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:
"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

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 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
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.