Small Groups: Positively Dangerous?

Jonathan Parnell

For session three yesterday of the Trellis and Vine workshop (the second half of which is today), the pastors split into three groups to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their current ministry.  I sat in on one group and listened to the discussion. As one pastor would stand, introduce himself, and report from the frontlines, all of the pastors responded with resonating nods. Although these pastors are speaking as workers in different contexts, their shared vocation creates a warm…

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The Costume Kingdom

Paul Tripp

It was always one the most dramatic moments in the well-known secret agent drama. Although viewers didn’t know it, one of the Mission Impossible agents had donned a latex mask that was meant to make him look familiar and safe to the enemy. The mask was so pliable and real-looking that it took on the appearance of actual human skin. At some crucial moment, the government agent would reach up and tear the “skin” off his face and reveal his…

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Key Questions for Growing the Vine

Jonathan Parnell

Col began the second session of today’s workshop with a story of a young cricket player who embraced the gospel after two years of intentional ministry of the Word. In summary, Col said that the careful, personal proclamation of the gospel, alongside the public, is being used by God to call people to himself.

Why Do We Do Small Groups?

The session then moved into the subject of small group ministry within the local church. The pace of the sessions…

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The Biblical Vision of Christian Ministry

David Mathis

We're at Bethlehem's North Campus for the first of a 2-day Trellis & the Vine workshop with Col Marshall and Tony Payne (authors of the book by the same title). We found out at the beginning of this morning's session that there are attendees here from not only the 5-state region (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas) but also as far as New Hampshire, south Texas, and Oregon.

Tony Payne led us through the first session on the biblical…

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The Benefit of Reading Less

Jon Bloom

I have been so helped by John Piper’s recommendation in his book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals:

I [do not] want to give the impression that I think there is virtue in reading many books. In fact one of my greatest complaints in seminary was that professors trained students in bad habits of superficial reading because they assigned too many books. I agree with Spurgeon: “A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book…

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Serving: A Distraction to Listening?

Jon Bloom

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:42-42)

Jesus’ gracious rebuke to Martha haunts me.

"Martha was distracted with much serving" (Luke 10:40). But Mary "sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching" (Luke 10:39). Distraction is the enemy of listening. For Martha, at that moment, serving was a distraction. Serving became the enemy of…

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How Saints Grow Happier Forever

Tyler Kenney

Jonathan Edwards viewed heaven as a place where the joy of God's people will only increase forever and ever. (Sam Storms passionately unpacked this grand vision at our 2003 National Conference in his message "Joy's Eternal Increase: Edwards on the Beauty of Heaven.")

But why did Edwards think this? What will cause the saints' joy to constantly overflow and expand again and again into eternity? Edwards explains in Miscellanies #137:

The object of their thought shall be…

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A Few Endorsements for Wrestling with an Angel

John Knight

Greg Lucas is a dear friend who has contributed a gift to the Church in his new book Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability, and the Lesson of Grace.

Here's my endorsement of the book:

It is a rare book that makes much of God and our dependency on Him while also celebrating His goodness through hard things. Using his own example of parenting a child with significant disabilities, Greg demonstrates what relying on a sovereign…

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The Humility of Christ in Yielding the Vindication of His Identity

Jonathan Parnell

Philippians 2:5-8:

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."

This text is set apart in its description of…

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Henri Blocher On the Cross: Evil, Lordship, and Goodness

Jonathan Parnell

In Evil and the Cross, Henri Blocher writes about the tension that exists for the Christian regarding the existence of evil:

The evil of evil, the lordship of the Lord, the goodness of God: these three immovable propositions stand together as the basis of biblical doctrine. We can picture them as a capital T: the sovereignty of God forms the stem, the two branches being the denunciation of evil and the praise of God in his goodness. But the…

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