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Two Announcements September 8, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links, Recommendations.
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Lar,

I am thankful to say that I have two announcements. Saturday probably isn’t the best day to make them, but I might make them again next week either way. First, we (Erin and I on behalf of Seek Him Ministries) have begin a Bible Memory Club. We have called it Standing on the Promises. (You can also find it in the right hand column entitled SH Bible Memory Club.)

Essentially, we will be memorizing one or two verses per week. You can sign up either by email or through an rss feed. The verse(s) of the week will come to you everyday. And that plan will be to read it out loud ten times and say it without looking ten times. It should take no more than 5 minutes per day, but will surely pay off!

I realize that there are other places to get this kind of thing, but I am sure ours will have a certain flavor about it. Of course, we will be focused on the promises of God. But I also look forward to memorizing longer passages of Scripture one verse at a time.

So spread the word brother, so that we might spread the Word! Seriously, I would encourage anyone reading this blog to join. I know it is a struggle for us to memorize the Word, so this could serve as a good way to hold you accountable to it. So don’t be shy, sign up!

Second, I set up a link to a blog I started about 4 months ago or so. It is called Joe’s Notes, and is comprised simply of my daily notes on the Scriptures. I have always taken notes almost every morning and a while back purchased a program that enables me to do so on the computer and easily send the content to a blog. So if anyone is interested in checking that out, there is also a link under “Personal Sites” off to the right.

Alright brother, Lord willing, I will catch you in a few days.
Storing up the Word with you,
Joe

New Sermon Series August 7, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links, Recommendations.
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I trust that many of our readers have already seen this, but for those who haven’t:

This looks like an exciting new series that John Piper will be starting this coming Sunday at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Of course you can listen to all of the messages for free at the DG website.

The Truth of the Cross July 12, 2007

Posted by Joe in Links, Recommendations.
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Lar,

We (and everyone else!) need(s) to check out R.C. Sproul’s new book, The Truth of the Cross. Should you order it or should I?

Thankful for the Lord’s mercy,
Joe

Some Valuable Advice June 20, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links, Recommendations.
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Joe,

Check out this link for some wise advice from Ed Welch via Justin Taylor.

Welch is so right; in this day and age, our God is far too small. Job 38-42 will help God’s people restore the sense of wonder and awe at God’s majesty that ought to be there every day.

Larry

Honoring the Moms May 13, 2007

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Joe,

Based on the comments we get on the blog, I think we could say that the majority of our readers are men. But there are certainly some women, and I know some moms, who check in with us. Whether you are a mom or are married to a mom or are thankful for your own mom today, this sermon from John Piper is a great reflection on the beauty of the call to be a mom.

May God use it to break us free from our culture’s erroneous view that to stay at home and ‘only’ be a mom is beneath the dignity of a woman.

Larry

The Centrality of the Cross May 4, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Recommendations.
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Joe,

I definitely agree with you that Piper seems like he has been much more gospel-centered. While I take delight in Piper’s central theological leaning of “Christian Hedonism”, I do think that the emphasis on the pursuit of joy in God has at times minimized the actual facts of the Gospel as the source of our hope of eternal life. But you’re right in saying that Piper seems more gospel-focused in recent days. As I have written here before, his series on marriage is outstanding, and the book promises to be a wedding gift for anyone who will invite me to their wedding!

I think that I noticed the shift in Piper’s gospel emphasis when he came back from his sabbatical last year. His first message was on the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax collector. It was a great message that focused on the imputed righteousness of Christ. If you haven’t listened to it, I highly recommend it. Listen, don’t read; the message is delivered with a passion that can’t be captured in print. You can listen to the message here.

Also I’d recommend CJ Mahaney’s recent message from the Sovereign Grace leadership conference. Really you can listen to anything by Mahaney get a great gospel focus, but I think this message is especially good. Mahaney calls pastors to make every message cross-centered, no matter what the text. He said that a congregation should be able to bring a visitor to church on any Sunday and know that, no matter what the sermon text is or where the preacher starts, they will be taken to the hill of Calvary.

That is a great challenge that I want to apply in my own preaching ministry. I am realizing the more and more that I am involved in ministry, that we need to hear the gospel over and over. Mahaney’s message can be downloaded for $2 here.

Seeking to be Cross-Centered with you,

Larry

Recommendations March 24, 2007

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Lar,

Quick thoughts for today. First, thanks for the Mahaney quote. The Lord is doing a mighty work in my heart with the gospel. I feel like I am just starting to ‘get it’ –as if for the first time. I have continually said that the Lord uses the same message to save and to sanctify His people. I understood the first, but the last is increasingly becoming more real to me. It is freeing indeed!

I mentioned yesterday that I would make recommendations today for Biblical Theology and Heaven.

Regarding the first, God’s Big Picture by Vaughn Roberts is the simplest read and a must for every Christian in my opinion. If you read it, you will walk away with a much better understanding of the Bible and a greater vision of Jesus. And who doesn’t want that?! I know I have recommended this book before, but hearing it again definitely won’t hurt!

The second book on Heaven is Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I think you will agree with me that this book should probably be on every Christian’s top ten list! You will not see the world the same.

For a more extended list, here is the link to SHM’s suggested reading.  Just look up the respective topics and you will end up with more than you can read in a year!  I would say more, but today is Saturday and a good day for a short post.

Peace brother,

Joe

Social Justice Practical Step #4 March 21, 2007

Posted by Joe in Random Musings, Recommendations.
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Lar,

Thanks for keeping things rolling the past few days. Sorry I missed out a bit, but duty calls. Anyhow, I wanted to offer a short practical step and then comment a little on the discussion related to ‘Voice.’

As a reminder I have been posting practical steps we can take to enlarge our hearts for the cause of social justice and actually stir ourselves to practical action. First, we can meditate more on the gospel. I have had a recent breakthrough in this the past few days and it has been a joy! For to the degree that we see and feel our neediness we will feel inclined and burdened to help the needy. Second, we need to pray consistently and fervently for these matters–like everyday. Third, we should give more to various causes, for where our treasure is, our heart is also.

Today, my advice is simple and short: If we want to grow in our burden for the cause of social justice, read this book: Ministries of Mercy by Tim Keller.

I confess up front that I have not yet read it, but I will be taking my own advice here. I am putting it on my list for this year and will order it soon. The reason I think this is a legitimate practical step to take here is because we need to understand the biblical priorities assigned to such ministry. In this respect, I think we are severely lacking today. What is our theology of social justice? Why does it matter?

Well, the Bible gives answers, to which Keller faithfully points. And until we understand the priority social justice is within the framework of redemption, we will not be stirred. We must first be taught. So let’s read this book and get it! Let’s grow in our understanding of social justice and be stirred to action. Of course, we don’t have to figure it all out first, but a greater understanding will surely help. Sound theological convictions should lead to sound self-sacrificing service.

Alright Lar, I was going to comment a bit on ‘Voice’, but I will wait until later for that. I enjoyed reading the comments on that front though and naturally have some thoughts of my own. Until later….

Seeking Him with you,

Joe

Sunday Recommendation March 11, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links, Recommendations.
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Joe,

I know you just posted a sermon from Piper yesterday, but I am going to add another to the list!  I think this sermon on Hebrews 13:12-16 is a timely one for two reasons relating to our discussion this past week.

First, the main point of the sermon is to move away from comfort, and toward need…the very thing we talked much about this week in regards to the gospel and social justice.

Second, I think it shows the main reason why I’m not really in favor of using power point during sermons, as we also discussed this past week.  There is an intensity and a passion in the way this man speaks that I believe would be compromised greatly by power point slides behind him.  Give it a listen and see if you agree or disagree with me.

So I encourage our readers to take 40 minutes if you have it and listen to this message.  I did yesterday and was stirred greatly by it.

Enjoy the rest of Sunday,

Larry

A Must Read Post February 25, 2007

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Lar,

I don’t say that a lot, but this post on Paul Tripp’s blog stirred my soul and increased my joy in our great God! Actually, after looking through this blog, I want to wholeheartedly recommend it and add it to our blogroll! It’s a good one to check out for sure.

Peace brother,

Joe

Don’t Waste Your Life Podcast February 24, 2007

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Lar,

I’m thinking you may have seen this, but it looks great--a ‘Don’t Waste Your Life Podcast.’  I have already viewed the first 5 episodes and have been blessed.  Each episode is only a few minutes long, but they do stir your heart!

Laboring to make my life count,

Joe

The Centrality of Jesus Christ February 15, 2007

Posted by Joe in Random Musings, Recommendations.
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Lar,

Good morning brother.  I wanted to begin the day by posting some thoughts in relation to your post from yesterday.  It was one of my favorites from you.  I appreciated the title to say the least.  I actually saw it in the drafts section a bit back and was wondering what in the world you were going to say!

First, it must be said that you are by no means crazy.  I mean, I can understand why it’s there, but at the same time, I think you are right that such a designation naturally brings a dichotomy of thought to readers.  I have often wondered about the printing of New Testaments alone.  I don’t condemn the practice by any stretch, however, it is worth nothing that the whole of the Old Testament (there’s those words again!) Scriptures serve to set the stage for the coming of Jesus Christ.  In the Old we find pictures of what is taught in the New.  Indeed, it could be said that the Old Testament is the New Testament in seed form.

I can remember back to the beginnings of my Christian walk in particular.  You surely remember the days when I had an incredibly difficult time reading the Old Testament (and would even joke about it).  Why was that the case?  Well, first on the list of course was that dreaded page!  Ok, some I’m kidding, but in all seriousness, I would have to say that first on the list was the fact that no one taught me a sound biblical theology.  At least a book on the subject would have proved incredibly helpful as it would have enable me to see the unity of the Bible.  In particular, I would have been able to ‘seek Him’ while reading the whole of the Scriptures.  The reality was that I read the OT (albeit somewhat sparingly) and had no idea that I was looking for the same Person as I was in the New!

I think you are right that for new believers this is especially important, however, the discipline of biblical theology is one that should and must be appreciated by all.  I just don’t know how you can read your Bible without it.  You will come to Leviticus and wonder what in the world is going on!  And you’ll quite (just as I did numerous times).  Anyhow, I could go on, but in that vein, I want to link to two recommendation posts we made before (One and Two) and essentially make the recommendations again.  If you haven’t read a book on Biblical Theology, get your hands on one.  It will make you love your Bible and, I trust, your Savior more.

Alright Lar.  Go off on that some more if you wish.  I would enjoy it.

Enjoying the unity of the Scriptures,

Joe

Something for the Couples February 10, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links, Recommendations.
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Joe,

Last night Michelle and I watched a sermon by John Piper called Staying Married is not about Staying in Love.  It was the first of a short series that Piper is doing on the sacred union of marriage.  If any of the couples have some free time this weekend, I would recommend listening or watching the sermon together.  Michelle and I plan to watch the second one tonight.  On second thought, the single people would benefit from the messages too, because all of us (married or single) are bombarded by false representations of marriage all the time by the media and by the godless world that we live in.

May God grant us to share in marriages that fulfill God’s design of displaying the glorious union between Christ and His Church.

Read, listen to or watch Part 1

Part 2 

Larry

Practical Advice for Prayer January 16, 2007

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The leaders in the ministry which I serve in at church are reading a book called Speaking the Truth in Love by David Powlison. I have enjoyed its practical wisdom in the area of counseling, and was especially blessed by the chapter I read for this week’s meeting. The title of the chapter is, ‘What will You Ask For?’, and talks about making sure we are praying the right things for those we counsel, and helping them to understand better what they ought to be praying for themselves.

I don’t know about other readers of the blog, but I am sometimes handicapped in my prayers because I just do not know where to start. The needs seem so many, and the time seems so short. I know we are to pray without ceasing, but I am talking about the times where we put everything aside and get on our knees before our Father. In those times, I am often overwhelmed into silence, not knowing where to start.

Powlison writes that the prayers of the Bible can be fit into one of three categories:

1. Circumstantial prayers. These are when we ask God to change our circumstances: healing the sick, business prospering, providing for daily needs, convert lost loved ones, etc. These are all good things that we can pray for, but if our prayers stop there, it tends to cast God as a divine errand-boy who exists to meet our list of desires.

2. Wisdom prayers, in which we pray for God to change us: deepen our faith, forgive our sins, give us greater knowledge of God, help in understanding and living the Scriptures. These also are great prayers, but if we pray only these we can become very self-absorbed in our spiritual lives.

3. Kingdom prayers, where we ask God to change everything by manifesting Himself more fully. Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, Come Lord Jesus…

Not one of these three areas is enough to sustain a fruitful prayer life by itself. For our prayer lives to be truly pleasing to God and beneficial for the Kingdom, all three forms of prayers must be woven tightly, as they are in the Lord’s prayer:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (kingdom prayers). 11Give us this day our daily bread, 12and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (circumstantial/wisdom). 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (wisdom).”

May we be people who pray as Jesus taught us to pray; incorporating circumstantial, wisdom, and Kingdom prayers in our times of communion with Him.

Larry

The Spirit of the Disciplines January 8, 2007

Posted by Joe in Random Musings, Recommendations.
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Lar,

Sorry I missed you yesterday. I need to write these posts at home, but I definitely like being able to press publish right away. I’ll learn. I appreciated your posts today, particularly the link to the 21 reasons to read! That is on my heart quite a bit as of late, particularly because of the beginning of the new year. I have made a big commitment to reading and want to try to stir up others to the same. Of course, now I see that it is quite easy, just link to a great post.

Actually, I have been reading a great book called “The Spirit of the Disciplines” by Dallas Willard. (Maybe you could link to it, I don’t have time–the clock is ticking!). I can’t tell you the impact brother. It has been huge, absolutely huge. His end point is really quite simple, but his unpacking of it has done a number for my heart. Erin and I are actually reading it at the same time, so that has been helpful. In fact, we are going to try to keep up the process. Read and discuss. It really does work wonders.

Anyhow, Willard says more or less that the reason we don’t manifest the worth of Christ is because we don’t live like He lived. Simple enough right? Well, maybe not, because what he is pointing to is that practice of specific disciplines and the transformation of all our ingrained habits so that when the time for performance is there–the time for obedience that is–we get the job done by God’s grace. He likens it to an athlete or a musician. I discipline myself as a basketball player why? For the games right! You definitely know that about me! Practice isn’t fun. I mean, it’s fun sometimes or more or less, but what matters is the game. The people get in the seats and get all excited. On and on I could go. That’s why I run the windsprints when I don’t feel like it! And the reality is I never feel like it!

Well, in our lives, the reason we don’t perform when ‘game time’ comes, is because we are unprepared. We can ask ourselves ‘What would Jesus do?’ all we want in the moment of the game, but unless we we prepare like a professional athlete does (or at least should), it won’t matter. Most of our ingrained habits must die to make way for new ones. And this is by no means an easy process! It is very hard. And the longer we go without the disciplines of Christ, the harder it will be.

That doesn’t cover but a few paragraphs of the book, but I am seeing things like never before. He has some heavy stuff in the book, but in the end, his point is quite simple. Needless to say, the next time we speak, I will be raving about this book and probably giving you (and others I will not mention who also read this blog) an ultimatum regarding the reading of it.

This leads me to a final thought: Erin and I were talking last night (which happens now and again that we are married and all!). She had a great idea regarding a book club of sorts. Maybe even a book club blog. One chapter a week? I think we could put something together. You know I would have plenty to say! But honestly, the point would really be to interact with the author and deal with his message, and enlist the help of others so that we can really understand it as we should. Just a thought. We can talk more on that later. But we really do need to read! I don’t care what our different lives or schedules might be, reading has to become one discipline we implement in our desire to be like Christ!

Let’s push each other brother, to the end that we might become more like Jesus and make His great name known! Catch you later, Lord willing.

Seeking Him with you,

Joe

Reasons to Get Reading January 8, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Links, Recommendations.
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Joe,

I know one of the best means of grace that God has given you and me in our pursuit of Christ is the reading of good books. Colin Adams has a new blog called “Unashamed Workman” in which he writes about issues regarding preaching and teaching. Check him out, I have been blessed by his reflections over the last couple of days.

Today he writes 21 reasons to read good Christian books. If only he gave a definition of “good”!

Larry

The Drama of Redemption December 30, 2006

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Lar,

That is the title of a teaching series by R.C. Sproul. He is currently going through it, so I want to take this short opportunity to highly recommend it. I’m not sure how long it is, but Ligonier Ministries really does a nice job of putting their short radio broadcast together. More or less you end up listening to Dr. Sproul for about 20 minutes at a time. It’s an investment that I have never regretted, so I would encourage you (and everyone else) to check this series out. I think it would fit into the category of wise use of one’s short time!

If you go to Ligonier.org and click on the “Renewing Your Mind Broadcast” tab you will see the beginning of the series. You can also find it in the bottom box of resources on the front page. Also, I need to make mention that I can’t recommend Ligonier Ministries enough. I have really grown to appreciate R.C. Sproul. He is a phenomenal teacher who not only knows what he is talking about, but who really feels it and communicates it with incredible clarity. He is a blessing to the Body of Christ. So check him out. Sign up for his podcast of listen to the series. Sit under his ministry for a bit. I think your soul will thank you!

Peace brother,

Joe

Preparing for 2007 December 28, 2006

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Lar,

This post coincides with my final “Weekly Word” over at seekhim.org. Essentially, I wrote about preparing for the New Year. In particular I emphasized setting certain and specific goals that we would like to see happen in 2007. I wanted to post two particular resources that I have helped me tremendously in my thinking. They are not ‘Christian’ in the way we would think, but I don’t think that matters much in this regard. I found them to be very helpful.

t_16175_01.gifThe first is a book by a man named David Allen called, Getting Things Done. Lar, you have heard me speak about this book time and again, so you know what a difference it has made in my life. Actually, it was close to my top ten! Organization and productivity are still not my specialties, but I’m growing in grace and praying for much more. This book will help tremendously. You can also learn more at his website. www.davidco.com

The second thing I would recommend in a short ‘webinar’ by a man named David Lakhani. Again, nothing Christian, but some really good practical stuff on goal setting. I would highly recommend this to everyone. The simple questions he has you ask regarding specific goals was a big one for me. I plan to use it personally for the rest of my days unless I find something better. The ‘webinar’ can be listened to and viewed here.

That’s it for now brother. I really would encourage everyone to look at their upcoming year and properly plan for how they are going to make the best use of it. “Look carefully then as you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15). No one changes and/or reaches their respective goals by accident! So no one makes the best use of God’s time by accident either. Let us labor to be faithful to the glory of His name!

Seeking to make the most of my time (and year) to the glory of our great God,

Joe

A Call to Prayer December 22, 2006

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Lar,

I often wonder what would really take place in the world if the Christian church really prayed as we are called, or should I say, commanded to.   Surely the fact that our society is going downhill serves as a clear indication of the church’s same plight.  With that being said, this article served to increase my burden to pray for our government leaders.

Actually, I suppose I need to revamp that last statement.  In fact, it has increased my desire to actually obey the clear commandments of Scripture.  Romans 13 is quite plain, I think you would agree.  We need to repent. I need to repent.  For when our government leaders are steadily moving toward redefining marriage to something that even their beloved science wouldn’t support, it should be clear that we have failed to shine as we ought.  And isn’t it true that we fail to shine bright because we have not drawn near to the Father of light, with whom there is no change or shifting shadows?  I think so.  So let’s keep seeking brother, for both our own hearts and the world.

Seeking Him with you,

Joe

Resolution December 12, 2006

Posted by larrylaz in Links, Recommendations.
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Joe,

My last post on the brevity of our time here on earth made me think of this great resolution which Jonathan Edwards wrote when he was nineteen years old:

“Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.”

For anyone who has some extra time to consider more deeply how to make the most of our relatively short time on earth, check out this sermon by Edwards called, The Preciousness of Time.

Larry