Bell Creek Community Church

A non-denominational church in Livonia, Michigan with Biblical teaching, worship, and kid's ministries.

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David Murray blogs on ministry, leadership, preaching, counseling, technology, and theology.
Updated: 1 hour 32 min ago

Real Men Hear God’s Call

10 hours 6 min ago

Every single person has a calling, a vocation, a divinely appointed station and role in life. Here are seven questions to help you discover your calling. Visit the Christian Man Academy for a transcript of this video and to enroll in the  Academy.

Real Men Receive God’s Gift of Sleep

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 3:00am

Sleep demonstrates trust in God and his sovereignty to take care of us, our family, our business, our work, our church, and our world. “Visit the Christian Man Academy for a transcript of this video and to enroll in the  Academy.”

Real Men Rise Early

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 3:00am

99% of successful men get up earlier than the average man and they do so consistently. They also have a regular morning routine; they do same thing every working day. “Visit the Christian Man Academy for a transcript of this video and to enroll in the  Academy.”

Real Men Rest

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 3:00am

If you really want to be a godly man, then take God’s weekly gift of a rest day and use it as God intended. Visit the Christian Man Academy for a transcript of this video and to enroll in the  Academy.

One of the Most Challenging and Clarifying Sermons I’ve Ever Heard

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 2:00am

This sermon by Mika Edmondson on Jacob’s response to the rape of Dinah was one of the most challenging and clarifying sermons I’ve ever heard in my life.

Real Men Commit to the Church

Tue, 03/05/2019 - 3:00am

What should you look for in a church? And what should you do in a church? Visit the Christian Man Academy for a transcript of this video and to enroll in the  Academy.

Expedition 40: The Brightest Morning

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 8:41pm

Here’s the video for Expedition 40 in Exploring the Bible. If you want to bookmark a page where all the videos are posted, you can find them on my blog, on YouTube, or the Facebook page for Exploring the Bible.

If you haven’t started your kids on the book yet, you can begin anytime and use it with any Bible version. Here are some sample pages.

You can get it at RHBWestminster BooksCrossway, or Amazon. If you’re in Canada use Reformed Book Services. Some of these retailers have good discounts for bulk purchases by churches and schools.

PCRT 2019: Redemption Accomplished and Applied

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 1:00am

Register for the Grand Rapids Conference here and the Philadelphia conference here. And more details about the conferences here.

What’s the Use of Christian Charity?

Fri, 03/01/2019 - 1:00am

This article is expanded from William Boekestein’s The Future of Everything: Essential Truths about the End Times (Reformation Heritage Books, 2019).

According to Matthew, Jesus’s final public teaching prior to his crucifixion is a story that ties together the final judgment and Christian charity (Matt. 25:31–46). Here’s his point: those only will endure his judgment and be welcomed into restored paradise who continue his mission of caring for the naked, the hungry, the sick, and the imprisoned.

Throughout his ministry Jesus’ care of society’s neediest people was tangible evidence that the kingdom of God was coming (e.g. Matt. 11:1–6). As Jesus prepared to leave this world through his violent death and victorious resurrection he insisted that his body, the church, continue his tireless ministry to the needy. As John the Baptist had said, God’s children must “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8) including a commitment to charity and justice toward marginalized society members.

Or does he mean that believers should only show charity toward other Christians? Jesus commends those who cared for “the least of these my brethren” (Matt. 25:40). Strictly speaking his brethren are those family members who do his will; believers (Mark 3:35). But lest we suppose that believers ought to only practice charity toward Christians Calvin reminds us of the “common tie that binds all the children of Adam.” Jesus himself insisted that his followers “do good to those who hate you” (Matt. 5:44). Believers should especially care for “those who are of the household of faith.” But “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all” (Gal. 6:10).

This text might trouble those of us who have been so trained to think of God’s work as merely the salvation of souls that we have little place in our theology for the care of bodies. If we’re very honest we might wonder—in spite of Jesus’ teaching—what good does charity do? Here are three important answers to that question.

  1. Charity promotes gratitude for God’s mercy. Put differently charity is good for the giver. When you feed the hungry you can remember how God continuously meets your needs. When you love strangers you recall how God brought you near to him through Jesus’ blood (Eph. 2:13). You care for sick people knowing that the Lord “heals all your diseases” (Ps. 103:3). When you minister to the homeless you might ponder, Why is it impossible for me to even imagine how I could become homeless? The answer: Only God’s grace. Those who withhold their hand from the poor easily forget that they are debtors to God’s mercy.
  2. Through charity God’s kingdom comes to earth. An old German catechism reminds us that the kingdom comes as “we believe His Holy Word through his grace and live in a godly manner.”[i] “Thy kingdom come,” is a prayer for God to destroy the devil’s work (HC Q/A 123), even through us. With “deeds of love and mercy, the heav’nly kingdom comes”[ii] to those Satan has snared in personal and systemic brokenness. Christian pastor and civil-rights leader John Perkins describes justice as “any act of reconciliation that restores any part of God’s creation back to its original intent, purpose, or image.” He relates this kind of justice to Matthew 25. God never intended “the vulnerable in society…to languish in poverty, abuse, slavery, homelessness, or other types of devastation. When we care for individuals who are trapped in these ways—when we show them love and help them move toward freedom and wholeness—we participate in bringing a little part of God’s kingdom back into alignment with his greater plan. We do justice and God smiles.”[iii]
  3. Charity establishes credibility for gospel witnessing. Will the lost believe that we care for their souls if we don’t seem to care for their bodies? Will they believe that we want them to find a home in heaven if we dismiss their homelessness on earth? Christian charity demonstrates that salvation has revived in us a God-like, holistic concern for the hurting. Works of mercy create an environment in which to communicate the gospel’s invitation to become entirely new people. As Christians provide clothes for the naked and food for the hungry, so God provides forgiveness for sins, heaven for hell, glory for vanity. Without charity the gospel sounds like cheap talk.

There are many practical ways to show charity to the needy. Here are three ways to get us started.

  1. Get to know your neighbors. I imagine a follow-up argument from the wicked in Jesus’ story. “But Lord, we didn’t know that our neighbors were hungry, thirsty, left out, naked, sick, or in prison.” Many Western Christians today are able to position themselves nearly beyond view of societies neediest people. But God has strategically placed Christians in this terribly broken world to be his agents of restoration. We need to know our neighbors’ needs so that we can show mercy on them (Luke 10:36–37). We need to be sufficiently in the world so that we can live out our priestly calling.
  2. Support the work of your deacons. Church deacons are God’s mercy administrators. They oversee and promote the church’s benevolent program while encouraging the work of mercy both inside and outside the congregation. Believers can practice charity by financially equipping the deacons to care for those within their parish.
  3. Participate in congregational charity initiatives. Every church should provide practical opportunities for her members to care for the sick, the hungry, the homeless, and the imprisoned. And all of these ministries will have problems. But let’s not let our opinions about the causes of homelessness, for example, or our questions about the effectiveness of a particular ministry prevent us from serving those who are homeless, hungry, and imprisoned right now. Let’s find (or start) the best programs we can, get to work, and anticipate Jesus’ words: “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40).

About Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats someone has said, “The church fulfills its mission by taking to itself…for Christ’s sake, the poverty, suffering, hunger, and need of men. Unless this is the situation, Matthew’s description of the Christian community is the most searing piece of irony in the New Testament.”[iv] But let’s not call it irony. Rather, let’s prove true that “those who truly are watching for the return of their Lord will be most unceasing in their work of loving sympathy and relief, finding in this sorrowing, suffering world continual opportunities for manifesting a spirit of true charity, and unconsciously ministering to their Lord in the persons of those who are most in need.”[v]

Jesus’ parable isn’t a guilt-inducing plea to volunteer. Jesus isn’t just demanding charity. He also teaches the gospel reality of union with Christ. The redeemed in Jesus’ illustration thought nothing of their care for the needy; Jesus had to explain how they had loved him by loving their neighbor! They didn’t see their charity as a burdensome requirement to enter glory. They didn’t believe that their good works put God in their debt. They simply knew that Christ’s love for needy people poured into their hearts (Rom. 5:5) had made his mission theirs.

To cheer us in our loving service, this parable is a beautiful picture of God’s dear children gladly following their elder-brother in carrying out God’s will. And to rattle us from our apathy, it is also a picture of calloused hearts neglecting the plight of the poor to their own destruction.

This article is expanded from William Boekestein’s The Future of Everything: Essential Truths about the End Times (Reformation Heritage Books, 2019).

[i] Hessian Catechism in James T. Dennison, Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014) 4:22.

[ii] Trinity Psalter Hymnal (Willow Grove, PA.: Trinity Psalter Hymnal Joint Venture, 2018), song 544.

[iii] John M. Perkins, Dream with Me: Race, Love, and the Struggle We Must Win (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2017), 110–111.

[iv] Richard C. Oudersluys, “The Parable of the Sheep and Goats (Matthew 25:31–46): Eschatology and Mission, Then and Now,” Reformed Review 26 (Spring 1973): 158.

[v] Charles Erdman, The Return of Christ (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1922), 108.

Real Men Pray

Wed, 02/27/2019 - 9:16pm

If you are going to be a real Christian man in this world, you are going to need a lot of prayer. Visit the Christian Man Academy for a transcript of this video and to enroll in the  Academy.

Real Men Read their Bibles

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 8:51pm

Daily Bible reading is the bedrock of Christian character. There is no substitute. There is no way to Christian manhood without it. Real men read their Bibles.

Visit the Christian Man Academy for a transcript of this video and to enroll in the  Academy.

Expedition 39: The Darkest Death

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 7:17am

Here’s the video for Expedition 39 in Exploring the Bible. If you want to bookmark a page where all the videos are posted, you can find them on my blog, on YouTube, or the Facebook page for Exploring the Bible.

If you haven’t started your kids on the book yet, you can begin anytime and use it with any Bible version. Here are some sample pages.

You can get it at RHBWestminster BooksCrossway, or Amazon. If you’re in Canada use Reformed Book Services. Some of these retailers have good discounts for bulk purchases by churches and schools.

Real Men Repent

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 7:08am

Repentance is one of the most masculine exercises you can engage in. It requires courage, strength, resolution, perseverance, and honesty. Real men repent.  Enroll at christianmanacademy.com.

Don’t Believe in Yourself

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 2:00am

Here’s the third video in the Christian Man Academy. Click through for a transcript or to enroll for the weekly newsletter.

Check out

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 1:00am
Blogs

The Four Horsemen of Divorce
The Four Horsemen are criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling and contempt.

Is God All You Need?
“In this article, Scott Hubbard shares some thoughts about the statement “All I need is God.” He writes, “Throughout Scripture, God’s people often need more than God alone—they need God through the things he has made.”

Is Boasting on Social Media a Sin?
“When we engage through a screen, something changes. Put an iPhone in people’s hands, and words they would not dare say in person they will eagerly tweet or post as a comment. Digitally mediated communication has led to digitally mindless communication. We don’t think before we speak online. We sit in front of a keyboard and deceive ourselves, suppressing the knowledge of God’s presence and assuming we are alone. But we are not alone on social media. God is there. And so is a potential audience of billions of people.”

How America (and the Church) Can Support Blue-Collar Workers
So good to see this at TGC.

Sleep and Body Composition
“The amount of good sleep a body gets is in direct relation to maintaining a healthy diet and muscle to body fat ratio.”

How to overcome your excuses for not prioritizing sleep
“There are a lot of obstacles to achieve a good night’s sleep–but there are also many ways you can choose to overcome them. Experiment with different tactics and tools to optimize your sleep, and make the most of your waking hours. Even one small change can make a big difference.”

Why you are still not sleeping well at night
“Some of the often ignored factors that contribute to sleeplessness, as well as some fixes that can help you get back into a solid sleep routine.”

Going to church is America’s key to long and happy lives
The General Social Survey finds that 50 percent of Americans who go to church more than once a week call themselves “very happy.” That number drops as church attendance drops, down to only 25 percent for those who go once a year or less.

Lessons Learned from a Leadership Nightmare
“I’ve been a local church pastor for more than thirty years, but I’ve never had a year like 2018. Honestly, it was brutal, far and away the most difficult season I’ve ever had in ministry. I experienced a church leader’s nightmare.​ Through a grueling five-month process, we ended up removing a vocational elder from our team due to repeated instances of inappropriate conduct. He ended up losing his job, his ministry, and his church. It was extremely difficult for everyone involved.​

This elder had been a friend of mine for forty years. We started the church together. We ministered alongside each other for decades. We teamed up to lead the church and staff together. ​But one evening, I had to tell him it was over. He was out. After thirty years, he was no longer a pastor here. We were done.​ The whole process was excruciating, and that final conversation with my unrepentant friend was weird, awkward, and painful. Many nights I just sat in my study and stared at the ceiling for hours, trying to pray and wondering how in the world our church was going to survive this. ​But, by God’s grace, we did survive. I survived too, somehow. God was good to us and we’re still here. But it was rough.​ As I’ve reflected on this experience several truths have emerged that help me to process the whole ordeal.”

Kindle Books

Alive in Him: How Being Embraced by the Love of Christ Changes Everything by Gloria Furman $1.59.

Putting Amazing Back into Grace: Embracing the Heart of the Gospel by Michael Horton $1.59.

Snapshots of Joy from our Son’s Wedding

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 2:00am

We had our first family wedding last Friday, with my eldest son Allan marrying a lovely Christian girl, Lynnae Doll. Hope these pictures share some of our joy.

Allan and Lynnae, our four other “kids”, my parents, Shona and I.

Shona and I with Allan and Lynnae.

Our five “children” with Lynnae.

Our oldest and youngest sons. Scot was the “Secret Service” Ring Bearer.

My parents all the way from Scotland, with Allan and Lynnae.

Our daughters, Joni and Amy, with our son, Angus.

Check out

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 1:00am
Blogs

Sex Abuse Among Southern Baptists
Some quality analysis of the systemic issues that lead churches and church leaders to make such bad decisions in handling such cases:

“Second, we’ve failed to understand the power dynamics of abuse and have often viewed these instances through the lens of sexual sin. This led to abusers being superficially reprimanded and penalized, while the survivors were simultaneously overlooked and/or treated as complicit. Such a reductionist understanding gave rise to unrighteous sympathy that sought to protect the future of the perpetrator at the expense of justice and protection of the victim. Then, when survivors would not let the injustice go, they were characterized as troublemakers—unwilling to “forgive” their abusers. ”

Addressing Abuse in the SBC: A Proposal
Here’s another.

“Calling a survivor of sexual assault into a minister’s office in order to be cross-examined by pastoral staff should never have been seen as acceptable, and now, we must make it clear that is complicit behavior. In order to protect vulnerable survivors, we need to appoint survivor advocates.

Statement from R. Albert Mohler Jr. on Sovereign Grace Churches
And here’s one beginning to put things right.

“As many are aware, I have recently apologized and asked forgiveness for serious errors I made in how I responded to concerns that were raised about Sovereign Grace Churches and CJ Mahaney.”

Pastor, Preach like Hurt Women Are Listening
“I’ve been blessed over the years to sit under the loving care of wise and compassionate pastors and elders. I’ve witnessed great humility in these men as they’ve listened to my story and grown in wisdom and understanding in their pastoral care for women. It hasn’t always been perfect, and we have hurt and misunderstood each other. But they did a few things that ministered to me and other women in our church.”

Is Email Making Professors Stupid?
Yep.

“When email first spread to campuses in the late 1970s, it simplified crucial tasks like communicating with distant collaborators, but as its ubiquity grew, it became a public portal through which the world beyond close colleagues could make increasing demands on a professor’s time and attention, making email into a kind of digital water torture for the scholar struggling to think without interruption.”

The Complete Guide to Memory
Perhaps part of the remedy to the above. What a phenomenal resource from Scott Young:

“How does your memory work? How can you remember more? Prevent forgetting? These questions lie at the heart of anything you’ll ever learn, do or experience. Your memory impacts everything you do, from how well you’ll do in school, your career, life and even your sense of self and happiness. This is a topic that has long fascinated me, and I’ve written a lot about memory previously on this blog. However, I wanted to create a guide that would combine and integrate everything we know scientifically about memory, and distill that knowledge into practical advice.”

Broken Pieces and the God Who Mends Them
Bill Boekestein’s excellent review of Simonetta Carr’s new book about her family’s painful struggle with mental illness. Here’s another from Redeemed Reader.

Books

Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age by Alan Noble $3.99.

Run to Win: The Lifelong Pursuits of a Godly Man by Tim Challies $5.99.

Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love by Edward T. Welch $2.39.

Video

Puritan Trailer

Expedition 38: The Darkest Trial

Sat, 02/16/2019 - 10:22pm

Here’s the video for Expedition 38 in Exploring the Bible. If you want to bookmark a page where all the videos are posted, you can find them on my blog, on YouTube, or the Facebook page for Exploring the Bible.

If you haven’t started your kids on the book yet, you can begin anytime and use it with any Bible version. Here are some sample pages.

You can get it at RHBWestminster BooksCrossway, or Amazon. If you’re in Canada use Reformed Book Services. Some of these retailers have good discounts for bulk purchases by churches and schools.

Real Men Have One Aim

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 1:00am

This is the second video in the Christian Man Academy Curriculum. For a transcript, click through to the Christian Man Academy website.

This video is all about finding our ultimate purpose in life. Why are we here and what will make us happy while we are here?

If we aim at God above all, and glorify God above all, we will enjoyGod above all else. We can only enjoy God if he is number one in our lives.

You can sign up for our weekly newsletter here or subscribe to the YouTube Channel to be notified of the latest videos.

Check out

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 1:00am
Blogs

Sexual Abuse in SBC
Joe Carter summarizes this tragedy in an FAQ. IMportant articles to read by J D Greear, Russell Moore, Al Mohler. One of Mohler’s conclusions is:

In light of this report and the nature of sexual abuse, an independent, third-party investigation is the only credible avenue for any organizations that face the kind of sinful patterns unearthed in this article by the Houston Chronicle. No Christian body, church, or denomination can investigate itself on these terms because such an investigation requires a high level of thoroughness and trustworthiness. Only a third-party investigator can provide that kind of objective analysis.

Trillia Newbell offers 6 Ways Pastors Can Help Victims of Sexual Assault.

And here is some beauty among the ashes: How I found hope after my ex-husband was convicted of sexual abuse.

Our Digital Lives Don’t Need to Make Us Unhappy, Unhealthy, and Unwise
“Now is the moment to pursue a three-pronged approach to all digital encounters: literacy, hygiene, and labeling. We have the opportunity of a lifetime to re-shape our still primitive and often unruly digital culture into a safer, healthier, more rewarding domain.”

Finally, a Biblical Marriage Counseling Primer!
“If you are a pastor, biblical counselor, or anyone who walks with couples, get Counsel for Couples. I am confident it will not stay on your bookshelf, but be a well-worn resource as you care for and counsel couples.”

Is My Boyfriend’s Porn a Marriage Deal-Breaker?
“I would say, “Yeah, that is a deal-breaker.” …And I would say, “Don’t lower the bar.” I think we have lowered the bar too much. We have treated men like dogs in heat rather than men who are created in the image of God and who have the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is love, joy, and self-control. That last one, self-control, is usually used in relation to sexuality. Men are not victims, and these women have a right to expect more from us.”

Don’t Put Your Hope in Date Night
“When we falsely believe a date night out is the only way to grow in marriage, enjoy one another, foster intimacy, and maintain a healthy commitment, we’re bound to continually feel defeated and disappointed. God is gracious to provide many ways for couples to connect and grow deeper in their love for one another beyond a night out. In fact, date-night dry seasons might be the times we best reveal the beauty of our covenant, as we steadfastly love and serve each other in difficult times.”

“Gospel of the Happy God”
“Real happiness is the blessedness of God. Real happiness, the gospel of freedom and salvation and liberation and transformation, is when humans in all their need come under the care of the happy God who has no needs whatsoever, and who undertakes to pay the price of bringing us into fellowship with his own blessedness.”

Why you should make your pastor take a sabbatical
Some great resources here for pastors, elders, and congregations.

Books

Manhood Restored by Eric Mason $1.99.

God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs by Timothy Keller $1.99.

Video

The Most Significant Lessons We’ve Learned as Parents

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