Gathering the Study the Gospel of Christ in the Gospel of Mark

On October 7, the core group (and, Lord willing, many visitors) will be gathering to begin our first study as the church plant to be known as Christ Community Church in Newton, MA. For info on why Mark’s Gospel, how you can pray, and other pertinent info, go here.

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Fumbling and Trusting

As we have settled in Newton, MA, much of my posting will be originally assigned to the pastoral blog of the Christ Community Church website (still somewhat under construction).  I highly recommend your visitation.  In fact, this is your invitation.  For two other brothers much greater than I, Erik Schaefer and Joe Keune, will be blogging there as well on everything from pastoral ministry to biblical counseling to mission in Newton and to the nations.  However, my posts there, I’ll link here.  And I’ll continue to write here occasionally, while also linking up to other thoughts that I think will be tasteful food for your hearts and lives.

Go here to read Fumbling and Trusting, a brief synopsis of our discovered weakness in Christian mission and how this realization is the best place to be, for there God’s power is made perfect.

Please continue to pray for us, especially for our faith, holiness, love and unity in the Spirit.  Pray also for our first Bible study, beginning October 7.

18 Thoughts on Psalm 116.15

Psa 116.15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of all his saints,” from which I infer:

(1) many things are said to be wicked in the eyes of the Lord, but the death of all His saints is not one of them;

(2) rather this moment is said to be precious in His eyes, which is a very blessed thing that it should be, as what is precious in God’s sight is really precious;

(3) that this preciousness is not confined to select saints, but all of them, from the least of them to the greatest, all our deaths are precious in the sight of the Lord;

(4) saints are not just the canonized of the Catholic religion, but every repentant person that has believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ is properly called a saint, one set apart by God in Christ and indwelt by the Spirit of holiness unto holiness;

(5) that this preciousness which is a preciousness in the eyes of the Lord is a preciousness inherited by the saints, not being precious in ourselves but as we appear to Him and come to Him in Christ;

(6) that the death of the saints is precious in the sight of the Lord because He knows that death is a conquered foe with regards to them all, and this is a sweet-smelling aroma of Christ to Him;

(7) that the death of the saints is precious in the sight of the Lord because it evinces His great redemption, the forgiveness of our sins, the removal of which means that we cannot be held by death, and so His effectual grace towards us is a precious thing for Him to observe as we come to conclude our sojourning;

(8) that this preciousness is so precious in His eyes precisely because He welcomes us.  That we should see Him is precious in His sight;

(9) that it is all of God’s full and free grace that any should be called a saint by God and so have their death considered a precious thing in His sight;

(10) that no matter the manner of the saint’s passing, it is precious in the sight of the Lord; no matter how terrible, how laborious, how young or old, how defiling or degrading, cut down in the prime of life or laid low by the effect of many days; no matter how we perceive it, if they be a saint, their passing is precious in the sight of the Lord;

(11) that God often sees differently than we do.  We see in part, and so we find it hard to call the death of a saint precious; but God sees, not in part, but perfectly, and so is pleased to call it a thing precious to Him;

(12) what manner of glory the saints do come into that God should call that entrance into it by death “precious”;

(13) how uninviting death must be, then, for anyone not a saint, how terrible a thing for anyone to die in unbelief;

(14) that all Christians ought to mourn when a saint passes, but that we ought not mourn without hope and eventual happiness because the saint that passes does so into the glorious presence of God (cf. Ps 16), and this is to make us satisfied in the goodness and will of God;

(15) that doubtless many who hear such things take them lightly, will pat me on the back and tell me how good these things written do seem to them.  These no doubt think these things fantasy, imaginary, unreal, because unseen, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Even now every person stands on the precipice of eternity, hanging by a thread, as it were, the mercy of God alone upholding them, though He has made no promise to unbelievers to hold them up any one second longer.  Such people do not know the danger they are truly faced with, and how they have most certainly lived all their lives on borrowed mercy and known it not one second.  If any person be like this, I do not want pats on the back, but repentance; not niceties but faith in Christ.  For

(16) as long as any person lives God may grant them to become one of His saints whose death will be likewise precious in His sight.

(17) Because of what God has done for us in Christ, the fear of death is removed, and it stands only in service of the saints.

(18) How this ought to free us for gospel ministry and for following Jesus even unto death.  Sin, Satan, the gates of hell and the world may do their worst, may take our lives because of the gospel, but it will only bring us to what God delights to call “precious.”  What a flame for the cause of Christ!

Addressing Theology With Children

The following idea has been adapted and adopted from the article at WORLD by Russ Pulliam.  The idea is simply to give you a list of fictional writings designed to engage children and their imaginations with theological and ecclesial-historical truths.  Here are some (and if you want to add some others, feel free):

1. Irenaeus of Lyons, by Sinclair Ferguson
2. Polycarp of Smyrna, by Sinclair Ferguson
3. Ignatius of Antioch, by Sinclair Ferguson
4. Big Book of Bible Truths 1, by Sinclair Ferguson
5. Big Book of Questions and Answers About Jesus, by Sinclair Ferguson

6. The Lightlings, by R. C. Sproul
7. The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, by R. C. Sproul (teaching on Martin Luther)
8. The Donkey Who Carried a King, by R. C. Sproul (gives the gospel through the donkey’s perspective, teaching humility from carrying Christ into Jerusalem)
9. The Priest With Dirty Clothes, by R. C. Sproul (illustrates the imputation of Christ’s righteousness)
10. The Prince’s Poison Cup, by R. C. Sproul (explaining Christ’s suffering for us)
11. The King Without a Shadow, by R. C. Sproul (explaining holiness)

12. Children’s Stories, by J. C. Ryle
13. Thoughts for Young Men, by J. C. Ryle
14. Boys and Girls Playing and Other Addresses to Young Children, by J. C. Ryle
15. The Duties of Parents, by J. C. Ryle (ok, this is for parents, but undoubtedly involves children!)

WORLD’s Top 10 Books of the Year, by Marvin Olasky

1. The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion, by Rodney Stark

2. Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help — And How to Reverse It, by Robert Lupton

3. From Prophecy to Charity: How to Help the Poor, by Lawrence Mead

4. Coming Apart, by Charles Murray

5. The Intolerance of Tolerance, by D. A. Carson

6. We the People: A.D. 1600 to 1800, Christian History Project, Vol. 10

7. What is the Mission of the Church?, by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert

8. Gospel-Powered Humility, by William Farley

9. The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson

10. A Life of Gospel Peace, by Phillip Simpson

Go here and here for his run-downs of the top three.  At the bottom of the second link, where the final 7 books are listed, there are links for WORLD’s reviews of all the books.

100 Quotes From You On Sanctification, posted by Jonathan Parnell

I love quotes.  I especially love good, edifying quotes.  And I really love good, edifying quotes dealing with Bible knowledge and the Christian life.  So go here for 100 quotes on sanctification gathered by Desiring God in lieu of their upcoming National Conference.

6 Traits of a Pastor in Awe of God, by Paul Tripp

Humility, tenderness, passion, confidence, discipline, and rest.

Go here for his explanations of each.