Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why I Stress Perseverance

It sounds like you are protecting free grace to say that works are not necessary as an evidence of new birth, but it actually destroys free grace. This is true because it removes the necessary continuation of faith in God for internal transformation as a result of justification. One who believes that faith is a once-for-all activity will see no need for it to continue. But those who are dead earnest about continuing in faith and its results as the evidence of their justification will see faith as the absolutely necessary for the confirmation of their election and the assurance that God is absolutely for them! (cf. Romans 8)

Learn Your Wife

One of the best things you can do as a married man is to learn in what ways your wife is gifted and continually reinforce her in the practice of it.

Carl Truman: 'Am I Bovvered'

When some stranger takes exception to something I’ve written and emails me to tell me I am an idiot or a child abuser, it hurts. When my kids tell me I’m not a good father, it hurts. When my wife tells me I’ve let her down at times, it hurts. The claims may be referentially true or false but that is scarcely relevant. Whatever the case, they construct a certain reality, and make a certain state of affairs come into being, whether I like it or not. As one of Catherine Tate’s characters would say, `Am I bovvered?’ Well, if I’m honest, yes, at some level I am, even by the most absurd and obviously untrue accusations. After all, somebody out there believes that some silly accusation is the case for them, it is a reality; and knowing this, I find that their reality impinges on mine. To call me an idiot may be idiotic; but it can still make me feel like one.

Great article, worth a read. You need to get to the conclusion!

edit: Can't risk you skipping the conclusion
In other words, others might tell me I am a failure, an idiot, a clown, evil, incompetent, vicious, dangerous, pathetic etc., and these words are not just descriptive: they have a certain power to make me these things, in the eyes of others and even in my own eyes, as self-doubt creeps in and the Devil whispers in my ear. But the greatness of Luther’s Protestantism lies in this: God’s speaks louder, and his word is more powerful. You may call me a liar, and you speak truth, for I have lied; but if God declares me righteous, then my lies and your insult are not the final word, nor the most powerful word. I have peace in my soul because God’s word is real reality. That’s why I need to read the Bible each day, to hear the word preached each week, to come to God in prayer, and to hear words of grace from other brothers and sisters as I seek to speak the same to them. Only as God speaks his word to me, and as I hear that word in faith, is my reality transformed and do the insults of others, of my own sinful nature, and of the evil one himself, cease to constitute my reality. The words of my enemies, external and internal, might be powerful for a moment, like a firework exploding against the night sky; but the Word of the Lord is stronger, brighter, and lasts forever.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Christianity and Legalism"

Thought for the day: If you're a company that's selling a product and another comes selling product with your label which is far inferior to your own. What's your chief concern? To out sell them by focusing on a positive campaign? Or is it rather to viciously attack the credibility of the impostor? Legalists are impostors who need to be exposed. They're Catholics hiding behind a protestant confession, maybe worse; they are spitting on the grace of God (albeit practically) by plowing ahead on their own. And the world will never buy a "gospel" that is characterized by human effort of will. Curse that "gospel."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our Trip to Dallas Last Week

enipal1's photos tagged with TexasMore of enipal1's photos tagged with Texas


I threw up a little in my mouth reading this...

Yesterday at work an old car salesman was telling me, "when you are asking for something that a customer doesn't want to give you just ask the question with your head down and pen ready and don't look up to make eye contact until they tell you."

A Hermeneutical Line in the Sand

I've noticed that conservative evangelical leaders are bringing up the issue of egalatarianism/complementarianism as (perhaps?) the line in the sand within evangelicalism between those who are faithful with Scripture and those who are not. What are your thoughts? This seems especially true when you compare feminist hermeneutics with pro-homosexual hermeneutics.

From Mark Driscol:
I know that [the biblical insistence on qualified male elders] is, in many ways, the dividing line between various kinds of evangelical Christians. I believe that male eldership is like a border between two nations. If you live on the other side of the line, you're in a different country. You may still speak the same language, and you may still operate in love and collegiality. But the truth is, the way you see God, family, Bible, is different. That line has to be drawn, and it has to be kept. That doesn't mean that there can't be women who are deacons and leading and using their gifts in the church, but that complementarian issue is incredibly important.

See also the T4G Statement

ht: Paleoevangelical

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Review of Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor

I must admit, once I started Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, I could barely put it down. This has to be one of the most challenging and yet encouraging books I have read in quite some time.

As far as biographies go, this one was unlike any other biography I have ever read. We naturally gravitate toward biographies of the heroes of the faith. And we should. God used men such as Whitefield, Calvin, and Luther to alter the flow of Christian history and literally to change the world. We long to know what made them so fruitful in their ministries. What personal disciplines did they practice? What methods did they use in personal Bible study? How did they maximize the use of their time to bring the most glory to God? All wonderful questions we should be asking.

Read on
Buy it

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Quote of the Day

(Matt Chandler speaking of the hokey evangelistic efforts of the 1980's)

"Hey, the reason I became a Calvinist is the fact that anyone got saved in the 80's"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Chandler on Preaching the Bible

From Matt Chandler's, Vision of a Church Planter which can be found at Resurgence from their recent conference.
A church on mission is committed to the authoritative, infallible, inspired, all sufficient Scriptures...If you don't believe the Scriptures are sufficient it's going to be easy to leave behind parts of it in the interest in engaging...It's been a long long time since I've heard anyone address hell.
Let me tell you why I'm so committed to that (expository preaching), because I am a creative, artistic thinker and if I'm not careful I'm going to out think the Scriptures. And I'm not going to address things that God says are a big, big, big deal. And so you've got to wrestle with this because I'm telling you what's going to happen is you're going to engage a society that finds Christ to be the aroma of death. And the thought if you're not careful is if you just squirt a littler perfume on him, if you just clean him up a little bit, if you just make him not as offensive, not as bloody, if you can do that, then more people will accept him and the second you done that you are not longer presenting God in the flesh. You are presenting the marginalized Jewish peasant who just happened to be brilliant in ethics.

Dead Right by Phil Johnson

This is a great article by Phil Johnson on the failure of fundamentalism. Both sides of the battle have failed to some degree. That's not the point. The point is his criticisms are right on. A sample:
Now, you might think that a movement that was devoted to making a defense of fundamental doctrines would become the most biblically literate and theologically astute movement since the time of the Puritans. Fundamentalists should have produced the finest theologians, the most skilled Bible teachers, and the best writers. Fundamentalism should have been a literate movement theological, devoted to doctrinal instruction, and (to borrow language from Titus 1:9) "able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers." Fundamentalism as a movement has historically exemplified none of those things.
You can survey the landscape of the twentieth-century fundamentalist movement and look for important and influential doctrinal material produced by the movement works where the fundamental doctrines of Scripture are clearly taught and defended and you're going to come up mostly dry. It's hard to think of a single truly significant, lasting, definitive doctrinal work or biblical commentary written by anyone in the fundamentalist movement since the time of J. Gresham Machen. I suppose there are some exceptions to that rule somewhere, but I can't think of any.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Where Pain and Delight Flow...

ht: Ben Eilers
Piper talks about his favorite quote in the Lord of the Rings Triology:

And all the host laughed and wept, and in the midst of their merriment and tears the clear voice of the minstrel rose like silver and gold, and all men were hushed. And he sang to them…until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness. (The Return of the King, 933)

He says,
Like those who listened to the minstrel’s song, we who see our Savior in the last day will also be made merry with the story of his victory. And we too will be hushed by and wounded with the sweet words that are sung of his self-sacrifice on our behalf.

We will have joy like swords—bright and piercing—and all of the pain and loss of Christ’s death (and our daily dying with him) will only mix with and enhance our bliss.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Today's Hope

Today's hope:
Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
Psalm 115:1

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness
Ps. 33:18

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Shy or Popular?

Which would you rather be?

I went to an interesting workshop at the Biblical Counseling Conference that gave me insight into these labels (I think I have considered myself both at different times). Neither of these labels is necessarily right or biblical. Both are just different ends on the continuum of pride. One gets what I think I deserve. The other doesn't get what I think I deserve.

Notice the contrast in thoughts.

Pride Unfulfilled
I am such a loser.
I don't fit in.
Everyone can tell how nervous I am.
I don't have anything to say.
I'm so ugly.
I'm boring.
I have to get out of here before I embarrass myself any more.
My voice is quivering.
I sound stupid.
I'm a social misfit.
People must think I'm crazy.
Everyone thinks I'm too quiet.

Pride Fulfilled
I'm such a winner!
I'm so popular.
Everyone can see how poised/cool/attractive I am.
Everything I have to say is worth listening to.
I'm beautiful.
I'm fascinating.
I love being the center of attention.
I need to be here or no one would have any fun.
My voice sounds so confident.
I sound intelligent.
I have it all together.

Both sets have a common theme--"I". The opposite of pride is godly humility and a focus on others. The right thoughts to think in relationships or in groups are:

How can I minister to the people here?
Who needs a word of encouragement?
How does God want to use me at this party/church service/meeting?
I might fail in my attempts to show love to others, but God can use that too. What He does with me is up to Him.
I am here to love others, not to have my own desires fulfilled.

- Amy Hatfield
Stolen from From Our Backyards

Friday, March 07, 2008

From an anonymous layman

From an anonymous layman:
Fling him [the preacher] into his office. Tear the "Office" sign from the door and nail on the sign, "Study." Take him off the mailing list. Lock him up with his books and his typewriter and his Bible. Slam him down on his knees before texts and broken hearts and the flock of lives of a superficial flock and a holy God.

Force him to be the one man in our surfeited communities who knows about God. Throw him into the ring to box with God until he learns how short his arms are. Engage him to wrestle with God all the night through. And let him come out only when he's bruised and beaten into being a blessing.

Shut his mouth forever spouting remarks, and stop his tongue forever tripping lightly over every nonessential. Require him to have something to say before he dares break the silence. Bend his knees in the lonesome valley. Burn his eyes with weary study. Wreck his emotional poise with worry for God. And make him exchange his pious stance for a humble walk with God and man. Make him spend and be spent for the glory of God. Rip out his telephone. Burn up his ecclesiastical success sheets.

Put water in his gas tank. Give him a Bible and tie him to the pulpit. And make him preach the Word of the living God! Test him. Quiz him. Examine him. Humiliate him for his ignorance of things divine. Shame him for his good comprehension of finances, batting averages, and political in-fighting. Laugh at his frustrated effort to play psychiatrist. Form a choir and raise a chant and haunt him with it night and day—"Sir, we would see Jesus."

When at long last he dares assay the pulpit, ask him if he has a word from God. If he does not, then dismiss him. Tell him you can read the morning paper and digest the television commentaries, and think through the day's superficial problems, and manage the community's weary drives, and bless the sordid baked potatoes and green beans, ad infinitum, better than he can. Command him not to come back until he's read and reread, written and rewritten, until he can stand up, worn and forlorn, and say, "Thus saith the Lord."

Break him across the board of his ill-gotten popularity. Smack him hard with his own prestige. Corner him with questions about God. Cover him with demands for celestial wisdom. And give him no escape until he's back against the wall of the Word. And sit down before him and listen to the only word he has left—God's Word. Let him be totally ignorant of the down-street gossip, but give him a chapter and order him to walk around it, camp on it, sup with it, and come at last to speak it backward and forward, until all he says about it rings with the truth of eternity.

And when he's burned out by the flaming Word, when he's consumed at last by the fiery grace blazing through him, and when he's privileged to translate the truth of God to man, finally transferred from earth to heaven, then bear him away gently and blow a muted trumpet and lay him down softly. Place a two-edged sword in his coffin, and raise the tomb triumphant. For he was a brave soldier of the Word. And ere he died, he had become a man of God.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Timothy Gombis on NPP

Take some time to read the comments on this. From the paper it is clear he doesn't believe in imputation and seems rather positive about the New Perspective on Paul. But interestingly he does believe we are appropriated with Christ righteousness by way of our union with Christ. I haven't thought my way through all the implications of this, what do you think? Any takers?

From the comments:
Strictly speaking, I nowhere state that "righteousness flows from Christ." I would agree that such wording is a bit slippery and very unhelpful, to say the least.

I DO say that "justification flows from our union with Christ." But I don't envision any flowing or anything going on here. I could also say, justification is "grounded upon" our union with Christ, our absolute and present full and complete possession of the righteousness of Christ that is ours by virtue of our absolute union with Him so that there's no distinction between where He ends and I begin. In Paul's words, my life is hidden in/with Christ in/with God."

I'm very emphatic on this and I completely reject anything resembling an infusion view. Believers presently possess righteousness, it is our full possession, not in a partial measure based on our works, but our FULL possession based on God's grace in Christ.