Austin Stone Community Church has put out an Advent eBook for families that can be used in conjunction with the Jesus Storybook Bible. Check it out here.
Andrew Hughes | Category: Culture
A while back, I ran across this article in Bloomberg Businessweek which discussed “the case for Christmas self-control.” One of the paragraphs particularly stuck out to me:
Andrew Hughes | Category: Resources
I recently contacted Barbara Reaoch, mother of Pastor Ben, and asked whether she would be able to answer a few questions about her family devotional, Why Christmas?, for the Advent season and she graciously took time to answer these questions below.
If you are looking for a good family devotional resource this Christmas, consider purchasing Why Christmas?
The publisher describes the book in the following way:
Why do we celebrate Christmas? Most children do not know the true answer to that question or why God sent Jesus to live on earth. Why Christmas? is a helpful daily devotional with Scripture reading, memory verse, Christmas carol and questions to direct your child’s heart towards God. The readings, which begin on the first day of December, are Biblical, short, and effective. Colorful illustrations illuminate the events of the incarnation. This book will provide parents with the assistance they desire for leading their child to the Christ of Christmas.
Andrew Hughes | Category: Worldview
Here in Pittsburgh, it is snowing today.
Creation is always intended to point beyond itself to the One who stands behind. Thus, we are to study it, observe it, and reflect upon it -- as it points to the Creator.
Laura Miller | Category: Children's Sunday School
The Christmas countdown has begun and we’ve gotten only to post #2 of recommended gifts that will reinforce the teaching your children are hearing in the Sunday School classes and in church (see post #1 here).
It’s been a tradition in our household to slip a wrapped DVD under the tree as a gift “to the family”. Sometimes it’s the latest Pixar creation or Wallace and Gromit hilarity (yes, still). But sometimes we’ve really scored with great Christian videos for the family to enjoy and be edified and strengthened in the faith while viewing.
Get John Piper's Advent devotional for free here in ebook form.
Andrew Hughes | Category: Theology for Life
In his book, What Did You Expect?, Paul Tripp discusses how we can often use the Bible unbiblically when it comes to the topic of marriage. This is great application to many other topics in Scripture other than marriage as well:
"Part of the problem is the way we use Scripture. We mistakenly treat the Bible as if it were arranged by topic -- you know, the world's best compendium of human problems and divine solutions. So when we're thinking about marriage, we run to all the marriage passages. But the Bible isn't an encyclopedia; it is a story, the great origin-to-destiny story of redemption. In fact, it is more than a story. It is a theologically annotated story. It is a story with God's notes. This means that we cannot understand what the Bible has to say about marriage by looking only at the marriage passages, because there is a vast amount of biblical information about marriage not found in the marriage passages.
Jamen Walker | Category: Library Resources
My book review for this month is Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever. Dever is the senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church located in Washington, D. C. He is a clear writer who is passionate about his subject. Dever, in a letter to a friend, wrote some tips on what to look for in a good church, which became the framework for what eventually became this book.
What many people look for in a church is not what we should be looking for when we seek a like-minded group of Christians to worship, commune with, and serve God. Many look to aesthetic items such as size of the building, adequate parking, padded seats and air conditioning. Some are more concerned with the number of people that attend or if the church has a warm, friendly environment. A few may only attend if the church runs a good budget or has strong leadership in the church government. Some of the items mentioned may have some weight of significance, however, not in the way we think they may. Dever cuts through all of the fluff and gives us the most basic, bare bones minimum as to what we need in our church. He outlines nine essentials: expositional preaching, a biblical theology, the gospel, a biblical understanding of conversion, evangelism, and church membership, biblical church discipline, a concern for discipleship and growth, and biblical church leadership. I would like to spend some time on about half of these attributes and how they apply at Three Rivers Grace Church.
Ben Reaoch | Category: The Church Community; Announcements
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3–4)
There are endless applications to these verses. In a marriage relationship, husband and wife should be thinking of one another. In families, each person ought to be looking out for the needs of others in the family. In the workplace, in the neighborhood, at school, in traffic, in the grocery store . . . there are ways to be putting the needs of others before our own needs.
Andrew Hughes | Category: The Christian Life
When you cry out to God for deliverance, do you sometimes feel like it’s not reaching His ears? In your desperation for God’s justice to come and meet the injustices you are facing in life, do you ever wonder whether He will really respond?
In Luke 18:1-8, there is a beautiful parable of a widow crying out for justice.
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:1-8, ESV)
Ben Reaoch | Category: Theology for Life
Francis Shaeffer wrote, “Every once in a while in my discussions someone asks how I can believe in the Trinity. My answer is always the same. I would still be an agnostic if there was no Trinity, because there would be no answers. Without the high order of personal unity and diversity as given in the Trinity, there are no answers. . . . Every philosophy has this problem [of unity and diversity], and no philosophy has an answer. Christianity does have an answer in the existence of the Trinity. The only answer to what exists is that He, the starting-place, is there.” (He Is There and He Is Not Silent)
The following are some good words from Dr. Paul Tripp:
I am afraid that many of us are so busy making decisions for our children in order to keep them safe that we do not teach them to develop their own set of internalized biblical convictions. It is one thing for a teenager to do what is right under a watchful eye or under the threat of punishment. It is quite another thing to see the independent, unpressured, heartfelt exercise of personal conviction. As we are preparing our teenage children to go out into this darkened, fallen world and live a godly life, it is mandatory that we make the development of internalized convictions one of our primary goals.
Steven Lawson's book The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon is currently available on Kindle for free. Go here to get it!
Laura Miller | Category: Children's Sunday School
We live in an uncaring and brutal world; this is has been true from time of the Fall. And accordingly, parents have endeavored to buffer their children from the harsh realities of living on planet Earth. As a parent, I know this all too well. When the terrorist attacks occurred on September 11, 2001, I was home with the children. The phone rang: “Turn on your TV.” I hurried to the second floor where we kept the television in our bedroom and flicked it on to see the iconic images we all have burned in our memories now. As I stood there, watching, I became aware of a passel of small bodies gathering around me, and I wheeled around, blocking the screen with my body, and suggested a game at the dining room table. Downstairs.
Andrew Hughes | Category: Announcements; The Church Community
This Sunday evening, our monthly church fellowship will be a Hymn Sing at 6pm.
When you hear that, you might think, "That sounds lame. I hate singing." Or maybe you think, "Hymns? Borrrring." To clarify, "hymn" doesn't mean we'll just sing all old songs. We'll probably do some of both. There's a place for both, but that isn't so much what this post is about. That said, don't let the word "hymn" keep you from coming.
What I want to touch on here is the place of singing as a church and particularly singing together as a community.
Ben Reaoch | Category: The Church Community
Let’s be encouraged by Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus.
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:15–23, ESV)
The purpose of our church blog is to serve the overall mission of our church: to delight in the beauty of God's greatness,