Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Few Good Men

Thought this was a very provoking and challenging perspective on ministry. You can view the broader context by going to "The Resurgence."

Photo of the Day

Snow in Jerusalem?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Doing Justice by Tim Keller

Listen to the whole clip at Reformissionary

Comments on the clip?

Scientology: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power

This is worth a read:
The Church of Scientology, started by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard to "clear" people of unhappiness, portrays itself as a religion. In reality the church is a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner. At times during the past decade, prosecutions against Scientology seemed to be curbing its menace. Eleven top Scientologists, including Hubbard's wife, were sent to prison in the early 1980s for infiltrating, burglarizing and wiretapping more than 100 private and government agencies in attempts to block their investigations. In recent years hundreds of longtime Scientology adherents -- many charging that they were mentally or physically abused -- have quit the church and criticized it at their own risk. Some have sued the church and won; others have settled for amounts in excess of $500,000. In various cases judges have labeled the church "schizophrenic and paranoid" and "corrupt, sinister and dangerous."

Monday, January 28, 2008

Intriguing Book of the Day

Unceasing Worship by Harold Best
Discerning Reader's Best Book of 2003! We are not created to worship. Nor are we created for worship. We are created worshiping.Too often Christians have only thought of worship in terms of particular musical styles or liturgical formats. But a proper view of worship is far larger than what takes place in churches on Sunday mornings. Worship is not limited to specific times, places or activities. God is by his very nature continuously outpouring himself. Because we are created in his image, we too are continually pouring ourselves in various directions, whether toward God or toward false gods. All of us, Christian or not, are always worshiping, whether or not that worship is directed toward God. We are unceasing worshipers.The fruition of a lifetime of study, reflection and experience, this volume sets forth Harold M. Best's understanding of worship and the arts. Widely respected as one of the foremost thinkers and practitioners in his field, Best explores the full scope of worship as continuous outpouring in all settings and contexts. With careful exposition and eloquent analysis, Best casts a holistic vision for worship that transcends narrow discussions of musical style or congregational preference. On this broader canvas, Best addresses popular misunderstandings about the use of music and offers correctives toward a more biblically consistent practice of artistic action.Incisive, biblical, profound and comprehensive, Best's landmark volume is one by which all other statements on worship and the arts will be measured.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Maxed Out

Look past the propaganda and this is a powerful film. I think people should realize that God is neither a liberal or a conservative. But that's beside the point. This film is a must see for those in pastoral ministry. I think the sobering thought for me especially was watching this movie in light of what I've been studying in Romans. I don't think I'll ever be in the position of some of these people. I'm too smart and too disciplined for that. Yet, I'm not a better person. I'm the guy in Romans 2. The Bible says I need to flee my good works and bad ones and run to Christ.

The most powerful line in the whole movie was when an older woman who was loosing her house to foreclosure was asked if she ever contemplated suicide and she said something like this:
"I have. But I would never do anything like that too my kids. I mean when I come to a stop light, you think, should I just keep going? But I wouldn't do that to my kids. Even if they would think it was an accident, never know the truth. I just never could..."

See clips on youtube

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Something to Keep in Mind


"You can be so interested in great theological and intellectual and philosophical problems that you tend to forget that you are going to die."

-Martin Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers, p. 193.

When Sinners Say I Do

Go to the YouTube webpage for the book.

Sibbes, The Bruised Reed

After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks...The heroic deeds of those great worthies do not comfort the church so much as their falls and bruises do.

pg. 5, Sibbes
Men, for the most part, are not lost enough in their own feeling for a Saviour. A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope. In God the fatherless find mercy (Hos. 14:3); if men were more fatherless, they should feel more God's fatherly affection from heaven, for the God who dwells in the highest heavens dwells likewise in the lowest soul (Isa. 57:15).

pg. 14, Sibbes

Monday, January 21, 2008

White Horse Inn? Anyone?

Does anyone else out there listen to the white horse inn? I need to know who I can email to discuss these things.

On a Christless Christianity; what's your take on this?
Rosenbladt: And I think the way that works out in the lives of most Christians is that they hear the gospel at the time of their conversion. I heard a sermon illustration not long ago, "Oh, justification, that's like the wedding. Now we're talking about married life. So let's move on now and talk about the Christian life, and that's like the marriage."

Horton: So when you became a Christian you heard the gospel. Now that you are a Christian, guess what, for the next fifty years you are going to hear about what you need to do in order to...

Riddlebarger: And you don't need to hear the gospel, because you are already a convert.

Horton: That's where it gets assumed.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bono on Truth in Music

U2's Bono
The thing that's almost impossible to contrive for almost any artist is joy. You know you can if you are a bad painter, you can get across your anger with the world, you know just black, like whoa! deep. Or happiness you can get that across, but joy is an impossible emotion to contrive. Now as well as describing what might be you have to describe what is, because I think that God is interested in truth and only interested in truth. And that's why God is more interested in rock and roll music than in gospel. Because those gospel folk, a lot of the times, they're not being truthful. Because they can't be and that's really sad and tragic.

(response: because they can't be? why?)

Because they are not describing about their life, not describing about their doubt a lot of the time. Now, what they are, when they (muffled), is worshiping God. Music to worship God, I'm interested in that. But that's a different thing. But you have to have the truth thing. And if you can write about what's really going on in the world and in your life because it's all happy clappy you know... I mean is God interested in that? Oooh please, don't patronize me!

Listen to it in context

Friday, January 11, 2008

Unspecifiable Future Prospects

"When we experience the profundity of our focal pattern, we have the sense that we have contacted the real. What we experience is its transforming of the very features of our world, our bodies, and our guides, on which we relied in its pursuit. A second accompanying experience also confirms the reality of our patter. We sense another range of profundity, but where the other grew out of our past, this second one grows into our future.

In the moment of a profound integration, we experience a sense of the future possibilities, prospects, horizons of the thing we have encountered. There are sides we cannot currently see, behaviors we suspect but could never predict, implications only some of which we can reason out, but which in their incompleteness may lead us to uncover new and transforming dimensions. We could in no way exhaustively list those possibilities. We can't even name them all. Yet they in their unnameableness confirm the rightness of our integration. This sense of possibilities furnishes us with a second indicator that we have contacted the real.
Many years ago, at the time when I was first thinking and writing about this approach to knowledge, I viewed a television documentary that featured some marine biologists and their discovery of vents on the ocean floor. The interviewed biologists were jubilant. "This is the discovery of the century!" one exclaimed. "The possible implications of it are profound, more than we are able to tell." Humans, especially those skilled with respect to the discipline in question, sense and navigate forward guided by an unspecifiable sense of future possibilities."

Meek, pg. 127-128

I can't help but notice the similarities between what Meek says and what Kuhn says about paradigm shifts.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

G.K. Chesterton on Walls

ht: Justin Taylor

"We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff's edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased."

G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, p. 53.

Lived Sense, a Part of Rational Experience

Ask me about Jeff as an auto mechanic, and my body-sense is a fell-pretty-good one. When my car breaks down, my body longs to get the car to him. I don't start to feel right until I know it's in his care. Then I relax.

Suppose Jeff began repeatedly to forget to pick up my car at the seminary, or the things I asked him to fix didn't get fixed. The faulty symptoms change noticeably when he was supposed to have fixed something. Suppose I heard of his being mixed up in some shady dealings. Suppose his gas station started to look slovenly. I would be relying on my senses for all these experiences. I would also be growing an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. If you asked me about Jeff as an auto mechanic, I would get this feeling.

Is it too much of a stretch to say that we rely on bodily clues when we know God? I think not. Some people have thought religious experience was only mystical or irrational. I think bodily clues are included in our experience of God, and I don't think of it as a mystical experience. For example, all of us have known moments of glory, brushes with transcendence, whether in sports or in music, mountains or sunsets, creative acts, childbirths, or acts of heroism. Those experiences have a bodily dimension to them. We are caught up, transported. Something in us cries out for transcendence, as our fingers might itch to touch velvet, or our feet to dance to Scott Joplin. To what do these body longings point?

Meeks, pg. 93

And later, pg. 106
I hope you see that I mean to challenge this time-honored but false and unfortunate dichotomy. We trust our parents, we trust the nurse, we trust the Magic Eye directions, we trust the auto mechanic, we trust the piano teacher, we trust Scripture. If you like, you may call it faith. but you must call it faith when the topic is breast-feeding or golf or auto mechanics just as it is faith when the topic is God. We must also see that this is the stuff of reason. What is part and parcel of any human act of knowing we would do well to call rational, and just plain common sense. It's reasonable for me to trust Jeff. It is in the same way reasonable for me to trust Scripture.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Two From Piper Today

If You Can't Defeat 'em, Distort 'em
Sometimes scholarship rivals politics for warped renderings of the opponent. Consider this from Etienne Gilson, a Roman Catholic historian of philosophy:

For the first time, with the Reformation, there appeared this conception of a grace that saved a man without changing him, of a justice that redeems corrupted nature without restoring it, of a Christ who pardons the sinner for self-inflicted wounds but does not heal them. (The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy, 421)

How desperately some want to believe that justification by faith is cut off from holiness and is powerless to produce love. Michael Horton counters, “In actual fact, there are no Protestant accounts of this kind, at least of which I am aware” (Covenant and Salvation, 243).

ht: Andy Naselli
A Birthday Gift to My Father on His 89th Birthday
Today is my father’s 89th birthday. He’s been in heaven for ten months. But I can’t shake the thought that I should keep giving him gifts. Perhaps it would be an honor to him to let him speak as his birthday passes by.

Here is what I think he would like to say about two things we stand for at Bethlehem: 1) God’s command that we hallow (sanctify) God, which we talked about in the message on December 30; and 2) God’s command that we be happy in him.

Elihu's Answer

I was reading through Job and was struck by some statements from Elihu, the friend of Job that God did not condemn:
But you have said in my hearing — I heard the very words — ‘I am pure and without sin; I am clean and free from guilt. Yet God has found fault with me; he considers me his enemy. He fastens my feet in shackles; he keeps close watch on all my paths.’ But I tell you, in this you are not right, for God is greater than man. Why do you complain to him that he answers none of man’s words? For God does speak — now one way, now another — though man may not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword. Or a man may be chastened on a bed of pain with constant distress in his bones, so that his very being finds food repulsive and his soul loathes the choicest meal. His flesh wastes away to nothing, and his bones, once hidden, now stick out. His soul draws near to the pit, and his life to the messengers of death. Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, to be gracious to him and say, ‘Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him’ — then his flesh is renewed like a child’s; it is restored as in the days of his youth. He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state. Then he comes to men and says, ‘I sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved. He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.’ God does all these things to a man — twice, even three times — to turn back his soul from the pit, that the light of life may shine on him.

(Job 33:8-30)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

From: Longing to Know

What actually happens in the act of knowing is that the relationship between clues and pattern, subsidiaries and focus, is not one of premises and deduced conclusion. When you see Magic Eye dolphins, you cannot fully express in words all the particulars on which you rely, nor all that the focus includes, let alone a step-by-step procedure you followed to move from the one to the other. You cannot express the particulars as premises, because prior to the actual act of integration--before your first-ever seeing of Magic Eye dolphins--you are in no position to articulate the very things that you must rely on if you are to integrate to the pattern. If anything makes the particulars premise-like, it might be that the focus is conclusion-like. Using the terminology then: before you can put the 'conclusion' in words, you must already by relying on the 'premises' that are on ly premises or clues in light of the 'conclusion' you have yet to uncover and express! Logical inference is too impoverished a procedure to capture the grand thing that is going on in the act of knowing.

From Longing to Know: The Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People, Esther Lightcap Meek

Saturday, January 05, 2008

NYT on Huckabee

(ht: Justin Taylor), Link
On the Republican side, my message is: Be not afraid. Some people are going to tell you that Mike Huckabee's victory Thursday night in Iowa represents a triumph for the rapture brigades, a crusade for the creationists. Wrong.
Huckabee won not for his sermons but because he tapped into realities that other Republicans have been slow to recognize. First, evangelicals have changed. Huckabee is the first ironic evangelical on the national stage. He's funny, campy (see his Chuck Norris fixation) and he's not at war with modern culture.
Second, Huckabee understands much better than Mitt Romney that we have a crisis of authority in this country. People have lost faith in their leaders' ability to respond to problems. While Romney embodies the leadership class, Huckabee went after it. He's criticized Wall Street and K Street. Most importantly, he sensed that conservatives do not believe their own movement is well led. He took on Rush Limbaugh, the free market Club for Growth and even President Bush. The old guard threw everything they had at him, and their diminished power is now exposed.
Third, Huckabee understands how middle-class anxiety is really lived. Democrats are good at talking about wages and jobs. But real middle-class families have more to fear economically from divorce than from a free trade pact. A person's lifetime prospects will be threatened more by single parenting than by outsourcing. Huckabee understands that economical well-being is fused with social and moral well-being, and he talks about the inter-relationship in a way no other candidate has.
In that sense, Huckabee's victory is not a step into the past. It threatens the Reagan coalition of libertarians and social conservatives to be sure, but it opens up the way for a new coalition.
A conservatism that recognizes stable families as the foundation of economic growth is not hard to imagine. A conservatism that loves capitalism but distrusts capitalists is not hard to imagine, either. Adam Smith felt this way. A conservatism that pays attention to people making less than $50,000 a year is the only conservatism worth defending.
Will Huckabee move on and lead this new conservatism? Highly doubtful. The past few weeks have exposed his serious flaws as a presidential candidate. His foreign policy knowledge is minimal. His lapses into amateurishness simply won't fly in a national campaign.
So the race will move on to New Hampshire. Romney is now grievously wounded. Romney represents what's left of Republicanism 1.0. Huckabee and McCain represent half-formed iterations of Republicanism 2.0. My guess is Republicans will now swing behind McCain in order to stop Mike.
Huckabee probably won't be the nominee, but starting Thursday night, an evangelical began the Republican Reformation.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Quotable: JFK on Washington

"Washington is a city of southern efficiency and northern charm."
John F. Kennedy