Monthly Archives: May 2011

Abide Leader Kit Winners

The two winners in the random drawing for those who supported Emma via PayPal last week are:Jen C.andLore F.

Emails were sent this morning asking for your shipping addresses.

Thanks to everybody who gave, and please know you can continue to do so. You just have to do it totally out of the goodness of your heart now, not for a chance to win a free book.

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Do We Need All These Books on the Gospel?

Dane Ortlund writes at the Crossway Blog:

After all, after 2,000 years, don’t we know by now what the gospel is? Haven’t we “been-there-done-that”? Why do we need one book after another on the same old topic?

1. Because the gospel is “of first importance” (1 Cor 15:3). In describing his ministry—a ministry that communicated “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27)—Paul described it as testifying “to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

2. Because you’re going to roll out of bed tomorrow a functional Pharisee. The instincts beneath your instincts, the impulses way down deep inside you, are law, not gospel. A good night’s sleep, not a heretical sermon, is all it takes to forget the gospel of grace.

3. Because the gospel is disputed and debated today. What is the gospel? What are the implications of the gospel? What is the relationship between the gospel and the kingdom of God? How does the gospel relate to growth in godliness? What is the connection between the gospel and community? These questions need answers from different people, with different voices and different backgrounds, who love the same gospel.

4. Because the church is always one generation away from losing the gospel. Every generation must rediscover the glories of free grace for itself.

5. Because for every book exulting in or explaining or defending the gospel, a hundred more roll off the press which, wittingly or unwittingly, distract …

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What Do You See When You Look at the Church?

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Men in Cars

One thing I have noticed at the food pantry where I volunteer is that nine times out of ten a woman comes in to receive food, her male significant other waits in the car. I know this because he and I make awkward eye contact when I help the ladies carry groceries to the car.

I have mixed feelings about this arrangement. Part of me understands why they’d wait outside. It could be that they don’t figure “getting groceries” is their area. It is also a particularly male dysfunction to want to avoid asking for help. There is perhaps the shame of acknowledging they couldn’t provide for their family. I remember the heartbreaking scene in Cinderella Man when James Braddock finally breaks down to ask friends for a handout. He is a proud man who only goes there as a last resort — and when he violates his own conscience and receives government assistance he promises to pay every penny back, and does — and therein lies a good sort of pride.

But is it really a good sort of pride?

What these men are essentially saying is that they would rather their wife or girlfriend experience the embarrassment of asking for help, they would rather that she answer the personal questions required in the assistance office (How many people in the family? Does anyone have employment? What are your monthly bills? etc.), they would rather she carry the often-numerous bags of groceries by herself to the car. (Typically I carry bags for …

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How to Ask a Question Well During a Q&A Time

We’ve all been there, probably. The seating is full, the speaker we all came to hear has given a good talk, and now he or she is going to take questions from the audience. Hands are raised, people are called on.

And one or more of those chosen to ask a question spends way too much time trying to:a) Impress the speaker with the depth of his or her knowledge of the speaker’s workb) Impress the speaker and the audience with a recitation of his or her experience, background, or accomplishmentsc) Give all sorts of set-up and context for a question that really doesn’t need it.

We ought to be gracious in thinking of these “Me Monster” interlocutors, but they ought to be gracious with the rest of those present, as well.

Is this person you? Do you know that the more time you take not asking a question during your moment can be a manifestation of self-centeredness? Not to mention that it robs other people of being able to ask questions too. The longer you take, the less time there is for others.

So how do you ask a question during a Q&A time?

1. Skip the autobiography unless a concise personal note gives needed context for your question.2. Skip adulation of the speaker unless you can offer a short “thank you for speaking here today.”3. Just ask a question.

If the speaker needs more details or context, he or she can ask for them.

FWIW

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No Further Than Our Fathers

And now, O sons, listen to me,and do not depart from the words of my mouth.– Proverbs 5:7

As we cling doggedly to the theology our fathers fought for and passed down to us in good faith, the doctrinal dilettantes of the day nag, “What ever happened to semper reformanda?”, positing evolving boundaries, a flexible orthodoxy, working on the assumption that our position in history gives us a better understanding of what the Bible really says.

The way we play with the shape of evangelical theology today arises from straight-up chronological snobbery.

In the New York Times last month we find this historical item related to the recent tsunami and devastation in Japan:

The stone tablet has stood on this forested hillside since before they were born, but the villagers have faithfully obeyed the stark warning carved on its weathered face: “Do not build your homes below this point!”

Residents say this injunction from their ancestors kept their tiny village of 11 households safely out of reach of the deadly tsunami last month that wiped out hundreds of miles of Japanese coast and rose to record heights near here. The waves stopped just 300 feet below the stone.

“They knew the horrors of tsunamis, so they erected that stone to warn us,” said Tamishige Kimura, 64, the village leader of Aneyoshi.

Hundreds of so-called tsunami stones, some more than six centuries old, dot the coast of Japan, silent testimony to the …

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Help a Vermonter Go to Uganda, Win an Abide Leader Kit

This is Emma. She is awesome.

Emma goes to our church and we are very proud of her, because she was recently selected to join a Samaritan’s Purse/Operation Christmas Child “SPY” team on a mission trip to Uganda this summer.

In Uganda, Emma’s team will conduct six Operation Christmas Child shoebox distributions throughout the country. They will also work with the Samaritan’s Purse project office on two projects:

Livestock ProgramsAfter families are given an animal, they are required to reimburse Samaritan’s Purse with the animal’s offspring, allowing us to distribute animals to new beneficiaries. All families receive basic training in improved livestock production.

Household Water ProgramPoor access to safe drinking water and a limited knowledge of hygiene and sanitation can negatively impact health. Bio-sand filters, shallow well protection, and rainwater harvesting used in conjunction with education and training has improved the quality of life in many villages in the Kamwenge district.

Emma needs to raise around $4,000 for this trip. Our church is paying the bulk of this expense, but due to some recent medical expenses, Emma’s family is in need of help raising the remainder of the money needed. So she’s fundraising. And this is where me and you come in. I want to help her raise money by giving you the opportunity to help her receive money.

If you’d like to contribute to Emma’s trip to Uganda, you can make a donation of any size via PayPal using our church’s email address: MSCChurch AT gmail DOT comPlease indicate in the …

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Shaping a FORGE Talk

Three fellows from other area churches and I share the leadership of a local ministry to young adults and college students called Forge. On the fourth Saturday of each month, we gather in a downtown Rutland venue to worship in song and teaching. The four of us rotate speaking duties, and recently we decided to more formally draft criteria to help us compose our messages and then review each message as a group in our subsequent leadership team meetings.

I thought some of my readers might find this interesting or helpful, so with the Forge team’s permission, here is the criteria Forge speakers must keep in mind in crafting our talks and by which we will be critiqued.

1. BIBLICALWas there a biblical text as the foundation of the talk?How well did the talk understand or explain the text?

Because Forge is not meant to be a church — but to aid the local churches in encouraging and edifying their young people — we do not expect the talks to necessarily resemble sermons, expository or otherwise. Nevertheless, we want every talk to be grounded in the word of God and reflective of a response to God’s revelation. God has all the best ideas, anyway.

2. CHRIST-CENTEREDWas Jesus the star of the talk?

Christ-centered teaching is part of Forge’s tagline, and we want to make sure that he is proclaimed, not just mentioned. We have agreed that the best way to encourage young adults is not primarily through inspirational thoughts or spiritual pick-me-ups but through …

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Oh, for the Spirit’s Mighty Rush!

“We seek not for extraordinary excitements, those spurious attendants of genuine revivals, but we do seek for the pouring-out of the Spirit of God. There is a secret operation which we do not understand; it is like the wind, we know not whence it cometh nor whither it goeth; yet, though we understand it not, we can and do perceive its divine effect. It is this breath of Heaven which we want. The Spirit is blowing upon our churches now with his genial breath, but it is as a soft evening gale. Oh, that there would come a mighty rushing wind that should carry everything before it, so that even the dry bones of the Valley of Vision might be filled with life and be made to stand up before the Lord, an exceeding great army. This is the lack of the times, the grand want of our country. May this come as a blessing from the Most High.”

– C. H. Spurgeon, in Lectures Delivered Before The Young Men’s Christian Association in Exeter Hall From November 1858 to February 1859

When will the Spirit gust in revival power? We don’t know. But maybe today.

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That’s What’s Up

From our dinner table conversation tonight.

Dad: (seeing Mom looking at the clock) Are you seeing if the rapture happened? I think it’s past 6 p.m.

Mom: No.

Grace, 7: What’s the rapture?

Macy, 9: The rapture isn’t happening today.

Grace: What’s the rapture?

Macy: It’s when Jesus comes back.

Grace: Oh. Yeah, I don’t think that’s happening today.

Mom: Would you be ready if Jesus did come back today?

Grace: That would be like the end of the world.

Mom: No, that would be the beginning of it!

I love my ladies.

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