Mike Leake – 7 Ways to Create a Reading Culture in Your Church

Some chap somewhere has said that in 5 years you’ll be the same person you are today except for the books you read and the people that you meet. Though, I think a tad simplistic I do believe that in 5 years you will be shaped by what you have read (or did not read).

Call me a nerd all you want, but I am a firm believer that it is very beneficial for a pastor to cultivate a reading culture within the community that he influences. Consider these words from Mark Dever:

Without knowing it I have actually put many of these things into practice in the church where I currently serve as an associate pastor. With a much help from Mark Dever here are the Top 7 ways to create a reading culture in your church.

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Tim Chaffey and Jason Lisle – Old Earth Creationism on Trial: Prosecution – Biblical Age for the Earth

by Tim Chaffey and Jason Lisle

Welcome to the trial of the century, or better, the trial of the last three centuries. This particular battle has been raging since the early 19th century. Arguments have been promoted in every conceivable media outlet: newspapers, books, magazines, the Internet, television, and video programs. Hopefully, after examining the arguments, the reader will see that there can only be one correct interpretation of Genesis 1–11. That interpretation is known as young-earth creationism. Consider the following summary of the young-earthers’ major arguments.

The Plain Teaching of Scripture

Young-earth creationists have argued that their position is the clear teaching of God’s Word. The Bible teaches that God created everything in six days, and that Adam was created on the sixth day. The genealogies recorded in Scripture indicate that Abraham lived about 2,000 years after Adam was created. And since Abraham lived about 4,000 years ago, this means the earth is about 6,000 years old. The earth could be much older if and only if there were substantial gaps in the genealogies, or if God had taken much longer than six days to create. One young-earther put it this way:


Taking Genesis 1 in this way, at face value, without doubt it says that God created the universe, the earth, the sun, moon and stars, plants and animals, and the first two people within six ordinary (approximately 24-hour) days. Being really honest, you would have to admit that you could never get the idea of millions of years from reading this passage.


This statement offers an accurate summary of the young-earthers’ claims on this point. The Bible should be allowed to speak for itself. If it states that God made everything in six literal days, then it does not matter that the majority of scientists disagree with it.

Some old-earthers admit that this is a major strength of young-earth creationism but still adhere to an old-earth interpretation because of their acceptance of modern scientific theories concerning the age of the earth. Biology Professor Pattle Pun of Wheaton College stated:


It is apparent that the most straightforward understanding of Genesis, without regard to the hermeneutical considerations suggested by science, is that God created the heavens and the earth in six solar days, that man was created on the sixth day, and that death and chaos entered the world after the fall of Adam and Eve, and that all fossils were the result of the catastrophic deluge that spared only Noah’s family and the animals therewith.


Pun is not alone in making this type of claim. The late Dr. Gleason Archer, an Old Testament scholar, wrote:


From a superficial reading, the impression received is that the entire creative process took place in six twenty-four hour days. If this was the true intent of the Hebrew author (a questionable deduction, as will be presently shown), this seems to run counter to modern scientific research, which indicates that the planet Earth was created several billion years ago.


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Michael Boling – Reflections on Judges 16-18

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Judges 16-18

The part of the life of Samson most are familiar with now becomes the focus of discussion in Judges, namely the entrance of Delilah and the downfall of Samson.

The rather crazy life of Samson continued, one that did not reflect his calling as one set apart to God. In Judges 16 we find him once again in the land of the Philistines, this time in Gaza. He cast his eyes on a prostitute and spent the night with her. Word got around that Samson was in town and the people of Gaza plotted to kill him at dawn. Samson got up in the middle of the night, took hold of the city doors, tore them off posts and all and carried them to the top of the hill facing Hebron.

At a later point in time, Samson again was spending too much time with the Philistines and fell in love with a woman named Delilah. Secretly, the rulers of the Philistines went to Delilah to have her try and trick Samson into telling her the source of his great strength. Delilah, using every trick in her seductress handbook, attempted to woo Samson into giving us his secret. After a series of ploys, all of which failed as Samson was not able to be bound by that which he claimed would control him, Delilah really laid on the charm, prodding him day and night to give up the secret. He finally caved, telling her the source of his strength was his hair. After learning of this, she sent word to the rules of the Philistines, telling them to come back one more time as this time they would be able to capture Samson.

After Samson fell asleep on her lap, Delilah shaved his head and then yelled that the Philistines were coming. As before, Samson leapt up to deal with the Philistines, only this time his strength was no more for God had left him. In reality, the strength did not lie in the hair. It was obedience to God’s commands that gave him strength. His disobedience resulted in God leaving him. The Philistines bound him with bronze shackles and forced him to grind grain in prison. While in prison, his hair began to grow.

The rulers of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon, their god. When they were in high spirits (drunk), they brought Samson out of prison to make sport of him. They stood him among the pillars, but Samson asked the servant if he could be placed between two pillars. The temple was full of Philistines. Praying to God for one last feat of strength to which God answered his prayer, Samson pushed against the pillars, collapsing the entire temple. In doing so, he killed more Philistines at that point that in his entire life.

A man named Micah had taken 1100 shekels of silver from his mother. Returning it to her, she consecrated her silver to the Lord so that her son could make an image and cover that image with the silver. Micah made a shrine, an ephod, and some household gods and installed one of his sons to be the priest. A Levite was passing by from Bethlehem, looking for a place to stay. He came upon the house of Micah who offered for the Levite to stay with him. Micah also offered to pay the Levite and installed him as priest. The text declares that since there was no king, everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Clearly they had forgotten God as being their king.

The Danites were looking for a place to say as they had not yet come into their inheritance of land. They sent five of their leading men to spy out the land. They entered the hill country where Micah’s house was located. They met the Levite who was priest and asked him to inquire of God if their journey would be successful. The priest told them to go in priest for God was with them.

The men left and came to Laish and upon seeing the people there were living in peace and safety and that the land was good, they decided to attack them and take their land. 600 armed men of the Danites departed and set up camp near Kiriath Jearim. The five men who had earlier spied out the land, told their fellow Danites about the house of Micah and that it has an ephod and household gods. The 600 Danites armed for battle stood at the entrance of Micah’s house. The five spies went in and took the household idols and the ephod. Seeing what they were doing, the Levite priest confronted them. The spies told him to be quiet and offered for him to join them and to serve as their priest. He agreed.

After the men had gone some distance from the house of Micah, those who lived near Micah overtook the Danites and asked them what they were doing. The Danites called out to Micah and asked him why he had sent his men to fight them. Micah responded by telling them they had stolen his ephod and household gods. The Danites told Micah that if he attacked them, he would lose everything. Seeing they were too strong for him, Micah returned to his home.

The Danites attacked Laish and attacked them, burning down their city. The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. They also setup for themselves an idol with Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses and his sons serving as the priest of the Danites. They also used the idols taken from Micah. The house of God remained in Shiloh.

Book Review – Taking God Seriously by J. I. Packer

Renowned author J. I. Packer, in his latest book Taking God Seriously returns the reader back to the basics of the faith engaging a number of fundamental doctrinal and theological concepts that comprise the core elements of the Christian faith. Packer, in the tradition of other classics such as Basic Christianity by John Stott engages in a highly accessible manner the topics of faith, doctrine, Christian unity, repentance, Church, the Holy Spirit, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. While not an in-depth theological treatise on these various topics such as one might find in a Systematic Theology text, Packer nonetheless approaches each topic thoroughly and with great candor, affirming these doctrines as fundamental for all believers to take seriously.

In the first chapter, aptly called Taking Faith Seriously, Packer cogently outlines what faith is calling it a “two-tone reality, a response to God’s self-revelation in Christ that is both intellectual and relational. Mere credence – assent, that is, to “the faith” – is not faith, nor is commitment to God or a Christ who is merely a product of human imagination. Christian faith is shaped, and its nature is determined, entirely by its object, just as the impression on a seal is shaped entirely by a die-stamp that is pressed down on the hot wax.” Such a powerful statement sets the stage for his discussion on Scripture itself and why one can have faith in its validity and in the one who it reveals is the God we can rightly place our faith in. In bibliology or the doctrine of the Bible as it is otherwise known, Packer does an excellent job of providing the reader with a great mix of how the Bible was compiled, what it means when we say the Old and New Testament and most importantly, that Scripture is our authority on all matters.

The next aspect Packer address is theology, the study of God. He gives a brief yet apt overview of some aspects of God’s character spending most of his effort engaging the doctrine of the trinity which admittedly can be a confusing concept to grasp for most people. Packer does an excellent job of walking the reader through the idea of a triune God and how each member of the Godhead is God to include what they “do.” God’s Torah, His commandments to us is also discussed with Packer rightly noting the familial element of God’s commands to us, “family instruction, given with parental authority, goodwill, and concern for the family’s well-being.” Chapter One concludes with a brief yet informative discussion of how and why biblical doctrine has veered from its scriptural moorings, namely the influence of biblical criticism, evolutionary dogma, socialist ideals, and modern science that has sought to reject God as being of any importance. But wait, there’s more!

Paul Tripp – The Most Dangerous Prayer for Pastors

I don’t think you could say more dangerous words than those found in the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t think you could pray a more radical prayer. Probably most of us, even in ministry, would hesitate to say these words if we really understood what we were saying. We would at least pause before repeating this prayer if we clearly understood that we were actually inviting upheaval into our lives and ministries. This prayer can’t be answered except through the tearing down and rebuilding of many things in our lives.

Here are the radical words I have been alluding to: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). I must admit that I don’t always greet God’s kingdom with delight. I want certain things in my life, and I not only want them, but I know how, when, and where I want them. I want my life and ministry to be comfortable. I want my schedule to be unobstructed and predictable. I want people to esteem and appreciate me. I want control over the situations and relationships that I cannot avoid. I want people to affirm my opinions and follow my pastoral lead. I want the ministry initiatives I direct to be well received and successful.

When I am off the ministry clock, I want the pleasures that I find entertaining to be available to me. I want my children to appreciate that they have been blessed with me as their father. I want my wife to be a joyful and committed supporter of my dreams. I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want to live without. I don’t want to have to deal with personal defeat or ministry failure. It is humbling to admit, but I want my kingdom to come and my will to be done.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-most-dangerous-prayer-for-pastors-91135/#29qpJEebpmr3G1qB.99

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Jared Wilson – Easy Like Friday Afternoon: A Manifesto on Hard-Believism

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
— Matthew 7:13-14 (in the King’s English)

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
— Matthew 19:25-26

It is still scandalous to say what the Scriptures say, which is that no man who doesn’t take up his cross is worthy of Jesus (Mt. 10:38). Many are they who want to extrapolate from sola fide to something that is not fide at all. They assume oddly that because faith alone justifies, real faith may be alone, unaccompanied by works, or that the sum total of salvation is justification alone and not also sanctification.

We saw this in the relatively recent “Lordship salvation” debate, in which many solid Reformed brothers helpfully affirmed the classic doctrine of “faith alone” while also affirming what the Bible both says and implies: saved people are changed people. To have Jesus as Savior is to have him as Lord. It is not legalism to say the new birth begins a new life. Yes, we still battle the flesh — crucifying it daily — but this in itself is a change from the old life, in which we cared nothing about battling the flesh. We still have sin in us, but we are conscious of it, convicted about it, and concerned to be rid of it. This is not works salvation; this is the fruit of salvation.

Obeying the commands of God does not save us, but it is the way we prove saved. This is the testimony from Abraham onward to the new covenant. It is the testimony of James — So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (2:17) — and of Jesus himself — “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

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Michael Boling – Judges 13-15

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Judges 13-15

We now encounter one of the more familiar characters in the book of Judges – Samson. Israel once again did evil in the sight of the Lord, a recurring theme in Judges if you have not noticed. This time, God delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for 40 years. A man named Manoah who had a wife who was childless. The angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her she would give birth to a son. This child was to be set apart as a Nazirite, meaning she was to drink no wine, fermented drink, or unclean food while she was pregnant. Her son’s head was to never be touched with a razor. God was raising him up to deliver the people from the Philistines.

The woman told her husband the message of the angel of the Lord. Manoah prayed to God for help in learning how to raise this son, given the special instructions. God heard Manoah and appeared again to the woman. She went, got her husband, and took him to the angel who reiterated the instructions regarding the set apart regulations the boy would need to follow as well as the need for the woman to refrain from wine, fermented drink, and unclean food.

Manoah offered to prepare a young goat for the angel, but the angel declined the offer. The angel did tell them if they prepared a burnt offering to ensure it was to the Lord. Manoah took a young goat and along with a grain offering, offered the goat to the Lord. As the flame from the offering rose into the air, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame. Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground, realizing this was an angel of the Lord that had visited them. As God had promised, the woman bore a son and she named him Samson.

Samson went down to Timnah and saw a Philistine woman. Returning to his parents, he asked that they get her as his wife. They refused, given God’s commands to Israel not to intermarry with the surrounding nations. Samson insisted they get this woman as his wife. As Samson and his parents went down to Timnah, a young lion came to attack them. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson and he tore the lion apart with is bare hands.
At a later date when Samson journeyed again to Timnah to marry the Philistine woman, he came upon the carcass of that dead lion and discovered bees and honey in the carcass. He scooped up some of the honey from the dead carcass, an activity forbidden a Nazirite. He took the honey to his parents and they ate some of it, but Samson did not tell them where he had found the honey.

Samson held a feast in celebration of his marriage of the Philistine woman. Being rather brash, Samson told his companions a riddle, stating that anyone who could solve the riddle would be given 30 linen garments and 30 sets of clothes. If they could not answer the riddle, the men would have to give him 30 linen garments and 30 sets of clothes. After three days, the men could not figure out the riddle so they convinced Samson’s wife to coax the answer from him. After seven days of pleading, Samson caved and told his wife the answer and she then relayed it to the men. When Samson found out he had been tricked, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he went down to Ashkelon, struck down 30 of their men, stripped them of their clothes and gave those clothes to the men who had “solved” the riddle. Samson’s wife was given to one of the men who had attended the feast.

Later, at the time of the wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and jouryeyed to visit his wife. Her father told Samson she had been given to another man. In response to that, Samson took 300 foxes, tied them tail to tail in pairs, fastened a torch to each pair of tails, lit the torches on fire and let them loose in the wheat fields of the Philistines, thus destroying their entire harvest, along with the vineyards and olive groves. In response, the Philistines burned Samson’s wife and her father to death. Samson attacked them and slaughtered many of them. He then stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam. The Philistines came down to where Samson was at, causing concern among the people of Judah. Three thousand men of Judah came to Samson, telling him to stop causing such a stir among the Philistines. Samson responded by telling the men of Judah he was simply repaying them for what they had done to him. They tied Samson up to a rock with two new ropes, leading him to the Philistines. As they approached Lehi, the Philistines came towards Samson. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson and his arms became like charred flax, causing the ropes to drop from his hands. Taking a jawbone of a donkey, Samson killed a thousand Philistines.

Being thirsty after such a slaughter, Samson cried out to God in his thirst. God opened up a hollow place in Lehi and water came forth. Samson led Israel for 20 years.

Dave Jenkins – Reading and Studying the Bible (Part 2)

Introduction

In part one of spending quality time in the Word of God we learned about hearing God’s Word, reading God’s Word and studying God’s Word. In part two we will learn about memorizing God’s Word,. When it comes to memorizing God’s Word many Christians either think that it’s too much work or just not worth it. Today, we will explore what it means to memorize God’s Word and why it’s important for one’s spiritual growth, as well as for our ministry for Christ.

Memorizing God’s Word

Many Christians look on the spiritual discipline of memorizing God’s Word as something tantamount to modern day martyrdom. Memorizing Scripture is precious when viewed with the understanding of one depositing God’s Word within one’s mind. When Scripture is stored in the mind, it is available for the Holy Spirit to take and bring to one’s attention when they need it the most. Psalm 119:11, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” When the Holy Spirit brings a verse to mind in a specific situation it’s an illustration of Ephesians 6:17 “the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.” A pertinent scriptural truth, brought to one’s awareness by the Holy Spirit at just the right moment can be the weapon that makes the difference in a spiritual battle. One of the ways one experiences more spiritual victories is to do as Jesus did- memorize Scripture so that it’s available for the Holy Spirit to take and ignite within one when its need the most.

Every Christian ought to want to grow in their faith. One way to do this is to strength oneself to memorize Scripture. Proverbs 22:17-19, “Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, if all of them are ready on your lips. That your trust may be in the LORD, I have made them known to you today, even to you.” To apply your word to the words of the wise spoken here and to keep them within you pertains to Scriptural memory. The reason given here for keeping the wise words of Scripture within you and ready on your lips. It’s so that your trust may be in the Lord. Memorizing Scripture strengths your faith because it repeatedly reinforces the truth, often just when one needs to hear it again.

On the Day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter was suddenly inspired by God to stand and preach to the crowd about Jesus. Much of what he said consisted of quotations from the Old Testament (Acts 2:14-40). There’s a qualitative difference between Peter’s uniquely inspired sermon and our Spirit-led conversations, his experience illustrations how Scripture memory can prepare one for unexpected witnessing or counseling opportunities that come one’s way.

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Psalm 119:24, “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.” The Holy Spirit will use whatever scriptural truth one has in one’s memory bank for the use of ministry and also to provide timely guidance to ourselves.

John MacArthur – Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church: Mary Worship

After his prophetic vision of the eternal glories of heaven at the end of the book of Revelation, the apostle John described how he was overwhelmed by what he’d seen.

And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation22:8-9)

The Roman Catholic Church has committed the same error as John, promoting a mere citizen of heaven to an improper place of authority and honor. Despite the overwhelming testimony of Scripture, the Catholic Church has elevated Mary—a self-described servant of the Lord (Luke 1:38)—to the same level as God, if not higher.

In his Ineffabilis Deus in 1854, Pope Pius IX established as dogma the immaculate conception of Mary, which preserved her from inheriting original sin. His concluding statements provide a good summary of the Catholic view of Mary.

Let all the children of the Catholic Church, who are so very dear to us, hear these words of ours. With a still more ardent zeal for piety, religion and love, let them continue to venerate, invoke and pray to the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, conceived without original sin. Let them fly with utter confidence to this most sweet Mother of mercy and grace in all dangers, difficulties, needs, doubts and fears. Under her guidance, under her patronage, under her kindness and protection, nothing is to be feared; nothing is hopeless. Because, while bearing toward us a truly motherly affection and having in her care the work of our salvation, she is solicitous about the whole human race. And since she has been appointed by God to be the Queen of heaven and earth, and is exalted above all the choirs of angels and saints, and even stands at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks, she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard.

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Tim Chaffey and Jason Lisle – Old Earth Creationism on Trial: An Introduction

by Tim Chaffey and Jason Lisle

The early 19th century witnessed a dramatic shift in the Church’s hermeneutical approach with respect to the early chapters of Genesis.1 Prior to this time, the majority of Christians believed the Bible taught that God created the world around six thousand years ago. As the scientific community began promulgating the view of a much older earth, Christians began searching the Bible to see if it permitted one to accept these new dates for the age of the earth. Various theories were proposed, such as the gap theory and the day-age theory.

Throughout the past two centuries, these theories have been tweaked, while others have been created. Some Christians have gone so far as to promote theistic evolution, a view that teaches that God used evolution as His means of creation. However, among conservative scholarship, biological evolution is generally denied in favor of views that promote the special creation of man and woman. Today, the framework hypothesis and progressive creation are popular among theologians and Christian scientists. (See Appendix A for a description of these and other views.)

With the resurgence of young-earth creationism in recent decades, the debate over the age of the earth and the proper hermeneutical approach to Genesis has intensified within evangelical circles. Scholars on both sides of the dispute have written at length in an effort to convince the Church, which is largely uninformed on the issue. In their zeal to convince others, many of these scholars have resorted to weak and oftentimes fallacious arguments and reasoning.

For years, Answers in Genesis has been cautioning young-earth creationists to utilize more discretion when promoting arguments that seemingly advance their view. An article on their website lists numerous popular arguments that they suggest should not be used.2 This opened the door for criticism from fellow young-earthers who had used these arguments or supported ministries that did. Nevertheless, this article was sorely needed and demonstrated how important it is for believers to be more interested in truth than winning the public’s approval.

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Old-Earth Creationism on Trial