Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Stumbling Blocks

During my devotional reading this morning I came across Luke 17:1-2, in which Christ reminds His followers not to be stumbling to "these little ones." I began thinking of how I might cause others to sin in one way or another, and I wanted to transparently list those out for everyone that it may spur other believers to examine their own lives as well.

Here's the information from my journal, formatted a little differently from its original. I basically saw a problem, found a Bible passage that addressed my sin condition, and wrote a short prayer for God to change me based on His Word:

Be careful not to cause others to sin. In what ways might I do that?
  • Sarcastic & critical spirit--Instead of sarcasm, give me gracious and salty speech (Colossians 4:6). Instead of a critical spirit, give me a tender heart & a humble mind (1 Peter 3:8).
  • Deeper devotion to theology than God Himself--Instead of a deeper devotion to theology [than God], help me to see Christ as preeminent in all things (Colossians 1:18).
  • Empty moralism--Instead of empty moralism, help me not to submit to legalism's yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).
  • Lack of evangelistic fervor--Instead of a lack of evangelistic fervor, constantly stir my heart with the thrust of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).
  • Anxiety--Instead of anxiety, remind me to be anxious for nothing but to turn to You in thankful prayer (Philippians 4:6).
  • Distrust--Instead of distrust, help me to grow in love, which believes all things (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Donald Hustad on Singing in Church

Betty Hammett, one of our faithful senior adults, read a quote by Donald Hustad and wrote it on an index card and gave it to me some time ago. I came across it today and thought it worth sharing:
Somehow, about forty percent of churchgoers seem to have picked up the idea that "singing in church is for singers." The truth is that "singing is for believers." The relevant question is not "Do you have a voice?" but "Do you have a song?"

Monday, October 05, 2009

My Testimony (Audio)

I just found an audio file of my testimony that I gave during a seminary choir concert back in the day. Forgive my factual inaccuracies in the Wesley story (i.e. the wrong city name and inaccuracies in the Moravian conversation).

Click here to download the track.

Also, if you're interested in learning more about my faith in Christ, please see the 2 Ways to Live link on the right side of this webpage.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Outline of Matthew 5:3

Here is my proposed outline for Matthew 5:3. It's not "three points and a poem," because the text itself makes two basic assertions: it describes true believers as those who recognize their spiritual bankruptcy (and thus turn to God), and that the kingdom belongs to such folks.

The Humility of Kingdom Citizenry
--If you are a citizen of Christ's kingdom, you will have a God-given awareness of spiritual bankruptcy.

The Blessedness of Kingdom Citizenship--If you are aware of your spiritual bankruptcy, the kingdom is yours with all its rights and privileges.

Any thoughts or recommendations on preaching from this text?

By the way, I'm thoroughly enjoying Lloyd-Jones Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. I highly recommend it! I'm also looking forward to delving into a Spurgeon sermon on the passage and Jeremiah Burroughs commentary on the Beatitudes as a way to further prepare my heart for this passage. I've studied the text and hit the commentaries and will be writing the sermon soon, but I like to prepare my heart the night before a sermon by delving into some sermons and commentaries that will prepare my heart. Spurgeon is usually stirring, and I know enough of Jeremiah Burroughs to believe I'll be offered some serious points of application and meditation from his work.

Above all, please join me in praying. This week, for me, has been very trying for various reasons, so it has been one of those "out of season" sermon weeks. The need for grace is all the more apparent, for which I'm thankful to have such a reminder.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Church Brochure

It's finally time to unveil/unleash our church's new brochure tomorrow. I welcome your feedback (particularly before tomorrow afternoon) as to any suggestions you might wish to make. Just keep in mind that I'm not crazy about the picture myself, but it's the best we have so far. Maybe someday in the future we'll redesign it.

So, click here to download a PDF of it, and thanks for helping!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Of Lions and Sluggards

One of my recent practices is to read through a chapter of the book of Proverbs each day, usually corresponding to the numeric date. For example, since today is the 22nd of May, I read chapter 22. The verse that struck me was one on slothfulness:
"The sluggard says, 'There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets!'" (Proverbs 22:13, ESV)
In this instance, it appears that the fear was largely unfounded. Granted, while there is an extremely slight possibility that a lion was roaming the streets of Jerusalem, it is safe to say that this slothful man just did not want to head out for the day.

To put it in today's parlance, the contemporary sluggard might stay home from church on Sunday, pointing to the possibility of becoming infected with swine flu. In reality, he probably stayed up too late watching Mad TV, only to wake up late and spend the day inside imbibing Cheetos and Mountain Dew while engrossed in rounds of Guitar Hero.

For me, this verse served to remind me to evaluate my life, looking at my priorities. Too often, the things that envelop my time are things that tend to be focused on my wants and needs. If I'm not interested in doing something, excuses can be so easy to find. I pray that the Lord will help me to shake off excuses I have to avoid doing what is important.

While studying this verse, I came across a hymn on the passage written by John Newton (the author of the hymn "Amazing Grace"). Considering I never have seen a hymn about being lazy, I thought it was worth sharing:
"The Sluggard"

1. The wishes that the sluggard frames, 1
Of course must fruitless prove;
With folded arms he stands and dreams,
But has no heart to move.

2. His field from others may be known,
The fence is broken through;
The ground with weeds is overgrown,
And no good crop in view.

3. No hardship he, or toil, can bear,
No difficulty meet;
He wastes his hours at home, for fear
Of lions in the street.

4. What wonder, then, if sloth and sleep
Distress and famine bring!
Can he in harvest hope to reap,
Who will not sow in spring?

5. 'Tis often thus, in soul concerns,
We Gospel-sluggards see;
Who, if a wish would serve their turns,
Might true believers be.

6. But when the preacher bids them watch,
And seek, and strive, and pray; 2
At ev'ry poor excuse they catch,
"A lion in the way!"

7. To use the means of grace, how loth!
We call them still in vain:
They yield to their beloved sloth,
And fold their arms again.

8. Dear Savior, let thy pow'r appear,
The outward call to aid;
These drowsy souls can only hear
The voice that wakes the dead.
1 Prov. 6:10, 24:30, 22:13, 20:4
2 1 Cor. 9:24, Luke 13:24

Friday, May 01, 2009

R.C. Sproul on Literature

I was pleased to find this video from R.C. Sproul concerning the topic of the Christian and literature.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recommended Reading: The Prodigal God

"One of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do." That sentence came from the second paragraph of the introduction to Tim Keller's work, The Prodigal God. It helped to set the tone for this convicting, encouraging, informative little book about the parable of the prodigal son, as it is often called, found in Luke 15.

Keller fleshes out a fuller understanding of human sinfulness and lostness than is often seen in sermons preached or works written about this parable. Most preachers and authors focus on the younger brother and his licentious living. However, Keller focuses on the elder brother as well, pointing out the equally sinful lifestyle and lost condition of religious folks. He leaves no wiggle room for the elder brothers (i.e. religiously lost) who "obey God to get things" (p. 42), going so far as to assert that "religious and moral people can be avoiding Jesus as Savior and Lord as much as the younger brothers who say they don't believe in God and define right and wrong for themselves" (p. 43). This caught my attention, for I was that kind of elder brother who was avoiding submitting my life to Christ through a superficial obedience to external commands largely so that I can "get things" from God: peace, decent job, respect, etc.

This book caused me to love the grace of God and the saving work of Christ all the more. Keller gave me a new insight concerning this parable that I had never noticed. In the first two parables in Luke 15--the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin--someone goes out looking for what is lost. In the prodigal son, no one goes looking. Why? Keller points back to the story of Cain and Abel, where Cain should have been his brother's keeper. The elder brother in this parable should have been out searching for his brother, but "by putting a flawed elder brother in the story, Jesus is inviting us to imagine and yearn for a true one" (p. 84).

Thankfully, Christ did enter this world and take on human flesh to rescue those who put their trust in Him alone by grace through faith, for "we will never stop being younger brothers or elder brothers until we acknowledge our need, rest by faith, and gaze in wonder at the work of our true elder brother, Jesus Christ" (p. 89).

So, please take some time and read this book. If you're in the Chatsworth, GA area feel free to drop by the church so that I can gladly loan it to you.

Here are some more quotes from the work:

"Careful obedience to God's law may serve as a strategy for rebelling against God" (p. 37).

"If you've become a Christian out of being an elder brother, you can even more easily slide back into elder-brother attitudes and spiritual deadness. If you have not grasped the gospel fully and deeply, you will return to being condescending, condemning, anxious, insecure, joyless, and angry all the time" (p. 70).

"It's not the repentance that causes the father's love, but rather the reverse" (p. 74).

"What must we do, then, to be saved? To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just an elder brother. To truly become Christians we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right" (p. 78).

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Great Matt Chandler Clip

The following clip by Matt Chandler is amazing! I thank God that He didn't toss me in the gutter when He could have. He chose to redeem me, even when I didn't think I needed redeeming. Some of you may be in the same condition. I beg you: be reconciled to God!

Side note: I hope to return to regular blogging soon as a means of ministry by sharing what the Lord's doing in my life, what I'm learning, or some burdens for which I need prayer. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Better than Bacardi

An amazing thing happened today. I returned to the house mid-afternoon and was greeted by my mom with a glorious sentence: "Papaw got saved!" Mom proceeded in telling me of how my grandfather walked from darkness and into light today, on his 80th birthday, of all days.

My grandfather has always been a difficult man, hardened by years of bitterness and anger swallowed up in a fountain of liquor. If there was ever a man that no one would expect could or would become a Christian, it was my grandfather. I cannot recall how many people shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with him. He knew that he was a sinner who had offended a holy God and had no hope of eternal life since he was apart from Christ. He knew he needed to turn from his sins and turn to follow Jesus, but he was unwilling to repent and believe. The phrases "I'm not ready," and "not now" were familiar to his lips and to the ears of those of us who had prayed for him, sharing truth with him over the years.

He has not been doing well, physically, and has been getting weaker and weaker over the weeks. God has been gracious to my grandfather in making him miserable. My uncle Steve could tell that my grandfather has been getting closer and closer to death, and he called a preacher-friend of his to talk to Papaw. This preacher, Scott Shepherd, formed a friendship with Papaw when he pastored a Baptist church in the area. Scott shared the gospel once again with Papaw. My grandfather's response was that he would become a Christian "next time." This evangelist reminded him of the truth of 2 Corinthians 6:2, which says that "Now is the day of salvation." He said, "Okay. I'll do it today." Scott asked if he would like for him to lead him in prayer, to which Papaw responded that he would like to pray in his own words. He simply bowed his head, telling God that he's sinned, asking God to forgive him and save his soul.

While all this was going on, I was loafing around Dalton, Georgia, looking for my grandfather's old house, where my mom and her siblings were raised. I was on the phone with my mom asking her how to get there, and we were all the while unaware that Papaw was passing from death into life. Looking back, it was a providential blessing that I kept Mom tied up on the phone while I was hunting for the house, prohibiting her from calling Papaw while the preacher was there sharing the gospel. After I hung up with Mom, she called Papaw. He told told her the words our family has longed to hear for a long time, "Well...I think I just got saved."

I'm still amazed by all of this! God has given my grandfather something better than Bacardi to drink now! He is drinking living water now! A drink that will not leave him bitter, disappointed, or longing for more. Papaw told the preacher today that he thought he was about to have a nervous breakdown. He could barely sleep anymore. I thank God for letting His hand weigh so heavily on Papaw, bringing him to his knees. After being reconciled to God, Papaw told the preacher he immediately felt better.

Please pray for Papaw as he continues to suffer from numerous diseases that have ravaged his body for years. We do not anticipate him living much longer, and now that he has come to know Christ, the thought of his passing is no longer an unpleasant one.

Thanks also to all of you who have prayed for my grandfather over the years! It is still surreal to think that he is now a follower of Jesus Christ, and it is no doubt a result of decades of prayers being lifted up for him.

May this post encourage you to pray and witness to those you know who have not submitted to Christ's yoke. God saved my (formerly) alcoholic, octogenerian grandfather who had always refused the gospel up until today, the day of his 80th birthday. God's grace is amazing! Thankfully, Papaw now knows what Living Water is, and the Living Water, Jesus Christ, is by far better than Bacardi.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The First Newsletter Article about My Nephew

My nephew, Levi Hunter Martin, made the news yesterday for being the official New Year's baby at Dalton, Georgia's only hospital, and I wanted to share the article with everyone.

It's amazing how such a little guy can instill so much love and awe. He's a little bundle, not even two feet long and just under 7 1/2 pounds, yet he is more amazing to me than the grandest European cathedral or the most intricate Bach fugue or the most ancient California redwood.

I think that holding my little nephew and humming to him will go down as one of the favorite New Year's Day experiences of my life.

Enjoy reading the article: "Dalton's first baby arrives early."

An Open Letter to Levi Hunter Martin

I wanted to write this letter to my nephew, and I thought it might be good to post here on my blog. Maybe it will prompt some other open letters to Levi. Please continue in your prayers for him as he continues to grow.

To my nephew,

I am sitting here writing you this message just minutes before midnight on the day of your birth. I had to write to you to remember this day, to express my love for you, and to share what’s on my heart and the prayers and hopes I have for your life. Holding you in my arms this evening and humming “Edelweiss,” “Because He Lives,” and Brahm’s “Lullaby” was surreal. You were finally here, yet you were not fully aware that anyone had been waiting for you or even who these people were who were passing you around like some vase from the era of an ancient Chinese dynasty. The truth is: you are far more precious than some work of art created with clay. God knew you before He decided to form you in the womb of my sister, and He knows the very hairs of your little red head. God took great care in designing you to the minutest detail, and He has entrusted your parents and our whole family to bear His image by likewise caring for you and the smallest aspects of you and your life.

When I first heard your mom was pregnant with you, part of me was fearful that I would miss this day. I lived in Louisville, Kentucky up until the end of the summer this year. So, there was the chance that, had I been living up there, I might not have been able to be here, but God has seen fit to move me back to Chatsworth, Georgia. I think that you are a big part of the reason that God led me back here. I hope, by God’s grace, to love you with all I have. I hope, by God’s grace, to be an instrument of grace in your life, helping teach you the truth of the Bible. I hope, by God’s grace, to be here and see you come to recognize who God is (the holy Creator who is sovereign Lord of all), who you are (a sinner in desperate need of the Savior, Jesus), who Christ is (a loving Savior who calls sinners to come to Him), and the call to repent and believe the gospel, trusting in Christ alone. This is the gospel. It is true. It is important. It is life-changing. I pray God will save you at an early age and fashion you to be a vessel of honor. Nothing would bring me more joy than to see God raise you up as a valiant servant in such a time as this. This is life worth living, a life lived to “glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

I feel compelled to apologize, in advance, for the memories I won’t be able to share with you. I'm sorry if I miss out on some memorable experiences as you grow up. Most likely, I will miss birthday parties and concerts or sporting events that you may be a part of. I may not be around when you bring home your first buck after being out deer hunting with your dad. It may be that I’m studying at seminary. Or, it may be that I’m pastoring a church somewhere, many hours away. Or, it may be that I’m a missionary in South America. Or, it may be that I am pouring out my life for the cause of the gospel in some land far from Chatsworth, Georgia. Wherever I might be, please know that your Uncle Kenny loves you and will be praying for you.

Well…I had high hopes for this message, but I still didn’t get to say all the things I wanted to say. Sleep is calling. There may be a “part two” to this message in the days to come. Most likely, this “part two” may extend itself into conversations and sharing life together in the years to come.

I’m looking forward to talking about the faithful promises of our God as we “sit in the house...walk by the way…lie down…and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7, ESV). More than anything, I pray that the laws and promises of our God will be written on your heart in a holy ink that will not smudge.

With Much Love & Joy,
Uncle Kenny