Archive for the Recommended Resources Category
Yesterday was John Bunyan’s birthday. Not sure who that was? He did live a long time ago, so perhaps that’s understandable, except that his book, The Pilgrim’s Progress, has sold more copies in English than any other work besides the Bible.
Here’s a little background on the time of Bunyan’s birth from Desiring God, followed by a link you should check out.
On November 28, 1628, in a quiet cottage nestled within the English parish of Elstow, during one of the most tumultuous times in the country’s history, John Bunyan was born.
The place of Bunyan’s birth in Elstow was only a mile from the busy town of Bedford, where years later Bunyan would be imprisoned for over a decade for preaching the gospel. Like his father, Bunyan learned the simple trade of a tinker — a mender of pots and kettles — and came to be known as the “tinker turned preacher” when he began lay preaching in his late twenties. Bunyan’s skill and passion drew hundreds of listeners. Theologian John Owen, a contemporary of Bunyan, when asked by King Charles why he went to hear such an uneducated man preach, replied, “I would willingly exchange my learning for the tinker’s power of touching men’s hearts.”
But Bunyan’s legacy is not so much in his preaching, but his writing. During his imprisonment in the Bedford jail, Bunyan wrote several books, including most popularly, The Pilgrim’s Progress, which has sold more copies in the English language than any book besides the Bible. Today, the book still remains both an incomparable source of spiritual education and a classic in English literature.
On the occasion of Bunyan’s birthday, Desiring God has released a revised version of The Pilgrim’s Progress with a recently found preface by John Newton from 1776. Click here for links to digital and print versions of the book. This would make a great gift for anyone this Christmas.
To give you a running start on the topic, here’s an immensely helpful one-hour lecture by Sam Williams from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, titled, “A Christian Psychology of and Response to Homosexuality.” This is a thoughtful reflection and analysis of the personal and historical dynamics involved in same-sex attraction, its causes, the nature of change, and how the gospel intersects with these issues.
[RSS and email readers, click here to view this video]
For a summary paper of the social-science research by Mark Yarhouse, whom Sam cites several times, read Yarhouse’s paper, “At the Intersection of Religious and Sexual Identities: A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality.”
At Saturday’s seminar we will explore these issues across the morning and with particular focus in the third hour.
Timely, helpful, and free. That’s how we can describe a new book by John Piper, Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent. It’s available here as a free download. Print it out, staple it, and set aside 5 minutes a day to read and pray.
Here’s the reading from December 16, “God’s Most Successful Setback”:
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” —Philippians 2:9–11
Christmas was God’s most successful setback. He has always delighted to show his power through apparent defeat. He makes tactical retreats in order to win strategic victories.
Joseph was promised glory and power in his dream (Genesis 37:5–11). But to achieve that victory he had to become a slave in Egypt. And as if that were not enough, when his conditions improved because of his integrity, he was made worse than a slave — a prisoner.
But it was all planned. For there in prison he met Pharaoh’s butler, who eventually brought him to Pharaoh who put him over Egypt. What an unlikely route to glory!
But that is God’s way — even for his Son. He emptied himself and took the form of a slave. Worse than a slave — a prisoner — and was executed. But like Joseph, he kept his integrity. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2:9–10).
And this is God’s way for us too. We are promised glory — if we will suffer with him (Romans 8:17). The way up is down. The way forward is backward. The way to success is through divinely appointed setbacks. They will always
look and feel like failure.
But if Joseph and Jesus teach us anything this Christmas it is this: “God meant it for good!” (Genesis 50:20).
You fearful saints fresh courage take
The clouds you so much dread
Are big with mercy and will break
In blessings on your head.
Click here to download a fee copy of Good News of Great Joy.
This past Saturday about 100 of us came together for three hours in the morning to become better students of Scripture. Using Philippians as an example, Ryan, Ron, and Trent each spent an hour teaching on how to read and interpret the New Testament letters. In case you missed it, the audio for this Saturday Seminar, How to Study the Bible: Epistles, is now available, along with the seminar notes.
Here are links to each session, with a selection of the resources mentioned during the seminar. See the notes for more resources and an explanation how to use them.
Session 1: “Basics, Genre, Melodic Line, an Resources,” by Ryan Kelly
Hard Copy Resources for Purchase
Free Online Bibles and Study Resources
Session 2: “Asking Questions of a Text,” by Ron Giese
- How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart
- How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading, by Mortimer J. Adler
- Opening Paul’s Letters: A Reader’s Guide to Genre and Interpretation, by Gray Patrick
Session 3: “Tracing the Flow of Thought,” by Trent Hunter
- Screen presentation for Session 3
- Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, by Thomas R. Schreiner. Much of the material for this session was derived from this book, and specifically the chapter, “Tracing the Argument.” A Pdf copy of Schreiner’s chapter, “Tracing the Argument,” is available for free online at Schreiner’s SBTS faculty page here.
Previous Saturday Seminars
We titled this post, “Saturday Seminar Round-Up,” for a reason. Here’s a list of previous Saturday Seminars.
- The Reliability of the Bible, Ryan Kelly (2004)
- Modesty, Ryan Kelly (2005)
- Prayer, Ryan Kelly (2005)
- Biblical Theology, Ryan Kelly (2005)
- Biblical Leadership, Alexander Strauch (2006)
- Depression, Ryan Kelly (2006)
- Psychology, Self-Esteem, and Scripture, Ryan Kelly (2006)
- Worship: Together for the Glory of God, Ryan Kelly (2006)
- The Gospel for Christians, Ryan Kelly (2007)
- What Has Then to Do with Now?, Carl Trueman (2007)
- Song of Solomon, Dave Bruskas, Ron Giese, Ryan Kelly (2008)
As a reminder, you can always access these and other past messages on the Messages page by clicking, “Series.”
Church discipline is that loving process whereby God, through his people, addresses us in our sin for our restoration to him, to his people, and for his glory. Church discipline assumes a corporate aspect to our growth in godliness. It includes the most normal and easy of conversations with one another about how we may grow in faithfulness to God, but it may include any one of several steps outlined by Jesus in Matthew 18:15–18,
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Since we’re all sinners, we should all expect to find ourselves on both sides of this process throughout the course of our Christian lives. But we should all pray for ourselves and for one another that we never see the later stages of this process, and for God’s grace to repent if we do. It should be clear that the issue that moves any of us from one step to another is not the initial sin we’ve committed but the sin of refusing to repent and turn to God.
So important is this process for the purity and health of the church that we have included a paragraph expressing our commitment to this in the DSC Covenant of Fellowship.
I expect and trust that as I lax in my commitment to these principles this body at Desert Springs Church will hold me accountable with reproof, rebuke and exhortation to keep me faithful to the commitment that I am making; and furthermore, as I commit myself to this fellowship, I realize that I am entrusted with the same obligation of mutual exhortation and encouragement. If I ever continue in my sin without true repentance, and do not hear the pleas and rebukes of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I implore this body to seek my spiritual restoration in proceeding in the steps of restoration and purity given by Jesus in Matthew 18:15-20.
If you would like to further explore the subject of church discipline, here are a few resources to check out:
- “A Redemptive Judgment,” a sermon by Ryan Kelly
- “A Primer on Church Discipline,” a previous post at the DSC Blog
- Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus, a book by Jonathan Leeman (Available at the Book Nook)
- “Discipline,” a short video and article at 9Marks Ministries
- “What are the benefits of practicing church discipline?,” an article by Mark Dever
- “Why is “discipline” not a negative but a positive thing?,” an article by Mark Dever
- “Can church members simply resign their membership in order to avoid church discipline?,” an article by Jonathan Leeman
Last week we posted links to a number of helpful Bible reading plans. Here are a few books that can help you understand the Bible better as you read it. Each of these titles are available at the Resource Center or at Amazon:
- How to Read the Bible Book by Book: A Guided Tour, Gordon Fee, Douglas Stuart
- For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word, Volume 1 , D. A. Carson
- For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word, Volume 2 , D. A. Carson
- According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible, Graeme Goldsworthy
- God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible, Vaughn Roberts
- The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story, D. A. Carson
- The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made, Mark Dever
- The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept, Mark Dever
- Survey of the Old Testament, Paul Benware
- Survey of the New Testament, Paul Benware
In his book, Power Preaching for Church Growth, David Eby includes an appendix, “Prepare and Participate: Practical Suggestions on Your Role in Worship at North City Presbyterian Church.” This is a document used at the church where David serves to encourage the congregation with practical suggestions for making the most of Sunday morning for the glory of God. The document includes suggestions for individual and family preparation ahead of Sunday and participation during Sunday’s worship services.
Here’s an example of suggestions for physical preparations ahead of Sunday morning:
- Get a good night’s sleep on Saturday night so that you can be sharp and energetic for worship on Sunday morning.
- Prepare ahead for the Sunday morning pressures and the rush to get ready. Use Saturday afternoon and/or evening to get things organized.
- Plan to arrive at the church meeting place five minutes early, not five minutes late. This will require planning ahead.
- Plan a special Lord’s Day Eve meal, with time for Scripture reading, prayer and family worship.
Who can’t be helped by suggestions like these! My only suggestion for David’s suggestions, at least for families with small children, would be to aim for ten or fifteen minutes early instead of just five minutes. There are plenty of obstacles to slow us down in the morning, and even if we land here ten or fifteen minutes early, that’s ten or fifteen minutes to get acquainted with others, to rest your mind, and to pray ahead of the start of the service.
With permission, we’ve typed up this appendix of practical suggestions to make it available for you in pdf form. From time to time we will share small suggestions from this document with the hopes of encouraging greater preparation for and participation in our Sunday worship services.