Small-Town Summit Encourages Ministry in Rural New England

Vermont is one of the least religious states in the United States. It’s also one of the most rural. That means gospel work in the Green Mountain State won’t be glamorous. It likely won’t be big or fast-moving (though God can do surprising things, which we yearn for him to do). His kingdom will advance in Vermont and other rural regions through an army of committed gospel workers—men and women, young and old, pastors (full-time and bivocational) and laypeople—willing to lay down and pour out their lives in small, unknown places. Already in Action We’ve got good news: those gospel workers are already on the ground, and hard at work. We know, because we just spent a hugely encouraging day with them. On May 16, more than 80 men and women (rural and small town pastors, laypeople, and ministry leaders) packed the sanctuary of the Red Door Church in South Royalton, Vermont. We spent the day praying, singing, eating (you must try Vermont’s best donuts), and considering how God means for the gospel to penetrate and transform the small places of Vermont and New England. The gathering was sponsored by Small Town Summits, which partners with TGC New England to reach the small places of our region. In addition to Vermont leaders, we welcomed Christian workers from New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Leaders from CCEF New England, Vermont Church Planting, Village Missions, the Baptist Convention of New England, and Acts 29 took part in the summit, and the pastors ranged from ministry interns and those just starting out to those who’ve served in ministry for more than 35 years. Breakout sessions reflected on various aspects of ministry in small places, including evangelism, discipleship, worship-leading, and soul care, as well as the unique challenges and opportunities for women ministering… Read More

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3 Ways to Help Kids Connect Obedience with Joy

“Obey? What does that mean?” The boy I was tutoring stared at me in confusion. I had just been telling him that he should do his homework to obey his dad—until I realized I was using a foreign word. I was stumped. How had this boy gone seven years without hearing the word “obey”? It actually made sense. Many non-Christian homes, including his, omit this word from their vocabulary. They might even shun it altogether. Obedience has baggage, after all. It’s linked to rules, to consequences, and—worst of all—to authority. The word “obey” is out of place in our don’t-tell-me-what-to-do society. But Christians should have a different reaction to the word. For us, obedience means blessing, not baggage. And the ultimate authority who was our Judge is now our Savior. For Christians, obedience means blessing, not baggage. Obedience draws us into all the blessings of being part of God’s covenant family. But obedience goes against our sin nature, so we have to teach our kids how to find joy in it. Here are three ways to help your kids connect obedience with joy. 1. Tell Them Why “Because I said so” is reason enough to obey God. Yet in Fatherly love he lets us in on his big-picture plan for obedience. In his Word he shows us why we should obey. And he tells us to do the same for our kids. When the Israelite children asked their parents, “What are these stones for?” God told the parents to explain all he’d done for them in the wilderness (Josh. 4). Obedience and teaching must go hand in hand. This doesn’t mean obedience is subject to negotiation. “Obey first, questions later,” we rightly tell our kids. They must obey whether they understand or not. But it’s our job to help build that understanding,… Read More

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Sexual Assault and the Hope of the Gospel

One in four women, and one in six men, will be sexually assaulted at some point in their life. There are almost certainly people in our churches who have been deeply wounded by assault, but may feel compelled to keep their suffering to themselves. In a Sunday evening elder’s talk at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Bobby Jamieson walked through the story of Amnon’s rape of Tamar from 2 Samuel 13, a vivid account of the devastation that sexual assault causes. Jamieson then offered seven ways the gospel brings renewal to those who have been victims.* 1. The gospel restores your voice, turning denial into the righteous act of naming evil truthfully. 2. The gospel gives you a new identity as God’s beloved child in Christ. 3. The gospel frees you from shame. 4. The gospel perfectly and permanently removes the guilt of your own sin. 5. The gospel makes room for righteous anger and uproots sinful anger. 6. The gospel restores trust in God and others, turning isolation into growing intimacy. 7. The gospel grants hope, turning despair into confidence in God’s promises. You can listen to this episode of The Gospel Coalition podcast here. Related *Throughout the talk, Jamieson relies heavily on and recommends Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s book Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault. TGC The Gospel Coalition US

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What Makes Hard Places ‘Hard’?

“This is what the gospel does to us: it humbles us and enables us to identify with the poor. In the gospel, we’re not superior to the poor; we are the poor, having nothing to bring to God. We’re not superior to the orphan; we are the orphan, and God has become our Father. We were the stranger with no homeland, and we’ve inherited a kingdom. We were the widow with no husband, and Jesus has become our groom.” — Tony Merida Listen to Tony Merida talk with Doug Logan and Paul McLoughlan about planting and leading churches in hard places. You can listen to this podcast episode—recorded live at the recent Acts 29 Europe Conference—here. Related: TGC The Gospel Coalition US

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Where Does God Want Me to Work?

How do I find God’s will for my life? It’s always a pressing question on the college campus, and especially in our day of unprecedented options. Like never before, in an anomaly in world history, students loosened from their community of origin, “going off” to college, now make decisions about their future with minimal influence or limitation from their adolescent context. “God wants to take you by the heart, not twist you by the arm.” Tweet Share on Facebook Before asking, “Where is God calling me?” we would do well to first ponder, “Where has God already called me?” — not that your current callings won’t change or take a fresh direction in this formative season of life, but for a Christian, our objective calling from God always precedes our consciousness of it. If it is from him, he initiates. He makes the first move. This is true of our calling to salvation, and also true of any “vocational” assignment he gives us in the world. Consider Three Factors For the college student or young adult who may feel like a free agent — considering options and determining for yourself (and often by yourself) which direction to take — it’s important to acknowledge you are already moving in a direction, not standing still. You already have divine callings — as a Christian, as a church member, as a son or daughter, as a brother or sister, as a friend. And from within the matrix of those ongoing, already-active callings, you now seek God’s guidance for where to go from here. Given, then, that you are already embedded in a context, with concrete callings, how should you go about discerning God’s direction after graduation? Or how do you find God’s will for your work-life? Christians will want to keep three important… Read More

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Twelve Tips for Parenting in the Digital Age

[I recently attended a gathering in Louisville of the Council members of the Gospel Coalition. The highlight of the week was a presentation by Tony Reinke who works at Desiring God. It was massively enlightening and equally frightening. Tony published the written version of his presentation at www.desiringgod.org on Monday of this week and has given me permission to post it here on my blog. I strongly urge all of you to read it closely and pray about his recommendations. Even if you have no children or are an empty-nester, you should read this article.] Twelve Tips for Parenting in the Digital Age May 21, 2018 Article by Tony Reinke / Senior writer, desiringGod.org Who is iGen? Kids between the ages of 6 and 23 fall into a generation now getting labeled Post-Millennial or Gen Z or iGen. I want to introduce you to the research on this generation, then process the implications for pastors, leaders, and parents: How do we steward teens in the digital age? To be honest, I don’t know which sin is worse: the arrogance of speaking in generalities about an entire generation, or the sin of ignoring data-trends. With God’s help, we can avoid both. iGen is a recent label given to those born between 1995 and 2012. It is 74 million Americans, or 24% of the population, and the most diverse generation in American history. It is also the most digitally connected and smartphone-addicted generation. iGen’ers were born after the Internet was commercialized in 1995. They have no pre-Internet memories. Each entered (or will enter) adolescence in the age of the smartphone. As parents, we face many challenges in shepherding these teens in the digital age. Trends Among Teens Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University, has written the most systematic study… Read More

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What to Do When God Feels Absent

[embedded content] Audio Transcript Be patient in the night of God’s seeming absence. Be patient in the night of God’s seeming absence. “I waited patiently for the Lord” (Psalm 40:1). Where? Where were you waiting, David? “He drew me up . . . out of the miry bog,” — out of the quicksand of my despair. He “set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to my God. Many will see and put their trust in the Lord” — which means evangelism (Psalm 40:2–3). Fruitful evangelism resulted from a dark night of the soul. “Be patient. Be modest in the dark as you fight for joy.” Tweet Share on Facebook Do you follow that sequence of thought? “I waited in the mire.” How long did he wait? He was patient. He was modest. He knew he couldn’t make joy happen. “I waited, and God came to me.” He had gutsy guilt. While he was there, God lifted him up, put him on a rock, put a song in his mouth. He started to celebrate the mercies of God, and people put their trust in the Lord. One of the things the Lord is doing in the darkness of your life is fitting you to be able to bear more fruitful witness to his mercies when you come out. I close with perhaps my favorite hymn. I have two or three, and it’s a word that I hope those of you who came hoping for light — and maybe it hasn’t gone on yet: God moves in a mysterious wayHis wonders to perform.He plants his footsteps in the seaand rides upon the storm. Deep in unfathomable mindsof never failing skill,He treasures up his bright designsand works his… Read More

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How to Worship with Your Debit Card

“When we worship God, we are declaring how much he is worth, and how we will offer our lives and sacrifice everything for him. But you’re also doing the same thing every time you slide your debit card. You’re declaring how much something is worth to you, and how much you will sacrifice for it.” — Jeremy Treat Text: Proverbs 3:9–10 Preached: October 9, 2016 Location: Reality LA, Los Angeles, California You can listen to this episode of TGC Word of the Week here. Related:

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Philippians 2:9–11: You Will Bow Before Him

Our hope for Look at the Book is to help you learn to read the Bible for yourself. We invite you to engage the passage first, and then to consider the featured study questions below before watching the lab. In this lab, John Piper reminds us that all religions, all careers, all different life paths will inevitably meet at one point: bowing before King Jesus and proclaiming him Lord of all. Some questions to ask as you read and study Philippians 2:9–11: Have you ever bowed to anyone? What does bowing signify? Does all creation’s bowing and confessing that Jesus is Lord mean that everyone will be saved? Have you submitted to the lordship of Christ? How can you know for sure if you have? [embedded content] Watch this video offline by downloading it from Vimeo or subscribing to the Look at the Book video podcast via iTunes or RSS. Principle for Bible Reading Action/Purpose Authors often give us reasons for why someone did a certain action or why we should do a certain action. They typically give the action statement first (e.g. I went to the store/you should go to the store), then a conjunction or connecting word (in this case, usually so that, in order that, or simply that), and finally the reason for the action or the purpose statement.

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9 Things You Should Know About Wicca and Modern Witchcraft

A growing number of young women—driven by feminist politics and the #MeToo movement—are being drawn to a new brand of witchcraft, according to a report by NBC News. Here are nine things you should know about Wicca and modern witchcraft. 1. Witchcraft refers to the worldview, religion, and practices associated with using rituals that are believed to harness and focus cosmic or psychic energies to bring about some desired change. Modern witchcraft is the largest and most common subset of neo-paganism, a diverse group of religious movements that claim to be derived from historical pagan religions. 2. Within the witchcraft revival movement, the largest subset is Wicca. The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey estimated that in the United States there were about 600,000 neo-pagans, with about half identifying as Wiccan. Some estimates conclude that in 2017 there were more than 3 million practicing Wiccans. 3. In modern usage, the term “witch” is considered gender-neutral and can apply to either men or women. The term “warlock” is often considered a derogatory term as the original usage of the term meant “oath-breaker.” A group of witches who meet together regularly are known as a “coven.” Some witches believe a coven must have 13 or fewer members, though not less than three. 4. Wicca was created in the 1940s by Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884-1964), a retired British civil servant an ordained minister in the Christian sect known as the Ancient British Church. Gardner is considered the “father of modern witchcraft,” though his neo-pagan beliefs had almost not connection to older forms of witchcraft. His brand of wiccanism (sometimes referred to as Gardnerian Wicca or Gardnerian witchcraft) was taken from more modern influences, such as Freemasonry, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the English occultist Aleister Crowley. Gardner referred to his belief-system… Read More

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Help get the Bible into all 7000 languages!

I have been a volunteer with Wycliffe Associates for three years, in their MAST program, and am very excited about their goal to see the Bible in all 7000 languages of the world. It is very rewarding to spend some of my “off time” helping people around the world to hear the Bible in their language for the first time. Some volunteers are Greek and Hebrew language people. But many jobs do not require special preparation, just a desire to invest a few hours a week in getting the job done. You can contact Dennis through the WA website, or Message me and I’ll give you his email Dennis writes: “We are seeking volunteers with Bible background to help us create Scripture tools which will serve national Bible translators. If you were a pastor, went to seminary, or just have strong Bible knowledge, we need your help! We are looking for people who have extensive experience in Bible study; have a heart for world missions and the edification of the global church; and are familiar with current biblical reference materials (including Study Bibles, commentaries, Greek and Hebrew texts, lexica and grammars depending on the project). At least a basic knowledge of either Greek or Hebrew would be very helpful. (but not required!) This is a remote position, and as long as you have a computer and an internet connection, you may work from your own home. We are asking for about 8 hours of service per week for this role. If this is something that might interest you, please let me know and I will have someone contact you with more info. Thanks. Dennis DeRight, WA Recruiter Advertisements Share this: Like this: Like Loading… Related

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1 + 42 + 2 = Victory! Revelation Part 22

Revelation Part 22 Chapter 11:1-14 1 + 42 + 2 = Victory!   John Newton once began a sermon with this short poem – I take it as my own prayer today as we enter this very difficult passage: 1 Now, Lord, inspire the preacher’s heart, And teach his tongue to speak; Food to the hungry soul impart, And cordials to the weak. 2 Furnish us all with light and pow’rs To walk in wisdom’s ways; So shall the benefit be ours, And thou shalt have the praise. There is little question, that this chapter in particular is one of the most – if not THE most – debated chapter in the entire book of Revelation. If you are coming at this book with a grid already in mind, ANY grid, you will look for some foundational concept of that grid in this chapter. As we’ve seen so far, untangling what is symbolic and what is quite literal in this book is sometimes hard to unpack. That remains true here. Just which aspects of this portion fall into which of those categories is especially challenging. Nevertheless, by time we are done this morning, I hope once more to tease out the main points which can be useful for suffering Christians in all ages, no matter which end-times scheme one might hold. As we’ll see, there are 3 things which stand out in the passage that deserve our special attention and which then translate into the practical applications we’ll end up considering: I. Measuring The Temple (1 & 2) II. Forty two months (2 & 3) III. Two Witnesses (3-13) Fortunately, all 3 of these have clear precedents in Scripture. Measuring – whether it be a people or in this case the Temple – is something already encountered in a number of… Read More

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10 Things You Should Know about Jehovah’s Witnesses

May 21, 2018 | By: Sam Storms I read in the local newspaper today (5-18-18) that an annual Jehovah’s Witnesses convention is scheduled to convene here in OKC this weekend. It got me thinking once again about this unusual religious organization. Some demographic details are enlightening. In his article at the website of the Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter cites the Pew Research indicating that “no more than 4 in 10 members of the group belong to any one racial and ethnic background: 36 percent are white, 32 percent are Hispanic, 27 percent are black, and 6 percent are another race or mixed race. Roughly two-thirds (65 percent) are women, while only 35 percent are men. They also tend to be less educated, with a solid majority of adult Jehovah’s Witnesses (63 percent) having no more than a high school diploma (compared with, for example, 43 percent of evangelical Protestants).” Here are some ten things that may prove helpful for you to know, especially as they likely will come knocking at your door sometime soon. (1) Two men in particular are generally recognized as giving theological shape to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The first, Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), was raised in Scotch-Irish Presbyterianism but soon abandoned his heritage due to his objections to the doctrines of predestination, eternal punishment, and the physical/visible return of Christ. Russell secured a legal charter in 1884, the year generally recognized as the official launch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (hereafter JWs). His wife divorced him in 1913 on grounds of adultery. Joseph Franklin “Judge” Rutherford (1869-1942) succeeded Russell in 1917. He wrote a book insisting that both the Roman Catholic Church and all Protestant denominations constitute present day Babylon. He was arrested in 1918, together with seven others, on charges of sedition for refusing induction into the… Read More

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20 Quotes on the Story of Scripture

The following 20 quotes caught my attention as I read Trevor Laurence’s helpful book, The Story of the Word: Meditations on the Narrative of Scripture (Wipf and Stock, 2017). The only way back to the tree of life is to trust in the one who hung upon the tree of death. (11) Anger isn’t opposed to love. It’s part of love. Anger is the loving response to anything that threatens what we cherish. . . . A God who doesn’t get angry is a God who doesn’t care about justice. A God who doesn’t get angry is a God who doesn’t love. (14) In Genesis 15, God walks through the pieces to show that he would rather die than break his word. In Jesus Christ, God walks the lonely path to the cross where he will die in order to keep his word. (19) Though God had every right to demand the life of a sinful human, God himself provided the sacrifice that he required. . . . All of us deserve to die for our sins, but God provides the lamb for the sacrifice—the lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Rather than having Abraham offer up his beloved son, God the Father will offer his beloved Son in glorious fulfillment of his covenant of grace. (23) That’s the kind of king Jesus is—the kind of king who willingly walks into the wilderness to face down the Devil so that sinners like us can receive grace for all the ways that we’ve rebelled against God and chased after our temptations. (64) We expect a king to approach in royal garb and power, but Jesus comes in humility. We expect a king to arrive mounted on a military horse and poised for war, but Jesus arrives on a donkey, a sign that he comes to bring peace. This King will receive… Read More

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