Sunday, December 31, 2006

What Does Life Mean to One Who Was Dead?

I'm just returning from a one week vacation for Christmas. We had a fabulous time with friends and family. Being an emergent at heart... :) I gave my wife a ring with the Chai symbol on it. This holds special significance for our family to remind us of the grace of God. Along with the ring I gave her a plaque with this written on it to explain the significance of the ring.

Eph. 2:5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

Chai (hai) is Hebrew for life. What does life mean to one who’s dead? To stand before the casket and to ask such a question would be a foolish query. For he will offer no response, as he desires nothing and nothing tickles his senses. Indeed the weight of death is on all who stand near. The finality and futility of his position offers a chill reminder of the finitude of life. He cannot taste the sweetness of the pleasures of the living. He cannot see the vibrant colors of vitality of or feel the breath of companionship. No glorious note can strike his ear. One who is dead before God, shares a similar state. He has no claim in the land of the living, no means to comprehend the grace that strikes his eyes. The sun to him is heat to burn, and light to blind. The wind is destruction and the rain a flood. He carries the awful heaviness of the guilt of condemnation and separation which is upon every man who is apart from Christ. But one who is alive truly shares dual citizenship, lives in two worlds. His Spirit, lifted with wings not his own, lives in a world where complexities and contradictions have their resolution. He sees the dim reflection of God in the tiny drop of dew. The rocks and hills become shafts of glory as they strike his sensibilities. But far above these signs of glory is the satisfying well of water which satiates his deepest thirst…to know Him. For to the one who’s living, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Tribulation, famine, sword, or peril cannot quell the joy that is found in Christ. It was He who first passed through the fire of the realm of the prince of this air. As the scriptures tell “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” He who made himself low to become a servant, he resisted the alluring laurels of pride. “Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” This man is worthy of commendation and praise. It was He who ransomed us out of our enslavened state with his scandalous death. It is only He who can offer reconciliation and justification to those who believe. Who can comprehend that this man has bestowed on us, undeserving as we were, the spiritual treasuries of heaven. No greater gift has ever been given. We have both here and forever life of sublime joy, faithful companionship, and perfect peace. So you ask what does “life” mean to one who was dead? It is taste and sight and breath and warmth. It is hope which will never leave us ashamed, the blessings of Christ. The day will come when we with hearts full of faith and hope will stand before the King of kings and he will say with outstretched arms, “enter into the joy of your master.” So I say to you, “O taste and see that the LORD is good” for He has made us alive.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday is for Photos

What a powerful testimony to the inexpressible majesty of our God. Truly his power makes me feel frightfully small.

Which by his strength setteth fast the mountains; being girded with power:
Psalm 65:6



These photos must not be used for commercial purposes.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"Anytime a Catholic converts to a fundamentalist Evangelical denomination, 'Even the altar cries,' and so should we."

The paper is trying to deal with this sentiment: “When we need a labor union we go to our parish priest; when we need the word of God we go to the Protestant pastor,”



Interesting to note thier understanding of the Church's mission:
Thus, Evangelii Nuntiandi expresses a truth about the Church and her purpose, which is not new, but rather exists since the evangelistic mission of Christ himself and it is the continuing mission of the Church, which he established through the apostles, and the power of the Holy Spirit...The question becomes then, what exactly does the Church mean by “evangelization?” While the term is multivalent in terms of meaning and interpretation, the Church is clear in what it principally means:
During the Synod, the bishops very frequently referred to this truth: Jesus Himself, the Good News of God, was the very first and the greatest evangelizer; He was so through and through: to perfection and to the point of the sacrifice of His earthly life. To evangelize: what meaning did this imperative have for Christ? It is certainly not easy to express in a complete synthesis the meaning, the content and the modes of evangelization as Jesus conceived it and put it into practice. In any case the attempt to make such a synthesis will never end. Let it suffice for us to recall a few essential aspects. As an evangelizer, Christ first of all proclaims a kingdom, the kingdom of God; and this is so important that, by comparison, everything else becomes “the rest,” which is given in addition. Only the kingdom therefore is absolute and it makes everything else relative. The Lord will delight in describing in many ways the happiness of belonging to this kingdom (a paradoxical happiness which is made up of things that the world rejects), the demands of the kingdom and its Magna Charta, the heralds of the kingdom, its mysteries, its children, the vigilance and fidelity demanded of whoever awaits its definitive coming. (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 7 & 8)
Read the whole article

Mark 9: Biblical Understanding of Leadership


9 Marks of a Healthy Church, by Mark Dever

It's really difficult for me to put a quotation up with regard to Mark Dever's 9th Mark without context. I will say, the chapter is written to a mixed audience with regard to church polity and he argues for the Baptistic positions of two offices and congregational authority. But he argues that a church should have a multiplicity of elders. He does not see the necessity that all elders be supported full time by the church, but likes the idea of "having them be people rooted in the congregation." He does say this regarding the distinction between "elder" and "deacon:"
Many modern churches have tended to confuse elders with either the church staff or the deacons. Deacons, too, fill a New Testament office, one rooted in Acts 6. While any absolute distinction between the two offices is difficult, the concerns of the deacons are the practical details of the church life: administration, maintenance, and the care of church members with physical needs. In many churches today, deacons have taken some spiritual role; but much has simply been left to the pastor. It would be to the benefit of the church to again distinguish the role of elder from that of deacon.

Eldership is the biblical office I hold as a pastor: I am the main preaching elder. But all the elders should work together for the edification of the church, meeting regularly to pray and to discuss, or to form recommendations for the deacons or the church. Clearly, this is a biblical idea that has practical value. If implemented in our churches, it could help pastors immensely by removing weight from their shoulders and even their own petty tyrannies from their churches. Indeed, the practice of recognizing godly discerning, trusted laymen as elders is another mark of a healthy church.

I would encourage you to visit his website for more information. What are your thoughts?

(As a post script, I asked Dr. John Hartog what he thought of the idea and he stated simply that he doesn't see the case for "lay eldership." He cited, 1 Timothy 5:8 "For the Scripture says, 'YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING,' and 'The laborer is worthy of his wages.'")

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Brian McLaren and the Clarity of Scripture (Part 2)

Brian McLaren and the Clarity of Scripture (Part 2)

(By John MacArthur)

This article is adapted from the Fall issue of The Master’s Seminary Journal. The full text of this article can be read by obtaining a copy of the journal.

2. McLaren and Interpretive Complexity

Second, McLaren sees such incredible degrees of complexity, with even the most straightforward biblical teachings, that he hopelessly obscures what the Bible makes simple. One example, of many possible, would be his vacillation with regard to homosexuality. Though the issue is clear cut in Scripture (Gen. 19; Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:26–27; 1 Cor. 6:9–11; cf. Gal. 5:19–21; Eph. 5:3–5; 1 Tim. 1:9, 10; Jude 7), McLaren remains unsure. He writes,

Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.” That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think. Even if we are convinced that all homosexual behavior is always sinful, we still want to treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect than our colleagues do. If we think that there may actually be a legitimate context for some homosexual relationships, we know that the biblical arguments are nuanced and multilayered, and the pastoral ramifications are staggeringly complex. We aren’t sure if or where lines are to be drawn, nor do we know how to enforce with fairness whatever lines are drawn. (Online Source)
Read On

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Brian McLaren and the Clarity of Scripture (Part 1)

Brian McLaren and the Clarity of Scripture (Part 1)
(By John MacArthur)

The doctrine of the clarity (or perspicuity) of Scripture (that the central message of the Bible is clear and understandable, and that the Bible itself can be properly interpreted in a normal, literal sense) has been a cornerstone of evangelical belief ever since the Reformation.

The dominant Roman Catholic idea had been that the Bible was obscure and difficult to understand. But the Reformers disagreed, arguing instead that anyone who could read could understand biblical teaching. Rather than limiting biblical interpretation to the clergy or the Magisterium, the Reformers encouraged lay Christians to study and interpret God’s Word on their own. All of this was premised on the Reformed belief that the Bible itself was inherently clear, and that God had been able to communicate His message to men in an understandable fashion. As Luther explained to Erasmus:

But, if many things still remain abstruse to many, this does not arise from obscurity in the Scriptures, but from [our] own blindness or want [i.e. lack] of understanding, who do not go the way to see the all-perfect clearness of truth…. Let, therefore, wretched men cease to impute, with blasphemous perverseness, the darkness and obscurity of their own heart to the all-clear scriptures of God…. If you speak of the internal clearness, no man sees one iota in the Scriptures but he that hath the Spirit of God…. If you speak of the external clearness, nothing whatever is left obscure or ambiguous; but all things that are in the Scriptures, are by the Word brought forth into the clearest light, and proclaimed to the whole world. (Bondage of the Will, 25-29)
Read On

Mark 8: A Concern for Promoting Christian Discipleship and Growth


Quotes from 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, by Mark Dever
Another distinguishing mark of a healthy church is a pervasive concern with church growth--not simply with growing numbers, but with growing members. Some today think that one can be a "baby Christian" for a whole life-time. Growth is seen to be an optional extra for particularly zealous disciples. But growth is a sign of life. Growing trees are living trees, and growing animals are living animals. Growth involves increase and advance. In many areas of our experience, when something stops growing it dies.

Paul hoped the Corinthians would grow in the Christian faith (2 Corinthians 10:15). The Ephesians, he hoped, would "grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ" (Ephesians 4:15; cr. Colossians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3). Peter exhorted some early Christians to, "like newborn babes, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation" (1 Peter 2:2). It is tempting for pastors to reduce their churches to manageable statistics of attendance, baptisms, giving and membership, where growth is tangible; however, such statistics fall far short of true growth which Paul describes and God desires.

Link to 9marks.org

Monday, December 18, 2006

House-Keeping Notes

The other users on this blog will be asked to switch their accounts to Beta accounts in order to post on this blog. It’s a very simple process. Also I wanted to highlight the Weekly Links sidebar because I do update it, and I’m not sure if anyone pays attention…


***The Beta Update is very cool indeed. The coolest feature is the "Tag Cloud" I've inserted at the bottom of the page. The tags will make it so that we can review things we've addressed before. Aside from that a lot of the upgrades are more technical. But also nice is the new archive. It has collapsible months that show the post titles.***

Mark 7: Biblical Understanding of Church Discipline

It comes as a surprise to many today to learn that God intends others to judge as well. The state is given responsibility to judge (see Romans 13). We are told to judge ourselves (see 1 Corinthians 11:28; Hebrews 4; 2 Peter 1:5). We are also told to judge one another in the church (though not in the final way God judges). Jesus' words in Matthew 18, Paul's in 1 Corinthians 5-6, and many other passages clearly show that the church is to exercise judgment within itself and that this judgment is for redemptive, not revengeful purposes (Romans 12:19). In the case of the adulterous man in Corinth, and of the false teachers in Ephesus, Paul said that they should be excluded from the church and handed over to Satan so that they might be taught better and so that their souls might be saved (1 Corinthians 5; 1 Timothy 1).

...
One church growth writer has recently summed up his advice on helping a church to grow: "Open the front door and close the back door." By this, he means that we should work to make the church more accessible to people and to do a better job of follow-up. Both of these goals are good. Yet, most pastors today already aspire to have churches with such front doors open and back doors closed. Instead, attempting to follow a biblical model should lead us to this strategy: "Close the front door and open the back door." In other words, make it difficult to join on the one hand, and easier to be excluded on the other. Such actions will help the church to recover its divinely intended, winsome distinction from the world.

This discipline should be first reflected in the way we as churches take in new members. Do we ask that those becoming members be known to us to be living Christ-honoring lives? Do we understand the seriousness of the commitment that we are making to them and that they are making to us? If we are more careful about how we recognize and receive new members, we will have less occasion to practice corrective church discipline later.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Fox News: "Primary Problem"

So Molly and I made Fox News this week.

Check out the link. Click on "Primary Problem."


So What Are You Reading?

You know mine; they're on the sidebar.

Green Letters (very slowly)
Thus Spoke Zarathustra
Silmarilian
Living Proof

How about you?

Introducing the ECM (Part 8): Does the ECM have anything right?

(ht: Ben Wright)
They are right to point out that millions of American evangelicals live lives of gross hypocrisy and narcissism, ignoring the needs of the poor while indulging themselves with entertainments and luxuries while the church struggles, and many pastors live barely above the poverty level (if that), and our Christian brothers and sisters struggle in many parts of the world because they don’t even have clean water or basic medical care. We have the resources, and yet we are too prone to spend them on ourselves. I often think American evangelicals will have a lot to answer for when we are called to give account for our stewardship.


Read on

"Vulgarity"

There are some interesting conversations going on over at SharperIron concerning "vulgarity." They revolve around John MacArthur's article posted here.

The discussion starts here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

David Alan Black on the EC

Some time ago we briefly hacked through Scot McKnight's famous lecture on the emerging church. David Alan Black (Using New Testament Greek in Ministry, etc.) added his own thoughts regarding the emerging church. It's brief but beneficial.

You can read it here.

Dever with Thabiti Anyabwile

Mark Dever recently interviewed former member of Capital Hill Baptist, Thabiti Anyabwile. I haven't listened to this yet, but I know this is going to be good.












Click to listen

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Noble Lie

Ravi Zacharias quoted an article by George Cornell who wrote for the Houston Post July 27, 1991 an article called "Philosopher Says the World Desperately Needs a Nobel Lie." In this article Cornell cites Loyal D. Rue a professor from Luther College. Ravi reads the following Cornell citing of Rue speaking to The American Association of the Advancement of Science:
"It remains for the artists, the poets, the novelists, the musicians, the filmmakers, the trickster, the masters of illusion to winch us toward our salvation by seducing us to embrace a noble lie," he told the scientific meeting. "Perhaps" he said in an interview, "it is possible to rework, transpose the Judeo Christian tradition to make it plausible again. In any case the illusion must be so compelling and so imaginative that it can't be resisted, so beautiful and satisfying that all will feel they have to accept it" he told the meeting. "What I mean by the noble lie is one that deceives us, tricks us, compels us beyond self interest, beyond ego, beyond family, nation, or race, that will deceive us into the view that our moral discourse must serve the interest not only of ourselves and each other but of those of the earth as well."

Read the Oxford Book Review

Listen to Ravi's Message

What could possibly be more beautiful and compelling than the truth? That's the incredible irony of it all. The gospel is such that the problems of meaning and evil are ultimately answered with sheer finality in God himself. Christ's death and resurrection are the apex of all humanity and the inexpressible hope of all who believe. Unlike other world religions which preserve the sovereignty of man in that men must do something to be acceptable to God, Christianity alone gives all the glory to a being outside of ourselves. Furthermore, we find infinite satisfaction in giving him our praise and devotion.

2 Corinthians 5:21 - He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

http://www.rzim.org/

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Mark 6: A Biblical Understanding of Church Membership

Uninvolved members confuse both real members and non-Christians about what it means to be a Christian. And "active" members do the voluntarily "inactive" members no service when they allow them to remain members of the church; for membership is the church's corporate endorsement of a person's salvation. Again, this must be clearly understood: membership in a church is that church's corporate testimony to the individual member's salvation. Yet how can a congregation honestly testify that someone invisible to it is faithfully running the race? If members have left our company and have not gone to any other Bible-believing church, what evidence do we give that they were ever part of us? We do not necessarily know that such uninvolved people are not Christians; we may simply be unable to affirm that they are. We don't have to tell them that we know they're going to Hell, only that we can't tell them that we know they are going to Heaven.
A recovered practice of careful church membership will have many benefits. It will make our witness to non-Christians more clear. It will make it more difficult for weaker sheep to go straying from the fold, while still considering themselves sheep. It will help to give shape and focus to the discipleship of more mature Christians. It will aid our church leaders in knowing exactly who they are responsible for. In all of this, God will be glorified.

Pray that church membership may come to mean something more than it currently does, so that we can better know those for whom we're responsible, so that we can pray for them, encourage them and challenge them. We should not allow people to keep their membership in our churches for sentimental reasons. Considered biblically, such membership is no membership at all.

In the "Questions for Reflection" is this further explanation:
Church membership, the author writes, is a church's corporate testimony to an individual member's salvation. Read Hebrews 13:17. The Bible teaches that church leaders will be required to "give an account" for those under their care. Do you think this "account" will simply be a statement that a person once made a decision for Christ, or is it a knowledgeable testimony that a person is faithfully bearing fruit in the gospel? How does this affect our understanding of who should be on our membership rolls?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mark 5: A Biblical Understanding of Evangelism

From Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever
If conversion is understood as merely a sincere commitment made once, then we need to get everyone to that point of verbal confession and commitment any way we can. Biblically, though, while we are to care, to plead, and to persuade, our first duty is to be faithful to the obligation we have from God, which is to present the same Good News that He's given to us. God will bring conversions from our presenting the Good News (see John 1:13; Acts 18:9-10).

It is heartening how new Christians often seem innately aware of the gracious nature of their salvation. Probably you have heard testimonies, even in the last few weeks or months, which remind you that conversion is the work of God. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If a church's membership is markedly larger than its attendance, the question should be asked: does that church have a biblical understanding of conversion? Furthermore, we should ask what kind of evangelism has been practiced that would result in such a large number of people who are uninvolved in the life of the church, and yet consider their membership in good standing an evidence of their own salvation? Has the church objected in any way, or has it seemed to condone this situation by silence? Biblical church discipline is part of the church's evangelism.

Can There Be Two Quotes of the Day?


(ht: Pyromaniacs)
When the Spirit of God goes away from a Church it is a fine thing for oratory, because then it is much more assiduously cultivated. When the Spirit of God is gone, then all the ministers become exceedingly learned, for not having the Spirit they need to supply the emptiness his absence has made, and then the old-fashioned Bible is not quite good enough; they must touch it up a bit and improve upon it, and the old doctrines which used to rejoice their grandmothers at the fire-side are too stale for them; they must have an improved and a new theology, and young gentlemen now-a-days show their profound erudition by denying everything that is the ground, and prop, and pillar of our hope, and starting some new will-o'-the-wisp which they set their people staring at."

Spurgeon

Quote of the Day

Out of this apparently innocent idea comes the disease that will certainly end our species (and, in my view, damn our souls) if it is not crushed; the fatal superstition that man can create values; that a community can choose its ideology as men choose their clothes. Everyone is indignant when he hears the German define justice as that which is to the interest of the Third Reich. But it is not always remembered that this indignation is perfectly groundless if we ourselves regard morality as a subjective sentiment to be altered at will…unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective truth, we perish.”
- C.S. Lewis

(ht: Boar's Head)

Piper on Piper


John Piper addresses the common objections to his teaching.
  1. Does the Bible really teach that?
  2. What about Self Denial?
  3. Doesn't that put to much emphasis on emotions?
  4. What about the nobel concept of duty and serving God?
  5. Doesn't that make you the center of the universe and not God?


By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: http://www.desiringgod.org/. Email: mail@desiringGod.org. Toll Free: 1.888.346.4700.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Importance of Biblical Theology in Preaching

Just a quick link: Eucatastrophe

I do like this blog. I'm excited to hear that he is going to post more when the semester is over.

Graeme Goldsworthy writes:
1. Congregations will not understand the unity of the Bible or the progressive nature of revelation. They will fall prey to those proclaiming the disunity of the biblical message; and a fragmented Bible cannot be recognized as the inspired word of God.

2. Congregations will not understand the centrality of Christ for interpreting Scripture and the meaning of life in our world. Recourse to people and events—particularly those of the Old Testament—will be valued mainly for their exemplary lessons, and not for their typological contribution to understanding the person and work of Christ. They will not see that Christ in his gospel is the interpreting principle for Scripture and, indeed, for all reality.

3. Grace will be eroded by legalism. Preaching that principally points to the examples of Bible characters leads almost inevitably to legalism since the connection with the gospel of grace will be clouded or even completely lost.
Read on

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Pauline Gospel in a Postmodern World

#1 Dali, #2 Rodin












#3 Kiefer, #4 Basquiat












# 5 Woods

#6 Techno Buddha, #7 Derrida












Dr. Paul on The Pauline Gospel in a Postmodern World
This is excellent. I think I am matching the pictures to his powerpoint slides. Let me know if you were there and I am wrong. There is much here to chew on. Click on the thumbnails to enlage.

In Our Own Boozy Way

Quote of the day

***This was quoted by Dr. Paul Hartog in a message that will come tomorrow. You'll want to hear it.***

Debates with Christians who embrace pop culture are frequently hamstrung by the tenacity with which they insist on discussing the audible sound only, and never the actual meaning of the word. Modern evangelicals have a clear eye this way; they have a true imitative genius. They can copy anything the world produces, down to slightest flourish or embellishment. Whether trafficking in guitar licks or designer logos, they can always ape the real thing with exactitude. The only thing they don’t know is what it all means. Modern evangelicals are like a drunk Japanese businessman in a kareoke bar singing along with the Stones. In his own boozy way, he knows everything about the song except what it is about.

Although I do not espouse a high culture view of aesthetics, I grow increasingly concerned that Christians, when liberally embracing anything and everything do not fully comprehend the worldviews they embrace. Too often those who exploit the spirit of the age are exploited by it. So back to blogging...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mark 4: Biblical Understanding of Conversion

If our conversion is basically understood to be something we do ourselves instead of something God does in us, then we misunderstood it. Conversion certainly includes our action--we must make a sincere commitment, a self conscious decision. Even so, conversion is much more than that. Scripture is clear in teaching that we are not all journeying to God, some having found the way, while others are still looking. Instead, it presents us as needing to have our hearts replaced, our minds transformed, our spirits given life. None of this we can do. We can make a commitment, but we must be saved. The change each human needs, regardless of how we may outwardly appear, is so radical, so near the root of us, that only God can do it. We need God to convert us.


From Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, by Mark Dever

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

"What Pilate Said to Gaius"

Those of you who listen to Ravi Zacharias regularly might recognize this. This is unattributed; but from what I know it's a portion of an old sermon called "What Pilate Said to Gaius." We all will do well to remember that Christ's birth was merely the precursor to his death, the real gift. I hope the blessedness of the cross is in your minds as you go through this holiday season.

It suddenly closed in on me Gaius, the impact of how trapped I was. The proud arm of Rome with all its boast of justice was to be but a dirty dagger in the pudgy hands of the priest. I was waiting in the room, Gaius, the one I use for court, officially enthroned with cloak and guard when they let this Jesus in. Well Gaius, don't smile at this, as you value your jaw, but I have had no peace since the day he walked into my judgment hall. It’s been years but these scenes I read from the back of my eyelids every night.

You have seen Caesar haven't you? When he was young and strapping inspecting the legion. His arrogant manner was child like compared to that of the Nazarene. He didn't have to strut, you see. He walked toward my throne; arms bound but with a strident mastery and control that by its very audacity silenced the room for an instant and left me trembling with an insane desire to stand up and salute." Read On

Ravi Zacharias's sermon

Mark 3: A Biblical Understanding of the Good News


It is particularly important to have a biblical theology in one special area of a church's life--our understanding of the good news of Jesus Christ, the gospel. The gospel is the heart of Christianity, and so it should be the heart of our faith. All of us as Christians should pray that we would care more about the wonderful good news of salvation through Christ than we do about anything else in the church's life. A healthy church is filled with people who have a heart for the gospel, and having a heart for the gospel means having a heart for the truth--for God's presentation of Himself, of our need, of Christ's provision, and of our responsibility.

When I present the gospel to someone, I try to remember four points--God, man, Christ, response. Have I shared with this person the truth about our Holy God and Sovereign Creator? Have I made it clear that we as humans are a strange mixture, creatures made in the image of God and yet fallen, sinful and separated from Him? Does the person I'm talking with understand who Christ is--the God-man, the only mediator between God and man, our substitute and resurrected Lord? And finally, even if I've shared all this with him, does he understand that he must respond to the gospel, that he must believe this message and so turn from his life of self-centeredness and sin?

To present the gospel as an additive to give non-Christians something they naturally want (joy, peace, happiness, fulfillment, self-esteem, love) is partially true, but on ly partially true. As J.I. Packer says, "a half truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Further Proof Secularism is our New Religion

Headline: 'Nativity' Booted From Ill. Holiday Fair
A public Christmas festival is no place for the Christmas story, the city says. Officials have asked organizers of a downtown Christmas festival, the German Christkindlmarket, to reconsider using a movie studio as a sponsor because it is worried ads for its film "The Nativity Story" might offend non-Christians.

The rationale? Jim Law explains: "Our guidance was that this very prominently placed advertisement would not only be insensitive to the many people of different faiths who come to enjoy the market for its food and unique gifts, but also it would be contrary to acceptable advertising standards suggested to the many festivals holding events on Daley Plaza,"

This has to be the quote of the week spoken by Christina Kounelias, "One would assume that if (people) were to go to Christkindlmarket, they'd know it is about Christmas"

AP Photo

Mark 2: Biblical Theology


Sound teaching includes a clear commitment to doctrines often neglected yet clearly biblical. If we are to learn the sound doctrine of the Bible, we must come to terms with doctrines that may be difficult, or even potentially divisive, but that are foundational for understanding God's work among us. For example, the biblical doctrine of election is often avoided as too complex, or too confusing. Be that as it may, it is undeniable that this doctrine is biblical, and that it is important. While it may have implications we do not fully understand, it is no small matter that our salvation ultimately issues from God rather than from ourselves. Other important questions which the Bible answers have also been neglected:
  • Are people basically bad or good? Do they merely need encouragement and enhanced self-esteem, or do they need forgiveness and new life?
  • What did Jesus Christ do by dying on the cross? Did He make possible an option, or was He our substitute?
  • What happens when someone becomes a Christian?
  • If we are Christians, can we be sure that God will continue to care for us? If so, is His continuing care based on our faithfulness, or on His?

(emphasis mine)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark 1: Expository Preaching


From Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever

Someone may happily accept the authority of God's Word and even profess to believe in the inerrancy of the Bible; yet if that person in practice (whether intending to or not) does not preach expositionally, he will never preach more than he already knows. A preacher can take a piece of Scripture and exhort the congregation on a topic that is important without really preaching the point of the passage. When that happens, the preacher and the congregation only hear in Scripture what they already know. By contrast, when we preach a passage of Scripture in context, expositionally--taking the point of the passage as the point of the message--we hear from God things we did not intend to hear when we began."


Once, when I was teaching a day-long seminar on puritanism at a church in London, I mentioned that puritan sermons were sometimes two hours long. At this, on person gasped audibly and asked, 'What time did that leave for worship?' The assumption was that hearing God's word preached did not constitute worship. I replied that many English Protestant Christians would have considered hearing God's word in their own language and responding to it in their lives the essential part of worship. Whether they had time to sing together would have been of comparatively little concern. Our churches must recover the centrality of the Word to our worship. Hearing God's Word and responding to it may include praise and thanks, confession and proclamation, and any of these may be in song, but none of them need be. A church built on music--of whatever style--is a church built on shifting sands. Preaching is the fundamental component of pastoring. Pray for your pastor that he will commit himself to study Scripture rigorously, carefully and earnestly, and that God will lead him in his understanding of the Word, in his application of it in his own life, and in his application of it to the church.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Joel's "Types"

******Update, Mike Durning has laid it all out for us here**********

I'm not sure if you've seen these yet. But Joel Tetreau has come up with categories of Fundamentalists. I'd put up a poll if I had one.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 was followed by an apology by Joel for his naming specific institutions. Out of defference for Joel, I have just posted the first two. I think you get the picture as to what he's saying.

Here's the beginning of his article at NeoFundamentalist about "Type C" Fundamentalism.

Militancy to the Type C fundamentalist is kin to Ronald Reagan militancy. Reagan led our country through a rebuilding of a military arsenal that eventually led the Soviet Union to an economic implosion. They simply could not keep up with the arms race. “Fundamentalism” to a Type C is a verb. More specifically, it is an action verb. Fundamentalism is not something necessarily that describes their primary identity (Type A), nor does it really modify or explain where they are (Type B).

Type C Fundamentalism is a description of what they “do.” These men are actively engaging the faith. They are actively contending within their associations, fellowships, conventions, or denominations. They are not attempting to “smoosh their way” (as in the new-evangelical ethos). They are actively doing “Battle Royal” for the faith. In my way of understanding, the rebirth of Type C Fundamentalism would have been in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. Type C fundamentalists are those conservative men who contended in groups such as the SBC and CBA. Harold Lindsell came out with his work, Battle for the Bible.

Dr. Joel Tetreau is senior pastor at Southeast Valley Baptist Church (Gilbert, AZ). He is on the adjunct faculty at International Baptist College (Tempe, AZ) and serves as co-director of SW Romania Missions Project.
Continue Reading

Also of import, Dave Doran's counterpoint.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Kunkle Paper on the Emerging Church

Kunkle Paper on the Emerging Church , ht: Justin Taylor

What do you think?

The purpose of this paper is two-fold. First, I will raise three areas of concern Evangelicals should focus most of their attention as they assess both the Emerging Church movement (hereafter ECM) and Emergent Village (hereafter EV). Specifically, I will point to some examples of what three prominent EV leaders say regarding each. These concerns culminate with my most serious concern and secondly, I will argue there is a potential drift away from orthodox Christian views in the leadership of Emergent Village and thus, constitutes a serious concern for the larger ECM.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bauder's Taxonomy

An interesting read on fundamentalism, Kevin Bauder put this together. Intriguing to see where I'm pigeonholed... Although as a postmodern, I'll deny it. :)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology for Macintosh... for Ten Dollars

(ht: to Joey Woestman (aka Tiecrawler) on this one) The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theolgy is selling at CBD right now for $9.99 (that's a savings of about $100). The reason its so cheap is that it was a module for OS 9. So it will take a little tech saavy to install (drag and drop). Needless to say, this is really a steal for Accordance users.

Click on Picture for the link:

Friday, November 17, 2006

Welcome, Ezekiel Dwight Hatfield!


Amy and Will Hatfield are the proud parents to Ezekiel Dwight Hatfield!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Two Fiction Recommendations













I'll recap them when I'm through with them. That Hideous Strength has been very good so far. And Dr. John Hartog III highly recommended Silmarillion. Have any of you read them? Any other recommendations?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain

This is Piper at his best, and why I so appreciate his ministry. I can't help but think of D.L. Moody who said, "The world has yet to see what God will do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully consecrated to Him." To be really transparent, when I think of martyrdom at my age I think "what a waste." I think it's humbling to remember that God is not short on resources to accomplish his will. He's developing men who've surrendurred to it.

Have a listen: Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Spurgeon on Humility

Spurgeon on Humility
Oh! man, learn to reject pride, seeing that thou hast no reason for it; whatever thou art, thou hast nothing to make thee proud. The more thou hast, the more thou art in debt to God; and thou shouldst not be proud of that which renders thee a debtor.


But, beloved, humility is to feel ourselves lost, ruined, and undone. To be killed by the same hand which, afterwards, makes us alive, to be ground to pieces as to our own doings and willings, to know and trust in none but Jesus, to be brought to feel and sing—

“Nothing in my hands I bring,

Simply to thy cross I cling.”

Humility is to feel that we have no power of ourselves, but that it all cometh from God. Humility is to lean on our beloved, to believe that he has trodden the winepress alone, to lie on his bosom and slumber sweetly there, to exalt him, and think less than nothing of ourselves. It is in fact, to annihilate self, and to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ as all in all.


Read the whole thing

Monday, November 13, 2006

Two Interesting Quotes from Doug Wills

(ht: Doug Wills)
This may be the most interesting, intellectually stimulating blog I regularly read.

On "The Difference Attempts At Application Make"
"Karl Marx was an intellectual who suffered misfortune because people tried to put his ideas into practice. Had Plato suffered the same misfortune, the world would still be talking about that totalitarian hellhole" (The Case for Classical Christian Education, p. 215).

On "Why Modern Art Failed"
"We may appreciate the efforts, and even admire the greatness, of men who have tried to find the universal, the general ‘behind’ appearances; yet at the same time their quest was doomed to fail, for all universals break down as soon as the Creator, He who made man in His image, is denied or left out of account" (H.R. Rookmaaker, Modern Art and the Death of a Culture, p. 132).

Friday, November 10, 2006

Early Returns: Living Proof

Just based on early impressions, this book is well worth a read. It was recommended to me by Pastor DeCleene. (try to ignore the use of the word "felt need" in the advertisement. I know it gets your pulse going... lol)

Nav Press Advertisement:
DOES THIS EVER HAPPEN TO YOU?
"My mind goes blank, my palms get sweaty, and nothing I say seems to make any sense," says a Christian businessman describing what happens when he tries to share his faith. Do you have a hard time sharing your faith with others? It's no wonder. Our society is growing more secular, and most people don't like to talk about religion. But that doesn't mean they're beyond the reach of the gospel—it just means we must learn to communicate it in a way they can understand.

"Simply verbalizing the message is not enough," writes Jim Petersen. "We've got to make sure they understand what we're saying, and that often means demonstrating it by living a natural, friendly, Bible-centered lifestyle in their midst. We then become living proof of our message."

In this book (which is a combined and revised version of his earlier books Evangelism as a Lifestyle and Evangelism for Our Generation), Jim Petersen shares what he's learned from over 25 years of working with the unchurched. He shows that, even though many people don't want to hear about our faith, they will talk about their own felt needs—needs that can only be met in Christ.

Living Proof will show you how to develop relationships with the unreached, model the Christian message, and eventually present the Bible's claims in a nonthreatening manner. By outlining where secular society stands and offering many practical guidelines for reaching out to the unchurched, Petersen will help you learn to share your faith naturally, and as a result, more effectively.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Learning to Fail... from pagans

A while ago (probably before anyone was reading this) I posted a poem by C.S. Lewis called "Cliche Came Out of Its Cage." The poem extols the virtues of paganism against the self righteous view of the church (apparently). I'll just quote my favorite lines here.
Scarred with old wounds the one-eyed Odin, Tyr who has lost a hand,
Will limp to their stations for the Last defense. Make it your hope
To be counted worthy on that day to stand beside them;
For the end of man is to partake of their defeat and die
His second, final death in good company. The stupid, strong
Unteachable monsters are certain to be victorious at last,
And every man of decent blood is on the losing side.
Take as your model the tall women with yellow hair in plaits
Who walked back into burning houses to die with men,
Or him who as the death spear entered into his vitals
Made critical comments on its workmanship and aim.

Are these the Pagans you spoke of? Know your betters and crouch, dogs;

Knowing just a little about Norse myth, the end of it all is that after all the struggle the monsters win and the world ends. I've always hated stories and movies that end this way. I'm starting to realize that perhaps my distaste for such narratives is symptomatic of a crucial misunderstanding of God's promises to us. Perhaps it is important that we learn to fail. The glory of the Norse myth, the glory of the story with the bad ending, is the always faithful character of the hero. My mind floods with the words of Hebrews 11:
...and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised.

Why is it that my defining metaphor for worldly success always includes descriptors like victorious, note-worthy, and glorious? Why do I not instead think of courageous humiliation and pain? Ultimately, the hope I have that the Norse did not, is that I have a sovereign who rushes to breathe life to my failure to win the glorious victory. But let the glory be where it belongs and may I learn to fail with character.

James 3:13-4:1

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”

(James 3:13-4:1 NAS95S)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

More Tim Keller, "All of Life is Repentance"

Martin Luther opened the Reformation by nailing “The Ninety-Five Theses” to the door of the Wittenburg Cathedral. The very first of the theses was: “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ…willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” On the surface this looks a little bleak! Luther seems to be saying Christians will never be making much progress in the Christian life. Indeed, pervasive, all-of-life-repentance is the best sign that we are growing deeply and rapidly into the character of Jesus.
Keep Reading

His Archive at monergism.com

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Luther, on Music

Music is a fair and lovely gift of God which has often wakened and moved me to the joy of preaching. St. Augustine was trouble in conscience whenever he caught himself delighting in music, which he took to be sinful. He was a choice spirit, and were he living today would agree with us. I have no use for cranks who despise music, because it is a gift of God. Music drives away the Devil and makes people gay; they forget thereby all wrath, unchasity, arrogance, and the like. Next after theology I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor. I would not exchange what little I know of music for something great. Experience proves that next to the Word of God only music deserves to be extolled as the mistress and governess of the feelings of the human heart. We know that to the devils music is distasteful and insufferable. My heart bubbles up and overflows in response to music, which has so often refreshed me and delivered me from dire plagues.

Martin Luther

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Between Two Worlds: Voice @ Bethlehem

http://theologica.blogspot.com/2006/10/voice-bethlehem.html This was a 34 pager by the time I even knew they were talking about it at SI. What say you?
Other Links
F&P #1
F&P #2
F&P #3
Challies
Mark Dever Interview on Worship with Ken Jones



The most telling quote from the SI board was this one: "Better a "cancer of elitism" than a cancer of compromise and carnality. Pick your poison." John Cereghin
That one made me shudder when I read it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Scot McKnight

I hope you have enough sense to read this with discerning eyes. But I do find it interesting to see how “emergings” would like themselves described, and how D.A. Carson "missed."

But, I must say this: if you want to know what the emerging movement is all about, don’t read DA Carson’s book first. Instead, first read Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures (Baker, 2005). Why? As I said before, the courteous thing to do is to let the movement speak for itself. Which is exactly what Gibbs-Bolger do. They show the center of the movement is about ecclesiology not epistemology. (Emphasis His)

This, in my opinion, (as the author earlier acknowledges) is a false distinction.

Also, I'm only through the first two "Emerging rivers" and I must say I've found quite a bit more in the second that I like, than the first. In fact there are subtly in the first some things I hate.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Are We in a Crisis?

You may have never heard of Pastor "Chuck" De Cleene. I think he probably prefer it that way. In spite of that, I'd like to introduce him to you, not to glorify the man but because he has a message. Pastor De Cleene asks the question, "Are we in a crisis?" Have we lost a passion for making disciples, the one crucial command recorded by Matthew of Christ's post-resurrection ministry? As I heard this message this morning I prayed, "Lord give me a heart for what you desire." I pray the same for you.

The Morning Session, by Chuck De Cleene from FBBC's Bible Conference The Power of God Unto Salvation: Click to Download
(right click "Save Target As" to save to your computer)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

From the Book Shelf...

Before John Piper ever wrote his The Swans Are Not Silent series or even preached any of the corresponding sermons, another preacher popularized the biographical sermons. He has been called one of the most prolific and influential Christian writers of the last century, but unfortunately most young preachers have never heard of him or his most famous series of sermons. One editorial explains: "Frank William Boreham was born in Turnbridge Wells, England, and educated at Spurgeon's Pastors College in London. Drawn to the ministry by F. B. Meyer, Boreham pastored in New Zealand, Tasmania, and Australia. In his later ministry he spoke to cast congregations throughout the English-speaking world. The five-volume 'Great Text Series' began as Sunday evening sermons that attracted so many listeners with their unconventional approach that the series continued for some 125 Sunday evenings. Boreham became on of the century's most prolific and well-known religious writers, publishing more than fifty books and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles."

I bought F. W. Boreham's Life's Verses series (five volumes of biographical sermons) in college when I learned that Ravi Zacharias, Warren Wiersbe, and Mrs. Billy Graham all boast of F.W. Boreham as their favorite author. It was thoroughly worth it. Last month I read biographies of Hugh Latimer, Walter Scott, Thomas Chalmers, and John Bunyan, to name a few. What inspiration! Each sermon/essay is about 13 pages, so it's possible to read one sermon in a sitting. Boreham's writing is creative, poetic, simple, and unforgettable. Buy any of his books you find.
I also recommend Boreham's autobiography, A Pathway of Roses.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Desiring God = Religous Affections

"Piper is a heretic, God doesn't care if we are happy."

We've all heard this. Perhaps the teacher can convince where the disciple could not. This is Jonathan Edwards on the necessity of religious affections. What are your thoughts?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Harvest Bible Chapel Reading List

Harvest Bible Chapel has a five year plan for Christian reading. I've condensed it to an excel file here. It's a good place to start.

Pictures of the Church


A good word from a good friend, Mark Vance (a so called contributor to this blog, lazy bum... - jk!)

p.s. I wanted to add, just think of the ramifications of thinking of the church as a body with regard to how we approach ministry success (ie. instead of grow by 10%, help to see "Mark and Ryan" grow by 10%...)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bock: on the Emergent Church

Dr. Bock's Summary on the Emergent Church

We have worked through the nine key traits of this movement with evaluations. So how does one sum it up? There are several strengths of this movement and several concerns about this movement. I see these clear strengths:

1) There is a problem with modernity is its spirit of freedom and quest for human autonomy. This is a cultural value that needs to be challenged.
2) There is a problem with modernity is the dominance of the consumer culture and the way it can lead to compromise of values of the faith. This also drains the ability of the church to serve others selflessly. The missions budget of many churches is a shame to reflect on. Many other resources could help make an impact as well. However, many of our resources go to things that do not advance the kingdom.
3) A problem with modernity is that efficiency and technology can depersonalize or overwhelm life (leading to the [over]saturated self).

I see these strengths (in other words, these are positives but they also need qualifying in how they are applied):

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Pride as Impatience

2 Good ones on pride in one day... These words from Mark Dever.


I confess that I am sometimes, too often, impatient.

I further confess that as I have meditated on it, it becomes clear to me that this is not a nice, junior kind of sin (at least not in me). It is a disguise for the sin of pride, the ugliest of all sins, and the most direct rejection of God's authority and of a humble joy in His provision for me in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let me give you a little of my thinking.

I'm sitting in a meeting. I'm sitting there for hours. The meeting would be no different if I were not there. I might think, or even say to someone, something negative about the meeting, or about "our" needing to be there. (Note, this "our" is a cover; I'm thinking of myself.)

Now, let me question my impatient self at this point. Self, just how important does a meeting need to be before you should spend your time on it. Just how crucial does my role have to be, and how frequently, in order for me to not experience the temptation to impatience.

I know that I have to exercise wisdom and be a good steward of time. But look at how much more you're (I'm) getting at these meetings than I deserve. I deserve Hell! Yet here at this meeting, I'm being cared for. It's not raining on me. My chair is comfortable. There's stuff to drink. And yet, I think that somehow it should take less of my time. As if I deserve more interesting fare for spending MY time; as if I DESERVE anything for the expenditure of my time! My response to such situations should be patience. My tendency is to be patient in situations I like. And that's no patience! Patience is endurance through things that challenge us, and it is rooted in humility, as surely as my impatience is rooted in pride.

I leave you to examine your own impatience. I know that this is one way pride has tried to assume an "acceptable" disguise in my own life, and I'm trying to unmask it. Pray for me.

Fitting Words from Edwards

393. HUMILIATION. That humiliation is grace it appears, because Christ says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" Matthew 5:3. Now we can understand nothing by the poor in spirit, but those that see their own poverty; that are emptied of themselves; that see they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked; that see that in themselves they are nothing; that are not trusting in any of their own riches, either inward, in any endowments of mind that they have of themselves, or outward, in temporal wealth and honor, etc.; and that are sensible of their great wants. This is meant by the poor spoken of [in]Isaiah 66:2, "But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor," and in Luke 6:20, "Blessed are ye poor" (a parallel place with this in that evangelist), and in abundance of other places in the Scripture; as appears, because by the rich, which in Scripture are spoken of as opposite to these, are meant those that trust in their own riches, either bodily or mental possessions. Matthew 19:24, ["It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God"]. There, [as appears] by the context, by a rich man Christ seems to mean he that trusts in both outward and mental riches, as the rich young man did that was the occasion of Christ's saying thus. Christ explains himself to mean them that trust in riches, Mark 10:24. (In 1 Corinthians 4:8, 'tis evidently meant of trusting in mental riches.) This rich man is set in opposition to this poor man in spirit spoken of in Christ's Sermon on the Mount, as appears by Luke's account of this sermon: Luke 6:24, "But woe unto you that are rich!"

That calm of mind, and hope, and removing of the burden from their hearts they speak of, is an evidence that it is grace, and even of the exercise of faith; it is a rest of soul in submission and resignation to God, in a complacential acknowledgment of his sovereignty and mercy.

'Tis God's manner to give special discoveries of his glory and grace after brokenness of spirit, not only at first conversion but through the whole Christian course. And many have been wont to call their first remarkable discovery of God's grace their conversion, and they perceive that it is generally after such a humiliation; so they make that a distinct work of the Spirit of God, that must necessarily precede conversion.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Quick Hitter...

I can try to explain later but the weekly podcast from Ravi Zacharias is worth a listen. He talks about the 3 levels of how philosophy plays out in our lives. Interesting stuff... especially when considering how we can reach this generation.

http://www.rzim.org/

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

No Ordinary People

(ht: Justin Taylor)

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit--immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously--no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner--no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses."

—from "The Weight of Glory," in The Weight of Glory (Eerdmans, 1949)

Monday, October 16, 2006

You Fool!


I hope all who read this have come to realize the unexplicable glory of grace, and what I mean is the all surpassing grace of God through Jesus Christ. I have on my right hand a ring, its sole function is to always remind me of that greatest injustice ever perpetrated, and of its claims on my life. That being said I read a passage this weekend that terrifies me.
17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void.

And Paul continues:
18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

I pray that in my pride I do not destroy the essence of the gospel. I pray that my love and humility will stregthen my message and not destroy it. Truly, I'm only beginning to discover the depth of my pride, therefore my foolishness...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Religion at 35,000 Feet

This is exactly what Tim Keller was talking about. He mentioned "defeaters." We must address the defeaters. By the grace of God I hope we can tackle this contemporary question. This article is a great testimony to the importance of this issue.

Derek Thomas, a personal testimony:

Don't quit before you get to this:
I saw it coming and did my best to avoid it. “Why can’t we all get along with each other,” she said. “After all, we all believe the same God in the end.” And thus she explained how they raised their daughter to find the truth out there for herself and to encourage whatever it was she embraced so long as it didn’t harm anyone else (which ruled out Islam). “Don’t you agree?” she asked.


What is a guy to say? As a Christian I believe in revealed ethical standards: some things are right and some things are wrong. These are so because God has revealed them to be so. And off I went, trying desperately to explain that there really is only one standard of what is true and what right. And only one way to fellowship with God. I cited John 14:6 and Jesus’s words about being the way, the truth and the life!


And as I spoke, it became clear to her that my view of God was narrow and confined and unaccommodating. And the shutters came down. In her mind, I began to think, I was little different from radical Islam – fundamentally intolerant of the views of others.
Please read more

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Our Fundamentalist Future

Our Fundamentalist Future
By Nathan Busenitz

The year was 1878. Modernism was on the rise, and its attack on the church was full scale.

In response, a group of conservative Bible scholars established a set of fourteen doctrinal principles to outline what they believed was the essence of biblical Christianity. Known as the “Niagara Creed” (because it was associated with the Niagara Bible Conference of 1883–1897), these principles laid the foundation for a movement that would later be called fundamentalism.

On the broader front, the dispensational organizers of the Niagara Bible Conference were joined by non-dispensationalists like B.B. Warfield and J. Gresham Machen in their fight against modernism. In 1910, the fourteen-point Niagara Creed was distilled into “five fundamentals” by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. These five fundamentals were as follows:

(Read On)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Martin Luther

I love that each new generation gets the opportunity to discover for itself the treasure of men who point to the glory of Christ.

I greatly longed to understand Paul's Epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression, "the justice of God," because I took it to mean that justice whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust. My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God but rather hated and murmured against him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that "the just shall live by his faith." Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whol of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the "justice of God" had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven...

If you have a true faith that Christ is your Saviour, then at once you have a gracious God, for faith leads you in and opens up God's heart and will, that you should see pure grace and overflowing love. This it is to behold God in faith that you should look upon his fatherly, friendly heart, in which there is no anger nor ungraciousness. He who sees God as angry does not see him rightly but looks only on a curtain, as if a dark cloud has been drawn across his face.