Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cherish God's Word!

If spirituality is measured in number of Bibles owned, the Bonhams are near to God, indeed. I counted in our house at least twenty Bibles: Bibles in several versions (ESV, NKJV, ESV, NASB, NLT, KJV); a Greek interlinear Bible, several 'give-away' New Testaments (yet to be given away); even Bibles that include commentary on almost every verse like the MacArthur Study Bible and the Reformation Study Bible. Not to mention the wealth of Bibles available at our fingertips (for example and

My next Bible, if the Lord wills, is the ESV Study Bible (a massive resource with 2,752 pgs, 2 million words, 20K notes, 80K cross-references, 200-plus full color maps, 40 all-new illustrations, >50 articles, and >200 charts).

But rather than being the supersaints and the Biblical experts we ought to be, we hardly touch our Bibles! To whom much is given, much is required! We don't cherish and study God's Word like we should.

A dear brother passed along a link to this week's broadcast of Ravi Zacharias's "Let My People Think", since he is related to the guest's wife, retired missionaries to Hong Kong. John Bechtel shares a great story of a trip to China during the 80's when he attempts to meet a Christian. This story illustrates that there were times when Bibles were not readily available, and there are parts of the world even today where they are hard to come by.

This message is a great reminder to cherish God's Word, and not to be just a "hearer only" of the Word, but a "doer". (James 1:22-25) And if we are truly a "doer" of God's Word, we will also seek to share it as far and wide as the Lord allows us to!

Here is an introduction to this episode from RZIM, followed by a link to the message itself:
Depending on the source, publishers believe that the average American household has at least three Bibles. Some polling groups report that upwards of forty percent of the American public claim to read the Bible on a daily basis. Yet many pastors and churches would report that Biblical illiteracy is at an all-time high. If American’s hold the Bible to be so precious, why does the Word of God continue to lose its place in our lives? This week we present a very special program featuring a powerful story from Christian missionary John Bechtel and a stirring Q & A with Ravi Zacharias. Join us to rediscover The Resilience and Power of God’s Word.
Click here to download this episode featuring missionary John Bechtel.
1 Peter 2:1-3, So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Powerful Audio Downloads

I don't listen to a lot of sermon mp3s, though I try to listen to a few each week (besides the great preaching we hear at CSide). For whatever reason, I've stumbled upon several VERY good sermons in the past couple of weeks! Here are some of the top downloads that have been a blessing (in no particular order)...
  • Proverbs on Parenting, Greg Mazak. My brother-in-law shared this series done by a teacher that he and my wife both had during their stay at BJU. Dr Greg Mazak delivers a (stand back!) powerfully practical series on parenting from Proverbs. Here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. If nothing else you will be sure to learn the theme of Provers ("the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom") and that the fear of the Lord is "a reverence for God based on a relationship with God expressed in a submission to God." (Proverbs 9:10)
  • The Story of Calvinism, Phil Johnson. In my last post, I talked about the great series on Calvinism (Clarifying Calvinism). This sermon was mentioned in the series. Phil breaks down Calvinism historically, hitting the high points of the key men on either side of the debate, the key councils. He tackles the distinctives of monergism vs. synergism, and finally breaks down the essence of the 5 points themselves. Note: Please pray for brother Phil and his family, as he is grieving the loss of his mother this week.
  • Pray and Lose Not Heart, Paul Washer. The order here was not intentional but it certainly works! This sermon is good in so many ways. It's doctrinally rich, pastorally loving, and extremely comical at times. It's one I will listen to again and again. Here is a challenge: Read the transcript here--even just a portion--you will want to hear the whole thing!
  • The Story of the Revelation of God's Glory, Mike Summers. My local pastor preached this fantastic sermon last Sunday, to kick off an extended series through the Gospel of John. It is saturated with Scripture (well over 50 passages, mostly in John, give a great bird's eye view of the Gospel!) We didn't just hear Scriptures read either. We heard solid preaching on the purposes of each of the four Gospels, the "I Am" statements, the 7 signs (miracles) that John includes to point to Christ's deity. And all this was tied into the main idea of the sermon (and of John's Gospel): "John’s pattern is to use signs to point to the glory of Christ, and to give evidence to urge faith in Christ."
  • The Shack: The Good, the Bad, and the Controversial. I also heard the audio of a very helpful panel discussion on the runaway best-seller, the Shack. If you have heard the buzz on this book--as I keep hearing, more and more--I would recommend you give this a listen. It doesn't just give helpful considerations for this book, but the exercise of walking through these issues will--as one panelist points out--"exercise our muscles of discernment" for all areas of discernment (movies, music, books, etc.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Clarifying Calvinism ...

I came across a great series of blog posts over on Pulpit, Clarifying Calvinism. The series is aptly named because it "clarifies"--a nice friendly-sounding word with no combative connotations--what is (and isn't) taught in "Calvinism". Aside from the inevitable emotions which the word "Calvinism" itself sometimes elicits ...

... the title is helpful and appropriately named!

No matter what "side" you're on in this debate (even if you don't know!), this is an interesting and helpful series of short posts that add light to the topic.

Here are some things I liked about the series:
  1. it differentiates "hyper Calvinism" (which is bad, very bad) from actual, historic Calvinism.
  2. it provides some a short list of very good resources for further study ... some books and 2 mp3 resources (a short-version: a single message on "the Story of Calvinism", and a LONG version, a 74-message series entitled "The History and Theology of Calvinism").
  3. it is personable/informal and fair, something I'd share with my Arminian friends with no worry of undue offense. The author shares his own personal journey in "the doctrines of grace" and yet does it in a non-condescending way.
  4. it is balanced. Where else will you find a defense of Calvinism which actually recommends reading the top book from the "other side"?
  5. it has some good insight on 1 John 4:19 that I'd never considered before.
  6. finally, the messages are broken down into short, readable posts that you can read in 5-10 minutes each.
Click here for Part 1, and I am confident that you will soon be looking for the subsequent installments on the menu on the right!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Who is America's Pastor?

Rick Warren? President-elect Obama picked Rick Warren to preside at his inauguration (which drew immediate outrage from gay/lesbian groups). But the choice is a clear sign of the state of our country spiritually. I don't like the choice either, but not because Warren has spoken against obvious immorality. I don't like the choice because he calls himself a pastor but doesn't preach the true Gospel.

My vote for America's Pastor?

Check out one more video, a quick montage of clips of MacArthur on Larry King, defending the Gospel.

Commercial for MacArthur Study Bible

This is funny ...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Jim Elliff visit to State Street 2009

Finally, it happened! After rescheduling twice (each requiring an email to our 1,400 KC employees!), we finally had Jim for a visit our Bible Study Group (at work) on Thursday.

Jim brought an elder in his church, Steve Burchett to assist. We actually visited Steve's house church group once (Steve is my friend Luke's pastor). Steve was a big help in setting up today. In fact, when Jim turned down the ginormous podium (in favor of his 'walking around' style) Steve found some nearby materials in the back room that we used for a make-shift stand for Jim's notes and Bible (see below).

Jim, a guest back in February of last year, agreed to come back, this time to talk about finances. God answered my prayer for a big turnout. We had almost 20, and the impact is not limited to the ones in the room. The A/V guys were able to video-link the session and will upload to our intranet soon! We have a website on a SharePoint server that allows us to easily upload pictures, announcements, video, and documents (i.e. Bible Studies) for our BSG network group. What a blessing to know that over twenty-thousand employees will have access to the video of Jim talking about how to glorify Christ through your finances!

Raise your hand if you think that's AWESOME!

Jim shared some amazing stories from his life how the Lord provided for him, his family and his church. He has been deeply impacted by his study of the life of George Muller, and in typical Elliff generosity gave everyone a free copy of the book on Muller's life that CCW publishes*.

In addition to sharing his powerful testimony, Jim also shared some Scriptures on the topic of debt, and his 7 Principles of Finance for the Believer. You can find these practical teachings on debt, Christian Finances, and giving here and here and here.

The 7 Principles are a must read! I'll list them here to whet your whistle:
  1. The Principle of Non-Attachment - I will purchase or receive nothing that I cannot give away.
  2. The Principle of Liberty - I will owe no man anything but to love him.
  3. The Principle of Liberality - I will constantly seek to give away money and possessions for God's glory.
  4. The Principle of Recall - I will keep accurate records of God's dealings with me financially in order to show others that God answers prayer and provides for His own.
  5. The Principle of Security - I will save and invest only if God is leading, with the understanding that I will give it all away at His slightest instruction.
  6. The Principle of Compassion - I will not pray for someone's needs financially unless I am willing to be the instrument God uses to meet that need if He should desire.
  7. The Principle of Contentment - I will be content to live on whatever God chooses to provide, whether little or much.
You'll want to follow the link and work through what God says about proper stewardship of His money!

Finally, Jim shared on giving. This was definitely my favorite! It was so cool to hear stories about how God rewards those who give to others out of a cheerful heart! I know that many hearts were challenged by Jim's radical and Christ-like teaching on finances, mine included.

*Jim also made available his newest book for a drastically discounted price.

Co-authored by Steve Burchett this book is the fruit of a two or three year process of thoroghly searching the Scriptures on the topic of divorce and remarriage. I'm looking forward to reading this with Aimee soon and studying the Scriptures on this topic (of course a 'permanence view' is the only mindset to adopt when you're married to a wretch like me!)

About Me

Here is my testimony: mike