The Friday Briefing 19 (1 February 2019)

What does it mean that God is jealous? Tim Challies asks, “God’s perfections are a matter for praise; but how can we praise God for being jealous?”

The missing word in our modern Gospel Kevin DeYoung writes, “By definition, you cannot have a Christian who isn’t shaped by and saved by the gospel. . . . . But let’s preach the gospel the way Jesus and the apostles did. . . . . It is good news to hear . . . that God loves us in Christ and that we are precious in his sight. But the gospel is more than positive self-talk, and the gospel Jesus and the apostles preached was more than a warm, “don’t let anybody tell you you’re not special” bear hug. There’s a word missing from the presentation of our modern gospel.”

The everlasting impact of faithful shepherding Dustin J. Coleman writes, “The Bible calls on both the church community and the leaders of the church to care for and oversee each of its members. . . . . Faithful shepherding secures souls. . . . . Faithful shepherding has an everlasting impact.”

Learning to linger in a Spotify age Jimmy Needham asks, “If we cultivate unfocused and fickle attention spans, how can we possibly expect to cultivate a deep and intimate knowledge of God?”

His Suffering Sparked a Movement. David Brainerd (1718–1747) John Piper writes, “His life was short — 29 years, 5 months, and 19 days. And only eight of those years as a Christian. Only four as a missionary. And yet few lives have sent ripples so far and so wide as David Brainerd’s. Why has his life made the impact that it has?”

Teaching doctrine to uneducated hearers Andy Prime, a church planter in Edinburgh, Scotland, shares briefly about his experience of teaching in a context where there are many people who won’t achieve any educational qualifications.

What does it mean that God is jealous?

Tim Challies writes, “. . . time and time again, God reveals himself as a jealous God. He even goes as far as to give his name as Jealous (Exodus 34.14). So we do well to ask: “What is the nature of this divine jealousy? How can jealousy be a virtue in God when it is a vice in humans? God’s perfections are a matter for praise; but how can we praise God for being jealous?” Read the whole article HERE.

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The missing word in our modern Gospel.

Kevin DeYoung writes, “By definition, you cannot have a Christian who isn’t shaped by and saved by the gospel. . . . . But let’s preach the gospel the way Jesus and the apostles did. Theirs was not a message of unconditional affirmation. They showed no interest in helping people find the hidden and beautiful self deep inside. They did not herald the good news that God likes you just the way you are. . . . . I don’t doubt that many of us feel beat up and put down. We struggle with shame and self-loathing. We need to know we can be okay, even when we don’t feel okay. It is good news to hear, then, that God loves us in Christ and that we are precious in his sight. But the gospel is more than positive self-talk, and the gospel Jesus and the apostles preached was more than a warm, “don’t let anybody tell you you’re not special” bear hug. There’s a word missing from the presentation of our modern gospel.” What is that missing word? And why is it so important? DeYoung explains.

Read the whole article HERE.

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The everlasting impact of faithful shepherding.

Dustin J. Coleman writes, “A couple of weeks ago, I had two conversations. The first was with my best friend from college, Steve. . . . . He told me how he did not any longer consider himself a Christian or have any sliver of belief in what could be called the Christian God. I could hardly sleep that night. I buried my head in my pillow, praying with all my heart that God would undo in Steve’s heart what I had heard him say with his mouth. The second conversation I had later that week was with Joan, a woman who is a member of our church but has not been attending recently. The elders of our church have a shepherding plan where we contact each of our members, whether by phone or face to face, every couple of months. . . . . She had been struggling in her faith. . . . . As we talked, I reminded her of the gospel. I reminded her of our church’s love and concern for her. I reminded her not to separate herself from her faith family and cut herself off from the preserving power of church fellowship. . . . . . . . by the end of our conversation she was joyful. . . . . As I hung up, two questions overwhelmed me: First, what would have happened to Joan if no one had called? And second, had anyone from Steve’s church ever called him? When he stopped showing up, did anyone notice? Did anyone from his church community reach out to him, not to chide him for non-attendance, but to listen to his heart and the areas where he was struggling? Did anyone remind him of the gospel? Affirm their affection for him? In short, did anyone from Steve’s church take responsibility for his soul? . . . . Faithful shepherding secures souls. . . . . Faithful shepherding has an everlasting impact.”

Read the whole article HERE.

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Learning to linger in a Spotify age.

Jimmy Needham comments, “Humans were made to gaze. . . . . My greatest times of growth and dependence on God have come when I’ve taken an extra hour, day, or week to wrestle with a passage, meditate on a truth, or enjoy a promise. . . . . The best things in life don’t come in an instant but over time, which means we must cultivate the ability to wait, listen, and linger. Our age, though, is one of short-form content. We live in a world of bits and bytes, snippets and sermonettes, scores of one-liners—140 characters or less if you please. . . . . Scripture shows us what it looks like to become stable, sturdy, faith-filled people. We learn that the righteous man “delights in the law of the LORD, and in his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2). It is sad but true that, by and large, the church has lost the capacity to meditate like this.”

Needham asks, “If we cultivate unfocused and fickle attention spans, how can we possibly expect to cultivate a deep and intimate knowledge of God? . . . . Are fast-paced mediums of entertainment and social networking making it difficult for you to linger long over the things of God? If so, bid them farewell for the sake of joy.”

Read the whole article HERE.

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His Suffering Sparked a Movement. David Brainerd (1718–1747).

John Piper writes, “His life was short — 29 years, 5 months, and 19 days. And only eight of those years as a Christian. Only four as a missionary. And yet few lives have sent ripples so far and so wide as David Brainerd’s. Why has his life made the impact that it has? Why did John Wesley say, “Let every preacher read carefully over the Life of David Brainerd“? Why did William Carey regard Jonathan Edwards’s Life of David Brainerd as precious and holy? Why did Henry Martyn (missionary to India and Persia) write, as a student in Cambridge in 1802, “I long to be like him!” (Life of David Brainerd, 4)?  . . . . Why has this life had such a remarkable influence? Or perhaps I should pose a more modest and manageable question: Why does it have such an impact on me? How has it helped me to press on in the ministry and to strive for holiness and divine power and fruitfulness in my life?”

Piper continues, “The answer is that Brainerd’s life is a vivid, powerful testimony to the truth that God can and does use weak, sick, discouraged, beat-down, lonely, struggling saints who cry to him day and night to accomplish amazing things for his glory. There is great fruit in their afflictions. To illustrate this, we will look first at Brainerd’s struggles, then at how he responded to them, and finally at how God used him with all his weaknesses.”

Dr Piper gives a brief biography of David Brainerd – the various struggles that he faced and his response to them, the fruit of his ministry, the impact of Jonathan Edwards’ biography of him, The Life of David Brainerd.

Read the whole article HERE.

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Teaching doctrine to uneducated hearers.

Andy Prime, a church planter in Gracemount, Edinburgh, Scotland, shares briefly about his experience of teaching in a context where there are many people who won’t achieve any educational qualifications. He says, “teaching doctrine to someone who has been a school dropout is not harder than teaching doctrine to someone who’s got a university degree. It may change the way you do it but it doesn’t change the fact that you can do it.” Listen to what he says HERE. Learn more about Andy and his wife Sarah and their ministry HERE.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations (apart from those in direct quotations) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, published by HarperCollins Publishers. © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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