Here is a picture of our VBS group while we were working in Ecuador.
And here is a picture of me on the hillside by the church by the soccer field talking with some kids. I was reading to them in Spanish about Jesus.
While in Ecuador I asked every member of our mission team to read this great little book by C.J. Mahaney. It is called The Cross Centered Life.
It was encouraging to know that many of my fellow church members were focusing their lives upon the cross of Christ. The book is very short and easy to read. It can easily be read in one sitting. It is only 85 pages.
Here are a few highlights from the book:
“Humility may well be called the queen of the Christian graces. To know our own sinfulness and weakness, and to feel our need of Christ, is the very beginning of saving religion. –It is a grace which has always been the distinguishing feature in the character of the holiest saints in every age. Abraham, and Moses, and Job, and David, and Daniel, and Paul, were all eminently humble men. –Above all, it is a grace within the reach of every true Christian. All have not money to give away. All have not time and opportunities for working directly for Christ. All have not gifts of speech, and tact, and knowledge, in order to do good in the world. But all converted men should labor to adorn the doctrine they profess by humility. If they can do nothing else, they can strive to be humble.”
-J.C. Ryle commenting on Luke 14:11
When someone hears the Gospel and believes, comes to faith in Christ and becomes a follower of Jesus, it is essential that they begin reading, learning, and understanding God’s Word.
Once they begin growing in God’s Word, they will begin growing in their relationship with Christ. As they are growing in their relationship with Christ, they will find themselves desiring to know and understand more and more of God’s word. If this growth is not visible and evident in a believer then there are some legitimate concerns.
John 17:17 Jesus prayed “Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth.”
Here is a list of 8 Bible verses, or passages, that I believe all Christians should know (This is not to imply that someone is not a Christian if they do not know these. Nor are these the very first that someone must read or learn.):
I am beginning a personal word study on “Zeal”.
Dictionary.com defines Zeal as “fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavor;enthusiastic diligence; ardor.”
Lately, I have been so captivated by this Biblical idea and thought.
Romans 12:11 says “Do not be slothful in zeal.”
I will continue writing and posting more on this later.
I have a hero (I originally wrote this for my dad on March 28, 2012)
I have a hero. Actually, I have several heroes from many different walks of life. But there is one that really, really stands out from the others. There is one that is bigger and brighter in my eyes. One that has left a much, much larger and stronger impact and impression on my mind and heart, deeply upon my life and soul.
My hero is my dad, Morris Greene.
My dad is my hero because he is a hero. I need a hero. I need a man that I can look to and say I want to be like him. I need a father to look at and say I want to father like that. I need a husband that I can look at and say I want to be a husband like that. I need a hard-working example that I can look at and say I want to be hard-working like that. I need a provider who can show me what it looks like to provide. I need a hero. I realize my dad is not the perfect man. He is not to be modeled after in every way. I know that. But he’s my dad. And my dad is my hero. May God give me grace and strength to be like my dad.
One of the great strengths of a minister is when he unashamedly claims his people. He is proud to be connected and associated with them. So much so that the bond between the church and its minister grows and grows and becomes so tight and strong. The minister loves them, identifies with them, connects with them, and becomes like them. And vice versa. A lot of this is seen in the Biblical analogy of a Shepherd and his sheep.
This past week I had my heart stirred in such a great way around this concept. I was studying the book of Titus.
Titus is a small book. Its only 3 chapters long. Only 46 verses. It many Bibles it all fits on to one page. It is short and simple.
The Apostle Paul wrote Titus this short letter to encourage him as to why Titus is still remaining on the island of Crete. Paul had recently been there doing mission work. Many people had gotten saved. Churches were set up in each town on the island, and those churches now needed good leadership. So Paul left Titus there to put what remained into order. He was to appoint elders in every town to lead the churches. And Titus’s large task was to go and correct the false teachers who were already in these churches.
The book is short yet so profound on what a church is to be like = How the people who make up the church are to believe the right things according to the truth and then also have faithful consistent godly lives that go in accordance with the truth they so strongly believe. It really is a rich little book of the Bible!
So the setting is that Titus is currently living in Crete. He was not born and raised there. Paul left him there. But he was living and ministering there at the time. Paul however was not. Paul no longer lived there. He used to live there. He used to work and serve there, but he does not live there any longer during the time he was writing this letter to Titus.
This is where my heart was so stirred. So challenged. So convicted. So blessed.
At the very end of Titus, Paul is closing his letter with his final instructions and greetings. There are 15 verses in chapter 3, the final chapter. In verse 14, Paul writes this to Titus:
“And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.”
This is a great verse for so many reasons. But what really got me was that phrase “our people.”
Whose people? Now maybe he was referring to all Christians everywhere. That certainly makes sense too. It works. It applies. But I don’t think so. I think Paul is an awesome pastor and he wants Titus to be an awesome pastor too. After all, Titus is his “true child in a common faith.” So Paul refers to the believers in Crete as “our people.” Paul is identifying himself with the Cretans.
Yes, the Apostle Paul is identifying himself with the Cretan believers. This is remarkable. Those of us who call ourselves ministers today have a lot to learn from this idea. Here are a few comments:
As I am thinking through all of this, I am wondering if the inability to call your old church folks “your people” says anything about whether they were ever truly your people. Maybe they never were. Maybe ministers sometimes just have jobs and never connect. Maybe once you move “your people” are out-of-sight out-of-mind. I hope not. Praise God that surely wasn’t the case for Paul.
Maybe Paul was just so gripped by that stunning truth at the end of Hebrews. Verse 13:17 that says leaders are keeping watch over souls and will have to give an account for “the people.” Surely, surely, surely if they are “our people” we will proudly, boldy, sacrificially claim them!
This past Sunday I preached from Luke 13:1-9. Verses 3 and 5 both say
“No I tell you, unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
You can listen to the whole sermon here.
Here is an excellent quote from J.C. Ryle on the nature of true repentance:
“The nature of true repentance is clearly and unmistakably laid down in holy Scripture. It begins with knowledge of sin. It goes on to work sorrow for sin. It leads to confession of sin before God. It shows itself before man by a thorough breaking off from sin. It results in producing a habit of deep hatred for all sin. Above all, it is inseparably connected with lively faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance like this is the characteristic of all true Christians.”
One of the simplest ways to study the Bible is to see which words are repeated the most often.
In our Men’s & Women’s Bible Studies (Wednesday & Thursday mornings respectively) we are going through the book of TITUS.
Titus is a short book of the Bible. It is only 3 short chapters, only 46 verses total.
But in this brief letter written by the Apostle Paul to a younger fellow minister named Titus, the word Sound is used 5 times.
Titus 1:9“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in SOUND doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”
Titus 1:13 “This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be SOUND in the faith.”
Titus 2:1 “But as for you, teach what accords with SOUND doctrine.”
Titus 2:2 “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, SOUND in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.”
Titus 2:8 “and SOUND speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
Being “Sound” means being “healthy.” It is as simple as that. Are you healthy in life? Are you healthy in your faith? Is your Faith a sound faith?
Studying the Bible this way is so simple yet so impactful. Try it out.