Sunday, April 24, 2011

He is Risen: Thanks be to God!

1 Cor. 15: 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 “O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Free eBook for Easter: The Atonement

Monergism Books is offering a Free eBook on The Atonement

The Atonement (eBook)

by Loraine Boettner
Table of Contents

1. The Atonement

2. The Significance of Christ's Death

3. The Satisfaction View of the Atonement

4. The Active and Passive Obedience of Christ

5. Christ as Our Ransomer

6. The Representative Principle

Free Download in Kindle .mobi and ePub formats here.

Jesus knows what to fear

Russsell Moore writes in Why the Insomnia of Jesus Matters to Us:

Danger doesn’t keep Jesus awake; the judgment of God does.
Why is it easier for me to worry about next week’s schedule, and to lose sleep over that, than over those around me who could be moments away from judgment? Why am I more concerned about the way my peers judge my actions than about the Judgment Seat of Christ?
He ends with a wise exhortation that I hope to remember:

The next time you find yourself unable to sleep due to worry, ask whether you’re in the Galilee waters or the Gethsemane garden. Ask yourself whether your wakefulness is of the weakening flesh or the awakening Spirit.
Read the whole article>>> (ht:challies.com)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

'Remembrance' - Maundy Thursday

Video from The Passion of the Christ depicting the Last Supper, accompanied by the song "Rememberance" by Matt Maher.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The "-ations" of the cross

Jared Wilson at the Gospel-Driven Church writes about the "-ations" (not stations) of the cross. Below is the list, but click here to get his detailed explanations and scripture references:
  • Mediation
  • Condemnation
  • Propitiation
  • Imputation
  • Expiation
  • Sanctification
  • Justification
  • Reconciliation
  • Nations

He's The One: not just one of

A quote from Kevin DeYoung's blog and article in the April edition of TableTalk:

"So away with all this nonsense that Jesus is like Mohammed or like the Buddha or like the Dali Lama or like Ghandi or like your saintly grandmother. He is not like anyone else. And so we will not pretend to be impressed when others call Jesus a good man or an enlightened figure or one of the prophets. He is not one of, He is the One."

I also came across another excellent article by a ThM student that discusses the article by Volf in more detail. He makes some other excellent points that I agree with.

Monday, April 18, 2011

If Only... (Greener Grass Conspiracy)

I'm currently reading through Stephen Altrogge's new book titled, "The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence" to do a review/blog tour for Crossway Books. It releases on April 30th and so far it is fantastic.

Crossway has put together a promo video for the book that I found intriguing and thought I'd share. Enjoy.

"Greener Grass Conspiracy" Trailer - Stephen Altrogge from Crossway on Vimeo.

Easter Greeting from the Empty Tomb

He Is Risen!
Bryan Chappell, president of Covenant Theological Seminary, presents a two-minute video to help us in our thinking, praying and worship for this coming Easter Sunday.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

No, all monotheists do not worship the same God

In the current Christianity Today article titled, "Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God?" Miroslav Volf posits that peaceful living depends on our answer. His answer is yes, but my answer is that he is very wrong.

He correctly starts by pointing out that how we answer the question of whether Jews and Christians worship the same God is a key clue and building block toward answering the former question regarding Muslims.

The answer to the question of whether unregenerate Jews and Christians worship the same God is answered quite clearly by Jesus when he addressed the Jewish leaders of His day:

John 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Before Abraham Was, I Am
48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” [4] 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (emphasis mine)
Of particular note: Despite being monotheists, if other worshippers of other religions do not love Jesus and acknowledge him as Lord, then they do not know God the father. In addition, if they do not listen to the word of Jesus, then their father is the devil. That's pretty blunt. Furthermore, by stating, "before Abraham was, I am", Jesus is pre-dating Isaac and Ishmael, which is significant to both Jews and Muslims.

Volf also mentions that he thinks the Muslim "referent" is the same God, because they worship a sovereign creator that bares many likenesses to our Christian God. However, this description matches more closely with Chapter 1 of Paul's letter to the Romans:
"19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made."

Calvin, in Book 1 of the Institutes of Christian Religion, gives a great exposition of how general revelation, while leaving all men without excuse, is also denied and corrupted by the human nature, so that rather than man worshipping God truly, according to His will as proclaimed in the Bible, mankind instead turns that worship into idolatry. This seems to explain really well that Muslims do not worship the same God, even if they start with a referent equivalent to a generic, sovereign, impersonal creator, one who is known to all people through general revelation. They may start with this common understanding, but it is more important to understand that they go further -- rejecting Christ, adding to the scripture, adding Mohammed, and worshipping a different god, named: Allah.


Volf argues incorrectly that peaceful cohabitation between Muslims and Christians depends upon admitting that both religions worship the same god. True shalom can only be experienced and known through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray for both Muslims and Christians to know the only One who can bring true peace.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What is the Bible About?

This one has been out there for a while, but it's still a goodie:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

All We Need: Calvin on Contentment

"The happiness promised us in Christ does not consist in outward advantages--such as leading a joyous and peaceful life, having rich possessions, being safe from all harm, and abounding with delights such as the flesh commonly longs after. No, our happiness belongs to the heavenly life!" John Calvin http://www.reformedtheology.ca/quotes_topic.htm

and

"Whenever those things present themselves to us which would lead us away from resting in God alone, let us make use of this sentiment as an antidote against them, that we have sufficient cause for being contented, since he who has in himself an absolute fullness of all good has given himself to be enjoyed by us.



In this way we will experience our condition to be always pleasant; for he who has God as his portion is destitute of nothing which is requisite to constitute a happy life."

— John Calvin

Commentary on the Psalms
(Edinburgh, UK: Banner of Truth, 2009), commenting on Psalm 16:6

Useless - video award winner


Useless (2011 168 Project Winner) from Brandon Adams on Vimeo.

note:there is one use of profanity in the script.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

On Contentment: Everything Short of Hell is Mercy

Everything short of Hell is mercy

by James Smith, "Good and Evil Alike from God" 1861

"What? shall we receive good at the hands of God--and shall we not receive evil?" Job 2:10
Jehovah's Prerogative: He sends GOOD--all good. He sends EVIL--not moral evil, for God cannot be the author of sin, nor in any way give His sanction to it.

But He does send afflictions, bereavements, losses, crosses, pains and sorrows. He sends good and evil sometimes in quick succession. He sent the fish to preserve the life of Jonah, and the gourd to screen him from the sun--but He sent also the worm to destroy the gourd, and teach Jonah a beneficial lesson. Who can read the life of Jacob or Joseph, of David or Daniel, and not see that the Lord sends both good and evil upon His people. Hence the prophet asks, "Shall there be evil in a city--and the Lord has not done it?"

The Believer's Duty. We should receive all as from God's hand. The reference is not so much to the receiving--for we must receive it; but the manner of receiving--as from God. We often receive good as from God--but we do not so receive evil; yet both alike should be so received.

GOOD should be received with gratitude and praise, with humility and love--with a deep sense of our unworthiness, and God's unmerited goodness. Nor should we forget, that we are held responsible for the use of all the good things we receive from God.

EVIL should be received with patience and submission, saying with Eli, "It is the Lord--let Him do what seems good unto Him." There should be a recognition of His justice, as Aaron, when his two sons were slain--he held his peace. He was dumb, he opened not his mouth, because the Lord did it. There should also be confidence in His love, because the dispensations of His hand--never prove a change in His heart. He loves us as much when He sends evil--as when He sends good; for His love is not only everlasting--but unchangeable.

We should receive good and evil alike--as from a sovereign, wise, gracious, loving and holy God!

The Expostulation. "What? shall we receive good at the hands of God--and shall we not receive evil?" Are we to view good alone as coming from God? Are we not to look at evil--at our trials, troubles, and tribulations--as coming from Him?

Are we to forget His favors, lose sight of His paternal relationship, quarrel with His wisdom and love--and thus act the rebel and the ingrate? Alas! this is too often the case. One trouble swallows up the remembrance of many mercies. We think more of one loss--than we do of the gains of years; and we are more affected with one hour's pain and sickness--than we are with months of ease and health. But it would not be so--if we were properly affected with a due sense of our sinfulness, ingratitude, and unworthiness. Then in the midst of our good things, we would say with Jacob, "I am not worthy of the least of all Your mercies!" And in the midst of our evil things we would say with Job, "The Lord gave--and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord"

It is folly to lose sight of God's hand in our troubles. We should rather say, "This also comes forth from the Lord Almighty, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working."

Nor is it wise to complain of His dealings with us, for a sinner out of Hell--can never have any reason to complain. Everything short of Hell is mercy!
He assures us that all that He does, is in love. His word to us, when things are at the worst is, "As many as I love--I rebuke and chasten." Silence befits us, though to justify God would befit us more.

We should not make too much of the instruments by which we suffer. Joseph said unto his brethren, "It was not you--but God." David said of Shimei, "Let him curse--for the Lord has bidden him." The holiest of men have always looked more at God who uses the rod--than at the rod which He used. If He appoints it--it is wise. If He permits it--it is for our good. He does nothing, He permits nothing to be done, which affects His children--but they would do themselves--if they were as wise, as judicious, and as far-seeing as He is. Nor is there a doubt--but in eternity we shall bless and praise His holy name--for the very things that grieve and distress us now. Believer, receive everything, whether painful or pleasant--as from God's hand! And bless a taking God--as well as a giving God.

Lord, pardon our folly and forgive our sins, for we have been guilty of both in our conduct toward you; and help us in future if tempted to repine, or if rebellious feelings arise in our hearts to say, "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God--and shall we not receive evil also?"

Friday, April 8, 2011

Veith: Perspective on the Looming Federal Shutdown

Since I may be furloughed next week, I thought I'd post a link to Veith's post called Perspective on the Shutdown.

UPDATE: Furlough averted! Looks like we will be going to work next week -- and getting paid, which is great news. Hooray! :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Half the Church: Blog Tour & Book Giveaway

Zondervan recently asked if I would like to participate in a blog tour for this week's launch of the new book titled Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James.

I was very excited and felt honored to be asked to preview a book by the author of one of my favorite women's study group texts from back in the day: When Life and Beliefs Collide. (How many other books have you ever heard of that earned five stars in 28 out of 29 reviews on Amazon? I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of her new book!

Zondervan and several other reviewers have called Half the Church an incredibly important book—as a Christian response to—or a wrestling with the issues raised in—the bestselling and influential book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This too is very interesting to me, because I appreciate thoughtful Christian authors like Tim Keller and others who are not afraid to enter into the fray and speak to current issues from the Christian worldview.

Yet, according to James, this was not the original intent of her book. Originally, she intended to share what she had been learning about the Bible's message for women as Image Bearers, ezer-warriors, and the Blessed Alliance. But then she was impacted so much by the global suffering of women as told in Half the Sky, she wanted to show how the Bible's message for women would bring light on the world's social concerns as well.

James has a true passion for communicating and addressing important, global issues that affect at least half the world's population. Her stories both unveil the hidden faces behind all manner of oppression and suffering by women while simultaneously pointing us to God as the only solution and the only motivation for lasting change. True, biblical justice is laid at the feet of the body of Christ, as James calls all in the church (not only the male half), to work toward restoration for those who have been most deeply harmed by the loss of freedom and dignity that we see as inalienable in our culture.

Finally, as a worker in women's ministry, I found her challenges for the church to offer a more holistic gospel helpful and enlightening. More and more women in this country are being disenfranchised and alienated from the body of Christ over socio-economic reasons -- such as, single mothers and divorcees who work two or three jobs. There are so many non-traditional situations in which women find themselves to which the American church is not geared to minister. Her exhortations for those of us who are in women's ministry and for the leaders in the church to put forth a robust gospel that transcends cultural and social difference hit home and will be of great help.

However...
As I read along later into the book, when James began to discuss her theological ideas with regard to women in the church, I found that she and I have some very different understandings about the issues she tackles.  For instance, I was drawn toward her attempt at discussing the hebrew term "ezer" in one of the chapters near the middle of the book. However, when I made my way there, I was dismayed that the chief idea I found there was to develop a strong link between "ezer" and warrior, which for me misses more primary functions of the "ezer" in the O.T. and how important those functions are to womanhood.

While I fully agree with her premise that women are equally created in the image of God with men, I  hold a very different postion than the one she presents which is a pretty bold form of egalitarianism, including ordaining women pastors. Of course, I and others in most traditional churches don't hold that position and won't be budging anytime soon, despite some her arguments.

Finally, from a stylistic standpoint, I know there are a number of readers who enjoy James's poetic phrases and vibrant imagery, but for me her heavy reliance on anecdotal narrative for the majority of each chapter was just not that desirable. I found there was more fluff than meat, and much of the source material in the beginning of the book came directly from Half the Sky.

At the end of the day, it makes me very sad that I cannot recommend this book to most readers, because there are some extremely important themes that men and women in all the churches, regardless of denomination, need to hear and to be talking about in the context of how they do ministry. Things like how we fail the most needy women in our churches; how we ignore strong Biblical teaching for women that goes beyond a focus on what we are not allowed to do in the assembled church; and how we can open our eyes to the brutal facts that surround us in the carnage snd suffering of women in the world who are being raped, sold into slavery, and deeply oppressed.

Yes, yes, a thousand times over, I think these messages ought to be heard in our churches!

However, by blending in an egalitarian agenda that goes against the grain for many if not most of the leadership in traditional and influencial churches, I'm afraid James's ideas and concerns will not receive a hearing across a broad enough cross-section of churches. That makes me sad.

So, although I cannot recommend this book broadly,

I do, however, recommend this book if you are someone who wants to expand your vision for ministry to women inside and outside the church and who is aware that the case for egalitarianism will come with the package.

Free Offer:

If the above describes you, and you want a free copy of Half the Church, write a comment or email me at DebLW at yahoo dot com and I'll send one to you!!!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Hiding Place - free at Christian Audio

I've always wanted to read Corrie Ten Boom's story in The Hiding Place, so now I'll be able to do one better -- download the audio book from Christian Audio for free and listen to it on my way to and from work!! Yeah!

Each month Christian Audio features at least one audio book download for free and for the month of April this is it. These free offerings have been excellent so far. What a blessing.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Misplaced Glory Redeemed

This is part 2 of the earlier Fear and Idols post

From Rescuing Ambition by Dave Harvey:
"But the good news of the gospel is that we aren't trapped by the tragedy of misplaced glory. While our ambitious impulses led us to vain pursuits, the Lord of glory has come to rescue our ambition. He has come to redeem us and recapture us for his glory. Where we haven't perceived the difference between true and false glory, he opens our eyes to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Where we haven't prized that which has real value. he recalibrates our desires to fit his direction. And where we've pursued false glory, he turns us and sets our feet on the path of righteousness for his name's sake -- for his glory."

Are Single Pastors Odd?

Single Pastors are odd? over at The Gospel Coalition
Steve DeWitt writes a really interesting article on being a single pastor for more than 18 years. Here are a few quotes:
"... today’s bias against single pastors betrays an eschatological weakness... I think our ecclesiology could use a little eschatology. The resurrection will change our thinking in many ways. Human identity as married or single is most certainly one of them."

"... the early church was dominated by apparently single men (at least when the manuscripts were written): John the Baptist, Paul, Luke, Silas, Barnabas, Timothy, and Titus. When this list is combined with a single Savior, we should at least be in a position of neutrality on the matter."


"It is important to note that the pastoral qualifications in 1 Timothy 3 were written by a single apostle (perhaps a widow or even a divorcee but nevertheless single)... Further, we have no indication that Timothy and Titus were married. Yet they are charged with identifying and laying hands on elders who would serve under their leadership. It seems that what is good for the apostolic goose should be good enough for the pastoral gander."