The Daily Docket (8/20/14)

The Noahic Covenant– Here’s a good devotion from Ligonier on the Noahic covenant.

8 Traits of Effective Church Leaders– Thom Rainer shares this list which includes: Fierce biblical faithfulness. Without exception, these pastors held to the total truthfulness of God’s Word. Not only did they believe the veracity of Scripture, they passionately lived out their beliefs.

College Doesn’t Change Your Heart, It Reveals It Every summer the same thing happens to my inbox. I open it to find a steady stream of emails from concerned parents, youth pastors, and older siblings, asking me to check in on so and so when they get to campus in August. They all want the same thing: to see their beloved 18-year-old get involved with our ministry on campus and growing in their faith. The problem is that more times than not, this isn’t exactly what the beloved 18-year-olds want for themselves.

The Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in America– If you are looking for something or somewhere to pray for, these areas are a good place to start.  I was bothered to learn that a neighborhood in my hometown (Spartanburg, SC) made the list at #5.


Book Review: Why God Created the World


I have good friends, the kinds of friends that will recommend good books and occasionally mail me a book without solicitation. This month represents the first time that a friend mailed me a book and assigned me homework.  The enclosed note: “read this and write a review.” Well, I have completed the reading part and I am now writing the review, and I must admit, this is one assignment that I have enjoyed thoroughly.

Cover-Photo-_-Why-God-Created-The-World-200x300Good books are more rare than many people suspect, but the really good ones stand the test of time, usually because they either have something unique to offer or are written extremely well (or both).  Why God Created the World by Ben Stevens offers nothing unique or new. But, it is a very good book.  It is a good book because it offers something old and great in a uniquely approachable format that can benefit the church and believers today.  Why God Created The World is an adaptation of Jonathan Edwards’ Dissertation Concerning the Ends for Which God Created The World. Ben Stevens has taken Edwards’ work and made it approachable and useable for the church today.

Stevens comes to this task because he began to wrestle with the question, “Why did God create the world?” As a minister/missionary in Berlin, Germany, he soon realized that many of his atheist friends actually wrestled with the same question.  In light of his personal struggles and the missiological implications of this question, Stevens set out to discover why it was that God created the world.  In his quest, he stumbled upon Edwards’ grand work and took careful notes, rewriting Edwards work so that he could better understand and apply the message and meaning.

Jonathan Edwards helped Ben Stevens to realize that God did … Continue reading

The Daily Docket (8/19/14)

Dethroning Celebrity Pastors– Celebrity pastors are a reality in our world today.  Joe Thorn warns us to be concerned for the celebrity pastor, especially the one that can emerge from our own hearts.

The Spasmodic Hercules– Odd title, I know, but I was very thankful for this article from Tim Challies on getting things done. Over the long run, the unglamorous habit of frequency fosters both productivity and creativity

The Spirit is Willing, But The Schedule is Tight– Ministry can be lots of things, but convenient is usually not the best way to describe it. The fact that our interruptions are divine appointments ensures that they probably won’t fit neatly into our schedule.

Fleeing Youthful Lusts isn’t Enough– From Travis Agnew: The problem comes when all I do is focus on fleeing from something that I actually dwell upon it. It’s like my boys turning around on their bicycles to see where I am. It can get dangerous because you don’t see what is up ahead.

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What My Wife Taught Me About Forgiveness

medium_4979160955Recently, after my children had a disagreement and one apologized to the other, the response to the apology came as, “Don’t worry about it, its OK.”  Angela quickly responded, “No, its not OK.  We should forgive others, but forgiveness does not mean that its OK to do wrong things.” Yes, thats one reason why I love her so much, wisdom sometimes oozes out of her by accident.  This was one of those times.

As they discussed forgiveness, I immediately began to think about the scriptural applications, possible sermon illustrations, and this blog post.  The Bible promises us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).”  What the Bible does not say is that God excuses our sins.  God grants us forgiveness through the shed blood of Jesus, but the Bible never says that it is OK for us to sin, in fact, it says just the opposite, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means (Romans 8:1-2)!”

Just as God does not say our sins are OK, neither should we excuse the sins of others against us or others as, OK. We should forgive (Jesus said we should forgive a lot), but forgiveness does not mean that we simply dismiss the sin or slight towards us. Part of loving others is helping them to move away from sin and toward godliness. Reticence to call sin what it is does not serve others well in our goal to help them grow in godliness.  The most godly thing we can do as believers is to recognize sin at its worst, and to forgive anyway, as … Continue reading

The Daily Docket (8/14/14)

Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding– The teaching suggestions in this article for better understanding should have some preaching applications.

The Importance of Persuasive Preaching– One of the preacher’s jobs is to persuade people away from worldly ways of thinking toward a biblical worldview. We are called to convince people that what the Bible says is true, that the implications of its truthfulness ought to matter to them, and that when its truthfulness is embraced it affects how they live every moment of their life. Since growing in holiness is a lifelong process, we need to call even the most mature Christian away from opinions that are out of accord with Scripture.

Don’t Read Aspire– Matt Rogers has written a new book on discipleship and he encourages you not to read it.

How to Raise Up Leaders In the Church– A healthy church is going to train leaders.

Help for Those Fighting or Grieving Suicide– And one thing you need to remember is that the oppressive darkness and the temptation to despair is common to man. You are not alone. About ¼ of the Psalms are written to help you. And one man’s surrender to the darkness does not at all mean that’s where you’ll end up.

The Daily Docket (8/12/14)

Six Keys to Disciple-Making in the Local Church– Thom Rainer offers some helpful instruction on this essential activity within the church.

Ann Coulter and our Mission– Russ Moore posted this last week, but if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to read it.  Christians are more than culture warriors.  Ann Coulter is not our prophet.  We are followers of Jesus and we serve a higher calling.

An Open Letter to my Friends Struggling with Eating Disorders– I know you feel like you are. All of those voices, warring in your head, and you’re so tired of hearing them, you wish life could be over. Please don’t give up. You’re not going crazy. You’re just hungry — hungry for food, yes, but also hungry to know why you’re alive and what your purpose is. You long for spiritual worth and meaning. Those voices can be muted by one soft whisper — the whisper of a God who will fight for you if you let him. Call out to Jesus, and he will silence Satan’s control over your thoughts. Read Scripture, and remind yourself of the truth of who God says you are, as declared by Zephaniah 3:17 — you are delighted in, sung over, and quieted with his love.

9 Things You Should Know About Youth Ministry--Do not ask your youth pastor when he’s going to become a “real pastor” unless you want to test his sanctification. Youth ministry is real ministry, filled with teaching, counseling, leadership development, and most of the other challenges and blessings other areas of ministry enjoy

Knowing vs. Feeling in Worship– Tim Challies linked to this on Facebook yesterday.  Very funny and very true.   I just kicked the dog and I don’t even have a dog.  How do you feel?  I … Continue reading

The Daily Docket (8/7/14)

Homosexuality, Divorce, and the Biblical Family– We are losing the conversation on homosexuality and we are losing our opportunity to speak into the lives of those who struggle with this sin. We are losing it, in large part, because we have unbiblically identified homosexuality as the only sin affecting the health of marriage in our culture today.

8 Ways the Enemy Attacks Churches-- Most of my work is with evangelical churches, and I don’t often see blatant false teaching. What I see is much more subtle than that:
Small group leaders teaching unbiblical theology, with no internal system in place to recognize or address that problem; No oversight or accountability about curriculum taught in small groups

I am A Nazarene– According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular group with members in 38 states worldwide, 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians.

Dad, dad, dad, DAD, DAAADDDDDYY– If you can’t tell, that’s my 3 year old son trying to get my attention. Children are notorious for pursuing the attention of their parents, and my son is no different. But we as adults are not unlike children. We want and seek the attention of our Heavenly Father.

Keeping Your College Students

medium_2992013920Much is made about the prevalence of young adults leaving the church after they finish high school.  We have a right to be concerned, but more than concerned, we have a responsibility to fight the trend.  Certainly much of the fight needs to take place long before graduation.  Some research over the years has suggested that parental involvement and the development of significant relationships within the church play a large role in a young adult’s decision to stay with the church or to leave.  A recent article I read suggested that one of the reasons so many young adults leave may be simply that they were never converted.

Regardless of all of the reasons, we know that they leave.  Sadly, students do not have to go off to college to leave the church, young adults are difficult to keep in the church even when they do not leave and go off to college.  Of course, there are occasions when parents are difficult to keep in the church when their students graduate from high school and the youth group, but that is for a different day.  For today, however, I’d like to suggest a few steps that you can take to help your students who are going off to college to stay rooted in their faith and connected to a local church.

  • Communicate.  Make sure that your students know that there are challenges ahead of them and that you have concerns and hopes for their future.  Share with them the importance of involvement in a local church and collegiate ministries.  Emphasize that college ministries do not take the place of a local church.
  • Provide Accountability.  Set up intentional accountability relationships with each of your graduating seniors.  With whom are they going to … Continue reading