Archive for the ‘gospel’ Category

Help! I’m Depressed

“Being depressed is bad enough in itself, but being a depressed Christian is worse. And being a depressed Christian in a church full of people who don’t understand depression is like a little taste of Hell.” –John Lockley

Do you know the feeling? Chances are if you don’t, you know someone who does. As followers of Christ it is vital to know that “Yes, Christians get depressed too! But there is hope!” Massive, ginormous, absolutely-guaranteed gospel-hope! Hope to fight for faith in the midst of many dark paths that depression takes us down. Though there is no quick fix or cure for depression, I want to highlight a few resources that will give you tools to begin to see how the light of the gospel can break through the darkness of depression. For many of us this fight for faith will be life-long. But the gospel is the power of God for every season of the soul.

David Murray’s book Christians Get Depressed Too is the first book that I recommend to anyone struggling with depression. It is wise, biblical and short!

Also, David Murray’s video “Are you SAD” is a great place to understand and prepare to fight seasonal affective disorder.

Ed Welch’s booklet Depression: The Way Up When You Are Down is another excellent resource. This 20 page booklet is a great place to start if you don’t know where to begin.

Remember! As we walk with each other in and through and out of depression, it’s not about having all the answers or even “fixing” each other. Our goal and our hope is in learning to cling to and trust in Christ. There is no secret formula or set of steps… only a gracious, patient, loving, compassionate and healing Savior.

 

Why Your Church Matters

From Ray Ortlund’s Blog.

“. . . the church of the living God, the pillar and buttress of the truth.”  1 Timothy 3:15

. . . the church of the living God.  A church is where the idols of our culture can be cogently discredited and the living God rallied around, rejoiced in, worshiped, studied, loved and obeyed.  If the church is dead or dormant, God’s own appointed testimony to his living reality powers down.  The felt reality of God in the world today is at stake in our churches.

. . . the pillar and buttress of the truth.  A “pillar” holds something up high for all to see.  In this world, the one truth that will outlast the universe needs to be put on clear display rather than submerged under all the stuff that’s demanding our attention week in and week out.  A church can make the gospel obvious and accessible through preaching, teaching, memorizing, catechizing, blogging, etc.

A “buttress” firms something up, makes it strong.  For many, the gospel does not feel strong.  Other things hold them together.  But a church buttresses the gospel by showing that it really works.  Not only does the gospel create the church, but a church also buttresses the gospel.  The gospel starts feeling solid and believable and urgently needed as our greatest resource in all of life.

By divine appointment, the church makes the real Jesus seem real, it makes the truth visible to busy people, and it embodies living proof that the gospel enriches real people living real lives today.

The church matters.  Your church matters.  In these powerful ways.

3-2-1 Gospel Presentation

This is fantastic video about even fantastic-er gospel! I bet this could be a wonderful way to share our hope in Jesus with our friends and family, especially this Christmas season.

HT: Justin Taylor

The Best Book I’ve Read All Year–Gospel Deeps

Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus is by far the best book I’ve read all year. I recently wrote “An Exulting Review” of it for the Gospel Alliance. Here’s a snippet that I hope will tempt you to read the whole book. (Be sure to read the whole review so you can enter for a chance to win a FREE copy!)

Gospel Deeps is a 200-page “Amen! Yes! Hallelujah!”  I’ve never filled a book’s margins with so many exclamation points! Page after page I found myself singing and soaring and exploring and exulting in the unending, immeasurable depths of the good news of Jesus.

Plus it doesn’t hurt that the book is a blast to read. Jared Wilson is witty and funny and has literary ninja skills. Some authors struggle to combine humor and honor. Not Jared. And I think it’s his playfulness and humility that make his worship and his theology so compelling. There is no doubt that Jared is mesmerized by Jesus and his gospel. Gospel Deeps is a call to worship. It is gospel-centered doxology.

Taking my cue from the subtitle– “Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus”– let me share some of my revelings. Come exult in the gospel with me!

O the Deep, Deep Gospel of Jesus!

When you think of “going deeper” in your faith what do you think of? Theological debates like Calvinism vs Arminianism? Figuring out the End Times? Endless word studies?  We should all want to go deeper, but deeper into what? Awe, of course. Because theology should fill not only our minds but also our hearts!

“Our look into the depths of the gospel cannot be merely to know more information, as if deciphering some secret code, but instead to seek more and more to be awed by what God has done for us in Christ, what God is doing for us in Christ, and what God will do for us in Christ. Plumbing the depths of the gospel is an exultational pursuit, or it is a pointless one. Come, let us reason together. And worship God.” (p. 22)

Read the rest, here.

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing

If you and your children have been blessed by the Jesus Storybook Bible, then you’ll definitely want to get a hold of Sally Lloyd-Jones’ new book Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing.  It’s a wonderfully, theologically rich, gospel-saturated book for children (of all ages!). I started reading this to our boys last week and they absolutely love it…bedtime has suddenly gotten longer!

Here’s what pastor Tim Keller says about the book..

“Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing may be the best, first introduction for children to have their own time with Jesus. It shares the same whimsical art as The Jesus Storybook Bible—one of my favorite gifts to friends, whether they have children or not—as well as Sally’s easy-to-understand prose.
Best of all, it is saturated with an understanding of the Gospel, God’s love freely given to us, but purchased by Jesus. Although designed for children, these are thoughts that should make all of our hearts sing.” – Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church

Here’s the trailer.

Jude: How to Contend for the Faith

This Sunday we will wrap up our sermon series on Jude, “Contending for the Faith.”

In the closing words of his letter (1:17-25), Jude teaches us that contending for the faith is a whole church-project–every man and woman, boy and girl! Contending for the faith is the call of every one of Jesus’ disciples. It requires nothing less than an intentional life of faith, rooted and grounded in God’s promises. Here he gets practical and equips us for a life-time of contending. I encourage you to read Jude one more time before Sunday. And…

  • Let’s pray that we will grow in our knowledge and delight in THE Faith, the Gospel.
  • Let us pray that we will be alert to any and every perversion of the gospel of God’s forgiving and transforming Grace.
  • Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will convict of us of unbelief that is trying to sneak into our hearts and turn our hearts away from God’s promises.
  • Let us pray for Jesus-like compassion and mercy for each other as we encourage one another in the life of faith.
  • Let us pray that our confidence will flow from an ever-increasing awe of who God is and what he’s done, is doing and will do for us through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Jude: Bookended by Grace

The Letter of Jude is bookended by God’s Rescuing Grace.

He begins his letter by affirming his church that God has called them  to be his beloved children and that Christ keeps–guards and protects–them from the wicked strategies of the false teachers.

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
    
(Jude 1:1-2 ESV)

He ends with a re-affirmation that God through Christ keeps them from stumbling and being duped by a perverted gospel. God’s grace will fuel their endurance and lead them straight into God’s joyful, glorious presence.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

In between these bookends of Grace are bold, scary, politically incorrect and bizarre (to us) words of doom and judgment aimed at the church-intruders. False teachers who pervert the gospel of God’s grace and thereby deny Jesus’ rightful Lordship over us. Let us pray for wisdom and humility as we learn from Jude why we must contend/agonize/fight for the gospel in the face of those who seek to pervert/transform/threaten the gospel.

What to Expect in Gathered Worship

When we gather to worship God together God is being glorified and Jesus’ disciples are being encouraged.

As we sing and read and study and celebrate the gospel we’re encouraging each other to really, really believe that the gospel is good news, that God’s grace really is amazing, that Christ’s death and resurrection has really has made us right with God, that God’s Spirit really dwells in us and empowers us to live changed lives.  Gathered worship reminds Jesus’ disciples that the gospel is the most important news in the world!

So what should you expect in Gathered Worship? The Gospel…from start to finish!

One of the Keys to Revival

I’m praying for revival for WBC, the Lakes Region, for Maine, for New England! Are you?! Ray Ortlund offers some encouraging words here about what we should be looking for.

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.  Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”  Luke 6:36-38

Surely, this is one of our Lord’s ordained pathways into revival.

He is not saying we can earn a good measure of divine blessing.  But his grace leads us into more than a position of mercy before God.  His grace also leads us into participation in the mercy of God: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

A merciful heart feels for the offender.  A merciful mind enters the experience of the offender, to understand his or her weakness.  A merciful will chooses a generous outlook.  Our Father is like that.  That is what we believe and teach.  And gospel doctrine always creates a gospel culture.

Revival might not be as remote and mysterious and inaccessible as the inscrutable decrees of God.  It might be inches away, just on the other side of the walls of relational aloofness we ourselves create and tolerate.  But our Father didn’t tolerate them.  He broke them down by the mercies of the cross.  And Jesus is insisting on the obvious implications: “My gospel is the end of your self-justifying condemnations.  It is a new beginning of all-encompassing mercies.  I want you to be living proof of that.  I want you to experience the abundant blessings packed inside it.”

Jesus did not bring to us a reconciliation with God that goes no further.  There is nothing minimalist about the gospel.  He brought to us a reconciliation with God that creates hopeful new possibilities with everyone around, especially those who have wronged us.

What if we were to elevate Luke 6:36-38 to one of the major themes of our lives and churches and movements?  What if, rather than be mystified by these verses and hold them at arm’s length, we let them move toward us and redefine us?  Inevitably, the walls between us would start falling down by the overruling power of the Father’s mercy.  Then, Jesus says, we would experience increased blessing from above.  And not just a little blessing, but “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.”

That’s revival.

HT “Christ is Deeper Still”

6 Ways To Reach God’s World

Here are 6 ways WBC can reach God’s world…and only 1 of them requires going! Each of these shows a strategic yet practical way all of us can be involved in God’s global mission. Take a look. Which one is God calling to you begin with?

From OMF’s “6 Ways to Reach God’s World.”

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