Principles of Giving

Treasure Principle Keys
You can’t take it all with you, but you can prepare for the glory that awaits.

God owns everything; I’m His money manager.
We are the managers of the assets God hasentrusted—not given—to us.

My heart always goes where I put God’s money.
Watch what happens when you reallocate your money
from temporal things to eternal things.
Heaven—the New Earth, not the present one—is my home.
We are citizens of “a better country—a heavenly one”
(Hebrews 11:16).
I should live today not for the dot, but for the line.
From the dot—our present life on earth—extends a line
that goes on forever, which is eternity in Heaven.
Giving is the only antidote to materialism.
Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and a greater agenda. It
dethrones me and exalts Him.
God prospers me not to raise my standard
of living, but to raise my standard of giving.
God gives us more money than we need
so we can give—generously.
Ecclesiastes 5:10-15
on money and happiness
paraphrases by Randy Alcorn
“Whoever loves money never has money enough.”
The more you have, the more you want.
“Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.”
The more you have, the less you’re satisfied.
“As goods increase, so do those who consume them.”
The more you have, the more people (including the government) come after it.
“And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?”
The more you have, the more you realize it doesn’t meet your real needs.
“The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much,
but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep.”
The more you have, the more you have to worry about.
“I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner.”
The more you have, the more you can hurt yourself by holding onto it.
“…or wealth lost through some misfortune.”
The more you have, the more you have to lose.
“Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes,
so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.”
The more you have, the more you have to leave behind.

Understanding Baptism From Evangelism

green (evangelism early church)-wrk01.inddWhat does the early Church’s experience of evangelism and discipleship have to say to us about baptizing infants?

Michael Green’s Evangelism In The Early Church (Eerdmans, 1970) is a stimulating read that has always rekindled a personal zeal for evangelism. Many churches and ministry contexts can actually work to numb Christians to the pressing need of evangelism. Reading realistic accounts of God’s triumphs in the early church helps stir us to remember Paul’s exhortation to “do the work of an evangelist” (II Timothy 4:5).

In the wake of evangelism, when the Spirit brought regenerating grace, how did the early Church handle baptism of new converts’ children? Green points out that this is not his main point, but his research sheds some light on the topic. Continue reading

Grace For Burned Out Christians

GraceBurnedChristian2_800Last night we had a great start to our church seminar for when we face burn out or spiritual exhaustion; or get burned by a pastor, another Christian, or a church. Some of the resources we used are presented here. Here are some other Diakonos lectures from the past.

BrentHowlandOne of our main speakers, Brent Howland of International Messengers, was unable to be present last night due to his missions schedule. He will be presenting his material at a later date, Dv. We look forward to his teaching on “A Gospel Primer For Burn Out.”

Our first active session was “Withering: A Biblical Theology of Burn Out.” Exploring the word נָבֵל, navel, as well as various biblical instances of this spiritual drought, the following passages were surveyed:

Moses | Exodus 18:14 – 23

Israel | Deuteronomy 8:1 – 10

Elijah | I Kings 19:1 – 8

Solomon | Ecclesiastes 2:9 – 11

Disciples | Matthew 14:22 – 27; John 6:60 – 69

Solutions to this nabol tibol were desiring God’s Word (Ps 19:7 – 11), covenant prayer (Ps 120:1), communion with the risen Christ (Matt 11:25 – 30), evangelical obedience (Deut 8:1 – 2), and meditating on our eschatological rest (Heb 4:8 – 11).

Our second presentation was by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, professor and minister in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, via the magic of the internets. His seminal talk, “The Gospel For Those Broken By the Church,” is below. Continue reading

A Perspective Of The Heart

perspectiveDear Zion
As you look at the year so far, what do you see? Wisdom and experience tell us that “perspective is everything.” Abraham Lincoln expressed that when he said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or we can rejoice because thorn bushes grow roses.” How you look at things determines so much. How does Jesus want us to look at things? Few things in Scripture are as important as keeping in perspective the heart. The heart – that center of your emotions, desires, and will – that is where God is calling you and me to look.

From the Heart

It is so easy for us to underestimate the importance of the heart. When Jesus was questioned about the Greatest Commandment in Mark 12, He reminds us that true obedience begins with a heart response: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” (v. 29). In fact, all of our behavior begins with our heart: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, because from it flows the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Jesus echoes this same idea when he said, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

Who you are will determine what you do. So that raises the greatest question of all – who has Jesus made you? Where does your heart sit in relation to His commands? There would be nothing better than to stop reading this article and spend some time prayerfully asking God where your heart is at. Continue reading

Faith & Hope For A New Year

FaithHopeDear Zion,

The month of January is named for the ancient mythical character named Janus, a figure drawn with two faces – one face looking back into the past, and the other looking forward into the future. I don’t know about you, but that is often how I feel during January: one eye looking backwards at the year of 2015 as it has come to an end, and one eye looking ahead, wondering and praying about what 2016 will bring. As you ponder and pray about God’s work in your life in the year ahead, and evidences of His grace from the close of 2015, do you tremble?

Zion_Arch_CircleI know I do. The close of a year brings with it memories that leave me nearly speechless. There were uncounted blessings in 2015, each of which were undeserved gifts of grace. “Every good and perfect gift comes from above from the Father of Lights, in Whom there is no shadow of change or turning” (James 1:17). Have you awakened to the sheer number of blessings of 2015? But I also tremble at the undeserved mercies that built up over a year of needing His forgiving love. Each year that passes marks 365 days of falling deeper into the debt of grace, having been desperate for the cleansing blood of Jesus. Without His majestic mercy, none of us could get through one day, let alone an entire year! “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3).

It helps us to look backwards into a year spent and look forward into the year ahead if we think about the Christian blessings of faith and hope. These twin virtues from God help us deal with the past (faith) as well as the future (hope). And God’s Word often puts them together, like in I Thessalonians 1:3, “your work of faith… and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ,” or even closer in I Peter 1:21, “your faith and hope are in God.”

We talk a lot about biblical faith, but what is the difference between faith and hope? And how does faith inform our past, and hope inform our future? Continue reading

The Liturgy of Lloyd-Jones

D-Martyn-Lloyd-JonesRecently at 9Marks, Mark Dever interviewed Iain Murray regarding Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. If it was listed in the New Testament, I would say facilitating interviews or panel discussion is one of Dever’s spiritual gifts. This was an enjoyable discussion with Murray, especially on DMLJ, whose Trust you should make sure to visit so you can get all their terrific resources.

When I think about Lloyd-Jones, I think about preaching. But I don’t often think about the other ministerial necessities that go along with the sermon. And so it was with interest that I listened to Murray relay the details of an order of service during Lloyd-Jones’ ministry at Westminster Chapel.

“The Sunday morning service would always start with the unannouced Doxology… not, ‘let’s stand and sing the doxology,’ but the organ was playing, and then the people would stand and sing “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.'” So the order, Murray related, went something like this:

Doxology
Hymn of Praise
Opening Prayer
Reading of God’s Word
Second Hymn
Pastoral Prayer
Brief Congregational Announcements
Offertory
Third Hymn
Sermon
Prayer
Closing Hymn

A few notes. Continue reading

Spirit Is Contra Sin, Not Contra Nature

Spirit_Instagram(see all my Instagram photos)

The above quote is a beauty by Michael S. Horton on a (not so) recent episode of the White Horse Inn, entitled “Gifts of the Spirit.”

In discussions over nature and grace, this aspect of the Spirit’s working in the life of the believer is important to remember. And it isn’t just the Spirit. As Horton reminds us: “In every work of the Trinity, the Father speaks in the Son and by his Spirit, who is at work within creation to bring about the intended effect of that word… What’s true in our salvation is also true in providence… Once we recover a greater sense of God’s ordinary vocation as the site of his faithfulness, we will begin to appreciate our own calling to love and serve others in his name in everyday ways that make a real difference in people’s lives.”

The other link the WHI crew suggest is this helpful defense of cessationism by Dr. Richard B. Gaffin. I don’t agree with every premise or conclusion of the article, but for those looking for a top-tier, accessible response to the continued gifts of the Spirit will find a lot that is helpful to begin the discussion, especially the closing paragraph.

May we walk more and more in the Spirit!

Shoring Up Contentment

Contentment booksI think everyone struggles to be truly content. Whether in possessions, circumstances, relationships, or something else, we all answer like Rockefeller when he was asked how much money is enough: “just a little bit more.” Contentment is a battle for everyone.

I recently preached on contentment, and I had three resources that were of great help to me. The following books are often missed by Christians, and I hope you’ll take note of these. Jeremiah Burrough’s The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (Amazon), William Barcley’s The Secret of Contentment (Amazon), and Thomas Watson’s The Art of Divine Contentment (Amazon paperback, CCEL, PDF) are all masterful treatments of a subject that many modern Christians are deficient in.

For example, Watson practically addresses several enemies that would threaten to steal our contentment. We all face circumstances in life that make it that much harder to practice godly contentment, and Watson lists some of these and then goes on to address these from Scripture:

I have lost a child:

  • It was my only child
  • I have a great part of my estate melted away

It is sad with me in my relations: Continue reading

Risk In Missions, Love, and Evangelism

Mission_10.40Window_600Following Christ can be dangerous. But as John Piper argues in Risk is Right, the ephemeral dangers are completely obliterated in the light of the unspeakable rewards that await those who risk all for Christ.

This was brought home to me in two ways. First, Nancy Writebol quoted the words from Risk is Right that speak these truths so eloquently:

There are a thousand ways to magnify Christ in life and death. None should be scorned. All are important. But none makes the worth of Christ shine more brightly than sacrificial love for other people in the name of Jesus. If Christ is so valuable that the hope of his immediate and eternal fellowship after death frees us from the self-serving fear of dying and enables us to lay down our lives for the good of others, such love magnifies the glory of Christ like nothing else in the world.

What makes this amazing is that Nancy is an ebola survivor; she took a huge risk to help others through Christ’s love to her own personal safety.

But the second way was that I was reminded of Nancy’s statement by a missionary that we support at Zion. Continue reading

Horton on the Holy Spirit at Moore Annual Lectures

horton_holyspiritMichael S. Horton, the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary CA, was the speaker for the Annual Moore College Lectures for 2014. Held August 14 – 22 in Sydney, Australia, the schedule was as follows:

Public Lecture: How the Spirit Changes Everything Public Evening lecture

Lecture 1: Lord and Giver of Life

Lecture 2: The Spirit of Christ

Lecture 3: The Spirit of Holiness

Lecture 4: The Spirit and the Bride

Lecture 5: The Age of the

The video recording of the lectures are also available here. The audio lectures can be found here, and a sample is given below.

From the brief snippets of the lectures that I’ve listened to, I have found this to be classic Horton, bringing the text of Scripture into new light. Whether it is emphasizing the legal duties of paraclete in John 14 in the covenant lawsuit, or how unbelieving Israel is identified with the world so that Christ’s disciples are excommunicated as latreia, there will be a lot to appreciate for those who enjoy vintage Reformed theology from fresh exegesis.

You can find out more about Dr. Horton’s travels and teaching in Australia here.