Monday, November 29, 2010


During Sunday’s sermon, I mentioned J.C. Ryle’s book Holiness. There have been only a handful of books that have been more influential in my life than this book. For those who would like to purchase it, I believe the church has a few copies or it can be found online in its entirety here:

It was published in 1879 and yet remains extremely relevant. Controversies over anemic doctrine and slothfulness in our pursuit of holiness are not something birthed in our modern age. Ryle laments, “I have had a deep conviction for many years that practical holiness and entire self-consecration to God are not sufficiently attended to by modern Christians in this country.” He is writing to those living in England in the 19th century, but could just as well have been writing to us.

He continues: "Yet sanctification, in its place and proportion, is quite as important as justification. Sound Protestant and Evangelical doctrine is useless if it is not accompanied by a holy life. It is worse than useless; it does positive harm. It is despised by keen-sighted and shrewd men of the world, as an unreal and hollow thing, and brings religion into contempt. It is my firm impression that we want a thorough revival about Scriptural holiness…."

These are strong statements, but I believe Ryle is correct. Sanctification is important and sound doctrine is useless unless accompanied by a holy life. Neglect of holiness is a stain upon the church.

There are many gems found throughout even the introduction to the book as he gives some glimpses into the themes he will be covering in its pages. For instance, he addresses those who believe one can simply “Let Go and Let God” (a slogan still seen in many Evangelical churches and retreat centers today).

Ryle responds: "…is it wise to teach believers that they ought not to think so much of fighting and struggling against sin, but ought rather to "yield themselves to God," and be passive in the hands of Christ? Is this according to the proportion of God's Word? I doubt it…. But, on the other hand, it would not be difficult to point out at least twenty-five or thirty distinct passages in the Epistles where believers are plainly taught to use active personal exertion, and are addressed as responsible for doing energetically what Christ would have them do, and are not told to "yield themselves" up as passive agents and sit still, but to arise and work. A holy violence, a conflict, a warfare, a fight, a soldier's life, a wrestling, are spoken of as characteristic of the true Christian. The account of "the armor of God" in the sixth chapter of Ephesians, one might think, settles the question."

And in the remainder of the book, Ryle issues his call to spiritual arms, to engage in the first of one’s life…the struggle for holiness. It is our goal at Bethany Community to engage in that fight as well with similar ardor.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Quick Update

Dear Bethany Community Church,

Just a quick note today to encourage you to consider two opportunities provided by the Bethany Fellowship of Churches in the coming months.

The first is “A Community Christmas.” The past two years, Bethany Baptist and Living Hope have joined us on this side of the river at Five Points Washington. But this year, each church will be holding a concert in their own community. In one sense, it’s sad to have fewer people from the other churches join us at Five Points. At the same time, in years past we have been quite constrained by space. This year, we have a great opportunity to fill up the seats in the theatre with family and friends in the community who may not have a church home.

Please take advantage of this and invite your friends to a Community Christmas on December 10th at Five Points Washington!

The second opportunity is the “Engage” conference in January. This is a competition for high school students. It gives them the chance to really make their faith their own as they either prepare for the apologetic section of the competition or the preaching category. For more information, contact Joey Holland at

By His Grace,

Pastor Daniel

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Greatness of God and the Frailty of Earthen Vessels

I recently began perusing an excellent new book entitled Well-Driven Nails: The Power of Finding Your Own Voice. The author, Pastor Byron Yawn, was an associate pastor at my parents’ church for several years and so I had an added incentive to purchase it.

Yawn is writing primarily to preachers, but there are some principles contained within its pages that I believe are helpful to all.

For example, as I scanned the table of contents, one of the chapters caught my eye. It was entitled, “John MacArthur: The Most Extraordinary Average Brain Expositor I Know.” Here’s what Yawn writes:

[MacArthurs] views his “average intelligence” as a primary reason he’s been able to connect with so many people. As he put it, “…It helps to not be too intelligent. I need a simple understanding of everything. I battle with the Scripture until I can understand it.”
MacArthur, writes Yawn, takes it as a compliment that his commentaries are viewed as tools for the untrained layman:

I’ve spent my entire life talking to the untrained layman. I’m not talking to dead Germans, liberals or scholars in a PhD program. I’m talking to the untrained layman. More than anything, I’m talking to myself. I need a simple understanding of Scripture. I have to have it broken down into simple concept. As it turns out, so does most everyone else.
Pride is a terrible foe. Even as we seek to glorify God in our ministry, pride trips us up. Some of us think too highly of our ministry abilities and stumble as we seek to exalt ourselves. Others of us take a more accurate assessment of our abilities, but then our terrible foe pride causes us to resent that our ability to minister is not greater!

MacArthur here reveals an encouraging truth that should result in greater humility. God uses whatever instruments He deems fit to use in whatever ways He deems fit to use them. In the hands of a Sovereign God, each of us becomes not an extraordinary tool but rather an ordinary tool that does an extraordinary thing—encourages others to worship a holy God.

May God give you grace to humbly engage in ministry for His glory.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Adding my two cents...

After reading Ritch's article, several of you have sent me emails asking for my perspective on the race for U.S. Sentate (the State Comptroller race is a similar situation).  "Be more specific!" you say.
Let me first say that godly men and women disagree on how to apply pro-life principles.  Some believe they are promoting pro-life principles by voting for the best of two terrible candidates so that stronger pro-life candidates can be put in stronger positions.

But I personally have come to a different conclusion.  Here are the reasons I will not be voting for Mark Kirk tomorrow (nor Judy Barr Topinka).

1. A candidate’s position on life is a litmus test.  If they will not support the right every citizen has to life, they are not qualified for elective office.  End of story for me.

2. Kirk is a terrible congressman and I believe he will be a worse senator.

3. I’m not a Republican. Having the Republicans gain control of the Senate doesn't drive me.  Kirk will be a thorn in the side of the people I want to be successful.

4. I don’t want his potential work in the senate on my conscience. He will certainly cast terrible votes as a senator and I don’t want those on my conscience.

5. I don’t want the Republican party in Illinois believing they can nominate corrupt, pro-choice candidates and count on my vote.

Those are my thoughts, not the convictions of the church or even all the leaders in the church.  May God grant each of us the wisdom and courage to vote our conscience tomorrow.