Monday, November 09, 2015

Reading List

Pastor's Favorites 
Tips for reading your Bible. 
ESV Study Bible (though we do use a mix in church currently) 
Why I Am a Church Member | Thom Rainer
Crazy Love | Francis Chan
Forgotten God | Francis Chan
Too Busy Not to Pray | Bill Hybels
The Peacemaker | Ken Sande
The Divine Mentor | Wayne Cordeiro
Simple Church | Thom Rainer
Desiring God | John Piper
The Love Dare | Stephen & Alex Kendrick
If You Want to Walk On Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat | John Ortberg
The Reason For God | Tim Keller
The Treasure Principle | Randy Alcorn
Scandalous:  The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus | D.A. Carson

Introductory Reading
Christian Beliefs | Wayne Grudem
God's Big Picture | Vaughan Roberts

Intermediate Reading
Attributes of God | Arthur Pink
Church History in Plain Language | Bruce Shelly
Conformed to His Image | Ken Boa 
Desiring God | John Piper
Finally Alive | John Piper
Historical Theology |  Alister E. McGrath
Holiness of God | R. C. Sproul
How People Change | Timothy Lane & Paul Tripp
In Christ Alone | Sinclair Ferguson
Just Do Something | Kevin DeYoung
Knowing God | J. I. Packer
Knowing Scripture | R. C. Sproul
Living the Cross Centered Life | C. J. Mahaney
Prayer and the Knowledge of God | Graeme Goldsworthy
Putting Amazing Back Into Grace | Michael Horton
The Trellis and the Vine |  Colin Marshall & Tony Payne
The Great Theologians:  A Brief Guide | Gerald R. McDermott
When Helping Hurts:  Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor | Brian Fikkert & Steve Corbett 

Advanced Reading
Chosen for Life | Sam Storms
Courage to be Protestant | David Wells
Systematic Theology | Wayne Grudem

Devotional Reading
My Utmost for His Highest | Oswald Chambers 
Grace for the Moment | Max Lucado
Forty Loaves | C. D. Baker
Experiencing God Day-by-Day Devotional | Richard & Henry Blackaby
Breakfast With Jesus | Greg Laurie
Long Story Short:  Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God | Marty Machowski
The Daily Bible in Chronological Order:  365 Daily Readings |  Harvest House
Our Daily Bread | Available in print form at church or read online 

Love and Respect | Emerson Eggerichs
His Needs, Her Needs For Parents | Willard F. Harley, Jr.
For Couples Only | Jeff & Shaunti Feldhahn
The Marriage Bed | Ray Rhodes, Jr.
Sacred Marriage | Gary Thomas
Prayers of an Excellent Wife | Andrew Case

Raising Children
Seeds Family Worship | web site for family worship 
Sex Has A Price Tag | Pam Stenzel
The Talk:  What Your Kids Need to Hear from You About Sex | Sharon Maxwell, Ph.D
How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex | Stan & Brenna Jones
Parenting Today's Adolescent | Dennis Rainey
Preparing for Adolescence | James Dobson, Ph.D

Children's Books
Big Truths for Little Kids | Susan & Richie Hunt
Jesus Storybook Bible | Sally Lloyd-Jones
The Big Picture Story Bible |  David R. Helm
Training Hearts, Teaching Minds | Starr Meade

Student's Books
Teen Study Bible | Zondervan  (Jr. & Sr. High age)
NIV Discoverer's Bible | Zondervan  (Elementary School age 8-12)
Chronicles of Narnia set | C.S. Lewis
How to Stay Christian in College | J. Budziszewski
Do Hard Things | Alex Harris

Evangelism and Apologetics
Always Ready | Greg Bahnsen
Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God | J. I. Packer
Gospel and Personal Evangelism | Mark Dever
Let the Nations Be Glad | John Piper
Reason for God | Tim Keller
Tell the Truth | Will Metzger
Who Made God? | Edgar Andrews
Handbook of Christian Apologetics | Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli
The Case for Christ | Lee Strobel

Study Bibles
Study Bibles provide insightful notes and clarifying articles along the way to help you understand Scripture more deeply.
ESV Study Bible | Crossway
NIV Study Bible | Zondervan
Life Application Study Bible NIV | Zondervan

Bible Study Aides
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth | Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart
Grasping God's Word | J. Scott Duvall & J. Daniel Hays

Reference Works
Commentary on the N.T. use of the O.T. | G.K. Beale & D. A. Carson
Introduction to the Old Testament | Tremper Longman & Raymond Dillard
Introduction to the New Testament | D. A. Carson & Douglas Moo
New Dictionary of Biblical Theology | T. Desmond Alexander & Brian Rosner
Early Christian Doctrines |  J.N.D. Kelly

Bondage of the Will | Martin Luther
Bruised Reed | Richard Sibbes
Confessions | St. Augustine
Freedom of the Will | Jonathan Edwards
Institutes of the Christian Religion | John Calvin
Mortification of Sin | John Owen
Religious Affections | Jonathan Edwards
Pilgrim's Progress | John Bunyan 
Orthodoxy | G.K. Chesterton

My statement of faith

Below is the document Pastor Chris Meirose submitted for review prior to his Ordination.  While it is not binding that all church members must adhere to this document, it gives you an idea the direction Pastor Chris guides the church.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Eight Reasons Many Churches Are Living in the 1980s

Interesting read by the always read-worthy Thom Rainer.

Nine out of ten churches in America are either declining, or they are growing so slowly they are not keeping up with the growth rate of the community in which they are located.

It’s a long sentence. Read it again carefully. Soak it in. Across America 90 percent of the churches are losing ground in their respective communities. Most of them are declining. Many of them will close.
As I have worked with thousands of churches over the past three decades, I have noticed something fascinating, yet disturbing, about many of these churches. They are still acting like it’s the 1980s. The world has passed them by. They are deemed irrelevant by members of their communities. They are frozen in a time warp.
Why has this tragedy fallen on so many churches? Though I don’t want to oversimplify the issue, I see at least eight reasons for this crisis.
  1. They are trying to shelter themselves from culture. In the 1980s, congregations were typically part of the mainstream culture. They were accepted in most places, and embraced in some. That is not the culture of today. Many church members use their churches as a getaway from the realities they don’t want to face.
  2. Programs were easy answers. The vast majority of churches in the 1980s were program-driven. If there was a perceived need, they would order a resource that best solved that need. Many churches today still think they can get quick fixes from programs.
  3. Churches largely catered to the needs of church members in the 1980s.We thus created a culture of membership that is me-driven. Many church members do not want to make the sacrifices necessary to reach our communities and culture today. They are demanding their own needs and preferences to be the priority of their churches.
  4. Change was more incremental. If your church is stuck in the 1980s, it does not have to worry about the rapid pace of change today. Members can pretend like their church does not need to change despite the massive upheavals of change in the world.
  5. Church growth was easier. In the 1980s, a number of people would visit our churches without much effort on the members’ part. One church member told me recently, “If lost people want to come to our church, they know where we are.” Sigh.
  6. Denominations provided solutions. Not all churches in the 1980s belonged to a denomination, but many did. And many members expected the denominational organizations to guide them and resource them. Denominations work best today in partnership with churches, but too many church members want to return to the paradigm of the 1980s.
  7. Others did evangelism for the members in the 1980s. Evangelism was the responsibility of the pastor or the denomination or a few people in a program. Church members paid others to do the work they were supposed to do. Some church members today are more concerned about their worship style preference than lost people who need to hear the gospel.
  8. Some churches would rather die than to get out of the comfort of their 1980’s paradigm. I feel certain they will do just that.
What do you think of these issues of time-warp churches? Let me hear from you.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Ministry at the Cost of Discipleship

Great article by Tim Catchim over at V3.
As I talk with various church leaders, I am discovering a common misunderstanding about the difference between ministry and disciple making.
Describing the difference between disciple making and ministry is kind of like describing the difference between a square and a rectangle. A square can be a rectangle, but a rectangle is not necessarily a square. They both have four right angles and four sides. Which is why they are often lumped into one another. However, only the square has four sides of equal length.
Applying this to ministry and discipleship, you can do ministry without making disciples, but you can’t make disciples without doing ministry, or at least not the way Jesus made disciples.

Ministry wasn’t enough for Jesus

Think about it like this: Jesus could have taught every parable, healed the sick, raised the dead, embarrassed the Pharisees, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and ascended back to the Father, all by himself. However, if it weren’t for the 12 disciples, we probably would have never heard anything about it!
The truth of that matter is this: Jesus wanted to build more than a dynamic ministry, he wanted to build a movement. In order to build a movement that outlives the founder, a transfer has to be made from the founder to the followers. In other words, you have to make disciples. Ministry is not enough.


Some churches have dynamic ministry going on, which is great! God will move when we obediently serve people. But without disciple making, it will never be become a movement. In fact, without disciple making the scope and impact of your ministry will be limited. After all, who is going to lead those ministries? Who is going to lead the people that those ministries reach? Without making disciples, you will not be able to develop leaders, and without leaders, ministry can only go so far.

Ministry or Disciple-Making?

So how do you know if you are making disciples instead of just doing ministry? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
  1. Who in your church is making disciples? What are their names? If you can’t name the people who are making disciples, it’s probably not happening.
  2. Do those you have named as disciple makers know that they are making disciples? If they don’t know they are making disciples, it’s probably not happening.
  3. What are the names of the people who are being discipled by those disciple makers? If the disciple makers can’t name the people they are discipling, then discipleship is probably not happening.
  4. Do the people who are being discipled by those disciple makers know they are being discipled by them? If not, then discipleship is probably not happening. The 12 disciples knew they were being discipled by Jesus.
  5. How do you know when the one who is making disciples has actually made a disciple? If you don’t know how to answer this question, then discipleship is likely not happening. Jesus said in John 17 that he had finished the work the Father had given him to do. He knew when his work with the 12 was completed.
If you don’t know how to answer these questions, then you are likely not making disciples the way that Jesus made disciples.
After all Jesus, was the best disciple maker…ever. It’s hard to improve on what he did.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

When Your Spouse Lets You Down

This great article comes from Family Life - Canada.
Seven steps to letting go of hurt and disappointment.
by Dr. Dave Currie with Glen Hoos
"Forgive and forget." It's a well-worn cliché—one that is easier to say than to practice.
If you're married, you've been there. Your spouse has said or done something that has wounded you. It may be something small, or it may be a major betrayal. Either way, your pride screams at you to take revenge. If you don't strike back immediately, you at least want to keep this "guilt card" in your pocket, to be pulled out at a later date: "Oh yeah, well what about the time when you ..."
When we've been offended, the last thing we want to do is to let it go. And yet, if our desire is to have a healthy, lasting marriage, that is exactly what we've got to do. Here are seven suggestions to keep in mind when your spouse lets you down:
1. Agree on a time to talk. If you need to talk to your spouse about something, don't just corner him or her and launch in unexpectedly. That is a recipe for hostility. Instead, agree together on a time to discuss the issue. That gives each of you a chance to think about it in advance, which will result in a more productive discussion.
2. Handle negative emotions responsibly. When we react emotionally, we often say and do things that we later regret. In many cases, it is best to delay the discussion until you've settled down, gained a proper perspective, and prayed about your attitude. This will allow you to go into it looking for a solution, rather than just being consumed with your own hurt.
As partners, you need to respect each other's need to "take five." If your spouse needs to wait a few minutes, or even a day or two, to cool down, don't press the issue. This should not be used as an excuse to avoid the discussion entirely, but it is better to take some time to clear your head than to allow your emotions to take you somewhere that you don't want to go.
3. Deal with one issue at a time. Remember that "guilt card" we mentioned earlier? Once you're into the discussion, you will be tempted to pull it out. Soon, your conversation has deteriorated into a long list of offenses, as you try to outdo one another with everything that the other person has ever done wrong. This only intensifies the conflict and deepens the divide between you. It can also be overwhelming to be presented with a massive list of things that need to change. Instead of being motivating, it's discouraging.
Instead, be content to solve one problem at a time. It is much better to make serious headway in one area of your relationship than to simply rehearse everything that needs fixing.
4. Be clear about your perspective. Give each other some uninterrupted time to share your concerns. If you are just trading barbs back and forth, neither of you will really be hearing the other—you'll be too busy thinking about your next comeback.
When it is your time to talk, try to help your mate understand your hurt or frustration. Help them to see why their actions and words had the impact that they did. Likewise, the offending spouse should have the opportunity to explain their words or behavior. It could be that you have misinterpreted their motives, and when this is cleared up it goes a long way toward solving the problem.
5. Hold your relationship more dear than this issue. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our feelings or our "rights" that we lose sight of the bigger picture. People joke about marriages breaking up over toothpaste and toilet paper disputes, but it really happens! Remember that your relationship is the primary concern. You may have some issues to sort out, but you still love one another—and loving one another often means letting the other person be right.
6. Walk in an attitude of forgiveness. If you are going to live with this person for the next 20 ... 30 ... 50 years, you are going to have to forgive one another many times. You cannot afford not to forgive. Unforgiveness not only hurts your spouse, it also hurts you! As Corrie ten Boom said, "Forgiveness is setting the prisoner free, only to find out that the prisoner was me."
This brings us back to the issue of forgiving and forgetting. In truth, there are some hurts that you will never be able to forget. What is more important is that we choose to let it go. Proverbs 17:9 says, "He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends." Forgiveness entails giving up your right to punish your spouse—whether through direct retaliation or just letting bitterness fester.
Over the past year, I have discovered the value of "advance forgiveness." I make a conscious decision that, the next time my wife, Donalyn, offends me, I am going to forgive her. Then, when it happens, I remember that I have already decided to forgive her, so there is no point in making a big deal out of it now. This really helps to take my critical edge off.
7. Forgive as Christ forgave you. Colossians 3:13 says, "[Bear] one another, and [forgive] each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you."
And just how does the Lord forgive us? Fully. Unconditionally. Willingly. Time and time again.
This kind of forgiveness is supernatural; it is more than we can do on our own. Particularly if your spouse has betrayed you in a major way, you may need to ask God for the ability to let go of the hurt and forgive them from your heart. But as you trust God to give you His strength and love, He will help you to forgive ... even when your spouse has really let you down.
If you have never experienced God's complete, unconditional forgiveness, know this: God loves you deeply. There is no sin that is so great that He is unwilling to forgive you, if you would just come to Him. If this is the desire of your heart, pray this prayer:
Dear God, I need You in my marriage, and in my life. I acknowledge that I have sinned against You by directing my own life, and that I cannot go on any further without Your help and guidance—and above all, Your forgiveness. I thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay for my sins. I now accept that sacrifice and invite Jesus to take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and empower me to live the life You have called me to. Thank You for forgiving me. Amen.