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Wayne Grudem on God’s Providence

Today we kick off a new series, Providence: A Study of the Book of Ruth. In today’s sermon, we discuss the role that God plays in governing all things, but especially suffering and pain. This is undoubtedly a difficult subject and can’t be fully grasped, especially in any kind of quick way.

A helpful resource for any wanting to go deeper into this subject is the chapter on God’s Providence from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology [Dr. Grudem is a professor at Phoenix Seminary, and this large book is an excellent resource for anyone looking to study theology, as are his condensed versions, Bible Doctrine (medium) and Christian Beliefs (small)].

Grudem concludes:

All things come to pass by God’s wise providence. This means that we should adopt a much more “personal” understanding of the universe and the events in it. The universe is not governed by impersonal fate or luck, but by a personal God. Nothing “just happens—we should see God’s hand in events throughout the day, causing all things to work together for good for those who love him…A deepened appreciation for the doctrine of providence will not make us more superstitious; it will make us trust in God more and obey him more fully.

Click here for his whole chapter on God’s Providence.

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Do for One What You Wish You Could Do for Everyone

This past Sunday we talked about the values of Proclamation and Demonstration — the idea that Jesus talked about the good news of his Kingdom and also did actions that proved his love.

I joyfully borrowed from Andy Stanley’s principle, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” It’s a helpful principle, especially in light of how many overwhelming needs there are in our cities and communities.

I’d encourage you to watch a recent message that Stanley gave on this entitled, “One, Not Everyone.” In particular, don’t miss his personal story of how he has seen this principle work out in a very powerful way (starts around the 20:00 mark).

Click here to watch the message.

For more on how this principle impacts leadership, check out his recent podcast on the same topic. (If you are a leader in any capacity, you should subscribe to Stanley’s Leadership Podcast).

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What Would Happen if American Christians Gave?

What do you think the impact would be if American Christians gave generously? The answer will blow you away.

Last Sunday we explored Malachi 3 and God’s expectation that his people would give at least a tenth of their income away for the sake of ministry. God felt so strongly about it that he called it “robbing” him. Most American Christians rob God. Though he asks for at least 10%, the average American Christian gives 2.5%

One bit of information I didn’t get to share was the overwhelming impact that American Christians could make on the world if they actually began to give in a way that honored biblical principles. I came across this in the book Passing the Plate, and what I learned was AMAZING. The authors write:

We estimate that if committed Christians in the United States gave 10 percent of their after-tax income—fully but no more than 10 percent—that would provide an extra $46 billion per year of resources with which to fund needs and priorities. That represents nearly an additional 25 percent of what all Americans—Christians or otherwise—currently give in all types of private philanthropy.

What really matters is grasping the absolutely immense scope and scale of the possible goods that ordinary American Christians could accomplish in the world every year if they simply began to give away 10 percent of their after-tax income. The possibilities are staggering. By our reckoning, with $46 billion they could—in addition to sustaining all currently funded churches, organizations, ministries, and programs—achieve the following:

Cost Description
Global Missions
$330,000,000 Sponsor 150,000 new indigenous missionaries and pastors in nations most closed to foreign religious workers
$2,200,000,000 Triple the resources being spent by all Christians on Bible translating, printing, and distribution to provide Bibles in the native languages of the 2,737 remaining people groups currently without Bible translations
$350,000,000 Provide 50,000 needs-based scholarships of $7,000 each per year for deserving Christian seminary and Bible school students in Africa, Asia, and Latin America
$30,000,000 Translate into four different languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese), publish, and distribute 20,000 copies of 100 new titles per year of the best English-language Christian books for reading in Asia, Africa, and Latin America
$120,000,000 Hire 1,500 new Christian ministers to work in hospitality, evangelism, and discipleship with foreign students studying in U.S. universities
$9,000,000 Finance the organizational infrastructure of a major Christian research and advocacy organization fighting against contemporary economic and sexual slavery worldwide
$75,000,000 Provide funds to help build, expand, or upgrade 75,000 church and ministry buildings in Africa, Asia, and Latin America
$9,000,000 Finance the organizational infrastructure of a major Christian research and advocacy organization fighting for religious freedoms worldwide
$95,000,000 Finance 350 new Christian radio stations broadcasting Christian programming into the least evangelized regions of the world
$50,000,000 Finance 1,000 new interreligious study groups and travel tours per year to promote grass-roots mutual understanding and communication, particularly between Christians and Muslims around the world
$1,000,000,000 Quadruple the total resources being spent by all Christians globally on missions to evangelize the unevangelized world
Global Development and Relief
$2,000,000,000 Finance 5,000,000 grass-roots, micro-enterprise economic development projects per year in poor countries worldwide that employ revolving loan funds for needy entrepreneurs to purchase tools, materials, and equipment to start or expand micro businesses, which they pay pack as their businesses grow
$500,000,000 Completely close the funding gap on resources needed by the current global campaign to eradicate polio worldwide before 2010
$2,000,000,000 Fund 1,000,000 new clean water, well-drilling projects per year in the poorest nations (25% of the world’s population drinks unsafe water), dramatically improving the health of tens if not hundreds of millions of people per year
$1,000,000,000 Finance 10,000 comprehensive faith-based programs of AIDS/HIV prevention, education, and medication in sub-Saharan Africa
$3,900,000,000 Provide full resources needed for a global campaign to prevent and treat malaria worldwide
$2,000,000,000 Supply 1 heifer or 4 hobs (as needed an appropriate) to 4,000,000 needy Christian or other families worldwide per year
$4,550,000,000 Provide food, clothing, and shelter to all 6,500,000 current refugees in all of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East
$9,000,000 Finance the organizational infrastructure of a major Christian think-tank and advocacy organization working on creative means to reduce poverty and hunger worldwide
$480,000,000 Quadruple the current annual operating budget of Habitat for Humanity
$1,600,000,000 Double the current annual operating budget of World Vision, which serves 100 million people in 96 nations
$200,000,000 Boost funding to Christian organizations worldwide that provide free and subsidized eye exams, vision care, glasses, limb braces, and prosthetics to 1,000,000 of the poorest and neediest people of the world
$10,000,000,000 Sponsor 20 million needy children worldwide through Christian organizations providing them food, education, and healthcare
$810,000,000 Quadruple all resources currently being spent by all Christians globally on medial missions work
U.S. Christian Ministry and Church Finance
$750,000,000 Hire 10,700 new Christian youth ministers to evangelize, disciple, guide, and counsel U.S. teenagers
$750,000,000 Raise the salaries of 50,000 of the most needy U.S. church pastors by an average of $15,000 each, to provide for proven needs and to increase incentives encouraging the best and brightest young adults to consider callings to ministry
$75,000,000 Fund 500 new Christian Prison ministry organizations providing evangelism, discipleship, and education to prison inmates
$10,000,000 Translate into English 200 per year o the best Christian articles and books by foreign language writers for publication and sale in the United States and other English-speaking nations
$1,800,000,000 Finance the refitting of the heating, cooling, and electrical systems of 20,000 of the most desperate and inefficient U.S. church buildings per year, including the installation (where appropriate, in 1/3rd of the cases) of new PV solar electric generating systems
$1,100,000,000 Fund 5,500 new Family Counseling and Support organizations in the United States and major cities worldwide to bring affordable Christian support and counseling to families, marriages, and individuals in trouble
$4,000,000,000 Hire 50,000 new, trained, church-based adult Christian educators for the re-education of the U.S. Christians in theology, discipleship, and ministry
$9,000,000 Finance the organizational infrastructure of a major Christian think-tank working on Christian perspectives and moralities of new biotechnologies and emerging medical ethics
$9,000,000 Finance the organizational infrastructure of a major Christian research and training center addressing Christian views on mass media and media production and consumption
$3,375,000,000 Provide the hiring of 45,000 church-based U.S. ministers to the elderly whose mission would be to provide Christian fellowship, care, and support to millions of the most isolate, abandoned, disabled, and lonely aging Americans in their homes, nursing homes, or apartments
$75,000,000 Launch 300 cross-race immersion programs around the United States to provide Christians opportunities to live for 2 weeks in different race environments, to learn and build relationships toward more profound racial reconciliation
U.S. Economic Stewardship & Diaconal Ministry
$150,000,000 Provide financial and debt management training to 200,000 U.S. Christians per year who are deeply in debt, to help them get on solid financial ground in order to be able to make them positive financial contributions in the future
$100,000,000 Provide church-based jobs training and career counseling to 100,000 unemployed or welfare-dependent Americans per year
$50,000,000 Finance 25 new U.S. regional faith-based organizations that would provide assistance and subsidies to pay heating and utilities bills to the most needy of the poor and elderly in the United States
U.S. Christian Educational and Scholarship Development
$15,000,000 Pay down the mortgages of 500 Christian middle and high schools by $30,000 each to reduce debt burden and interest payments
$150,000,000 Provide needs-based scholarships of $15,000 each per ear for 10,000 needy U.S. Christian college students
$45,000,000 Provide needs-based scholarships of $15,000 each per year for 3,000 needy Christian seminary students preparing for ministry
$12,000,000 Provide research and writing fellowships to 150 of the best Christian scholars per year to work on scientific and humanities scholarship informed by Christian perspectives that holds promise for influencing higher education and academic scholarship
$202,000,000 Provide 101 $2 million contributions per year to Christian seminaries, divinity schools, colleges, and Bible schools for building campaigns, capital improvements, endowment building, or other demonstrated needs
$6,000,000 Provide graduate school scholarships for 300 of the most promising Christian Ph.D. students per year in various fields of study
$46,000,000,000 = GRAND TOTAL

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“If I have you by the hand, death is nothing but sleep.” -Jesus

Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, pp. 67-69, commenting on Mark 5:38-42:

Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

Do you think it is odd that when Jesus arrives at Jairus’s house he says that the girl is just sleeping? The parallel account of this story in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels make it clear that Jesus understands she’s dead. She’s not mostly dead; she’s all dead. Then why does he make that reference to sleep?

The answer is in what Jesus does next.

Remember, Jesus sits down beside the girl, takes her by the hand, and says two things to her.

The first is talitha. Literally, it means “little girl,” but that does not get across the sense of what he’s saying. This is a pet name, a diminutive term of endearment. Since this is a diminutive that a mother would use with a little girl, probably the best translation is “honey.”

The second thing Jesus says to her is koum, which means “arise.” Not “be resurrected”: it just means “get up.” Jesus id doing exactly what this child’s parents might do on a sunny morning. He sits down, takes her hand, and says, “Honey, it’s time to get up.” And she does.

Jesus is facing facing the most implacable, inexorable enemy of the human race and such is his power that he holds this child by the hand and gently lifts her right up through it. “Honey, get up.”

Jesus is saying by his actions, “If I have you by the hand, death itself is nothing but sleep.” . . .

. . . There’s nothing more frightening for a little child than to lose the hand of the parent in a crowd or in the dark, but that is nothing compared with Jesus’s own loss.

He lost his Father’s hand on the cross.

He went into the tomb so we can be raised out of it.

He lost hold of his Father’s hand so we could know that once he has us by the hand, he will never, ever forsake us.

HT: Justin Taylor

Click here for additional resources by Tim Keller.

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Living on Mission in Community – Video of Jeff Vanderstelt

One of my favorite parts of being in the Acts29 Network is the exposure and relationships that I have with some wonderful leaders. One of the VPs of Acts29 is Jeff Vanderstelt, one of the pastors at Soma Communities in Tacoma, Washington. He’s been out for a number of different training events with the Surge Network and other things, and every time he comes I’m challenged.

Here’s a brief video that summarizes one of Jeff’s core strengths — living on a gospel mission in community. Take a look and I’m sure this will challenge and stretch you.

How could you begin to live in similar ways with people in your life and/or Community Group?

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Ashley & Mike – The Rest of the Story (Sometimes there IS a Bow!)

This past Sunday we shared Louie Giglio’s powerful message, “Anchor of Hope” from his series, “Hope When Life Hurts Most” (you can watch it here or buy the DVD here). One of the most memorable parts of the message was when Louie was sharing about Ashley, the college student who became a Christian after a friend attended the Passion 2007 conference and then died a few months later, just before her graduation (Louie’s talk, “Fruitcake and Ice Cream” tells more of Ashley’s story as well).

Louie also shared about his subsequent interactions with Ashley’s atheist dad, Mike. He said they were in dialogue about Jesus and pursuing a friendship but that there wasn’t a “bow” to wrap around the story — no obviously happy ending.

Well, I was informed yesterday that there is more to the story, which Louie shared with his church last January. In his message, “God is For Us” (about Romans 8), Louie concludes by telling what has happened with Mike in the last few years.

We’ve cut the audio down to about 18 minutes here. You don’t want to miss this!

Click here to listen.

P.S. Sometimes there IS a bow! It just takes longer than we might hope or expect.

 

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Resources to Begin 2011

If you are looking for some good ways to plan for 2011, here’s your one-stop-shop.

Here are the devotional resources I’m using this year:

 

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