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A few words to a new Pastor…

A few words to a new pastor…
I love you, Brother, and I am delighted that God has called you to this great work. I have long sensed that God had such a task in store for you. No one will pray for you more or respond more quickly if you need help than I.
I know you will receive this advice in the spirit in which I give it. I do not presume that you do not know these things but they bear repetition.
Get to know your congregation as quickly as you can. Get to know where they live, how they live and why they live. Map a route to their hearts as well as to their houses.
Get to know your community as well as you can. Meet the business owners, the factory managers, the local, county and state leaders. Learn the neighborhoods and their histories, the schools and their mascots, the police and the firemen and the first responders. Familiarize yourself with the hospitals, urgent cares, nursing homes and retirement centers; introduce yourself to every funeral director.
Get to know your connectIons – Missionaries, local and national ministries your church cares about and why they care. Take a census of your congregation’s extended families, friends and neighbors.
Get to know the calendar. Learn what dates matter and why. Learn every birthday, anniversary and local festival, schools schedules and holiday patterns.
Get to know the converts whose salvation you will be seeking. Make evangelism a public and private priority.
Get to know your companion better – your wife. Involve her in your plans, invest her with your priorities. Never take her for granted.
Get to know Christ better. Use the lens of a new place, a new position to sharpen your focus on your Savior. It is His church you pastor; it is His kingdom in which you labor.
Get to work.

Book Review: Devoted to God, by Sinclair Ferguson

Schreiberspace

devoted7a-810x1280__82818.1478970628.315.315There is a great deal of ignorance and confusion regarding the subject of sanctification in our day. Perhaps that has always been the case. There are, however, some very helpful books on the subject that are available to the modern reader. (See here.) Thankfully, you can add this recent book by Sinclair Ferguson to that list as well.

The title of the book points the reader to Ferguson’s working definition of holiness or sanctification as primarily involving devotion. He writes:

“To be holy, to be sanctified, therefore, to be a ‘saint’, is in simple terms to be devoted to God.” (p.4)

This is not exactly your typical book on sanctification (not that books on that particular subject are by any means common to begin with). As Ferguson himself puts it in his Introduction:

“This is not so much a ‘how to’ book as it is a ‘how God does it’…

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John Murray on Sanctification

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Murray

In his book, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray writes the following about the sanctification of the believer in Christ:

There is a total difference between surviving sin and reigning sin, the regenerate in conflict with sin and the unregenerate complacent to sin. It is one thing for sin to live in us: it is another for us to live in sin. (p.145)

If you are a Christian and you struggle with sin . . . welcome to the club!  That is not a cause for worry or despair.   The work of the Lord in your sanctification is ongoing; it is lifelong.  You will spend the rest of your life repenting of sin, and you will do that because of the grace of God at work in you!

The time to worry (as Murray says) is if you are complacent in and about your sin.  That is…

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I Know You’re Mad at United but… (Thoughts from a Pilot Wife About Flight 3411)

The Pilot Wife Life

If there’s one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that there are always two sides to every story.

On April 9th, a very unfortunate incident played out on United Flight 3411, the video of which has since gone viral causing a mass social media uprising with an ‘off-with-their-heads’ mentality. I mean, across the board. Fire ’em all and let the gods sort it out later.

Look, I get it. When I first saw the video I was appalled too. To say that it was inflammatory would be putting it mildly. But it was also a situation that was escalated far beyond the boundaries of necessity.

If a federal law enforcement officer asks me to exit a plane, no matter how royally pissed off I am, I’m going to do it and then seek other means of legal reimbursement. True story.

Knowing what I know about airport security, I’m

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Stop Killing People with Your Ambition

Horizons of the Possible

Selfish ambition robs others for the sake of your advancement. Healthy ambition enriches others for the sake of God_s glory.To all the excited entrepreneurs out there; all the game changers who are out to disrupt whole economies; all the young church planters who are reaching to build the next megachurch:

Stop killing people with your ambition.

The desire to achieve is a good thing.  Achieving goals feels good, it elevates our sense  of self-worth.  Achievement is the drive that has fueled so much good: amazing medical advances in prosthetics, exploration of space, conservation of wildlife, and instantaneous global communication, just to name a few off the top of my head.

The desire to achieve pushed Michael Phelps to popularize the sport of swimming by breaking the Olympic Gold Medal record.  The desire to achieve kept J.K. Rowling toiling away on the story of a wizard boy named Harry.   The desire to achieve prompted Lin Manuel Miranda to persevere with his idea about a hip hop musical about the…

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“The Master of the Jigsaw Puzzle of Our Lives” (Sinclair Ferguson on the Providence of God)

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devoted7a-810x1280__82818.1478970628.315.315In his book, Devoted to God, Sinclair Ferguson includes a chapter dealing with what Romans 12:1-2 has to say about the doctrine of sanctification.  In v.2 the Apostle Paul says the following:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)

There Paul describes the will of God as “good and acceptable and perfect.” Now this passage, strictly speaking, primarily refers to what is known as the preceptive will of God. That is, the will of God as it has been revealed in Scripture regarding how we as believers in Christ are to live. We are to seek to discern and do the will of God. And in doing so, we will find His will to be good, acceptable, and perfect.

But, as Ferguson points…

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How to Listen to a Sermon

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1710_largeA lot of hard work usually goes into preaching a sermon (if it is done properly). The average  expository sermon that goes for maybe 30-45 minutes might take anywhere from 10-20 hours of preparation time, depending on the pastor and the particular circumstances of his church or situation in a given week. (Many pastors will not be able to allocate 20 hours of study/prep time, of course.)

But what about listening to sermons? Is there anything that goes into that other than simply showing up and listening? The Westminster Larger Catechism addresses this question:

Q. 160. What is required of those that hear the Word preached? A. It is required of those that hear the Word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer; examine what they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God; meditate, and confer…

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J.C. Ryle on the Spiritual Use of the Law

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holinessCan a sinner be justified in the sight of a holy God by works, or by obedience to God’s commandments? No, of course not. In Galatians 2:16 the Apostle Paul plainly states as much:

“yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (ESV)

Notice that Paul basically states this same truth at least three (3) times in just this one simple verse. (It’s as if he is trying to emphasize his point!) No one will be justified by the works of the law. No one.

Having established that, we must be careful to maintain that although we are not in any way justified…

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Happy Valentine’s Day from the 17th Century

Are you single? Do you not want to be single? Well, look no further because the instructions below are a surefire way to find true love. We can’t all be Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice. …

Source: Happy Valentine’s Day from the 17th Century

Gospel Coalition as Harlem Globe Trotters

Old Life

One of our many southern correspondents notified me of TGC’s year-end pitch for charitable donations. At the end of Collin Hanson’s post is a link to TGC’s 2016 Annual Report. Curiously absent are the financials. The Allies encourage people to give but those people have to trust TGC staff about funds.

The similarities and differences between the Coalition and a church are striking. Since I serve on the Christian Education Committee of the OPC and am also one of the OPC’s representatives on Great Commission Publication’s board of trustees, I see strong similarities among the OPC, PCA, and TGC at least in the arena of education, curriculum development, and publication. TGC’s report on website hits, best selling books or pamphlets, and plans for 2017 titles is the sort of information I see four times a year as an OPC/GCP officer. But what I don’t see from TGC is any…

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