Sunday, October 31, 2010

No DIY Restoration for This Broken Down House

Many thanks to the fine folks at Sovereign Grace Church Sydney for the heads up on the works of Paul David Tripp. Dr Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries; former Minister at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Professor of Pastoral Life & Care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas as well as the Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Life & Care in Fort Worth. In 2009, his book "Broken Down House" was published.

In the short video below, Dr. Tripp describes the broken down house our lives and our world have become as a result of sin, but that Jesus, the Divine Carpenter has entered the house to restore us to a house that God is building. A Shepherd Press release. A Film by Craig Claudin. 4 min.

"So one of the things that God's Spirit does... He reveals to us the degree of our own brokenness. God begins to open my eyes to the condition of my own heart: my selfishness, my greediness, my bitterness, my self-righteousness, my lust, my anger. And what He's doing is calling me away from that self-righteousness that tells me, "I'm okay just the way I am."

"Look, I am the broken down house. I need to be restored. It's not just the world around me.... "

As Christians, we should be the saddest community on earth... because our eyes should be opened and we should know how broken we are and how broken our world is. But that sadness is harmonized by notes of celebration, because although we realize that we're terribly broken and our world is terribly broken... we know that the Divine carpenter has entered the house with His tools of restoration and there's hope for us and there's hope for our world." - Paul David Tripp

Author Justin Taylor, an Elder at New Covenant Bible Church in Illinois and Vice President Editorial at Crossway, also shares his thoughts on "Broken Down House," as well as other works by Paul Tripp in his blog Between Two Worlds.

"...Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." - Paul (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

Praise our gracious God for His faithful work in His children!

Happy Reformation Day! Grace & Peace to you all!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tim Keller on the Gospel

Timothy Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church NY, speaks at NewFrontiers UK, on Preaching the Gospel as opposed to preaching mere religion or morality. The main message lasts for about 43 minutes & 43 seconds. A Q&A session then follows. Posted by Newfrontiers on Vimeo.

Adrian Warnock of Jubilee Church in London posts the same video in his weblog with his notes here. (Please right-click on the links for the option to open them in a new window. Many thanks!)

"To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'
"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'
"I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." - Luke 18:9-14

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Maundy Thursday meets April Fool's Day: In Awe of God's Amazing "Foolishness"

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Isaiah 29:14
"Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written (Jer 9:24): "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." - Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (Chapter 1, verses 18 to 31; New International Version)

"...(T)he gospel centers on the crucified and risen Lord. The gospel we preach is the wisdom of God because it doesn't praise our intellects or advertise our strengths. It causes us to fall on our knees and acknowledge our weakness, our dependence, our terrible need. It causes us to look up to God as the great Savior... The gospel teaches us that our righteousness, our sanctification, our redemption and our wisdom are all gifts from God. The message of the gospel scuttles human pride because it reminds us that our life did not start with our choosing God, but His choosing us. Therefore, all the glory is God's."

- Excerpts from The Foolishness of the Cross (article in pdf format) by Thomas R. Schreiner (Professor & Associate Dean, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Preaching Pastor, Clifton Baptist Church Louisville, Kentucky; Author of Paul, The Apostle of God's Glory in Christ)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Day John MacArthur Missed the Point

Please enjoy this article by Pastor John MacArthur from Grace To You Ministries...

In 2007, Crossway released a multi-author work entitled Preaching the Cross, for which John MacArthur contributed one chapter. The book, a highly recommended resource, is a call to pastors and church leaders to have ministries that are gospel-centered. Today’s article comes from John’s chapter, and recounts an experience he had early in his ministry which made a lasting impact on him.

The dean of the seminary I attended was Dr. Charles Feinberg, one of the most brilliant and respected men I have ever known. He was Jewish, and after studying for 14 years to be a rabbi, he was converted to Christ. He knew more than thirty languages. He even told me once that he taught himself Dutch because he wanted to read Dutch Reformed theology. He also read through the Bible four times every year. Needless to say, he was exceptional and intense. We were all rightfully in awe of him, and I loved him at the same time.

In those days, every seminary student had to preach in chapel. When my turn came, I was assigned to preach on 2 Samuel 7, the great text on the Davidic Covenant. My sermon was probably a fine example of structural craftsmanship. It had a zinger for a beginning and a zapper at the end. It would have been a great success, too—if it hadn’t been for my lack of biblical content in the middle section. I preached a “practical” message that was only superficially related to the biblical text. In that passage, Nathan encourages David to build a house for the Lord. And God says, “Wait a minute, you didn’t check in. That’s not the plan.” So I preached about how important it is to not to presume on God.

When I finished, I felt pretty good. The chapel audience seemed to have followed with interest, and I even thought I heard some murmurs of approval. But I really only cared about the opinion of one man—my mentor, Dr. Feinberg. The faculty sat behind us when we preached in chapel, and they had legal-sized criticism sheets, which they filled out during the student’s sermon. After we were done preaching, we would stand at the door, and the faculty would hand us their sheets as they left the room. I just wanted Dr. Feinberg’s.

He was at the end of the line, and I could see that he had folded his sheet up very small and very tightly. When he handed it to me, he did not even look up at me. He kept his eyes straight down and walked firmly past. That was not a good sign. So at my first opportunity, I unrolled his paper. I was eager to read his feedback, hoping desperately that he would be impressed with my sermon.

To be sure, I expected some constructive criticism. But the few bold red words that stared back at me were much worse than anything I had prepared myself for. He had completely ignored all the suggested categories and scoring helps that were printed on the sheet. Instead, he wrote across the page in bold red letters a one-line critique that hit me like a hard punch to the solar plexus: “ You missed the whole point of the passage .”
That is the worst possible mistake any preacher could make—but especially in front of someone like Dr. Feinberg.

Like many young preachers, I had naively concerned myself with just about everything except getting the meaning of the text right. My preparation was focused on delivery, gestures, anecdotes, the right mix of humor and illustrative material, and the alliteration of my main points. I had actually approached the biblical passage itself almost as an afterthought.

Later that day, I received a message instructing me to go to Dr. Feinberg’s office. When I got there, he was sitting at his desk, shaking his head in disappointment. 
“How could you? How could you? That passage presents the Davidic Covenant culminating in the Messiah and His glorious kingdom—and you talked about ‘not presuming on God’ in our personal day-to-day choices? 
That would have been a fine admonition to preach from Numbers 15:30-31 or Psalm 19:13, but you can’t reduce 2 Samuel 7 to that! 
You missed the entire point of the passage, and it’s one of the greatest of all Old Testament passages. Don’t ever do that again.”
He never said another word about it to me, but that incident hit me like a sledgehammer. In fact, it was the deepest single impression I ever received in seminary. 

Never miss the point of the passage. 

To this day, when I come to the text each week and begin to study its richness and depth, I can still hear Dr. Feinberg’s heartfelt admonition ringing in my ears. If you don’t have the meaning of Scripture, you do not have the Word of God at all. If you miss the true sense of what God has said, you are not actually preaching God’s Word! 

That reality has compelled me for nearly 40 years of preaching.

Available online at:
COPYRIGHT ©2009 Grace to You

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A gift to church-planters (and would-be church-planters) in Australia, who need a Push...

From their website:

What we do

The Geneva Push exists to recruit, coach and unleash church planters on an Australia that is desperately in need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

1. Recruit

The Geneva Push provides an expanding collection of reliable online resources for men investigating church planting and Christian leadership in a uniquely Australian context. It offers free contact services to ensure Christian leaders can stay up to date with formative thinking and relevant resources.
The Geneva Push will also run regular national and state-based training and recruitment events involving the best home-grown and international speakers.
Members of The Geneva Push join a national community dedicated to seeing the Gospel go out to unchurched Australians. They have access to the web site's forums and contact list, as well as the ability to engage in 'commented' discussions on the best uses of the site's resources.

2. Coach

Men who are keen to take on the task of church planting are encouraged to apply for assessment of their suitability by The Geneva Push. This extensive process involves the input of proven, mature Christian leaders and church planters familiar with first-hand experience of working in the Australian culture. Candidates emerge with a detailed understanding of their strengths and weaknesses as well as an evaluation of their church planting goals.
Assessment planters accepted by The Geneva Push are also eligible for a wide degree of on-going support, including:
  • Access to exclusive resources including the Church-In-A-Box starter's kit, containing all of the legal and technical documents necessary for starting a congregation in Australia
  • On-going one-to-one coaching from a proven Australian church planter
  • Support to attend regular training events run by The Geneva Push and partner networks

3. Unleash

The Geneva Push works in partnership with networks and denominations across Australia to connect church planters with the regions that desperately need to hear the Gospel.
Assessment planters will have access to an online bulletin board listing opportunities to work with and receive support from a wide range of Christian denominations and networks.
Planters will also have the opportunity to make the same denominations and networks aware of their own availability and desire to work in key growth areas.
The Geneva Push is committed to raising up a new generation of church planters who aim to evangelise churches into existence across Australia. If God has inspired you to plant a church for Him, we want to help you reach your goal.

We can do more working together than in competition.

Visit The Geneva Push website to learn more. Many thanks to Pastor RJ & Pastor Dave for the heads up by becoming Geneva Push fans on Facebook. (Please right click on the links for the option to open them in a new window. Many thanks & God bless!)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Celebrating CHRIST Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

-- The Apostle Paul (Philippians 2:6-11, New International Version)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Disturbing Christmas: The Manger and the Horrors of the Cross

by C.J. Mahaney
President, Sovereign Grace Ministries
12/21/2009 10:21:00 AM

The days before Christmas can be a tiring season of preparation, planning, shopping, and wrapping. But I think as we prepare for the Christmas celebrations, dinners, travel, and gift giving, it’s equally important that we pause and prepare our souls for Christmas.

During this time of year, it may be easy to forget that the bigger purpose behind Bethlehem was Calvary. But the purpose of the manger was realized in the horrors of the cross. The purpose of his birth was his death. 

Or to put it more personally: Christmas is necessary because I am a sinner. The incarnation reminds us of our desperate condition before a holy God. 

Several years ago WORLD Magazine published a column by William H. Smith with the provocative title, “Christmas is Disturbing: Any Real Understanding of the Christmas Messages will Disturb Anyone” (Dec. 26, 1992).

In part, Smith wrote:

Many people who otherwise ignore God and the church have some religious feeling, or feel they ought to, at this time of the year. So they make their way to a church service or Christmas program. And when they go, they come away feeling vaguely warmed or at least better for having gone, but not disturbed.

Why aren’t people disturbed by Christmas? One reason is our tendency to sanitize the birth narratives. We romanticize the story of Mary and Joseph rather than deal with the painful dilemma they faced when the Lord chose Mary to be the virgin who would conceive her child by the power of the Holy Spirit. We beautify the birth scene, not coming to terms with the stench of the stable, the poverty of the parents, the hostility of Herod. Don’t miss my point. There is something truly comforting and warming about the Christmas story, but it comes from understanding the reality, not from denying it.

Most of us also have not come to terms with the baby in the manger. We sing, “Glory to the newborn King.” But do we truly recognize that the baby lying in the manger is appointed by God to be the King, to be either the Savior or Judge of all people? He is a most threatening person.

Malachi foresaw his coming and said, “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.” As long as we can keep him in the manger, and feel the sentimental feelings we have for babies, Jesus doesn’t disturb us. But once we understand that his coming means for every one of us either salvation or condemnation, he disturbs us deeply.

What should be just as disturbing is the awful work Christ had to do to accomplish the salvation of his people. Yet his very name, Jesus, testifies to us of that work.

That baby was born so that “he who had no sin” would become “sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The baby’s destiny from the moment of his conception was hell—hell in the place of sinners. When I look into the manger, I come away shaken as I realize again that he was born to pay the unbearable penalty for my sins.

That’s the message of Christmas: God reconciled the world to himself through Christ, man’s sin has alienated him from God, and man’s reconciliation with God is possible only through faith in Christ…Christmas is disturbing.
Don’t get me wrong—Christmas should be a wonderful celebration. Properly understood, the message of Christmas confronts before it comforts, it disturbs before it delights. 

The purpose of Christ’s birth was to live a sinless life, suffer as our substitute on the cross, satisfy the wrath of God, defeat death, and secure our forgiveness and salvation.

Christmas is about God the Father (the offended party) taking the initiative to send his only begotten son to offer his life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that we might be forgiven for our many sins.

As Smith so fitly concludes his column:

Only those who have been profoundly disturbed to the point of deep repentance are able to receive the tidings of comfort, peace, and joy that Christmas proclaims.

Amen and Merry Christmas!

The article above was originally posted by C.J. Mahaney at the Sovereign Grace Ministries Blog and can also be enjoyed at

John MacArthur tackles the same issue in his article (disturbingly) entitled "The Ugliness of Christmas." (Please right-click on the links for the option to open them in a new window. May the LORD continue to open peoples' eyes to how badly we all need The Sovereign Saviour Jesus Christ in our lives. Happy Holidays & God Bless!)