Closed Till the New Year

As we close what to me was a happy and fruitful year, and at the same time, a disappointing and painful year, I am mindful of how wise God is to bring to us what we need. Here are seven meditations on the wonders of life that God has ordained for His children, with seven verses for closing out the year with your family. God is such a good Father. Jesus is such a kind shepherd. The Holy Spirit is such a patient helper. As a result, they have given us such beneficial blessings:

Thanksgiving
Philippians 4:6: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

Prayer
Ephesians 6:18-20: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Gospel
Romans 1:16-17: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Repentance
2 Corinthians 7:10-11: For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: what diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Worship
Psalm 96:8-10: Give to the Lord the glory due His name; bring an offering, and come into His courts. Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns; the world also is firmly established, it shall not be moved; He shall judge the peoples righteously.”

Beauty
Psalm 27:4: One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.

Commission
Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

We look forward to seeing what the Lord will bring in all His kind providences in 2017.

Blogging will resume in January.

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Super Early Bird Pricing Ends Dec. 31st!

This is your last opportunity to register for the Repentance conference at a significantly discounted rate ($199 off the standard family rate). Please consider joining us as we consider the doctrine of repentance, the first of Luther’s 95 Theses nailed to the Wittenberg Door.

Our national conference in 2017 is taking place just a few days before the 500 year anniversary of Luther’s 95 Theses nailed to the Wittenberg Door October 31, 1517. This is why we are directing our attention to the doctrine and the fruit of the Protestant Reformation.

The heart of the Reformation was repentance. This is the source of all times of refreshing. At this conference, we will be hearkening back to some of the great doctrines of the Protestant Reformation but it will be even more focused on the reformations of church and family that are in motion today as God continues to reform His church.

We will be bringing preachers to Ridgecrest from all over the world to speak of the times of refreshing that they are experiencing in their areas. They will be explaining the great doctrines that lead to refreshing and the fruit of repentance they are observing.

The apostle Peter spoke of this in his sermon, when he declared, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” (Acts 3:19).

The first of Luther’s 95 Theses reads this way, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Mt. 4:17), He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

It is in this spirit that we will be conducting our national conference in 2017. 

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How to Help Your Children Become Better Sermon Listeners

It takes work and forethought and planning and prayer… but you don’t want your kids to constantly be zoning out… They’ll have hundreds of hours listening to sermons in the coming years… This is a good article by David Prince.


How to Help Your Children Become Better Sermon Listeners – David Prince

http://ift.tt/2hzytnb

I was recently asked, “How would you explain to children in grade school what a sermon is and what they should be doing during the sermon?” I thought it might be a good question to answer in an article since I have frequently had similar questions over the years.

What is a sermon?

A sermon is when a man of God delivers the message of God directly from the Word of God (the Bible) to the people of God in the church and to unbelievers who are also listening. A sermon is not merely an intellectual lecture, form of entertainment, or self-help pep-talk; instead, a sermon actually transforms people by the power of God and his gospel. The preacher’s goal is to influence the whole person—mind, will, and emotions—with the truth of the gospel.

What should children be doing during the sermon?

1. Respecting others

Like any other important setting where groups of people are attempting to listen and learn from someone speaking, the child should think about how his or her behavior affects others. This understanding should have both positive and negative aspects. Negatively, the child should avoid actions that distract others, but positively, the child should be engaged by listening which can help others listen more effectively as well.

2. Actively listening

While this may seem obvious, it is important to point out that good listening is a learned skill; it is an active pursuit and not a passive one. Jesus said, “Take care then how you hear” (Luke 8:18), and every parent ought to be training their child to obey that command. Jesus also warns about those who hear but do not understand (Mark 4:12).

You can say to your children on Saturday night or Sunday morning:

  • “I wonder what God will teach us in the sermon on Sunday?”
  • “Let’s pray that we will understand the sermon and pray for our pastor.”
  • “Let’s thank God that we have His Word to guide us.”

3. Keeping a tally of important stuff

If your children are really young you may want to write down important words like God, Father, Jesus, Christ, Holy Spirit, church, gospel, and so on, and have them circle or make a tally mark by each one every time the pastor mentions that word. If they are too young to recognize the words, then you could do symbols for each one. This will allow you to point out that these key categories show up in the pastor’s sermons no matter what part of the Bible he preaches from (if the preaching is good Christ-centered preaching). Also, if you know what text your pastor is going to be in that week, you could draw out keywords from that particular text.

4. Drawing pictures

Many children will naturally take the bulletin and draw pictures on it during the service. That can be a good thing if you encourage them to draw pictures related to the worship service and particularly for them to draw what they are hearing in the sermon. This is both fun and fascinating. Parents can learn a lot about how their children are processing the sermon by talking to them about the pictures afterward. Focus on your children understanding the main point of the sermon while not being critical of anything they draw regarding the sermon.

5. Recognizing the windows

I like to think about illustrations in sermons as windows. You see through them in order to see something else. Illustrations are not like paintings, which are an end in themselves. Children will naturally listen to the practical illustrations in the sermon. If we call them windows and train children to listen to the sermon illustrations thinking about what they are supposed to really see as they look through them, then we will help them become better sermon listeners for life.

6. Listening for one thing ….

I think it is important to train them to listen to sermons without a me-centered attitude. I think in every sermon we should think first and foremost about God, second about others, and then how we can serve God and others. Here are a couple of things you can train your children to be listening for and to tell you after the sermon.

  • What is one thing you heard about the gospel of Jesus Christ?
  • What is one thing you learned about God?
  • What is one thing you can do differently to serve God and others?

Your interaction with them about these things should be lighthearted and enjoyable. The only wrong response is to not be listening. These listening strategies are merely points of contact for parents to utilize and guide the discussions in whatever direction they see fit. Some weeks will end in uproarious laughter over a drawing or comment, and others may lead to very serious and important discussions over biblical truth. Both are needed. These thoughts are certainly not exhaustive and you may have other creative ways that come to mind, but the key is to not act like getting them in the building is the end of your parental responsibility.

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Should Children Sit Through Big Church?



John Piper begins his answer with this warning… 

“I hope there is a strong leader in your church because weak leaders will never be able to stand up against the onslaught of criticism that is going to come if you try to do what I am going to suggest.”

See the video here or read the article:
http://ift.tt/2buxAfS

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A Type of Heaven – The Sabbath

McChenye writes beautifully about the comforts and joys of celebrating the Sabbath,

“It is a type of heaven when a believer lays aside his pen or loom, brushes aside his worldly cares, leaving them behind him with his weekday clothes, and comes up to the house of God. It is like the morning of the resurrection, the day when we shall come out of great tribulation into the presence of God and the lamb, when the believer sits under the preached Word and hears the voice of the Shepherd leading and feeding his soul.

It reminds him of the day when the Lamb that is in the midst of the Throne shall feed him, and lead him to living fountains of water. When he joins in the psalm of praise, it reminds him of the day when his hands shall strike the harp of God, ‘where congregations ne’er break up and Sabbaths have no end.’ When he retires and meets with God in secret in his closet, or like Isaac in some favourite spot near his dwelling, it reminds him of the day when he shall be a pillar in the house of our God and go out no more. 

This is the reason we love the Lord’s Day. This is the reason we call the Sabbath a delight. A well spent Sabbath we feel a day of heaven upon earth. For this reason we wish our Sabbaths to be wholly given to God. We love to spend the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship except so much as is taken up in works of necessity and mercy. We love to rise early on that morning and to sit up late, that we may have a long day with God.”

Rev. A.A. Bonar, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, 539.

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50% Off Everything! In Your Hands Before Christmas – Guaranteed

Hello, we are writing to notify you of our “Christmas Super Sale.” We are offering 50% off all our resources site-wide! This deal ends on Saturday December 31st. To receive your order before Christmas, you must order by December 17th and choose Priority shipping.

Pick anything in our store and add it to your cart, use the code “Christmas2016” to receive your 50% discount.

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Most People Worship in Small Churches

Most of the churches on the NCFIC network of churches are small churches… I was struck by this reality nationwide through Karl Vaters, in his article, “3 Assumptions & 5 Realities About Why So Many Churches are Small.”  He notes,

 “Ninety percent of churches have fewer than 200 people. Eighty percent have under 100. Small churches are not in the minority. We are the overwhelmingly dominant way people have always chosen to worship Jesus. […] The nature of Church lends itself to smallness. […] Big- and megachurches are a gift to the body of Christ. But they have been, and always will be outliers in church life, not the norm. Bigness is the exception, not the rule.

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You are a Pastor With Trials and Tribulations in your Senior Years

Charles Simeon, found himself in time of trial, at 53 years old, after spending 33 years in a single church. His entire ministry was characterized by trials and tribulation. However, reflecting on his current difficulties in ministry at age 53, he wrote,

“I used to sail in the Pacific; I am now learning to navigate the Red Sea that is full of shoals and rocks.” 

This was written at age 53, after 33 years in a single church, now facing surging opposition.

John Piper comments, 

“May Simeon’s life and ministry help us to see persecution, opposition, slander, misunderstanding, disappointment, self-recrimination, weakness, and danger as the normal portion of faithful Christian living and ministry.  I want us to see a beleaguered triumph in the life of a man who was a sinner like us and who, year after year, in his trials, “grew downward” in humility and upward in his adoration of Christ and who did not yield to bitterness or to the temptation to leave his charge – for fifty-four years.”

From, “The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce” http://ift.tt/1Qv1XMa

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Interview with Jeff Durbin on the Local Church



Our friend from New Zealand, Kris Baines recently interviewed Jeff Durban from Apologia Church (Tempe Ariz.) on various matters of church life. Here are Jeff’s comments on family integrated church life. See also Redemption church in New Zealand, http://ift.tt/2gfUlVS. Kris lives with his wife Becky, and their 7 children “down under” in Christchurch, New Zealand. He is one of the pastor-elders in the church he planted in 2002 as a Calvary Chapel. Since then, the Holy Spirit has brought about some challenging, yet exciting reformation in the church. This has included the transition to age integration, a deeper commitment to biblically qualified leadership, and the preaching of a gospel that emphasizes the sovereignty of God. In 2014, the church opted out of affiliation with the CC movement and became Redemption Church. In addition to pastoral ministry, and part-time work as a paramedic and composer, Kris leads The Psalm 12:1 Project – a ministry dedicated to the restoration of biblical manhood. One of the greatest passions Kris has, is to see believers embrace the sufficiency of Scripture and discover the blessings of God through Spirit-empowered obedience.

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