How to Worship When Church Is Cancelled

Having to cancel church is horrible! I’d rather be slapped upside the head a dozen times than have to cancel church!

But tomorrow, Jan 8, hundreds of congregations in the south (and elsewhere I’m sure) have decided it better not to risk injury or worse. With snow, ice, and temperatures that will not rise above 30 degrees by 11am, driving conditions are extremely less than ideal, and it seems wise to encourage parishioners to stay safe. Our little flock has made this same painful choice.

Christians, however, will feel a huge void. It is difficult to miss a meal, and even more difficult to miss a spiritual meal. In order to avoid wasting the Lord’s Day, I’d like to make the following suggestions:

Click and sing along with the following songs:

(If you’re not familiar with this one yet, you’re gonna love it)

Next, read and meditate on the following passage of Scripture:

Philippians 4:1-23 (ESV) Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. 2 I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Now, spend 15 minutes in prayer (Adoration, Confession of sin, Thanksgiving, and Supplication).

Finally, choose one or more of these sermons and listen all the way through:

Not the Same, but Helpful!

I admit, working through this list is not the same as actually being at church with God’s people, but it will help you enjoy a spiritual meal nonetheless. Of course, there are many other options—you may pick different songs, different sermons, etc. Some larger churches even livestream their services, so you could click and join them (like Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA, for example).

Consider having this time with your families as well. You could have your own little “house church” (he he).

The bottom line: Snow and ice should not stop worship even if it does stop travel! “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so” (Psalm 107:2), even when you’re stuck at the house!

One Chapter Per Day Bible Reading Plan

The One Chapter Per Day Bible Reading Plan is designed for those who struggle reading a lot of material or for those who love to read slow (which allows for deeper meditation on the text and more time to pray through the text). Those who prefer a faster pace can still use this plan by simply doubling or tripling up on the readings.

The One Chapter Per Day plan alternates each day between Old and New Testaments. However, it always reads straight through individual books at a time. Continue reading “One Chapter Per Day Bible Reading Plan”

Is the Hyper-Grace Movement Based in Law?

In trying to better understand the Hyper-grace (HG) movement, I came across the following article from Paul Ellis, an HG teacher. I posted a response on his blog essentially pointing out to him that his article can be interpreted as a list of rules (laws), which seems to contradict the position of the HG movement.

Though I resonate with some of what Ellis writes here (we both love grace and consider it scandalously amazing), I think the self-contradiction of dismissing law by creating new laws doesn’t work and is devastating for the HG movement as a whole. My response is also reprinted here below Ellis’ article. Continue reading “Is the Hyper-Grace Movement Based in Law?”

Does Mustard Seed Faith Move Mountains?

Jesus taught that if people only had the faith of a mustard seed, they could move mountains (Matthew 17:20). He also taught that some people can have such a great faith that they could command a mulberry tree to be uprooted and throw into the sea (Luke 17:6).

These passages have often been misunderstood and abused. Many prosperity preachers have even used them to manipulate and damage people. However, if we take the time to dig into the actual and contextual meaning of these passages, we will be deeply encouraged and less likely to fall prey to beliefs and practices that run contrary to Scripture.

Tom Schreiner is a seminary professor of New Testament interpretation. He has provided an article (Why Doesn’t Our Faith Move Mountains) to help us understand the meaning of Matthew 17:20 and Luke 17:6. Did Jesus mean that our faith could literally pick up a mountain and move it? Did he mean that the goal of building our faith is so that we can perform miracles in the world? In his article Dr. Schreiner answers these and several other important questions related to these passages.

Some of his quotes:

“We’re prone to think if we just had more faith, then God could do amazing things through us. But Jesus tells us something quite astonishing. The issue isn’t whether we are full of faith but whether we have any faith.”

“Why is it true that mustard seed faith can move mountains and uproot mulberry trees? Jesus plainly tells us. It isn’t because of the quantity of our faith but the object of our faith.”

“Faith isn’t abstract; we put our faith in the promises of God, in the truth he has revealed. Scripture never promises believers they will be healthy or wealthy.”

“Mountain-moving faith, then, must be based on God’s promises—on what is revealed in his Word—not on what we wish will happen or even fervently believe will happen.”

“Love, joy, peace, and patience are mountains that can only be climbed by faith; faith, after all, expresses itself in love.”

“Mustard seed faith believes the gospel will go the ends of the earth and triumph over the gates of hell. And the clearest evidence of mustard seed faith is whether you love God and your neighbor.”



The classic sermon from
Jonathan Edwards
Updated for today’s readers

PURCHASE

The Need to Read: Tony Reinke’s Top 16 Books of 2016

People can grow spiritually in a number of ways: Spending ample time in prayer, listening to a weekly (meaty) sermon, discussing doctrine with friends, acts of service, and many others. But I’m convinced that reading is at the top of the list.

Reading the Bible and other Christian books has the following advantages when it comes to spiritual growth:

  • Reading promotes meditation, and meditation is really where heart-level change happens. When reading, most people are intently focused on the words and what they mean.
  • Reading allows us to take in more information than we receive from most sermons, lectures, and discussions. The written form allows an author to present an argument in its entirety, and thus the nitty-gritty details of a particular topic can be considered by the reader.
  • Reading is an amazing way to spend extra time. It is so much better than watching movies, TV, or sports, and it can be just as entertaining as these. Plus, when people use their extra time reading, they will not be using that time to engage in sinful activities.

Since I believe so strongly in reading as a major method of growing in the Lord, I am happy to see Tony Reinke, a staff writer at Desiring God, providing the world with his list of the top 16 books of 2016. Reinke says:

“Reading opens our lives to benefit from a range of content, and prepares us to serve others by linking helpful books to the needs and interests of those around us.”

I haven’t been able to read most of the books on Reinke’s list, but I am currently reading one of them, A Peculiar Glory by John Piper, which I highly recommend. I do hope to tackle more over the next weeks and months. I hope you will pick one or two of these and join me!

You may also be interested in one of my books called Drowning Swine. Though this one won’t make anyone’s list of top books, I am grateful to hear that it has helped a number of folks in their walk with the Lord. That’s what its all about!

Five Guidelines for Managing Money to the Glory of God

Money issues make people anxious. But when Jesus taught on treasures and anxiety in the Sermon on the Mount, he made it clear that when we handle resources God’s way, it should actually alleviate stress and anxiety. Following biblical principles of financial stewardship is not burdensome, but actually takes the pressure off of us:

Matthew 6:25 Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

I read about a man who was cheating on his income tax. After hearing a sermon about lying and deceit, he wrote the IRS: “I’m having trouble sleeping at night because I’ve cheated on my taxes. Enclosed is a check for $150. If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send the rest.” Continue reading “Five Guidelines for Managing Money to the Glory of God”

What the Hyper-Grace Movement Gets Wrong

The grace of God really is a “hyper” type of thing. It is overwhelmingly amazing, it washes away all sin from a person’s life and heart, it is given freely at no cost to the sinner (but at high cost to Christ), and it alone can change a person’s heart.

Jeremy White, a self-identified hyper-grace preacher, answered several of the objections often raised against the so-called hyper-grace gospel in his article Why I am Hyper-Grace (written in 2014). He did a good job clarifying and explaining exactly what proponents in this stream of doctrine are teaching and believing. I appreciate his honesty and candor, and I consider him a brother in Christ.

Grace and Law Are Friends

For someone like me, there is great difficulty in critiquing the hyper-grace movement because I love and need the grace of God so much. Plus, Scripture is abundantly clear that God’s grace alone can save and sanctify the human soul. The last thing I ever want to do is minimize God’s grace, which is my only hope for eternal life. Continue reading “What the Hyper-Grace Movement Gets Wrong”