear. The apostle John fell down “as though dead” (Rev 1:17) when he got the following vision of the exalted Christ:

    His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Rev 1:14-16)

    Like John, we too need to recognize the greatness of the One we’re dealing with. But Christ’s goal is not simply to intimidate us. His first words to John were, “Fear not” (Rev 1:17). God reveals himself to us so that we might run to him for refuge, that we might rest in his power and his wisdom. The fear of God leads to peace, not paralysis.  And when we reverence God like this, it’s only natural that we would cry out with the prophet,

    Who would not fear you, O King of the nations?
    For this is your due;
    for among all the wise ones of the nations
    and in all their kingdoms
    there is none like you. (Jeremiah 10:7)

    –For more on getting a Scriptural view of the God we serve, see Secret Church 4: Who is God?

  2. Miss a Meal #ForTheMission

    Posted on November 11th, 2014 by Jonathan

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    Thousands of missionaries are spreading the gospel among unreached people groups all over the world. They are able to live and labor in difficult circumstances because of the support they receive from believers like you and me. They need our prayers, our encouragement, and our generosity. So, to support missionaries on the field and send more their way, the IMB is kicking off a new campaign that encourages giving to missions.

    The idea is simple. Sometime this month, with Thanksgiving feasts on the horizon, skip a meal and give the money that you would have spent on it to missions. Go without that hamburger combo meal you’ve become so fond of. Or, skip your Friday night out. Whether you would have spent $10, $20, or more, missing that meal and instead donating that money to missions will serve our workers abroad. We would encouraging your giving here to be above and beyond what you already give to and through your local church.

    There are a couple ways to do this. The easiest way is to text your donation. By texting “4Mission” to 80888, you can instantly give $10 through your phone company. The next easiest way is to give online at IMB.org/meal. You can be sure that 100% of your donation will go to missionaries and their work in spreading the gospel around the world, particularly among unreached peoples. Hopefully, these convenient options will make missing a meal #ForTheMission simple, quick, and sure.

    That’s the other thing – the hashtag #ForTheMission. We want you to spread the word through social media. So, as you miss a meal and donate money, encourage others to do the same by posting pictures of yourself with an empty plate and using the hashtag #ForTheMission. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram . . . whatever you use, we want this thing to go viral.

    Join us this month, and miss a meal #ForTheMission.

    Feel free to use the below images for your social media avatars/cover photos.

    MAM4TM_V4

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    New Radical Together Podcast From David Platt

    Posted on October 31st, 2014 by Jonathan

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    Since David Platt became president of the IMB, many people have been wondering if he’s going to continue teaching. He’s not stepping into the pulpit on a weekly basis anymore… so is his preaching ministry coming to a close?

    In a word, no.

    We’re excited to announce one of the ways he’ll continue preaching. On Monday, November 3, Radical will be launching a new podcast series from David called Radical Together. Regularly dive into God’s Word as David shares some biblical insights and calls us to action. These messages will serve as a good supplement to the teaching you already receive at your local church… and so that you can more easily utilize them on your commute, they will be a bit shorter than his usual sermons.

    Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes for free HERE. Access the audio files on our website. For non-iTunes and Android users, we’re working on getting an RSS feed going, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

    However it works best for you, we hope you’ll join us for Radical Together.

  4. Your Role in Sending

    Posted on October 22nd, 2014 by David Burnette

    David Platt encourages you to consider how you might be involved in reaching those who have never heard the gospel, whether that’s by going or giving. Reaching the unreached is at the heart of the mission of the IMB.

    Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks and months as we highlight a number of practical and creative ways you can participate in giving. Your giving will go directly to help support IMB workers who are taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. You can give by going here.

  5. Beat the Rush: Early Registration for Secret Church is Open

    Posted on October 15th, 2014 by David Burnette

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    We’re excited to announce that Early Registration for Secret Church 15 is now open!

    Simply go here to register for SC15 as a church, as a small group, or as an individual. The last day to get early registration pricing is January 25th. For those who have participated in Secret Church in the past, please note that this year’s gathering will not take place on Good Friday. Instead, the date for this upcoming gathering is Friday, April 24, 2015. Beat the end-of-year busyness by registering now.

    David Platt will be speaking on “Christ, Culture, and a Call to Action.” In case you missed the topic announcement earlier this year, here’s a summary of what you can expect followed by a video that talks about the purpose behind Secret Church:

    The culture around us is constantly changing, and successive changes are often accompanied by significant challenges. So how does the call of Christ compel us to respond to these challenges? How does a Christian respond to the rapid rise of so-called same-sex marriage and the increasing acceptance of homosexuality? How does a Christian live in a world of sex slavery and rampant pornography, a world where babies are aborted and widows are abandoned? How does a Christian think in a culture of pervasive racial prejudice and limited religious liberty? What does a Christian do in a church that exalts prosperity amidst a world of extreme poverty? During this Secret Church, we will explore biblical foundations for answers to these questions and come to significant conclusions regarding how Christ calls every Christian to engage culture with a firm grip on the gospel in the church and a fervent passion for God’s glory in the world.

  6. 7 Comments

    A Forgotten Field

    Posted on October 14th, 2014 by Jonathan

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    When we think of mission work, our minds may most naturally go to the African bush, the Indian slums, or the Arabian deserts. We probably don’t think of Tokyo high rises.

    We should.

    At less than one percent evangelical Christian, Japan’s 120 million natives make up the second largest unreached people group in the world. Don’t be fooled by the neon lights illuminating the bustling streets – Japan is a dark country. Some have even dubbed it “the missionary’s graveyard,” not because violent persecution is common there, but because ministry burnout is. In Japan, after spinning their wheels for years, many missionaries find themselves stopped dead in their tracks.

    One reason that ministry there has been so difficult is its material excess. Contrary to the hunger, sickness, and poverty that so often opens doors for ministry in developing nations, Japan seems to have it all. Blinded by worldly ambition and distracted by excessive busyness, the Japanese obliviously wander on, “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

    At the same time, they may soon be ripe for a huge harvest. Their immense spiritual need is starting to come to a head as they work themselves to death (literally – they call it karōshi), fight a losing battle with depression and suicide, tragically give themselves to sex trafficking, and realize that their advanced technology and infrastructure is no match for nuclear disasters, typhoons, and earthquakes.

    Pray for the Japanese. Pray for the worn out missionaries among them. Pray for a massive harvest.  And pray for more laborers to go to this forgotten field.

  7. A Collection of Videos on Missions

    Posted on September 25th, 2014 by Jonathan

    To acquaint (or re-acquaint) yourself with David Platt’s teaching on missions, here is a collection of videos in which he talks about different aspects of it. While these videos do not offer a comprehensive theology of missions, we hope they will compel you to go to God in his Word and to the lost in the world.

  8. Mid-Term Field Report: “Utilize The Time”

    Posted on September 17th, 2014 by Jonathan

    As many of us are leaving summer behind to return to school or get back into a regular routine at work, Matt is doing no such thing. Life is different for him. Matt lives in Central Asia and was sent out to serve mid-term by The Church at Brook Hill. Mid-term is described as a period of anywhere between two months and two years. For him, school looks more like learning a foreign language, and monotonous routine . . . well, there’s not much of that.

    We asked Matt some questions about his life in Central Asia. Our hope is that his words might challenge those of us tempted to simply survive the next test or deadline. Our lives are intended for more than intention-less routines driven by purposeless attitudes. When we realize that God desires to use us to bring the nations to Himself, and when we hear of brothers and sisters whose devotion to Christ means harsh persecution, we see everything differently. The reality is, we have so much more to live for than the weekend.

    Here’s what Matt had to say . . .

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    What has been the most surprising aspect about serving in this new context?

    Time and time again, my team and I have been surprised at how quickly God answers the prayers of us and our supporters back home, and His answers to these prayers are often even better than we knew to ask for! We shouldn’t be afraid to ask Him to act in big ways to help us reach lost people. He desires and is worthy of the worship of all peoples and is actively working in hearts and lives all across the world.

    What has been the most difficult part of your time there?

    It has been difficult being part of a new team re-engaging a minority people group that has not been worked with for several years. Due to the difficulty of gaining access to our people’s homeland, we are in the process of establishing a business in a nearby country where there is a significant population of our people. This poses many challenges such as learning a minority language with few immersion experiences, balancing business and ministry responsibilities, and justifying to the community why we as Western businessmen spend so much time with this minority people and are learning their language.

    Can you give us your highlight of the trip?

    One of the biggest highlights so far has been growing closer as a team and becoming more like a family.  Being part of such a small team, we spend a lot of time together, and the Lord has used that in teaching us more of what it means to be the body of Christ. Praying, worshiping, and having fun together, holding one another accountable, and being united in a common vision has helped us to encourage one another during the difficult times and overall thrive in our first year on the field.

    What advice would you give to people considering going mid-term?

    Utilize the time before you leave the U.S. to establish routines of engaging lost people where you are currently. Often times, we get caught up in enjoying the benefits of Christian community so much that we rarely put ourselves in places where we are surrounded by the lost. Going mid-term is a weird balance between a sprint and a marathon; the routines you are able to establish before arriving on the field will help you to make the most of the time you have in your new context.

    What advice would you give to friends, family, and church members in terms of how they can support workers like you?

    The way that is most obvious and yet often over-looked is to actively pray for that person, their ministry, and their people. Be proactive in asking for ways to pray for that person and in regularly praying for their boldness and evangelism opportunities. Also, we love hearing from friends, family, and supporters about what is happening back home and how we can be praying for them.

    What is one big takeaway that the the Father has taught you in your experience as a mid-term worker?

    I often feel like I am sitting on the front row watching Him prepare the harvest of these people in a way in which only the Creator of the universe is able! In our first month on the field, He answered our prayers by providing a language teacher, national believer, and friend all with a single person whom He had burdened to return to his family and country (at the risk of his life) to help reach his people with the gospel of Christ. The things we’ve seen happen over the past year are more than coincidences; no doubt the Lord is doing the same type of things in unreached people groups all across the world!

    What is one thing you have learned from the national brothers and sisters that you are partnering with?

    Extreme persecution is normal, expected, and worth the risk for the believers in this part of the world. Coming from a place, like the U.S, where it is “safe” to be a Christian, it is still difficult to fully understand what these national brothers and sisters experience everyday in living and dying for Christ. That being said, the Lord is using these terrible acts to bring others to faith, grow the church, and advance the gospel of Christ to the most difficult to reach people and places in the world.

  9. Why the Atonement Must Do More Than Move Us to Tears

    Posted on September 16th, 2014 by David Burnette

    It may sound like a contradiction, but it’s true: serious theological errors usually contain a good dose of the truth. That’s why we fall for them.

    Most Christians know to reject a teaching that openly rejects God’s Word, but when the truth is slightly twisted or simply downplayed—maybe even with Bible verses attached—it’s easier to get caught off guard. This is particularly dangerous when it comes to Scripture’s foundational teachings, like Christ’s atonement. Your answer to the question, “What did Christ accomplish by his death on the cross?” has massive implications.

    In Secret Church 6: The Cross of Christ, you can see a list of some of the most influential theories of the atonement in church history (SC 6 Study Guide, 14-15). One of those theories is called the Moral Influence Theory, which is the idea that Christ’s death on the cross was primarily a demonstration of God’s love intended to move sinners to repentance.  So what could be wrong with that? Isn’t the cross supposed to demonstrate God’s love to us? Well, yes, but that’s not the whole story when it comes to Christ’s atoning work. Consider just a couple of the problems with the Moral Influence Theory.

    God’s Word clearly teaches that we have sinned against a holy God, and the penalty for that sin is death (Rom 3:23; 6:23). However, if we subscribe to the Moral Influence Theory, it’s not clear how our sin gets dealt with. The cross may deeply affect us, even moving us to change our behavior, but that won’t remove our guilt before God. We have sins that need to be forgiven (Eph 1:7) and a debt that needs to be cancelled (Col 2:14). A Righteous Judge cannot simply overlook this. It’s no surprise, then, that the Moral Influence Theory rejects the idea that our sin requires a payment, thus calling into question God’s perfect justice. Also, as Michael Horton observes, “A moral example or influence need hardly be God incarnate” (1). Clearly another atonement theory is needed.

    If we want to be made right with the holy and just God who is revealed in Scripture, our sin debt must be paid. Gratefully, Christ’s atoning work has done just that. Peter tells us that Christ died in our place, “the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Pet 3:18). The name of the theory that best accounts for this view of the atonement is sometimes called the Penal Substitution Theory. As the name suggests, Christ’s atonement paid sin’s penalty (Penal) in our place (Substitution). God is both “just and the justifier” of those who trust in his Son (Rom 3:26).

    To be clear, seeing Jesus as our substitute doesn’t mean his atonement is not also a deeply moving demonstration of God’s love, nor does it mean that there weren’t other purposes for Christ’s death (like disarming the “rulers and authorities” (Col 2:15). But unless a sinless, sufficient sacrifice is made for our sins—something only the divine Son of God could do—our guilt remains and none of the other benefits of Christ’s death will work for our eternal good. No mere demonstration of love, however great, will wipe our record clean.

    Not even if it moves us to tears.

    – For more on Secret Church 6: The Cross of Christ, go here.

    (1) Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, 504.

  10. New Resource: Small Group Discussion Guide for Secret Church 14

    Posted on September 8th, 2014 by David Burnette

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    If leading others through Secret Church material seems intimidating, or if you’re looking for a Bible study to do with your small group, we’ve designed a simple resource to help. Check out the new Small Group Discussion Guide for Secret Church 14: The Cross and Everyday Life (SC 14).

    The Small Group Discussion Guide breaks down 4.5 hours of teaching from SC 14 into a 6-week study that is designed to be used along with the video and Study Guide for SC 14. The Discussion Guide is free for anyone who purchases 5 or more SC 14 Study Guides or a SC 14 DVD. (The cost is $5.00 to order the Discussion Guide by itself.) To get those resources, you can go here.

    To download a free sample of Week 1 from the Discussion Guide, go here.

    You can use this resource to lead  another individual, a small group, or a large class through the material in Secret Church 14. Each week contains the following sections:

    Watch/Fill In

    This Discussion Guide breaks the Secret Church 14 study into six sessions. The Watch/Fill In portion will tell you how much of the video to watch during each session and what portion of the study guide will be used during that session.

    Week at a Glance

    The Week at a Glance section will give you a general overview of the material you will be studying each week.

    Key Takeaways and Verses

    Every week, the Discussion Guide will provide a few key takeaways from the study as well as key verses to help you guide the discussion following the video portion of the study.

    Explaining Terms and Concepts

    This section of the Discussion Guide is a resource to unpack terms and concepts used during the Secret Church study.

    Questions for Discussion and Reflection

    Questions for discussion and reflection are provided to help your small group think through and apply the concepts studied each week.

    For Further Study

    Each week a list of resources is provided for the leader and participants for further study on the content covered in that session.

    — To learn more about Secret Church 14: The Cross and Everyday Life, go here.

     

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