Category: Books

Men’s Ministry Brainstorming

Men’s Ministry Brainstorming

As many of you know, David and Erica Richards recently moved to Dallas, Texas. David and Erica both served at PVCC in numerous ways, and we miss their entire family – but we’re also happy to hear that they’re settling in well to their new home.

One of the areas of service where David left his mark is our Men’s Ministry. For several years, David did the lion’s share of the work of our Men’s Ministry, mainly through leading a monthly Men’s Breakfast. We met on Saturday mornings, starting at Hardee’s, and then ended up at Panera Bread. Along the way, we read “Disciplines of a Godly Man” by R. Kent Hughes, as well as “Visual Theology” by Tim Challies. Most recently, we studied the Book of James. From there, we took a brief hiatus over the summer.

But as fall quickly approaches, we’re ready to start back up. Our next Men’s Breakfast will be Saturday, August 4. However, we’d like to try some different things as we turn the page:

1. Instead of starting at 8 AM, this Men’s Breakfast will start at 8:30 AM. It might not sound like a big change, but an extra 30 minutes of sleep is always welcome!

2. In addition, we’ll be meeting at the church, and providing coffee, milk, juice, and donuts. We’ll have more privacy that way – and even better, you won’t have to pay anything!

3. And finally, we’re excited that our own Joe Fenimore has agreed to share a short devotion with the group.

When we meet on August 4, we’d like to have as many men present as possible – mainly to hear how we can better serve the men of our church in the future. Is the traditional monthly breakfast the best option, or are there more helpful resources we can offer? Are there better days or times to meet together? Are there books of the Bible, doctrinal questions, or practical topics that would be particularly appropriate to study? Do we need to focus less on studying, and more on simply spending time together and building friendships? What about conferences, outings, or retreats? This is your opportunity to share your thoughts, that way we can strive for more effective ministry this fall and beyond.

Of course, many men in our church have benefited greatly from our past Men’s Ministry efforts. However, we also want to know if there are adjustments we can make to benefit even more of our brothers in Christ. That’s the main goal of this event; so we hope you’ll join us!

Contact Ben Halliburton for more information.

The Five Solas: Recommended Reading

The Five Solas: Recommended Reading

This October, we’re spending our Sunday mornings looking back to the very beginnings of the Protestant Reformation, 500 years ago. Specifically, we’re examining the “Five Solas” that arose from the movement started by Martin Luther.

“Sola” is the Latin word for “alone”. The Five Solas are the core convictions that separated the Protestants of Martin Luther’s day from the Roman Catholic Church of his time. These five convictions are:

  1. Sola Fide (“Faith alone”)
  2. Sola Gratia (“Grace alone”) 
  3. Solus Christus (“Christ alone”)
  4. Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”)
  5. Sola Deo Gloria (“For the glory of God alone”)

To learn more about these five convictions, we encourage you to join us on Sunday mornings. However, if you want to dig even deeper into the Protestant Reformation – or if you can’t attend Sunday mornings in October – here are a few recommended resources.

1. Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther (Roland H. Bainton)

Even though this book is well over 50 years old, it is still widely considered the go-to biography of Martin Luther. Bainton tells Martin Luther’s story from beginning to end – and does so in a way that is engaging and informative. While Martin Luther is certainly not the only figure who played a role in the Protestant Reformation, he is the man who started it all. You can’t truly begin to understand the Protestant Reformation if you don’t know Martin Luther.

2. The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation (Michael Reeves)

In this book, Reeves examines the historical background of the Protestant Reformation. What happened in the years leading up to 1517? Why was Martin Luther a prime candidate to lead such a movement? Who followed in Martin Luther’s footsteps? What impact did the Reformation in Germany have on the surrounding world? And perhaps most importantly, the final chapter asks:”Is the Reformation Over?” This book is both entertaining and accessible, even if you don’t consider yourself much of an historian.

3. Biblical Authority After Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity (Kevin Vanhoozer)

This book is not a biography; nor is it simply a book of history. Vanhoozer is a Protestant theologian, and he examines each of the Five Solas through a Biblical and theological lens. What were the Reformer’s original goals and concerns? How have the Solas been criticized over the past 500 years? What do the Five Solas mean for Protestant Christians today? And just as significantly, what do they not mean? Of the three recommendations I offer, this book might be the most in-depth; get a pen ready to underline or write notes. That being said, it is wonderfully thought-provoking; you may find answers to questions you didn’t even know you had, and a new appreciation and understanding of what it means to be Protestant.

Each of these books has been enormously helpful to me in preparation for these sermons. They’re all relatively short, easy to find, and affordable. One thing we Protestant Christians aren’t always good at is knowing our history; but reading these books would go a long way in helping us better understand who we are, how we got here, and where we ought to be going as we move forward. I’d highly encourage you to dig into each of them.

The Valley of Vision

The Valley of Vision

This past week, I attended a Christian conference in downtown Indianapolis. While I was there, I picked up a classic book I’ve never read before, but have had my eye on for quite some time. The book is called The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions.

The term “Puritan” is often used as an insult these days, directed at those our culture might label “holier than thou”. The insult could be applied like this:

“Who are you to tell me what I’m doing is wrong?!? You’re such a Puritan.”

“Since when did you care so much about morality? Why do you insist on being so straight-laced? You’d fit in well with the Puritans.”

Its true that the Puritans sometimes went too far in their moral stringency, causing harm to those around them, and their own historical reputation. They were children of their times – with sins, weaknesses, and blind spots. However, modern Christians can still learn much from the prayers and practices of the Puritans – hence the publishing of The Valley of Vision.

Consider the beauty and wisdom of the introduction:

LORD, HIGH AND HOLY, MEEK AND LOWLY,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness, thy life in my death, thy joy in my sorrow, thy grace in my sin, thy riches in my poverty, thy glory in my valley.

There are 193 prayers/reflections in the book, broken up into ten categories. These categories include “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”, “Redemption and Reconciliation”, “Approach to God”, and “Service and Ministry”, just to name a few. The prayers/reflections are excerpts from the writings of well known Puritans such as Thomas Watson, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, and David Brainerd.

I’ll be reading one of these prayers/reflection per day for the rest of 2017. If you’d like to join in, contact me. The book is easy to find, and very affordable – and if you can’t find or afford it, I’d be happy to help.