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.