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Showing posts from March, 2008

March pictures

It's been a busy month, but we are thankful for all the family that has visited us since Heidi's birth. Here are some of our favorite shots for this month's slideshow...

A letter from Jesus

What if Jesus Christ wrote a personal letter to your local church? In Revelation 2-3, Jesus wrote to seven churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey): Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. To those who were persevering in faith, He gave tender words of assurance. But to those who were compromising and disobeying, He offered a stern warning.

What would Jesus say if He wrote to your church? That's exactly what a friend of mine, Chips Ross, recently asked his congregation at Forest Ranch Baptist Church. And for two Sunday nights, they drafted a letter of what Jesus might say to them. (It's helpful to know Forest Ranch is a small community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, just north of Chico, California). Here's the letter...

To the messenger of the church in Forest Ranch:The One who sees into the deepest woods1, who is faithful to even a few, and who reigns over the trees and hills, says this:I know your deeds, that yo…

Praying God's promises

Our Sunday School class has been going through an inductive Bible Study by John Stott on the Book of Acts. When looking at the prayers of the disciples on those days between Christ's ascension and Pentecost, Stott comments,[Jesus] had promised to send them the Spirit soon (Acts 1:4-5, 8). He had commanded them to wait for him to come and then to begin their witness. We learn, therefore, that God’s promises do not remove our need for prayer. On the contrary, it is only his promises which give us the warrant to pray and the confidence that he will hear and answer. (Acts: Seeing the Spirit at Work, p. 12)Another great example of this promise-prayer relationship is found in the Babylonian exile. For centuries, Israel had rebelled against God with her idolatry and immorality. God was slow to anger, but eventually disciplined His chosen people. Yet even this discipline was for a season. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God promised His judgment would only last for seventy years:You have no…

An outpost of heaven

In A Call to Spiritual Reformation, D.A. Carson writes,
The Church is to see itself as an outpost of heaven. It is a microcosm of the new heaven and the new earth, brought back, as it were, into our temporal sphere. We are still contaminated by failures, sin, relapses, rebellion, self-centeredness; we are not yet what we ought to be. But by the grace of God, we are not what we were. For as long as we are left here, we are to struggle against sin, and anticipate, so far as we are able, what it will be like to live in the untarnished bliss of perfect righteousness. We are to live with a view to the day of Christ.

That means, of course, that Christians constitute a kind of missionary community...until the consummation, we live out our lives down here, a heavenly, missionary outpost in a lost, dying, and decaying world. We are to see ourselves as an outpost of a new heaven and a new earth in an old world that stands under the judgment of God.Unfortunately, many people look at the church and…

Look to Jesus

While preparing for tonight's Good Friday service, I came across this quote by Charles Spurgeon in the book Pierced for our Transgressions. It's a beautiful summary of the gospel, originally published from one of Spurgeon's sermons in 1895. I've updated a few of the words into more modern English.Trembling sinner, look to Jesus, and you are saved. Do you say, ‘My sins are many’? His atonement is wondrous. Do you cry, ‘My heart is hard’? Jesus can soften it. Do you exclaim, ‘Alas, I am so unworthy’? Jesus loves the unworthy. Do you feel, ‘I am so vile’? It is the vile Jesus came to save. Down with you, sinner; down, down with yourself, and up with Christ, who has suffered for your sins upon Calvary’s cross! Turn your eye there; see Jesus only. He suffers. He bleeds. He dies. He is buried. He rises again. He ascends on high. Trust Him, and you are safe. Give up all other trusts, and rely on Jesus alone, alone on Jesus, and you will pass from death unto life…

A timeline of Christ's passion

Today is Wednesday, and we are now at the mid-point of what has traditionally been called the “Passion week” or “Holy week” of Christ. Have you ever read the gospels and wondered how all the events of this critical week fit together? Below is a chronology of events that might be helpful:
“Palm” Sunday – Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Monday – Jesus cleanses and controls the temple; fig tree is cursed
Tuesday – Jesus confronts His enemies, pronounces woes against the religious leaders, and delivers the Olivet Discourse regarding Jerusalem’s coming destruction and Jesus’ second coming; Judas bargains to betray Jesus
“Silent” Wednesday – no record in any of the four Gospels"Maundy" Thursday – Jesus and His disciples prepare and then celebrate the traditional Passover meal as His “Last Supper” prior to His death; Upper Room discourse; Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane and is arrested; Jewish trials ensue. This is sometimes called “Maundy” Thursday because of Jesus’ …

Southern Baptists heat up over global warming

On Monday, Fox News ran an article called "Southern Baptist Leaders Issue Surprising Call to Fight Climate Change." The subtitle explained that a group of Southern Baptists now believe we have a "biblical duty to stop global warming." Since this story first broke, the Southern Baptist blogosphere has been swirling with strong opinions and responses. If you want to learn more about this environment and climate initiative, you can visit the official website. Tony Kummer has put together a good compilation of quotes and comments on the issue.

So, what is our Christian duty toward the environment? One of the key issues is stewardship. Genesis 2:15 says, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." With these words came the official decree that man would serve as the appointed caretaker of creation. God graciously offered Adam and Eve the privilege of guarding that which He created in those first six days. What an…

Resolved 2008

This summer, young adults from across the country will come to Palm Springs for Resolved 2008. This year's theme is "Heaven & Hell," and it's a rare treat to have such a lineup of speakers in our area: John MacArthur, John Piper, CJ Mahaney, Steve Lawson, Rick Holland, and Randy Alcorn.

Take a moment to check out the promo trailer:

The conference is June 13-16. Early bird registration has been extended through March 31. You can click here to get more information, or click here to register.Prices and registration deadlines are listed below:

$135 Jan. 1 - Mar. 31
$155 Apr. 1 - Apr. 30
$175 May 1 - Jun. 9
$200 Walk-up registration

Two births

Our little Heidi is three weeks old today, and she is a priceless treasure! She is such a joy to hold and cuddle and rock to sleep. She’s eating well, and becoming more interactive every day. Someone once said that “a baby is a small member of the home that makes love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, the bankroll smaller, the home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.” I can relate to many of those things right now. We are so thankful for our daughter. But even as we celebrate her birth and welcome this new member into our family, we have already begun praying for her “second birth.” What do I mean by “second birth”?

The idea of being “born again” comes directly out of John chapter 3. When a Jewish teacher named Nicodemus approaches Jesus late one night, Jesus says to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Then a few moments later, Jesus declares, “Truly, truly, I say to y…

Beware the church of the tares

John MacArthur preached a powerful opening message on church growth at last week's Shepherd's Conference. Below is an excerpt:
The question for us is this: as the Lord builds his church, by what means does he do it? And secondly, has He revealed the means to us? If we undershepherds of Jesus Christ are to be the human instruments to build His church, we need to understand how He does it. We need to get in line with the divine pattern. There are many ways to build the “first church of the tares,” behind which Satan is the real power. It can be done very effectively; it can be big and enduring. The gnostics did it, and it’s still around. The Roman Catholics have done it, the liberals, the cults. They’re all still around.

The church of the tares is actually bigger than the church of the wheat. Even those who call themselves evangelicals today are busy doing it. There are a number of places called “churches,” where tares gather in increasing numbers. The successful assemblies of tar…

The best way I can serve a church...

Earlier this week, Sovereign Grace posted an excerpt from a recent Leadership Interview. In it, C. J. Mahaney had this to say about the activity of reading:
...I would want to encourage pastors who I think might be tempted to view reading and study as selfish. I view reading and study as one of the most important ways I can serve the church. So it is not a selfish act for me to set aside this time. It is really the most effective way I can serve this church, by tending to my soul and by preparing for the various forms and expressions of ministry. The best way I can serve a church is by responding to the command to watch your life and watch your doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). It is the example of a pastor over a period of years and decades that will make a difference in the life of a congregation. And therefore I want to guard my heart from growing familiar with the pastoral world, growing familiar with God’s Word, growing familiar with corporate worship, growing familiar when I am listenin…

Marriage on trial

On Tuesday, March 6, the California Supreme Court held four hours of hearings over whether is is constitutional to limit marriage to one man and one woman. They now have 90 days to reach a decision on the matter. The California Family Council has a brief article on Tuesday's hearings, and links to more in-depth coverage.

A description of Christ

John the Baptist has to be one of the strangest figures in all the Bible. Here’s a guy who wanders around in the desert, never cuts his hair, eats a steady diet of locusts and wild honey, clothes himself in camel hair, and spends his time preaching and plunging people under water. Let’s just say John the Baptist probably wouldn’t have made it on the cover of GQMagazine.But for all his peculiarities, John was a humble and holy man who deeply loved and profoundly understood the Messiah like no prophet before him. In John 1:29-30, we get a glimpse of the passion and affection John had for Jesus Christ. John’s heart must have skipped a beat that day he saw Jesus walking toward him…The next day [John] saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ ”These words of John reveal three central truths about Jesus Christ:Jesus is our …

Shepherd's Conference 2008

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 2008 Shepherd's Conference at Grace Community Church. Please be praying that all the pastors and church leaders who attend will be challenged and refreshed.

If you are not attending this year, you may want to check out the blog of Evers Ding, who is liveblogging the event, or watch the live video stream at the Shepherd's Fellowship website.

You are God's sword

A week ago, we had a deacon ordination service at our church for a dear friend and man of God who recently joined our deacon ministry team. During my sermon on 1 Thessalonians 2:5-11, I read a quote by Scottish minister Robert Murray M'Cheyne. It comes from a letter M'Cheyne wrote to a young missionary in 1840, and is one of my very favorite quotes. It applies not only to leaders, but to all who call themselves followers of Christ.
My dear friend, I trust you will have a pleasant and profitable time in Germany. I know you will apply hard to German; but do not forget the culture of the inner man – I mean of the heart. How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his saber clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care. Remember you are God’s sword – His instrument – I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great l…