Thursday, December 30, 2010

On Resolutions

Each year, as we prepare to turn our calendars over to the New Year ahead, articles surface seemingly from every domain vilifying the perennial practice of resolution-making. After all, the idea of making a resolution in the first place assumes first identifying something wrong with our selves, something that we are compelled to fix or to be better at. Resolutions are at the heart of the human experience, identifying what think we need to do or should not do. They start and end with (mostly man-made) imperatives.
Even business management gurus are known to deride the resolution in favor of setting objectives or accomplishments, which improves somewhat upon the legalist impulse found in resolution-making. In order to set goals, objectives, and accomplishments for the coming year, business folks typically begin by defining a strategy and what they value most.  From their business's core values they derive specific measurable outcomes which define their success. An example in business might begin with the core value customer service, and a goal of creating outstanding customer satisfaction, which in turn creates the objective of increasing face time with the customer by 20% each quarter.
In the domestic realm, I may determine that time with my family is a top priority; therefore, one of my objectives could then be to spend every Saturday with my immediate family this coming year, instead of every other Saturday, as I did this past year. Again, the emphasis here really is on the imperative and pragmatic, with a focus on quantifying specific improvements. Although these are areas of high value, this approach ends up being only a piecemeal approach that puts the weight on picking oneself up by the proverbial bootstraps.
The approach that I believe deserves more attention at this time is visualization. In some respects visualization has gotten a bad rap, for instance, in sports, where slogans like “Be the Ball” abound. In the evangelical world, visualization is even more convoluted with messages that exhort with “imagine your best life now” platitudes or “name it, claim it” theology.
The type of visualization that I think has some merit might seem a bit too esoteric if you’re more of the pragmatic type, but stick with me, because we’ll get there. Think: “What is the chief end of man? To Glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” right? Then a proper Biblical view of visualization would necessarily start and end with the glory of God.
2 Cor.3:18 ”And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate [(behold, reflect) (in the Word of God) as in a mirror]  the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Biblical visualization then is beholding, contemplating and reflecting the Lord’s Glory. When we spend “face time” with Him, we become more like Him. We are transformed into His image by The Word of God. The previous verses go further to show us that it is specifically the Gospel that transforms us into his image and glory:
2 Cor. 3:7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
So, as we reflect on the Gospel of Jesus Christ (the indicative), our righteousness waxes in ever-increasing glory. Our resolutions and accomplishments (the imperatives) flow out of the abundance of the grace and truth that we find as we look into the face of Christ.

The most basic way for us to “see” Jesus is by studying the Gospels. Unfortunately, this concept has been neglected, perhaps partly because of the bad press over the “Red Letter”-only style of evangelicalism that stratifies the scriptures and relegates other portions of the Bible based on “whether-Jesus-ever-said- anything-about-it.” Of course, Jesus IS the Word, therefore, such reasoning is fallacious at the most elementary level.

However, the principal point I want to make is that if we want to KNOW Jesus, I believe the very best place to start is in the Gospel accounts. When I was first saved, I remember asking folks where I should start in reading the Bible, because it seemed a bit overwhelming and intimidating at first. The answers I got fit generally into three categories:
1)      Start at the beginning in Genesis, because the Bible needs to be taken as a whole. This advice came from both my Catholic friends and my extremely conservative, mostly reformed friends.
2)      It doesn’t matter. The entire Bible is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. A few people took this approach – true, but not all that helpful for a total newbie.
3)      Read one of the Gospel accounts, preferably the Gospel of John. Most of my self-proclaimed “born again” friends were firm believers in this approach.

I must say that #3 proved by far to be the most beneficial, and the one that I recommend heartily.

John 20:30 says: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

After reading the Gospel of John, I immediately picked up the phone and called Alan, my friend who had originally invited me to Bible study and church. I told him something along the lines of, “Alan! I just finished the Gospel of John and I know it’s true – all of it. I believe every word, and I know now without a doubt, I’m Christian. I wasn’t totally sure if I believed all the Christian faith before now, but now I’m certain!!"

This type of enthusiasm that I get every time I read about what Jesus has done and about His promises is what I believe John is writing about in Revelation when he quotes Jesus speaking to the seven churches saying, “You have forgotten your first love.” I remember my first love and whenever I long for Him again, I gravitate toward those books in the Bible where Jesus is directly revealed. Not always the “Red Letter” books only. Often, it includes OT prophets and historical narratives. Yet, every once in a while a good soaking in John or Luke or Matthew revives my faith with the most profound indicatives.

One final place where I think we may glean a Biblical concept of visualization is in God’s promises.
So, to prepare for the start of the New Year, rather than coming up with resolutions of my own, I think I'll stick with the indicatives of what Christ has already done and to what He has promised to to those of us who are His children:
  1. His grace is sufficient for us. (2 Cor. 12:9). In fact, He has made provision for our salvation by His grace through faith.
  2. God has promised that His children will not be overtaken with temptation 1 Cor. 10:13. Instead, He assures us that a way of escape will be provided.
  3. God promises: “I will never leave you or forsake you. So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Heb. 13:5-6
  4. "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling and to present your faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy" (Jude v 24).
  5. God has promised us victory over death. He first resurrected Jesus by way of assuring our resurrection.
    "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (I Corinthians 15:3,4). and: "but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 15:57).
  6. God has promised, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
  7. God has promised that all things work together for good to those who love and serve Him (Romans 8:28).
  8. God has promised that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
  9. God has said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5).
  10. God has promised His people eternal life (John 10:27,28).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Grammar of the Gospel

Did you know that the Gospel has a specific grammar?

Sinclair Ferguson masterfully unfolds the beauty of our union with Christ in the videos below, showing us the invaluable worth of this doctrine for Christian theology and life. Yet, it is also, perhaps, one of the most neglected.

Union With Christ in Christian Living - Main Session 2 from Parkside Church on Vimeo.


Sinclair Ferguson - Paul on Union With Christ (Main Session - Video) from Parkside Church on Vimeo.


One of the key sections in the conference session came when Dr. Ferguson spoke about the structure—or grammar—of the gospel. Justin Taylor wrote about Dr. Ferguson's talk: "Natively, the gospel is a foreign language to us and we need to learn that the grammar of the gospel is shaped by the gospel itself. He noted how hard it is for us as Americans to learn Latin. The verbs go at the end end. We are a doing community and it’s hard for us to put the 'doing' at the end. But the gospel teaches us to put our doing word at the end and Jesus’ doing word at the beginning—but our native tendency is to drag back the doing word and put it at the beginning, and then top that up with Jesus’ doing, just to make life a little better."

Here are some of his notes on the a very clear grammar of the gospel. . . .

"The Mood of the Gospel

We need to learn that the grammar of the gospel has its appropriate mood.

In our languages today we speak in the indicative mood and the imperative mood. The indicative mood is saying these are the things that are true. The imperative mood is saying these are things you need to do. And in the gospel, the structure of the grammar is always indicative gives rise to imperative. . . .

The Tense of the Gospel

There’s also a tense of the gospel: the present is to be rooted in the past. You need to go backward to what Christ has done in order to go forward in what you are to do. There is an emphasis of the already and the mopping-up operation of the not-yet.

The Prepositions of the Gospel

Do you remember how Paul uses prepositions in Galatians 2:20-21, where in a few words he summarizes the work of Christ:

The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me;
and therefore I am crucified with Christ;
nevertheless, I live, but not I; Christ lives in me.

In these three prepositions the apostle Paul has, in a sense, summarized the basic structure of our union with Christ.

Since we were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, he came as our substitute and representative—there is this sense in which we now know through faith that we were crucified with Christ. And the past that dominated us has been nailed to the cross; the dominion of sin that reigned over us has been broken—so that he has died for us and we have been crucified with him, and wonder of wonders there is this third dimension of our union with Christ: a mutual union, in which not only are we are said to be in Christ, but Christ the Lord of glory, in all the fullness of his role as our benefactor comes to dwell in the heart of the merest believer."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel!

My favorite Christmas hymn by Selah with scenes from The Nativity Story.
Very nice.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

RC Sproul Jr in Columbia

An excerpt from R.C. Sproul Jr's article yesterday called "A Gringo in Columbia:"

"This is not, by the grace of God, my first time in a less developed nation. Beyond several such trips I have also been privileged to minister from time to time in prisons around the country. In each case I walk into the situation thinking myself a fine fellow, and walk out ashamed. My shame is found in my relative spiritual immaturity in comparison of those I have come to “help.” I’m supposed to be bringing a message from God. Instead God speaks to me- “You are soft, pampered, and worst of all you are proud.” I come in eager to teach. I go home grateful for what I have learned. And then I forget. "

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Made me weep

HT: John Samson of Reformation Theology and Effectual Call.
For two reasons, I can't help but weep when watching this video of the people of the Kimyal tribe in West Papua, New Guinea as they receive their first ever New Testament translated into their own language. The way they rejoice, celebrate, and wail the arrival of Bibles from World Mission is enough to make any brother or sister in Christ weep with them exalting in the joy of the Lord.

The second reason, as Rev. Samson and the missionaries in the video all mention, is the conviction of just how easily we take for granted as Christians in America our unrestricted access to the Word of God. How many of us have multiple copies of multiple translations. I know I own four NIVs (Streams in the Desert, NIV Study Bible, Pocket Leather Bound, Woman of the Word Study Bible), two KJVs (one no frills, the other is a Geneva Study Bible), one Message, two NKJ (Spirit-Filled Believer version and Oswald Chambers Daily Devotional version), two NASBs (Zophiates Hebrew/Greek Keyword Study and a straight paper cover), two ESVs (Daily Reader version, and Reformation Study Bible version). Those are the ones I remember off the top of my head. I probably have a few others stashed away somewhere. My point is: I weep when I think of just how much I take for granted that one of my Bibles will always be there for me, and yet how rarely in the grand scheme of things I actually soak it in and appreciate it as I should.

Watch this video and be amazed by people who are EXCITED to receive God's Word!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Milton's contribution to Modern English

Shakespeare was my favorite author of study during my college years. Yet, I'd have to say my first 'true literary love' award would have to go to John Milton. His epic poem, "Paradise Lost," was an amazingly picturesque portrayal of the story of the creation, rebellion and fall that impacted me greatly.

The language was challenging and rewarding, which was more than I could say for my experience with Chaucer. Most of my fellow classmates were taken with Chaucer's catchy character portrayals and the jovial, if crude and crass, joking in his stories. His Middle English was a challenge, but my peers were motivated to find out things such as how the churlish Miller's Tale would end. For some reason I was just not as motivated by Chaucer as I was by Shakespeare and Milton (See First Things for their "Literary Smackdown: Shakespeare vs. Chaucer").

What I remember most from my BritLit course was listening to my professor as he read the first book of Paradise Lost to us, which opened an entirely new and higher level of English comprehension for me going forward.

This year, as I was substituting for an Honors English class in a public high school, I was privileged to teach Book 1 of Paradise Lost , and then lead the students in answering a battery of questions afterward. So, in keeping with my professor's example, I read about half of the book to them. To my great pleasure, they too silently listened as I did my best to impart his amazing words. Hopefully, they were able to gain from the richness of his language.

Guardian magazine recently published an article detailing Milton's tremendous contributions to Modern English, comparing his work to other literary giants. None of them came close. Here is a sampling: outer space, stunning, literalism, unprincipled, unaccountable, irresponsible, arch-fiend, self-delusion, pandemonium and sensuous, just to name a few of the 630 words accredited to him.
Very interesting!

A shadow as darkness and nothingness, compared with its source: Christ

An incredible article at Gospel Coalition by Will about the gospel and Vietnam's search for identity. Originally called "Reality or Less Than Nothing" this article is pure genius.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another Title for the Wishlist: Unbroken

Tim Challies reviewed the book here, giving the book a glowing endorsement and calling it "one of 2010's must reads".

Here is the promo from the author, Lauren Hillenbrand:



My wishlist seems to be growing very quickly lately. I just received two books on singleness that I'm looking forward to reading: "Redeeming Singleness" by Barry Danylak (forward by John Piper) and "Washed and Waiting" by Wesley Hill. I'm so blessed and grateful to be able to enjoy such great reading material. Thank you, Lord for all of your mercies.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give Thanks!

The Parent of All Virtues Excerpt from the CT article:

"We have trouble being grateful because we fail to acknowledge our sinfulness and debt. Isn't that why we complain about every slight from family or friends?

"The truth is that we have so many things to be thankful for, including family, home, work, play, food, drink, and everything else that goes into daily life. But the God who provides these things has given us an even better gift: himself.

"God has revealed himself to us, giving us his Word, granting us faith and the Holy Spirit, hearing our prayers, and forgiving our sins. So, rejoice and receive the gifts of God, confessing him and his goodness. Or, as the psalmist says, 'Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.'"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Singleness with a Purpose

At the Gospel Coalition Brooks Waldron writes:

It is in light of the temporary nature of this present world, including the marriage calling, that believers in Christ are to strive towards that which is eternal—devotion to Christ. While all Christians are called to this devotion, it is the calling of singleness that puts on display the eternal nature of this devotion. Singleness demonstrates, in the present, the future reality of the church’s union with Christ, for in the age to come all will be as single Christians are now. Christ will be united to his people in marriage forever, and his people will all be single—devoted to him alone. Singleness glorifies God by communicating the message that love and devotion to Christ is primary and eternal. It says to the watching world: God is enough. God is sufficient. God is better than anything, or anyone, else. God is worth all the pain of following him. This is the meaning of singleness. It is high calling. And the message it communicates is not about the single person, but about God himself.
Read More>>>

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change

A brand new book is going on the top of my wishlist; it's called "Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change." The author also has a brand new blog by the same title available here.

Here is a brief introduction/description of the book (it's right in line with my current study interests and I hope will be of interest to anyone else who still checks in from time to time.):

The central claim in Christ Formed in You is that it is God’s purpose to change us by progressively making us more like Jesus, and that this happens only as we understand and apply the gospel to our lives. In this book we will explore the transforming power of the gospel from several angles.



Part One focuses on the foundations for personal change. We will look at God’s ultimate goal in transforming us, the key to transformation, which is the gospel itself, and the application of the gospel to our lives in specific ways.

Part Two then takes up the pattern of personal change. It explores the captivating beauty of gospel holiness with its demands that we both kill sin and grow in grace by the power of the Spirit, and the quest for joy that motivates us in this pursuit and strengthens us in the battle for holiness.


Part Three focuses on the means of personal change, the tools God uses to transform us. These final three chapters, while building on the foundation of the gospel discussed earlier in the book, are the most practical. We will learn how God uses spiritual disciplines, suffering, and personal relationships in the body of Christ to conform us to the image of Christ.

In addition, endorsements from Steven J. Lawson, Paul David Tripp, Kris Lundgaard and Del Fehsenfeld, along with a Foreword by Donald Whitney also add to the book's promise. Wishlist update completed. (ht:www.challies.com)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Recipients First: Then Participants

Kelly Kapic speaks about his book, "God So Loved, He Gave"


Here is some of what he says in the second half of the video:
"What the story of divine generosity is about is that we receive God's grace - Radical Grace- but then we become avenues of that grace.

"So, part of what we have to understand is that when we call one another to generosity, to giving, whatever we mean by those terms, it can't be anything, at least not for Christians, that is self-generated. We are not simply trying to pull something out of ourselves. We are not simply trying to make something out of nothing.  
"But he is inviting us into this floodstream of his generosity. On the one hand, we are invited to receive, and on the other hand we are called to give. To participate in this movement of God."
Check out the video and his website here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith

Isaiah 25:6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare


a feast of rich food for all peoples,

a banquet of aged wine—

the best of meats and the finest of wines.

7 On this mountain he will destroy

the shroud that enfolds all peoples,

the sheet that covers all nations;
8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears

from all faces;

he will remove his people’s disgrace

from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.


9 In that day they will say,

“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

Tim Keller ends his book "The Prodigal God, Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith" with this quote of Isaiah 25:6-8. (I added verse 9 to the end). I'm looking forward to going through the book over the next couple of evenings. I love how Dr. Keller usually seems to understand the real heart issues and God's loving and sovereign response in each situation. Looks to be a promising read.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Are We Practical Evolutionists?

Had this idea tonight that if we can be practical atheists, why not practical evolutionists, too?
I mean, we profess God as creator and can give an awesome apologetic response for the evidences of creation and the intellignet design that is evident in nature. But... do we really believe in the source of this creational power -- the very Word of God??

God spoke the world into existence - He said, "Let there be light." and there was light.
The light couldn't make itself. Darkness cannot pick itself up by its bootstraps and become light in its own power.

No matter how many petry dishes and experiments that attempt to simulate primordial ooze we concoct, we'll never achieve the miraculous power of a single Word from the mouth of God.

Jesus is the Word of God and all things that are came through Him.

God's words have power, making dead bones come alive.

Dead things cannot make themselves alive any more than we can pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and be good people.
The Commandments of the Lord are not: you need to stop doing this and you must start doing that.
The Commandments of the Lord are perfect contain the enabling power to obey.
When Jesus says, "Go and sin no more," the word of His command has the same life-giving power as the original act of creation. Do we really believe in His power? Or are we practical evolutionists?

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

The first time I encountered this term, I was reading Dr. Michael Horton's book entritled, "Christless Christianity." The book was widely acclaimed by many evangelical church leaders for its deriding in the first few chapters of the Joel Osteen line of thinking of shallow optimism, aka, how to live "Your Best Life Now" in three easy steps. Yet, Horton goes on to cut to the quick of not just a few of those evangelistic preachers in his later chapters when he introduces the topic of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

What is MTD? Let's check out what the original authors who coined the term have to say. 

In Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton find that most young people subscribe to moral statutes that are not exclusive to any of the major world religions:

1.A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.

2.God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.

3.The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.

4.God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.

5.Good people go to heaven when they die.
While these points of belief were compiled from interviews with approximately 3,000 teenagers both in and outside of the church, estute theologians and pastors who have their fingers on the pulse of evangelicalism are noticing that much of what passes for preaching in pulpits is nothing more than the same.

If we are to have any discernable impact whatsoever on the unsaved, the unchurched, and the sheep in the fold, we MUST be about the gospel. People are simply bombarded with MTD. It's everywhere. The only thing that is radical anymore IS Christ. The Gospel itself. Do you know what the Gospel is? (Hint: it's not moralistic therapeutic deism).

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ramping Up for Reformation Day

Three great pieces to get me started thinking about Reformation Day:

1 - Curtis (aka Voice) sings the first ever rap about the Heidelberg Catechism by Kevin DeYong's request - Link  For a rap song, it is one of the best I've heard! The Heidelberg Confession was the focus of Kevin's speech a tthe Sovereign Grace conference and his newest book called, The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism (Moody, 2010).

2 - Justin Taylor interviews Dr. Carl Trueman on Luther's 95 Theses

3- (Redux) A Satire from The Onion online: Modern-Day Martin Luther Nails 95-Comment Cards to IHop Door I still laugh out loud everytime I read this. And I've probably read it more than a hundred times!

Our church will be joining a couple of other local churches on the evening of the 31st to hear a message about the Reformation from a local OPC pastor. We're looking forward to the shared fellowship.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Afraid of Grace?

Tullian asks, Are You Afraid of Grace? He links to an article he wrote for the Resurgence, and here are a few quotes to get you interested:
"The biggest lie about grace that Satan wants the church to buy is the idea that grace is dangerous and therefore needs to be 'kept in check.'”
"In other words, there are two 'laws' we can choose to live by other than Christ: the law which says, 'I can find freedom and fullness of life if I keep the rules' or the law which says 'I can find freedom and fullness of life if I break the rules.' Either way you’re still trying to 'save' yourself"
"The irony of gospel-based sanctification is that those who end up obeying more are those who increasingly realize that their standing with God is not based on their obedience, but Christ’s. The people who actually end up performing better are those who understand that their relationship with God doesn’t depend on their performance for Jesus, but Jesus’ performance for us."
"imperatives minus indicatives equal impossibilities"
And I'll end with this:
“If your preaching of the gospel doesn't provoke the charge from some of antinomianism, you're not preaching the gospel.” - Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A discussion of the application of grace

JB: "Finishing the deck on my house and praying for a good inspector who understands grace and isn't hung up on law, so I pass the first around."

DB: "But then he wouldn't be perfectly just :-) Someone has to fulfill the requirement of the law, perhaps you could have used Jesus' carpenter skills on this one - lol"

Me: "The truly gracious inspector will send his own son, the carpenter, to fullfill the requirements of the code on our behalf. AND he pays for it by himself, taking the debt upon himself, because he knows we could never afford the perfect carpenter -- His son, Jesus."

This is not a judgment of anyone in the conversation. It is simply an illustration of how our thinking tends to go. I think any one of the three statements could have been made by any of these three people. It just so happens that I had a chance to think about it a little more and to resonate more deeply on how to apply the Gospel.

Analysis: The first thought is: I sure hope the person judging will be gracious, because I worked hard and don't want to be rejected. I put my all into this and don't want to have additional expense that I hadn't planned for. Something like that.

The second thought is: Well, perhaps if I had worked harder or smarter or had better skills or was a better study, then I would have been able to meet the code. If I had modeled myself after the master builder, Jesus (or the guy on this Old House, you know someone with real skills) then I would have been in much better shape. WWJD? That's what I SHOULD have done.

The third thought is: Who am I kidding? I could never be the perfect carpenter and meet with the perfect standard required by the inspector. He demands perfection, and I am not capable of it - no matter how much I study or how many hours I put into it.  I will do my best to the glory of God, but even my best efforts fall far short of His Glory.

So, I give my best and rest. I rest knowing that inspector will check the work and what he sees is not my faulty workmanship, but he sees his sons' work -- the work of the perfect carpenter, who met the entire code, fulfilled all the requirements of the law and whose work is now considered mine. I humbly submit my filthy rags (good works) at the foot of the cross and when I get the inspector's bill of approval it says: "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Worship Music Irony

While the pop church is busy incorporating worldly music into the worship liturgy, rockers of the past are reversing their musical tastes. Previously, we saw Johnny Cash go this route in his last album projects. A couple of weeks ago, I commented on how Robert Plant of the famed heavy metal band Led Zeppelin has seemed to turn to Christ over past several years and recent album projects.

Now here is Tom Jones with his newest musical project, reflecting his life mellowing (a return to home, as CBS News put it, since he grew up in the church singing hymns):

Did Trouble Me


In this morning's featured piece on Tom Jones' return to his roots, he is portayed as the classic Prodigal Son. When asked to sing impromptu, Mr. Jones chooses "The Old Rugged Cross." Check out the video here. And here is the text version.

Here is a link to him in an interview with CBS discussing his love for British gospel hymns as a child attending a Presbyterian Church in Wales. Now, back at home in Wales, he is recording hymns, something that he said he always wanted to return to, even in the days when he used to sing with Elvis. Very interesting I think.

Whether or not he has been converted, (other than his song selections, he doesn't provide much of a testimony to that end) one thing is plain. His generation of singers is without excuse, just as Romans 1 puts it. He even acknowledges this clearly singing here -- "Nobody's Fault":

Off to worship now (or God will raise up the "Rocks")

Oh, also, I think we should pray for these men who are obviously convicted and troubled about their sin and need for God. Pray that the Prodigals would continue to hear The Gospel!! When we are truly convicted, we all need to hear clearly about what our great Savior, Jesus Christ, has done on our behalf and the great redemption that we now possess in Him. Pray that they repent and do not linger on their past. God bless.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Name Better Than Sons and Daughters!

(updated)
John Piper's sermon for those who are "Single in Christ" discusses the biblical justification and historical-redemptive blessings promised to those who remain single (read or watch at Desiring God).


Scripture passage:
Isaiah 56:1-7


Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” 3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”; and let not the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” 4 For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, 5 I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. 6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
Much of Piper's sermon was said to be attributed to research conducted by Barry Danylak for his book called, "Redeeming Singleness: How the Storyline of Scripture Affirms the Single Life” (Foreword by John Piper) " His excellent research is available here>>>

The Story Behind the Chilean Miners' Jesus T-Shirts

At CNN today: The Story Behind the Chilean Miners' Jesus T-Shirts
"The T-shirts were a gift from Campus Crusade for Christ Chile," Fiess said. "In the front you can read, 'Gracias Senor' – 'Thank you Lord.'"


On the back, Psalm 95:4: "In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him.'"

On the sleeve: "The Jesus Film," which all of the miners got to watch in full via MP3s sent to them by Campus Crusade.
"Apparently, all the miners liked them (the t-shirts)," Fiess said. "It kind of solidified them."

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Gospel and The Christian

Jollyblogger posted an excellent article titled: "Is the gospel of any use to the Christian?" In it he shares a somewhat hypothetical discussion between himself and another Christian on the merits of desiring more quiet time with God. He challenges his subject (Bill) to a greater understanding of the gospel hope and promise he already possesses in Christ. It's a great piece that you should read, since I can't really do it justice in my summary.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bad Jobs

At Ivman's Blague Bad Jobs are highlighted. He's got images of some (funny)bad jobs that some people do when they don't put their all into their work. In addition, he offers some funny shots of people who have jobs that none of us would like, but they do them anyway.

Here's a sample:

His end quote: "Our tendency to want to work for Christ can surpass our desire to walk with Christ." — Dave Doran. Read more>>>

Friday, October 8, 2010

Africa and Anger, Spiritual Warfare and Mission

Ed Welch writes a very powerful article about spiritual warfare experiences that are so prevelant in places like Africa, where darkness, hatred, anger and jealousy are seen as clear sign posts of the demonic activity of the evil one. He goes on to share how the Kingdom of Christ continues to advance everywhere, shining the light of the gospel and redemption even in the midst of heavy spiritual warfare -- in the foreign lands of Africa, and in his counseling office back here in the states.

It does seem that we Americans are less tuned into the realities of the work of the evil one and his darkness in the spiritual warfare happening all around us. As Dr. Welch says, the influence of the rulers of darkness most often tend to manifest themselves in anger, hatred, jealousy, and division. When I find these ugly emotions broiling up inside, it is not only indicating the presence of an idolatrous heart (which it most certainly is that - just not exclusively that).

Becoming more aware of the power of evil so that we may flee from Satan's tactics will keep him from gain a foothold in our hearts and minds. But if I am ignorant of his wiles, then I'm much more defenseless. So, I appreciate Dr. Welch's head's up on guarding against these types of temptations. Afterall, the emotion of anger can be highly addictive, just as much as a powerful narcotic. Every angry sentiment that gets nursed, breeds more anger and leads to a murderous heart. Being mindful of these things is certainly a huge benefit. Yet, apart from the grace of God, the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, the redemptive forgiveness of the cross of Christ, and the ordained means of Grace given, I would be left in a hopeless, wretched state, despite my knowledge of the former. Praise be to God that He does not leave us to our own devices! (I will try to write more on prayer, which I think is crucial here, in a later post)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Post Modern, Late Modern, High Modern Continuities

Tim Keller writes on the struggles that today's apologists face in light of "postmodern" ideology, which he sees more accurately as "late modern" and not as nearly at odds with modernity as most folks seem to think. Rather, the continuities reside in still present strands of Enlightment principles:
"The underlying thread that ties all this together is the inconceivability of a moral order based on an authority more fundamental than one's own reason or experience. That was the founding principle of the Enlightenment, and that is the cornerstone of the most recent generation. So how can we say the Enlightenment is over?"
Read the whole post>>>

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

CCEF Conference 2010

As a single person who continues to receive email reminders throughout the year about CCEF's 2010 NATIONAL CONFERENCE on Marriage, called "For Better or Worse," scheduled for November 11-14, I also have the urge to ignore and delete each of the messages. Fortunately, I avoid the urge and do skim the emails, because CCEF offers so many excellent resources that I don't want to miss out on something.

Today, I received an email update about This Year's CCEF National Conference Worship Leader: Matt Mason, and I was smiling from ear to ear. Here's his bio stuff:

Matt Mason serves on the pastoral team at Lakeview Christian Center, a Sovereign Grace-affiliated church in New Orleans. He and his wife Paula have been married since 1996 and have 3 children. Matt's father pastored a small church in New Orleans which gave him the opportunity to begin serving in music ministry from age 12. He went to a small missions college in Dallas and while there had the opportunity to be a part of two live worship recordings as well as traveling with a music ministry team across parts of the U.S., England, and Canada. After getting married, he spent two years working with a short-term missions organization before becoming a pastor at Lakeview. Matt has done workshops and has led worship at the Sovereign Grace WorshipGOD Conference and serves Bob Kauflin as a Regional Worship Coordinator for Sovereign Grace.

I had the good pleasure to meet Matt at the 2008 NEXT Conference in Baltimore, when I was assigned to his small group for prayer and study (the same year I got to meet Carolyn McCulley). Because I had served on a missions trip the prior year in New Orleans, he and I got to talk a bit about NOLA. Then, about one month later, when our mission team returned to New Orleans for our second year, our trip leader had coordinated to have our team worship with Matt at his church. It was so awesome to actuallly get to see him again so soon, serving in his ministry. It was really neat.

So, when I saw that he was actually leading worship at the CCEF conference, I had to post about it (even though the conference is about something I will probably never need to know about -- either here  or in eternity, but who knows, eh?)

Meanwhile, I can pray for Matt's continued ministry!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blindspots

Three excellent posts related to our "Blindspots"
9 Marks on the Washington Post, Blindspots, and the Noetic Effects of Sin. The article highlighted four possible blindspots of our current day society and questioned the exclusion of a fifth blindspot: abortion.
 
Jollyblogger reminds us in his health update of the daily Kindness of God, definitely something we tend to be blinded toward, needing such a helpful reminder.

Tara posted a sermon link to a classic Tim Keller sermon called: "The Healing of Anger" where he diagnoses the underlying reasons for why we so often tend to be blinded to the out-of-controlness of anger. (And even more importantly he offers the gospel solution too.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Submitting to God's Righteousness

Elyse Fitzpatrick writing on the topic of submission says "submission is harder than you think." She discusses Romans 10 and how the Pharisees had serious difficulty submitting to the righteousness that comes from God, rather than their own form of righteousness -- a human temptation for us all, I suppose. Especially moi.
Here's an excerpt: "Let’s pray today that the Lord may grant us all, women and men, the grace to submit ourselves to his righteousness and stop seeking to establish our own . . . no matter what form that might take." Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Free Downloads at PuritanLibrary.com

Loads of Puritan authors' books are now available for free download at www.puritanlibrary.com
The downloads are available as PDFs, Epub, and Kindle mobi files.
Many authors available, including: Richard Sibbes, John Owen, Thomas Watson, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, Richard Baxter, Jeremiah Burroughs, William Gurnall, and John Newton, just to name a few.

Also included are such works as The Westminster Confession of Faith.

More on Christ and Culture

Dr. David VanDrunnen's series of lectures on Christianity and Culture are now available at The Latest Post. The lecture series was sponsored by the Reformation Society of Oregon.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Gospel of John

Today I started a study of the Gospel of John, which I plan to go through on my own over the next month. I'm using the NIV, ESV, and NASB translations as well as two commentaries. This will be the fourth or fifth time that I study John, so as I go through the study this time, I plan to post on any new insights or "ah hah" moments as I go through it.

The first commentary I'm using is by R.C. Sproul and is an expositional commentary made up of 57 chapters that are based on a sermon series he taught at St. Andrews a couple of years ago. In particular, reviewers of the commentary praise Dr. Sproul's insights and exposition on passages that many find difficult and his ability to draw the reader closer to the Savior and to a greater depth of love and devotion to Him.

The second commentary I'll be using is "Jesus the Evangelist" by Rick Phillips. Rather than trying to describe what I think the book will do, here is Rev. Phillips' video introduction:


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Holy Groans

via Considerable Grace

Excellent piece from RZIM's devotional, Slice of Infinity, called Holy Groans. Profound and inspiring, the article offers many quotable sentences. Out of all of them, this one grabbed me most:
"When it comes to questions of love and suffering, the voice of the smallest, the poorest, and the most vulnerable carries an authority far beyond that of philosophical treatises or the debates of the 'experts.'"
So true, is it not?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Three 'Sticky' Things - (Kingdom Stuff)

Since it has been a long time since my last update, I'd like to share three things here that I've found particularly noteworthy and memorable (sticky) in the past few weeks.

First is "The Endless Evangelical Quest for Ultimate Transformation" a lengthy but thought-provoking article by Owen Strachan with many embedded links to additional  landmark contributions by authors such as Michael Horton, Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert. Here is a summary excerpt:
"While we hope to work with all our energy to spread the gospel and show grace to the fallen, we do so knowing that 1) we are not God and 2) we cannot altogether defeat sin and suffering. In fact, it seems like Revelation indicates that the world will get worse as time goes on rather than better (Greg Gilbert makes this point in his new book). Much as we hate this reality, much as we hate political corruption, and children suffering, and boys growing up to drop out and abuse women and children, and cataclysmic levels of human starvation, and spiritual idolatry, and the encroachment of Islam, and the breathtaking unfairness of the academic and cultural elite, and the advancement of sex trafficking, and every other ill, we are not God, we are not sovereign, and the Bible makes painfully clear that sin and wickedness and suffering on a stratospheric scale will be with us to the bitter end.

Jesus has won; Satan is defeated; victory is sure. The kingdom is advancing as the gospel is advancing (praise God!). Christians, filled with a love for the Lord and a sense for how He blesses radical faith, are attempting great things for Him. May that only continue. But we need to do so not with a naive optimism, with a worldly hope that is set, like a swelling balloon, to pop, but with a rich blend of complete trust in our Lord and Savior and full awareness of our own finitude and our world’s depravity.
“Plodding visionaries,” indeed. Full of hope; full of honesty. This is a Genesis 3 faith with an Isaiah 53 twist–and a Revelation 21 ending."
Next, is a video of Darrin Patrick (author of the book "Church Planter") interviewing Andy Crouch (author of the book "Culture Making") about the tension/distinction between dependence on God vs. being engaged culturally. http://vimeo.com/13246429



Church Planters, Cultural Engagement and Spiritual Power. from Journey-Creative on Vimeo.


Finally, this past week, I purchased and have enjoyed Robert Plant's new album, "Band of Joy". I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by what seems to be a Christian testimony in his work. I've not yet confirmed precisely what denomination or "brand of faith" he professes, but I did read an article in which he said he attended worship services at a church. (Keep in mind, I'm a major Led Zep fan from way back, and while the new album doesn't try to be anything close to heavy metal, the music is fairly eclectic. I'd recommend sampling it, rather than buying it, unless you're a regular R.P. fan.)

Thought I'd share the poem from which the lyrics come here from one of my favorite songs on the new album (it's the last song, which appears just after he sings "I heard the voice of Jesus say, Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down"-- facinating stuff):
Once in Persia reigned a king
Who upon his signet ring
Graved a maxim true and wise
Which if held before his eyes

Gave him counsel at a glance
Fit for every change and chance
Solemn words, and these are they
"Even this shall pass away"

Trains of camels through the sand
Brought him gems of Samarcand
Fleets of galleys through the seas
Brought him pearls to match with these

But he counted not his gain
Treasures of the mine or main
"What is wealth?" The king would say
"Even this shall pass away"

'Mid the revels of his court
At the zenith of his sport
When the palms of all his guests
Burned with clapping at his jests

He, amid his figs and wine
Cried, "Oh, loving friends of mine
Pleasures come but not to stay
Even this shall pass away"

Lady, fairest ever seen
Was the bride he crowned his queen
Pillowed on his marriage bed
Softly to his soul he said

"Though no bridegroom ever pressed
Fairer bosom to his breast
Mortal flesh must come to clay
Even this shall pass away"

Fighting on a furious field
Once a javelin pierced his shield
Soldiers, with a loud lament
Bore him bleeding to his tent

Groaning from his tortured side
"Pain is hard to bear," he cried
"But with patience, day by day
Even this shall pass away"

Towering in the public square
Twenty cubits in the air
Rose his statue, carved in stone
Then the king, disguised, unknown

Stood before his sculptured name
Musing meekly, "What is fame?
Fame is but a slow decay
Even this shall pass away"

Struck with palsy, sore and old
Waiting at the Gates of Gold
Said he with his dying breath
"Life is done, but what is death?"

Then, then in answer to the king
Fell a sunbeam on his ring
Showing by a heavenly ray
Even this shall pass away.
That's it for now.... Have a great Friday!

Ending the "Tech-Fast" (overdue update)

Not that anyone reads my blog anymore at this point, but just in case...
I've been offline for a hyatis, sort of. Started a new job -- actually a whole new career, really. It's a two-year training process with on the job training and progressively increasing responsibility. I'm extremely impressed with the professionalism of the staff working on this program, as well as the level of detail and thoroughness that has obviously been put into the certification process we are all going thru. It is exciting and just a tad overwhelming.

During the past month I've not only been away from my blog and most of my social networking activities, but I've also not even had a work computer until just a couple of days ago. You could say that I've been taking somewhat of a "Tech-Fast."

That said, I've decided to post next on Three "Sticky" Things -- content on the web or in media that have stood out to me over the past two weeks or so.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

On the “take two verses and call me in the morning” approach

Dr. Mike Emlet of CCEF has written a three-part blog series on how not to use "Bible Bandaids" when interacting with our Saint-Sufferer-Sinner friends. After all, as 'reformed' Christians we rightly  consider ourselves simultaneously Saint and Sinner (Simul Justus et Peccator). Dr. Emlet insightfully adds Sufferer to our identity, which greatly aids the hypothetical conversation that he shares in post #3.
Here are links to the posts:
And here are a few excerpts:

"If you tend to view the Bible as a sourcebook for timeless principles in living, you might turn to 1 Cor. 6:18—“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” . . . Or, if you tend to mine the pages of Scripture for examples to follow or avoid you might think of Samson and way in which his heart was led astray by Delilah (Judges 16). Or, if you tend to view the Bible in systematic theological categories, you might engage your student in a discussion of how a holy life is a necessary outgrowth of justification (e.g. James 2:17). Any of these uses of Scripture might be beneficial to your teen, and none are wrong in and of themselves. But something is missing. Or better, someone is missing: the person of Jesus Christ!"
". . . each person—including Joel—is wrestling in some way with two problems. The first is the problem of identity and purpose: who am I and what in the world should I be doing? (This corresponds to God’s address to us as saints.) The second is the problem of evil: evil from outside ourselves (which corresponds to our experience as sufferers) and evil from within ourselves (which corresponds to our experience as sinners.)"
". . . by approaching people as saints, sufferers, and sinners, we are better prepared to bring the riches of Scripture to bear on the realities of life. No more Bible bandaids "
(His posts were adapted from the book: CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet, New Growth Press, 2009 -- It's going on my "Want To Read" list, right away! )

Friday, September 3, 2010

Loving Our Neighbor, A Heartless Idea?

from Christ is Deeper Still:

In Intellectuals, page 31, Paul Johnson wrote of the poet Shelley, “He burned with a fierce love but it was an abstract flame and the poor mortals who came near it were often scorched. He put ideas before people and his life is a testament to how heartless ideas can be.” It is not enough for (evangelists) to burn with a fierce love. We must burn with a fierce love for Christ the crucified Friend of sinners and for the sinners right there before us who need that Friend. Ideas about Christ can even be heartless. But Christ crucified befriends sinners, and they feel it.

Calvin comments on Galatians 3:1, “Let those who want to discharge the ministry of the gospel aright learn not only to speak and declaim but also to penetrate into consciences, so that men may see Christ crucified and that his blood may flow.” Christ’s blood flowing into the human conscience, setting people free

Sharing the gospel.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Grumbling Problem

"Grumbling begets grumbling. When we complain we are only practicing for our next complaint. Today in prayer, confess any constant grumbling in your own life and seek to find peace in Jesus Christ." - Peter Kennedy, Daily Devotional Email, August 31, 2010.

Today's devotional email hit home pretty squarely. I know that I should not complain, but I'm so very prone to it. The above quote from this morning's devotional was great. I pray that I would not be practicing for my next complaint as I go into the day, being content and seeking to serve in my new job.

“Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr

God’s Word:
“Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” – James 5:9

“These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.” – Jude 1:16

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Best Kept Secret?


What exactly, according to author John Dickson, is “The Best Kept Secret in Christian Mission”?

After reading his new book with the same title and subtitled, “Promoting the Gospel with More than Our Lips,” it seems the best kept secret is that there are many, many ways that every Christian ought to be able to greatly contribute to the mission of evangelism.

In Dickson’s own experience and analysis, some Christians are more gifted with evangelism than others, and in his case, are sometimes hindered by methods of formalized training. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I was initially skeptical about the concept of the book in the beginning. I kept wondering what else could be said about promoting the gospel outside of what so many scholars and authors have already said? And I was also in doubt about any real secrets that could be shared that didn’t come across as gimmicks or seeker-sensitive clones. However, on both accounts Dickson easily quenched my skepticism and relieved my doubts.

The first two chapters (The One and the Many: Why Get Involved in Mission? and The Many and the One: The Challenge of Pluralism) lay the groundwork for his basis for writing the book. After reading those two, I was hooked and knew I had much to read and learn. By far, my favorite chapters are: Chapter Eight, What is the Gospel? The Message We Promote, and Chapter 12, A Year in a Life of the Gospel: Bringing It All Together.

Just as Mr. Dickson states, “The immediate goal of evangelism is to introduce people to the Jesus whom the gospel proclaims” (pg. 139). Christian evangelists often do this better when discussions and relationships develop naturally, rather than in the forced, monologue fashion of the most popular evangelism training programs. In chapters three through seven, he discusses in detail the many ways that non-evangelism efforts help promote the gospel message: prayer, finances, living beautiful lives, being a “friend of sinners,” and doing good works (mercy ministry). While it is not uncommon to find articles and books written any one of these methods, Dickson ties each activity directly back to our shared mission of sharing the gospel message.

Chapter Eight, titled “What is the Gospel?” was the stand out chapter for me and is one that I would commend to every reader with a passion or interest in evangelism. Academically rigorous and eminently practically, this chapter lays out the meat and potatoes of what it is to introduce people to Jesus. In what seemed to be a revolutionary idea at first reading, he asserts that the Gospel narratives uniquely recount a full gospel message. While all of the scriptures point to the Jesus and the gospel message, only in the four Gospel narratives do we have the full account of Jesus’ life, his miracles, his deity, his fulfillment of prophecy, his earthly credentials as the messiah, his resurrection and his ascension told together. Furthermore, the grand themes of such things as: sin and judgment, forgiveness and atonement, the doctrine of grace, and the call to repentance are all brought into sharp focus by direct encounters with Jesus by the four. In other words, the Gospels are not just warm up acts for the Book of Acts and the letters of Paul, but given as Gospel accounts. For most, this chapter will seem somewhat revelatory upon first reading, but, I predict, will soon be considered as both a matter of fact and godly wisdom.

My only criticism with the book is that I think it could have possibly benefited from better editing. I have two main reasons for drawing this conclusion. First, there are a handful of places where the author has written somewhat self-consciously, in a way that almost sounds like personal notes to the editor. For example: on page 116 he tells us that he has chosen to indent the lines of a quotation from 1 Corinthians 15, and on page 111 he apologizes for managing to write seven chapters before considering defining what the gospel is. Quote: “I will more than make up for this oversight by the inordinate length of this chapter.” These types of comments seem misplaced, given the high degree of academic acumen characteristic of the rest of the book.

The second reason for desiring improved editing is that I think the overall flow of the book would make more sense if it were reorganized, with chapter eight closer to the beginning (perhaps at chapter three) and with more fluidity among the remaining chapters. At present, nearly all of the chapters read as stand-alone pieces. If taught as a class, this works to book’s advantage; however, I do think there is a great opportunity to better explain and introduce up front how each element builds upon the others and integrates into the larger mission of evangelism.

All of that said, I loved this book and give it 4.5 out of 5. I would strongly recommend to friends, pastors, lay leaders, and anyone at all who has an interest in introducing the lost to our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

This was a book review in conjunction with the Koinonia blog tour of the following: The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission: Promoting the Gospel with More Than Our Lips [Hardcover] by John Dickson  (Forewards by Alister McGrath and Ravi Zacharias)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

An Excellent Primer on Islam

For anyone interested in a great primer on Islam from one of the premier Christian experts on the subject, I would commend Dr. James White's short presentation here. This presentation was given at a recent conference on apologetics called, "2010 God and Culture Conference on Apologetics".  It's a great 50 minute listen, found at this link.

National Crisis of Delayed Adulthood

Two articles shared by 9 Marks recently confirmed what I've been noticing for some time, in my extended family circles, in the workplace, and in the church. I wanted to capture the links and share them here, for my own future reference, but also just in case the handful of people who still care about what I post haven't seen them yet. So here ya go:

Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up? at The New York Times. The author calls the 20's a "Black Box".  Here's a good quote that the guys at 9 Marks pulled out:
"One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch. Two-thirds spend at least some time living with a romantic partner without being married. And marriage occurs later than ever. The median age at first marriage in the early 1970s, when the baby boomers were young, was 21 for women and 23 for men; by 2009 it had climbed to 26 for women and 28 for men, five years in a little more than a generation. . . . We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.”
Along the same line, Acts 29 is featuring a BootCamp for wannabe church planters. The event is not for wannabe men. Like the Marines, Acts 29 seems to be looking for "A Few Good Men." Great! 'Cause the two of the most important career fields where those entering the ranks are nearly always 20-somethings are 1) pastors and 2) military officers. We cannot afford to have Bans (or Moys, as I prefer) doing those jobs. But here is a great call to service by Acts 29 in Seattle, which looks really encouraging and promising:
Seattle Bootcamp: For Men who aren't Boys

Quite a Find

Added a new site to my feed reader today: "Ivman's Blague: one French professor's humorous and serious perspectives on life…"
Lots of funny things and uplifting humor on all sorts of topics.
Just a few recent favorites (there are so many more to recommend):
Is It All Geek to You?
Dog Owner Look Alikes
Attention Grabbers
Yet More Signs
Do You Understand Economists?
Connection VS Closeness

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Inception: Analogous to Life without Christ

Elyse Fitzpatrick's take on the movie inception (via a comment at The Gospel Coalition;s blog):
"'Inception; is one of the very few movies that I actually paid to see twice...


The dream world of Inception is sadly analogous to life without Christ: unfulfilled longings, unrealized dreams, selfishly using those you truly love, stealing from those you should serve, striving endlessly and never having the assurance of anything…no matter whether your totem keeps spinning or not. Life without Christ is a free fall into despair and Inception, if nothing else, makes that really clear…while it chillingly amuses the masses…including me."
[Oh, and he's definitely awake at the end of the movie, not still dreaming :)]

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Enemy of Pride

HeadHeartandHand wrote a great article on pride back in March of this year that I thought I'd post here as a good caution and reminder to myself and the supposedly 20 or so visitors per day who visit here (???) It was originally written to pastors, but most of it can easily apply to all Christians in whatever vocation or season of life we find ourselves. It seems especially helpful to me as I prepare to start an exciting and promising role in my brand new position on Monday.


The Particular Causes of Pride


• Public gifts. As your gifts are exercised in public (unlike those with more private and unseen gifts and ministries), they are more likely to be recognized, admired, and praised.

• Official status. As many of God's people respect and honor the "office" of pastor (sometimes regardless of who fills it), you may be inclined to think it is you they respect and honor.

• Man-centeredness. When people are blessed under your ministry, they will often attribute it to you rather than to God.

• Worldly ideas of leadership. You see yourself as "in charge of all these people," rather than their servant.

• Inexperience. The Church is quite unique in how it places untested and inexperienced young men into positions of the highest responsibility without going through the "humbling school of hard knocks." Having never been led, they sometimes do not know how to lead.

• Misunderstanding of call to the ministry (your vocation). Paul did not see ministry as a prize he had earned. For Paul, it was as much a grace, an unearned gift, as salvation (Eph. 3:8).

The (Pastoral) Consequences of Pride

If you fall into pride there will be serious consequences in your ministry (vocation).

•  You will start depending on your gifts rather than on God.

• You will become impatient with your less gifted brethren in the ministry or eldership.

• You will become thoughtlessly insensitive to the traditions and customs of the past.

• You will resist personal criticism and mature counsel.

• You will become discouraged and discontented because "I deserve better than this crowd!"

• You will regard yourself as above the small/dirty jobs in the congregation.

• You will stop learning because you know more than everyone else anyway.

• You may fall into the "condemnation of the devil" (1 Tim.3:6).
The Personal Cure of Pride

Let these two phrases be the double heartbeat of our ministries.

1. I am a sinner
• Remember what I was (think on the sins you've been delivered from)

• Remember what I could be now (if God had not stopped you)

• Remember what I still am (research your own heart )

• Remember what I could yet be (if God removed His restraining grace)

2. I am a servant
• A servant of God (not independent but dependent on God for commission, authority, blessing)

• A servant of God's people (not their lord or sovereign)

• A servant of sinners (do not look down on the unsaved but get down on your knees for them)

• A servant of servants (don't compete with others but serve them)

• A servant of the Servant (who said, "I am among you as one who serves," and, "the servant is not greater than his Master.")

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tempted to Fear?

From Christ is Deeper Still,
Leaving the first kind of fiery darts — enticing and alluring temptations — we now proceed to the second kind, those that fill the Christian with fear. It is only the power of faith that can quench these fiery darts.


This is Satan’s weapon held in reserve. When alluring temptations fail, he opens his quiver and shoots these arrows to set the soul on fire, if not with sin then with terror. When he cannot carry a soul laughing to hell through the deception of pleasurable temptations, he will try to make him go mourning to heaven by this amazing attack. It is a sure sign that Satan is losing.

The arrows he shot at Job were of this kind. When God let the devil practice his skill, why did he not tempt Job with some golden apple of profit or pleasure or some other enticement? Surely the high testimony God gave about Job discouraged Satan from these methods. Satan had no tactic left but this.”

-- William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armor (London, 1964), II:91, paraphrased.