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Archive | Discipleship

Law School

The Bible repeatedly urges us to meditate continually on God’s Law, meaning primarily its first five books (see Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-3; 119:97-100 for examples).  Yet many modern Christians not only fail to do so but would consider this to be a detrimental practice. Taking the Pauline phrase “we are not under law but under grace” out of context and using it as a law-repellent mantra of sorts, this generation of churchgoers miss so much of the gospel because they are not meditating on God’s Law as they are commanded to do.

Oh, yes, I have probably already lost some of you.  Not only am I promoting meditating on the Law, but I only listed Old Testament references above for support.  Sorry!  So if you are still with me, please read Matthew 5:17-20, take a deep breath, then ask yourself, “How am I going to keep the least of the commandments of the Law if I do not meditate on them?”  Then read the rest of the chapter and consider the deep heart applications Jesus is making from His own meditations on the Law of God into the lives of His disciples.  If this still does not convince you, go back a chapter […]

Paternity, Prepositions and Painful Prayers

Worthless.  Disgusting.  Useless.  What would you think of a father who describes his children with these words?  And what if this father encourages his children to describe themselves and one another the same way, especially when speaking to him?  Such “fatherhood” deserves the deepest contempt and its victims the deepest compassion.  Stunningly, it is this contemptible version of fatherhood which some Christians attribute to our Heavenly Father; even more stunningly, they consider this attribution a biblically based act of praise.    

Podcast: Street Preaching

Boldness in evangelism is typically not second nature.  We are fearful, afraid of what people might think.  Even the apostle Paul needed the prayers of the saints in this regard.  Read again what he says to the Ephesians,

“[And pray] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Eph 6:19-20)

Listen in to our conversation with Gary Van Keppel, a man who has been given much grace to proclaim the gospel along the streets and sidewalks of Broad Ripple, a place in Indianapolis known for its nightlife.  He is what one might call a street preacher.  With both a winsome spirit and grace-filled boldness, Gary takes to the streets nearly every Friday night in order to tell people about Christ’s love.

It is a topic everyone should consider, as it may be the case that our hearts need freshly charged with evangelistic zeal.

http://gentlereformation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Gary-Podcast.mp3

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Distance Education

If you were told that a friend had suddenly become ill to the point of death, would you not do everything you could to get to your friend as soon as possible, especially if you knew it was within your power to help your friend survive the sickness?  Would you not literally leap at the chance to also spare your friend’s family the pain of seeing their loved one suffer and die, especially if that family was also dear to you?   Of course you would go; of course you would help!  Why?  Because you love those people.  But when Jesus was told this kind of news about His friend Lazarus, the all-powerful Savior did not rush to help.   In fact, He stayed where He was, allowing Lazarus to die and breaking the hearts of those who called for His help.  Why did Jesus delay?  For the same reason you would not delay:  Because He loved those people.

The Discipleship Growth of…Jesus

After His birth events, the one other story of Jesus in His childhood, contained at the end of Luke 2, is such an intriguing one. For it contains an incredible statement. In telling us about our Lord’s trip to Jerusalem at the age of twelve to prepare for participation in the Passover, Luke 2:40 says, “The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”  Have you ever thought fully about the mystery of how Jesus increased in wisdom?

At this point, Jesus was a growing boy.  He was developing physically into manhood.  Perhaps the physical growth of His body does not pose much trouble to our thinking.  Yet Jesus was growing in His mind as well.  This is what can cause us problems in our understanding of the Savior.  How could Jesus, the Son of God, grow in wisdom?  Unknowingly, we can practically be Apollinarians in our beliefs of Christ, which describes those who believed in an ancient heresy in the church that taught Jesus had a human body but a uniquely divine mind “untainted” by human nature.  We can so focus on the deity of Christ we set aside a significant aspect of His humanity.  We […]

Pursuing Prodigals

Many Christian parents have had the sad experience of seeing a covenant child grow up and wander from the faith.  To see one whom you joyfully brought into the world, baptized in the name of the Triune God, sacrificed in love to nurture and provide for, and trained to love Christ and His church, grow up only to reject his inheritance for the pottage of this world is a tragedy whose grief is carried daily by godly parents.  

If the Apostle John said that he had no greater joy than seeing his children walking with the Lord (III John 4), then certainly there is no greater sadness than to see a young person walk away from Him.  

Without going into all the questions this issue raises in such areas as parental guilt and responsibility, church discipline, election, etc., what exactly should be the response of parents and those in fellowship with them that are thrust into this unwanted situation of having a prodigal? It begins with taking hope in knowing that the story of the Bible is one of God pursuing His wayward people.  Just recently the words of Isaiah 29:22-24 were brought to my attention.

Therefore thus says the Lord, who […]

A Long Line of Godly Men

Sometimes it’s striking how our own lives parallel church history. The subtitle of Ligonier’s biography series, “A Long Line of Godly Men” has been ringing in my head this past week. Not only is it an appropriate phrase to celebrate how God has blessed his church through many godly men, it’s also an appropriate title for his grace in my life.

As God often chooses to use secondary means to accomplish his wonderful purposes, he has chosen to use a long line of godly men in my life to bring his saving and sanctifying grace to me. As we approach Thanksgiving, I wanted to give God my public thanks for this long line of godly men he’s used in my life.

Highlights of Sanctification: Overcoming Modern Challenges

On Friday and Saturday I spent a wonderful time in Indianapolis with over 300 other believers being fed by Tim Challies and David Murray as they addressed the topic of growing as believers in the midst of the unique challenges of the modern world.  The Second Reformed Presbyterian Church hosted the time well by providing a warm welcome to all, making available room for the huge layout of books by Reformation Heritage Books with tasty refreshments nearby, and offering special times of question and answer sessions with David and Tim, be it for youth around pizza or pastors around a tasty lunch. Certainly the time was a taste of the eternal fellowship we will fully enjoy one day.

As I believe it would be well worth the investment of time to listen to their messages, here are four paragraphs highlighting each one.  To listen to the particular talk, just click the title’s hyperlink. 

Conference on Sanctification with Tim Challies & David Murray

After classes, I’m racing off to Indianapolis next Friday, November 15th, to attend the conference “Sanctification: Overcoming Modern Challenges” being held at the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church there.  Two of our blogging friends, pastors David Murray and Tim Challies, will be addressing this topic.

Here is the description from the brochure:

Is a believer’s sanctification simply believing more in his or her justification? What place do effort and discipline have in this process? How can we focus on growing in Christ as we live in a fast-paced and distracted society? Through this conference, Dr. David Murray and Tim Challies will address these questions, focusing on four modern challenges to our sanctification and giving practical steps to overcome them so that we daily grow more and more to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. They will address the radical and extra-ordinary kind of life strongly advocated by many Evangelicals and look at the modern version of “let go and let God.” They will call us to live lives of focused godliness and pursue positive sanctification. In all, we will be strengthened as we seek to fight the “good fight of faith” and press on in righteous and holy living.

The conference is free of […]

Whatever, part … whatever…

In the previous entry, we considered Paul’s willingness to give up “whatever” in order to gain a right standing before God, a standing only attainable by faith in the risen Christ (Philippians 3:7-12). Now we consider the reason why Paul and every other believer in history is brought by God’s grace into that standing. Contrary to the impression unintentionally given by popular approaches to evangelism, gaining a proper standing before God is not the culmination of a person’s spiritual journey; it is the beginning. After all, the purpose of standing is not to stay still. We stand in order to walk. Paul’s having gained Christ prepared him for his pursuit of Christ, and made him willing to walk right into and through…whatever.