July 28, 2014

"The books"

This past Sunday I preached on Paul’s desire, even at the end of his life, that his friend Timothy might bring him his books (2 Timothy 4.13); that he might learn, and study, and grow, and expand his soul all the way to the end. And I said that Paul, in this way, is a model Christian. We ought all to have a thirst to continuing growing all our days. And, thus, we ought all to have a craving, like the apostle, for “the books” – most of all for the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments; but also for other Christian books that either help us to understand or apply the inspired writings of the Scriptures. And so, to help you gather your own little library, let me list a few of “the books” that I think might be a blessing to your souls. Space doesn’t permit me to give descriptions of them, but have a look at some of them at Amazon.com and you can learn more. A handful of them are also available in our church library!

Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem and Jeff Purswell
Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem and Elliot Grudem
Knowing God by J.I. Packer
The Cross of Christ by John Stott
Human Nature in its Fourfold State by Thomas Boston
The Westminster Shorter Catechism

Bible Commentaries
The ESV Study Bible
Matthew Henry’s Commentaries

Church History and Biography
Sketches in Church History by S.M. Houghton
Fair Sunshine by Jock Purves
The Crown and Covenant Series by Douglas Bond
Singing in the Fire by Faith Cook
Out of the Depths by John Newton
Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
The Autobiography of John G. Paton

Christian Growth
The Gospel for Real Life by Jerry Bridges
The Cross-Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney
The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper

The Letters of Samuel Rutherford (or the abridged version)
The Crook in the Lot by Thomas Boston
The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes

For Preachers
Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by D.A. Carson
2 volume Biography of Martyn Lloyd Jones by Iain Murray (vol 1, vol 2)

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
Family Worship by Terry Johnson
Revival by Brian Edwards
Operation World by Jason Mandryk
Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

Happy – and helpful! – reading!

July 17, 2014

Sermons from Jude

We just completed a five-part series on the book of Jude.  Listen in with us!

Jude 1-4 - Introduction to Jude - MP3
Jude 3-4 - "Contend earnestly for the faith" - MP3
Jude 3-19 - "Crept in unnoticed" - MP3
Jude 20-23 - "Keep yourselves in the love of God" - MP3
Jude 24-25 - Doxology - MP3

July 16, 2014

Death is Not Dying

This video was incredibly moving and helpful to me five years ago, when it was fresh, and when the speaker was still alive in this world.  It's still moving today ... and powerful, and full of gospel truth and hope.  I learned just this week of someone who has been converted in the last 18 months, partly due to the truth of Christ proclaimed by this dying woman, Rachel Barkey.  Praise God!  And set aside an hour some time soon to be reminded of the hope and beauty and goodness of Christ in His gospel.  

You can visit the full website here: Death is Not Dying.

Death is not Dying from Rachel Barkey on Vimeo.

July 8, 2014

Foot Exam

Chances are you do not think of your feet as one of your more attractive features. Chances are you don’t think all that often about the appearance of your feet at all! And if you do, it’s probably more self-consciousness than conceit. We just don’t normally think of feet as beautiful. Often, we feel just the opposite! In fact, a few of us may even shy away from wearing sandals, or be a little bit ill at ease when we have to take our shoes off for the podiatrist, or if the church should decide to do a Maundy Thursday foot-washing! But even if we don’t have a foot-phobia, or a reticence about our own feet, chances are we don’t view them as being all that attractive.

And yet the Bible says that our feet may indeed be beautiful! “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS” (Romans 10.15).

The “good news” that Paul has in view there is the good news about Jesus – that “word of Christ” that has the power to redeem men, women, boys, and girls of every stripe, and class, and social strata, and culture. This is the only message that saves, is it not? The message of Christ crucified; Christ our substitute; Christ our righteousness, and hope, and salvation, and Lord! People are hopelessly lost without Him … but joyously saved with Him! And so what a privilege it is to go and speak His name; to go and spread His fame; to bring the tidings that God’s Son has come into the world as the friend of sinners and “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This is the “good news”! And the feet that carry it from place to place are beautiful, Paul says!

Beautiful feet? When they are in motion for the sake of the gospel, absolutely! Beautiful are the feet that trudge through airport terminals and baggage claims, so that we might get on planes and go on mission. The feet that amble over to the neighbor’s house to bring them a meal when baby comes, and to speak to them briefly of how we might become children of the heavenly Father. The feet that walk to the cafeteria with a co-worker, hoping that over lunch we might whet his or her appetite for the gospel. The feet that stride side-by-side with the little ones, bringing them to the house of the Lord Sunday by Sunday. The feet that carry us through the neighborhoods, knocking on doors and telling of the Savior … or that meander through the crowds at a public event, looking for opportunities to share Jesus … or that tread the nursing home hallways, sharing the love of Christ with those who are near the end of their journeys. The feet that take us to the mailbox, where we send hand-written gospel letters that we hope might be read and re-read for the glory of God.

If you will use them to get you to places where you might show and tell Jesus, your feet can indeed be beautiful! Are they? If you were to go in for a spiritual foot exam, would you be embarrassed to take of your shoes (so to speak), and let your feet be seen? Would I? How beautiful, really, are our feet? Never so much as when they are moving for the sake of the gospel! Never so lovely as when they are, as it were, dirty and calloused from tramping the highways and hedges, telling good news! So give yourself a foot exam, and ask the Lord, this summer, to give you beautiful feet!

July 3, 2014


This week our family took our customary summer trip to The Berry Patch across the state line in Indiana. Every year the children delight to climb under the enormous netting and into row upon row of blueberry bushes … picking and picking to the heart’s content, and enjoying the fruits of their labor, too, of course!

But this year we got a surprise treat. Perched atop one of those bushes, maybe 4 feet off the ground, was a little brown nest with three tiny baby birds wedged inside. 

What a beautiful little surprise! What a delight to hear their wee little chirping voices! And, I thought out loud, what an amazing place to be born! Somehow their mother must have spied an opening in the netting, and ducked inside the berry patch to "lay her young". And, judging from her chosen location (and from the little peck marks found here and there in the produce) I am assuming that berries are perhaps standard fare for this sort of bird. And so I say again, what a place to be born! Sweet, delicious, fresh produce everywhere, as far as the little bird’s eye can see. It would be like being born to the owner of Findlay Market, and having immediate access to all the treats inside! What a privilege!

And as I sat down to peck out the few lines that weekly fill this space, it occurred to me that this is how some of us were born, when we think of our spiritual privileges! What a blessing to born into a Bible-believing, God-fearing, Jesus-loving family – one that nurses you on “the pure milk of the word”; one that nourishes you on the fine wheat of the gospel, spoon-feeding you the message of Jesus, who is “the bread of life.” What a privilege to grow up knowing “the joyful sound” of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” … and to be raised in the shade of the “oaks of righteousness” that make up “the church of the living God.” It’s like being born into royalty, the privileges are so great!

Not everyone who reads these lines will have been born with such spiritual advantages, I know. And I don’t intend, by emphasizing them, to minimize God’s power to save people from every strata of life, and to redeem us even when our parents hand down to us a “futile way of life” instead of a godly example. Not in the least! But I do say to those of you who have been given a godly heritage … please, please do not take it for granted! Rather, eat your fill!

There’s only so long that the mother bird in the blueberry patch will feed her children from her own beak. Eventually they will have to learn to gather berries for themselves. And what a sad sight if they should never learn, or should be too lazy to put forth the effort to do so – and exponentially so since they were born on top of a gastronomic goldmine! Let us not make the same mistake! No! Rather, let us fill our bellies with all the nourishment and delights that are available to us in this “land flowing with milk and honey” that is the Church of Jesus Christ!

Being born to Christian parents and brought up in the fruitful fields of the church doesn’t automatically make us Christians, of course … nor even members of the church. These things happen when we take in Jesus, “the bread of life”, for ourselves. But, O, if the swallows are blessed (Psalm 84) to make their nests inside the temple … how much more those humans who are born with a bird’s eye view of the things and people of God, and with such ready access to “the bread of life”! Let us be sure we join with those people, by feeding on Jesus for ourselves … and on all the other spiritual delights that sprout in clusters all around us!