Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Free ESV Bible, Kindle Edition

Amazon.com has a Limited Time Offer running right now for a free Kindle Edition of The Holy Bible English Standard Version (ESV) by Crossway Bibles (Feb. 9, 2011) - Kindle eBook

It's a very nice version with excellent indexing and searchability.

Buy now for: $0.00 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fear and Idols

Excerpt from Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey:

We're pursuers -- we go after things we value... We chase what we love. There's something in the way we're wired. Be it books, Broadway, or Botox, we pursue what we value... This impulse is so big, it can determine how we respond to Jesus Himself.

A Story of Glory
John 12 gives us a window into how this human hardwiring works--this impulse to pursue what we value. After Jesus arrives for the final time in Jerusalem, the scene that quickly unfolds is pivotal in the drama of redemption. He's the center of attention -- everybody's attention.
In the middle of it all, Jesus prays, 'Father, glorify your name." Immediately, a response booms out. 'Then a voice came from heaven: 'I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again' (v. 28).
A voice from heaven! When was the last time you heard someone's prayers get answered at once with the audible voice of God? (never!)
One would expect this episode would permanently turn all the bystanders into Christ followers, right?
Not exactly.
John goes on to tell us something shocking: 'Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe him.' (v.37). Surprised to hear that people could be with him--hear God speak to him--and still not believe? It gets worse. There were others who did believe, yet still wouldn't follow. 'Many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it.' (v. 42)...
How come? What was so important that they could look straight at the Son of God and turn away?
John says it was 'for fear of the Pharisees...
But here's the grabber. In the very next sentence God restrains our instinctive sympathy for these guys by flipping the light on their true motives. Why the hypocrisy? Was it something they feared? Yes, at first glance.
But deep inside it was really somehting they loved.
'They loved the glory that comes from man,' John writes, 'more than the glory that comes from God" (v.43).
Glory. They craved it. They were addicted to it. Their drive was so powerful, it diverted them from the Son of God himself.
Wow. Convicting! What's the answer? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

But... (a powerful little word)

Excerpt from What is the Gospel by Greg Gilbert
"But. I think that must be the most powerful word a human being can speak. It's small, but it has the power to sweep away everything that has gone before it. Coming after bad news like what we just heard, it has the power to lift the eyes and restore hope. More than any other word that can be spoken by a human tongue, it has the ability to change everything.
- The plane went down. But no one was hurt.
- You have cancer. But it is easily treatable.
- Your son was in a car wreck. But he's fine.
Sadly, sometimes the but doesn't come. Sometimes the sentence stops, and all we get is the bad news. Yet those moments only magnify for us the times when the but does come. And they are glorious.

Thank God the bad news of human sin and God's judgment is not the end of the story. If the Bible had ended with Paul's declaration that the whole world will stand, silenced, before the judgment throne of God, there would be no hope for us at all. There would be only despair. But (there it is again!) thank God there is more!

You are (I am) a sinner destined to be condemned. But God has acted to save sinners just like you (and me)!"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Titus 3: A great reminder, summary of the gospel

A FB friend had this as her status update yesterday. I've read it over and over since. What a great reminder!
Titus 3: "For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people." (ESV)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Speaking of hell

Ligon Duncan writes in Speaking Seriously and Sensitively about Hell to the Sons of this Age and the Next these and other quotable quotes:

"Hell is the ultimate quid pro quo..."

"The puzzles of hell, deep as they are, can't compete with the puzzle of grace. Hell is the subconscious fear of humanity, because we inherently know we deserve it, even though we grind our teeth at God about it (as do the denizens of gehenna). But grace, grace is counter-intuitive. It's the hardest thing to believe in the world."

"One can receive the wages he has earned or receive the wages Christ has earned. The difference is final and eternal."

A very well-stated biblical take on a very timely issue.

Ambiguous signs @ivman's blague

Rob of Ivman's Blague features some pretty funny examples of ambiguous signs.
Here are two examples:


Monday, March 14, 2011

The Reason For God

What: Book Discussion Groups (2-3 per week) of
The Reason for God by Timothy Keller
When: 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Where: BrewHaHa Coffee House
Who: Believers, Doubters, Skeptics, and even those who've 'got it all figured out'
Why: To discuss some of the deepest and most challenging questions in life:
Here are some examples:
  • If God exists, why is there suffering in the world?
  • How can there only be one true religion?
  • Christianity is a straightjacket!
  • How can a loving God send people to hell?
  • Why should I take the Bible seriously?
  • Didn't science disprove God?
  • How come the Church is responsible for so much injustice?

Tough questions to be sure! So, if you're in the local area of Newark, DE on Tuesday nights, stop into the BrewHaHa and join in one of our discussions!

On Winning.. books!

(Caveat: this post will have nothing to do with Rob Bell, Charlie Sheen or Hitler.)

A few weeks ago I was one of the happy winning recipients of Challies.com's Free Stuff Fridays. Through the promo I was treated to free copies of Michael Horton's The Christian Faith, John MacArthur's Slave and James R. Payton, Jr.'s Getting the Reformation Wrong. I haven't completed any of the three yet; however, I thought I would share a few initial reactions.

Horton's The Christian Faith is immense at more than 1050 pages! I may write a review from a lay person's perspective, if I ever get far enough through it to make a legitimate assessment. I'm sure I will, eventually.

MacArthur's Slave looks challenging. I'm looking forward to working through it and to have some of my "prejudices" confronted. To be honest, I recoil when I hear Christians calling themselves slaves. First, because of the profound negative connotation that the word evokes in me, given the horrors of institutional slavery that landed on the shores of this country. I do not associate anything positive with the word, so I'm expecting that bias to be confronted. Secondly, since I've been saved, I've viewed my life B.C. (before Christ) primarily as a life of enslavement and my life since Christ primarly as having been set free. Just like the woman caught in adultery who was enslaved to the plight and all of the trappings of being an adulterous woman in a Jewish culture, until Jesus forgave her and set her free --to go and sin no more. I see that as freedom and not slavery. Again, I'm looking forward to learning more from Dr. MacArthur on the topic.

Finally, and most surprisingly, is Dr. Payton's book, Getting the Reformation Wrong. Before the draw, never heard of this book. Since I started reading it, I have had a really hard time putting it down. I love, love, love this book. Such a geek, because this is actually a historical text primarily written for college grad students. I'm only on Chapter 3 but can tell that I will enjoy finishing it all the way through. No idea whether I'll agree with his conclusions, but I also have no doubt that I'm learning a tremendous amount from him so far!

(in addition to these reads, I'm trying to finish a new book, Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James, so I can write a review and offer a free giveaway from Zondervan as part of a promotion for release of the book at the end of the month.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

WHO is 'Winning'? (...Reflections on Charlie Sheen, Rob Bell and Satan)

I was listening to a sermon by D.A. Carson on the way to work the other day called, "This Present Evil Age", and heard him say something that really stuck with me. I had to listen a couple of times.

His point was that when Jesus Christ died for our sin on the cross stating "Tetelestai" (it is finished), Satan knew his time had come. Satan knew that his end had begun and that Jesus had accomplished exactly what God had said in Genesis 3:18. So, did he just give up, fly the surrender flag, admit his defeat and turn himself in? No way!! He has been raging against Christ's bride ever since and will continue to until Christ returns. Until then, metaphorically speaking, Satan's tact is that all hell would break loose. But he has been bound and will only actually sow as much God permits. (keep in mind, I am paraphrasing).

The parallel illustration that Carson used was the D-Day story. In June 1944, when the Allies landed in Normandy, Hitler's influence had already been pushed back in Africa, in the East, and in Russia. D-Day was the final blow. Everyone with an ounce of intelligence could see that Hitler's reign had ended. But what did Hitler do? Surrender? Give up and say: "Okay, I'm done. I failed. I was wrong. You win?" No way! He raged all the more and tried to pull out all the stops not just to resist the inevitable, but in full denial attempted to avoid humiliation and rage on in full-blown wickedness.

This is a Satanic pattern that the watching world has recognized in many people who have ascended to powerful positions unchecked. Most people, even those who are not Christians, see what is happening to Charlie Sheen and KNOW that apart from human and divine intervention, that Sheen's current tirade/bender will end tragically. Ultimately the wages of
sin is death and without repentence and faith - eternal separation from God.

What Satan and Hitler show us is that even though it may be perfectly obvious to rebellious, raging sinners that utter defeat is imminent and that their final separation from God in Hell will be permanent and eternal, many of them may continue along on their own way, even redoubling their rebellious efforts.

What Charlie Sheen's situation shows us is that some people are living their lives right on the cusp, entrapped, in denial, self-deluded and wretched. They are not even aware of how dangerously close their lives are dangling over the ultimate and inevitable end of debauched wickedness. The wages of sin is death. Eternal separation from God. In Hell. Without Christ.

Rob Bell wants to tell us in his new book, Love Wins, that the fate of every person who ever lived is that they will go to Heaven. For Mr. Bell, apparently there is no hell. (If this were true, how would Mr. Bell ever account for Satan?) And if this is the only message that a person like Charlie Sheen ever hears and believes, he will die tragically in his trespasses and sins. If someone had not told me that "There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1), then took the time to explain just what that meant, and then introduced me to Christ, I too would be headed to eternal separation from God, in Hell, just like every other raging, rebellious enslaved sinner.

I pray that the true Gospel will go out and that false messages that try to sugarcoat that which is poison would fail and fade away.

Afterall, we do know WHO really is "Winning"!! And who has lost. The war has been won. Jesus has won. But we're still fighting our little skirmishes until our hero returns. At the end of the day, it's going to matter who we side with, because that's who we're going to be with eternally. We will be with him (whichever him you're side with), WHERE he is.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Stuttering Kings and Imperfect Pastors

Matthew Block at Canadian Lutheran discusses the parallels between the speech impediment in Colin Firth's character from the movie The King's Speech to the efforts of pastors to preach God's Word in the local church. (I hadn't seen the movie this way at all before, but it makes sense.) [And no, my blog is not going to turn into a movie commentary blog...:)]

In an excerpt from the article, Martin Luther is quoted as explaining the connection best:
“If we hold the Word of God in high regard, then we would be glad to go to church, to listen to the sermon and to pay attention. But if you look more at the pastor than at God; if you do not see God’s person but merely gape to see whether the pastor is learned and skilled, whether the pastor has good diction, then you do not have eyes to see the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb…. For a poor speaker may speak the Word of God just as well as he who is endowed with eloquence.”

HT: Cranach

A Letter to Seekers

An Open Letter to Seekers
Justin Taylor has posted a reprint of this Appendix (“A Letter to ‘Seekers’”) from David Clotfelter’s book, Sinners in the Hands of a Good God: Reconciling Divine Judgment and Mercy (Moody, 2004), pp. 266-274.

What an excellent read for an early Saturday morning!