All posts by Dave

The Great Samaritan – A Gospel-Centered Look at The Most Famous Parable

The Parables

A while back I discussed how to read the parables through a gospel lens. Now I’m getting the chance to preach through them at Shoreline and it’s a real joy. Here’s the pertinent gospel-centered section of my recent sermon on the parable of the Good Samaritan:

Where this parable is about a good Samaritan, Jesus is the Great Samaritan. In nearly every detail, Jesus has taken the parable, brought it into real life, and raised the stakes.

Jesus didn’t just see us by chance. The good Samaritan saw the man, verse 33, “as he journeyed.” It was a chance encounter. He wasn’t looking for anyone to save. He just happened by. But as we saw in the parable of the lost sheep Jesus was on a mission. He was coming for us. He knew we were lost. He knew we needed rescue. And so he came. With purpose. For us.

And our state was worse. We weren’t near death. [And this might be how you feel today.] What does Scripture say? This past fall we walked through the book of Ephesians.

“You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

You were dead. No spiritual life. No vigor. No vitality. No strength. No hope.

And the price he paid was so much higher. The good Samaritan gave two days wages, and said, “Do what it takes.” What did it take? Jesus showed us what it takes. The cost of our death, the cost of new hearts, was his life – the death of the Son of God on a Roman cross.

But the outcome was so much greater. The good Samaritan gave his time, money, comfort, respectability so that the man could be restored to his original state. Jesus, the King of kings, died exhausted, in pain, naked, and alone under the curse of the Father not so you can go back to living a normal life. He did it so he could walk out of the tomb on the third day on your behalf.

That’s why Paul can continue in Ephesians 2:

You were dead… “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

That’s how he purchased new hearts for us.

How does that help us be a neighbor?

Continue reading The Great Samaritan – A Gospel-Centered Look at The Most Famous Parable

Opposite Problems

Opposite Problems in Church PlantingAaron Gloy just published The Biggest Mistake I made in Church Planting. His biggest mistake? Focusing on attracting a crowd over making disciples:

“I was trained in how to plant a sexy attractional church… This is rather problematic when you consider that Jesus never commanded us to plant churches. He commanded us to make disciples. Now when you effectively make disciples I believe church planting becomes inevitable, but it is very possible to plant churches and never get around to actually making disciples.

So here’s Aaron’s list of things he’d do differently:

  1. Focus more on making disciples and less on planting a church.
  2. Develop a teaching team.
  3. Slow down.

What It Looks Like On The Other Side

The funny thing is that in planting Shoreline in New London, CT I have found myself in exactly the opposite scenario! We’re excellent at discipleship but it’s hard to draw a crowd. Continue reading Opposite Problems

Jay Adams on Gospel-Centered Preaching

Many consider Jay Adams the father of the biblical counseling movement. If you aren’t familiar with the different counseling models often seen in the church here’s the basic breakdown:

  • Christian Counseling – Begins with the insights and framework of modern psychology and uses Scripture as a supplement.
  • Biblical Counseling – Begins with Scripture as the model of human behavior and care, and uses modern psychology as a supplement.

Around the turn of the 20th century psychology came to fame and the “care of souls,” which had traditionally been the domain of clergy, transitioned rapidly to psychologists and, later, psychiatrists. It is so prevalent that even today most seminary counseling programs, even at evangelical schools, are based on psychology first and the Bible second.

Adams made a huge splash with his first book Competent to Counsel where he argued for the church to return to her rightful role in soul care. Since then, he’s written tons on counseling and that’s what he’s best known for.

A Counselor Turns His Gaze On Preaching

But Adams has also been very active in the realm of preaching. I’d like to share an excerpt from an article he wrote in 2004, long before the recent resurgence of gospel-centered preaching. In an article titled Preaching Evangelistically he says that we must preach the gospel in every sermon. How? Continue reading Jay Adams on Gospel-Centered Preaching

Who’s In Charge?

In ministry you can do a lot of work and see seemingly zero outcome. That’s what happened to me.

The Setup

I’m pastoring a young church plant that recently moved into a rented space. We took two months to get settled and comfortable with our Sunday service there. Then we began a new sermon series, added new small groups, and announced a “public launch” all on the same Sunday – January 10th.

SCBC Update 2 from Shoreline Community Bible Church on Vimeo.

Pulling Out the Stops

We wanted it to be a big launch. So what did we do? Everything!

  • We mailed invitations to new residents in our area.
  • We gave our congregation Christmas card invitations to give to their friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
  • Some people delivered fresh-baked cookies and invitations to their neighborhood.
  • We paid for a Facebook sponsored post to a targeted demographic.

And how did that go? We got Continue reading Who’s In Charge?

Breaking a Long Silence

Two years is a long time in life, but it’s an eternity on the internet. In the last 2 years (actually a little more) I’ve updated far less often than in the past. That’s because…

  • I quit my job.
  • We had a baby.
  • We moved.
  • I started seminary.
  • I transferred seminaries.
  • I upped my schedule to get on pace to graduate a year early.
  • A group asked me to apply to lead a church plant.
  • Now we’re planting that church.

I made a few updates over that span for things like taking an interesting course, or preparing a sermon, or writing a paper, but Armchair Theology essentially lay dormant for that entire period. I still get 75-100 visits per day from Google searches but I haven’t been investing in my web presence during this time. I haven’t posted much new content. I haven’t helped you find new gospel-centered articles elsewhere.

In the next weeks I’m going to give a quick few updates on the church plant, why we chose church planting (I am not the kind of person you think of when you think of church planters!), what we’re up to, what I’ve learned, how you can pray for us, and how you can get involved with spreading the word.

A Love Poem & Longing

I just downloaded Harvard Classics English Poetry volume for free today (8/21/15) because I read almost exclusively non-fiction and know I  need more literature and poetry in my information diet. The first poem I read got me thinking about how the human heart longs for Jesus:

You may train the eagle
To stoop to your fist;
Or you may inveigle
The phoenix of the east;
The lioness, ye may move her
To give o’er her prey;
But you’ll ne’er stop a lover:
He will find out his way.
Anonymous, “Love Will Find out the Way”

Here is a poem that says it’s easier to tame an eagle or convince a lioness to give you her fresh kill than to stop a man from reaching the woman he loves. This resonates because it appeals to the romantic instincts in our hearts.

But, as anyone who has been in any romantic relationship knows, this is an idealized portrait of love. Affections wane over time. Husbands (I’m really guilty here lately) don’t pursue their wives with intensity. The love we see in life just doesn’t add up to what our hearts know love should look like.

It’s as if we know what we give and what we experience is a tarnished copy of the real thing.

C.S. Lewis put it this way in Mere Christianity:

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

In the end, the only lover who this poem describes is the One who first loved us.

I’m planning more thinking and writing about an apologetic of yearning as well as a hermeneutic of yearning. In the meantime: Where do you see unmet longings in this world that point to Christ?

Killing Redundancy in Prayer

I completely misread the following headline: “The Benefits of Catechetical Preaching.

What I read was: “The Benefits of Catechetical Praying.” I’m so glad I misread that. It sparked a helpful idea in my head.

The Problem

I find that I’m often redundant in prayer. I’ll often revert to the same thoughts, especially in thanksgiving and praise to God. If I constantly thank God for the same three-to-five things my prayer life gets stagnant. It’s not healthy.

What Is a Catechism?

A catechism is a tool for doctrinal instruction that is usually presented in a question-answer format.

How Can a Catechism Help?

A catechism is a very useful reminder of truths about God so that we can broaden our praise and thanksgiving. Here are two examples from the first two questions in Spurgeon’s Catechism (it closely mirrors the Westminster Catechism): Continue reading Killing Redundancy in Prayer