Showing posts from August, 2013

Book Review: Extravagant Grace

God uses all the circumstances of life to shape the trajectory of our growth in grace, including the doctrines that we adopt and the churches that we attend. He is sovereign over each and every detail that will shape the trajectory of each individual growth curve. We will not all reach the same level of maturity in Christ, nor will we all believe identical things in this life, but every one of us will live and grow under his loving care and sovereign rule. (loc 439)
Every chapter of Barbara Duguid's book  Extravagant Grace: God's Glory Displayed in Our Weakness challenged my thinking. Using the writings of John Newton (author of the hymn "Amazing Grace"), Duguid makes a compelling argument that God uses our sin for His glory. I must admit, there were times I shook my head and wanted to throw my hands up in frustration as I read. As Duguid writes, "It is a radical and almost frightening thought to see that God is actually as much at work in our worst moments of si…

Mark #9 of a Healthy Church: Biblical Church Leadership

In the 18 years we spent at our former church, we witnessed first hand the turmoil that being without proper leadership brings. Each time we were without a pastor, chaos ensued. Relationships and ministries suffered because the church had no clear leader. Perhaps that's why the church government of a different denomination appealed to us so strongly. We didn't set out to move to another denomination but when our pastor introduced the leadership model during our new members' class, my husband and I were thrilled.

The last mark of a healthy church is biblical church leadership. Mark Dever spends this final chapter discussing five facets of church leadership: congregational context, biblical qualifications, charismatic nature, Christlikeness, and relationship to God's nature and character.

I've spent this summer blogging through Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, and I've realized that, as much as we church members want to put the responsibility of the church's h…

Thankful Thursday

Praising the Lord this week for:

~tears of joy, gratitude, frustration, pain, and love

~family date night

~a surrogate mom who loves, listens to, and advises me as well as Mama did

~Elder interviews and our future church membership

~homemade whipped cream

~sisters in Christ who love me, accept me, and encourage me

~car pools

~the extravagant grace of God

~books that challenge my thinking

~the providence of God

~thought-provoking discussions with my girl

Blessings all mine, with 10,000 beside!

Mark #8 of a Healthy Church: A Concern for Discipleship and Growth

Chances are, we all know someone who made a confession of faith at one time but now displays no evidences of conversion. Her church attendance is sporadic and her Bible knowledge sketchy. Worse yet, she shows absolutely no interest in spiritual growth. She prayed a prayer, punched her ticket to Heaven, and now she's living her life as if it never made a difference. Because it hasn't.

I know too many of those people. They fill pews, choir lofts, and leadership positions in many churches - churches that are not concerned for discipleship and growth, the 8th mark of a healthy church.

How does a church promote discipleship and growth in its members? Mark Dever explains that the other eight "marks" of a healthy church have an effect on the growth we will experience, individually and as a church.

Expositional Preaching focuses on God's Word. Dever says the church is built upon "hearing God's Word speak to us as His Holy Spirit uses it in our hearts. Through His…

Thankful Thursday

Praising the Lord this week for:

~Unseasonably cool temperatures

~An opportunity to fellowship with our pastor's family

~My eldest niece's wedding

~Hugging my 91-year old grandmother

~A husband whose calming presence I too often take for granted

~Forgiveness when I'm not the wife and mother I should be

~Sisters in Christ

~Driving by cornfields while listening to the morning traffic report in the "big city"

~Fewer blogs in my feed reader. Making the cuts was hard, but it's been worth it.

Blessings all mine, with 10,000 beside!

Mark #7 of a Healthy Church: Biblical Church Discipline

We need to live lives that back up our professions of faith. We need to love each other. We need to hold each other accountable because all of us will have times when our flesh wants to go in a way different that what God has revealed in Scripture. And part of the way we love each other is by being honest and establishing relationships with each other and speaking in love to each other. We need to love each other and we need to love those outside the church whom our witness affects; and we need to love God, who is holy, and who calls us not to bear His name in vain, but to be holy as He is holy. That's a tremendous privilege and a great responsibility.
~Mark Dever Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (pp. 192 - 193)
In response to last week's post regarding church membership, my friend Aimee offered this comment
Another important point about church membership is discipline. How can you expect your church family to help you grow, and protect you as a part of it, if you will not pub…

Thankful Thursday

Praising the Lord this week for:

~His provision. It never ceases to amaze me how He orchestrates the events of our lives to bless us in ways we might never have imagined. (Isaiah 55:8-9, Ephesians 3:20)

~Lunch with a dear friend.

~Friends who are willing to impart their God-given wisdom in difficult situations.

~A husband who isn't afraid to to tell me the truth and to correct me with love and gentleness.

~The Gospel Coalition's 2014 National Women's Conference. I registered this week!

~Cooler temperatures.

~The arrival of August, which means that the "ber" months are just around the corner.

Blessings all mine with 10,000 beside!

Mark #6 of a Healthy Church: a Biblical Understanding of Church Membership

When my husband and I left the church where we had been members for 18+ years, we didn't know where the Lord would direct us. We felt a little beaten up; leaving a church family we loved and that loved us was painful, even though we knew we were being obedient to the Lord. After years of serving in various ministries, we thought that we might like a place where we could just sit back, be fed and allow our bruised hearts time to heal.

Then I came to the sixth mark of a healthy church - a biblical understanding of church membership - and these words:
[Church] membership is not simply the record of a statement we once made or of an affection toward a familiar place. It must be the reflection of a living commitment or it is worthless. Worse than being worthless, it is dangerous. Uninvolved members confuse both real members and non-Christians about what it means to be a Christian. We "active" members do the voluntary "inactive" members no service when we allow them …

Thankful Thursday

Praising the Lord this week for:

~Pink crepe myrtles that line both sides of one of the streets on my daily commute. For some strange reason, they make me think of statuesque ladies wearing lovely pink hats.

~Time to read. I just finished Jane Eyre. I started what I thought was a re-read, but realized I'd never read it! I wonder what else I only think I've read.

~A dinner date with my dad.

~The Word of God and commentaries that give me a deeper understanding of it.

~An impromptu evening with friends.


~Sunday morning worship

Blessings all mine, with 10,000 beside!