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Use A Bible Reading Plan
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

As we enter this new year, we are encouraging all of our church members and regular attenders to read through the Bible together. While there are many different plans to read through the Bible, we have made available and are encouraging you to use the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan. Here are some thoughts on using a Bible reading plan from Dr. Donald Whitney.

Use a Bible Reading Plan

Imagine picking up a history of the United States and starting with the chapter on the Great Depression.  Finishing that, then suppose you turn to read of the War of 1812, and then of putting Neil Armstrong on the moon.  Or picture yourself taking the biography of George Washington off the shelf and reading first of his marriage to Martha, then a chapter on his final years, and then the one on the general’s initial military campaign.  Not a good way to understand either history or someone’s life, is it?  But that’s how some people read the Bible.  A chapter of Genesis today, one from Romans tomorrow, a couple of psalms the next day—such a haphazard approach is not the way to understand the message of Scripture.  To read the Bible purposefully requires a plan.  The plan can be as simple as starting in Genesis and reading a certain number of chapters each day straight through to Revelation, or as involved as reading in multiple books at a sitting.    A good plan is easy to find.  Many study Bibles (the kind with lots of explanatory notes at the bottom and other resources throughout) have Bible reading plans included at the back.  Devotional magazines and church Bible study literature often print daily readings on each page that will direct you through the entire Bible in a year.  With very little effort you will find the plan developed by a godly Scottish minister in the 1800s, Robert Murray McCheyne, and which is one of the most widely used in the world.  You can even buy a Bible specially printed in a format for daily reading instead of in the traditional Genesis-to-Revelation arrangement.    My favorite plan takes the reader through five parts of Scripture per session.  On the first of January I read in Genesis (the Law), then an equal amount in Joshua (History), Job (Poetry), Isaiah (the Prophets), and Matthew (the New Testament).  I read consecutively through each section, and since each is approximately the same length, I finish them all about the same time.  A variation on the plan is to read equal amounts daily in three sections, beginning in Genesis, Job, and Matthew.   The advantage of any plan that guides the reader through more than one book of the Bible per sitting is variety.  On the days when part of your reading is in the more difficult passages, it’s easier to maintain the momentum when you know you’ll also be reading from other parts of the Bible as well. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).  If we are to live by “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” then surely He intends for us to at least read every word.  And the best way to do that is with the help of a Bible reading plan. Even if, however, you aren’t presently attempting to read through the entire Bible, but are reading books at random, there’s no better—or simpler—way than chapter-by-chapter, book-by-book, in a purposeful and orderly method.

Excerpted from Donald S. Whitney, Simplify Your Spiritual Life

(Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2003). Copyright © 2002, Donald S. Whitney. All rights reserved. Read more sample chapters from this book at biblicalspirituality.org


Do we need to read the genealogies in Scripture?
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

As a family, we strive to spend time in God's Word and prayer regularly. Like many other families, we go through periods of faithfulness and periods of drought when it comes to actually doing that which we want to do concerning Family Worship. However, as we begin this new year, our family goal is to set aside time daily to read and discuss God's Word and pray together. 

Each member of our family is using the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan that the church has made available. Each day, we are encouraging each other to read through the daily readings individually and then spend time meditating (thinking deeply on) what we've read using the sets of questions that the church has made available. When we gather in the evenings (either at dinner or sometime before bed), we'll spend time discussing one of the sections of Scripture that we read that day.

On January 1, we decided to read all of the passages together and spend a little time discussing the two NT passages. Someone asked the question, how do we this when we are just reading genealogies (Matthew 1:1-17)? No doubt, genealogies can be difficult to read (not to mention difficult to pronounce the names)! However, after reading the genealogy, Amy and I asked the kids about some of the people listed, and then tried to identify together what the passage teaches us about God. Here are some of our conclusions. 

1. God is a faithful, promise keeping God. In Jesus, God kept His promise to Abraham (Gen 12:3) and David (2 Sam 7).

2. God is gracious as He includes people with sinful reputations in the story line of the Messiah: a prostitute (Rahab), an adulterer and murderer (David).

3. God is sovereign over all things and all people. He brings His will to pass.


Bible Meditation Questions
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

Church: As you've heard, our 2020 Outlook is: To proclaim Christ and make disciples who prioritize God's Word by reading it, meditating on it, and memorizing selected verses in 2020.

Recently, we posted a Bible reading plan that we are encouraging every member and regular attender to follow. We hope you will consider reading along with your church family.

Today, we are posting some questions that you can ask of the text as you read through the various passages to help you meditate on what you are reading. This is a tool to help you think more deeply about the text. We encourage you to select one of the passages from the group of readings for the day and apply one of the sets of questions to that passage. You may find it most helpful to record your answers in a notebook or journal.

Bible Meditation Questions

*The two sets of questions below are meant to be used as tools to help you think deeply on the Word of God. Please feel free to use any number and any combination of questions on any given day. You may find it most helpful to write down your thoughts and answers in a journal.

A. Set One

1. What does this passage teach me about God? (His nature, character, attributes, likes, dislikes, etc.)

2. Based on this passage, how should I relate to God?

  • For what should I praise God?
  • For what should I thank God?
  • For what should I trust God? 

3. What does this passage teach about who God desires me to be?

4. What does this passage teach me about how I ought to relate to others?

  • To family members…
  • To fellow Christians…
  • To non-Christians…
  • To enemies…

5. What do I need to confess to God as sin in light of who He desires me to be and how He wants me to relate to others?

6. How does this passage point to Jesus / reveal my need for Jesus?

B. Set Two

1. Is there a command to obey in this passage? If so, what is it?

2. Is there an example to follow in this passage? If so, what is it?

3. Is there something for me to believe in this passage? If so, what is it?

4. Is there a sin to avoid or confess in this passage? If so, what is it?

5. How does God want to make me more like Jesus based on what I’ve read today?


Read the Bible With Us
Posted By: Derek Hall

In 2020, our desire is to see the members and regular attenders of TBC form a regular habit of reading, meditating on, and memorizing Scripture. The Word of God is the primary means the Spirit of God uses to transform us more into the likeness of Christ. So, we, as followers of Christ, should dedicate ourselves to being in the Word on a daily basis. 

To help us achieve the above goal, we are going to be reading through the Bible as a church body. One of the most helpful tools in reading your Bible are Bible reading plans. The great thing about a reading plan is that it takes much of the stress away in reading when it comes to reading our Bible. We don't have to decide what to read next or how much we should read. A good Bible reading plan lays out daily readings that give you a manageable yet steady diet of the Word. This year, TBC is going to be using the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading plan (the link is below)

Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan

Here are a few benefits from the plan and tips to help it be easier.

- Print the reading plan and tape it in the front of the Bible you would use for your devotional reading. This gives you easy access to the plan, and you don't have to worry about losing it.

- This particular reading plan has built in "miss" days. You will notice there are 25 readings a month. This frees you up to not have to cram it in during a particularly hectic day or couple of days. 

- You are reading in four different parts of the Bible every day: a gospel, another section of the New Testament, Wisdom literature (Psalms, Proverbs, etc.), and the rest of the Old Testament. This helps you understand the whole story of Scripture throughout the year.

- You can read through the entire Bible in 1 year. This might seem like a daunting task, but each of the daily readings will not take more than 15-20 minutes. Let us encourage you to make room to read each of the days.

- Don't be a legalist about this! Because this plan is presented like a list with check boxes, we can be tempted to make this something we have to do and mark off the list. The goal of reading the Bible is always transformation. If you can't get through all the reading in one day, split it into two. If life becomes overwhelming and you can't get through every reading in a month, carry it over to the next month. The goal is to help you read the Word, not check boxes off a list.

Throughout the year, we will be posting different tips and methods for getting the most out of reading the Bible. For now, print out the plan and make a commitment to read the Bible more in 2020. We are looking forward to the amazing things God will do in each life and in the life of His church through the reading of His Word.

Your pastors


The Cohesiveness of Scripture
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

When you read the Bible readings for day two of the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan (which the church has made available), consider how everything fits together... 

In Genesis 3 - We read of the Fall of Man. As God states the consequences for sin, He tells the serpent that the offspring of the woman will bruise his head (Gen 3). This is a foreshadowing of Jesus' defeat of Satan in the cross and resurrection.

In Psalm 2 - We read that the Lord's Anointed is the One who rules over all, and that we must humble ourselves before the Son in order to avoid His wrath!

In Matthew 1:18-25 - We learn the name of the offspring of the woman, the identity of the Lord's Anointed - it's Jesus - the Son of Man and the Son of God.

In Acts 1:12-26 - We read that a band of Apostles will carry on the ministry and the message of the resurrected One, Jesus!

Church, when you read through Scripture, take time to meditate (think deeply on) what you read. Take time to make connections with other passages of Scripture. Take time to answer some of the questions that the  church has made available to you. God's Spirit brings transformation in our lives as we humble ourselves before God and think deeply on His Word!

 

 

 


Read and Meditate
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

Read and Meditate 

 Have you ever read a few chapters in your Bible, closed it, and then realized, “I don’t remember a thing I’ve read”?  When this happens, don’t blame your age, IQ, or education, for they’re not the cause.  Nearly all Bible readers frequently experience this forgetfulness.  In most cases, however, the problem has more to do with the method of engaging God’s Word than anything else.  For if you merely read the Bible, don’t be surprised if you forget most—if not all—of what you’ve read. 

What’s the simple solution?  (And I do believe that benefiting from the intake of God’s Word must be fundamentally simple since the Lord expects it of all His people, regardless of age, IQ, or education.)  The solution is not only to read the Scriptures, but to meditate on them.  Reading, of course, is the starting place.  Reading is the exposure to Scripture, but meditation is the absorption of Scripture.  And it’s the absorption of Scripture that leads to the transformation of our lives. 

The Bible itself explicitly warns that if we do not look intently at (that is, meditate on) God’s perfect Word, we’ll forget it:  “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25, NASB).  Just as hearing the Word of God without meditating on it causes a person to be a “forgetful hearer,” so anyone who reads the Bible without meditating on it becomes a forgetful reader.  And if you can’t remember what you read, you probably won’t experience or be changed by what you read. 

On most days though, you probably feel as though you’re not able to give nearly enough time to the Word of God, much less introduce something else to the process.  So, assuming that you’re already devoting time on a regular basis to reading the Bible (and if you’re not, that’s the place to start), let me suggest a way whereby you can begin to meditate on Scripture without necessarily increasing the overall time involved.

If, for example, you normally spend ten minutes in Bible reading, from now on, don’t spend your entire time reading.  Starting tomorrow, read for five minutes and meditate for five minutes.  It’s far better to read less, but remember more, than to read for the entire ten minutes and remember nothing.  It’s far better to close your Bible knowing that you have something from God’s Word with you so that you can “meditate in it day and night” (Joshua 1:8), than to realize that you’ve already forgotten everything you’ve read.

I’ve written at length in other places about how to meditate on Scripture.1 I have space here only to emphasize the importance of meditation.  It’s not so much what we read in the Bible that changes us, but what we remember.  Doubtless there are many believers who should increase their daily intake of Scripture, but many others are devoting all the time they can.  If you cannot possibly add meditation to the time you already spend reading, then read less in order to meditate more.  The goal is not just to “get through” a certain amount of pages, but to meet God and hear from Him.

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1 See the pertinent subsections of chapters two and three in Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 1991) as well as the chapters in this book, “Ask the Joseph Hall Questions,” “Ask the Philippians 4:8 Questions,” and “Meditate and Apply.”  
______________________
 
Excerpted from Donald S. Whitney, Simplify Your Spiritual Life  (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2003).   Copyright © 2003, Donald S. Whitney. All rights reserved.   Read more sample chapters from this book at 
 www.BiblicalSpirituality.org


Ask Often, "What Does the Bible Say?"
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

Ask Often, “What Does the Bible Say?”

Some of the most important changes in my life occurred when I thought to ask, “What does the Bible say about this?”  The way I spend the Lord’s Day, for example, and my thinking about what activities please God in worship were dramatically changed when I purposed to study what God’s Word said about those matters.

Far more often than we do, Christians should ask such questions.  In our relationships, finances, use of time, priorities, parenting, simplifying, and everything else, we should more quickly ask, “What does the Bible say about this?”   

The wisdom of frequently asking this question is obvious if we believe truths like these: 

  • “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7)
  • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105)
  • “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4)
  • “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) 

Nothing will simplify our lives more than finding the will of God on a matter and doing it.  And the best way to discover the will of God is to search the Word of God.  

What’s the most significant issue in your life right now?  What major decision is before you?  Be sure to ask, “What does the Bible say about this?”  Then, as you turn to the Bible, pray the prayer of Psalm 119:18:  “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.” 

Excerpted from Donald S. Whitney, Simplify Your Spiritual Life  (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2003).   Copyright © 2003, Donald S. Whitney. All rights reserved.   Read more sample chapters from this book at

www.BiblicalSpirituality.org


Follow the Prompting of the Holy Spirit
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

Follow the Prompting of the Holy Spirit

Whenever reading the Acts of the Apostles in Scripture, I’m always encouraged by the boldness and faithfulness with which so many people followed Jesus. I love reading about how the gospel spread and how the Church grew in such hostile circumstances. I’m reminded that God is sovereign and that He will accomplish His plan.  I’m also reminded of the necessity of God’s Spirit in the life of God’s people.

While the Book of Acts records the inception of the Church and includes some events and occurrences that are likely not meant to be replicated today, one thing that we can be confident in is our need for God’s Spirit. Just as God’s Spirit was the power behind evangelism and discipleship then, God’s Spirit is the power behind evangelism and discipleship today.

While the Early Church had its own unique set of problems (see Acts 5:1-11), perhaps one of its greatest strengths was its commitment to prayer and seeking God. While the church was far from perfect, over and over we read of its devotion to the Word of God and being sensitive to the Spirit of God. This resulted in numerical growth, boldness, opportunity, unity, and love (See Acts 2-8).

While there are many examples worth noting in the early church, I pray that we would be like Philip (Acts 8). May we too be bold with the gospel message and willing to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit to serve people that we may not otherwise serve and go places that we may not otherwise go.

 

Pastor Nate


Walk By The Spirit
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

As I have worked on memorizing our monthly Scripture verse (Gal 5:16-18), it has caused me to think about how active the Holy Spirit can be in my life, if I so choose. The verse is filled with action verbs like walking, opposing, and leading. These are not passive or vague thoughts, but pictures of real-life activities. Consider walking; a simple activity. But when we walk by someone, the picture is of intimacy & fellowship. Who doesn’t enjoy a good walk or visit with a close friend sharing conversation, thoughts, and talking about the struggles that life brings us?

 

In Cor. 10:13, Paul tells us that with each temptation we face, God provides a way of escape. The escape route is there, but action is required on our part to take it. When I repeat Galatians 5:16-18 to myself, I envision the Holy Spirit coming along side me and helping me to see (and take) the route that is provided for me to escape the temptation. God is so gracious! By His Spirit, we can say no to the desires of the flesh that would have us go the wrong path.

 

Mike Jennings

Church Council Member

 

Suffering
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

In our western culture of comfort, instant gratification and convenience, the reality of suffering for the cause of Christ and the spread of the gospel seems like a foreign concept.  As Rankin Wilbourne and Brian Gregor state in their book The Cross Before Me, “pain and suffering, while undesirable and never to be sought in and of themselves, are necessary for knowing God.” It’s likely that we know of many Christian brothers and sisters who are suffering hardships simply because they are followers of Christ.  It’s always been this way. The earliest followers of Christ were targeted because of their close proximity and identification with Jesus Christ.

 We too, will be targets because of our open, professed identification with Jesus Christ.  It encourages me to have the examples of the apostles and early followers of Christ, along with modern day sufferers, who endure hardship and hostility with graciousness and joy. I am encouraged by the words of Romans 8:18 - to know that the “sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

I have always been intrigued with the insight that our Lord gave to Ananias when he was sent as the instrument to restore Paul’s sight after Paul had encountered Christ on the road to Damascus.  In Acts 9:15-16 our Lord tells Ananias that He will show Paul “how much he must suffer for My name’s sake”.

Being fellow heirs with Christ involves an element of suffering (see Romans 8:16-17), and it encourages me to know that he has given us His Word, His Spirit, prayer, and fellow Christians to make this journey successful.  Let’s not be those who desire to follow Christ on our own terms, but those who say: “Wherever He leads, I’ll go.” We can be confident that His path leads to true joy – today, tomorrow, and forever. 

Jess Murphy

 Church Council Member


How Is My Singing in Corporate Worship Related to our 2020 Outlook?
Posted By: Troy McConnell

As you know, God's Word is the subject of our church's 2020 Outlook.  We're really zeroing in on reading, meditating on, and memorizing the Word of God this year at Trinity Baptist Church.  The Bible is always our focus at TBC, but this year we're making an extraordinary effort to grow in the spiritual disciplines related to the Word. 

How does this intense focus on God's Word work itself out in the Music & Worship Ministry?  How does the Word of God inform our planning and preparation for worship services?  How is your singing in corporate worship services related to our church's focus on reading, meditating on, and memorizing the Bible?  

To answer these questions, I'd like to point you to a portion of a blog post from Keith & Kristyn Getty. The Gettys are talented songwriters who have given us some excellent congregational songs we love here at TBC:  "In Christ Alone", "Come, People of the Risen King", and "Hear the Call of the Kingdom", just to name a few.  The post below is actually an excerpt from their excellent little book entitled Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church.  I love the fact that the Gettys anchor all of their thoughts about singing and corporate worship in the Word of God.  They let the Bible guide their thinking about what congregational singing should be:

We are all singers. We may not all be very good singers, but we are all created to be singers nonetheless. The psalmist sings, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13–14). We have three young daughters, and it has surprised us with each of them how early they could sing. Simple melodies with mumbled words grew into phrases like “O sing happylujah,” or a bizarre mixture of “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” To sing is written into our human DNA; it is part of God’s design. Our desire to make musical instruments to accompany our singing is as old as our desire to fashion tools to aid us in our daily work (Gen. 4:21–22). Throughout Scripture and through history, we see God’s people using this gift of song to praise Him, the Giver of it.
(https://www.lifeway.com/en/articles/why-should-i-sing-in-church-getty)

Brothers and sisters, how is your congregational singing related to our special focus on the Word in 2020?  The Word of God informs everything we do in corporate worship--including singing: 

  1. God's Word reveals the ways He wants to be worshiped.  We don't have grope around in the dark wondering what kind of worship is pleasing to the Lord.  We don't have to guess about what the Lord wants the church to do when we gather together.  The Bible tells us!  And one of the things the Lord tells us to do is sing:  "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." (Colossians 3:16)
  2. God's Word reveals God's attributes, and we praise Him in song according to the truths He has revealed about Himself in Scripture.  We sing, "Holy, Holy, Holy," and "You Are God Alone", and "All my life You have been faithful; all my life You have been so, so good!" and "Is He Worthy? He is!" 
  3. God's Word reveals our own sin and weakness and need for the Lord.  Many of our congregational songs are desperate cries to the Lord for help, forgiveness, and cleansing. We cry out, "What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus", and "Lord, I Need You," and "I Need Thee Every Hour".
  4. God's Word reveals the gospel:  God's great salvation plan through the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ at the cross and the empty tomb.  In song, we declare "The Blood of Jesus Speaks for Me," and "All I Have Is Christ", and "Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine!"
  5. God's Word reveals His will for our lives.  Many of our songs are professions of our desire to walk with the Lord--to walk by faith according to His ways in the power of the Spirit.  We pray as we sing "Take My Life, and Let It Be Consecrated", and "Holy Spirit, You are welcome here..." and "Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You, there is no greater thing..."

In our worship services, we sing the truths of Scripture to the God of Scripture according to the principles of Scripture.  As your pastors, our hearts' desire is that your worship of the Lord will grow in maturity and grace and spiritual depth as you grow in your love for His Word. 

 


A Pleasing Aroma to the Lord
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

A phrase repeated in the first several chapters of Leviticus stood out to me recently as I was following the church's bible reading plan.  As the sacrificial system is being outlined, the phrase "a pleasing aroma to the Lord" is frequently used to describe God's response to the offering.  God was pleased when these sacrifices were being offered in obedience.  As I read, I wondered what it was that was pleasing to God.  Was it rote, perfect obedience?  Was it the actual aroma?  Or was it a penitent heart coupled with faith in God leading to obedience?  I suspected the latter, but I couldn't help but wonder, as a Christian living under the New Covenant, what I could do that would be "a pleasing aroma to the Lord."

As a child of 6 or 7 years of age, I heard a TV preacher challenge the viewers to "give God your best."  I had no idea what my "best" was, or how to give it to God, but I was determined to try.  I took out a small collection of my favorite treasures - a rock, an old pocket-knife, etc. - and laid them on a rock.  After walking a short distance, I bowed my head, closed my eyes, and prayed as hard as I could.  When I opened my eyes, my offering was still lying there.  So, I tried again.  And again.  Of course, I kept my earthly treasures that day.  

This childhood experience illustrates the futility of trying to please God in the flesh.  Romans 8:8 says "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God."  Of course, I know now that God wasn't interested in my meager earthly treasures.  So, how do I please God?  What offering could I ever make that would be a pleasing aroma to God?  This led me to a simple word-study: aroma; fragrance; fragrant; please; pleased; pleases; pleasing; pleasure; pleasures.  I love concordances!

In pondering what pleases God, my word study immediately took me to Matthew 3:17: “and behold, a voice from heaven said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’”  God the Father is pleased with his Son.  Ultimately, God is pleased with us because of our union with Jesus through faith.  He is pleased to look on us because of the finished work of Jesus.  That said, the New Testament calls us to live in righteousness. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:1-2, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."  Imitate Jesus.  In I Thess. 4:1-8, Paul gives us instructions on how to live a life pleasing to God, calling us to a life of holiness and purity.  In Hebrews 11:6, the author tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God.  In Colossians 1:9-10, Paul prays for the believers to be "filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."  Seeking God's will for my life, seeking to know God better, and living in a way that honors God - this is "a pleasing aroma to the Lord." 

God be gracious to me. Be gracious to us. For we desire to live lives that please You!

 

Scott Giles

Church Council Member

 


TBC Members' Legacy on Mission
Posted By: Daniel Coward

TBC’s mission is to Proclaim Christ and disciple those who claim Christ, all for the glory of Christ!  One of the many ways this church has always lived this belief is through our commitment to local, state, national, and international missions.  Every year, members at TBC faithfully and sacrificially give to support missions near and far.  But it’s not just giving money, for over the years men, women, boys, and girls have physically served near and far to present Christ to a lost world.  From back yard Bible Clubs at an apartment complex in Amarillo to building pigpens in China.  From replacing roofs in Colorado to leading pastor’s conferences in Nigeria, Peru, and Cuba.  From sending teams to Poland, Belarus, and Suriname to finishing construction on a house in the Rio Grande Valley.  From building churches in Montana to partnering with ministries in Taiwan and Thailand – our church has literally been living the Great Commission for decades.

When thinking about how to remind ourselves of this great heritage for missions, I thought about asking some of our present members to share about their experiences working “on mission.”  During a recent visit with long-time TBC members, Don and Libby Elms, they shared about how God used them for several years to bless people in Mexico.  For a fifteen-year span they built churches, parsonages, a clinic, and other structures while at the same time loving the people with whom they served.  Here is their story, as shared by Libby…

Don and Libby Elms’ Missionary Journey

In 1994, we bought a little house trailer with the intention of going to the Rio Grande Valley for the winters to live in the sunshine so Don could play golf.

Before we left Amarillo, a friend suggested we go to Cone Oasis Baptist Encampment to park our trailer, it was a staging area for missions to Mexico.  It would be a place where we could fellowship with other Christians and do physical labor to help with the maintenance of the camp.

We arrived at the camp on a Friday, and the camp manager announced that he was going to drive the old school bus the camp owned the next day, so we could visit mission points in Mexico.  He told anyone who wanted to go to bring a sack lunch and meet at the cafeteria at 8:00 a.m.

We thought this would be a great opportunity for us to get acquainted with other campers as well as see how God was working in Mexico.

We visited 20 churches that day!  The poverty there was heart breaking, yet the sweet spirit of the people was amazing.  The last church we visited that day was next to the Matamoros City Dump and whole families were scavenging to earn a few Pesos just to survive.  The church building was about the size of a one car garage, it had a dirt floor, no electricity, and they were using tree logs for chairs.  The missionary, Martha, told us that the building was for sale and the owner was allowing her to use the building as a preaching point until it sold.  She also told us that the building could be purchased for $1500.  Then it could become a permanent preaching point.

On the way back to camp, Don turned to me and said, “I think I’m sensing the Macedonian call to come over and help these people… how about you?”  It thrilled my heart for him to say this, as I too was feeling a strong desire to minister to these people.  We had just come through a seminar featuring Henry Blackaby’s teaching, where he said, “when you see GOD at work, we should join HIM.”

After much prayer, we wrote to our Sunday School Department (Merrell Bibby was our Director) and told them about this building and its costs. Almost immediately the class sent the $1500, and that was the first church building TBC provided through our contacts.

The next year, four lots became available in the same general area for a cost of $4000.  This was a GREAT bargain, even by Mexico standards, and again we wrote our friends at TBC, who quickly sent the money we needed.  Years later, we partnered with a Georgia church and built a church building, medical clinic, and a modern two-bedroom parsonage for the pastor and his family.

The following year, pastor David Evans suggested that the Missions Committee put Mexico Missions in the budget, and we were given a $25,000 budget.  Because we were VOLUNTEER missionaries, we did not receive a salary or money for expenses.  Therefore, every dollar we received from TBC went toward the missionary projects.  The money was deposited to the Rio Grande Valley Baptist Association, and they wrote the checks for ministry projects, which gave a good accounting of how the church's money was being spent.  In the beginning, the $25,000 budget provided for a 30’X50’ sanctuary with permanent materials; concrete blocks, plastered walls, tiled floors, and concrete roofs.  By the time we finished our service in 2009, the cost had increased to approximately $35,000. 

Many groups from other churches in the USA built structures in Mexico.  However, because of time constraints and urgency (only having a week or two to complete what they built) those structures were more temporary, made primarily from wood.  The elements and termites prevented such structures from standing the test of time.  We realized from the beginning from visiting older church structures, that termites damaged even the church pews themselves.  We knew that we had to use permanent materials to build something quality for GOD.  Since it took time to build a 30’X50’ structure, we would start one year and finish when we returned to the Valley the next.  We would include men from the local church body to assist us and found that many of them were very good masons.

We were put in contact with two Mexican pastors who were major leaders in the Matamoros area.  These two served as interpreters and made us aware of the major church needs.  They also helped us function in the business world when purchasing materials, etc. for our projects.

From 1994 to 2009 we were able to build nine church buildings and seven parsonages.  We tried to carefully use our resources to meet needs wherever we saw them, repairing leaky roofs, providing electricity, installing flushing toilets, building baptisteries, digging septic systems, etc.  In each case, we used volunteer labor from each church, as the Mexican men are GREAT craftsmen, and their help allowed our money to go much farther.

Every winter we would leave Amarillo in late December and return home in early April.  During our time as missionaries, we worked inland in the areas of Tempoal Veracruz, Monte, the State of Durango, and other interior areas.  We also worked in or near border cities such as Reynosa, Matamoros, and other smaller cities.

Let me say that these fifteen winters were the happiest and most rewarding years of our lives!  We are eternally grateful for the joy and privilege our LORD allowed us to serve in this way, and it is the prayer of our hearts that many will come to Christ as a result.  

In a letter to the church at the end of Don and Libby’s service in Mexico they said, “It has been the prayer of our hearts that every project we have been involved with would result in souls coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as their personal Savior." 

We at TBC are blessed to have such faithfulness demonstrated by our members.  Thank you, Don and Libby, for your testimony of faith and service!


Do I have to Keep a Journal?
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

Do I Have to Keep a Journal?

Donald S. Whitney

Occasionally I am asked, “Does a Christian have to keep a journal in order grow more like Jesus Christ?”  Of course not.  There is no command in Scripture—explicit or implied—requiring the followers of Jesus to keep a journal. And while I’ve written and spoken of the benefits of keeping a spiritual journal, I've never written or said that the Bible anywhere obligates Christians to keep a journal.  In fact, I have never read or heard anyone making such a claim.  Moreover, there is absolutely no evidence—biblical or otherwise—that Jesus kept anything like a spiritual journal.  While we credit the Lord Jesus Christ (since He is a member of the Triune Godhead) with the ultimate inspiration of all the written Word of God, the only account of Jesus physically writing anything during the days of His humanity is when He stooped to write on the ground in John 8:6.  That is not to imply that the omniscient Son of God was illiterate in His incarnation.  For the New Testament refers to Jesus reading Scripture aloud (Luke 4:16), and it is hard to imagine Him receiving an education where one is taught to read but not to write.

 

So if the Bible does not require a Christian to keep a journal (indeed, a person can be both a devoted Christian and yet completely illiterate), and if Jesus did not keep a journal, why do I encourage followers of Jesus to consider journaling and why did I include entire chapters about this practice in some of my books?1  I recommend to Christians the discipline of keeping a spiritual journal because (1) something very much like journaling is modeled in Scripture, and because (2) believers throughout church history have found journal-keeping so beneficial to their growth in grace.            For as long as I have written on the subject of spiritual disciplines, I have sought to advocate only those disciplines which are taught or modeled in Scripture.  Without this God-inspired means of evaluation, anything and everything that anyone pronounced as profitable for his or her soul could be touted as a spiritual discipline Christians should pursue.  Apart from a Sola Scriptura standard to guide Christian spirituality, anything from the trivial to the heretical could be claimed as equal in value to personal disciplines as basic as Bible reading and prayer or interpersonal disciplines as important as hearing God’s Word preached and participating in the Lord’s Supper.  And while there may be some intramural debate among Bible-believing Christians about whether certain practices do have scriptural support, it is crucial to recognize the importance of God’s Word as the sufficient means for assessing “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

 

 Can we say, then, that there is a biblical basis for journaling?  While the evidence for it is clearly not as strong as for a personal spiritual discipline like prayer, I believe that something very similar to what has historically been called journaling is found in Scripture by example.  In the Psalms, we repeatedly find David writing things such as, “Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me; For I am afflicted and needy” (Psalm 86:1). Cries like these are not unlike a believer today writing a heartfelt plea to the Lord in a journal.  When, in the book of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah recorded his Godward feelings about the fall of Jerusalem, he was doing something not very different from the Christian today who types his or her Godward feelings into a word processor file named “Journal.”  Of course, unlike the words of David and Jeremiah in Scripture, no believer’s writings today are divinely inspired.  But the example of these men in writing their prayers, meditations, questions, etc., provides scriptural validation for Christians today to do the same.

 

A second reason I advocate journal-keeping is because of the sanctifying benefits that so many Bible-believing Christians throughout history have attributed to the practice.  Jonathan Edwards found the discipline so helpful that he kept journals or notebooks of various kinds.  He penned a diary, a five-hundred page journal of “Miscellanies” (basically thoughts on theology), and enormous notebooks with “Notes on Scripture,” “Notes on the Apocalypse,” and reflections on “The Mind.”  A separate collection of “Miscellaneous Observations on Scripture” includes more than ten thousand entries made from 1730 to 1758.2  And the first biography published in America—still in print and still powerfully used by the Lord—was primarily a missionary’s journal to which Edwards attached a short biography and called it The Life and Diary of David Brainerd.

 

 I know only one person who keeps a written record of insights into Scripture, prayers, significant life moments, etc., on a scale comparable to Edwards.  Unlike Edwards, most journal-keepers—whether they write by hand, on a word processor, in a blog, or some other way—are not daily journalers.  Regardless of the frequency of their entries, however, they journal because God blesses them in it and also because it helps them practice other spiritual disciplines found in Scripture.  For instance, one friend has told me that he tries to write simply “one key thought” from his Bible reading.  He reports that “Some of the most meaningful, the most convicting, the most ‘blessing’ and reinforcing perspectives I’ve ever gotten from Bible study have come from my daily journaling process. . . .God has been pleased to bless this discipline in my life, far more than [I] can express.”3  As Scottish pastor and author Maurice Roberts put it, “The logic of this practice is inevitable once men have felt the urge to become molded in heart and life to the pattern of Christ.”4

 

 So, do you have to keep a spiritual journal?  Well, if you are enrolled in my Personal Spiritual Disciplines class at the seminary and you want to pass, the answer is yes.  Otherwise, no; journal-keeping is not necessary for Christlikeness.  Many of the greatest Christians in history have kept journals, and many equally godly men and women have not.  But I urge you to consider whether you might be among those who would find journaling an easy and practical encouragement the Holy Spirit would use in your growth in grace.

 

Don Whitney is associate professor of biblical spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of several books, including Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (NavPress, 1991) Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church (Moody Press, 1996), Simplify Your Spiritual Life (NavPress, 2003), and Family Worship (The Center for Biblical Spirituality 2006).

Copyright © 2009 Donald S. Whitney.

All rights reserved. For more short, reproducible pieces like this, see 

WWW.BIBLICALSPIRITUALITY.ORG

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1 See the chapter on “Journaling . . . for the Purpose of Godliness” in Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life and the section of six short chapters on journaling on pages 94-105 of Simplify Your Spiritual Life.

2 Marsden, George M.  Jonathan Edwards:  A Life (New Haven & London:  Yale University Press, 2003) 474.

3 From personal correspondence.

4 Roberts, Maurice.  “Are We Becoming Reformed Men?”, The Banner of Truth, Issue 330 (March 1991) 5.


The cattle on a thousand hills...
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

Have you ever heard someone say “My father owns the cattle on a thousand hills”?  I know that I have.  I have fond memories of my mother-in-law when she was alive using this phrase fairly often, especially at family gatherings.  And like most people, she said it as a way of expressing her belief that her Father in heaven had the means to provide for her every need; which of course is absolutely true!  Now I think that those of us who live in the Panhandle also have a particular fondness for this saying since we are in the heart of “cattle country.”  So, although we may be familiar with this statement, do you know where this statement appears in the Bible?  Would you be surprised that it appears in the book Psalms?

If you’re participating in the Bible reading plan you may have come across this verse on recently when reading Psalm 50.  So, let’s pick things up starting at verse 7 – “Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you.  I am God, your God.  Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.  I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds.  For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.”  In context, this statement is actually connected to the O.T. sacrificial system.  Now like me, you may have recently spent some time reading about all the sacrifices which God required of the children of Israel as described in the books of Leviticus and Numbers.  As Psalm 50 describes, some of those sacrifices involved animals such as bulls, or goats, or birds which were necessary during that time for the atonement of sin. 

It’s interesting that although many of the Psalms were written by King David, Psalm 50 was written by a guy by the name of Asaph.  And guess what?  Asaph was a Levite and the Levites were given the responsibility for overseeing worship in the temple.  So Asaph would have been keenly aware of the significance for each of the animal sacrifices.  As a Levite, that was his life!  So why now in Psalm 50 does God declare through Asaph that He will no longer accept their sacrifice of a bull or goat?  Let’s continue reading in verse 13 – “Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?  Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

Why was God unwilling to accept their sacrifice?  It appears that it was because it was not being offered along with a heart of thanksgiving.   God’s people were regularly bringing their sacrifices, but maybe it had become so routine that their hearts were not right.  I wonder if we are ever guilty of that?  Perhaps we regularly make sacrifices in the areas of time, finances, friends, job, community, and comfort.  That describes many people at TBC . . .  and is commendable!  But what is the heart behind those sacrifices?  Is it out of thankfulness for who God is and all He has done for us?  Listen to what God says at the very end in verse 24 – “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.” 

As with many things in life, our motivation for doing the things we do matters.  When it comes to our sacrifices, we should take a moment to consider whether we are making them for our own glory or for God’s glory.  What a privilege it is to serve our God!  Today I want to encourage you that in whatever capacity you are serving, be sure to make a heart of thanksgiving a part of your sacrifice to God.

 

Brian Everett

Church Council Member


What’s with the Lists?
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

What’s with the Lists?

 

For the last couple of months as I have read and meditated on God’s word (Bible reading plan) and worked on memorizing Galatians 5:16-26, I have been confronted with lists.

 

Paul writes in Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are evident:  sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, orgies, and things like these.”  I don’t need to go very far down the list before the Holy Spirit convicts me of my need to repent and change my attitude and behavior.

 

We’ve just about finished reading through the  Book of Romans now in our Bible reading plan, but we’ve seen lists there too. Paul writes in Romans 1:29-30, “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.  They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness.  They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”  Busted again!

 

Why the lists?  It is as simple as answering the question, “God just tell me what you want me to do” (or in this case, “what not to do”).  Or, do the lists serve a greater purpose?

 

I believe that the lists serve to reveal my total depravity before the holy and just God.  They illumine my sin and the sinful condition of my heart.  They point me to God’s unmerited grace and my need for a Savior to make me right with God … “For our sake He made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).  For my sake, Jesus went to the cross with all my dreadful sins (see lists) and paid my debt.

 

Through this great sacrifice and by the grace of God, I have now been made righteous before the holy and just God. As I called out to Jesus for salvation, placing my faith in Him, my sins were washed away, and I’ve been indwelled by Spirit of God who empowers me to live a life that glorifies God.

 

There is another list – a positive one – that Paul includes in the last section of our memory verses.  Galatians 5:22-25, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”

 

May those of us who call Trinity Baptist our church home, keep in step with the Spirit and live fruitful lives for God’s glory!

 

Brad Jones

Church Council Member


Have You Been There? A Reflection on Psalm 73
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

Have You Been There?

 Psalm 73

 

If you are utilizing the church’s Bible Reading Plan as you read through the Bible this year (and I hope you are), then today you will be in Psalm 73. I believe Psalm 73 is a psalm with which we can all relate. For in the psalm, the author admits his inward struggle to be content in God. Have you been there?

 

The Psalmist admits that he was envious of the arrogant when he saw the prosperity of the wicked (v.3). He goes on to describe how it seems that the wicked live trouble-free lives and have all that they want – these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches (v.12).  Have you ever been there? Have you ever wondered why the ungodly seem to excel while those who fear God seem to struggle?

 

Then in vv.13-15, the Psalmist seems to question his own priorities. He writes: in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence (v.13). In other words, the Psalmist is saying, all I’ve done is try to live an upright life before God, but look where it has gotten me. Like many of us, the Psalmist was experiencing trials and difficulties in life. When he compared his current circumstances to the circumstances of those who did not fear God, he became depressed.  Have you ever been there?

 

But then something amazing happens. In vv.16-17, the Psalmist turns his attention away from his current circumstances and focuses his heart on Truth. He couldn’t figure out life according to his own wisdom (v.16), but when he centered His thoughts on God, everything came into focus, and the Psalmist was able to discern the end of the wicked (v.17). Have you been there? Has there ever been a moment in your life when you were spiritually down because you couldn’t make sense of a situation? Has there ever been a time in your life when you questioned why things were happening the way they were? In such times, it’s so important that we seek out God’s perspective on life.

 

In vv.18-20, the Psalmist reminds himself that the riches of this world are fleeting and that that ungodly have no ultimate hope. Their lives are built on a slippery slope, on the shifting sand. And it’s not just the treasures that they cling to so tightly that will be swept away and utterly destroyed, but they themselves will be completely undone.

 

Of course, it’s not that truth (concerning the end of the wicked) that gives us hope. Yes, we long for God’s justice, but our hearts are saddened at the fate of the those who are apart from faith in Jesus. Like our Lord, our desire is that none should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Our great hope, and what assures us in times of difficulty, is that God is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever (v.26). While those who are far from the Lord shall perish (v.27), God’s nearness is our good (v.28)!

Friends, that’s where we want to be! My guess is that we can all relate to the Psalmist when he admits his envy and discontent. My prayer is that we are all growing in our ability to relate to the Psalmist when he confesses there is nothing on earth that he desires besides God (v.25). While life is full of trials and difficulties, God is faithful. The Lord God is our refuge and those who put their trust in Jesus are secure.

 

On Sunday, we’ll be singing a wonderful hymn of the faith called The Solid Rock. The chorus of the song goes like this: “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” My prayer is that we’ll all sing a little bit louder on Sunday knowing that because our hope is built on the righteousness of Christ Jesus, no matter what difficulties we face in life, and no matter how immune to those difficulties others seem to be, we can be confident that God is our portion forever!


East of the Sea
Posted By: Derek Hall

This morning, our Bible reading plan took us through Exodus 14. The story of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea is one most of us are very familiar with. We have heard it preached, read it in our Bibles numerous times, and watched it happen in the movies. This means it can become routine for us to read and move passed this chapter quickly. But what if we pause and consider all the ramifications of what happens for the people as they cross over the sea.

The people have just left Egypt, which would be west of the Red Sea. They have seen God deliver them from Pharaoh with 10 plagues, but God has also led them on a very strange path out of Egypt. So strange that Pharaoh believes they are lost in the wilderness and has a change of heart. He gathers his army and rides out to reclaim his slaves. Imagine being the Israelites in that moment. The people who have oppressed you for hundreds of years are bering down on you. The greatest army in the world at the time is riding up ready for battle, and your only way of escape is through a sea you cannot cross. If you are in that situation, chances are you would respond like the Israelites, with fear and despair. Even with this fear and despair God acts. He parts the sea, the people walk across on dry land, and the Egyptian army is completely destroyed. 

Everything changes once the Israelites are east of the sea. On the west side of the sea, they are scared former slaves. On the east side, they are a triumphant nation. On the west side of the sea, they are a homeless group not knowing where they are going. On the east side of the sea, they are a people on their way to the Promised Land. On the west side of the sea, they see nothing but the world around them and Pharaoh's army. On the east side of the sea, they know the deliverance of God and the freedom of being His people. Everything changes on the eastern shore. And that same reality is true for us. If we are in Christ, we have passed through the waters of death and destruction and come out on the eastern shore. We are no longer enslaved. We are no longer homeless. We no longer need to fear. 

As followers of King Jesus, we have a guarantee that we will come to the Promised Land. Like the Israelites, we stand on the eastern shore and know we have been fully and completely delivered. But we are not in the Promised Land yet. Like the Israelites, we still have to journey through the wilderness of this life. And like the Israelites, we will fail to fully believe and live in the promises of God. But there is good news. God led the Israelites in a pillar of cloud and fire. When they were unfaithful and grumbling, he graciously continued to lead. Our God has not changed. He has given us his Spirit to lead us. And when we are unfaithful and grumbling, when we do not believe the promises and try to find our own way, God will graciously lead us. And we have a guarantee that he will lead us home. 


Some Thoughts on Joy!
Posted By: Nate Magloughlin

Our Scripture memory this month is John 15:9-11.  Verses 10-11 say, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”  I want to focus on this important three letter word – joy.  

In this passage, Jesus seems to be inviting us into a very special, intimate eternal joy that has only been experienced in the union of the Triune God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This joy is now being offered to those who have come into that union through a relationship with Jesus by faith.  Jesus describes this special joy as being “full” (see John 17:13).  

When we think of joy, we tend to think about the things that make us happy or give us freedom.  However, the way to fullness of joy appears to be obedience to His commandments and love, which on the surface, seems rather restrictive. According to Jesus, love for Him motivates us to keep His commandments (see John 14:15). Furthermore, love and obedience seem to be the two keys that lead to the fullness of joy that Christ so desires for us to know – an immediate and eternal joy!

One other aspect of this joy needs to be explored.  This joy looks beyond current circumstances to future promises and results.  The word joy shows up in what seems to be an unlikely place – Heb 12:2 says, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right had of the throne of God.”  Joy was set before Jesus as He anticipated the cross, the endurance of pain, the shame of being accused a blasphemer, even the abandonment of the Father.  How could there be any joy in that moment?  Jesus was looking beyond the current circumstances to the fulfillment of God’s promise. Jesus knew the joy of complete obedience to the Father – even to His death on the cross.  He also knew the promised results.  That through His death, burial, and resurrection, He would bring many sons and daughters to salvation – into his eternal kingdom – into His fullness of joy.  

He redeemed all those who would place their faith in Him, thus creating eternal worshippers who will glorify His name forever and ever.  Dear friends – please heed His invitation to enter this “joy” that is made “full” in and through Christ.

 

Jess Murphy

Church Council Member