September 28, 2012 by
Categories: Articles | Conferences
Four days after we finished our annual conference (PSC), we are still amazed and thanking God for all that He did during this past weekend. The only way to describe what took place is by calling it, “glorious." Any other word would fall short. As I write this I am having difficulties knowing where to start and finding the right terms to do justice to the work of God among us. I think the best is for me to take you through a small tour of the weekend. Please be patient; by the end, I think you will appreciate what I have to recount.
This year, we decided to dedicate the event to proclaim the glory of “The God we Worship” recognizing that the worship of our God in our region, Latin America, is at an all time low, but only for one reason… a God that is too small in the minds of many. As we exalted His name and His attributes, the grace of an all merciful God descended upon the place where we were gathering in a crescendo way, day by day.
We started the conference showing how we become what we worship, based on Psalm 115 (Miguel Núñez, Dom. Rep). People were convicted and ready to hear the rest. Immediately after this, Jeff Purswell came and expounded on the holiness of God using the text from Isaiah 6. I don’t think there was anyone there who left without a much better understanding of the transcendence of our holy God. What an incredible exposition of Isaiah 6, that was. Jeff honored our God who is in His holy throne “towering in the heavens”, to use one of his phrases. God was exalted through an outstanding exposition of the word!
Still on the first day, we heard early in the afternoon from pastor Salvador Gómez (Dom. Rep), on “The God who revealed Himself”. It was a great tour of Biblical passages showing the care God has taken to reveal His nature. God was revealed that afternoon through His own revelation; thank you Salvador!
But what a magnificent ending of that day God had reserved for us when C.J. Mahaney was used of God, to show how the Father crushed the Son on the cross to transform rebels into worshipers. People were gripped with a sense of gratitude and humility before God. Truly, God has given C.J. a very special gift to talk about the crushing of the Son and His cry on the cross to move the worshiper from a mere contemplation of a historical and theological fact to a real moving, transforming and humbling experience.
The second day, we gathered to hear Jeff Purswell first, who again, in a magnificent way spoke to us about the presence of God among His people. He did this going from Eden to the New Jerusalem in Revelation. What a trip and what a treat. What a joy to see our God pursuing His people all through out redemptive history to glorify Himself in them. But then to have that “presence of God” followed by C.J. Mahaney with the theme of the hiddenness of God, from Psalm 88 it was a one of a kind experience: the darkness experienced by the psalmist, was experienced by the Son on the cross, so that we wouldn’t have to suffer it. I don’t think that anyone could have done that any better. “The Presence of God” by Jeff, followed by “The Hiddenness of God” by C.J. served as two book ends holding a lot truth.
That same day (Sunday), in the evening, we celebrated what the conference had been like to that point with a live worship service and recording of an album in Spanish. Our musicians and vocalists taught and lead by Bob Kauflin and under the anointing of God were able to sing many of the Sovereign Grace songs along with some of ours,. That night we worshiped and proclaimed the glory of our God. The place was electric, but holy. Steve Cook, the sound engineer from SG, worked all week in getting the equipment, the musicians and the vocalist harmonized for the event. Thank you Steve for your servant heart. Our worship team, learned, grew, matured, worshipped our God and then recorded this first album in Spanish under the guidance of the SG minister of music (Bob Kauflin). We can’t thank you enough for leading us and our team in worship and with such humility. Bob, our worship team will never be the same.
Last, but not least, came Monday the 24th, which was a holiday in the Dominican Republic,. The day opened with Pastor José Agüero (Dom. Rep) speaking on the goodness of God; it was fantastic to hear about how we should revel in His goodness toward His people… a great theme. Pastor Agüero spoke well of our God…yes!
Then it was only proper that after hearing so much about “the God we Worship” that we would hear from Bob Kauflin about what should be an appropriate response when we contemplate our God. Well, in a very biblical and sensitive way, Bob was able to speak and minister to everyone who was in the audience from one extreme of the spectrum to the other. That was outstanding; the churches in the Dominican Republic, should be able to worship together in a more meaningful way as Bob, helped everyone to have a much richer and theological understanding about worship including the mind, heart, and will.
Early that afternoon, we paused to reflect upon the great theme (To God alone be the glory). I, the writer of these reflections, used again Psalm 115:1 to speak on the need and the obligation of giving God all the glory after showing what the sin of the church of our day has been, the trivialization of God. We can never forget that even though God is love, He is also holy, just, and transcendent. Glorify Him and Him alone.
Finally, the end came and C.J. returned to the platform to speak about “My relationship to God after the conference." I have never heard anyone talk about this theme in any conference. After hearing C.J., we realized how necessary this talk was. We all get energized by attending conferences; we are moved; we get nourished and that frequently bring us to a higher place of understanding. Frequently from this new high we tend to judge the other persons as inferior or less spiritual because they don’t know what we know; or have not experienced what we lived through. Thank you C.J. for showing all of us how we should walk out into the world from these experiences with a humble heart being aware of our own sinfulness and wanting to show others the goodness of our God despite the evilness of our own nature.
We closed asking the pastors from foreign lands, still present (many had to leave earlier) to come forward and pray along with some of the members of their churches. People came forward from Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Perú, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Haití, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panamá, Canada and several states from the USA. What a small taste of heaven that was.
On behalf of our church and leadership team I want to thank God for anointing these men, C.J., Jeff, and Bob and for using them in such a powerful way to feed pastors and sheep with rich manna during three full days; and for helping the churches to move to higher ground, which will result in a much better worship of our God and a more sanctified people of God. This weekend was unforgettable and it has left an incredible imprint in the lives of thousands who attended.
Also we want to thank the ministry and the partnership of Sovereign Grace for enriching our ministry and for helping us to reach the Latin world for Christ. Please pray for our continent; I am convinced that God is on the move and some of us can already see the beginnings of what appears to be a revival in the land.
To God Alone Be the Glory!
Pastor Miguel Núñez
Senior Pastor, International Baptist Church
President Wisdom & Integrity Ministry
September 28, 2012 by
Categories: Articles | Church planting
A Mission Model
Sovereign Grace Ministries has long been committed to planting churches in this country with an ever expanding vision for our world. This mission methodology is rooted in what we perceive to be standard New Testament practice. It seems the normal Apostolic mission strategy was to pioneer the gospel into regions where it had not yet advanced, win converts to Christ, establish them in local churches, and then deploy them to reach their surrounding regions for the gospel.
This is why Paul is able to say in Romans 15:19 that he had “fulfilled” gospel ministry “from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum.” Even though he had not shared Christ with every human in that area, he had been used of Christ to establish churches throughout that area—churches that then equipped and deployed their members in more localized evangelistic endeavors.
Our view is that winning converts, and then planting and building them into churches which will reach into their regions with the gospel, is the normative New Testament model for gospel mission—and we have been excited to have a decades-long part in this work.
A Fruitful Strategy
The fruit of this SGM strategy has been the planting of several dozen churches in this country and beyond. Through this long-embraced vision, SGM’s churches have become a jar of clay in which the treasure of the gospel has been carried to countless people. By God’s grace, thousands of these have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus through our witness. And these believers, having been built into local churches, are now impacting their respective regions for the gospel.
A Lot More to Do
The SGM Church Planting Group (CPG) exists because we believe there is a lot more work to do. The goal of the CPG is to assist local churches and SGM partnerships in advancing the gospel of Christ and to promote and execute church planting to that end.
Our vision is to: (1) Communicate church planting vision and values to all our SGM churches; (2) Assist SGM in raising funds and guiding plants to available resources; (3) Recruit and assess both internal and external church plant candidates; (4) Train church plant candidates (in partnership with local churches, regional partnerships, SGM leadership, and the SGM Pastors College); (5) Launch church planters into their new work with sufficient resources and help to produce self-sustaining local churches.
A Little Background and Introduction
Spearheaded by Dave Harvey in his SGM Leadership Team role overseeing International Expansion and Church Planting and Care the CPG has been functioning since 2008. Mark Prater currently serves as its Director. He brings to the group a consistent passion for planting, and a vision that church planting will become a uniform value throughout our family of churches. While the CPG is presently comprised of about ten SGM pastors, we hope that it will soon be reconfigured to include more men from as many of the regions of our SGM family as is possible.
Typically the CPG meets twice per month to discuss strategies, develop training tools, consider venues for recruitment, evaluate current methodologies, provide pre- and post-Pastors College training sessions for planters, and recruit and assess potential planters at various national conferences and events (e.g.-T4G, Desiring God, Gospel Coalition, etc.).
A Little-Publicized Impact
You may well not know much about the CPG since it has functioned quietly in recent years. Nevertheless, despite its modest little-publicized role in SGM it has made a consistent impact. In recent months the CPG has:
- Represented SGM at the Gospel Coalition Conference, where Dave participated in a church planting roundtable, and 500 men were spoken with at our church planting booth;
- Represented us at Plant New England, where Mark Prater taught a breakout session and we had conversations with 75-100 men;
- Represented SGM at a Church Planting Conference in Virginia Beach, where Ian McConnell preached two main sessions, and 50 men were spoken with at our booth;
- Represented SGM at the T4G conference where Dave shared a church plant session with Darrin Patrick and 450-500 men were spoken with at our booth. Also around 20 on-site initial assessments were conducted, and dozens of men have been engaged with follow-up conversations.
- Conducted four church plant interest meetings at various events, with approximately 325 attending;
- Engaged over 50 men who are currently in various phases in our church planting process;
- Assessed 33 external candidates with 16 remaining in our assessment process;
- Conducted 9 meetings/dinners where experienced SGM church planters met with our church planting candidates during the PC year to discuss church planting;
- Developed a comprehensive strategy and proposal for SGM board review;
- Hosted pre- and post-PC two-day planter training sessions;
- Continued formation of a Church Plant Guide to be a comprehensive tool for planters to assist them through the entire assessment, training and launch experience;
- Assisted the start of seven plants (three in Florida, and one each in Canada, California, Kentucky, and Texas);
- Positioned eight church plant candidates in church plant residencies in final preparation for planting in the coming 12-24 months;
- Positioned six more plants for start-up over the next 12-18 months;
- Helped to assess six more churches who are interested in adoption into SGM
Currently the CPG is exploring further ways to expand SGM’s resources for church planting, broaden SGM’s categories for planting, and envision SGM for international expansion (either through the CPG or by the creation of an International Panel for expansion).
Thanks and Prayer
It goes without saying, but we refuse to let it go unsaid: anything and everything being accomplished through the CPG is owed to the grace of God evidenced through the faithful prayer and generosity of SGM churches. Those serving on the CPG are aware that nothing of any good happens except through the gospel-advancing and people-saving power of God! We also know that usually God manifests that power through the feeble efforts and faithful giving of many humble folks. So please join us as we thank God for his goodness—and please receive from us our gratitude for having a part in what He is doing.
Tim serves as the Church Planting and Care Assistant for Sovereign Grace Ministries. He has been in full-time pastoral ministry since 1982, and was a founding pastor of Trinity Fellowship Church, August 1990. Tim received his early Christian training from parents whose commitment to Christ was evident in personal godliness and in more than 50 years of missionary and pastoral ministry. His formal training for ministry was at Northeastern Bible College, formerly of Essex Fells, NJ. Tim is into New England sports, good food, and building things. He and his wife, Gayline, were married in 1978, and have six children and nine grandchildren.
September 27, 2012 by
Categories: Articles | Pastors College
In my previous posts (A Simple Conversation with a Profound Presence; Biblical Institute, Seminary, and the Sovereign Grace Pastors College), I wrote about the care received and grace experience while attending the Sovereign Grace Pastors College.
I would be remiss not to write about the academic piece of the Pastors College.
The emphasis for the PC became evident during orientation. We did not attend it alone, but with our wives (where applicable). This was no mere formality, but an expression of SGM’s commitment to care for pastors by caring for their marriages. After all a college for pastors must emphasize his primary pastoral responsibility.
Here’s an annotated and sampled list of our classes:
Systematic Theology 1-7: Yeah, you read that right. SEVEN. Beginning with the doctrine of Scripture. THE appropriate place to begin any systematic theological endeavor. (Of course, I am biased considering my dissertation is entitled “The Self-Authentication of Scripture as the Proper Ground for Systematic Theology”!). We were taken up into the glory of God’s condescension in a book. Theology Proper. Christology. Pneumatology (with Wayne Grudem!). Ecclesiology. Eschatology.
Biblical Theology: How does the entire biblical narrative fit together? Yep, that’s something theologians have been discussing for centuries and we tackle in a week!
Hermeneutics: Mark Mullery did an excellent job of helping us connect dots and read genres.
Pastoral Theology: Ken Mellinger, Andy Farmer, Rob Flood, Warren Boettcher, John Loftness. These are men who are pastors. They love theology and they love people and they love God. We could ask them questions about bugbear issues as theology works itself out in the context of a local church.
Preaching 1 & 2: How do you preach an O.T. narrative without making it merely moral? Can you preach about Rahab’s scarlet cord? How about the five smooth stones David picked up? How do you simplify and drive a point home (a question I am still trying to answer!)?
Apologetics: We give a worldview when we speak of Christianity. Take your time to enumerate and to demolish other fine-sounding arguments. Be gentle, but direct and gracious when trusting the Spirit of God to bring light to blind eyes.
Galatians: (with Tom Schreiner). Need I say more than a parenthetical statement?
Spiritual Disciplines: Mike Bullmore modeled such a life as much as he talked about it.
Sanctification: Jerry Bridges stood up the whole time! And as he was standing he convicted me of my lack of the grasp of grace and offered me grace to assuage my guilt.
Okay. There are many more classes, but I won’t enumerate them here. Can I just say that the bent towards being a pastor was palpable? Every class had numerous take-aways for how it applied to pastoring people. How does the Spirit empower you in preaching and shepherding and integrated into counseling? How should eschatology affect our fervency in pleading with men and comforting the suffering? Having lunch with professors each week was pretty sweet–especially if pizza was ordered. I remember being able to take Bridges to the airport with my family and my girls giving him hugs as he boarded his plane. I remember eating at Chipotle with Craig Cabaniss and talking about church planting. I remember taking John Woodbridge to Chuck Colson’s memorial service in D.C. with Andrew and Jeff and eating at Burger King afterward. What a memory as we spoke about the development of doctrine in France and the need to defend the Christian worldview in an accessible way. . .over a double Whopper with cheese.
September 27, 2012 by
Categories: Board updates
This letter from Tommy Hill to the Pastors of Sovereign Grace Ministires explains a recent change made to the Sovereign Grace articles of incorporation and bylaws.
September 26, 2012 by
Categories: Church planting | Interviews
On Sunday, September 30th, Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville will gather for its first public meeting. In anticipation of this first gathering we've asked C.J. Mahaney to answer a few questions related to the church plant and how we can pray for them in the days ahead.
C.J., tell us about your desire to plant a church in Louisville, Kentucky.
The origins of our interest in church planting in Louisville date back some six years as we began to consider how strategic this city might be for Sovereign Grace Ministries. For several years, I, along with others, searched for a man who could church plant in this city, but we were unable to successfully recruit someone for this task. About two years ago, I had the unexpected thought that possibly the fruitless search was due to the fact that the Lord might want me to do this.
Louisville is a strategic city geographically because it will position us to plant churches in a region where SGM hasn’t done much church planting to date. It is my hope that planting a church in Louisville will eventually open up doors for more church plants in the Mid-West and South. Cities such as Lexington, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Memphis—just to name a few locations—are all exciting areas we want to prayerfully consider for church planting. To that end, we want to build a passion for church planting into our local church culture.
Louisville is also strategic because we have the opportunity to benefit from and support an excellent seminary like the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have a deep appreciation for the superb leadership of Dr. Al Mohler, the president of SBTS—he is both a friend and a mentor in many ways. And the faculty at this seminary is not only impressive theologically, but even more importantly in their love for the Savior. The elders of SGCL are already taking classes, building relationships, and exploring ways to support the ministry of SBTS. I am hopeful that other Sovereign Grace churches located near theologically faithful seminaries will also be able to partner together and benefit from one another in significant ways.
Lastly, Louisville is strategic because it affords us the opportunity to position Sovereign Grace Ministries and the Pastors College in a more geographically centralized and less expensive area of the country. The Leadership Team has wrestled for years with the significant costs incurred by SGM in being located in the Washington, DC area. Moving the Pastors College will enable our churches to invest far less financially in any one student, thus allowing our churches to more easily send men into this context for theological and pastoral training.
What is your vision for reaching the greater Louisville area?
I think our ambitions, on one hand, are rather simple. We recognize that God has blessed Louisville with numerous excellent churches, so we’re not coming in to pioneer a unique gospel work in this area. Not at all. But we do see that need exists for more gospel-preaching churches, particularly in the eastern suburbs.
Our prayer is that God would use this church plant to one great end: that people would come to saving faith and maturity in the grace of God. We would appreciate your prayers that God would help us to evangelize consistently, boldly, and winsomely, and that we would always be ready to offer the reason for the hope that is in us.
C.J., having been in ministry for 35 years, what excites you most about this church plant?
I think three things stand out to me in that regard. First, I am excited to have the great privilege and joy of regularly preaching again. While the last eight years have provided me time to prioritize the broader mission of Sovereign Grace Ministries—and this has been a joy—I do believe the Lord has called me to preaching and pastoral ministry. This Sunday we will have our first Sunday meeting, and I’ll begin to preach through the book of Philippians. That is a happy thought for me.
Second, I am amazed at the people God has provided for this church plant. Some are new friends; many I have had the privilege to serve with for ten to thirty-five years. To a person, they model the Savior’s heart to serve. They love the gospel of grace. They love the church, and they want to reach the lost with the gospel. And they inspire me to love the Savior more. They have made significant sacrifices to relocate to Louisville, leaving behind dear friends and family members. I am humbled and deeply grateful for their support and want to serve them in any way that I can.
Lastly, I’m very excited about serving alongside the elders of Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville. These are the friends I don’t deserve.
Who are the pastors of this church? What are their roles?
Let me begin with the man who has served by my side in various capacities for over 35 years – Gary Ricucci. Gary will serve as an elder of the church and continue to provide pastoral care for those coming to the Pastors College. I anticipate his pastoral gifting and heart will be experienced by every member of the church. I look forward to how he and Betsy will serve the marriages of the church through their teaching and example.
Brian Chesemore is going to serve as our only full-time associate pastor at the church’s inception. While the other men will continue to carry significant responsibility with Sovereign Grace Ministries, Brian will be dedicated to pastoring God’s people in the local church. Brian is also assisting me by leading our elders meetings, developing our plans for evangelism, pastoral care and discipleship, and helping us to shape a teaching curriculum designed to complement the Sunday preaching.
Bob Kauflin is a servant extraordinaire. For the last three months, Bob has unloaded countless moving vans, met with many new friends in Louisville, and opened up his new home to those exploring relocation. He and Julie excel in hospitality. Over the last ten years, Bob has studied the topic of worship extensively, and we are delighted that his theological study, leadership of corporate worship and years of pastoral care are going to help us in not only our music ministry but also in how we think about and plan for our Sunday services.
Jeff Purswell is also quite a gift to this church. He is the Dean of our Pastors College and brings a wealth of theological discernment and pastoral skill to our church. Jeff is one of the most skilled expositors that I know, and he is going to assist me in developing the teaching curriculum of the church, and he’ll be preaching regularly on Sunday mornings. I’m eager for this man’s preaching gift to be more consistently expressed in the years to come. He and his wife Julie, along with their two sons, are a pure joy to have in the church.
And yes, as you may have noticed, most of us are really old. I refer to this as “the old guys’ church plant, serving the next generation.”
How can we be praying for you as you start this church? How can folks interested in the church plant find out more?
It is so kind of you to ask and kind of anyone to pray for us. We need your prayers! Please pray that God will bless our efforts to proclaim the gospel and build a church that pleases and glorifies the Savior. Psalm 115:1 is our prayer: “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!”
Our first Sunday morning meeting is September 30, at 10:30 a.m. at The Christian Academy of Louisville. For more information, you can visit our website.
C.J. serves Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville primarily through leadership and preaching. He also leads Sovereign Grace Ministries in its mission of establishing and supporting local churches built on the gospel. He has authored Humility: True Greatness; Living the Cross-Centered Life; and Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God. He is the editor of Worldliness and Why Small Groups?, and has coauthored other books in Sovereign Grace Ministries’ Pursuit of Godliness series. C.J. and his wife, Carolyn, have three married daughters, one son, and eleven grandchildren.
September 25, 2012 by
Categories: Articles | Prayer
In his profoundly helpful book Wisdom Words, pastor Harold Burchett teaches us that praying is a lot like breathing. In order to have the strength to continue breathing, one needs to breathe. So also the strength to pray comes from praying. Now if personal prayer is breathing for oneself, then intercession is like breathing for others.
In any church there are several people barely breathing spiritually. Yes, we can teach them “to breathe” through solid exposition of Scripture. That is an essential part of the resuscitation process. But the other (often missing) part is that they may need someone to breathe for them for a while.
This can easily become the overlooked and missing element of pastoral ministry—the priority of intercession. And like lifeguarding, one needs a working set of lungs before successfully engaging those lungs in the resuscitation of others. A wheezing asthmatic lifeguard is not particularly faith-building.
I believe Paul’s prayer life may give us an insight into what the apostles meant when they declared that their biblical priorities were to: “devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." (Acts 6:4) As we study the prayers of Paul, isn't it striking how little is written about his own communion with God? Based on what we see of his prayers in Scripture he “devoted himself” to praying for others. Without a doubt this included worship (Acts 13:2) and communion with God (his own spiritual breathing). But it also clearly involved breathing for others. This is the life of intercession.
In Ephesians we see Paul demonstrating the priorities of Acts 6:4 by combining teaching with intercession as his pattern of ministry. He teaches (Ephesians 1:3-14) then he intercedes (Ephesians 1:16-19). He teaches some more (Ephesians 2:1-21; 3:1-13) and then he intercedes some more (Ephesians 3:16-19).
We might say that if the logs on a fire pit are like the Scriptures being taught, and the fire is like the Spirit’s powerful ministry, then intercession is the means God uses to bring the two together in believers’ lives.
This is absolutely essential — As essential as the ministry of the Word. Why would we ever try to practice one without the other?
Intercession is not a ministry done from a place of strength and competence, but always as a desperate sinner praying for fellow desperate sinners. We identify with those we pray for because we are just like them.
And yet if we don't pray for ourselves (or even pray at all), how shall we even know how to effectively pray for others?
Consider an ordinary house lamp: we can furiously flip the light switch on and off and have no effect if the lamp is not plugged into the wall outlet. Sheer willpower will not propel intercession any more than flipping a switch can power a disconnected light bulb. But how different it is when we plug the lamp into the outlet!
What we need is to find an external resource that will effectively power our intercession.
In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul shows us where to find the power outlet for a life of intercession. In describing the spiritual armor of a believer, Paul says:
Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:17-18)
In these verses Paul clearly ties “praying in the Spirit” to the use of God’s Word when interceding for others. When the Spirit is active the Word will be present. When the Spirit is inactive, the sword stays in its sheath. Earlier in Ephesians this “Word” is revealed to be the gospel promises available to all “in Christ” through the powerful work of the cross (Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:8-10; 2:14-22; 3:6-12). This then brings us to a vital question we need to ask ourselves: are our times of prayer for others guided by and filled with the Word of God? It seems that if our prayers for others are to have real traction, we will need the fuel of Scripture to power our prayers.
The Spirit-filled believer who uses the Word of God in prayer, is a believer whose lungs are made strong for the work of intercession.
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. (Colossians 4:12)
It appears that Epaphras planted the church at Colossae (Colossians 1:7). Part prophet and part priest in his ministry, he spoke to others on God’s behalf and spoke to God on their behalf. Like Paul, and like Jesus before him, Epaphras was a model pastor. He shows us the simple (but certainly not easy) rhythm of preaching to people and praying for people. It is essential that we regain this sacred rhythm once again.
We’ve already seen that the power for this was found by praying in the Spirit using the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17-18). All intercession should be done under the Spirit’s direction using Scripture as the basis of our appeals to God. If we can compare the Spirit to a train engine, then the railway lines are the Word of God that the Spirit travels along.
2 Peter 1:4 tells us that one of the great provisions of God for our sanctification is his “precious and very great promises”. Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. Follow the logic:
- God’s great purpose in his secret providence is to conform us to Christ-likeness (Romans 8:28-29). Christ died for us that we may be like him and live for him. (2 Corinthians 5:15)
- One of the “means” God uses to make us like Christ are his “very great promises” which are given to help us “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4)
- We are told that prayers offered “according to God’s will” can expect a full answer from God (1 John 5:14). And this most certainly includes God’s promises.
- God tells us that all his promises are “yes” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20). The death and resurrection of Christ unlocks the promises of God for the people of God.
This means that the promises of God form the backbone of intercession for others. When we use the promises of God as the basis of our intercession, we are calling God to be faithful — to fulfill his character.
God sent his Son to give us unique access to himself and he sent his Spirit to give us the gift of prayer (Galatians 4:4-6). As our lungs fill with the fresh oxygen of communion with God, let’s use them to breathe life into others by interceding for them.
Pastor, praise God for faithful preaching! But let us also remember the calling and privilege to faithfully intercede for others. Let us again surrender ourselves to this great work: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4)
* This post originally appeared on the desiringGod blog.
You can join many of the Sovereign Grace pastors in praying the Scriptures leading up to the Pastors Conference through a helpful prayer guide Tim developed. An introduction and explanation of this resource can be found here.
Tim Kerr is the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church, Toronto. Tim grew up in Kolkata, India where his missionary parents were involved in church planting and teaching at the Calcutta Bible College connected to the historic Carey Baptist Church. After marriage, Tim and his wife Joanne served in Japan for 12 years as church planters. When they returned to Canada, Tim led a one-on-one mentoring ministry for several years that greatly impacted Christian businessmen, pastors, and church planters in Ontario. This strong mentoring ministry has continued in the Sovereign Grace Church, which he planted in 2004. Tim and Joanne have 4 children aged 17-24.
It has been a tremendous joy to get to know the folks serving and attending Por Su Causa in the Dominican Republic this past week. Literally hundreds of members from Miguel Núñez's church have been serving with unspeakable joy and humility.
Steve Cook and I arrived on Monday to prepare the musicians and vocalists for a live recording of Sovereign Grace Music's fourth Spanish album. Steve's leadership in cooperation with Juancho, Por Su Causa's technical director, has been a major part of capturing this live event. Thanks to these men, the musicians, vocalists, and those in attendance, the recording went extremely well last night.
Working with the musicians from Iglesia Bautista Internacional (IBI) was outstanding -- these are excellent musicians not only because of their gifts, but also because of their humility. Each one has wholeheartedly invested in this conference, spending countless hours in rehearsal even before we arrived.
The conference started on Saturday morning with Miguel teaching the first session. He was followed by Jeff Purswell, Salvador Gomez, a time of worship where I had the great joy of serving with Bob Kauflin (who did a great job leading in Spanish), ending with a powerful message by C.J. Mahaney.
Right before C.J. taught, Miguel asked all the Sovereign Grace Ministries’ attendees to come up on stage and introduce themselves. He honored C.J. by giving him a plaque, thanking him for his and Sovereign Grace's investment in the spread of the gospel in Latin America. Last year when the hurricane hit Haiti, there was a church that met every Sunday in a very deteriorated building. (We saw pictures, and it was a very moving sight). Then after the hurricane, the little they had was destroyed. Sovereign Grace collected an offering to send to Miguel's Church so that they could serve these brothers in Haiti. We then saw pictures of how this money was used – they now have a beautiful, yet humble, building where they meet to proclaim the gospel. C.J. was in tears when the pastors from the church in Haiti came on stage to say thanks. What a blessing this was for us to witness!
Some of the highlights of our trip have been:
- Seeing how God is using Miguel and his church to promote sound doctrine in a powerful way in Latin America.
- Promoting our new Spanish album Eres Dios. I was interviewed, and the interview was broadcasted in many Latin American countries, explaining how we write and translate songs.
- After all the hard work preparing for last night’s recording, it was a joy to record our fourth Spanish album. We did something very similar to The Gathering at our last Worship God conference. We did two concerts back to back, where we recorded many of our translations and some original songs written by members of IBI. We were able to sing songs like “All I Have is Christ”, “Let Your Kingdom Come” and “Behold Our God”. Bob led the last four songs to close the night.
Please pray for the rest of our time here, that God will be magnified and glorified in this conference, and that this would not be the last time we get to work with Miguel and his church.
May God be exalted!
Mauricio Velarde: Nuestra experiencia en Por Su Causa
Ha sido un gran gozo el poder conocer a las personas que están asistiendo y sirviendo en Por Su Causa esta pasada semana en la República Dominicana. Literalmente, cientos de miembros de la iglesia de Miguel Nuñez han servido con gran gozo e humildad.
Steve Cook y yo llegamos el lunes para preparar a los músicos y vocalistas para una grabación en vivo del cuarto álbum en español de Sovereign Grace Music. El liderazgo de Steve ha jugado un papel principal en esta grabación en vivo. Él ha estado trabajando con Juancho, quién es el director técnico de Por Su Causa. Gracias a estos hombres, los músicos, vocalistas y aquellos que asistieron, la grabación salió muy bien anoche.
Trabajando con los músicos de la Iglesia Bautista Internacional (IBI) ha sido un gozo-- estos son músicos extraordinarios no sólo por su talentos pero por su humildad. Cada uno ha invertido, de todo corazón, en esta conferencia al pasar un sinnúmero de horas practicando antes de nuestra llegada.
La conferencia comenzó el sábado por la mañana con la primera sesión dada por Miguel, después por Jeff Purswell, después por Salvador Gomez y tuvimos un tiempo de adoración donde tuve el gran gozo de servir con Bob Kauflin (que hizo un tremendo trabajo liderando en español), terminando con un mensaje poderoso por C.J. Mahaney.
Antes de que enseñara C.J., Miguel pidió que todo aquél que fuese parte de Sovereign Grace Ministries que subiera al escenario para presentarse. Él le rindió un honor a C.J. al entregarle una placa, dándole las gracias por la inversión que él y Sovereign Grace han tomado en expandir el evangelio en Latinoamérica. El año pasado cuando un huracán azotó a Haití, había una iglesia que se reunía todos los domingos en un edificio muy deteriorado (nosotros vimos fotos y eran unas imágenes conmovedoras). Después del huracán, lo poco que tenían fue destruido. Sovereign Grace recolectó una ofrenda y se la envió a la iglesia de Miguel para que ellos pudiesen servir a estos hermanos en Haití. Después vimos fotos de cómo este dinero fue utilizado- ahora tienen un hermoso, e humilde, edificio donde se reúnen para proclamar el evangelio. C.J. estaba llorando cuando los pastores de la iglesia de Haití subieron al escenario para darle las gracias. ¡Qué bendición fue el presenciar esto!
Algunas de las reseñas de nuestro viaje son:
- Ver como Dios está usando a Miguel y su iglesia para promover la sana doctrina de una manera poderosa en Latinoamérica.
- Promover nuestro nuevo álbum en español, Eres Dios. Me entrevistaron y la entrevista fue transmitida en muchos países Latinoamericanos. Expliqué como escribimos canciones y como las traducimos.
- Después de todo el trabajo para prepararnos para la grabación de anoche, fue un gozo el grabar nuestro cuarto álbum en español. Hicimos algo similar a lo que se hizo en The Gathering durante la última conferencia de Worship God. Hicimos dos conciertos, uno después del otro, donde grabamos muchas de nuestras traducciones y algunas canciones originales escritas por miembros de la IBI. Cantamos canciones como “All I Have Is Christ”, “Let Your Kingdom Come” y “Behold Our God.” Bob lideró las últimas dos canciones para cerrar la noche.
Por favor oren que el resto del tiempo que nos queda sea para que Dios sea magnificado y glorificado y que esta no sea la última vez que trabajamos con Miguel y con su iglesia.
¡Sea Dios exaltado!
Mauricio and his wife, Sonia, live in the Gaithersburg, MD. Mauricio leads worship at Iglesia Gracia Soberana de Gaithersburg. He writes songs for the Spanish Sovereign Grace Churches, sung on and helped produce our last two Spanish albums: Eres Dios in 2012 and Allí En la Cruz in 2010.
September 22, 2012 by
Categories: Conferences | Dominican Republic
C.J. Mahaney, Jeff Purswell, and Bob Kauflin are in the Dominican Republic this weekend to speak at Por Su Causa 2012, a conference for Latin-American Christians hosted by Ministerios Integridad & Sabiduría. They will join speakers Miguel Núñez, Salvador Gómez, and José Agüero to address the topic, "The God we worship."
Additionally, Bob will lead music for one session and lead a few songs for a live album Sovereign Grace Music is recording Sunday night. Lord willing, this album will come out January of 2013.
You can watch the conference live September 22-24.
For more information, visit their website or contact them via Facebook or Twitter.
September 21, 2012 by
Categories: Articles | Church planting
Planting a church is about being willing to feel weak.
For over 20 years I’ve heard stories of church planters starting brand new churches, launching themselves and their families into an adventure for God’s glory. These men, their families, and the teams that follow them have been my heroes. They sacrificed the comfortable surroundings of outstanding local churches for the certain sacrifice of establishing a new church from the ground up. For years there was a certain assumption of inevitability in this process. Surely this level of faith and joy and partnership and support could only conclude in another outstanding church in the future. But then I heard, for the first time, about a church plant that had to close its doors. Now I know that church plants close their doors all the time. The attempt is not inevitable after all. Perhaps planting a church is not about feeling strong.
Now I am preparing to lead a church plant. The adventure, the vision of serving and sacrificing for the glory of God has lost none of its attraction. To my maturing eyes, God has only become more glorious, the gospel more worthy, the need more desperate, the adventure more honorable. But now nothing seems inevitable at all. I am peering into the future and realizing what all of those teams faced. Planting a church is about being willing to feel weak.
Weakness in the Bible is not cultivated immaturity, nor celebrated laziness, nor whining self-pity. It is the reality of life as a creature and as a sinner. We are not self-existent. We do not create ex-nihilo. We cannot save. Being weak is not an occasional experience but the condition given to us by the Lord. A church plant magnifies the normal weaknesses of everyone involved and invites us to see close up just how vulnerable we are. A church planting pastor can’t save the unbelievers who listen to his messages. He can’t ultimately preserve his dear friends from wandering into unbelief and sin. He can’t bring spiritual revival to his new city home. But these are the reasons he is planting a church. A church planter is called to do, desires to do, what he cannot do. The mountain is too high but we are called to climb, the stream too wide but we are called to swim.
Of course we could give up, turn away, and applaud others from a distance. Or we can be willing to be weak, so that the power of Christ may rest upon us. The more we desire to see of his power, the more weak we must be willing to feel. The more impossible the task we accept, the more weak we will feel, and the more we will see the glory of God’s power and the inevitability of his promise.
God is not weak. God’s gospel is inevitable—it will reach the nations. Church planting means being willing to feel weak in myself. Church planting is believing that God desires to reveal the glory of his power, the strength of his gospel. To see that sight, I am willing to feel weak. I am willing to plant a church.
Jon recently gave a message from 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 on church planting. You can listen to it here.
* This post originally appeared on Jon Payne's blog, To See The Glory.
Jon has been on staff at Sovereign Grace Church of Gilbert, Arizona since 2005 and leads the Youth Ministry called G2. As well, he counsels and serves small group leaders. Jon graduated the Sovereign Grace Pastors College in 2005. He currently lives in Gilbert with his wife Lory and their 3 children. In the summer of 2013 they will, Lord wiling, relocate to Austin, Texas to plant a church.
September 20, 2012 by
For over 25 years, Sovereign Grace Music has been producing albums primarily for English speaking churches. But in his kindness, God has allowed us to serve Hispanic congregations as well. For decades, members of our church in Juarez, Iglesia Gracia Soberana de Cd. Juárez, led by Carlos Contreras, have played a primary role. We’re deeply indebted to them, and especially Roxana Munoz, for joyfully and faithfully translating our songs into Spanish. We recorded a number of those translations on our first Spanish project, Sea la Gloria solo a Ti.
Two years ago we produced our second Spanish album, this time made up entirely of new songs. Mauricio Velarde was featured as a vocalist and songwriter on that album.
Tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 21, we’ll be releasing our third Spanish album, Eres Dios. Only this time we’ve combined new and translated songs.
When we first started thinking about doing another Spanish album, we were actually thinking of doing two, one made up of new songs, the other translations. But the more we thought about it, the more we saw the wisdom of doing them together. The thought was to combine translations of some of our more popular English songs with some of our best original Spanish songs. Although my Spanish is limited to the three years I took in high school, I’m pretty excited about this project.
Mauricio serves as a primary songwriter and vocalist again, but we added Sarah Jerez, wife of Jonathan Jerez, and a very gifted singer. Her vocals are passionate and clear, and a real addition to the project.
Other songwriters included Miguel Medina from our Miami church, Jose Torres-Vorshim from our Spanish congregation in Gaithersburg, and Sergio Villanueva from a Spanish congregation near Chicago. Matt Richley from our Merthyr Tydfil church in Wales, and definitely not a Spanish speaker, made it as a co-writer on Mauricio’s songs, Si Te Tengo a Ti (If I Have You).
Until the album is released, as in Friday, Sept. 21, you can pre-order Eres Dios for only $5 at our Bandcamp site. You can also hear and download the song La Gloria de la Cruz, a translation of The Glories of Calvary. I realize that most of people who read this blog aren’t Hispanic, but if you know any Latin-Americans who are looking for Christ-exalting, biblically rich congregational songs, please help us spread the word.
While we’re on the topic of Spanish stuff, I’m heading out today with C.J. Mahaney and Jeff Purswell to the Dominican Republic to participate in the Por Su Causa (For His Cause) conference this weekend. I’ll be leading music for one session, speaking at another, and leading a few songs for an album we’ll be recording Sunday night. We’ve been incredibly encouraged by our partnership with Miguel Nunez and Iglesia Bautista Internacional, who are helping to sponsor the conference. Miguel, and his nephew Luis, have been unflagging in their support of Sovereign Grace Ministries and Sovereign Grace Music.
I’d welcome your prayers as I try to make the best of my three years of high school Spanish this weekend.
* This post originally appeared on Bob Kauflin's website, Worship Matters.
Bob Kauflin is the Director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries. His responsibilities include equipping pastors and musicians in the theology and practice of congregational worship, and contributing to Sovereign Grace CDs. He was a writer and arranger for the group GLAD from 1976-2006. He is a pastor and one of the worship leaders at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, KY. He is the author of, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness. Bob blogs at Worship Matters and hosts the bi-annual WorshipGod conference.