Category Archives: the gospel

Beset with Weakness

Recently my family and I took a two week vacation together. It was great. There were many things I took away from spending back to back weeks out of the routine of day to day ministry related tasks: meetings, sermons, phone calls, etc. Much of what the Lord showed me during my time away has leaked out in a few different areas, including the current sermon series our church is going through in Luke’s gospel. The overall picture is this: we’re busy and vacations aren’t the answer, Jesus is. I found that when I stopped the “activity” of ministry for two solid weeks several things bubbled to the surface of my heart, and they weren’t that great. They were however, a mercy from God. I was reminded again how needy I am (daily, hourly, moment by moment) for the sustaining grace and presence of Jesus in my life. No matter how busy I am in the things of life and ministry, there’s one thing that can never be dropped or marginalized in my life.

Then I started thinking about pastors in general. I thought about the somewhat strange dynamic of standing in front of people each week, needing to be the one who’s excited and encouraging and full of the Spirit, no matter how your week’s been. And I thought about the pressure (often self-imposed) that we put on ourselves to seem “super-spiritual” on Sundays and how silly that can be. Then, as I was reading in Hebrews the Lord blessed me with a picture of pastoral ministry (sort of). In Hebrews 5, the author is contrasting the high priest in Israel with Jesus (the true, eternal high priest). Now, the high priests weren’t pastors per se, but there were similar dynamics at work. So in his comparison the author points out how the high priests had to offer sacrifices, not just for the people, but for themselves. Why? They were sinners too. Verse two puts it beautifully:

He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. (Hebrews 5:2 ESV)

Here’s the picture–the man serving others in sacrificing animals for a covering over their sin, is in their same boat. He’s just as needy of the sacrifice as they are. I think this a very helpful picture for us pastors to observe and emulate. We come each Sunday to be with people who are struggling and needy and discouraged and confused and looking for answers. We don’t come to them as the answer, but our job is to point them to Jesus; because we too are beset with weakness. We too are in need of a thriving walk with Him. That doesn’t come any more naturally to pastors than non-pastors, just so you know. So, pastors we can be gentle and honest with people because we all need the same Jesus. We’re all looking to Him to come through in the end on our behalf.

I was reminded again that the best thing I can give my church and my family is a man who is pursuing Jesus  more than anything else. He’s the one who’s perfect, not me. His holiness has earned salvation, not mine. He’s our boast, our reward. So even though we’re pastors, we too are beset with weakness. Let’s bring that weakness to Jesus and ask Him to show His strength through us. Amen.

 

–Travis Cardwell

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The Book of Revelation is Exactly What We Need

I was blessed to be in the seats at Baptist Church of the Redeemer for the six months or so that Jim Hamilton preached through the book of Revelation. I was new to the church and fairly new in pastoral ministry. I remember thinking: “I can’t believe he’s preaching on this!” Don’t get me wrong, I believed that all of the Bible was true and profitable for the body of Christ. But, admittedly my interaction with friends and other pastors on Revelation had always produced more fear and confusion for me than edification.

But, I was struck by how clear and powerful the sermon series proved to be. Jim did not overwhelm us with theories, positions or charts. He simply explained, with passion and gravity, this very important book of the Bible. I remember coming away from those sermons and being more impressed with the beauty, strength and majesty of Jesus than ever before. The “crucified, risen, ascended, reigning and returning” Lord seemed to peer directly at us from the pages of John’s letter on those Sundays. There was expectation for the future, yes but not the kind that leads to speculation and calculation. It was the kind that made obedience in the present all the more attractive and logical. Jesus was real and was coming again. We were confronted with His power and the futility of resisting it.

I’m so thankful that Crossway has seen the blessing and value that these sermons and Jim’s careful study offer for the wider Church. So, I couldn’t be more excited to now hold Revelation, The Spirit Speaks to the Churches in my hands. Pastors, if you’re not familiar with the Preaching the Word commentary series, edited by R. Kent Hughes, you should quickly familiarize yourself. This series has been helpful to me in my preparation through the book of Acts and the gospel of Mark. I know that this latest edition to this reliable series will serve you very well, both as an encouragement to preach on Revelation and as a resource as you go about explaining this glorious book to your congregations.

When Jim stood up to begin the series on Revelation, I admit to having doubts about how applicable this apocalyptic work would be to our church full of normal people with normal needs, too many to mention. Then, near the beginning of his first sermon, he said something like this:

“We have been lulled to sleep by the ordinariness of our lives. Our senses have been dulled by the humdrum of one day after another. We need to see God as he is. We need to be convinced that Jesus is reigning as the risen King. We need to have him speak to the situation in our churches. We need to know that God is right now on his throne, in control in Heaven, worshiped by myriads upon myriads of the heavenly host. We need to see the way that God will pulverize wickedness, obliterate those who oppose him, and set up his kingdom. The book of Revelation has exactly what we need.” –Pg. 18

The book of revelation is exactly what we need. I hope that you will benefit greatly from this new volume and that through it, our confidence in and worship of our reigning and returning King will soar!

Under the Blood: A Sermon Clip [VIDEO]

Jason Allison is a mastermind. His work has shown up on my blog before and will again. He’s creative, gospel-centered and really good at what he does. The video below is a great example of the quality of his work. He took a clip from a sermon I recently preached on the Lord’s Supper and. . . well check it out:

Under The Blood from Jason Allison on Vimeo.

December Sermon Series at Redeemer: “So I Send You”

Jesus had been crucified on a cross, enduring the full wrath of Almighty God. He had been buried. Three days later He rose. He appeared to Mary, and then to his disciples. Then, while his disciples were gathered in a room, after Mary had given them the announcement that Jesus had risen, He appeared to them (when the doors were shut). He showed them his hands and His side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw Him. Then He said:

John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

So, the message of Christmas is not just that Jesus came, but that now He is sending. . . us. This December I will press pause on my sermon series through the Gospel of Mark, to take up, what Hudson Taylor so aptly coined as the Great Commission of Jesus. Each week, we will study a phrase from Matthew 28:18-20. The schedule is below:

December 4th—”We Are Sent.”
December 11th—“We Are Sent to Make Disciples.”
December 18th—“We Are Sent to Make Disciples of All the Nations.”
December 25th—”We Are Sent to Make Disciples of All the Nations, by the Power of the Spirit.”

I hope that you will pray with me for God’s blessing on the teaching of His word this Christmas at Redeemer and in all of our churches, for His glory.

Family Camp ’11 messages from Craig Cabaniss [The Gospel According to Ruth} are now online. . .

This past weekend our church family had the opportunity to retreat together for our annual church Family Camp. This year our speaker was author, pastor and speaker Craig Cabaniss. Craig is the senior pastor of Grace Church in Frisco, TX. He is also a member of the leadership team of Sovereign Grace Ministries and a contributing author to the book Worldliness, recently published by Crossway. He and his wife Ginger have four children.

Over three sessions together, Craig walked through the book of Ruth considering “The Gospel According to Ruth.” The sessions can all be accessed at our sermon page at bcredeemer.org. Here’s an outline of Craig’s messages from Ruth:

Session 1: Grace and the Prodigal Daughter, Ruth 1:1-6

Session 2: God’s Grace to the Bitter and Rejected, Ruth 1:7–2:23

Session 3: God’s Redeeming Grace, Ruth 3-4

I can’t recommend these messages, or the ministry of Craig Cabaniss more highly. Take some time and listen to God’s story of grace in Ruth and be reminded of that story in your own life.

My favorite quote from the weekend summed up the book well: “Grace is always God’s last word to His people.” ENJOY!

Got Plans This Weekend? Join me at at Fresh Spring Baptist Church in Angleton, TX

I am honored to get to preach at FSBC’s Anniversary Revival is this weekend, June 24-26th.

Here are the details/schedule if you’d like to come out sometime this weekend:

SCHEDULE
Friday, 7pm
Pastor Travis Cardwell
Fellowship to follow: ice cold watermelon

Saturday, 7pm
Pastor Bill Streger
Fellowship to follow: Homemade Ice Cream

Sunday, 11am
Pastor David Catoe

Sunday, 6pm
Bro Cody Trevino
BBQ and water slide (slide will be up early at 5pm)

SPECIAL OFFERING: Peasant Saints
FSBC will be presenting the Peasant Saints w/ a love offering to purchase a video camera and to purchase Bibles and tracts.

Please join us in praying for this weekend’s services and outreaches.

CONTACT
David Catoe
Pastor
Fresh Spring Baptist Church
Angleton, TX
http://www.thecyberspring.com

Good Friday Service at Redeemer

Dear Friends of Redeemer,

We would like to invite you and your friends and family, to join us for our first Good Friday service at Baptist Church of the Redeemer, on Friday, April 22nd at 6:30pm. We hope to gather and reflect on the Cross of Jesus Christ through Scripture reading, song and teaching. It is such a paradox to reflect on the Cross of Christ. We come with sorrow, at the greatest tragedy in the history of the world. But the exact same event purchased eternal life for all those who would repent and believe.

John Stott captures our purpose for this evening well in the opening sentences of his book, The Cross of Christ:

“Our sins put Him there. So far from offering us flattery, the cross undermines our self-righteousness. We can stand before it only with a bowed head and a broken spirit. And there we remain until the Lord Jesus speaks to our hearts his word of pardon and acceptance, and we, gripped by his love and brimful of thanksgiving, go out into the world to live our lives in his service.”

It is our prayer that this will be the case for each of us as we gather on Good Friday. We will come together at 6:30pm for our service which will be followed by a short time of fellowship in the gym. Please do plan to join us and to invite your friends and neighbors to hear the most important story ever told!

We sing the praise of him who died,

Of Him who died upon the cross;

The sinner’s hope let men deride,

For this we count the world but loss.

Good Friday Details:

Location: Baptist Church of the Redeemer, 2106 Fifth Street, Missouri City, TX 77489 (MAP)
We meet on the campus of First Baptist Church, Missouri City, in the Family Life Center.

When: 6:30–7:30pm, fellowship and snacks to follow.

Childcare: We plan to provide a nursery for children 2 years and under.

RSVP: Please RSVP here.

Helplessness as Your Greatest Strength

How helpless are you? I bet the last time you worked up a resume, you didn’t list helplessness under the category of “strengths of the applicant.” I mean, how can helplessness be a strength? Isn’t it by definition a weakness? We pride ourselves on virtues like independence, resilience, inner strength, confidence and dependability. What about helplessness is attractive or useful? If you’ve noticed through our study of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus likes to turn things upside down. So, could it be that our greatest strength or asset on the journey of following Jesus is helplessness? Often the Kingdom turns our world around so that the first shall be last and losing your life actually saves it. Our text this week is no different. True strength, Jesus says is found in helplessness.

Jesus had just revealed His true glory on the Mount of Transfiguration to the inner three. They were however still very confused about his impending suffering and resurrection. Like Moses, coming down from Sinai, Jesus is met with a people plagued by unbelief. A crowd had formed, including the Scribes who were arguing with them. A man relayed the story of his son who was possessed with a spirit which made him mute and caused violent spasms. He brought the boy to the disciples but they could not cast the demon out. Jesus’ response was to categorize the entire generation as unbelieving! The boy is brought before Jesus and the father admits that he has doubts as to whether or not Jesus can heal him. Jesus declares that “all things are possible to him who believes.” The man begged for more faith–“help my unbelief!” Jesus commanded the demon to leave and the boy was rescued. When the disciples inquired about their inability to cast out the demon Jesus’ response was that “this kind cannot come out by anything but prayer.” In other words, you weren’t helpless enough. You did not depend on the Father, but on yourselves.

This week, we will be considering this text with a message entitled, Mission Strategy: Prayer, from Mark 9:14-29. Have you ever run into a situation in your life that was so debilitating that no matter what you tried to do, it would not go away or get better? Imagine this man’s plight as a parent who’s son was tormented day and night by a demon who would throw him into violent convulsions and even into the fire? How helpless would you feel? How do you respond to situations like these? I think Jesus’ response to the disciples is one of the keys to prayer. We cannot make any progress in this life until we realize that WE cannot make any progress in this life. It must be God–his power, working through His Spirit, for His glory. If that is our understanding we simultaneously become helpless and incredibly strong. We become dependent upon God and lose our confidence in our own abilities. Is it possible that the thing that you are dealing with in your life is a mechanism that God is using to teach you to depend on Him? Are you helpless? Join us this Sunday as we seek to lay down our strengths and confidences and lean fully into Him.

Are You a Calvinist? Here’s What I Believe. . .

John Piper has a great post on the question that I answer at least once per month, if not more. . .

The premise: Instead of saying “yes,” and allowing the generality of the term to linger, tell them what you believe! Here’s the jist:

If they say, “Are you a Calvinist?” say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .”

I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 3:1–4; Romans 8:7).

I believe that God chose me to be his child before the foundation of the world, on the basis of nothing in me, foreknown or otherwise. (Ephesians 1:4–6; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:29–30; 11:5–7)

I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. (John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 13:8)

When I was dead in my trespasses, and blind to the beauty of Christ, God made me alive, opened the eyes of my heart, granted me to believe, and united me to Jesus, with all the benefits of forgiveness and justification and eternal life. (Ephesians 2:4–5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 2:29; Ephesians 2:8–9; Acts 16:14; Ephesians 1:7; Philippians 3:9)

I am eternally secure not mainly because of anything I did in the past, but decisively because God is faithful to complete the work he began—to sustain my faith, and to keep me from apostasy, and to hold me back from sin that leads to death. (1 Corinthians 1:8–9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23–24; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 1:25; John 10:28–29; 1 John 5:16)

Amen.

Read the whole thing here.

(HT: DG)

Planning Your Menu for 2011–Reading the Bible by Genre

2010 is coming to a close. My practice every year is to spend time evaluating the previous year, making note of evidences of God’s grace, as well as areas of needed grace/improvement/repentance/sanctification etc. Perhaps one of the biggest areas of focus for me centers around this question: “Did I give myself to understanding/reading/memorizing the Scriptures this year,” or the related, “Did I model this for my wife, children, and congregation?” I hope that you will take some time at the close of 2010 to consider these things and move forward into the new year with a renewed passion to treasure Christ through His word.

This next year, our church will be reading the Bible together, but in a slightly different manner. In the past, perhaps you can relate to this, we’ve gone chronologically through the Scriptures–beginning in Genesis and going right through the OT into the New. . . Unfortunately, Leviticus and Numbers can be as far as many people get. This year, we are not proposing that you skip those books (they are inspired and are all about Jesus [Luke 24:25-27]!). We are however offering a different approach–reading the Bible by Genre in 2011. Genre is just a fancy word for type, of Scripture or literature. So, we are suggesting that each week, you read different types of Scripture . . . for example, the first week in January will consist of the opening chapters of Matthew, Genesis, Joshua, Psalms, Job, Isaiah and Romans.

Here’s another way to think about it. . . we are scheduling your dinner time meals for the entirety of next year . . . each week you’ll get to dine at ALL of your favorite restaurants! Excited yet? You will get familiar with each of their menus, service and desserts. . . and your pallet will dance as you go from steak to lobster, to fajitas, to grilled shrimp. Here’s an example of what I mean:

Sunday: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse [Gospels/Acts]
Monday: Cheesecake Factory [Law]
Tuesday: Pappasitos [History]
Wednesday: Red Lobster [Psalms]
Thursday: Taste of Texas [Poetry/Writings] –this is an amazing steakhouse with a salad bar that will probably be in heaven.
Friday: Fogo de Chao [Prophecy/Apocalyptic]
Saturday: Benihana’s [Epistles]

I hope that you will join us on our tour through the Scriptures in 2011. If you don’t read the Bible by genre in 2011, read it chronologically, or pick a book (restaurant) to set up camp in–memorize, read and re-read, trace the argument, ask questions, sink your teeth in! Get so familiar with the waiters that when you walk in the door, they know your name (pardon the Cheers reference)!

You can find a word doc. with our plan here.

Praying that we treasure Christ through His word in 2011!