Tag Archives: gospel

Book Review: The Pastor’s Wife by Gloria Furman

9781433543838(Furman, Gloria. The Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015. 156 pages.)

The Pastor’s Wife is a quick read and is summed up in its own introduction on page 20: “In case you don’t have time to read the rest of this book I’ll just put my cards on the table–I think wives of ministers need encouragement and refreshment in the Lord, and we find that hope and help in the gospel. This idea isn’t new or scandalous, but with all things clamoring for our attention I think we (I!) could use an opportunity to recalibrate our perspective and set our gaze on eternal things. After all, why would we want to wade around in shallow puddles of man-made ideals when there is the incomprehensible ocean of the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge for us to dive into (Eph. 3:18-19)?”

While this book is called The Pastor’s Wife, with a few tweaks, it could apply to any believing wife (or woman, for that matter). But as it stands, it should still be read by all women (and maybe men too) because it shows at the very least how to pray for and encourage your pastor’s wife in her God-given role.

The Pastor’s Wife is saturated with Scripture and Gospel realities–every section pointing our hearts to repent from our sin and run to Jesus! Over and over, our need for the grace of the Gospel is revealed–not just for salvation but in every moment of every day. In fact, every page exudes Gospel grace. We all need “encouragement and refreshment in the Lord” (20), and this book continually points us back to the reality of our Redeemer and exhorts us to renew our minds in His glorious Gospel.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“‘The Plan’ … was my functional idol, and I couldn’t fathom what life would be like if the plan failed” (44).

“We don’t take up the axe to chop down our idols so that our Father will love us. No, we reject our idols because we are our Father’s beloved daughters. … You know that a ministry opportunity is greater to you than Jesus if, when it is taken, hindered, or altered, you feel rattled, wrecked, preoccupied, anxious, insecure, insignificant, ignored, angry, sad, betrayed, or distraught. …when we design our lives around idols, we are setting up our own little kingdoms in which we insist that we are sovereign” (45).

“Sister, if the Lord is your shepherd, he will not leave you wanting. He provides abundantly for your needs and cares for you in seasons that are frightening. Of all the things we need on this earth, he provides it all, and he restores our soul. There is no shadow in any valley so dark that his Word does not illumine. Sister, you’re being followed. ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever’ (Ps. 23:6). Held in our Shepherd’s unflinching grip, we are safely his at all times and in every circumstance. Your constancy is Christ. And at the end of all things created, in the most beautiful paradox of the ages, the Lamb is shown to be the Shepherd, ‘and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’ (Rev. 7:17)” (54).

My favorite chapter was the final chapter about God being glorified in our weaknesses. Without spoiling the end too much, I found this chapter refreshing. So much emphasis is placed on finding and utilizing our strengths–for the Kingdom, for business, in marriage, etc. But God’s ways are not our ways and He chooses to use the foolishness of man to show forth His immense wisdom (Isaiah 55:8; I Cor. 1:27-31). Life and ministry is not about me or my strengths, but about the strength of Jesus to redeem us from our sin into His righteousness, and to use our weaknesses to show forth His surpassing glory (II Cor. 3:3-10). Amen and amen!

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Book Review: Word-Filled Women’s Ministry

51wwy59ejal-_sx322_bo1204203200_(Furman, Gloria, and Kathleen B. Nielson, Eds. Word-Filled Women’s Ministry: Loving and Serving the Church. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015. 272 pages.)

My number one resolution for this year is to be a Word-filled woman, so it was only natural to pick Word-Filled Women’s Ministry as my first book to read in 2017. And I was not disappointed. On page 205, the editors describe Word-filled women as “women who clearly understand and pass on the Scriptures through both life and teaching.”

This book is different than many, as it’s a compilation of several authors, edited by Gloria Furman & Kathleen B. Nielson. Gloria and Kathleen add their own chapters too, of course, as they both have unique perspectives on and experience with women’s ministry in the local church. Here’s an overview of the parts, chapters and authors:

Part 1: The Heart of Women’s Ministry

  • 1: The Word at the Center: Hearing God Speak (Kathleen Nielson)
  • 2: The Word on Women: Enjoying Distinction (Claire Smith)
  • 3: The Word Passed On: Training New Leaders (Carrie Sandom)

Part 2: Contexts for Women’s Ministry

  • 4: The Local Church: Finding Where We Fit (Cindy Cochrum)
  • 5: The World around Us: Practicing Evangelism (Gloria Furman)
  • 6: The Ends of the Earth: Thinking Global (Keri Folmar)

Part 3: Issues in Women’s Ministry

  • 7: Older and Younger: Taking Titus Seriously (Susan Hunt and Kristie Anyabwile)
  • 8: Sexual Wholeness: Affirming Truth with Compassion (Ellen Mary Dykas)
  • 9: Gifts and Giftedness: Finding the Place to Serve (Kathleen Nielson and Gloria Furman)

Part 4: The End of Women’s Ministry

  • 10: Ultimate Goals: Heading for That Day (Nancy Guthrie)

I especially appreciated that the forward and several endorsements were written by men. It’s invaluable for men, especially pastors, to recognize the value and unique giftedness that women have among other women and as part of the Church at large. Women and men are equally gifted with being image bearers of God, and we all have the responsibility and privilege to study the Scriptures and share a personal relationship with Christ.

So many young women in the Church are desperate for older women to mentor them–single women, hurting women, young moms, women new to being empty nesters, and the list goes on. We all need to have two levels of accountability: looking to the more mature generations and speaking truth into the younger generation. But so many in the mature generations were never trained to mentor other women, so they feel inadequate or ill-equipped. And so many in the younger generation are tired of asking women to mentor them and feeling rejected when the answer comes back, “I just don’t think I have time right now,” or “You don’t want me to mentor you; why don’t you ask someone else.”

Word-Filled Women’s Ministry challenges each of us to not only pick up our Bibles and read them, but to apply the truths to our lives and then share those truths with those in our sphere of influence–and if we don’t think we have a sphere of influence, it challenges us to find a sphere of influence in our local church and community. It’s about time! And I give a hearty “Amen” to this!

If we are truly filled with the Word, it will naturally spill out of our lives as we move through our homes and classrooms and churches and grocery stores and…well, you get the idea. It’s not just about learning the Word, or even teaching the next generation, but there’s also an exhortation to teach the next generation HOW to teach their next generation! And we need to be willing to give them opportunities to practice this.

This book has lots of perspectives and voices and practical examples of how this can be done. Most importantly, it encourages us to cling to the grace and truth of the Gospel as fresh and vital to every moment of every day, and to use the gifts and abilities God has gifted us with for His glory and to point those around us to His great redemption story!

 

The Empty Tomb: The Foundation of our Identity and Mission

Pastor Danny Brooks of Heritage Bible Church spoke last night from I Corinthians 15 about The Empty Tomb. He opened with sharing of a visit he had made to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day weekend a few years ago. He shared history and details of the changing of the guards, and the significance of the tomb. Then he said that that tomb is central to the identity and mission of the sentinels who guard it, no matter how they feel, or what the weather may be.

What a privilege it would be qualify and serve as one of those soldiers! And especially on a weekend when we honor those who have fallen, this tomb has a sobering weightiness to it of respect and gratitude for selfless sacrifice.

We as believers are also a people whose identity and mission centers on a tomb–but the tomb we focus on is an empty one! We are called to guard and declare a Gospel of a Risen Savior!

  1. The Empty Tomb is Foundational to Salvation
    • Acts 2:23-24
    • John 10:17-18 Christ showed the authority to lay down his life AND to take it up again (He rose!)
    • I Peter 1:3, 7 Our hope is tied to His resurrection–to His empty tomb! We are not promised an easy, pleasant, convenient life, but what we suffer now serves God’s eternal purposes
  2. The Empty Tomb is Foundational to Sanctification
    • He is alive and intent on making our salvation real, victorious, and successful!
    • Romans 6:11-14 Stop yielding to sin! Keep pressing forward until you believe the truths of Romans 6. Live like a resurrected child of God!
  3. The Empty Tomb is Foundational to Future Glorification
    • Romans 6:5 He WILL glorify us–promised, as if already complete!
    • Col. 2:20-23 Stop living a life of legalism, moralism, asceticism…You cannot save yourself.
    • Col. 3 Hear the Gospel. Respond in faith and repentance.  Set your minds on things above BECAUSE of the empty tomb and the Risen Lord!
    • I Peter 1:3 Living hope through the resurrection of Jesus!

Application: Is my identity and mission centered on Christ’s resurrection–on the empty tomb and the Risen Savior? Am I guarding and declaring the True Gospel of Jesus by my life, my words, my actions? Am I testifying to the world that I live in the hope of the reality of the resurrection? If not, then go back to I Cor. 15 and Colossians 3: hear the Gospel; respond in faith and repentance; and live in the glorious hope of salvation, sanctification and future glorification.

Happy Memorial Day! My heart is filled with gratitude for those who have sacrificed for our freedoms–and for those who are currently sacrificing to keep those freedoms. Thank God for our soldiers and their families!

Dispatches from the Front 6: “The Power of His Rising” On Sale Now!

DFTF-Episode-6-03

Frontline Missions International (FMI), where I have the privilege to work and serve, has just released their sixth episode of the Dispatches from the Front DVD series.  The whole series has a powerful message of God calling and equipping servants for Kingdom work; this particular episode shows how God uses professionals, those with skills and talents, for His Glory in hard to reach places. Each episode also has some special features, including an image gallery and study guide! Some episodes include special bonus clip interviews, and this one includes a recording and song sheets for “The Power of His Rising” song.

It’s available for a limited time for only $5 from WTSBooks.com until April 26th! The ad above and endorsements below are from WTS’s website regarding this incredible sale! The normal price is $15, and we’ll be offering them on the Dispatches website for $10 until June 1st, but you can’t beat $5! If you’ve never seen these documentary-style glimpses into real-life missions, now is the time to buy!

DFTF-Episode-6-02Back Cover: “Over two billion people in the world have no access to the Gospel—no Bible, no church, no Christians, no hope. Since many of them live in countries closed to traditional missionaries, how will they hear the Good News? One way is that Christ is calling and equipping men and women with skills—professionals—to use their talents to reach people who are hard to get to. The Power of His Rising is an inside look at how this is unfolding in South Asia, where baristas and bakers, pilots and farmers are a force for the Gospel! It’s an amazing journey by land, sea and air—down crowded streets and remote rivers—to find light shining in darkness and persecuted believers singing because of Jesus! Dispatches from the Front opens yet another window to see Christ at work in the world through His endless life and relentless grace!” Running Time: 65 minutes

Watch the trailer here:

Journey Journal: Days 72-77

Day 72: Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Today was a green smoothie day. Breakfast’s smoothie included spinach, lettuce, carrot, ginger, fresh lemon juice, fresh ginger root and honey–tasted like a spicy lemonade! Lunch’s smoothie included spinach, carrots, a frozen banana, strawberries, blackberries, ginger, lemon juice, and honey–very different than breakfast, and still quite good. For dinner, I made a stir-fry of rice, black-eyed peas, a scrambled egg, peppers, onions, garlic, and tomato. Bryan got home from work a couple hours later and I had a small portion of mac-n-cheese with him. Surprisingly, after being off dairy for basically a month or more, and after having loads of antioxidants all day, the dairy did not affect me nearly as much as it used to! So, apparently it’s not quite an allergy, but I still had some sinus issues the next day, so it’s still something I want to avoid as much as possible.

Day 73: Thursday, March 14, 2013

Highlight of today was lunch with Bryan and our friends Dave & Rachel downtown Greenville! I had fish tacos–no sour cream, but they were still delicious, topped with guacamole and Pico de Gallo. We always have a good time with them. Met up with Leigh at Goga after work for a workout and some sauna time–always a stress-reliever.

Day 74: Friday, March 15, 2013

Lunch with my mother-in-law at Ruby Tuesdays. Went with the Caribbean Chicken & Coconut-Crusted Shrimp, with sugar snap peas and their garden bar. It was a nice visit, and I really enjoyed the food. After work, my friend Carissa came over with her adorable puppy for a stroll around the neighborhood…and a good chat.

Day 75: Saturday, March 16, 2013

Started the day with Goga, after sleeping in and a quick bowl of cereal with almond milk and blackberries. Then worked for a couple of hours, did some errands and chores, went on a short walk–still, it was a bit of an “off” day, for whatever reason. I think we all have those from time to time–maybe it’s because I cheated with the dairy this week a little, or the barometric pressure whiplash of the season change, or the fact that I’m on a plateau with my weight loss, or whatever it is that throws us occasionally. I made pumpkin black bean soup and had that for lunch and supper with a few corn tortilla chips.

Day 76: Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fortunately, had a good night’s sleep. Grabbed a banana and some nuts for breakfast before heading out the door for church. Had a fabulous day of services at Heritage. J.D. Crowley, missionary to Cambodia, preached from Romans 7 and 8 in the morning service, and Danny Brooks preached from Galatians in the evening. Sandwiched between was 2nd grade Journey Group, Chinese lunch buffet with our co-teacher Sarah, coffee, setting up for evening service, and some fresh air on a short walk. God is so good! After church, I had a long chat with a dear friend and mentor and witnessed an incredible sunset! Since we’ve been pretty good overall with our diet, we decided to splurge and have grilled beef franks with baked beans, coleslaw, and fruit salad.

Day 77: Monday, March 18, 2013

Had an apple and some trail mix for breakfast with coffee. Lunch was leftovers from last night. Had a productive day at work…especially for a rainy Monday. For dinner, I had a free spicy chicken sandwich from Chik-fil-a with a small order of waffle fries, followed by a free soy latte from Starbucks with a dear friend, Faith. We had a great conversation! Then I headed to Bible study with the ladies for a conversation about how big our God is, and how we should never try to constrain Him into our man-made, mental, miniature boxes. The Gospel is Power…for salvation…for sanctification…for wisdom…for life…stronger than any other power out there! Simply put, the Gospel is Jesus Christ!

The Gospel in Two Minutes: All Things to All People

My brother shared this on FB the other day, and it’s got a message that I had to share. If you don’t like rap, remember that we are told to be “all things to all people” and as long as it isn’t against God, it’s for Him. Think of it as a spoken poem, if you will, and rejoice in the Truth with a culturally relative message.

The Gospel in Two Minutes by Trip Lee (courtesy of Desiring God Ministries):

As my sister said, “Just shared this with three teen boys at the GHS (sitting in the [hospital] waiting room …). They were showin’ off with their homespun raps, and they LOVED this! Thanks, little bro!!! It may not be my language, but it was theirs!” And, “Brought back two more friends to hear it. Very cool. They say about the one girl, ‘She don’t like rap.’ And I could look at her and tell her, ‘I don’t really either, but this guy does a pretty good job of weaving in all those really cool gospel words and telling people about Jesus.’ She liked that.”

Meet people where they are and tell them about Christ in their language. The culture or style may be different, but the Gospel is the same. Amen and Amen!

Jesus and Religion

Are you a Christian? Did you know that “Christian” means “little Christ”? So often, it’s easy to put on a happy face and go to church and act like everything’s perfect, but we all have problems. Even after salvation, we need a Savior–a daily leader in this battle against sin! That leader–that Savior–is Jesus! It can be no other. Church is wonderful, and given to us by God. The Bible is His Word. But if you call yourself a Christian, remember who you’re living for.

A recent poem “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” was created by Jeff Bethke, uploaded to YouTube, and went viral! He presented an honest testimony of his conversion and how he felt about much of what is called “Christianity” or “religion”–the hypocritical, pious, superficial, and social meanings of those words–the ones that have departed from Christ and the Bible–not all religion, and certainly not all Christians.

The video created quite the controversy, and even got an article posted by Huffington Post. Kevin DeYoung, Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, and part of The Gospel Coalition, wrote an excellent article called “Does Jesus Hate Religion? Kinda, Sorta, Not Really,” which breaks apart the poem line by line and compares it to Scripture. It’s very well written, and even Bethke wrote, “I just wanted to say I really appreciate your article man. It hit me hard. I’ll even be honest and say I agree 100%.” But DeYoung didn’t stop there. He contacted Bethke and they exchanged several emails and had several phone conversations, parts of which are recorded in DeYoung’s follow-up blog post.

Are you living for your Leader Jesus today?

Special Services at Heritage Bible with Chris Anderson: I Am The Samaritan Woman, Pt. IV

Part Four: Christ Turns Worshipers Into Missionaries –           John 4:27-42

Song Service: By Faith; There Is A Fountain; The Gospel Song; Hallelujah! What A Savior!; O Church, Arise!

A sinner was satisfied and saved, and now she shares: “Come, see.”

I. A Lesson from a Jar – In v. 28, the woman is so excited to tell her friends and acquaintances of Jesus that she leaves her water jar at the well and runs back to the village. The Gospel is life changing! She was satisfied to overflowing with the spiritual water of Jesus that she forgot her physical thirst in light of telling others. This living water not only quenches the immediate spiritual thirst, but it wells up like a spring and is uncontainable (v.14). Despite her lack of theological understanding, she was unafraid to share what she knew! Sometimes the methodology clouds the spontaneity and joy of Jesus. Hers was not forced or coerced, but genuine delight. In one sense, she was a satisfied customer; and satisfied customers love to share their good experiences with others.

II. A Lesson from a Lunch – The disciples came back from their lunch and were unimpressed by Jesus’ conversation with the woman. They seemed urgent that Jesus needed to eat. Jesus’ response was, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” The disciples wondered if someone had given him a lunch already. They didn’t get what He was really saying. “My food is to do the will of Him that sent me & to do His work.” The disciples were concerned/obsessed with the physical and clueless/oblivious to the spiritual, potentially because of a historical prejudice. Christ, on the other hand, was so obsessed with the spiritual that he wasn’t even hungry at the time. Good food is a delight, as long as it does not become our god, our ruling appetite (See Phil. 3:19). It was Christ’s delight and great joy to see sinners come to salvation. David Hosaflook refers to this type of missionary as a “passion-ary,” one who finds fulfillment in talking about Jesus.

III. A Lesson from a Farm – Christ says, “Look!” You don’t need to wait for harvest time; it IS harvest time! (v.35) We will rejoice and delight together, both among laborers here and saints in heaven. One sows, another reaps. We don’t just observe the work; we participate – every Christian is sent into the field. Basically, he’s saying, “Guys, put down your stupid lunch boxes and look up! Look around you! A whole town of people are rushing towards us, ready to hear and learn and receive the Gospel!” There is an overwhelming need and a hopefulness (e.g., Dispatches from the Front DVDs). There will be a harvest! A former farmer and missionary to Cameroon, Tom Needham says that there is always a harvest. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard; sometimes you’re discouraged because of bad weather or broken equipment; sometimes you want to quit early; sometimes the harvest is great and sometimes it’s small; but there IS a harvest EVERY year. If we participate, there is great joy! (v. 36)

IV. A Lesson from a Village – The Jews, Jesus’ own people, chased him away; yet the Samaritans welcomed him to teach them. Many more believed (v.41). “This is indeed the Savior OF THE WORLD,” not just the Jews or the Samaritans, but the whole world. Good things happen when you speak of Jesus. You don’t have to know a lot. He’ll do it!! The Gospel is universal in its appeal and effect. God is still mighty to save!

Conclusion: Christ is Worthy! Revelation 5:6-14 talks about the imagery of a slain Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, seven representing perfection (or all), the horns representing power and the eyes wisdom; He is all powerful and all wise. Worthy is the Lamb! And every creature in heaven and earth and under the earth and in the sea declared his “blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever! …And the elders fell down and worshipped.”

We are Samaritan women — Samaritan women reaching Samaritan women for the glory of God. And one day we will all bow down and worship in heaven the Worthy One, who is Jesus.

Renewing a Passion for the Word

I must admit I have been having a difficult time consistently being in the Word. I have been letting busyness and distractions win out and have neglected what’s most important. Sitting on my couch the other day, I turned around and saw Charles Spurgeon’s The Treasury of David: Classic Reflections on the Wisdom of the Psalms. I remembered loving these writings in college and thought they might be a good place to renew my passion for the Word.

Then yesterday, my friend Jessica (society sister, college prayer partner, and present day missionary) posted a quote from a Pastor States on Facebook: “Did not Job, after his suffering, his questioning, his loss, find that God was enough? Where is the boredom in contemplating Jesus Christ? Where is the weariness of reading His word or of communing with Him? Nevertheless, when we do it only out of duty, our service, worship, and life become a sham, He is not honored nor feared. May God help us!” This quote convicted, rebuked, and inspired me.

So this morning, as I was waiting for Bryan to get home from work, I curled up with a cup of espresso and grabbed the first volume of The Treasury of David. I began with the Preface and was rebuked even in that. Spurgeon wrote these volumes during a time of illness that kept him out of the pulpit. He writes, “I would have preached had I been able, but as my Master denied me the privilege of thus serving him, I gladly availed myself of the other method of bearing testimony for his name. O that he may give me fruit in this field also, and his shall be all the praise.” Even Spurgeon could not always serve God as he desired, and so he creatively served Him as he was able with the opportunities the Lord presented him. This has great application for all of us who struggle with desiring to serve God in one way but being presented with an opportunity to serve God in a way we least expected. It has application for the unemployed and underemployed, for the barren and the widow, for the sick and those waiting for a change in station or location. Wherever you are and with whatever God has given at this time, serve Him with all of it and let Him use it as He will.

This too is my prayer–that God will use me where I am with the opportunities that I have while I have them, that I will live gratefully in the present with the overshadowing hope of the future glory with Christ and not miss opportunities because I am longing for something other than what God has provided, that I will passionately consume myself with the Word as if in a fire, and that that Word will dwell in me richly and exude from me, that the Gospel may be furthered and that the God of Grace may be glorified.