Wednesday, October 31, 2007

confrontation piper style

Now this is the way to confront.

super blog

I'm amazed ... on the 21st of September I posted the YouTube video, Just The Black Notes, by Wintley Phipps. Someone apparently sent it around on one of those email chains a couple of weeks ago because since then my blog hits have skyrocketed. All of the hits are from emails and to that single post. I had as many hits in October as I did in July, August, and September combined.

Below are the stats per day (today's not finished).

I used to think no one would ever follow links in those spam mails but apparently quite a few do. Interesting.

1810320670 236B4E4B5C

Technorati Tags: ,

everything must change

Scot McKnight summarizes one of the chapters in Brian McLaren's new book, Everything Must Change. Here McLaren compares the conventional versus the emerging views regarding the Kingdom of God. I don't know if the tags conventional and emerging are correct but I like the contrasts he is making.
1. What is the story we find ourselves in?

Conventional: creation as perfect, fall, determination by God to destroy creation and humans unless they are exempted.
Emerging: creation as good, humans rebel and fill earth — individually and as groups — with evil and injustice, God wants to save humanity but humans are “like sheep without a shepherd” and left to themselves they will “spiral downward in sickness and evil” (80).

2. What questions did Jesus come to answer?

Conventional: How can individuals be saved from eternal punishment?” and “How can God help individuals to be happy until then?”
Emerging: What must be done about the mess we’re in? “Mess” means general human condition and Roman conditions from which Israel wants liberation.

3. How did Jesus respond to the crisis?

Conventional: If you want to be among those who escape eternal punishment, you must repent from your individual sins and believe that my Father punished me on the cross so he won’t have to punish you in hell. This is the good news. (Basic quotation from p. 81)
Emerging: I have been sent with good news — God loves humanity, “even in its lostness and sin.” God invites us to turn and follow a new way. “Trust me and become my disciple, and you will be transformed, and you will participate in the transformation of the world, which is possible, beginning right now” (81).

4. Why is Jesus important?

Conventional: Jesus solves problem of original sin (so they won’t go to hell). “In a sense, Jesus saves these people from God … from the righteous wrath of God which sinful humans deserve…” (81). It’s a gift; personal relationship with God; happier life on earth and more rewards in heaven.
Emerging: Jesus came “to save the earth and all it contains from its ongoing destruction because of human evil. Through his life and teaching, through his suffering, death, and resurrection, he inserted into human history a seed of grace, truth, and hope that can never be defeated. This seed will, against all opposition and odds, prevail over the evil and injustice of humanity and lead to the world’s ongoing transformation into the world God dreams of” (81-2). This is all a “free gift they receive as an expression of God’s grace and love.”

Technorati Tags: ,

junky car club

Now here's something that made me think ... I have a lot of real expensive stuff and I don't want to do without any of it. I could and I think I'm even willing but I'm not motivated (in christianise we say called). Anyway, these guys have joined the junky car club to use the money for the benefit of others. Interesting if nothing else.

shock therapy

This guy trying out a dog shock collar is truly funny. Thanks to Jeromy Johnson for pointing it out.

Technorati Tags:

filled with the spirit

I ripped this off from Matt Dabbs but so what ... I never claimed originality ...

Filled with da Spirit

Technorati Tags:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I was reading this article about a new church plant celebrating its first year anniversary with 4200 in attendance on a weekend. Several thoughts popped to mind but for some reason, I became fixated on this statement from one of its members.
She found the church's values in sync with hers, including a belief that babies don't need to be baptized and that tithing is only for people who attend regularly.

Maybe it's just me ...

church in the kingdom

Our primary aim in life is to love and glorify God, participating in the expansion of His Kingdom in relevant ways in the time alloted to us. As communities of the King, churches should model what the Kingdom looks like when God has His way with a group of people. - John Wimber

Technorati Tags: ,

how are we to live

What does living in the Kingdom of God look like? George Eldon Ladd:
We live in the presence of the future.

Does your life look as if you are living in the Kingdom? Two kingdoms are in conflict. The future Kingdom of God will emerge victorious when our King returns. Until then Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians ...

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Do not be deceived. We do not battle against flesh and blood. Our warfare is spiritual. Sure we should confront those in error. Sure we should feed the poor. Sure we should have fun in our small groups. Whatever ... but it isn't about that. It's about boldly proclaiming the mystery of the gospel (Ep 6.19). If you are doing that, you will see two kingdoms collide and it will be warfare. If you find yourself fighting with someone, that is simply the enemy distracting you from what is really going on. If you find yourself weary from doing good works, that is simply the enemy distracting your from what is really going on.

We need Scripture but moreover we need power from on high to fight the good fight.

Technorati Tags:


Do all the good you can by all the means you can by all the ways you can in all the places you can and at all the times you can to all the people you can as long as you ever can. - John Wesley

timeless principles or not?

Evangelicals tend to approach Scripture by trying to sift out the “timeless principles” from the “culturally conditioned” ones. Richard Hayes suggests that that is not such a good way to approach things.

Here is a case where the evangelical church has swallowed the bait of the Enlightenment. The notion that what ought to be authoritative about the Bible is “timeless principles” is an idea that comes straight out of an eighteenth-century rationalism that said, “The Bible is full of these historically contingent things which clearly don’t have any bearing on us today, so we have to somehow get rid of that and get to the heart of the timeless truths.” I want to say, “No, that’s a mistake from the word ‘go.’” The way the Bible guides the church is that it tells us the story of God’s action to redeem the world through particular actions—preeminently the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the formation of a community that confesses Jesus Christ in word and action. What Scripture gives us is not “timeless principles,” but rather patterns of action that are embedded in time and history and particularity.

Technorati Tags:

Monday, October 29, 2007

no signs of life

Star Trek meets organized church ...


Thanks to Jon Birch.

Technorati Tags: ,

signs, signs, everywhere are signs

Matt Dabbs writes this interesting piece on signs in the Gospel of John. I'll leave you only this great statement by NT Wright.
The whole point of signs is that they are moments when heaven and earth intersect with each other.

Technorati Tags: ,

the heresy heresy

Jonathan Brink posts this thoughtful article regarding the problem of heresy. It is tempting to declare as heretics those that call others heretics but Brink finds that "Love still remains the better path." His conclusion is excellent.
Let’s hold on to love people, and discover why turning the other cheek is so much more powerful. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to be the one to convict those who need it and in the process love our brother so that we can earn the right to be heard.

Technorati Tags:

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah by Allison Crowe.

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew her
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You say I took the name in vain
I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah


Technorati Tags:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

creation and the word

To the choirmaster - A Psalm of David (Psalm 19)

The heavens declare the glory of God,and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

We studied this wonderful passage in small group last week. I love the mixture that David sees in the way God speaks. The first verses tell us how the invisible God is seen in creation. In creation we see His eternal power and divine nature. While this is wonderful, and I would argue necessary, creation does not declare His name. That is, we can know He exists but His personal character and offer of salvation through Jesus Christ can only be known through a special act of revelation, i.e., His Holy Word (2 Ti 3.15-17). God is a person who is making an effort to be known.

Technorati Tags:

pastoral identity

We simply have to get our identity from the Bible, from this Biblical story. And Americans are not very good at that. We assume we are living in a Christian country, and everybody’s on our side. So we let the culture shape what we’re doing because it seems so benign, and then we think, “We can Christianize it.” But we can’t. The church is a totally counter-cultural movement. We are a marginal people. There is no way we can be a success in this culture on their terms. - Eugene Peterson

Technorati Tags: , ,

preaching according to william willimon

The following is excerpted from an interview with Dr William H. Willimon by Jeff Bailey (winter 2000).

If you were going to give a definition of "preaching at its best," what would it be?

Preaching is proclaiming the gospel...bringing Jesus Christ to speech. It can be as brief as "Jesus Christ is Lord" or as long as a lot of my sermons. There is something inherently auditory about the Christian faith. Paul says, "Faith comes by hearing." You might expect him to say, "Faith comes from experience with the risen Christ," or "Faith comes from searching for something more meaningful in your life." Paul simply says it comes from hearing something you had not previously heard.

Of course, our current context reminds us that there must be an experiential component within the church as well.

Yes - although we also have to remember that there is a sense in which words precede experience, and shape the experience. There are a lot of experiences you haven't had until you find a word for it.

One way to think about Sunday morning in your church is to think about it as a kind of struggle to see who is going to get to name the world. I keep telling the students, "There's nothing there when you look out the window, before you have words." Of course, you respond, "Well, there's a tree there, and there's grass." But you wouldn't know that if we hadn't told you, "Tree, grass" when you were little.

So experience is derived from language. We often think we are just a bundle of "experiences with God," and then we go out and try to find some appropriate words to name that experience. But it's the language-the story-that precedes everything else.

So a lot of preaching is about giving people a new vocabulary for their experiences.

Yes - and thereby reconstituting their experience, their world. One of the problems I have with preachers is that they will say, "I think that in preaching you try to relate the Bible to the modern world." But I'm bothered when Christians take the modern world too seriously. Part of the modern world's arrogance is that it likes to present itself as a Fact - "This is reality, okay, Christians? Adjust to Reality, accept what 'Is'." No, we want a prior question - who gets to define what the real Reality is?

How, then, does the preacher navigate between redefining things for people - giving them new language and new stories - yet translating things into people's current frameworks so they can be understood?

We just need to be mindful that, while translation is necessary, it's also very dangerous - because in leaning over the speak to the modern world, a lot of times we fall face-down into it. We end up not saying anything the world couldn't hear by reading Dear Abby. So, poor preachers, you have to pity us! We have to stand up each week and try to communicate using the language available to us!

We also ought to appreciate that preachers are engaged in "language instruction." In classes like "Intro to Psychology," the students complain that the whole first semester is spent doing nothing but learning new vocabulary, and I say to them, "Well good, maybe you won't complain when you come to church! When I say 'redemption,' it isn't fair for you to say, 'Wait a second. I'm a late 20th-century person from Illinois. You can't use a word like 'Trinity' with me.'" I as a preacher need to say, "Be quiet. Write this word down. I'll teach you how to spell it and how to use it correctly." That's a big deal. I went to Yale Divinity School. Our great theological heroes were all in the translation business - Tillich, Neibhur. They said, "Oh! Educated, thoughtful 20th-century people are all into existentialism, so let's take the Gospel and put it through that sieve, and see what's left." And today there's not much left.

Of course, contemporary evangelicals are doing the same thing, but now using therapeutic or managerial categories.

That's right. I went to an evangelical church near the campus where a lot of the students go, and at the end of the service I was filled with this great sense of grief. He said to the congregation, "Are you having trouble in your dating relationships? Jesus can help." I said, "What? I don't recall anywhere Jesus took anyone on a date."

We've got to remember that Christianity is inherently counter-cultural. We've had trouble with every culture we've ever found ourselves in. So as a preacher, I have to say to people, "I'm sorry. You live in North America, one of the most violent, bloodthirsty cultures ever created, so it's going to be bumpy. There are going to be words you don't understand. Be patient, we'll work with you on that. There are going to be stories that are going to go totally against the grain of what you've been told is reality. But you see, we aren't happy with official definitions of reality. We've got a counter-definition." That's one reason it can be so unpleasant on Sunday morning, because there's that feeling of being constantly assaulted.

About three weeks ago a woman came out after the service and said to me, "I know you would never want to hurt anyone with what you said, but I was really hurt by the sermon today." Suddenly, I caught myself thinking, "Why would you ever think we wouldn't want to hurt you?" I'm sorry; the material demands it! The thing that makes preaching tough is not simply how to have a coherent thought within 20 minutes or how to modulate the voice. The hard thing is Jesus! If we had something like Disneyland to preach, it would be easy. But we have Jesus to preach, and that makes bringing that to speech - with our language and our culture and our sin - just really hard.

Do you think that some of where we've gone wrong is our narrow, simplistic notions of conversion? Evangelicalism has tended to say, "Believe these things about Jesus so you can 'make the cut'-get to heaven-and then do the best you can during your remaining years on earth."

That's not the full gospel. Jesus meets a nice upwardly mobile young man and says, "You want to follow me? Great! One little thing, now that you've obeyed all the commandments: Go, sell everything, and give the money to the poor."

I think true conversion is all about being in relationship with the living Christ, trying to imitate him, to walk his way, disappointing him 90% of the time, but still saying, "Jesus, keep hammering me, keep making me more than I would have been if I hadn't met you, keep making my life count for something." There's joy in that, but there's also a lot of relinquishment and pain. The fun of being a preacher is to be right at that intersection and, frankly, I find it both invigorating and scary when you realize you are dealing with somebody's life!

When you see much of Jesus teaching, he spends a lot of time poking holes in people's assumptions. Do we need to learn how to engage with people in that kind of way?

I think so. I think that the mode of biblical literature really ought to shape our proclamation of biblical literature. If Jesus had wanted to preach 3 point sermons, he could have done that. He never did. That wasn't his way with the truth.

Being a Christian means loving Jesus for leaving things a little tense, and leaving it open and making us argue over it. Back to the rich young ruler-I was preaching on it once, and the story ends where the young man gets depressed and leaves. And Jesus says, "I tell you, you just can't save these rich people; it's as hard as shoving a camel through the eye of a needle. Of course, anything is possible with God."

I ended the sermon there, and people really got mad! "Well, now wait! What's the point? What are we supposed to do?" And I said, "Don't you find it interesting that the Bible leaves it that way? We never know if the young man ever came back, and Jesus never gives a few "helpful hints" about how rich people might be saved. He just lets it hang there.

But a lot preaching wouldn't dare leave it there; it would send people home with "7 Tips for Getting to Heaven Anyway."

I was recently with a bunch of evangelicals, and what struck me was that their preaching was so much explanation, explication. One told an episode of Jesus, and he said, "What was Matthew trying to get at here? What was he trying to communicate? Now let me explain this to you; I've got three things. First..." And I'm thinking, "You know, this is bordering on blasphemy here. I kind of think Matthew said all he wanted to say." Instead I got this sense of, "Here's what Jesus would have wanted to tell you if he'd had the benefit of a seminary education. He wouldn't have told you this stupid little story. Let me tell you three points." I'm for saying, "No. Maybe he was doing something very sophisticated, very deep here."

I was talking about Easter in the book of Mark with a group of preachers this summer. I said, "Well, you know they say there's no Easter in Mark. The angel meets these women and says, 'Don't be afraid, go tell.' And Mark ends his gospel by saying, 'They didn't tell anybody; they were afraid.' What kind of ending is that?" Well, we agreed that kind of ending defines the church. We're afraid a lot. And when you leave a story open-ended like that, think how complicated and sophisticated that can be.

I just don't want make following Jesus more "reasonable" than it really is, or make it sound easier that it really is. Jesus will say something perfectly absurd and outrageous, and you can just feel the sphincters tighten up in the congregation when you read the passage. But then the preacher will stand up and say, "Wait, wait, give me 20 minutes and I'll explain this to you, and you'll feel better and we can go home and have lunch." Rather than to say, "Jesus didn't seem to have any trouble with making people depressed."

How do you preach the Epistles as narrative?

Every one of those letters arose out of a story. Trouble is, Paul rarely turns aside and says, "Now here we've got a divided church in Corinth, and you've got these spiritual enthusiasts who were full of it, and these new Christians who hadn't had that particular gift of the Spirit, so I wanted to explain to them about the gifts of the Spirit." We have to imply and infer a lot of stuff. But every epistle arose out of a narrative.

There is a sense in which everything in Scripture is narrative-based. Stan Hauerwas and I did a book together on the Ten Commandments. We kept stressing that you really do violence to the Ten Commandments it you rip them out of the story of a God who says, "Hey, I brought you out of slavery; you are mine. Why do you think I brought you out of slavery? Because I'm against slavery? No; it's because you are going to be a slave to me. Now, here is how you are going to serve me. Don't have sex with other people's spouses, don't steal..." To get it, you've got to put it in the story. Of course, right after the Ten Commandments, what happens? Moses brings them down the mountain and finds out, "We're having a worship service with the Golden Calf." That's important to the story, too... "We always break the commandments; we never do what we're supposed to do." I'm simply saying that there's a narrative base to just about all of Scripture. I think a preacher has to be grasped by The Story, the master story, the Gospel, and assume that in everything in Scripture there is some kind of gospel lurking.

Is there a place for preaching propositionally?

Absolutely. Paul is an example. I love it when Paul is preaching propositionally, like in Romans, where he's explaining stuff and he's got this tortured logic. But then he just gets to a point where he says, "Myrtle, get over on the piano, I'm gonna have to sing this part: 'Oh, the greatness of God! Who has given Him a gift?'" You've got these doxologies that just pop up in the weirdest places. Or you begin Romans and Paul says, "They're having sex with dogs and cats, and men are having sex with men. Why do you get that kind of perversity? Because they didn't give God the glory; they didn't do doxologies; they didn't worship right." I say, "People, it all starts with singing a lousy song in church, and the next thing you know you are having sex with animals." What an argument!

Back to your question. We have a lot of people in this young generation who need instruction. There are a lot of people in pain, in large part because they are confused. A student whose mother was killed will come to me and say, "I wonder why God took her now; I guess he just had more use for her than we did." I said, "Wait a minute. She was killed on the interstate by a drunk driver. Can you tell the difference between a drunk driver and God?" We've got people in pain because no one loved them enough to preach, "I've got three things to say about the justice of God. One, not everything that happens in this world is because God wants it that way. Again, on one of my sabbaticals, I roamed around in some fundamentalist churches, and one thing that moved me was that I was sitting there with folks who looked like truck drivers and waitresses, and they all were there with their Bibles and a notebook. The sermons were the longest, most boring things I'd ever heard -laborious Greek word studies and all. I'm thinking, "I preach at Duke University, and I couldn't get away with that! They'd kill me for it." But these people were taking notes, and nodding, and getting into it. My theory is that these folks have wonderful experiences in life, but they never have help conceptualizing, theorizing. Well, they come to church and their church helps them think it through, and that's beautiful.

So I think there is certainly a place for propositional preaching.

Let's say you've got a bunch of promising young preachers sitting in class with you. What would be your best advice for them to become good preachers?

Keep trying to fall in love with Jesus. Keep allowing Him to fall in love with you. I really believe that when somebody is grasped by the gospel, you'll find a way to share it, you'll find the words. A lot of preachers don't have much to say because, frankly, not much has happened. The gospel is about something that happens. "This is the most important thing you'll hear this week! Here it is, I've got it for you."

Technorati Tags:

Friday, October 26, 2007

clarifying pagitt

Not that Doug Pagitt needs me to defend him but I had a very interesting chat with a friend regarding my post on Pagitt and I think I need to clarify.

I thought Pagitt did an excellent job trying to correct the faulty questions Todd Friel was throwing at him. I thought Friel's questions demonstrated a focus on heaven after death as opposed to the Kingdom of God here and now or even better, on the final state of New Heaven, New Earth, and New Jerusalem. I think too many Christians are incorrectly focussed on the the in between of heaven after death. Friel also seemed very concerned with assessing someone's state as opposed to their journey, the fruit of their life, etc.. And so it went and Pagitt rightly resisted.

The problem I ultimately had with Pagitt was that when he finally got the question framed properly, that is, "will the eternal soul of a Muslim (meaning non-believer in the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross, etc.) be a partaker in this New Heaven, New Earth, and New Jerusalem?" he failed to respond "no." With all his excellent thinking of getting this set-up properly, I was expecting something better. I don't see his answer as squaring with Scripture.

Technorati Tags:

back from iraq

Yes, I am a baby. But I love my son, I love my dad, and I love God ... and for whatever reason, watching this boy's response to his father returning from Iraq to surprise him in his school classroom made me cry and think about my relationship to all three ... and I don't care what you think about that.

Technorati Tags:

the gospel

Some number of posts ago, Jacob Hantla (who by the way seems like a good guy and is now an expecting father - congratulations) asked, "Can you give us an example of a short, simple statement of the gospel that would include all necessary aspects as you understand them." I haven't answered because that's tough question that deserves a good answer.

Matt Adair wrestled a little with it and I think is coming from the same place I am. Below are Adair's comments (emphasis mine).
Now I really like and completely agree with Dever's take on the gospel. I'm not sure he'd agree with mine. And I don't think the difference has to do ultimately with the brevity of my defintion, which is really just a way to remember what I believe is the overarching story of the gospel and hopefully opens up the door for follow-up and clarifying questions and conversations. Everything that Dever states falls underneath the umbrella of what I'm saying - but I'm not sure that everything I'm saying falls into the definition he states in his book.

My struggle for awhile now has been that while I wholeheartedly and emphatically agree with the standard Reformed definition of the gospel (which is what I take Dever's take to be), I'm not sure it's broad enough to encompass everything that the Scriptures put into the basket of the gospel. For instance, much of Jesus' description of the gospel refers to a 'gospel of the kingdom' in which the individual is a part, but seems to be broader than the individualized message found in Dever's book.

When our friends at 9 Marks Ministries questioned Derek Webb's understanding of the gospel in an online interview he did a couple of months ago because he took a broader, kingdom perspective, I wondered then - and still wonder now - if we're not seeing something that Tim Keller has talked about on occasion. If our definition of the gospel refers only to 'God-sin-Jesus-saving faith' (such as Dever), then how do we reconcile the biblical story of God's working to 'make all things new' (Revelation 21:5)? And if our definition of the gospel refers only to the narrative of 'creation-fall-redemption-restoration', are we not in danger of forgetting the centrality of Christ and the cross? Both are good questions, and in a day in which guys like McLaren set aside the relationship of Christ and the cross to sin and God's wrath, and Doug Pagitt talks about different stories of the gospel, they are questions that need to be asked.

In my mind both the systematic and the narrative perspectives must be woven together to reveal a tapesty as rich as the Scriptures intends. We can even agree with the message of I Corinthians 15 that the salvation of individuals is 'of first importance' - but I'm concerned that we're making that the only important thing while ignoring what appears to be the biblical picture of my individual salvation serving as a means to the end of God's work of a new heaven and a new earth where life will be as it should be and God is made much of.

I think the issue is that we are defining the Gospel by too quickly jumping into the detail. As Adair noted, I have no issue with any of the elements Dever points to. But while Dever's statement is the most common offered, I think it is too narrow. I don't know if Dever purposed to make it such but I know many who definitely do and thereby miss the 'full Gospel'.

So back to Hantla's question, what is the Gospel? It is what Jesus proclaimed and demonstrated. He proclaimed the good news of the Kingdom. He demonstrated the good news of the Kingdom. What was it He proclaimed about the Kingdom? He proclaimed that it is here now. What was it He demonstrated about the Kingdom? He demonstrated its power here now. The Kingdom of God is here now and it is coming in fullness later (with certainty). The Gospel in short is that the Kingdom of God is here and is coming.

Now that needs a lot of unpacking. Jesus did that over the course of 3 years or so with many parables, with many miracles, with many direct teachings, with His life, etc.. I don't think I could do as well and therefore I don't think I could unpack it in a good way in a single paragraph and do any better than Dever. Dever's statement dealt with the individual's call and ultimate salvation. It lacks the community of believers now, it lacks the abundant life that we can experience now, etc.. If I tried to fix that I would probably miss something else.

Net - the Gospel is that the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

Technorati Tags:

pull your pants up

Right Logo Pants Up2-215X228I'm not even going to ask Matt Adair how he found this - Pull Your Pants Up (turn up your volume).

the incomparable adrian warnock

Adrian Warnock hits a home run (sorry Adrian, I don't know what the equivalent is in cricket) with this post Blogging, Discernment, and a Book by Tim Challies. Here Warnock exemplifies grace and peace while confronting error. There's so much for me to learn.

In particular Warnock is gracious in handling Dan Phillips (and the rest of the Pyromaniacs) for repeated over zealous confrontation (here's the most recent example ... especially in the comments).

Here are some lines from Warnock that will prove to be classics ...
... to fail to recognize something as being good and helpful and true, we fail in our discernment as much as if we blindly accepted everything in a naive way.

If ... we lump people and whole movements together into an amorphous lump of theological rejects, surely we risk alienating them and, ironically, driving some further away from the truth of the Gospel ...

[Phil Johnson] then makes plain that he believes that charismatic doctrine itself is to blame for these sins and the lack of discernment that allows them to continue unchallenged. Phil applies the red card of his disapproval to the entire movement that, despite all its acknowledged weaknesses, I am thrilled to have been part of for decades. Should we use discernment with such a broad brush stroke?

Phil, in reply, claimed that reformed charismatics were a new breed, and only caused by alien influences on the movement. This is not true. Men like Terry Virgo and C. J. Mahaney and the groups of churches they lead have been around for many decades now.

I found this comment by Johnson especially interesting since when I reminded him of the writings of MacArthur and others in the late 80's and early 90's toward what is now referred to as 'Reformed Charismatics', Johnson dismissed me as having a chip on my shoulder and being angry. In the comment area of Johnson's post we see the repeated pattern of claiming to have answered the question but never answering it ultimately dismissing the inquirer as angry, hostile, etc.. But enough from me, back to Warnock ...

The single best approach to discerning truth from error is to focus on understanding and proclaiming the truth more (while remaining aware of what is being taught around us). We need to learn to recognize the truth for ourselves by studying the Bible. But we must recognize that we ourselves are not immune to error. We need to ask God for humility wherein we submit ourselves to the views of others and are willing to be taught by them. Indeed, we should be willing to use our discernment as a sieve to strain out the good bits from a mixture of error in order to do so. None of us has a monopoly on truth, or for that matter, error. Some may grasp certain aspects of the truth with remarkable ease, while others of us may struggle to understand it for years. There is, in my view, often much truth in the very ministries of those who we eagerly criticize. We can learn from more people than we like to think we can—provided we have discernment. I am frequently provoked when I read the writings or listen to the teachings of others who come from different parts of the Church than I. This must be done with caution, of course, and requires that I have studied the Bible for myself first. The more we understand the biblical truth for ourselves the better skilled we will become at testing everything and holding onto the good.

Warnock then quotes this excellent piece from Tim Challies.

We can best know what is wrong by first knowing what is right. Experts on counterfeit currency know this as well. They train others first to know the traits of genuine currency because such knowledge will make apparent what is fraudulent. Christians need to dedicate themselves to learning and knowing truth so that what is evil and abnormal will appear obvious. For this reason the Apostle writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). He encourages us to think first and foremost about what is right and true and pure and lovely. In Romans 16:19b he says this as well, exhorting the Roman church “to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” Never does the Bible tell us to dwell primarily or repeatedly upon what is false.

The relationship of truth to error is such that we can best know error by knowing truth. The opposite is not true. People who invest undue effort in concentrating upon what is false will not necessarily be able to identify what is true. By dwelling upon the beautiful truths of Scripture we will subsequently learn discernment. A discerning person will know that he must focus his heart upon what is true and pure and lovely, having confidence that in doing this God will bless Him with the ability to expose darkness.

Technorati Tags: ,

doug pagitt - ouch

Doug Pagitt of Solomon's Porch and Emergent Church fame is interviewed by Todd Friel. I think Pagitt helps me want to avoid framing questions as Friel did but outside of that, Pagitt ultimately failed to demonstrate true faith. In the end, I think he came up far short on providing a proper Biblical understanding.

I don't know if he really represents all those that like the tag emergents; I suspect not. But as I've noted before, I'd distance myself (metaphorically speaking) from this brand of theology.

To be clear, not all emergents see themselves as Pagitt describes and I find it sad wrong the all out assault some of the reformed view make on emergents. I think we would do well to stop categorizing people as broadly as we do and to focus on theological critique rather than groups or personalities.

Here's a statement of faith from one emergent church in the Cincinnati area that at least on paper seem quite ok regarding theology.

We confess our affirmation of the Apostle's, Nicene, and Chalcedonian Creeds, which we believe to reflect Christian orthodoxy and the clear teaching of Holy Scripture.

1. We believe in one living and true God, the Creator and Lord of the heavens and the earth. In the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, equal in power and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

2. We believe that Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man, yet one Messiah, the only mediator between God and man. There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.

3. We believe that Jesus Christ came down from heaven, was incarnated by the Holy Spirit and was born of the Virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life in perfect obedience to the Father, and was crucified for our sins. He suffered, died, and was buried, and He rose bodily from the dead on the third day. As the God-man, Jesus Christ ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father, interceding for His people. At His first coming, Jesus inaugurated the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God .

4. We believe in the Holy Spirit, who came forth from the Father and Son to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, and to regenerate, sanctify and empower for ministry every believer in Jesus Christ. He is an abiding Helper, Teacher and Guide. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit and in the exercise of all the Biblical gifts of the Spirit.

5. We believe that along with all men and women, we are sinners by nature and choice and we are under condemnation. We are accounted righteous before God only by the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through faith in Him alone, and not by our own works or deserving.

6. We believe that we have been born again by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. This same Holy Spirit now lives in us, producing faith, holiness, love and power.

7. We believe in the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both the Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety, without error, in all that they affirm, and as the only infallible rule for our faith and practice.

8. We believe that the church is intended by God to be a worshiping community of believers, observing the ordinances of Christ, governed by His law, exercising the gifts, privileges and discipline invested in the church by His Word and His Holy Spirit, and seeking to extend the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.

9. We believe Christ committed two ordinances to the church: water baptism and the Lord's Supper. We believe water baptism is available to all Christian believers following a clear profession of Christian faith. We believe that the Lord's Supper is open to all believers. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, the Lord's Supper nourishes our souls. It brings to our remembrance the sacrifice of Christ for our sins, our communion with Christ and the church and our obligation to persevere in faith and holiness to the end of our lives.

10. We believe in the personal, visible, appearing of Christ to earth and the consummation of His Kingdom; in the resurrection of the body, the final judgment and eternal blessing of the righteous and the endless suffering of the wicked. [Statement of Faith – detailed version in PDF format.]

Technorati Tags:

Thursday, October 25, 2007

unborn child threat

I found this posted by Brett Royal and thought it was funny (well - sad but funny - can that be?).


Technorati Tags:


Two guys jump out of an airplane; one has a parachute and one does not. The one without the parachute mocks to the other bragging that he is free from the encumbrance of the parachute.

Which man is really free? Which one understands that laws of gravity and physics? Which one is truly free to enjoy the event with the assuredness of safety in the end?

Sometimes we fail to understand what true freedom really is.

a man after god's heart

A man after God’s own heart is a man who understands his dire need of repentance. - Matt Dabbs

article here

prosperity gospel - not

Here are some excellent verses quoted by John MacArthur in Contentment Comes from Giving.
  • Proverbs 11:24–25: “There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, but it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”
  • Proverbs 19:17: “He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.”
  • Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you.”
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6: “He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.”
This article nicely describes our attitude toward giving and how we benefit from it. The only critique I could offer is as before, because he is combating the 'prosperity gospel' he goes overboard in adding the word spiritual in front of blessing when Scripture doesn't say that. He properly fixes that later in his article by discussing how God takes care of His people materially but I think MacArthur could do that without the aforementioned posturing.

Anyway, it's a good article worth reading.

Technorati Tags:

arminian pastor in hot water

Arminian Pastor-Blogger in Hot Water

PORTLAND, ME - When Michael Saylor graduated from Westminster Theological Seminary in 2004, he knew that getting his first pastoral position would not be easy. Michael grew up in the PCA, and desperately wanted to remain in his home denomination. There was only one problem: Michael is a closet Arminian.

According to Rev. Saylor, "I love the PCA. That is where I was baptized, that is where I came to know the Lord, and that is where I was called to seminary. However, I just can't buy into all of the Calvinistic teachings. When I read the bible, I see a God who loves all of mankind and offers salvation to all people. God is not arbitrary or capricious. He would never override man's free will or destine anyone for Hell. All I need to look at is John 3:16 to tell me so."

Rev. Saylor was called to Lakeside PCA near Portland, Maine in early 2005. Things apparently went well for the first two years or so. TBNN has learned that during that time Rev. Saylor had the habit of preaching mostly topical sermons, pulling scripture from all over the bible. Trouble began in middle of this year when several members of the body asked Rev. Saylor if he would preach through some of Paul's writings.

"I knew I was in trouble when that happened," said Saylor. "What was I supposed to do? The people really wanted it. My difficulty is that Paul was so big on God's sovereignty in his writings. I tried to pick the least 'Reformed' Pauline epistle I could find."

Read the rest of the story at TBNN

Technorati Tags: ,

new uses for the cross

It has been far too long since my last cartoon from David Hayward.

Lexmarkaioscan882 2

Technorati Tags:

photo day

Last week NSV held our 2nd annual family photo outreach at one of the low income housing areas we serve. We do this outreach to promote family unity, to bless people with free pictures they typically could never afford, and to create a ‘hang out’ environment where we can get to know the people we serve better.

Over 130 people representing 50 families came to get their pictures taken. The following are the words of one of the guys from our team helping that day.

Numbers aside, the highlight for us was during an interaction with one particular family. There is a great-grandmother who lives at Westover Village Apartments in Loveland that is confined to a wheelchair and doesn’t get out much. But for this special day, she was able to convince her adult children to come out to Loveland and take her to MacArthur. They of course were asked to take their picture with her. So we had four generations of this family there to take their picture together. I got the sense that this was a first for the family.

Finally, their time came to get their picture taken. They had been waiting awhile and the great-grandmother’s adult children didn’t seem too thrilled by that. But anyway, their pictures were taken and their day at the photo outreach was over. Yet, before leaving, the daughter of the great-grandmother approached us and asked who she makes the check out to…again, not looking very happy for one reason or another.

And as her hand pulled out the check book, we could feel the smiles spreading across our faces. For servants for Jesus, these are the types of moments we just love.

So as the daughter opened her checkbook, we politely said: “It’s free.”

“Free?” she came back—her face finally finding expression.

“We just wanted to show you God’s love in a practical way.”

The daughter surprisingly didn’t say a word back. Instead, she just immediately leaned forward and hugged the first person she could get her arms around.

I was that recipient.

People tease me all the time and say that I don’t like being touched or hugged by strangers. But for those quick 2 seconds, I can assure you that those assumptions weren’t true.

To see someone so moved by God’s generosity is too rare a gift to dwell on anything else.

You could argue that the "Gospel" wasn't proclaimed and in part you would be correct. A clear communication of the work of Christ on the cross and our need for that did not happen. But in a sense you would also be wrong. People experienced the love and compassion of God and doors were opened for further interaction for the full presentation of the Gospel. The marginalized of society got a glimpse into one aspect of the Kingdom of God. That is never a bad thing as long as we remember that it is only part of the whole thing.

the harvest

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." - Mt 9.35-38

There it is again. What did Jesus do? He went out demonstrating and proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom. And check out the tone here. I see compassion. I see camaraderie between Jesus and the disciples. I see a focus on the harvest - a passion for the harvest.

I don't see bloggers sitting in their homes (or Panera) criticizing each other. I don't see preachers from their pulpits in their building surrounded by their programs talking about how the other guys are doing Sunday morning wrong.

We've somehow confused authority with the ability to find some text to kick another laborer with rather than the power to go out into the world to speak words that set people free from darkness and demonstrate that power with a healing touch. I suppose when that real power is missing you are left with nothing but to speak out against others.

I know that in my life, when I am out among "the crowds" speaking Gods truth and demonstrating His Kingdom, the furthest thing from my mind is what is wrong with some other ministry. When I'm sitting around my house surfing the internet or reading a book, I often find cause to get upset at what someone else is doing.

I think it's clear what Jesus intended. The former has something to do with the harvest, the latter does not. Which of these modes do you find yourself most often in?

Technorati Tags: ,

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

piper on valuing biblical manhood

John Piper defines masculine Christianity as:
The theology and the church and the mission are marked by over-arching male leadership and an ethos of tender-hearted strength and contrite courage and risk-taking decisiveness and readiness to sacrifice to protect and provide for the community—the feel of a great, majestic God making the men lovingly strong and the women intelligently secure.

He then outlines eleven benefits associated with that.

1. Men are freed to have feminine traits without being effeminate and women are freed to have masculine traits without being tomboys. (The most admirable women have masculine traits and the most admirable men have feminine traits: Lopsided masculinity and femininity are not as admirable.)

2. Men are more properly attracted to the Christian life when it does not appear that he must become effeminate to be a Christian. (Dominance of female leadership undermines the proper sense of a man’s call to be a leader, protector, and provider.)

3. Women are more properly drawn to a Christian life that highlights the proper place of humble, strong, spiritual men in leadership. This more properly feels freeing and safe. It feels like a place where the men in her life might learn to take initiative without being domineering.

4. We are freed to celebrate strong, courageous women of God who love the biblical vision complementarity, without and sense of compromise. The men are so clearly strong and secure in their leadership that they are not threatened by women who are spiritually mature and effective in ministry.

5. Men are awakened to their responsibilities at home to lead the family and protect the family and provide for the family. A clear definition of manhood helps a man take responsibility.

6. Youth leaders and parents will catch a clearer definition of how to answer the question of a boy: “Daddy, what does it mean to grow up and be a man and not a woman?” And a clearer definition of how to answer the question of a girl: “Mommy, what does it mean to grow up and be a woman and not a man?”

7. The meaning of masculinity and femininity in singleness will be clearer and a lifetime of singleness without sexual intercourse will be more understandable and livable. (The definitions of masculinity and femininity in What’s the Difference? are not marriage-specific.)

8. The corporate worship teams are not dominated by women and the songs chosen are not dominated by a one-sided feel of intimacy or majesty. The presence of masculine men and strong theology and music give the corporate worship a feel of strength that helps men discover and express the fullness of the emotions toward God that God calls for.

9. The God of the Bible will be more fully portrayed and known than where the tone is more feminine. The God of the Bible is overwhelmingly powerful and authoritative and often violent. He is Lord and King and Master and Sovereign and Father and Ruler. His tenderness and gentleness and patience shine in their beauty because of appearing in this dominant light. Women need an ethos of this kind so that they can relax and be more of their nurturing selves without fearing that they must work to create the ethos of God’s grandeur lest it be lost because the men are not speaking it and modeling it.

10. Preaching is more readily prized. Preaching is “expository exultation”—a forceful acclamation of the greatness of God and a passionate appeal for full-blooded response to him. The fear of strong preaching is part of the effeminizing of the church, and the full range of the way God is and appears on the Bible is not known where preaching is simply casual and conversational.

11. A wartime mindset and a wartime lifestyle will feel more natural. And that is what the world needs from us—a readiness to lay our lives down for a great and global cause making all the sacrifices necessary to push the word of Christ into the most inhospitable places.

Technorati Tags:

binding and loosing

I [Jesus] will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. - Mt 16.19

No, no, no ... this is not "binding and loosing Satan," whatever that is supposed to mean. It's one of the oft misused passages in the Bible but it's meaning is relatively straight-forward.

The keys are plural and they represent at least the authority to preach the gospel of Christ (Mt. 16:16) and thus to open the door of the kingdom of heaven and allow people to enter. The second authority includes the authority to exercise discipline within the church.

The keys are more than simply entrance into the kingdom, they also suggest some authority within the kingdom. Jesus' statement about “binding” and “loosing” parallel his words in Matthew 18, in which “binding” and “loosing” mean placing under church discipline and releasing from church discipline.

The keys of the kingdom of heaven are the ability to admit people to the kingdom through preaching the gospel and authority to exercise church discipline for those who do enter.

The authority to carry out discipline in the church is an authority that must be carried out in accordance with the standards of Scripture. Church discipline has a heavenly sanction. Whenever the church enacts discipline it can be confident that God has already begun the process spiritually. Whenever it releases from discipline forgives the sinner, and restores personal relationships, the church can be confident that God has already begun the restoration spiritually (Jn 20:23).

Technorati Tags: ,

old versus new

“Have you understood all these things?” They said to [Jesus], “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” - Mt 13.51-52

So, are you one of those that think the old is out and only the new is good? Or are you one of those that think it's only 'old truth' and there's no place for new?

Jesus' simple question was if you have put it together yet? Good and evil will continue to coexist in this Church Age. If you want into the Kingdom of God it will cost you everything. Only at the end of the age will there be the real separation of good and evil.

If you get it, then you are ready to go out into the harvest. We are to go out and sow the message (ourselves through demonstration and proclamation) of the Kingdom. If we get it, we will be like a master of a house dispersing treasure!

Technorati Tags: ,

Monday, October 22, 2007

pasta shapes

I like to follow-up on who is linking to my blog and today I got a link from Michael Bells. When I went to his site I found something I love - the world directory of pasta shapes and names! Excellent!!!

This is great ... now I have a reason to have an iPhone. When I go to a restaurant serving pasta, I guess because I'm Italian, people always ask me what pasta is what. I get frustrated so I commit an Italian sin, that is I just tell them, "I don't know, they're all the same ... just shaped different." Now if I get that iPhone I can look it up and look like the real deal ... ah, life just keeps getting better.

Technorati Tags:

the separation at the end of the age

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mt 13.47-50

The power of the kingdom draws men into it. It draws good and bad. It is only when the net is up on shore, i.e., at the close of the age, will the good and the bad be separated.

The separation is not between the fish which didn’t get caught in the net of the kingdom and those which did. The separation is between two kinds of people who are swept into the net of the kingdom. One is kept and the other is cast into the fire.

The mystery of the kingdom is not only that the kingdom is at first limited in its scope and its effect in the world, i.e. like the mustard seed, but also the mystery of the kingdom is that the people who come under the power of God’s kingdom are mixture. Some are true disciples and some are not.

Technorati Tags:

the good doctor on experience

Adrian Warnock posts this excellent quote from Doctor Martyn Lloyd-Jones on experiential knowledge.
There are, unfortunately, even many evangelical Christians who deny that God has any direct dealings with men today, and who hold feeling and emotion at a discount. They frequently substitute for true emotion a flabby sentimentalism. They are afraid of the power of the Holy Spirit, and so afraid of certain excesses which are sometimes found in mysticism and in certain people who claim to have unusual experiences of the Holy Spirit, that they 'quench the Spirit' and never have any personal knowledge of Christ. Indeed, they often go so far as to deny the possibility of such a knowledge.

This is obviously something with which we must deal, for if we hold this particular view we shall clearly never seek the knowledge of which the Apostle is speaking, and therefore shall never have it. How then do we answer this charge?

There is, of course, a false mysticism. This becomes quite clear in books on the subject and especially in the biographies of certain mystics. Beyond a doubt, there were aberrations in the lives of many of them, and much that was morbid and unhealthy. There is a morbid, introspective, selfish, impractical and useless type of mysticism. But because certain mystics have been guilty of such things we should not allow ourselves to be blinded to that which is a true and healthy mysticism, a mysticism which is taught in the Bible itself . . .

. . . we must remind ourselves that this teaching is found, perhaps supremely, in the words of our blessed Lord Himself. In the fourteenth chapter of John's Gospel, having told them that He is about to leave them, our Lord says: 'Let not your hearts be troubled. Ye believe in God, believe also in me'. They were troubled when told that He was going to leave them. They had been with Him three years, they had looked into His face, they had seen His miracles, heard His sermons, and could always ask Him questions. But now He is going to leave them, and they feared that they could not possibly continue to live and be happy without Him. His answer was, 'I will come unto you. I will manifest myself to you' (vv. 18, 21, 22). But still more explicitly in the sixteenth chapter we find Him saying, 'It is expedient for you that I go away' (v. 7). It would be good for them that He was going to leave them and to go away from them in the form in which He was then with them, because (as He proceeded to explain) 'if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go away I will send him unto you'. How can it be expedient for the disciples that He should leave them in the flesh and go away from them in the body? How can that be true if it is not possible for the Christian to know Him immediately and directly? Obviously the supreme blessing is to be with Him, in His presence and in His company. What He is really saying is that after He has gone and has baptized them with the Holy Ghost, He will be more real to them than He was at that moment. And this is what actually happened. They knew Him much better after Pentecost than they knew Him before. He was more real to them, more living to them, more vital to them afterwards than He was in the days of His flesh. His promise was literally fulfilled and verified . . .

Nothing stands out more prominently in the life of George Whitefield than his consciousness of the love of Christ. He knew it to an exceptional degree and you will find that it was always after he had had some exceptional experience of Christ that he was given unusual enlargement and liberty in his preaching, and that men and women were broken down and melted before his holy eloquence and his portrayal of the love of God in Christ Jesus. Charles Wesley knew it equally well, and so writes:

Enlarge, inflame, and fill my heart
With boundless charity divine!
So shall I all my strength exert,
And love them with a zeal like Thine.

This has been true of God's greatest servants in all ages, in all centuries, in all places.

. . . The secret of the early Christians, the early Protestants, Puritans and Methodists was that they were taught about the love of Christ, and they became filled with a knowledge of it. Once a man has the love of Christ in his heart you need not train him to witness; he will do it. He will know the power, the constraint, the motive; everything is already there. It is a plain lie to suggest that people who regard this knowledge of the love of Christ as the supreme thing are useless, unhealthy mystics. The servants of God who have most adorned the life and the history of the Christian Church have always been men who have realized that this is the most important thing of all, and they have spent hours in prayer seeking His face and enjoying His love. The man who knows the love of Christ in his heart can do more in one hour than the busy type of man can do in a century. God forbid that we should ever make of activity an end in itself. Let us realize that the motive must come first, and that the motive must ever be the love of Christ.

I end with the question which I asked at the beginning: To which of the circles do you belong? Are you pressing your way right into the centre? You may have seen people in a crowd, when the Queen or some other notable person is passing, trying to push themselves forward in order to have a front-line view. The same thing occurs at various games. There are those who always want to be in the front to have the best view. Are we pressing into the innermost circle? Are we seeking the Lord's face? Are we coveting the knowledge of His love? The Apostle prayed for every single member of the Church at Ephesus that he or she 'might be able to comprehend with all saints what is the length and breadth and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.' How tragic it is that any of us should be living as paupers, out on the cold street, while the banqueting chamber is open and the feast prepared. Let us search for the knowledge of the Lord in the Scriptures and read about it in the lives of the saints throughout the centuries. As we do so, we shall never be content until we are in the innermost circle and looking into His blessed face.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

christ-centered influencers

Christ-centered influencers:
  • have perspective - that is the see the big picture as revealed by God and not as we see in the near-sighted here and now
  • pray
  • see people (as opposed to projects) as the priority
  • see influence as a process that requires perserverence

Technorati Tags:

pasta sauce

"It should never be a bowl of soup, it should be noodles with a little stuff." Ah ... pasta sauce Italian style ...

dark side of the moon

DsotmI was hanging out with a neighbor reminiscing about the old days of recording. I remember when I got my first cassette tape recorder sitting in front of the radio for hours. Since I was recording 'through the air', i.e., no wires, I had to wait until everyone was out of the house - I needed absolute quiet. The radio was to big to easily move around so there I sat in the living room holding that cassette recorder up to the stereo speaker box. Crazy.

My neighbor was stranger. As a musician he wanted to record himself on multiple tracks. Therefore he had two recorders. He recorded one part on the first recorder, then played that back while recording with the second recorder and playing another part of a song.

So with that said, if you have an hour and you really like Pink Floyd and hearing how things were done back in the day, here are some clips explaining the making of Dark Side of the Moon.

"That's not to say the potential of for the sun to shine doesn't exist, walk down the path towards the light rather than walk into the darkness."

Technorati Tags:

Saturday, October 20, 2007

the simple message

This timely message comes from John Michael Talbot ...
We need not win an argument. We need only proclaim the simple message of Jesus. "The word of God will not return void," said Isaiah the prophet. Speak in clear simplicity and confidence. Let the Spirit do the rest. You may not win the intellectual argument, but you will win the spiritual battle for the soul! As Socrates wrote, "Just because you win an argument does not mean you possess the truth."

Do we rely on the power of the Spirit when we share about Jesus with others? Do we share in the Spirit, or simply argue with the mind? The Spirit leads to humility and gentleness, while the mind only leads to presumption and pride. Do not be afraid. God will use your simple testimony and your personal story to evangelize even the powerful of this world.

Technorati Tags:

jesus' baptism

John Wimber on Jesus' baptism.

Jesus did not get baptized for remission of sin. In fact, when Jesus asked His cousin John to baptize Him, John says to Jesus that He should be baptizing him. He knew that Jesus was sinless. But Jesus insists, so that "all righteousness will be fulfilled." Jesus saw in the provision of baptism something that He wanted to identify with, so that His called-out one - the Church - would do the same from that day forward.

Jesus saw a declaration, a dedication of Himself to the Father that could only be accomplished through the initiation of baptism. Baptism was a provision of God that demonstrated identification and commitment to purity of life and a new order of existence.

Technorati Tags:

church sex

There's some banter on the blogsphere regarding churches and how they are approaching the topic of sex.

This church caught some heat about fliers they sent out entitled Red Hot Sex.

Another one did a mashup of the voice mail complaints they got over the fliers they sent out.

I'm not going to comment. I was a leader at a church that once proposed a full day workshop for married couples on the topic. The workshop was to include a one hour practical experience session - I didn't understand what the other 57 minutes was for.

Technorati Tags:

imagine me

My friend Iggy pointed me to the very cool music video ... Imagine Me by Kirk Franklin.

Friday, October 19, 2007

what's the kingdom worth?

Mt 13.44-46; The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

What is the Kingdom of God worth? EVERYTHING!

Discipleship to Jesus means participation in the Kingdom of God. This is a treasure worth more than all other possessions. Every person should seek it at any cost.

Technorati Tags:

mustard seeds and leaven

Mt 13:31-32; [Jesus] put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”

The Kingdom of God has entered the world in a form that is hardly perceptible but it will ultimately rule over all of the earth. This is a parable about contrast. Today it is small (not even revealed to some) but there comes a time when it will be great and apparent to all. This is clear from the mustard seed. The leaven is not teaching that this change is gradual but again reinforcing that what was once small compared to the whole lump of dough will one day permeate the entire loaf. The Kingdom of God will one day prevail so that no rival sovereignty exists.

Technorati Tags:

kjv only typo

This post from TBNN really hit my funny bone ... I have to do it but here it is in its entirety. Please pop by the Tominthebox News Network for my pointed humor.

KJV "Typo" Nullifies Pastoral Calling, Perhaps More

Woodsville, Washington - Pastor William Herliksen is finding himself in a bit of a "faith crisis" these days. Herliksen, who has pastored Bible Believers Baptist Church for the past twelve years has made two things the primary focus of his ministry.

"We do two things here at BBBC" said Herliksen. "We lift up the King James Bible above all, and we follow only what Paul teaches."

Under Herliksen's leadership the church has adopted a KJV-only position that even some who advocate only using the King James Bible find "radical." Some of those views taken directly form BBBC's statement of faith include,

* One cannot be saved with any other version of the Bible other than the King James
* All translations into other languages must be made from the King James Bible

But lately Herliksen has had to come face-to-face with his own words. Last week, as Herliksen was on vacation with his wife he woke up one morning to read his Bible. Realizing he had left his Bible in his bedroom and not wanting to wake up his wife, he decided to pick up her Bible and read. He began reading in Romans chapter 13, and was only 10 verses into the chapter when he noticed something strange. The passage in his wife's Bible read, "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." The problem lay with the word "neighbour" which Herliksen immediately noticed was spelled differently than he had been used to in his Bible.

"I became instantly concerned" stated Herliksen. "I was almost certain that my Bible spelled the word 'neighbor.'"

Herliksen pondered the problem for some time and waited until his wife woke up to retrieve his Bible.

"As soon as I walked in the living room Bill just shot up off of the couch and tore into the bedroom" said wife Lillian. "No 'good morning' or anything."

Upon retrieving his Bible Herliksen's "worst fears" were confirmed. In his Bible, the Bible that he had used for over 30 years, it read "neighbor" and not "neighbour." Upon further investigation, Herliksen soon discovered that his own copy of the KJV was a misprint.

"I was devastated" said Herliksen. "That was the Bible I was reading when I supposedly got saved. That's the Bible I've preached from for over 30 years."

The crisis for Herliksen now is this; because of the typo his Bible cannot technically be called a real "King James Bible" thus nullifying all of his ministry including preaching, teaching and personal reading. But more frightening to Herliksen than anything else is the possibility that he has missed salvation altogether because of the mistake.

"This means that the Bible I was reading when I got saved was not really a King James Bible. I'm probably not even saved. This means that the Bible I have been preaching from to people all of these years has not really been a King James Bible, and that means all of those people who have walked the aisle are not really saved either. I've spent the past 30 years using a Satanic translation."

Since making the discovery Herliksen has resigned his position as pastor of BBBC.

"I don't know what I'm going to do now" stated Herliksen. "I'm still going to the church each week, but I just don't know if I can be forgiven of this sin. I've gotten another Bible, but I'm so scared that there might be another typo in it. My eternal destiny rests upon me actually reading the exactly right and perfect translation. How can I know that I have that? How can I be certain?"

Technorati Tags: ,


Two key mottos came out of the reformation, the first asserts that "we speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent." The second dictum received a special name "Friedensspruch" or "Peace Saying." It originates from Peter Meiderlin (known better by his Latin anagram Rupertus Meldenius), a Lutheran theologian and pastor in Augsburg in the seventeenth century.

In 1626 Meldenius wrote the tract Paraenesis votiva pro pace ecclesiae ad theologos Augustanae confessionis auctore Ruperto Meldenio Theologo regarding the controversy over the orthodoxy of Johann Arndt. His closing words are, "were we to observe unity in essentials, liberty in incidentals, and in all things charity, our affairs would be certainly in a most happy situation".
The Latin phrase, "in necessasariis, unitas; In dubiis, libertas; in omnibus, caritas" is now more commonly repeated as, "In all things essential, unity. In all things non-essential, liberty. In all things, charity."

We have drifted a long way from both of these mottos. Schade ...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

expository preaching?

What!?!? Is Mark Driscoll saying that the Bible doesn't demand expository preaching verse-by-verse? Is he really suggesting it is ok to follow the model outlined in the Bible as opposed to the system we created after it was written?

What's next? Continuationalism?

Read here if you haven't a clue what Driscoll is now up to (and you care).

Technorati Tags: ,

we are called

First and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not to something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or to somewhere (such as the inner city or Outer Mongolia). - Os Guinness


discipleship 101

Willow Creek gets it! According to the article in Out of Ur, Bill Hybels said:
Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

Greg Hawkins, executive pastor at Willow Creek, says:

Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.

speaking of the truth

Speaking of the truth, in his 30 years as a believer, Dan Edelen has discovered 100 pretty decent truths.

truth is humbling

I really enjoy the posts at New Attitude. How Truth Humbles Us by Thabiti Anyabwile is no exception. As my dear friend Randy No-Blog would say, I agree with almost everything Anyabwile wrote.

The article begins with a small, off-topic distraction for me.
The Apostle Paul spent a lot of time teaching. He taught in the synagogues, in the streets, in the markets, with women by the river, at all night Bible studies where people fell out of windows, and from house to house. The center of his ministry was the proclamation and explanation of the truth about God.

I felt "proclamation and explanation of the truth" is not as forceful as "proclamation and demonstration of the truth". Not that Anyabwile said anything wrong, I am simply sensitized to anything that misses the practice of our faith as much as the knowledge of it.

After that Anyabwile describes how Paul saw that there is a proper and an improper knowledge. Superior knowledge is based on a superior truth which is the knowledge of the truth about God and of course, if we want to see that truth, we need only look at Jesus. The key point then is that this truth humbles us rather than puffs us up as worldly knowledge would do.

To the rest of Anyabwile's post I can only add AMEN!

1. Truth teaches us that God is big and we are small.

When reading the scripture, one can’t escape the vastness of God. We are presented with the truth that God rules all things, and He rules them according to His own will and pleasure (Eph. 1:11). He even accomplishes the salvation of sinners in accord with His sovereign mercy (Rom. 9:14-18). There is no place that He is not (Ps. 139:7-8). And there is no being or happening that jeopardizes His rule (Rev. 19-20).

The Lord God leaps off the pages of scripture and we are confronted with this truth: He is the gigantic center of all things and humankind are but role players in the drama of redemption. We are not the main actors we imagine ourselves to be, not even in our salvation. God is the truly big One and we are small. An accurate apprehension of the truth helps us to see this and to humble ourselves accordingly.

2. Truth teaches us that God is holy and we are sinners.

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty!” That’s the heavenly song of the angels in the presence of God (Is. 6:2-3; Rev. 4:8). Stephen Charnock once remarked, “Power is God’s hand or arm, omniscience His eye, mercy His bowels, eternity His duration, but holiness is His beauty.”

When we learn the truth about God we are left awestruck by an unimaginable beauty and glory called holiness. Men are prone to project themselves onto God, to make God in our image, to imagine that the Lord is like us only more so. But it is His utter holiness that confounds this conceit. Here’s how A.W. Tozer puts it: “We cannot grasp the true meaning of the divine holiness by thinking of someone or something very pure and then raising the concept to the highest degree we are capable of. God’s holiness is not simply the best we know, infinitely better. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. Only the Spirit of the Holy One can impart to the human spirit the knowledge of the holy.”

And when the Spirit of God opens our eyes to see God’s holiness and the sinfulness of our sin in light of His holiness, bowing to the dust in humility is the only acceptable response. God is beautiful and we are not. God is beautiful in holiness and we are ugly in our sin. That truth works humility in us.

This is why the gospel humbles us. The gospel joins together the recognition that there is a holy God with the awareness that we are unlike Him and deserving of His holy wrath. And the fact that we don’t merit his love, grace or mercy—and yet receive it freely in Christ—keeps us lowly and meek before the Savior’s glorious face.

3. Truth teaches us that God is omniscient and we know partially.

The Apostle Paul points out that our knowledge is partial and passing (1 Cor. 13:8-9). “We all possess knowledge,” true enough. But it’s the possession of that partial knowledge that should remind us of how little we know. If we’re overconfident that we know something, we are destined for pride. The apostle writes, “The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.” Such a man is puffed up.

When we recognize that God knows all things (1 Sam. 2:2-3), including the effects and end of sin (Gen. 3:5), the secrets of men’s hearts (Ps. 44:20-21; Luke 16:15), who really belongs to Him (2 Tim. 2:19), and what is hidden in His own secret counsels (Deut. 29:29), then the truth has its humbling effect. Our limited knowledge pales in comparison to the infinite knowledge of God Almighty. Who can boast of knowledge when the truth tells us at every point that we don’t know as we ought? Who can rightly engage the truth and emerge as a self-confident know-it-all? We can be sure that wherever our knowledge puffs us up, we’ve not even begun to know the truth as we ought.