Wednesday, December 30, 2009

10 Questions to Ask in the New Year - Don Whitney

Here is part of a recent blog posting by Don Whitney. In addition to these ten questions he also includes twenty-one more to help us to "consider your ways." To read the whole article – Click Here.

The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.

1) What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2) What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3) What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4) In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5) What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6) What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7) For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8) What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9) What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10) What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

The Valley of Vision

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.

From "The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotion"
edited by Arthur Bennett

What Would Jesus Do With Cellphones?


Saturday, December 26, 2009

What Are You Reading?

Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. (Psalm 111:2)

Recently someone asked me what book I was currently reading. As I began to answer, I realized that at any given time I am working through a number of books at the same time – because I love books and love to read, and also because as a pastor I am continually learning, leading, teaching and mentoring by the means of books. Here is the list of books that I am currently reading through (not including the Bible) :

Broken-Down House: Living Productively in a World Gone Bad by Paul David Tripp (personal reading)
Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray (morning devotions)
Psalm 1-89: The Lord Saves by Eric Lane (morning devotions)
Serious Times: Making Your Life Matter in an Urgent Day by James Emery White (study with elders)
A Few Good Men by Richard Coekin (study with men’s mentoring group and with my son Micah)
A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers by D.A. Carson (study for sermon series)
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges (study with our small group)
A New Kind of Church by Aubrey Malphurs (study for final credentialing with BGCC)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Sovereignty of God in Jesus Christ

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Hebrews 1:3)

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Gospel of Relationships

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

Here is a quote from a blog posting by Chris Castaldo regarding evangelism. The context is sharing our faith in Jesus during the Christmas season – but the implication is for everyday life. Chris is telling us what I have been telling people for years – evangelism is first and foremost about relationships – first our relationship with God and then our relationship with others (Mark 12:30-31). To read the whole posting Click Here.

I don’t know about you, but most of my gospel encounters don’t allow for a full-orbed sermon. In a crusade, the goal of the evangelist is to clearly present the entire message and urge someone to make a decision. . . . However, if you define all of evangelism in that way, what happens when you only have two minutes to talk to a colleague beside the water cooler during break? How do you witness to the checkout person in the supermarket, or to a family member who knows what you believe and is utterly disinterested in hearing any more sermons? The answer is—you don’t. You don’t say a thing. We can’t share in that kind of way without completely alienating ourselves; therefore, we don’t share at all. The outcome is the same as hiding our lamp beneath the proverbial table. What we need to learn is how to gradually plant seeds of gospel truth that help people incrementally move one step closer to Christ. Therefore, instead of defining evangelism strictly as a comprehensive presentation of the “full delmonte” (i.e., everything there is to say about salvation) culminating into a Billy-Graham-like invitation, we need to view the incremental efforts of seed planting, which we perform in the course of natural relationships, as not only a legitimate form of evangelism but also a critical method among our loved ones.

Christmas Songs - Tim Hawkins

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Can a Christian Family Be Cursed?

"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (Jesus, from John 15:7)

"Someone asked me if I thought a Christian or a Christian family could be cursed. My answer is this. If the word of God abides in you, you overcome the evil one. No demonic curse can stand against the gracious, liberating, transforming, devil-defeating word of God when it is abiding in our hearts." (John Piper, from the sermon "If My Words Abide in You" - January 4, 2009)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Prayer of Expectation Through Forgiveness

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. (Psalm 25:16-18)

To bring troubles to God is not to give way to despair, it is to exercise faith and hope. It shows not lack of assurance but expectation of great changes.
From “Psalm 25: David Seeks God’s Wise Guidance” in “The Lord Saves” by Eric Lane

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sermon for 2009-12-06 is now uploaded

The sermon audio and manuscript for Sunday 2009-12-06 is in now uploaded and available on this website (Most Recent Sermon or Pastor Leland's Sermons) or on the Arrowsmith Baptist Church website or on podcast through ITunes. Again, sorry for the inconvience.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sermon Audio for 2009-12-06

The sermon audio for Sunday 2009-12-06 is in process. Due to technical issues the initial recording did not work out - and so we are working through an alternate recording to be posted within the next day or so. Sorry for the inconvience.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Health Care or Care for Life?

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)

The Senate voted Tuesday to reject a bipartisan amendment restricting abortion services in the proposed healthcare legislation. The 54 to 45 defeat marked a reversal for pro-life supporters from the victory enjoyed in the House last month on a similar measure. . . .

. . . If the Senate passes a final bill, the healthcare abortion debate would move to the reconciliation process between the Senate and House versions of reform.

Lawmakers from both chambers would have to meet to meld the two versions together. This could get tricky with one bill containing abortion restrictions and the other allowing the public finding of abortion.

If lawmakers decide to keep language expanding abortion coverage, then as many as 40 pro-life House Democrats could remove their support. If lawmakers keep the House-approved abortion restrictions, then pro-abortions senators could balk.

Ironically a bill about health continues to have at its epicenter the debate over a procedure that ends a life.
“Line in the Sand” by Edward Lee Pitts, World Magazine, December 08, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Abide in Christ: As Your Redemption – Andrew Murray

Because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Christ is made of God unto us redemption. The word invites us to look upon Jesus, not only as He lived on earth, teaching us by word and example, as He died, to reconcile us with God, as He lives again, a victorious King, rising to receive His crown, but as, sitting at the right hand of God, He takes again the glory which He had with the Father, before the world began, and holds it there for us. . . .

We are in Him as such. And the more intelligently and believingly we abide in Him as our redemption, the more shall we experience, even here, of “the power of the world to come.” As our communion with Him becomes more intimate and intense, and we let the Holy Spirit reveal Him to us in His heavenly glory, the more we realize how the life in us is the life of the One who sits upon the throne of heaven. We feel the power of an endless life working in us. We taste the eternal life. We have the foretaste of the eternal glory. . .

The believer who abides in Christ as his full redemption releases even now his spiritual victory over death. It becomes to him the servant that removes the last rags of the old carnal vesture, ere he be clothed upon with the new body of glory. . . . The faith exercise its sanctifying influence in the willing surrender of the sinful members of the body to be mortified and completely subjected to the dominion of the Spirit, as preparation for the time when the frail body shall be changed and fashioned like to His glorious body. . .

This is not meant as a revelation, to the left to the future; for the full development of the Christians life, our present abiding in Christ must seek to enter into and appropriate it. . . We do it as we learn to look upon Christa as the Lord of our body, claiming its entire consecration, securing even here, if faith will claim it, victory over the terrible dominion sin hath had in the body. . . . We do it as we allow the powers of the coming world to possess us, and to lift us up into a life in the heavenly places, to enlarge our hearts and our views, to anticipate, even here, the things which have never entered into the heart of man to conceive. . . .

Believer, abide in Christ as your redemption. Let this be the crown of your Christian life. . . . Abide in Him as your redemption, and live, even here, as the heir of the future glory. . . .

from "Abide in Christ: Thoughts on the Blessed Life of Fellowship with the Son of God" by Andrew Murray

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tiger Woods and the Grace of God

"I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. . . I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone." (Tiger Woods - December 2, 2009)

Perception rules over facts in the court of public opinion, and this verdict is going to go against Tiger, no matter what is ultimately revealed. Forget those seven wins he had on the golf course this year. What we're going to remember about Tiger's 2009 is a crashed Cadillac, a $164 citation for careless driving and a betrayed wife. Tiger's image will never be the same. Neither will his life. All we really know for sure is, this was all his fault. (Gary Van Sickle, Sports Illustrated - December 2, 2009)

Sin is an enemy Tiger can’t manage. He can’t shape this story like he does a long iron on a par 5. Tiger doesn’t need a publicity facelift; Tiger needs a Savior. Just like me. And just like you. And if by God’s grace he repents and trusts in the person and work of Christ, Tiger will experience the fruit of God’s promise that “whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Tiger cannot intimidate this enemy like he can Pebble Beach or any of the field of professional golfers. And there is no privacy he can claim from this enemy, regardless of his resolve, his silence, or the name painted on his yacht. It’s likely Tiger only perceives the press hunting him out of a vain “curiosity about public figures.” But Tiger is being hunted and hounded by a far greater foe: the consequences of his sin. And this story should humble and sober us. It should make us ask: Are there any so-called “secret sins” in my life? Is there anything I have done that I hope nobody discovers? Is there anything right now in my life that I should confess to God and the appropriate individuals? And this should leave us more amazed by grace because there, but for the grace of God, go I. (C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries Blog - December 3, 2009)

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. (James 4:6-7)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)