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10 Reasons Joy Brings Christ to Our Culture

This is a guest post by Greg Forster, a program director at the Kern Family Foundation and a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. His newest book is Joy for the World: How Christianity Lost Its Cultural Influence and Can Begin Rebuilding It.

The Importance of Joy

How can Christians help their neighbors live more like God wants and resist the decay of our culture? One of the most important ways is by helping them encounter the joy of God.

Joy, biblically, is not just a pleasant feeling – not just “good vibrations.” Rather, joy is the explosive change the Holy Spirit works in our hearts, minds, and lives  that transforms who we are and every aspect of how we live. Helping people encounter that would make a huge difference to the role of Christianity in our culture.

Here are ten reasons why:

10. It gets people with their guard down. People are naturally wary of canned gospel presentations, political agendas or “Christian cultural impact” campaigns. They’re not wary of joyful people.

9. It offers an alternative to lust, sloth and gluttony. The joy of God rips people out of their selfish fantasy worlds, and gets them off the couch and doing something meaningful with their lives.

8. It offers an alternative to pride, greed and wrath. The joy of God casts out the fear and guilt that drive people to build fortresses of misery around themselves.

7. It liberates people from worldly enslavement. People who have the joy of God can’t be controlled and manipulated by systems of sex, money, and power.

6. It reveals new possibilities for our lives. The renewing of our minds by the Word and Spirit reveal how the world really works, showing us things we would never have dreamed of on our own.

5. It changes our priorities. You can’t address cultural problems like financial chaos, family breakdown and cutthroat politics unless you have people who care more about doing what’s right than about doing what’s easy or makes us feel good.

4. It makes us responsible. People with the joy of God want to be good stewards of all that comes under their care, and pass on a flourishing world to the next generation.

3. It reconciles Christian cultural influence with religious freedom. You can’t Christianize people with the power of the state ; the only way to genuinely influence culture for Christ is to get people to want what we have.

2. It’s good training for the New Jerusalem. Sharing the joy of God will be the whole basis of our cultural life.

1. It’s the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in us. Why show our own cultural efforts to our neighbors when we can show them God’s?

Greg Forster (PhD, Yale University) is a program director at the Kern Family Foundation and a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. He also the editor of the group blog Hang Together and a regular contributor to the Gospel Coalition, First Thoughts, and other online resources. Forster is the author of numerous articles and six books, including The Joy of Calvinism and Joy for the World (excerpt).


More Preaching the Word Commentaries Available on ESVBible.org

More Preaching the Word web apps are now available on ESVBible.org. If you don’t see the volume you’re looking for in the list below, be patient because it’s on the way!

Each web app is integrated with ESVBible.org, a free online Bible where visitors can read or listen to Scripture. Users can record their own notes, highlight and share verses, and unlock additional study resources like the Preaching the Word web apps.

Edited by R. Kent Hughes, the Preaching the Word volumes are written by experienced teachers who model expository preaching and practical application. It is noted for its commitment to biblical authority, clear exposition of Scripture, and readability.

Any Preaching the Word web app purchase also includes free access to the e-book files for the volume, available on a user’s “virtual bookshelf.”

View the full list of Preaching the Word web apps in the ESVBible.org app store.


November 15, 2013 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Apps,Digital,ESVBible.org,ESVBible.org,News & Announcements,Preaching and Teaching | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:30 am | 0 Comments »

The Pastor’s Justification (Free Excerpt)

“What Jared has written here is, for me, an instant classic.”Joe Thorn

Ministry can be brutal. Leaders face discouragement, frustration, and exhaustion—and they often face it alone. Helping fellow pastors refocus on the gospel, pastor Jared Wilson here offers practical insights, real-life anecdotes, and in-your-face truth related to the ups and downs of pastoral ministry. Honest yet hopeful, this creative fusion of biblical exposition and personal confession will help pastors weather the storms of ministry by rooting their identity in Christ.

Endorsements for The Pastor’s Justification

“Wilson is one of my favorite thinkers. Of the books he has written, this one is especially edifying to me. He knows the highs and lows of our calling. His conviction, passion, and wit pour out onto the page as he shepherds those of us who are shepherding the flock.”
MATT CHANDLER, Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, Texas; author, The Explicit Gospel

“Jared exercises his considerable pastoral compassion and skill to offer a fresh, much-needed word for burned-out pastors.”
DANIEL MONTGOMERY, Pastor, Sojourn Community Church, Louisville

“Jared is a welcomed guide for pastors who want off of the performance treadmill.”
DARRIN PATRICK, Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri; author, Church Planter

“Pastor, you are not alone—your feelings of loneliness, fear, insecurity, and mediocrity are shared by all pastors, to one degree or another. Every congregation should want their pastor to read this book, and every pastor will want his congregation to do the same.”
BURK PARSONS, Pastor, St. Andrew’s Church; Editor, Tabletalk magazine

Preview an Excerpt

Download a PDF of the excerpt

Learn more | Buy now


Free Study Guide for Begg & Ferguson’s Name above All Names

Name Above All Names Study Guide CoverWe’re pleased to share with you this study guide companion to Name Above All Names by Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson, put together by our friends at Truth for Life.

Containing seven sessions to help you study the Bible’s multi-faceted portrayal of Christ’s identity and ministry, this study guide can be used for small groups or personal reflection alongside Name Above All Names. Each session includes four parts:

  1. Getting Started – a quote from the book with an introductory question
  2. Key Scriptures – key Bible verses referenced in the chapter
  3. Going Deeper – questions to help you process the main ideas of the chapter
  4. Giving Praise – a poem, hymn, or verse that can be committed to memory and incorporated in worship.

The opening words of Name above All Names summarize the impetus behind this book and study guide which we commend to you:

Jesus Christ has been given the name above all names. The names
assigned to him begin in Genesis and end in Revelation. Taken together
they express the incomparable character of Jesus Christ our Savior and
Lord. Reflecting on them better prepares us to respond to the exhortations
of Scripture, to focus our gaze upon him, and to meditate on how great he is.

Download the Study Guide

Learn more about Name Above All Names



Weekly Ebook Specials: Leadership Resources

We hope to see some of you at Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit later this week. We’re eager to talk with leaders about the forthcoming ESV Gospel Transformation Bible and Kevin DeYoung’s Crazy Busy—two resources that will make a unique contribution to life and ministry in our day.

For the leaders we won’t get to see see this week, we’ve discounted a selection of resources just for you.

To learn more about each title, click on the covers below to find them at Crossway.org. You’ll also find the ebooks at their reduced prices on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshout, Christianbook.com, eChristian, ibooks (apple), Vyrso, or your participating independent bookstore’s site. Discounted prices available through 8/12/2013.*

This Week’s Ebook Specials:

Leaders who Last

Leaders Who Last

By Dave Kraft

$11.99 $1.99

The Christian life is like a race, and too many Christian leaders stumble, burn out, or veer off track. What will it take for you to be a leader who finishes well? This book models a practical and godly approach to leadership that will equip pastors, elders, and small group and volunteer leaders. Part of the Re:Lit series.

“A book for leaders who want to keep growing in their understanding of leadership, finish strongly, and lead with passion.”
—Mike Treneer, International President, The Navigators

Learn more | Buy now

Mistakes Leaders Make

Mistakes Leaders Make

By Dave Kraft

$11.99 $1.99

Using his extensive leadership experience, Dave Kraft identifies the top ten most fatal (and commonly unaddressed) mistakes leaders make to help readers avoid these errors and have ministries and relationships that last.

“Should be required reading for every ministry leader.”
—Patrick Lencioni, President, The Table Group

Learn more | Buy now

Church Planter

Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission

By Darrin Patrick, Foreword by Mark Driscoll

$12.99 $1.99

Darrin Patrick examines the biblical criteria of the man, the message, and the mission behind every church plant. An invaluable resource for both pastors and seminary students considering a church plant and for those seeking to better understand the gospel in their own churches.

“A great book on church planting that balances the personal spiritual issues with the theological, cultural, and technical. Church planters should all read this.”
—Timothy Keller, Senior Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City

Learn more | Buy now

The Leadership Dynamic

The Leadership Dynamic

By Harry L. Reeder III, with Rod Gragg

$9.99 $1.99

With his three-pronged approach to leadership development, a veteran pastor presents a biblical model of multiplication that continuously raises up leaders and strategically deploys them in ever-increasing waves into the church and the culture. An important addition to any church’s training strategy.

Learn more | Buy now

Coming Up Next Week: Work in the life of the Believer

*Note: Some discounts may be unavailable outside the United States due to international rights agreements.

August 7, 2013 | Posted in: Books,Church and Ministry,Leadership,Weekly Ebook Specials | Author: Ted Cockle @ 9:05 am | 0 Comments »