Monday, May 21, 2012
This Sunday marked the beginning of our Summer series called “The Church: the Beautiful and Beloved Bride of Christ.” Our passage of Scripture for consideration was Ezekiel chapter 16. If you haven’t read this before, do it now. It is profoundly disturbing. It is a Divine description of our relationship with God. It is the ‘how we met’ description and ‘how we live’ explanation. It is a picture of grace in Hi-definition, sobering, somber and true. Download the message here and plan to join us next Sunday at Southwood. On Sunday, June 3 our worship services will be held at 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. until then the first service will continue to begin at 8 a.m. The Christian Education hour will be held from 9:45 a.m. until 10:45 a.m.
You can also follow me on Twitter @jflarrouxiii
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Because of the Session’s determination to begin addressing the issues before us in an open forum on December 4, 2011 at the congregational meeting I have determined to disable comments for a period of time to assist in promoting the peace and purity of the church. This is in no way to discourage dialogue between members, but rather to encourage individuals to speak to each other personally and not through comments on this blog.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Last evening the Session of Southwood Presbyterian Church met again to consider the matters before the church. After much prayer from both the members of the Session and members of the congregation the Lord provided a decision with no dissension or abstention. The UNANIMOUS motion reads as follows:
With repentance and conviction over our own personal and corporate sin, particularly for having stirred dissension with a premature motion delivered after Monday night’s meeting, the Session has met and deliberated further on the issues before our church. Having considered the breadth of the situation and our unified desire for the peace and purity of the church, the Session does hereby revise the purpose of the called congregational meeting to begin addressing the myriad of issues brought before us, including Jean F. Larroux, III, but we are not recommending the dissolution of the pastoral relationship with him at this meeting. Furthermore, we are in need of, thankful for and
Monday, November 14, 2011
Looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the Pharisee in your life? How ‘bout a book that you will love to hate? Trying to find a handbook on how to exorcise your inner legalist? Tullian Tchividjian has written Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Its not a ‘how to’ book, it is a ‘how He’ book. It is about Jesus and how He has indeed done all things necessary for us to die well and LIVE well. If you are thinking of buying this for someone other than yourself, because they need it, then grab yourself a copy while you are at it. You, like me, need to read this book!
“The fact is, a lot of preaching these days has been unwittingly, unconsciously seduced by moralism. Moralistic preaching only reinforces our inner assumption that our performance for God will impress him to the point of blessing us. A Christian may not struggle with believing that our good behavior is required to initially earn God’s favor; but I haven’t met one Christian who doesn’t struggle daily with
Friday, November 11, 2011
QUESTION: You seem to make light or down-play the importance of the traditional disciplines of the Faith in stating what we should not do. Or you make the assumption that prior to doing those disciplines (the ten steps in your article) the hypothetical sinner has not done what you desire him to do: see that he has been saved by Grace, and then as a result of that works out his salvation through the traditional disciplines of our Faith.
I guess I’m just trying to understand where you think those disciplines fit into our Christian Life. I’m confused since the majority of the time you mention studying the word, memorizing scripture, prayer, etc. it is in the context of a bad thing: doing those to solely in an attempt make us acceptable to God. Undoubtedly there are those that do, but many more who do them for the right reasons. I know you can’t mean that those disciplines are unimportant since scripture unambiguously teaches us that we are required to do those in
Monday, November 07, 2011
James Parker, our lead musician sent me the text of this song last week. Of all the songs ever written about either I am convinced that this would be a favorite of both. I could definitely see the Younger Brother in Luke 15 writing a song like this if the story had been set in modern times…
George Jones and Jesus are two heros of mine.
One is only human but the other one divine.
When I could not find a friend I found out that I had two.
George Jones and Jesus pulled me through.
When a man is on the bottom he may not cry for help.
But he needs to know he’s not alone in hell all by himself.
Those songs old George was singing they some how eased the hurt.
And Jesus did not turn me out when a bar room was my church.
George Jones and Jesus are two heros of mine.
One is only human but the other one divine.
When I could not find a friend I found out that I had two.
George Jones and Jesus pulled me through.
The possum ain’t no savior, but he never claimed to
Monday, October 31, 2011
“(reply to the Diet of Worms) Since your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns or teeth. Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by plain reason (I do not believe in the authority of either popes or councils by themselves, for it is plain that they have often erred and contradicted each other) in those Scriptures that I have presented, for my conscience is captive to the Word of God, I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”― Martin Luther
See Also: Martin Luther posts 95 theses. (2011). The History Channel website. Retrieved 8:25, October 19, 2011, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/martin-luther-posts-95-theses.
THE 95 THESES by Martin Luther
1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
2. This word cannot be
Monday, October 24, 2011
Below is an excerpt from the introduction of Bryan Chapell’s book, Holiness by Grace. You should buy this book. It is balanced, bold and for broken people who long to see the grace of God take root in their lives and actually propel and motivate them to holiness. Chapell doesn’t disclaimer away the radical grace of God, nor does he soft-sell grace motivated obedience. If you find yourself reading the book and wondering if it was written by two authors then you are probably reading it right, but processing it wrong. God’s radical grace and the radical response He desires from it will often seem to be at opposition to one another, but it precisely the opposite is true. Grace must be EXPERIENCED and EXPRESSED or it is not grace at all!
‘God says, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ The young preacher quoted the
words of Leviticus with such fervor that I had little doubt he really
expected us to live up to this command for untarnished righteousness.
Yet, as my eyes scanned those seated
Monday, October 17, 2011
Jerry Bridges wrote an article for Modern Reformation Magazine in 2004 entitled, Gospel-Driven Sanctification. In it he quotes William Romaine. The quote is pure Gospel gold!
William Romaine, who was one of the leaders of the eighteenth-century revival in England, wrote, “No sin can be crucified either in heart or life unless it first be pardoned in conscience…. If it be not mortified in its guilt, it cannot be subdued in its power.” What Romaine was saying is that if you do not believe you have died to sin’s guilt, you cannot trust Christ for the strength to subdue its power in your life. So the place to begin in dealing with sin is to believe the gospel when it says you have died to sin’s guilt.
Thank you Jerry for reminding us that we live by FAITH ALONE, by believing what is true as the basis for behaving like it is true!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
I got an email early on Monday morning asking a very thoughtful question, “If God isn’t MAD at us then why does the Bible speak of grieving the Holy Spirit and why does our Confession of Faith (Churches in the Presbyterian Church in America embrace the Westminster Confession of Faith as containing the system of doctrine taught in Scripture) indicate in chapter 17 that God can be ‘displeased’ with us?” It was a great question and it prompted about 13 pages of theological explanation.
If you haven’t listened to Sunday’s sermon you probably need to do that right now. You can access that file by clicking on the title. The message is entitled, “He likes me…He likes me NOT…” Secondly, download the paper and then, as always, post your comments, questions and concerns right here!
The paper begins with the question I received…
One of the required reading pieces for the officers class is the Westminster Confession, so I’ve been going over it. Yesterday when you were preaching I
Monday, October 10, 2011
I met a couple last week that just floored me. They were both ‘good’ Presbyterians, Calvinists, Bible-readers and church attenders. I assumed they had fallen in love through RUF and had a storybook romance ending with a wedding night where God blessed the union that they had both ‘saved themselves’ for. Not so much. They epitomized what the cancer of legalism and self-righteousness can do—it can make you look HEALTHY on the outside while rotting your spiritual bones from the inside. The wife said this to me, “Sometimes God has to show your sin to the whole world before you can see it yourself…” I told her, “You have to write your story down and let me put it on the blog.” Here is their story. I hope you see yourself somewhere in here.
It is an odd thing to tell your own story, especially when you aren’t sure who will be reading it. But, I have been asked to share my tale with honesty so I will give it my best attempt. To start at the beginning would be reaching too far
Thursday, October 06, 2011
“We do not like to be saved by charity, and so to have no corner in which to sit and boast. We long to make provision for a little self-congratulation. You insult a moral man if you tell him that he must be saved in the same way as a thief or a murderer, yet this is no more than the truth. For a woman of purity to be told that the same grace which saved a Magdalene is necessary for her salvation is so humbling, that her indignation is roused, and yet it is the fact, for in every case salvation is “without money and without price.”
From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled “Without Money And Without Price,” delivered March 8, 1871
Saturday, October 01, 2011
Put February 23-25, 2012 on your calendar. Book your flight to Fort Lauderdale and make plans to attend this conference…I hardly every give you OUGHTS, but this is something you OUGHT to do! The speakers, topics and intention of this conference is aimed directly at our Gospel needs, but more specifically it is aimed at APPLYING the Gospel to our hearts, not simply reiterating the Gospel to our minds.
From Tchividjian’s website, “Even those of us who have experienced the unconditional, saving grace of God find it intuitively difficult not to put conditions on grace- “don’t take it too far; keep it balanced”, we say. The truth is, however, that a “yes grace but” posture perpetuates slavery in our lives and in the church.
I wholeheartedly believe that the gospel of grace is way more drastic, way more offensive, way more liberating, way more shocking, and way more counter intuitive than any of us realize. There is nothing more radically unbalanced and drastically
Monday, September 26, 2011
I found this article on JoshHarris.com It is a profound personal expose of idolatry, self-righteousness and pride. The Gospel awareness that it took to write this piece is a testimony to grace. This is a perfect complement to our series in Galatians and a sobering read for anyone who has ever tried to ‘get it right’ with their family. Pastorally, I must tell you from the outset that the issues he speaks of are not the result of ‘homeschooling’ per se, but it is the lens through which he addresses these issues common to most of us, however I will also point out that some of his specific application points will be most apropos for people who have adopted a homeschool, family-based youth ministry, date-your-daughter, courtship only mindset…Take a deep drink of Jesus and then read this…
Exposing Major Blind Spots of Homeschoolers by Reb Bradley
In the last couple of years, I have heard from multitudes of troubled homeschool parents around the country, a good many of whom were
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I got an email from a dear friend in the congregation this past week. We have disagreed many times on ‘gospel stuff’ but we both love Jesus and we do have an affection for friendly banter. Rather than answering their email I decided to ‘de-personalize’ it and make a blog entry. One page turned to eleven and the rest is history. It is attached as a PDF file and addresses their concerns, but also some of the same sentiments that recent comments on the blog have echoed.
It is written in response to their entire email, but the first question will give you the flavor:
This is not an “angry” email just a “confused” one… This past week’s sermon was confusing to me so I was hoping you could clarify. First, I would put myself in the group that you were addressing at the beginning of the sermon as far as .... of course I believe by Faith Alone, through Grace Alone, in Christ Alone. And the way I see “Faith In Christ should lead to Faithfulness to Christ” seems like
Thursday, September 22, 2011
My friend Tullian Tchividjian posted this video on his website a month ago. My eyes fill with tears every time I watch it. I remember when my daughter was young and particularly troubled one night about her sin. She could not sleep. She told me that she could not ‘forgive herself…’ I gathered the family and we watched this particular clip from the movie. We all wept. She got it. The picture of grace in this artistic expression is inspired. Anyone who doesn’t think grace leads to obedience and holiness needs to watch the rest of the movie. Victor Hugo understood what so often seems to elude us…the powerful reality of Grace is the ONLY thing that turns us a man from evil to good.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I got this as a blog comment on Sunday. Some really good encouragement about Sunday and some frustrated questions. I don’t have time to engage it all right now, but it was so well written I thought it might get some chatter going on Knots…P.S. I told the one who posted this that I was going to steal their line and title my autobiography, ‘HOW I MADE A LIVING WITH CLEVER LITTLE ONE LINERS…’
As far as the execution of the new 3-service, sunday seminar format goes, all I can say is Wow, that was amazing! I can really see that a lot of thought went into the new format, and I just loved being part of something this exciting for Southwood!
On your sermon, ok, I’ll bite! Let me be the first to take the bait: When Jesus returned from praying in the garden, and found his disciples asleep, it seems to me that He should have spent a little more time listening to Steve Brown before He rebuked them, because instead of saying, “I’m glad
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
When I was a child my mother taught me that cute little game you could play with your hands folded, “Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open it up and see all the people…” We would do it over and over again. As a child I loved to laugh and watch the ‘church’ open up and see all of the people.
On September 18th we are going to do the same thing, but at the end of our exercise things may look a bit different: “Everything is remodeled, except for the steeple, but when I look around where are all the people?” You need to know this: the empty chairs and pews are empty ON PURPOSE. You read that statement correctly: the empty chairs in Sunday Seminars and empty pews in worship there by design!
Some might say that empty seats indicate our decision to go to three services was premature. Some might say empty seats are a testimony to the failure of Sunday Seminars. There is a temptation to see these potential realities a referendum on a poor strategic decision.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Below is an excerpt from Walter Marshall’s book, “The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification” It is a great reminder that today and everyday all we bring to God is our sin and Jesus. What hope and comfort it is to know that Christ was and is the Redeemer and I am the one who is redeemed!
‘Despair of purging the flesh, or natural man of its sinful lusts and inclinations, and of practicing holiness, by your willing and resolving to do the best that lies in your own power, and trusting on the grace of God and Christ, to help you in such resolutions and endeavors; rather resolve to trust on Christ, to work in you to will and do, by his own power, according to his own good pleasure. – They that are convinced of their own sin and misery, do commonly first think to tame the flesh, and to subdue and root out its lusts, and to make their corrupt nature to be better natured, and inclined to holiness, by their struggling and wrestling with it: And, if they can but bring their hearts to
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
I was driving on my way to work and saw this sign. I passed three of them before I stopped and took a photo. In my mind all I could envision was a cat like “Puss in Boots” but with a tuxedo, cumberbund and bow tie, perhaps a small tophat and a walking cane strolling through Jones Valley singing Sinatra’s “I’ve got the world on a string”, “...I’ve got the world on a string…sitiin’ on a rainbow, got the string around my finger…what a world, what a life….I’m in LOVE!” Hit it boys!!! Then a chorus of mice join in…bop, bop, bopity bop….
Here’s your challenge: Come up with the most creative story of what the cat was doing, who he was with, etc…you may also consider other ‘parallel’ stories i.e. Lost German Shepherd wearing semi-formal attire, white dinner jacket…. or Lost Rabbit wearing cocktail dress and heels…
P.S. Please don’t remind us all about the ‘seriousness’ of the lost feline. We know. We all care. The sign is funny.. This is a JOKE…r-e-l-a-x….
Monday, September 05, 2011
The first thing to remember is that we must never separate the benefits (regeneration, justification, sanctification) from the Benefactor (Jesus Christ). The Christians who are most focused on their own spirituality may give the impression of being the most spiritual but from the New Testament’s point of view, those who have almost forgotten about their own spirituality because their focus is so exclusively on their union with Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished are those who are growing and exhibiting fruitfulness. Historically speaking, whenever the piety of a particular group is focused on OUR spirituality, that piety will eventually exhaust itself on its own resources. Only where our piety forgets about us and focuses on Jesus Christ will our piety be nourished by the ongoing resources the Spirit brings to us from the source of all true piety, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Are your weary hands drooping?
Is your heart sinking under the weight of a burden?
Do you feel alone?
Do you feel isolated?
Read these words from Charles H. Spurgeon and see if you do not believe that God may have specifically sent this wonderful quote just for you. Hold fast dear Christian. God is with you. He will not abandon you. He will quicken and vivify your faith. I am thankful to my dear brother Bob Bradshaw for sending to me these words of hope and encouragement as he saw my shoulders drooping and my heart weary. I am reminded that His yoke is easy, His burden is light. It is only heavy when I carry it on my own.
‘Here and there we meet with one to whom it is given to believe in God with mighty faith. As soon as such a man strikes out a project, or sets about a work that none but men of his mold would venture upon, straightaway there arises a clamor: ‘The man is overzealous,’ or he will be charged with an innovating spirit, rashness, fanaticism, or absurdity.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
My friend Steve Brown is not the most subtle guy you will ever meet. If I were to write an S.A.T. question about Steve this is how it would go: Steve Brown is to legalism what a child hopped up on cake and ice cream is to an pinata. I love this guy. Check out his website and PLEASE subscribe to his podcast!
These are quotes from Steve’s book, Scandalous Freedom (here goes the pinata!):
‘What God does or does not do in your life rarely has anything to do with how good you are.’
‘The greatest cause for our not getting better is our obsession with not getting better.’
‘Sanctification becomes a reality in those believers who don’t obsess over their own Sanctification. Holiness hardly ever becomes a reality until we care more about Jesus than about holiness.’
‘Now let me give you my confession: I’m about as good as I’m going to get, and I’m tired of trying. While the fact that I’m not going to get much better has disappointed some, I’m a lot easier to live with.’
Friday, August 19, 2011
“Christians have this really nasty habit of only engaging with art and culture that has a Christian label on it. You have to learn how to find truth, you have to learn how to find beauty, you have to learn how to discern those things rather than how to discern the category of the band you just bought. Labeling something Christian does not suddenly make it beautiful and true. And labeling something non-Christian doesn’t make it untrue and ugly. Those terms don’t mean anything.”
Monday, August 15, 2011
This is a re-post of the text of a blog entry from Dr. Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City. Many thanks to Ruling Elder, John Bise for directing my attention to it. It is worth reading every word. The original post can be found here.
“First, Dr Lloyd-Jones insisted that we use the gospel as we edify Christians. In Preaching and Preachers, Lloyd-Jones warns preachers not to “assume that all…who are members of the church, are…Christians. This, to me, is the most fatal blunder of all.” (p.146) He goes on to say that many people have accepted Christianity intellectually but have never come under the power of the Word and the gospel and therefore have “not truly repented.” (p.150)
This is very significant. It is at the heart of the difference between the Old Side/New Side, Old Lights/New Lights controversy during the revivals in 18th century America. The Old Side and Lights insisted that what made you a Christian was, essentially, that you were in
Monday, August 08, 2011
This is a link the conference audio from Reformed Youth Movement Summer Conference 2011 in Colorado. I have been affiliated with RYM for over a decade now, more as a beneficiary of the wonderful work of the ministry and the solid teaching on the truth of Scriptures. It is my pleasure to commend the ministry to you and these messages that I was asked to teach last month (June 2011). They were 5 separate messages on the authority of Scripture. The students and I were blessed to see God TRULY meet us at this conference. If you are unfamiliar with the ministry of RYM please spend some time on their website and look around. LINK TO THE MESSAGES HERE
Sunday, August 07, 2011
After church today I got this email from one of our mothers. Below is the dialog between she and her 4-year-old son Andrew. The mom was asking Andrew if he had fun in the nursery with his classmate Rosemary.
Mom said, “Andrew, did you play with Rosemary in your class like you did last week?”
Andrew replied, “No, she went with her mom and dad to big church to listen to the creature.”
Friday, August 05, 2011
Grace is difficult. It is harder than trying harder. We are allergic to resting in the finished work of Christ and the hardest ‘trophy’ to lay down is that trophy of obedience I have been working for my whole life. To make the shift from an life driven by fear to a life motivated by love is very, very painful. The emotional fear involved cannot be overstated. Most of us have obeyed because of fear of reprisal from God. To know that we are loved apart from our obedience or disobedience is a truth that is elusive. This is why it must be pounded into our souls week after week. Tim Keller said, “If you fear that when all fear of punishment is removed that all motivation for holiness will be removed as well then you must acknowledge that the only motivation to holiness at all was FEAR itself!” We have purposed to drive deep into those fields ripe with the green grass of the grace of God, not into the rocky crags of fundamentalism, legalism and pietism hoping that some
Friday, August 05, 2011
This quote was forwarded to me by Southwood Executive Director/Director of Adult Ministries, Bob Bradshaw. It is pure Gospel gold!
“You want to call people to holiness, as the new creatures they are, AND bring them into a deep awareness of the gospel of Grace. I want to call people to holiness, as the new creatures they are, BY bringing them into a deeper awareness of the gospel of Grace. You believe ‘effort and action (are) central to sanctification.’ I believe the gospel is central to sanctification, and that effort and action are neither central nor optional (optional = antinomanism) but integral. The rhythm of the New Testament is ‘walk in love as a response to how deeply you are loved in Christ’ Be imitators of God, as beloved children (Eph. 5:1). In a nutshell: if the imperatives of Scripture are extracted in preaching without being self-consciously placed within their (heart-transforming) indicative framework, then such bald imperatives will invariably devolve into a
Monday, August 01, 2011
Faith and Receiving
My impression is that faithful readers of Common'],i>','>
Monday, July 25, 2011
-a guest post by Bill Nash, Associate Pastor and Director of Small Groups at Southwood Presbyterian Church.
“I have realized that we all have plague.” Dr. Rieux in The Plague, by Albert Camus
Jean asked me to guest blog this week and suggested that I write on how the experience and expression of grace “kiss” in small groups. Sounds good to me, I like kissing. TMI…
There are a number of ways the experience and expression of grace “kiss” in small groups. But, how do I highlight one or two (at most) and not appear self-serving or as a heavy handed small group Pharisee adding to grace the need to be in a small group if you really love Jesus. And how do I write about it without painting a rosy picture of life in community?
First of all, I am a self-serving small group Pharisee that struggles with wanting to be the best small group pastor presiding over a successful ministry that is the standard-setter on the face of planet earth. Neurotic, I know… (sigh) That is
Friday, July 22, 2011
You can find a complete listing of our ‘summer reading’ and more information about our officer training class which begins in August by clicking here.
The class schedule is as follows:
Leadership Class Schedule
Aug. 10 Gospel Foundations
Aug. 17 Gospel Implications
Aug. 24 Vision/Mission
Aug. 31 Qualifications for Elder and Deacon
Sep. 7 Calling and Responsibilities
Sep. 14 Spiritual Gifts
Sep. 21 Governing the Church
Sep. 28 Shepherding/Serving
Oct. 5 Community Development
Oct. 12 Small Groups and Student Ministries
Oct. 19 Westminster Confession of Faith
Oct. 26 Westminster Confession of Faith
Nov. 2 Westminster Confession of Faith
Nov. 9 Westminster Confession of Faith
Nov. 16 Summary and Written Test Distributed
2011-2012 Nomination & Election Schedule
Aug. 10 Leadership Training Begins
Aug. 24 Last Day to Join Class
Oct. 30 Nominations Open
Nov. 13 Nominations Close
Nov. 30 Written Exams Due
Dec. 11 Examination by Committee
Jan. 9 Examination by
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Looking for a little ‘pick me up’? This message from Steve Brown might just hit the spot. I am encouraged (as ALWAYS) by Steve’s candor, love for life and embrace of the good things of the Kingdom of God. Steve is one of my heroes and a man who has shaped me by his love, life and counsel. This is from the current study of Proverbs and is about the Laughter of the Redeemed!!! Enjoy!
Link here to Steve Brown’s website: http://www.keylife.org
Monday, July 18, 2011
This post is a link to the blog of Tullian Tchividjian, Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. It is a profound explanation about the place that the Gospel has in the life of people who ALREADY believe. I HIGHLY recommend to you Tullian’s blog. It is saturated with grace, theologically sound and engaging to read.
“Any evangelical- indeed, any real Christian-would probably say that life’s key issue is whether someone comes into a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. How one receives that salvation, however, has been the subject of many debates throughout church history, debates that continue today. At the center of these many debates is an assumption: Every human being born after Adam and Eve is affected (some call this effect total depravity) by the Fall. In order to right the wrong and restore us to a saving relationship with our Creator, Christians affirm that the eternal Son of God assumed to himself a particular human nature in order that he
Monday, July 11, 2011
I get lots of questions about the Gospel. Most of them are not as ‘form’ oriented (i.e. content) as they are ‘function’ (i.e. how does the Gospel work?). Most of the inquiries revolve around grace and the ability of a philosophical system that demands faith INSTEAD OF works to ACTUALLY result in the mortification of sin. Just such a question was posed last week about an ongoing struggle with pornography. Below is an exerpt of the PDF paper “How does the Gospel work?” The particular sin addressed in the paper is ‘lying’ but you can make the connection to your particular poison. Grappling through these issues IS the hard work of sanctification and mortification. You should know that it is HARDER to rest, by faith in Christ, and have that change you than to avail yourself of a hundred sin-stifling strategies! John Calvin said, “He who makes the worship of God consist in faith and repentance, BY NO MEANS LOOSENS THE REINS OF DISCIPLINE, but rather compels men to the course they
Monday, July 04, 2011
I receive lots of email. Most of the ‘concerned’ email revolves around fears that somehow the preaching and teaching of grace will make us LAZY in our Christian lives. Frankly, I had never come across the question from a person who identified themselves as having struggled this way. I got that question from a person struggling in that specific way last week. Fair warning, the answer is detailed and longer than normal, but worth reading! It’s a PDF download. What is posted here is just an intro to the full article. Enjoy and P.S. If you missed Sunday’s message: “Divide, Conquer and remembering the fine print of grace” you should download and listen to it first. It is amazing how God times these thing to go together!
Dear Pastor Larroux,
Is there such thing as going “too far” with grace? What I mean is this: I am fully aware of my sin and brokenness. I know that I can never earn favor (with God) through works and that my righteous standing with God is based on Jesus and
Monday, June 27, 2011
Apparently our Gospel appetite is about 13 weeks long.
After week 13 in Galatians the dam broke. I have heard rumors, whispers, grumblings from every corner of Southwood. They have come from long-time members and newcomers alike. They range from blatant disgruntled comments about my preaching to subtle fears that by preaching ‘so much’ grace we will never ‘turn the corner’ to obedience. It seems that grace has been viewed as an ‘appetizer’ and the church is ready for the meal.
The comments generally go something like this, “Okay, enough already. Enough of this verse by verse, section by section consideration of Galatians. Get us to the REAL meat of the Bible! Get us at least to Galatians chapter 5! Get us past the indicatives of Paul’s preaching to the imperatives of the Gospel where we finally DO SOMETHING!”
I’ve heard that I just don’t care about holiness at all. I’ve heard the accusation that I am over-emphasizing one aspect of Pauline
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I stumbled across this article this morning from a friends blog. It is apropos for Southwood today:
An Open Letter To Mr. Grace-Loving Antinomian
There seems to be a fear out there that the preaching of radical grace produces serial killers. Or, to put it in more theological terms, too much emphasis on the indicatives of the gospel leads to antinomianism (a lawless version of Christianity that believes the directives and commands of God don’t matter). My problem with this fear is that I’ve never actually met anyone who has been truly gripped by God’s amazing grace in the gospel who then doesn’t care about obeying him. As I have said before: antinomianism happens not when we think too much of grace. Just the opposite, actually. Antinomianism happens when we think too little of grace.
READ THE ENTIRE BLOG ENTRY:
Saturday, June 18, 2011
This week’s message, entitled “Gospel Confirmation Hearings” (link is for file download) would probably be more appropriately entitled, “Paul had a dream…” There is likely no more important message that I have ever preached from the Pulpit at Southwood. The grace of God is so pregnant, poignant and rich in this text that I will hardly be able to sleep this evening thinking about sharing it with the church! Please be in prayer for worship tomorrow!
From the message, “You need to know that the question before the Galatian church had VERY LITTLE to do with the ‘sign’ of circumcision, but more to do with the fundamental implications of the law.
Circumcision, as a sign of the Abrahamic covenant, was indicative of ‘obedience to the law’——if circumcision was required in order to be saved, then salvation would not have been by FAITH ALONE.
The best analogy I can give you is this: in the 1960’s one of the tell-tale marks of racism in the South was the fact that we had
Monday, June 13, 2011
In honor of the amount of traveling I’ve been doing this past week to General Assembly and now on to RYM in Colorado I offer to you ‘Airport Day’ a poem written by yours truly to help me cope with travel weirdness. It’s mostly based on what people wear while they travel!
What was she thinking?
What was he thinking?
What are they thinking about me?
Stripper, gotta be.
I’m 60, I mean 30, thanks Doc!
Busier than everybody else man.
Mr. Professional traveler.
I brought my kids, eh.
Beep, Beep, Beep.
Riders like Royalty whisked through the terminal.
I guess you have to be…
Or Very fat.
Can I have a ride?
Please don’t let that one be next to me…
Please no, please no, please no!
Mr. Know it all.
Mr. Dark Lord of death.
Mr. Salesman of the universe.
Even worse…a preacher.
Put on some pants.
A voyeuristic buffet of humanity.
A circus of costumes and
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
For the best play by play, moment by moment, motion by motion, overture by overture coverage of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America go to ByFaith online and you will get in-depth coverage of the business of the church, the latest updates and pertinent information about all of the actions of the Assembly.
Keep in mind, the General Assembly is not simply a conference or some ecclesiastical ‘trade show’ for preachers and elders it is actually a convening of the highest court in our denomination. Motions, actions and amendments to our constitution become ‘law’ after going through the process laid out in the Book of Church Order. Many of the overtures and motions will seem more like housekeeping than substantive issues, but all have a direct impact on the infrastructure and operation of our denomination as a whole.
Please be in prayer for the PCA and all of the commissioners who are in attendance. Representing Southwood are myself, Ken Leggett, John
Monday, June 06, 2011
This week is the 39th General Assembly of our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America. You can watch all of the proceedings from Virginia Beach live by clicking here. (NOTE: Last year’s General Assembly will play through this link until our assembly opens tomorrow evening) The times of worship are particularly encouraging as well as some of the debated issues. It is a good time and an easy way to stay connected with the work of the larger body of the Presbyterian Church in America.
In terms of ‘controversial’ topics or any major changes/debates coming forward this year it seems that there is a sense of peace and unity at this point. I have not been privy to any ‘hot’ topics, but if there is a debate which seems particularly fruitful or interesting I will post an update on Knots. Please keep me and our other attendees in your prayers for this important time of connection, work and worship together.
A complete list of overtures, schedules and events can be found by
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
After the tornadoes struck North Alabama people began to ask me, “What is the church doing to help?” After all, we DIDN’T house tornado refugees in the Lodge. We DIDN’T cook meals and take them to the Wal-Mart on Hwy. 72. We DIDN’T get a truck full of deacons and chainsaws and head out to Hartselle. We DIDN’T do any of those things. So what did the church do? The angst that some felt wasn’t necessarily a longing for anything specific, just for us to do SOMETHING.
Before you read anything else remember something, me, the one who is writing this, the one who lived at ground zero of Katrina’s destruction and spent 5 years rebuilding those cities. Honestly, if there was any pastor in the PCA who might raise a stink about us doing ‘nothing’ it would be me right? Right. Remember that.
Now stop, breathe through your mouth, take a deep drink of Jesus and ask yourself a question: Was Southwood ‘gathered’ prepared to do anything significant on the afternoon
Monday, May 23, 2011
by Will Spink, Director of Shepherding
You can find Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins, everywhere from the cover of Time magazine to the top of bestseller lists. You won’t be able to find it being sold in Southwood’s Guest Center or being taught in our Sunday Seminars this fall. What? Who would write a critique of a book called Love Wins? Well, in this case, me! Surely the next thing I’ll do is complain about apple pie and ice cream, right? I assure you there’s no chance of that anytime soon!
Brief Summary of Love Wins
Before I offer that critique, let me first offer a brief overview of some key assertions Bell makes in his book and then suggest some very positive points to it. This will certainly not cover all he says but will help explain up front why the book has been such a lightning rod for praise and critique.
Bell is writing about issues of eternity – “heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived”(subtitle) – so it’s no surprise that
Friday, May 20, 2011
Some of you remember the sermon called ‘Sloppy Gospel, extra grace…’ today, my birthday I ate at the restaurant that inspired the illustration. Half way through the meal I think I heard angel wings flapping around me… I thought I was being transported to heaven. It was eschatological. Thanks to my daughter for posing with the sandwich…“train up a child in the way she should go…”
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I couldn’t believe my ears. I was on the phone with my best friend from Seminary and he wanted me to come to Jackson, Mississippi and speak to a men’s group he was starting.
“What is the group called?” I asked.
“B.Y.O.B.B.” he said.
“What does that mean?” I probed.
“Bring your own Beer and Bible…” He said without hesitation.
Without missing a beat I said, “I’m in.” He said, “I knew that before I called you.”
So I went. A group of men gathered just North of Jackson, Mississippi on a random Wednesday night in a rented clubhouse in an exclusive neighborhood. They arrived on-time, kind of. Most had on ‘after work’ clothes. They pulled up in golf carts, S.U.V.’s, trucks and some walked. Most carried coolers. There was food in the clubhouse: eggrolls, chicken wings and fried shrimp, basically bar food.
We stood around for a bit and talked S.E.C. football, traded ‘do you knows’ and then my friend invited his friends to the living room.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Last Wednesday afternoon Tornadoes ravaged the Southeastern United States. Many of these storms touched down in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and little cities like Harvest, Monrovia and Cullman, Alabama. The photos, eyewitness accounts and videos are sobering and heartbreaking. The loss of life is unprecedented in Alabama and this will certainly be remembered as one of the greatest natural disasters in U.S. history. Having moved to Huntsville from Katrina-ravaged Mississippi the similarities are all too familiar.
The message posted here is the one preached on Sunday morning, May 1st with no power and the gathering of a few hundred at Southwood Presbyterian Church. The message is entitled “Where was God last Wednesday?” Blessings and grace. Our prayers are with you all.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Several years ago someone forwarded me an email that described a new phenomena called the ‘Quater-Life Crisis.’ It’s premise was simple: we previous had identified what a ‘Mid-Life Crisis’ was, but we were beginning to see twenty and thirty somethings experience similar crises. These crises were dubbed to be the struggles of ‘quarter-life’. I wrote the following in response.
The Crisis of the “Quarter Life Crisis”
Somewhere along the way someone promised everyone ‘tomorrow’.
Somewhere along the way we were supposed to make more money than our parents, be happier, more fulfilled, wiser, more sensitive and more open-minded. Somewhere along the way we decided that the script was up to us.
So we planned…
and we dreamed…
and we educated ourselves…
and we got the best degree…
and we made all the contacts…
and we shook all the hands…
and we smiled at all the parties…
and we started climbing to the top…
We defined the ‘top’
It was money.
It was success.
It was happiness.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
You might have noticed the announcement slide before and after our Sunday morning services at Southwood, advertising an album I recorded for High Life called in front of the red piano. Several people have come to me asking how they can get a copy of the album. We do not have any hard copies available and we did this in order to cut costs. So the album is available for download only. And here is how you find it. The cheapest place to buy it is bandcamp.com. Here is the link!
It is $5.00 on Bandcamp. It is also available on iTunes and we have no control over the itunes pricing. here is the link for the iTunes download. And to the first 5 commenters on the blog post I’ll give a free download code for bandcamp.com. But you have to be sure to put a valid email address in the space provided when you leave your comment.
Thanks for listening!
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
This is from a blog called “heavenward” by Tullian Tchavijin. It’s implications and observations are profound for our lives. Read the full article here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/
Here’s a preview: “Promise Driven Commission”
About 10 days ago, Mike Horton’s new book on the Great Commission came out entitled The Gospel Commission: Recovering God’s Strategy for Making Disciples.
Mike spoke on this topic during his session at our inaugural “Gospel-Centered Life” conference at Coral Ridge back in January (you can listen to the audio here). He began by asking the audience to say the opening words of the Great Commission from Matthew 28 out loud. As you can imagine, almost everybody started with the words, “Go therefore…”. Mike rightly pointed out that the Great Commission actually begins with the words, “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me” (v. 18). It’s only after Jesus says that, that he says, “Go therefore…”
Monday, April 04, 2011
In the past few days, several people have asked me a version of this question: “Why is it our goal to have 4500 members in the next 10 years? Haven’t we learned our lesson from “mega churches” in the past? Why would we set it as our vision to be like them when we’ve seen those pitfalls?” How would you respond?
Great question. First of all, let me apologize if I left the impression that the ‘GOAL’ of Southwood was to be a large church, a very large church or a ‘mega’ church (although I don’t like the baggage that word brings with it but I do understand the question). Our ‘goal’ is to advance the Kingdom of God, not to be a 4,500 member church. We are growing and we believe that is wonderful. You are either growing or you are dying. No church ever plateaus in number. Churches are either growing or dying. If a church believes it has plateaued it is actually in decline it just doesn’t know it yet. For more on that discussion I’d recommend Thom Rainer’s book, “Breakout
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I want to make sure that I let you all know that there are many, many encouraging emails I receive every week. If you are a ‘golden retreiver’ kind of Christian like me then it’s usually easier to remember the critical statements, but this amazing note of encouragement came this morning:
I wanted to say keep preaching what you are preaching!! We NEED to hear and understand Grace. I was a covenant child raised by christian parents at large ‘First Presbyterian’ type church in another city. I knew the catechism by heart, had regular quiet times, and attended church every time the door was opened. I heard the gospel over and over and knew the right answers, but I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was all about checking off the items on a list of “being a good christian.” As you can imagine that the works oriented faith was empty and like the prodigal son I ran to the big wild city in college. I went wild and was eating with the hogs - thankfully
Monday, March 28, 2011
Recently, Rob Bell has been in the news for his new book Love Wins. It has drawn a lot of criticism for his ‘new’ views on several key topics. My question is- has he a mistaken understanding of Lamentations 3:31-” For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever.” ? What do you think about Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins”?
First things first, I haven’t read the book. I haven’t even read an exerpt. I actually have never read anything by Rob Bell. I had never heard of him (I know, try to breathe through your mouth) before I came to Southwood. Upon my arrival I had people pull me aside to ‘feel me out’ on the subject. Was I PRO or ANTI Rob Bell. I guess because he is a controversial guy so many assumed that birds of a feather flock together and I would probably endorse him because he was ‘edgy’. (Aside: I don’t consider myself ‘cool’, ‘edgy’ or really ‘controversial’. I might say things in a way that gets the grey matter swirling, but for the most part I really don’t have any ‘out
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Sunday March 20, 2001 a Congregational Meeting was held to review financial data and hear about Vision 2020: Southwood’s bold vision for the next decade. Please watch this video (slides accompanying audio) to see what all the buzz is about. The audio includes a financial introduction by Executive Director Bob Bradshaw, the vision presentation by Senior Pastor Jean F. Larroux, III and concluding remarks by founding member and Ruling Elder Kirby Parks. Further information and FAQs will be posted later this week.
Vision 2020 Presentation direct link.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
The full copy of the paper by Dr. Tim Keller regarding church size is available by clicking here. This full paper is most instructive and helpful as we educate ourselves on the particulars regarding the dynamics of our large church. The general principles in this paper have been unanimously embraced by the Session as part of our preparation and planning for Vision 2020.
As a follow-up to the congregational meeting, Bob Frederick (one of our Ruling Elders) sent me the following quotes from people who spoke to him this morning. My favorite is the one from his 9-year-old daughter:
“Of all the sermons that Jean will ever preach at Southwood, this one will be the greatest.” Vivian Tozer (Berean class)
“I am exited about the topically based Sunday School classes.” Sue Urban (Berean class)
“I am exited because the changes will allow me to fit in better at Southwood.” Laura Frederick (age 21)
“They said something about 3 million dollars, I think.” Anna Frederick (Aged 9)
Monday, March 14, 2011
Special thanks to Emily Cusker who drew this picture of the sermon from Sunday, March 6th. It is great to see our kids are listening and engaged with the message. It is my prayer that when their lives get ‘messy’ as everyone’s life does that somewhere in their hearts they will remember that God’s grace is what sinners fall INTO not OUT OF when we fall! God bless you Emily and thanks for the great drawing!
Monday, March 07, 2011
(This question was submitted via Knots last evening and was inspired by yesterday’s sermon which can be found here)
I chose to go to Sunday School Class this morning after the first service. I briefly considered sitting and drinking coffee and waving, but I would have missed out, not on grace, but on the class and it seemed like a profitable way to spend my time. But I wondered, not in an effort to be witty, but in an effort to understand what you are saying: would you be willing to decide at 8:25 a.m. to go and sit on the couch and drink coffee, leaving the pulpit empty, and a few hundred people scratching their heads and looking at each other?
What would be the thoughts that would contribute to your decision either to go and preach, or go and sip coffee on the couch? By the way, if you are going to sip coffee on the couch next week, please let me know, and I will skip the sanctuary and head straight to the couches, assuming the coffee is decent: I have
Friday, March 04, 2011
I’ve received lots of anonymous input and questions lately and I love that! We set this up intentionally for you to be able to do that! Please be aware that if you post a question through ‘ask a question’ and do not include your name, email or other contact information I will have no possible way to connect you when I’m able to answer. It is not our practice to publicly answer every question or concern that is submitted. Also please note that ‘comment sections’ are designed to allow you all to interact with each other and the comments being made. Comments are welcomed, but will not always initiate a response from me or others. Charity to our neighbors and accuracy of information should be the two guard rails for everyone, anonymous or not, prior to posting.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Okay, so here’s a bit of levity. One of our elders, Skeets Simonis, made a point during a Session meeting that perhaps I was pushing the pace of our meetings a bit beyond what the normal comfort level had been previously. We’ve all had a good-hearted laugh at each other during some of the meetings to ensure that everyone is getting a chance to give input, but also that motions, input and discussion doesn’t languish on indefinitely. Jonathan Barnette, James Parker and me produced this video as a fun introduction to the Elder’s retreat held last weekend in Fort Payne, Alabama. Suffice to say we laughed until we wept.
Here are the Lyrics:
Skeets said, “Slow Down! youʼre movinʼ too fast.
Weʼve got to make our meetings last”
he said, “Sit Down, weʼre going home.
weʼre almost done cuz
ba da da daaa daaa daaa daaa
Hello John Bise, What ‘cha knowinʼ?
“Iʼve come to watch that docket Growinʼ”
Monday, February 28, 2011
I stood in front of the sanctuary last week and received a familiar look accompanied by a familiar question. The look was one of concern, confusion and suspicion. The question was very familiar. It began this way, “I’ve got to ask you a question, are you saying…” I interrupted them, “...am I saying that grace means you can go out and do anything you want to do, throw caution to the wind, embrace debauchery and live with a perpetual “hall pass” to do whatever you want, whenever you want?”
They smiled and graciously said, “well I wasn’t going to ask that exactly, but…” I interrupted again, “...but you were going to ask whether I believed that as Christians we are to put off the old man and put on the new man, participate in the mortification of the flesh, run the race with perseverance, buffet our bodies, die to sin and live to righteousness?” They smiled again. I got it.
I’d heard that question before, probably several hundred times. So why is
Monday, February 21, 2011
Should the Gospel be confusing? When we come to the (Lord’s) table should we not know what we are doing? The Gospel is a mystery that was hidden for ages, but now revealed – it is Christ in us the hope of glory (Col 1:27).
There is none righteous.
All have sinned.
All fall short.
We were under a curse and the judgment of God.
Christ redeemed us from the judgment due us (Galatians).
We were delivered out of the domain of darkness (Col1:13 ) and transferred into kingdom of God’s Son.
Eternal life is a free gift received by faith in Christ.
Christ is our righteousness.
The Holy Spirit is the deposit and seal of what is to come.
We are made new in Christ for good works (Eph 2:10).
We are to put on the new self, created in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:14).
As those who have believed in God we are to be careful to devote ourselves to good works (Titus 3:8).
We are to put on the new self,
Monday, February 14, 2011
I was intrigued and excited by the “trailer” for Galatians on Sunday! However, I was wondering, when could we have the same expositional teaching through one of the Gospels? Galatians is going to be so fruitful, I’m sure, and I just thirst for such a systematic, steady flow of Jesus! Please?!
Answer: Good news, Galatians is actually all about Jesus! (I’m sure you knew that, but I say it that way to make a point!) The entirety of the book is about the imputed righteousness of Jesus, his work, his perfect life, his atoning death and the implications of all that for real people like you and me. The Gospels are what is called, “historical narrative” where you get the ‘Jesus stories’ i.e. blind man, walking on water, etc. We will have expository preaching on historical narrative over the course of my time at Southwood, but it’s fair to say that we won’t be launching into any of the Gospel narratives for expositional, regular preaching for quite some time! I
Monday, February 07, 2011
I came across the following article thanks to an email from Brock Warner. It is very insightful and likely prophetic for the conversations around Southwood for the next couple of years. It is linked below and its content is DEAD ON with regard to the current dialogue going on in the halls of Southwood regarding Sanctification and our participation in that work of the Holy Spirit.
Link to the article entitled: “Are we Transformed YET?” by Mark Galli on Christianity Today’s website.
There is also a great follow-up article by the Internet Monk about Galli’s article. It can be found here.
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Let me commend to you the preaching of Rev. Joe Novenson, Senior Pastor of Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, TN. Joe and I preached together at some training for Reformed Youth Ministries at their leader training in Jackson, Mississippi. My assigned topic was ‘Glorification’ and Joe’s assigned topic was ‘Sanctification’. It was really outstanding- all 4 messages. Truly some of the best I’ve ever heard. You can link to the RYM download page by clicking here.
If you followed the blog dialogue last week with regard to the nature of sanctification and indeed how God uses the regular work of the Holy Spirit through faith and repentance then you will be all the more encouraged and challenged by the messages. With regard to the messages I was asked to bring to the group I’d particularly commend the second message to you—- If you are a Type “A”, “Get it Right” kind of perfectionistic person it is perfect! (I wrote it for ME!) It is entitled, “Glorification: the
Monday, January 31, 2011
In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the U.S. said the following:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -excerpted from CITIZENSHIP IN A REPUBLIC “The Man In The Arena” ,Speech at the Sorbonne ,Paris, France ,April 23, 1910
The ‘arenas’ in life are
Monday, January 24, 2011
What hope do I have of overcoming sin (strongholds - habitual, not sinning altogether) if all I ever am encouraged about from the pulpit is that I am a broken wagon wheel?
Essentially, the question behind your question is this: “When do I get BETTER?” I would answer simply this way: if by ‘better’ you mean ‘less dependent on Christ’ and ‘living a life of progressive sanctification’ whereby you are emerging from the rubble of your former self like a Phoenix from the ashes of “you” then the answer is NEVER. If by ‘better’ you mean broken, humble, gentle, repentant and awe-struck over grace, then the answer is: you will be ‘better’ as often as you are willing to say, “nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”
Your distaste for hearing that you are a ‘broken wagon wheel’ is simply because of your faulty pre-supposition that you are engaged in progressive sanctification i.e. getting better and better, needing Jesus less
Monday, January 17, 2011
Question: If Southwood is so ‘grace-oriented’ and you (Jean) always say it’s ‘okay that we’re NOT okay’ then how come people get ‘disciplined’ by the church for not living as ‘holy’ as others think they should? I think it’s hypocrisy. Ya’ll say you believe in grace, so how can you still ‘judge’ people and tell them that the way they are living is wrong?
Answer: First things first- we do believe in grace and you might find this confusing, but it is precisely BECAUSE OF that understanding of grace that we believe in church discipline. Scripture tells us that ‘God kindness was meant to lead us to repentance’ (Romans 2:4) and that ‘God disciplines those whom He loves’ (Proverbs 3:12). These two passages are very instructive for us.
First, we learn the reason for Grace i.e. God’s patience, forbearance and kindness in Romans 2:4 is that they are all meant to ‘lead us’ to repentance. God’s kindness is not shown to his children to
Monday, January 10, 2011
I received the final giving numbers for 2010 last week. It was humbling. Our 2010 budget was $2,975,000 and the giving was about $2,979,000. God is good. I must tell you that conventional wisdom and most of the sidebar anecdotal wisdom would have encouraged us to ‘not get our hopes up’. In the current economy and having gone half of the year without a Senior pastor and a full year prior to that made the thought of ‘making budget’ a pipe dream.1 God had other plans for Southwood. As I woke to the new fallen snow on December 26th my heart filled with nostalgia. “OOoh, snow!” and then I remembered it was the last Sunday of the year and my heart filled with fear, “ohhhh, snow!” We were a quarter of a million dollars away from making our budget after the ‘snowed-in’ Sunday. You read that right- $250,000 AFTER that Sunday. Vinit Mahesh and some of the other elders gathered with me on that Sunday morning and we prayed. We smiled at God’s sense of humor and even commented that it
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
In what should only be described as the most theologically inaccurate picture ever taken at Southwood you have Rev. Ken Leggett, Rev. Jean F. Larroux, III and Dr. Mike Honeycutt posing after my installation service. Please post your suggestion for the best caption for this photo—- winner gets a Starbucks gift card and coffee with Larroux and Leggett! Entries can be submitted through January 31, 2010.
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
I think that blogging for knots will be an occasion for resting in Jesus. I read lots of other blogs, posts, tweets, articles and online musings of other really profound thinkers.As I often read what other people write I find myself looking deep inside my heart for a profound nugget of wisdom to throw to the hordes (ha!) of people waiting to gather up the gem I have offered. That introspection often feels quite hollow. In reality I feel like Jo-Jo the monkey boy dangling a Happy Meal toy in front of people who are feasting on steak tar tar at Tavern on the Green. There is a non-Gospel, lack of confidence in Jesus that gnaws at my soul. It hisses to me, “Be profound…be wise…say something ‘meaningful…W.W.T.K.D…(what would Tim Keller do? or say?) There are daily posts by Scotty Smith and Tullian Tchividjian and then there are the chirps that I find gurgling up from me. There is a really twisted reality in me that wants to find my identity in telling other people how their
Monday, December 27, 2010
Wikipedia says, “Auld Lang Syne is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788…It is well known in many English-speaking (and other) countries and is often sung to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight.” The words “Auld Lang Syne” essentially mean for “old time’s sake”—a song reminiscing about the “good ole days!”
One of the things I love about a new year is looking back for “old time’s sake.” It’s an opportunity to look in the rearview mirror of life and see what God has done. Looking back on 2010 for me is a nostalgic assignment. For the second time in my life I moved away from the city where I was raised. For the first time I moved away from my son which wasn’t “supposed to happen” until he left for college. I’ve been forced to swear allegiance to either Auburn or Alabama and I’m the only one on my street with a 4-foot illuminated, black and gold Fleur de Lis.
It has been a wonderful and concurrently
Jesus+Nothing = Everything
“Jesus + Nothing = Everything will remind you of the ancient yet ever-fresh truth that everything we need is found in the perfections of Christ—not in ourselves, not in our reputation, our relationships or wealth or accomplishments—in Christ alone. If you’ve never rested in the finished work of Christ this book is for you. If you’ve rested in it for decades like I have, this book is for you, too. Why? Because we forget; And, although we love Jesus, we’re blind to the ways in which his work connects to our daily lives and we wonder why joy and zeal are foreign concepts to us.” -Elyse Fitzpatrick
A Scandalous Freedom
Get ready to be bothered by the Gospel. Steve Brown teaches grace in a way that gets under your skin—- Reading Brown is like having a gospel hair in your mouth of your conscience. The more it bothers you the more beautiful the pearl produced will be
The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification
From the publisher: “It is a deep and rich biblical study of sanctification - how Christians grow in holiness and become more like Jesus. In a day when Christians are very prone to pursue self-help methods to grow in obedience to Christ, Walter Marshall lays out the biblical way of growth: obedience comes as Christians live by grace, in union with Christ, by faith.” This book influenced me PROFOUNDLY on the topic of sanctification. The Modern-English re-write makes this a TOP PICK for 2011!
12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me)
I ‘accidentally’ picked up this book simply for the title alone. I grew to hate it quickly. It hit a little ‘too close to home.’ Fischer’s book plunges the scalpel of self-awareness and need for deep repentance deep into the hard hearts of Pharisees like ME!
- Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Ricky Jones is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is a trophy of grace. If you want to listen to bold preaching by a man who knows his sin, knows his weaknesses and trusts only Jesus to take what he says and use it to God’s glory then you are heading in the right direction. The preaching is bold, the preacher is humble and you will be blessed.
- Key Life Ministries
Steve Brown is not the most subtle guy you will ever meet. If I were to write an S.A.T. question about Steve this is how it would go: Steve Brown is to legalism what a child hopped-up on cake and ice cream is to an pinata! I love this guy. Check out his website and fair warning: you are not heading to a ‘SAFE’ little Christian site!
- Coral Ridge Presbyterian
As one comment on iTunes said: “Tullian preaches the Gospel in an unadulterated and undomesitcated way…The way it should be preached!”
- Mockingbird Blog
Mockingbird is a ministry that seeks to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in as fresh and down-to-earth a way possible.
- White Horse Inn
White Horse Inn is a multimedia catalyst for reformation. We believe that each generation must rediscover and apply the gospel to their own time. We long to see a second reformation take hold of our churches and return them to the God-honoring, Christ-centered, Spirit-wrought places of worship they should be.
- On Earth as it is in Heaven
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is a Florida native, the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham.
Smith is the founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN, avid writer, prolific blogger and tweeter. His nuggets of Gospel wisdom are seasoned by years of service to the Bride. He is gentle and very purposed in his every comment.