Today in Blogworld 10.21.16

Serious Laughter

I love the work Adam Ford does, and also enjoyed this interview.

An Illustration of Repentance

This is so good. Very helpful. I could see myself using this quite a few times when preaching the gospel.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Church Announcements

I think these are important. Of course, I also think church is a gathering of believers and less of a production. But we need to be mindful of these things.

College Ministry Needs Biblical Theology

Yes! I’ve been saying this across the board…the same applies to VBS material.

Piper has a few more books in his brain…I’d buy a couple of these:

How Christian Growth is a Bit Like a Couple Drunks at a Bar

A study just came out which indicated that drunk people cannot tell how drunk they are when around other drunk people. Forgetting for a moment that this should be incredibly obvious, and didn’t need a study, it made me think about a preaching point I’ve used for years when going through 1 John. You cannot tell much about your spiritual growth by comparing yourself to others—especially fellow believers.

What tends to happen, at least here in the Bible Belt, is that the longer you are saved the less and less you are around other believers. When you first become a believer, if at an older age, the change in your life is quite evident. But the more you get around other believers the less you see the spiritual growth. The reason is similar to the drunk person not able to tell how drunk he is because he is around other drunks. You start comparing yourselves to people who are now very similar to you—fellow believers. And you don’t look all that much different. Some conclude from this that their spiritual growth has stagnated.

One could make the conclusion here that what you ought to do is compare yourself to lost people or even your past self so that you can see how much you have or have not grown. While there might be some benefit to that—I think a better suggestion is to say that we’re all a bunch of drunks and Jesus is the only sober one among us. Compare yourself to him and you’ll see how far away from sober you actually are. This keeps you from the man-pleasing tendency to clean the outside of the cup and the deadly poison of comparing yourself to others.

But I also want to encourage struggling believers who might be discouraged by their slow growth. I don’t notice how big my children are getting because I see them every day. But when someone shows me a picture from three years ago I am stunned at how much they’ve grown. Likewise, when visit my parents they notice because they haven’t seen them for a few months. Christian growth is similar. It’s often little day to day growth and we don’t notice it as much because of our new environment. But if we are in Christ the Bible tells us that we are growing more like Him daily.

If you want to see that perhaps consider where you were a few years ago. Or go back to an old environment or situation and remember where you were apart from Christ, or even as a new believer. I imagine you will notice how much you really have changed. I appreciate what Matt Smethurst tweeted the other day. “I don’t remember 99% of the meals that I’ve eaten, but they’ve kept me alive. God uses faithful, forgettable sermons to beautify his bride.” I’m convinced that Christian growth is very similar. Most of our growth is going to be boring and forgettable. But Christ is faithful to His bride.

We are growing, but we just might be like the drunk guy who can’t tell how hammered he is because he’s comparing himself to other sloppy drunks.

Photo source: here

Today in Blogworld 10.20.16

4 Reasons Spurgeon Died Poor

I absolutely love what Christian George is doing with highlighting these neat artifacts of Spurgeon’s life and ministry.

As a Pastor, Did You Use Church Growth Strategies

I love John Piper’s answer to this question.

We Need to Win the Aesthetic, Not the Argument

I wonder if this could be strengthened by saying not just the argument.

A Checklist for More Persuasive Presentations

I need to bookmark this one.

Every time I go to Springfield a Chick-fil-A trip is at least a possibility:

Should We Sing to One Another in Worship

“We should stop singing to one another and singing to God.”

Oddly enough, I’ve heard a critique leveled against both hymns and contemporary music. And it’s true that both styles of music will on occasion sing songs more to one another than to (or about) Almighty God. The idea—from whichever side of the fence you are on—is that the music part of our worship time is designed for an individual to focus on God alone. The conclusion,then, is that any music which is horizontal and not vertical is inappropriate.

I get the logic of this but there is one massive thing which causes me to disagree. That massive thing is the Bible. I’ll ignore for a moment the nature of the Psalms—the singing to one another component to them—and just focus on one particular verse in the New Testament:

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, (Ephesians 5:18-19 ESV, emphasis mine)

Did you notice that? There is a dual component to the way we engage in corporate singing. Yes, absolutely, we should be making melody to the Lord with our hearts. But there is a very biblical component to worship that is focused on addressing one another. Perhaps as we sing theologically rich songs, like some of those precious hymns, we are proclaiming and teaching the excellency of God from one generation to another. Or maybe as we sing some of the emotionally encouraging modern songs we are encouraging one another to hold fast to Christ.

We must not forsake either dimension of worship. To only sing vertically is to forget that we were saved into a people. It isn’t just me and Jesus. My relationship with God is intimately connected to the vital companionship I share with my brothers and sisters. So we need to sing songs together. And to one another.

Likewise if I only sing horizontally I will be missing the personal aspect of my relationship with God. And eventually we won’t have much to sing. Our worship ought to be corporately Godward. There shouldn’t be a deep split between the vertical and horizontal. As we sing about the Lord and to the Lord we are doing this together and encouraging one another.

But let’s stop feeling guilty and pretending like we are displeasing God by singing to one another as well as making melody to the Lord. Both are vital. Both please the Lord.

Now certainly there is a man-pleasing type of worship where our focus in music selection and the songs we sing is whether we like the songs or not. If that is what we mean by “singing to one another” then by all means throw it in the trash. But let’s not forsake this very biblical practice of encouraging and admonishing one another in song simply because we have a terrible propensity to make worship about us.

Photo source: here