Category Archives: great commission

Investing in the Community

Partners in Education at Creekside Elementary School included, from left, Assistant Principal Tara Moore, Principal Katrina Bowers, Nansemond River Baptist Church Pastors Gary Vaughan, Mark Turner, and Jeff Walton, and Dr. Lynn Cross, Assistant Superintendent for Special Projects.

I was very excited when my church, Nansemond River Baptist, was named Suffolk Public School’s “Partner of the Year.”  The Suffolk News-Herald has a nice summary of all that was involved.

Our church, led by our Jeff Walton (our Children’s Pastor and one of our elders), has been partnering with Creekside Elementary School for the past year.  At the beginning of the year the small groups at NRBC provided 60 bags full of school supplies to children in need.  Throughout the year the church has provided one-on-one mentors and helped with various school activities.  At the recent Creekside Carnival our church provided volunteers as well as various equipment (e.g., snow cone machine, popcorn machine, etc.).

I am so excited that the community sees the value of partnering with our church and I am even more excited that the members of NRBC are intentionally investing in the community.  The relationships that have been built in Suffolk, VA will provide meaningful opportunities to demonstrate and explain the good news of the love of Jesus.

Lessons from Jonah

This summer I am teaching the young adults at Nansemond River Baptist Church about the “Mission of God” (Missio Dei for those of you who enjoy dead languages).  After a brief introduction discussing a Biblical Theology of mission (don’t worry, if “teenagers” can learn trigonometry they can learn Biblical Theology) we are spending the next few weeks in the beautiful book of Jonah.  The other night I taught through the first chapter of Jonah.

I don’t want to reproduce the entire discussion but God has really been working in my heart as I study this book.  Here are a few takeaways from Jonah 1.

1.  Jonah was a faithful prophet as long as God acted like he expected.  Jonah, in this story, is not just running away from serving God, he’s running away from serving God where it is hard.  This is a hard lesson for me to learn.  Jonah hated the Ninevites; they are the sworn enemies of his people.  For Jonah, the Ninevites did not deserve a chance to repent.  He was nervous that God might actually save them.  The questions I ask myself are sometimes hard to answer:  Where is it hard for me to serve God?  Who are the people that I feel don’t deserve the love and forgiveness of God?  Do I value my national loyalties more than the souls of the lost persons around the world?  Are their groups of people who I don’t want to hear the gospel?  Would I go to a hard place like Iran, Iraq or Indonesia to share the gospel or am I content to see these people die and spend eternity in hell?

2.  God sent, pursued, and saved His messenger but the messenger was never the point, it was always about the message.

3.  The point of Jonah is not about a whale, it’s about the God of the whale.  It’s about a God who rescued a messenger so He could rescue an entire people.  The story of Jonah is not about how much God loved Jonah, though He surely did; it’s about how much He loved the Ninevites.  The book of Jonah is about an upside-down God showing love and compassion to the last people on earth anyone ever expected.

4.  God does not just want to save you, He wants to use you.  When God confronts you with the needs of the world around you, it’s not just about Him pursuing you; He is pursuing the lost world through you.  When God calls you it is because He loves the world.  When He rescues you it is so that you might bring rescue to the world!

Whose are You? A Friday Quote

If you are a Christian, you are not your own.  Christ has bought you at a price of his own death.  You now belong doubly to God:  He made you, and he bought you.  That means your life is not your own.  It is God’s.  Therefore, the Bible says, “Glorify God in your body.”  God made you for this.  He bought you for this.  This is the meaning of your life

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

Seems simple enough.

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?  And how will they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14).

I am an expert at rationalizing and justifying my own behavior.  I could take this simple statement from Scripture and find a way assuage my guilt because I don’t go and tell.  Why is it so hard to obey?

Beware: The Gospel Will Ruin Your Life

David Platt recently spoke at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Beware, if you listen to this message you will likely experience the “holy destruction” that the Spirit of God can bring.  Be prepared for conviction.

Platt presents a clear and compelling message of “What the Gospel Does to Our Hearts.”  The truth of the matter, the gospel, when rightly understood, will ruin your worldly way of life.

Are you ready to have your life ruined?

Here are a few memorable quotes.  Please watch or listen to the entire thing.

Until the gospel invades our hearts, any efforts to help the poor will be shallow and short-lived; but when the gospel of a Savior who became poor that we might become rich radically invades our hearts, it will radically affect the way we live for the sake of His glory amidst urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world.

The gospel demands radical sacrifice.

Hate your mom and dad, wife and kids; pick up an instrument of torture and give up everything you have.  That’s a lot different than admit, believe, confess, and pray a prayer.

Could it be that somewhere along the way we have taken the gospel, the very lifeblood of Christianity out, and put Kool-Aid in its place.  What it means to follow Jesus is to give up everything you’ve got.

Jesus is not a good teacher to be respected; He is a sovereign Lord to be obeyed.

‘That Jesus did not command all His followers to sell all their possessions gives comfort only to the kind of people to whom He would issue that command.’

If we take Jesus and twist Him into our image, then even when we gather together in our churches and lift our hands to sing songs to Jesus… we are not worshiping the Jesus of the Bible — we are worshiping ourselves.

The gospel, not guilt, is motivation for giving to those who are in need.

‘God always gives what He commands.’

We have found someone worth losing everything for… Do we believe [Christ] is worth it.

Materialism is not just wrong — it’s dumb.

The cost of discipleship is great… but the cost of non-discipleship is far, far greater.  It will cost us to give our resources, money, possessions, and lives in this world.  But what if we don’t?  The cost will be great for a billion plus people who will go on without  knowledge of the gospel while we spend our millions on our buildings, and our programs, and our stuff.  The cost will be great for our brothers and sisters in the world who will continue starving while our dogs and cats eat better than them.  But the cost will not just be great for them, the cost will be great for us.  For we will miss out… in this age and the life to come.

What is the Proper Response to the Gospel? Danny Akin on Romans 12:1-2

As a recent graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary I cannot express how thankful and proud I am for the godly leadership of Danny Akin.  He is one of the main reasons I decided to attend S.E.B.T.S.  He has been one of the leading proponents of a “Great Commission Resurgence” in the Southern Baptist Convention.

In the following video you will see Dr. Akin preach from Romans 12:1-2.  While watching this video I was again challenged to give God everything.  I don’t mean to use that word “everything” lightly.  I want to live for God as a “living sacrifice.”  I want to be a dead man walking.

Also, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Dr. Akin preach without notes or a manuscript!  Must be a message particularly close to his heart.  As you’ll notice, it doesn’t take Dr. Akin but a few moments to teach the gospel and how it calls us to proclaim the gospel to the nations.

He explains Romans 12:1-2 using three words:  consecration, transformation, and satisfaction.  However, to get to Paul’s point in Romans 12:1-2 one has to understand Romans 1-11.  That is the beauty of this message!  Dr. Akin walks through Romans 1-11 in a beautiful, succinct, clear manner that does complete justice to the intended meaning of the text.

Here are a few poignant quotes from Dr. Akin’s message:

Why do we need a gospel?  Why do we need the power of God?  Why do we need to be justified?  Why do we need to be saved?  The answer is — we have a massive sin problem.

Revelation brings responsibility.

Your salvation was not an accident.  Your salvation was not an afterthought.  Your salvation was not ‘Plan B.’

God wants your eyes.  God wants your ears.  God wants your mouth.  God wants your mind… God wants your hands and your feet.  In fact, God wants all of your body — every single part of it.  He’s not interested in most of it.  He’s not willing to negotiate and bargain… You can’t give God part of you.

The mind is a very delicate thing that must be brought under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

The Bible says if you’re not careful, both as a Christian and as a church, we can begin to look a whole lot more like the world than like Jesus.

I find that there are a bunch of stupid Christians… They love Jesus with their heart but they don’t have a prayer of a chance of explaining to somebody what they believe or why they believe it.

[Read a book] that will stretch your mind so that you can think more Christianly day-in and day-out rather than being a surface, sloppy, silly, stupid, Saint – we don’t need any more.

Any system of theology that lessens your passion for the Great Commission and evangelism is a theology not worth having.

In the day and age we live, you can’t be a stupid Christian.  You have to be able to think well about the gospel and the implications of the gospel.  You have to be able to explain and understand both what you and believe and why you believe.  If you don’t read, that’s not going to happen.

For the audio-only version of this message see my previous post on the 20/20 Conference at SEBTS.

20/20 Conference at SEBTS

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the “20/20 Conference” at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.  However, the audio and video from each session is now available online.  I would highly recommend everyone checking out the messages that were presented.

Matt Chandler spoke via video on Colossians 1 about “Defining the Gospel Clearly.”

Danny Akin described the “Proper Response to the Gospel” based on Romans 12:1-2.

David Platt explained what a “Gospel-Centered Community of Faith” looks like by teaching from Acts 3:1-10.

J. D. Greear clarified some “Cultural Assumptions That Make the Gospel Offensive” based on Acts 4:1-21.

Clayton King demonstrated “Paul’s Witness for the Gospel” in Acts 17:16-31.