Paul's Priorities in Pastoral Ministry

What is the pastor's job description according to Paul?

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Confident Patience in the Plan of God

Growing weary in well-doing? Be encouraged! The power is in the seed, not the sower!

Can These Bones Live?

What is the essence of our work as preachers of the Gospel?

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Resource Tuesday – Bound for the Promised Land by Oren Martin

In chapter 1, on page 17, Martin writes, “The aim of the present study is to demonstrate that the land promised to Abraham advances the place of the kingdom that was lost in Eden and serves as a type throughout Israel’s history that anticipates the even greater land – prepared for all of God’s people throughout history – that will calm as a result of the person and work of Christ.” In short, he states, “The land and its blessings find their fulfillment in the new heaven and new earth won by Christ” (17). Methodologically, Martin employs biblical theology in a diachronic fashion to prove his thesis. The rest of the chapters (2-9) survey the relevant biblical text before concluding in chapter 10 with a brief theological reflection upon the implications of the study.

This book is a tremendous example of a diachronic, biblical-theological study of the Bible. Martin does a wonderful job surveying the biblical landscape while incorporating a broad range of opinions from contemporary scholarship. He argues his case clearly and convincingly without being overly polemical. He does not overstate his position, and shows great respect for those with whom he disagrees. Specifically, Martin makes a strong case for understanding the land promises of the Old Testament in light of their typological relationship to the Edenic land of Genesis 1-2 and their subsequent fulfillment in the New Testament. Any serious attempt to argue for the future, literal fulfillment of land promises to a national Israel must interact with Martin’s biblical-theological argument. If it does not, then it is not worth our attention. Martin’s argument is too comprehensive and coherent to be disregarded. I recommend it to all who would dare to have their presuppositions challenged and minds sharpened. This is an excellent book.

Resource Tuesday – Leisure and Spirituality – Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives

Heintzman’s book is unique. Admittedly, prior to reading this work, I was unaware of the entire field of leisure studies. Yet, having read the book, I am deeply intrigued and blessed to have been exposed to it in such a thorough work. In his introduction, the author sets the stage for the rest of the book. After briefly detailing the nature of work and leisure across generations, the author deftly addresses the possible problems and potential benefits of leisure. He states, “The challenge to contemporary Christians is to establish a biblical understanding of work and leisure and their relationship that is appropriate for 21st-century society.” This challenge is what Heintzman takes on in his work. The book is broken up into six parts. Part one addresses the study of leisure within the contemporary society. Part two details the history of the concept of leisure from its classical perspective and its activity perspective. Part three engages with the biblical text in an attempt to understand how the concepts of rest and the Sabbath relate to the modern Christian also addressing less prominent concepts that reflect the concept of leisure. Part four considers the matter of work both from a contemporary perspective and a biblical perspective. Part five offers an evaluation of the different concepts of leisure before proposing a holistic approach to leisure that balances the ideas of spiritual attitude and Christian activity. Part six concludes the major sections of the book with reflections upon the relationship between spirituality and the concept of leisure. The book concludes with a brief epilogue that highlights “the principles of Sabbath-keeping, rest, and a balanced rhythm of work and leisure.”

All in all, this is a quality book with helpful insights into an exceedingly practical aspect of life. While some might be tempted to squabble over aspects of part three in regards to the perpetuity of a Sabbath pattern from creation and its application for a Christian, the major point of the book does not depend upon one’s understanding of the validity of the Ten Commandments for the New Covenant Christian. Heintzman’s principles stand fast and are easy to receive. This work is not polemical, but it is scholarly. If there is something ironic about the book, it might be that it not exactly a leisure to read (at least in an activity sense), but is certainly informs the vita contemplativa of the interested Christian. Heintzman has written a fine book. I would encourage all with an interest in leisure studies to put in the work to read and digest this thorough contribution to the field.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Academic through the Baker Academic Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

Resource Tuesday – The Happy Christian by David Murray

Murray begins his book by demonstrating the intrinsic relationship between faith and life. He states, “A positive faith produces a positive life; a negative faith, a negative life…We are what we think and believe.” Murray goes on to state that his purpose in the book is his readers to come away with a “positive faith and life.” At the center of Murray’s proposition is the “cross of Christ,” which he states, “graphically demonstrates how God can transform the most unimaginable negative into an almost inconceivable positive.” But do not confuse this book with the positive-thinking, self-help works of some popular writers on the market! Murray’s work is deeply rooted in God’s Word. He describes “Christian Happiness” as “a God-centered, God-glorifying, and God-given sense of God’s love that is produced by a right relationship to God in Christ and that produces loving serve to God and others.” This is not your typical book on happiness, and that is its greatest strength. Murray has grounded happiness in the unchangeable truth of God’s Word and called us to dwell on it. In the ten chapters that follow the introduction, Murray addresses matters ranging from the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the beautiful embrace of diversity with a wide ranger of topics in between (see the Table of Contents for more). He ends the book by calculating the net gain of a positive faith through a change in perspective. Murray does not gloss over the difficult areas of life. He addresses sin, suffering, and trauma from a biblical perspective. He recognizes that easy answers are not answers at all. Murray’s work is to be commended and read widely! I look forward to purchasing copies for many and reading the book again for personal reflection.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

TRC Podcast Episode #4 – Gospel-Centered Racial Reconciliation

rrIn this episode of The Renewed Church podcast, we reflect on Gospel-Centered Racial Reconciliation in the Church of Jesus Christ. The gospel has profound implications for how Christians relate to one another, especially in the church of Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 2, the apostle Paul lays out a vision for racial reconciliation that is grounded in our common life as sinners in need of God’s grace and accomplished in the hostility-destroying death of Jesus Christ.

We would love to get your thoughts on this topic! Please feel free to share this with others and comment either VIA social media or on our website. Thank you for your continued support of TheRenewedChurch.com

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Theology Thursday – Embracing the Wounded God

This reflection upon the suffering of Christ comes from D.A. Carson’s book, How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil:

For Christians who see in the cross the most sublime expression both of God’s justice and his love, the cross is immensely reassuring. It was a sacrifice offered once for all time (Heb. 10:12); Christ, having died once, dies no more, and in that sense no longer participates in the sufferings of the cross. But that does not negate the fact that he knows what suffering is like. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Heb. 4:15). Above all, the fact that Jesus is no longer suffering crucifixion cannot mask the love that brought him to the cross on our behalf.

And that is enough. How many men and women have been won to Christ because by God’s grace they came to see that Jesus died on the cross for them? How many countless millions have first truly grasped what the love of God means because they have glimpsed the cross? “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice [literally propitiation] for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Our hymns have made the point again and again, as this well-known example from Isaac Watts (1674–1748):

Alas! and did my Saviour bleed?
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Was it for sins that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face,
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away:
’Tis all that I can do.

Frequently it is when we are crushed and devastated that the cross speaks most powerfully to us. The wounds of Christ then become Christ’s credentials. The world mocks, but we are assured of God’s love by Christ’s wounds. Edward Shillito understood this. Writing in the wake of the First World War, when an entire generation of young men was mown down by machine guns and artillery in the endless trench warfare that marked that conflict, Shillito composed the poem “Jesus of the Scars”:

If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow;
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.

The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy Scars, we claim Thy grace.

If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know to-day what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy Scars, we know the countersign.

The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.

In the darkest night of the soul, Christians have something to hang onto that Job never knew. We know Christ crucified. Christians have learned that when there seems to be no other evidence of God’s love, they cannot escape the cross. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).