Wednesday, January 30, 2008

SGCF after 6 Months

As we have reached the 6 month point in the life of Sovereign Grace Christian Fellowship it is time to reflect on what has transpired in those 6 months and here are a few thoughts:

First, the church got off to a rocky start due to a doctrinal issue that I thought had been covered but in the end I guess I had not done so to the degree it needed to be covered. The lesson I have learned is to make sure that key doctrinal areas are covered. Even if you think you may have covered them make sure you reiterate them again to get a consensus so as to avoid surprises.

One of the great positives has been the setting of the Lord’s Day service being in our house. This has made things seem a whole lot more relaxed and, at least to me, conducive to building community. What I have found though, and this may be a Southern California thing is that the fact the church is in our home may be foreign to some that are so used to the usual church building. The other thing I find myself dealing with is helping people see the difference between us having church in our house and being a house church. The main difference is, again this may be a Southern California thing, that most house churches seem to be more of a bible study than an actual church and the goal of SGCF is to be a church, no matter the setting.

It has a been a great joy when the smaller children join in with singing and take part in the service as a whole. What better way to learn to be part of a body of believers than to be with other adults from the beginning. In talking to some parents their main concern is that their children, who are usually used to the Sunday School routine, may not sit still. My usual comment is that we are here to help and it will take time but the results are well worth the effort. The longer one resides in the routine of Sunday School and youth group the harder it is but as I see this form of worship as the most biblical God will empower us to have the patience and stamina to change old habits. The other thing that greatly helps children to sit through a service is regular family worship, at home. We try and give tools for home worship such as a catechism for the month and a CD of the month’s songs that can be used to aid family worship at home. The family that has children that worship at home regularly will find it much easier to have them sit during the Lord’s Day.

On a personal note the study I have had to do while preaching through the book of Hebrews has given me insight into Hebrews that I have never had before. As I study I simply cannot fathom how one can down play the atonement of Christ by the sacrifice of Himself on the cross for the forgiveness of sin unless one simply ignores this book. As I read and study it is so clear that ones view of the cross will influence ones view of everything else. I can only surmise how others in our church are growing as we go through this book but I know I have grown in my time in Hebrews.

As we go into a new year we are excited to see how God will use SGCF. I pray that although we refer to ourselves as a Family Integrated Church people will understand we do not worship the family but the God who created the family to worship as he desires to be worshipped. As we move further along God’s path for us I will share the journey God is leading us on. I would also ask for your prayers for this year that God would use us as He sees fit to reach His world for His glory.

If you are in our area and looking for a place to worship we would enjoy having you worship with us on the Lord’s Day. You can check out more about the church on our website: Sovereign Grace Christian Fellowship.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Around the Web and Blogosphere (01/25/08)

Don’t forget you can still join the Puritan Reading Challenge. It’s never too late to read the Puritans.

We went to a conference this past week (1/19-1/20) that The Maxwell Family was speaking at. It was very good if not at times convicting. I am sure in this day and age of the church being enamored by the culture The Maxwell’s would seem quite strange to many but I was greatly encouraged by the talks that were given. I left realizing I have to ask myself how much I have allowed the culture dictate what I do rather than scripture. We all too often do not realize that the culture around us is dictating our actions until we see others that are seeking to push back. This is not, as Steve Maxwell mentioned, a call for isolationism but a call to live biblically regardless of what the goes on around us and regardless of what the culture sees as acceptable.

How often do Christians wonder about their purpose and what God would have them do? The problem is we tend to ask these questions but the answers are right in His Word, the place few people look for the answer. Mike Ratliff at Possessing the Treasure writes a post entitled God Wills Us to be Holy that speaks to one of the things God desires of us and which is a purpose of every believer, seeking to be holy. This does not speak to perfection as God will bring that about when we are called home but does speak to what we need to seek in our lives through the power of the Spirit. So if you are seeking to know God’s will for your life today one of His desires is for us to seek to be holy. It is also brought out that this is done by reading His Word and thus knowing what God commands us to do to seek this holiness He calls us to.

A Steward of the Secret Things blog has moved to a new site called Encouraging Expository Excellence.

We recently got the DVD “Children of Caesar” by Dr. Voddie Baucham and it is very good. So far we have only seen the first of the two DVDs that is entitled: Whoever Controls the School Controls the World. It was very good and I am sure that many will be upset with Voddie’s blanket rejection of public education. I think he does a great job of defending his position first from scripture as well as giving statistics that should reveal the truth about public education. As was said in the DVD ( I hope I get this right): “If we continue to send our children to Caesar for their education, we need to stop being surprised when they come home as Romans.” This is a DVD I highly recommend and even if you have heard much of what is said in other of Voddie’s presentations it is good to have it all in one place. You can purchase the DVD here.

Next month (2/1 – 2/29) there is a great sale at Sovereign Grace Ministries: Sovereign Grace CDs and Books for Ridiculous Prices — and Free Shipping. All of their CDs are $6 and their Pursuit of Godliness books are $5. To top this off there will be free domestic shipping.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Worships Now - Worship Later

As I was studying Psalm 63 this last week in preparation for Sunday last I was struck by how David did not simply out of the blue put aside all of his worries and turn to God but all that he did was a result of a life of worship. How we worship God now will greatly influence how we worship Him later. If we simply see God as a vending machine or bodyguard we will be disappointed when in the midst of a trial things do not turn out as we like

However, if we as David did, turn to God on a daily basis simply to worship Him as our Lord then when we are faced with troubles we can still cling to God, the one who sustains us (Ps 63:8). David in the midst of being hunted down by his son Absalom (2 Sam 15:13-37) in the wilderness does not turn to God and say “oh woes me, why me God” but instead as he had done many times before simply called out to God as his God and that in all of the mess he was in what was most important was that he sought after God.

The passage eloquently compares the physical with the spiritual in that David desired God more than food and water. Not just any water but the passage speaks of what would have been thought of as the finest food. He desired God so much he describes himself as panting or thirsting after Him. Remember his son is after him and it is not to borrow the car but to take his life and he still saw God as most important.

The message is that in whatever trial that God has we are to turn to Him. Not simply to have the trial subside but to instead simply be with God. This attitude of worship is one that is cultivated in times that are not as troubled. A true attitude of praising God on a constant basis will be instrumental in going through the valleys of darkness that we all face in various ways.

Our priorities now will greatly influence how we react to times ahead. If our priority is God then in times of trial He will be our priority then. If we are satisfied by stuff and then struggles ensue when stuff is hard to come by we will not be reaching out for God but we will be reaching out for things that we think that God can provide. David simply sought to cling to God, the God who sustained and supported Him.

My prayer for myself and for others is that I would truly cultivate a practice of worship now that will influence my life and the life of others later.

If you would like a copy of this weeks sermon you can either go to the church sermon page and click on Psalm 63 or you can go directly to Sermon Cloud and listen to. or download. it there: Worship Now-Worship Later

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Around the Web and Blogosphere (01/15/08)

Don’t forget you can still join The Puritan Reading Challenge. It’s never too late to read the Puritans.

Scott at These are the generations…. linked to a good article at Reformation Theology entitled: Growing in Grace & Conscious of Sin. The recognition of sin in our live can be a source of assurance rather than doubt. As we grow in Christ we will more and more recognize that which displeases God and previously pleased us. God makes us conscious of our sin so that we can have an ever increasing “distaste” for it.

At Equipping Christians Ministries they have a page that sheds some light on Basic Mormon Doctrines. In doing this they help to show how the words used by Mormon’s do not align with orthodox definitions of the very same words.

At Jim revels that someone has actually based a paraphrase on a paraphrase: Paraphrasing Relevance: Pop Goes The Bible.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Heart that Eagerly Awaits (Heb 9:23-28)

As I finished up chapter 9 of Hebrews it struck me that in the midst of all that God is revealing through the authors exhortations to seek after Christ he then turns to speak about Christ’s return and ends by describing attitude of those that are truly His.

Hebrews 9:23-28 has so much to say as it starts with the reminder that the Old Covenant pointed towards the New and that all of the sacrificial systems offerings were shadows, or copies, of the reality that is Christ. How often do we turn to shadows and copies rather than reality? We latch onto things we can get our hands around such as traditions and practices that seem so important. The problem is not in the tradition or practice, per say, but in the value we put on it. The writer of Hebrews never says the sacrificial system was a mistake but is revealing that it was always meant to lead the people to seek after something more and that something more is the savior that the whole system pointed to. They should have seen the futility of continual sacrifices and from that feeling of futility cry out for a better way, the better way that was promised in the New Covenant (Jer 31-31-34). Unfortunately like many they had a hard time leaving the comfort of the old ways they were used to and the persecution the true way would lead to.

But what was so striking was how Chapter 9 ended in that God did not simply want the people to think the author had a better apologetic for his position and then decide to follow Christ instead of continuing in the sacrificial system. No, God puts before them the heart of those that are truly His. The heart that He Himself had changed (Jer 31-31-34) so as to even have the attitude He calls for. And what is that attitude: so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Heb 9:28). It is not a heart eager to avoid conflict, pain, suffering or even hell but one that simply has an eager anticipation for Him so that one can serve Him (Heb 9:14).

I know I need to more and more realize that kind of heart, the heart that only God can provide. I need to be eager in a manner that is reflected in my actions. How often, if I was to stop and think about it, I would not be so eager for Christ to return in the midst of some action or attitude that is not glorifying to Him. Part of the eagerness that we are to have is in realizing the sanctification that God promises and provides.

So I would encourage you, if you have been cleansed by the blood of Christ and have experienced the forgiveness He provides in the sacrifice of Himself, to seek through the power of the Holy Spirit to foster a heart that eagerly awaits His return. A heart that actively is realizing the sanctifying power of God in your life.

If you would like to hear this last Lord’s Day sermon on Hebrews 9:23-28 you can access it through the Sovereign Grace Christian Fellowship web site or directly through Sermon Cloud here: Christ Will Return: For Those Who Eagerly Await Him

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Puritan Reading Challenge

Over at Provocations & Pantings Timmy Brister previously had shared his personal challenge to read the Puritans in 2008. Well that challenge has taken on a wider role and if you would like, I am, you can join the challenge and reap the benefits of The Puritan Reading Challenge .

Here is the list and reading schedule for the year.

January: The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes (128 pp)
February: The Mystery of Providence by John Flavel (221 pp)
March: The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson (252 pp)
April: Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks (253 pp)
May: Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ by John Bunyan (225 pp)
June: The Mortification of Sin by John Owen (130 pp)
July: A Lifting Up for the Downcast by William Bridge (287 pp)
August: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs (228 pp)
September: The True Bounds of Christian Freedom by Samuel Bolton (224 pp)
October: The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie (207 pp)
November: The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter (256 pp)
December: A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine (148 pp)

For those of you that do not have these books there are numerous places you can get them but Timmy has a link to Reformation Heritage Books as they have a deal for those that would like to buy all 12 Puritan paperbacks for $65 instead of the regular retail of $101.

So if you are interested go to his site and let him know you are joining in. Also, let me know as during the readings I will from time to time share my thoughts on the various books and would like your input as well.

If this sounds daunting to you keep in mind that this is only about 30 minutes a day or around 7-10 pages a day. It will be a well spent 30 minutes after you have spent your time in God’s word first.

Enjoy and be ready to be stretched as you may have not been stretched before.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Free Paradise Lost MP3 Download

This month’s FREE Audio Book download at is: Paradise Lost by John Milton. All that you have to do is sign up for a free account, if you have not before, and then you can get the monthly free downloads. When you check out you need to put in the Coupon Code of JAN2008.

Even if this book does not interest you check back every month because there is a new free download each month.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Around the Web and Blogosphere (1/01/08)

Well, here is the first "Around the Web and Blogosphere" for the new year.

As we enter a new year, yes it is here already, Doug Phillips gives some good advise on things to do at this time: Three of the Most Important Things You Can Do at This Time of The Year. The three things, which are fleshed out in the article, are:
I. Outline and Chronicle the Many Providences of God
II. Say ‘Thank You’ to Those Who Have Invested in Your Life
III. Forgive Those Who Have Wronged You

If you’re thinking of making New Years resolutions I encourage you to read The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards.

The new 9Marks eJournal is out and has a focus on corporate prayer. You can view either the PDF version or on their website.

If you need a reading plan to read through your bible in the up coming you can check out the various reading plans on the ESV site: Bible Reading Plans

Here are some just some of the new blogs I have begun frequenting this past year:
Family Reformation
Unashamed Workman

Reformed Baptist Fellowship
Scott Brown Online

A Steward of the Secret Things