Two books I would recommend for digging deeper into the stories from Luke 3:21-4:13:
- Tempted and Tried by Russell Moore
- The Pleasures of God by John Piper
For digging further in the Scriptures, I would recommend the following passages:
- Psalm 2, 91, 106
- 1 Corinthians 10:6-9
- Hebrews 2:10-18, 3:12, 4:14-16; 5:5-10
This is the text of an affirmation of marriage that I have signed along with other evangelical pastors in our county.
We are pastors of churches in New Castle County, Delaware. Because of conviction of truth and out of compassion for our neighbor, we are compelled by conscience to speak as one voice about marriage. We believe that the Bible reveals the character and purposes of God in a way that is binding on the conscience of the Church. We are charged by God to declare the whole counsel of God as found in Holy Scripture to the congregations we love and serve.
We hope that many who are in communion with other church bodies, other religious bodies, and with no religious ties, who share our conclusions, may be strengthened to stand firm in the face of unrelenting public pressure to think differently.
First, we recognize the institution of marriage as a union of one man and one woman that God has created and instituted. We also believe our Lord Jesus Christ taught the Church to hold this belief when He said in the Gospel of Mark: “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
We acknowledge the many ways that sin has distorted God’s original design. However, distortion does not require us to disregard His good design. His design gives human morality a firm place to stand, and without such a firm place, questions of human sexuality are determined solely by personal preference. We believe it is morally dangerous for a people to build and define an institution as central as marriage on the shifting sand of human sentiment alone. As Christians, we repent of our silence on past issues, which have likewise resulted in public harm and confusion.
Those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ have a further reason to hold fast God’s design for marriage. God has given married love between a man and a woman as a visible representation of the love between Christ and His Church, which is expressed by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians. Core to our faith is this picture of the covenant of marriage.
We believe that God’s definition of marriage and His prohibition against its alteration stem from love. He has given us marriage and has likewise established the boundary markers around marriage for its preservation and for our good. It is on this basis that we are conscience-bound to speak against any attempt to alter that which God has defined.
In the same spirit we reject the accusation that our defense of marriage is a language of hate. Hate has not been and is not our motivation to speak. We acknowledge the LGBT community’s need for acceptance as human beings made in the image of God. We desire their protection from discrimination, and we call on all who honor the name of Jesus Christ to refrain from hateful language and behavior toward those in the LGBT community. Such language and behavior has no place among us who are called to bless and not to curse.
However, our call as Christians to bless and not curse cannot and should not silence the voice of the church when God’s truth is set against the will of some. Marriage is of profound public consequence, and our conviction is that it would be wrong to remain silent on an issue of such importance. God’s loving provision of marriage is for the public good and benefit, not simply for the Church alone, and we seek to protect the current definition of marriage in the state of Delaware as an act of love for our neighbor.
Accordingly we call on all who honor the name of Jesus Christ to join with us in this affirmation of marriage between one man and one woman for life.
This past weekend made me want to pray more and pray more together. I hope you found the same to be true.
You can access all the audio recordings through our podcast, or on this page.
Several resources were mentioned that could prove helpful guides along the path of prayer. The books marked with an asterisk are available at our Book Table, located at the back of the OEX Great Room on Sundays.
The last couple of days have been an opportunity for me to think through a few things that seem to be converging at Ogletown Baptist Church. Over the last few years, I have felt that our church would be strengthened by a weekend emphasis on prayer. Prayer is so vital to us recognizing our dependence on God. Furthermore, I think prayer indicates the health of our relationship with God in a way that nothing else does.
So, in late 2012 we scheduled this emphasis for the first weekend of March. The weekend that seemed to work the best with our speaker, Matthew Hoskinson, was this weekend. I can see God’s providence in the timing. Sometimes, my mind begins spinning when I think of so many good things that are going on, as well as so many things that seem to be developing.
As this weekend approaches, we are in a very busy season of our church life. God blesses Ogletown each week in many ways.
- We are seeing God raise up new teachers for E3 classes
- We are seeing many people attend Ogletown and join Ogletown
- We are seeing a growing heart for discipleship
- We are seeing God work in the lives of several of our students
- We are seeing fruit from our international ministry
- We are seeing God’s grace in a time of transition for our preschool/children’s ministry
And yet, I also recognize that we have several things on the horizon that remind us of our need for God’s presence and grace
- We have vacancies on our staff and need wisdom as to the best way to fill them
- Our Care and Oversight Task Force has been prayerfully seeking ways for our church’s care structures and oversight structures to be biblically faithful and effective
- We have many who are coming to our church who need God’s rescuing grace
- We continue to seek God’s wisdom for preparing services that magnify God’s glory, lift Jesus Christ high, and welcome the Spirit’s supernatural work
- We have many new people coming to our church who desperately need a vital connection with Christ’s body
- We need direction for decisions related to the future of our preschool/children’s ministries
In light of all that, I recognize God’s kindness in giving us time to think about prayer, and even above that, God has given us time to pray together. I am so grateful. What better way to humbly thank God for His work than to pray prayers of thanksgiving? What better way to seek God’s guidance for wisdom, protection, unity, and love than to pray together. In light of the weekend, I have been praying along these lines lately.
- Lord, increase our praying so that we are more likely to look to you for things.
- Lord, increase our praying together so that we are more likely to see prayer as not merely a private discipline, but a community activity.
- Lord, give us focus in our praying so that we are more careful to think through what we are asking for.
- Lord, give us focus in our praying together so that we strategically utilize our prayers in various meetings of our church.
For all these reasons, I want as many people as possible to be at Ogletown as many times as possible on the weekend of March 2-3. I have every reason to believe that God has much to teach us. I have confidence that when God works, our church will never be the same.
Over the last several months, I have been teaching through the book of Acts. I have learned more than I could possibly share. Tonight will be the last night of the study, and as I was sifting through my notes, I thought of how grateful that these truths have come into sharp focus for me during this journey through Acts.
- There is a conspicuous sense that due to the authority and power of Jesus Christ the mission of making disciples cannot and will not be stopped.
- There is an immediate, organic development from believers (being individually saved) to “the church” (living life together).
- The gospel is often unwelcomed news as it confronts both “moral” and “immoral” people. The gospel is often very welcomed news as it confronts both “moral” and “immoral” people. The gospel is often disregarded as it confronts both “moral” and “immoral” people.
- The record of Acts gives tangible fulfillment to Jesus’ promise that the servant is not greater than the master (if He was persecuted, surely we should expect it as well.
- The call to those who had not yet followed Christ was to personal belief in historical facts concerning a historical Jesus, and a change (repentance) of life that demonstrates that belief.
- The form of church that is shown and shared in Acts is not one that was culturally or temporally bound, rather it crosses culture and time.
- The story of the spread of the gospel comes through real people and real places.
- While the message of Christ lives side-by-side with rival belief systems, it also competes with those systems, leading to world-altering challenges and changes.
- Providence leads to the themes of planning, praying, acting, and risk in Acts, rather than passivity, inactivity, and risk-avoidance.
- Nowhere do we find a greater emphasis on the sovereignty of God in salvation and evangelism; and nowhere do we find a greater record of this emphasis fueling passion for mission and evangelism.
For a variety of reasons, these books really stood out to me as some of the most interesting/helpful reads of the year.
- Magnifying God in Christ by Tom Schreiner
- Conviction to Lead by Al Mohler
- What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him by Byron Yawn
- The Man Who Saved the Union by H.W. Brands (biography of U.S. Grant)
- The President’s Club by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy
- Good News for Anxious Christians by Phillip Cary
- Humilitas by John Dickson
- Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp
I kept track of all the books I read on this page. By the way, if you enjoy reading, you should consider using GoodReads to keep up with your reading. I have used it for several months and it has been helpful. If you do choose to join, “friend” me!
I always enjoy when we begin a new study as a church. Each time, I learn something new as I prepare to teach God’s Word. I have chosen to spend some Sunday mornings focused in Deuteronomy with a series called Direction. I wanted to share (just) a few of the reasons that I am especially looking forward to this study.
- I have not preached much out of this book (sadly, I admit this), and I also have not heard many messages from Deuteronomy. Often, the first five books of the Bible are neglected (With the exception of portions of Genesis). There is so much rich content that has yet to be mined in this book!
- One of my favorite classes/teachers from seminary emphasized this book and its helpful instruction quite a bit. Maybe I learned a few things that would make him proud!
- Deuteronomy places an emphasis on the fact that God shows his love to his people. God takes the initiative.
- I think the content of the book will push our congregation in ways that will encourage us to grow in our faithful devotion to God.
Particularly, I am looking forward to this coming Sunday’s message (1/13). The first few chapters of Deuteronomy take time to rehearse God’s grace to his people. I would like for us to do that as a congregation on Sunday. The book of Deuteronomy also takes time to look toward the future. Moses encourages the people of God to set their hope in God in very specific ways. I think it would benefit us to do the same. I hope to see you at Ogletown on Sunday.
Below is the prayer I prayed as our church remembered the tragic events that occurred in Connecticut.
You sent your Son to be the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.
We know the world you designed is good. You created things right. You created things to exist in love and harmony. What we have seen this week is not what you originally intended for your creation.
Even in the tragedy of this week, we see your goodness. We see love shining through teachers who sacrifice to serve our children. We see you in the first responders. We see detectives and police officers who work for the common good. Fill them with grace as they do these heart-wrenching tasks.
We confess, we have sinned. We haven’t been horrified by violence. All too often we have been entertained by it. We recognize that the spirit of Herod is not gone, Lord. And all too often we have not cared about our world, or loved our neighbor well. We’ve blurred lines, calling evil good and good evil. We are sorry, Lord. Forgive us. We don’t point fingers this morning, we bow our hearts in humility.
Thank you for the gospels that show us Jesus’ love for children. You welcomed them. You wanted them. You made them our example. Thank you for giving us our children. Save them. Watch over them. Protect them. Save us, Lord.
Lord would you meet those in Connecticut as your Son met so many in your life on earth. You met people in their tragedy, and in their questions, and in their grief. You were present with grace and truth. Be present today in the gestures and words of pastors, friends, family, and government officials, we pray!
As we celebrate your birth, teach us this day about your death.
You shed your blood. You gave of your own life. Your life was given, not taken. You save us through it. We lean on your work on the cross. We ask you to destroy the works of the devil, the kind of darkness we have seen this week. You have power over death and hell. Lord Jesus, you have taught us to pray to you for deliverance from evil. For our kids, for our church, for our community, for our country, for our world. We ask you to do it. Deliver us from evil.
We long for a new creation where righteousness dwells. We long for the world where this cannot happen and never will happen. Come, Lord Jesus. Bring peace with you.
Give peace to us today. Be near to those in Connecticut. Be near to us.
We pray this in the name of the only One who has shared our griefs and borne our sorrows.
I will be speaking this morning on making OneCry to God. These passages have been very instructive to me in conforming my prayers to the prayers we find in Scripture.
- Ephesians 1:15-23
- Ephesians 3:14-21
- Philippians 1:9-11
- Colossians 1:9-14
- 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
- 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12
Many of these verses are VERY helpfully explained in A Call for Spiritual Reformation by D.A. Carson.