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Psalm 10

April 13, 2013 — Leave a comment

With everything that went down over the past couple days with Dr. Kermit Gosnell and his abortion trail I was comforted by Davids words in Psalm chapter 10 last night as I lay in bed thinking about all the horrific events that had happened.

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Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

2 In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
3 For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
4 In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
5 His ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
6 He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
7 His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
8 He sits in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
9 he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
10 The helpless are crushed, sink down,
and fall by his might.

11 He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
12 Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
13 Why does the wicked renounce God
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
14 But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.
16 The Lord is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17 O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18 to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

 

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I am, slowly, reading through Ray Ortlund’s book, Isaiah (Redesign): God Saves Sinners (Preaching the Word). This morning as I started into chapter 5 of Ortlund’s book, which is chapter 2 of Isaiah, the opening section was all I needed to hear from God this morning. It was enough for me to chew on for the rest of the day. I figured I would share it with you here for your encouragement to find our hope in more than what we have.

Where do we modern people typically find our incentives for living? In the present. The future threatens to rob us of all we have and hope to have. We trust God, in a way. But more than we realize, our sense of stability is not grounded in God alone but in our pleasant surroundings  If we successful people have nothing beyond the status quo, we will respond to earthly loss with rage and despair. Have we worked so hard, only to create our own vulnerability? World events are forcing us to think about that. Every day terrorist fanatics are plotting to murder us. Even if we get to them first, how do we save ourselves from the powers of nature that slammed Asia with killer tsunami waves in late 2004? Left to ourselves, we are defenseless before the buffetings of life.

That is when Christ comes to us. Through him our losses become pathways to hope. For us privileged people in the Western world, the supreme privilege of life is when we find that God himself is all we really need.

Loss will come, but remember that through Christ, our losses become pathways to hope. May your losses, even those you have today, bring us closer to Christ and His beauty.

TGC National Conference 2013

January 31, 2013 — 1 Comment

Even though I have planted a church in the past year, I still have a big heart for youth ministry and am part of discussions that focus on youth ministry all the time. Not only am I on the board of advisors for Rooted (which is a ministry that focuses on Gospel-Centered youth ministry) but I also have been, and will continue to be part of shaping and leading the Gospel Alliance yearly youth conference in New England The Calling.

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Because of my love for youth, youth pastors and giving a voice to a Jesus-centered approach to youth ministry, I am really excited to be taking part of the The Gospel Coalition 2013 National Conference. It is happening this coming April, 8-10 in Orlando FL. I will be speaking alongside my buddy Nate Morgan Locke (See Soul DVD review and interview). Here is the description from the Gospel Coalition site about our session -

Gospel Centered Youth Ministry: Building on Jesus not the Jokes
Theories of moving the youth from moralistic therapeutic deism to genuine gospel transformation are needed. But so is practical application. Come along to this workshop and here what two experienced youth leaders have used to ground their kids in gospel truths.

There will also be at least one more session on youth ministry and I believe I will be part of a forum on youth ministry.

If you are a youth pastor or in your ministry I would love to see you at our session. If you’re not, it would still be great to connect with you at TGC13 hit me up on Twitter or Facebook and lets connect.

Last year I reflected on some things to remind yourself when you preach a dud. After I was thinking about it, I realized just as often as we preach a dud we will preach a great message (or at least a half decent one). The Spirit will be working in our midst, sin will be confronted, Jesus will be made much of, and hearts will be delighted in the truth of the Scriptures. When this happens, how are we to react? How should we respond? Here are a few of my thoughts.

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Humility - when a message connects, we must remember why it connected. It didn’t connect because of us. It connected because God saw it fit to connect. He moved in men and woman’s hearts, and caused something to happen that is not natural. I have preached the very same message, the very same words mere hours apart, and one was a dud and one was used mightily. The only difference was God. We must be humble enough to remember that it is God who works in and through our words, not our persuasive speech. My words without the Spirit’s empowerment are simply words.

Blessed to Be Used - when the Spirit does work, when hearts are changed, we must respond not only with humility, but also a thankfulness. A thankfulness that we were blessed to be part of God’s eternal plan of redeeming people. We were blessed to be part of the story of God calling a people unto Himself. We were blessed to have been used and have all the work pay off, lives were changed, Jesus was made much of for this we can be thankful for Him working through us.

Rest  - now that it is done, we can rest, be humbled and thankful for what Jesus has done. Rest in the fact that God has been faithful, rest in the knowledge that He will continue to work, rest in the truth that He accepts us in our apparent success and failure. 

Work - we can now also get back to work, remembering that another message will quickly be upon us. Do not rest in the success, do your work. Dive back into the Word, and dwell in the presence of God. Sit at His feet and get your heart and mind ready to have another go at it. We will have eternity to rest, but for now we work to save those who don’t yet know Him.

Your calling is of utmost importance, so get back at it! Hearts will need Jesus again, thirsty souls will be drinking from broken cisterns, we must point them back the fountain of living water.

May we as preachers be thankful when God sees fit to speak through us, but may we not rest in this success. May it stir our hearts to do it again and again, until either the Lord returns, or He calls us home.

“Imagine you are teaching the Bible to a group of young teenagers. Most of them are not taking a bit of notice. You have worked hard to be both true to the text and relevant to the youngsters. But they are just flicking bits of paper at each other. It might be tempting to play some games to show that Christians can have fun too or to sing more songs so they will encounter God in the music. It is moments like these that we need to hold on to the conviction that God is known and God works through the words of Jesus. Christian ministry must be gospel-centered.” Total Church pg 24

Gospel Youth Ministry