Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kevin DeYoung on "Love Wins!"

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever LivedThe Christian blogosphere has been in major upheaval over Rob Bells new book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived

Bell is the pastor of the "other" Mars Hill Church, but this one is in Michigan. He ministers to about 10,000 on a give Sunday. 50,000 people download his Sunday sermons. This means he is influential, and that is the problem. Last week "Love Wins" was number 4 on the best seller's list.

In "Love Wins" Bell asserts that, in the end, everyone goes to Heaven. In other words, he is a universalist. This is just old fashioned unbelief in a new disguise. I think Jesus called them "wolves in sheep's clothing." We are concerned, and you should be also. If everyone goes to Heaven why waste time on church, belief, creeds, serving, or comittment. As the apostle Paul noted, why not "eat and drink for tomorrow we die."

If you or someone you love is interested in this book, or influenced by it, you need to read Kevin DeJung's review. You can find it here.

Posted by Bill Farley

New Sovereign Grace CD Available!

Easter will be here soon, and the newest Sovereign Grace Ministries music CD, Risen, has been released. Go here to obtain great prices on the CD until April 4, then it reverts to the regular price.

I have been listening for several days and can highly reccomend. Thirteen songs proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the implications for daily life.

Buy and enjoy. We will sing some of these songs on Sunday morning. Pastor Bill

Friday, March 25, 2011

Great Book on Church Planting

Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the MissionJust finished Darrin Patrick's book, Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission. In three sections this book discusses the man who plants, his message,and his mission. The book is a general exhortation. If you are looking for specifics on how to church plant, this is not the book to buy. However, if you are looking for solid advice on what kind of man is a successful church planter, the content of his preaching, and the character of his mission, you can do no better than this book.

Especially helpful was the chapter about the leaders dependence, the importance of preaching sin and idolatry, and the chapter on contextualization. The chapter on contextualization might be the best discussion of that subject that I have encountered to this date.

If you plan to plant a church, or be involved in a church plant, this book is must reading. Here is a favorite quote. “The whole of our ministry as Christian pastors must be characterized by the supernatural—that is, by what is not possible without God’s help, by what we are unable to do through our natural abilities.”[1]...Bill Farley

[1] Darin Patrick, Church Planter, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010) pg 64

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eight Questions to Help Your Kids Get Something out of the Sermon

Here is a useful, helpful blog to help you help your children get more out of the Sunday Sermon. I think you will find it most helpful.

Readers Digest Version of Rob Bell's New Book

Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever LivedA fire storm has been raging in the blogosphere about Rob Bells' new book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived . The reason for the firestorm is apparent: Rob Bell is a universalist. If you want to spend your time other than pouring over hours of debate about this book, read this blog. My friend Tony Reinkie put it together. It is excellent, to the point, and gives one brief overview of why all the commotion.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Overflowing with Thanksgiving!

Gratitude is foundational to vibrant Christianity. Its opposites—grumbling, complaining, discontentment, and self-pity—are rampant and violent statements of unbelief. They reject the gospel. they assume grace—grace that cost the Father his Son. They deny God’s sovereignty. They suggest, that “God can’t be trusted.” They proclaim this message: “God isn’t really that good!” The failure to live in constant overflowing gratitude says, “I deserve better than I am getting.”
No well-informed Christian would ever say this out loud, but that is how God sees it. That is what ungratefulness says to God, to the angels, and to everyone watching your life.

Functionally, grumbling, complaining, and self pity strip God of his glory. Since God values nothing more than his glory, he has responded decisively throughout redemptive history. He aggressively punished the “grumbling” of the Jewish people. Moses called it the sin of “despising God” (Num. 14). None of us would ever think of despising God, yet that is how God sees ingratitude and its various manifestations. God consigned the grumbling Jews to death in the wilderness. For failure to be thankful they were barred from entering the Promised Land.

After God judged Korah, Dathan, and Abiram the Israelites grumbled a second time. How did God respond? He put 14,700 of them to death (Num. 16:49).

Paul knew these stories. That is one reason that he emphasized gratitude. In fact, he exulted in it. He exhorted the churches he served, “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Although the Corinthian church tolerated members that practiced incest, drank too much wine at communion, and even denied the resurrection Paul began his letter to them with gratitude. “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:4). Paul was not flattering them, or trying to butter them up. He was sincere.

Paul commends thankful speech. “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:4). How about corporate worship? “Singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).

But just being thankful wasn’t enough. He commands the church at Colossae to “abound” in this virtue. “So walk in him…abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6–7). Some translate it “overflowing” with thanksgiving.

In summary, gratitude was the right way to respond to all circumstances. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thes. 5:18).

To the apostolic mind, gratitude and thanksgiving were not “fly over” virtues. Just the opposite. The Christian mind is to be thankful in all circumstances. In fact, Paul commands us to “overflow with thanksgiving.” We should pray with thanksgiving and do worship with thanksgiving.
Do you and I see it this way?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The EagleChanning Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland star in director Kevin Macdonald’s historical epic film The Eagle (Rated PG-13). Adapted from Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel “The Eagle of the Ninth” this film lands us in the year 140AD in the northern part of Great Britain where we meet a young Roman centurion named Marcus Flavius Aquila (Tatum).

Twenty years earlier Aquila’s father was serving as commander of the ninth Roman legion in North Britain where he and all his men mysteriously disappeared along with a Roman eagle standard. Aquila’s father was the last to hold the eagle standard and questions of his loyalty to Rome have plagued the family since. Determined to redeem his family’s honor Aquila serves as a Roman centurion who has been posted in Britain as a garrison commander. However, an unexpected battle wound puts an early end to Aquila’s military career leaving him depressed and restless.

While living at his Uncle’s (Sutherland) estate in southern Britain, Aquila hears rumors that the eagle standard has been sighted in Nothern Britain. Aquila decides to recover the eagle with the help of his British slave Esca (Bell). While traveling through north Britain Aquila and Esca encounter one of the survivors of the ninth legion, Guern. Recalling the ambush twenty years earlier Guern remembers the eagle standard was taken by the Seal People. Continuing on their travels Aquila and Esca encounter the Seal People several weeks later. Lying to protect Aquila, Esca identifies himself as a chieftain’s son fleeing Rome and introduces Aquila as his slave. Because of Esca’s family station the two are accepted as guests of the Seal People.
Eventually Aquila and Esca leave the hospitality of the Seal People. Whether or not they have found the eagle and have it in their position is up to you to discover. While there was no sexual content and I don’t recall much profanity, if any, I do not necessarily recommend this film. The Seal People were barbaric in appearance and action and I found them to be frightening. I also found I was a little bored in places, but not for lack of action. If you do watch this film, I recommend renting it. Don’t waste your money at the theater....Stephanie Spurgetis

Saturday, March 12, 2011

American Church In Crisis?

The American Church in Crisis: Groundbreaking Research Based on a National Database of over 200,000 Churches It is not uncommon to hear people complain at the news of a church plant. "We don't need new churches," they say. But David T. Olson argues the opposite. In his book
The American Church in Crisis: Groundbreaking Research Based on a National Database of over 200,000 Churches the author points out that only 17.5% of Americans attend church regularly and that percent is precipitously dropping.

The population of America has increased by 100 million people since 1970, an increase of 50%, and the church is losing ground. About 4,000 churches are planted each year even while about 3600 close. That is a gain of about 400 churches. However, to keep up with the population growth Olson contends that we need to gain about 4,000 churches per year, an increase of 10 fold.

Truly, the North American church is in crisis and vigorous, sustained church planting efforts are the solution. In the words of Tim Keller, "The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else--not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes--will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial."[1]


Continue In Prayer!

In Colossians 4:2 Paul exhorts the Colossian church to “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
The word “continue” implies that the Colossians are already praying. Paul doesn’t exhort them to start praying. He asks them to “continue” in prayer. Jesus expected every healthy believer to be about prayer. For example, Jesus said “and when you pray,” (Matt 6) not “if you pray.” Paul expects the Colossians to be like the early church after Pentecost. Luke tell us that they “devoted themselves…to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Paul expects the Colossians to be a people of prayer. Prayer is not optional.

We should pray because we are needy. Jesus was the only perfect person. He was God. He was the only person who didn’t need to pray. But, that is not what we find. He rose early to pray. (Mark 1:35) "35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed." He even spent whole nights in prayer. (Luke 6:12) "12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God."

Paul saw prayer the same way. Notice how he begins his letter to the Colossians. "And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Col. 1:9). This letter closes with a snapshot of Epaphras imitating Jesus and Paul in this important matter of continuing in prayer. "Epaphras…greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers" (Col. 4:12).

Paul also exhorts the Colossians to continue steadfastly in Prayer. “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Webster defines “Steadfastness” as “firmly fixed in place. Not subject to change. Firm in belief, determination or adherence.” In other words, one who prays steadfastly starts and never gives up. For example, I have been praying for the salvation of certain relatives for over twenty years. It hasn’t happened yet, but I will not give up until I or they are dead.

I prayed for a mate for my oldest daughters for 36 years. Eventually God was faithful. I have been praying for revival for over 20 years, and I have not given up. Please join me.

I have been praying to overcome certain weaknesses for 40 years and am still working on them. I haven’t given up. Jesus’ story of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1ff) encourages me. She went to the judge for justice, but because she was a poor widow he ignored her. She didn’t give up. She pestered him continually night and day until he finally gave in. Here is Jesus conclusion. "And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:7-8).

Let us turn to God in prayer.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Are You Called to Full Time Ministry?

C.J. Mahaney interviews James Campbell for four minutes on how to know if you are called to full time ministry. It might be the best thing I have ever heard on this subject. If you have ever given any thought to full time ministry, take a momen and watch it here.  Here is a quote.

"Ministry is a privilege not a right. You don’t get it because you want it. You get it because a community of believers affirmed that level of giftedness and calling in you. God is not calling you full time until he needs full time what you are doing part time. One is not in full time ministry because they can do things. You are in full time ministry because you can get people to do things.”