Every Thursday, from 01/18/2018 to 05/03/2018, 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
The Sermon on the Mount: with Jen Wilkin Join us as we encounter these teachings as a cohesive message intended to challenge us to think differently about what it...
About 18 months ago, some of the staff here at East Cooper Baptist took some time to evaluate and pray through ministry in the life of our church. We determined some areas that we thought we were doing well in and identified some other areas that we would like to see ourselves, as a church, develop and grow in. One of the goals we walked away with was to become more culturally aware and lovingly responsive. Meaning, we wanted to equip our people to think through significant cultural issues (ie. sex, race, politics, social media) and gain an understanding for how we, as the body of Christ, should respond.This is why we held the Aware Conference last January and why we brought in Rosaria Butterfield for two days last April. We also had Professor Samuel Williams (Counseling Professor from SEBTS) recently provide training to our staff (and others) on how to counsel people experiencing same-sex attraction (SSA). These talks and training opportunities have been great at explaining terminology and providing a biblical framework. Our hope is that the things learned from these events will serve as resources
If your child comes to you to reveal that they are experiencing SSA, please understand that your response (from your body
If you’ve already had this conversation with your child and it did not go well, make amends. One of my favorite things about the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) is that, in regards to both the younger brother who lives lawlessly and the older brother who lives legalistically, the father initiates to his sons. He runs, he entreats, he desires
This does not mean that you abandon biblical truths (Genesis 2:24-25). This does not mean you support a lifestyle that exchanges the truth about God for a lie (Romans 1:24-27). Loving someone unconditionally does not translate to affirming
So what do you do if your son comes to you and tells you he’s gay? Tell him that you love him and that you always will.
The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield
God and the Transgender Debate by Andrew Walker
What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung
Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry
TGC Courses: Sexuality, Friendships, Dating, and Gender
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller is the closest thing the American church has to a biblical marriage manifesto: a breath-taking 40,000-foot view of God’s grand purposes in marriage. Keller’s rich exposition of Ephesians 5:22-33, his focus on marriage as a spiritual friendship aimed at glory, and his striking insight into modern culture commend it to every Christian, married or single, who longs to know and be transformed by God’s purposes in marriage.
Keller argues persuasively from sociological evidence and examples from Western media (e.g. the romantic comedy) that most Americans, Christians and secular, have embraced a “Me-Marriage” mentality: the idea that marriage is primarily a means of self-fulfillment, a way for one to realize one’s dreams in the love of another. This leaves unbelievers divorcing when they aren’t fulfilled, Christians with frustratingly wrong expectations for their marriages, and singles having both impossible standards for a potential spouse and a devastating sense of incompleteness in their singleness.
In contrast to “Me-Marriage,” The Meaning of Marriage presents marriage as a spiritual friendship aimed at glory; as a covenantal friendship where each spouse helps one another become their future glory-self whom God will remake in the new creation. This radical view of marriage’s purpose powerfully transforms all sorts of things: one’s expectations for day-to-day married life, how one sees sex (as something sanctifying!), what one looks for in a potential spouse (“not a statue, but a good piece of marble” [pp. 133]!), and how one handles conflict with his or her spouse.
This marriage manifesto is highly accessible. The Meaning of Marriage is based on a Keller sermon series, making it distinctly readable. Like any good preacher, Keller strives for clarity, makes striking statements, and provides numerous illustrations and examples from daily life and history. I found myself flying through The Meaning of Marriage, not just because it was so rich, but because it was so interesting, enjoyable, and easy to read. This is a great marriage book for those who do not consider themselves great readers.
Where The Meaning of Marriage really stands out among Christian marriage books is that it is aimed at both married people and singles. Most Christian marriage books are primarily about helping Christians have better marriages but, although useful in many ways, sometimes fall into the “baptized self-help” genre, being immensely unhelpful for the unmarried (and sometimes the married, too)! The presentation of marriage in this book, however, challenges, convicts, and encourages the reader. Singles will find themselves challenged to repent of thinking that marriage will ultimately fulfill
Like the content of any good sermon, you’ll get the sense that Keller is “reading your mail” in The Meaning of Marriage; that he personally knows you and your particularly wrong expectations for romance and marriage. This is because Keller is such an insightful student, not just of the Scriptures, but of American culture. One of the most powerful features of The Meaning of Marriage is that Keller demonstrates, through both Scripture and history, that so much of what we assume about romance and marriage are actually wrong assumptions that have actively been taught to us by Western culture. Specifically, that the main purpose of marriage is to provide for us and satisfy us relationally and emotionally, and also
One specific and particularly helpful aspect of this book is that it contains one of the most balanced and practical teachings on gender roles I’ve ever read. Kathy Keller writes Chapter 6 “Embracing the Other,” and while holding to the orthodox views of male headship and female submission in marriage, she rightly separates those biblical roles from the traditional “husband-works, wife-is-stuck-at-home” kind of caricature often laid on top of these roles. Kathy Keller argues that biblical headship and submission are not primarily about
Want three quick fixes for your marriage or a new spouse by Friday, as one Christian author has said? If so, this book is not for you, and that’s a good
Still, one of the hardest parts about reading The Meaning of Marriage is that Keller’s overall view of marriage is so solid that one wishes he would describe in great detail how this pattern plays out in each daily-life aspect of marriage, like communication, finances, child-rearing, sex, etc. Though Keller does give us an occasional glimpse of this, he primarily leaves readers to work out all the details on his or her own, and it is this that makes the book a wonderful resource for spouses or small groups to study and to have their minds renewed, as together we figure out this important aspect of the Christian life.
This book along with many others can be found for sale in the Resource Section of our Welcome Center on Sunday mornings.
When I was about 12, I got on a treadmill and held down the button that increases the speed until something similar to this happened. Every year, the combination and proximity of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve elicits, in me, a comparable feeling, albeit without going through a sheet of drywall. It seems as though when one year winds down, the tempo of our daily living actually speeds up in anticipation for the year to come. People begin thinking up goals to achieve and resolutions to implement. Which is great. I’m all for goals. But as 2017 comes to a close, I’d like to give equal attention to the year we are closing out in order to reflect on some of the things that I (and some of the other ECBC pastors) most enjoyed. These are resources that have encouraged us, stirred our emotions, and made us think. Here is a non-exhaustive “Best of 2017” list.
Without a doubt, the book that I most enjoyed, learned the most from
“How John Piper’s Seashells Swept Over a Generation” by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra provides some first-hand accounts of the time John Piper spoke to 40,000 college students at the Fourth Passion Conference in May of 2000. “The sermon was formative for our generation,” said 35-year-old Matt Capps, now a senior pastor in North Carolina. “Only time will tell if it marks Christian history the way sermons like [Jonathan Edwards’s] ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’ did. But in our generation, at least in my circles, if you mention the seashells illustration, everybody knows what you’re talking about.”
Speaking at the 2017 LDR (Leadership Development Resource) Conference, Reverend Duke Kwon (from Grace Meridian Hill in DC) discusses what “Speaking the Truth in Love” could and should look like within the body of Christ. Nothing else has contributed to my understanding of how to heal division and promote racial unity quite like this talk. I’ve listened to it about half a dozen times now and encourage you to give it a shot.
Losing Leisure for Loving Labor by Matt Reagan. This was a favorite sermon of mine because I like to be comfortable. I look forward to leisure. In this address, Matt (graciously) challenges the motivations for work and rest and helps to provide a gospel perspective for the labor/leisure tension. Listening to this makes me want to be more considerate of how I spend my time and how I think about and care for other people.
“Wait For Me” by Cas Haley. This song actually came out in 2013 but Cas Haley only recently came across my radar and I have thoroughly enjoyed all of his stuff. This song is sweet and soulful and is the most genuine thing I’ve listened to in awhile. Cas falls somewhere between Ray Lamontagne and Bob Marley when it comes to musical style and plays the kind of music you would want to be listening to on a vacation to the beach.
Dunkirk. Few people possess the ability to tell a story quite like Christopher Nolan. In his most recent film, Nolan shows the evacuation of Dunkirk from several different perspectives (land, sea, air) through various timelines (a week, a day, an hour). The cinematography is beautiful and Nolan does an excellent job
Honorable Mentions: Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, Coco, Get Out
I’d encourage you to make your own list. Whether you post it to Facebook or write it in your journal, reflect on some the things that the Lord has displayed to you this year. Reflect on some the ways that you have grown in the grace and knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). Consider some of the ways that you have been transformed into the same Image from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). Think about how your mind has been renewed (Romans 12:1-2). And after all of that, think about how you would like for next year to go. In what ways would you like to be grown and stretched and pushed as you walk with the Lord?
After spending almost an entire letter focusing on “good works” in the life of the church, Paul closes Titus by saying “and let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help in cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (3:14). The sense of the word translated “urgent” is something that is necessary. It’s a situation desperate or dire enough, where something just has to be done. This is why believers should be ready for and devoted to good works—to be the ones who help for the glory of God.
I read an article last week that said that the number of foster homes needed in South Carolina has doubled since last year: there are now 1300 children in our state who have no home because their parents cannot legally care for them and there are no more willing foster parents. This is a clear case of urgent need—can you think of a local need more urgent? 1300 children in our state in a circumstance we would weep over if any child we knew were in.
This is a rare urgent need with a simple solution. There are no moral quandaries in fostering a child like one may have in giving money to a homeless person who may or may not use it well. It’s not nearly as complicated as the other issues in the world, like poverty in India, racial tension in America, or the Syrian refugee crisis. The need is amazingly simple and uncomplicated: South Carolina needs more families and singles to be foster parents.
Additionally, relative to helping the other urgent needs of the world, the sacrifices of fostering are minimal and the resources for fostering are significant. To be a foster parent, you don’t need to leave America, give up
All of this is to say that it’s like the red carpet is rolled out for Christians in South Carolina to step up, sacrifice their neat family lives and love the practical orphans of South Carolina in the name of Jesus. There is not a single urgent need in the world so close to home and so simple to meet. It just requires willing people. According to Titus 3:14, Christians, adopted by God, full of His Spirit, equipped for every good work with communities around them willing to help, should devote themselves to this good work to help this case of urgent need.
So why aren’t Christians lining up to devote themselves to this urgent need? This may sound offensive (and two or three years ago I would have bristled if someone had said this to me) but I think many of us simply do not want to sacrifice our neat family lives, the freedom and sovereignty we have over our schedules, and our love of ease, comfort, and the known. As a result, many have embraced cop-outs against God’s call on all of us to help the afflicted and orphaned. The dictionary defines a cop-out as “an excuse for inaction or evasion”. Here are some of the most common “cop-outs” for not fostering:
First, “I love that other people are foster parents, it’s such a wonderful thing, but I personally am not called to be a foster parent”. This objection is based on the false assumption that God only calls us to do things that appeal to us and that God calls his people to obedience through emotional experiences or personal assurances that something is God’s will. That may be some people’s experience and God certainly works through our desires, but first and foremost He calls us to obedience through his Word. Taking up one’s cross certainly does not sound pleasant but it is commanded in the Gospels. The Word commands believers to care for orphans in their affliction (James 1:27) and to devote themselves to the good work of helping in cases of urgent need (Titus 3:14). So God’s Word is already objectively calling God’s people in our state to meet this urgent need.
Related to the “I’m not called” objection is the “I’m not gifted” objection. It goes something like this: “I can barely parent my own kids” or “I have no experience or giftedness with kids” or “I couldn’t handle letting a child whom I have loved go”. My first response to this is that the 1300 practical orphans of SC do not need exceptional/gifted parents or even excellent parents—they just need parents. If you can meet their basic needs and give them any kind of nurturing and consistent environment, you can radically improve their current circumstances.
Secondly, one of the great myths about fostering is that foster parents are special people: that they are these gifted people who have a knack for kids from hard places, that they miraculously handle the pain of letting a child go, and that they have more backbone for the craziness and lack of margin that fostering brings. Ask any foster parent you know—these are lies. Any “giftedness” I may have with kids has come through experience, either through training or mistakes. All the foster parents I know are extremely busy and just making it happen. Every foster parent is as sad as a normal person would be when a child they love leaves their home. But “God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having sufficiency at all times and in all ways, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). Ask a Christian foster parent—they are not special, God has just given them grace for their circumstances and grace to do the good works to which He has called them—and He would do the same for you.
A third objection: “Surely you don’t think every Christian should be a foster parent? Don’t put your personal convictions and calling on me. We all have different gifts and callings.” In a sense, I absolutely agree with this statement. I surely don’t mean that every Christian should be a foster parent—because then who would adopt, who would support adoptive and foster parents, who would serve the poor, who would have time to devote themselves wholeheartedly to other wonderful ministries in the church, who would become cross-cultural missionaries? There is certainly a place to say no to one good work for the sake of another. But many
Furthermore, at some point, the urgent nature of the crisis rises to the level where, if others won’t act you must act even in spite of your lack of giftedness. Imagine you’re driving through your neighborhood on your way to a very important Christian activity and on the side of the road, a barefoot two-year-old with only a diaper on is wandering the streets. You stop your car and watch just to make sure mom or dad isn’t close. You notice that others (also on their way to other good activities they are gifted at) are just driving by ignoring the child. You’re running late. No one stops to help, the child is clearly in distress, there is no one else who will care for them. What do you do? Surely if you love Christ you disrupt your day and plans, as good as they are, and you help this case of urgent need. Many now are driving by the foster children of South Carolina in the name of other good endeavors. Someone has to stop.
Finally, the objection I have heard the most because I’m a pastor—“doesn’t fostering hinder your margin for ministry?” I have found the opposite to be true—fostering fills my life with opportunities for Gospel ministry. I am welcoming young, spiritually open unbelievers into my home and life, where I can talk about Christ on my own terms. I am now suddenly and regularly surrounded by all sorts of people, many of whom are unchurched—birth parents, case workers, etc. Suddenly, the people around me (neighbors, family members, random people at the grocery store) are questioning my life. “Why are you fostering?” and “I can’t believe you’re doing this”
So, in light of the urgent need, and the possibility that the objections you have rested upon may not be valid, consider today that God may be calling you personally to be a foster parent or to join the struggle for these children in another significant way. Especially consider that you do not need a sign from Heaven to devote yourself to a good work such as this, you only need Titus 3:14, which says “and let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help in cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful”.
This month commemorates the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. While what is referred to as the Reformation happened over the course of 100+ years (1517-1648), the date being celebrated marks 500 years since the then unknown monk, Martin Luther, nailed the Ninety-Five Theses against the door of the All Saints’ Church in the small town of Wittenberg, Germany. At the time, Luther simply hoped to raise his complaints in order to debate and correct the issues with other scholars (which is why he had written them in Latin). But within a few months, Luther’s words had been translated into German and distributed throughout Europe, eventually reaching the hands of Pope Leo X. Although Luther could have never envisioned this, his words would change the landscape of Europe and have an effect on the church that can still be felt to this day.
For the month of October, Desiring God is releasing an episode a day on their Reformation-themed podcast, Here We Stand. Each episode is about 6-8 minutes long and gives a short but insightful overview on the life of a historical figure that helped to shape and influence the Reformation. You will hear about John Wycliffe, the Morning Star of the Reformation, and John Hus, who reportedly said at the time of his execution, “You can cook this goose [Hus was Czech for goose] but within a century a swan shall arise who will prevail.” That swan would turn out to be Martin Luther, who will show up in a later episode along with the likes of guys like John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli.
This podcast is a great and easy way to learn more about the significance of the Reformation and to grow in your understanding of what it means when we say we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The stories told in this podcast are about people who were willing to lay down their lives for the fidelity of the gospel and hearing about them should give us joy and encouragement in our walk with the Lord.
If 6-8 minutes of Reformation-era stories leaves you looking for more, another great resource is the book Rescuing the Gospel: The Story and Significance of the Reformation by Erwin Lutzer. This is an easy read because Lutzer writes in an entertaining and conversational tone that makes the story of the Reformers come alive. It also helps that the chapters are short and there are pictures!
Also, while we are on the subject of podcasts, here are a few more that some of the pastors here at ECBC regularly listen to. Enjoy!
The Briefing - Al Mohler’s The Briefing is a daily analysis of news and events from the Christian worldview. Each episode is just under 20 minutes and will keep you up to speed with the ever-changing news cycle.
The Gospel Coalition - TGC is a fellowship of evangelical churches deeply committed to renewing our faith in the gospel of Christ and to reforming our ministry practices to conform fully to the Scriptures. Episodes cover a variety of topics (theology, parenting, cultural issues) and are presented in a variety of formats (i.e. interviews, sermons, panel discussions).
Pass the Mic - Pass the Mic is the premier podcast of the Reformed African American Network. Each week consists of engaging discussions and interviews that are beneficial in thinking through issues of race, culture, and biblical worldview.
ERLC - The ERLC (Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission) podcast provides insights into the moral, cultural, and ethical issues of our day. Episodes usually feature informed and relevant guests covering topics like abortion, marriage, and politics.
ECBC Sermons - If you ever miss a Sunday or would like to go back and review one of our church’s sermons, here’s the place to do it!
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