Special offer from Crossway: ALL ebooks and audiobooks priced at $4.99 through June 30th

This is an offer not to be missed! Crossway are pricing all their ebooks and audiobooks at just $4.99 starting today and continuing through June 30th. This offer is open to members of the Crossway+ scheme. Anyone can join the Crossway+ scheme for free. And the offer is not only for existing members of this scheme―you can join anytime between now and June 30th to take advantage of the offer. The offer also includes pre-orders of ebooks (and, presumably, audiobooks) not yet released. There’s no limit to how many ebooks (and again, presumably, audiobooks) you can purchase.

You can read the details of the Crossway+ scheme, and sign up for free membership of the scheme HERE. When you join the Crossway+ scheme, you will also occasionally receive access to special offers on select Crossway resources via email―and this special offer is one such example.

There is significant benefit to buying ebooks from Crossway that only one other publisher (that I know of) offers. If you buy the ebook, you usually (but not always) get the book in all three formats―PDF, epub and mobi. And the PDFs can be printed―this format doesn’t have printing disabled. So I typically buy the ebook and then print the PDF; this gives me all the advantages that the ebook offers (such as searchability), plus a printed copy to read offline―with the added advantage, of course, that the page numbering of both ebook and printed book match.

‘Christ Will Be My Hideaway’: a new song for lockdown, based on Psalm 91

Here is a new song written by Bob Kauflin and Tim Chester, with a small team of others. It’s based on Psalm 91, which begins, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”” (Psalm 91:1-2). The song’s strong theology, combined with its tuneful and singable melody, make it ideal for congregational singing. Bob Kauflin writes: “Christ Will Be My Hideaway is a congregational song for a pandemic or any time really. It’s based on Psalm 91, which is filled with encouraging, soul-strengthening promises from God that lift our eyes above our circumstances to see his providential, wise, powerful care.” The video below is a version that may be useful for online church gatherings:

Click HERE for Bob Kauflin’s blog post about this song, where you can find the lyrics, chord chart and lead sheet. Click HERE for Tim Chester’s blog post.

CREDITS the Scripture quotation is from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Seven Suggestions for Enjoying the Bible More Consistently

This is the season when some of us may be beginning Bible reading plans for the coming year. But why do so many of us struggle to enjoy our Bibles consistently? In this short video, Dr Peter Mead gives us seven simple and helpful guidelines for feasting on God’s word, the Bible.

Alongside his other roles, Peter Mead is the director of Cor Deo, a ministry training programme in Chippenham, England. He is the author of a number of books, including The Little Him Book, Pleased to Dwell, Lost in Wonder, and Foundations. He is also the author of the preaching blog BiblicalPreaching.net.

‘Pursuing God’s Heart Yourself’ – a series of videos by Peter Mead

In four series of short videos, Peter Mead takes us through seven basic principles that will help us to understand and learn from the Bible. He applies these seven principles as he guides us through the books of Ruth, Titus and Jonah, and the book of Psalms (taking Psalms 3-8 and 11 as examples). The series on the Psalms also includes four additional videos, entitled Why Did God Give Us Psalms?, Real Truth in a World of Lies, Real Hurt, and The Psalms and Jesus. Peter’s aim is to enable these seven principles to become part of the way we approach the Scriptures and feast on its riches. He says, “My aim, my goal, my prayer is that as you look at God’s word, spending time studying it, thinking about it, applying these principles, . . . you’ll get to know Him better, . . . you’ll be stirred to love him more, and . . . you’ll find yourself feasting on God’s word.” The video below is the introduction to the whole series:

Here are the first videos in each of the four series, on the books of Ruth, Titus, Jonah, and Psalms respectively. At the top of each video, to the right-hand side, there’s a menu icon (the one with three horizontal lines and an arrow). Click this menu icon to access the complete playlist for that series.




Dr Peter Mead is the director of Cor Deo, a ministry training programme in Chippenham, England. He is also part of the leadership team of Trinity Chippenham, a church Peter helped to plant back in 2014. Peter is a lecturer for Union School of Theology. He studied at Multnomah Biblical Seminary before getting his Doctor of Ministry degree under Haddon Robinson at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the area of expository preaching. Peter is the author of a number of books, including The Little Him Book, Pleased to Dwell, Lost in Wonder, and Foundations. He is also the author of the preaching blog BiblicalPreaching.net.

Christmas briefing

Image © Lumo Project through Free Bible Images All rights reserved

At this Christmas season, I thought it might be helpful to gather together four previously published posts relevant to Jesus’s birth.

Why was Jesus’ birth announced to shepherds?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus’ birth was announced to shepherds? In his commentary on Luke’s Gospel, I. Howard Marshall writes, “the motif that God reveals the birth of the Saviour to ordinary, lowly people, is undoubtedly present.” God’s angelic army announced the Saviour’s birth to humble shepherds, not to those of wealth and status. But there are two other possible reasons why shepherds were privileged with the news of the Saviour’s birth. Read the whole article HERE.

The Christmas army of angels

In his book, ‘A Not-So-Silent Night: the Unheard story of Christmas and Why It Matters’ Verlyn D. Verbrugge writes, “One of the most familiar elements of the Christmas story in Luke 2 is the appearance of the angel to the shepherds. That angel was soon joined by a “great company of the heavenly host . . . praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests’” (Luke 2.13– 14 NIV). . . . . The word that Luke uses for “host” is the Greek word ‘stratia’, a word that in classical Greek almost invariably denotes an army or a company of soldiers. On occasion the word could be used as an alternate for the Greek word ‘strateia’, which denotes a military expedition. In either case, the word has strong military connotations.” But why is this military connation significant? Read the whole article HERE.

’Once more: Jesus was not born in a stable’ by Ian Paul

Dr. Ian Paul writes, “. . . Jesus wasn’t born in a stable, and, curiously, the New Testament hardly even hints that this might have been the case. So where has the idea come from?” Dr Paul tells us why oxen and asses are traditionally placed in the nativity scene. He explains the meanings of the Greek word in Luke 2.7 that’s translated “inn” in the ESV and the King James Version (but translated “guest room” in the NIV). And he takes us back to the first-century setting of the narrative, including the culture of the time and the actual design of Palestinian homes. Dr Paul draws on resources by other writers and provides links to two sermons, one by himself, another by Stephen Kuhrt, that retell the Christmas story in way that is faithful to its first-century Palestinian background. Read the whole article HERE.

’4 reasons to preach the genealogies at Christmas (really!)’ by David Thommen

Have you ever studied – or preached on – one of Jesus’ genealogies? David Thommen has. He writes, “I will never forget the zeal, the excitement, and the anticipation of my first Christmas sermon. . . . . . . . I wanted to preach something that I had never heard from the pulpit for Christmas, or any other time for that matter. . . . . When one of my elders asked me what I would be preaching on, I confidently proclaimed: “The genealogy from Matthew 1”. His response was different than I expected. “Why would you do that? You never preach the genealogies.” Convinced that all Scripture is profitable (2 Timothy 3.16-17), I soldiered forward undeterred. I pondered, in light of the rather unexpected response, why does the genealogy at the beginning of Matthew matter to the Christian at Christmas?” He shows us four reasons why it matters. Read the whole article HERE.

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.

The Friday Briefing 20 (1 March 2019)

How contemporary worship music is shaping us—for better or worse Matt Merker writes, “Now that contemporary worship music has become not only a major feature of evangelical identity in North America but also a multimillion-dollar industry, it’s worth asking an often neglected question: How does contemporary worship music shape us? Monique Ingalls, assistant professor of music at Baylor University, tackles this question in her book, Singing the Congregation: How Contemporary Worship Music Forms Evangelical Community. . . . . Rather than proceed with a traditional book review, it may be more useful to my readers to share some ways in which Ingalls’s work has prompted my own thinking. So here are four areas of reflection, which I invite you to consider with me.”

Christian life: learning from the Battle of the Atlantic – we can only win the spiritual battle if we fight for our devotional life John Stevens writes, “I have just finished reading Jonathan Dimbleby’s excellent book The Battle of the Atlantic . . . . . . . . The Battle of the Atlantic was the unsung campaign of the war. . . . . There were few dashing heroes and much hard slog. But it was the crucial battle, because every other battle depended upon it. We need to make sure that we fight the crucial battle to maintain our spiritual health and vitality if we are to prevail in the spiritual war in which we find ourselves.”

Typology: what it is and why we need it David Schrock writes, “. . . Christians going back to the early church have rightly seen (and looked for) ‘types’ of Christ in the Old Testament. But at the same time, questions have arisen to ask: What is a type? That is the question I want to answer today in broad and simple strokes. . . . . for those just getting acquainted with the idea, I want to introduce typology as simply as I can.”

5 lessons Jordan Peterson has taught the Church Esther O’Reilly writes, “A year ago, I had no idea who Jordan Peterson was. . . . . As I watched Peterson’s status rocket rise, it became a social experiment in itself to watch how Christians reacted to it all. It seemed that they either really, really liked Peterson or really, really did not like him.” She asks, “Is Peterson getting something right that the Church has been getting wrong? It’s easy to run down a list of things Jordan Peterson could learn from the Church. But could the Church learn something from Jordan Peterson? Bearing in mind that The Church is not a monolith, and thus any attempt to answer these questions will over-simplify, I think the answer is yes. I didn’t come up with twelve rules, but here are five.”

God’s metrics Nick Batzig comments, “God’s metrics are not our metrics. The way in which we seek to measure fruitfulness and faithfulness is often quite skewed.” He asks, “What ought a faithful ministry look like?”

The Power of the Cross (Oh, To See The Dawn) Here is a suberb and moving hymn about Jesus’s sacrificial death for us, written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty.

How contemporary worship music is shaping us—for better or worse.

Matt Merker writes, “Now that contemporary worship music has become not only a major feature of evangelical identity in North America but also a multimillion-dollar industry, it’s worth asking an often neglected question: How does contemporary worship music shape us? Monique Ingalls, assistant professor of music at Baylor University, tackles this question in her book, Singing the Congregation: How Contemporary Worship Music Forms Evangelical Community. Focusing on the decade from 2007 to 2017, she examines modern praise through sociological lenses.”

He comments, “. . . the main value of Singing the Congregation is its thorough description of the world that contemporary worship music has created. For that reason, even if musicology is a new field for you, I recommend this book to pastors, worship leaders, and anyone else with an interest in the modern worship movement—fans and critics alike. . . . . Ingalls’s focus is on worship music as sociological phenomenon, so there is little here in the way of theological interaction with worship lyrics. Still, Ingalls’s in-depth account of how contemporary worship shapes evangelical life proves the axiom that ‘the medium is the message’. In other words, contemporary worship music not only reflects evangelical values and convictions about how to engage with God, it also profoundly influences those values and convictions. . . . . Rather than proceed with a traditional book review, it may be more useful to my readers to share some ways in which Ingalls’s work has prompted my own thinking. So here are four areas of reflection, which I invite you to consider with me.”

Read the whole article HERE. Matt Merker serves as an elder and pastoral assistant at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He writes congregational hymns, including He Will Hold Me Fast. His music website is HERE.

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Christian life: learning from the Battle of the Atlantic – we can only win the spiritual battle if we fight for our devotional life.

John Stevens writes, “I have just finished reading Jonathan Dimbleby’s excellent book The Battle of the Atlantic which I received as a Christmas present. He makes a compelling case that the battle to defeat the U-boat menace in the North Atlantic was the most important campaign in the Second World War, since it ensured the supply of food, fuel, raw materials and arms to the UK and Russia. . . . . However, despite the crucial importance of this “battle” – which was really a sustained four-year campaign – it does not receive the attention given to other allied victories such as the Battle of Britain, or El Alamein.”

Stevens applies this to our Christian walk. He comments, “The Battle of the Atlantic is a reminder to us that some battles are ultimately more important than others. Offensive warfare cannot be maintained unless the supply lines on which it depends are maintained. . . . . The Battle of the Atlantic was the unsung campaign of the war. . . . . There were few dashing heroes and much hard slog. But it was the crucial battle, because every other battle depended upon it. We need to make sure that we fight the crucial battle to maintain our spiritual health and vitality if we are to prevail in the spiritual war in which we find ourselves. If you have neglected your personal devotional life and church commitment take drastic action now.”

Read the whole article HERE.

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Typology: what it is and why we need it.

David Schrock writes, “In yesterday’s sermon on Numbers 20, we ran into something known as typology. As it has been variously defined in church history, typology occurs in the Bible when an historical person, event, or institution—in this case a water-giving rock—foreshadows the coming Son of God. As with Exodus 17, this life-giving, water-streaming rock is a type of Christ, at least according to the apostle Paul. Writing in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul recounts a number of events in Israel’s history (see vv. 1–13), including this rock. . . . . . . . Paul makes the stunning claim that the Rock was to be identified with the Lord, and since Christ is the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:6), the Rock is to be identified with Christ. Two verses later, he adds, “Now these things took place as examples (typoi) for us, that we might not desire evil as they did” (v. 6). Most versions rightly translate typoi as “examples” but you can see from the Greek word that the examples Paul has in mind were types, a word he uses elsewhere to relate Adam and Christ (Rom 5:14), a word Peter uses to speak of Noah’s baptism (1 Peter 3:21), and a word used in Hebrews to relate the tabernacle on earth with the one in heaven (Hebrews 8:5).”

Dr. Schrock continues, “On the basis of passages like these, Christians going back to the early church have rightly seen (and looked for) ‘types’ of Christ in the Old Testament. But at the same time, questions have arisen to ask: What is a type? That is the question I want to answer today in broad and simple strokes. . . . for those just getting acquainted with the idea, I want to introduce typology as simply as I can.”

Read the whole article HERE.

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5 lessons Jordan Peterson has taught the Church.

Esther O’Reilly writes, “A year ago, I had no idea who Jordan Peterson was. Like many people, I got my first inkling after That Debate went viral. I was entertained, but I didn’t understand what I was watching. If you had told me then that this Canadian psychology professor was embarked on nothing less than a decades-long quest to rescue Western Civilization from the pit of nihilistic despair, I would have assumed you were joking. But Jordan Peterson, it seems, was not. As I watched Peterson’s status rocket rise, it became a social experiment in itself to watch how Christians reacted to it all. It seemed that they either really, really liked Peterson or really, really did not like him. . . . . Fortunately, some Christian engagements were balanced and thoughtful.” O’Reilly provides links to a number of commentaries by Christians on Jordan Peterson that she especially enjoyed. She makes special mention of Paul VanderKlay, a pastor who, she says, has “attained a level of understanding that the bite-sized book reviews and quick takes I’ve seen can’t touch.”

O’Reilly comments, “It is a myth that all of Peterson’s fans are young men, angry or otherwise. . . . . However, young men—particularly quirky, introverted, intellectually curious young men—do form a large percentage of his base. It hasn’t escaped people’s notice that this is precisely the demographic the Church has not been reaching, or worse, has been losing. Yet VanderKlay has said in interviews that he “could not have asked for a better men’s ministry” than the influx of men he has been regularly meeting to discuss Peterson’s work and its religious connotations. Men who would never attend a Bible study are suddenly beating down Paul’s virtual and real-life door to have conversations about God, Jesus and the Bible.”

O’Reilly asks, “Is Peterson getting something right that the Church has been getting wrong? It’s easy to run down a list of things Jordan Peterson could learn from the Church. But could the Church learn something from Jordan Peterson? Bearing in mind that The Church is not a monolith, and thus any attempt to answer these questions will over-simplify, I think the answer is yes. I didn’t come up with twelve rules, but here are five.”

O’Reilly’s points out five imperatives demanding the Church’s attention today. By way of example, one point she makes concerns teaching in the local church. She points out that the Church ”must satisfy the intellectually curious”. In her discussion of this, she says, “The Bible says we are to love God not only with our hearts but with our minds. Church should equip us to do both. The intellectually hungry should not go away unfed. Bible studies should not offer milk when people are silently begging for meat. Pastors should be well-read, not only in theology but in great literature, in poetry, in history. Highly educated church members with the gift of teaching should be connected with young people craving what their anemic public educations are not giving them.”

Read the whole article HERE.

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God’s metrics.

Nick Batzig writes, “God’s metrics are not our metrics. The way in which we seek to measure fruitfulness and faithfulness is often quite skewed. . . . . The fruitfulness of a Gospel ministry is never observed in total in the here and now. . . . . While the fruit may not always be evident in the here and now, Paul insisted that there is a day coming when “each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor”. What ought a faithful ministry look like?”

Batzig comments, “. . . those who are faithful will build with the persistent preaching of Christ crucified, sound doctrine, prayer, the sacraments, church discipline, a loving and holy Christian community and biblical worship and evangelism. . . . . It’s easy for those laboring faithfully to become discouraged when they look over at other churches and see how much more quickly they seem to have grown. It is much more difficult for them to remember that everything is merely scaffolding; and, one day God will reveal what sort of materials were used in the building.”

Read the whole article HERE.

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The Power of the Cross (Oh, To See The Dawn).

This is a superb hymn written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. Townend writes, “The song paints the picture of that Good Friday when Christ was tried, beaten, nailed to a cross, suffered and died, and the chorus tries to explain the significance of it all. Then the last verse effectively paints us into that picture, for it is our name written in His wounds.” The lyrics and other information are available on Stuart Townend’s website page for this hymn HERE.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations (apart from those in quotations from other authors) 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.

‘Genesis 24 and God’s plan for the world’ by David Schrock

camel train, Middle East, Palestine, Egypt, Abraham, Genesis 24, Isaac

Image from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs online catalog.

“And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” . . . . ”Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor.” (Genesis 24.2-4,10). An old photograph (taken between 1934 and 1939) showing a camel caravan in the Middle East.

Genesis 24 tells how Abraham found a wife for his son Isaac. It’s the longest chapter in the Book of Genesis. David Schrock explains this story and explores its importance in the Bible storyline. He writes, “. . . the longest narrative event in Genesis is a love story, one that seems Dickens-like in its profusion of extraneous information. Certainly, as the promises of God are given to Abraham and his offspring, the marriage of his son is no small matter. Yet, it seems as though the account of the servant traveling back to Mesopotamia to find a wife for Isaac is prolix detour from the rest of Genesis. . . . . So why the long drama of finding Isaac a wife? My answer is that this story reflects God’s story for the world, and the long-time-in-coming union between God’s beloved son with his bride. Let’s consider.”

After showing us how Genesis should be read in the context of the whole Bible story, he comments, ”. . . we have reason to read Genesis 24 as a narrative meant to point to Christ, just as the firstborn son of Abraham points to Christ (cf. Romans 8.31–32). We should likewise see the account of Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage as patterned after the original marriage and foreshadowing a greater marriage—after all, this is the mystery marriage, that every husband and wife are types of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5.22–33). Last, we should consider how Moses intended to tell the history of Isaac and Rebekah and perhaps something else—namely another rehearsal of the exodus event he had experienced with Israel. . . . . With these ‘reading requirements’ in place, what do we find in Genesis 24?”

Dr Schrock details how the story in Genesis 24 foreshadows how God will bring a bride to His Son. He concludes, “Incredibly, Genesis 24 is not the longest chapter in Genesis by accident. It is a pure and holy story of covenant marriage, set against all the other debauched stories of sexual immorality in Genesis. And . . . it teaches us how to look at the entire world with hope in Christ and the marriage he offers to those who forsake their fathers and join themselves to God’s Son. . . . . It surely should encourage us as we the bride serve our Master and call others to come to him!”

Read the whole article HERE.

CREDITS Scripture citations (other than those in quotations from other authors) 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.

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.

‘On the third day’ by James M. Hamilton

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“But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” (Matthew 26.5-6)

In this fascinating little exploration of Old Testament typology, James M. Hamilton writes, “There is no prediction in the Old Testament that the Messiah would be raised from the dead on the third day, but when Paul says that Jesus “was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”, he’s not referring to a prediction. Paul is referring to the fulfillment of these patterns . . . .” Dr. Hamilton briefly explains seven Old Testament passages which he sees as foreshadowing Jesus’s resurrection on the third day. They include events in the lives of Abraham, David, Hezekiah, Esther and Jonah; a passage in Hosea’s prophecy, and something that Moses tells us in His narrative of the covenant that God made with His people at Mount Sinai. Dr Hamilton tells us “All the promises are yes and amen in him, all the patterns find fulfillment in him, and all the shadowy types have their substance in him.”

Read the whole article HERE.

CREDITS Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture citations (other than those quoted by other authors) 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..

‘Sabbath: a token of eternity’ by Bernard Bell

The Garden of Eden from Wikimedia

The Garden of Eden by Thomas Cole (1801-1848).

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2.1-3).

Bernard Bell explores the theology of the Sabbath from Genesis to Revelation – in the creation account; in the Old Testament era; for Jesus, during His earthly ministry; for us as God’s New Testament people; and in the new creation. He writes: “On this seventh day [of creation], four verbs are predicated of God: he completed, he rested, he blessed, and he sanctified.”

Bell comments, “The climax of creation is the consecration of time.” God called His people Israel to observe the sabbath. Bell writes, “The Sabbath was given to Israel as a picture of the seventh day. On the Sabbath, Israel was to fall into the pattern established by God when he completed his work and rested. This established a rhythm to the week: for six days the Israelites labored, then for one day they rested. Each week, the Israelites took a journey through time. The Sabbath was the goal of the week, the day that gave meaning to other six days. But after each Sabbath they had to start the journey over again. This rhythm that Israel observed each week was itself contained within two larger rhythms. Every seventh year, Israel was to give her land a sabbatical year, a year of rest from being cultivated (Leviticus 25.1-7). After every seventh sabbatical year, i.e., every fiftieth year, Israel was to celebrate a Jubilee Year in which slaves were set free and land restored to its rightful owner (Leviticus 25.8-55). These cycles of a week, of seven years, and of fifty years, were powerful reminders that there lay something beyond the mundane life of the daily routine. Beyond the common lay the sacred, the holy. Beyond the six days lay the seventh. Beyond the six years lay the seventh. Beyond the forty-nine years lay the fiftieth.”

He asks, “Why did Jesus choose the Sabbath for so many of his healing miracles, such as the one in Mark 2.23-3.6? . . . . The seventh day was the goal toward which God moved his Creation, the day in which God brought creation into completion. The Sabbath was his gift to Israel, the goal towards which both creation and redemption moved. Surely then, Sabbath is the most appropriate day for Jesus to heal people, . . . . Sabbath was the day for being made whole, made complete so that one could enter into rest.”

But what does the Sabbath mean for us now? Should we observe it – and, if so, how? Bell writes, “The first Christians recognized that with the death and resurrection of Jesus, something dramatic had happened to Sabbath. These Jewish Christians quickly moved their assemblies to the first day of the week. Paul, formerly the most fanatical of Pharisees, and therefore punctilious about Sabbath observance, came to realize that Sabbath was just a shadow of a reality that had now arrived.” He concludes, “Today [Sunday] is not Sabbath; it is what Sabbath pointed to. In turn, both Sabbath and Today point towards the Seventh Day that will fill all of time. Both are tokens of eternity. Sabbath was one day in seven. Today is seven days in seven. Go out today and live it as a token of eternity, but then carry on living that way on Monday and on through the week. Improvise however you see fit, but do so within the framework established by the rest of the plot. Then it will be a day of completion, of rest, of blessing, and of holiness. Sabbath is not the place we’re not allowed to play football, but the place where we enter God’s teleological rest through Christ, and live a foretaste of eternity. ”

The sermon is available as an audio file and a PDF HERE.

CREDITS Scripture citations 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.