Sam Allberry, Matt Capps, and The Nashville Statement.

The recent publication of The Nashville Statement has provoked a lot of cultural criticism for the traditional evangelical Christian doctrine of sexuality and marriage. In a world where Christian doctrine is often confused, ignored, or even adjusted, such a statement attempts to define a set of beliefs that are consistent with what has been widely accepted as historic Christian teaching.

It has been interesting to read news articles responding to The Nashville Statment. I have not found many that allow for charitable disagreement or meaningful dialogue. Most of them seem to disparage this distinct Christian understanding of sexuality and marriage and those who hold to it. Sadly, this is no surprise. Many within the larger Protestant community have also lodged their criticisms as well.

First, the statement has been criticised because of the timing of its release. I understand the sentiment of this criticism.

Second, the statement has been criticised because of its tone. Written words are what they are. How you hear them, and whether or not you accept them as loving, depends on how you perceive the motivation of those who write them.

Third, one pastor commented: “When we issue statements rather than build relationships we are more like Pharisees and less like Jesus.” However, I do not think statements of belief and relationships are mutually exclusive. Jesus himself demonstrated a deep love for sinners while calling them to turn from their sin. The religious leaders in the New Testament met a different outcome than those who heeded Jesus’ truthful and loving words to “go and sin no more.”

Granted, Christians have not always been charitable or tactful in articulating our beliefs towards non-Christians in a loving way, especially when it comes to controversial matters. Tone and tact aside, we all have beliefs that guide and guard our communities. Tim Keller has a helpful analogy on the role of creeds in a community. (HT Tony Reinke)

“Imagine that one of the board members of the local Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Community Center announces, ‘I’ve had a religious experience and now I believe homosexuality is a sin.’ As the weeks go by, he persists in making that assertion. Imagine that a board member of the Alliance Against Same-Sex Marriage announces, ‘I discovered that my son is gay and I think he has the right to marry his partner.’ No matter how personally gracious and flexible the members of each group are, the day will come when each group will have to say, ‘You must step off the board because you don’t share a common commitment with us.’ The first of these communities has the reputation for being inclusive and the second for being exclusive, but, in practice, both of them operate in almost the very same way. Each is based on common beliefs that act as boundaries, including some and excluding others. Neither community is being ‘narrow’ — they are just being communities. Any community that did not hold its members accountable for specific beliefs and practices would have no corporate identity and would not really be a community at all.” (The Reason for God (2008), 39–40).

With these points made, I’d like to aim my reflections in a different direction.

We live in a pluralistic society. In our culture, the word pluralism has become much more than a religious mix. Pluralism has become an ideology, a type of political correctness. This kind of pluralism also calls for a specific kind of tolerance.

By tolerance, our culture does not mean, “to respect another’s view point, even if we disagree.” I could agree to that definition, I can respect someone I disagree with. Respect is the basis for honest dialogue even in the midst of disagreement.

Our culture seems to define tolerance as the “acceptance of different views.” The shift from “respect” to “acceptance” is notable. It communicates that you and I cannot bear to contradict one another.

Admittedly, The Nashville Statement draws a line in the sand, something Jesus himself often did on matters of Christian ethics. One of the things we must face is the reality that no follower of Christ can possibly embrace the full acceptance of different views, especially if they believe one is true and the other is false. This is true regardless of how you feel about the intent or tone of the statement. When it comes to matters of faith, we can discuss and disagree. It is ok. This is the hallmark of religious freedom.

Enter Sam Allberry. I do not know Sam personally, but he is known to many people because of his voice on the issue at hand.

In a society where much hatred and confusion is aroused by clear delineations on sexuality and marriage, Sam needs to be heard. Allberry is a Christian who experiences same sex attraction but chooses not give himself to such relationships because of his personal faith. He is single. Moreover, he affirms and defends the biblical view of sexuality and marriage. He also signed this controversial Nashville Statment.

When it comes to Christians struggling with same sex attraction and yet remain faithful to Scripture’s teaching, I would imagine that he is not unique. He is not alone. However, God has allowed Allberry a public platform to speak to these issues.

I am grateful for Sam’s courageous conviction, and how he has modeled his humble but confident faith, even in the midst of struggle. I think we as the Church need to learn from Sam. We need to listen. We need to be aware of others around us who may find themselves in a similar position.

All of us would affirm that the gospel is good news for all people, regardless of how our human brokenness manifests itself in our individual lives.

One of the reasons that The Nashville Statment is controversial is because it outlines what many evangelical Christians believe the Bible teaches regarding sexuality and marriage. It is controversial because it calls for repentance and faith.

Repentance is controversial because it presupposes that there is something wrong with us. Faith is controversial because it presupposes that we need to be saved from our sinfulness.

All of us have struggles related to sin. Sam struggles with same-sex attraction and other things, I am sure. I may not struggle with same sex attraction, but I struggle with 10,000 other things. Therefore, Sam and I are essentially the same. Broken sinners at the foot of the cross. The ground is level at the foot of the cross.

For this reason, Sam and I are also beloved children of God, covered by God’s grace through repentance and faith in Christ alone. This is the good news of the gospel.

The both of us desire to pursue holiness. Both of us war with our own sinfulness by the power of God’s indwelling Spirit, with the weapon of the Word, and in the midst of an army of fellow saints.

By the grace of God, we are what we are, simultaneously sinners and saints. We know dear Christian brothers and sisters, that we are all great sinners. We also know that Christ is a great savior.

If you are wrestling with this issue as one who struggles with same sex attraction, or as one who wants to better understand this issue, I encourage you to read Sam’s book “Is God Anti-Gay?”.

Isaiah: Free Advent Devotinals


I recently wrote a series of devotionals through Isaiah for LifeWay.

Advent is a special and important time to reflect on the birth of Jesus and everything Jesus came to do. The goal for using the devotionals,

  • Draw your family closer around the birth of Christ
  • Help you develop fresh appreciation for why Christ came
  • Adopt a purpose- and mission-filled approach to the busy Christmas season.

I encourage you to not only use it for your family but to share it with other families in your study groups.

You can download them here. 

The Gospel of Jesus in Jonah


What does Jonah have to do with Jesus? Here is one thought…

“The good news of the gospel is that Jesus has provided a way of salvation. Jesus (though He did not deserve it like Jonah did) hurled himself into the storm of God’s wrath so that you and I might be saved. When Jesus sunk to the depths of death on our behalf, he made it possible for us to arrive safely on the shore of eternity. That is not only good news for us; it’s also good news for those around us.”

This is an excerpt from a reflection on the gospel of Jesus in the book of Jonah that I wrote for The Gospel Project. You can read the whole thing here.

The Bible Studies for Life “Disciple Thru” Event


This past week I have the privilege of participating in the The Bible Studies for LifeDisciple Thru” online event. The event consisted of several video teachings from pastors and church leaders. For a limited time, you can still watch the videos.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the event.

Eric Mason

  • In the Christian life, comprehensive discipleship is a core necessity. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • When you teach the core of the Christian faith, you cannot assume anything. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • Discipleship involves core training both theologically and practically. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • We must preach the gospel robustly, but with accessibility and simplicity. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • Jesus in not an option in discipleship, He is the core of discipleship. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • We are called to minister to people who are dealing with affliction, namely, the poor, the widows, the orphans. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • All things were made for Christ; therefore everything must be subdued and developed to help the needy. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • We are called to disciple from the block to the boardroom. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • We are called to preach the whole gospel to the whole person so that we can have whole people in the body of Christ. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • We must develop principled pathways based on propositional truth to show how doctrine works out in every area of life. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • We are called to made disciples who make disciples. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • God is unique and set apart, therefore God’s people are to be unique and set part as distinct in the world. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • As disciples we have been made holy by God, and yet we pursue holiness to reflect the image of God in this world. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • As God blesses you with resources, utilize those resources to bless those who God has placed in your path. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • How you treat others is just as much a discipleship issue as it is a sociological issue. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • Mission and discipleship are coupled in how we civically engage the sojourner among us. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • The truth of God’s word demands that we treat others with mercy and justice. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • We gather the people of God to disciple them and scatter them into the world to be disciple makers. @pastoremase #BSFL16
  • Discipleship should take place in our families, neighborhoods, and workplaces. @pastoremase #BSFL16

Chris Brown

  • Isn’t it frustrating when people’s actions do not line up with what they verbally “amen” in our churches? @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • The gap between what people say and what they do comes down to a lack of margin. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • Where there is no margin, there is no ministry. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • Too many of our people are intentioned for ministry, but they are not positioned for ministry. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • We are called to disciple people, even in their finances. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • Regardless of salary, 70% of Americans live paycheck to pay check. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • 18% of Americans live worse than paycheck to pay check. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • The reality is, 78% of American Christians live broke or worse. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • Over 1/3 of American adults are in the debt collection process. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • Church leaders, we are called to model biblical stewardship to our people. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • We are called to manage God’s resources, His way, for His glory. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • We need to understand the difference between the worlds way of handling money, and God’s way of handling money. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • Church leaders, we are called to teach God’s way of handling money. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • The world handles money with entitlement. God’s people should handle money with gratitude and contentment. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • When it comes to our resources, we need to believe that ALL things belong to God. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • God owns all things. We are simply managers and stewards. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • As managers and stewards, we are called to be faithful with what God has given us. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • So many people in our churches are aiming at nothing, and hitting it every time. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • Did you know that it is possible to give cheerfully! @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • Those who can be entrusted with little can be trusted with much. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • When it comes to stewardship, we have to tell people to, and teach them how. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • When our belief changes, it leads to a different set of actions, that lead to a different set of results. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16
  • As Christians, we don’t worship the provision, we worship the provider. @ChrisBrownOnAir #BSFL16

Matt Capps

  • No matter how many precautions we take, or how much we prepare, hardship comes to each and everyone of us. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • Hardship is no respecter of persons. Are you prepared? @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • At any point in our lives, we are coming out of hardship, facing hardship, or preparing to enter into hardship. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • We have been sold the lie that if God really loves us, our life will be easy – full of health, wealth, and prosperity. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • The secular view of hardship is that it is meaningless, an interruption to the victorious Christian life. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • Facing hardship is not a matter of if, but when. As the Apostle Peter wrote, “When you suffer.” @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • The sad reality is that many saints are ill prepared to face hardship. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • As Christians we have a deep and robust biblical grounding to persevere through whatever they may face in this life. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • We need to learn how to disciple one another to prepare for, and persevere through hardship. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • Christians should not see hardship as meaningless, but meaningful. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • Christians should not see hardships as being an interruption, but an opportunity. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • God can and will work all things for the good of those who are called according to his purpose. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • In hardship, we must be ok with no explanation, with the truth that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God.” @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • Our initial prayer in hardship should be, “God, how can I use this hardship for your glory.” @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • The opportunity for Christians is to glorify God in the midst of – despite of – the hardships we face. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • The victorious Christian life is not free from hardship; our victory in Christ is shown in our perseverance through hardship. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • One of the most powerful apologetics for the Christian faith, is an unshakable trust in God’s providential hand. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • Sure, our hardship will drive us to our knees. But it will drive us to our knees in prayer. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • Sometimes it takes hardship to bring you to the place where we see that Jesus is all you need. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • Every hardship we face in the Christian life will only enhance our eternal delight in the life to come. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • Christian, there is coming a day where mourning, crying, and pain will be no more. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • One day, we will look back and see that hardship showed us that God’s steadfast love is better than life. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • If you are ever facing hardship and you wonder if God loves you, look to the cross. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • If you are ever facing hardship and you wonder if God will deliver you through it, look to the resurrection. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • If you are ever facing hardship and you wonder if anything can stop the pain and darkness, look to the ascension. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • In the family of God we are able to care, and be cared for, to love and be loved, to encourage and be encouraged. @mattcapps #BSFL16
  • The people of God, filled with the Spirit of God, armed with the word of God, can accomplish the mission of God. @mattcapps #BSFL16

Jackie Bledsoe

  • In our culture the basic foundations of marriage are confusion to people. @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • In our culture, marriage is often devalued or treated as a joke. @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • If God is the author of marriage, how does our view of marriage reveal our view of God? @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • Regardless of the state of marriage in our country, we can hope in Christ. There is no confusion in Christ. @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • Christians, we have the perfect opportunity to point people to Jesus through our marriages. @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • We want hearts and minds pointed towards Jesus because of how we relate to one another in marriage. @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • We are called to bring God honor and glory through our marriage relationships. @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • Today in our churches, marriage is vastly underserved. It is not easy to find marriage ministries. @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • Church leader, are you modeling what God wants to do through marriage in your own? @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • What good has God done in your marriage? How you share that good news with others? @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • Married people, what couples in your church can you invest in and pour in to? @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • Model your marriage. Teach on marriage. Equip them for marriage. @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • Through healthy marriage, we can show people who God is and His love for us in Jesus. @jbledsoejr #BSFL16
  • We need to reclaim marriage according to God’s original intent. @jbledsoejr #BSFL16

Jeremiah Johnston

  • There are two errors for Christians when it comes to the paranormal: fascination and ignoring it. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • Our culture is fascinated with the paranormal world. Leader, can you answer questions related to it? @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • There were both miracles and exorcisms in the ministry of Jesus. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • In the ministry of Christ, we see God invading the kingdom of Satan. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • In the New Testament, Jesus’s name was so powerful that even paranormal priests recognized him. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • The paranormal is attractive and is normal in our society. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • The more education one has, the more likely that person is to believe in the demonic and paranormal world. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • 71% of American’s believe they have had a paranormal experience. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • Only 28% of our young people say they have believed anything at church to help them with the paranormal around them. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • As soon as you open the door to demonic activity it becomes really hard to shut it. It is a slippery slope. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • The false gospel of a paranormal world is that life has no meaning. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • Fascination with the paranormal will bring you into bondage and greater confusion. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • Did you know that there are more than 300 psychics that are ordained as “Christian” ministers? @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • The demonic world preys on hurting people. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • Only Jesus Christ can set me free. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • Only in Jesus Christ can we find the true purpose for our lives. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • There is power and authority in the name of Jesus Christ. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • Unbelief fears Satan as a lion. Belief tramples Satan as a worm. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • We need the light of Jesus Christ to shine in the darkness of our world. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16
  • When it comes to the paranormal, lets recognize it and know how to respond to it. @JeremyJohnstonJ #BSFL16

Eric Geiger

  • How do you disciples someone through success? @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • Just as God uses trials and pain to sanctify us, He can also use success. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • Most of the people we lead are not going through deep pain, but seasons of success. How will you disciple them through it? @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • We need to remind each other that God is in control and gives authority and success. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • In seasons of success, we need to remind one another that it is a gift of God. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • If someone is experiencing success, it is only because God has chosen to bless them with success. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • The gospel tells us that all good things are because of God, not us. We do not bring anything to the table. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • The Christian faith is something we receive; it is not something we achieve. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • We need to remind one another that God is better than our seasons of success. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • God gives success. But God is better than success. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • God is more satisfying than the promotion. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • God is better than the great business deal. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • God is more liberating than anything this world offers. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • Success pales in comparison to the greatness of God. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • Sanctification through poverty: identity in the struggle. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • Sanctification through prosperity: identify in the gifts. @ericgeiger #BSFL16
  • We find our satisfaction not in the gifts of God, but in God himself. @ericgeiger #BSFL16

Jesse Campbell

  • When we minister to people through tragedy we must teach that God is ultimately sovereign. @JesseCampbell5 #BSFL16
  • God always has purpose in tragedy. God can take it and write a story of healing and redemption. @JesseCampbell5 #BSFL16
  • Tragedy often shows that our faith refined by fire may be proven genuine. @JesseCampbell5 #BSFL16
  • We must call people to respond in tragedy like Job. Though God may slay me, I will hope in Him. @JesseCampbell5 #BSFL16
  • Even when Satan attacks, our faith in God can remain in tact. @JesseCampbell5 #BSFL16
  • Do we consider it pure joy when our faith is tested? @JesseCampbell5 #BSFL16
  • When we bring about our own tragedy, we must confess that it is against God alone that we have sinned. @JesseCampbell5 #BSFL16
  • The central truth is that God redeems tragedy. @JesseCampbell5 #BSFL16
  • God can work all things, even tragedy, for the good of His purpose. @JesseCampbell5 #BSFL16
  • A moment in God’s presence will alleviate all the pain we have experienced in tragedy. @JesseCampbell5 #BSFL16
  • God can build a beautiful testimony through our tragedies. @JesseCampbell5 #BSFL16
  • God can take anything in our lives and use it to prepare us to minister to others. @JesseCampbell5 #BSFL16

Tony Merida

  • Most of our favorite meal times are with others. This is a great ministry opportunity. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • The reason we long for meals with friends is that we were made for these. We are headed to Marriage Supper of the Lamb. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • All of history is moving to a time when Christians will dine with the King. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • One of the ways we can minister to people is to practice hospitality. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • Practicing hospitality is not about being nice, its about putting on display the kingdom of God. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • The whole story of the Bible can be told through a meal. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • God provides in the garden, God provides for Abraham, God provides during the exodus, God provides in the Promised Land. God is the ultimate host. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • Meals are central, this is why Jesus came eating and drinking. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • In the gospel of Luke, Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • Jesus never started a school or a program, he just ate with people. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • Ministry through hospitality is something every Christian can do. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • We can strategically use every meal to put Jesus’ revolutionary Kingdom on display. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • The act of hospitality puts on display the gospel that we believe. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • The proper response to grace is always grace. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • The more we internalize the gospel of grace, the more we should demonstrate it to others. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • Jesus brought us in and has shown us grace, we should do the same for others. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • Effective ministry involves ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • How can we use our homes as a way to show mercy, communicate the gospel, and build community. @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • Lives are often changed by asking simple questions like “would you like to come over and eat”? @tonymerida #BSFL16
  • Think of your home as a great means of ministry. @tonymerida #BSFL16

Jonathan Falwell

  • We need to recognize the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • The purpose of discipleship is to become more like Christ. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • Discipleship requires us to take deliberate steps. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • In the midst of life changing moments we need to stay firm in becoming like Christ. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • Do not let the winds of change and uncertainty stop us in our faith walk. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • We need our roots so deep in the faith that we stand strong in the winds of life. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • We need to be firmly rooted, established, and locked in the faith to stand strong in hard situations. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • We need a diligent and deliberate plan to remain rooted in the faith. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • We need a powerful prayer plan to stand strong in life change. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • We need a deliberate Bible study plan to plant our roots deep in the midst of life change. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • When we pick up God’s word, He speaks to us and to our life situation. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • We need a deliberate plan of dependence on God to remain firm during life change. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • We need to be in God’s word to remain completely dependent on Him. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16
  • We need a deliberate plan of multiplication to help others remain strong during life transition. @jonathanfalwell #BSFL16

Derwin Gray

  • To be a disciple means that you are a part of a story much larger than you. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • The greater story of discipleship informs and transforms how we live. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • We need to think of discipleship in the context of being God’s people, students of Jesus. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • Making disciples of all nations means making disciples of all people across the sea and across the street. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • Love God. Love Self. Love Neighbor. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • In the New Testament, multi-ethnic church was not just a model of doing church, it was the church. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • The essence of discipleship is about becoming mature in Christ. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • If you want to grow as a disciple you need to be involved in cross-cultural ministry. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • In others differences, we find ourselves, and others find themselves. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • A big part of discipleship is the art of listening to someone else’s story. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • Understating someone else’s story allows you to walk in their shoes. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • Until you have walked in someone else’s shoes, do not criticize them. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • Learn others story, hear what God has done in them. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • Proximity evolves into intimacy. It is hard to hate people up close. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • It is easy to hate others from a distance. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • Jesus meets us at different stages of life to conform us to his image through the holy spirit to present us mature. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16
  • God’s goal in discipleship is not information, but transformation. @DerwinLGray #BSFL16

Thom Rainer

  • We need to disciple our children with intentionality. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Every night, we should read God’s word to our children. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Every night, we should pray with our children. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Even when our children are teenagers, we should continue to disciple our children. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • We should intentionally teach our children spiritual disciplines and the basics of the faith. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Some of our best times involved our children asking us spontaneous questions about the Bible. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Church leaders, our children need to see us share our faith. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Church leaders, take your children with you when you visit people. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Church leaders, model servant leadership and acts of kindness to your children. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • We should disciple our children in formal and informal contexts. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Even on vacation, as you walk the beach, talk about the greatness of God’s creation. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Share with and teach your children the beauty of God’s creation. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Be transparent and authentic with your children. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Pastors, what your children see in the pulpit needs to be what they see during the week. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Even in our humor, we can show our children the joy of our faith. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Laughter and joy is an important part of cultivating discipleship in your family. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Joy should shape your home as a safe spiritual haven. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Through our joy we can show our children that God is a loving Father. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • Our children should see that we love our spouses. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • One of the greatest things that gives our children security is to see that we love our spouses. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • We will not do everything right, but God will use us to disciple our children. @thomrainer #BSFL16
  • The greatest opportunity we have is to disciple our children. @thomrainer #BSFL16

Trillia Newbell

  • Men and women are created in the image of God, created equal but different. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Because of sin, women are often objectified in sexuality. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Understanding the fall gives us a foundation for how it affects us. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Did you know that women ages 16-19 years old have the highest rate of sexual victimization? @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Sadly, sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • 1 out of every 6 women in the US have been raped or assaulted at some point in their lives. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Have you considered that your churches are full of people that have been assaulted sexually? @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Sexual victims need to be freed from their disgrace by the power of the gospel. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • When it comes to sexual assault, leaders must be prepared to care for victims through Caesar and the Church. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Our people are inundated with sexually explicit material. Are you prepared to minister to your people in this area? @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Sex was created by God and intended to be enjoyed in the context of marriage. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Because of sin, sex is distorted, twisted, abused and neglected. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • The Bible is clear. Christians are called to abstain from sexual immorality. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • God has called us to purity and holiness! @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Our sin not only affects ourselves, but it also affects others. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Whoever engages in sexual sin, sins against a holy and just God. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • We are called to exercise control over our minds and our bodies. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • We are called to think on things that are true, honorable, and pure. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • In our sex crazed society, we have to push against the culture and take captive of our own thoughts. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Do not buy the lie that you must be sexual to attract the opposite sex. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • We fight against sin because God is worth fighting for. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • We are created to bring God glory! @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • In our fight against sexual sin, we need to preach the gospel to ourselves and fix our eyes on Christ. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • As God’s children, we trust that saying no to sexual sin is the best that He has for us. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • We pursue righteousness and fight sin because of our love for Jesus Christ, and we are His beloved. @trillianewbell #BSFL16
  • Remember there are people around you that are suffering at the hands of others, and are struggling with their own sin. @trillianewbell #BSFL16

Is Sunday School Still An Effective Ministry?

I recently sat down with The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina to talk about the role of Sunday School in church ministry. Here is one short video from our time together.

Free eBook from The Gospel Project and Ligonier Ministries

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Sign up to download the eBook here. 

In 2014, LifeWay Research and Ligonier Ministries partnered to learn what Americans really believe in seven key doctrinal areas—and the resulting study paints a sobering picture about the state of American theology.

The Gospel Project just released a new, free eBook, The State of American Theology: Knowing the Truth, Loving the Church, Reaching Our Neighbors, collecting the research and thoughtful essays from renowned theologians.

This was the last project I led at LifeWay before entering the pastorate. I am thankful to see it available online. The eBook features essays and articles such as:

  • Why Theological Study Is For Everyone by Jared Wilson
  • The Love of God by D. A. Carson

  • Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by JD Greear
  • The Marks of the Church by Mark Dever
  • All Nations and Church Planting by Ed Stetzer
  • The Pillar of the Truth by Steve Timmis
  • Not So Fast by Trevin Wax
  • Soli Deo Gloria by John Piper
  • Bible Believing. Bible Obeying by Burk Parsons
  • What Should We Say? by Jonathan Akin

  • Dealing with Doubt by Randy Alcorn

  • Lust and Chastity by Thabiti Anyabwile
  • Ordinary Christian Work by Tim Challies
  • Christian Parenting by Elyse Fitzpatrick
  • Pain: God’s Megaphone by Alistair Begg
  • A Teachable Spirit by Justin Taylor

  • The Blessings of Humility by Jerry Bridges
  • Sabbath Rest by Sinclair Ferguson
  • The Holy Love of God by R.C. Sproul
  • The Breath of God by Derek Thomas

  • Bearers of God’s Image by Trillia Newbell

  • The Biblical Evidence for Hell by Christopher Morgan
  • The New Heavens and New Earth by Dennis Johnson
  • What Is The Gospel? by Ray Ortlund
  • Preach the Gospel, and Since It’s Necessary, Use Words by Ed Stetzer
  • Only One Way by Bruce Ware

  • And many more…

Sign up to download the book here!

Events at 2015 The Southern Baptist Convention


Are you planning on attending the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention in Columbus? If so, here is a list of events happening during the annual meeting that would be worth your consideration. As you can see, they are organized by meal time…since we are baptist.

Monday, June 15th

Tuesday, June 16th

Wednesday, June 17th.

  • Breakfast: SBC Men’s Breakfast sponsored by LifeWay and NAMB, focused on how you can invest in the lives of the men of your church. The speakers include JD Greear, Matt Carter, Michael Catt, Mark Dance, Jason Ellerbrook, Michael Lewis. Register here.
  • Breakfast: Women’s Leadership Breakfast by SEBTS and NAMB. A panel discussion from gifted leaders who will share their expertise and wisdom about the importance of equipping for leadership. Panelists include: Lizette Beard (moderator), Denise O’Donoghue, Elicia Horton, Kathy Litton, and Selma Wilson. Register here.

Other Considerations

It is possible to know Bible stories, and miss the Bible story.

There are great stories in the Bible…but it is possible to know Bible stories, yet miss the Bible story.” – Ed Clowney

A Fellowshipping People

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This was origionally posted at The Gospel Project blog.

In the Book of Genesis, we read that after God created everything on earth He declared that it was good. However, after God created Adam, He declared that it was not good for man to be alone. This break in the pattern of the creation narrative indicates something significant. Each and every one of us was made for fellowship. While Genesis 2:18 refers specifically to the marriage relationship between Adam and Eve, I think we can infer that all the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve were created for relationships beyond ourselves. Like Adam and Eve, we are all created in the image of the Trinitarian God, a relational God, who exists in three persons (Father, Son, and Spirit) who are in perfect fellowship with one another. At our very core, we are relational beings. We were created for fellowship. It is not good for us to be alone. This explains why each and every one of us desires fellowship.

The word fellowship literally means “sharing in a common life.”  As Christians, we understand that the Christian community offers a “common life” much deeper than that of any other type of communal association on earth. For example, the car club may gather and fellowship around their mutual love of the automobile, but in most cases that is about as far as it goes. When Christians gather, their basis of fellowship reaches into every aspect of their lives. Fellowship centered on one’s love for cars might never get beyond what sits in their garage. Two individuals whose fellowship is centered on Christ are able to apply the gospel to every area of their lives—to their friendships, marriages, work, family, and even to their own individual struggles. What’s even more unique about Christian fellowship is that two Christians from very different background, ethnicities, and social status are able to experience the deepest of fellowship solely based on the work of Christ. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, Christian fellowship “…is not something that we must realize, it is a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.” (Life Together).

In Christ we are able to enter fellowship with other Christians just as we are because our fellowship is based on our connection through Christ, not on anything else. There is a freedom in Christian fellowship that does not exist in any other type of community. We are free to be who we are, even in our brokenness, because we are accepted by God in Christ, and thus also accepted in the Christian community. Not only does fellowship around Christ add more freedom and depth to our relationships, it also makes Christian fellowship more lasting than any other type of fellowship in this world. The author of Hebrews makes it clear that together, the people of God long for a better country—a heavenly one (Heb. 11:16). The apostle Paul speaks of joining other believers who have fallen asleep before him when Christ returns (1 Thess. 4:13-14). The Bible indicates that we will not only be with God in eternity, we will also be with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

While other relationships, associations, and communities will pass away, our Christian fellowship lasts for eternity. Our deep, free, and lasting fellowship is more central to the Christian life than we might have previously imagined. Consider the quality of fellowship in the life of the church. Some of the most formative, meaningful, and memorable Christian fellowship in this life is experienced when we mourn with those who mourn, or rejoice with those who rejoice. Some of the most fruitful fellowship is experienced when we use our individual spiritual gifts to contribute to the life of the community. Our fellowship as the body of Christ not only has a sanctifying purpose for us as we move toward our heavenly home, it also has a missional purpose for the world around us. Our quality of fellowship can be a means for gospel demonstration when we display the beauty of Christian fellowship to the world in our love for one another. It should be no surprise that the early church in Acts 2 is described as devoted to fellowship.

As we have already seen, the church has a distinctive form of fellowship when compared to the “fellowship” the world offers. In fact, one could argue that the experience of fellowship as God intended it is impossible in this fallen world without the power of the Holy Spirit. How else would the biblical writers expect us to live out the more than thirty one “one another” passages we find in the New Testament, if not by the power of the Spirit? So, the type of fellowship mentioned above must be grounded in the gospel and lived out among the people of God. Our fellowship is not only important for our Christian life together, it can also be a means to God’s mission in the world. We were created for fellowship. The church is a fellowshipping people, from now into eternity.

The Gospel Project Chronological

This fall, The Gospel Project will begin a new chronological, Christ-centered Bible study plan for all ages—babies through adults. With the new plan comes a new website, and today, I want to invite you to the all-new!

  • Promote Gospel Transformation, Not Behavior Modification. Every session points participants to the gospel of Jesus Christ as the source of life-transformation and the foundation for spiritual growth.
  • See How the Whole Bible Fits Together. From Genesis to Revelation, understand how the entire Bible reveals God’s plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.
  • Unite Every Age in Christ-centered Study. For churches that wish to align all ages, The Gospel Project provides Christ-centered study for babies through adults.
  • Compel Men and Women to Live on Mission. Every session challenges participants to consider how the gospel compels them to live on mission every day.
  • Understand the Key Themes of Christianity. Helps men and women identify and understand the 99 essential theological doctrines of the Christian faith as they are found throughout the Bible.

You can download a full month of The Gospel Project free at!