Friday, March 27, 2009

C.J. Mahaney

A post by C.J. Mahaney on his blog reminded me of the first time I ever heard him. It was a Nine Marks interview by Mark Dever from February 2003. Three things stood out from that interview: First, the subject of his blog post -- the great stress relief and humility builder that only God always gets His to-do list done. Secondly, his comments on recognizing evidences of grace in the local church, using the example of Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:4-9. And last, but not least, the emotion and gratitude that C.J. displayed in giving his incredible testimony.

I'll let you read what he says about to-do lists, but I will give a few words on the second subject, which is one that I happen to be preaching on this coming Sunday (and I decided that before I saw the blog post). On Sunday, I'm preaching my last message on Ephesians from 6:21-24 and the title is "The Art of Benediction." That discussion in the interview about celebrating God's work in His people convicted me and continues to do so. I tend to be weak on recognizing evidences of grace and showing appreciation. There is a message by C.J. on 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 here. I encourage you to download it and give it a listen.

After that Nine Marks interview, I did some more research on this joyful basketball fan and found a real treasure-trove of material. Juanita and I and our church family have benefited greatly from Sovereign Grace Ministries. We are very thankful for the sermons, the conference messages, music, and even the Sunday School Curriculum that our church uses from this group of churches.

We've seen many people read and benefit from C.J.'s book Living the Cross-Centered Life. We have a book table in our church and I don't know how many copies of that book have gone out. A few others have read Humility by C.J. as well. I read it on the way back from Together for the Gospel in 2006.

I'm aware that showing appreciation and telling others about people can devolve into hero worship, but it's hard to worship a man who so faithfully points to his sin, the cross and the need for humility in the face of God's astonishing grace.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Just Keep Reading, Preacher

Last week I shared my concern that I was missing something in my preaching. In my mini-series on spiritual warfare from Ephesians 6:10-20, I felt that I was being too "safe" and that I needed to inject a more topical message before I wrapped things up.

Well, as I prepared a message on prayer last week, I was blown away but what the Apostle Paul really says about prayer in three short verses (just note the cross-references at the Bible Gateway link). From these verses, I found seven points:

1. Pray in the Spirit
2. Pray at All Times
3. Pray About Everything
4. Pray With Your Eyes Open
5. Pray for All the Saints
6. Pray for Gospel Preachers
7. Pray for Gospel Opportunities

The message is up on (just click the link at the top right corner of this blog), but if you don't want to listen, let me explain a couple of the more obscure points above (my obscurity, not the text's).

4. Pray With Your Eyes Open might seem odd, but what I'm getting at here is spiritual alertness and perseverence in the face of temptation and opposition to prayer that will come. I was picking up on Paul's "eyes of the heart" allusion from Ephesians 1.

7. Pray for Gospel Opportunities is an admittedly loose interpretation of Paul's description of himself as an "ambassador in chains." Paul's confidence in God's sovereign providence made him conscious of the fact that the Gospel was not hindered by his chains. See Philippians 1:12-14 for more proof of this assertion. The application of this is that we can't blame God for our lack of Gospel witness. None of our "chains" can keep God from working in us.

I was really convicted by this message. When you carefully consider what Paul says in context, serious prayer is an urgent component of spiritual warfare. It expresses our dependence upon God. That is a very practical application of the metaphor of the full armour of God in the previous verses.

So, all this to say that I was particularly schooled by the text last week.

Preacher, when you think something's missing, just keep reading.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Practical Spiritual Warfare

I've been preaching through Ephesians and I am almost at the end. Being an impatient sort of fellow, I've been itching to get on with a new series and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel on this one. What a strange thing it is for me to want to be done with Ephesians!

This coming Sunday (the 22nd), I was going to preach on Prayer and Perseverence as a wrap-up to 6:10-20, but after Sunday's message, I had a nagging thought that I really haven't done this passage justice. It is safe to generalize, and that is just what I've done. Maybe I should do one more week and get more pointed in the application of these crucial concepts of spiritual warfare.

During my first message, I made the point that spiritual warfare is a topic as big as the Bible. I can't get to everything, so I might as well move on.

On Monday morning, I listened to a podcast from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation by Dr. Ed Welch on Shame. This message tweaked my conscience. Talk about a practical aspect of spiritual warfare! Since then, I've been thinking about extending my Ephesians series by one week and revisiting the key issues of guilt, shame, forgiveness and justification. There is both illegitimate and legitimate shame in Scripture, and it is a key battlefront where we need to apply the Gospel.

I like to outline my sermons ahead of time, but I do need to be flexible from time-to-time.

So, what's the purpose of this post? Call it confession. I have been more conscious lately about my "safe" preaching - at least it's pretty safe within the walls of my own church. I need to think and pray and visit with people and find out where the battle is really raging in my own congregation and in my own life. I must listen to where God's Word - even in passages that I've "handled" - speaks to these issues and be brave enough to preach boldly.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I've been thinking a lot lately about a conference that we're planning to attend in early April. For several years, we've appreciated the ministry of Sovereign Grace Ministries, and now, Lord willing, we will be at their Pastors and Wives Conference. If you're not familiar with Sovereign Grace, they have a ton of resources on their website, including downloadable music (for a fee) and free MP3 messages (sermons, conferences, seminars etc.). Take some time to look around - your efforts will be richly rewarded!

We have tickets booked and we've notified some family that live out that way. We're looking forward to seeing them, too. Being a homeschool family, we're also hoping to have some enjoyable educational experiences in D.C. and places like Jamestown, VA.

As is to be expected, I've had a few invitations to speak at various places. I've said no to a couple of them due to scheduling issues, but I've also said I'd speak at two of them so far, both of them in Alberta. In some ways, it is hard to accept these invitations because I know why I'm being asked. I do want to be available to point people to Christ through the Gospel, however, so I'll consider these opportunities as they come up.

I think that part of the reason that I'm looking forward to the SGM Pastors and Wives is that Juanita and I can just sit and soak - recharge our batteries with great teaching and worship.

We continue to hear from people that are still praying for us. We appreciate that very much and are humbled by the kindness of God's people - family, friends and even people we don't know.

Our plans and our lives are in God's hands, and He is good.

P.S. Yesterday's message is up - just click on the sermons box on the top-right side of the blog, if you're interested.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Cold Day in March

It was -38 in Edson this morning. Edmonton International Airport recorded -42. That's a new record low. Since they've been recording, -29.4 was the lowest temperature on this date.

If your a Fahrenheit person, remember that -40 C and -40 F are the same.

That's cold no matter how you slice it.

Things are looking up, though. Tomorrow morning is only supposed to be -27 C.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Ephesians 6:10-20: Spiritual Warfare I

Last week I said I wouldn't do any more posts about my messages. I changed my mind. I guess I should do a post to let people know that a new one is up.

Yesterday's message was on spiritual warfare. As I was preparing, I realized that this is a theme from Genesis 3 all the way to Revelation 21. That's a big subject.

Next week, Lord willing, I'll tackle the armour and the following week will be prayer and perseverance.

If you're new here, the sermons can be found by clicking a link in a box on the top right-hand side of this page.

Friday, March 06, 2009

You Must Be Born Again

My copy of John Piper's new book, Finally Alive arrived in the mail yesterday. I don't always get the latest Piper book, but the concept of this one gripped me. Do I really emphasize the necessity of the new birth enough in my teaching and preaching? There is nothing more important, nothing more central to Christianity.

Then, today, I read today's Morning and Evening morning reading. Here it is:

“Ye must be born again.”

- John 3:7

Regeneration is a subject which lies at the very basis of salvation, and we should be very diligent to take heed that we really are “born again,” for there are many who fancy they are, who are not. Be assured that the name of a Christian is not the nature of a Christian; and that being born in a Christian land, and being recognized as professing the Christian religion is of no avail whatever, unless there be something more added to it-the being “born again,” is a matter so mysterious, that human words cannot describe it. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” Nevertheless, it is a change which is known and felt: known by works of holiness, and felt by a gracious experience. This great work is supernatural. It is not an operation which a man performs for himself: a new principle is infused, which works in the heart, renews the soul, and affects the entire man. It is not a change of my name, but a renewal of my nature, so that I am not the man I used to be, but a new man in Christ Jesus. To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making it alive: man can do the one, God alone can do the other. If you have then, been “born again,” your acknowledgment will be, “O Lord Jesus, the everlasting Father, thou art my spiritual Parent; unless thy Spirit had breathed into me the breath of a new, holy, and spiritual life, I had been to this day ‘dead in trespasses and sins.’ My heavenly life is wholly derived from thee, to thee I ascribe it. ‘My life is hid with Christ in God.’ It is no longer I who live, but Christ who liveth in me.” May the Lord enable us to be well assured on this vital point, for to be unregenerate is to be unsaved, unpardoned, without God, and without hope.
- C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, March 6th

This Sunday is communion Sunday at our church. I'm also preaching on Ephesians 6:10-20, the first of three "Spiritual Warfare" sermons on this text.

Perhaps God is trying to tell me something? It's time to emphasize the need to be born again very strongly and clearly this Sunday at Edson Baptist Church.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

New Sermon Posted - Slaves and Masters

This will be my last post about my sermon links. Why? Because I've created a new gadget on my blog that links to my list of messages.

If you have any comments or constructive criticism, I'd love to hear it in the comments.