valley

I love this song. The choir encouraged us with this song during last Sunday’s service and my heart was being stirred by the Spirit. Rod and Tavi led this song at Junior High Bible Study last night and my heart was bursting.

I’ve been reflecting on these lyrics all week long.  This song communicates what our church is all about.  We are here to fill Southern California with the glory of King Jesus by spreading God’s Word and making Spirit-filled disciples.  I think this should be the theme song of Bethel Grace. I love this song!

Reflect carefully on these lyrics:

Your glorious cause, O God, engages our hearts
May Jesus Christ be known wherever we are
We ask not for ourselves but for Your renown
The cross has saved us so we pray,
Your kingdom come

Let Your kingdom come
Let Your will be done
So that everyone might know Your Name
Let Your song be heard everywhere on earth
Till Your sovereign work on earth is done
Let Your kingdom come

Give us Your strength, O God, and courage to speak
Perform Your wondrous deeds
Through those who are weak
Lord use us as You want, whatever the test
By grace we’ll preach Your gospel
Till our dying breath

Awesome.  Wonderful lyrics.  Is your heart engaged?  That song was inspired by this prayer in the Puritan book on prayer, The Valley of Vision.  Let’s pray this prayer lots:

Sovereign God,
Thy cause, not my own, engages my heart,
and I appeal to thee with greatest freedom
to set up thy kingdom in every place where Satan reigns;
Glorify thyself and I shall rejoice,
for to bring honor to thy name is my sole desire.
I adore thee that thou art God,
and long that other should know it, feel it,
and rejoice in it.

Follow this link to download a free mp3 of the song.  On that page, the Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace music explains how the Puritans’ passion to advance the gospel inspired the song.  Get the song while you can.  Get it into iTunes and listen to it lots.  Pray it lots. 

I can’t wait for this Sunday in Mark. We will hear Jesus’ first sermon: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.”

~Jeff

These 2 articles by Steve McCoy are very helpful and encouraging. His ideas are great, but the most important thing to glean from both articles is his purposeful mindset. Your context may be a little different to his, but there will be several things you can do too! May we each be this purposeful about loving others in practical ways and reaching them with the good news they need!

Steve’s articles:   

Summerbia

Summerbia: Connection Tools

~Donovan

HT: Justin Taylor

It’s been a busy week, and I haven’t had a chance to post anything. I have come across several good posts on-line though, and since I don’t know which to link to, here’s a smorgasboard of good stuff from around the web (as usual, I found most of this stuff thanks to Tim Challies and Justin Taylor!):

  • John Piper wrote a thought-provoking post entitled, “Why I Don’t Have a Television and Rarely Go to Movies” . This post also includes a wonderful example of humbly confessing sin. 
  • Keith and Kristen Getty have released a new album of modern, celtic-style hymns. Their lyrics are saturated with Scripture and their music is beautiful! You can listen to samples and/or order the CD here.
  • Sovereign Grace Music has released another children’s album entitled, To Be Like Jesus. Read about it here.
  • Tim Challies asked John Bell, pastor of New City Baptist Church in Toronto, to share about his experience sharing the gospel with the gay community in his city. It is well worth reading – to help us think biblically about homosexuality, and to help us in God-honoring evangelism and church life. There is also some very interesting discussion in the comments, especially involving a number of men who struggle with homosexuality but turn from it because of their commitment to Christ. Read this post here
  • If you’re compiling a summer reading list, you might find these 2 posts from David Powlison to be of interest. Powlison is a bilical counselor, professor, and author, and he spent some time this week discussing some of his favorite literature with CJ Mahaney. You can read part 1 here, and part 2 here.  
  • What does Kurt Warner, a Christian who plays quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, like most about being a professional football player? His very encouraging answer is here.   

Blessings…

~Donovan

World Magazine:

A few minutes later, another man walked over to Hoye’s bunk and jabbed his finger at a newspaper he was holding. “This you?” he said, eyeing Hoye skeptically.

Hoye peered at the Oakland Tribune headline: “Anti-abortion pastor chooses jail.”

“Yeah, that’s me,” he said.

In the next moment, the inmate was striding up and down the length of the cell, announcing, “Hey, he don’t have to be here! He turned down probation! He doing straight time for what he believed in!”

Read the full story here – it is well worth your time.

~Donovan

HT: Tim Challies

Read Jack

April 13, 2009

Read Jack. That’s the advice given by Desiring God ministries, and we’re following it in our men’s and women’s groups… The book we’re currently reading in these groups is called A Faith Worth Sharing, by C. John “Jack” Miller. David Mathis of  Desiring God Ministries describes this book as “the best resource I’ve found on gospel-telling.” You can read what else he has to say about it here.

If you are not currently in a men’s or women’s group, I encourage you to join for our next round! Details will be announced soon…

~Donovan

My buddy David Quinn, who works for Children’s Hunger Fund, told me about this video when he and I got together earlier this week. It’s very biblical, balanced, and helpful. Check it out:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

~ Donovan

150 years ago Charles Darwin published, On the Origin of Species,  a book we’ve probably all heard of, and a book that has shaped history in incredible ways… 

Marvin Olasky, editor in chief of World Magazine, notes, “Christians who respond with ridicule of Darwin get nowhere—but understanding a few terms of the debate can help to start a dialogue.”  His article on this is well worth the read. Read it here.

~Donovan

HT: Justin Taylor

Penn Jillette is an American comedian, illusionist, juggler and writer. He’s best known as the taller, louder half of the magic and comedy act Penn & Teller. Jillette is an outspoken atheist (actually, he considers himself “beyond atheism” – read an essay he wrote on his beliefs here). This is what he has to say about evangelism:

 

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Last week I posted about God-honoring hip-hop, including an interview and song by a young hip-hop artist named Trip Lee. Trip is an active member of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This church appears to be a great example of what a Christ-exalting church looks like within inner city, hip-hop culture. Watch this video for their core values:

 

         

I think its very easy for us to make judgments based upon the surface level, and I have no doubt that some Christians would be hesitant about a church like this. In externals it may not seem “traditional” or “conservative”, but in it’s theology, values, mission and essence, this is a biblical church. In fact, this church is far more biblical and God-honoring than many, many churches that we might call “traditional” or “conservative” based upon surface level features… More on that in another post.

 

~Donovan 

 

On a side note: One of Epiphany’s pastors is William “Duce” Branch. He is better known as “The Ambassador”, a solo hip-hop artist and one of four members of the group, “The Cross Movement”.  

                 

I really didn’t intend on posting one controversial post after another… : )

I know many Christians are very leary of hip-hop culture and hip-hop music, and I understand many of the reasons why. Much rap and hip-hop is packed full of sin-exalting content, and the culture seems to be dominated by the same idols exalted in the music. The truth however, is that every culture has aspects that must be rejected, some that can be tweaked and “redeemed”, others that are neutral, and still others that are good. As with any other culture, Christ can be exalted in hip-hop culture.

There is an important principle I learned about in my missions classes at college – one of taking biblical truth into a culture, and allowing it to transform that culture and be expressed within it, rather than imposing one culture upon another. We all apply this on some level – it’s why we’re okay with men wearing something other than robes and sandals (like Jesus wore), and why we don’t recline around a table every time we enjoy the Lord’s Supper together (as Jesus and His disciples did). We understand that these externals are not inseperably tied up with the core of the gospel. 

What does a Christ-saturated believer in hip-hop culture look like? And what does he rap about? I encourage you to watch this interview with Trip Lee, a young Christian hip-hop artist: 

 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Pastor Tim Interviews Trip Lee on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

 

The song below is an exposition of Philippians. It is as packed with biblical truth as any song I’ve ever heard, in any genre:

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