Soma School Videos

One of the best experiences of my Christian life was Soma School. I've talked about it before. Jeff Vanderstelt has become someone I trust at a high level as a teacher. After spending time with him at Soma School he also became someone I deeply trust as a disciple of Jesus, a man, a pastor, a husband, and a father. If he had 50 books on Amazon, those would be the next 50 I'd buy. If I was forced to pack up today and choose another church to belong to for the rest of my life, Soma (Tacoma, WA) is in my top two. They aren't perfect. Far from it. But I've rarely been around a group of people that made me want to follow Jesus in everyday life, to know His Word, and to follow His Holy Spirit.

I say all that to say that Soma has now put Soma School teaching videos online. 1. Go to Soma School. Seriously. Highly recommend it. 2. In the mean time, watch these videos. The videos can't replace actually going and being immersed in the life of Soma. But they are a great start. I've put them all in this post for you to watch. If you need a short introduction to Soma, check out the last video extra. It's not a part of this video series, but it a helpful starting place to understand Soma.

1. What Is The Church -- Gospel Foundation

2. What Is The Church? -- Gospel Identity Pt 1

3. What Is The Church? -- Gospel Identity Pt 2

4. What Is The Church? -- Gospel Rhythms Pt 1

5. What Is The Church? -- Gospel Rhythms Pt 2

6. Building A Missional Community Pt 1

7. Building A Missional Community Pt 2

Extra: What Does A Missional Community Look Like?

Lots-o-Links 2.5.14


I Don't Worship God By Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere by Donald Miller -- This is an important post and an important issue. I don't agree with Miller but he speaks for many and evangelicals and pastors need to talk about the issues Miller brings up and respond reasonably and not just react.

So, do I attend church? Not often, to be honest.

Like I said, it’s not how I learn.

Miller's follow up post - Miller responds to certain comments he received after the initial post and elaborates on what he's already said.

While I love the traditional church, I love it like a foundational part of my past, as though it were a University I’ve graduated from to join a much larger church those still in the University program are quite suspicious of.


I’d say half of the most impactful people I know, who love Jesus and tear up at the mention of His name, who reach out to the poor and lonely and are fundamentally sound in their theology, who create institutions that feed hundreds of thousands, do not attend a traditional church service. Many of them even speak at churches, but they have no home church and don’t long for one. They aren’t wired to be intimate with God by attending a lecture and hearing singing (which there is NOTHING wrong with) they are wired to experience God by working with Him.

Journalists at Sochi Tweeting Their Experiences -- If you aren't following Sochi journalists, now is the time to start. This is frightening, sad, and ridiculous. 


Romans 1-7 For You by Tim Keller is out. About this series of books...

• READ: As a guide to this wonderful letter, helping you appreciate the great gift of righteousness with God.
• FEED: As a daily devotional to help you grow in Christ as you read and meditate on this portion of God’s word.
• LEAD: As notes to aid you in explaining, illustrating and applying Romans 1–7 as you preach or lead a Bible study.


Worldview Responses to the 2014 Grammys -- I love the idea of collecting short-ish responses to a cultural event. You get very different thoughts often from people who view the event from very different angles. I love the response from Greg Thornbury of King's College. Here's the opening paragraph of it...

If you heard the sound of yawning around America this morning, it wasn't because the country stayed up too late watching the Grammys, it's because we've gotten bored with them. The Grammys once mattered because pop music mattered. Once upon a time, J. Edgar Hoover monitored the movement of rock stars like John Lennon because he was a perceived political threat, because he was anti-establishment. Nowadays, our rock stars are the establishment, and that's not very, well, rock and roll.

Out of the Spiritual Ghetto

All gods people

As we meet today with our local churches, may we remember the redemptive mission God has called us to, and may we refuse to settle for the "spiritual ghetto" when the everyday places of this world need the Christian faith lived out everywhere. 



"Being the body of Christ calls up another image, namely, that believers are called to be a kingdom of priests (1 Peter 2:9). They are called to redemptive mission in the world. They are called to be channels of God's blessing to a fallen and needy society. Findley Edge explains how this comes about.

There is...a basic difference in the priesthood of the Old Testament and the priesthood of the New Testament. In the Old Testament the priest offered the sacrifice. In the New Testament the priest is the sacrifice! He offers his life to God in behalf of the world which God is seeking to redeem.

This call to redemptive mission is to every believer and is a ministry which extends beyond the church building and into the marketplace. Churches must move their members out of the "spiritual ghetto" into stores, factories, offices, and homes. They must be trained and exhorted to practice their Christian faith wherever they happen to find themselves."

All God's People by David L. Smith, pg 413. Bold is mine. (Interested in the book, click the link and look at used prices. Get this one dirt cheap.)

Al Mohler & 20 Years at SBTS

This story about Albert Mohler's history with The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary explains the main reasons I left Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1998 and transferred to Southern. I remember email conversations with Mohler, Tom Nettles, Tom Schreiner and others at the time. I sought out their advice as the Scriptures were leading me into reformed theology. I only knew Mohler was at SBTS and not the others. After God made those connections for me, I was sold on Southern and transferred there to finish my MDiv. It was the best decision I've ever made about my education, and I'm grateful to Dr. Mohler and Southern Seminary for enduring the pain and determination required to re-create a place where the truths of Scripture would be taught to young men like me.

Leaving A Church In The Wrong Way


From Joel Burdeaux...

Perhaps this is a water under the bridge. Too little too late. I became one of those stories about a pastor pouring into someone, only for them to stab them in the back… and I was the back-stabber.

You should read the rest of this. For all who have left a church in a bad way, and all those who may in the future, this should cause you to rethink or repent.

Lots-o-Links 7.19.13


5 Evangelism Tips at We Are Soma

Earlier this year God woke me up from my sleep and asked me questions about evangelism. Questions like, “How many people did you share the gospel with this past year? How many people did you invite to gatherings? Why?” It was one of those gracious conversations that made me realize I was not evangelizing primarily because of my selfishness. I am too selfish to regularly tell people the best news in the world. I felt relieved that this could change and I am growing in evangelism. Here are 5 things God is teaching me about evangelism

Stop Hate-Watching The Church

But these Internet communities too often aren’t about healing. Not really. They funnel all of these triggers into one place, providing an opportunity for us to direct all of our rage, anger, and malice at what we have deemed to be rightful and deserving targets. These places of supposed healing become places of malice and mockery.

A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ

In the hope that a time is coming when Christian leaders respond to all sexual abuse with outrage and courage, we offer this confession and declare the Good News of Jesus on behalf of the abused, ignored and forgotten.

16 Ways I Blew My Marriage | When my wife tells me I should read something like this, I listen. We don't agree with everything, but it's pretty good.

I don’t have marriage advice to give, but I have plenty of “keep your marriage from ending” advice (two equivocally different things), and that might be almost as good.

Thornbury's Mission to Revive Carl F.H. Henry

“I want to make Carl Henry cool again,” Thornbury exclaims in the introduction. Given that we can recognize Henry’s thoughts almost everywhere we look these days, such an aspiration is not terribly ridiculous. I would love to see the book cover in many a coffeehouse in the coming days, and would love even more to see Henry himself return as a staple of theological conversations. He was a giant whose legacy deserves to be recovered. As the new president of the King’s College, Thornbury is well positioned to do just that.

Engage The South Conference


"Engage the South" is conference cosponsored by Acts 29, Beeson Divinity School, and the Gospel Coalition. It's September 24th at the Wright Center at Samford University in Birmingham.

The question they are asking is "what kind of churches does the South need?"

Here are the sessions...

  • "Churches that Embrace Theological Clarity" Ray Ortlund
  • "Churches that Plant Churches" Bryan Loritts
  • "Churches that are Marked by Humility and Holiness" Matt Chandler
  • "Churches that are Committed to Ethnic Diversity" Kevin Smith
  • "Churches that are Serious about Evangelism and Conversions" David Platt
That is a rock-solid line up. If I was in the area, I would be there. Early bird pricing runs through July 27th. $49 bucks!
Head over to the conference website to find out more and buy tickets. 

Serving Without Sinking by John Hindley

Serving wo sinking

The Good Book Company has a growing list of solid books coming out lately. I want to recommend you check out a recent release: Serving Without Sinking by John Hindley. A blurb from the first chapter...

...this book isn't primarily about our service. It's mainly about Jesus Christ, and about His service. He said that He "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10 v 45). He meant it. He was taken, beaten, tried, mocked, nailed, hung, cursed, judged, killed. He served. He loved.

So Jesus does not want you to measure your life by your service of Him. He does not want your service to get in the way of your love for Him. He did not come to be served by you--He came to serve you.

If we grasp this, then we will be set free to enjoy His love. And then, oddly, we will also be free to serve Him longer, harder, braver, truer than we ever could otherwise. This is joy, and we'll only find it in Christ.

Here's the promo video from John. Go get Serving Without Sinking (Amazon).

Cheap Kindle Books 4.5.13


Some fantastic books are cheap on Kindle right now...

Creature of the Word | The Mission Chasm


If the church leaders say to people, "Living on mission in our city is vital," yet they rarely if ever offer opportunities for people to serve the city, then a chasm exists between how the leaders see the church and how others see her.

Creature of the Word (Kindle, WTS Bookstore), by Chandler, Patterson, & Geiger, pg 97.

Kids Taking Notes During Sermons

A few weeks ago I emphasized to one son that it would be good to takes notes during my sermons. Now it seems to be viral. Here's a sample from my two other sons from Sunday. The backs are both covered with notes too. My 12 yr old said how much easier it is to remember what I'm saying and not have his mind wander when he takes notes. They really love letting me see what they wrote. It's a pretty cool thing. Jack (14) now is keeping a notebook of sermon notes. What do your kids do during sermons? Would love to see if any do something like this. (Click the pic to see it bigger & in more detail.)

Kids Doxa Notes 3.3.13 edit

Keep Calm...

For times like these when the culture seems to shift, we need to remember we were told a long time ago that there would be times like these. Actually, all times are essentially like these because at all times we are who He says we are. And getting all worked up about it only shows we aren't settled into the truths God has already told us. Keep-calm-read-romans-one-and-carry-on-2

Books | Ministry to the Poor

The poor

I asked on Facebook, Twitter, and to one particular friend through email which books would be most helpful in thinking about/doing ministry to the poor. Here's what I got (with an attempt to put them in order of those most mentioned). I can't comment on most of them because I haven't read them, so don't see this as my recommendation. But you might want to look into these. I am. Also feel free to add more recommendations in the comments.

Most Recommended

Other Recommendations

Related Resources I'm Checking Out

John Piper to Young John Piper

Piper eyes

Mark Driscoll interviews John Piper on stereotypes, risks, & Jesus. This is the first question and the first part of Piper's response. Love this...


John Piper: I would quote to him V. Raymond Edman: “Don’t question in the dark what God showed you in the light.” Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company. You are in the pit with King David. He waited. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction” (Ps. 40:1–2). God will do that for you. You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope.

Kindle Books on Sale 11.26.12


Don't miss these Kindle books on sale right now. I think I heard some may not be on sale after today, so if you're going to pull the trigger on these, do it now. And if you don't have the Kindle Paperwhite, I highly recommend it. It was difficult for me to start reading consistently on a Kindle, and I still buy hard copies of all books I consider worthy of reading more than once and/or using for reference, but the Paperwhite is a game-changer for me because of the screen, nighttime reading, ease of use, etc. Grab a 3G or Wifi Kindle Paperwhite. 

UPDATE - Now also on sale...

Sovereign Grace | Pastors' Conference 2012


Audio is up for free download from the Sovereign Grace Pastors' Conference 2012. I've downloaded a handful. Go grab some. Here's the list of the speakers and talks. Go to the site to download them.

The general-session messages from our 2012 Pastors Conference are now online:

  • Dave Harvey, “Forgiveness: Debtor No More” (Mt 18:21-35)
  • Jeff Purswell, “A Call to Arms” (Eph 6:10-20)
  • Ligon Duncan, “God and Your Ministerial Discouragement” (Dt 34, 1Ki 19, 2Ti 4)
  • Ian McConnell, “Gospel Men on Gospel Mission” (Mt 16:13-21)

The breakout-session messages are also now available: 

  • Nancy Guthrie, "Pain that Can't be Prayed Away"
  • Nancy Guthrie, "Learning to Walk with Each Other Through Loss"
  • Jon Payne, "Union with Christ and Everyday Pastoring: Reinforcing an Important Doctrine" 
  • Paul Buckley, "Godly Speech - The Power of the Words We Speak, Write and Read"
  • Matthew Wassink, "What Polity Can, Can't and Shouldn't Do For Us"
  • John Loftness, "Evaluating Pastors: Common Mistakes, What We've Learned, and What Scripture Calls Us To" 
  • Craig Cabaniss, "Leading through Change: How to Address Sin, Mistakes and Growth in the Church"
  • Phil Sasser, "Effective Elderships: Fostering Clear Roles, Healthy Function, and Strong Leadership"
  • Dave Harvey, "What’s Our Role? Elders and the Global Mission"
  • Mickey Connolly, "Discerning Holiness: Legalism, License and the Principle/Practice Distinction"
  • Mark Prater, "Loving and Leading Those Who Criticize"
  • Bob Kauflin, "Parenting and the Grace of God: Has Our Understanding Changed?

Keeping Pastors From Isolation


Another helpful list from Paul David Tripp's tremendous book, Dangerous Calling. We haven't had a day pass without at least one significant conversation between me and my wife, Molly, since we started reading this book. We talked about a few things from this list today (from pages 79-82 in the printed edition). This is for pastors and those who care for them, and it's about a better, more healthy way to keep Pastors from isolation.

  1. Require your Pastor to attend a small group he doesn't lead
  2. Pastor, seek out a spiritually mature person to mentor you at all times
  3. Establish a Pastor's wives' small group
  4. Pastor, be committed to appropriate self-disclosure in your preaching
  5. Be sure that your Pastor and his family are regularly invited into the homes of families in your church
  6. Make sure there is someone who is regularly mentoring your Pastor's wife
  7. Make sure your Pastor and his wife have the means to be regularly out of the house and away for weekends with one another
  8. Make sure counseling help is always available to the Pastor, his wife, and their family

A lot of helpful explanation of these points are in the book, so you should get it and read it. My wife read it in 1 1/2 days (she has her own copy) and God is using it mightily in our marriage. I can't recommend Dangerous Calling (Kindle) enough. 

Lots-o-Links 11.14.12

Web link

How To Create A Disciple-Making Culture In Your Church | Justin Buzzard

Six months ago, when our church plant was eight months old, I realized I had made a big mistake in church planting. I kept talking about discipleship and I was coaching others in how to make disciples, but I hadn’t done enough face-to-face modeling of what I meant when I told our church to make disciples. Thus, our church didn’t yet have the discipleship culture I wanted it to have.

So, I confessed my mistake and then prayerfully selected twelve men to disciple for six months in order to inject a strong disciple-making culture into our church. I created a discipleship process and then spent the last six months investing in these twelve men. It wasn’t perfect, but it was my best. I gave these men my heart, my best training, my time, my love, my prayers, my energy, etc.

12 Social Media Tips for Church Leaders

I'd like to tweak a few of Steve Fogg's points, but a lot of good stuff to think about as we engage in social media. 

When Biography Shapes Theology | Greg Thornbury

This is at the very heart of faith, to marvel at that great cloud of witnesses who "were stoned, sawn in two, and killed with the sword...who went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated...of whom the world was not worthy, wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth" (Heb. 11:37-38).

Grace Filled Parenting | 3 Videos with Jeff Vanderstelt