Summer Reading

I plan on reading a lot this summer. I decided to make a list of the next 5 books (outside of the books I am reading for Bible College) I am going to read:

1. Gospel Worship by Jeremiah Burroughs
2. Your Jesus is Too Safe: Outgrowing a Drive-Thru, Feel Good Savior by Jared C. Wilson
3. Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
4. The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction by Sinclair B. Fergueson
5. Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George M. Marsden

What books are you planning on reading this summer?

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Together for the Gospel Conference: Top 5 Highlights

In no particular order…

1. The Singing
Worship through song consisted of Bob Kauflin, a piano, and 7,000 people. We sang some of my favorite hymns including My Hope is Built (The Solid Rock), It is Well, And Can it Be That I Should Gain, and more.

We also sang some songs that I am less familiar with. My favorites being All I Have is Christ (FREE DOWNLOAD) by Jordan Kauflin and a hymn by John Newton called I Asked the Lord.

2. Teaching
This is a given. To sit under the teaching (9 General Sessions and a Breakout Session) of Mark Dever, R.C. Sproul, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, Thabiti Anyabwile, John MacArthur, John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, and Matt Chandler was a huge blessing to my soul and thousands of others. I’ll be processing my 22 pages of notes over the next couple of months.

***All of the mp3s will be available for FREE at t4g.org

3. Books
By the end of the conference we each had 20 free books! Not to mention the book store fully stocked with gospel-centered materials at discounted prices. This was another encouraging example of the desire to know Christ in a deeper way.

4. People
The four of us (Ken, Tyler, Andy, and myself) had some great times of fellowship over meals, in our hotel rooms, and with new friends. Simply being around others who have a passion for the gospel can greatly encourage a minister.

5. C.J. Mahaney
My most specific highlight is C.J.’s address to ‘Ordinary Pastors’ during the final session yesterday. We had just sat through session after session of solid teaching from some of the most gifted pastors and teachers in the church today.  He humbly reminded us that most pastors aren’t unusually gifted.

We are ordinary pastors. But that’s ok because our task to preach the gospel in and out of season (2 Timothy 4) is an extraordinary one.

Mahaney shared a quote from Charles Spurgeon that is an encouragement to all Christians in their preaching of the gospel

Wesley and Whitfield may preach the gospel better than I do but they can never preach a better gospel.”

Lord willing, I will attend Together for the Gospel again in 2012. You should too!


10 Differences Between Religion & The Gospel

From chapter 4 of Death by Love: Letters from the Cross by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears:

  1. Religion says that God will not love me until I obey His rules… The gospel says that because God has already loved me and expressed this through the person and work of Jesus on the Cross, I am now free from sin to live a new obedient life by the power of his love given to me as a free gift.”
  2. “Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people…” The Bible says the world is filled with “sinners who are either repentant and trust in Jesus’ death for life, or sinners who are unrepentant and remain spiritually dead and separated from God under His wrath.”
  3. “Religion is about what you do… The gospel is about what Jesus has done.”
  4. “Religion is about getting from God… The goal of the gospel is to get God Himself, who is our greatest treasure, highest joy, and source of life…”
  5. “Religion sees hardships as unloving punishment rather than sanctifying discipline.”
  6. “Religion is about you… Instead “because Jesus has lovingly served us, and we love Him, we are to lovingly serve people as Jesus has.”
  7. “Religion focuses almost entirely on the external, visible life of a person and overlooks the internal, invisible life of the heart… The gospel is concerned first with the state of our internal self…First you will be changed on the inside, which will enable you to live a new life on the outside.”
  8. “Because religion is about what we do, the end result is that we lack assurance regarding our standing before God… The gospel tells us that because our standing before God is contingent on Jesus alone, we can know with assurance that we are secure as a redeemed people.”
  9. “Religion simply does not work, because it results in either pride or despair… the gospel alone leads to a humbly confident, joyous obedience because it teaches us that our righteousness is not our own, but rather a gift from Jesus…”
  10. “[The] religious pursuit of self-righteousness is through our own attempts to live by Gods law in addition to our own… on the cross, Jesus gifted His righteousness to us who are unrighteous.”

Top 5 Books Every Christian Should Read

I love novels, I do.  I usually read four or five books at a time as well as listen to audio books on my commute to and from work and there is always, always one or two novels in the mix somewhere.  Right now I’m reading So Long and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams, which is the fourth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy.  That will make sense to fans of the series.

As much as I love novels though, most of them, I freely admit, are brain candy.  There’s no real substance, nothing that nourishes my spirit or helps to shape my faith, or encourages me in the process of sanctification.  There is nothing wrong or sinful about them, but one cannot truly nourish his or her soul on novels all the time anymore than one can nourish his or her body on candy all the time no matter how much we might like to give it a try.

That being said, I would like to recommend, in no particular order, the Top Five Books Every Christian Should Read.  None of these books can nor should replace the careful and consistent reading, study and application of Scripture, they are only offered here because I believe you will find them to be truly helpful in your desire to know and become more like Jesus.

(Note:  each title contains a link to Amazon for that book.)

1. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper

I just finished this one myself and it is going on the list of books I read at least every other year.  Piper’s intense and life-long passion for God and His glory is contagious.  You will find yourself challenged, convicted and driven to praise, and repentance as you read this powerful book.  Follow this link for a free PDF of the book provided by Desiring God Ministries.

2.  The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

Anything Tozer wrote is powerful and life-altering, but this slim volume is far and away the most powerful of them all.  I am particularly fond of this book because God used it to bring me to faith in Christ on April 19, 1992.  I have re-read the book every other year since then and never fail to find something challenging in it with each reading.

3.  Knowing God by J.I. Packer

Packer is a theologian’s theologian and yet his writing is very accessible to anyone and everyone regardless of your theological education.  Knowing God is a MUST-READ for any believer who wants to grow in his or her understanding of our great and glorious Lord.

4.  Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson

Peterson knows how to pack more depth and meaning in his pages than any other writer I have ever read before.  Every paragraph is a gourmet meal for the soul.  This particular book is the second in his conversational theology series and is about gaining more from your reading of Scripture.  It is powerful stuff and once you read it you will experience a hunger for God and His Word like never before.

5.  Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders

This is the best book on leadership I have ever had the joy to read and believe me it is no exaggeration to say that I have read dozens and dozens of books on the topic.  The thing that makes Sander’s book so powerful is that every thesis, every point, every bit of advice, comes directly from Scripture.  You won’t find any pithy stories or the opinions of the best CEO’s or military leaders here, only the careful application of the Word of God.  That fact alone makes it worth the read and makes it stand out among the pantheon of other books on the topic.

What about you?  What books have helped to shape and encourage your faith that you would recommend to the rest of us?

Top 5 Christmas Albums…

…in no particular order:

1. Glory in the Highest by Shane and Shane:
These guys never cease to amaze. Creative songwriting coupled with perfect harmony make for great records. This album includes many traditional Christmas songs as well as some originals. My favorite track is Born to Die.

2. Salvation is Created by Bifrost Arts:
Bifrost arts is a very cool project that seeks to revive the artistic side of Christian music. It consists of folky renditions of some great Christmas songs (some less known).

3. Christmas… From the Realm of Glory by Bebo Norman:
I love everything Bebo does. He is one of the most gifted songwriters in Christian Music today and often times extremely underrated. The best track on this CD is Come and Worship. Other highlights include Go Tell it on the Mountain and Rebel Jesus.

4. Songs for Christmas by Sufjan Stevens:
This is definitely the most unusual sounding Album on the list. If you haven’t heard Sufjan, I don’t really know how to explain him to you. You’ll just have to give him a listen. This is a 5 Disc set containing 42 songs for 15 bucks!

5. Advent Songs by Sojourn:
I don’t hesitate to say that the team from Sojourn Community Church are putting out the best worship music today. This disc proves it. Plus, they have blessed you all by making it FREE from Noisetrade! Simply Click on #5.

What are some of your favorites?

Top 5 Missional Blogs

We are thrilled that we have folks reading this blog on a regular basis.  We are also enjoying the fact that some of you are participating in the conversation through the comments section–more of you doing so would be even better.

Obviously though, we are not the only blog on the Web that is exploring missional living.  To help you even more along this journey we are taking together, we would like to recommend some other resources for you to explore in addition to Roots Run Deep.

Two Disclaimers:

  1. Although we recommend these blogs enthusiastically, that does NOT mean that we agree with every single thing the author(s) write and you probably won’t either.  As with anything you read–including Roots Run Deep–a healthy dose of wisdom and discernment are needed.
  2. These blogs are in no particular order.

And now we offer you…

The Top 5 Missional Blogs

1. Ed Stetzer

Stetzer is an experienced pastor and church planter and is currently heading up the church planting research team with LifeWay.  He blogs on topics like church and culture, church revitalization and of course, missional living.  You will also find great book reviews, and interviews with key missional leaders from all over the world.

2. The Gospel-Driven Church

The Gospel-Driven Church is written by Jared Wilson.  Wilson was a successful church planter in Nashville, TN.  After three years, he answered God’s call to go to a rural church in Vermont, which is the most unchurched state in the entire country.  In addition to misisonal living posts, Wilson also blogs about theological issues, Biblical studies, and ministry.  He also has a healthy sense of humor and a “pull no punches” approach to his writing.

  • What Gospel-Centered Preaching Does:  This is a great post to start with to get an idea of how Wilson writes and what is important to him.
  • Your Jesus is Too Safe:  In this book, Wilson challenges his readers to leave behind a safe and comfortable “feel-good” Jesus and embrace the living Christ.

3.  Rethink Mission

This blog is written by Jonathan McIntosh, a man with a passion for churches, cutlure and living missionally.  In his posts, McIntosh writes about church planting, evangelism, Christ and culture, and more.  Recently, McIntosh has answered God’s call to plant an urban church in Memphis, TN.  He is recording his journey in this through his blog as well.

4.  Provocations & Paintings

Timmy Brister runs this missional blog.  Brister blogs on missional living, theology, Jesus, the centrality of the Gospel, holiness, and much more.  He writes with a passion and intensity that exemplifies his commitment to Christ.  He also has an extensive blogroll with a multitude of other online resources for you to explore as well.

5.  Missio Dei Suburbia

This blog explores missional living specifically within the cultural context of American suburbanite culture.  It is written by Matt Adair, a church planter and pastor in Georgia.  Matt’s writing is especially relevant to our situation as a church because he writes from a similar heart and vision.

We hope you enjoy these other blogs and that you will let us know what you think as you read them.

Welcome to Roots Run Deep!

“Mission cannot be something separate from or added to the essence of the Church. The essential nature of the local congregation is, in and of itself, mission, or else the congregation is not really a church.” (Charles Van Engen, God’s Missionary People p. 70)

We talk a lot about being a misisonal people these days as Christians. Do we understand what that really means? What does it mean to be “on mission” in life as believers in Jesus Christ? What does missional living look like in our homes, our neighborhoods, our work places and our schools?

Roots Run Deep, the blog of New Branch Community Church, was started to explore those types of questions and more.

The posts you will find here will generally fall into one of the following four categories:

  • On Mission: In this category we will examine our missional philosophy, how to create missional events in our communities, and how to organize the various areas in our lives around the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
  • Pressing On: This category will explore issues of discipleship and how we as Christians can grow in our faith. We will examine various aspects of spiritual formation such as Bible study, prayer, and worship, and we will offer ideas for excellent books you can read or sermons you can listen to that will strengthen your walk with Christ.
  • Eyes Wide Open: This category will contain posts about engaging culture in a Biblical way. It will expound on the Christian worldview and how Christians can think Biblically about films, music, books, current events, trends and other issues and ideas that are important to us and to those who live around us.
  • Top Five: Ever wonder what the best commentaries on a certain book of the Bible are? Ever wonder what movies might be the best ones to take friends who don’t know Christ to see because they might explore spiritual issues you can discuss together? This category will explore the Top Five of all sorts of things that directly pertain to living as followers of Christ in the world.

Please feel free to engage the blog authors and other readers in the comments section of the posts. Join the conversation and let us know what you would like to know more about.

Welcome to Roots Run Deep!