This week in Sunday School I mentioned a response by Ravi Zacharias to a question regarding gender preference and God. Here is a link to that video response: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MD3CsFfLxlo
Most of our time in class was spent in a lively discussion of the currently ongoing Elders review of our church constitution and specifically about our church covenant. I hope I succeeded in facilitating an open discussion where all feedback on the topic and process was welcome. My own views on the topic of membership are well summarized in a blog post last August. You can click this link to read that post by David Mathis entitled "Why Join a Church?" Please feel free to respond here to any of these issues. Thanks to all for a lively, honest discussion in class Sunday.
The Adult Sunday School class looked at a small excerpt from the full video below. This is the same video Pastor Ron recommended to us in this morning's Worship Service.
Please share your comments.
What is your favorite or most helpful quote about God's Grace. I am starting us off by contributing the quote below from John Piper and the video conversation and song by Rick Muchow with Rick Warren.
“The only life I have left to live is future life. The past is not in my hands to offer or alter. It is gone. Not even God will change the past. All the expectations of God are future expectations. All the possibilities of faith and love are future possibilities. And all the power that touches me with help to live in love is future power. As precious as the bygone blessings of God may be, if He leaves me only with the memory of those, and not with the promise of more, I will be undone. My hope for future goodness and future glory is future grace.”
― John Piper, Future Grace
Please feel free to post your favorite or most memorable quote about Grace from your reading, your own thoughts, scripture or the sermon series we are currently in.
In this mornings Sermon on God's sustaining Grace Ron referred to Paul Tripp's "Tweets on Grace" compiled into a single document by Timmy Brister. These are fantastic helps in focusing on God's amazing Grace and useful for preaching to ourselves. Click the "Read More" link below to see the whole list here on the blog or you can download them as a pdf file for your own off-line use by clicking here. As always your comments are welcome.
Paul Tripp Tweets on Grace
You have real hope when your hope is rooted in grace. Grace forgives your past, empowers your present and secures your future.
Since sin lives inside of you and you cannot escape you, your only hope is powerful redeeming grace.
This is the blog post by Paul Trip that Ron read this Sunday and printed on the back of the sermon outline bulletin insert. I can't think of anything to add. It is worth re-reading and chewing on this week.
Do you understand the majesty and practicality of the grace you have been given? If you don't, in subtle and not so subtle ways, you are looking to other things to get you through. You don't need to go out searching for hope and help, because they are already yours in the resources of grace that you have been given as God's child.
Grace is the most transformational word in the Bible. The entire content of the Bible is a narrative of God's grace, a story of undeserved redemption. By the transformational power of his grace, God unilaterally reaches his hands into the muck of this fallen world, through the presence of his Son, and radically transforms his children from what we are (sinners) into what we are becoming by his power (Christ-like). The famous Newton hymn uses the best word possible, maybe the only word big enough, for that grace—amazing.
So grace is a story and grace is a gift. It is God's character and it is your only hope. Grace is a transforming tool and a state of relationship. Grace is a beautiful theology and a wonderful invitation. Grace is a life-long experience and a life-changing calling. Grace will turn your life upside down while giving you a rest you have never known. Grace will require you to face your unworthiness without ever making you feel unloved.
Grace will make you finally acknowledge that you cannot earn God's favor, and it will once and for all remove your fear of not measuring up to his standards. Grace will humble you with the fact that you are much less than you thought you were, even as it assures you that you can be far more than you had ever imagined. You can be sure that grace will put you in your place without ever putting you down.
Grace will enable you to face shocking truths about yourself that you have hesitated to consider, while freeing you from being self-consciously introspective. Grace will confront you with profound weaknesses, and at the same time bless you with new-found strength. Grace will tell you again and again what you aren't, while welcoming you again and again to what you can now be. Grace will make you as uncomfortable as you have ever been, while offering you a more lasting comfort than you have never before known .
Grace will work to drive you to the end of yourself, while it invites you to fresh starts and new beginnings. Grace will dash your ill-founded hopes, but never walk away and leave you hopeless. Grace will decimate your little kingdom of one as it introduces you to a much, much better King. Grace will expose to you the extent of your blindness as it gives you eyes to see what you so desperately need to see. Grace will make you sadder than you have ever been, while it gives you greater cause for celebration than you have ever known.
Grace enters your life in a moment and will occupy you for eternity. You simply cannot live a productive life in this broken-down world unless you have a practical grasp of the grace you have been given.
Are you living out of this amazing grace? Does it shape the way you respond to your personal struggles, your relationships, and your work? Does your trust in this grace form how you live with your husband or wife? Does it propel the way you parent your children? Does it give you comfort when friends have disappointed you? Does it give you rest when life is unpredictable and hard? Does it make you bold and give you courage in places where you would have once been timid? Does it make the idols that tempt you less attractive and less powerful? Do you wake up and say, "I don't know what I will face today, but this I do know: I have been given amazing grace to face it right here, right now."
May God help you to understand and rest in the grace that you have been given!
Paul David Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization, whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Paul is an international conference speaker, Pastor (Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA), seminary professor (Redeemer Seminary, Dallas, TX), Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care, and the author of many books.
Paul David Tripp is a pastor, author, and international conference speaker. He is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries and works to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.
“After the Bible the next most valuable book for the Christian is a good hymnal. Let any young Christian spend a year prayerfully meditating on the hymns of Watts and Wesley alone and he will become a fine theologian. Then let him read a balanced diet of the Puritans and the Christian mystics. The results will be more wonderful than he could have dreamed.” Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 150-151 Author: A.W. Tozer
All three of the following songs were mentioned in this morning's message. Each lyric puts into song biblical truths that if meditated on and often remembered will serve to support the foundation of a healthy faith walk with God.
Encourage One Another... (I Thess 5:8 ESV). Please share your thoughts by adding comments.
Friday January 17, 2014 - Our Purpose, Goals and Intention for 2014... Making Him Known and Making Disciples
For several weeks we have been looking at the idea that it is essential for us to know our purpose, our goals and to be very intentional in our pursuit of them. Without these we will not succeed at making and maturing new disciples and our own spiritual health will falter. I found the two videos that follow very insightful and convicting in light of our recents sermons and Sunday school classes. The first one is by David Platt and you may find it a little sharp edged (convicting) but that can be a very wonderful gift from God if it causes some soul searching that leads to positive change and a more effective God honoring life. The second video is of David Platt and Francis Chan and provides some very helpful insights on how and possibly why our disciple making efforts may be missing the mark.
As always your thoughts and comments are welcome and encouraged. For those in the Adult Sunday School class we will probably watch and discuss this content Sunday morning.
Jim had suggested that if anyone wanted to write on the church blog, just send him our thoughts. So I decided (anonymously) to do just that.
There was no outline this week since we had a guest speaker. But looking back over the Adult Sunday School Class, music, and message – God already had an outline.
This week was the 3rd Sunday in Advent. Pastor Ron asked what the significance of the pink candle is in the Advent wreath. The season of Advent at its origin, was to be a time of repentance and recognition of our need for salvation. The purple candles (purple also being a color representative of Lent), are meant for contemplation of our penitence. The pink candle, as we look forward to the coming Savior, is one of Joy. It has also been called the Shepherd candle.
Randy Williams (Gideons) brought us a message full of expectation. Those in the past and the present waiting for their Savior. Mary expecting a miracle child from God, shepherds hearing the angels proclaim their newborn King, and Simeon holding the child Jesus and seeing the fulfillment of God’s promise.
And our music in the same vein. Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, and Joy to the World.
I left the morning service with a renewed sense of the joy of life in Christ, and more importantly with great expectation of His return. The Christmas season sometimes leaves people with unmet expectations, but we come with hope. Advent prepares us for eternal things, the hope of things not seen.
God’s outline was pretty awesome.
There have been a number of resources or aids referenced in our Adult Sunday School classes that I want to make available. Some of them we used in class, others we just didn't get to.
That Incredible Christian - Ron quoted from this book by A.W. Tozer, specifically Chapter 18 (page 19 of the book). It is well worth the time it takes to read it.
What Is a Revival? by C.H. Spurgeon from the December 1866 "Sword and Trowel" - one of the best descriptions of revival I have come across.
Self Discovery - a tool by A.W. Tozer to help in detecting areas in our lives where self/idolatry may be going undetected.
My Heart Christ' Home - by Robert B. Munger - An allegory of the process of sanctification; the journey from our initial response to Christ and His work in us to bring us to the point that we surrender all and accept His call to become a living sacrifice.
Discerning Idolatry in Desire -12 Ways to Recognize the Rise of Covetousness - by John Piper. With the Bible equating covetousness to idolatry, John Piper recommends some questions to help us do some self evaluation and to detect the rise of covetousness in our own lives so we can take corrective action.
Please feel free to comment on your interaction with these resources; they are posted in the hope that they may help you live a life worthy of your calling.
Blog posts may be authored by a variety of individuals including but not limited to Pastor Ron, Church Elders, Sunday School Teachers, Small Group Leaders and Ministry Leaders.