Are you looking for a creative way to teach the truth of the gospel to your kids this summer? I would highly recommend The Prince's Poison Cup by R.C. Sproul. My whole family watched the DVD last night and it prompted a lot of good discussion. Even my four-year old boy was captivated with the story and listened intently. Take a look at this intro video below and buy the DVD and/or book.
This past Sunday I preached from Colossians 4:2-6 and unpacked these two simple points: 1) Evangelism is for Everyone
2) Evangelism Happens Every Day
I'm excited about Why Easter? a new resource that helps children understand and celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Tedd Tripp, author of Shepherding a Child's Heart, gives his endorsement:
Since most Evangelicals do not follow the church calendar, Easter often catches us unprepared. Barbara Reaoch comes to our aid with a four-week series of devotions for parents and children that will increase our joy at Easter. These devotionals are well-crafted, theologically sound, and doable. They could be used year after year as a wonderful family tradition.
You can click here to download a sample of the first 3 lessons.
This Sunday, I invited my friend, Matt Perman, to speak to my church on how the gospel relates to the workplace from Colossians 3:22-25. You can listen to his message here. I'm excited about Matt's new book coming out in September called, What's Best Next: How the Gospel Changes the Way You Get Things Done. I encourage you to check out his blog as well.
This past Sunday I preached from Colossians 3:18-21. In this passage, Paul gives us 4 Family Rules, but behind each of these rules is the One who has fulfilled every one of them. Jesus Christ came to do what we could not do. He came to undo what Adam and Eve had done in the fall. The fall affected everything, not just us as individuals but it affected all our relationships including marriage and family life. Jesus came to restore these broken relationships through his death on the cross. He came to make us new. Our old self is dead and gone and our new self is alive. And we bring this new self into our relationships, into our home life. Listen here.
Over the last decade, I've been highly involved in ministry to families. During those years, I've learned that discipleship has got to start in the home and then spread outward. That's why I'm excited about D6 Days - a way to experience the D6 Conference from your computer, iPad, or tablet for FREE at D6Conference.com/D6Days. The D6 Conference aims to equip church leaders by addressing what's ahead for the church as we disciple the next generation for Christ. There are three different D6 Days in 2012: February 21, April 17, and July 24. D6 Days content will be available for up to two weeks after the listed dates.
The folks from D6 graciously gave me a couple books that I look forward to reading in the coming days. They are:
You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving the Church ... And Rethinking Faith by David Kinnaman. I read Kinnaman's book called, unChristian, awhile back and appreciated his insights.
The Legacy Path: Discovering Intentional Spiritual Parenting by Brian Haynes. Haynes provides a clear path to influence the faith of the next generation by helping parents become the spiritual leaders for their families. Highly recommend it.
Here's a simple Sermon Prep Sheet I've created that might be helpful for some of you. It's nothing new, but rather a collaboration of thoughts gathered from more experienced preachers and communicators than I over the years.
- When Your Kids Can’t Sleep
- When Your Kids Want Control
- When Your Kids Keep Whining
- When Your Kids Get Sick
- When Your Kids Scratch the Neighbor’s Car
- When Your Kids Disobey You (Again!)
- When Your Kids Have a Meltdown in Public
- When Your Kids Get Overly Emotional
- When Your Kids Ask About Death
- When Your Kids Ask About Earthquakes
- When You’re Stuck in the Basement
- When You’re Just There.
Most of the time when we talk about trials, we think of physical suffering, pain, and loss. And we should. After all, the Bible does. For example, 2 Cor. 11:24-28 records the many difficult trials Paul faced as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul knew the pain of suffering and loss. And through these trials he learned to trust in God. But he learned something else. Something we often forget. Paul learned to be content in EVERY situation.
In Philippians 4:12, Paul speaks of God’s provision and how he learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Paul knew how to be brought low and how to abound. In every circumstance, he was content because he understood that life was filled with both trials and blessing, suffering and prosperity.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of Paul I picture him suffering all the time. I picture a man who never enjoyed one moment of physical comfort or pleasure. Yet, it’s clear that there were times where he had plenty. I'm not sure what that entailed, but in those times Paul knew what to do. He abounded in thanksgiving. He continued to trust in God and not in what he had. I wonder if we do the same.
You see, for most of us, we face a different kind of trial each day. The trial of prosperity. Prosperity can be a dangerous trial for the Christian. Instead of bringing us closer to God, it can take us further away from him. Charles Spurgeon once said,
The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the refining pot of prosperity. Oh, what leanness of soul and neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the very mercies and bounties of God!
Wow. Most of us have never thought that God would test our faith by giving us abundance. And these mercies of God can actually take us away from God if we receive them with the wrong heart. So like Paul, I want to learn to be content in every circumstance. I want to learn what it means to be brought low in times of adversity. And I want to learn how to abound in times of prosperity - so that my soul would be satisfied in Christ alone no matter what comes my way.
That's my prayer for you today as well.
My friend, Matt Perman, helps us understand the doctrine of vocation and how our work is a calling from God. I found this very helpful. I'm also looking forward to Matt's forthcoming book called, What's Best Next: How the Gospel Changes the Way You Get Things Done.
The purpose of this Bible reading schedule (shortened considerably from schedules that get through the Bible in one year) is actually to limit the amount of Bible we read daily. Reading quickly through many verses may not be as profitable as savoring deeply a few verses. So the aim of this schedule is not to read less, but to meditate more.
You will also benefit from Dr. Johnson’s thoughts on the “what” and “how-to’s” of meditation.
Many of you know that I've recently transitioned from serving as Family Pastor at LaGrange Baptist Church in LaGrange, Kentucky, to Senior Pastor at Oak Hill Baptist Church in Humboldt, Iowa. It's been a big change (thus the lack of blog posts!), but God has been very good. We sense that He has us right where he wants us for such a time as this. Maybe the biggest lesson God is teaching me so far is that He's with me. He's given me the gift of himself - the Holy Spirit. I'm learning to rely on him more than ever as I remind myself that the help I need lives right within me.* The Holy Spirit gives me power to do things I cannot do on my own. So when I'm faced with circumstances that are beyond my wisdom, instead of thinking to myself, "I can't do this," I'm reminding myself, "I can do this, by the power of the Holy Spirit in me."
What an amazing gift to ponder at Christmastime. The help of the Holy Spirit living within us.
*Paul Tripp elaborates on this concept in his excellent DVD series called, "Portrait of a Struggle."
Advent is a time of expectation and preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth. I encourage you to set aside some time with your family to focus on Jesus in these weeks leading up to Christmas. Here are some ideas: Christ the King Presbyterian Church has developed two Advent devotionals you can download here and here.
The Resurgence also has an excellent series of posts onLearning to Advent together.
Justin Taylor points to a new Advent Narrative Book that looks really good.
Tony Kummer highlights some Advent Lessons for Kids that teach through the nativity.
One thing we do in our home is sing Christmas songs together (I can still manage to play a few on the guitar!) and talk about the words to these songs. I’ve found that some of them are rich in theology (i.e. Joy to the World). Whatever you do, make it simple and fun for your kids!
For those of you who don't know, my twin brother, Mark Wolter, is a missionary in Kyoto, Japan. Check out this video below to see a bit of his world. I got the opportunity to visit Kyoto back when Mark and Maki got married. It was amazing to see my brother speak the language and interact so well with the people. I'll never forget him going through a drive-thru at a Japanese burger joint and ordering our food in Japanese. It was pretty crazy! Please pray for him and his wife, Maki, and two sons, Noah and Taka. I miss these guys!