Friday, May 21, 2010

Helpful Resources

When thinking through making disciples, obviously the most sufficient resource is God's Word. Scripture, through the Spirit's illumination, (1) is able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus, (2) is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, and (3) is used make us competent and equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
From start to finish, if all a person has is God's Spirit and God's Word then these are sufficient. A disciple will have all they need. As a pastor and disciple maker, I long for the flock I shepherd to desire God's Word. I know, however, that God alone creates this hunger in us, so I've learned a lot about pastoral prayer. Oh to see biblically saturated dads, moms, college students, and teens. To see a congregation where the Word of Christ dwells richly, where the Word really is a lamp and light, and to see lives that are truly guarded according to the Word. Currently, I am preaching through Galatians in our worship services and our people are studying 1, 2, and 3 John in our Bible study times. Nothing is better for God's people than God's Word.

Having now shared my earnest convictions in the sufficiency of Scripture and its uniqueness in literature, I realize that in making disciples there are other texts that can be helpful as well. Though the Spirit has made no commitment to bless these works in the same way He blesses His Word, the list below can be helpful in assisting a recent convert form a solid foundation as a disciple. I pass them along to you now:

Books I would read with someone I was mentoring (in addition to the Bible):
a. Lord Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 days – Kay Arthur
b. According to Plan – Graeme Goldsworthy
c. Christian Beliefs or Systematic Theology – Wayne Grudem
d. The Story of Christianity – Justo Gonzalez
e. Nine Marks of a Healthy Church or What is a Healthy Church – Mark Dever
f. Desiring God – John Piper
g. Knowing God – J. I. Packer
h. The Pursuit of Holiness - Jerry Bridges
i. Let the Nations Be Glad – John Piper

Obviously there are other books that could be added, but this is a good starting point. The texts above cover bible study skills, a big picture of the Bible, theology, church history, ecclesiology, sanctification, and missions.

I pray you are making disciples today, even if and especially if its a 6, 2, and 1 year old in your home!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Just a quick note to share how good it was to spend time with my family today. I take Mondays off because they are far enough away from the next Sunday that I can focus on just my family. Today I got ample time to play with Adalaide and Adoniram (Arabella had Kindergarten!) Tonight we had a family dinner at one of our favorite places (Jazz Daddy's) with our new family member and neighbor, Aunty Michelle! Today was also a good day in reading the Word (soaking in Galatians), thinking and praying about CrossPoint, and reading my friend David Platt's book, Radical. Well that last part was not that enjoyable - unless you like getting your teeth kicked in by conviction! I'm thankful for the laughs today, the ice cream faces, the incredible sunset, the time just to be around the house, and a beautiful wife! All of these gifts are from God and I'm thankful for His blessings.

Friday, May 7, 2010

How to Kill Sin Today

I realize this is my third post of the day! But there are things that keep coming to me that I believe can be useful for you. May the Lord use this list for your sanctification. How to kill sin today:

1. Make no provision for the flesh (Rom. 13:14). If you struggle with junk food, then don't buy it and put it in your pantry rather leave it at the store. You will be less likely to drive and get it! Whatever area you struggle with in temptation, see if there is any way that you are increasing opportunities for the flesh rather than decreasing them.

2. Memorize Scripture so you don't sin against God (Ps. 119:11; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). True story - yesterday I was tempted in a strong way and immediately the Spirit brought Matthew 16:24 to mind "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." The Lord used the Word to help me deny the temptations of the flesh (self) and moved me to obedience. I cannot emphasize enough how important Scripture memory is for your sanctification.

3. Remind yourself and others daily of sin's deceitfulness (Heb. 3:13). I take this verse very literally. I believe we as the Church should remind each other daily that choosing sin today will yield the same devastating results it yielded yesterday. We should be those who daily say to one another, "Remember - Choose Christ today and not sin. Sin is a liar! Only Christ delivers the peace He promises." Is there someone you could remind of this truth even now?

4. Be trained by God's grace (Titus 2:11-14). The Gospel is not just for the day you were regenerated. The Gospel is for every day of your sanctification as well. God's grace has appeared not only for our salvation but to train us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. God's grace empowers us to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. Friend, we need the Gospel today!

5. Submit ourselves to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). When you are tempted is the first person you run to God or you? We must train ourselves that when temptation occurs that we immediately run to God for refuge. We submit ourself to God first THEN resist the devil. Of course, our best course of action is to submit ourselves to God throughout the day for His glory, our good, and the good of others.

6. Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). Christ does not bring us to conversion and then expect us to pursue sanctification on our own! Paul tells the church at Galatia that the key to not giving in to the flesh is by walking by the Spirit. I try throughout the day to admit my dependence upon the Lord and seek His constant empowering. I pray you will also.

7. Kill sin by means of the Spirit (Rom. 8:13). As John Owen said, "Kill sin or it will be killing you." Sanctification is not just defensive but offensive as well. We too often cultivate sin rather than kill it. The Spirit will use His Sword to crush the roots of sin that remain with us. Pray for God to make you feel the same thing He feels for sin: hatred! Sin left alone does not dissipate but escalates.

8. Earnestly seek satisfaction in God (Ps. 63). I BELIEVE THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT WEAPON FOR FIGHTING SIN! In preparing for our day, the most important time should be in seeking satisfaction in God. More than brushing our teeth, more than deodorant, even more than eating physical breakfast - is having our souls filled by delighting in God. If we have tasted steak my friends then we will not be tempted to eat Pop-Tarts. Sin is never as alluring when viewed through the pure and satisfying light of Christ. David said he EARNESTLY sought the Lord. I fear earnestly does not describe our pursuit of God often enough which explains why we choose sin too often. May we earnestly seek satisfaction in God from early in the morning until late at night.

9. Increasing in our love for God (Ps. 97:10). Oh you who love the Lord, hate evil! The most important command we have received is to love the Lord with ALL of our heart, ALL of our soul, and ALL of our mind. One of the strongest marks of sanctification is increasing in our love for God. Is your love increasing friend? Do you honestly love God more today than you did this time last year? The more we love God and ask Him to unite our heart to His then the more we will love what He loves.

May God use this list (which is from His own Word) to further conform all of us to the image of His Son, Jesus (which is His glorious eternal plan - Rom. 8:29). Praise God that He has chosen to receive glory by extending mercy to wretched sinners!

Our Goal at Dinner Each Night

Not that all of you will be interested, but I wanted to share with you what Tara and I strive to do each night at dinner. Although, if you talk to her this week she will tell you it's what she's tried to do, since I have been away much of the week! I am extremely grateful for a helpmate who is equipped to lead our children in Christ in my absence. For the two of you still reading, here is what we are trying to do:

1. We use the book "Window on the World" by Spraggett and Johnstone to pray through a different people group each night. We want our children growing up with an awareness that God's plan is beyond just our little kitchen table. We also pray that the Lord will develop in them His heart for the nations.

2. We try to memorize at least one verse of Scripture. We use the Fighter Verses Pre-K/K kit from Bethlehem Baptist Church. Arabella has been able to retain the verses we have learned so far and Daddy has even been known to make up a song or two to help with the memorization. Shocker!!

3. We pray for a different family in our church. Using our church picture directory (sorry if you are not in it!!!), we pray through one family each night.

Now let me be completely honest and say we are not batting 1.000 on this! This is the goal that we are working toward. I'm sharing it with you not in any form to boast or say look what we are doing, but in hopes of serving you and giving you some ideas for your home (even if it's just you!) Discipleship does not occur on accident. Our time to make disciples is fleeting, especially in our homes in which children develop and deploy so quickly. I pray you will soberly consider the responsibility you have to make disciples of those the Lord has entrusted to your care. I pray you also find in Christ a sufficient equipper for the task He is calling us to.

My Letter to our Graduates

Dear Graduates,

Congratulations! Be it 8th grade, 12th grade, college, seminary, or ballroom dancing lessons, congratulations to you and your family! I pray you will soak in all the festivities and the special moments that will happen only once. I hope that you will take lots of pictures and share lots of laughs. No more homework (at least for one night)!!!!
It seems like just yesterday I was a junior in high school waiting to get my senior ring. It felt like the day would never arrive when we would finally receive our bling! The wait for graduation seemed even longer! Yet somehow since that point, it feels like life has been going faster than the Millennium Falcon in hyperdrive. Though life may have seemed agonizingly slow up to this point for you (believe me I know – I spent two years in kindergarten), there will never be a slower point in your journey.
I’m also keenly aware that you will be receiving tons of wisdom, advice, and unsolicited opinions over the next few weeks. Whether it’s the 3 “How to Discern God’s Will” books you will receive, or the 6 “How not to have to move back home” books, or 1 from your parents called “Graduation is spelled ‘J-O-B,’” I realize you will not be lacking in guidance. But . . . since I am your shepherd and care much for you, I’d like to offer 3 brief thoughts:

1. There’s only one life and it will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last (1 Cor. 3:13-15). As you try to discern what you should do next, always remember life is a vapor, a mist, a shadow and its brief journey will soon run its course. When all is said in done, all that will remain and all that will have mattered is what you have done with, through, and for Christ.

2. Be a lifelong student of the Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17). If you want to be wise, study the Word. If you want to be competent and equipped for every good work, study the Word. If you want to know what matters most in life, study the Word. If you want to please Christ, study the Word – hide the Word in your heart – and live the Word. You may be graduating, but make a commitment to be a lifelong student of the most important Word on the planet.

3. Resolve to boast only in Christ and His cross (Gal. 6:14). Some of you will graduate with honors – congratulations. Some of you will be very successful in your career – congratulations. Some of you will accomplish incredible things – congratulations. None of the aforementioned items, however, will declare you righteous before God. Many of them will even cause you to doubt your need for God because they are fertile soil for the seed of pride to flourish. Please, please, please – hear the Word of the Lord – on this day and every future day the Lord gives you – let your boast be in Christ alone. This is all my righteousness, nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Congratulations again graduates (and families)! May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the next chapter be a sweet part in your journey with Christ. If I can serve you in any way, then please do not hesitate to ask. And by the way . . . I can indeed tell you God’s will for your life . . . Matt. 22:37-39 . . . Matt. 28:18-20 . . . 1 Thess. 4:3 . . . Rom. 8:29 (Don’t be lazy! Look them up and let the summer reading begin!)