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Men’s Bible Study 2022

Men’s Bible Study 2022

“Does God really love me? What is my driving purpose in life? How can I get victory over my recurring struggles?” These are the kinds of questions which humans face, and followers of Christ are not immune to them. As men, we have a sense that we should live with confidence and have things put together, but we can feel defeated by the discouragement or uncertainty which arise from our questions.

Truth for the Road is a series of studies we launched last year. Through the studies we learn more about the foundational doctrines of the Bible. Our goal is to consider significant questions such as Who is God? What is humanity’s problem? How can it be fixed? Who is Jesus, and why did He come? What’s so important about the church? However, we’re not going to stay in the realm of the abstract. God’s truth hits us right where we live, so we’re going to see how answers to these questions change our everyday lives. That’s Truth for the Road.

This spring our Truth for the Road study will focus on “Union with Christ.” Why should we care about this reality? What difference does this make on Monday morning? Come and find out. Sign-up for the study in the South Lobby begins on Sunday, February 20, and will continue February 27. Make sure to pick up a notebook for $5, and complete the first week’s work ahead of our first meeting on Thursday, March 3. You can choose to join us on Thursday mornings at 6:15 a.m. or Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. Our study will last six weeks, ending on April 7.

Email Abe Stratton with questions.

Welcome Three Faithful Brothers: David Mathis, Andy Naselli, Joe Rigney

Welcome Three Faithful Brothers: David Mathis, Andy Naselli, Joe Rigney

This past Sunday we closed up our series through 1 Peter with a sermon on Peter’s closing greeting. It could not have come at a better time. Here was our passage:

By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. —1 Peter 5:12–14

Peter commends Silvanus, a partner who will likely deliver the letter. He connects churches with one another. He affirms one brother whom he has been discipling. In all this he is setting an example for us of the kind of warm and wide-hearted love that should mark the church in exile.

In the coming weeks we have an opportunity to work out this spirit as a church by welcoming several “faithful brothers.” I’m eager for you to meet them and to greet them in Christ.

So, let me make some introductions for us. I’ll make these remarks personal where I can, taking my cue from Peter who commended Silvanus to his own readers. I also asked each of these brothers for recommendations of things the other brothers have written lately, since they are all friends.

Receive David Mathis, a Man of Faithful Words

I don’t know where our relationship began exactly, but we really hit it off once I wrote an article for Desiring God on marijuana. Just like every good friendship. In return, David heard of our executive pastor search and pointed us to Jason Read, his brother-in-law. We are ever-grateful! David is the speaker for this year’s men’s retreat, from February 18–19. He grew up in the Upstate, he’s a graduate of Furman, and his parents live in Spartanburg. He’s also a husband and a father of four.

David is a man of words.

David is executive editor for desiringGod.org, a ministry that we’ve been helped by over the years in many ways. Desiring God is a ministry that grew out of John Piper’s preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN. I remember coming into Pastor John’s book, Desiring God, as a college student. I remember that memorable line, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” And I remember the internet in its earlier days when Desiring God was a little site that had Piper’s sermons available for free, a novel idea back then. And an idea made possible by generous donors who believed in its spreading mission. I remember when the iPod was released. Among my aspiring pastor friends, that device might well have been called an iPiper. It carried all those sermons and lectures we devoured. In any case, there’s a lot to thank the Lord for here. Read up on the history of this ministry and note the tie to Greenville. David is a steward of the mission of this ministry. Pray for his editorial clarity and courage.

David is also a writer. One book we’ve recommended for years around here is, Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines. But more than an editor and writer of words, David is a preacher, a local church pastor at Cities Church, in St. Paul, MN. So much of his writing flows from the loves and labor of any pastor. You’ll sense that in some of his recent writing:

Read more from David, pick up some of his books, and follow him on Twitter.

Greet Andy Naselli, a Faithful Guardian

Andy Naselli will preach both Sundays, February 20 and 27, to bookend GO Week on this year’s theme, Spreading a Passion for God’s Glory. When we learned that he was in the region on sabbatical to write a book, we extended this invitation.

Andy Naselli is a long-time friend of our church. When he worked as research assistant to D.A. Carson, Andy was responsible for editing the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible, which he could do from anywhere. So, Andy and his family moved to the Upstate, where his wife, Jenni, is from. They were members for years at one of our church plants, Grace Bible Church, in Moore. You may know him as a co-author of that helpful book we point you to, Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ.

On a personal note, Andy and I have been friends since we shared a burger in Louisville back in 2011. Five years later Heritage reached out to Andy for contacts in our search for a preaching pastor. In a momentary lapse of judgment, Andy thought of me and put us in touch. Blame him. 

Andy is a guardian.

Pastors are called to instruct in and defend sound doctrine (Tit. 1:9). Andy is a busy instructor. He is associate professor of systematic theology and New Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary and one of the pastors at Bethlehem Baptist Church. He’s got a whole bunch of PhDs, including one from Bob Jones University here in town. If you’re the kind who teaches the Bible here at Heritage, pick up a copy of, 40 Questions about Biblical Theology. If you’re a kid, you should get your parents to buy you a copy of a book Andy wrote with another brother connected to Heritage, Champ Thornton, The Serpent Slayer and the Scroll of Riddles: The Kambur Chronicles.

Or, for all of us, read these articles on eternal things:

He is an instructor in the faith but also a defender of the faith. One of Andy’s unique contributions is his ability to discern precisely where and how Christ’s bride is vulnerable to doctrinal subversion. For example, his book, No Quick Fix: Where Higher Life Theology Came From, What It Is, and Why It’s Harmful. Or his book review, “Does Anyone Need to Recover from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood?.” Or this article for all of us: “Seven Reasons You Should Not Indulge in Pornography.” Andy has been of helpful counsel to our pastoral team concerning some of the doctrinal challenges in our day.

Read more from Andy, pick up some of his books, and follow him on Twitter.

Welcome Joe Rigney, a Faithful Shepherd of Shepherds

Joe Rigney will preach for us on Sunday, March 6. When Andy learned that Joe would be in the area on a family vacation, he put us in touch and we invited him to preach. One faithful brother commends another. That’s how it often happens.

I first came to know of Joe Rigney through his writing on the goodness of creation and how exactly we’re supposed to go about enjoying it. For example, The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts. For a good place to start, try his more recent and shorter volume, Strangely Bright: Can You Love God and Enjoy His World?. Related to our enjoyment of God’s gifts, he recently published, More Than a Battle: How to Experience Victory, Freedom, and Healing from Lust.

Joe also helps the church benefit from the life and writings of C.S. Lewis with, Lewis on the Christian Life: Becoming Truly Human in the Presence of God, and, Live Like A Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles. There’s a lot we could learn from Lewis when it comes to persuasion. Joe helps us out here with his piece, “The Cracks in Our Debates: Lessons from Lewis on Disagreement.” Narnia fans, check out his seven interactive talks on The Chronicles of Narnia.

Joe Rigney is a shepherd of shepherds.

He’s a shepherd in the church as a pastor at Cities Church along with David Mathis. He’s a shepherd in his home as a husband and father of three. But he’s also a shepherd of shepherds as a professor and newly appointed president of Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Joe shepherds pastors not only as an institutional leader but as a theological leader. A pastor’s job is to teach, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph. 4:14). Deceitful schemes are deceitful because they come off as true and obvious. One of the problems we’re dealing with in our day is the subtle manipulation of biblical compassion in service of false visions of justice. In this way, goofy theories about just about everything play on the best parts of us as Westerners and as Christians in particular. We’re a people with a high view of humanity. That’s good. But we’re having trouble, and that’s because we’re untethered from the Word in our understanding both of justice and of compassion. 

In this vein, read two pieces by Joe: “Do You Feel My Pain? Empathy, Sympathy, and Dangerous Virtues,” and “Dangerous Compassion: How To Make Any Love a Demon.” This is not the first topic I would have turned over for help in navigating the times, but you’ll be surprised at how important this insight is. In a conversation with Doug Wilson, “The Sin of Empathy,” (yes, provocatively titled, but read it in context), Joe and Doug tease out the implications of these reflections for the times. In this way, Joe helps us pastors read the winds so that we may speak the truth even as we do it in love.

True compassion will often require courage. Empathy can often become a disguise for anxiety or cowardice. In fact, it’s for a failure of true compassion that we often fail to act in love. Sharpened by this discussion, Joe spurs us on to true biblical courage.  

No surprise, in both pieces, Joe draws from the life and teaching of another pastor of pastors, Apostle Peter, a pastor who learned courage through some of his own failures of courage. 

On March 6, Joe will shepherd our church to sing with a sermon from Colossians 3:16. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” That will be a timely message ahead of our evening with the Gettys on March 11.

Read more from Joe, pick up one of his books, and follow him on Twitter.

A lot of good material came out of Rome. Paul was from there. Peter wrote from there. Minneapolis has been a hot-spot for faithful Word workers, as have been other cities in their own way, including ours. Join me in greeting these faithful brothers from Minneapolis.  

Recap of Greenville’s Second Annual Simeon Trust Preaching Workshop

Recap of Greenville’s Second Annual Simeon Trust Preaching Workshop

Every preacher thanks God for these encouraging words:

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. —1 Timothy 4:13–16

Not perfection, but progress. That’s what every preacher wants and that’s what every church needs in her preacher. To this end, from January 26–28 we hosted a preaching workshop for area preachers through a partnership with the Charles Simeon Trust. We were joined by 50 teachers and preachers from 28 churches, including 23 lead pastors. 

Eric Vander Ploeg is one of the area pastors that joined us. I’ve asked him to share about himself, his church, and the workshop we just hosted.

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1. Eric, thanks for joining us at the workshop this year. Tell us a little about your church and your role.

Twenty-eight years ago, Heritage planted Grace Bible Church as an outreach to the city of Spartanburg. The location was strategic—a church once surrounded by farmland now finds itself in one of the fastest growth corridors of the city. Excavators are everywhere, and developers are fast turning the red dirt into apartments and condos and neighborhoods and businesses. Hundreds of spiritually hungry people now live five minutes from our campus. It’s a tremendous opportunity, and one that only exists because of the prayer and the giving and the sacrifice of the people of Heritage. We are so grateful!

I joined Grace a little under four years ago serving as Lead Pastor and following a line of faithful men committed to the careful exposition of the Word. We try to live up to our name—passionate about giving and living God’s grace, standing on the unchanging foundation of the Bible, and seeking to build a healthy, life-giving, Christ-exalting church.

2. It’s no small commitment to set aside the better part of a week to join us for a workshop. All of your other pastoral responsibilities remain. Why did you prioritize this?

I had heard great things about the Simeon Trust and its unique approach to training preachers. When Heritage brought the workshop to my own backyard, I had to give it a try.

It’s not easy to get better at preaching. Kind church members give us (usually) well-meaning feedback, but it takes a preacher to really train a preacher. It takes someone who knows the craft, who knows the tools, who has spent a hundred Sundays in the pulpit doing his best, and a hundred Mondays wishing he’d done better. That’s the kind of man who has an ear for what needs to happen in the pulpit and who knows at the same time how to give feedback.

And that’s feedback we preachers rarely get. So to gather with sixty like-minded men and to present our work and receive well-informed, field-tested, life-giving feedback is so valuable. It’s well worth the investment. No conference I’ve ever encountered does the job as well as the Simeon Trust workshop.

3. A preaching workshop includes instructional sessions, expositions, but also about six hours of small group time where we share and push one another in our sermon preparation work. You just gave us some insight into the benefit of that small group time. Share with us about the format those small group sessions take.

There are books and trainings and conferences where you hear about preaching, but a workshop gets your hands dirty in the task of doing preaching. And you really only learn to preach by doing.

Each year the workshop focuses on a genre of Scripture and on a book of the Bible. This year it was narrative preaching from Judges. Each preacher prepares a few texts ahead of time—basically, all the work you do to write a sermon without actually writing it. Simeon has created a template for preparation, a worksheet that slows us down and takes us back to basics as we study the text. We have to wrestle with how the text is structured, with the context that is relevant for understanding the passage, with the argument the author is making, with how the passage fits into the whole Bible’s story of salvation in Christ, and how the text touches down in life—all in that order, which is crucial. We have to get our conclusions on these things down to crisp sentences.

During each small group a preacher gets five minutes to present the fruit of their studies. Then a teammate responds with that precious feedback—with encouragement and challenge. Then the rest of the group chimes in, and then the leader focuses in on the areas most helpful for growth.

I won’t lie—it’s intimidating. It’s humbling. Even exhausting. But it’s so valuable, and the men are so desiring for you to succeed and to grow. It’s a kind of sweet sharpening that makes every one of us better, and makes every one of our churches better served.

4. Our goal at these workshops isn’t perfection but progress. How did this year’s workshop help you make progress in your Word work?

When you preach for a while you can start to get bad habits in your prep. I feel like this year surfaced a few of those for me. The speed of pastoral ministry can sometimes lead to exegetical shortcuts with the text. The workshop slows you down and makes you walk through each and every step. No shortcuts. And that’s when bad habits become all too clear.

There’s also something inspiring about rubbing shoulders with fellow preachers. Watching another man stare at the text and see insights I totally missed makes me want to stare at that text a little longer. Watching a preacher handle the word with skill and art and passion, where the story comes alive and the truth behind the story comes home, makes me want to preach better. I left tired and grateful and aspiring to “practice these things, to immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress” (1 Tim. 4:15). I have a list of things I want to do better this year. By God’s grace, that’s progress!

5. How can we pray for you and your church?

I’d always heard of preachers wondering if they were old enough and wise enough to tackle Romans. This past year I concluded I might be. Time will tell, but we embarked on our journey with Chapter 1, Verse 1. Pray that God would illuminate his Word as I hold it in uncertain hands and seek to proclaim it in all of its brilliant detail. Pray that the text would first move me before it moves my people.

I also lead a team of preachers. Each brings his own voice and experience to the text and makes for a rich diversity of preaching. Pray that I might help each of them make progress in their craft.

And, of course, Grace sits before a wide open door of opportunity. The world is moving into the neighborhood! Pray that we might make the most of every day, of every ministry initiative, and of every conversation.

Meet Our Fall Intern: Jared Jenkins

Meet Our Fall Intern: Jared Jenkins

This is such a cool photo of Jared, one of our college students whose pastoral internship is wrapping up. Jared’s internship began this past fall and is finishing up this week.

Jared has been reading and writing, he has joined our elders meetings, and he has met with me weekly over twelve weeks. Our purpose in this internship is to see churches led by pastors who faithfully connect the Bible’s theology of the church to the church’s worship, life, and mission. In other words, to see churches flourish in the gospel and gospel work. Pray that Jared would be that kind of shepherd for a church in the years ahead. You can read about the shape of the internship here.

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Before we get to know you a bit, tell us what excited you the most about serving as an intern this fall?

As an intern, I get to witness a lot of the ins and outs of church life at Heritage. Honestly, my biggest excitement about this internship was the connection and mentorship that I would receive from the elders. Trent and I meet most weeks to discuss a book that centers on church life. My hope has been to grow in my understanding of church life, specifically at Heritage Bible Church, and then to take what I have learned and apply it to the way that I pastor in the future.

Now, let’s go to the beginning, your new beginning. How did the Lord save you?

My testimony is not unlike many people’s. I have grown up in a Christian family, both parents are believers. The Lord saved me when I was seven years old. At Northland Bible Camp, Evangelist Jeremy Frazor gave a very clear gospel message. I remember understanding my state in my sin and my need for someone to redeem me. Even at age seven, I had a clear understanding of what Christ did to save me from my sins, in dying on the cross and rising from the grave. Over the years, there have been moments in which I’ve doubted my salvation, many times due to ongoing sin in my life. But, ultimately, at the end of the day, I understand that my salvation and my assurance are not rooted in myself or in the countless times I have failed but in the reality that God has saved me and calls me his child.

You’re a college student. You’re a member. You’ve made home at Heritage. Encourage our church with the story of how you came here and got involved. We want to be a church that welcomes college students and gives them a taste of heaven on earth, just what church should be.

I became aware of Heritage Bible Church prior to attending college at Bob Jones University. I met Danny Brooks, the former teaching pastor of Heritage, out in Utah while my teen group was on a ministry trip. Danny had just moved out there. When I came to college, I knew that Danny pastored a church in Greenville. So, I visited. And immediately, I was hooked by the preaching, the fulness of the music in worship, and the charitability of people around me. My sophomore year, I joined Heritage as a member, because I knew the importance of being a part of a local church. Over the years, I have developed relationships with several people in the congregation. Pastor Trent and Dan Cruver have been an enormous help in shepherding my heart and giving me opportunities to use my gifts over the last couple of years.

Now, what is the most influential book on your life and what has been the most influential sermon on your life? Tell us a little about both.

The most influential book and most influential sermon on my life both go hand in hand as they are both by the same person—John Piper—and have the same title—“Don’t Waste Your Life.” In both, Piper talks about the way in which every Christian should live—sold out for Christ, his glory, and the proclamation of his gospel.

You’re in the middle of reading twelve books over this internship. What’s been the most insightful book so far and why?

To me, the most insightful book during my internship has been Worship Matters, by Bob Kauflin. He expounds how a worship leader and those participating in worship should think about it. Worship is standing in awe of, giving adoration to, and submitting to God. Therefore, as Kauflin writes, those leading and participating in worship should be known as “awe-filled” people.” The gathered worship should be conducted in such a way that fills the congregation with awe.

You’ve been in our elders meetings for a few months now. What have you observed and learned so far?

As I’ve sat in the elders meetings, I’ve witnessed the great care that goes into shepherding God’s sheep. Every meeting, the elders open their time with thirty minutes in prayer over the church and specific members, sometimes as a whole group and sometimes in small groups. No elder rules over another. Each has a voice and a part in the conversation. There is a very present respect and love that is felt as the gospel is evident within the room. The meetings get me excited about the joys, sorrows, and fulfillment of pastoring my own church in the future.

What are your desires vocationally for the future and how can we pray for you?

As I transition away from college, my hope for the next two years is to move out to Salt Lake City, Utah to partner with Gospel Grace Church in a full-time residency. Simultaneously, I hope to finish my Master of Divinity with Bob Jones remotely. At the end of the residency, I could move into elder candidacy or into church planting in Utah. Of course, with such a transition (I’m from Michigan), there’s a lot of wisdom needed in how I am going to move out there. Could you pray for me in that respect?

Finally, got any favorite teams or hobbies or special skills we should know about?

I love to read (especially when it’s what I want). Every now and then, I’ll sit down and write a piece for my blog. Over the last couple of months, because of my friend, Will Galkin, I’ve developed a real love for Liverpool Football Club. Right now, they are the second team in Premier League and are on the way to face off against Chelsea in Wembley Stadium for Carabao Cup Championship.