Jerry Bridges Conference – Report – Part 1

Well, this weekend has been a time of great fellowship, deep soul searching, faithful preaching and thankful praise.  Our partnership with Wellspring Church, a Sovereign Grace Church in our neighboring town of San Leandro, was a special treat as they are a pleasure to be around and their spirit contagious for the glory of God and His Gospel.

Our speaker, Jerry Bridges, was invited to speak to us on the subject of “The Beatitudes: Humility in Action.”  He broke the beatitudes into four groupings, defined them and then fleshed out how they embodied or bore fruit with humility, but not simply an attitude of humility, but rather a humility in action.

He stressed that each beatitude is an expression of the normal Christian life and that the idea of blessed is not happiness as man understand it to be, but rather to be in the position of enjoying the favor or God.  Although we equate God’s favor with the good times, it is often in the difficult times of life that we experience the favor of God.

1. Poor in Spirit

To be poor in spirit is to be fully aware of our own sinfulness.  Just like the the tax collector in the parable fo the Pharisee and the Tax Collector, or Isaiah before God (Isaiah 6:1-8), we cry out to God recognizing our sinfulness.  Being fully aware of our sin is not only a necessary reality of our salvation, but it is also the attitude a believer should be growing in, being more and more aware of our sin.  And, when we are fully aware of our sinfulness we, who have embraced Christ, can rejoice because we appreciate what Christ has done for us on the Cross.

2.  They who Mourn.

The mourning that Jesus has in mind here is the mourning over our sin, but there is more to it than just that.  We mourn not just because we are aware that we have sinned, but because our sin is against God — “Against you only have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4)  This is contrition and brokenness of heart that God is calling us to.

We must apply the Gospel every day because we are all sitll, although saved, practical sinners.  A person who is growing in Christ is continually mourning over their sin.  That mourning, however, is not self-centered, but God-centered, and the means that God uses to be restored to Him and to help us identify with the culture around us.

As John Newton said, “I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior.”

3.  Meek

If you want to be humble you must go to the cross and dwell there…

Meekness is not spineless, weakness of character of the like.  Nor is it simply a disposition of natural character.  It is the result of the spirit’s work in us as well as something we should be pursuing.

Meekness is an enlightened awareness of the sovereignty of God.  An awareness of His authority and ultimate control over  His creation (Job 34:18-19)  It is a submission toward God recognizing that He is graciously working his will to our good.  The opposite of meekness is arrogance.

There are two ways we can respond to difficulties in life:  We can be defensive and say, “I don’t deserve this” or we can despairingly declare, “I do deserve this.”  But the reality is that we don’t get what we deserve, but we are getting what we need.  So, meekness toward other people grows out of our attitude with God – we bear patiently with them, accepting both criticism and personal injury without retaliation.

4. Merciful

Mercy is the other side of the coin from meekness.  It speaks to how we treat others when they do something against us.  Just like the good Samaritan, we should show mercy or compassion.  Mercy is the same as compassion…which is hands on mercy.  Mercy is granting forgiveness to the guilty especially in light of my comparison of their guilt to my sin against God.

The parable of the unforgiving servant speaks to the kind of compassion we should have for others.  Unlike the servant who, having been forgiven by God of an unpayable debt and does not show like compassion for a man’s small debt, we extend mercy.  Grace addresses our guilt while mercy addresses the condition we are in because of our guilt.  It is important to recognize that in this parable the cost to the master for being merciful.  He was willing to be out a whole lot of money to be merciful…it should cost us.

Do we really grasp the cost of Jesus dying on the cross for our forgiveness?

In all these beatitudes we are reminded to see the beauty of the Gospel, but we cannot see that beauty unless we are willing to see our sinfulness, mourn over our sin agains God, allow His sovereignty to fashion our attitudes toward difficulty and to respond to others with grace rather than retaliation.  It is because of the Gospel that we can live with humilty in action.

Message #1 – “Humbled Over Sin“.

Message #2 – “Meek and Merciful“.

Conference with Jerry Bridges

This coming weekend, October 24-26, I have the great privilege to sit under one of the most respected and read authors of our generation, Jerry Bridges.  Honestly, I can’t wait, and as a pastor I look forward to times when I can be challenged and ministered to by other men of God.  Our church, Castro Valley First Baptist Church (CVFirst)  is partnering with a local Sovereign Grace Church, Wellspring Church, pastored by Sam Shin.  We are both anticipating a healthy expository preaching with a significant and penetrating application.

Jerry Bridges is most widely known by his first book, “The Pursuit of Holiness” which has become a classic and foundational read for many Christians.  He is also the author of such books as “The Practice of Godliness” and “Discipline by Grace” which are all part of the same series.

Jerry has served as vice-president for corporate affairs of The Navigators, and now he continues to serve as a Navigators staff member, ministering to college students, churches, and other groups around the world.

Well, I invite you to join us this weekend, October 24-26.  The theme of the conference is “Humility: The Beattitudes in Action”.  Here is the schedule:

  • Friday @ 7:00 pm – “Humbled Over Our Sin – Matthew 5:3-4
  • Saturday @ 10:00 am – “Meek and Merciful” – Matthew 5:5&7
  • Saturday @ 6:00 pm – “Hungering for Righteousness & Purity” – Matthew 5:6&8
  • Sunday Morning at CVFirst @ 9:00 & 10:45 am – “Peacemakers and Persecuted” – Matthew 5:9-11
  • Sunday Afternoon at Wellspring Church 1:30 pm –“Peacemakers and Persecuted” – Matthew 5:9-11

I hope to blog after each session and report to you the basics of what he says.  Also, we will have his messages available on our church web site…

Hope to see you there!

A Polar Bear Groan…

One of my NRA friends told me about a guy, who, while out hunting in Alaska, accidentally shot a polar bear. When he realized his mistake, he reported the incident to the local ranger.

A week later, he received a letter in the mail telling him that he is being taken to court by the park service. Arriving at court, he explained to the judge what happened, and the judge quickly reached a decision.

“As you didn’t kill this protected species intentionally, I don’t intend to send you to prison”, the judge said. “However, it is still a serious error on your part, and I intend to deal with you by way of a fine, based upon the body weight of the animal”.

“For every one pound of body weight, you will be fined $10.00”. Consulting his records, the judge found the weight of the bear, as recorded by the park services, and called for a calculator. After a minute or two, he called the hunter to the bench, and gave his judgment – a fine of $9,000.

The representative of the park services jumped to his feet, and approached the judge. “Your Honor”, he said, “With the greatest respect, I believe you’ve made a mistake in your calculations. We weighed the animal shortly after it was shot, and it weighed a total of 1000 pounds. Surely, based on that measurement, the fine should be $10,000”.

The judge looked at the ranger, and said, “I made a calculation, taking into consideration, the animals’ weight, minus its two front paws”.

Looking rather confused, the ranger asked, “But why did you not include the front paws in your calculation?”

“Because”, the judge replied, “the Second Amendment guarantees that every American has the right to bear arms!”

A Prescription For America

I have a real dilemma before me.  Would you please advise me?

I am sick, in need of help and I have sitting on my dining room table two prescription medicines that promise to make me better.  Now, honestly I am not looking for a quick placebo or some kind of a band aid to fool me into thinking I’m getting better, because I know that my problems are much deeper than surface issues.  I know that the medial ethic of “our goal is to make you feel better” can be satisfied, but I don’t just want to feel better, I want to be better.  So, I have a choice before me.

Prescription #1

The first prescription is tried and proven; having been FDA approved for over 10 years.  It has a long record of doing what it claims to do – getting to the core of the problem, fighting where the infection is greatest and boosting the patients energy.  Its success is well documented and available for all to study.  It has, however, been available for a long time and may be less effective in advertising, but there is no question as to its effectiveness.  This particular bottle, although still good, has an expiration date of 2012.

Prescription #2

The other prescription is a completely different story as it is brand spanking new.  It has not been approved by the FDA but, like many up and coming drugs its wonders can be heard on Saturday Public Radio shows where Dr. Soandso assures us of its uniqueness and effectiveness as well as the late night infomercials that rave about its accomplishments, even showing testimonies of people who have taken the miracle medicine and experienced radical healing.  It seems to be the popular choice for those of us who are sick, but there really isn’t any documentation to back up the claims, at least not where you would expect to find it.  In fact, when the opportunity for documentation has been made available, the makers of the drug have chosen not to participate.  That deliberate silence concerns me.

So, which medicine should I take?  Should I trust “Old Faithful” or should I get risky and hope that taking the non FDA approved medicine will somehow be the answer I’ve been looking for.  So much in me says to take the risk as so many others in my situation are willing to do it.  I don’t want to be left behind, but how can I be sure if there isn’t a proven record?

Wisdom, in my mind, would say, “I’m going to go with ‘Old Faithful’ as I know what I’m going to get” as well as “hey newbie, why don’t you prove yourself to me before you make up so many promises?”

Those are my thoughts…what would you do? I know that my life and health will depend on it…and I want to be thinking about how my choice will affect my family and friends, even my church.

Surfing Highlights – October 13

There are a lot of events taking shape in our world and many are writing with clarity and seriousness about them.  Some are political, some are theological and some are just entertaining…

So, here are some articles that I think you may find interesting from places I have visited recently:

  • At the Under-Rower’s Blog Ben Armading shares his thoughts on the appropriateness of the use of Apologetics in our evangelism.  It’s a good and honest discussion, and well worth the read.
  • Albert Mohler discusses the rational of society “When Plants Have Rights” and the various world views that embrace the inherent rights due to plant life.  Yes, this is a serious article, and will give you a glimps into the direction our world is heading.
  • Where should our hope be in an economic slide?  John MacArthur shares his thoughts about  Hope and Money at the Pulpit blog.  We need this simple reminder — don’t panic!
  • Finally, the ESV (English Standard Version) Study Bible comes out this week.  This has been a long time coming as the ESV has become the standard text of more and more churches, especially those who hold to a reformed soteriology (that’s me, and most of the people I share ministry with).  You can look at samples of the contents at the Westminister Bookstore and order your copy really cheap.  There are few solid and healthy study Bible’s avaialble.   This will be one of the standards for many years to come.  So, you might want to consider purchasing a hardback for $30.

That’s all for now…

Budding in October…

We are in partnership with six other churches in nurturing, equipping and training the national pastors of the region of Bashkortostan, Russia.  This week, Bud Haskell is teaching a class on “Cults and World Religion”.  You can read his updates at our norcalantioch blog site.

Bud who serves as Sr. Pastor at Grace Bible Church in Hanford is the leader of the coalition and his love and passion for the brothers and sisters is sincere and abounding.

Check it out, pray for Bud, and be mindful that our church, CVFirst, will be the next team travelling to Ufa, Bashkortostan, in January of 2009.  We want to continue to build on the bricks that others have been laying.

Fireproof Yourself!

Friday’s are my day off and I usually take a bike ride and then spend the rest of the day doing something with my wife.  Sometimes we venture out and do some shopping, at other times do work around the house, but often we will go on a date.  Well, today was one of those “Date’s” and we both read each other’s minds because we both wanted to see the new movie put out by Sherwood Baptist Church calle “Fireproof.”

You may recognize the name, “Sherwood Baptist Church” as they also created and filmed the excellent movie “Facing the Giants” using only one camera and only the church family as actors.  In “Fireproof”, however, they secured the pro-bono services of Kirk Cameron whom you may know as Mike Sever from the sit-com Growing Pains and/or the main character in the Left Behind movies.  Kirk is also a very passionate evangelist and with the help of Ray Comfort leads a ministry called Way of the Master.

Well, here is the gist of the movie.  Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) is the local Fire Captain and is committed to being the best he can be.  He is a hard working Firefighter and greatly respected by both his co-workers and the community, but at home, his marriage is tanking (that means its going really bad and getting worse – just in case you didn’t know) and he and his wife Catherine are heading for divorce.  However, a faithful and loving father intervenes with Caleb and “double-dog-dares” (thanks Don, you are havin an influence) him to commit to 40 days of guidance from a special book.  He agrees, and the rest of the movie is about all that takes place as Caleb tries to implement the instructions in the book.

This movie is real, in that it faithfully portrays the kinds of conflict marriages endure.  You easily find yourself relating to the struggles of this young couple and to the complexity and difficulty of a healthy resolve.  It is also funny.  The serious moments are complemented carefully with light hearted activity and conversations.  It is also spiritual.  Caleb’s parents and a godly co-worker bring the spiritual issues to the forefront asking many penetrating and difficult questions and providing crisp Biblical answers to the excuses and challenges Caleb throws their way.

The bottom line in this movie is the need for all couples to “Fireproof” their marriages and to see their struggles as futile if they are attempted without the strength of the Lord.

Now, I must admit that I was encouraged as a husband to think through my marriage and I left eager to work on some areas that need attention.  This is a good movie, not just for the entertainment value, but also, and more importantly, the spiritual value.  You will cry – yes guys, even you.  You will rejoice and you will be strengthened in your heart to be wholly committed to your spouse.

So, I wholeheartedly give this movie a “Two Thumbs Up!” and encourage you to go see it – just make sure that if you are married, you take your spouse with you…and a little tissue…

If you have seen this movie, let me know what you think…