“As Christian parents, pastors, teachers, and youth group leaders, we constantly see young people pulled down by the undertow of powerful cultural trends. If all we give them is a “heart” religion, it will not be strong enough to counter the lure of attractive but dangerous ideas. Young believers also need a “brain” religion-training in worldview and apologetics-to equip them to analyze and critique the competing worldviews they will encounter when they leave home. If forewarned and forearmed, young people at least have a fighting chance when they find themselves a minority of one among their classmates or work colleagues. Training young people to develop a Christian mind is no longer an option; it is part of their necessary survival equipment.” – Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
HE IS WORKING ON YOUR IMAGE
Though we Christians might struggle to see and appreciate it, God is at work in us today–by every trial and every blessing–to transform us into a glorious image of Himself. Take heart in your trouble. When we don’t see it, He is still working for our good. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 3:18 Go to Full Article Author: Rush
At one time or another–when the voice of condemnation comes–we need to hear powerful, gospel-saturated truth. We need to talk back like Luther. “When the devil accuses us and says, ‘You are a sinner and therefore damned,’ we should answer, ‘Because you say I am a sinner, I will be righteous and saved.’ ‘No,’ says the devil, ‘you will be damned.’ And I reply, ‘No, for I fly to Christ, who gave himself for my sins. Satan, you will not prevail against me when you try to terrify me by setting forth the greatness of my sins and try to bring me into heaviness, distrust, despair, hatred, contempt and blasphemy against God. On the contrary, when you say I am a sinner, you give me armor and weapons against yourself, so that with your own sword I may cut your throat and tread you under my feet, for Christ died for sinners. . . . As often as you object that I am a sinner, so often you remind me of the benefit of Christ my Redeemer, on whose shoulders, and not on mine, lie all my sins. So when you say I am a sinner, you do not terrify me but comfort me immeasurably.’” – Martin Luther If wielding the Law, Satan is chirping in your ear about how you didn’t do this and should’ve done that and you’re not measuring up, take this example…and start chirping back. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
THE SEVEN CARDINAL REQUISITES OF PREACHING
These seven requisites (not excellences, but requisites) are seven minimal requirements R.L. Dabney believed (and his viewers agreed) were essential to every sermon. None of these seven categories is subjective; each is perfectly susceptible of objective evaluation. Here is his list, briefly articulated; those interested in reading his own lengthier descriptions may read the entirety of his chapters. 1. Textual Fidelity Here Dabney’s Protestantism is visible. For Dabney, a minister is an ambassador, who represents another, declaring the will of that Other. Therefore, he is not entitled to preach his own insights, his own opinions, or even his own settled convictions; he is entitled only to declare the mind of God revealed in Holy Scripture. Since the mind of God is disclosed in Scripture, the sermon must be entirely faithful to the text—a genuine exposition of the particular thought of the particular text. Test: Does the significant point of the sermon arise out of the significant point of the text? Is the thrust of the sermon merely an aside in the text? Is the text merely a pretext for the minister’s own idea? 2. Unity “Unity requires these two things. The speaker must, first, have one main subject of discourse, to which he adheres with supreme reference throughout. But this is not enough. He must, second, propose to himself one definite impression on the hearer’s soul, to the making of which everything in the sermon is bent.” Test: If ten people are asked after the sermon what the sermon was about, will at least eight of them give the same (or a similar) answer? 3. Evangelical Tone “It is defined by Vinet as ‘the general savour of Christianity, a gravity accompanied by tenderness, a severity tempered with sweetness, a majesty associated with intimacy.’ Blair calls it ‘gravity and warmth united’ . . . an ardent zeal for God’s glory and a tender compassion for those who are perishing.” Test: Do hearers get the impression that the minister is for them (eager to see them richly blessed by a gracious God), or against them (eager to put them in their place, scold them, reprimand them, or punish them)? Is it his desire to see them reconciled to and blessed by a pardoning God? Does the sermon press the hearer to consider the hopelessness of his condition apart from Christ, and the utter competence of Christ to rescue the penitent sinner? 4. Instructiveness The instructive sermon is that which abounds in food for the understanding. It is full of thought, and richly informs the mind of the hearer. It is opposed, of course, to vapid and commonplace compositions; but it is opposed also to those which seek to reach the will through rhetorical ornament and passionate sentiment, without establishing rational conviction. . . . Religion is an intelligent concern, and deals with man as a reasoning creature. Sanctification is by the truth. To move men we must instruct. No Christian can be stable and consistent save as he is intelligent. . . . If you would not wear out after you have ceased to be a novelty, give the minds of your people food. Test: Does the sermon significantly engage the mind, or is the sermon full of commonplace clichés, slogans, and general truths? Is the hearer genuinely likely to rethink his view of God, society, church, or self, or his reasons for holding his current views? Is the mind of the attentive listener engaged or repulsed? 5. Movement Movement is not a blow or shock, communicating only a single or instantaneous impulse, but a sustained progress. It is, in short, that force thrown from the soul of the orator into his discourse, by which the soul of the hearer is urged, with a constant and accelerated progress, toward that practical impression which is designed for the result. . . . The language of the orator must possess, in all its flow, a nervous brevity and a certain well-ordered haste, like that of the racer pressing to his goal. Test: Do the earlier parts of the sermon contribute to the latter parts’ full effect? Does the address have intellectual (and consequently emotional) momentum? 6. Point Dabney uses the word point to describe the overall intellectual and emotional impact of a sermon. Point is thus a result of unity, movement, and order, which put a convincing, compelling weight on the soul of the hearer. The hearer feels a certain point impressing itself on him, and feels that he must either agree or disagree, assent or deny. Test: Is the effect of the sermon, on those who believe it, similar? If it encouraged one, did it tend to encourage all, and for the same reason? If it troubled one, did it tend to trouble all, and for the same reason? If it made one thankful, did it tend to make all thankful, and for the same reason? 7. Order We would probably call this organization, but the idea is the same. A discourse (sacred or otherwise) cannot have unity, movement, or point without having order. Order is simply the proper arrangement of the parts, so that what is earlier prepares for what is later. A well-ordered sermon reveals a sermon’s unity, makes the sermon memorable, and gives the sermon great point. Test: Could the hearers compare notes and reproduce the outline of the sermon? If they could not reproduce the outline, could they state how it progressed from one part to another? I don’t insist that Dabney’s way of describing what is essential to a sermon is I don’t insist that Dabney’s way of describing what is essential to a sermon is the only, or necessarily best, way of doing so. One could make a reasonable case that both movement and point are in fact results of a sermon that has unity and is well ordered. We would then be left with five essential traits of a Christian sermon: that it have unity and order, and that it be expositional, evangelical (i.e., Christ-centered), and instructive. I don’t think anyone could argue against these, and I don’t believe, in homiletical history, that anyone ever has argued against them. Why Johnny Can’t Preach, T. David Gordon, 2009. Posted on Go to Full Article Author: Rush
AWED BY CALVIN’S PREACHING
Calvin preached from the New Testament on Lord’s Day mornings, the Psalms on Lord’s Day afternoons, and the Old Testament at 6 a.m. on one or two weekdays. Following this schedule during his last period of ministry in Geneva from 1541 to 1564, Calvin preached nearly four thousand sermons, more than 170 a year. On his deathbed, he spoke of his preaching as more important than his writings. – Reformed Preaching, 113 This quote illustrates just one aspect of the prolific preaching of John Calvin. But what I find even more phenomenal about his heritage of exposition is the method in which he preached. It seems Calvin most often preached extemporaneously without notes (which means he prepared his sermon and then preached out of the time he had, with little or no notes beyond the text of Scripture. As the book Reformed Preaching points out, this method of preaching is precisely why there are such a large library of his writing and yet so few records remain of Calvin’s sermons. He preached nearly all the sermons through his impeccable memory. Imagine reciting from memory 4 or 5 sitcom episodes every week, which are each about the length of a standard sermon preached by Calvin. That’s 4 or 5 articulate, applicable, biblical sermons every week…from memory. Every. Week. Four thousand sermons over twenty years…from memory. As a consistently aspiring extemporaneously note-less preacher, I am in awe of Calvin’s preaching. And this is just one of the reasons. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
Would you like to know the Bible and apply it to life? Of course, you would. Spend some time each week with the Paramount Catechism!
Paramount Thanksgiving Dinner
JESUS IS JOY
The Gospel of Jesus opens the way to joy. How am I still awakening to this? There are many ways to capture my heart and life. But this truth remains: in the Lord’s hand are pleasures forevermore. And by faith in Jesus, that hand is opened to me. In Jesus alone are all the treasures [and pleasures] of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3). You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11 Jesus is joy. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
DIY Trunk or Treat
Need ideas 💡 for Trunk or Treat?? Look no further! Here are some fun DIY ideas that are sure to impress. See you Thursday, October 31st at 5pm-7pm.
IT’S NOT A SPIDER
My six year old asked me for another biscuit at breakfast this morning. Not the British kind of biscuit, but a fluffy, buttery, American biscuit smeared with blackberry jelly. I happily gave it to him. And I took one for myself. We ate biscuits. But it made me wonder, as I’ve been thinking lately about my attitude toward God, What if…? Can you imagine what would happen if I met his request with something utterly un-biscuity? What if I gave him a rock or a stick. Or a plate teeming with spiders. Can you imagine his reaction if I slid a clutter of hairy, plated spiders across the breakfast table. He would fly out of his seat, screaming. He would look on me like a lunatic. What in the world, Dad! Have you lost your mind? MOOOOM!! In order to teach His disciples about the goodness of His Father, Jesus presented this scenario. What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! — Matthew 7:9-11 Jesus makes the point: His Father’s goodness is dependable. Because He loves His children, they can expect good gifts in response to their prayers. The fallen fathers of this broken world know how to give good gifts to their children. When my son asks for a biscuit, even I delight to give him a biscuit. “How much more,” says the Lord, “will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” While Jesus’ point is abundantly obvious and wonderfully true, it also points to an odd perversion in our hearts. Why would Jesus need to teach us that? If it’s so obvious, even by looking at evil dads in the world, why would Jesus make a point to teach them to infuse their prayers with anticipation? Answer: We expect spiders when we ask God for biscuits. For all the right reasons, when my son asks for a biscuit, he doesn’t anticipate a spider. He knows I love him. He knows I know he loves biscuits. He knows I hate spiders. So when he asks for that flaky, butter-and-jellied biscuit, he rolls up his sleeves and licks his little chops. Be honest. You and I are often unlike my son in this way. We ask God for something good and when His heavenly fingers unfurl, we brace ourselves for the curse; a rock…a stick…a hand full of spiders. If not a curse, we cock our heads and anticipate receiving a cruel, empty palm. It says something important about us, about our view of God. It points to one of the sinister ways sin has darkened us. We disbelieve His objective, proven goodness. Our belief in His utter goodness is proven or betrayed when we pray. We need the objective truth of God’s goodness to sink into our prayers. Jesus’ confidence in the Father’s love must become our confidence in the Father’s love. The God who loved us from before the foundations of the world (Eph 1:4), and loved us despite ourselves (Rom 5:8), and loved us by giving His own Son (John 3:16) — He has left us no reason whatsoever to brace for spiders. Today, we should start infusing our prayers with a cheerful expectation that our Father who is in heaven gives what is good to those who ask Him! And when His hand opens—whatever He gives—we with confidence can be sure it is a good gift. It’s not a spider. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
HOW TO MARK A BOOK OR BIBLE
I love study tools. They have helped me learn, remember, and apply what I’ve studied. Here’s one tool I’ve used from time to time: a bookmark containing some ideas for how to mark a Bible or book. This is not the only way to do such a thing. Adapt it as necessary for your own benefit! Design Credit: W. Price Go to Full Article Author: Rush
CARING FOR CHRISTIANS
From time to time we hear wonderful compliments ascribed to the people around us. Sometimes the compliment is about the person’s appearance. Sometimes about his generosity or her gentle spirit. Perhaps above them all, my attention is captured when I hear a person described as a true shepherd. “He really knows how to care for other people.” “She is in tune with people around her and knows exactly when and how to help.” “He seems always to know what to say and how to say it.” These are some of the sweetest compliments I can imagine. And it likely that we all know someone who carry these characteristics honestly. They are often our closest friends, our most faithful fellow Christians, our more adored companions in the faith. And we adore them because they care. Yet for many of us, we look into the mirror of these examples and find ourselves lacking, but with a desire to grow in our ability to care for one another. But where to start? In order to grow in this way, it is helpful to begin with a foundational picture of what makes a Christian capable of caring for others. Scripture is replete with wisdom for building a foundation of faithful Christian care. Let’s begin with Psalm 78:70-72 as we consider the example of David, who shepherded Israel in the Old Testament. He also chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; From the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart. And guided them with his skillful hands. A Heart for Helping First we may notice David’s heart of integrity. An ability to care for our fellow Christians begins with a heart for shepherding one another. There is simply no amount of Bible knowledge or life experience that can outweigh the value of developing a heart sincerely devoted to caring for others in the church. Without it we will fail to see the opportunities even though they are just before our faces, we will fail to discern the need of the moment even though it is displayed for us in Technicolor. It cannot be overstated. If our hearts are not routinely refreshed and made alert by the gospel – which reveals to us the perfect care of God for us – we will not go out of our way to care for others. We will not sacrifice our personal time to comfort our Christian friends. We will not stoop down to suffering along with our closest neighbors. In fact, without this heart of integrity at work and growing in us by grace, we will likely not even see the need of the moment. Instead, we will continue on with our lives, aloof to the people it is our privilege to pursue. First we may notice David’s heart of integrity. An ability to care for our fellow Christians begins with a heart for shepherding one another. There is simply no amount of Bible knowledge or life experience that can outweigh the value of developing a heart sincerely devoted to caring for others in the church. Without it we will fail to see the opportunities even though they are just before our faces, we will fail to discern the need of the moment even though it is displayed for us in Technicolor. It cannot be overstated. If our hearts are not routinely refreshed and made alert by the gospel – which reveals to us the perfect care of God for us – we will not go out of our way to care for others. We will not sacrifice our personal time to comfort our Christian friends. We will not stoop down to suffering along with our closest neighbors. In fact, without this heart of integrity at work and growing in us by grace, we will likely not even see the need of the moment. Instead, we will continue on with our lives, aloof to the people it is our privilege to pursue. So, how do we get this heart of integrity for the exercise of caring for others in the church? It can only be gained from God Himself. When He brings a sinner to repentance and faith, renewing and remaking his heart, the new Christian has a new heart with which to love others God’s way. With eyes open, seeing the beauty of the gospel, he is able to respond not only to God in faith and love, but he is also able to respond to fellow Christians. He is able to walk with them and know them truly. Yet at the same time, the new Christian also begins a lifetime of growing in grace (sanctification). His new heart must grow and change still as he matures in the faith. This growth brings with it an added love and wisdom for loving well his fellow Christians. Skillful Hands Psalm 78 also draws our attention to David’s skillful hands. David was not only given a heart for his people. He was given a growing skill to care for them as well. As with a growing heart for helping, skillful hands are developed over time. It is not simply enough to exercise a heart of compassion for Christians, but it is also necessary to grow in certain skills. As we consider the lives of godly men and women in Scripture, as well as godly shepherds at work in our real lives today, we may notice a variety of skills made useful to the Christian who helps shepherd his fellow sheep. Some helpful skills which can be learned from the pages of Scripture are: Speaking truth in love,Managing time to prioritize others,Knowing the need of the moment,Becoming slow to speak and quick to listen,Listening and thinking about a matter before giving an answer. Do you want to be a useful tool in lives of other Christians? Skillful hands and a softened heart are the best places to start. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
BOOK REVIEW: NOTHING IN MY HAND I BRING
Promoting helpful Christian reading is important part of the Church’s responsibility to promote the announcement of good news. This post aims to promote a well-written resource for those seeking to better understand the differences between Roman Catholic and Protestant beliefs. Nothing in my hand I bring became available in 2007 as a publication of Matthias Media. It was written by Ray Galea. A recipient of a thoroughly Catholic upbringing, Galea did not want to simply take His Catholicism for granted. He set out to investigate these differences between Protestant Christians and the Catholic friends, neighbors, and family among whom he was raised. Nothing in my hand I bring is a re-tracing of Galea’s investigation; an investigation which led him to Christianity through faith in the Christ alone. This challenging and invaluable book is helpful for many reasons. Here are a few reasons why you should read this book. Galea is gracious. It is no secret that religious discussion, comparison, and contrast leads people into conflict. Some of these conflicts boil into a warring words and unending strife. Argument, counterargument. Argument, counterargument. Galea’s book is different. While he does carefully interact with potentially offensive topics and opinions regarding Catholic beliefs – comparing and contrasting them with Scripture – his gracious approach helps readers think with him. Of course, anyone can be offended by almost anything, this gracious approach prevents offense. Galea is knowledgeable. Galea is not an outsider who claims to look keenly into the Catholic traditions and beliefs. His firm and articulate Catholic upbringing has poised him to write with true knowledge. This true knowledge, of course, helps Galea to rightly divide the truth of Scripture, as it pertains to Roman Catholicism. The book, therefore, is not merely a collection of stale arguments. Instead, the book presents a specific and detailed account of these religious differences. With this knowledge of Catholicism and the Bible, Galea addresses the Catholic views on Christ, the Mass, the Bible, the way of salvation, the mother of Jesus, and much more. Galea is focused on the truth. The same search for truth which led Galea to investigate his beliefs, also leads Galea to declare his findings from Scripture. In Nothing in my hand I bring, Ray Galea aims at and hits the right target: a winesome, reasonable, and wise account of the gospel as presented in Holy Scripture. And in the process, he effectively shows where the Roman Catholic doctrines drastically differ – doctrines which differ in such a way that they lead people away from salvation in Christ, and lead them to a fruitless attempt to earn God’s favor and forgiveness. Above all, this point makes the book a challenging and necessary resource. Catholics and Protestants will benefit from Galea’s thoughtful and purposeful points. The book is short. 114 pages is not many and it makes this book an excellent recommendation to others. Even the slower or less interested reader can get through 114 pages. Additionally, Galea gives readers an engaging and well-paced read. This is an excellent choice for anyone interested in understanding the similarities and differences between Catholics and Protestants. Most importantly, this book will every reader better understand exactly what the Bible does teach about God, life, and salvation. Get it. Read it. Pass it on. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
CCEF CONFERENCE AUDIO SET
In timely fashion, the audio recordings from the 2019 CCEF National Conference are available at this link. The conference topic covered all facets of anxiety, and how God brings peace through an intentional walk with Jesus. These sessions are highly valuable to all of us, even if you don’t consider yourself a counselor. Every Christian is called by God and equipped through His Word to care for the souls of others. And even more, we are called to watch over our own souls as people who live coram deo, before the face of God. If you can spare the money, these audio sessions (main sessions and breakout sessions) are well worth your time and resources. Watch the video below to learn more. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
Member Meeting 9.29
Member Meeting – September 29 at 9:15 AM. This is an important meeting for our church members to discuss our future building plans and financial information. Donuts will be provided.
MEANWHILE, ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD…
We tore open presents from under the tree. Christmas dinner topped off our snack-filled bellies, and then a new year rang. We threw confetti and slept in the next morning. Our kids made snowmen and snow angels, while the dads shoveled and the moms sipped coffee. The sun came out and the school year ended. Off to vacation at the beach. We came home and played at the pool. At night we laughed at our old, wrinkled faces. The parade was nice—people dressed in red, white, and blue threw candy to us as they floated past. Fireworks popped and fizzled overhead. We slept in and then played again at the pool. My, how the summer is flying by. The school year is about to start again. All the while, on the other side of the world, Wang Yi… Pray for the persecuted church in China, and around the globe. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
DO YOU LOVE TO BE ANGRY?
You love to be angry, don’t you? Come on – admit it! Even if every once in a while, given particular conditions, you enjoy anger. Strangely, there is something pleasant about it. An eagerness for anger flashes in your heart from time to time. When you’re offended, when someone doesn’t show you the respect you deserve, when a series of simple turns don’t go your way, you ignite a spark of anger. At times the spark flashes and fizzles out. At other times you cup your hands, gently blow on the tinder ball, and make fire. You love anger, and I do too. Perhaps we enjoy making anger because it gives us a sense of power. Perhaps it is the vengeance inherent in anger that intrigues us. When you warm yourself by the ire (not fire, ire), you gain an upper hand. A cold shoulder shuts out your offender. If he wants to make peace, it’s too late. The door is locked. Or a burst of venom puts him in his place. And you are in control. In a twisted way, it feels good. Your rival is bound and gagged, slumped in the trunk and you are in the driver’s seat. Serves him right for speaking that way. That’ll show him. How strange it seems for something as dangerous as anger to bring us such glee, a sense of control and power. It may feel wise to gain the upper hand by kindling a fire of anger in our hearts. Scripture says the contrary. “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools” (Ecc. 7:9). A command: do not. Anger is within our grasp and we grasp it. Anger does not fall on us like rain. Anger is activated from within a heart eager for revenge. The preacher of Ecclesiastes examines life in a fallen world. Accomplishments are forgotten, heirs squander the inheritance on folly, and sin makes vain to good intentions of men. Despite all the external forces of the preacher’s broken world, anger is willful. Do not be eager in your heart to be angry. In other words, do not indulge your sinful desire. Do not look forward to the control and power anger may afford you. For only a fool takes hold of such folly. Instead, douse the fire with the wisdom and patience available in the gospel. While living under the sun, look above to God, who will bring every act to judgment. Draw near to Christ who will judge justly and in Him find wisdom for your impatient heart. Do you love anger? Here are some passages dealing with the folly of fury. Proverbs 14:16-17A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless. A quick-tempered man acts foolishly, And a man of evil devices is hated. James 1:19-21This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. Proverbs 22:24-25Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself. Ephesians 4:26Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
A HAPPY CHRISTIAN
On this happy 185th birthday of the incomparable Charles Spurgeon, I believe he was a happy christian despite the dark clouds of depression which often darkened his skies. Happiness in Jesus is a fight, and Spurgeon was an admirable fighter. The sermon “A Happy Christian” was preached long who in London, but Spurgeon’s rich words resonate even today. Read this. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
FIVE STAGES OF AN EVANGELISTIC CONVERSATION
For many people, the most difficult part of sharing the gospel with someone is starting a conversation. If you are a Christian, you probably know enough about the gospel to lead someone to Christ. Therefore, the problem is not that the gospel is hard to explain, but the problem of starting a conversation that gives most Christians trouble. Let’s go back to the basics and make evangelism easy. Basically, an evangelistic conversation is made up of 5 stages. 1. Warm Connection, 2. Mutual Interest3. The Shift 4. Gospel Presentation5. Questions and Answers. In this post, we will direct our attention to these stages and explore how they work together. Stage 1: Positive Contact When attempting to share the gospel with someone, you should try to begin with a warm connection. I’m sure you have heard the popular business line, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is not only true when interviewing for a job, but is also true of evangelism. A warm initial contact may by used by God to crack open the door of a gospel conversation. Our society is becoming increasingly self-centered. Few people give a wave of thanks when another person stops the car to allow him to cross the street. Seldom does someone make an effort to help another person in need. Simply put, people are usually more concerned about themselves than about others. Therefore, a warm connection is as easy as committing a simple act of friendliness. How is your day going? Has the store been busy today? Do you have any weekend plans? These are simple examples of how you can begin opening the way for the gospel. A good first impression will accomplish a number of things in preparation for a gospel witness. It can grab the person’s attention. Your hearers may quickly recognize the difference between someone who is indifferent and someone who is generous and outgoing. Your attitude toward people will leave a lasting impression which may be the encouragement they need to consider what you say about Jesus. In addition, if you make a habit of handing out gospel tracts as you go about your day, the way you treat people may make an impact on whether or not lost people read your material. Logically, a non-Christian is much more likely to read a tract given by a warm person than one given by someone with a cold, unfriendly disposition. Remember, evangelism is a joyful privilege given to us by God Himself, and we can approach it with sincere joy. Stage 2: Mutual Interest After making a positive contact, the second stage in an evangelistic conversation is finding mutual interest. You may not realize it, but all people have things in common with each other. We all have a hometown, a daily routine, and family or friends. Through mutual interests people relate to one another. In an evangelistic conversation, this is important as you prepare for the 3rd stage, The Shift. This can be done simply by asking the other person a question or two about himself. These questions should be simple and down-to-earth. Showing genuine interest in the life of another person is a great way to reveal the love of Christ. And recognizing your mutual interests is necessary to build a healthy relationship through which you may share the gospel. However, always remember that the goal of evangelism is not to build relationships, but to share the gospel. Our objective should be to take the first reasonable opportunity to share Christ with others. Many people make a mistake by thinking that they have to build an in-depth, long-term relationship with someone before sharing the gospel. This is not true. In fact, some Christians spend so much time building relationships that when the time comes to share the gospel, they fear damaging the friendship and shrink back from proclaiming the good news. We should make it the goal of our lives to share the gospel with everyone as soon as possible. You never know when an evangelistic opportunity is a person’s last opportunity to hear the gospel. You can begin a relationship with someone by asking him about his family, where he lives, where he went to school, or how long he has lived in the area. A moment of kindness is all it takes. Stage 3: The Spiritual Shift So far, we have discussed how to make a positive first impression and how to build a basic relationship with a lost person. Now we turn our attention to Stage 3, The Spiritual Shift. In every witnessing encounter, there comes a time when friendliness becomes evangelism. This happens when you shift from the natural to the spiritual. The “natural” consists of common ground conversation topics we discussed earlier. The “spiritual” consists of spiritual conversation topics that lead to the gospel. In order for a conversation to be evangelistic, you must learn to shift from the natural to the spiritual. This stage in a conversation may provoke you to fear and worry. After all, this shift in conversation is important. Without the shift, you are nothing more than a friendly person. However, you do not need to fear this part of evangelism. If you have done some preliminary work to make a good first impression and establish common ground, the shift from natural to spiritual will be fairly easy. There are many ways to shift a conversation from small talk to spiritual talk. We just need to keep our eyes open for opportunities. Though the possibilities are virtually endless, let’s discuss a few examples. If someone is wearing a cross, you have an excellent opportunity to begin talking about spiritual things. You could draw attention to the cross, ask what it means to the person, and then explain what it means to you. That’s it! In one brief moment, you will have shifted from something natural like an article of jewelry to something spiritual, the cross of Christ. Another opportunity to shift a conversation toward the gospel is by discussing current events. For instance, you might shift the conversation from a discussion about a war to a discussion about what happens when someone dies fighting for his country. What awaits a soldier after death? As you can see, the logical conclusion is a discussion about eternity. The great preacher D.L. Moody is considered one of history’s greatest evangelists. Shortly after becoming a Christian, Moody committed to never let 24 hours pass without sharing his faith with at least one person. Speaking of Moody, his good friend R.A. Torrey wrote this: Another night, Mr. Moody got home and had gone to bed before it occurred to him that he had not spoken to a soul that day about accepting Christ. “Well,” he said to himself, “it is no good getting up now; there will be nobody on the street at this hour of the night.” But he got up, dressed and went to the front door. It was pouring rain. “Oh,” he said, “there will be no one out in this pouring rain. Just then he heard the patter of a man’s feet as he came down the street, holding an umbrella over his head. Then Mr. Moody darted out and rushed up to the man and said: “May I share the shelter of your umbrella?” “Certainly,” the man replied. Then Mr. Moody said: “Have you any shelter in the time of storm?” and preached Jesus to him. Oh, men and women, if we were as full of zeal for the salvation of souls as that, how long would it be before the whole country would be shaken by the power of a mighty, God-sent revival? R.A. Torrey Another way to shift a conversation from the natural to the spiritual is by asking someone a simple spiritual question. A great question to ask is “Do you belong to a local church? I love my church.” Most people, even if they don’t attend, have a sneaking suspicion that they should be involved in a local church. Asking this question will usually open the door to ask another spiritual question like, “what kind of spiritual beliefs do you have? What do you think awaits us after death? What is required to know God? What do you believe about God? Before you know it, you are enjoying an interesting conversation about the Savior. Finally, there may be instances when you don’t have much time and need to cut right to the gospel. For a long time, I thought this was impossible without offending people or turning them off. You may be hindered by this same fear. If so, there is no need. Have you heard the phrase, “it is not what you say, but how you say it”? This is quite true! Let’s say you want to ask someone flat out, “if you were to die today, are you 100% sure you would have eternal life in heaven?” You might hesitate to ask this question because it seems a bit awkward and crazy. Well, you are right. To come right out and ask a question like this would be a bit awkward. However, this does not mean you cannot ask someone about his eternal destiny. Instead, it means you need to prepare the person by saying something like, “I know this may sound crazy, but I want to ask you a serious question. If you were to die today, are you 100% sure you would have eternal life in heaven?” You see, by showing the person that you know such a question is rarely asked, it does not seem crazy at all. If you prepare someone for a strange question, they will be likely to consider your question and continue the conversation. All lost people care about eternity at some level and will appreciate the fact that you are willing to be honest and open about spiritual things. Stage 4: A Gospel Presentation The fourth stage in an evangelistic conversation is a clear gospel presentation. This stage is the most important of all. Romans 1:16 explains that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of salvation for those who believe. Remember, if your conversation does not reach this stage you have done nothing evangelistic. Since this stage is so important, let’s take a moment to consider what a clear gospel message includes. Basically, the gospel message can be broken into four parts; God’s Purpose, Man’s Problem, God’s Solution, Man’s Response. Since before time, God’s desire has been to gather for Himself a people for His own possession. Being a compassionate and personal God, He hardwired us to live in joyful fellowship with Him. Man’s problem is Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God by willfully breaking His commands. This rebellion, known as sin, has been passed down to all people, leaving us at odds with our just Creator. As a result, each person is in danger of being punished for his sin. Knowing that we are incapable of finding our way back, God decided to provide a solution to our terrible predicament. In the greatest act of love ever shown, the God of this universe sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life, die a costly death, and miraculously rise from the dead. All of this was done to accomplish what no man or woman could accomplish. To this day, God is offering to the world the free gift of eternal life. This gift is received by those who respond to God’s offer by placing their faith in Jesus Christ alone. Through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, peace with God can be found. After someone comes to Christ, his life begins to change as he is conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The gospel is a very simple message of good news. While the depth of God’s goodness will never be fully plumbed, the message of salvation in Christ is not difficult to understand. Often, we become nervous when thinking about sharing the message of Christ with others, but we need not be nervous. If you are a Christian, you know enough to lead someone to saving faith in Jesus. However, it never hurts to review the message in hopes of sharing it more clearly in the future. To learn more about how to clearly share the gospel with a lost person, read through the other articles provided here. Stage 5: Questions and Answers The 5th and final stage of an evangelistic conversation concerns questions and answers. As you clearly share the gospel with others they will usually respond with questions about the Bible, the world, and salvation. Throughout God’s word, we are encouraged to be ready for these questions. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Since most people know very little about the gospel, they will ask questions about God, Christ, sin, forgiveness, judgment, creation, heaven, hell, other religions, etc…Though, we may not have all the answer, it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to be prepared with clear, concise, and helpful answers. In theological circles, the act of answering questions about the gospel is called “apologetics.” Basically, apologetics involves giving a defense for what you believe. A few examples of questions that could come up are, “If God created the world, who created God?,” “If salvation is only found in Jesus, what happens to someone who never hears about Jesus?,” “If God is all-good, does evil exist in the world?,” “How do you know the Bible is true?,” and “Don’t all religions lead to heaven?” Trying to answer these questions may seem a daunting task. These are good reasons to know what we believe and how we know the Bible’s answers are true. Since our goal is equip Christians to share the gospel confidently, we must be ready to provide clear answers to these and other questions. If you run into any troubling questions as you witness, please let us know so we can help you and others be prepared with good answers. Finally, always remember that if you don’t know how to respond to a question, the best answer is, “I don’t know, but I can try to find an answer.” Don’t ever make up an answer! If people find out that you just make up answers to hard questions, they will question whether you can be trusted. Lost people will appreciate your honesty when you admit that you do not have all the answers. Some of the most irritating people are those who act like they know everything when they really don’t. Even if you do know everything, remember that humility honors Christ while arrogance brings reproach to His name. Well, now you know all you need to know in order to begin and end a productive conversation about the gospel. All that is left is for you to begin putting these principles into practice with God’s gracious help. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
FORGOT Father’s Day?
If you failed to get Dad a gift yesterday, Diehard Sins (book) is still available. Clear your conscience today.Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Diehard-Sins-Wisely-Against-Destructive/dp/1629954853 Go to Full Article Author: Rush
10 WAYS TO HEAR GOD MORE CLEARLY
In my sermon yesterday, I provided “10 Ways to Hear God More Clearly,” summarized from Thomas Watson’s book Heaven Taken By Storm. And I promised my church that these principles would be posted online, in case they were not able to write them down in the course of my preaching about them. Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686. He is widely recognized as a faithful leader among the Puritans; well-read and well-loved by many. Heaven Taken By Storm is a book about the Christian life. In particular, he addresses the need for all Christians to take Christ seriously, and to fight valiantly for gospel comfort and holiness through faith in Jesus. Below are 10 principles for hearing God more clearly, either when listening to His Word through preaching on the Lord’s Day, or in small group study, or even personal, daily devotional time. 1. When you come to God’s house (or God’s Word), do not forget to also prepare your soul with prayer. Since we cannot rightly understand or apply God’s eternal truths, revealed in Scripture, without God working in us, prayer is essential. Thus, we should ever be imploring God to help us. 2. Come with a holy appetite for the Word. Watson believed a good appetite promotes good digestion. Ask yourself, are you ready to hear God’s Word? Do you ready yourself? On Sunday or any other day of the week, how easy is it for the cares and worries of life to distract us from a focused readiness to hear from God? On Sunday morning, may our preparation not be merely of the body (putting on clothes and brushing hair), but also a preparation of heart. 3. Come with a tender, teachable heart, asking, “What shall I do, Lord?” It is foolish to expect a blessing if you come with a hardened worldly-minded heart. Therefore, we must bring our hearts into a right frame before coming to God’s Word, one that is teachable and ready to hear and act. 4. Be attentive to the Word preached. When Jesus spoke, people were attentive, hanging on His every word. Since it is the voice of Jesus which comes through the written Word of God, we must still hang on His every word. When we hear preaching or study the Bible for ourselves, let’s be attentive by giving our full attention. 5. Receive with meekness the engrafted Word, willing to hear the counsels and reproofs of the Word. Everyone loves to hear the promises of God, they are precious and magnificent. But do we have ears to hear His instructions and reproofs as well? God is a faithful Father, having compassion on us, His children. He speaks words of life to us, which we ought to receive in humility and dependence. 6. Mingle the preached Word with faith. If the chief ingredient of a medicine is missing, the medicine will not be effective. In hearing God’s Word, faith is that key ingredient. In fact, the Bible clearly teaches us that we cannot please God without faith, and that our relationship with God begins and continues by hearing with faith. 7. Strive to retain and pray over what you have heard. Don’t let the sermon (or your personal Bible reading) run through your mind like water through a screen, as though it should go in one ear and out the other. Be diligent to take notes and carry them with you, on paper or in your mind if you’re memory is strong enough. 8. Practice what you have heard. Live out the sermons you hear. Doers of the Word are the best hearers. 9. Beg God to accompany His Word with the effectual blessing of the Holy Spirit. Again, the Holy Spirit is responsible to lead us into all truth. He illumines our minds to understand the Scriptures. Thus we should, again, regularly ask God the Father to cause His Holy Spirit to give us eyes to see and ears to hear. 10. Familiarize yourself with what you have heard. When you come home from church or down from your study, speak to your family about what you’ve heard the Bible. The people of God–in the Church or in the home–are a family. We are united together in Christ, as brothers and sisters, and should share together in the gospel blessings of God’s Word. I encourage you to print this page, or bookmark it in your browser. Come back to it often and practice, practice, practice these principles. They will strengthen your grip on God and help you hear from Him more clearly. *Credit to Joel Beeke, reference unknown. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
HE’S BACK, BABY!
Just when the NBA Finals threaten to pull the dark, oppressive, basketball-less cloud over the summer months, a bright spot. Not just a bright spot; a brilliantly, burning sun of hope and happiness! Malcolm Gladwell is back with his captivating and enlightening podcast, “Revisionist History!” Honestly, Season 3 took a dip, yet remained lovable, listenable Gladwell. I fully expect Season 4 to shine yet again! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the gist. Author and speaker Malcolm Gladwell has flexible time and money to travel and investigate events, people, stories, and places which have been forgotten or misunderstood. He interviews, studies, thinks, and commentates with brilliance and intrigue. You will laugh, learn, and think about things you never thought you would. Get this podcast! itunesonline Go to Full Article Author: Rush
MORE ON CRITICISM
I recently posted a resource about giving and taking critique. Today, another helpful article caught my attention. The following link at Ligonier contains a letter written by John Newton, to a correspondent who was about to blast a fellow minister in writing. Newton gives clear, concise, and beautiful advice. On Controversy Go to Full Article Author: Rush
HE HEARS US, WE LOVE HIM
So I’ve been using a chronological Bible reading plan. (This is the first time I’ve read it chronologically.) I aim for two kinds of reading when it comes to books and the Bible: power reading and precision reading. Power reading is when I push forward to read quickly, while still maintaining a good level of comprehension. When precision reading, I slow down and focus in. My continual challenge is to maintain a healthy balance between these two kinds of reading. I love to “get through” things, so I often find myself quickly marching forward while missing some important things. Anyway…Today, my reading plan took me across Psalm 116. In the course of my reading, a precise truth jumped out at me in the first verse. I love the LORD, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Psalm 116:1 This one verse caught my attention and stuck with me today, much to my comfort and awe. We know God has factored into spiritual life a kind of cause and effect dynamic. We reap what we sow. We ask, He answers. But at the heart of the Christian life is God’s gracious and primary initiative in our lives. It’s true that God responds to us, but it is in no way near the way in which He acts first so that we can respond to Him. This single verse is packed with truth, but today I’m zooming in on the relationship between my love for Him and His attention to my voice. The Psalmist could have written, “He hears my voice because I love Him. And that certainly would be true. God listens to those who love Him. But here, the order is opposite. Here is a good reminder to me of why I love Him. I love the Lord because He hears me. His attention breeds love in my heart. And my heart loves the way He attends to me. We love because He first loved us. – 1 John 4:19 There’s much more to be said about this. But for now, we’re left with a strong meditation: I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
EARNING THE RIGHT
Question: Does a Christian need to earn the right to share the gospel with another person? Today, I’ve been thinking about a question I have asked and been asked. Does a Christian need to earn the right to share the gospel with another person. This is a one of those important questions which ought not be simply and quickly answered, because there’s more than meets the eye. I hope my answer to this question has improved and deepened over the years. Answer: No…and yes. First, the obvious answer to the question is “no.” By faith in Christ, every Christian is called, authorized, and empowered to be an ambassador of Christ. As an extension of His gospel preaching voice, we implore others to be reconciled to Him. Since Jesus needs not permission to proclaim His truth to the world, neither do we. If it were true that an unbeliever must first grant us permission (assuming that means the person is welcoming the gopsel message), we might never share the gospel with anyone. Every unbeliever is bound up by sin’s power and is, therefore, at enmity with the message of Christ. If we need such a person to first authorize our witnessing, our witnessing is at the mercy of unbelievers. And that simply is not the case. Rather, the “right” to share the gospel has been earned by Jesus and the “right” has been granted by our Father in heaven, who does whatever He pleases. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God 2 Corinthians 5:20 However, there is more to this question than meets the eye. When we carefully consider this important question, the inner heart and sentiment within the question comes through. I don’t believe that anyone really asks this question out of a desire to obey the permission of other people. Rather, I think people who ask this question are displaying a Christ-like sensitivity to others. They know the Gospel is not something we just throw around or shout out at crowds of people. The Gospel is a message which is ministered to the hearts and minds of our hearers. Therefore, it makes sense to consider how we can minister the Gospel in an effective way; and this always involves a thoughtful consideration of our hearers. Who are they? What do they currently believe? How is their need for Christ manifested at this point in their lives? How can I enter this person’s world? How can I understand his need? How can I most articulately bring him Christ and His answers? To see this in Scripture, look no further than the earthly ministry of Jesus (Matt. 9:35-36) or the ministry of Paul (Acts 17). Jesus and Paul discerned the need of the moment, and aimed to strategically bring good news. Thus, I also think the answer is “yes.” We may not need to earn a right or gain permission to share the gospel, but we should (similarly) consider how we can make the Gospel most understandable, how we can minister the gospel to others. Proverbs 15:2 reminds us, “The lips of the wise make knowledge acceptable.” And I think this reflects the heart of what many Christians are asking when they ask this question about “earning the right to witness.” But the reality is… …most of us (myself included) need to get busy sharing the Gospel, whether or not we have a sufficient answer to this question. Most of us have many opportunities to share the Gospel, in which earning the right is not an issue. And yet we often miss or ignore these opportunities. The “earning the right” question is really a fine-tuning question. It’s a question most accurately asked when we want to share the Gospel with someone, but we’re not sure how to speak to or engage them with good news. But again, how many more opportunities do we have right in front of us; opportunities in which we can easily–without significant preparation–bring a Gospel witness. I suggest we take this question to heart, but first get busy for Jesus in the places where God has already cleared the path for evangelism. Book Recommendation Looking for a good book to read on the topic of evangelism? Tell the Truth by Will Metzger Go to Full Article Author: Rush
MEET DAVID POWLISON
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalm 116:15 David Powlison has died. Today at 11:00 am, under the care of Hospice, family, and friends, he passed into the ultimate rest of Jesus Christ and His soul-satisfying good news. I met David Powlison four times. The first time was in seminary when I met him by-proxy through his influence upon a number of my professors and pastors. Biblical counseling was new to me (as was just about everything else). It was clear from the start that this person named Powlison had profoundly influenced those who were influencing me. Wise and winsome were his ways in the care of souls. I met David Powlison a second time in his writings. Carefully crafted, intentionally worded, marvelously insightful. Having personally experienced God’s transforming power exercised through biblical counseling, I required no convincing to read all I could. Powlison dominated my reading list. Wise and winsome were his words in the care of souls. A third time, I met Powlison through his teaching and speaking. Though some would describe him as one of lesser dynamics or eloquence, I found his public preaching and teaching quite immeasurably impactful. His pastoral demeanor, word-choice, love for Jesus, commitment to Scripture, effective application of truth, and transparency captivated my attention. Again, wise and winsome. Then, a fourth time I met David–this time in person. It was a high honor for me to talk with David a handful of times over the last few years. Knowing my high respect for him–borne out of his impact on my life through others, writings, and talks–it would be reasonable to expect a start-struck experience once face to face. But in reality, he wasn’t a star. From word one, David (this giant of the faith to me) was immediately a brother, a father, a friend, a person of sincere interest in others and sincerely interesting to others. Gracious, warm, inviting, gentle, wise, and winsome in person. Few people have made a broader impact on me and so many others. Have you met him? You can. He’s still alive. By grace, you can meet him through the myriads of pastors, preachers, biblical counselors, church members, and countless others who have inherited the riches of God’s wisdom through the legacy of David Powlison. You can meet him in his books and articles and audio posts like this. And if you’re in Christ, I have no doubt you will meet him in person one day, shining like the sun, rejoicing in the winsome wisdom of our Triune God. Bless the Lord for David Powlison (1949-2019), an ordinary yet incomparable servant of Jesus Christ. To meet David Powlison in detail, visit here. Please keep his family, colleagues at CCEF, and his spiritual children around the world in your prayers as they remember, grieve, and honor David. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
HELP FOR THE CRITICAL AND THE CRITICIZED
Criticism. Some love it, others hate it. Some people develop a critical spirit from which they routinely dish it out. Others struggle to take it, even when it’s lovingly ministered. There is a kind of criticism which is loving, sensible, and constructive. This kind is a gift of God’s wisdom in grace. There is another kind of criticism which belongs to the fallen world system. It’s unloving, unreasonable, and altogether destructive. (Oh, how many times have I displayed just this kind of critical spirit!) No matter who you are, criticism is a challenging part of life which we must learn to handle well; both giving and receiving. Whether you are a critical person who needs to change his ways; or a person who needs help taking criticism to heart, may the following link help you the way it has helped me. “The Cross and Criticism” by Alred Poirier – https://rw360.org/the-cross-and-criticism/ Go to Full Article Author: Rush
WEAKNESS IS THE WAY
Accepting the Creator/creature distinction is one of the great challenges of the Christian life. Simply put: we are weak and needy. Many of us are good at putting on brave faces, feigning strength, and acting like we have it all together. The problem with all this posturing is that it’s illegitimate. It’s not reality. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 Oh, how much time and energy we’ve wasted pretending to be strong! All the while, weakness is the way. The incomparable J.I. Packer wrote a book by this very title. I loved it and I hope you will read it, and be found reading it over and over. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
He has no design upon us, but to make us happy…Who should be cheerful, if not the people of God? Thomas Watson There is nothing dreary and doubtful about life. It is meant to be continually joyful…We are called to a settled happiness in the Lord whose not is our strength. Amy Carmichael God made human beings as He made His other creatures, to be happy…They are in their right element when they are happy. Charles Spurgeon Go to Full Article Author: Rush
Three Phases of Gospel Ministry
What Is Your Thing? 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. 33 And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. 34 And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. Acts 16:31-34 Everybody has a thing he’s/she’s known for. What is yours? The Apostle Paul’s “thing” was the Gospel. He did everything with a serious eye on the Gospel, and was willing to be in chains or even executed (church tradition claims he was beheaded by a ruthless emperor named Nero). In fact, Paul’s love for the gospel reframed everything in his life, even his views on imprisonment. Once Paul was in prison and a great earthquake shook the prison doors open. Strangely, Paul was in no hurry to escape the jail, but remained for the good of the gospel. That night, even after the jailer’s conversion, Paul maintained his connection to the prison for the sake of continued ministry. Paul was a bold man whose favorite thing was ministering the gospel to people. In Acts 16:31-34, three common phases of Gospel ministry emerge from the text. These three phases can be seen throughout the daily ministry of Paul’s life, not to mention throughout the history of the Church. First, the Gospel is proclaimed. Second, the Gospel is believed by God’s elect. Third, the people of God rejoice in Christ and His good news. Let’s consider vs 31-34 more closely so we can become more familiar with this progressive work in and around the good news of Jesus. Proclaim After God’s massive earthquake brought the jailer to a sincere desire to be saved, Paul and Silas immediately proclaim the Gospel to him. As seen in other ways, this dramatically shows Gospel proclamation was their ultimate priority. It seems at every turn, Paul is ever thoughtful of ways he can get the Gospel to those who need to hear it. The Latin etymology of the word “priority” means prior. Prior to any other concern, Paul’s heart is set upon Gospel proclamation. I suppose, as the kids today like to say, the Gospel was Paul’s BAE (if you don’t know, this means “before all else”). Truly, the Gospel was before all else in the heart and mind of the Apostle Paul. From this and other texts of Scripture, we clearly see his priority of gospel ministry, as his paramount concern to proclaim good news far and wide. We also see the centrality of proclamation. Because the Gospel is a verbal message, it must be heralded. The Gospel cannot be lived out or put on display for all to see. It must be proclaimed for all to hear. Finally, in Acts 16:31 we see also the simplicity of the Gospel. When the jailer asked, “what must I do to be saved,” Paul and Silas expounded on one simple answer: “BELIEVE IN THE LORD JESUS.” That’s it! They didn’t send the jailer off to accomplish a list of tasks, or to work up sincere affections which would merit salvation. They simply told him to believe. And by God’s grace, that is exactly what the jailer did. Where does Gospel ministry rank on your list of priorities? Believe What does it mean to believe in Jesus? First, it clearly means to trust or place your faith in Jesus. To believe in Him is to depend upon Him in the most important ways. But what kind of believe in Jesus did Paul and Silas commend to this newly saved jailer? They expressed his need to believe not in himself or in them or even in the Church; instead he was to believe in Jesus as Lord. This is no ordinary belief. This is fundamental, life-altering belief. It is not enough to believe around Him, or above Him, or below Him. To be saved, you must believe in Him, as your Savior and Lord. This kind of faith took root in the jailer’s heart and radically changed his life. The promise they made, on behalf of God, was that by believing in Jesus, he would be saved from his sin and saved to God, simply by believing. For some reason, many people (even myself at times) dislike the answer Paul and Silas gave. Deep down, we want to be the authors of our salvation–we want to do something. Merely believing seems too easy. It funny to think that we rarely have the same response to other simple or free offers. When we receive bad service at a restaurant, we almost immediately expect to have part or all of the meal for free. We are happy to enter raffles in which there is “no purchase required.” But when salvation is on the line, our hearts refuse the free-ness of the Gospel. Why? The legalist which lives in many of our hearts wants to add some merit to the free offer of salvation by faith alone. But the consistent exhortation to lost sinners is to “believe.” It’s true that sometimes the Bible says to repent and believe (Mark 1:15). Other times we are instructed to believe and be baptized (Mark 16:16). But it’s important to see that repentance/baptism and faith are complimentary sides of the same coin. They go hand in hand, and are gifts given by God. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (faith); not as the result of works, so that no one may boast.” This key verse on salvation delivers the clear truth that people become Christians by a gift (salvation and faith). And these good gifts of God work a significant change in us. Notice how faith in Christ changed the jailer. He immediately began ministering to Paul and Silas, welcoming them into his home, cleaning their wounds, and giving them food. His faith was clearly at work to please God and love people. This brings us to another question: do you believe in Jesus? Does your belief in Him motivate you to glorify God and serve people? Rejoice After coming to faith in Jesus, the jailer displays what I believe is at the heart of the Christian life: happiness in Jesus. Sitting around the table, with his new brothers in Christ, as well as his new household of faith, the jailer was struck with joy and happiness. Have you had one of those moments when gratitude and joy struck you, rejoicing in God’s good gifts? This weekend, two of my daughters performed in a dance recital. At 13 and 4, both were competent and graceful. The restaurant of the family sat together watching and rejoicing. It was yet another moment of God-given happiness. And this jailer–like you–had much to be happy about. Think of the changes Jesus brought this man in the blink of an eye; in the midst of sudden and fleeting earthquake. He was part of an anti-Christian regime, ready to take his own life when trouble came. Yet in Christ he was transformed into someone who is assured of His salvation, unafraid to support the gospel with his life, dining around the table with God’s servants. Truly, true happiness he found only in Jesus. Be careful not to overtook the happiness at the heart of Acts 16. Lydia, a God-fearing woman has her salvation brought to completion through the Gospel. Paul and Silas offer an astounding example of happiness in suffering, as they sing praises to God from the inner cell of the prison. And now, this jailer (snatched from death) is filled with joy and happiness. In the hustle of life and the obedience-mindedness of the Christian life, sometimes we lose sight of what Christianity is all about. I’m convinced more and more that Christianity is all about happiness, in Jesus and with Jesus. But don’t take my word for it. There are other, more wonderful voices who often remind me of this fundamental truth. “He has no design upon us, but to make us happy. . . . Who should be cheerful, if not the people of God?” —Thomas Watson “There is nothing dreary and doubtful about [life]. It is meant to be continually joyful . . . We are called to a settled happiness in the Lord whose joy is our strength.” —Amy Carmichael “God made human beings as He made His other creatures, to be happy. . . . They are in their right element when they are happy.” —Charles Spurgeon And, even more, don’t take their word for it. Listen to Jesus, as he identifies eight of the happiest people in all the world. In Matthew 5, Jesus repeats the word “blessed” which means happy. 1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:1-11 And this is such a wonderful passage to bring our time in Acts 16 to a close because it shows off the ultimate power of Christ and His good news; power to make us happy even in persecution. And it reminds us again of the wonderful example we have in Paul and Silas who endured all for the gospel and with genuine happiness of soul. Well, what about you? Are you happy in Jesus? How serious are you about pursuing happiness in Jesus? Conclusion These three phases of Gospel ministry can be a central part of your daily life. By following the example of Paul and others in Scripture, depending on the gift-giving grace of God, and seeking our joy and happiness in Christ alone, we too can live on mission. God’s Kingdom is on the move, as we proclaim the Gospel, see others believe in Christ, and together find our joy in Him. Whatever your one thing is in life, saturate it with the Gospel. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
45% off diehard sins (book)
Get 45% off the price of Diehard Sins when you buy packs of 5. Westminster Bookstore has got your back! #books #reformedreads #5pack Go to Full Article Author: Rush
The Myth of Compliance
I’ve begun attending a Saturday morning book study with men in my town. (Actually, I used to attend the study a few years ago, but dropped out because my family was growing and Saturday morning was not the best time to get up early, accidentally wake up the kids on the way out the door, and then leave my wife to manage it.) Because I do a lot of talking and teaching as a pastor, it’s good for me to sit and listen from time to time. Most recently, our study included a discussion around the relationship between commitment and compliance. In essence, we considered the difference between having commitment to Christ and merely complying with His commands and ways. The men of the group shared wonderfully thought-provoking and insightful ideas about how we all struggle to be consistent, wholehearted followers of Jesus. The conversation was clarifying for me, as I considered how often I’m content merely checking spiritual boxes, without much real interaction with or focus on the glory and pleasure of Christ. However, as I mulled this over in the company of these men, I was gripped by a returning realization of just how far I’ve fallen. It became more clear to me that my struggle with commitment and compliance in the Christian life is deeper than the mere practice of daily living. The trouble actually starts in the false assumption that commitment to Christ and compliance with His wishes can be separated to begin with. Love-less Doing Does Nothing If the Christian life was only composed of tasks to do for Good, perhaps cold-hearted compliance might be possible. But the ultimate call of God’s Law is not to be a doer, but a worshipper; not a Law-keeper, but a Christ-lover. Thus, true “compliance” (if we can even call it that) requires heart-level commitment to Christ. Think of the two great commands as Jesus declared them: One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ “This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40 Living for Christ requires loving Him. So it appears our legalist, “do what He says mentality” goes wrong much earlier than we may realize. It goes wrong earlier than the attempted doing. It goes wrong at the first deluded thought that doing without loving is even a kind of doing. Because the call of Jesus is love, love-less doing is actually no doing at all. I think this realization should lead us not to stop our pursuit of living for Jesus in the daily tasks and responsibilities and obediences to which we are clearly called (John 14:15), but to make or highest aim to infuse those obediences with love and happiness in Jesus. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
The Blessed Man
Who do these words remind you of? How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither;And in whatever he does, he prospers. Psalm 1 A man who never walks according to the words of the wicked… Who never joins in the ways of sinners… Who never scoffs the scoff of the unrighteousness… A Jew who always delights in the law of Yahweh… Who meditates on His word all day and all night… Who is like a firmly planted, well-watered tree… A tree that is always fruitful and never withers… Who always prospers in whatever he does? These words remind me of Jesus of Nazareth…Yeshua Ha Mashiach…the Savior of the world. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
Dating the Kids
My wife had the brilliant idea that we should date our kids. In fact, most of the good ideas come from her (she’s always thinking). It sounds a little weird: date the kids. But it’s brought some rich blessings to our family. Here’s a summary of what we are doing and 3 benefits we enjoy from it. What We Are Doing It’s quite simple. We schedule into our family Google calendar one time each week for one of our five kids to go on a brief, one-on-one date with either of us. That means that each week one of the kids takes a turn, and we try to alternate when each of us goes on these dates. Disclaimer: Consistency is a big challenge. Our family is super busy (in great ways) and we climb back on the horse frequently. No shame in this; it’s just life. The typical date takes about an hour and a half, often in the morning or evening. Like all the dates I’ve been on, these excursions include a little fast food. We spend time telling jokes, talking about whatever is on the kid’s mind, and otherwise just having a good time in each other’s company (sometimes we can get over to the gym for some exercise, shoot baskets, go for a walk…). Along the way, we are looking for an opportunity to key in on something important. Usually this happens naturally. When it doesn’t I ask something like, “Do you have any questions for me? Question about life, love, or the Lord.” (Corny, I know, but these three topics are important to keep covering at all ages.) Sometimes they come out with a good theological question or ask for advice about a peacemaking issue with a sibling or friend. Other times, they “got nothing.” In the end, we make time to pray and then look forward to the next date (which will likely be with the other parent). Three Benefits to Dating Your Kids These benefits may be obvious to you, but they’re worth mentioning again. Open Communication: The simple task of spending one-on-one time together is a blessing. Like siphoning fuel from a car after midnight (I’ve never done this, mind you), once communication starts flowing, it tends to keep flowing. We hope the kids will know we are ready and available to talk about life, even when life gets hard. Brings Chances to Refine and Reform: Believe it or not, I often think I’m a much better parent and husband than I am in reality. This means I often don’t recognize the many ways I’m falling behind. And it also means I need to capitalize on my chances to catch up. These dates can give us parents good opportunity to refine our children and reform our parenting at the same time. Sometimes I can see where the work is needed. And other times I need some help; even by asking, “So how can I be more helpful to you?” Clears the Path to Discipleship: If God had not called me to ministry, I’d be a professional goof for sure. So I have to be careful not to allow these dates to descend into mindless snacking and recreation. Dating the kids is first and foremost about Jesus and His glory, and it’s a fight to keep the main thing, the main thing. But it can be done. Dates provide prime opportunities to disciple the kids. Dates (among other efforts) help to clear the path to discipleship, by which we can encourage happiness in Jesus, repentance of sin, and the love of truth in these little, quickly growing people. What are you waiting for? Get back out there, moms and dads. The dating scene is ripe. And in the end, it’s just another, simple, brilliant idea which is easy and beneficial to your family. “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Go to Full Article Author: Rush
Wolves beware. The Church and her shepherds are watching you. Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. Romans 16:17-20 The Church has many eyes and needs all of them. In a fallen world like ours – a world infected with corrupting sin and scheming sinners – Christians face many troubles. Jesus was clear, “In this world you will have trouble.” And is it any wonder? Our three ancient foes – sin, death, and Satan – are hell bent to punish and destroy the Church, if they may. A tireless trio of division and conflict. By cunning deception they recruit the weak-willed and vulnerable to do their bidding in a war against Christ and His Bride. The pawns in their sinister plot are neither angels nor demons, but flesh and blood creatures; people who have been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). Paul calls them dissenters and hinderers, who purposefully divide the church. Well-trained by the enemy trio, they mingle among the churches, often undetected by the naive. Flattery and smooth talk are the weapons in their assault. Their lips drip with honey, and their bite is full of poison. Ruled not by the Lord in His glory but by their own appetites, they will not stop from undermining the truth and dividing the people. Slaves to the desires which rule them. Paul’s remedy to those who caused division among the Church of Rome was of simplicity and peace. Look here and look up. Look here: “Keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hinderances.” Like shepherd sheep, watch out for the flock to which you belong. Be on guard. Be suspecting. Be watchful. For the Devil – with his captive minions – prowl like lions, hungry for the herd. Don’t be taken by their craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14). Look up: The Bridegroom is jealous for His Bride; and with a burning envy. The God of peace is a God of war. He will not allow His Beloved to be put to shame. The Devil and His recruits will not endure. He will crush them. Flock, keep an eye on the wolves who wish to divide you for a time. Church, gaze intently at your Husband who keeps you in His care forevermore. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
He Requires No More Than He Gives
It’s impossible to understand God’s way of bringing people into His Kingdom, without seeing the relationship between His requirements (conditions) and His promises (grace). He requires faith in Jesus as the grand condition of salvation. Without faith in Christ, no one can be saved. However, there is a problem: no one can work up faith in himself. No one can simply decide one morning, “Today, I will stop disbelieving Jesus and start trusting Him.” The heart of every person is supernaturally locked into unbelief, at enmity with God. Every heart is closed and no one can open it. So how can anyone be saved? “God knows we have nothing of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace he requires no more than he gives, and gives what he requires, and accepts what he gives.” Richard Sibbes The beautiful and amazing answer is: grace. In a gesture of all out mercy, God meets the condition for those He saves by giving them faith in Jesus as a gift. Like water on hard ground, this was slow to sink in on me. So a major and marvelous gospel truth is that God requires faith and then grants faith, all by grace. And that’s how it works. And it is wildly intriguing and comforting to those who know it’s true. A Slightly More Complicated Way of Putting It: “Let it be granted on the one hand, that we cannot have an actual participation of the relative grace of this covenant in adoption and justification, without faith or believing; and on the other, that this faith is produced in us, given to us, bestowed on us, by that grace of the covenant.” John Owen, Covenant Theology, 262. The Lord Gives What He Requires – JW Hendryx Go to Full Article Author: Rush
How to Handle Your Email Like A Boss
A few years ago, I was drowning in email. Multiple accounts, various roles, numerous responsibilities brought a constant stream of messages into my Gmail account. I was drowning. But now, things are much better. Why? Simple: I have a plan and the plan works. I’ll share my plan with you and maybe you can adapt it for your own survival. Create These 4 Email Folders The four folders you should create in your email browser (Gmail, Spark, etc) are: Reply Soon To Do Name for Some Key Task Watch List Reply Soon is the place where you will move any email which needs your timely response. To Do is the place where you will move any email which calls for you to act (complete a task, research something, etc). Key Task is the place where you will move any email which has to do with a key work task you regularly do. This folder will help you keep track of one type of work, bringing you added clarity and less clutter. You should name this folder something specific (mine is called “Manuscripts to Review.” Watch List is the place where you will move any email which may need attention in the future, but for now you simply want to keep your eye on it. Harness the Power of Zero The plan is simple: Keep your inbox empty. When you receive an email, quickly scan it to determine to what folder it should go, and immediately put it in that folder. Some people find it helpful to only check email a couple times per day, and that’s fine. I still recommend moving each incoming email into the corresponding folder as soon as you can. Then, when you have time sufficiently deal with your email, they will be categorized and waiting for you. Bonus: you may even find that your email browser will display the number of emails in each folder, which will motivate you to get them to zero as soon as you can. This plan will help you deal with email more efficiently too. You can start by knocking out all the “reply soon” emails, and then move on to the “to do” emails. This plan will also streamline your email, to prevent wasting time searching through your inbox multiple times per day or week, looking for emails which need a certain kind of attention. And you will almost entirely avoid the common blunder of overlooking one important email for weeks at a time, because it’s buried in a sea of mixed up messages. Finally, once you have dealt with each email do one of the following: Move it to a folder designated for saving emails from a certain person or about a certain topic. Delete it. Archive it. This means it still exists but you can’t see it until you pull it out of the archive. Use Spark (if you can) Spark is an email browser for Mac and iOS devices. It’s free and it’s the best (not the best free email app, but the best of all email apps). Here are a few benefits: Easy to use folder system Syncs beautifully with gmail and other email servers Has the ability to use templates for creating duplicated email messages Offers Quick Reply function (with one click you can trigger one of a handful of customizable responses Multiple email accounts and multiple signatures Regularly updated with new features Visit the App Store on your mac or iOS device and search for Spark. For Gmail Users: You can create separate inboxes by activating a certain “lab function” for multiple inboxes. Instead of folders, you can use these inboxes. Name them like you would the folders (Reply Soon, To Do, etc). You can also have Gmail display the inboxes alongside your main inbox. This will give you easy view and access to the emails you need to deal with in each category. That’s it. I hope it works for you like it’s worked for me. Go to Full Article Author: Rush
Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing! Go to Full Article Author: superrush
Easter Service Let us celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the hope He brings. Sunday, April 21st at 915am at 211 N Merkle Rd.
Thoughts for Good Friday
At first people didn’t notice how remarkable of a man Jesus was. There is very little record of his early years and essentially nothing of his early adulthood. But it wasn’t long before people saw him healing the sick and calming the seas. Even the wind and waves obey him. I love how Sally Lloyd-Jones puts it in her Jesus Storybook Bible “the wind and the waves recognized Jesus’ voice.” This unstately, unassuming man had the voice of their creator. Thinking about Jesus as creator, puts many of the events of Good Friday in a new light. When Jesus died nature itself began to cry out in mourning. We are told that the sky went dark (Matt 27:45). An earthquake shook the ground till rocks were split (27:51). Just as with the plagues in Egypt the very fabric of creation seemed to be undoing itself. Later Paul tells us that even now all creation groans, longing to be set free from bondage (Rom 8:20-22). So a good exercise for Good Friday is to ask which parts of creation you hear groaning. Every day cancer cells destroy lives. People experience tragedy or chronic pain that makes it hard to think about anything else. People go to work and come home and everything about their efforts feels empty and futile. Whatever groaning you hear, I hope the crashing, rock-splitting rumble of the earthquake breaks through it. The rumble tells us that there is a bigger hope than just feeling better about ourselves. Its roar reminds us that something bigger than individual healing or even than individual salvation is at stake. The rumble is so loud that we should have to shout to hear over it. The creator himself is setting things right; he will make all things new. With all this in mind it is hard not to hear some of Christ’s final words on the cross in a new light. “It is finished.” We recognize that voice. It is the same voice that declared creation “very good” and rested from his finished work on the seventh day. We still hear groaning today because we still await the final resurrection, but the work is finished and our hope is secure. That seemingly unimportant man was the Creator. And the Creator has spoken.
In Palestine, 2000 years ago, the days were counted sunset to sunset. This means that Good Friday as we think of it started on a Thursday night. Of course as best as we can tell it was all one night for Jesus too. He went up the mountain to pray and came back down in custody, a prisoner on the way to the cross. But before the betrayals and kangaroo courts, before the beatings and the cross, Jesus was in a room with his closest friends sharing a meal. In the light of the rest of the Bible this isn’t surprising. Close fellowship is often tied to meals together. You can imagine what it would have been like to walk in the cool of the day with the Lord as we are told Adam did and to eat a meal from one of all the trees of the garden that they were given for food. Later, Abraham welcomes the angel of the LORD with a meal. The prophets envision celebratory feasts. Christians later would be known for their “table fellowship”, always eating together and sharing their lives together. All of this awareness only heightens the sense of irony that this meal–Jesus’ last meal–is all about broken fellowship. Look at what they talk about. Someone will betray him (Matt 26:21) . Peter insists that he would never fall away from Jesus, though Jesus tells him he will (26:33-34). In the end, even the weapon used against Jesus will be a kiss (26:49). Every symbol of friendship, of fellowship, of community, every symbol that ought to direct us back to God and his perfect, loving, Trinitarian fellowship is now turned into a symbol of pain, loss, and broken fellowship. But that isn’t all there is to this Thursday night. There is also hope. Jesus says, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s Kingdom” (26:29). On the other side of the cross there is a new kind of community, a new kind of fellowship where families are no longer broken apart by strife. Where friends don’t betray one another. Where enemies that seemed they could never be reconciled will at last sit at the same table and rejoice. Where the shouts and tears of trauma and war will at last give way to joyful singing. After all, the last thing Jesus does before leaving that time of fellowship with his disciples is sing a hymn. That song, whatever it was, is a beautiful foretaste of something to come that is greater still. So consider the places in your life where you see broken fellowship. See it for what it is: the tragic result of rebels trying to live apart from God. That rebel is me. It is those around me. It is people I have never met, but whose lives still touch mine in some way that only God sees. Only when we see this broken fellowship for what it is can we look with hope at the cross. Only then can look forward to the table and the feast. Only then can we sing.
Good Friday Come and reflect on the power of the cross of Jesus and His sacrifice death He took in our place. Service held at 211 N Merkle, Bexley, OH 43209.
Baptism Service 4/11
Join us tomorrow Thursday, April 11th at 7 pm to witness the awesome picture of our faith that is declared through baptism of a believer. The service will be held at Reynoldsburg Baptist Church located at 887 Rosehill Rd, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068. See you there!
ACTS: Praying with Purpose
As we continue our study of prayer – involving adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication – here are some ways you might put all this into practice. Pray with us! Adoration: 1. Praise for His sovereignty over our circumstances. 2. Adoring God for His goodness to us in Christ with every blessing to the praise of His glorious grace. 3. Praise God that He acts for His own glory. 4. Delighting in God as our highest treasure. 5. Praise God because He doesn’t give us what we deserve. Confession: 1. Forgive us for treasuring other things and people over You. 2. We confess that we are often concerned for our own glory, according to our little kingdom of self. 3. We confess that we have hidden faults for which we need your mercy. 4. Forgive us for the trouble our sin brings upon others. 5. We confess the low value we have placed on Jesus and His marvelous redeeming work. Thanksgiving: 1. Thank you for saving sinners like us by grace alone. 2. We give thanks for your ongoing patience with us. 3. Thank you for your perfect knowledge of our lives and all things in your world. 4. Thank you for wooing me to your will. 5. We give thanks for your constant and intimate presence in our lives. Supplication: 1. Please make us bold in evangelism and lead us to your treasured elect. 2. Prune our lives so we look, act, and worship more like Jesus. 3. Give us an abiding love for those who need to come to Christ. 4. Grant us discernment to know the difference between truths and lies in this world, and to choose wisely how we live. 5. Renew in us the joy of Your salvation.
Broadleigh School Drive
We are partnering with Broadleigh Elementary again this year to provide specific needs for their families and children this holiday season. Please see the list attached and bring all donations to the church by Sunday, December 16. If you would like to volunteer at their winter food and clothing drive on Thursday, December 20th from 5-7pm please contact Amy Hartmann. We will bring what we’ve collected as well as almost 100 backpacks filled with school supplies from our friends at Grace Somerset Church. We are so grateful for their partnership in ministry! Requested Donation Items
Happy Thanksgiving 2018!
Caring in Christ
From time to time we hear wonderful compliments ascribed to the people around us. Sometimes the compliment is about the person’s appearance. Sometimes about his generosity or her gentle spirit. Perhaps above them all, my attention is captured when I Go to Full Article Author: Rush
The Gospel and Church Planting Fatigue
Small groups, preaching, networking, discipling, planning, praying, scheduling, rescheduling, meeting, drinking over-priced coffee, team-building, reading, writing, playing with kids, caring for a wife, advancing, retreating, shepherding, reserving, exegeting, working, and on and on and on and on and on. Planting Go to Full Article Author: Rush
The Well-read Christian
In an effort to address my own embarrassing illiteracy and the illiteracy of other Christians, I am working with two close brothers to create a series of reading lists. Eventually, I hope to put them into the form of a Go to Full Article Author: Rush
The Underbelly of Fear – mynameisrush.com
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. – 1 John 4:18 A r Source: The Underbelly of Fear – mynameisrush.com
The Underbelly of Fear
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. – 1 John 4:18 A recent colloquium on PTSD afforded me a good opportunity to Go to Full Article Author: Rush
How to Teach the Bible to Children Even When It Is Complex – The Gospel Coalition | Canada
Minstering to children? This is helpful! Full Article: How to Teach the Bible to Children Even When It Is Complex – The Gospel Coalition | Canada Go to Full Article Author: Rush
The Inward Problem of Persistent Sin
Actor Daniel Day Lewis seldom accepts movie roles, perhaps because the British-Irish method actor exerts a consuming focus and commitment to his craft. For the Amateur thespian, a storyline character is simply a role in the script, with lines to Go to Full Article Author: Rush
This Is Happy Living
Refuse to see anything without seeing God in it. Regard the creatures as the mirror of the great Creator. Do not imagine that you have understood His works till you have felt the Presence of the great Worker, Himself. Do Go to Full Article Author: Rush
A Simple Acrostic for Prayer: A.C.T.S.
Simple, helpful, instructional article by Sproul. See the full article below… Christians often use a simple acrostic as a guide to prayer: A.C.T.S. Each of the letters in this acrostic stands for one of the key elements of prayer. Full Go to Full Article Author: Rush
6 Attitudes We Need When Studying the Bible | Crossway Articles
Great article. Read more below. It is a great blessing that God has revealed himself and that we have access to that revelation and Bibles in our own language. Full Article: 6 Attitudes We Need When Studying the Bible | Go to Full Article Author: Rush
Why the Best Missions Sermon Is All About God’s Sovereignty – Tim Challies
The Great Sermon Series has been such an enjoyable one. I’ve benefitted greatly from Challies writing – in books and online – as long as I can remember. And this series is just another example. I hope you will watch Go to Full Article Author: Rush
YBF Event Rescheduled
We’re going to reschedule the upcoming YBF Bible Study. It was scheduled for this Friday, however, since we’ll have a low crowd, we’ll reschedule to Friday July 6, from 6:30-8:30 pm @ the Bowman’s residence, which is 407 Northview Dr, Bexley, 43209. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me! -Drew
Reflections on the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention
Founders Ministries once again this year had a booth at the annual Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). We were able to give away nearly 2000 copies of the 1689 Baptist Confession … More Full Article: Reflections on the 2018 Southern Baptist Go to Full Article Author: Rush
What Is Discernment?
As expected, a very helpful article from Sinclair Ferguson, on the topic of discernment. Link below. True discernment means not only distinguishing the right from the wrong; it means distinguishing the primary from the secondary, the essential from the indifferent, and Go to Full Article Author: Rush
Catching Foxes by John Henderson
It’s summer-time and newlywed bliss is in the air. Are you close to someone newly married or on the brink of tying the knot? An extremely clear and helpful book to offer is Catching Foxes: A Gospel-Guided Journey to Marriage by Go to Full Article Author: Rush
John Owen’s Three Prayer Points for Pastors | Banner of Truth USA
In this article Banner of Truth examines the advice John Owen offers about what the preacher should pray about…It’s a short, helpful read. We have been charting the biblically wise advice of John Owen for pastors, given in an ordination sermon preached
Never Despair of One
Ministers ought never to despair of the salvation of any sinner. To despair of any one is just the way to make him despair of himself. Many have been ruined in this way, probably. We ought to expect sinners to
Truth, Power, and Pence at the SBC
Insightful thoughts from Jonathan Leeman. Read below. Political leaders like Vice President Pence should be in the pew, not the pulpit. Full Article: Truth, Power, and Pence at the SBC
I Know My Sheep
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door
Figure 8 Scripture Memory SystemFIGURE 8 » Scripture Memory System
Looking for an effective method for growing in your knowledge and memory of God’s Word? We got you! Figure 8 Scripture Memory System. Write the Word on your heart by meditating on Scripture, not just reading it. Full Article: Figure
A Word to Strengthen Parents of Disabled Children – mynameisrush.com
This past December, attending the BCC Leadership Summit was particularly edifying to me. In all honesty, I had not thought a lot about disability ministry, or t Source: A Word to Strengthen Parents of Disabled Children – mynameisrush.com
Witnessing to the Witnesses – mynameisrush.com
Source: Witnessing to the Witnesses – mynameisrush.com
YBF Summer Study
Here’s the cliff notes for the YBF Summer Bible Study: • First meeting is Friday, June 8 • 6:30-8:30 pm • @ the McIntosh’s (276 S Stanwood, Bexley, 43209) • We’ll meet biweekly for 6 total meetings except for July 6th b/c McIntosh’s are out of town (Jun 8, Jun 22, Jun 20, Aug 3, Aug 17, Aug 31) These dates will also be viewable from the Paramount Calendar and available in the bulletin. • Food, Bible Study, and games (no need to bring food or drink) With our growing student group, new and exciting opportunities for discipleship are now possible. One of those opportunities that I’m very excited about is our first Summer Bible Study. I’m praying God would use our time together to strengthen your student’s walk with Jesus. I pray that would be your prayer also. Also, this is a great opportunity for students to invite friends to hear the gospel. Just as a word of encouragement, I want to extend a challenge to you. We desire to foster a family discipleship motive in your home. If you haven’t already, I encourage your family to begin a summer Bible study or start a family worship time of your own, which will have a dramatic impact for your children, especially students. It can be something as simple as reading a Psalm as a family and discussing application. You can do this! Go Team! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Thank you, -Drew
Five Great Benefits from Preaching – Tim Challies
One of my favorite things to do is to read old (or older, at least) books and to uncover the treasures they so often contain. There is something so challenging and so affirming about digging into a book that is hundreds of years old, yet speaks insightfully to the present day. Recently I’ve been enjoying Holy Helps for a Godly Life by the old Puritan Richard Rogers and have invited people like you to read along with me. Here, as … Source: Five Great Benefits from Preaching – Tim Challies
Good Friday and Easter
Five Year Anniversary
Seeing the Goodness of God in Death and Infertility
I am writing this only a few hours out from our first miscarriage as my wife and I make our way to my dad’s wedding. My mom died from cancer in 2014, and now my Dad has found love again. He has been an excellent example of savoring the goodness of God in the midst of trial, and when I called him this morning to inform him of the miscarriage he didn’t have any words of his own to say. He simply read from Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those that love God, to those that are called according to His purpose.” As I was growing up, my parents often led AWANA at our church, a ministry to children. In order to get the kids attention, one of them would yell out, “God is Good!” and the kids would reply, “All the time!” and then, “And all the time” kids, “God is good.” Little did my parents know this mnemonic to get the attention of rambunctious children would become a heavenly mantra in my life. As I have encountered various trials in my life, I have found this to be true: God is good all of the time, and all of the time God is good. Below are my thoughts concerning the goodness of God, and how that goodness is displayed in the midst of suffering. Death of my mother, my child, and my imagination In mourning my mom, I found my deepest sorrow stemmed from thoughts of what would never happen now that she was gone. I wept as I realized she would not see my sisters get married, my youngest sister graduate, or hold any of my children. My youngest sister (14) would have to go through high school without her mom, and I struggled to see the hope of Christ in my situation. How could this be good? My wife and I struggled for 18 months to conceive, and we had to face the reality we may never be able to have biological children. I wept again as I thought about not having a son that looked like me the way I look like my Dad, or the reality that I may never be able to name my own children. Again, how could this be good? And now today as I deal with the reality that our baby is gone, I weep as I think about the fact that I won’t get to hold my child this side of Heaven. All I have been imagining for the past couple weeks will not come to pass. How is this good? The reality is this: I am not God. The things that I imagine in my mind do not materialize. I cannot speak and say “Let there be”, and expect anything to actually happen. But the Sovereign of the universe can. What He says and imagines manifests itself in reality, and the world in which we live is a product of His imagination. It seems that many people live as if life is a stream of endless possibilities. As if what we imagine is not only the best thing, but somehow we think that it will become the real thing; however, this is not true. Life is not an endless stream of possible scenarios that may or may not happen, but rather there is one reality. The one which the Sovereign Lord has ordained and declared to be. The reality that we experience is the only reality that can ever be. Psalm 139:16 summarizes it in this way: “… And in your book were written all the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” Your story has been written, and that which we experience is exactly what God intends for us to experience – including our suffering. Am I saying that God allowed my mom to die, my wife and I to struggle to conceive, and ultimately allowed us to have a miscarriage? No, I am saying something far more extreme. I am saying that He willed it; God ordained my suffering, and He ordained yours as well. Our imagined concept of what should be is simply a figment of our imagination. But I am also saying the reality that we experience is the best version of reality possible. That somehow hidden in the infinite knowledge of God, the suffering of this world is producing within us the best possible circumstances; this lead to a deeper relationship with God, which is the best thing possible in this life. The desires of my heart, even the good ones, cannot do that. So how can the truth that my suffering is planned by God be a good thing? Because it means that there actually is a plan. It means that my story and your story has a purposeful ending. It means that while we are suffering, we can believe that Romans 8:28 is true. God is at work in my present circumstance, and He is working things together for my good. There is an author to this story called life and He is good, kind, and perfect in all of His ways. I can look at my present circumstance and know that God will bring something good out of it. Life Isn’t Fair but God Always Is God wills and decrees suffering, but does this mean suffering is His desire for us? Does He desire that bad things happen to us? I do not believe that is the case. I believe God desires for us to flourish in this life. However, that is not His greatest desire. Just as we often have to prioritize matters of importance in our lives, so God prioritizes that which is most good, and that which is most good is God being proclaimed glorious. Therefore, whatever will accomplish the most glory for God in your life is what will come to pass. God will lay aside our flourishing in areas such as health, wealth, attaining dreams etc. if it increases our flourishing in holiness. However, this does not mean that God takes pleasure in our pain. I believe we can see this concept in Scripture by analyzing passages like Ezekiel 33:11 and 1 Timothy 2:4. Both of these passages discuss desires of God that will not come to pass. God does not delight in the death of the wicked, and yet He will punish evil and those that do not love Him (Ezk 33:11). God desires that all men be saved (1 Tim. 2:4), and yet we know that this will not happen. So here we have God desiring human flourishing, and yet not just withholding it but being the One that gives out the punishment of Hell. This is because in judging evil God will receive the most amount of glory, though He does not delight in the death of the wicked. God is prioritizing His own glory over His desire for all to be saved. In this same way, God prioritizes His own glory in our lives as we experience suffering. He does not delight in our suffering, as the Bible tells us that God is empathetic toward our pain. Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Psalm 56 tells us that He keeps our tears in a bottle and keeps an account of our wanderings. He gives us passages like Psalm 42 and 43 which resonate with our hearts as they cry out, “Why are you downcast, O my soul!” There is an entire book called Lamentations. A book written about lamenting and mourning, and in chapter 3 we find this: “Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. 20 Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. 21 This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. 22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” God will always be faithful to give you grace for the moment. In those moments of pain and suffering He will sustain you, and I have found in these moments we are able to best taste the goodness of God; it is in these times we are able to find our refuge in Him (Psalm 34:8). Our Sense of what Ought to Be and the Promise of Heaven We live in a world that has been broken by sin. Suffering exists because sin entered the world through the sin of Adam, and therefore man has been separated from God. Yet even this did not occur outside of God’s plan. I believe that a world in which sin entered through man is the best world possible. For it is in this world that God’s goodness and glory are put on display as He redeems that which has been broken. Man being created in the image of God apart from sin allows us to imagine what the world would be like should sin never entered. In fact, it allows us to imagine what the world ought to be like. Now this sense of oughtness, of how things ought to be is a good gift from God that allows us to long for heaven. We know this place is not perfect, and we all long for pain and sorrow to end. Our imagination as image bearers allows us to look forward to the reality of a new heaven and new earth where every tear is wiped away and there is no more sorrow. It is in this victory where Christ is most glorified. Revelation 19:11-16 depicts Jesus as a conquering king riding a horse of war with armies following Him. In this passage He is called Faithful and True and his name is called the Word of God. Then in Revelation 21:1-7 we see the new heaven and new earth descending from heaven as a bride for her groom. God is said to dwell among His people, and the text tells us that every tear is wiped away and there will be no more mourning or crying. Toward the end of this beautiful scene, John is told, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” (verse 5) Now, sandwiched between these statements of God’s Word/Christ being Faithful and True is the account of the binding up of Satan and the judgement of evil in the world. This passage is a promise that all suffering will end, and that Jesus will be the one who brings it to an end. So what does the sufferer need? He needs the one who is Faithful and True. These passages are beautifully crafted with images that display the grandeur of God. They depict what our hearts so desperately long for… the end of suffering, pain, and mourning. But the end of suffering comes through the glory of God. This is the greatest reality that can exist, and our ability to imagine different circumstances is to be used to imagine the day when Christ returns. Too often our imaginations simply do not reach far enough into the future. I imagine what life would be like now if my mom had lived or if my wife and I would have carried our baby to term. I feel the pain that sin has brought into this fallen world. Yet I often fail to look and imagine the day when Christ will come to set all things right. When I compare the scenes depicted in the book of Revelation with the scenes of my own imagination, I resonate with the Apostle Paul as he writes, “18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Rom. 8:18).” This should be the purpose of our imagination. However, our imaginations can become harmful the moment we begin to believe that they have any true affect upon reality. The moment that we begin to believe our imagined version of reality is truly better for us than the reality we are actually experiencing is to deny that Christ is Faithful and True. We become deceived by sin, and we no longer see Christ as He actually is. Remembering What is Good So what has suffering taught me about God’s goodness? It has forced me to realize what is truly good in this life. As I have lost my family to death and struggle to start one of my own, I am reminded that not even the precious gift of family is the ultimate gift in my life. My prayer is that you will come to see what I now see: that which is best for me is to be holy like God is holy. There is a purpose to our suffering and it is this: God will use it to make us look more like His Son. It is important that we remember what comes on the heels of Romans 8:28. Romans 8:29, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” It is crucial that I see what God desires for me and that which is most good for me is to become more like Him. When left to my own imagination, I cannot imagine how my little sister going through high school without her mother could ever be a good thing. Who will help her get ready for prom, console her the first time her heart is broken, or guide her through the pitfalls of her life? When left to my own version of the story, I cannot see any form of redemption. Yet God sees it differently. The point of life and the point of my sister’s life is not prom dresses and good experiences. Rather, what God desires for my sister is to make her holy. He longs to make her look like Jesus, so that she might bring honor and glory to His name. He will accomplish this through suffering. My imagined good for my wife to be able to hold our biological child and experience the joy of motherhood is nothing compared to God’s greatest good to make her holy. Suffering has brought me to the point where I can believe that bringing God glory is better than anything else. If my deepest treasure and comfort in life is God’s glory, I can echo the apostle Paul as he says, “… for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am… I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13).” The secret is treasuring the glory of God above all other things, understanding that God is glorified as His story of redemption is put on display in my life. The Story of Redemption When it comes to our struggle with having a child, the story is not yet finished. The Lord has used it to raise an awareness for children in need of a home, and my wife and I hope to one day care for orphans through foster care and adoption. Though we do not yet know how God will bring glory from our situation, I am confident that He will. In the case of my mother’s death however, I have seen God’s story of redemption unfold before me. My Dad married a woman that is also a widow. She has four children, the youngest being a 9-year-old girl. My mother grew up without a father, but now this little girl will not have to endure that same childhood. This can only happen if my mom dies. Her death means this little girl and her older brothers can have a father figure again. It won’t be the same, but I believe that with the grace of God it can be glorious. As I contemplate God’s plan of suffering and how He uses it for our good, I cannot help but think about the cross of Christ. That terrible day at Golgotha, when God the Father put His Son through immense suffering wrought about the most glorious of outcomes. He reconciled His people, and He did it through death and suffering. It was through the death of Christ that we were made holy. It is through suffering that we have been saved. God is good, all of the time; and all of time, God is good.
Men’s Summit Reminder
Men of Paramount: Remember that this weekend marks the next Men’s Summit. We welcome the men of Grace Baptist Church in Somerset, KY. They will join us for discipleship, fellowship, food, and service. Here’s the schedule: Friday, 6:00 pm – Dinner and Discipleship at Reynoldsburg Baptist Church Saturday, 9:00 am – Service at Good Shepherd Lutheran (demolition of playground) Lunch on our own in Bexley Saturday, 6:00 pm – Dinner and Discipleship at Good Shepherd Fellowship Hall Sunday, 9:15 am – Paramount ABF and Worship Maps: Reynoldsburg Baptist Church Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
This Week at Paramount
Paramount Church Update – Open It!
Game Night Fun – July 23-25
With the help of our friends from Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, we will hold 3 nights of fun on the church lawn. Sunday night, Monday night, and Tuesday night we will bless our community with hotdogs (or snacks Monday and Tuesday) and field games. This is a great way for us to meet new faces. All are welcomed and everything is free of charge.
Location Change July 2
Our location change has been coming together over recent months. Now we’re just two weeks away (July 2)! This Sunday in ABF (9:30 am), we will discuss all the final details for our first Sunday at the new location: *Slightly New Service Times *New Check-in Procedures for Kids *Where to Park *What Doors to Enter *How to Go Between ABF and Worship *The August 13 Community Luncheon *Ways to Love and Bless Our Friends at GSLC New Location – July 2 211 N. Merkle Road Bexley, OH 43209 ABF/YBF – 9:15 am Worship – 10:30 am *Paramount kids continue both hours. Like. Share. Invite.
Men’s Summit, May 19-21, 2017
Good Friday 2017
All are welcomed to enjoy a night of worship (and Bible preaching) with Paramount Church, reflecting on the saving death of Jesus Christ. Good Friday, April 14th at 7:00 pm Maryland Elementary School With questions, please visit the webpage or call 614-314-9516.
2017 Ladies’ Retreat
Hi Ladies! I can’t believe how time flies. It’s March! And though November seems so far away, it will be here before we know it. That’s why we are beginning to plan and collect money for our 2nd Paramount Ladies Retreat. It is the weekend of November 10-12, and we will be staying in a cabin in Hocking Hills. I’m sure it’s going to be a sweet time of fellowship, bible study, prayer, and fun! Please don’t miss this time to connect with the ladies in our church. We want YOU to be there:) We are asking that you please bring $50 as a deposit this Sunday. You can give your money to me or Debbie and if you are writing a check just be sure to put “ladies retreat” in the memo line. The total is $150 and includes lodging for two nights and all food. The rest of the money will be due October 15. Thank you! Please don’t hesitate to call me or email me if you have questions about the specifics of the weekend. Kathryn Witt
Upcoming at Paramount
This Sunday we continue our preaching series through Paul’s letter to the Romans. We have been praying our time in this important book will bear fruit in our souls. The book of Romans is a magnum opus of biblical truth; it brings us foundational theology and it is truly A Letter to Live By. In Romans 3:9-20, we will see that our sinful condition is made known to us through God’s good and perfect Law. The Law of God is like a hammer that crushes our sinful souls, preparing us to hear the comforting message of the Gospel. Living by the clear distinction between the Law and the Gospel is a most difficult art, but we are making progress each week. Consider taking time to read the passage before Sunday. And there’s still time to invite a friend or neighbor to come and hear God’s Word. ABF and YBF is also an important part of our ministry together at Paramount. We will continue to study what Scripture says about the conscience. Each of us experiences the work of the conscience, but not everyone is prepared to deal rightly with the voice of our consciences. This is our purpose in ABF this semester. Join us at 9:30 am! Finally, mark your calendars for Sunday, March 5th. Following the worship service, we will have a Paramount Church Members Meeting. We will review the 2017 budget report. This meeting is not closed to non-members, so if you are visiting Paramount please feel free to stay for the meeting.
This Week at Paramount
Sunday, January 15th, 2017 – In Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF), we continue our new study together, exploring Scripture’s teaching on the conscience. This Sunday we are in chapter 3 of Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ. Life often passes by, day after day, as our consciences constantly work to guide, restrain, and or motivate us in all we do. Yet, little thought is given to exactly how this gift called conscience works and can be strengthened. This study will help us immensely. Sundays at 9:30 am. – This Sunday, Pastor Rush will preach from Romans 1:8-17, as we consider three priorities in the life of Paul. This year will be the year of Romans. We will work verse by verse through this most important book in the Bible. Paul’s letter to the Romans gives us inspiring and foundational truth for all of our lives. Sundays at 10:45 am. – The Ladies Bible Study concludes with a dinner at the home of Holly Barton at 5:00 pm. If you have been absent over recent weeks, or haven’t attended at all, don’t let that stop you from enjoying fellowship and dinner with other Paramount ladies of all ages. And this is a good opportunity to invite others who will make good friends. Sundays at 4:00 pm. Other updates: – Last year, a number of us spent some productive weekends growing in our knowledge and skill for discipleship and counseling. This training continues this year, as we offer opportunities to read, observe, and learn about discipleship and counseling. And for those who would like to pursue ACBC certification, we have a plan for that. If you’re interested in continuing in the church’s intensive training, please inform a pastor soon. – Following the holidays, Community Groups have resumed their normal activity. If you (or someone you know) have not plugged into a group, please do so right away. This small group ministry of the church is essential to who we are as Christians. We simply cannot enjoy the benefits of small group life by attending worship and ABF alone. We need to be together in smaller, more intimate groups. These groups provide a unique opportunity to share life, pray, encourage, and care for one another. See the church website for more information about community group times and locations. – Each Friday, a team of Paramount members gather to pray for the church, our local communities, and the nations. Currently, they meet at 7:30 am at Bruegger’s Bagels (2510 E Main St Bexley, OH 43209). Join them for weekly encouragement in Christ and a time of expectant prayer. See Calendar See you Sunday!
The Perfect Person
Who do these words remind you of? ——- Psalm 1 1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. ——- A man who never walks according to the words of the wicked… Who never joins in the ways of sinners… Who never scoffs the scoff of the unrighteousness… A Jew who always delights in the law of Yahweh… Who meditates on His word all day and all night… Who is like a firmly planted, well-watered tree… A tree that is always fruitful and never withers… Who always prospers in whatever he does? These words remind me of Jesus of Nazareth…Yeshua Ha Mashiach…the Savior of the world.
This Week at Paramount
Sunday, January 7th, 2017 – In Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF), we begin a new study together. For the next 13 weeks, we will explore Scripture’s teaching on the conscience. Life often passes by, day after day, as our consciences constantly work to guide, restrain, and or motivate us in all we do. Yet, little thought is given to exactly how this gift called conscience works and can be strengthened. This study will help us immensely. Sundays at 9:30 am. – This Sunday, we officially begin our next preaching series. This year will be the year of Romans. We will work verse by verse through this most important book in the Bible. Paul’s letter to the Romans gives us inspiring and foundational truth for all of our lives. Sundays at 10:45 am. – The Ladies Bible Study continues at the home of Holly Barton at 4:00 pm. There are only two weeks left. If you have been absent over recent weeks, or haven’t attended at all, don’t let that stop you from joining in now. Sundays at 4:00 pm. Other updates: – Last year, a number of us spent some productive weekends growing in our knowledge and skill for discipleship and counseling. This training continues this year, as we offer opportunities to read, observe, and learn about discipleship and counseling. And for those who would like to pursue ACBC certification, we have a plan for that. If you’re interested in continuing in the church’s intensive training, please inform a pastor soon. – Following the holidays, Community Groups have resumed their normal activity. If you (or someone you know) have not plugged into a group, please do so right away. This small group ministry of the church is essential to who we are as Christians. We simply cannot enjoy the benefits of small group life by attending worship and ABF alone. We need to be together in smaller, more intimate groups. These groups provide a unique opportunity to share life, pray, encourage, and care for one another. See the church website for more information about community group times and locations. See you Sunday!
We are but men.
In Romans chapter 1, Paul tells us our central problem as fallen people is a worship disorder. We have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator. Suppressing the truth in our unrighteousness, apart from Christ we worshiped a lie – we worshiped ourselves. The essence of our Fall into sin is the denial of the true God. Doubting Him. Denying Him. Deriding Him. Enamoring ourselves. Embracing ourselves. Exalting ourselves. The creatures usurp the Creator. We need a return to reality; a return to the real us. We are creatures, living in the Creator’s world, in need of His recreating power to work a work of grace in our hearts. In essence, we are but men. Even now, the followers of Christ need this same reminder daily. Though Christ has brought us to our senses. we are prone to forget our creatureliness. The old desire for god-status and its accompanying autonomy relentlessly fights within us. So we need this reminder daily: we are but men. During a bedtime reading of Psalm 9 with my daughters, my attention was captured by the final prayer of David in verse 20. Let the nations know that they are but men. – Psalm 9:20 This is a prayer I need. I need to pray this, with David; for the nations of the world to fear the Lord and submit to His sovereign reign. But I also need to pray this for myself. “Lord, make me to know I am but a man…a creature and not the Creator…a sinner and not the Savior…a worshipper and not the Worshipped. Make me to know I am but a man.” Let me encourage you to make this prayer your own, as well – for the nations and for yourself. Questions for Reflection: 1. What are ten differences or distinctions between creatures and the Creator? 2. How have you failed to live as a creature, always wanting for more or to be more? 3. What are three ways you really feel your creatureliness?
Invite to Pray for OSU
Tonight at 7:00 pm. In response to the tragic event at OSU today, I am inviting anyone from Paramount or our community to gather at my house, to encourage one another and pray for healing and change. We will pray for the OSU victims, their families, our community, the responders, and others impacted by this event. Our God is sovereign, wise, and good. Let’s pray tonight. The Witts’ House 489 Northview Drive Bexley, OH 43209 – Pastor Rush ————————— 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.
Paramount Thanksgiving Dinner
ABF: Sunday, 9:30 am – Pastor Kevin continues in our study of Questioning Evangelism (chapter 12). In a couple weeks, we will begin the next semester of ABF, studying The Hole in Our Holiness. You can get a copy of the book from the resource table this Sunday. Worship: Sunday, 10:45 am – Our Simply Stewardship preaching series focuses this week on stewardship of our money as we strive to be Grace-empowered Givers. Read 2 Corinthians 9:1-9 to prepare your heart for Sunday. God calls us to give and the Gospel makes us generous. New Member Class: 9:30 am – This Sunday morning, we will begin the next new member class. If you are interested in joining Paramount, or if you just want to learn more about the church. Join us this week! YBF Tailgate: Friday, 5:15 pm – At the McIntosh’s house will be our first YBF tailgate! We will begin our festivities at 5:15 pm – throwing corn hole, eating hot dogs, and all-around good fun! Afterward, we will walk over to the Bexley football game which starts at 7:00. Invite your friends! Game tickets cost $7.00. With questions, call Drew at 618-920-7184. Ladies Bible Study: Starts Oct 16 – All Paramount ladies should have received an email about this. If you did not, please let us know so we can update your address. For info about this Study, click here.
What’s Happening at Paramount
ABF: Sunday, 9:30 am – Pastor Kevin continues in our study of Questioning Evangelism (chapter 11). Worship: Sunday, 10:45 am – Our Simply Stewardship preaching series focuses this week on stewardship of the gifts we receive from God. Read 1 Peter 4:10-11 to prepare your heart for Sunday. We will also celebrate the Lord’s Supper this Sunday. Parenting Class: Sunday, 7:00 pm – This Sunday night is the last night of our six week parenting class, at Bexley HS. Ladies Bible Study: Starts Oct 16 – All Paramount ladies should have received an email about this. If you did not, please let us know so we can update your address. For info about this study, click here.
Letter to Ladies about Bible Study
Hi ladies! I hope you are all doing well. We are heading into an exciting time of year as the weather cools off and the holidays approach. I am also eager to start meeting regularly again for bible study and fellowship. Our Ladies’ Bible Study will begin Sunday, October 16 and run for 9 or 10 weeks. We will meet from 4-6pm each week. I will let you know for sure the location as we get closer. The study I’ve chosen is a DVD series by Jen Wilkin, who is the author of the book we read in the spring about how to study the bible. I have been working through the study and DVDs and I think you will be blessed by her guidance and teaching. The series focuses on the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). The books are $10. I will be ordering them in the next couple of weeks and would like to make sure that I have enough for everyone. Would you please let me know as soon as you can whether you plan on participating? I appreciate you all and am praying for you to be filled with the joy of the Lord this week. In Him, Kathryn
Keep Going for the Gospel
Acts 28:22-24 – They said to him [Paul], “But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.” When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening. 24 Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe. Notice a handful of simple points: 1. The “sect” called Christianity was spoken against everywhere. We need not be surprised when the gospel is opposed. 2. Despite the opposition, Paul kept explaining the hope of the Gospel. He did this by calmly telling others about God’s kingdom. 3. Paul tried, as far as he was able, to persuade people to become followers of Jesus. He did this all the time, morning until evening. 4. Paul used the Bible. He showed people what was written in the Torah and the many prophecies about Jesus. 5. Some people believed, while others would not. No matter what, he kept going.
Wolves Beware, Church Be Ready
Wolves beware. The Church and her shepherds are watching you. Romans 16:17-20 – Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The Church has many eyes and needs all of them. In a fallen world like ours – a world infected with corrupting sin and scheming sinners – Christians face many troubles. Jesus was clear, “In this world you will have trouble.” And is it any wonder? Our three ancient foes – sin, death, and Satan – are hell bent to punish and destroy the Church, if they may. A tireless trio of division and conflict. By cunning deception they recruit the weak-willed and vulnerable to do their bidding in a war against Christ and His Bride. The pawns in their sinister plot are neither angels nor demons, but flesh and blood creatures; people who have been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). Paul calls them dissenters and hinderers, who purposefully divide the church. Well-trained by the enemy trio, they mingle among the churches, often undetected by the naive. Flattery and smooth talk are the weapons in their assault. Their lips drip with honey, and their bite is full of poison. Ruled not by the Lord in His glory but by their own appetites, they will not stop from undermining the truth and dividing the people. Slaves to the desires which rule them. Paul’s remedy to those who caused division among the Church of Rome was of simplicity and peace. Look here and look up. Look here: “Keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hinderances.” Like shepherd sheep, watch out for the flock to which you belong. Be on guard. Be suspecting. Be watchful. For the Devil – with his captive minions – prowl like lions, hungry for the herd. Don’t be taken by their craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14). Look up: The Bridegroom is jealous for His Bride; and with a burning envy. The God of peace is a God of war. He will not allow His Beloved to be put to shame. The Devil and His recruits will not endure. He will crush them. Flock, keep an eye on the wolves who wish to divide you for a time. Church, gaze intently at your Husband who keeps you in His care forevermore.
The Necessity of SPEAKING the Gospel
“Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” This quote is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, a Roman Catholic preacher who lived in 13th and 14th centuries. Although there is no reliable record of Francis saying this-that is, before the 1990s-many Christians have been quick to adopt the quote as a motto for evangelism. Whatever the quote’s origin, it’s confused at best, and entirely untrue at worst. To say Christians should preach the gospel and use words when they necessary is to confuse the very nature of the gospel. First, we should know what is the gospel. Simply put, the gospel is the verbal message or announcement about the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. The gospel is good news; good news of Jesus’ grace toward sinners, seen in His perfect life, death, and resurrection on our behalf. But catch the point again: The gospel is a message, and messages are meant to be spoken. In fact, they must be spoken. considering the way God talks about the gospel in Scripture, we must conclude that the gospel does not go out except by the verbal proclamation of its good news. The gospel can be spoken. The gospel can be written. In whatever way the gospel is communicated, it will always come out in words. This means that if we are not speaking to people about Jesus and His incredible grace, we are not sharing the gospel. There are many good deeds for us to do-and we should do them-but unless we are speaking the words of life, we are not sharing the gospel. Our good deeds may open doors for us to speak up, but we speak up we must! Second, the gospel is a message about what Jesus has done. It is not a message about what we have done, or what we must do. It is about Jesus. Every now and then, we hear someone say something like, “I’m not comfortable talking to people about Jesus. I prefer to live out the gospel in front of others.” While it is true that the gospel intimately transforms the way Christians live, this statement is a kind of oxymoron. Live out the gospel is a contradiction. The gospel is not something we can live; it is not a series of commands like the law; it is an announcement to be heralded to all who need to hear. Have you been trying to live out the gospel, or have you been speaking out the gospel? If you have been aiming to share the gospel with your life, it’s time to link your life with words of life. It’s time to speak up. I know what a challenge this change can be; it’s a change I had to make myself. Five Stages of a Gospel Conversation For many people, the most difficult part of sharing the gospel with someone is starting a conversation. If you are a Christian, you probably know enough about the gospel to lead someone to Christ. Therefore, the problem is not that the gospel is hard to explain, but the problem of starting a conversation that gives most Christians trouble. Basically, an evangelistic conversation is made up of 5 stages. Stage 1: Positive Contact When attempting to share the gospel with someone, you should try to begin with a “positive contact.” I’m sure you have heard the popular business line, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is not only true when interviewing for a job, but is also true of evangelism. A positive first contact may be the difference between someone listening to your gospel and turning a deaf ear. Therefore, a positive first contact is as easy as committing a simple act of friendliness. How is your day going? Has the store been busy today? Do you have any weekend plans? These are simple examples of how you might make a positive contact. Stage 2: Common Ground After making a positive contact, the second stage in an evangelistic conversation is finding what you have in common with the other person. You may not realize it, but all people have things in common with each other. We all have a hometown, a daily routine, and family or friends. It is on common ground that people relate to one another. This can be done simply by asking the other person a question or two about himself. These questions should be simple and down-to-earth. Showing genuine interest in the life of another person is a great way to reveal the love of Christ. Our objective should be to take the first reasonable opportunity to share Christ with others. Stage 3: The Shift In every witnessing encounter, there comes a time when friendliness becomes evangelism. This happens when you shift from the natural to the spiritual. The “natural” consists of common ground conversation topics we discussed earlier. In order for a conversation to be evangelistic, you must learn to shift from the natural to the spiritual. Without the shift, you are nothing more than a friendly person. If you have done some preliminary work to make a good first impression and establish common ground, the shift from the natural to the spiritual can be fairly easy. There are many ways to shift a conversation from small talk to spiritual talk, like discussing troubling current events like war and racial tensions; or simply asking spiritual questions like “Do you go to church around here?” We just need to keep our eyes open for opportunities. Stage 4: A Gospel Presentation The fourth stage in an evangelistic conversation is a clear gospel presentation. This stage is the most important of all. Romans 1:16 explains that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of salvation for those who believe. Remember, if your conversation does not reach this stage you have done nothing truly evangelistic. Since this stage is so important, you should find ways to grow in your ability to share the message of faith in Christ. Read books, watch videos, and talk with other Christians to sharpen your ability to communicate clearly. Stage 5: Questions and Answers The 5th and final stage of an evangelistic conversation concerns questions and answers. As you clearly share the gospel with others they will usually respond with questions about the Bible, the world, and salvation. This takes time as well; to learn to answer key questions posed by your hearers. You can learn about this as you study the Bible and are purposefully involved in church. Well, now you know all you need to know in order to begin and end an evangelistic conversation. All that is left is for you to begin putting these principles into practice with God’s gracious help. It’s time to speak up. You must!
Find your place to serve!
Tonight begins a string of exciting opportunities for fellowship and ministry around Paramount Church. Here’s the line-up: Friday: Cheer for the Columbus Clippers at 7:15 pm Saturday: Help with our friends at Bex Parks and Rec host another successful Youth Triathlon from 8:30 am-12:30 pm Sunday: Welcome new students at the OSU College Fair; 4:00-7:00 pm Sunday: We begin a six week parenting class at Bexley HS Community Room; All Welcome Monday: Hand out 200 school supply kits at the Broadleigh Elementary Open House, 4:00-6:00 pm Thursday: Welcome new students at Capital University Student Fair w/college ministry hot dog cookout to follow; 3:00-7:00 pm Friday-Sunday: Our friends from GBC in Somerset, KY will be serving the community with us, culminating with two cookouts (Gahanna and Berwick) Tuesday: The Fall 2016 semester of the Paramount Ministry Internship begins; 3:00-5:00 pm Whew! Praise God for abundant opportunities to please God and bless our neighbors! Find your place, there’s plenty of room to join in.
ABF: Questioning Evangelism Begins Sunday
This week in Adult Bible Fellowship we begin a new study through the book Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman. May the Lord use it to sharpen us to share our faith in wise and winsome ways. You can find the book at amazon.com, or pick up a copy for $5.00 from the resource table on Sunday morning. Our goal, if possible, is to read chapter 1 and answer the corresponding questions at the back of the books. Here is a little more about the author, in his own words: ——————————– Randy grew up with a very strong Jewish identity and from a young age had a strong desire to know God. His searches left him empty. It was the death of a classmate that forced him to ask hard questions. He began to read the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. It was in the pages of the Bible he saw that it was not that God was far away from humanity, but rather that humanity was separated from God by sin. It was in reading the New Testament that Randy found the Messiah of Israel, Jesus, through whom men and women are reconciled to God.
Another Reason to Join a Church
There are many good reasons to join a local church. But there is yet another: love. In this way, I do not mean just the Christian compulsion to love; to love other Christians. I am referring, instead, to our inability to love – our inability to love everyone with the same intensity and devotion. Some Christians object to this emphasis on church membership by appealing to their good desire to love others. The objection goes something like this: “Every Christian is a member of Christ’s body; His Church. I don’t need to join a particular local church and I don’t want to. Because if I join a local church, I will be saying I love these Christians over here more than those Christians over there. We are called to love all Christians. If I join a church, it will be like I’m sinning against the Christians who do not belong to that local church. I have lots of Christian friends, and I want to belong with all of them. And I refuse to leave any of them out of my life.” In this objection, something critical is overlooked. Of course, we ARE compelled to love all Christians (and many other people too). Of course, all Christians ARE also members of Christ’s body, His universal Church. Of all that this objection gets right, it overlooks a critical reality: our creaturlieness. We are creatures. We are not the Creator. There are limits to our capacity to live, to move, and to love. We are finite. We are limited by time, with only so many hours in a day. We are limited by space, with only so much ground to cover. We are limited in energy, with only so much to give. We are limited in knowledge, with the ability to truly know a relatively small number of people. We are limited in our attention, with a short span allotted to us. In addition to our ongoing battle with our own remaining sin, all of this inevitably adds up to a limit on love. As a creature, what is your capacity to love? How many people can you love really well? How many people can you know really well? Have you noticed a limit to your ability to love? If you were to list the names of all the people you have ever known, your list would probably appear almost endless. You could list name after name after name. When the sun finally set on your list of people who have crossed your path, for good or ill, you could review all the names and without doubt, you would be struck with an alarming fact. You don’t really know many of these people. If you were to circle the names of those whom you knew well – kept in contact with…those in whose lives you were well versed…those for whom you enjoyed an enduring love – your circles would be few. The reality is that we are creatures. We have limits. And because of these limits we have a choice; a privilege even. The choice and the privilege is to decide who will you love well? We simply cannot know and love everyone. If we try – to love only as the Creator can love – we creatures will end up loving less. On the other hand, as creatures, we can choose to love to our limit; to love our closest neighbors, and to love them well. This is a central reason all Christians should seek out a healthy local church, make a commitment to the Christians who are there, and love to the limit. Simply put, a local church is a gathering of Christians, in a particular place, who have a made particular commitment to love one another the way God has enabled them to love. Have you committed yourself to a local gathering of Christians? Will you love more or will you love less? 1 Peter 1:22-23 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.
Memorial Sunday Service and Lunch
If you’ve been thinking of visiting Paramount Church some day soon, but haven’t found the right time, your time has come. On Sunday, May 29 (Memorial Day Weekend), we invite you to join us for worship (10:45 am) and then lunch. We’ve got it all covered; you don’t need to bring anything but yourself. On this Sunday morning, we will remember the incredible sacrifice of Jesus which gives special meaning to the many examples of those who have given their lives to provide and protect our freedoms. And we will also celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. After worship we will all gather at a home near Bexley High School to enjoy lunch, games, and fellowship. This is an excellent opportunity to relax and meet new people. Please be our guests! Paramount Church Worship and Lunch Maryland Avenue Elementary School (map) Sunday, May 29, 2016 Worship – 10:45 am, Lunch – 1:00 pm Email with Questions
Good Friday Service
Good Evening Neighbors, Day after tomorrow, my church is having our first Good Friday service at Jeffrey Mansion. If you do not have a church to attend, we joyfully invite you to spend the evening with us. All are welcome! We’ll gather at 6:30 pm for a 1 hr worship service; including singing, a responsive reading, and a brief sermon from Hebrews 12:1-3. See you there, on Good Friday!
Mini Blast: Reminder of Things To Come
Good Morning Paramount, Here is a brief reminder of things to come: 1. Discipleship Training Weekend: Our third Discipleship Training Weekend is set to happen this Friday and Saturday, March 18-19. Friday – 7-9 pm Saturday – 9 am-3 pm 7592 Embers Lane, Canal Winchester, OH 43110 Be on the look out for an email through which you can brings snacks and RSVP to give us one final count on attendance. This is a prime opportunity to grow together in skill and knowledge; to handle life God’s way and to help others too. See you there! 2. Good Friday: Remember, one week from Friday is our first Good Friday service. The service will be at Jeffrey Mansion in Bexley at 6:30 pm (map). Mark your calendars and begin inviting friends and neighbors if you have not done so already. This is an important night in the life of our church, and an excellent opportunity for us to present the gospel to others from our communities. Let’s make the most of this opportunity to worship God, remember the price that was paid to redeem us, and share the good news of the Gospel with others! Flyers are available for you to use to invite the neighbors on your street. And please make plans to arrive before 6:30 so you can welcome visitors. 3. The Ladies Bible Study: The study continues to be at the home of Holly Barton, and it lasts from 4:00-6:00 pm. Even if you have not been able to attend before now, make a point to come, grow, and encourage one another.