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Saturday at White Unto Harvest

Another day, some more summaries.

Prior to the summaries, I would like to thank you for praying for me as I preached this morning. It is always a joy, privilege, and honor to have the privilege to share the truth of God’s preciously preserved Word. Your prayers strengthened me and I believe served to bless the hearers. Thank you for your care and attention. Thank you for being willing to be willing to pray on my behalf.

Now on to the summaries…

Conrad Mbewe, “Love for the Lost”- It is even clearer to me now why Conrad Mbewe is called “The Spurgeon of Africa.” Doctrinally precise. Promoting the doctrines of grace. Thoroughly evangelistic. Passionate with a holy discontent over the state of the lost.

Carl DeyArmin, “What is True Conversion?-Fruit” – Not wanting to be self serving by including myself in this list, but, this was a session I attended. Sermon in a sentence (and a truncated version of a quote by one of my favorites, JC Ryle): no fruit = no conversion; no conversion = no fruit.

Doug Phillips, “Contextualization”- I’m convinced that if Doug Phillips had 3 hours to preach, he would still run out of time. That is not a swipe, but an admiration of his comprehensive knowledge and driving passion. A needful warning against improperly understood and incorrectly applied “relevance” in missions, as well as a promotion of establishing biblical cultures. This summary does not do the message justice.

Paul Washer, “Raising Up Boys and Girls Who Can be Missionaries” – This was actually part 2 of a message he began in the morning. That provided a sticky wicket – listen to Conrad Mbewe or Paul Washer. Ah! The tension! Part 2 ended with the charge for parents to show their children the beauty of the gospel and for parents teach their children the word of God.

Scott Brown, Dan Horn, Doug Phillips, Jesse Saint, Kevin Swanson, Paul Washer – Panel Discussion. These men tackled a variety of topics: Should single women serve on the mission field? What does family life on the mission field look like? What are mistakes families make on the mission field? What are critical principles that should inform families considering going on the mission field? What are the biblical texts that support those conclusions? How does a family exercise hospitality to dangerous people? This was a fascinating discussion to watch unfold.

Scott Brown, “Where Do We Go From Here?” – This was the closing message of the conference. In it Scott Brown envisioned the following: begin with the gospel of Christ; the gospel once it takes root sends us, either across the street or across the road; proclaim the greatness of the Great Commission; go out with joy, hope for the future, and the authority of Christ.

For more snapshots of the conference, be sure to look here, and soon the audio will be available. Get it, listen to it, then go!


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JC Ryle on fruit bearing Christianity

From JC Ryle’s tract, “Authentic Religion”…

The Christianity which is from above will always be known by its fruits. It will produce in the person who has it repentance, faith, hope, love, humility, spirituality, kindness, self-denial, unselfishness, forgiving spirit, moderation, truthfulness, hospitality, and patience. The degree in which these various graces appear may vary in different believers. The germ and seeds of them will be found in all who are the children of God. By their fruits they will be known. Is this your faith? If not, you should doubt whether it is authentic.


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Friday at White Unto Harvest

Perhaps I bit off more than I can chew. I hoped to break this post up into at least two, if not more, posts to give an overview of the day. But, the sheer volume of teaching, combined with engrossing myself in conversation during breaks, and now this late hour prevent me from being as detailed as I would like. So, brief summaries will follow.

Before the summaries though I would like to make a request. Would you pray for me please? I’m scheduled to preach at 9:30am ET on Saturday. Pray that Christ would be exalted. Pray for strength and endurance. Pray for precision in communicating the gospel and the thrust of this message, fruit resulting from conversion. Pray that there would be no temptation towards anxiety, no fear of man and its equally dangerous brother man-pleasing. Pray I would serve well those who hear the message and that those who hear would derive great challenge and encouragement. I would be most grateful.

Now on to brief summaries…

Joel Beeke, “The Puritans and Their Evangelistic Methods” – One of the sharpest theological minds paired with a pastoral heart. Showed the urgency and earnestness of the Puritans in communicating the gospel, striving for an evangelistic fervor.

Conrad Mbewe, “What is the Gospel?” – Skilled exposition of Romans 3:21-24. The doctrine of substitutionary atonement was at the core of this message. Oh that more pulpits revisited that doctrine over and over again!

Carlton McCleod, “How Family Discipleship Creates a Love for the Lost” – Not to take anything away from the other speakers, but this was the highlight of the day for me. He offered up 10 ways that the title of his message is true. This is a must listen. If you do family discipleship you will be challenged. If you do not do family discipleship, you will be challenged.

Phil Kayser, “Integrating Broken Families and Single Moms into Family Integrated Churches” – How have I missed this? 2 John is a manual of sorts on how to accomplish this necessary act of grace, love, and mercy. Kayser’s emphatic attention is that family integrated churches are positioned perfectly to serve and bless broken families.

Joel Beeke, “Profile of an Evangelistic Home” – The need, content, and means for evangelizing your children. Present the gospel as the one thing needful for children. A call for the return of family worship as being the “foundational plank” for evangelizing our children.

Scott Brown, “A Sower Went Out to Sow” – A clear exposition of Matthew 13. Are we in the habit of sowing?

Paul Washer, “The Power of God” – He directed his attention to the children and young people in attendance (which here are many!). The question at hand – are you saved? “Listen, listen, listen!” Does not get much more foundational than that.

If you want other snapshots, be sure to go here. Praying for another wonderful day tomorrow as the Lord continues to shepherd His people.


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Thursday night at White Unto Harvest

This will be the first of what I hope to be several posts from White Unto Harvest. This will also be the first post done from my mobile device, if my gorilla thumbs will cooperate.

It is a little bizarre to be here. The first and last time I was at Ridgecrest was a quarter of a century ago attending a youth camp. Fair to say I’m here this time under vastly different circumstances.

I’ve enjoyed the myriad of faces that have assembled for the conference. There are more than 2000 people here, which is quite a few faces to take in. Some are good friends who live down the road from us – North River Valley making their presence known! One is a face I’ve not seen in 7 years, Josue Raimundo, pastor of Iglesia Biblica de la Gracia, who is also speaking this week. Others are familiar faces to me, but I do not know (yet) and their ministry has had a significant impact on me. Still others have introduced themselves to me, and I have enjoyed getting to meet them and hear how God is moving in their lives.

We began the evening singing 2 hymns, the second of which blessed me in that permitted me to keep up with corporately singing the “hymn of the week” from our church. Many thanks to whoever organized tonight’s music.

Scott Brown led off tonight with a message entitled “What is the Great Commission? An urgent and passionate call for us to get the Great Commission right. The point was made that very often the Great Commission has been neglected. Scott said that one of the primary objectives of this conference is to “define the greatness of the Great Commission.”

From there Scott did an exposition of Matthew 28:16-20. Prior to that, he asked this question: “how many of you have heard an expository message on the Great Commission?” Not too many hands went up. Consider the effects of that. Scott shared with us “7 Life Altering Demands of the Great Commission”. They are: 1. Supreme authority (v 18) 2. Exciting journey (v 19) 3. Wonderful work (v 20) 4. Baptism (v 20) 5. Transforming influence (v 20) 6. Abiding presence (v 20) 7. Thrilling ending (v 20).

Doug Phillips from Vision Forum was up next. His message was “Great Missionary Stories from the Early Church to the Reformation.” My pen was unable to keep up with the pace of Doug’s message! I’m eager for the audio to come out so I can review what I missed! He had a list of 5 points of the Great Commission: 1. Authoritative nature, 2. Global focus, 3. National in emphasis, 4. Comprehensive in scope, 5. Victorious in expectations. Giving examples from the lives and writings of Polycarp, Tertullian, Eusebius, Columba, Calvin, and Spurgeon, his message was a full orbed presentation of the seriousness with which the Great Commission was pursued in history, leaving no doubt such an urgency should (but regrettably does not) mark the church today.

Looking forward to what tomorrow may bring.


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How Firm a Foundation

When we arrived here at North River Community Church in February, we noticed the church sign facing the road indicated that there was a Wednesday evening prayer/study service. It had been suspended for a period of time, and we prayerfully planned to restart it in the fall. Fall came, and on September 19th, we began meeting on Wednesdays to do just what the sign says – we pray together, and we study God’s Word together. What a joy to see the lights on at the church building at night!

For our study, we are working our way through the 2nd London Baptist Confession.     (Chapel Library is one of the many places you can find a PDF version of the confession.) Adopted in 1689, it is a thorough and succinct summary of doctrine. We’re using this as a basis to anchor ourselves well in orthodox doctrine. We spent a couple of weeks going through the first chapter “Of the Holy Scriptures” and just this past Wednesday we completed the first week of the second chapter “Of God and the Holy Trinity.”

One of the secondary goals of our prayer and study (the primary being, well, prayer and study) is to worship together through singing.We have begun practicing a “hymn of the month” approach. All that means is that every Wednesday night of the month, though some songs will be different each week, there will be one song that is the same every week. I swiped this idea from others (and I really do wish I could remember who it was I swiped it from first so I can give proper credit). For the month of October, that song has been “How Firm a Foundation.” I  have no intention of going through the history of that song  here – that’s why there is Google, so you can do it yourself. Rather, I’ll share the application of that song in our context, for which there are two:

1. We began by studying the Holy Scriptures and God. There are many songs that capture those two weighty matters, but this one jumped out at us most. This song reminds us that our foundation is indeed rooted in the Scriptures and in God’s revelation of Himself to us through His Word and through His Son. This song made for a natural transition from one topic to the next, while keeping the same train of thought.

2. I need the reminder this song promotes. I tweeted something snarky about the election not too long ago (about 3 hours ago at the time of this writing), and nearly immediately, “How Firm a Foundation” began playing in the soundtrack of my mind. It prompted me to consider Who my foundation is, where my foundation is, Who will carry me through trials, where my focus should be, Who is the subject of my attention, where is my confidence found.

At North River Community Church, we have been blessed to hear this song in a few different ways: with piano only, with 2 ukeleles, and with one guitar and one ukelele. Each time it is a delight. The voices singing this song out loud is as one resounding proclamation that our foundation and security is found in God and His Word. It is an even greater blessing to hear an informal choir of young children belting out this song as they learn to rest on God’s promises.

I found the album “How Sweet the Sound: Remembering Great Hymns of the Faith” on Covenant Life Church’s website, and was elated that there was a free download of the album (though donations are suggested and welcome). I enjoyed their version of this great hymn – this version sounds very North River-y to me. To get the album, go here.


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Let's paint the church

One of the fathers from our church said that he felt compelled to paint the exterior of the church, and wondered if I thought that would be a good idea. His query came from inside the church, so I stepped outside to look at the exterior and nearly instantaneously said “please do.”

Three weeks is what the process took. Three weeks of scraping, sanding, priming, and caulking (I think at last count, 70 tubes of caulk were used). Then the first coat. Then a second coat. Then the trim. It was a long process, but the results are outstanding. We cannot begin to express our thankfulness for this father and his rotating crew of sons, ranging in age from 8-19.

The father made a particular point over and over again to his sons. I think it bears repeating: regardless of what the outside looks like, the most important things happen inside. Certainly true of the church, and equally true of our hearts. Though the exterior of the church building looks beautiful, it means nothing if we are not proclaiming the truth of the Scripture, the truth of the gospel, and worshiping passionately.

There was a surprising effect of all of this painting – it got the neighbors attention. Cars were slowing down to see what was happening. As we traveled up and down the North River valley, we heard from people who were astounded by what was going on. People we visited with kept remarking on the church. What we discovered is that the painting of the church was sending a message – we are here, we are active, we want to be good stewards of what has been given to us, we are filled with life. Some folks who have lived here for more than 3 decades have said they have never seen the church look so good. I paraphrased the father by saying, “if you think looks good on the outside, wait until you see what happens on the inside.”