“…both intelligent argument and miracles can help bring people to faith, and Paul happily used both in his apostolic ministry. But when all is said, and done, preaching the cross is where the power comes from.”
The church of today did not appear on the earth fully formed; rather, it developed over the centuries. Following Jesus’ command to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth, the apostles and their spiritual descendants have grown the church through times of peace and times of war, through persecution and pilgrimage. The church that began as a ragtag group of Middle Eastern fishermen, tax collectors, and zealots became the multiethnic, multifaceted church we know today through historical events that, while they may seem distant, have a direct effect on our everyday lives.
Now thirty of these course-altering events are brought vividly to life by consummate storyteller Alton Gansky. Spanning twenty centuries of history, this lively book will entertain, educate, and enlighten you even as it enriches your appreciation for those who have come before us in the faith.
I have not read the whole thing, but if you’re looking for a deeper glimpse of many important events throughout church history, Gansky’s 30 Events will scratch that itch. Check out the table of contents on Amazon’s preview to see the list of thirty events.
I’ll share some thoughts on DeYoung’s newest book when I am able, although major life events make for a busy life! Here’s a blurb from Amazon:
In this timely book, award-winning author Kevin DeYoung challenges each of us—the skeptic, the seeker, the certain, and the confused—to take a humble look at God’s Word regarding the issue of homosexuality.
After examining key biblical passages in both the Old and New Testaments and the Bible’s overarching teaching regarding sexuality, DeYoung responds to popular objections raised by Christians and non-Christians alike, making this an indispensable resource for thinking through one of the most pressing issues of our day.
Here’s another great new Crossway title from Collin Hansen, the editor of The Gospel Coalition. I hope to look at this in the next couple of weeks. Judging by the fact that we all have blind spots, I’m hoping Hansen (and the Spirit) will shine some light on mine.
The world needs bold, united followers of Jesus. It needs you and me to understand and appreciate the contributions of our brothers and sisters in faith. However, too often, our blind spots lead to divisions and disagreements, preventing God’s people from testifying to his grace with one voice.
In this provocative book, Collin Hansen helps us view our differences as opportunities to more effectively engage a needy world with the love of Christ. Highlighting the diversity of thought, experience, and personality that God has given to his people, Blind Spots lays the foundation for a new generation of Christians eager to cultivate a courageous, compassionate, and commissioned church.
What is a Spanish title doing on this blog?! This new book put out by Poiema and The Gospel Coalition’s Spanish arm is titled “Grace Upon Grace: The New Reformation in the Hispanic World.” I got it at the Gospel Coalition’s pre-conference and am excited to see what Hispanic leaders say about the Latin American church. This is of interest to me as a part-time missionary to Latin America with Leadership Resources. I hope to share some thoughts from it this summer (don’t worry, it will be in English.)
I’ve learned something interesting about unbelievers after several years of engaging them with the gospel: while many feel uncomfortable discussing sin, the exclusivity of Christ, or eternal punishment, most don’t mind discussing the afterlife.
This fascination with the afterlife can be a great inroad to gospel conversation. Heaven is often seen as non-threatening and profoundly interesting—one of the reasons so many I-went-to-heaven-and-back books have flown off the shelves in recent years.
What if there were a book you could share with your non-Christian friends that would scratch their “heaven itch” while compellingly sharing the gospel?
I know I’ve already mentioned this book on the blog before, but it’s so rich. Our church put on a one-man show featuring Steven Baldwin as the thief and it was powerful.
The DVD series consists of eight 22ish-minute sessions dealing with topics of sin, design, contentment, mercy, sex, and stubborn grace. The format is sharp and simple: Dave Harvey stands in front of a black background and teaches. Nothing more is needed because the value of this study is not in flashy graphics or videography, but the truth of Scripture Harvey communicates.
Harvey begins by presenting a theology of marriage and a clear, transformative application of gospel truths. The reason Harvey lays a solid foundation on the doctrine of sin is because, “A healthy doctrine of sin will fuel a healthy and appropriate self-evaluation.” This evaluation will cause couples to see their behavior for what it is and humble them. Sin is a great equalizer among couples because it shows everyone their need for a Savior. And this is where the transformation of the gospel steps in. Harvey describes it simply, “Forgiven sinners forgive sin.”
A screenshot of Harvey teaching
This is a great DVD series for singles, married couples with two weeks or two decades of marriage under their belt because it deals with what is of first importance in life and marriage: the gospel. New couples will learn to set good habits and view their marriage through the lens of the gospel while veteran couples will be strengthened by the grace of God applied toward our marriage relationships. This DVD set is a good alternative to reading the book and allows couples to more easily watch together in a small group and discuss with the free downloadable study guide available from Shepherd Press.
The When Sinners Say “I Do” DVD series is a great resource to center your marriage on the gospel of Jesus Christ and live in light of it’s transforming power.
I recently had the privilege of being a guest on a great new podcast called the Pivot Point Podcast. Here’s a short description:
Pivot Point Podcast is an place where real people get real about their lives. We get in the grit and grime of success, failures and disappointments. It’s at these points that we decide where or to what we will pivot to. What is your Pivot Point?
In my conversation with Lynn, the podcast’s host, I share about an identity crisis I had in college that served as a catalyst for growth in the faith. I also share about the important spiritual discipline of meditating on Scripture and my calling to train pastors to preach God’s Word with God’s heart with Leadership Resources.
The Gospel Coalition National Conference was no different.
This was my second TGC conference, and even though I didn’t make it out of the convention center much to enjoy Orlando weather, it was an amazing way to spend four days. Below are some personal highlights:
1. The Spanish Preconference.
Leadership Resources had a booth at both the Spanish pre-conference and the main conference. At our booth and during events, I was able to connect with so many brothers and sisters in Christ from all over Latin America: Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile, Puerto Rico, the US, the Dominican Republic (¡había muchísimos Dominicanos!), and more. We had about 600-700 people total.
I heard amazing Reformation stories of how the gospel has penetrated and transformed churches previously preaching legalism, prosperity, or whatever a pastor thought best.
I enjoyed meeting several other contributors to The Gospel Coalition’s Spanish blog and heard of the great impact it is having in the world.
I also was introduced to a couple of new powerful and passionate preachers like Sugel Michelen.
I heard encouraging reports Spanish publishing efforts (including B&H) and of the great interest stirring in Latin America for sound doctrine and gospel-centered ministry.
The one thing I didn’t like about the pre-conference was the end. When I saw people begin to stream in for the main conference, I got sad. I knew the small community feel of the pre-conference was coming to an end.
D.A. Carson speaking on the sufficency of Scripture from Psalm 1 at the pre-conference.
2. The people.
People make conferences. It was great connecting with friends, both old and new, from schools I went to, other ministries I’m connected with, or friends from Twitter who I met face-to-face for the first time. It was also refreshing to hear about so many other ministries doing amazing work for the spread of the gospel around the world.
I enjoyed many conversations/interactions including time with Coalicion Por El Evangelio editors Jairo and Steven (and several other contributors), Aaron Armstrong over lunch, Clay Kraby, Cristopher Gallardo of B&H Spanish and Reaching and Teaching, time with some of the Matthias Media guys (including Tony Payne, Marty Sweeney, and Jason Crank), Mat Sims and Bradford Davis, and more. (Stay tuned to the blog for an interview I did with Tony Payne on disciple making.)
3. The focus on justice.
Events this year like Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri have made justice (particularly racial justice) an extremely timely and important topic for Christians. #TGC15 featured a panel, special event, and breakout session focused on justice. While I didn’t make all of these sessions (I plan to listen to the mp3s when available), I greatly appreciated this focus. Since justice is near and dear to the heart of God, it should be near and dear to the heart of every believer.
Here’s a video highlight from John Piper:
4. Friendly banter between speakers.
Like many other evangelical millennials, my love for Christ and the church has been greatly influenced by The Gospel Coalition’s leaders. That being said, I really enjoy seeing them take friendly jabs at each other when sitting on a panel together or introducing each other to speak. Being able to joke about someone’s view of baptism is a beautiful thing when men who are united in the truth of the gospel and love for one another. In particular, I enjoyed my former professor D.A. Carson’s sense of humor–especially those times where he cracked himself up.
Albert Mohler speaking at the pre-conference
5. The Gospel at the Center.
Part of The Gospel Coalition’s vision is unity around the gospel of Jesus Christ–putting first things first in Christianity. When that core conviction is shared, secondary issues like baptism, view of spiritual gifts, and church government take a back seat so unity can be achieved in Christ.
I saw this fleshed out the whole time, and particularly at the pre-conference’s great session on alliances/organizational partnerships for the sake of the Kingdom (helpful for my work with Leadership Resources). Pastor Miguel Nunez had a great line describing a minister who doesn’t engage in alliances for the gospel’s sake, preferring to minister solo: “When a man becomes all ‘wrapped up’ in himself, he makes himself a very small gift [to the church].”*
The theme of the conference was Coming Home: New Heaven and New Earth and focused on heaven and what is to come. I greatly appreciated Voddie Baucham’s message on The Resurrection from 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 in which he unpacked practical implications for everyday life. In a world filled with suffering, injustice, division–both inside and outside the church–the doctrine of the resurrection was a breath of fresh air.
Not only did the conference’s theme provide a glimpse of heaven and increase my yearning for our future home, but so did many details of the conference itself. I was amazed thinking at our small multitude (6,000+) of blood-bought brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the world worshiping our Risen Lord together in several different languages.
The group showed the universality of Christ’s Kingdom rule and proves the fact that Jesus is keeping His Word when He said, “I will build my church.” While we worshiped our Risen Lord together, I stood amazed God would offer us so great a salvation in Christ.
Servant of God. Blogger. Book lover. Cubs fan. Latino de Corazón.
I work for Leadership Resources International. We train pastors worldwide to preach God's Word with God's heart. Learn more about my ministry or partner with me.