November Thanksgiving Reading Plan

“It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” Tim Keller

“It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”  –Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“I like to think of thankfulness as God’s ‘spiritual air freshener.’ It replaces the stale odor of resentment with clean, fresh-smelling air for the soul to breathe.” Gary Thomas,

In addition to “no shave November” there are other challenges you might take on in this month. A couple personal ones are saying yes to pumpkin anything and downing as much Thanksgiving Blend coffee from Starbucks as possible (while it’s around). It’s a month of food and feasting, and that is certainly something I can give thanks for with a full heart (and stomach)!

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God’s Mission for God’s World

“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations.” John Piper

God’s mission is that God’s people would multiply so they fill the whole earth with his glory. Our mission is to be image-bearers who multiply God’s image near and far.

(Below is the transcript of a recent sermon preached as part of our global missions emphasis. It provides a condensed summary of how the biblical storyline is driven by mission. The sermon developed from an article written previously on God’s Vision for Multiplication.)

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Brokenness Precedes Usefulness

“Brokenness precedes usefulness.”[1] Despite our failures, despite our weakness and weariness, despite what was done to us or what we’ve done to others, and despite hard seasons that feel like we’ve been put in the garage because we’re no longer useful, God uses broken people. In fact, God often walks us through a season of suffering or humility to make us usable.

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Seal: Small Word, Big Meaning

One joy of studying the Word rather than giving it a cursory reading is all the truth that starts to pop. Read through anything quickly and little will stand out. Read things slowly and thoughtfully, and you’ll experience reading in a whole new way. One thing slowing down forces us to do is to ask questions about the Bible. What does a word mean? Why did the writer use that sentence order or repeat that phrase several times? Where else from Scripture might they be drawing from? If we pause to chew on one word, one promise, one truth, or one phrase, we’re much more likely to be gripped by it and do something with it.

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Ways to Meditate on Scripture

“If the Word does not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us.” John Owen

Continuing the series of posts on Bible meditation, I wanted to list some practical ideas for how to do it. While meditation can be a result of reflecting on something in creation, life experiences, conversations, our future in eternity, or other things, we’ll focus on meditating on Scripture.

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9 Things to Know about Bible Meditation

First, let’s define Bible meditation.

“Meditation is a serious intention of the mind whereby we come to search out the truth, and settle it effectually upon the heart.” Thomas Hooker

“Deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities revealed in Scripture for the purposes of understanding, application, and prayer.” Don Whitney

I define bible meditation as reflecting on biblical truths so they burrow themselves into our minds and affections. Meditation means absorbing God’s truths and promises through a purposeful reflection on them.

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What do we mean by identity and why it matters

image bearer

What is identity?

Our identity is who we are and what is most important about us. Our identity is how we define ourselves at our core and what makes an individual who they are. It’s not merely a reputation or our image—what we or others think about us—but it’s what we understand as basic and defining about us. Image comes out of identity, but identity is more fundamental.

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Chasing Contentment

Erik Raymond has become one of my favorite authors, and not just because of his love for Boston and its sports teams. I regularly visit Erik’s site at The Gospel Coalition: Ordinary Pastor. He writes with a pastor’s love of the Word and love of people. You can always bank on his words being Christ-centered, and therefore, full of the life-giving grace of Jesus. Like Jared Wilson, Raymond uses a very readable, conversational, sometimes humorous tone to find new ways to drive the same old gospel into the heart.

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Savoring Scripture

“A Christian without meditation is like a soldier without arms, or a workman without tools. Without meditation, the truths of God will not stay with us; the heart is hard, and the memory slippery, and without meditation all is lost.” Thomas Watson

Starting on September 9th, I’ll teach a four-week class on Bible meditation. I’ve taught classes on Bible study–which are important–but I believe a missing link between reading the Bible and it landing on us with staying power is meditation.

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Persistence in Prayer

“Prayer is not helpful. Prayer is not supplemental. Prayer is essential.” Ray Ortlund

(Below is the transcript of a recent sermon preached as part of a morning prayer service. It’s shorter in length and is part of our series on Desperation.) 

Luke 18:1-8—Prayer: The Voice of Desperation

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