Monday, April 28, 2008

Jesus, Friend of Sinners!

At the Together for the Gospel 2008 conference, the Sovereign Grace Ministries booth was distributing their most recent Song Sampler CD. Where have I been? This music is incredible, God-honoring, and gospel-centered! I have been listening to this CD in my car non-stop, and I thought I would share the words to one of these incredible songs:

His Forever

Jesus, friend of sinners
Loved me ’ere I knew Him
Drew me with His cords of love
Tightly bound me to Him
’Round my heart still closely twined
The ties that none can sever
For I am His and He is mine
Forever and forever

Jesus, friend of sinners
A crown of thorns You wore for me
Bruised for my transgressions
Pierced for my iniquities
The wrath of God that I deserved
Was poured out on the Innocent
He took my place, my soul to save
Now I am His forever

Jesus, friend of sinners
I love to tell the story
Redeeming love has been my theme
And will be when in glory
Not death nor life nor anything
Can ever separate me
O love that will not let me go
Yes, I am His forever

You can actually download this song and another for free at the Pierced for our Transgressions web site.


~ Todd ~

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus!

Last night I finished my Greek Syntax and Exegesis final! Without a doubt, this was one of the most difficult classes of my seminary career, and now it is done! I am thankful for the opportunity to study under Dr. Rob Plummer, and I am thankful that I have the ability now to begin to understand the original languages of the Bible. With this class complete, I now have 77 credit hours toward the 94 required to complete a Masters of Divinity degree at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Only six classes remaining!

Pray for perseverance!

~ Todd ~

Friday, April 18, 2008

T4G Books - Investing in Us

At the second ever Together for the Gospel conference, the four friends who developed this conference (Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, C. J. Mahaney, and Al Mohler) made a significant investment in the lives of 5500 or so people this week in the form of books. Here are the books that were given away this week at T4G 2008 (in no particular order):

*Together* for the Gospel 2008

I have so many things to say about this fantastic conference. Let's begin with "Together." I served with an army of volunteers from Boyce College, Southern Seminary, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Sovereign Grace Ministries, and Clifton Baptist Church, among other groups. The fellowship was gracious and warm! The conference was also filled with men I read in books and blogs. Here's a list of men I am grateful I had the opportunity to meet: Bob Kauflin, John Piper, Phil Johnson, Tim Challies, Tom Ascol, Dan Phillips, and Frank Turk. There were so many more people I would have enjoyed meeting, but I am thankful to be encouraged and to encourage those men that I did speak with.

I also met many people I didn't know. As I stood at my post as usher, I had the opportunity to speak with some from Cincinnati, some from Ohio, others from North Carolina and Illinois, and some from north of Toronto. It was a blessing to meet so many people gathered from across the world for the sake of Christ and his gospel.

Probably the best aspect of "Together" was the opportunity I had to hang out with my two good friends, Justin Guffey and Thad Noyes. (I was tempted to say, "two bloggers," but you have to actually post even rarely to be called a blogger, Justin.) My only regret was not getting to spend more time with them both at the conference, but, because of my ushering duties, my free time was limited. Thank you brothers for the fellowship! Hope you enjoyed the mango habanero wings!

I think I will stop here for now. I will try to post more thoughts on the week later.

~ Todd ~

Monday, April 14, 2008

Together for the Gospel *2006*

If you didn't know (yeah right!), Together for the Gospel 2008 starts tomorrow. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to attend and serve as an usher this year. Unfortunately, I won't be able to participate in the Band of Bloggers pre-conference ... conference ... because I will be attending a volunteer training session. Many of my favorite bloggers will be participating.

You may wonder what the big deal is about T4G. Well, to be perfectly honest, this conference is like the MLB All-Star Home Run Derby. The Major League Gospel Preachers Association is sending their finest expositors to crush their main points out of the park and deep into the souls of pastors and church leaders. This conference features many of my present-day heroes; Albert Mohler, John Piper, Mark Dever, R. C. Sproul, John MacArthur, C. J. Mahaney, and more! Lest you suspect I am worshiping men instead of God, understand that I am simply praising our great God and King for using these men to work in my life, and I am excited to see many of them for the first time in person.

If you still don't understand all the hype, check out the 2006 conference for yourself. I found the entire Together for the Gospel 2006 conference, including all the sessions and panel discussions, on Soveriegn Grace Ministries web site. You can download them all in mp3 format. Listen in; you won't be disappointed.

I pray God will change hearts and lives this week; I pray that God will continue to shape me into a vessel in which he can trust to carry and deliver the gospel of Jesus Christ.

~ Todd ~

Friday, April 11, 2008

American Idolatry?

Did you catch the end of American Idol on Wednesday night? They sang "Shout to the Lord." It was surreal; I couldn't listen to the song. Instead of singing, "My Jesus, my Savior, Lord there is none like You," they changed "My Jesus" to "My shepherd." I just sat there with my stomach churning. I had to change the channel.

I thought about this some, thinking, "well, they have decided to sing this popular worship song without worshiping Jesus, the one for whom the song was written." Then, last night, they sang the song again, without changing the lyrics! And I don't know which song was more disturbing. What is Christian music? Is it just music? Is it not meaningful speech accompanied by instruments? I am not an avid American Idol fan, so I have no idea about the faith of the people singing in the competition, but what if one of them were Buddhist? Or any other faith? Were they required to sing this song? What if American Idol decided to honor a different faith next week?

I think this event exposes the "christian" culture of the U.S. that fails to be characteristic of true Christianity. Singing "Lord there is none like you" is not an honor to Jesus Christ if you don't mean it! "All of my days I want to praise the wonders of your mighty love"?

Am I wrong here? Does the hair stand up on the back of my neck for no good reason? It seems that American Idol has united the cultural "christianity" of the Bible belt with Hollywood, and it makes me sick to my stomach.

What do you think?

~ Todd ~

Update: Here are some related links:

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

When Children Believe the Gospel

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." -- Romans 10:9-10

Several weeks ago, I asked Brandon when he was going to become a believer in Christ and be baptized. He told me he didn't know. We didn't talk about it very much, but I did tell him that when he becomes a Christian, I would not only be his Daddy, but I would also be his brother in Christ. I said this, in part, because I believe Brandon has already exhibited faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins; I believe God has been working in his life for some time.

A couple of weeks ago, just before bed, Brandon came into the office where I was studying and told me, "Daddy, I'm ready to confess Jesus as my Lord and Savior." I was thrilled to see God answer my prayers in this way; I had talked with him, but I intentionally did not put pressure on him to make a decision. He came to me on his own after thinking about things, and he answered God's call.

He makes me think of Samuel. Samuel was a boy who had been dedicated to God by his mom and dad after God answered his mom's (Hannah) prayer for a child. Samuel heard the voice of God and thought it was Eli, the priest. Three times he woke up Eli, and finally Eli realized that God was calling Samuel.

All Eli did was point Samuel in the right direction. And that's all we have done for Brandon. I believe this is one of the best ways to teach children the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are called to love them and teach them, but not pressure them. God doesn't NEED our help, but he does allow us to help point our kids to Christ.

If you're interested, we have used several tools to help point Brandon to Jesus. Here are some:
We are praising God for his saving work in Brandon's life!

~ Todd ~