Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Backyard Blessings

By Hannah S.

This week has been one of overwhelming gratitude. I have been humbled and amazed once again at the power of a body serving together. I was privileged to host a Back Yard Bible Club at our home this week. I have had a few people say “thank you” to me for this service, but let me assure you the blessing was mine. I wanted to share with you a few of the blessings of this week.

First, our family was blessed as we began to promote this event. We went from house to house and knocked on doors, introducing ourselves and telling them about the BYBC. In a society where people often don’t know their neighbors, this event gave us a great “excuse” to broaden our knowledge of our neighborhood. We had neighbors without children loaning us a shade tent and staking our sign at the end of the road. As the week progressed, others would ask me how the “Bible study” was going. These have all been great opportunities to identify with Christ and to begin many new relationships.

The second blessing was the joy of getting to know the children. I can’t describe how thrilling it was to see kids running down the street, eager to come. As the week went on, they continued to come earlier and earlier. I had three different moms express to me that they were amazed that their children were so excited about attending. Our attendance was remarkably consistent and moms were changing previous plans so that their children could attend. What a great reminder to me of how the love of Christ draws people to Him! We did not have a flashy program or over-the-top games, but we had students loving these kids and sharing the love of Christ with them.

Third, as I mentioned earlier, seeing BCLR work together to reach Little Rock for Christ was one of the greatest blessings. I can’t describe the joy of ministering together with the youth that came to my house. Somehow that distinction of youth and adult was lost as we were brothers and sisters in Christ working to share the gospel together. No longer was the distinction in age important as we joined arms with the same mission. The sweetness of seeing two young men sitting on my step sharing Christ with my neighbor brings tears to my eyes.

Thank you, church body, for functioning so well. For all of you who labored behind the scenes packing lunches, buying snacks, printing flyers, providing meals, housing students, etc., you have my utmost appreciation. Many of you did not get to see first hand the incredible impact of this week, but you were faithful to labor behind the scenes – thank you!

To Diane and the amazing office ladies, you have pulled off an incredible feat of administration. Thank you for using your gifts so well.

To the youth, thank you for investing in the lives of others. Thank you for boldly standing for Christ and for giving your all to serve Him. Thank you for having the faith to believe that the Word of God changes lives and then living out that faith. You are a joy to be around! May God reward your efforts.

To George and Jennifer, thank you for your vision and your labor to adequately train our youth.

But most of all thank you to the Lord! He is gracious to allow us to be some small part of His kingdom work. May we as a body continue to bring glory to Him as we serve Him together. To God be the glory!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Review: Because He Loves Me

By Hannah S.

“In your pursuit of godliness, have you left Jesus behind?”

Because He loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick is a book that fits perfectly with our study of Galatians. This book encourages us to focus on the love of Christ displayed at the cross, not just for our salvation, but for living our everyday life as well. So often, as well-taught believers we can slip into thinking that the cross had an impact for our salvation and then the rest of the Christian walk is up to us and our own discipline. Somehow grace becomes something that we need when we sin rather than something that we need to face everyday life. This book is full of Scripture and probing questions to evaluate your personal walk with the Lord.

Fitzpatrick asks:

Where did the ongoing incarnation of Jesus Christ intersect with your life yesterday? We all know that the crucifixion is important for our initial salvation, but what did it mean this morning? Does Calvary inform and warm your heart when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or hearing bad news from your doctor? Does his sinless life comfort you when you realize that you’ve just sinned in the same way, again? In other words, is He significantly relevant to you in your daily walk with him?

We are aware of our need to change behavior in our lives, but where are we looking to find the power to bring about that change? Outwardly, the answer may seem the same, but are you motivated by the love of God or are you driven by self-effort? Are you reading Scripture looking for something you must do to make yourself holy, or are you reading Scripture seeing the love that has been poured upon us by a holy and righteous God - a love that brings about change in our lives? When we meditate on the cross we are driven not by duty or a desire to be approved by others, but we are driven to holiness by the love that God has shown us. We understand our debt and our inability to change ourselves, and we look to the One who loves us with a love we could never earn.

According to Fitzpatrick:

If you neglect to focus on God’s love for you in Christ, your Christianity will soon be reduced to a program of self-improvement - just one of many methods to help you “get your act together.” And although that might seem like a worthy goal, it isn’t true Christianity at all. True Christianity is not a program of self-improvement; it’s an acknowledgement that something more than self-improvement is needed. What’s needed is death and resurrection: gospel words, gospel constructs, gospel motives, gospel power – a loving Redeemer.

Not only is this book a heart-felt and in-depth reminder of God’s love for you, but it also walks you through how the cross applies to very practical situations. Elyse allows us to peer into the lives of others as she gives counsel and help that is centered on the cross of Christ. She is not advocating the idea that there is no need for discipline in the Christian life, but she is saying that discipline without the cross of Christ is worthless.

Because He Loves Me has been a great joy to me. As I have been reminded of the truth of God’s love for me, I have had to ask myself the question, “In my pursuit of godliness, have I left Jesus behind?” I am sad to say that at times this is true of me. I am often more focused on what I am doing instead of what He is doing. When God’s love fades into the background, I can find the spiritual disciplines dry and dutiful. I am thankful for a book that reminds me that the gospel is good news and it is good news for every day!! I pray that as this truth has deeply touched me (again), I will interpret even the everyday aspects of life through the grid of “because He loves me.”

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ten Questions to Ask to Benefit from a Conference or Special Event

The following is from Donald Whitney's Ten Questions bulletin insert series. I thought it would be helpful for us after the wonderful evangelism conference we enjoyed this past weekend.

I’ve had the privilege of attending countless conferences and other special events. Some were primarily inspirational, others were mainly instructive, and many were for the purpose of conducting business, hearing reports, and connecting with people. They usually last from half-a-day to several days in length. Afterward, however—regardless of how much I enjoyed myself or how profitable the experience seemed at the time—I often reflect upon the resources I’ve devoted to attendance and wonder if I have benefited from the conference/event as much as I could have. Having invested hours or days of my life in this way, I want to know that it’s been time well spent. To better ensure good stewardship of the opportunity, I have developed these ten questions.

  1. What’s the single most important truth I have learned at this conference/event?

  2. What’s the most important thing in my life that will be different or I will attempt to change as a result of attending this conference/event?

  3. What’s the next step I should take to incorporate this change into my life?

  4. What’s the single most important resource I should acquire at or after this conference/event?

  5. When will I begin to read/listen to/utilize this resource?

  6. Who is one person at this conference/event with whom I should discuss this conference/event?

  7. Who is one person after this conference/event with whom I should discuss something from this conference/event?

  8. Who is the one person at this conference/event I most need to encourage?

  9. Who is someone who has helped to organize or serve at this conference/event who deserves a word of gratitude and would be encouraged to know of the impact of this conference/event in my life?

  10. What’s one thing I should pray about for myself and for others as a result of this conference/event?

Copyright © 2009 Donald S. Whitney. All rights reserved.
For more short, reproducible pieces like this, see

Monday, July 11, 2011

Evangelism Quotes

By Jennifer R.

In preparation for our conference this weekend, I thought it would be helpful to review a few short, thought-provoking quotes on evangelism.

Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread. ~ D. T. Niles

Evangelism is the redistribution of spiritual wealth. ~ John Blanchard

In making a person a Christian, God takes a burden off the heart and places another on the shoulders. ~ Anonymous

Christian mission is the only reason for our being on earth. ~ Andrew Murray

The gospel is not a secret to be hoarded but a story to be heralded. ~ Vance Havner

Holy Writ is to be kept not under a bushel, but under men's noses. Its message is to be held forth as diligently as it is held fast. ~ J. I. Packer

If a church does not evangelize it will fossilize. ~ A. W. Pink

The greatest charity in the world is the communication of divine truth to the ignorant. ~ Alexander Maclaren

No candle which God lights was ever meant to burn alone. ~ J. C. Ryle

The highest form of selfishness is that of the man who is content to go to heaven alone. ~ J. C. Ryle

Evangelism is always dangerous, though it is not so dangerous as the lack of evangelism. ~ George Sweazey

We cannot bring the whole world to Christ, but we must bring Christ to the whole world. ~ John Blanchard

Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor. ~ C. H. Spurgeon

Evangelism's highest and ultimate end is not the welfare of men, not even their eternal bliss, but the glorification of God. ~ R. B. Kuiper

If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for. ~ C.H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Undying Zeal for the Souls of Men

“I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
1 Corinthians 9:22

Paul’s great object was not merely to instruct and to improve, but to save. Anything short of this would have disappointed him; he would have men renewed in heart, forgiven, sanctified, in fact, saved. Have our Christian labours been aimed at anything below this great point? Then let us amend our ways, for of what avail will it be at the last great day to have taught and moralized men if they appear before God unsaved? Blood-red will our skirts be if through life we have sought inferior objects, and forgotten that men needed to be saved. Paul knew the ruin of man’s natural state, and did not try to educate him, but to save him; he saw men sinking to hell, and did not talk of refining them, but of saving from the wrath to come. To compass their salvation, he gave himself up with untiring zeal to telling abroad the gospel, to warning and beseeching men to be reconciled to God. His prayers were importunate and his labours incessant. To save souls was his consuming passion, his ambition, his calling. He became a servant to all men, toiling for his race, feeling a woe within him if he preached not the gospel. He laid aside his preferences to prevent prejudice; he submitted his will in things indifferent, and if men would but receive the gospel, he raised no questions about forms or ceremonies: the gospel was the one all-important business with him. If he might save some he would be content. This was the crown for which he strove, the sole and sufficient reward of all his labours and self-denials. Dear reader, have you and I lived to win souls at this noble rate? Are we possessed with the same all-absorbing desire? If not, why not? Jesus died for sinners, cannot we live for them? Where is our tenderness? Where our love to Christ, if we seek not his honour in the salvation of men? O that the Lord would saturate us through and through with an undying zeal for the souls of men.

~ C.H. Spurgeon, from Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (Evening, December 7)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Esther Rap

On the last night of the summer Bible study on Esther, Karen C. presented a rap that she wrote about the book. The lyrics are below the video. (If you are viewing this in an email or RSS viewer, you may have to click through to the actual post to see the video.)

King Ahasuerus has a banquet as we begin.
He told his gorgeous wife, "I want you to come in."

Disobedient Vashti said, "I don't think so."
To which the king and his counsel said, "Then you gotta go."

"It's time for a new queen, that's how I'll start today.
I choose Esther, who's form and figure make me say, 'Hey!'"

The king loved Esther, more than all the other women.
Her obedience was stellar, and favor she was given.

Mordecai raised her right. She had dignity and honor.
He spoiled an evil plot. It was written by the court reporter.

Enter evil Haman, full of pride, anger, and self-pity.
Who was to pay him homage? Just everyone in the city!

Mordecai stood erect. He would never bow low.
So Haman wrote an edict and built a tall gallows.

Mordecai put on sackcloth and wailed bitterly.
A copy of the edict was given to the queen.

"Gather all the Jews in Susa and fast three days for me.
Then I will go and see if I have favor with the king."

The king held out his scepter, asking, "What is troubling you?"
And after a couple of banquets revealed she was a Jew.

"This wicked Haman has devised a plot!"
The king saw to it that on the gallows he would rot.

Another edict was written, this one by Mordecai,
Telling the Jews to defend themselves, and they had a joyful cry!

From Pur to Purim, God took care of the Jews.
He is working in the shadows, and He'll do the same for you!