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):

Keep Reading

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.


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.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Plenary Session #2

Voddie Baucham could have delivered the best session of the weekend. He spoke on the the Supremacy of Christ in Truth, in a postmodern world. He addressed the four questions everyone asks themselves from two separate perspectives naturalism (post modern) and Christian theism. The four questions he answered were: Who am I? Why am I here? What is wrong with the world? And how can what is wrong be made right? He first discussed these questions from a naturalistic point of view. Who am I is no one. Why am I here is to consume and enjoy. He pointed out the combination of these two can be deadly, "Have we not seen the logical conclusion of this kind of social darwinism?" Furthermore, What is wrong with the world? The naturalist says people are insufficiently educated or insufficiently governed and the answer is more education and more government. Of course who's governing the governors? For the Christian perspective Baucham exposited Colossians 1. Who am I? "You are the crowning glory of the creation of God." Why am I here? The purpose of all things is to bring him glory and honor. "The supremacy of Christ in the very purpose of existance." What is wrong with the world? Baucham said it was me. He illustrated that people often ask him on University campuses how to explain the problem of evil. Baucham tells them he will not answer the question until they ask it the right way, as so: "How on earth can a holy and righteous God know what I did and thought yesterday, and not kill me on the spot." We like to say "how dare God not employ his power on behalf of almighty man... as a result I want a God who is omnipotent but not sovereign." Baucham asked what it would look like if God was sovereign in our lives. I couldn't help but break down to tears as he transitioned from the Supremacy of Christ to the overwhelming conclusion in verses 21-23.

Col. 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation* under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

This sermon is a must listen as soon as it's up on www.DesiringGod.org

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Plenary Session #1

The conference site had no wireless! And I wasn't staying at a hotel. So the result is that the conference blog will be a recap that will last the next few days. I really enjoyed the time. The conference was life changing in many ways. I'll highlight each of the sessions and put some audio up if I can. First, David Wells...

The first plenary session was kicked off with a great session from David Wells. He specifically addressed the Supremacy of Christ from the book of Hebrews. Wells established from the book of Hebrews the incomparable nature of Jesus Christ. The recipients of the book because of the threat of persecution were drawing back from their faith. The author of Hebrews works hard then to establish the Supremacy of Christ to what they wished to hold on to. In essence they were willing to trade “what was unique for what was not, what was completely glorious for what was not.” Wells then suggested we are in such a time. Instead of facing persecution we are facing the curse of the west. Wells said it this way: "We are so distracted by so many things that it is hard for us to sustain this focus on the supremacy of Christ on our work and our lives.” After establishing the supremacy of Christ Wells drew three conclusions. One, he insisted that Christianity is only about “this kind of Christ. Christ reigning supreme, unchallenge and unchallengable over all of life’s enemies. We do not have any message but this.” He continued to say if seekers are looking for something else, we have nothing else to give them. Not only that but he argued doctrine is what people are actually coming to church to receive. Two, Wells argued that we live in the “already but not yet” period of time. He argued that our stage is like a chess match that is already decided but has yet to be play out to its completion. In light of this we ought to always put our pain and perplexities in this bigger context. “These painful experiences that we go through, that sometimes consume us, none of these is the final word. ‘The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us.’” Finally, he said “It is God’s pleasure that his son should be acknowledged now for who he is.” We are anticipating the time when every knee will bow.

I have to say, the confenece is off to a great start.