November 30, 2012 by
Join us Memorial Day Weekend 2013 in Orlando, Florida for Transfer, a four day gathering hosted by the churches of Sovereign Grace Ministries that exists to celebrate and proclaim those biblical truths and values that are most important to pass on from one generation to the next. We want the coming generations to see how glorious a relationship with Jesus is. We want them to hope in God—not in our methodologies, our practices, our structures, or even our example, but in God himself.
Drawing on our history as a family of churches and the amazing truths we celebrate, the Transfer Conference will create a context for us to intentionally transfer the things we treasure to the next generation. If we assume these things, we will lose them, so we must be intentional to transfer them. At Transfer you’ll have the opportunity to join with different generations to celebrate and be strengthened in the values we treasure most.
Registration opens tonight at midnight EST at a price of $99 per person ($175 per couple) for a limited time. This price includes two lunches provided for all Transfer attendees.
To learn more, check out our website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.
November 29, 2012 by
Categories: C.J. Mahaney | Resources
One solitary blog post on procrastination. That was the extent of what C.J. Mahaney intended to write. But not long after spreading out the contents of his “time management” file folder over his desk, useful old resources surfaced, old themes returned, and new ideas emerged. A series was born.
With the help of Tony Reinke, C.J. began weaving his thoughts into blog posts and what later became a free ebook on the topic. This resource covers the following topics:
- Are You Busy?
- Confessions of a Busy Procrastinator
- The Procrastinator Within
- Just Do It
- In All Thy Ways
- The Sluggard
- Time. Redeemed.
- Roles, Goals, Scheduling
- Roles (Part 1)
- Roles (Part 2)
- Goals (Part 1)
- Goals (Part 2)
- Goals (Part 3)
- Goals (Part 4)
- Scheduling the Unexpected
- The To-Do Lists Are Never Done
Finishing Your To-Do List
C.J. concludes this ebook with the follow section, appealing that our joy not be found in our self-sufficient efforts but found in what Jesus has already accomplished for us.
No matter how much planning, scheduling, and discipline is present in my life, I will never completely redeem the time. I am a finite creature, limited in what I can accomplish, and further limited by my sin. So it should surprise nobody that I leave to-dos undone each and every day. My joy is not derived from the flawless execution of my goals. My joy each day is derived from the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Only God gets his to-do list done each day. I need the cross of Christ each day.
May this whet your appetite to read, consider, plan, and apply the material from Biblical Productivity.
November 28, 2012 by
Categories: Mission Videos | Music
For the past 28 years, Sovereign Grace churches have partnered together to produce the songs of Sovereign Grace Music. Our mission is to promote Christ exalting songs and training for the local church.
We produced our first cassette, Mighty God, in 1984. Soon after, we started looking for a way to distribute songs that Mark Altrogge, Steve & Vikki Cook, Bob Kauflin, and others were writing for congregational worship. The result was 16 “song service tapes” of about 8 songs each that Steve Cook produced in his home studio. In the late 80’s we also released three albums on the Spring Hill label, The Nations are Waiting, and Alive! 1 and 2. The sequel to the song service tapes was the Come & Worship series, 9 higher budget CDs of about 10 songs each. We also released three albums in the mid-90s with Word’s HeartCry label, produced by Steve Cook, Paul Mills, and Cheryl Rogers. Starting with Upward in 2003, our albums became more theme-based. Although Bob Kauflin is the current Director of Sovereign Grace Music, we're indebted to Bo Lotinsky who faithfully, strategically, and creatively sought to develop Sovereign Grace Music for many years.
The Sovereign Grace Music team is led by Bob Kauflin, and includes Steve Cook, Joel Sczebel, and Brittany Kauflin. Their responsibilities include producing new recordings, managing translations and international albums, identifying and training upcoming musicians and leaders, hosting the WorshipGod conferences, promoting our music through social media, handling requests and permissions, and more. Our most recent release happens to be our 60th album, Together for the Gospel Live II, which came out yesterday.
For over 28 years, the support, involvement, and contributions of Sovereign Grace church members have been the backbone and heart of Sovereign Grace Music. In fact, Sovereign Grace Music wouldn’t exist apart from the churches of Sovereign Grace. To highlight and thank God for our partnership we asked Bob Kauflin to share a few thoughts on Sovereign Grace Music, past, present, and future.
We pray that as you watch this video, you’ll better understand the part music plays in our mission to build and plant local churches for the glory of God, and the joy we have in doing it together as a family of churches.
November 27, 2012 by
Today is the official release date for Together for the Gospel Live II, the follow-up album to Together for the Gospel Live that came out in 2008. This new album contains 16 hymns, old and new, that we sang at the 2010 and 2012 Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, KY.
Together for the Gospel emerged out of the relationships between four men: Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, and C.J. Mahaney. They found their experience of fellowship in and around the gospel so rich and encouraging they wanted to share it with others. So every other year, along with a few other speakers, they gather with thousands of mostly pastors, and seek to explore, revel in, and apply the riches of the gospel in teaching and song.
Like most of you, I’m used to singing hymns and modern songs accompanied by drums, bass, guitar, and keys. If your church’s music is more traditional, your singing might be accompanied by a piano, organ, and orchestra. Both settings can be used to amplify, complement, and support the truths we’re proclaiming.
At Together for the Gospel, we leave the band at home and I just lead from a piano. No pulsating drums, crashing cymbals, sonic synth textures, or loops (although I appreciate and use all of them in other contexts). The simplicity of the instrumentation combined with the depth of thousands of mostly men’s voices has a unique effect. Truth sings.
Most people are unaware that music almost wasn’t a part of Together for the Gospel because of the possibly divisive effect. The people who attend Together for the Gospel are a diverse group, musically speaking, and there’s always the potential to offend someone. Singing these hymns with simple accompaniment enables us to express and encourage our unity in the gospel rather than undermine it. And for that, I’m very grateful.
This isn’t the most musically creative album you’ll ever listen to. It’s not the most sonically advanced recording you’ll ever buy. Together for the Gospel Live II definitely doesn’t feature a lead vocalist that will “wow” you.
What this album does contain is profoundly rich biblical gospel truths, passionately sung by followers of Jesus Christ. The lyrics and melodies wash over you, feeding your soul, inviting you to join in. Which is exactly what a “worship album” is meant to do.
Here are a few things that make this album different from the first Together for the Gospel Live album:
1. 16 new hymns. New and old, familiar and unfamiliar, all pointing our minds and affections to the glory of Christ in the gospel.
2. Better sound quality. With more people we were able to capture a fuller congregational sound with fewer extraneous noises. Also, I think the piano sounds richer this time.
3. More singing, less talking. While I’m a strong advocate of talking between and during songs at the right times and for the right reasons, (I explain my thoughts in this seminar), we included less of my speaking on this album. Per Mark Dever’s direction, I also interjected comments during the songs less frequently. I think both changes make for a more enjoyable album.
4. Lyrics included: This time we printed all the lyrics in the liner notes, which are also included as part of the MP3 download. Makes it easier to add your voice.
5. 4 part hymn arrangements: You can download the 4 part arrangement for most of the songs (public doman and Sovereign Grace) from the Sovereign Grace Music website. Just click on the song title and the chart will be available for download on the left side of your screen.
Here’s the track list (with a few notes):
- Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
- Come Praise and Glorify (from The Gathering)
- I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art
- Speak, O Lord (Getty/Townend)
- Behold Our God (from Risen)
- Holy, Holy, Holy
- The Gospel Song (from Songs for the Cross Centered Life)
- Grace Greater Than All Our Sin
- I Hear the Words of Love
- Jesus Paid It All
- When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
- All I Have Is Christ (from The Gathering)
- I Asked the Lord That I Might Grow
- O Great God (from Valley of Vision)
- When Trials Come (Getty/Townend)
- We Will Glorify (Twila Paris)
And in case you missed the promo video, here it is:
King of Grace Church of Haverhill, MA celebrated its 10th Anniversary this fall. What started as a small team of 9 adults and 10 children in 2002 has grown by God’s grace into a church that is expanding beyond its current 200-seat capacity and is looking at a second service. Additionally, the folks at King of Grace church are excited about the possibility of a satellite worship service in Manchester, NH for the fall of 2013 and plans to plant in the city of Boston in 2015.
Shawn Woo, a recent graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and this year’s recipient of the GCTS President’s Award, given to their top student, has begun a church-planting internship with a view of leading the Boston plant in 2015. They are encouraged as they look back on 10 years of God’s faithfulness and trust him for future opportunities for the gospel in New England.
The following video recounts God’s faithfulness to King of Grace Church through the stories of six families.
November 23, 2012 by
Daily Bible reading and prayer can become legalistic practices motivated by a desire to merit God’s acceptance and approval in our lives. But they don’t have to be. They are good and wise practices that bring great blessings into our lives when they are practiced for the right reasons. Here is a quote that has helped me from B.B. Warfield:
“There is nothing in us or done by us at any stage of our earthly development because of which we are acceptable to God…we must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all.”
We do not earn blessings from God because we have a quiet time. We don’t forfeit his blessing on a day we miss it. God doesn’t bless because we spend time with him. But he does often bless us through that time.
In his recent visit with us, Jerry Bridges spoke on endurance. Mr. Bridges said that we endure by the grace of God. Grace is God in action for our good. This is what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 15:10 when he said, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” Paul was empowered by the Holy Spirit as he sought to live for God, and the Spirit was supplied to him by the grace of God. So, enduring doesn’t mean we do not take action. Endurance means we take action—and the action we take is action that is wholly attributed to the work of God’s Spirit by the grace of God.
Mr. Bridges said there are four actions we can take to finish well in our Christian life (i.e., persevere and endure for the long term in faith in Christ for His glory). They are daily reviewing and appropriating the gospel, daily commitment to God as a living sacrifice, firm belief in the sovereignty and love of God, and the subject of this article: a daily time of focused communion with God (this is actually Mr. Bridges’ first point).
This month in a Cornerstone U class I attempted to give some instruction for this point in response to Mr. Bridges’ encouragement. I have included with this article some attachments that I handed out in the class, including a Bible reading plan, a Bible memorization plan, an outline on how to pray, and scriptural prayers of the Apostle Paul. My hope is to equip those who desire to grow in this area so that they can enjoy growth in a personal time of communion with God.
Psalm 63:1, “O God, you are my God, I shall seek you earnestly. My soul thirsts for you; my flesh yearns for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
The purpose of a daily time of communion with God is seeking God like the psalmist. It certainly is intense! If we are to do this effectively, we need a plan.
“It’s helpful to have a plan, but the plan must direct you to God himself…Spending time with God certainly involves the reading of a chapter or three verses or three chapters or whatever. But the object of that is to meet with God, to have God speak to us and to respond to him. As I open my Bible each day I ask, ‘Lord, may I today spend time with you. Would you speak to me from your Word? Would you encourage me? Would you teach me? Would you rebuke me if I need it? Lord, whatever you see that I need today, I come to spend time with you.” Jerry Bridges
Communion with God is more than a plan. Communion with God is meeting with him. It’s asking him to speak to us, speaking to him as we read his word, interacting with his Word in prayer, praying over what God is saying to us in His Word, etc.
Psalm 42:1, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”
The beauty of the Lord is not a physical beauty. It’s the beauty of His attributes. It’s the beauty of the cross, i.e., what he has done for us in Christ. The psalmist is saying, “I want to gaze on this beauty. I want to have communion with God.”
As we daily seek to have personal communion with God, we speak to him, and God will meet with us and communicate with us. So, we want to be intentional in seeking God. We want to make it our practice, or in other words, our discipline. We want to have focused communion with God as part of our normal daily activity.
* This post originally appeared on the blog of Cornerstone Church of Knoxville.
Bill has served as Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church of Knoxville since its inception in April, 1990. His responsibilities include general oversight of the church, training and care for the Pastoral Team, Sunday morning teachings, and directing our evangelistic efforts at the University of Tennessee through its campus outreach, Volunteers for Christ. Bill married his high school sweetheart, Cheri, and they have four children.
November 22, 2012 by
Because of my sinful tendency to complain, I study the topic of gratefulness regularly. What a fitting time of year to be reminded of what theologian Peter T. O’Brien writes:
Paul mentions the subject of thanksgiving in his letters more often, line for line, than any other Hellenistic author, pagan or Christian. The eucharisteō word group turns up forty-six times in the Pauline corpus and appears in many important contexts of every letter except Galatians and Titus. The apostle’s thanksgiving terms consistently express the notion of gratitude which finds outward, and often public, expression in thanksgiving. By mentioning what God has graciously done in his Son, other Christians are encouraged to thank him also. As thanksgivings abound, so God is glorified (2 Cor 4:15; cf. 2 Cor 1:11).…
The grounds for the offering of thanks are wide-ranging: from the personal expression of gratitude offered to Christ for showing mercy to Paul (1 Tim 1:12), to the triumph over sin and death which Christ has effected on behalf of his people (1 Cor 15:54–55, 57; cf. Rom 7:25) and to the ultimate gift of God’s Son (2 Cor 8:16; cf. 2 Cor 8:9).*
To encounter Paul was to experience gratefulness.
May those who encounter us today observe this same gratefulness. And may this thankful heart extend to each and every day.
* Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin and Daniel G. Reid, eds., Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 69, 71.
November 21, 2012 by
Categories: Articles | Evangelism
“I think it’s simple,” my dad said in one elders meeting, “I think we need to repent.”
For the past several years God had been growing a conviction in our hearts that our church did not have God’s heart for the lost around us. Though there were a few members that excelled in sharing their faith, our church as a whole wasn’t marked by the kind of evangelistic fervor we saw in the New Testament. We were struggling to find the right language to talk about this major change we felt God was calling us to as a church. Then we realized it was simple: we needed to repent.
Repentance is sometimes a term we can be afraid of because we wonder, “What if people think I don’t have it together?” But one of the theses Martin Luther famously nailed to the door in Wittenberg was this: “The Christian life is one of constant repentance.” We as Christians are in a continual state of repentance this side of heaven––turning away from our sin and turning toward Christ.
So for the last two years we’ve sought to turn away from passivity and turn squarely toward God’s commission to bring the gospel to those around us (Matthew 28). And by God’s grace, repentance is bearing fruit.
It had been many years since anyone had been saved through our church’s direct ministry, so about a year ago I began praying: “God please just bring one person to Christ through our ministry here. Let our whole church see how amazing it is when someone goes from death to life.” I had no idea that while I prayed, God was already at work.
At that time, my mom had been building a friendship with a girl in her twenties. Slowly, this girl began to be more than an acquaintance and began to get a window into my parents’ life. One day, completely unprompted, she asked, “Can I go to church with you?” She began attending our church, but more than that, she began becoming part of our extended family. Eventually she was meeting with my wife for coffee and asking deep questions about the gospel and the Christian life. Then after many conversations and many family dinners, God saved her. A few months later she’s joined our church as a member.
But God didn’t stop there.
Also in our latest new members class was a young man in his twenties that got connected to our church through a college classmate. Despite living at least 40 minutes away from our church he started attending our singles meetings and Sunday gatherings. Many in our church befriended him and helped him better understand the gospel of Jesus and what it meant to be a Christian. Finally, he came to a place where he truly understood that he’d placed his faith in Christ and desired to be baptized.
A few months ago we sat down for pizza and he told me, “You know what held me back for a while? I got to this point where I really believed I understood the gospel and how to respond to it. But it just seemed too good to be true. It took me weeks to believe it.”
The gospel truly does seem too good to be true, and yet it is true. This changes everything.
Here are a few ways we see God at work in our church today in this area:
- My friends Larry and Marian started inviting soldiers over for lunch after church and this has grown into a ministry specifically serving military folks.
- My friend and fellow pastor Tom is inviting his neighbors to the small group meeting at his house.
- My friend Raoul has been inviting his neighbors over for a weekly Bible study for over a year.
- My friends Richard and Ingrid have been building a friendship with a wonderful single mom and her kids.
- My friend Jon mentors a boy from a low-income area and has invited his family to church.
- My friend Jath moved into a low-income area known for gang activity to reach out to folks there it would otherwise be difficult to reach.
- My friend Neil organized a coat drive for the school he teaches at, which is located in one of the poorest zip codes in the country and where nearly every student lives below the poverty line.
- All 800 students from this school received a sweatshirt this past year through the generosity of members of Cross of Grace Church. As a result, this has led to many opportunities to share the gospel.
So far we’ve not had hundreds come to faith in Christ, but we have had some, and we rejoice in this. We’re convinced this can’t be a quick fix. This has to be a change for the long haul.
All this has only been possible because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We realized that our evangelism problem was really a gospel problem. But the good news is that the gospel makes true repentance possible. When we realize that, in Christ, we can’t make God do anything to love us more or love us less, it frees us to repent.
The gospel also propels us to change. Understanding how truly good the message about Jesus is turns us outward to share our lives and share this message. When we truly encounter the Savior, our heart grows with love for him, and when we love him, we love the mission of introducing others to him (Luke 8:38-39).
Recently I shared all this with a friend from another church, including God answering my prayer that God would save just one person. He smiled and said to me, “Well, it looks like next time you should pray for more than one!”
Amen. May we be a family of churches that pray always “for one more” to be saved. May we be known both for our love for the gospel and our deep desire that those around us know the gospel. And may we take hold of the grace of repentance as we learn and grow together.
Ricky serves as the lead pastor at Cross of Grace Church in El Paso, TX. He grew up in El Paso and has a deep passion to see the gospel proclaimed in the city. His primariy responsibilites include overseeing vision, preaching, and leadership of the pastoral team. Ricky graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from UTEP in 2008 and graduated from the Sovereign Grace Pastors College in 2010. He is happily married to Jenn and they have one son. You can watch Ricky share his testimony here.
November 20, 2012 by
Categories: Articles | Prayer
There are two unhelpful yet common ways that we tend to deal with habitual sin in our lives.
One way is to resolve to do better by increasing our discipline and commitment going forward. We resolve to pray more, meditate on scripture more, wake up earlier for devotions, start reading a good book, etc.
The second common way of dealing with lapses into sin is to get discouraged. We start to feel that the battle is hopeless and unwinnable.
So we sink down, sometimes by degrees, sometimes by large drops, into ever increasing despair.
The reason both of these “solutions” fail is because they center on oneself. One way looks to self-discipline as the way out of sinful patterns. The other looks to self-pity as the only reasonable response to sin patterns. With both we end up in the wrong place.
This is where prayer can help. Rather than resolving to “pray more” we should rather just pray—right then and there. The amazing thing about praying is that as soon as you engage in it, you are instantaneously connected to God and his grace.
Note how Paul teaches this pattern in Romans 6:
Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. Romans 6:13
He surprises us here by his solution regarding the fight with sin. We expect him to say “but present your members to righteousness." That would seem to be the exact parallel. But he doesn’t say that. Instead he says “but present yourselves to God." We need to move away from ourselves altogether, from our resolutions and feelings, and go straight to God in prayer.
Paul knew that the answer to sin wasn’t harnessed will-power pulling in the opposite direction of sinful urges, but enabling grace found by an opened channel to God!
Here’s the lesson. When tempted - pray. When we have given in to sin - pray. When we see others giving in to sin - pray. When sin is close to our own heart or others, don’t let the first move of our heart be a horizontal act of willpower or “positive thinking” but rather a vertical act of surrender and dependence. Step in the shower stall of grace and let the mercy and grace of God soak you to the bone!
Then, like an iPad that has charged its battery from an external outlet, we let the power received work in us to help us make the necessary alterations, decisions or attitude adjustments in our soul. Grace flows freely through the yielded soul!
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
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.
November 19, 2012 by
Categories: International | Korea | Video
Songhwon Kang recently presented Sovereign Grace this video, which features the stories from members of Lord’s Grace Church (Seoul, South Korea) testifying to the transforming effect of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their lives.
These stories were made possible, in part, because of your prayers and financial support to Sovereign Grace Ministries. We thank God for the partnership we have with you in the advance of gospel mission taking place in South Korea, at your local church, and around the world! We trust these testimonies are an encouragement to you.